A new species of Tyrannosaur dinosaur has been discovered in the Isle of Wight, England.

Four bones that were found in Shanklin last year are now believed to belong to a new species of meat eating theropod dinosaur.

The species has been named Vectaerovenator Inopinatus. This dinosaur is thought to be a part of the same group as modern birds and the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The name refers to the large air spaces found in the various bones, specifically bones from the neck, back and tail of the creature, that helped identify its classification. These air sacks are also found in modern birds, Pterosaurs, and ancient relatives of T. Rex. They were used as extensions of the lung and were likely formed to help fuel an efficient breathing system whilst also making the skeleton lighter.

Discovery

The bones were found in three separate discoveries in 2019 and were handed in at the nearby Dinosaur Museum at Sandown, where they are currently being displayed.

Robin Ward, a regular fossil hunter from Stratford-upon-Avon, was visiting the Isle with his family when he came across the remains. “The joy of finding the bones we discovered was absolutely fantastic” he said.

James Lockyer, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, was also visiting the Isle when he found some more of the bones. “It looked different from marine reptile vertebrae I have come across in the past,” he said. “I was searching a spot at Shanklin and had been told, and read, that I wouldn’t find much there.

However, I always make sure I search the areas others don’t, and on this occasion, it paid off.”

Paul Farrell, from Ryde, added: “I was walking along the beach, kicking stones and came across what looked like a bone from a dinosaur.  I was really shocked to find out it could be a new species.”

Chris baker, who lead the University of Southampton study of the animal said “We were struck by just how hollow this animal was – it’s riddled with air spaces. Parts of its skeleton must have been rather delicate.”

“The record of theropod dinosaurs from the ‘mid’ Cretaceous period in Europe isn’t that great, so it’s been really exciting to be able to increase our understanding of the diversity of dinosaur species from this time. You don’t usually find dinosaurs in the deposits at Shanklin as they were laid down in a marine habitat. You’re much more likely to find fossil oysters or driftwood, so this is a rare find indeed.”

It seems highly likely that the dinosaur lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out to a shallow sea that was nearby.

The University’s findings are due to be published in the journal Papers in Palaeontology, and co-authored by those who discovered the fossils.

Classification

It is thought that Vectaerovenator could have been a Proceratosaurid Tyrannosaur like the early Cretaceous Yutyrannus from Asia.

The Yutyrannus is renowned for being the largest known feathered animal discovered, with its name roughly translating to “feathered tyrant”. This animal also started the debate on whether later Tyrannosaurs, including T’rex, had feathers as well. This topic is still on debate to this day.

Another feature that separated Yutyrannus from later tyrannosaurids was the fact that it didn’t have the typical two clawed tiny arms that the group have been renowned for. It had instead a pair of arms like that of the late Jurassic period allosaur group.

Dinosaur

This group dominated the Jurassic period before evolving into the early to middle Cretaceous Carcharodontosaurid group. This group was renowned for their teeth which had shark-like grooves which would have allowed them to easily slice through the flesh of their victims, plus some of the largest specimens were bigger than T’rex. They are thought to be the apex predator up until the late Cretaceous.

It is thought that animals like Yutyrannus and various other Proceratosaurid  dinosaurs like them such as the very similar Sinotyrannus and the Jurassic Guanlong, Kileskus and Proceratosaurus itself were an evolutionary stepping stone from the small, lightly built Proceratosaurs and their ancestors the coelurosaurs, to the giant late Cretaceous northern hemisphere dominating Tyrannosaurids such as Tarbosaurus, Daspletosaurus and the T’rex.

Dinosaur 2

Another Tyrannosaur discovered in Canada this year, Thanatotheristes Degrootorum, also fills our understanding of the development of the tyrant lizards.

Thanatotheristes is the first new Tyrannosaur to be discovered in Canada in 50 years. Its name being derived from the Greek word for reaper or harvester “theristes” and the name of the Greek god of death Thanatos. This means that the name roughly translates to “reaper of death” with the Degrootorum deriving from Sandra and John De Groot of Hays who discovered the specimen.

It lived roughly 79.5 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period which makes it 2.5 million years older than its closest relative. It most likely preyed upon herbivorous dinosaurs such as the horned Xenoceratops and the dome headed Colepiochephale.

Study co-author Darla Zelenitsky of the University of Calgary, said in a statement “this is the oldest occurrence of a large tyrannosaur in Canada, found in an older window of time than where previous tyrannosaurs have been found.” The study was published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

This means shows that at least in Canada, the tyrannosaurs were more diverse than first imagined during the apex of their reign.

This all shows that the “descendants” of Vectaerovenator were so efficient at being the apex predator, they dominated the northern hemisphere and perhaps even the southern hemisphere – if it weren’t for the fact that both hemispheres at the time of the apex of the Tyrannosaurs reign were divided from one another, allowing the short skulled Abelisaurs such as Majungasaurus and Carnotaurus to dominate the region.

The discovery of Vectaerovenator Inopinatus can have the potential to have a big impact as it helps fill not only our understanding of life during the middle of the Cretaceous period in the northern hemisphere, but also our knowledge of how the tyrannosaurs evolved to become some of the most effective apex predators in the history of the planet.

Study co-author Darla Zelenitsky of the University of Calgary, said in a statement “this is the oldest occurrence of a large tyrannosaur in Canada, found in an older window of time than where previous tyrannosaurs have been found.” The study was published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

This means shows that at least in Canada, the tyrannosaurs were more diverse than first imagined during the apex of their reign.

This all shows that the “descendants” of Vectaerovenator were so efficient at being the apex predator, they dominated the northern hemisphere and perhaps even the southern hemisphere if it weren’t for the fact that both hemispheres at the time of the apex of the Tyrannosaurs reign were divided from one another, allowing the short skulled Abelisaurs such as Majungasaurus and Carnotaurus to dominate the southern hemisphere.

The discovery of Vectaerovenator Inopinatus can have the potential to have a big impact as it helps fill not only our understanding of life during the middle of the Cretaceous period in the northern hemisphere but also our understanding of how the tyrannosaurs evolved to become some of the most effective apex predators in the history of the planet.

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