CHICAGO, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- A newly reassembled skeleton, pieced together with bones unearthed from the sands of the Sahara desert, confirms the existence of the world's first-discovered semiaquatic dinosaur -- and, according to scientists, the largest predatory dino to ever walk the earth.
The Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was a ferocious Cretaceous-era species that stretched more than 50 feet from nose to tail, out-sizing T. rex by a solid eight or nine feet. The Spinosaurus's flat feet made it an able paddler, and its long plump body likely proved buoyant in the water as it snatched sea mammals with its narrow crocodile-like snout.
"It's probably the most bizarre dinosaur out there," Dr. Nizar Ibrahim, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago who helped lead the research, told The New York Times.
Ibrahim was one of two scientists from the University of Chicago who teamed up with a group of paleontologists from around the globe to piece back together the skeleton of this rare dino that cruised the water's edge in North Africa some 95 million years ago.
Spinosaurus fossils were first found in Egypt, more than 100 years ago, and assembled at a museum in Munich, Germany. But the fossil was destroyed during World War II, and for most than a half-century any evidence of Spinosaurus remained small, scattered and elusive -- just leftover sketches and bone fragments.
But the extensive new collection of bones, found among the Kem Kem fossil beds in eastern Morocco, have renewed interested in the fearsome predator.
"For the very first time, we can piece together the information we have from the drawings of the old skeleton, the fragments of bones, and now this new fossil, and reconstruct this dinosaur," said Dr Ibrahim.
The rediscovery of Spinosaurus and its newly reassembled skeleton is detailed in the newest issue of the journal Science.