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UK fossil hunter has found Europe’s ‘largest predatory dinosaur’ – Top Stories News – Report by AFR

A giant crocodile-faced dinosaur discovered on the Isle of Wight by one of Britain’s top fossil hunters was likely the biggest predator to have ever stalked Europe, scientists said on Thursday.

Most of the bones of the two-legged spinosaur were found by the late local collector Nick Chase, who devoted his life to combing the beaches of the island on England’s south coast for dinosaur remains.

Researchers at the University of Southampton then used the few available bones to identify what they dubbed the “White Rock Spinosaur,” they said in a study published in the journal PeerJ.

“This was a massive animal that was more than 10 meters (33 feet) long and, judging by some measurements, probably represents the largest predatory dinosaur ever found in Europe,” said Chris Barker, a graduate student who led the study .

Although Barker admitted it would be better to have more bones, he told AFP that “numbers don’t lie – it’s larger than the largest known specimen” previously found in Europe.

Thomas Richard Holtz, a University of Maryland vertebrate paleontologist who was not involved in the study, agreed that the new find “appears to be larger” than a giant predator whose fossilized remains were discovered in Portugal.

Matt Lamanna, a dinosaur paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in the US, commended the “excellent, thorough study of the specimen” given the lack of bones, but said it was difficult to compare sizes.

For example, he said the largest known spinosaur, Spinosaurus, was probably the longest such dinosaur, “but it probably wasn’t as heavy” as either Tyrannosaurus rex or Giganotosaurus – “the latter is about to become super famous thanks to the new ‘ Jurassic World’ films”.

– Why the long face? –

The White Rock spinosaur – which researchers hope to be able to officially name as a new species – dates from the early Cretaceous period and is estimated to be around 125 million years old.

Barker said that makes it the youngest spinosaur found in Britain, two or three million years younger than the known Baryonyx.

Spinosaurs are known for their elongated heads. Instead of having the square skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex, their faces look more like that of a crocodile.

A leading theory to explain this trait is that they hunted both in water and on land.

“They’re like storks and herons that wade in and snatch fish from the surface,” Barker said.

The White Rock Spinosaur was discovered in a coastal lagoon environment where few dinosaur fossils are typically found.

“It helps paint a picture of what animals were living at the time, which is a very little-known part of England’s paleontological heritage,” Barker added.

The team had already identified two new species of spinosaurs on the Isle of Wight, including the Ceratosuchops inferodios – dubbed the “hell heron”.

“This new animal reinforces our argument, published last year, that spinosaur dinosaurs originated in western Europe and diversified there before becoming more widespread,” said study co-author Darren Naish.

– The Collector’s ‘Uncanny Ability’ –

The paleontologists paid tribute to Chase, who always donated all the bones he found to museums.

“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 PhD student at the University of Portsmouth.

Barker said Chase’s “uncanny ability” to find bones shows that “it’s not just professional paleontologists who are influential in the discipline.”

The discovery “highlights the fact that collectors play a huge role in modern paleontology and their generosity helps advance science,” he added.

And if there are aspiring fossil hunters hoping to pick up where Chase left off, paleontologists would welcome more White Rock spinosaur bones.

“We’re hoping a passer-by can pick up some pieces and donate,” Barker said.

#fossil #hunter #Europes #largest #predatory #dinosaur

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