The Lower Cretaceous of England has produced a diverse assemblage of dinosaurs, including ornithischians, sauropods, and theropods. The origins of this assemblage are poorly understood. Here, we describe a new dromaeosaurid, Vectiraptor greeni gen. et sp. nov., from the Barremian Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight. The animal is represented by associated dorsal vertebrae and a partial sacrum. Dorsal vertebrae are short, with pleurocoels, camellate pneumatization, stalked parapophyses and enlarged neural canals. Neural spines are tall, with large ligament scars. Sacral centra lack pleurocoels but have large neural canals and foramina suggesting pneumatization. These characters suggest affinities with Dromaeosauridae and specifically the derived, large-bodied Eudromaeosauria. Vectiraptor resembles Early Cretaceous eudromaeosaurs from North America, suggesting a faunal exchange between Europe and North America. The diverse Early Cretaceous dinosaur assemblage found in England and Europe resulted from dispersal from North America, Asia, and West Gondwana, likely involving both land bridges and oceanic dispersal. Europe served as a biotic crossroads in the Early Cretaceous, allowing faunal interchange between landmasses.
- United Kingdom
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