The largest known tooth of Eotyrannus Lengii – a small ancestor of the T-Rex dinosaur – has been discovered on the Isle of Wight by an undergraduate palaeontology student from the University of Portsmouth.
Megan Jacobs, 20, was walking along Compton Beach off Military Road when she noticed something shiny and black sticking out of the grey mud at the base of the cliff. After carefully examining it she thought it looked like a meat-eating dinosaur tooth. Megan took her tooth to the Dinosaur Expeditions Centre where palaeontologists identified her tooth as belonging to Eotyrannus Lengii.
The University of Portsmouth student has been collecting fossils on the Isle of Wight beaches since she was just 5-years-old. Now, 15 years later, Megan is a studies palaeontology and in her spare time she is a volunteer at the Dinosaur Expeditions Centre, near Brighstone.
Oliver Mattsson, Director of the Dinosaur Expeditions Centre said:
“When Megan brought in the tooth we were all very excited. The shape and size of the tooth is very distinctive and after checking against previous discoveries we were able to confirm its identity as a large tooth from the very rare early tyrannosaur Eotyrannus lengii that roamed southern England 125 million years ago.
“Comparison with other Eotyrannus teeth show that this is the largest Eotyrannus tooth discovered to date and suggests that the dinosaur is bigger than previous estimates. From 4 metres (13 feet) long to over 6 metres (over 20 feet long).
“Megan has made an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime discovery which saved the tooth from being damaged or lost forever”.
The first remains of Eotyrannus lengii were discovered in Brighstone bay in 1996 by amateur fossil hunter Gavin Leng. After years of painstaking conservation it was officially named by Hutt et al in 2001 and identified as a small ancestor of the famous Tyrannosaurus rex.
Megan was over-the-moon with her discovery and took it to show her tutor Dr David Martill at the University of Portsmouth, who confirmed the identification. Her exciting fossil discovery will go on public display at the Dinosaur Expeditions Centre, Brighstone on Sunday 22nd May.
Meanwhile Megan is on the beach almost daily in the hope that she will discover more fossil remains of Eotyrannus Lengii.