Blackbeard (our first Mesozoic dinosaur!)
Species: Suchomimus tenerensis*
Description: Suchomimus is a spinosaurid from early Cretaceous Niger. As with other spinosaurs, it has a long snout filled with many conical teeth, which form rosettes; this is an optimal tooth arrangement for a pescatarian lifestyle! The raised vertebral column along the back is a middle-ground between its flashy cousin Spinosaurus and the hump/sail-less Baryonyx. Like many other theropods residing at the paleozoo, Suchomimus also bears a soft protofeather coat with a scaly face, scaly feet, and a scaly tail.
Location: Take the tram system to the easternmost section of our park to Deadly Shores, a coastal marsh where all of our spinosaurids are on display! Blackbeard and our resident Spinosaurus are within earshot of one another and enjoy morning “arguments” that involve coarse barking back and forth.
Fun Fact: Blackbeard was the first Mesozoic dinosaur successfully born and raised to adulthood at Huxley Paleozoo!
Personality & History
Among one of the first of our large animals, raising Blackbeard proved to be a challenge for husbandry and veterinary staff. Vital scans of Blackbeard’s egg showed a developmental deformity in his right leg, which eventually progressed to the extent where everything from the knee-down hadn’t formed by the time of his hatching. Luckily, veterinary advancements in recent years (in addition to supplemental technologies such as 3D-printing) allowed for the creation of a custom-tailored prosthetic limb, and he’s had one ever since. Visitors can view all of Blackbeard’s outgrown prosthetic legs (save for the ones completely obliterated by wear) in the visitor complex right outside of Deadly Shores. He’s just about ready for a new leg that’ll allow him better mobility in the water.
Blackbeard is, though grumpy and a little hissy at times, still very much active and spry despite his status as our oldest Mesozoic dinosaur. The secret, perhaps, is the mud baths he’s fond of taking. He likes to lie in the wetland’s muddier patches, especially on hot days or after he’s eaten. His protofeathers are often caked with mud as a result. It isn’t fun to clean, and if he doesn’t want to, he isn’t afraid to let it be known. Blackbeard is excellent at wading at the water’s edge and pulling out the fish stocked in his enclosure - his favorite is catfish.
He tends to fish from a different spot in his habitat each day. Sometimes he spends hours on end waiting and anticipating. Though still as a statue, you can tell he’s thinking, calculating as best as a theropod brain can…