Vectis Formation

The Vectis Formation is a geological formation on the Isle of Wight, England whose strata date back to the Early Cretaceous (lowermost Aptian stage, 125 million years ago).[1][2] The Vectis Formation is composed of three geological members: the Shepherds Chine member, the Barnes High Sandstone member, and the Cowleaze Chine member. Dinosaur remains are among the fossils that have been recovered from the formation.[3]

Vectis Formation
Stratigraphic range: Aptian 131–113 Ma
TypeGeological formation
Unit ofWealden Group
  • Shepherds Chine Member
  • Barnes High Sandstone Member
  • Cowleaze Chine Member
UnderliesAtherfield Clay Formation
OverliesWessex Formation
ThicknessMaximum of 66 m
PrimarySiltstone, Mudstone
OtherSandstone, Limestone, Ironstone
Country UK
ExtentDorset, Isle of Wight


See also


  1. ^ "Magnetostratigraphy of the Lower Cretaceous Vectis Formation (Wealden Group) on the Isle of Wight, Southern England."
  2. ^ Batten, D. J. (ed.) 2011. English Wealden Fossils. The Palaeontological Association, London.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Weishampel, David B; et al. (2004). "Dinosaur distribution (Early Cretaceous, Europe)." In: Weishampel, David B.; Dodson, Peter; and Osmólska, Halszka (eds.): The Dinosauria, 2nd, Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 556-563. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.
Atherfield Clay Formation

The Atherfield Clay Formation is a Geological formation in Southern England. Part of the Lower Greensand Group it dates to the Aptian age of the Early Cretaceous. The deposit is of marine origin largely consisting of mudstones. The pterosaur Vectidraco is known from the formation.


Brancasaurus (meaning "Branca's lizard") is a genus of plesiosaur which lived in a freshwater lake in the Early Cretaceous of what is now North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With a long neck possessing vertebrae bearing distinctively-shaped "shark fin"-shaped neural spines, and a relatively small and pointed head, Brancasaurus is superficially similar to Elasmosaurus, albeit smaller in size at 3.26 metres (10.7 ft) in length.

The type species of this genus is Brancasaurus brancai, first named by Theodor Wegner in 1914 in honor of German paleontologist Wilhelm von Branca. Another plesiosaur named from the same region, Gronausaurus wegneri, most likely represents a synonym of this genus. While traditionally considered as a basal member of the Elasmosauridae, Brancasaurus has more recently been recovered as a member, or close relative, of the Leptocleididae, a group containing many other freshwater plesiosaurs.


Elasmosauridae was a family of plesiosaurs. They had the longest necks of the plesiosaurs and survived from the Late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous. Their diet mainly consisted of crustaceans and molluscs.

Geology of the Isle of Wight

The geology of the Isle of Wight is dominated by sedimentary rocks of Cretaceous and Paleogene age. This sequence was affected by the late stages of the Alpine Orogeny, forming the Isle of Wight monocline, the cause of the steeply-dipping outcrops of the Chalk Group and overlying Paleogene strata seen at The Needles, Alum Bay and Whitecliff Bay.


Hastanectes is an extinct genus of a plesiosaurian with possible pliosaurid affinities known from the Early Cretaceous Wadhurst Clay Formation (Valanginian stage) of the United Kingdom. It contains a single species, Hastanectes valdensis, which was originally thought to be a species of Cimoliasaurus.


Hylaeochampsa is an extinct genus of eusuchian crocodylomorph. It is known only from a partial skull recovered from Barremian-age rocks of the Lower Cretaceous Vectis Formation (Wealden Group) of the Isle of Wight. This skull, BMNH R 177, is short and wide, with a eusuchian-like palate and inferred enlarged posterior teeth that would have been suitable for crushing. Hylaochampsa was described by Richard Owen in 1874, with H. vectiana as the type species. It may be the same genus as the slightly older Heterosuchus, inferred to have been of similar evolutionary grade, but there is no overlapping material as Heterosuchus is known only from vertebrae. If the two could be shown to be synonyms, Hylaeochampsa would have priority because it is the older name. Hylaeochampsa is the type genus of the family Hylaeochampsidae, which also includes Iharkutosuchus from the Late Cretaceous of Hungary. James Clark and Mark Norell positioned it as the sister group to Crocodylia. Hylaeochampsa is currently the oldest known unambiguous eusuchian.


