Spinosaurus aegyptiacus “hammondi” (*) (S/F)

Spinosaurus is a genus of extremely large semi-aquatic theropod dinosaur in the family Spinosauridae, which gets its name from this dinosaur. It lived in what is now North Africa during the late Cretaceous period between 99 and 93.5 million years ago; fossils have primarily been found in Egypt and Morocco. This is among the largest of all theropod dinosaurs in terms of length, with many paleontologists believing it may be the largest theropod known to science. Its genus name means “spine reptile” in reference to its most distinct anatomical feature, a tall dorsal sail formed from its elongated neural spines.

A partial skeleton of a previously-unknown giant theropod was the first evidence discovered of this dinosaur, found in 1912 by Richard Markgraf in western Egypt’s Bahariya Formation. Three years later in 1915, the skeleton was described by German paleontologist Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach, who named it Spinosaurus aegyptiacus; together the name means “Egyptian spine reptile,” a name which Stromer selected due to the skeleton’s raised neural spines. He supposed that, in life, these supported either a sail of skin or a fatty hump. Most paleontologists consider the first suggestion more likely, especially considering discoveries made later.

For many years, only this broken skeleton was known, giving paleontologists the most marginal of views into what this animal was really like. It was generally assumed to be similar to other theropods known at the time, particularly carnosaurs like Allosaurus, save for the sail on its back. Sadly, further research was stalled in 1944 due to World War II. Stromer’s skeleton fell into the hands of the Nazis as they rose to power, and was subsequently destroyed during a bombing raid during the night between April 24 and 25 which damaged the Paläontologisches Museum München in Munich where it was held. Stromer’s notes survived, though, and though he died before any further discoveries were made, his son donated his notes to the now-rebuilt museum in 1995.

One year later, in 1996, a new Spinosaurus discovery was finally made by Canadian paleontologist Dale Russell in Morocco’s Kem Kem Beds. While also fragmentary like the original, this skeleton’s vertebrae were proportioned differently than those illustrated in Stromer’s notes, so Russell assigned it to a new species: S. moroccanus, meaning “Moroccan spine reptile.” However, not all paleontologists agree that there are two species of Spinosaurus, since the vertebral proportions can vary from one animal to another and the original fossil was destroyed.

Fossils found in the later 1990s helped paint a more accurate picture of this animal’s anatomy. Even up until then, it was still generally thought to have a skull similar to that of carnosaurs. Moroccan remains discovered in 1998 by Russell showed that its skull was actually more like that of the European spinosaur Baryonyx, helping to determine these dinosaurs’ taxonomic placement. More remains of Spinosaurus teeth and skull parts were recovered from Tunisia’s Chenini Formation in 2002.

Spinosaurus skeleton cast assembled circa 2014 on Main Street, Isla Nublar. It bears similarities to both the genetically modified animal it was originally based on, and the paleontological reconstruction by Nizar Ibrahim in 2014.

Throughout the twenty-first century, more fossils have brought to light the true nature of this creature, unveiling a dinosaur supremely adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle. New information came to light thanks to a sub-adult skeleton discovered in 2014 by Nizar Ibrahim in the Kem Kem Beds, which revealed Spinosaurus to have shorter hind limbs and a slightly trapezoidal or bimodal sail shape. Its tail was found to be deep and powerful; by 2020, new analyses of the tail bones were found to suggest it had a caudal fin not unlike that of a newt. Together, these show that Spinosaurus truly flourished in aquatic environments, confirming what some paleontologists had suspected since the 1990s.

While Spinosaurus was being researched by paleontologists, it was cloned in secret by International Genetic Technologies on Isla Sorna. This occurred in late 1998 or early to mid-1999 and was kept under wraps due to the Gene Guard Act, which was implemented in 1997 and made the act of cloning this animal explicitly illegal. InGen abandoned its results midway through 1999 for fear of discovery; the existence of Spinosaurus was covered up and not known to any members of the public until 2001. Even then, those who discovered its existence were silenced, and this species remained more or less an enigma of InGen history until 2018 when the truth behind its creation was finally revealed. Due to the numerous anatomical differences between InGen’s Spinosaurus and those found by paleontologists, it is believed that this dinosaur’s genome was altered by InGen during its creation (archived emails from Dr. Henry Wu, assumed to be the creator, imply that this was accidental). Because of the alterations, Jurassic-Pedia has assigned this dinosaur a subspecific epithet hammondi to distinguish it from the prehistoric version. This name honors the late John Hammond, founder of InGen. Originally, the subspecific epithet robustus was used (meaning “robust” to indicate this animal’s physical strength and durability). The change was made in 2014 following the passing of Lord Richard Attenborough.

Due to its extreme rarity, no stable populations of this dinosaur have existed in the modern age. It is left perpetually on the brink of extinction, with its worldwide population never having been confirmed to exceed the single digits since it was first cloned.

Description

A cursory glance will quickly show Spinosaurus to be among the most distinctive of the theropods, and really a particularly unusual dinosaur overall. To begin with, it is widely considered to be one of the largest theropods, if not the largest; it outsizes even Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus at 43.9 to 50 feet (13.4 to 15.2 meters) in length. The only known specimen cloned by InGen reached a length of 43.75 feet (13.3 meters) and a height of 16 feet (4.9 meters) when measured to the top of the head, 20 feet (6.1 meters) to the top of the sail. This makes it small when compared to fossils. Adult Spinosaurus are near in size to the artificial Indominus rex, which also grows to about fifty feet in length. Its weight has been estimated by paleontologists to be around eight tons (7,257.5 kilograms), though InGen’s specimens are bulkier and may weigh up to 12 tons (10,886.2 kilograms) according to the game Jurassic Park ///: The DNA Factor.

