In a study published on September 29th, researchers from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom released the names of two new dinosaur species. Both large and predatory, these new species are part of the spinosaurid family, which is a type of theropod.
The new species are named “Ceratosuchops inferodios” which translates to “horned crocodile-faced hell heron” and “Riparovenator milnerae” which translates to “Milner’s riverbank hunter.” The latter is named in honor of Angela Milner, a late British paleontologist. They most resemble the baryonyx species which was the crux of Milner’s research and are estimated to have been about nine meters in length.
The bones were found near the village of Brighstone which is known for its excavation site, the Wessex Formation. This geological feature contains fossils and other exposed elements dating back to the early cretaceous period. This area in the United Kingdom is well known for its spinosaurid fossils. The baryonyx was originally discovered in nearby Surrey.
Spinosaurid means “spined reptile” and are part of the theropod family. Theropods are characteristically carnivorous, hollow boned, and three-toed. They are essentially a cross between modern day birds and crocodiles. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is the most well-known member of the theropod pod, however it is not the closest relative of the two newest theropod members.
Though theropods are fairly well known, spinosaurids are distinct and unusual dinosaurs. They have the same hollow bones and three-toed foot, but also have elongated bodies, dorsal sails and spines along their back and heads (similar to the cassowary).
The Baryonyx is the most similar spinosaurid to the new dinosaurs. This dinosaur lived during the Early Cretaceous period (about 125 million years ago!). The Baryonyx’s head most resembles a modern-day crocodile. It is also carnivorous and hunted along the river banks in the United Kingdom and Spain. These countries were geographically closer together during this as Pangea, the supercontinent, had more recently begun to divide.
This dinosaur walked on two legs similar to a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s crocodile-like head also helped it hunt both terrestrial and aquatic animals. Eventually, as the Baryonyx evolved and became more aquatic similar to most other spinosaurids.
Characteristics of the Ceratosuchops Inferodios
One of the newest dinosaurs, the Certosuchops Inferodios is a spinosaurid cross between a crocodile and a heron. In fact, it’s name translates to “horned crocodile-faced hell heron”. This name most likely refers to the dinosaur’s hunting style: one similar to that of a heron.
This means the Certosuchops Inferodios most likely stood on its two back legs while looking for prey and then scooping them up with their crocodile-like jaws. Most likely, this dinosaur would have fed on both aquatic and terrestrial animals much like the Baryonyx.
Characteristics of the Riparoventator Milnerae
This dinosaur is also named after its hunting style. The Riparoventator Milnerae translates to “Milner’s riverbank hunter”. Like the Baryonyx and Certosuchops Inferodios, this spinosaurid also has a crocodile-like head. Though all three of the species’ skulls have distinct differences, they all indicate the same aquatic and terrestrial hunting style.
The Riparoventator Milnerae most likely hunted along riverbanks for its prey as indicated by its name. Along with most spinosaurids, the Riparoventator Milnerae most likely evolved to hunt purely aquatic animals.
The Impact of This Discovery
Though much of the details about the Riparoventator Milnerae and Ceratosuchops Inferodios is still being researched, the discovery does have a large impact on the paleontology world.
The discovery of these two species indicates that at least three large, predatory spinosaurids lived within the same period in the United Kingdom. This also provides more context and detail to the images researchers are creating of the European spinosaurid. This discovery will help researchers learn more about this elusive type of dinosaur.
Because researchers only uncovered parts of the skeleton, paleontologists will hopefully find more bones that will provide an even better understanding of these two new dinosaur species.
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