Fossils discovered in Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) rocks in the Ténéré Desert of central Niger provide new information about spinosaurids, a peculiar group of piscivorous theropod dinosaurs. The remains, which represent a new genus and species, reveal the extreme elongation and transverse compression of the spinosaurid snout. The postcranial bones include blade-shaped vertebral spines that form a low sail over the hips. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the enlarged thumb claw and robust forelimb evolved during the Jurassic, before the elongated snout and other fish-eating adaptations in the skull. The close phylogenetic relationship between the new African spinosaurid and Baryonyx from Europe provides evidence of dispersal across the Tethys seaway during the Early Cretaceous.
Sereno, P.C.; Beck, A.L.; Dutheil, D.B.; Gado, B.; Larsson, H.C.E.; Lyon, G.H.; Marcot, J.D.; Rauhut, O.W.M.; Sadleir, R.W.; Sidor, C.A.; Varricchio, D.D.; Wilson, G.P; and Wilson, J.A. 1998. A long-snouted predatory dinosaur from Africa and the evolution of spinosaurids. Science 282 (5392): 1298–1302. DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5392.1298