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Saturday, September 11, 1999 Published at 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK

UK: Scotland

Family discover new dinosaur

The Stegosaurus roamed the earth over 100m years ago

Scientists have revealed that a fossilised bone from a hitherto unknown dinosaur has been found on a Scottish isle.

A holidaying family found the fossilised elbow joint of a previously unknown member of the stegosaur family in sandstone on the Isle of Skye.

After two years of research, scientists have revealed the bone belonged to one of the herbivores which roamed the earth 175 years ago.

'Significant discovery'

It was the first bone of its kind to be found and was discovered by private banker Colin Aitken, 37, who was holidaying on the isle in 1997.

The discovery has been hailed as "very significant" by experts in paleaontology.

The ultra radius bone dates back to the mid-Jurassic period when the Isle of Skye was part of the North American continent.

It has further confirmed the importance of Skye as an important research site.

Dougie Ross, who is Curator of the Staffin Museum on the isle, said there have been significant discoveries on Skye every year since 1994.

He said: "It would appear this bone had come from a close relative of the Stegosaurus.

'Significant discovery'

"This is certainly a very significant discovery and that description, I am confident, would be given by the major institutions."

The Curator of Palaeontology at the Hunterian Museum, Neil Clark, carried out research and dating work on the find over 18 months.

He told the Times newspaper: "This is the first bone ever found in the world of this particular dinosaur. It is unique.

"When you think that there are 800 different types of dinosaur, to find a new one is tremendously exciting."

Mr Aitken, who was on a camping holiday with his family on Skye in May 1997, had decided to take his children "fossil hunting" on a beach because he heard fossils had been found there.

Yellow sandstone

When he turned over a block of yellow sandstone he saw a black bone, which measured about 10ins.

Mr Aitken was unable to carry the stone and get his children home so he left it there.

The family returned to Edinburgh because of bad weather but Mr Aitken had not forgotten about the discovery.

He informed the Staffin Museum who found the stone. Although the long bone had gone, museum staff recovered the elbow joint.

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