The remains of Europe’s largest land hunter who was over 10 meters long and lived 125 million years ago have been found on the Isle of Wight. Several prehistoric bones belonging to the two-legged, crocodile-faced spinosaurid dinosaur have been discovered on the island off the south coast of England and have been analyzed by scientists from the University of Southampton.
The spinosaurid would have lived at the start of a period of sea level rise and would have surveyed lagoon waters and sandbanks in search of food. Doctoral student Chris Barker said: “It was a huge animal, over 10m (32.8ft) long and probably several tons in weight.
“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. It is a pity that it is only known from of a small amount of material, but these are enough to show that it was an immense creature.
The discovered bones of the ‘White Rock spinosaurid’ – so named for the geological layer in which the remains were found – include huge pelvic and caudal vertebrae.
They were found by the now deceased dinosaur hunter Nick Chase near Compton Chine on the south west 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 eroded from the Vectis Formation, which is notoriously poor in dinosaur fossils. This is probably the youngest spinosaur material ever known from the UK.
Co-author Darren Naish said: “This new animal reinforces our previous argument – published last year – that spinosaurid dinosaurs originated and diversified in Western Europe before spreading.
“We hope that more remains will appear over time. Because it is only known in fragments at the moment, we have not given it a formal scientific name,” Naish added.
“We hope that additional remains will appear in time.”
Scientists suggest that marks on the bone, including small tunnels drilled into a piece of pelvis, show the giant dinosaur’s body may have been picked up by scavengers and decomposers after it died.
Co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and the Natural History Museum, said: ‘We believe they were caused by bone-eating larvae of a type of scavenger beetle . It’s an interesting thought that this giant killer ended up becoming a meal for a host of insects.