Paleontology: New species of dino with spiked armor and Chinese relatives

A spiked dinosaur stalked the once-Mediterranean climate of what is now the Isle of Wight.

Paleontology: New species of dino with spiked armor and Chinese relatives

A spiked dinosaur stalked the once-Mediterranean climate of what is now the Isle of Wight. For the first time in more than 140 years, the ankylosaurid has been described as a new armored species of dinosaur from the island on the south coast of Great Britain. Vectipelta barretti comes from the early Cretaceous and differs from other ankylosaurs in the area, among other things by differences in vertebrae and more blade-shaped spines, as the research team reports in the "Journal of Systematic Palaeontology".

Vectipelta is therefore most closely related to Chinese ankylosaurs. According to the team led by Stuart Pond from the Natural History Museum in London, this indicates that dinosaurs were able to move freely from Asia to Europe in the early Cretaceous period around 140 million years ago. The researchers also explain that comparatively few fossil remains of dinosaurs are known from that time. Some experts therefore assume that there could have been a mass extinction of animals in the late Jurassic (around 150 million years ago).

For almost 142 years before the redescription, all ankylosaurid remains from the Isle of Wight had been attributed to the dinosaur species Polacanthus foxii, it said. The assignment of finds from the last few decades must now be re-examined.

Vectipelta barretti owes its species name to Professor Paul Barrett, who has worked at the Natural History Museum for many years. Some of the study authors were mentored by him as young researchers, it said. He is also a leading global authority on dinosaurs - and so far no dinosaur has been named after him. "We really wanted to thank him for his support and encouragement, so we decided to name a slow-moving, spiny organism after him."

Barrett said he was flattered and delighted with the recognition. Not least because his very first work was one about armored dinosaurs. "I am sure that any physical resemblance (to the species Vectipelta barretti now described) is purely coincidental."

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