The remains of Europe’s largest-ever land-based predator dinosaur have been found on the Isle of Wight.
The creature, which measured more than 10 meters long, lived 125 million years ago.
Several prehistoric bones belonging to the two-legged, crocodile-faced spinosaurid dinosaur were discovered on the island off the south coast of England and have been analysed by scientists from the University of Southampton.
PhD student Chris Barker said: “This was a huge animal, exceeding 10m (32.8ft) in length and probably several tonnes in weight.
“Judging from some of the dimensions, it appears to represent one of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever found in Europe – maybe even the biggest yet known.
“It’s a shame it’s only known from a small amount of material, but these are enough to show it was an immense creature.”
The discovered bones of the ‘White Rock spinosaurid’ – named as such because of the geological layer in which the remains were found – include huge pelvic and tail vertebrae. It has yet to be given a formal scientific name.
Co-author Darren Naish said: “This new animal bolsters our previous argument – published last year – that spinosaurid dinosaurs originated and diversified in western Europe before becoming more widespread.
“We hope that additional remains will turn up in time.”
The bones were found by dinosaur hunter Nick Chase, who has since died, near Compton Chine on the southwest coast of the island and are now on display in the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown.
Scientists suggest that marks on the bone including little tunnels bored into a lump of pelvis show that the body of the giant dinosaur would have been picked over by scavengers and decomposers after it had died.
Co-author Jeremy Lockwood, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth and Natural History Museum, said: “It’s an interesting thought that this giant killer wound up becoming a meal for a host of insects.”