Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is one of the richest dinosaur localities in Europe,
with over 20 species of dinosaur having been recognised from the early
Cretaceous Period (in particular between 132 and 110 million years ago),
some of which were first identified on the island, as well as the
contemporary non-dinosaurian species of crocodile, turtle and pterosaur.
The Isle of Wight has layers of the Vectis and Wealden fossil bearing
beds exposed on the southern half of the island. These are revealed in
the cliffs of Yaverland, close to Sandown, and Hanover Point and Whale
Chine, along the southwestern coast.
The Cretaceous habitat
The Island's dinosaurs come from the Wessex formation, which dates from
between 125 and 110 million years go. During this time the Isle of
Wight, then located on a latitude at which North Africa resides today,
had a subtropical environment, and was part of a large river valley
complex, which ran along the south coast of England to Belgium. A world
of ponds, rivers and swamps, and so had conditions favourable for the
formation of fossils.
Animal remains from this time include crocodiles, turtles, pterosaurs,
mammals and possibly some birds. In the water were snails, fish and
As this environment did not change much over the course of 10 million
years, a large number of fossils were formed, and so the island today is
a very rich habitat.
List of dinosaur species
Unless otherwise specified, the follow is a list of dinosaurs for which
almost complete skeletons have been found on the island. There are also
many more species known only from a single or very few bones.
Suborder Ornithopoda ("bird-footed", bipedal herbivores)
Iguanodon bernissartensis: Vertebrae of the two Iguanadon species are
Hypsilophodon foxi: Named after Reverend Fox, a fossil collector of the
Isle of Wight who found several skeletons.
Suborder Thyreophora ("shield-bearers", armored herbivorous dinosaurs)
Polacanthus foxi: Also named after the Reverend Fox. Notable as no head
to the specimen has ever been found, and reconstructions are based upon
suppositions from similar anklosaurids.
Suborder Sauropodomorpha ("sauropod-like", giant long-necked herbivores)
The 'Barnes High' sauropod: A member of the Brachiosauridae family, most
likely Eucamerotus or Pelorosaurus. This is the most complete specimen
from the Wealden era.
Suborder Theropoda ("beast foot", bipedal carnivores)
Baryonyx walkeri: Teeth are common on the Island. Hand bones have also
Eotyrannus lengi: possibly the oldest member of the tyrannosaurid
family. First identified in 1997 and named in 2001 from a single
specimen found on the island.
Neovenator salerii: The holotype skeleton was found on the island.