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Armored dinosaur unearthed: The Isle of Wight's remarkable discovery

The dinosaur Vectipelta Barretti, has been named after the renowned paleontologist Paul Barrett.

By Richard AbolarinwaPublished about a year ago 3 min read
Vectipelta barretti reconstruction

A new armored dinosaur species has been unearthed on the Isle of Wight, marking a groundbreaking discovery for paleontologists, according to a press release.

Named Vectipelta Barretti after the renowned paleontologist Paul Barrett, this remarkable find is the first description of an armored dinosaur from the Dinosaur Isle in 142 years. The discovery sheds light on ankylosaur diversity within the Wessex formation and Early Cretaceous England, challenging previous assumptions about dinosaur species in the region.

Distinct differences and ancient migration patterns

Stuart Pond, the lead author of the findings published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, highlighted the importance of this divergent specimen.

“For virtually 142 years, all ankylosaur remains from the Isle of Wight have been assigned to Polacanthus Foxii, a famous dinosaur from the island, now all of those finds need to be revisited because we’ve described this new species,” he said.

The fossilized remains of Vectipelta Barretti reveal unique features in the neck and back vertebrae, distinct pelvic structure, and blade-like spiked armor. On phylogenetic analysis, researchers observed this newly discovered species to be most closely related to certain Chinese ankylosaurs, suggesting the free movement of dinosaurs between Asia and Europe during the Early Cretaceous period.

An illustration of two Vectipelta barretti.

Insights into a prehistoric mass extinction event

Researchers estimate Vectipelta Barretti to have been roaming the earth during the Early Cretaceous, a time with a scarcity of fossil remains.

Some speculate that a mass extinction event occurred at the end of the Jurassic era, making the understanding of dinosaur diversity during this time vital for uncovering the occurrence and recovery of such an event. The Wessex Formation and the Isle of Wight play a crucial role in answering these questions, as rocks from this era are mostly absent in North America.

The Isle of Wight, with its Mediterranean-like climate in the past, was once a floodplain with a vast meandering river system. These floods would have brought together organic material, including plants, logs, and even dinosaur remains.

As the waters receded, this organic matter would have settled in ponds on the floodplain, eventually drying out and becoming buried in clay soil. Preserving this organic material as fossils has allowed scientists to study and uncover the secrets of prehistoric life.

The discovery of Vectipelta Barretti has opened up exciting prospects for future findings on the Isle of Wight.

Dr. Susannah Maidment, senior author of the study, anticipates the discovery of additional species in the area. “We have new iguanodontians that we are lining up, to be prepped and to be studied. With regards to ankylosaurs, they are somewhat rarer so I think we need to keep our eyes peeled,” she concluded.

The Dinosaur Isle Museum, operated by the Isle of Wight Council, will display parts of the dinosaur during the school holidays, showcasing the internationally important collection.

This article was written and edited by a human, with the assistance of Generative AI tools. Find out more about our policy on AI-powered writing here.

Study Abstract

The Wealden Group of southern England was deposited by rivers, on floodplains and in lagoons during the Early Cretaceous. Two historically significant ankylosaurs, Polacanthus and Hylaeosaurus, are currently known from its deposits; Hylaeosaurus from the ‘lower Wealden fauna’ and Polacanthus from the ‘upper Wealden fauna’. Here, we describe a new genus and species of ankylosaur from the Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight, which is characterized by numerous postcranial autapomorphies. Vectipelta barretti gen. et sp. nov. is 6–8 million years older than Polacanthus, and at least 3 million years younger than Hylaeosaurus, suggesting a more complicated pattern of faunal turnover in the Wealden Group than previously realized. Vectipelta does not appear to be closely related to either of the other Wealden taxa, but instead is found in a clade with two Chinese ankylosaurs, suggesting a complex pattern of dispersal to and from Europe, North America and Asia during the Early Cretaceous. The historic practise of cataloguing all ankylosaur material from the Wessex Formation as ‘Polacanthus’ has potentially prevented a diversity of taxa from being discovered, and new and existing material in museum collections should be re-appraised using an autapomorphy-driven approach.

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About the Creator

Richard Abolarinwa

As an Electrical engineer, I am passionate about finding creative solutions to complex problems. my interests extend beyond just electrical systems. I'm also a passionate writer with a love for health, technology, science, and engineering.

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Comments (8)

  • christian dior12 months ago

    good job

  • falz peter12 months ago

    This article was a delight to read. Clearly explained and organized.

  • Richard chris12 months ago

    The author presents well balanced research on the topic

  • james john12 months ago

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  • phillip ben12 months ago

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  • johnson dei12 months ago

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  • john bassy12 months ago

    This article is a great resource for further understanding

  • Abolarinwa Queenabout a year ago

    Nice work

Richard AbolarinwaWritten by Richard Abolarinwa

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