Carnivorous Theropod Dinosaur Discovered in United Kingdom

A new genus and species of dinosaur has been identified in the United Kingdom!

In 2019, fossil remains of a carnivorous theropod’s neck, back, and tail were found on the Isle of Wight near Knock Cliff. It is now that these fossils have been identified as a rare and special occurrence, as they are the first discoveries of a 115 million year old Cretaceous carnivore named Vectaerovenator inopinatus. Researchers made note of the hollow nature of its bones, which would have resulted in a light, fragile figure, and a name meaning “Unexpected Air-Filled Hunter”. This particular specimen would have measured around 13 feet long, and lived in the subtropical floodplains and lush river valleys of what we now know as the Wessex Formation. Now a part of England, but 115 million years ago at a latitude roughly equal to where North Africa is today.

An artistic recreation of the Vectaerovenator specimen’s final resting place. Artist credit: Trudie Wilson.

Vectaerovenator shared its domain with an impressive variety of creatures, including ancient mammals, crocodiles, fish, turtles, and even animals we would now recognize as birds. Also living in this ancient ecosystem were a vast array of dinosaurs and pterosaurs (namely azhdarchid, gnathosaurine, and ornithocheirid pterosaurs such as Coloborhynchus, titanosaurid and rebachisaurid sauropods, compsognathid and dromaeosaurid theropods, Polacanthus, iguanodontid hadrosaurs including Iguanodon, hypsilophodontids like Hypsilophodon itself).

The individual who’s bones were discovered last year died and was washed out to sea, where it fossilized.

Silhouette of Vectaerovenator, indicating where the discovered bones fit into the animal. Image credit: Darren Naish.

 

  • C. Chris Barker et al. 2020. A highly pneumatic ‘mid Cretaceous’ theropod from the British Lower Greensand. Papers in Palaeontology, in press

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