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Re: New Spinosaurus material



JAMES ARONIS wrote:

> Without revealing too many details regarding this new _Spinosaurus_  
> material, is it
> significant enough to discredit or support any of the various, often 
> conflicting
> theories surrounding the lifestyle of the genus? I'm particularly concerned 
> with the
> numerous hypotheses concerning its feeding habits, and whether or not the 
> elongated
> dorsal spines supported a sail or some other anatomical feature.
>
> Any information would be appreciated.
>

My thoughts (for the pathetically small amount that they are worth...) on the
paleobiology of _Spinosaurus_ should be in the archives from late last month 
sometime
in more detail.

Briefly, restricting ourselves to Egypt and _S. aegyptiacus_ (as it is pretty 
foolish
for me to speculate on the paleoenvironments of places where I have yet to look 
at a
single rock firsthand), it would seem reasonable (indeed, necessary?) for there 
to be a
good deal of niche partitioning going on in the Cenomanian coastal forests of 
this
particular ecosystem, given the number of really large predators that we have 
running
around in the same bloody system (that STILL drives me nuts).  This would seem 
logical
if we extrapolate similar modern ecosystem compositions (with all of the 
problems that
doing that involves).   However, given what little we know of _Spinosaurus_ 
(and this
isn't likely to change based on anything we have recently found), there really 
isn't
much evidence to support anyone running around calling it an obligate fish 
eater.  It
lived in a coastal forest in Egypt, as far as we can tell IN the intertidal 
zone, not
just adjacent to it.  Did it eat fish?  I would bet that every predator in that 
system
probably ate SOME fish (we have like 60 species of the damn things out there).  
Did
this particular species spend much of its time eating fish?  We SO don't know 
that
yet...

I personally like the sail hypothesis, myself...

--
Josh Smith
Department of Earth and Environmental Science
University of Pennsylvania
471 Hayden Hall
240 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104-6316
(215) 898-5630 (Office)
(215) 898-0964 (FAX)