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Washington D.C. - Curved claws like giant meathooks and a long, narrow, crocodile-like skull were among the fossil remains of a new genus and species of dinosaur recently excavated in the Tnr Desert of central Niger. The findings by a group of scientists from the U.S., France, the U.K, and Niger, are reported in the 13 November issue of Science.
The new species is a member of a peculiar group of fish-eating dinosaurs, the spinosaurids, who have long, narrow jaws studded with cone-shaped teeth, a fin-like sail varying in height along their backs, and large, sickle-shaped thumb claws. Spinosaurids themselves are theropods, two-legged carnivores whose ranks include Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor. The new dinosaur, estimated to be about 100 million years old, is named Suchomimus tenerensis. ("Souchos" is Greek for crocodile, and "tener" refers to the desert where the skeleton was found.)
According to reconstructions, Suchomimus was about 11 meters, or 36 feet, long. An average-sized adult human would have stood at eye-level with the thigh of the dinosaur's hind leg. Although the researchers had learned of a couple of spinosaurid fragments found near their site, their discovery of the most complete spinosaurid skeleton yet was somewhat of a surprise.
"We had been looking for really excellent fossils, not just of dinosaurs but of
other organisms as well," said Paul Sereno, of the University of Chicago, who
led the excavation. But the researchers knew immediately that their find had
significant implications for understanding spinosaurids. While they were still
in the field, Sereno and his colleagues suspected from the age and
characteristics of the fossils that t
Contact: Gabriel Paal
American Association for the Advancement of Science