Two new species of dinosaur have been discovered on the Isle of Wight after being unearthed on a beach more than 125 million years after they died.
The dinosaurs, which have been named the ‘horned crocodile-faced hell heron’ and ‘Milner’s riverbank hunter’, were an estimated nine metres in length, hunted on land and in water and were notable for their ‘crocodile-like skulls’, according to a new paper.
Both species were closely related to the giant Spinosaurus, and are only the second and third spinosaurid skeletons to ever be discovered in the UK, with the first being the Baryonyx dinosaur, which was unearthed in Surrey in 1983.
The Milner’s riverbank hunter was named after palaeontologist Angela Milner, who named the Baryonyx and died in August this year.
Palaeontologists from the University of Southampton said the discovery of the two dinosaurs in such a short time span came as a ‘huge surprise’, with the study’s lead author Chris Barker saying in a statement that the findings ‘[suggest] the UK housed a greater diversity of spinosaurids than previously thought’.
Previous fossils belonging to spinosaurids have been largely limited to bone fragments and teeth, with fossil hunters involved in the find describing the discovery as hugely rare even on an island known for its fossils.
‘This is the rarest and most exciting find I’ve made in over 30 years of fossil collecting,’ one fossil collector involved in the dig told Sky News.
The discovery of the new species was reportedly made by several collectors and academics who discovered around 50 bones that together formed partial skeletons. The bones, which were located on a beach at Brighstone Bay, are set to go on display in the Isle of Wight’s Dinosaur Isle Museum.
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