Uncovering more on the Spinosaurus dinosaur from Africa
Review the latest unearthed Spinosaurus Aegypticus skeletal elements and read how events and the greater story of Spinosaurus through the 20th and 21st centuries enabled the reconstruction bone by bone Aa the 50ft carnivorous swimming dinosaur.
Welcome to the dinosaur collection at THE FOSSIL STORE™ where you will find extraordinary dinosaur fossils, specifically from the classic Red Beds of North Africa. S.moroccanus, S.aegypticus, Carcharodontosaurus, Deltadromeus agilis and the great reptiles crocodiles Elosuchus, Deinosuchus and Sarcosuchus all represented in North Africa.
Firstly we must mention a little Spinosauridae family genealogy before moving on if you are familiar with the Spinosaurus story you can skip down a few paragraphs to get to the bones of Spinosaurus specimens or view our images below. Record-breaking S.aegypticus proportions are not to be understated, recently recognised as the largest predatory theropod dinosaur. In 2005 the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology stated Spinosaurus was up to 59 feet, that's 18 metres in length, up to 9.9 tons, 10 metric tons, all these measurements based on extrapolations from skull dimensions. The same publication two years later took issue with the previous scientific calculations, claiming the heavyweight up to 47 feet, 14.3 metres and 23 tons approximately 23.3 metric tons.
The family history part. The Dinosauria clade includes the subfamily Spinosaurinae and the genus Spinosaurus and S.aegypticus. The genera of our particular sail-backed dinosaur. It has been suggested that two possible types of Spinosaurus existed in North Africa, the elusive and largest S.aegypticus (Egyptian found) and a possible contender S.morocannus ‘nomen dubium’ genus (Moroccan found), doubtful as the holotype skeleton S.aegypticus was destroyed and cannot be compared to S.moroccanus. Palaeontologist, therefore, concludes the later attribution in 1996 of S.morocannus could be in fact S.aegypticus. This is a work in progress and for further discussion not here.
The first discovery. As the first world war continued in western Europe. The German scientists Ernest Stromer was digging up strange dinosaur bones in the Egyptian desert, a find in 1915 that would electrify the paleontological community. Almost a decade before Tutankhamun, S.aegypticus rose from the ashes of the Cretaceous period, 97 million years previously. The then newly discovered partial skeleton exhibited some very unusual features which included long dorsal spine bones. Stromer correctly identified these as forming the frame of a huge sail, like a gigantic chameleon lizard.
This set the Spinosaurus dinosaur apart from any other dinosaur. Stromer named the fossilised dinosaur and made detailed drawings and photographs, which as it happened was very fortuitous. In 1944 during WWII the fossil dinosaur skeleton was destroyed in a bombing raid over Munich. S.aegypticus alighted the stage of palaeontology after briefly impressing the world with many questions still unanswered, not least of all the now unfolding drama of being discovered during one world war and destroyed in the next. Since that initial discovery and until about twenty years ago S.aegypticus skeletons evaded palaeontologists, no more were unearthed.
The fossil sites of the latest finds. As the Moroccan fossil industry developed (French scientists and palaeontologists encouraged local Berbers from the 1970’s to dig fossils for their annual sojourn to southern Morocco), many dinosaur bones were eventually excavated, this early encouragement exponentially grew to what is now an established fossil trade in the area of southern Morocco.
Period of time during the dinosaurian diorama of the early Cenomanian stage (100 to 93 m.y.a) to the middle Turonian stage (93 to 89 m.y.a), these are stages within the Cretaceous period (135 to 65 m.y.a). The Cretaceous being at the end of the dinosaur reign on land and in the seas, the time period of the great dinosaur extinction often referred to as the KT boundary event 65 million years ago. Eight million years separate the strata’s of the Continental Red Beds or the horizons, in paleontological terms that is very closely packed sediments of time S.aegypticus is found around 97 million years ago.
What we knew about Spinosaurus before the latest discovery. Paul Sereno of the museum of Chicago elevated our knowledge of Spinosaurus in the last decade of the twentieth century, Sereno began expeditions in Africa to dig up dinosaurs. He made some remarkable North Africa dinosaur discoveries, however, Spinosaurus for the most part evaded detection. Mystery surrounded the lifestyle of this large predatory dinosaur while all around the world other dinosaurs were being uncovered with remarkable rapidity and generally worldwide dinosaur knowledge increased. Spinosaurus like some Egyptian mummy kept its secrets buried for a little while longer.
