- Remains of Europe’s largest-ever land-based dinosaur were discovered in England, scientists say.
- The prehistoric bones belonged to a two-legged, crocodile-faced dinosaur.
- University of Southampton paleontologists said the predator was 32ft long and lived 125 million years ago.
Dinosaur remains found off the south coast of England could be the largest land predator that ever roamed Europe, scientists say.
Paleontologists from the University of Southampton identified the prehistoric bones as belonging to a type of two-legged, crocodile-faced predatory dinosaur known as spinosaurids.
The carnivore would have measured more than 32 feet long and lived around 125 million years ago.
PhD student Chris Barker, who led the study, said it was a “huge animal” that probably weighed several tonnes.
“Judging from some of the dimensions, it appears to represent one of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever found in Europe – maybe even the biggest yet known,” Barker said.
“It’s a shame it’s only known from a small amount of material, but these are enough to show it was an immense creature.”
The bones, which were discovered on the Isle of Wight, include huge pelvic and tail vertebrae.
This Isle of Wight has been dubbed“dinosaur island” due to its being a rich repository of dinosaur remains. No fewer than 29 species have been recorded in its soft clays and sandstones that erode quickly, revealing the secrets of life on planet earth more than 100 million years ago.
The latest discovery has been nicknamed the “white rock spinosaurid” after the geological layer in which it was found. Researchers said that it hasn’t yet been given a formal scientific name.
The dinosaur would have lived at the beginning of a period of rising sea levels and would have stalked lagoonal waters and sandflats in search of food, scientists said.
Researchers previously said that spinosaurids’ unusual, crocodile-like skulls allowed them to hunt prey on both land and in water.
The team now hopes to strip thin sections of the material to scan the microscopic internal properties of the bones to shed light on the animal’s growth rate and possible age.
“Most of these amazing fossils were found by Nick Chase, one of Britain’s most skilled dinosaur hunters, who sadly died just before the COVID epidemic,” said co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and Natural History Museum.
“I was searching for remains of this dinosaur with Nick and found a lump of the pelvis with tunnels bored into it, each about the size of my index finger. We think they were caused by bone-eating larvae of a type of scavenging beetle.
The discovery of the white rock spinosaurid follows earlier work on spinosaurids done by the same team, who last year published a study on the discovery of two new species.
“This new animal bolsters our previous argument – published last year – that spinosaurid dinosaurs originated and diversified in western Europe before becoming more widespread,” co-author Darren Naish said.
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