Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fossil Fact #7!!!!!!!!!

Finally, it's here!! The Seventh Fact has come!! I know ALL of you are relieved that it is here on this blog, at last!! For this Fact, I've decided to touch up on an apex predator that should seem very familiar to all of you as of July 18, 2001 and Jurassic Park III. Now, let's meet this mysterious predator... (Author Note: Nearly all information in this Fact are from Wikipedia.)



Spinosaurus aegyptiacus- Movie monster or Real misunderstood animal?
Background:
First off, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was a theropod dinosaur that lived in what is now Egypt and North Africa in the Middle Cretaceous period (100 million years ago.) It was first discovered in the 1910s by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer. He named the animal based on a nearly complete fossil specimen and is the biggest theropod known today based off the fossil. Sadly, it was destroyed when the the museum was blown up during an Allied bombing in 1944 near the end of World War II. However, more skull material has been found in recent years. Unfortunately, it's still unclear whether they're from the same species or a different species of Spinosaurid altogether.

Description:
Spinosaurus aegyptiacus is distinct because of it's trademark crocodillian-like mouth which is characteristic of at least three relatives: Suchomimus, Baryonyx, and Irritator. Another characteristic of the family Spinosauridae (group of theropod dinosaurs that includes Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, Irritator challengeri, and Suchomimus tenerensis.)would be the long structures protruding from the animals back vertebrae that supposedly supported a skin "sail." The use for the vertebrae is about as mysterious as the plates on Stegosaurus. Theories range from temperature regulation (note: possilbly not it's internal temperature...at least that's MY opinion.) to sexual display. If the vertebrae did support a skin sail, then it could flush blood up into the thin tissue in the sail. The thin tissue was possibly filled with blood vessels probably ranging from arteries, veins, and/or cappilaries.

Diet:
This theropod probably fished. It's mouth is perfectly designed for catching fish. In fact, fish (like lepidotes)were possible a LOT bigger in the Cretaceous period than today. Otherwise, Spinosaurus could have been a scavenger, a kind of "beach comber." This animal, possibly, ate carcasses that washed up on shore. It could have also alternated between behaviors.

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus Today:
Interestingly enough, nobody knew this dinosaur existed until Jurassic Park III was released in July 18, 2001. Unlike Tyrannosaurus rex, however, the carnivore didn't help the franchise. Fans were extremely disappointed due to the fact it was poorly used. The third film in the trilogy did NOT meet the expectations of fans. To them and other "Paleo-nerds," it was another dinosaur movie like the "old-days." The Spinosaurus was just another "monster" in a another "monster flick." However, paleontologists try to restore the reputation of all dinosaurs through research and public education through documentaries and museums.


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