New species of dinosaur discovered on Isle of Wight for first time in 142 years
The newly-discovered species of dinosaur with an armoured body belonged to a genus of plant-eating dinosaurs.
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A new species of dinosaur with an armoured body has been discovered on the Isle of Wight for the first time in 142 years. The fossilised remains belonged to a genus of plant-eating dinosaurs known as Ankylosaurus that was found in the 1980s on the island’s Wessex Formation - a fossil deposit that dates back between 145 and 66 million years.
The new species is called Vectipelta barretti, after Professor Paul Barrett, who has spent 20 years working at the Natural History Museum in London as the head of fossil vertebrates. It is the island’s second armoured dinosaur discovery, following the discovery of Polacanthus foxii in 1865.
Stuart Pond, a researcher at Natural History Museum’s Department of Earth Sciences, said: “For virtually 142 years, all ankylosaur remains from the Isle of Wight have been assigned to Polacanthus foxii, a famous dinosaur from the island, now all of those finds need to be revisited because we’ve described this new species.”
Barrett said: “I’m flattered and absolutely delighted to have been recognised in this way, not least as the first paper I ever wrote was also on an armoured dinosaur in the NHM collections. I’m sure that any physical resemblance is purely accidental.”
The findings are described in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. The co-author, Dr Susannah Maidment, a senior researcher at the NHM, said: “Paul has been a really important and significant mentor, supervisor, colleague and friend to myself and several of the other authors on the paper, and we wanted to thank him and recognise his huge contributions to dinosaur palaeontology.”
V barretti is distinguished from P foxii by its neck and back bones. Both species have unique pelvic features, with V barretti having more blade-like, spiky armour. Despite the fact that both ankylosaurs originated on the same island, the researchers discovered that they were not closely related.
According to the researchers, V barretti is largely connected to several Chinese ankylosaurs, implying that these dinosaurs travelled easily from Asia to Europe during the Early Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago).
Mr Pond said: “This is an important specimen because it sheds light on ankylosaur diversity within the Wessex formation and Early Cretaceous England.” The researchers said rocks from the Wessex Formation and the Isle of Wight are “hugely important” in understanding more about how dinosaurs went extinct.