In the southwest of the island, one of the largest regions in Europe for dinosaur remains, archaeologists have discovered the fossils of two carnivorous dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period.
Scientists have announced the discovery of fossils of two meat-eaters from the Cretaceous period in the southwest of the island, one of the richest places in Europe for dinosaur remains.
Fossils found on a rocky beach show there was a double trouble on England’s Isle of Wight around 127 million years ago, with a pair of previously unknown large dinosaur predators possibly living side by side, both suitable for waterside hunting.
Scientists announced on Wednesday the discovery of fossils of the two meat-eaters from the Cretaceous period – both about 30 feet long (9 meters) and with elongated crocodile-like skulls – in southwestern island, one of the richest places in Europe in dinosaur remains. .
These are examples of a type of dinosaur called spinosaurus, known for its long, narrow skulls with many conical teeth – perfect for grabbing slippery fish – as well as strong arms and large claws.
One is called Ceratosuchops inferodios, meaning “Hell’s Crocodile-Headed Heron.” The name refers to a heron due to the shore-feeding lifestyle of this bird. Ceratosuchops had a series of low horns and bumps adorning its frontal region.
The fossilized skeleton of the small bird-like dinosaur Shuvuuia deserti is seen in this undated
Each was estimated to weigh around one to two tonnes, with skulls around a meter long, according to Chris Barker, a PhD student in paleontology at the University of Southampton and lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“Both would have been heron-like shore hunters, wading through water and thrusting their heads down rapidly to catch things like fish, small turtles, etc., and on land would do something similar , catching baby dinosaurs or the like. They would basically eat anything they could catch,” said paleontologist and study co-author David Hone of Queen Mary University of London.
Spinosaurs were part of the large group of bipedal carnivorous dinosaurs called theropods, which notably included Tyrannosaurus rex. As semi-aquatic hunters, spinosaurs targeted different prey and lacked the massive, squarer skull and large, serrated teeth of T. rex, which inhabited North America about 60 million years later.
Ceratosuchops and Riparovenator roamed a floodplain environment bathed in a Mediterranean-like subtropical climate. Forest fires have occasionally ravaged the landscape, with fossils of burnt wood found in cliffs on the Isle of Wight.
With a large river and other water bodies attracting herbivorous dinosaurs and home to numerous bony fish, sharks and crocodiles, the habitat provided Ceratosuchops and Riparovenator with plenty of hunting opportunities, Barker said.
These two cousins may have lived at the same time, possibly differing in their prey preferences, or may have been separated in time a bit, the researchers said. There was a roughly contemporary third spinosaur named Baryonyx, whose fossils were unearthed in the 1980s, that lived nearby and was about the same size, perhaps slightly smaller.
Partial remains of Ceratosuchops and Riparovenator have been discovered near the town of Brightstone. Ceratosuchops is known from skull material, while Riparovenator is known from both skull and tail material. There are brain remains for both, giving particular insight into these creatures.
The fossils have helped scientists produce a spinosaur family tree, indicating the lineage originated in Europe before moving to Africa, Asia and South America, according to University of Southampton paleobiologist Neil Gostling, who supervised the research project.
The largest, Spinosaurus, reached 15 meters in length and lived in North Africa around 95 million years ago. It differed from its Isle of Wight predecessors, with a large sail-like structure on its back and adaptations for a more aquatic lifestyle.