By John von Radowitz
TYRANNOSAURUS rex has been knocked off its throne by the biggest predator dinosaur that ever walked the Earth.
Spinosaurus measured 55ft from nose to tail, had long crocodile-like jaws, and is thought to have sported an impressive sail on its back.
Although discovered in 1912, an examination of newly obtained fossils has confirmed its true size.
Until 10 years ago, T-rex was the largest predatory dinosaur known.
Like T-rex, Spinosaurus stood on two legs.
It was identified by German palaeontologist Ernst Stromer who found the first specimen in Egypt in 1912.
He published a detailed study of the bones, including a partial backbone with long spines which may have supported a sail.
Stromer believed his predator was bigger than T-rex. But the fossils were obliterated when allied bombers struck a Munich museum in 1944. Since then, only a few specimens of related dinosaurs and some isolated Spinosaur bones have been unearthed.
A new examination of two skull fragments have confirmed Spinosaurus’s early reputation.
Cristiano Dal Sasso, from the Civil Natural History Museum in Milan, analysed a snout acquired from a private collector, and previously unidentified bones from the upper rear of the skull.
New Scientist magazine reported: "From what we know of the body shapes of other spinosaurs, Dal Sasso calculates that the new Spinosaurus was 17 metres long."