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 July 29, 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 July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. 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