Paleontologists at the University of Southampton have spent months studying four bones found last year in the village of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England.
Scientists named the dinosaur Vectaerovenator inopinatus ̵1; a name that refers to large air sacs in some of the bones commonly seen in theropods, which helped researchers identify the species. Bags are also seen in modern birds; they are likely to help create an efficient respiratory system in these dinosaurs, making the skeleton even lighter.
“We were amazed at how wild this animal was – it’s filled with airspace. Parts of its skeleton had to be quite delicate,” said Chris Barker, a doctoral student at the university who led the study. “The record of theropod dinosaurs from the mid-Cretan period in Europe is not so great, so it has been really exciting to be able to increase our understanding of the diversity of dinosaur species by this time.”
The four bones were found over several weeks last year by three different groups. This study confirmed that those split bones were likely from the same dinosaur, which probably lived north of the place where its bones were found; researchers speculate that the bodies were washed in the nearby shallow sea.
The team’s findings will be published in the journal Papers in Palaeontology.
Paul Farrell, from the Isle of Wight in Ryde, was one of the people who rode the bones. “I was walking along the beach, kicking rocks and saw what looked like bone from a dinosaur. I was really shocked when I discovered it could be a new species,” he said in the release.
The other two people who found the bones were both fossil hunters. The Isle of Wight is one of the main sites for dinosaur remains and fossils in Europe, and is home to the Dinosaur Isle Museum, where all the lucky fossil hunters brought the remains of the Vectaerovenator.
Now they will be displayed in museums.
“This remarkable discovery of fossils linked by three different individuals and groups will add to the vast collection we have and it is great that we can now confirm their significance and put them on display to amaze the public.” said Martin Munt, curator of the museum.