4.5" Spinosaurid Dinosaur (Suchomimus) Hand Claw - Niger

This is a beautiful, 4.5" long, fossil Spinosaur (Suchomimus tenerensis) hand claw from the Erlhaz Formation of Niger. It has dark black preservation and is complete all the way to the tip. The only restoration is a small wedge in the middle of the claw where a gap needed to be filled.

Suchomimus was a large predatory carnivorous dinosaur from the early Cretaceous period of Niger, 125-112 million years ago. A theropod, Suchomimus's post-cranial skeleton was similar to many other theropods of the time, with 2 strong legs and comparatively smaller arms. However, being a spinosaurid, those arms were larger compared to other theropods, and their claws especially were massive and recurved. This, combined with their unique skull anatomy; crocodilian in shape and function, would have made them excellent predators of all things piscine. Being fairly robust, Suchomimus was likely not any less dangerous on land as well. Being 30-36 feet long and weighing around 4 tons, Suchomimus would have been fearsome to anything smaller than it.

The Elrhaz formation is an Early Cretaceous fossil formation dating 112-125 million years ago in the Tenere desert of northeastern Niger. It is mainly known to paleontologists for the Gadoufaoua site, a large fossil deposition painting a picture of the ecology of a wet, green, riverine environment.

The dinosaurs that called this region home include the sail-backed hadrosauriform Ouranosaurus, an herbivore which reached about 28 feet and 2 tons. Nigersaurus, a mid-sized sauropod with a horizontal mouth arranged with dozens of peg-like mowing teeth, would have grazed upon the bounty of greenery in herds that trailed across the landscape. In turn, these large herbivores were hunted by equally large predators.

Eocarcharia was a smaller sized african Carcharodontosaurid, only 20-25 feet long compared to its larger, 40 foot cousins like Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. Still, Carcharodontosaurids were formidable predators, hunting with laterally compressed, highly effective cutting teeth. Alongside them were the slightly smaller abelisaurid predator Kryptops. Reaching about 20-23 feet, Kryptops likely used hit and run tactics to wear out prey animals, as opposed to the withering bites delivered by the larger Eocarcharia.

By far the largest predator in the formation however, was the spinosaurid theropod, Suchomimus. Meaning "Crocodile Mimic" for its superficially crocodilian appearance, Suchomimus cleared its competitors size by a good 10 feet, being in the realm of 30-35 feet in length, and 4 tons. Suchomimus was likely more of a generalist than its spinosaurid cousins. Its body was more suited to wading than to diving. Meanwhile its size likely made it more than capable of preying on both fish in shallow water, as well as any unfortunate small to mid-sized dinosaur it may come across.

Notable non-dinosaur fauna from the formation include the super sized Sarcosuchus, a huge crocodylomorph that reached lengths exceeding 30 feet. Other crocodile relatives include the ratlike Araripesuchus, and the broad duck-snouted Anatosuchus. Several fishes called the region their home as well, such as the massive 10 to 15 foot long coelacanth species Mawsonia, and the shark Hybodus.
Suchomimus tenerensis (Sereno et al, 1998)
Gadoufaoua, Niger
Erlhaz Formation
4.5" long (straightline)
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