The University of Chicago News Office
November 12, 1998 Press Contact: Steve Koppes
(773) 702-8366
s-koppes@uchicago.edu
 

Suchomimus tenerensis

Crocodile mimic from Ténéré

Discovered: Dec. 4, 1997, by David Varricchio, curator of the Old Trail Museum in Choteau, Mont., during an international expedition led by Paul Sereno, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy at the University of Chicago.

Site: In the remote Ténéré Desert of the Niger Republic. The 15-member expedition team excavated many tons of rock in temperatures that sometimes reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Size:
[suchomimus to human scale], by Carol Abraczinskas and Paul Sereno
As large as Tyrannosaurus. Suchomimus reached 36 feet in length, was 12 feet high at the hip and weighed approximately 5 tons. The human in the illustration stands about 5 feet 6 inches.

Age: 100 million years old. The remains come from Early Cretaceous sediment deposited in a lush river habitat.

Diet: Mostly fish. Fish-eating adaptations include a long, narrow snout with special grasping teeth at the front, a slightly expanded snout tip typical of fish-eating fish and fish-eating reptiles such as crocodiles and a long, flexible neck.

Significance: A closer look at the evolution of spinosaurs is now possible. Their history includes dispersal from Europe to Africa, even though a broad sea way separated northern and southern land masses at the time.

Characteristics: A powerful, 4-foot-long forelimb with a thumb claw measuring a foot in length and a narrow, 4-foot-long skull. Suchomimus also sported a 2-foot sail over its hips. Sails characterize most spinosaurs and were probably used for display.

Funding: Expedition and laboratory work on the fossil was supported by the National Geographic Society, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pritzker Foundation and the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago.

Publication: Suchomimus is scientifically described for the first time in the Nov. 13, 1998, issue of the journal Science and also is reported in the December issue of National Geographic.

Television: A “National Geographic EXPLORER” segment, “Colossal Claw,” about the dinosaur’s discovery will premiere Sunday, Nov. 15, on TBS Superstation.

Exhibit: The cast skeleton of Suchomimus, the world’s first free-standing mounted skeleton of a spinosaur, will go on display in Explorers Hall, 17th and M streets NW, in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Nov. 13, and at the Chicago Children’s Museum, Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., Suite 127, on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

 

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