Hylaeochampsidae is an extinct family of basal eusuchian crocodylomorphs thought to be closely related to the order Crocodylia. It was first constructed by Charles William Andrews in 1913 to include just one member: Hylaeochampsa. However, a new genus named Iharkutosuchus was described in 2007 and was found to be a sister taxon of Hylaeochampsa, and thus a member of the family Hylaeochampsidae. The genus Heterosuchus, named in 1887, may also be a member of the family. However, it is likely to be synonymous with Hylaeochampsa and has been considered a nomen dubium by James M. Clark and Mark Norell. Clark and Norell also claimed that there is no evidence to suggest that the two genera form a true clade distinct from other eusuchians, because remains associated with Heterosuchus are to fragmentary to show any clear phylogenetic relationship. A fourth genus called Pietraroiasuchus was assigned to Hylaeochampsidae in 2011. A phylogenetic analysis conducted with the description of Pietraroiasuchus also found Pachycheilosuchus to be part of the family.The family existed during the Cretaceous period in what is now Europe. Hylaeochampsa and its possible synonym Heterosuchus have both been found from the Vectis Formation of the Isle of Wight in England, dating back to the Barremian stage of the Early Cretaceous. Specimens of Iharkutosuchus have been found from the Csehbánya Formation in western Hungary, which was deposited during the Santonian stage of the Late Cretaceous. All hylaeochampsids had highly brevirostrine snouts and exhibited heterodonty, with large teeth concentrated posteriorly that were most likely adapted to crushing. In Iharkutosuchus these teeth were even multicusped. This is often characteristic of mammals but is highly unusual for a crocodylomorph, and suggests that the animal may have been herbivorous.


Hypsilophodon (; meaning "Hypsilophus-tooth") is an ornithischian dinosaur genus from the Early Cretaceous period of England. It has traditionally been considered an early member of the group Ornithopoda, but recent research has put this into question.

The first remains of Hypsilophodon were found in 1849; the type species, Hypsilophodon foxii, was named in 1869. Abundant fossil discoveries were made on the Isle of Wight, giving a good impression of the build of the species. It was a small bipedal animal with an herbivorous or possibly omnivorous diet. Hypsilophodon reached up to 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) in length, weighed about 20 kg (45 lbs), and was an agile runner. It had a pointed head equipped with a sharp beak used to bite off plant material, much like modern day parrots.

Older studies have given rise to number of misconceptions about Hypsilophodon: that it would climb trees, that its name means "high-rided tooth", was armoured, reached a length of 2.3 metres (7.5 ft), and was also found outside of Wight. During the past decades new research has gradually shown this to be incorrect.


Istiodactylus is a genus of pterosaur that lived during the Early Cretaceous period, about 120 million years ago. The first fossil was discovered on the English Isle of Wight in 1887, and in 1901 became the holotype specimen of a new species, O. latidens (Latin for "wide tooth"), in the genus Ornithodesmus. This species was moved to its own genus, Istiodactylus, in 2001; this name is Greek for "sail finger". More specimens were described in 1913, and Istiodactylus was the only pterosaur known from three-dimensionally preserved fossils for much of the 20th century. In 2006, a species from China, I. sinensis, was assigned to Istiodactylus, but it has since been found to belong to a different genus.

Istiodactylus was a large pterosaur; estimates of its wingspan range from 4.3 to 5 metres (14 to 16 ft). Its skull was about 45 centimetres (18 in) long, and was relatively short and broad for a pterosaur. The front of the snout was low and blunt, and bore a semicircle of 48 teeth. The triangular teeth were closely spaced, interlocked, and formed a "razor-edged" outline. The lower jaw also had a tooth-like projection that occluded with the teeth. The skull had a very large naso-antorbital opening (which combined the antorbital fenestra and the opening for the bony nostril) and a slender eye socket. Some of the vertebrae were fused into a notarium, to which the shoulder blades connected. It had very large forelimbs, with a wing-membrane distended by a long wing-finger, but the hindlimbs were very short.

