A remarkable breakthrough in palaeontology has unfolded on the Isle of Wight in England, as scientists discover the fossilised remains of an unidentified species of dinosaur. This extraordinary finding marks the first discovery of a new armoured dinosaur species on the island since 1865, causing great excitement among researchers and dinosaur enthusiasts.
Belonging to the family of ankylosaurs, the newly found dinosaur possesses a formidable appearance due to its blade-like armour. However, contrary to its intimidating body design, this colossal reptile, now known as Vectipelta barretti, was a herbivore.
How were remains of Vectipelta barrette found?
The fossils of Vectipelta barretti were excavated from rock formations dating back approximately 66 to 145 million years. It was decided to name the dinosaur after Professor Paul Barrett, who dedicated over two decades of research at the Natural History Museum in London. Professor Barrett graciously expressed his gratitude for this recognition, stating that he felt deeply honoured and overjoyed.
This recent discovery enriches our understanding of the diverse dinosaur population that once thrived on the Isle of Wight, offering valuable insights into the evolution and paleoecology of ankylosaurs during the Mesozoic era.
While the newfound dinosaur shares some similarities with the previously known ankylosaur species on the island, Polacanthus foxii, scientists believe that the two species are not closely related. The dissimilarities extend beyond their neck, back, and pelvic bones.
By carefully examining the distinct characteristics of these dinosaurs, researchers can glean further insights into the diversity and adaptations of ankylosaurs during the prehistoric era.
Similar to fossils found in China
Furthermore, the species Vectipelta barretti exhibits closer resemblances to ankylosaurs discovered in China, implying the possibility of intercontinental movement between Asia and Europe during the Early Cretaceous period. This finding carries significant implications for our comprehension of species diversity in England during that time.
Stuart Pond, a researcher associated with the Natural History Museum, emphasised the importance of this discovery in shedding light on the multitude of species that once roamed England during the Early Cretaceous period.
The presence of Vectipelta barretti challenges previous assumptions regarding other similar fossil remains, which had been attributed to Polacanthus foxii for more than a century.
As a result, this newly unearthed dinosaur necessitates a re-evaluation and re-assessment of these fossils, enabling scientists to obtain a more accurate understanding of the ancient fauna in the region. This revelation underscores the interconnectedness of prehistoric ecosystems and suggests that dinosaur species were widely dispersed across vast geographical regions.
The team responsible for this groundbreaking discovery highlights the immense significance of the Wessex Formation, the site where the new species was found. They regard it as an invaluable resource for enhancing the understanding of the events that led to the extinction of dinosaurs.