Dinosaurs Of The Isle Of Wight: Theropods

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Theropods are bipedal, usually carnivorous dinosaurs with long legs, long, stiffened tails, and are believed to be the ancestors of birds. They ranged in size from Compsognathus, a 0.6m dinosaur found in Germany which recently starred in "Jurassic Park: The Lost World", and Giganotosaurus, which was over 12 metres long.


Baryonx, or "heavy claw", is a large theropod with an elongate skull, similar in appearance to that of a crocodile and a huge curved claw. First discovered in the Weald clay in Surrey in 1983 by Mr William Walker, Baryonx Walkeri and other baryonychids are believed to be related to Spinosaurids. Only one complete Spinosaurus aegyptiacus1 has so far been found; sadly, after surviving fossilised
for millions of years, it was destroyed during the desert war of World War II, and so how directly related Baryonx and Spinosaurids are is hard to tell.

Baryonyx had a large number of teeth, 32 in each lower jaw and 7 in each premaxilla, when 16 in each jaw and 4 in each premaxilla is the norm for theropods. The shape of the teeth as well as their number suggest that Baryonx's diet consisted of fish as well as other sources of meat.

Baryonx was a large carnivore, between 11 and 12 metres long, and so probably the Isle of Wight's largest carnivore.

Calamospondylus oweni

"Owen's reed vertebra" is based on a specimen which has, since it's discovery in 1866, has gone missing. All that remain are the records that Reverend William Fox and Sir Richard Owen have of it, which gives us a detailed description, proving that it is not the same species as Aristosuchus pusillus, as has been thought. Fox precisely described a sacrum that consisted of "five
cemented vertebrae...
" and was 6 inches long, longer than the Aristosuchus sacrum by 32mm. A theropod with a sacral length of 6 inches, or 152mm, would be approximately 2.5 metres long.

Aristosuchus pusillus

Meaning "Small superior crocodile", Aristosuchus was believed when first found in 1876 to be intermediate between crocodiles and dinosaurs. It was also assumed by many to be the same species as Calamospondylus oweni, another small theropod discovered on the Isle of Wight. However, recent study has proved once and for all that Aristosuchus is a seperate species.

The remains of Aristosuchus consists of the sacrum, pubes and aunguals, although other remains including a proximal right femur, a dorsal vertebra, a left tibia and two caudal vertebrae may also belong to Aristosuchus. These bones all resemble
composagnathid remains. Aristosuchus, therefore, would be approximately 2 metres long and a long-legged predatory dinosaur which ate small vertebrates.

Calamosaurus foxii

"Fox's reed lizard" was described in 1889, based on two cervical vertebrae discovered by Reverend Fox and now stored in the Natural History Museum. The vertebrae are each 40mm long and show signs that the animal was fully grown, suggesting that Calamosaurus would have been around 3.5 metres long.

Ornithodesmus cluniculus

Meaning "bird-link small haunches", when first described in 1887 the broken sacrum discovered was believed to be a primitive bird, or pterosaur. However, it has recently been realised that in fact it belonged to a theropod, approximately 1.5 metres long. However, this is far from certain, and more remains are needed to learn more about this animal.

Thecocoelurus daviesi

The dinosaur "Sheath hollow form", named after William Davies FGS, is based on the discovery of a vertebra found by Reverend Fox. It appears to belong to an Oviraptor, if so, would make it the first and only Oviraptor to have been found in Europe. As this vertebra is around 0.09 metres long, it suggests an animal of between 7-9 metres long, quite large for an Oviraptor.

If it is an Oviraptor, then Thecocoelurus is likely to have been an omnivorous theropod that defended itself from larger predator with its large, curved claws. Little is known about Oviraptors, it has been believed that they were specialised egg-eaters, yet that theory is open to debate.

Neovenator salerii

Neovenator is an allosaurid, and the first confirmed Allosaurid to have been found in Europe. Allosaurids were large predatory dinosaurs that preyed on
large dinosaurs, and are named after Allosaurus. Neovenator, or "new hunter", and named after Mr Salero, on whose land the first Neovenator was found in 1978, is exceptional as over 70% of the skeleton was found. In Europe, the only other large theropods to have been found as well preserved were Baryonx and Eustreptospondylus.

Neovenator was a predator between 7-10 metres long and over 2 metres high. As a powerful carnivore, it would probably have ambushed, killed and eaten Iguanodons and sauropods. Several Neovenator remains were discovered during the
"Live From Dinosaur Island" dinosaur hunt.


As Megalosaurus, or "Giant lizard" was the first dinosaur to be named, initially, most theropod dinosaur remains were considered to be Megalosaurus.

Any bones or teeth of roughly the right size or shape as Megaloaurus were considered to belong to Megalosaurus, even when they did not, for example Megalosaurus oweni and Megalosaurus dunkeri. It is now believed that most, if not all, of the teeth etc. found on the Island that were previously believed to belong to Megalosaurus may in fact belong to Neovenator, as no Megalosaurus remains have been positively identified on the Island. Megalosaurus, afterall,
lived in the mid-Jurassic whilst the Island's Wealden rock is from the early Cretaceous, a difference of around 50,000,000 years, give or take a fortnight.

Megalosaurus was approximately 7 metres long.

Eotyrannus lengi

Named "Early Tyrant", as a reference to the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex and "lengi" after Mr Gavin Leng who discovered it, Eotyrannus lengi is the most recent dinosaur to have been found on the Isle of Wight - it was only named in May 2001.

Eotyrannus appears to have been around 5 metres long, with long, thin legs and arms. This suggests that it was a fast predator, able to use its teeth and claws in order to kill its prey. It is believed to have been an indirect ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex, which lived 60 million years after Eotyrannus. It also was hunted for in the "Live From Dinosaur Island" Television series.

Dinosaurs Of The Isle Of Wight

1Seen killing the Tyrannosaurus rex in "Jurassic Park III"

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