Fossilised ‘hell heron’ dinosaur unearthed on Isle of Wight

On the Isle of Wight, fossilized remains of a dinosaur have been discovered. They are known as the Horned Crocodile-faced Hell Heron.
The predator, who was 125 years old, had a 9-metre-long body and powerful claws. It also had a huge skull with horns and bumps. Research suggests that the predator lived in ancient floodplains, where it would have waited for its aquatic prey.

Scientists believe that the discovery along with the skeleton from a second species found at the same location offers unique insight into how the Spinosauridae dinosaur family made the transition to semi-aquatic predators over a time period of tens or millions of years.

This is an exciting piece of news for dinosaurs because these are some of most charismatic and mysterious predators. Neil Gostling, University of Southampton, was the supervisor of the project.

He added that the new discoveries also confirmed the Isle of Wight's position as Europe's best place to find dinosaurs.

Ceratosuchops Inferodios was the first specimen. Riparovenator Milnerae was the second specimen and was named Milners riverbank hunters in honor of Angela Milner, a British paleontologist.

The Ceratosuchops Inferodios braincase and snout. Photograph by Chris Barker/Dan Folkes/PA

The Isle of Wight was an island that existed in the Early Cretaceous period. It had a Mediterranean-like climate and balmy forests. There were rivers containing fish, sharks, and ancient crocodiles. Scientists believe that the two dinosaurs lived on the shores of the rivers and hunted in both the water and land.

The fossil of a hell heron had a longer muzzle and more cylindrical teeth than the sabre-like blades found in terrestrial carnivores like T rex. According to Scientific Reports, this anatomy suggests that it hunted much like a modern heron. It stood motionless in water and then lowered its jaws when it saw prey.

We believe they were hunting because of their crocodile-like teeth.

Another possibility is that dinosaurs could have waited semi-submerged like a crocodile or used their large claws and hooked fish out of water like a bear.

Over a number of years, fossil collectors Brian Foster from Yorkshire and Jeremy Lockwood (retired GP) discovered the bones on Brighstone's beach. They also did a PhD in Palaeontology. They donated their finds to local Dinosaur Isle Museum by themselves.

After the discovery of the two snouts, we realized that this was something very rare and unique. Lockwood said. It got even more incredible when several collectors donated additional parts to the museum.

Baryonyx was the only known spinosaurid skeleton to have been found in the UK. It was first discovered in 1983 at a Surrey quarry. The majority of other discoveries since then have been limited to single bones and isolated teeth.

The new fossils will be on display at Sandown's Dinosaur Isle.


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