The remains of the largest predatory dinosaur ever found in Europe have been discovered on the Isle of Wight.
Paleontologists say the giant crocodile-faced dinosaur, which is 10 meters long and almost the size of a London bus, lived 125 million years ago and is believed to have weighed several tonnes.
The “giant killer” was one of the spinosaurs, the first swimming dinosaurs, allowing it to hunt both in water and on land.
It would have lived at the beginning of a period of rising sea levels, surveying the waters of lagoons and sandbanks to feed.
Several prehistoric “white rock spinosaurus” bones have been discovered on the island off the south coast of England, named after the geological layer in which the remains were found.
They include huge pelvic and caudal vertebrae and have since been analyzed by scientists at the University of Southampton.
According to PhD student Chris Parker: “It’s a huge animal, over 10 meters long and probably several tons.
According to some of its dimensions, it appears to be one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever found in Europe, and possibly even the largest dinosaur known to date.
Although it is known only from a small amount of material, this is enough to prove that it is a gigantic creature.”
The remains were found by the late dinosaur hunter Nick Chase near Compton Chin on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight in the geological structure of the Vectis Formation and are now on display at the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown.
Dr Neil Gostling, corresponding author of the study published in the journal PeerJ, said: “Unusually, this specimen was eroded from the Vectis Formation, which is notoriously poor in dinosaur fossils.
This is probably the youngest known spinosaur material from the UK.
Co-author Darren Naish said this new animal bolsters their earlier argument, published last year, that Spinosaurus originated in Western Europe and diversified there before expanding.
Naish also added that since it is only known in parts at the moment, they have not given it an official scientific name. They hope that other remnants will appear over time.
Scientists suspect marks on the bone, including small tunnels drilled into part of the pelvis, show the giant dinosaur’s body may have been ingested by scavengers and decomposers after it died.
Co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and the Natural History Museum, believes they were caused by the bone-eating larvae of a species of scavenger beetle. Adding that it is interesting to think that this giant killer ended up being a meal for a variety of insects.
Researchers hope to soon be able to study the microscopic internal properties of bones, which could shed light on the dinosaur’s growth rate and possible age.
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