New discovery confirms the Spinosaurus was a 'water-dwelling, river monster'

Found in an ancient river bed, a cache of teeth has sealed the deal.

Steph Panecasio Former Editor
Steph Panecasio was an Editor based in Sydney, Australia. She knows a lot about the intersection of death, technology and culture. She's a fantasy geek who covers science, digital trends, video games, subcultures and more. Outside work, you'll most likely find her rewatching Lord of the Rings or listening to D&D podcasts.
Steph Panecasio
2 min read

A Spinosaurus model installed at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.

Getty Images - Junko Kimura / Staff

Scientists have had their suspicions about the Spinosaurus' aquatic tendencies for a while. From its spiky sail to its crocodilian snout, there were elements of the Spinosaurus that lent themselves to swimming -- and most recently, the discovery of paddle-like tail bones had everyone questioning whether the dinosaur was more Michael Phelps than Eddie the Eel.

Now, a study published in Cretaceous Research has confirmed that the Spinosaurus swam with the best of them. Taphonomic evidence gathered from the Kem Kem riverbed in the Moroccan Sahara Desert supports this conclusion, with excavations uncovering over 1,200 fossilized teeth at the site. 

Spinosaurus teeth accounted for almost half of the findings, with barely any evidence of teeth from land-dwelling dinosaurs. This supported the conclusion that the Spinosaurus was most likely an aquatic dinosaur -- specifically, a river-dwelling predator.

David Martill, co-author of the study, said that the presence of Spinosaurus teeth was almost certainly a reflection of an aquatic lifestyle. "An animal living much of its life in water is much more likely to contribute teeth to the river deposit than those dinosaurs that perhaps only visited the river for drinking and feeding along its banks," he said. 

"From this research we are able to confirm this location as the place where this gigantic dinosaur not only lived but also died. The results are fully consistent with the idea of a truly water-dwelling, 'river monster'."

After all, with estimated measurements of up to 18m (59 ft) long and weighing over 20 tons, it's safe to say the Spinosaurus certainly wasn't the type of company you'd like to feel nudging your feet in the deep.