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Dino hunts net rare raptor teeth - BBC
Dino hunts net rare raptor teeth
Seven fossil dinosaur teeth unearthed on the Isle of Wight belong to raptors -
the predatory dinosaurs made famous by the film Jurassic Park.
The teeth represent only the second example of velociraptorines in the UK and
suggest the animals from which they came were surprisingly large.
"It would have been a fairly fearsome beast, I think," said Steven Sweetman of
the University of Portsmouth.
The finds are described in an upcoming issue of Cretaceous Research.
They date to the Early Cretaceous Period about 125 million years ago.
The velociraptorines were slender, opportunistic predators that are believed to
have hunted in packs. They possessed a characteristic sickle-like toe claw which
was used for slicing open and disembowelling prey.
They term velociraptorine refers to a group of dinosaurs that resemble the
deadly velociraptors, depicted in Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park.
Mr Sweetman, a postgraduate student at Portsmouth University, found the first
tooth in 1972. Since then he has collected three more. A further three teeth
came from a private collector.
They come from fossil beds in the south-west of the island and belong to the
Wessex Formation which is in turn a sub-division of a much larger formation
known as the Wealden.
Six of the specimens are the property of the Isle of Wight's Dinosaur Isle
museum in Sandown.
"They were always predicted to have been in the fauna but have never been found
before," he said.
Based on the size of the teeth, Mr Sweetman believes the beast would have been
similar in size to Utahraptor, a dromaeosaur which grew up to 6.5m in length and
about 2m tall.
In Early Cretaceous times, the location where the teeth were found was a
low-lying river floodplain bounded by a valley. The teeth were found in plant
debris beds, the result of charred vegetation and animal matter from a wildfire
being transported by a rainstorm.
But the teeth show signs of being shed, which suggests they were either lost
naturally or while feeding.
Mr Sweetman said he hoped further digging might unearth bones from the
dinosaurs. But, he said, "the Wealden only tends to produce scrappy things
rather than skeletons".
The only other velociraptorine found in the UK so far is the species Nuthetes
destructor , from the Purbeck limestone beds in Dorset.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/04/26 14:51:18 GMT
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