Ibrahim works slowly and carefully.

On the Trail

It was crazy. Ibrahim knew that. Five years had passed. He didn’t know the fossil hunter’s name or address. All he knew was that the man had a mustache. That wasn’t much to go on. Still, Ibrahim wouldn’t let go of the idea. If he could find the fossil hunter again, maybe he could find Spinosaurus.

Ibrahim traveled back to the small town in Morocco and, against all odds, began his search. Days went by without success. No one seemed to know who or where the fossil hunter was.

Time was running out. Ibrahim’s spirits sank. The task seemed impossible. On his last day in Morocco, Ibrahim sat with two friends in a small café, sipping tea. He could feel his dream slipping away.

Then suddenly, he looked up. A tall man, wearing white, passed by his table. The man looked familiar, and he had a mustache.

Ibrahim leaped up and chased after him. Ibrahim’s heart beat wildly. He caught up to the man and looked at his face. It was the fossil hunter! Now, if only the fossil hunter would lead him to the fossils.

Ibrahim was led into the desert to find Spinosaurus.

Ibrahim worked with a team to uncover Spinosaurus bones.


The man with the mustache listened closely to Ibrahim. He understood what Ibrahim was trying to do and how important it was. He agreed to lead Ibrahim to the place where he had found the fossils.

The next day, the two men drove a short distance into the Sahara. Then the fossil hunter stopped their vehicle. They would have to make the rest of the trip on foot. They climbed a steep slope that couldn’t be seen from the main road. Near the top, they reached what looked like a small cave carved into the hillside. This was where the fossil hunter had been digging.

Trembling, Ibrahim climbed into the hole. He took a deep breath. Using special tools, he gently picked away at some of the sand and rock. Within minutes, he discovered several bones. Ibrahim studied the bones and smiled. At last, he had found Spinosaurus!

Building the Beast

Ibrahim’s search for Spinosaurus was over, but his work on the hillside was just beginning. Many large, predatory dinosaurs seemed to have lived in this area at the same time. Did that mean they were competing for the same prey? Ibrahim began to form a hypothesis for how Spinosaurus could have lived among other big predators. To prove his theory, though, he had to conduct an experiment. Ibrahim had to recreate Spinosaurus.

First, he took all the fossils he’d gathered and put them together to see what this dinosaur might have looked like. He didn’t have all the pieces, but he had enough to get started. His method was to create a digital model on a computer based on what he knew so far.

Then, working with other scientists, he made a skin for his model skeleton. Now he had a complete Spinosaurus. What he had created surprised him. It looked very different from all the other dinosaurs he had ever seen.

This Spinosaurus foot bone was found at the dig site.

Spinosaurus’ head was long and thin.

Until Ibrahim had created this model, scientists had assumed that Spinosaurus spent most of its time on land. Seeing the way this dinosaur actually looked made Ibrahim realize that it probably didn’t spend much time there.

Ibrahim made a conclusion that this dinosaur spent most of its time in water. Its long tail may have helped propel it through the water. Spinosaurus probably had webbed feet that it used to paddle through water. High nostrils allowed it to keep most of its head underwater while it hunted. This is why Spinosaurus could exist with the other meat-eating dinosaurs. It hunted in the water.

Making a Model

The Spinosaurus’ neck and body were longer than other dinosaurs’. The Spinosaurus had short hind legs and powerful forearms. Its back feet were wide and flat. To Ibrahim, they looked
like paddles.

Ibrahim studied Spinosaurus’ skull closely. It had a long snout, but its nostrils were halfway up the skull. And then there was the sail. It was about 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) long and rose more than 1.8 meters
(5.9 feet) from its back.

Spinosaurus’ wide, back feet may have been webbed, which would have helped it swim.