A Real Life Indiana Jones

A Real Life Indiana Jones
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim uncovers an almost forgotten dinosaur

In the blazing heat of the Sahara Desert, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim found something that was almost lost to the sands of time: skeletal remains of Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur known to us.

Ibrahim scours the deserts of North Africa for clues to life in the Cretaceous period, a prehistoric span of time from about 145 million years ago to 66 million years ago. However, you probably know this time better as the age of T-Rex, Triceratops, and Velociraptor. (Stegosaurus existed during the previous period, the Jurassic.)

And, more importantly, the end of the Cretaceous marked the end of the dinosaurs. But the dinosaurs kids know today vastly outnumber what their parents learned in their childhoods. Because of explorers like Nizar, kids today rhyme off names like Spinosaurus, leaving their parents confused and running to the computer to look things up. (Soon, they’ll be adding Alanqa Saharica to their list: it’s a new pterosaur Nizar’s discovered, i.e., a flying dinosaur, though those aren’t real dinosaurs, but now we’re splitting skin scales.)

So why was this giant almost lost to the sands of time? The fascinating backstory of Spinosaurus
began more than a century ago, when German paleontologist Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach first discovered evidence of the dinosaur in the Egyptian Sahara.

However, during the April 1944 Allied bombing of Munich, Germany, Stromer’s important fossil collection was completely destroyed. Some of Stromer’s notes, sketches and photos thankfully survived, along with his scientific publications. Nizar was inspired by Stromer’s work and legacy and so began his own search for Spinosaurus.

Join us May 31 as Nizar takes us on a tour of Spinosaurus’ discovery, loss, and rediscovery. With the help of video that re-creates the Cretaceous-era Sahara, you’ll come to understand how everything about this menacing dinosaur is also so fascinating.