Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is one of the richest dinosaur localities in Europe, with over 20 species of dinosaur having been recognised from the early Cretaceous Period (in particular between 132 and 110 million years ago), some of which were first identified on the island, as well as the contemporary non-dinosaurian species of crocodile, turtle and pterosaur.

Compton Bay, near Freshwater features dinosaur footprints which are visible at low tide.

Geological strata

The Isle of Wight has layers of the Vectis and Wealden fossil-bearing beds exposed on the southern half of the island. These are revealed in the cliffs of Yaverland, close to Sandown, and at Hanover Point and Whale Chine, along the southwestern coast.

The Cretaceous habitat

The island's dinosaurs come from the Wessex Formation, which dates from between 125 and 110 million years ago (mya). During this time the Isle of Wight, then located on a latitude at which North Africa resides today, had a subtropical environment and was part of a large river valley complex, which ran along the south coast of England to Belgium. It was a world of ponds, rivers and swamps, so it had conditions favourable for the formation of fossils.

Animal remains from this time include crocodiles, turtles, pterosaurs, mammals and possibly some birds. In the water were snails, fish and mussels.

As this environment did not change much, over the course of 10 million years, a large number of fossils were formed, so the island today is a very rich source.

List of dinosaur species

Unless otherwise specified, the following is a list of dinosaurs for which almost complete skeletons have been found on the island. There are also many more species, known only from a single or very few bones.

Order Ornithischia

Order Saurischia

Baryonyx BW
Baryonyx, a large theropod, was found with fish scales in its stomach, indicating that it may have been a piscivore.


  • Deborah Cadbury, The Dinosaur Hunters (Fourth Estate) ISBN 1-85702-963-1; a history of the early history of the discovery of dinosaurs in the United Kingdom. Includes brief references to collectors on the island.

External links

Other meanings

Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight (Palaeontological Association, 2001) ISBN 0-901702-72-2, is also the title of a field guide to dinosaurs found on the island, by Darren Naish and David Martill.


Astrodon (aster: star, odon: tooth) is a dubious genus of large herbivorous sauropod dinosaur, related to Brachiosaurus, that lived in what is now the eastern United States during the Early Cretaceous period. Its fossils have been found in the Arundel Formation, which has been dated through palynomorphs to the Albian about 112 million years ago. Adults are estimated to have been more than 9 m (30 ft) high and 15 to 18 m (50 to 60 ft) long.


Atherfield is a rural location in the south west of the Isle of Wight, UK. It includes the small settlements of Atherfield Green and Little Atherfield, as well as several farms, and is set in largely open farmland. To the south west it is bounded by the cliffs of Chale Bay and Brighstone Bay, which are divided by Atherfield Point. The south-eastern part of Brighstone Bay is also sometimes known as Atherfield Bay, and was the site of a former holiday camp, now demolished.

Back of the Wight

Back of the Wight is an area on the Isle of Wight in England. The area has a distinct historical and social background and geographically isolated by the chalk hills immediately to the North and until recently, poor transport infrastructure. Primarily agricultural, the Back of the Wight is made up of small villages spread out along the coast, including Brighstone, Shorwell and Mottistone.


Blackgang is a village on the south-western coast of the Isle of Wight. It is best known as the location of the Blackgang Chine amusement park which sits to the south of St Catherine's Down.

Blackgang forms the west end of the Ventnor Undercliff region, which extends for 12 kilometres from Blackgang to Luccombe, also encompassing the town of Ventnor and the villages of Bonchurch, St Lawrence, and Niton. It also marks the edge of the Back of the Wight.


Calamosaurus (meaning "reed lizard") was a genus of small theropod dinosaur from the Barremian-age Lower Cretaceous Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight, England. It is based on two cervical vertebrae (BMNH R901), collected by Reverend William Fox.

Compton Bay

Compton Bay is a bay located on the southwest section of the Isle of Wight, England. Its north western edge is defined by the distinctive white chalk cliff of Freshwater Cliff, named after adjacent Freshwater Bay, which forms a small cove with the village of Freshwater situated just behind. Its north eastern edge is formed from the soft red and orange cretaceous rocks of Brook Bay, which are rapidly eroding.

Due to the lack of grazing on the cliffs above the bay, the native chalk ecosystem has thrived. Atop the cliffs, the Island's county flower, the pyramidal orchid, can be found, while the rare Glanville fritillary butterfly also lives in large numbers supported by the native flowers. There are also other hardy plants, such as common gorse bushes and wild cabbage.

The bay is popular with wave and kite surfers due to the waves that form when the prevailing south-westerly wind is blowing onshore. The beach is gently shelving and consists mostly of sand, with a few lengths of submerged rock, although at high tide the sea covers the beach almost completely. The car park and its public facilities are owned by the National Trust, as is the coastal strip of land. The Isle of Wight Coastal Path runs along the cliff around the bay.

There are dinosaur footprints visible in Compton Bay when the tide is low, and this is one of the best areas to see the dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight. Fossil hunters can often be seen searching for smaller fossils on the beach.

Darren Naish

Darren Naish is a British vertebrate palaeontologist and science writer. He obtained a geology degree at the University of Southampton and later studied vertebrate palaeontology under British palaeontologist David Martill at the University of Portsmouth, where he obtained both an M. Phil. and PhD. He is founder of the blog Tetrapod Zoology, created in 2006.

Dinosaur Isle

Dinosaur Isle is a purpose-built dinosaur museum located in Sandown on the Isle of Wight in southern England.The museum was designed by Isle of Wight architects Rainey Petrie Johns in the shape of a giant pterosaur. It claims to be the first custom-built dinosaur museum in Europe.


