Spinosaurus - an ancient dino super-predator almost twice as long as a Venetian gondola - is making a big splash.
After analyzing Spinosaurus fossils recently found in Morocco, an international group of paleontologists uncovered several new aquatic adaptations, the researchers reported in the journal Science on Thursday.
"Working on this animal was like studying an alien from outer space," says Nizar Ibrahim, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago and an author of the study, in a statement. "It's unlike any other dinosaur I have ever seen."
These alien traits include hooked claws and interlocking teeth for snagging slippery food, nostrils high like an alligator's and short legs and hips best suited for water. "We see limb proportions like this in early whales, not predatory dinosaurs," says study co-author Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago dino expert. And at almost 50 feet long - the largest predator to ever wade through a river - the Spinosaurus must have been a terrifying sight for prehistoric fish.