Stephanie Pierce and George Lauder teamed with University of Detroit paleontologist, Nizar Ibrahim, to decipher how Spinosaurus aegyptiacus would have used newly found tail vertebrae fossils.
Ibrahim's team discovered Spinosaurus fossils in Morocco in 2014 that included tail vertebrae with meter-long spines that appeared to form a paddle. Ibrahim reached out to Pierce who worked with fish bio-mechanist, Lauder, to create a robotic model of the tail, complete with the top fin that would cover the meter-long bone spines.
The study, published in Nature, proves the Spinosaurus, one of the largest known carnivorous dinosaurs, was aquatic. Pierce and Lauder's robotic modeling shows a large, flexible tail fin that would have given the giant predator a deadly propulsive thrust in the water, similar to a salamander or crocodile tail. Combined with the dinosaur's center of gravity, the paper lays to rest the argument over whether Spinosaurus was aquatic. "The fin is not conjecture," said Pierce.
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