Front view of an adult Spinosaurus, demonstrating the narrow shape of the jaws and tongue as well as the powerful forelimbs and hooked claws.

This dinosaur’s 5.5-foot-long (1.68 meters) head is distinctively spinosaurian, with a long and narrow profile giving it an appearance often likened to a crocodile. Sensory pits on the snout allow it to detect movement in water, which helps it locate aquatic prey. The pinkish tongue is not extremely mobile, but is long and pointed and quite large; it occupies nearly all of the lower jaw. This contrasts with the tongues of other theropods, such as that of InGen’s Tyrannosaurus which is highly mobile, and that of Indominus which is proportinally smaller and cannot extend out of the mouth. It also differentiates this dinosaur from its relative Baryonyx, which has a shorter and more rounded tongue. The nostrils are located partway up the snout, allowing it to place the sensitive tip in water and still breathe; it often swims while fully submerged, so much like crocodilians and other semi-aquatic animals, it can probably seal its nostrils against water. The eyes are much more like those of crocodiles than birds, which further differentiates Spinosaurus from its relatives. It has light yellow-green sclerae and vertical slit pupils, which would help it gauge the location of underwater prey while hiding among aquatic plants. Its snout is decorated with a small pair of backward-pointing lacrimal horns, which are another difference between InGen’s Spinosaurus and the prehistoric animal: originally it would have had a single thin nasal crest in the middle of its snout instead. The jaw shape is also slightly different, lacking the terminal rosette of the premaxilla and dentary, but still possessing the expanded region of the maxilla. Its neck is muscular and connects to powerful shoulders. Like all parts of its body, its neck is stronger than that of the original, though the prehistoric Spinosaurus was still quite a formidable animal.

It has seventy-six teeth, which is more than its fossil ancestor. InGen’s Spinosaurus achieves this number of teeth because of its elongated lower jaw compared to the original, as well as the fact that its teeth are more densely packed and occur in regions of the jaw where the original did not have teeth. The dental shape is also different; whereas the original had straight and conical teeth like those of crocodiles, InGen’s specimens have slightly curved teeth, and they bear small serrations. It has been suggested that hybridization or accidental genetic contamination with other theropods resulted in this difference, as well as the other phenotypic errors in Spinosaurus.

This dinosaur’s whole body is well-muscled, and it is built more like a terrestrial predator than its semi-aquatic ancestor was. Most noticeable is its tall bipedal stance; the original animal had much shorter legs, causing it to stand lower to the ground. Some paleontologists have even suggested that it would rest on its hands, assuming a quadruped pose. Even though it is taller, InGen’s Spinosaurus can briefly use its hands to hold itself up while crouching down, and push itself up from a resting or crouching position. The arms are stocky and immensely powerful, over six feet from claw-tip to shoulder, and end in three-fingered hands. Each finger is long for a spinosaurid, terminating in a slightly recurved and equally massive claw. These claws are sharp, built like meat hooks for tearing into prey items such as large fish. Its first finger, where a thumb would be on a mammal, is the largest. Spinosaurus can use its hands to manipulate objects in its environment as well as capturing and dismembering prey, which is aided by the fact that its hands can be pronated due to genetic engineering. Its feet, like its hands, have three clawed toes; the feet also have a vestigial toe called a hallux. There are no signs of interdigital webbing, a feature that some paleontologists have suggested might have been present on the original. Twenty-first century fossil discoveries revealed that the original animal had longer toes with shallower, flatter claws, and that the hallux reached the ground. These adaptations gave it a set of feet similar to those of shorebirds, which would have helped it walk across mud and sand without sinking. InGen’s specimen is less built for this, instead featuring feet that allow it to do well on solid ground but probably struggle on unstable substrates.

The neural spine sail of Spinosaurus may act to stabilize it while swimming, like the dorsal fins of some fish.

Of course, the most striking feature of Spinosaurus is the neural spine sail which it was named for. The tallest of these neural spines are around 5.4 feet (1.65 meters) long, located in roughly the middle of the sail in InGen’s specimens. Fossils show that the original animal may have had a differently-shaped sail, with reconstructions from 2014 onward showing a roughly rectangular or trapezoidal shape, like that of a sailfish. InGen’s specimens have rounded semicircular sails like those of more primitive, terrestrial spinosaurs. It has also been suggested that the original animal’s neural spines supported a fatty hump, but more recent discoveries imply that the neural spines were tightly wrapped in skin and that the surrounding area had comparatively poor blood flow. This suggests that it truly did have a sail in prehistory, rather than a hump.

In fossil specimens, the tail was actually more functional and evolved for a life in the water than in those cloned by InGen. While the InGen Spinosaurus has only a short ridge running the length of its tail, the prehistoric version had raised neural spines not unlike those making up its dorsal sail which formed a newt-like caudal fin. It was probably also more flexible than InGen’s, allowing it to propel itself through shallow lagoons and estuaries.

The leg bones of this dinosaur are quite dense, showing non-pathological osteosclerosis. Having dense bones allow it to better submerge itself, counteracting its natural buoyancy.

