A completely new family of dinosaurs has been discovered at the Natural History Museum in London after a researcher noticed a dusty old fossil that had been sitting on a shelf unnoticed for over a hundred years.
It was PhD student, Mike Taylor, who noticed the fossil and immediately realised he had found something very unusual. Taylor is an expert on the backbones of sauropods – the biggest group of animals ever to walk the earth including diplodocus – they are recognisable with their huge bodies, long long necks and small heads.
The new dinosaur has been named Xenoposeidon – which roughly translates as alien sauropod. It lived around 140 million years ago judging by the size of its back bone, the animal was probably about the size of an African elephant.
The specimen was originally found in the 1890s by a fossil collector called Philip James Rufford who found it in the English county of Sussex. At the time it was briefly described but it wasn’t thought to be an especially important find. The reason palaeontologists have now been able to decide this dinosaur did indeed belong to a new family that has never been seen before, is because since its discovery one hundred years ago, over a hundred other sauropods have been named, and we know so much more about them than we did in Rufford’s day.
It makes you wonder what else might be lurking unknown in the mysterious vaults of the Natural History Museum.