The fossil location was kept secret while paleontologists plan to dig
The paleontologists on the Isle of Wight (off the coast of southern England) hope that the discovery of a set of fossilized dinosaur bones will almost perfectly preserve them to solve a mystery that is over 100 years old. The fossil material is currently described for a genus of ornithopod dinosaurs (bird hips) called Valdosaurus. Until now, most fossil specimens, including the holotype material that this herbaceous dinosaur was named for, have been disarticulated and fragmented. These new fossils described by the paleontologists on the Isle of Wight as “absolutely amazing” represent a single individual, but the fossils are articulated and much more of the skeleton is preserved.
Discovered by Walker in October
The fossils were found last fall by a walker observing a series of bones slowly eroding from a cliff on a cliff on the island’s southwest coast. The exact location is being kept secret as scientists hope to return to the site to find more fossil evidence. The land is owned by the National Trust, and paleontologists are allowed to remove several large blocks of sandstone from the site so that fossils can be extracted carefully from their surrounding matrix under laboratory conditions. The seven sandstone blocks contained much of the back end of the skeleton, including articular caudal vertebrae (tailbone), pelvic elements, posterior extremities, and parts of the spine.
At first it was thought to be a chalk crocodile
At first, scientists like Dr. Kang Zhang thought the fossils represented a prehistoric crocodile from the early Cretaceous, but when the bones were revealed with the removal of the surrounding sandstone, it soon became clear that they had an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Valdosaurus, perhaps more complete. on this type of dinosaur discovered to date.
How big was Valdosaurus?
Scientists have remained uncertain about the size of the Valdosaurus and how closely it related to other ornithopods. These fossils are expected to help answer the many questions surrounding this early chalk ride. Fossils attributed to Valdosaurus have been found on the Isle of Wight and also in Weald Clay material located in West Sussex (southern England). This new specimen suggests a body length of approx. 3.6 meters (12 feet), although some fragmentary remains, now located in the Natural History Museum in London, suggest that a fully developed Valdosaurus could have reached a length of more than five meters.
Months of preparation for the scientific team
Although it will take a few months to complete the preparation of the fossil material, paleontologists hope that this specimen can be exhibited in a dinosaur museum on the island, as part of a new exhibit on dinosaurs eating plants. I wandered around this part of the world.
Attempts to resolve Valdosaurus’ taxonomic conditions
The fossil material is dated to approximately 128 million years (early Cretaceous barremic fauna phase). Valodosaurus has been classified as Dryosaurid, although it remains uncertain as to the exact taxonomic relationship that this genus of dinosaurs has with Dryosaurus (better known from the Upper Jurassic strata of the western United States) and Camptosaurus.