A rare find in England has resulted in the discovery of two previously unknown species of dinosaurs. The newly identified fossils belong to two separate species of spinosaurids believed to have flourished in the Early Cretaceous period. The predators are related to the well known Spinosaurus, which lends its name to the spinosaurid family as a whole. This intriguing family of dinosaurs has always aroused widespread interest from both paleontologists and the general public.
New dinosaurs discovered in England
The Isle of Wight, located off of the southern coast of England, is known for being extremely rich in dinosaur fossils.
The area was once much warmer and wetter than it is now, providing the marshy habitat which the spinosaurids were adapted to thrive in.
Fossils belonging to the two dinosaurs were found spread out over a period of several years by fossil hunters and beachgoers, who deposited them at the Dinosaur Isle Museum.
Researchers realized that they had found something very special when two individual snouts were examined and found to belong to previously unknown species.
Spinosaurids are known for their long, crocodile-like skulls. Skull pieces are extremely rare finds but when uncovered they can be vital sources of information for paleontologists.
Dinosaurs from this family have been uncovered around the world but they are thought to have originated in what is now Europe before migrating to other continents.
“Hell-heron horned crocodile-face”
The new discoveries have been given the names Riparovenator milnerae and Ceratosuchops inferodios, translating respectively to “Milner’s riverbank hunter,” in honor of paleontologist Angela Milner, and the more colorful “hell-heron horned crocodile-face.”
The names give some indication of how the dinosaurs lived. They are thought to have been semi aquatic which were most suited for the kinds of wet ecosystems that Cretaceous Britain could provide.
While they may have eaten other dinosaurs occasionally, their diets are believed to have been primarily fish based.
Ceratosuchops inferodios is named for its conjectured hunting style, which scientists believe might have resembled a heron, standing in shallow water and striking down quickly to grab fish and other aquatic prey.
The crocodile-like skulls would have made them formidable hunters both on land and water and scientists say that it is surprising, though not unheard of, for two similar species to share a habitat as the new discoveries apparently did.
The fossils, which date back to approximately 125 million years ago, will soon go on display at the Dinosaur Isle Museum on the Isle of Wight.