New species of bird-like dinosaurs discovered on Isle of Wight

A new genus and species of dromeosaurid dinosaur has been discovered by a team of paleontologists from the University of Bath and the University of Portsmouth.

Reconstruction of the life of Vectiraptor greeni. Image credit: Gabriel Ugueto.

The newly identified species of dinosaur roamed our planet during the early Cretaceous, between 130 and 125 million years ago.

Appointed Vectiraptor greenithe ancient creature was about 2.5 to 3 m (8.2 to 9.8 ft) long.

He was a member of Dromaeosauridaea very large family of feathered predatory dinosaurs.

Vectiraptor greeniFossilized remains of (two associated vertebrae and a partial sacrum) were collected from the Wessex formation at Compton Bay, Isle of Wight.

“During the early Cretaceous, England supported a very diverse dinosaur assemblage,” said Dr. Nicholas Longrichpaleontologist in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, and colleagues.

“Perhaps the most diverse assemblage comes from the Wessex Formation of the Wealden Group, Isle of Wight.”

“Although complete remains are rare, the fauna has been sampled and studied for more than a century, and includes both fossils and footprints, with about twenty species of dinosaurs now known. This great diversity is surprising because Europe was isolated from the rest of the world by the seas for much of the Cretaceous.

Relative size of Vectiraptor greeni (top) and position of recovered items (bottom).  Image credit: Longrich et al., doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2021.105123.

Relative size of Vectiraptor greeni (top) and position of retrieved items (bottom). Image credit: Longrich et al., doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2021.105123.

According to the team, Vectiraptor greeni closely resembles the Lower Cretaceous eudromeosaurs of North America, suggesting a faunal exchange between Europe and North America.

“The diverse assemblage of Early Cretaceous dinosaurs found in England and Europe result from dispersal from North America, Asia, and western Gondwana, likely involving both land bridges and oceanic dispersal” , said the paleontologists.

“Europe served as a biotic crossroads during the early Cretaceous, allowing faunal exchange between landmasses.”

A paper describing the discovery was published in the journal Cretaceous research.

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Nicholas R. Longrich et al. A new dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the Wessex Formation (Early Cretaceous, Barremian) of the Isle of Wight, and implications for European paleobiogeography. Cretaceous research, posted on December 17, 2021; doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2021.105123

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