Its skin is tough and scaly, though there are no noticeable osteoderms as in InGen’s Baryonyx. Instead the scales are largely smooth and flat, streamlining it for swimming. There is no fossil evidence for feathers in spinosaurids, though the ancestral primitive theropods did have feathers. InGen’s Spinosaurus is one of the most beautifully colored theropods, with a rich purple-gray base color and ruddy patterning on its upper snout, crests, face, the rim of the sail, and the tail ridge. A whitish stripe runs from each ear to the corresponding hip, then resumes behind the leg to reach the end of the tail; there is also white patterning on the face. Its underbelly shows some countershading, a common feature in predatory animals as well as aquatic species. Predictably, its large sail is the most decorated part of its body; below the reddish rim are eight to ten bluish-purple tall ovular markings each centered on a neural spine, with the midline being redder. These markings are rimmed in white, giving the base of the sail a wavy or jagged appearance as the white rims border the grayish body.

Growth

Fossil evidence (in the form of a very young juvenile, only 5.8 feet or 1.78 meters long) demonstrates that Spinosaurus had its aquatic adaptations at an early age, and proportions of subadults appear similar to those of adults. This suggests that, apart from size and possibly coloration, there are few major differences between juveniles and adults. The sail may have been a smaller size upon hatching, but by the subadult stage is known to have been at its final proportions in comparison to the rest of the body.

The ontogeny of InGen’s Spinosaurus has not been observed due to the secrecy regarding this animal’s creation, but is probably similar to that of the original animal as well as other InGen theropods. Due to the use of growth-boosting treatments, the only known Spinosaurus was around its full size by the summer of 2001 despite having hatched sometime between late 1998 and mid-1999. This means it achieved maturity in less than three years.

Sexual Dimorphism

So far, since only one specimen of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus hammondi has been observed directly, there is no information available about sexual dimorphism in this animal. This appears to be a very visual animal, with bright colors and a prominent display structure, so it is likely that males would be more colorful than females. Ernst Stromer, the discoverer of Spinosaurus, speculated that the male’s sail would also be taller.

Habitat
Preferred Habitat

This piscivorous animal inhabits coastal waterways, though genetic engineering has enabled it to survive equally well on dry land. In the Cretaceous period of northern Africa where it once lived, its habitat was tidal flats, estuaries, and mangrove forests; here its food would be abundant and it could avoid competing with terrestrial predators. The environment there was largely quite warm. InGen’s modern version is more amphibious than aquatic, but still enjoys deep estuarine and fluvial environments where it can submerge itself in order to hunt. It can be found in rainforests, though its bulk means it cannot venture into densely-wooded areas. Spinosaurus can be seen in grassland at times, but since it is such a large animal, it finds it difficult to ambush prey in the open. However, grassland does allow it to spot rivals and other threats to its safety.

In 2016, a captive specimen was successfully acclimated to a desert environment, confirming that it can survive arid conditions if it needs to. Very high temperatures do not bother it; the sail on its back likely helps it to regulate its body temperature so that it does not overheat.

Isla Nublar

It is unknown if live specimens of this animal ever reached Isla Nublar. If the one known specimen was transported there, it would have arrived sometime between late 2004 and early 2005, before Jurassic World opened to the public. There is no evidence of it ever being put on display, so if it did live on Isla Nublar, it would have been housed in a paddock located in the restricted area of Sector 5 rather than in the park proper. A skeleton on Main Street was said to have come from this animal, suggesting that it had died prior to 2014. However, the anatomy of the skeleton more closely resembled a then-modern understanding of Spinosaurus, bearing little similarity to the Site B specimen. The animal from Isla Sorna, it seems, never reached Isla Nublar at all.

Storyboards for the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom suggest that at least one Spinosaurus lived on Isla Nublar by mid-2018, inhabiting the area east of Mount Sibo, and that at least one fully-grown adult had died to the west of that location. This implies that at least two other Spinosaurus were created by InGen between 2005 and 2015, but as they do not appear in the film (their roles being replaced by Carnotaurus and Stegosaurus respectively), it is unknown whether they truly existed. In fact, media from the Dinosaur Protection Group strongly implies that this animal had become extinct on Isla Nublar by February 4, 2018.

Isla Sorna

This animal was cloned illegally on Isla Sorna between late 1998 and mid-1999 as a part of a clandestine research project that preceded Jurassic World. It was most likely created in the embryonics compound of the western island, near where it lived as an adult. After being abandoned, the only known specimen, a male, established a territory in the island’s large central waterway and the surrounding western region. It does not appear to have ventured to the east, probably due to the presence of well-established Tyrannosaurus rex populations.

During the summer of 2001, the spinosaur was sighted on a few occasions in western Isla Sorna by an illegal rescue operation. First, on July 18, it was witnessed near the airfield, where it was injured in an airplane collision and subsequently was seen in territorial combat with a male Tyrannosaurus. The following day, it was encountered by the group again near the Site B Aviary. Finally, in the early morning of July 20, it was encountered in its home, the deep channel in the island’s south, where it attempted to attack the intruders but was driven off.

According to the junior novel Flyers, this animal was relocated in the summer of 2003 to another region of Isla Sorna after it disrupted the island’s ecosystem. The presence of this dinosaur, as well as other illegally-cloned species in the late 1990s, unbalanced the delicate ecology of Isla Sorna. The island was simply too small for so many huge animals. By the early 2000s, a trophic cascade was occurring as the animals ran out of food. Though other species fell back into extinction, the Spinosaurus at least had fish to live off of, so the decline of the terrestrial ecosystem spared it.

