Its name comes from Latin and means “heavy claw” which gives you a very clear clue as to what its main characteristic was. It was a spinosaurid theropod that lived 125 million years ago in the Cretaceous period in Europe and recent data tell us that probably also in Africa. There is only one known species of it, the Baryonyx walkeri. It is a very interesting dinosaur mainly because it is one of the few dinosaurs that has been proven to eat fish, this is known because its anatomy was perfect for this task. This dinosaur was up to 10 meters long, 3 meters high and weighed up to 2.7 tons. There is evidence to suggest that they walked on two legs but had very long arms, suggesting that they could pass from two to four legs without a problem. Like other dromeosaurids, they had huge claws of almost 40 centimeters, the peculiarity of the Baryonyx is that these claws were in their hands.
The shape of his skull was very particular and had huge crocodile-like jaws, could have up to 100 teeth, twice as many as any other of his relatives, had more teeth at the bottom than at the top, his jaw was very powerful and it was difficult for his prey to escape his bite. Besides, a lot of people think he might have a little ridge. All these characteristics make it one of the most peculiar dinosaurs we know of.
Baryonyx was discovered in the deltas of primitive Lake Wealden in Northern Europe by William Walker. The first thing that was found was one of its claws and in the same place once a second excavation was done they found a fairly complete skeleton, in fact 70% of the dinosaur including the skull was found. The excavations were carried out by professionals from the Natural History Museum in London, the results were published in 1986 and it was given the name it now has. A couple of years later a partial skull, teeth and some arm bones were found in Burgos, Spain. In 1996 it was discovered that there were some remains of Baryonyx in the Isle of Wight that had been unearthed at least 30 years earlier and had not been studied. Very recently, in 2006, the Paleontological Interpretation Centre of La Rioja found a large number of bones in Spain. These remains, which include a 2-meter high right leg, have helped us to know much more about the physiognomy and customs of this dinosaur.
The Baryonyx had jaws reminiscent of those of a crocodile and as has been said before had much more teeth than any other dinosaur of its kind. On the other hand, his teeth had the characteristic of resembling saws. Both the quantity and the shape of its teeth and muzzle tell us that the Baryonyx was piscivorous, that is to say that it fed on fish. Evidence of his diet is available because many scales of a fish that lived at the same time as him, the Scheenstia, have been found in his remains. It is believed that to hunt the Baryonyx it stayed on the shore and did not enter the water completely. It is said that he lifted them with the claws of his hands and then caught them with his muzzle. This same technique can be seen in the behavior of some bears. The entire anatomy of the Baryonyx suggests that this was its main food, although some findings seem to suggest that it could also feed on carrion if necessary. This theory has not yet been proven.
The Baryonyx has many special features. The first of these was its specially designed jaws for eating fish. They were equipped with twice as many teeth as a Tyrannosaurus Rex, some think they could have up to 100 teeth. This makes them very much like modern-day crocodiles. Another of the characteristics that made them special is their large claws, which are precisely what give them their name, although these claws could easily have been used to kill any dinosaur in a second and be a large predator used them along with their long arms to lift passing fish, could also have used them to defend themselves from possible attackers. It is therefore believed that he lived near water, which made him extremely rare among other known dinosaurs.
Where else can you find him?
The Baryonyx despite being such a particular dinosaur and full of interesting features has not been portrayed in many movies, may appear in some moments but so far has not achieved any stellar, however you can get a good perspective of them in major dinosaur documentaries.