It’s no surprise that Baryonyx, a British dinosaur, was nicknamed “the clawed one”. The huge claws that grew on the fingers of his forelimbs were almost as long as a human hand!
Baryonyx is a bipedal dinosaur of the spinosaurid family that lived on Earth during the Lower Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era (from the Valanginian to the Aptian periods approximately 140-112 million years ago). The almost complete skeleton of the Baryonics was discovered in the beginning of the summer of 1983 in England and is considered one of the best surviving fossils of teropodes (predatory dinosaurs) in Europe.
The body of this dinosaur reached 8.5 meters in length; The characteristic features of the Barionics were a crocodyllike skull and unusually large claws on the thumbs of the front extremities. He ate fish and other dinosaurs and at the same time, perhaps, spent part of his life in water, as evidenced by the results of a chemical analysis of teeth. The preserved contents of the stomach of the Barionics found in England for the first time made it possible to make the now generally accepted assumption that the dinosaurs of this group feed on fish.
Different scientific sources indicate that the length of its body was from 8.2 to 8.5 meters, and the weight allegedly ranged from 1700 to 2000 kilograms. And since the best-preserved skeleton of Baryonyx probably belonged to a not-quite-adult individual, the size of an adult dinosaur could be larger.
The skull, 91 cm long, is proportionately long, narrow, and crocodile-like flat, as in other groups of spinosaurids. Baryonyx had 32 teeth in its upper jaw and 64 teeth in its lower jaw.e. almost 2 times more than non-spinosaurid theropods.
The tops of the teeth had a conical shape and very small serrations located along the cutting edges of the tooth, the number of serrations was about 7 per millimeter. In this they markedly differed from the typical teeth of non-spinosaurid theropods, which were flattened on the sides, blade-like fangs. At the end of the dinosaur’s muzzle, the teeth of the upper and lower jaws tightly closed with each other.
Baryonyx skeleton on display at the Natural History Museum in London.
Within the family of spinosaurids, characteristic features of Baryonyx are considered to be nasal bones that have merged into one whole, distinct transverse narrowing of the sacral and caudal vertebrae, a special form of articular connections between the shoulder blades and the coracoid, a protruding distal edge of the pubic bone, and only a slight umbilical depression on the fibula.
Baryonyx was three-fingered; the thumbs had elongated claws, the length of which in the holotype was 31 cm. Taking into account the non-preserved keratin layer, the length of the claws could be much longer. His humerus was very powerful, very wide at both ends and strongly flattened. Unlike other groups of spinosaurids, the presence of a dorsal crest in Baryonyx has not been proven.
Based on the large difference in the size of the fore and hind limbs, it is assumed that this dinosaur moved on two legs. However, the very powerful structure of the forelimbs, especially the humeri, compared to other theropods, may indicate that it may have been able to move or rest on 4 legs.
For the first time, the remains of Baryonyx have been found next to the fossilized bones of Iguanodon, another dinosaur with claws on opposing fingers. Considering the skeleton of Baryonyx, which experts assembled from scattered pieces, one can confidently identify a number of characteristic features in the structure of his body. Such features include, for example, an oblong skull sitting on a long neck.
The body of Baryonyx was the length of a bus about 9 meters, and weighed accordingly approximately 2 tons. For comparison, we note that this weight is equal to the total weight of twenty-five adult men of average height and fullness.
The hind legs of the Baryonyx were very powerful, although the forelimbs were practically not inferior to them in strength. Some scientists even believe that Baryonyx could move on four legs, wandering along the river bank and looking for fish.
Imagine a scene like the one below. Such scenes could well have played out about 120 million years ago on that part of the earth’s landmass, which is now called England. It was the early Cretaceous period, and lush greenery flourished along the banks of numerous rivers and lakes.
The carnivorous lizard Baryonyx could well find food in the form of many small living creatures. However, there is evidence that he obtained food in such an unusual way for a dinosaur as catching fish, which can be seen in the figure.
A huge claw on the opposing tallow could be very useful specifically for fishing. The fact that Baryonyx ate fish, scientists learned by finding fish fossils in its remains.
Teeth and claws
Another feature of Baryonyx is double (compared to other carnivorous lizards) the number of teeth in its long jaws, reminiscent of crocodiles. The largest teeth were located in the anterior cavity of the mouth, as they moved towards the back, the size of the teeth decreased.
The teeth were conical and slightly serrated an ideal shape for grasping slippery, writhing prey such as fish or dinosaurs as small as Hypsilophodon or even a young Iguanodon.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that the claws on the hind limbs of Baryonyx are not as huge as those on the front. Baryonyx was too heavy to stand on one hind leg and try to strike with the other claw, as a much smaller and lighter dinosaur like Deinonychus could easily do.
Yet the forelimbs of the Baryonyx were powerful enough to carry such a formidable weapon. Probably, sea fish, even the most nimble, had a hard time when Baryonyx went hunting!