A research team has found fossilized remains on Britain’s Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, that may belong to one of the largest dinosaurs ever to have hunted in what is now Europe.
The bones of a spinosaurid animal have been discovered on the southwest coast of the island, the research team told the journal PeerJ Life
“It was a huge animal, more than 10 meters long,” says PhD student and lead author of the team, Chris Barker, of the University of Southampton.
The fossils — including large pelvic and caudal vertebrae — are of a bipedal dinosaur with a crocodile-like head, the university said. It was tentatively named “White Rock Spinosaurid” after the layer of rock from which the fossils came. “As we have only found fragments of it so far, we have not yet given it an official scientific name,” says co-author Darren Naish. “We hope that over time more remains will emerge.”
“What’s unusual is that this specimen comes from the Vectis Formation, which is known to be poor in dinosaur fossils,” says co-author Neil Gostling, who teaches evolution and paleobiology at the University of Southampton. In his estimation, it is the youngest spinosaur material known to date from the United Kingdom. The 125-million-year-old geological Vectis Formation was formed during a period of rising sea levels.
The White Rock Spinosaurid may have scoured lagoons and sandbars for prey. From the remains, it can be seen that after its death, scavengers probably ate on the spinosaur’s body.
“Most of these amazing fossils were found by Nick Chase, one of Britain’s most accomplished dinosaur hunters, who sadly passed away just before the Covid-19 pandemic,” says co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth.
Jeremy Lockwood reports: “I searched with Nick for remains of this dinosaur and found a piece of pelvic bone with tunnels drilled into it, each about the size of my index finger”. The researchers suspect that they were caused by bone-eating larvae of a species of beetle. “It’s an interesting thought that this giant killer became the meal for many giant insects,” says Lockwood.