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Two New Spinosaurids Emerge from England

A few weeks ago, two new spinosaurs found on the Isle of Wight in England were introduced into the world of paleontology. The two new species, named Ceratosuchops inferodios and Riparovenator milnerae broadened our knowledge of this poorly understood group of theropod dinosaurs.

The two new spinosaurids are placed in the subfamily baryonychinae, being related to the famous English spinosaurid, Baryonyx. However, they were found to be more closely related to the African baryonychine Suchomimus, leading to the establishment of a new clade, ceratosuchopsini, in which Suchomimus has now been placed, alongside the two new species.

Spinosaurs are notable for their elongated snouts and more conical teeth than other theropods, features that would have helped them hunt aquatic prey. Ceratosuchops and Riparovenator may have coexisted in the same environment during the Early Cretaceous of Britain, and like other spinosaurids they would have hunted aquatic animals, as well as terrestrial prey. They may also have lived alongside Baryonyx, placing three closely related spinosaurids in the same environment. If this was the case they perhaps avoided competition by hunting different kinds of prey or occupying different habitats.

The fossil bones of C. inferodios and R. milnerae were collected from the Wessex Formation on the Isle of Wight between 2013 and 2017. Extensive research was then carried out to determine whether or not they were individual species. Considering the fragmentary nature of spinosaurids, the discovery of two new species was incredible, as well as the fact that skull material was preserved in both species.

Ceratosuchops inferodios means "horned crocodile faced hell heron", in reference to bone structures on it's skull and that it may have hunted aquatic prey in a similar fashion to a modern heron. I did this illustration in gold, just for fun.

Riparovenator milnerae means "riverbank hunter of Milner", and was named in honor of Angela Milner, a British paleontologist who helped describe Baryonyx in 1986. She passed away on the 13th of August, 2021, while the research on these two new spinosaurs was being conducted. It was very fitting that a new baryonychine be named after her.

In this illustration, Riparovenator lives up to it's name as the "riverbank hunter" as it devours a fish it just caught.

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