Source: CNN

A previously unknown species of plant-eating dinosaur roamed on an island off the south coast of England around 125 million years ago, new research has found.

The dinosaur would have been the size of a large American bison and weighed around a ton, according to Jeremy Lockwood, a doctoral researcher at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom and lead author of a study on the prehistoric creature.

Fossilized footprints found near the skeleton show the dinosaur was probably a herding animal, Lockwood said, adding: “Possibly large herds of these dinosaurs may have been thundering around if spooked by predators on the floodplains over 120 million years ago.”

The dinosaur fossil, comprising 149 bones, was discovered on the Isle of Wight in 2013 and is the most complete skeleton found in the UK in more than a century, the research published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology said.

The bones were found by avid local fossil collector Nick Chase, who died of cancer in 2019.

“Nick had a phenomenal nose for finding dinosaur bones – he really was a modern-day Mary Anning,” Lockwood said, alluding to the famous 19th-century paleontologist, in a news release. “He collected fossils daily in all weathers and donated them to museums. I was hoping we’d spend our dotage collecting together as we were of similar ages, but sadly that wasn’t to be the case.”

The new dinosaur species has been named Comptonatus chasei after Chase and the location where he found the skeleton, Compton Bay.

The researchers were able to determine the skeleton belonged to a new dinosaur species because of unique features, such as its jaw and particularly large pubic hip bone.

Lockwood described the discovery as “a remarkable find,” explaining: “It helps us understand more about the different types of dinosaurs that lived in England in the Early Cretaceous.”

Mike Greenslade, general manager of the conservation charity National Trust on the Isle of Wight, praised the “extraordinary discovery.”

“Finding the most complete dinosaur in the UK in a century not only showcases the island’s palaeontological significance but also underscores the importance of preserving our landscapes for future generations to explore and learn from,” Greenslade said.

“Nick Chase’s remarkable find and Jeremy Lockwood’s dedicated research are a testament to the incredible history waiting to be uncovered here,” he added.

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