Spinosaurus lived 125 million years ago.
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The fossils of a carnivorous dinosaur from 125 million years agoten meters long and with the head of a crocodile, probably the largest predator that ever lived in Europewere discovered in the british isle of wightaccording to a study published this Thursday.
Paleontology owes this finding to a local collectorthe British Nick Chase, who spent his life searching the beaches of this island in the south of England, one of the richest places in Europe in dinosaur fossils.
From the few bones it unearthed (mainly cervical, caudal and sacral vertebrae), researchers at the University of Southampton were able to identify the animal, a bipedal spinosaurusan apex predator that lived in the Early Cretaceous (between 145 and 100 million years ago).
“It was a gigantic animal, more than 10 meters long. In view of some of its dimensions, it probably represents the largest predator ever discovered in Europe,” according to Chris Barker, a paleontology researcher who led the study published in the journal Peer. J.
Although few bones of the individual have been unearthed so far, “the numbers don’t lie: it is larger than the largest specimen ever found in Europe,” he said.
This mighty carnivore appears to be “even larger” than another predatory dinosaur discovered in Portugal in 2017, confirmed Thomas Richard Holtz, a paleontologist at the American University of Maryland who was not involved in the study.
“Like the herons”
However, comparing sizes is still difficult in this extinct world, recalls Matt Lamanna, a dinosaur specialist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pennsylvania, United States).
And the largest of the spinosurids “was probably not as massive” as the famous tyrannosaurus rex or the Giganotosaurus.
“White Rock spionosaurus” (named for the place where its bones were found) is the name scientists hope to give to a new species, which roamed the area some 125 million years ago.
It is believed to be the youngest member of the spinosaur family found in Great Britain, including Baryonyx, one of the protagonists of the “Jurassic Park” film series.
This family is recognizable by its elongated head, like that of a crocodile, as opposed to the square skulls of a T-rex. Some theories relate this morphology to its way of hunting, both on land and in the water.
“They were a bit like storks and herons, splashing around and catching fish on the surface,” says Chris Barker.
The fossils were discovered on the southwest coast of the island, in a lagoon-type geological formation that revealed a hitherto unknown historical stratum. “It helps us to represent the living conditions of these animals at that time”, adds the researcher.
On this island, the team of researchers has already discovered two new species of spinosaurs, including the Ceratosuchops inferodia, nicknamed the “heron of hell”.
The discovery of the apex predator “strengthens our arguments that this family of dinosaurs originated in western Europe and diversified there, before spreading to other places” on the planet, added Darren Naish, co-author of the study.
“Most of these extraordinary fossils were found by Nick Chase, one of the most skilled dinosaur hunters, who died just before the covid-19 epidemic,” said Jeremy Lockwood of the University of Porthmouth, also a co-author of the study.
The collector always donated his finds to museums, the paleontologists said.
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