PARIS - A giant crocodile-faced dinosaur, discovered on the Isle of Wight by one of Britain’s best fossil hunters, was probably the largest predator ever to stalk Europe, scientists said on Thursday. Most of the bones of the two-legged spinosaurid were found by the late local collector Nick Chase, who dedicated his life to combing the beaches of the island on England’s southern coast for dinosaur remains. Researchers at the University of Southampton then used the few bones available to identify what they have called the “White Rock spinosaurid”, they said in a study published in the journal PeerJ. “This was a huge animal, exceeding 10 meters (33 feet) in length and judging from some of the dimensions, probably represents the largest predatory dinosaur ever found in Europe,” said Chris Barker, a PhD student who led the study.

While admitting it would be better to have more bones, Barker told AFP the “numbers don’t lie -- it is bigger than the biggest known specimen” previously found in Europe. Thomas Richard Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist from the University of Maryland not involved in study, agreed that the new find “does seem to be larger” than a huge predator whose fossilized remains were discovered in Portugal. Matt Lamanna, a dinosaur palaeontologist at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in the US, praised the “excellent, thorough study of the specimen” given the lack of bones, but said it was difficult to compare sizes. For example, he said the biggest known spinosaurid, the Spinosaurus, was likely the longest dinosaur.

“but it probably wasn’t as heavy” as the Tyrannosaurus rex or the Giganotosaurus -- “the latter of which is about to become super-famous thanks to the new ‘Jurassic World’ movie”.