In 2014 Sereno came into contact with Nazir Ibrahim and together they set on the trail of bones which had been sold in Morocco, eventually turning up at the Museo Storia Naturale di Milano.
Sereno and his team including Nizar Ibrahim, fundamental in associating the latest fossil Spinosaurus aegypticus bones and a group of palaeontological specialists returned to Morocco, ultimately to uncover further fossil material, teeth and bones which would lead to a reconstruction of Spinosaurus aegypticus. From the partial skeleton in Italy and half a dozen other museums (amounting to nearly 40% of an adult individual), later in Chicago using 3D scanning software, Sereno and team reconstructed a full dinosaur Spinosaurus aegypticus skeleton over 50 feet long. From this reconstruction much has now been theorised about Spinosaurus Aegypticus’s predatory life.
Firstly understanding Spinosaurus aegypticus rebuilt has enabled palaeontologists Paul Sereno and Nizar Ibrahim and team including David Martill of Portsmouth University, Cristiano Dal Sasso and Simone Maganuco of Milan, Matteo Fabbri of Un.of Bristol, Samir Zouhri of Morocco, and David A. Iurino, Rome Italy, to study and theorise about the habitat and lifestyle of the now recently recognised semiaquatic dinosaur.
The combined laboratory studies revealed dense bones having no hollow medullary cavity this gave Spinosaurus more buoyancy in an aquatic environment. This substantial discovery pointed strongly to an aquatic lifestyle. A terrestrial dinosaur predator requires strong hollow bones to aid speed and agility when capturing prey and aid flight when in a confrontational situation with other predatory dinosaurs.
The femur of Spinosaurus aegypticus is short in comparison to land-dwelling dinosaurs, typical of swimming reptiles like the crocodiles, short hind limbs suggest an early development similar to cetaceans, early whales devolving paddle-like limbs.
Spinosaurus aegypticus front arms were for the most part insufficient to support its huge body on land for very long, its centre of mass was affected by its long neck and trunk shifting it forward, cumbersome on land however extremely efficient through the water. Short muscular forelimbs with curved elongate manual phalanges, that's its scissor-like claws, ideal for use as a gaff, grasping, piercing and slicing slippery prey.
The less recurved pedal flattish manual unguals were possibly webbed, very much like some modern shorebirds of today which traverse soft muddy substrates, watery margins and lagoons?
A long narrow snout, perfect streamlining through water and for snaring slippery fish. The snout also has evidence of neurovascular foramina anterior of the snout, a feature of small pin holes at the tip of the snout which contained sensory nerves endings, much like crocodiles of today, these foramina help crocodiles detect water movement by swimming prey. In Spinosaurus aegypticu jaws rows of conical teeth, similar to crocodilians for grasping and holding prey.
The teeth were interlocking ideal for snaring slippery prey. The nasal fossa has situated in a posterior position on the upper surface posterior snout again like crocodilians, this could have aided stealth or inhibit the intake of water when swimming. The loosely connected laterally flexible tail bones, powerful enough to propel Spinosaurus through strong currents like some monumental rudder, are similar to some bony fish.
These and many other adaptions lead to the semiaquatic or aquatic adaption theory. Spinosaurus’s sail back (thought to be brightly coloured like some modern-day lizards), could have indicated its size when fully extended or doubled its size to other Spinosaur’s or competing dinosaurs when partly submerged or swimming, useful to intimidate other predators, making spinosaurus look even bigger and as a sexual dimorphism flag aiding attraction to other Spinosaurs.
Nazir Ibrahim And The Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus
The piecing of the puzzle is coming along, as a picture of a predatory dinosaur catching large sharks, sawfish, coelacanths and lungfish fish up to 5 feet in length which would have been able to sustain such an enormous bulk of this fearsome behemoth dinosaur.
The dedicated German scientist Ernest Stromer started the puzzle, Nazir Ibrahim a German-Moroccan palaeontologist helping Paul Sereno in continuing the circle of discovery. We still have much to learn and no doubt as more discoveries are made of more complete skeletons the puzzle will uncover even greater things about this enigmatic dinosaur. Nazir’s story and the discovery of Spinosaurus aegypticus. In 2008 Nazir Ibrahim was offered bones by a Moroccan fossil dealer. Dinosaur bones he had not seen before, long flat bones, they were secured and deposited with the museum services in Morocco for future study.
