Dinosaur bones have been found on the Isle of Wight - here's where else they lived in the UK

(Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)(Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A new species of dinosaur believed to have lived 115 million years ago and estimated to have been up to four metres in length has been discovered on the Isle of Wight.

Four bones found at the popular seaside resort of Shanklin last year belong to a new species of theropod, palaeontologists from the University of Southampton have said.

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Vectaerovenator inopinatus belongs to a group of dinosaurs that includes Tyrannosaurus rex, and its remains are currently being displayed at the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight.

But what other dinosaur remains have been discovered in Britain - and when exactly did the prehistoric creatures roam around on our lands?

Are many dinosaur discoveries made in Britain?

The discovery of a brand new species of dinosaur is obviously a very exciting one, and over the years the UK soil has gifted palaeontologists a wealth of important dinosaur finds.

Over 500 noteworthy dinosaur finds have been made in Britain, and it may surprise you to learn that on the world table for dinosaur finds, the UK sits at a rather respectable seventh.

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Most UK dinosaur remains have been recovered from rocks dating back to the Middle Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, meaning these animals were roaming the country up to 174 million years ago.

What important discoveries have been made?

The very first dinosaur to be officially designated and named in scientific literature was the Megalosaurus, following its discovery in Oxfordshire in 1824.

The term ‘Dinosauria’ was first coined by English palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen to describe the three dinosaurs known about in 1841.

Originally thought to be a giant lizard measuring 20 metres in length, modern research has found that the Megalosaurus was around seven metres long and weighed more than one tonne.

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This dinosaur had a large head and short forelimbs, walked on two legs and used its horizontal tail for balance. Certain remains of the species have only ever been found in Britain.

And it's not just the discoveries of preserved bones that excite historians...

What else has been found?

In April 2018, enormous 170-million-year-old prehistoric footprints were found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and were determined to have belonged to species like Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus.

The fossilised skeleton of a fierce predatory dolphin-like reptile with hundreds of cone-shaped teeth was discovered just a few miles away, the most complete skeleton of a marine reptile from the age of dinosaurs ever found in Scotland.

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Previous studies revealed that fierce, meat-eating cousins of Tyrannosaurus Rex and massive, long-necked sauropods were also once resident there, earning Skye the reputation as Scotland’s Jurassic Island.

While it seems the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye once had resident dinosaurs, no remains have been found on the east coast of Scotland, or in the country’s Central Belt as yet.

Further south, more than 85 footprints made up of at least seven different species and including fine detail of skin and scales were uncovered by cliffs between Hastings and Fairlight on the Sussex coast in late 2018.

The footprints date between 145 and 100m years ago and include prints from Iguanodon – a 2.7m tall dinosaur – and Ankylosaurus, which was around six metres long.

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The area around Hastings has supplied palaeontologists with some valuable finds, including the first known Iguanodon in 1825 and the first confirmed example of fossilised dinosaur brain tissue in 2016

Where are the best places to find fossils in the UK?

The UK is actually home to a number of fossil-hunting hotspots, and some - like Dorset's Jurassic Coast - attract bone-hunters from across the globe.

Dorset lays claim to the most dinosaur finds on average, and there's even a yearly Fossil Festival held there each spring.

If your own hunt for preserved remains proves unfruitful, you could always take a trip to the county's Lyme Regis or Dinosaurland Fossil museums, both home to impressive collections of prehistoric artefacts.

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The Isle of Wight is another fossil-hunting haven, and even has its own dedicated app to help dino hunters on their calcified quests.

The Yorkshire coast is also a prime spot for skeletal lizard remains, with dinosaur footprints visible on beaches at Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay.

Many fossils have been discovered there, suggesting the county was once home to several different kinds of dinosaur - Theropods, Megalosaurus and Ankylosaurus are among the species that would have roamed Yorkshire.

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