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Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK


Sci/Tech

New dinosaur discovered in England



A previously unknown species of dinosaur has been discovered on the Isle of Wight.

Fossilised remains found by an amateur collector show the cat-like creature combined grace and speed with awesome killing ability.


The BBC's Christine McGourty tells the story of the new dinosaur
The 12ft long creature, similar to the Velociraptor created for the film Jurassic Park, was equipped with murderous claws, razor sharp teeth and unusually long hindlegs.

The as-yet unnamed dinosaur was found embedded in a cliff on the Isle of Wight's south coast.

"Nothing quite like has been seen before," said Steve Hutt, Curator of the island's Museum of Geology at Sandown, who is heading the excavation.

"This was an animal which was incredibly graceful as well as being very tough. It had very long, powerful hands with big claws, and very long back legs.

"We were absolutely stunned by the length of the fibula and tibia (leg bones). It was something completely new."

Mr Hutt believes the dinosaur was swept up in a flood 120m years ago, "cartwheeled around" and dumped at the site where it was found.

Scientists checked with museums around the world before deciding that the creature was a new discovery.

The new dinosaur was found in an area of the Isle of Wight where pieces of the cliff have been falling into the sea, exposing hidden fossils. However the precise location is being kept secret in case of an invasion of curious visitors.

Two years ago another new dinosaur was found there, Neovenator salerii, a 26ft smaller version of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Mr Hutt said the quality of the latest find was "quite breathtaking" and included teeth preserved with minute cutting edges.

"It was a lithe, whippy thing that moved very fast as it hunted different kinds of prey," said Mr Hutt.

The dinosaur had a very long tail, up to twice the length of its body. This would have acted as a counterweight, switching from side to side as the creature ran with its head down and its body almost horizontal to the ground.

It will take a year or two before all the fossil remains are unearthed. So far a portion of the skull and jaw, both hands and arms, elements of both feet, a piece of the tail, vertebrae and ribs have been discovered.

Mr Hutt said he would be naming the dinosaur after the collector who discovered it and who, for now at least, wished to remain anonymous.

The dinosaur will be featured in the BBC Radio Four programme Dinosaur Deadline at 1100 (BST) on Tuesday .



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