Spinosaurus Fin

Spinosaurus   >   Fin


Spinosaurus Fin

One of the most remarkable and distinctive features of Spinosaurus fossils, the one that inspired its name are the large spines on its back. These grew on its vertebrae to a length of more than 5 feet (1.6 meters). The spines are thought to have been covered with skin forming a "fin" or "sail", although some scientists have suggested that they may actually have been covered in fat and formed a "hump".

Spinosaurus Sketch

The precise purpose of the fin, sail or hump remains unclear, but some suggestions include:
  • A fin/sail may have been used for thermoregulation (controlling the animal's temperature) - and specifically for warming the animal. If the area contained many blood vessels, the animal could have used the fin's large surface area to absorb heat.

  • A fin/sail may have been used for thermoregulation (controlling the animal's temperature) - and specifically for cooling the animal. By turning the fin away from the sun, and perhaps positioning the fin at right angles to the wind, it would have provided a very effective cooling mechanism.

  • Another suggestion, put forward by J. B. Bailey, is that the spines may have been covered by a fatty hump. This would have been useful for energy storage, and for insulation.

  • In modern-days animals, elaborate structures often have a function in attracting mates (think of a Peacock's tail for example). Ernst Stromer who described and named Spinosaurus suggested this as a possible function. Stromer even went so far as to suggest that perhaps males and females had differences in their neural spines.

    Ernst Stromer:
    Ernst Stromer

  • A fin/sail or hump, could also be used to make the animal look better - potentially a useful tool when the animal was threatened.

  • It is of course possible that the fin/sail or hump might have served multiple functions. For example, it could have been useful in thermoregulation, intimidation, and attracting mates.

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