A giant crocodile-faced, spiked-backed dinosaur that roamed what is now England some 125 million years ago was one of the largest predators to ever prowl Europe.
Paleontologists have unearthed the remains of this behemoth on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. Researchers nicknamed the newly discovered species the “White Rock Spinosaurs,” after the Cretaceous geological stratum found on the island where it was discovered. Since scientists have only unearthed fossils, the animal has yet to be given an official scientific name.
The fragments are the youngest spinosaur fossils ever found in Britain, according to a new study published in the Journal on June 9 PeerJ Life and Environment. Spinosaurs were bipedal carnivorous dinosaurs with crocodile-like skulls, slender necks, and powerful arms, and they lived during the Cretaceous Period (145 million to 66 million years ago). The new species is a close relative of the older one, potentially amphibious Spinosauruswhich was greater than Tyrannosaurus rex and had a large, flattened sail extending from its back.
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Spinosaurs are somewhat mysterious, as few fossils of the group have been discovered. Scientists suspect the creatures hunted in lakes, rivers, and lagoons, but how they captured their prey is a matter of debate. Some paleontologists have suggested that spinosaurs actively swim after their prey (opens in new tab), propel themselves by waving their big cocks like modern-day crocodiles. Other experts suggest that the monsters behaved more like herons, wading through the lagoons thrust their long jaws into the water to snatch fish. Anyhow, the creatures were huge, and the newly discovered White Rock Spinosaur was among the largest.
“It was a huge animal that was over 10 meters long [33 feet] judging in length and by some dimensions, [it] probably represents the largest predatory dinosaur ever found in Europe,” said the study’s lead author Chris Barker, a paleontologist at the University of Southampton in England. said in a statement. “It’s just a pity that it’s known from such scant material.”
Researchers uncovered the ancient monster’s fossils, including giant pelvic and caudal vertebrae, in chalk cliffs near Compton Chine, a geological feature on the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight. The fossils were preserved in a rocky structure known as the Vectis Formation, which began to form 125 million years ago when deposits from rising sea levels invaded a freshwater coastal lagoon. The white rock spinosaurs roamed these lagoon waters and sandbars in search of prey, the study authors reported.
This isn’t the first spinosaur these researchers have spotted on the Isle of Wight. 2021 described the team two new spinosaur species – the “shore hunter” Riparovenator milnerae and the “hell heron” Ceratosuchops inferodios — Live Science previously reported. The Riverbank Hunter and Hells Heron were slightly smaller than their White Rock spinosaur cousin, reaching about 30 feet in length. These three discoveries bring the number of spinosaurs discovered in Britain to four – the other being the fearsome clawed bird Baryonyx.
The researchers say the discovery of the White Rock spinosaur reinforces their claim, first made when describing the previous two spinosaur species, that this group of dinosaurs may have originally evolved in Europe before spreading across Asia and the supercontinent Gondwana, which they later split into Africa and South America.
The gargantuan dinosaur might have been Europe’s largest land predator, but it also ended up being dinner for something else. Traces on the bones indicate that the giant’s carcass was plucked by other hungry Cretaceous creatures.
“Most of these amazing fossils were found by Nick Chase, one of Britain’s most experienced dinosaur hunters, who sadly died just before the COVID epidemic,” said study co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a paleontologist at the University of Portsmouth Explanation. “I was looking for remains of this dinosaur with Nick and found a pelvic lump with tunnels drilled into it, each about the size of my index finger. We believe they were caused by bone-eating larvae or some type of scavenger. It’s an interesting thought that this giant killer eventually became a meal for a variety of 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 allow them to learn more about how fast the spinosaur grew and how old it might have been when it died, the study authors said.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.livescience.com/largest-land-predator-isle-of-wight Crocodile-faced dinosaur may have been Europe’s largest ever predator