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Latest discovery on Dinosaur Island

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 11:59

VIDEO
A NEW species of amphibian that lived in the shadows of dinosaurs has been discovered on the Isle of Wight.
Experts said the discovery filled a gap in the evolutionary history of a now extinct group, the albanerpetontids.
Wesserpeton, nicknamed 'Wessie’, was tiny, about the size of a small, modern-day newt but, unlike most amphibians, albanerpetontids had a scaly skin and eyelids showing they spent most of their time on land.
The creature lived on the Isle of Wight about 130 million years ago, at the same time as dinosaurs such as Neovenator, Iguanodon and giant, long-necked sauropods.
The tiny animal could fit easily in the palm of a hand.
Lead researcher, Dr Steve Sweetman, of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth, said broken but healed jaws among the bones suggested Wessie was a feisty creature.
Like some modern-day salamanders, it probably engaged in fierce battles for mates and territory, and sharp chisel-like teeth indicated it was a predator, he said.
Dr Sweetman added: "When I started looking for the little animals that lived with the dinosaurs a Wessie jaw was the first thing I found and I can still remember how excited I was.
"Of the 50 or so new four legged animals I have now found, Wessie bones are the most common and it was clearly well adapted to the ancient floodplain environment in which it lived."
The researchers have no complete skeletons of Wessie, but they have a large number of isolated bones representing almost all parts of the animal.
Dr Sweetman and his co-author, Dr Jim Gardner, of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Canada, named the animal Wesserpeton because its bones come from rocks known as the Wessex Formation.
The announcement has come as the Isle of Wight prepares for a summer of dinosaur-related events thanks to a partnership between tourism body Visit Isle of Wight and the makers of a Hollywood film Walking with Dinosuars: The 3D Movie.
The latest trailer for the movie, which is due for release in December, was launched at the weekend and can be seen below:

 


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