Official statements from InGen described the animal as having died, with its skeleton being used to create a display piece in Jurassic World. The game Jurassic World: Evolution 2 depicts it dying from wounds sustained while fighting a pride of Velociraptor on Isla Sorna in 2004 or 2005. However, the skeleton in Jurassic World did not resemble the animal it was allegedly based on. Instead, it looked more like Spinosaurus as interpreted by paleontologists around 2014. This hinted at the likely truth: that the Spinosaurus never reached Isla Nublar. Instead, it was possibly confirmed in 2016 to be in possession of Mantah Corporation, one of InGen’s longtime rivals. It is unknown when they appropriated the specimen, but since InGen was highly protective of its assets, Mantah Corp must have violated the law to acquire it.

Other

As its name implies, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus originally inhabited what is now Egypt, in northeastern Africa. Its relative S. maroccanus lived in northwestern Africa. These spinosaurs evolved roughly 99 million years ago and persisted for approximately six million years, inhabiting wetlands and coasts of the continent’s north. Later in the Cretaceous, these wetlands began to dry up, depriving Spinosaurus of its habitat until it ultimately became extinct. DNA samples persisted, and in the late twentieth century, scientists succeeded in cloning it. The resultant animals were modified using genetic engineering, causing them to look and behave differently than their ancestors.

Although it is a capable swimmer, it is unlikely that InGen’s modified Spinosaurus can cross extensive swaths of open ocean. As a result, it did not have any real chance of leaving its isolated home in the Gulf of Fernandez. It is possible that some Spinosaurus were smuggled to the Central American mainland by poachers, but this is very unlikely as it would require that (first) more than one Spinosaurus was cloned between 2005 and 2015, and (second) that poachers were able to access smaller juveniles between 2005 and 2018.

The original Spinosaurus, however, is believed to have been poached from Isla Sorna by Mantah Corp, probably sometime between 2001 and 2004. It was brought to a clandestine facility located on an island to the east of Isla Nublar, where it was housed until at least June 2016 and used for research and testing. It was introduced to a desert biome in June 2016 and appears to have acclimated well to its environment despite the lack of water.

Behavior and Ecology
Activity Patterns

This dinosaur is cathermal, resting around noon to avoid straining itself during the heat of midday. It hunts chiefly in the morning, both in the water and on land.

Diet and Feeding Behavior

Spinosaurus is carnivorous, though it is often characterized as a piscivore (in other words, a specialized fish-eater). However, at this size, it can eat whatever it pleases other than the very largest of animals in its habitat. Its relative Baryonyx preys chiefly on fish but also will hunt and eat terrestrial animals such as dinosaurs smaller than itself. Spinosaurus most likely enjoys a similar diet, and with the genetic alterations InGen has adapted into its biology, it probably can dine on a wider range of prey than its ancestor. According to Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, its favored prey is Ouranosaurus, but this species has not been cloned in the film canon.

Spinosaurus uses its pressure-sensitive snout as well as its massive clawed hands to find prey in the water.

Ancestrally, the Spinosaurus plied coastal waters and stalked the shorelines, hunting large fish and aquatic reptiles. Its neck and tail were highly flexible, helping it to snatch food out of the water. Its sail may even have played a role here, helping it to corral fish into a tighter area where it could grab them, a technique employed by sail-backed marine predatory fish in the modern day. InGen’s Spinosaurus is less well-adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, but is still a very capable swimmer and prefers to hunt in water. Its home on Isla Sorna included prey such as striped bonitos, which would sometimes swim into shallower waters in search of food.

This dinosaur has many adaptations to help it capture prey, particularly its snout and claws. Its snout has pressure receptors which enable it to sense the flow of water and creatures in it, so even when it cannot see its underwater surroundings, it can detect prey by placing its snout in the water. It will probe the waters with its jaws to locate prey, and then strike, grabbing animals in its teeth or extracting them from tight spaces using its clawed hands. While it has serrated teeth unlike its ancestor, it is still able to maintain a firm grip to prevent slippery fish from escaping its jaws. As it is incapable of chewing, Spinosaurus must either swallow prey whole or tear it apart using its teeth and claws. The hooked shape of its claws helps it accomplish this. The size of prey it can swallow whole is surprisingly small; it has been observed pinning down even human-sized prey items and using its jaws to pull off bite-sized pieces.

Spinosaurus in pursuit of human prey, Isla Sorna (7/19/2001)

Since it has been endowed with the features of terrestrial theropods, InGen’s Spinosaurus can hunt on land as well, and may simply ambush and briefly chase terrestrial prey. It can snap them up using its jaws in a similar manner to the way it hunts fish. On occasion, at least one Spinosaurus was reported to intentionally intimidate its prey before attacking, with the hypothesis floated in the junior novelization that it does this because of the way its prey’s fear response modifies the flavor of the meat.

Spinosaurus is a generalist hunter, and like other carnivores it probably scavenges meat when it gets the chance. With such a long and narrow snout, it could easily probe into carcasses and select whichever meat or organs it prefers.

Social Behavior

Only one specimen of this dinosaur has ever been observed, so nothing is officially known about its social behavior. It is also unknown how much its behavior has been altered due to genetic engineering. However, it has a very obvious display structure and is attractively patterned, suggesting that it would engage in some form of social displays and interactions.

