A new study published in the journal Cretaceous Research has recently identified and described a previously unknown dinosaur species, Velociraptor greeni. The newly discovered animal is an ancient relative of fierce Velociraptors, which roamed the earth 75 million years ago.
The fossils that the scientists analyzed have been found on the Isle of Wight, and appeared to belong to a ten feet long creature with huge slashing talons and finely serrated teeth. This discovery marks the first time a large raptor has ever been found in England.
According to a research team led by the University of Bath, this dinosaur lived 125 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous, when the Isle of Wight was covered by forests.
“This was a large, and very heavily constructed animal,” said study lead author Dr. Nicholas Longrich. “The bones are thick-walled and massive. It clearly didn’t hunt small prey, but animals as large or larger than itself.”
Due to its strong limbs and talons, it is possible that this dinosaur was able to climb trees. As Longrich and its colleagues noted, its heavy bones certainly suggest an animal that relied on strength and surprise rather than speed, in order to capture its prey.
Other top predators of the Early Cretaceous which lived in the area that is today’s Britain included the allosaur Neovenator, spinosaurs such as Baryonyx, and an early tyrannosaur named Eotyrannus.
“There’s an extraordinary diversity of dinosaurs known in England in the Cretaceous, and even after more than a century of study, we continue to find new species,” explained Dr Longrich.
“Although palaeontologists have been studying these dinosaurs for a long time, it’s hard going. We have to wait for the sea cliffs to fall and expose bits of bone, or for the waves to wash them out of the rocks. We’ve spent two centuries on the Isle of Wight piecing together our picture of English dinosaurs.”
The recent discovery of Velociraptor greeni helps build a bigger picture of the Early Cretaceous world, and provides, according to Dr. Longrich, “a tantalizing hint at the diversity of dinosaurs in England at that time.”