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Bigger than a T-Rex, water loving Spinosaurus throws dinosaur orthodoxy for a loop

Dust off your shovels, aspiring paleontologists, we’ve got some digging to do. October’s issue of National Geographic focuses on new discoveries in paleontology, straight from the researchers who made them.

Nizar Ibrahim was one of those researchers, and his work is featured prominently in the magazine. He’s an assistant professor of biology at University of Detroit Mercy. He’s also a National Geographic Explorer, a grant program that National Geographic extends to groundbreaking researchers in  many disciplines.

As a paleontologist who spends time digging up dinosaur bones in the Sahara, Ibrahim’s work is groundbreaking—both literally and figuratively. He talked to Stateside about his discoveries surrounding Spinosaurus, a dinosaur with a huge sail-like fin on its back and a large powerful tail.

“The most interesting thing about this animal is its anatomy. It looks very very different from other predatory dinosaurs like T-Rex, not just because of the giant sail on its back, but mostly because it had a number of adaptations for life largely spent in water. So this was a river monster dinosaur, if you like.” Ibrahim said. “That’s a first in the world of dinosaurs, a giant predator going after prey in the water column.”

This discovery opened a whole new world of sorts for paleontology, a field that Ibrahim said is in a “golden age.”

To read more, visit natgeo.com/dino.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misspelled Nizar Ibrahim's name. The error has been corrected above.

This article was written by Stateside production assistant Olive Scott.

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