The game Jurassic World: Evolution depicts it living comfortably in pairs or alone.

Reproduction

Little is known about how this dinosaur breeds since only one has been confirmed, but the colorful sail would probably be used as a courtship display. As with other theropods, it has a cloaca which houses the reproductive organs, located near the base of the tail.

Many theropods exhibit crocodilian-like breeding behaviors and some are known to practice monogamy. The eggs of theropods are typically ovoid like those of modern birds, an adaptation to prevent them from rolling about too much. The smaller spinosaurid Baryonyx builds shallow dirt nests in the ground, laying around six white or brown eggs, which both parents guard and brood. Eggs are laid in spring or early summer and incubate for probably at least six months; in the larger Spinosaurus, more eggs might be laid, and the incubation period may be longer. Its clawed hands would probably be useful in excavating a nest of dirt or mud.

When fully grown, an InGen Spinosaurus may reach twenty feet in height to the top of its sail.

Since this animal was not allowed to age naturally when it was created, little is known about its natural life cycle. The specimen created in 1998 or 1999 was nearly full-sized by 2001, suggesting it matured in about three years. Fossil evidence shows that Baryonyx would have been sexually mature by thirteen to fifteen, reaching skeletal maturity about ten years later, but InGen Baryonyx were known to reach full size in eight years. Similar maturation rates for Spinosaurus, though possibly slower on account of its larger size, are possible. Both the fossil version and InGen’s are known to become independent at a reasonably early age, with fossil Spinosaurus showing the aquatic adaptations at only five feet long while InGen’s Spinosaurus was capable of defending itself during the early juvenile stage. It reared itself in the wild to full maturity without the aid of a parent or caretaker.

Communication

Possessing such a large body feature as its neural spine sail suggests that the Spinosaurus uses visual cues to communicate with its own kind, but since only one has been reported so far, no further information is known. The vocalizations that have been heard from it are all territorial in nature and consist of loud, brassy roars and raspy hisses.

Baryonyx uses non-vocal communication in social situations, such as clattering its jaws and splashing in water; it is likely that Spinosaurus might use similar behaviors to interact with its own species. Since it is not very social, its main form of intraspecific communication would probably be courtship displays.

Ecological Interactions

In the prehistoric past, Spinosaurus took to the water and avoided competition with the large terrestrial theropods it shared its environment with, preying mostly on aquatic life. However, when it was recreated by InGen, its biology was altered to make it more suited to living on solid ground, even though it retains some of its aquatic adaptations. This enables it to vary its lifestyle, but puts it in direct competition with twice as many rivals.

When it was created on Isla Sorna, it was introduced to the wild alongside at least one Ceratosaurus, multiple Ankylosaurus, and a massive number of Corythosaurus. While the latter would have been an ideal (if evasive) prey item, Ankylosaurus would have been riskier prey due to its body armor, and Ceratosaurus would have been a competitor as it also prefers wetland and hunts aquatic animals. This was not a particularly fierce rival, though, as it appears Ceratosaurus feared the Spinosaurus and would avoid this larger dinosaur at any cost. Fellow spinosaur Baryonyx, which is moderately aggressive, already lived on Isla Sorna and probably encountered the Spinosaurus; it is unknown how these interactions played out.

In the more terrestrial world, it would have lived alongside other large carnivores that would have become its foes. These included Pteranodon, Carnotaurus, and the huge Tyrannosaurus, the latter of which was perhaps the only theropod created by InGen at the time that could truly threaten it. At least one major territorial conflict played out between a Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus in 2001, which ended in the death of the tyrannosaur. Spinosaurus is a capable fighter, using its bulk as well as its teeth and claws to attack enemies and defend its territory. It becomes enraged at the smell or sight of intruders, particularly Tyrannosaurus since this theropod is a genuine danger. Since it has longer and more useful arms than many other theropods, it gains an edge in turf wars. In combat it uses its arms to great advantage, swiping at and grappling its enemies. Spinosaurus has been known to kill its rivals by twisting the head until the neck snaps, a brutally efficient way to ensure that the threat is unquestionably dead.

Spinosaurus competing for territory with Tyrannosaurus rex, Isla Sorna (7/18/2001)

Smaller dinosaurs are more likely to go unnoticed. It lived alongside Compsognathus and Velociraptor on Isla Sorna, but was not known to interact with them. These dinosaurs were probably too quick and evasive to hunt, but it would take a large number of very determined Velociraptors to stand a chance against a healthy adult Spinosaurus. The much smaller Compsognathus probably escaped its notice entirely, though these tiny carnivores’ nests were easily destroyed by a Spinosaurus passing through. At least one compy habitat was trampled during the July 2001 confrontation between the Spinosaurus and a rival Tyrannosaurus. This is a rare example of ammensalism, an ecological relationship in which one party is harmed while the other is unaffected.

A number of herbivorous dinosaurs were already established in this region of Isla Sorna by the time Spinosaurus was created. These included the hadrosaurs Parasaurolophus and Edmontosaurus, which were potential prey items; the former was particularly numerous. Stegosaurus would have been more difficult prey, posing a challenge for a Spinosaurus to take down, and the gigantic Brachiosaurus was probably beyond its capabilities. However, it could easily have eaten juveniles of these species. While rare, the species Iguanodon and Diplodocus may have inhabited that area as well. No record of interaction between these dinosaurs and Spinosaurus have been reported. Thermal scans indicated a Pachycephalosaurus population in the southwest as of 1997, but whether they were still there as of 2001 remains unknown.

