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Isle of Wight oviraptor



From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org
Isle of Wight oviraptor
The Times Online has a new article announcing the 
identification of an oviraptor from England based on a 
single vertebra. List-member Darren Naish is quoted.
url is all one line:
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/printFriendly/
0,,1-2-236344,00.html
March 15, 2002  Isle of Wight find is a monster clue to 
Europe's past By Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent  
BIRD-LIKE predatory dinosaurs up to 16ft long once roamed 
the Isle of Wight, according to a new analysis of a fossil 
held in the Natural History Museum for more than a 
century.  Scientists have identified a single vertebra 
found on the island in 1888 as belonging to an oviraptor, 
a feathered and beaked dinosaur from 120 million years 
ago, traces of which have never been found before anywhere 
in Europe.  The dinosaurs take their name, meaning ?egg 
thief?, from the large numbers of fossils found close to 
nests full of eggs. They have long been known in Asia and 
North America but were never known to have spread to 
Europe.  The Isle of Wight specimen is among the oldest 
oviraptor fossils ever found. Other dinosaur finds on the 
island include cousins of the large predators Allosaurus 
and Tyrannosaurus rex.  The fossil, which was discovered 
by the Rev William Fox, a Victorian dinosaur-hunter, on 
the west coast of the island, was reclassified as that of 
an oviraptor after investigations by Dave Martill, a 
palaeontologist from Portsmouth University, and one of his 
PhD students, Darren Naish. Details of their research are 
published in the journal Proceedings of the Geologists? 
Association.  ?This specimen is one of the oldest reported 
oviraptors and the fossil suggests it may have been five 
metres long, larger than those found elsewhere which are 
generally less than three metres,? Mr Naish said. ?It is 
an very exciting discovery, and extends the range of these 
creatures to Europe.?  Oviraptors may well have stolen 
other dinosaurs? eggs, as is suggested by their name, but 
they probably also fed on shellfish, small lizards and 
possibly even plants, Mr Naish said.  ?Oviraptors were 
swift movers, with strong arms, big hand-claws and S-
shaped necks. They were probably also toothless. The find 
means a whole group of dinosaurs can now also be placed in 
Europe for the first time, and specifically on the Isle of 
Wight.?