Paleontologists found a dinosaur bone 166 million years old on the island of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland. The piece of bone measuring over 50 centimetres was probably from a stegosaurian, the researchers write in their study.
It’s only the second site for dinosaur fossils in Scotland. Previously, they’ve only been found on the island of Skye. On Eigg many other fossils have already been discovered, of marine reptiles and fish such as turtles and sharks.
The bone was discovered as early as May 2017 by Scottish scientist Elsa Panciroli. She tells the BBC that at the end of a research day with colleagues she was a bit behind and went running to catch up with them again. “I realised I’d run over something that looked crazy. It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of animal it was, but we had no doubt it belonged to a dinosaur.”
There is also a Dutch touch to the discovery. The Utrecht researcher Femke Holwerda identified it as a calf bone from the hind leg.
At first she thought it must have belonged to a long-necked dinosaur, because it had a similar size. “Most of Skye’s bones also came from long necks,” she says.
But the proportions of the bone made the researchers doubt it: it was long and thin instead of robust. When microscopic research showed that the bone structure is characteristic of stegosaurs, it was clear to them.
They hope to find more bones and perhaps paw prints on Eigg that support their assumption. Holwerda: “But so far we’re keeping it on a stegosaurian. The animal has, with a wink, already been named Steiggosaurus.”