Spinosaurus also lived alongside modern species native to the Gulf of Fernandez. Striped bonitos (Sarda orientalis) inhabit the waters around Isla Sorna, and these fish would have provided it with an ample source of food as they ventured into the estuaries to hunt their own prey. The plants of its environment, too, were important to it; trees, shrubs, and water plants would all have provided it with means to hide and better ambush prey. On the other hand, particularly dense plants impede its movement, and it may topple trees as it moves.

The teeth and claws of Spinosaurus are not only efficient hunting implements; they can be used to defend itself against territorial rivals and other threats.

Due to the small size and disproportionately large population on Isla Sorna, the introduction of many new dinosaurs including Spinosaurus had a deleterious effect on the ecosystem. While this was only one animal, its large size and territorial behavior meant that it would engage in violent fights with its rivals and even kill other apex predators in defense of itself and its territory. It was known to meet any perceived threat with aggression and did not back down from a fight. This had far-reaching effects on Isla Sorna’s dinosaurs: killing even one Tyrannosaurus, for example, would have eliminated a major control on the herbivore populations. Spinosaurus does not hunt the same prey items; a good example is Triceratops, which is hunted by tyrannosaurs but not spinosaurs. With the ceratopsians’ main predator removed, their population would have exploded, causing a food shortage. This and other effects of the illegal breeding in the late 1990s resulted in a trophic cascade event, causing many animal deaths. According to the junior novel Flyers, the presence of the Spinosaurus directly or indirectly caused some species to become extinct. Since then, it has also been confirmed to kill large mammals (Mantah Corp documented their specimen killing a cloned Smilodon in June 2016).

Still, even this fearsome hunter is not invulnerable. It can be affected by parasites, especially those that flourish in and around water such as mosquitoes. In fact, mosquitoes and other blood-sucking parasites were the means by which InGen obtained Spinosaurus DNA in the 1990s. It is also susceptible to the rabies virus (Rabies lyssavirus) according to Jurassic World: Evolution, despite this virus naturally only affecting mammals. The game proposes that genetic engineering has given some dinosaur species an unnatural weakness that allows this virus to infect them.

Cultural Significance
Symbolism

Throughout history, Spinosaurus has fascinated and frustrated paleoartists with its fragmentary remains, leaving it open to speculation. As time has gone on, more and more information about this dinosaur has been discovered, radically changing scientists’ perception of what it looked like and how it lived. Because of this, any speculative reconstructions were swiftly made outdated throughout the 2010s and early 2020s, much to the chagrin of artists. Spinosaurus gained a reputation (especially among the online paleoart community) for its ever-changing “appearance,” and for some, illustrating it correctly became something of a holy grail. Certain artists grew ferociously defensive of their personal reconstructions. Eventually, illustrating Spinosaurus in any form became a risky move in the online art community, and discussing Spinosaurus can still elicit an aggressive response from dinosaur fans both professional and amateur.

Thankfully, this dinosaur is less controversial in the general public, which largely sees Spinosaurus as simply an interesting giant theropod. Its profile is distinctly different from the more popular Tyrannosaurus, making it a common alternative favorite. Dinosaur encyclopedias, films, video games, and other forms of media frequently feature it, though depictions often lag behind the science. Many pop-culture Spinosaurus resemble reconstructions from the early 2000s, when this animal’s crocodilian snout was still a fairly new discovery.

It is depicted on postage stamps for some of the countries in and near its prehistoric range, including Tanzania, Angola, and the Gambia.

In Captivity

Sadly little is known about how Spinosaurus fares in captivity, since the only confirmed specimen’s life was shrouded in secrecy from the time it hatched. Some concept art implies that it was fairly aggressive from an early age, attempting to bite or claw its caretakers and necessitating a special incubator to keep it restrained. However, since it was subject to experimentation during this phase of its life, this aggression may have been a learned behavior. As a young adult, it was exceedingly territorial and required a large, diverse habitat with huge amounts of food. If kept on exhibit, this dinosaur would surely draw crowds thanks to its unique appearance, but its behavior patterns and habitat needs make it hard to keep healthy and happy.

So far the only real information about keeping it in captivity come not from InGen, but from its longtime rival Mantah Corporation. The dinosaur was appropriated illegally and, through unknown means, transported from Isla Sorna to another island farther east where it was housed in a technologically-advanced, self-contained habitat emulating a hot desert with canyons, badlands, and sandy plains dotted with cacti and aloe. The Spinosaurus maintained its highly aggressive behavior, not tolerating other animals in its environment and showing particular hostility toward humans. This made it difficult to deal with; there is evidence of it destroying large amounts of security technology sent to monitor it. Unfortunately, the abuse it may have suffered as a juvenile under InGen has only been made worse by Mantah Corp, as it was intended to be put in combat against other animals to entertain wealthy customers.

