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Spinosauridae facts for kids

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Temporal range: Late JurassicLate Cretaceous, 152–85Ma
Spinosaurus swimming black background.jpg
Skeletal reconstruction of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, National Geographic Museum, Washington, D.C.
Scientific classification
Type species
Spinosaurus aegyptiacus
Stromer, 1915
  • Baryonychidae Charig & Milner, 1986
  • Irritatoridae Martill et al., 1996
  • Sigilmassasauridae Russel, 1996

Spinosauridae (meaning 'spined lizards') is a family of carnivorous theropod dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. They are unique among other meat-eating dinosaurs from their more water-based lifestyle, which involved a diet of mostly fish. Spinosaurid fossils have been found all over the world, including Asia, South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia.


Spinosauridae Size Diagram by PaleoGeek - Version 2
Size comparison of various spinosaurids with a human

Spinosaurids had longer arms than most theropods, the claw on the first finger was usually the largest. They evolved jaws like those of crocodiles, and their teeth were long and cone-shaped, made to trap prey in their mouths instead of tearing them apart. Because of this, their teeth usually did not have the strong knife-like edges (called serrations) of a lot of other meat-eating dinosaurs.

The family contains Spinosaurus, the first spinosaurid discovered, and the largest carnivorous dinosaur we know of. Paleontologists suggest it might have reached up to 15 meters (49 ft.) in length.


A study made in 2010 by Roman Amiot and his colleagues found that spinosaurids had very semiaquatic (living partly in water, and partly on land) lifestyles, this means they lived in habitats like those of hippopotamuses, crocodiles, and turtles, making them very unusual compared to other theropods. It also means they could exist at the same time and place as other large predators without competing for food. For example; Carcharodontosaurus, which lived at the same time as Sigilmassasaurus and Spinosaurus, did not need to fight with either of those animals for prey; those spinosaurids ate fish, while Carcharodontosaurus was on land most of the time, hunting smaller dinosaurs.


The family "Spinosauridae" was named by the German paleontologist Ernst Stromer in 1915, he was the one that discovered the first genus in the group, Spinosaurus. And as scientists discovered more fossils of its close relatives, the family was eventually split into two subfamilies: Baryonychinae, and Spinosaurinae. This was done because of differences in the anatomy of their skulls and teeth.

Spinosaurus by Joschua Knüppe
Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, the largest meat-eating dinosaur
Suchomimus and Baryonyx
Skeletons of Suchomimus and Baryonyx

This is a cladogram made in 2017 showing the relationships between different spinosaurids inside of megalosauroidea.


Condorraptor Condorraptor (Flipped).jpg

Marshosaurus Marshosaurus restoration.jpg

Piatnitzkysaurus Piatnitzkysaurus floresi by Paleocolour.jpg

Afrovenator Afrovenator Abakensis by PaleoGeek.jpg

Dubreuillosaurus Dubreuillosaurus NT Flipped.png

Duriavenator Duriavenator NT (Flipped).jpg

Eustreptospondylus Eustrept1DB1 (Flipped).jpg


Magnosaurus Magnosaurus (Flipped).jpg

Megalosaurus Megalosaurus silhouette by Paleogeek.svg


Torvosaurus Torvosaurus tanneri Reconstruction (Flipped).png

Baryonyx Baryonyx BW.jpg


SuchomimusSuchomimus2 (Flipped).jpg



MSNM V4047 (referred to Spinosaurus) Spinosaurus by Joschua Knüppe.png

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