Fossil hunters have discovered two new species of dinosaurs which roamed around the south of England 125 million years ago, this discovery has shed new light on the predators.
Palaeontologists have described one of the meat-eating reptiles as a “hell heron”, cross-referencing its hunting method to a formidable version of the bird.
The three-toed remains of the dinosaurs were discovered on an Isle of Wight beach near Brighstone which belongs to the spinosaurid group. They’re said to have 1m-long (3ft) skulls and be a whopping 9m (29ft) in length.
The collection consists of 50 bones and took several years to unearth.
Specimen number one is called Ceratosuchops Inferodios and has been dubbed a “horned crocodile-faced hell heron”.
It has low horns and bumps below the brow, the name can also refer to the ferocious predator’s heron-like hunting style.
Specimen number two is called Riparovenator Milnerae, translating to “Milner’s riverbank hunter”, honouring British palaeontologist Angela Milner who recently passed away.
The first bones were found by fossil collectors who uncovered parts of two skulls before a team from the Dinosaur Isle Museum unearthed a large section of a tail.
The previous spinosaurid skeleton which belonged to Baryonyx was found in a quarry in Surrey back in 1983. Since then only teeth and singular bones have been discovered.
Chirs Barker, a PhD student and author of the University of Southampton study, said: “We found the skulls to differ not only from Baryonyx, but also from one another, suggesting the UK housed a greater diversity of spinosaurids than previously thought.”
Darren Naish, an expert in British theropod dinosaurs and co-author said: “We’ve known for a couple of decades now that Baryonyx-like dinosaurs awaited discovery on the Isle of Wight, but finding the remains of two such animals in close succession was a huge surprise.”
Interestingly the study also suggests how spinosaurids may have evolved in Europe, before moving into South America, Asia and Africa.
The collection of around 50 bones are set to go on display at the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown.
Curator Dr Martin Munt shares the finds have certainly cemented Isle of Wight’s reputation as one of the best locations for dinosaur remains in Europe.