A new dinosaur species was discovered on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. The fossilized remains belonged to an animal the size of a chicken, but the specimen was young and may have grown to become much larger. Named Vectidromeus insularis, the dinosaur was two-legged and very agile. It lived around 125 million years ago, at the time of other more well-known dinosaurs such as the tyrannosaurs rex and the iguanodon.
Reports say that the Vectidromeus was discovered by an unnamed amateur fossil collector. Professor Nick Longrich, who studied the remains, encouraged closer collaboration between palaeontologists and the amateur community. “These guys have spent their lives collecting and preparing these fossils,” he said. “They know details about the rock, the geology, and the bone that nobody else does.” The Vectidromeus is the seventh new dinosaur species found on the island in the last four years, thanks to the work of amateur collectors.
It’s no surprise that the Isle of Wight is the site of so many discoveries. This island is home to some of Europe’s richest quarries of dinosaur fossils. The island’s eroding cliffs frequently expose new remains, and it’s easy to find fossilized bones and footprints on the beaches. As a result, the Isle of Wight has earned the nickname “Dinosaur Island”.
Many of the local discoveries are housed in a museum that opened on the island in 2001. The museum, called Dinosaur Isle, was designed to look like a giant pterosaur, and it has the UK’s second most important dinosaur collection, behind the Natural History Museum in London.
1) Have you ever gone fossil hunting or collected rocks, shells or similar objects? Describe.
2) If you were a palaeontologist or an archaeologist, what discovery would you want to make, and why? Describe.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)