Researchers have uncovered the first example of a large dinosaur adapting to life in the water. The saillike fin and crocodilian snout of a Spinosaurus skeleton discovered in Morocco had led scientists to believe the animal was at least semiaquatic. Now, a nearly complete tail supports that early assessment, researchers report today in Nature. Spinosaurus (pictured) had noninterlocking tail vertebrae with supporting spines nearly 0.6 meters long, resulting in a paddlelike appendage capable of generating eight times the forward thrust of nonaquatic dinosaurs, National Geographic reports. This discovery is a significant boost to known dinosaur diversity, as Spinosaurus belongs to a completely different lineage of “true dinosaurs” distinct from other popular water-loving species such as Ichthyosaur.
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