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August 25 , 2016

by Island Echo

The remains of a rare Iguanodon skull fossil found on the Isle of Wight are to go on display at Dinosaur Isle, Sandown.

The fossil was found by Emily Tabassi-Gill and her family, from East Sussex, on a fossil walk led by Dinosaur Isle staff in February. The find, a left pre-maxilla, is the front of the horse-like skull of the plant eating dinosaur Iguanodon. Skulls of dinosaurs are incredibly rare as they are fragile and less likely to become fossils than bones such as the vertebrae (back bones) and limbs.

Dinosaur Isle Community Learning Assistant Alex Peaker said:

“We are really grateful to Emily for her donation. Her generosity and that of so many other people is what helps us maintain a fantastic display and helps our understanding of the past progress. Because of this generosity we can make sure the museum is stacked full of real fossils. Emily’s discovery is now on display so coming to the museum is a fantastic opportunity to see and find out more about it.”

Emily wasted no time in donating her find to Dinosaur Isle and said:

“It was so exciting to have discovered the fossil. We were on a fantastic fossil walk with Alex who was identifying everybody’s finds. I was excited to have spotted something and it was fascinating to watch Alex and his colleagues dig the whole fossil out of the clay.

“When Alex explained that it could be something unusual my family and I decided to donate it to the museum. I feel it is important that experts like Alex can use the fossil in their research and that it is kept safely by the museum for the future. We are delighted that ‘our fossil’ will be on display at the Dinosaur Isle Museum and we will definitely be back to see it!”

Executive member for public transport, tourism, recreation and heritage, Councillor Shirley Smart said:

“What a fabulous find for Emily to make on her fossil walk with Dinosaur Isle Museum staff. The walks are a very popular part of the services offered by the museum and are available to tourists and residents alike.

“Dinosaur Isle is a much loved venue on the Island and has great support from the local community and the Friends of Dinosaur Isle, as well as welcoming visitors from around the world. I would recommend the popular fossil walks on offer as anyone could make a spectacular find. I’m sure this find made it a holiday to remember for Emily and her family.”

What is most unusual about the fossil is that the remains come from layers which rarely preserve dinosaur bones. Dinosaur remains are common in the Wessex Formation; the mostly purple to red clays that can be found on the south-west coast of the Island. The new finds come from the younger Vectis Formation; the blue grey clays and sandstones found at Compton, Shepherd’s Chine and Yaverland.

The Vectis Formation formed in a lagoon which would have been relatively inhospitable to dinosaurs. The new find is a first of its kind in the collections of Dinosaur Isle, with no dinosaurs having been found in the Cowleaze Chine Member (a specific part of the Vectis Formation) in the collections of Dinosaur Isle, the British Geological Survey, or the Natural History Museum, London.

Dinosaur Isle runs fossil walks throughout the year giving the opportunity to make amazing finds. More information on the walks can be found on their website at www.dinosaurisle.com.



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