The temporary exhibition Spinosaurus: the lost giant of the Cretaceous in the Museu Blau of Barcelona, presents the first known dinosaur adapted for swimming and the largest known carnivorous dinosaur. The exhibition, organized by the National Geographic Society in partnership with the University of Chicago, has been supplemented with fossils from the museum’s collections, which include the remains of this singular dinosaur.
Spinosaurus, with a length of 15 meters and weighing 6.8 tonnes, is enormous – even bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex – and shows characteristics that make it unique: a skull similar to that of a crocodile, an immense dorsal crest and short hind legs for moving in water.
A full-size replica of the skeleton occupies the central space of the exhibition and is surrounded by models, fossils and audiovisual displays that recreate the fauna and ecosystem of North Africa in the Cretaceous period, 95 million years ago, when the region was an immense river delta. We can also see how modern technology applied to paleontology has made it possible to reconstruct the skeleton, and the re-creation of a full-scale model, which has been installed in the Forum square, opposite the entrance to the museum.
The journey begins with the unusual history of the discovery and rediscovery of this unique African dinosaur, which has taken a century to complete. Spinosaurus first saw the light in 1912, when the German paleontologist Ernst Stromer discovered a skeleton in the Sahara Desert (Egypt). Those fossils, currently preserved in the Munich museum, disappeared in a bomb raid during the Second World War.
More than a century after the original find, the explorers and paleontologists Nizar Ibrahim and Paul Sereno, with the collaboration of explorers and scientists from all over the world, undertook an adventure accompanied by mystery and coincidences that, with perseverance and scientific rigour, led them to rediscover a skeleton even more complete than Stromer’s lost specimen.
The results of this research on the new find, which revealed the size and semi-aquatic lifestyle of Spinosaurus, were published in the journal Science in 2014 and are the origin of this exhibition, which was inaugurated in the National Geographic Museum in Washington.