Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight wesserpeton amphibian discovered

Wesserpeton
Image caption Wesserpeton had scaly skin and was about the size of a small newt

A tiny species of amphibian that lived alongside dinosaurs has been discovered on the Isle of Wight.

University of Portsmouth researchers say the wesserpeton fills a gap in the evolutionary history of a now-extinct group, the albanerpetontids.

The amphibian, nicknamed Wessie, was about the size of a small newt and lived 130 million year ago.

Dr Steve Sweetmanwell described it as "feisty" as jaw bones showed signs of fierce battles for mates and territory.

While no complete skeleton of a Wessie exists, researchers have a large number of isolated bones representing almost all parts of the animal discovered on the Isle of Wight.

They would have lived on the island during the early Cretaceous period, at the same time as dinosaurs such as neovenator, iguanodon and giant, long-necked sauropods.

Sharp, chisel-like teeth indicate that it was a predator and there are also signs it was well adapted to burrowing.

Dr Sweetman said: "Until the discovery of wesserpeton, there appeared to be an abrupt transition from the more primitive, elongated and bell-shaped frontals of the early albanerpetontids to the triangle-shaped frontals of later forms.

"The frontals of wesserpeton are elongated but they are also triangular, neatly filling the gap between the two."

The Isle of Wight has gained the nickname Dinosaur Island because of the number of fossils found there.

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