A species of dinosaur was discovered decades after its bones were unearthed, according to a new study.
Scientists named the ancient reptile Brighstoneus simmondsi, believed to be from the Early Cretaceous period, about 125 million years ago.
The genus Brightstoneous is named after Brightstone, an English town near the excavation site. Simmondsi is a tribute to amateur collector Keith Simmonds, who found the specimens.
Simmonds originally found the bones in 1978 on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England. The specimens were stored at the Dinosaur Isle museum in Sandown on the Isle of Wight until they were examined 40 years later for a different study.
“It’s quite common, if not more common, these days to discover new dinosaurs in museum basements rather than in the field,” said study author Jeremy Lockwood, a doctoral student at the Natural History Museum in London and the University of Portsmouth , in the United Kingdom.
At the time, Lockwood was conducting research on the diversity of large herbivorous iguanodontic dinosaurs, which included Iguanodon and Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis, the most common dinosaur fossil specimens found so far on the island.
an accidental discovery
After closely examining the bones, Lockwood realized he had a new species of dinosaur on his hands.
Both iguanodon and mantelisaurus had a straight, flat nose, while Brightstoneus had a rounded nose, he said. Brightstoneus also had more teeth, which were designed for chewing, Lockwood added.
In the Early Cretaceous period, grass and flowering plants were not widely available, so the dinosaur probably had to eat hardy plants like pine branches and ferns, he said.
Using thigh and femur bones, scientists estimated that the dinosaur was about 8 meters long and weighed about 1 ton.
Prior to this discovery, scientists designated all delicate bones found on the island as Mantellisaurus, while larger bones were categorized as Iguanodon.
“Brightstoneus shows that there was more diversity in the Lower Cretaceous iguanodontics than we thought,” said Lockwood.
The Brighstoneus specimens were also 4 million years older than the Mantellisaurus bones, so it could be argued that they are unlikely to be of the same species due to the long period of time between the two, he noted.
Some of the bones’ features, such as the jaw, are unique to Brightstoneus, said Matthew McCurry, curator of paleontology at the Australian Museum in Sydney and a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales, who was not involved in the study.
The longer jaw was capable of holding 28 teeth, some more than any other closely related species, McCurry said.
Lockwood is interested in researching whether dinosaur diversity has changed over time or has remained the same over 1 million years.
Dinosaur bones can also reveal what the Earth was like millions of years ago, McCurry said.
“Describing new species of dinosaurs is the first step in piecing together what these past ecosystems were like and learning how they have changed over time,” he said.
The study by the name of Brightstoneus simmondsi was published on Wednesday in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.
(Text translated, read original in English here)
Reference: CNN Brasil