A new species of dinosaur has been discovered on the Isle of Wight, an island off the south coast of Great Britain. With its scientific name Vectidromeus insularis, the dinosaur was a surprising size for the image we have of these animals. It is the second member of this dinosaur family to be found on the Channel Island.
A new species of dinosaur has been discovered by researchers
Fossils of a chicken-sized dinosaur have been discovered on the Isle of Wright, further evidence that Europe had its own family of small herbivores, distinct from those of Asia and North America.
Vectidromeus is a member of the family Hypsilophodontidae, which were small, bipedal, plant-eating dinosaurs. They lived about 125 million years ago.
Although the new fossil is quite small, it is assumed to belong to a cub, which means that the adults of the species were, however, somewhat larger in size than the specimens found so far suggest.
The new dinosaur species boasts some legendary contemporaries. Vectidromeus would have lived around the forests of the Lower Cretaceous period, along with early T. rex, spinosaurs and iguanodons.
But it also has famous relatives who were important not just to the history of paleontology, but to the history of science in general.
When they lived, the surprising size they had
Thus, Vectidromeus is closely related to Hypsilophodon foxii, which was also discovered on the Isle of Wight. During the 19th century, Hypsilophodon was among the first dinosaurs to be described, due to the fact that its remains were discovered relatively intact. Like its new relative, Hypsilophodon had a small, slender waist and bird-like hind limbs.
These traits have made this family very important to scientists interested in the evolution of species. Thus, the British biologist of the Victorian era, Thomas Henry Huxley, nicknamed “Darwin’s bulldog”, used the fossils of a Hypsilophodon to prove that birds evolved from dinosaurs.
Even though both Hypsilophodon and Vectidromeus were discovered on the same island they did not live at the same time. Fossils of the former were recovered from the island’s high cliffs, suggesting it is 2-3 million years “younger” than Vectidromeus.
“Paleontologists have been working on the Isle of Wright for over a century, and these fossils have played a major role in the history of vertebrate paleontology,” Dr. Nicholas Longrich, of the University of Bath’s Milner Center for Evolution, said in a statement.
“But we’re still making new discoveries about dinosaurs as sea erosion uncovers new fossils from where they lay in the rocks,” he added.
The reason new dinosaur species keep appearing on the Isle of Wight is that the Cretaceous stratification is extremely thick – hundreds of meters thick – and can cover millions of years.
Although scientists have not agreed on the age of the fossils found on the island, it is possible that they came from different ecosystems, each with its own set of species.