Above: A skeletal cast of Spinosaurus on display
Through finding and studying fossils we have learned so much about the ancient creatures that once roamed the Earth, but for everything we do know there's a million things we don't. A dinosaur's skeleton can only tell us so much, after all, and new discoveries can happen every day.
One such creature that's changed quite a bit over the past few years is Spinosaurus, one of our favorite dinosaurs. You might think of it like it's appearance in Jurassic Park as a frightening terrestrial creature, but a study from 2020 suggested the creature actually had a broad and flat tail that suited it for staying in the water. Researchers wondered if the creature was actually a semi aquatic hunter, laying in wait for prey like a modern crocodile.
Recently, a brand new paper has turned the Spinosaurus' lifestyle on its head once more. A study of the animal's bone density shows Spinosaurus would have been quite heavy, which may have helped it submerge and hunt below the water as well. Without flippers, compacted bones may have been a solution for the species to move underwater. Not only would this be a new way of looking at Spinosaurus, but it would change our understanding of all dinosaurs, as previously underwater hunting was only within the realm of marine reptiles outside the dinosaur group, such as mosasaurs and plesiosaurs.
Scientists are still unsure if these denser bones correlate to an semi-underwater lifestyle though. While the idea is interesting, there isn't enough data to fully convince everyone that Spinosaurus wasn't just wading through the water and using its long neck to grab prey like a heron. This disagreement shows us just how little we really understand about ancient species. Their fossilized remains can only tell us so much about their biomechanics. How they might have actually used their skeleton and the way they lived is something that takes quite a lot more to fully understand.You can check out the full scientific paper on the new Spinosaurus findings in Nature right here!