Recently in south-eastern Morocco, an international team of paleontologists discovered the remains of the world’s first known aquatic dinosaur, “Spinosaurus aegyptiacus”, which is said to have lived during the Cretaceous era, approximately 100 million years ago.
The new fossils of the Moroccan Spinosaurus, discovered at the Zrigat site located about 30 km from the city of Erfoud, ” give the strongest evidence to date about a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment,” Professor Samir Zouhri, of the geology department at the Faculty of Sciences of Ain Chock in Casablanca, told MAP.
The research team has thus made the first discovery of associated cranial and post-cranial remains of dinosaurs after nearly 70 years of paleontological work in the region, he noted.
The researchers are from Hassan II University in Casablanca (Morocco), Mercy University (USA), the University of Portsmouth (England) and the Museum of Natural Sciences in Milan (Italy).
“This very special dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, had an intriguingly long tail with an unexpected and unique shape composed of extremely high neural spines and elongated chevrons forming a large, flexible, fin-shaped organ capable of great lateral undulation,” said Professor Zouhri.
All the findings of this remarkable discovery were published on April 29 in the prestigious scientific journal “Nature” and are the subject of a documentary on the National Geographic Society’s website.
According to Professor Zouhri, the first known remains of the Moroccan spinosaurus were discovered by a fossil mateur and donated to the “Museum of Milano” by a fossil dealer. This precious Moroccan palaeontological heritage has been repatriated thanks to the deontological and ethical approach of the Italian institution, thanks to Dr. Cristiano Dal Sasso, a palaeontologist specialized in dinosaurs and co-author of this research.
The Spinosaurus fossils gathered from the Zrigat deposit have been the subject of careful consolidation and restoration work, in addition to a multidisciplinary study. The restoration work consists of correcting post-mortem and diagenetic deformations and linking the different skeletal elements together according to their morpho-functional interpretation.