Europe’s largest carnivorous dinosaur found on Isle of Wight

June 9 (Reuters) – Fossilized bones discovered on a rocky shore on England’s Isle of Wight are the remains of a carnivorous dinosaur that may be larger than any known from Europe, a beast that was a cousin of the largest recorded carnivorous dinosaur species.

Paleontologists said on Thursday they found parts of the skeleton of the dinosaur, which lived around 125 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, including bones from the back, hips and tail, limb fragments but no skull or teeth. Based on the partial remains, they estimated the dinosaur to be over 33 feet (10 meters) long and possibly much longer.

“The size of the specimen is impressive. It is one of the largest – and possibly the largest – known land predator that has ever stalked Europe,” said Chris Barker, a doctoral student in paleontology at the University. of Southampton and lead author of the study published in the journal PeerJ Life & Environment.

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Based in part on a series of small grooves on the top of the tail vertebra, they concluded it belonged to a group of dinosaurs called spinosaurs that included Spinosaurus, which lived around 95 million years ago. and about 50 feet (15 meters) long. is considered the oldest known dinosaur predator. Read more

Spinosaurs had elongated, crocodile-like skulls with lots of conical teeth – perfect for grabbing slippery prey – as well as strong arms and large claws. They ate aquatic prey as well as other dinosaurs.

Due to the incomplete nature of the remains, researchers have yet to give the newly described dinosaur a scientific name, but call it the “White Rock spinosaurid” based on the geological layer where the bones were found. They believe it is not part of any previously identified species.

Meat-eating dinosaurs belonged to a clade called theropods, with each continent producing huge examples. They were bipedal and the larger ones had massive skulls and strong teeth.

Spinosaurus was the largest in Africa. Tyrannosaurus rex, approaching 42 feet (13 meters), was king of North America, while the similarly sized Giganotosaurus ruled South America and the slightly smaller Tarbosaurus ruled Asia. The largest known named theropod from Europe was Torvosaurus, at around 33 feet (10 meters). Read more

The newly described dinosaur could turn out to be as long as T. rex, according to University of Southampton paleobiologist and corresponding author of the study, Neil Gostling.

“This one is really big,” Gostling said. “Hopefully more fossils appear. We’d like a skull or teeth.”

Examining the teeth could help researchers better understand this dinosaur’s position in the spinosaur family tree.

The fossils were spotted on the surface along Compton Bay on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight. The dinosaur inhabited a lagoon environment also populated by various herbivorous dinosaurs and flying reptiles called pterosaurs. Back then sea levels were much higher than they are today and large parts of Europe were submerged.

The Isle of Wight has become one of the richest places in Europe for dinosaur remains. Last year, the same team of researchers announced the discovery of two more Cretaceous spinosaurs from the Isle of Wight, both measuring around 30 feet long (9 meters). Read more

These findings combined with the last support their hypothesis that spinosaurs as a group originated and diversified in western Europe before spreading elsewhere.

“This new material corroborates our previous work that highlights Europe as an important region for spinosaur diversification,” Barker said.

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Reporting by Will Dunham in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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