Readers Respond - The Case for Spinosaurus

spinosaurus
Could Spinosaurus have beaten Sarcosuchus in a fair fight? (Sergey Krasovskiy).

In Spinosaurus vs. Sarcosuchus - Who Wins?, we presented a scenario in which Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur that ever lived, stepped into the wrong river and accidentally crossed paths with Sarcosuchus, the largest prehistoric crocodile that ever lived. In the end, we gave the edge to SuperCroc, thanks to its two-ton weight advantage and lower center of gravity, but a lot of readers thought we sold Spinosaurus short.

Here are various arguments suggesting why Spinosaurus would have come up on top (literally) in this one-on-one encounter. (All comments have been edited for grammar and clarity.)

The most incisive analysis comes from Geoffrey O'Neill, who constructs his own (very plausible) scenario:

"Sorry, but Spinosaurus easily wins. Spinosaurus hunts fish, so its eyesight would've been keen enough for it to notice the half-submerged Sarcosuchus. Thus, it would have moved a way off to keep its distance. Also, Sarcosuchus wouldn't bother going after Spinosaurus - unless it was playing the dummy by posing as an onshore log. The end result: Spinosaurus steps on the sleepy log. The sleepy log awakens with a grunt. Spinosaurus hears the grunt, looks down, and proceeds to roll the "log" over. While holding Sarcosuchus' thrashing neck to the ground, Spinosaurus busily uses its foreclaws (and possibly its hindclaws as well) to tear the SuperCroc's belly open.

Winner: Spinosaurus, who gets a free meal with its noon drink!"

A surprising number of readers referenced the fight scene from Jurassic Park 3, itself not a high mark in the realistic depiction of dinosaur combat! Writes "g.avin,"

"Sarcosuchus grabs Spinosaurus' leg. Spinosaurus gets on all fours to improve its stability, and since Sarcosuchus' main weapon (its jaws) are preoccupied with Spinosaurus' leg, it leaves its whole body exposed for counterattack.

The Spinosaurus is extremely large. and the crocodile death roll only works if its prey weighs little enough to be spun. Since Sarcosuchus and Spinosaurus live practically next to each other, Spinosaurus would most likely know about the large predators in the water, since he probably competes with them for food, and because Spinosaurus was warm-blooded he would have more stamina. Also (and I know it's a bad source), but have any of you seen Jurassic Park 3? Spinosaurus owned the full-grown T. Rex fairly easily, so that means that Spinosaurus crossed paths with large predators and fought them on a regular basis. Finally, even though Spinosaurus would be completely in the water, it could possibly swim just as well or better than Sarcosuchus, because the crocodile has to propel his larger body. Taking into consideration itsĀ  strong arms and large claws, Spinosaurus would win most of the time."

And here's a TV documentary reference from "Spooky Manda,"

"Spinosaurus should obviously have been the winner of this fight. I mean, Sarcosuchus is the 'SuperCroc' and weighed more than Spinosaurus, but Spinosaurus was long and (according to the documentary Monsters Resurrected, episode Biggest Killer Dino) not only did its large size give it an advantage, but so did its large, narrow snout and extremely long claws.

In the Monsters Resurrected episode, there's a fight between Spinosaurus and a crocodilian-looking animal, possibly Sarcosuchus. Spinosaurus rakes its front claws down the side of the crocodile and kills it. Also, the long snout of Spinosaurus makes many paleontologists believe that it spent time in the water. So shouldn't Spinosaurus have been just as good a fighter in the water as on land? Its enormous size, gargantuan claws, long snout, and enormous strength gave it a huge advantage against any animal."

Did readers feel strongly about this battle? Here's another detailed counter-narrative, this time courtesy of "Dino Observer":

"Please.... I think the most important facts about Spinosaurus were left out when describing the encounter between these two. The very first thing would be the noise made by Spinosaurus when it walked.

How could this have been left out of this epic face-off? Really. It's not like Spinosaurus snuck up beside Sarcosuchus. Then you have Spinosaurus' powerful legs, which aside from its mouth was its greatest asset. That said, here's my version of the encounter. Sarcosuchus hears/feels Spinosaurus coming and backs from the edge of the watering hole deeper into the water. Spinosaurus kneels down to have a cool refreshing drink. This would be its most vulnerable position, since the only thing Sarcosuchus could attempt to chomp would be the dinosaur's equally massive snout. Maybe Sarcosuchus gets lucky and grabs an arm, but Spinosaurus' legs would power through that hold and give Sarcosuchus a few feel-good leg stomps. It wouldn't be enough to do terrible damage, but it would be enough to save Spinosaurus' life. Final analysis: height wins here, not weight."

At least "Donovan" ends his analysis on a complimentary note:

"Spinosaurus' claws were tough enough to neutralize the armor of Sarcosuchus. Also, this dinosaur was actually more of a hunter/scavenger than a fish eater, and its size was massive. Like other meat-eating dinosaurs, Spinosaurus had to fight for its food, meaning it could easily cleave Sarcosuchus' flesh. And seriously, Spinosaurus would have been smart enough to know that it could put its foot on the snout of Sarcosuchus and attack while it was pinned down. Even though this scenario was unreasonable, Spinosaurus was a great hunter and the story was great."