In 2014 Cristiano Dal Sasso contacted Ibrahim about a recent acquisition of a Spinosaur’s partial skeleton including several long flat spine bones. Immediately Ibrahim recognised similarities in the bone. Ibrahim contacted Sereno which set in motion an expedition to North Africa. Ibrahim was on the lookout for the fossil dealer who supplied him the single bone.
In cross-section the broken spine bones in Italy had a certain colouration, a faint red veining that Ibrahim felt sure was from the same deposit as the original and single flat bone he secured earlier in Morocco, this colouration would associate the bones and the partial skeleton in Italy and help locate the fossil site, in turn, the site could be studied and reveal much more information about Spinosaurus.
After several frustrating days visiting many fossil diggers and sellers in the region of the southern province of Errachidia and the small enclaves of Erfoud and Rissanni, no similar fossil bones, nor the fossil dealer was found. Ibrahim remembered the seller only as having a moustache.
After several uncomfortably long and hot days, Ibrahim was coming to terms of not being able in the given time frame to find the fossil dealer and therefore the fossil excavation site. At that point sat in one of the many cafes while drinking mint tea, contemplating desolately his situation, so close yet so far from his goal, Ibrahim noticed a man walking past and remarkably he recognised him as the fossil dealer from six years before. What a stroke of luck!
The Moroccan confirmed that it was himself that had the long flat bone Ibrahim had secured and that he, in fact, had also recovered the partial skeleton and sold it to an Italian fossil dealer for approximately €10,000. Now the dealer agreed to lead the Sereno party to the fossil excavation site. One could speculate here and also a further fee!
The site was located and the scientific team brought in to excavate further. The site lay on a slope of the Hamada above a vast plain of the Sahara desert. The Moroccan digger had dug directly into the side of the hill where bones had been exposed by weathering. This is normally the way of discovering a find in this vast desert region.
Also at this point, the writer would like to illustrate the time spent in the desert by these Berbers searching under the relentless and unforgiving sun is something of an enigma to the average fair-skinned European. The team now systematically dug from the overburden. Excavating from the upper levels down through millions of years of deposition of the congealed Red Beds, strata above strata of hard grit sandstone, the deposit of billions of crushed marine animals and silts.
Something that would not have occurred to the indigenous Berber in the aid of science. Sifting through the excavations the team found pieces of bones and teeth in enough associated quantity too positively identify the site and to record the palaeo-biology of this ancient environment where the Spinosaurid roamed, hunted and ultimately died. This was a paleontological first, to find bones continents and years apart, retrace the source and rediscover the bone of a dinosaur, these odds which are so incalculable is an astonishing story which happens to be true!
Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus Origin
With an exceptional selection of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus dinosaur teeth available to buy at The Fossil Store and like the Spinosaur tooth photographed in the image above they're all remarkably preserved to the highest standards and these prestigious specimens originate from the famous-classic dinosaur fossil site commonly known as the horizon of the Continental intercalate; the continental 'Red Beds', referred to as the Tegana formation, province 'De Ksar-es-Souk', Kem Kem, formation or sequence, near the southeastern enclave of Erfoud, in the province of Er-Rachidia, Morocco. This is a region of the Northern Sahara desert of North Western Africa.
The tooth hails from the greatest age of the dinosaurs which is in the Mesozoic era, the period of time is the Cretaceous period and this is the time period which ended the dinosaurs reign. The fossil dinosaur tooth was discovered in the Cenomanian, 112 to 93 million years ago and Turonian stages 93 to 89 million years. The sediments the tooth was discovered within straddled both these stages of the Cretaceous age.
To find Spinosaurus teeth of this calibre as seen in the photograph above is extremely rare. Many dinosaur teeth of this quality are becoming more difficult to locate and when they do become available, they usually sell to collectors on a waiting list. We offer certificates of authenticity with every specimen, so when browsing our Spinosaurus selections below you can do so with comfort.
