Elsa Panciroli found a dinosaur bone inside of a boulder on the Isle of Eigg and it’s been called a “hugely significant find”. The scientist was running along the shore to meet up with her research team when she initially “ran right over it”. The dinosaur lived approximately 166 million years ago and it is the first bone of a stegosaurian that has been discovered outside of the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
Stegosaurs were four-legged herbivores that could grow as large as 9 meters in length (29.5 feet). Their back limbs were quite a bit longer than their front ones and they had short, broad feet. They had an arched back with two rows of big triangular-shaped bony plates that stretched along their back as well as their tail. At the end of the tail, they had bony, pointed spikes that were more than likely used as weapons. Additionally, they had a small head and brain.
The bone that was found on the Isle of Eigg, which was identified as being part of the hind limb of a stegosaur upon analysis, was approximately 200 inches in length and was heavily damaged by the waves of the water.
Dr. Panciroli, who is a research affiliate for National Museums Scotland, said that at first she didn’t know what type of dinosaur species the fossil belonged to and that in the last 200 years of people searching the location, “no-one has found a dinosaur before, so this is quite special”. In fact, finding dinosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic period anywhere in the world is quite rare. “This bone is 166 million years old and provides us with evidence that stegosaurs were living in Scotland at this time,” she stated.
Several other fossils from the Jurassic period were discovered on the Isle of Eigg, but they mostly belonged to fish and marine reptiles. The first Jurassic fossils were actually found by a geologist named Hugh Miller in the 19th century. “Nobody, not even Hugh Miller himself, had found dinosaur bones on Eigg before,” noted Dr. Steve Brusatte, who is from the University of Edinburgh and co-authored the paper on the discovery.
He went on to say, “This fossil is additional evidence that plate-backed stegosaurs used to roam Scotland, which corroborates footprints from the Isle of Skye that we identified as being made by a stegosaur.” The bone that Dr. Panciroli found is now at National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh. Pictures of the bone can be seen here.