Remains of Europe’s largest land dinosaur have been discovered in England, scientists say.
The prehistoric bones belonged to a bipedal 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 may be the largest land predator to ever roam Europe, scientists say.
Paleontologists from the University of Southampton have identified the prehistoric bones as belonging to a type of two-legged, crocodile-faced predatory dinosaur known as spinosaurids.
The carnivore is said to have measured over 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 tons.
“Judging from some of its dimensions, it appears to represent one of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever found in Europe – perhaps even the largest yet known,” Barker said.
“It is a pity that it is only known from a small amount of material, but these are enough to show that it was an immense creature.”
The bones, which were discovered on the Isle of Wight, include huge pelvic and caudal vertebrae.
This Isle of Wight has been dubbed “Dinosaur Island” as it is a rich repository of dinosaur remains. No less than 29 species have been recorded in its rapidly eroding soft clays and sandstones, revealing the secrets of life on planet earth more than 100 million years ago.
The latest discovery has been dubbed the “white rock spinosaurid” after the geological layer in which it was found. The researchers said it has not yet been given an official scientific name.
The dinosaur would have lived at the start of a period of sea level rise and would have roamed lagoon waters and sandbanks in search of food, scientists have said.
Researchers have previously said that spinosaurids’ unusual crocodile-like skulls allow them to hunt prey both on land and in water.
The team now hopes to strip thin sections of the material to analyze 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 discovered by Nick Chase, one of Britain’s most skilled dinosaur hunters, who sadly died just before the COVID outbreak,” said co-author Jeremy Lockwood. , PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and the Natural History Museum.
“I was looking for remains of this dinosaur with Nick and found a lump of the pelvis with tunnels drilled into it, each the size of my index finger. We believe they were caused by bone-eating larvae of a type of scavenger beetle.
The discovery of the white-rock spinosaurid follows previous work on spinosaurids by the same team, which last year published a study of the discovery of two new species.
“This new animal reinforces our previous argument – published last year – that spinosaurid dinosaurs originated and diversified in Western Europe before spreading,” said co-author Darren Naish.
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