Researchers Discover Fossils of Ancient Relative to Velociraptor

by Victoria Santiago
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Paleontologists on the Isle of Wight have found the fossils of an unknown dinosaur species. The dinosaur is bird-like and dates back to over 100 million years ago. This Early Cretaceous dino used sheer strength to overpower its prey.

This new dinosaur has been named after the person who found it, Mick Green. The Vectiraptor greeni fossil washed up on the island’s shore. The dino is related to the velociraptor but is older and heavier built. Its size is comparable to a wolf. From the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail, it measures 10 feet long. It would’ve had huge, sharp talons on its feet to slash prey. It also had serrated teeth that it would use to eat its prey. The Vectiraptor greeni would’ve been an absolute menace to any animals living in the forests that covered the area 125 million years ago.

Eventually, this brand-new specimen died and then remained covered until 2004. The bones of the animal were uncovered by erosion from the ocean. Even though the bones were exposed, it took over a decade for the dinosaur to be studied. Scientists from the Universities of Bath and Portsmouth studied the fossil and eventually found that it was a new genus and species.

Vectiraptors are part of the raptor family, technically known as the dromaeosaurs. The closest relative of dromaeosaurs we have today is birds. Just like birds, they were covered in feathers. Feathers might not seem like the scariest feature that a vicious predator should have, but their teeth and talons made up for that. They were specialist hunters with very effective ways of killing prey.

The Fossils Are Like No Others. Well, Except Other Raptors

Some members of the raptor family are well known to us. For example, the velociraptor from Mongolia, Deinonychus, and the giant Utahraptor. The discovery of the vectiraptor is England’s first big raptor. Smaller raptors have previously been found in the area.

It was purely by chance that Mick Green discovered the fossils in 2004, and then later decided to investigate them. As an amateur paleontologist, Green originally thought nothing of the fossils he found on the coast. Once he was forced to stop collecting fossils in 2012, he turned his attention to his mysterious discovery from 2004. Once the bones were finally free from the rock surrounding them, he casually showed them to other paleontologists on the island.

They were a little confused by the discovery until they began to see similarities to other raptors in the bones. Green then gave the bones up to be studied, and a new species was found. Since then, the raptor bones have been donated to the Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown on the island they were found.

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