Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is one of the richest dinosaur localities in Europe, with over 20 species of dinosaur having been recognised from the early Cretaceous Period (in particular between 132 and 110 million years ago), some of which were first identified on the island, as well as the contemporary non-dinosaurian species of crocodile, turtle and pterosaur.
The Isle of Wight has layers of the Vectis and Wealden fossil-bearing beds exposed on the southern half of the island. These are revealed in the cliffs of Yaverland, close to Sandown, and at Hanover Point and Whale Chine, along the southwestern coast.
The Cretaceous habitat
The island's dinosaurs come from the Wessex Formation, which dates from between 125 and 110 million years ago (mya). During this time the Isle of Wight, then located on a latitude at which North Africa resides today, had a subtropical environment and was part of a large river valley complex, which ran along the south coast of England to Belgium. It was a world of ponds, rivers and swamps, so it had conditions favourable for the formation of fossils.
As this environment did not change much, over the course of 10 million years, a large number of fossils were formed, so the island today is a very rich source.
List of dinosaur species
Unless otherwise specified, the following is a list of dinosaurs for which almost complete skeletons have been found on the island. There are also many more species, known only from a single or very few bones.
- Suborder Ornithopoda ("bird-footed", bipedal herbivores)
- Suborder Thyreophora ("shield-bearers", armored herbivorous dinosaurs)
- Suborder Sauropodomorpha ("sauropod-like", giant long-necked herbivores)
- Suborder Theropoda ("beast foot", bipedal carnivores)
- Baryonyx walkeri: Teeth are common on the Island. Hand bones have also been found.
- Eotyrannus lengi: A tyrannosauroid. First identified in 1997 and named in 2001 from a single specimen found on the island.
- Neovenator salerii: The holotype skeleton was found on the island.
- Yaverlandia: The holotype partial skull was found at Yaverland. It was initially believed to have belonged to a pachycephalosaurian.
- Deborah Cadbury, The Dinosaur Hunters (Fourth Estate) ISBN 1-85702-963-1; a history of the early history of the discovery of dinosaurs in the United Kingdom. Includes brief references to collectors on the island.
- Dinosaurs at Dinosaur Isle The website of Dinosaur Isle, an Isle of Wight palaeontological museum.
- DinoWight - The Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight Good site for general and scientific information
- Dinosaur Attractions Dinosaur Visitor attractions and things to do on the Isle of Wight
- The Palaeontological Association - Official website.
- "New Species Of Prehistoric Creatures Discovered In Isle Of Wight Mud", ScienceDaily, February 2009 news item on the discovery of diverse 48 species.