Until the 21st century, Istiodactylus was the only known pterosaur of its kind, and was placed in its own family, Istiodactylidae, within the group Ornithocheiroidea. Istiodactylus differed from other istiodactylids in having a proportionally shorter skull. The distinctive teeth of Istiodactylus indicate that it was a scavenger that may have used its teeth to sever morsels from large carcasses in the manner of a cookie cutter. The wings of Istiodactylus may have been adapted for soaring, which would have helped it find carcasses before terrestrial carnivores. Istiodactylus is known from the Wessex Formation and the younger Vectis Formation, which represent river and coastal environments that were shared with various pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and other animals.


Leptocleidus is an extinct genus of pliosaurid plesiosaur, belonging to the family Leptocleididae.

List of plesiosaur genera

This list of plesiosaurs is a comprehensive listing of all genera that have ever been included in the order Plesiosauria, excluding purely vernacular terms. The list includes all commonly accepted genera, but also genera that are now considered invalid, doubtful (nomen dubium), or were not formally published (nomen nudum), as well as junior synonyms of more established names, and genera that are no longer considered plesiosaurs. The list currently includes 187 genera.

List of pterosaur-bearing stratigraphic units

This is a list of stratigraphic units, where pterosaur fossils have been recovered from. Units listed are all either formation rank or higher (e.g. group).

List of stratigraphic units with few dinosaur genera

This list of stratigraphic units with few non-avian dinosaur genera includes Mesozoic stratigraphic units of formation rank or higher that have produced dinosaur body fossils which have been referred to at most five genera. Since taxonomy frequently changes and can be somewhat subjective, the number of reported genera may not coincide exactly with the number of genera extant at the time of deposition.


Mantellisaurus is a genus of iguanodontian dinosaur that lived in the Barremian and early Aptian ages of the Early Cretaceous Period of Europe. Its remains are known from Belgium (Bernissart), England and possibly Germany. The type and only species is M. atherfieldensis. Formerly known as Iguanodon atherfieldensis, the new genus Mantellisaurus was erected for the species by Gregory Paul in 2007. According to Paul, Mantellisaurus was more lightly built than Iguanodon and more closely related to Ouranosaurus, making Iguanodon in its traditional sense paraphyletic. It is known from many complete and almost complete skeletons. The genus name honours Gideon Mantell, the discoverer of Iguanodon.


Vectocleidus is an extinct genus of leptocleidid plesiosaurian known from the Early Cretaceous Vectis Formation (late Barremian stage) of Isle of Wight, in the United Kingdom. It contains a single species, Vectocleidus pastorum.

Wealden Group

The Wealden Group is a group (a sequence of rock strata) in the lithostratigraphy of southern England. The Wealden group consists of paralic to continental (freshwater) facies sedimentary rocks of Berriasian to Aptian age and thus forms part of the English Lower Cretaceous. It is composed of alternating sands and clays. The sandy units were deposited in a flood plain of braided rivers, the clays mostly in a lagoonal coastal plain.The Wealden Group can be found in almost all Early Cretaceous basins of England: its outcrops curve from the Wessex Basin in the south to the Cleveland Basin in the northeast. It is not found in northwest England and Wales, areas which were at the time tectonic highs where no deposition took place. The same is true for the London Platform around London and Essex. Offshore, the Wealden Group can reach a thickness of 700 metres.

Wessex Formation

The Wessex Formation is a fossil-rich English geological formation that dates from the Berriasian to Barremian stages (about 145–125 million years ago) of the Early Cretaceous. It forms part of the Wealden Group and underlies the younger Vectis Formation and overlies the Durlston Formation. The dominant lithology of this unit is mudstone with some interbedded sandstones.

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