Scientists have revealed that a terrifying new dinosaur called the “Hell Heron” once preyed on visitors to the Isle of Wight.
The monster, capable of swallowing a human in a single gulp, is one of two newly found predators that roamed there long before it became a vacation spot – some 125 million years ago.
The two discoveries, made in quick succession, have been hailed as a “big surprise” by jubilant dinosaur experts.
Tour heads, however, were going to get the needles from the 30-foot-long, 10-foot-tall “Ceratosuchops inferodios,” which translates as “horned crocodile-faced hell heron.”
His hunting technique was similar to that of the modern heron, which feeds on both aquatic and terrestrial prey.
So he would have loved the surf and turf menu options at Brighstone Beach, where his bones were found.
Fossil hunters in the same place also discovered another similarly sized carnivorous reptile, called “Riparovenator milnerae.”
It translates as “Milner’s hunter of the riverbank”, in honor of the great paleontologist Angela Milner, who recently passed away.
Scientists say the pair are related to two new species of spinosauride, a group of predatory theropod dinosaurs closely related to the giant spinosaurus.
More than 50 bones have been discovered from the rocks that are part of the Wessex Formation, which arose more than 125 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous.
At that time, the Isle of Wight was made up of floodplains and rivers, with a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean.
Sharks and crocodiles roamed there too.
Fossil collectors first found parts of two skulls before a team from the local Dinosaur Island Museum discovered a large portion of the tail.
The only spinosaurus skeleton previously discovered in the UK belongs to Baryonyx, which was initially discovered in 1983 in a Surrey quarry.
Study author Chris Parker, from the University of Southampton, said: “We found that the skulls differed not only from baryonics, but also from each other, suggesting that the UK harbored a greater diversity of spinosaurs than previously thought.”
Co-author Darren Naish said: “We’ve known for two decades that baryonyx-like dinosaurs are waiting to be discovered on the Isle of Wight.
“But finding the remains of two of these animals in close succession was a huge surprise.”