A remarkable discovery of an dinosaur ungual from the Cretaceous of Gondwanaland, now part of the continent of North Africa. The genus type is Spinosaurus. Presently two types of Spinosaurus are known from North Africa and Morocco, Spinosaurus maroccanus and Spinosaurus aegypticus, the region from where the toe claw was unearth in the fossil layer of the Cenomanian and Turonian strata of an approximate age of 112 to 89 million years ago.
The claw would have been covered in life with a coating of
The dinosaur toe claw exhibits the identifying attributes of the Spinosaurid family, a very slightly recurved ventral surface or plantar surface, with a depression in the pad region. This was a point of contact of a tendon. The slightly flared flange in the medial view and groove just above this. The ungual crest having a narrowing domed dorsal section. The point of the toe claw is complete, bone structure is evident and clear to the proximal end where the blood vessel structure is profuse and well defined.
One of the the most ferocious theropod dinosaur to have roamed the lagoons and waterways of what is now the northern Sahara desert of North Africa. One other dinosaur could dispute Spinosaurus for top predator at up to 59 feet in length and 21 tonnes. That is the Carcharodontosaurus, up to 44 feet in length and 15 tonnes which also ranged the Cretaceous of N.Africa. Spinosaurus being a semi aquatic dinosaur, it is theorised the two apex carnivore dinosaurs were not in conflict over territory or prey too often. Spinosaurus having mainly a marine diet of sharks and large fish and no doubt the occasional other theropod dinosaur, we would like to think.
There are many influences which play a role in the outcome and extraction process's when considering the value of these Dinosaur fossils and the diminishing resource, in this region of the world, of this unique site. Complete undamaged dinosaur fossil are limited in occurrence, it requires a lot of collecting time in the field to acquire such a fine example. The prestigious Spinosaurus fossils our more rare. These sites will too become exhausted, coupled with political and military unrest in the region making collecting more haphazard.
The only recorded Spinosaurus aegyptiacus partial skeleton up to the last decade of the 20th century, a partial jaw and large ribs of the sail back was discovered by the palaeontologist Ernest Stromer circa 1915. These were later lost in 1944 during a bombing raid on Germany during WWII which levelled the Munich Museum, then housing the most famous and remarkable find of Stromer's career. Much later discovery of Spinosaurus bones in the Kem kem deposits has been described by Dale Russell in 1996, as Spinosaurus maroccanus, although to date this is not fully accredited by the whole paleontological community. Another 40% complete skeleton was reconstructed at the museum of Chicago by Paul serene and his team. This is the most complete discovery of a Spinosaur sp. skeleton made from pieces of three different animals skeletal bones. The bones were dug by Moroccan fossil diggers in the Kem Kem region and found there way to Europe, once recognised and the importance realised they were used to build the almost half complete Spinosaur for the museum of Chicago in modern materials before the original bones returned to the Moroccan museum services.