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Dinosaur Remains

Museum Specimens

Caudal vertebra from Neovenator salerii Caudal vertebra (probably No. 2) from the tail of the 7.5 metre long theropod dinosaur Neovenator salerii.

Neovenator has so far only been found on the Isle of Wight, from the lower Cretaceous sediments of the Wessex Formation.

The black scale bar is 5.5 centimetres long. The vertebra is on display with a reconstruction of the full size animal at Dinosaur Isle. This particular vertebra was excavated by collector Kieth Simmonds and Steve Hutt from the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology.

The initial remains were found in 1978 by a group of holiday makers, in 1984 more bones were found by staff of the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology. Further excavations, along with local collector Keith Simmonds, revealed more bones.

Some parts went to the British Museum in London (now the Natural History Museum), whilst others remained on the Island. Extensive research by Steve Hutt revealed that the two sets of objects (catalogued as R10001 by the Natural History Museum, and as MIWG.6348 by the Island museum) were part of a new type of carnivorous dinosaur. Steve gave it the name Neovenator salerii ('Neovenator' = new hunter, 'salerii' comes from the name of the Salero family who owned the land the dinosaur came from).

Further research on this important specimen continues.  Click here to learn more about Neovenator.

Finger bone of Eotyrannus IWCMS 1997.550Fossils like these are exceptionally rare; they are the finger bones from a small carnivorous dinosaur we have called Eotyrannus lengi. Graceful phalanges end in the hooked distal phalange that supports the sharp claw. The blue scale bar is 5cm long.

They were among a collection of jumbled bones first discovered in 1995 on the south-west coast of the Island by young collector Gavin Leng. Subsequent investigation revealed more bones – and further research showed that this dinosaur hadn’t been known about before so Gavin now has a dinosaur named after him, courtesy of former museum curator Steve Hutt.

Finger bones from Eotyrannus IWCMS 1997.550There are a lot of bones from just one animal, leading us to wonder if it was a solitary creature – perhaps there are other remains out there somewhere to find. These are part of specimen IWCMS 1997.550. Click here to learn more about Eotyrannus.

Cut and polished ammonite MIWG.7223Sometimes a fossil may seem to be just an ordinary stone on the outside; but cut and polish it and the most remarkable of interior structures can sometimes be revealed.

This is a section through the fossil of a former marine creature called an ammonite. Found in 1993 by Jon Radley near Atherfield Point on the Isle of Wight. Identified as a Deshayesites and possibly from the Crackers, in the Atherfield Clay Formation.  The individual body chambers have become gradually filled by pale green calcite - look closely and you may see that the crystal growth has occured in small pulses leaving behind a wave-like structure.

The fossil is museum specimen MIWG.7223.  It is 6.3 centimetres wide and is on display at Dinosaur Isle.


Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown will soon have many of its fossils on display in full 3D imagery as part of a major national scheme.

In May 2013, scientists from the British Geological Survey (BGS) visited Dinosaur Isle and scanned each of the museum's 30 'type' fossils in 3D. Since then, each fossil has been uploaded to a new website which will feature every one of the UK's type fossils.

A type fossil is defined as usually being the first of its kind to be discovered and these are then used to determine the species of any similar future fossil finds.

The website, which can be accessed at www.3d-fossils.ac.uk, allows anyone to log on and view any of the fossils in full 3D. One of the main ideas behind it is so that scientists or educational establishments from across the world can view any fossil they want in intricate detail without having to see the real thing. 

Which is the real fossil?To celebrate the launch of the new website, the British Geological Survey ran a national competition from the 22nd August aimed at children. A real life replica of one of Dinosaur Isle's type fossils that has been scanned (a Neovenator claw) has been made using a 3D printer.

The replica was placed alongside the real one in the museum, and visitors were asked to identify which was the real fossil. All entries will be put into a draw and five winners randomly chosen will be given free museum tickets. These five winners will then be entered into a national draw to win prizes including a tablet computer with all of the 3D fossils scanned in.

Visitors to www.dinosaurisle.com, could also also enter the competition online via the website.

The competition is now closed in the museum, and no more email entries will be accepted. We will let you know who the winners were.

The real fossil is the one on the rightIf the two objects are turned over we can see the museum identification label on the real fossil. A is the BGS replica - printed in 3D by the BGS and painted by Gary Blackwell at Dinosaur Isle. The real fossil claw bone is B, the one on the right, and is considerably older at about 125 million years!
The claw is part of the meat eating dinosaur Neovenator salerii - catalogue number MIWG.6348.  If you pick the two objects up it becomes more obvious which is which - they feel very different and the real fossil is heavier.

Crocodile skull, part of IWCMS 2001.446Alongside the many larger dinosaurian reptiles living on the Island's Wealden floodplain were the other reptiles that inhabited the skies (pterosaurs), and those in the rivers (for example turtles and crocodiles).

If you search the right beach after a particularly stormy night you may find the odd round blackened tooth from a crocodile.

