Discoveries on the Isle of Wight have certainly been making headlines lately as just weeks ago, it was reported that two new spinosaurid species were found. And now, a dinosaur with a very large nose dating back about 125 million years during the early part of the Cretaceous Period has been identified. It was previously categorized as another species but new analysis of the fossils revealed that it was an entirely new species.
Named Brighstoneus simmondsi, it was closely related to the Iguanodon. They were, however, quite different as the Brighstoneus simmondsi had an oddly curved nose and several more teeth than the Iguanodon.
It was previously thought that there were only two main species of iguanodontids on the Isle of Wight – Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis and Iguanodon bernissartensis – so this new discovery suggests that there could have been several others that have yet to be found.
Jeremy Lockwood, who is a PhD student at the Natural History Museum, explained that he analyzed part of a dinosaur skeleton that was different than those belonging to the Mantellisaurus. “I'd taken lots of photographs and so I tried to reconstruct the skull.” “I tried to put the nasal bone into its life position, and I couldn't believe what I found.” “I missed it the first time because it was a curved bone and it was lying flat, but in its life position it had a bulbous nose, whereas the other species have very straight noses, so that was what really made me think it was different.”
In addition to the nose, it had several more teeth than the other species, “The number of teeth was also a sign. Mantellisaurus has 23 or 24, but this has 28, which is quite a lot more. It was also a long, thin dentary (the lower jawbone), the height of which is lower but longer than in Mantellisaurus. It would be really weird to get narrower as it ages, so it all seemed wrong.” An image of what the Brighstoneus simmondsi would have looked like can be seen here.
Lockwood is currently analyzing another skeleton that may also be a new species, but more studies need to be conducted in order to know for sure. And there may be many more discoveries to be made as he noted, “The land on the Isle of Wight is being eroded continuously by the sea, so there is a tremendous amount of material being produced,” adding, “It's said to be the richest source of dinosaur bones in Europe.”
The study was published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology where it can be read in full.