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The southern coast of England was a sub-tropical forest
120 million years ago, and Neovenator (a distant relative of
Allosaurus) was the top killer in the territory.
This dinosaur was first found on the Isle of Wight off
the southern coast of England in 1978, but it was only
recently that the remarkably complete skeleton was finally
excavated by Dr Steve Hutt. While bits of information have leaked
out about Neovenator for months, it was formally announced
on 23 Jan 97. The species name reflects the Salero family,
which owns the land it was found on. The bones are black and
encased in a dark brown mudstone.
Neovenator was 8m (26 feet) long, making it about two-thirds
the size of Allosaurus and the much later Tyrannosaurus rex.
Lighter and faster than Allosaurus, Neovenator probably ran
down its prey and used its long claws and deadly teeth to bring
it down. Neovenator fed on the herds of Iguanadons that
were the dominant herbivors of the day.
Dr Hutt noted that the Isle of Wight has been the site
of many dinosaur finds because the tall cliffs are constantly
eroding into the sea, exposing a steady supply of fossils.