Paleontologists at the University of Southampton have identified the fossil remains of a large carnivore, more than 32ft (10m) long and living about 125 million years ago.
The prehistoric skeletons belonged to two-legged, alligator-faced spinosaur dinosaurs, and they were massive predators.
PhD student Chris Barker, who led the study, said it was a “huge animal”.
The remains, including the dorsal and pelvic vertebrae, were discovered on the southwestern coast of the Isle of Wight.
This carnivore has been dubbed the “white stone spinosaurid” – characterized by the geological layer in which archaeologists discovered their fossils.
Spinosauridae (or spinosaurids) are a clade or family of theropods comprising ten to fourteen known genera. They became prominent during the Cretaceous period. Spinosaurid fossils occur around the world, including Africa, Europe, South America, and Asia.
“This is a huge animal, more than 10m in length and can weigh up to several tons,” Barker said.
“Judging from this size, it seems to represent one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever found in Europe – possibly even the largest known dinosaur in the region. “.
This dinosaur probably lived at the beginning of the sea level rise, they would have prowled in shallow waters, lagoons and sandbanks in search of food.
Co-author of the study, Darren Naish, said: “As currently all speculation about this dinosaur is known only through meager fossil fragments, we have not given a main scientific name. We hope that the remaining fossils will be found and studied in time.”
Spinosaurids are large bipedal carnivores. Their skulls are similar to crocodiles because they are long, low and narrow, and they also have conical teeth with reduced or absent serrations. The tips of the upper and lower jaws spread out into a spoon-shaped structure resembling an asterisk, behind which there is a groove in the upper jaw into which the extended end of the lower jaw fits. The nostrils of spinosaurids were retracted to a more distant position on the head than in most other theropods, and most of them had a bony crest along the midline of the skull. In many species, the upward nerve spines of the vertebrae elongate considerably and form a sail on the animal’s back.
Most of the fossils of this dinosaur were found by Nick Chase – dinosaur hunter on the Isle of Wight, however the anyf man died shortly before the Covid pandemic began.
Jeremy Lockwood, another co-author of the study and a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and the Museum of Natural History, said: “I was looking for fossils of this dinosaur with Nick and really Luckily, we found a pelvic bone with deep lines carved into it – the size of my index finger.”
“We think they are caused by larvae that feed on the bones of a scavenger. It is interesting to learn that this giant killer turns out to be a meal for many insects.”
The discovery follows previous work on spinosaurids by the University of Southampton team, which has published a study on the discovery of two new species in 2021.
The genus Spinosaurus is the longest known terrestrial predator from the fossil record, with canines estimated at 15 meters (49 ft) in length. Direct fossil evidence and anatomical adaptations indicate that spinosaurids were carnivorous dinosaurs, but fish were also an important part of their menu, and additional fossil finds suggest that they were as well. eat other dinosaurs and pterosaurs.
Spinosaurid is a family of theropod dinosaurs. Members of this family are predators with elongated, alligator-like skulls and conical teeth. The family name is derived from the typical genus name, Spinosaurus, with its sail-like structures protruding from the animal’s back. The actual effect of this “sail” is still controversial, with popular opinions being to regulate body temperature, to show threat, or to show off during mating season.
Fossils of the Spinosaurid family have been unearthed in Africa, Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. The first spinosaurid appeared in the Late Jurassic and became abundant in the Early Cretaceous. The only Spinosaurid specimen discovered in the Late Jurassic was a single tooth, 155 million years ago.
The first spinosaurid fossil, a conical tooth, was discovered around 1820 by British paleontologist Gideon Mantell in the Wadhurst Clay Formation. In 1841, naturalist Sir Richard Owen mistakenly attributed it to a crocodile, which he named Suchosaurus (meaning “crocodile lizard”). However, the fossil tooth was still mislabeled and not recognized until Bar .’s 1998 re-description