Scientists have identified Britain’s oldest sauropod (plant-eaters) dinosaur from a fossil bone discovered on the Yorkshire coast.
The vertebra (backbone) originates from a group of dinosaurs that includes the largest land animals to have ever walked on the Earth.
This new sauropod dinosaur, from the Middle Jurassic Period at about 176 million years old, was found near Whitby, Yorkshire.
The find represents the earliest skeletal record of this type of dinosaur from Britain and adds to existing evidence from Yorkshire dinosaur tracks that this part of the country was once Britain’s very own “Jurassic World”.
Many scientists have worked on the amazing dinosaur tracks from the Middle Jurassic rocks of Yorkshire.
“It was a splendid surprise to come face-to-face with a fossil vertebra from the Jurassic rocks of Yorkshire that was clearly from a sauropod dinosaur,” said professor Phil Manning from the University of Manchester.
Sauropods (often referred to as brontosaurs) include some of the largest plant-eating dinosaurs to have roamed the Earth and were a successful group for nearly 150 million years.
They possessed distinctive long necks and tails, small heads, a large body and walked on all fours.
The new dinosaur fossil is an extremely rare find, given the Middle Jurassic rocks of the world are only exposed in a few areas such as China and Argentina where similar-aged dinosaur fossils originate.
The findings were detailed in a paper published in the Journal PLOS ONE.