The skeleton of SpinosaurusSpinosaurus was a giant theropod that lived in Africa during the middle part of the Cretaceous Period. The largest of all predatory dinosaurs, it had a long, narrow skull, like a modern crocodile. Its jaws were filled by conical teeth that had no serrations. Above its eyes were small crests; its nostrils were upward-facing. Its arms were long and muscular. Rising from its back were a set of spines, some up to 1.65 metres (5.4 feet) tall, a feature from which Spinosaurus gets its name: "spine lizard". The spines probably had a sheet of skin connecting them, forming a large sail—this dinosaur's most distinctive feature.
SpinosaurusThere are a number of reasons put forward as to why Spinosaurus may have had a sail. It would have increased the surface area of its skin, the better to absorb heat from the sun when warming up in the morning, if, as is likely, Spinosaurus’s sail contained abundant blood vessels. The sail would also have been an effective radiator of excess heat, especially if Spinosaurus stood side-on to a cooling wind. In males, a large, colourful sail would have attracted females during courtship—another possible use. At the same time, it would have also made Spinosaurus seem even bigger, intimidating its enemies.
At an estimated 17 m (56 ft) long, Spinosaurus was the largest known meat-eating dinosaur of all time.
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