Life in Water

Not every scientist agreed with Ibrahim. So, with a grant from the National Geographic Society, Ibrahim searched for more fossils. The work was difficult. However, it became rewarding after the team discovered more pieces of a Spinosaurus tail.

In other dinosaurs, the tail narrows to a point. In Spinosaurus, the tail is broad. It looks like a paddle. Tiny bumps near the tail’s end may have allowed it to move back and forth. Long, thin bones connect to the tail like the tailbones in a fish.

Ibrahim wanted to know how this tail might have worked in the water. Through digital modeling and a real model tested in water, he found out.

Spinosaurus had crocodile-like jaws with large, cone-shaped teeth to grip slippery fish.

Spinosaurus’ tail delivers more than eight times the forward thrust in water than the tails of other dinos on land. Now more than ever, Ibrahim was certain that Spinosaurus spent most of its time in the water.

Fossil segments of Spinosaurus’ tail now indicate that its tail was broad and used as a paddle during swimming.

Scientists previously thought Spinosaurus’ tail was narrow
and pointed.

In this animation, a Spinosaurus uses its paddle-like tail to move through water.

Questions Remain

Research goes on. One of the other fossils may hold another important clue. It is a bone from the dinosaur’s foot. With it, the team can recreate the whole foot. Ibrahim believes it was webbed. Good for an aquatic dinosaur.

Ibrahim continues to dig to find answers to his Spinosaurus questions. The more impossible the question, the more determined he is to answer it.

Scientists attempt to create a life-size model of Spinosaurus, showcasing what is now known about its tail.

A View Around Spinosaurus

Drag the slider to turn this 3D model of Spinosaurus.