On the Isle of Wight, Europe’s ‘largest-ever’ land dinosaur was discovered

Bone fragments, including pelvic and tail vertebrae

Scientists say they’ve uncovered the remains of Europe’s largest-ever terrestrial dinosaur on the Isle of Wight.

The remains of the predator, which were more than 10 meters long and lived around 125 million years ago, were discovered by palaeontologists at the University of Southampton. The prehistoric bones belonged to a carnivorous spinosaurid dinosaur with two legs and a crocodile-like face.

The research was led by PhD student Chris Barker, who described it as a “huge animal.” The remains, which included pelvic and tail vertebrae, were discovered on the Isle of Wight’s south-west coast. The predator was named the “white rock spinosaurid” after the geological layer where the remains were discovered.

“This was a huge animal, exceeding 10 m in length and probably several tonnes in weight,” Mr Barker said. “Judging from some of the dimensions, it appears to represent one of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever found in Europe; maybe even the biggest yet known.”

It would have lived at the start of a period of rising sea levels and would have hunted for food in lagoonal waters and sandflats. “We haven’t given it an official scientific name because it’s just known from fragments at the moment,” said Darren Naish, a co-author of the study. We’re hoping for more remains to turn up soon.”

The geological layer where the dinosaur was found. Photo: BBC

The majority of the fossils were discovered by Nick Chase, an Isle of Wight dinosaur hunter who died just before the Covid pandemic.

Jeremy Lockwood, another co-author of the study and a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and Natural History Museum, said: “I was searching for remains of this dinosaur with Nick and found a lump of pelvis with tunnels bored into it – each about the size of my index finger.

“We think they were caused by bone eating larvae of a type of scavenging beetle. It’s an interesting thought that this giant killer wound up becoming a meal for a host of insects.”

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