Science

First discovered from incomplete but extremely unique remains, Spinosaurus has been a source of scientific intrigue for over a hundred years since it was described to science in 1915. Over the decades more and more has been learned: in the beginning it was thought to be a type of carnosaur, but later discoveries transformed it into a sleeker theropod resembling an enormous bipedal crocodile. From there, it was found to have aquatic adaptations, so some paleontologists suggested it was a marine animal; not long after this it was revised into something like a giant shorebird, capable of swimming in shallow water and stalking coastlines. It was also one of the first dinosaurs whose habitat could be predicted not just from its anatomy and the location it was found, but using chemistry. Oxygen isotopes measured from its tooth enamel in 2010 implied that it spent large amounts of time in water, which was eventually corroborated by new paleontological discoveries. Exactly how much time it spent in water versus on land is still debated by paleontologists based on anatomical findings.

Chart by Dr. Wu describing differences between InGen and fossil Spinosaurus

It has also played a limited yet significant role in the Genetic Age following its de-extinction. Spinosaurus was cloned during early research and development for the theme park that would eventually become Jurassic World, and may have been a part of Dr. Henry Wu‘s research into the artificial creation of new species via hybridogenesis. If true, then this animal can be seen as a precursor to the later Indominus rex. Experimentation on the Spinosaurus when it was young yielded new growth-accelerating techniques, among other innovations, which later benefited Jurassic World as well. For its contributions to science, the Spinosaurus specimen appears to have suffered, exhibiting high aggression. Allegedly, its remains were used to craft an educational attraction on Jurassic World’s Main Street, though since the park’s closure serious doubt has been cast over claims that the animal is dead. It may have been sighted in 2016, alive and well at a totally different facility (and no longer in InGen’s possession). Meanwhile, Dr. Wu continued to use Spinosaurus data in his research; in 2015 he was known to have worked on charting its phenotypic anomalies by comparing it to fossil specimens.

The animal in Mantah Corp‘s menagerie, referred to as Asset 87 and strongly believed to be the original InGen specimen, was tested in environments much different than its typical coastal wetland or rainforest. Despite its preference for water, it acclimated very well to hot desert habitat. It was studied by Mantah Corp scientist Dr. Mae Turner, who specializes in theropod neurology and communication; she interpreted several of the animal’s vocalizations by studying its brain activity at the time it made the sounds. Mantah Corp administrator Kash D. Langford was well acquainted with this specimen too and intended to use it as a test subject for his experimental V-55 neural chip. This technology was meant to alter the dinosaur’s behavior through direct brain stimulation. However, the chip was not successfully implanted, and other chips failed to integrate into adult dinosaur brains due to host rejection.

Mantah Corp also used Spinosaurus DNA in hybridization research, building off of the work started by Dr. Henry Wu in the late 1990s. Using the ceratopsian Sinoceratops as a base, Mantah Corp scientists were able to breed a hybrid of these two genera with unprecedented physiological attributes.

Politics

When it was created, the Spinosaurus was subject to poor treatment and developed a negative relationship with its handlers, who left it after only a few months to its fate on Isla Sorna. This abandonment was due to fears of discovery, since the animals in the late 1990s were created in violation of the Gene Guard Act.

Mature S. a. hammondi in profile

This law made Spinosaurus a threatening animal to InGen, since its very existence was evidence of their criminal violation. When the animal was discovered during an international incident on Isla Sorna in 2001 (involving celebrity paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, no less), InGen’s crime was nearly exposed. Only by burying the witness testimonies and bribing government officials did InGen’s holding company Masrani Global Corporation avoid legal consequences. The Spinosaurus had not had an excellent time during the incident either: after around two months of being aggravated unintentionally by castaway Eric Kirby‘s use of tyrannosaur urine during the 2001 incident, it was drawn to the airfield on the island as the rescue plane landed. It responded to the sound of a human voice through a megaphone with a territorial roar, which resulted in it being shot at. As it pursued its attacker into the open and killed him, it was hit by the airplane. While attacking the survivors, it was led into life-threatening battle with a local tyrannosaur; the following day it encountered the survivors again, and then for a third time when they unintentionally invaded its home on the final day of the incident. During this confrontation, it was lit on fire via spilled gasoline and driven away.

Its existence was finally used in the 2015 and 2016 investigations into bioethical misconduct by Henry Wu and violations of the Gene Guard Act by InGen. Documents leaked by an anonymous hacker revealed the truth about this animal’s creation as well as that of at least three other species, demonstrating that InGen had violated the Gene Guard Act. The life and suffering of the Spinosaurus was used by the Dinosaur Protection Group as an example of animal cruelty during their 2018 campaign to save the animals of Isla Nublar. It was not heavily featured in their lobbying, but was included in a list of animals that had inhabited the island (its name in red, like those known to be extinct) as well as a public discussion of InGen’s illegal cloning which had devastated Isla Sorna.

Resources

Created in secret and abandoned within months, the Spinosaurus served mainly as a proof of concept rather than a legitimate park attraction. It was engineered by InGen geneticists in an amalgam testing program operated illegally on Isla Sorna in the late 1990s, with the results intended to fuel a second incarnation of Jurassic Park. Many believe that it was (intentionally or not) a step forward in Henry Wu’s research into the creation of hybrid animal genera; an archived memo by Dr. Wu recovered from the Masrani Global Corporation backdoor terminal refers to an “accident” left on Isla Sorna, which may have been this animal. In any case, while it does in theory hold potential as a park exhibit due to its striking appearance and large size, it has never been used in this capacity. Like all de-extinct life it is theoretically a source of unique biopharmaceutical compounds, but again its applications here have not been studied.

