Paul Sereno's newly released Spinosaur discovery from the Sahara Desert is a spectacular example of how diverse and extreme the Dinosauria could be. Sereno's presentation of the specimen at the 1998 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology left me dazzled and eagerly expecting the release of the paper to do a proper reconstruction (Science, Vol.282 No.5392).
The skull, despite diverse opinions, shows to me that this theropod was obviously well adapted to fishing. It has been compared to a gavial or some other similar crocodilian due to the extreme length of the snout and large number of conical teeth that were arranged in an apparent irregular shape and size pattern, but that make sense to grasp the slippery surface of fish scaly skin. Not only that. there were some really massive fishes in those waters... including a three to four metre coelacanth!
The snout was also incredibly narrow, reminding me of the beak of a pelican so I reconstructed it that way... pouch included.
A powerful animal; the arms were stout and the claws were massive. A moderate back 'fin' crest with elongated spines was also apparent, but not half as high and deep as that of Spinosaurus itself. This and other characteristics made it closer to Baryonyx than to Spinosaurus. It is officially a Baryonychid.
This painting is based on several photographs of the recently displayed skeleton.The food chain circle: shallow waters and a 12 metre long dinosaur is being attacked by a gigantic crocodile. The fishing pterosaurs are relatives of Ornithocheirus and indeterminate azhdarchids hover the scene.