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Spinosaurus might not have been a swimming dinosaur after all

Published Mar 9th, 2024 6:15PM EST
Spinosaurus in swamp-like biome
Image: Daniel Eskridge / Adobe

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What if the giant sail-backed Spinosaurus wasn’t actually a swimming dinosaur at all? Despite some scientists’ impressions of the dinosaur, as well as the way it is portrayed in Jurassic Park 3, the Spinosaurus might not have been very good at diving.

This new theory is shared in-depth in a study featured in the latest edition of PLOS ONE. Paleontologists generally agree that the Spinosaurus was a fish-eater. But, what they haven’t always agreed on is how the dinosaur went about catching its meals and whether or not the giant dinosaur could actually dive under the water.

Some believed that the Spinosaurus would wade into the shallows close to shore, while others hinted that it was an aquatic pursuit predator that would dive deep into the water to hunt for its dinner. This new research, though, suggests that the dinosaur with a giant sail on its back was likely a semi-aquatic predator that hunted from the shallows, as many have always thought.

But if so many already thought this, then what spurred the new study? Well, back in 2022, a group of researchers published a paper suggesting that the bone density of the Spinosaurus’ thigh and rib bones could have allowed it to be more of a deep aquatic creature, diving under the surface to hunt for its meals.

The findings from this study are what the new paper looked to investigate. The researchers in the newer study say that air sacs that may be found in the Spinosaurus bones could have made it difficult for the creature to dive. Unfortunately, no specimen has been found with the bones where the air sacs would exist. So it’s hard to say for sure whether or not its air sacs would have made it too buoyant to dive.

However, the new paper didn’t specifically set out to prove exactly what Spinosaurus’ lifestyle was. But it says that the evidence right now suggests that it was what people thought it was all along: A semi-aquatic dinosaur that hunted similarly to modern-day herons.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.