A model of this animal’s skeleton was on display in Main Street in Jurassic World. This was made of casts, rather than actual skeleton, since real bones would have been damaged by the elements over time. No living Spinosaurus were ever made a part of an operational park attraction, but the animal did at the very least appear in the park’s most heavily-used area and was seen by millions. Rather than resemble InGen’s creature, the Main Street skeleton was up to date with paleontological knowledge as of 2014. This made it an ambassador of the past, rather than the genetically-engineered mistake that it was viewed as by Dr. Wu and InGen. Masrani Global social media claimed this skeleton to be from InGen’s original specimen, but the numerous anatomical differences were left unexplained.

The reason for this may have been that the Spinosaurus never actually died, but was found to be missing when InGen Security moved assets from Isla Sorna to Isla Nublar. Eyewitness accounts in June 2016 revealed a Spinosaurus, strongly believed to be the same animal, in possession of Mantah Corporation at a clandestine facility along with numerous other illegally-appropriated specimens. Here, the facility administrator Kash Langford used the specimen as a kind of guinea pig to test various new Mantah Corp restraining technologies such as drone barriers and the company’s new Bio-Robotic Assistance Droid robots. The Spinosaurus, which retained its dislike of human interference, proved a spirited test subject. Once testing was completed, Langford intended to pit the dinosaur (now called Asset 87) in combat against other creatures for the entertainment of wealthy customers. In June 2016, it had already been allowed to kill a Smilodon.

Safety

This genetically-engineered animal is not only the largest, but one of the most aggressive theropods and has been known to attack humans. It seems to always attack to kill, never merely to intimidate. This may have been a result of the stressful conditions the only known animal grew up in, though as it was the sole representative of its species, there is no way to test this.

To stay safe around this dinosaur, avoid large, deep bodies of water where it might live. If you yourself live near deep bodies of water, always stay alert for signs of dinosaur activity; water sources draw in all kinds of animals, and in a world where de-extinction has run wild, this now includes predatory theropods. Spinosaurus often chooses to remain concealed in the water to avoid enemies and ambush prey, but you may be able to track its movements by watching the behaviors of other animals. Fish have an excellent sense of water pressure and can detect disturbances nearby, so if the fish in your local waterways are acting frightened, you should probably avoid those areas.

It has a good sense of smell along with its pressure-sensitive snout, and may track you by scent. If you are traveling in an area where it may be living, avoid carrying meat or other food items with you, and especially do not carry fish. Hunting or fishing in a space claimed as territory by a Spinosaurus is quite unwise. Competition for food is not tolerated by this dinosaur and you may provoke it to attack by doing so.

Due to its massive size there is not a lot you can do to fight off a Spinosaurus. Its eyes and nostrils are weak points, like with most animals, and the soft interior of its mouth is vulnerable. Unfortunately you probably will not be able to reach the back of its throat to fight it if you are bitten: it snaps its jaws down quite hard and can kill a person very quickly. Also avoid its arms, since they are powerful and dexterous, with massive hooked claws. If you are chased by this dinosaur, hide in the sturdiest building or cave you can find and block any entrances. While it is strong enough to push through most barricades, it is more likely to give up if you are out of sight. Remain still and quiet until it has gone. Even then, do not draw attention to yourself until you are absolutely sure you have left its territory; it stakes out very big tracts of land as its own. Pay attention to the way other animals around you behave, especially rival carnivores. If they are wary and nervous, the Spinosaurus may still be around.

There are a few ways you can try to defuse or disrupt a dangerous situation with Spinosaurus. If one is staring you down, it may be waiting for you to make the first move. Running will be your first instinct, but this might actually provoke it to chase after you; they seem to enjoy eating frightened, adrenaline-filled prey. Back away slowly instead, not making any sudden moves until shelter is within reach. You might also hold it off using bright lights and loud sounds. As huge as it is, it fears fire like most animals, and using devices such as flares can surprise it. Capturing and relocating this animal from human-inhabited areas is a very troublesome ordeal and definitely best left to experts: do not try and contain it yourself. It can, and will, eat you during this attempt.

Behind the Scenes

In Jurassic Park ///, the role of the Spinosaurus was originally intended for the smaller Baryonyx, which even appears on some early logos for the film. The inclusion of Spinosaurus was at the suggestion of paleontological consultant Dr. Jack Horner, who believed that this theropod’s greater size would mean it was stronger and more aggressive than any other dinosaur, as well as to reinforce his generally-discredited hypothesis that Tyrannosaurus rex was an obligate scavenger. Before the identity of the film’s dinosaurian star was revealed, fans debated over which spinosaur would appear, which is parodied during a scene in the film where the identity of the Spinosaurus is discussed.

Due to the negative critical and fandom reaction to the film, the Spinosaurus appeared as a skeleton in Jurassic World which was destroyed by the Tyrannosaurus. However, the skeleton was shown more like that of modern paleontology’s understanding of the animal, despite the franchise’s official social media stating that it was the individual from Jurassic Park ///. More Spinosaurus were originally planned to appear in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in the form of a carcass and a live animal during the stampede sequence, but these roles were given to a Stegosaurus in a deleted scene and a Carnotaurus, respectively. The dinosaur itself finally reappeared in the flesh during the fourth and final season of the animated series Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, with writers stating that it “might” be the same individual from Jurassic Park ///.

Notable Individuals

Asset 87 – only confirmed individual at this time

Disambiguation Links

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus (JN)