Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Species Of Prehistoric Creatures Discovered In Isle Of Wight Mud

Date:
February 9, 2009
Source:
University of Portsmouth
Summary:
In just four years one palaeontologist has discovered 48 new species from the age of the dinosaurs using a systematic search method. The new discoveries, found hidden in mud on the Isle of Wight, are around 130 million years old and shed valuable light on the poorly understood world in which well known dinosaurs roamed.

University of Portsmouth palaeontologist Mark Witton's depiction of the discoveries.
Credit: Mark Witton

In just four years a University of Portsmouth palaeontologist has discovered 48 new species from the age of the dinosaurs.

Dr Steve Sweetman’s discoveries, found hidden in mud on the Isle of Wight, are around 130 million years old and shed valuable light on the poorly understood world in which well known dinosaurs roamed.

Steve, a research associate with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has found in ancient river deposits, at least eight new dinosaurs, many different types of lizard, frogs, salamanders, and perhaps rarest of all from the time of the dinosaurs, six tiny mammals, some as small as a shrew.

Palaeontologists have previously relied on conventional surface prospecting to collect fossils exposed naturally by weather and waves. Broken bits and pieces of bone stick out of the ground which often leads to a larger fossil being discovered.

The techniques Steve adopted are far more thorough – he carried some three and a half tonnes of mud along beaches and up cliffs in buckets and backpacks before driving samples back to his farm on the island where he has set up his own laboratory.

He dried and sieved it until buckets of mud became bowls of sand and then examined every single grain under a microscope. It wasn’t long before he was picking out tiny fossil bones and teeth.

Steve said: “It has taken me just four years of hard graft to make my discoveries. Living on the Isle of Wight made this research physically possible. You can get to most places within half an hour, so transporting tonnes of mud wasn’t too much of an obstacle. It would have been near impossible if I had been based on the mainland.

“In the very first sample I found a tiny jaw of an extinct newt-sized, salamander-like amphibian and then new species just kept coming.

“Although we knew a lot about the larger species that existed on the island during the Early Cretaceous no-one had ever filled in the gaps. With these discoveries I can paint a really detailed picture of the creatures that scurried at the feet and in the shadows of the dinosaurs,” he said.

The research wouldn’t have happened had it not been for a chance meeting with University of Portsmouth palaeontologist Dr Dave Martill on a beach on the south-west coast of the island. On this beach, while standing on ancient remains – the famous Hypsilophodon Bed, Steve was persuaded to renew his interest in palaeontology and study for a PhD.

Steve grew up on the Isle of Wight, sometimes referred to as ‘Dinosaur Island’ as it is the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe. He has always been interested in fossils and decided to return there after 25 years on the mainland.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Portsmouth. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Portsmouth. "New Species Of Prehistoric Creatures Discovered In Isle Of Wight Mud." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209075822.htm>.
University of Portsmouth. (2009, February 9). New Species Of Prehistoric Creatures Discovered In Isle Of Wight Mud. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209075822.htm
University of Portsmouth. "New Species Of Prehistoric Creatures Discovered In Isle Of Wight Mud." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209075822.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins