The bones were found in layers of a rock formation that is part of the Wealden Group, which stretches beneath the Isle of Wight and much of southern England.
These rocks are rich in fossils and over the years have provided many dinosaurs hitherto unknown to science. One of the most famous is Baryonx walkeri, which was named by Museum scientists in the 1980s after being discovered in Surrey.
More recently, a close relative of Iguanadon, Brightstoneus simmondsi, was found on the Isle of Wight, while two spinosaurs named the “bank hunter” and the “hell heron” were also discovered. Some of the bones of these three species were discovered by amateur paleontologists before being described earlier this year by a doctoral student at the Museum. Jeremy lockwood.
Two other amateur paleontologists, Mick Green and Nick Chase, participated in the discovery of V. greeni. Mick discovered two of the bones in 2004, and a third was recovered by Nick soon after, when storms eroded the rock they were in.
PhD student and co-author Megan Jacobs said: “This little dinosaur is also a great example of the importance of amateur fossil collectors and how working with them can produce important scientific research, which would not be possible otherwise. “
Although they may have been discovered at different times, they were found within meters of each other and share some common characteristics and have been preserved in the same way. This convinced scientists that they are from the same individual, rather than separate specimens.
Although only the three bones survive, representing two vertebrae and part of the hips, they were different enough from any other known species that scientists are describing a new species. The genus of the species was named for the Isle of Wight, while its species name refers to Mick.
“The bones are thick-walled and massive. He was clearly not hunting small prey, but animals as big or bigger than him, ”says Dr Longrich. “It was a large animal and very strongly built. ”