London — The fossilized remains of a previously unknown species of dinosaur have been discovered in the United Kingdom. Fossils of the species, named Vectipelta barretti, were discovered on the Isle of Wight, just off England’s south coast, which is known for Jurassic period discoveries. 

The newly-discovered dinosaur had “blade-like spiked armor,” but despite its fearsome appearance, it would have eaten only plants, according to researchers from the U.K.’s Natural History Museum who worked on the discovery. The findings have been published in the scientific Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

An illustration depicts the newly-identified dinosaur species Vectipelta barretti, fossils of which were discovered on the Isle of Wight, just off England’s south coast, by scientists affiliated with Britain’s National History Museum.

Stuart Bond/National History Museum/Handout

Vectipelta barretti is the first armored dinosaur, part of the wider Ankylosaur family, to be discovered on the Isle of Wight in 142 years.

Twenty-nine different species of dinosaur, from various prehistoric periods, have been discovered on the Isle of Wight over the years including two new species of large, predatory dinosaurs discovered on the island in 2021.

Stuart Pond, a lead researcher on the project, said the discovery of the new species would offer an important insight into the diversity of species that would have live in the region at the time. 

“All ankylosaur remains from the Isle of Wight have been assigned to Polacanthus foxii, a famous dinosaur from the island, now all of those finds need to be revisited because we’ve described this new species,” he said. 

Scientists say the fossils show Vectipelta barretti had different neck, back and pelvic bones, and a more spiked set of armor plates, than the already known Polacanthus foxii.

Researchers believe the newly-discovered species may have been more closely related to ankylosaur species discovered in China. Those dinosaurs are believed to have moved freely between Asia and Europe between 66 million and 145 million years ago. 

The team behind the find also said the site of the discovery could shed new light on how the dinosaurs went extinct. 

There’s still significant debate around the demise of the dinosaurs. While evidence suggests an asteroid impact may have been the main culprit, volcanic eruptions that caused relatively sudden, large-scale climate change could also have been involved. 

This latest discovery will be “crucial to understanding if such an event occurred and how life recovered,” according to researchers behind the identification of Vectipelta barretti. 

The dinosaur was named after Professor Paul Barrett, a longtime authority on dinosaurs at Britain’s Natural History Museum in London. 

“I’m flattered and absolutely delighted to have been recognized in this way,” he said in a statement, adding: “I’m sure that any physical resemblance is purely accidental.”  

The discovery will now become a part of the collection held at the Isle of Wight’s popular dinosaur museum, and parts of the dinosaur will be on display at the museum over the summer. 


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