A Long-Snouted Predatory Dinosaur from Africa and the Evolution of Spinosaurids

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Science  13 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5392, pp. 1298-1302
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5392.1298


Fossils discovered in Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) rocks in the Ténéré Desert of central Niger provide new information about spinosaurids, a peculiar group of piscivorous theropod dinosaurs. The remains, which represent a new genus and species, reveal the extreme elongation and transverse compression of the spinosaurid snout. The postcranial bones include blade-shaped vertebral spines that form a low sail over the hips. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the enlarged thumb claw and robust forelimb evolved during the Jurassic, before the elongated snout and other fish-eating adaptations in the skull. The close phylogenetic relationship between the new African spinosaurid andBaryonyx from Europe provides evidence of dispersal across the Tethys seaway during the Early Cretaceous.

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