Two killer dinosaurs the size of school buses unearthed on Isle of Wight

Two new killer dinosaurs, each as big as a school bus and with ‘crocodile-like skulls’ that enabled them to hunt on land, and in the water, have been unearthed on the Isle of Wight.

The remains, found by fossil hunters on an Isle of Wight beach over several years, belonged to previously unknown species, according to palaeontologists at the University of Southampton.

The new-found beats had razor sharp teeth and claws – and a whip like tail. Bone crushing jaws would have snapped prey in half.

Both species reached 30 feet long, over 10 feet tall and weighed about five tons.



The braincase for a Ceratosuchops inferodios

They are closely related to the giant Spinosaurus – the largest terrestrial meat eater that ever lived.

One has been named Ceratosuchops inferodios – which translates as “horned crocodile-faced hell heron,” while the second was named Riparovenator milnerae meaning “Milner’s riverbank hunter” – after a revered British palaeontologist.

They belonged to a group of carnivores called spinosaurids. The Isle of Wight’s position at the time was roughly where Gibraltar is now.



Artist impression of the Spinosaurids. Ceratosuchops inferodios in the foreground, Riparovenator milnerae in the background
Artist impression of the Spinosaurids. Ceratosuchops inferodios in the foreground, Riparovenator milnerae in the background

It has been dubbed ‘Dinosaur Island,’ as more dinosaur bones have been found there than anywhere else in Europe.

The haul of bones was discovered on the beach near Brighstone Bay on the south west coast over a period of several years.

Keen-eyed fossil collectors initially found parts of two skulls. A crew from Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown recovered a large portion of a tail.



Artist impression of a braincase and snout for a Riparovenator milnerae
Artist impression of a braincase and snout for a Riparovenator milnerae

In all, over 50 bones have been dug out of rocks laid down over 125 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous.

The only spinosaurid skeleton previously unearthed in the UK belonged to Baryonyx – discovered in 1983 in a quarry in Surrey.

Most other finds since have been restricted to isolated teeth and single bones.



The snout of the Riparovenator milnerae
The snout of the Riparovenator milnerae

Lead author Chris Barker, a PhD student at Southampton University, said: “We found the skulls to differ not only from Baryonyx – but also one another.

“It suggests the UK housed a greater diversity of spinosaurids than previously thought.”

The study in Scientific Reports found the skulls alone measured 3ft 3in in length.



Silhouettes showing the bones discovered. Ceratosuchops inferodios in the foreground, Riparovenator milnerae in the background
Silhouettes showing the bones discovered. Ceratosuchops inferodios in the foreground, Riparovenator milnerae in the background

Co-author Dr Darren Naish, an expert in British theropod dinosaurs at Southampton, said: “We’ve known for a couple of decades now that Baryonyx-like dinosaurs awaited discovery on the Isle of Wight.

“But finding the remains of two such animals in close succession was a huge surprise.”

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