Scientists in Southampton believe that four skeletons recently found on Isle of Wight belong to a new species of arthropod.
A new study by paleontologists at the University of Southampton found that four skeletons recently found on Isle of Wight belonged to a new species of arthropod, a group that includes tyrannosaurus and modern birds .
“We were surprised by how hollow the animal was – it had holes in the air. Parts of its skeleton have to be quite delicate. “- Chris Barker
The dinosaur lives in Cretaceous period about 115 million years ago and is estimated to be four meters long.
The bones were discovered on the coast at Shanklin last year and are from the neck, back and tail of the new dinosaur, named Vectaerovenator inopinatus.
The name refers to the large air space in some bones, one of the traits that helps scientists identify its arthropod origin. These airbags, also found in modern birds, are an extension of the lungs, and they potentially help fuel an efficient breathing system while also making the skeleton lighter.
The fossils were found over a period of several weeks in 2019 in three separate discoveries, two by individuals and one by a group of families, all of which delivered their finds to the Dinosaur Island Museum in Sandown. near.
Scientific research has confirmed the fossils were most likely belonging to the same dinosaur, with the exact location and timing of the findings reinforcing this belief.
Robin Ward, a frequent fossil hunter from Stratford-upon-Avon, visited with his family on Isle of Wight as they explored. “The joy of finding the bones we found was absolutely amazing,” he said. I thought they were special so brought them with us when we visited the Dinosaur Island Museum. They immediately knew this was a rare thing and asked if we could donate it to the museum to be fully researched.
James Lockyer, from Spalding, Lincolnshire was also visiting the Island when another skeleton was found. Also a regular hunter of fossils, he said: “It looks different from the vertebrae I have encountered in the past. I was looking for a place in Shanklin and was informed and read that I won’t find much there. However, I always made sure that I would look for areas other people couldn’t find, and on this occasion, it paid off. “
Paul Farrell, from Ryde, Isle of Wight, added: “I was walking along the beach, kicking the rocks and came across what looked like a dinosaur’s bone. I was shocked to hear it could be a new species.
After studying the four vertebrae, paleontologists from the University of Southampton confirmed that the bones were likely to belong to a species of dinosaurs that science had never known before. Their findings will be published in the journal Papers in Paleontology, in an article co-authored by the fossil discoverers.
“We were surprised to see how hollow this animal was – it had holes in the air,” said Chris Barker, a PhD student at the university who led the study. Parts of its skeleton have to be quite delicate.
“The European record for arthropods from the ‘Middle’ Cretaceous period in Europe is not great, so it is really interesting to be able to enhance our understanding of dinosaur diversity. from this point.
“You usually don’t find dinosaurs in the mines in Shanklin when they were placed in marine habitats. You’re more likely to find fossil oysters or driftwood, so this is truly a rare find. “
It is likely that Vectaerovenator lived in the northern region where its body was found, with the animal carcasses drifting into the shallow sea nearby.
Chris Barker added: “Although we have enough documentation to be able to identify the general dinosaur type, ideally we would like to find more to refine our analysis. We are very grateful for donating these fossils to science and for the important role civic science can play in paleontology.
The famous Isle of Wight is one of the top sites for dinosaur relics in Europe and the new Vectaerovenator fossils will now be on display at the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown, home to an important international collection.
The curator, Dr. Martin Munt, said: “This remarkable discovery of fossils connected by three different individuals and groups will add to the rich collection we have and It’s great that we can now confirm their meaning and show the public astonishment at.
“We continue to do public field trips from the museum and will encourage anyone who finds unusual fossils to bring them in so we can take a closer look. However, fossil hunters should remember to stick to the coast and avoid going near cliffs that are some of the most unstable places on the Island. “
Isle of Wight Environmental and Heritage Cabinet Member John Hobart Commissioner John Hobart said: “Here’s another amazing fossil discovery on the Island that sheds light on our prehistoric past – our prehistoric past sheds more light. It will add to the many great items on display at the museum. “
Reference: August 11, 2020, Papers in Paleontology.
An explanation of the new discovery will be on display in the main museum gallery from Wednesday 12 August. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, museum visitors are required to book in advance. calling (01983) 404344.
The article ‘A arthropod’ mid Cretaceous ‘highly compressed air from Lower Greensand, England’ by Chris Barker and the fossil discoverers will be published in Papers in Paleontology. The authors and the University of Southampton came up with their findings as ‘open access’.