Eucamerotus (meaning "well-chambered" in reference to the hollows of the vertebrae) was a genus of sauropod dinosaur from the Barremian-age Lower Cretaceous Wessex Formation (Wealden) of the Isle of Wight, England.


Hylaeosaurus ( hy-LEE-o-SOR-əs; Greek: hylaios/ὑλαῖος "belonging to the forest" and sauros/σαυρος "lizard") is a herbivorous ankylosaurian dinosaur that lived about 136 million years ago, in the late Valanginian stage of the early Cretaceous period of England.

Hylaeosaurus was one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered, in 1832 by Gideon Mantell. In 1842 it was one of the three dinosaurs Richard Owen based the Dinosauria on. Four species were named in the genus, but only the type species Hylaeosaurus armatus is today considered valid. Only limited remains have been found of Hylaeosaurus and much of its anatomy is unknown. It might have been a basal nodosaurid, although a recent cladistic analysis recovers it as a basal ankylosaurid.Hylaeosaurus was about five metres long. It was an armoured dinosaur. It carried at least three long spines on its shoulder.

Luis Rey

Luis V. Rey (born 1955) is a Spanish-Mexican artist and illustrator, a 1977 graduate of the San Carlos Academy, (UNAM). He is best known for his innovative work in the field of dinosaur paleoart, for example in conjunction with Robert T. Bakker, promoting awareness of the developing evidence for feathered dinosaurs. He is an active member of the SVP (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology [1]) and of the Dinosaur Society (UK)[2]. He also works in portraiture and makes political pieces, in paint and other media. He lives with his partner Carmen in London, UK.


Neovenator (nee-o-ven-a-tor) which means "new hunter" is a genus of allosauroid dinosaur. At the time of its discovery on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, it was the best-known large carnivorous dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous (Hauterivian-Barremian) of Europe.


Oplosaurus (meaning "armed or weapon lizard" or "armoured lizard"; see below for discussion) was a genus of sauropod dinosaur from the Barremian-age Lower Cretaceous Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight, England. It is known from a single tooth usually referred to the contemporaneous "wastebasket taxon" Pelorosaurus, although there is no solid evidence for this.


Ornithodesmus (meaning "bird link") is a genus of small, dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the Isle of Wight in England, dating to about 125 million years ago. The name was originally assigned to a bird-like sacrum (a series of vertebrae fused to the hip bones), initially believed to come from a bird and subsequently identified as a pterosaur. More complete pterosaur remains were later assigned to Ornithodesmus, until recently a detailed analysis determined that the original specimen in fact came from a small theropod, specifically a dromaeosaur. All pterosaurian material previously assigned to this genus has been renamed Istiodactylus.

Palpebral (bone)

The palpebral bone is a small dermal bone found in the region of the eye socket in a variety of animals, including crocodilians and ornithischian dinosaurs. It is also known as the adlacrimal or supraorbital, although the latter term may not be confused with the supraorbital in osteichthyan fishes. In ornithischians, the palpebral can form a prong that projects from the front upper corner of the orbit. It is large in heterodontosaurids, basal ornithopods such as Thescelosaurus (as Bugenasaura) and Dryosaurus, and basal ceratopsians such as Archaeoceratops; in these animals, the prong is elongate and would have stuck out and over the eye like a bony eyebrow. As paleoartist Gregory S. Paul has noted, elongate palpebrals would have given their owners fierce-looking "eagle eyes". In such cases, the expanded palpebral may have functioned to shade the eye.


Thecocoelurus is a dubious genus of theropod dinosaur from the early Cretaceous period of England. It is paleontologically significant for being one of the first two ornithomimosaur specimens known from England (along with Valdoraptor), and represents the earliest record of ornithomimosaurs in the world.


Valdosaurus ("Weald Lizard") is a genus of bipedal herbivorous iguanodont ornithopod dinosaur found on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere in England. It lived during the Early Cretaceous.


Velociraptorinae is a subfamily of the theropod group Dromaeosauridae. The earliest velociraptorines are probably Nuthetes from the United Kingdom, and possibly Deinonychus from North America. However, several indeterminate velociraptorines have also been discovered, dating to the Kimmeridgian stage, in the Late Jurassic Period. These fossils were discovered in the Langenberg quarry, Oker near Goslar, Germany.In 2007 paleontologists studied front limb bones of Velociraptor and discovered small bumps on the surface, known as quill knobs. The same feature is present in some bird bones, and represents the attachment point for strong secondary wing feathers. This finding provided the first direct evidence that velociraptorines, like all other maniraptorans, had feathers.While most velociraptorines were generally small animals, at least one species may have achieved gigantic sizes comparable to those found among the dromaeosaurines. So far, this unnamed giant velociraptorine is known only from isolated teeth found on the Isle of Wight, England. The teeth belong to an animal the size of dromaeosaurines of the genus Utahraptor, but they appear to belong to a velociraptorine, judging by the shape of the teeth and the anatomy of their serrations.


Yaverlandia is a genus of maniraptoran dinosaur. Known from a partial fossil skull found in Lower Cretaceous strata of the Wessex Formation on the Isle of Wight, it was described as the earliest known member of the pachycephalosaurid family, but recent research by Darren Naish shows it to have actually been a theropod, seemingly a maniraptoran. Yaverlandia was named from where it was found, Yaverland Point/ Yaverland Battery.

It was about 3 ft ( 1 m ) in length and 1 ft ( 30 cm ) in height.

Its fossils were discovered in 1930, in Egland.

Unitary authorities
Major settlements


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