Spinosaurus is thought to have been the terror of the cretaceous waterways of North African, preying on sharks and large fish. As spinosaurus was up to 50 to 59 feet it could have possibly tackled other smaller or juvenile reptilians. It is believed its spine sail would have warned off other Spinosaurs when swimming in the lagoons or shallow seas. The lower limb bones of Spinosaurus were solid, not hollow with marrow cavities like other large predator land dinosaurs which needed less weight and more agility, Spinosaurus needed to be stable and buoyant, so developed a lighter weight skeletal frame in its upper body and denser bones in the lower body, this would aid it in strong currents and in the act of chasing its prey, its body streamlining through the water. While on the land it is thought to have used its smaller front limbs to lean on for balance. Our perception of this great beast has changed drastically over the last decade due to work carried out by palaeontologists like Paul Callistus Sereno, museum of Chicago, who has carried out expeditions in Morocco since 1996 discovering the dinosaurs and studying their habits from prehistory in that region.
Although stable, all specimens of this calibre should be handled with extreme care. After aeons in the ground, fractures can occur and this claw is no exception to such circumstances. The process attachments are visible, the centrum has sustained damage in the fossil layers. While the wasted body is in a stable condition, having again suffered damages of fractures in the fossil bed. It is the rarity and large size making this a unique vertebra a very good Spinosaurid collection piece.
There are many influences which play a role in the outcome and extraction processes when considering the value of these Dinosaur fossils and the diminishing resource, in this region of the world, of this unique site. A complete undamaged dinosaur fossil is limited in occurrence, it requires a lot of collecting time in the field to acquire such a fine example. The prestigious Spinosaurus fossils are rarer. These sites will too become exhausted, coupled with political and military unrest in the region making collecting more haphazard.
Excavators use certain methods to strengthen and reinforce all varieties of fossil dinosaur bones to aid the fragile bones removal and transportation to the laboratories of Europe.
It is worthy of note that still today we don't know what causes the eruption of teeth in animals, including human young. The studies continue and many theories have been supported to later be rejected or dismissed. Notably, The cushioned hammock theory developed by Harry Sicher around the 1930s. The tooth growth displacement theory today still intrigues scientist, whether the tooth is displaced by bone growth around the tooth or jaw displacement, vascular cushioned ligament upward pressure and deposition tension from the tooth use. A conclusive study has not yet brought forth universally accepted the agreement and so still remains undecided.
The Nizar Discovery
The bones which led to the eventual discovery of a partial skeleton by Nizar Ibrahim finally identified in Italy and with the help of Paul Serrano from the museum of Chicago excavated on the slopes of the Red Beds Hamada in the western desert, the replica of that partial skeleton was composed of bones from various sources and went on display at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., The exhibition of Spinosaurus, Lost Giant of the Cretaceous Period in April 2015. This current exhibit was discovered in Morocco between 2013 to 2014 made its way to a European source and was secured by our fossil team.
Ernst Freiherr Stromer
The story of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus's discovery is as intriguing as the dinosaur itself. Discovered by fossil collector Richard Markgraf in Egypt at the site of El-Bahariya during 1912 in Upper Cretaceous rocks, believed to date to the Cenomanian age around 100 to 93.9 million years ago. Described by the eminent German palaeontologist Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbachinin in 1915 as world war raged in Europe. Thence housed in the museum of Paläontologische Staasssammlung in Munich up until being destroyed in the second world war by the allied bombers in April 1944. Even though Stromer pleaded to have his precious bones removed to a safe haven. The story of Spinosaurus is as rich as a Hollywood script.
Do Rare Specimens Mean = ££££+
Recently In the region, the localised politico-geographical position has been evolving; The two main protagonist-states are militarily active, in a dispute over borders of once accessible Sahara. This Military action in the region makes collecting a fraught business. It is now causing an unsettled situation for the indigenous populous, including the Berber fossil collectors along their once productive fossil beds.
Site Closures + Increasing Investments
Currently, the best fossils are becoming more desirable and of course, more valuable, like all fossil material, any one piece can increase in value overnight based on findings and closure of sites. Old sites are now being heavily re-excavated in the hopes that specimens of this calibre can be still recovered, however, this is highly becoming more difficult as we move further into the 21st century - with the lack of accessible sites, leading to concerns that the grounds will eventually be extinguished of dinosaur fossils altogether and all before the sites that are left, are closed by authorities in evermore restricting countries.