32ft dinosaur found on Isle of Wight was Europe’s largest hunter

·2-min read
The creature lived on the island 125 million years ago and would have fed on fish and a variety of other animals, including dinosaurs.  (PA)
The creature lived on the island 125 million years ago and would have fed on fish and a variety of other animals, including dinosaurs. (PA)

The remains of Europe’s largest ever land-based hunter, which measured the length of a squash court, have been found on the Isle of Wight.

Several prehistoric bones belonging to the two-legged, crocodile-faced spinosaurid dinosaur were discovered and analysed by scientists from the University of Southampton.

The creature lived on the island 125 million years ago and would have fed on fish and a variety of other small to medium-sized animals, including dinosaurs.

PhD student Chris Barker said: “This was a huge animal, exceeding 10m (32.8ft) in length and probably several tonnes in weight. 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’s a shame it’s only known from a small amount of material, but these are enough to show it was an immense creature.”

 (PA)
(PA)

The discovered bones of the 'White Rock spinosaurid' - named as such because of the geological layer in which the remains were found - include huge pelvic and tail vertebrae.

They were found by dinosaur hunter Nick Chase, who has since died, near Compton Chine, on the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight in the Vectis Formation geological structure and are now on display in the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown.

Dr Neil Gostling, corresponding author of the study published in the journal PeerJ, said: "Unusually, this specimen eroded out of the Vectis Formation, which is notoriously poor in dinosaur fossils.

"It's likely to be the youngest spinosaur material yet known from the UK."

Co-author Darren Naish said: "This new animal bolsters our previous argument - published last year - that spinosaurid dinosaurs originated and diversified in western Europe before becoming more widespread.

"We hope that additional remains will turn up in time.

 (PA)
(PA)

"Because it's only known from fragments at the moment, we haven't given it a formal scientific name," Mr Naish added.

"We hope that additional remains will turn up in time."

The scientists suggest that marks on the bone including little tunnels bored into a lump of pelvis, show that the body of the giant dinosaur would have been picked over by scavengers and decomposers after it had died.

Co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and Natural History Museum, said: "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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