Many of the crocodile remains from the Cretaceous southern coastline have been called Goniopholis in the past but now it has been suggested that enough variety exists in the skulls that there may have been more types than previously recognized. At Dinosaur Isle are displayed part of the remains of one such creature found by Nick Chase in Compton Bay near the junction of the Wessex and Vectis Formation rocks.

It was reasigned a new genus and species name in 2011 by Salisbury and Naish in the new Palaeontological Association book 'English Wealden fossils'. It is now called Anteopthalmosuchus hooleyi (after Reginald Hooley, a collector of Island fossils). On display are the skull, many of the armoured plates from its back (called scutes), some ribs, vertebrae and teeth. 

The catalogue number is IWCMS 2001.446. (The black scale bar in the picture is 5 centimetres long)

Iguanodon vertebra IWCMS 1996.155If you exclude the many thousands of small smashed bits of dinosaur bone that find their way onto the beaches then Iguanodon vertebrae are amongst the most common large dinosaur finds on the Isle of Wight. This isolated specimen was found by former curator Steve Hutt in 1996 in Brighstone Bay from the collapsed remains of a plant debris bed within the Wessex Formation (an early Cretaceous rock sequence at least 122 million years old).

What makes it unusual is its large size at 24 cm tall (the scale bar is 5 cm). In the picture it is laid on its side - the centrum on the right, the remains of a lateral process pointing down and two large post-zygopophyses protruding to the left. We are looking at the back face of the vertebra. Zygopophyses lock each vertebra to the one next to it, (but giving a little movement) limiting the axial rotation and hence protecting the delicate spinal cord that runs through the hole in the centre. Identified initially only as Iguanodon its large size suggests it may be from the larger of the two Iguanodontids Iguanodon bernissartensis.

The catalogue number is IWCMS 1996.155

The marine gastropod Clavilithes macrospiraThe Isle of Wight is one of the best places in southern England to find large marine gastropod fossils like this Clavilithes macrospira.

Like a lot of our museum fossils it was found many years ago, in fact before the second World War. This north coast fossil was donated by H.E.Jacobs in 1934 and is currently on display in our Exhibition case 'The Shark Sea'. Its catalogue number is MIWG.3665a.

Fossil ungual phalange from Iguanodon dinosaurMIWG.4196 is a dinosaur bone that came into the collection over 70 years ago. It was donated by H.F. Poole in 1938, and was found nearby at Yaverland. This bone, from the large Ornithopod dinosaur called Iguanodon is called an ungual phalange; the last bone in a toe. It supports the horny sheath that makes up the claw. In this picture the other bones of the very large hind foot would lie to the left. The fossil is about 19 centimetres long, and is currently on display at Dinosaur Isle.

First described by Gideon Mantell back in 1825, Iguanodon represents one of the first dinosaurs to be identified, although the first complete skeletons were not found until 1878 in Belgium. The many footcasts and footprints to be found around the Island’s southern coasts are mainly from this large herd animal.

Fossil sea urchin Micraster coranguinumAlthough many of the fossils that come into the collection are found as a result of coastal storms slowly eating into the Island's eroding coastline it is sometimes possible to find fossils inland. This sea urchin was found at Week Farm and donated by R. Perry in 1992.

Sea urchins are marine animals that graze the sea floor; they are still in existence today, and can be found in water depths ranging from shallow shorelines to the deepest of oceans.  This fossil is almost 90 million years old, and has been named Micraster coranguinum. It comes from the Upper Cretaceous Chalk, and is a dedicated 'zone' fossil - so it can be used to identify the geology it is found in. The specimen is MIWG.6828. The scale bar is 2cm long.

Dinosaur vertebra from Mantellisaurus atherfieldensisThis vertebra, with its long neural spine, is from a large ornithopod dinosaur called Iguanodon atherfieldensis. It was found by collector Kieth Simmonds and staff member Steve Hutt in 1987 in the Wessex Formation muds of Brighstone Bay.

It forms part of a partial skeleton which exhibited some strange anomolies in some of the preserved bone. This dinosaur has sometimes been referred to as the 'pathological iguanodon'. This species of Iguanodon is more 'gracile' than its neighbour Iguanodon bernissartensis, so it has recently been suggested that it be given a new genus name of its own 'Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis'. The specimen is MIWG.6344. The scale bar is 5cm long.

A collection of gastropods called Turritella dixoni.This is a small slab of rock with a collection of fossil gastropods called Turritella dixoni from the London Clay Formation (Thames Group) of Alum Bay.

The fossil was first described by Deshayes in 1861.

The name Turritella means 'Turret shell'. The specimen is catalogued as MIWG.3590.

The original animal had a soft body housed in a long pointed shell case. It lived on the muddy, and soft sandy, shallow sea-floor that covered the Isle of Wight over 50 million years ago. The scale bar is 2 centimetres long. The fossil shells lie roughly parallel to each, so may have been rolled together by gentle water currents after the animals died.


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Dinosaur Isle,
Culver Parade,
Isle of Wight
PO36 8QA

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