A huge dinosaur with a crocodile face and prickly back, which roamed today’s England about 125 million years ago, was one of the largest predators ever lurking in Europe.
Paleontologists have discovered the remains of this hippopotamus on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England. Researchers named the newly discovered species “Spinosaurus from the White Rock” after the chalk geological layer found on the island where it was found. Because scientists have found only pieces of fossils, the animal has not yet received an official scientific name.
The fragments are the youngest spinosaurid fossils ever found in the UK, according to a new study published June 9 in the journal PeerJ life and environment. Spinosaurids were two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs with skulls similar to crocodiles, thin necks and strong arms and lived during the Cretaceous period (145 million to 66 million years ago). The new species is a close relative of the older, potentially amphibians Spinosauruswhich was greater than T-Rex and there was a large flat canvas coming out of his back.
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Spinosaurids are somewhat mysterious, as few fossils from the group have been found. Scientists suspect that the creatures hunted in lakes, rivers and lagoons, but how they captured their careers is a matter of debate. Some paleontologists suggest that spinosaurids they actively swam after their prey (opens in a new section), which move by waving their large tails, as modern crocodiles do. Other experts suggest that the monsters behaved more like herons, trampling the lagoons and they push their long jaws into the water to catch fish. Either way, the creatures were huge, and the newly discovered White Rock Spinosaurus was among the largest.
“It was a huge animal over 10 meters tall [33 feet] in length and judging by some of the dimensions, [it] is probably the largest predatory dinosaur ever discovered in Europe, “said lead author Chris Barker, a paleontologist at the University of Southampton in England. said in a statement. “It’s just a pity we only know from such scarce material.”
Researchers have uncovered fossils of the ancient monster, including giant pelvic and caudal vertebrae, inside Cretaceous rocks near Compton China, a geological feature on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight. The fossils have been preserved in a rocky structure known as the Vectis Formation, which began to form 125 million years ago when sediments from rising sea levels entered the site of a freshwater coastal lagoon. It is through these lagoons and sandy plains that the White Rock spinosaurid wanders in search of prey, the study’s authors say.
This is not the first spinosaurid these researchers have discovered on the Isle of Wight. In 2021, describes the team two new species of spinosaurid – “river hunter” Riparovenator milnerae and the “hell heron” Ceratosuchops inferodios – Live Science was reported earlier. The river hunter and the hell heron were smaller than their cousin, the White Rock Spinosaurid, reaching a length of about 29.5 feet (9 meters). These three discoveries bring the number of spinosaurids found in the UK to four – the other with scary claws Baryonics.
Researchers say the discovery of a White Rock spinosaurus supports their claim, first made when describing the previous two species of spinosaurs, that the dinosaur group may have originally evolved in Europe before spreading to Asia and the Gondwana supercontinent. later divided into Africa and South America.
The giant dinosaur may have been the largest land predator in Europe, but it turned out to be something else. Traces of the bones suggest that the giant’s body was harvested by other hungry beasts from the Cretaceous.
“Most of these amazing fossils were discovered by Nick Chase, one of Britain’s most skilled dinosaur hunters, who unfortunately died just before the COVID epidemic,” said study co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a paleontologist at the University of Portsmouth. “I was looking for the remains of this dinosaur with Nick and found a lump of this one with drilled tunnels, each the size of my index finger. We believe they are caused by bone-eating larvae or a species of scavenger beetle. It’s an interesting thought that this giant killer has become food for many insects. “
Researchers hope to learn more about the fallen giant by taking thin sections of its bones and examining them under a microscope. This should give them the opportunity to learn more about how fast the spinosaurid grows and how old it may have been when it died, the study’s authors said.
Originally published in Live Science.