Thursday, 11 August 2011


You might remember this epic beast from the third installment of Jurassic Park as he was the antagonist in the movie. The Spinosaurus looks like an alligator that grew longer legs and arms, extended its neck and grew a huge sail on its back. Also, it grew to be even larger than the T.Rex! Spinosaurus compares to the T.Rex like an alligator compares to a komodo dragon. Spinosaurus (meaning "spine lizard") is a type of theropod (walking on two legs) dinosaur that lived in what is now North America and Egypt during the cretaceous period (145.5 to 65.5 million years ago), but closer to 112 to 97 million years ago.

Spinosaurus may be the largest known carnivore dinosaur to have lived, it is currently the largest that we know of. Spinosaurus was as long as 18 metres (59ft), up to 6.1 metres (20ft) tall without the sail, and 7.6 metres (25ft) with the sail! With all that height, it weighed as much as 20.9 tonnes (23 short tons). However, weight and description is speculated, as no one knows for sure what any dinosaur looks like since there is no written record for their appearance.  Fossils show us that the Spinosaurus was long and thin with a long narrow head like that of an alligator; this suggested that it mostly preyed on fish and sea creatures. Spinosaurus has two long arms, a huge sail on its back and a long tail. Spinosaurus is thought to have scales like that of a modern day lizard, it is as if an alligator had the same thing happen to it as Godzilla and became this huge epic monster.

Spinosaurus is thought to be a very fearsome predator and as I stated before mostly to prey on sea creatures but discoveries of fish scales, iguanodon bones and pterosaur bones in its stomach suggest that it would hunt and prey on other creatures as well. This makes it hunting style similar to that of a modern grizzly bear, mostly hunting fish but will prey on other food if available.
It is believed that the sail on the back of the Spinosaurus served three purposes but this is in debate, no one can agree for sure. First is believed to intimidate other threats as to make it appear bigger than it is, much like an elephant does with its ears. Second it is believed that there were blood vessels in the sail and this allowed it to warm itself up (by being in the sun) or cool itself off by being in the shade or some cool wind, again much like the ears of a elephant. Last it was believed to be used for courtship (aka to impress the ladies) - all in all a very useful tool to have.

Spinosaurus was introduced into Jurassic Park III because the T.Rex was overused as the antagonist so they brought in a bigger bad guy. In the movie the Spinosaurus had a better advantage where it was able to use its arms to snap the neck of the T.Rex (which I doubt is possible given the neck strength of the T.Rex) but with it's power and size Spinosaurus probably could win in a fight. Sadly, that fight could never have happened as they lived thousand of kilometers away from each other and did not exist during the same time period, T.Rex lived during 65 to 67 million years ago where the Spinosaurus lived at latest 97 million years ago.

It just goes to show what kind of power, strength, size and beauty this planet can create. It only makes me wonder what kind of creatures will evolve in the future!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Irish Elk

This week I’m bringing you another request, and apologizing for the delay in EPIC creatures. A death in the family kept me from my work for a few weeks, but it’s good to be back! This creature is actually a deer (the Irish Elk is also called Giant Deer) with the largest antlers (compared to its size) ever discovered, I guess you could say it has a nice rack! It once lived with early man, two common beliefs of why it went extinct is that we over-hunted it and that the antlers got so big that it was hard for the deer to adapt to its environment. No one really knows why it died out as records were not keep back then, all we have are fossils and cave drawings, the last known fossil of the species has been carbon dated to about 7700 years ago.

The Irish Elk is about 2.1 metres (6.9ft) tall and looks like your average deer. It ate grass, plants, fruits and tree bark, no different than deer nowadays. Most fossils are found in Irish bogs but scientists believe that they did not just live in Ireland.

What makes this creature so epic is the rack on their heads! They are the largest antlers of any known deer, living or extinct. The antlers were a maximum of 3.65 metres (12ft) from tip to tip and weighted up to 40kg (88lb), now that is a rack to display on your trophy wall! They were so big and required so much calcium to make/maintain that scientists believe that the Irish Elk developed a condition similar to osteoporosis.

It is also believed that the antlers got so large and heavy that as the Irish Elk aged it would eventually be unable lift its head. Once again the main purpose of the antlers was to impress the ladies, the buck with the largest antlers got his pick of the does. The antlers were also used in defense but not that often. The antlers got so large that it was hard for them to get around in the forested areas; when an animal develops a trait that hinders their ability to live like the Irish elk, it is call a maladaptation.

It just goes to show that bigger is not always better and even nature cannot make everything work.