A scientist has discovered the 166 million-year-old fossil of a dinosaur while running along the beach of the small Scottish island of Eigg
Dr Elsa Panciroli was running by the shores on Eigg to meet up with her palaeontology research team when she made the thrilling dinosaur fossil discovery.
The 166-million-year-old dinosaur fossil, which is from a limb bone, that was found by Dr Panciroli, who is a research affiliate of National Museums Scotland, in what she has referred to as a “serendipitous discovery”.
She spotted the fossil as it was embedded in a boulder on the foreshore of the small inner Hebridean island, and said that the fossil had been damaged by waves.
In Scotland, dinosaur bone fossils had only been found previously on the Isle of Skye.
The limb bone, which is around 50cm (19in) in length, and is thought to have belonged to a stegosaurian dinosaur, such as the well-known stegosaurus.
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Scientists had previously been searching for dinosaur fossils on the island of Eigg for around 200 years, but not until now have any fossils, apart from those of marine reptiles and fish, been found on Eigg.
Dr Panciroli has said that the research team was looking for reptile and fish fossils and was not expecting to find evidence of dinosaurs on the island.
Her discovery has been dated as being of the Middle Jurassic period.
Dr Panciroli, who works at National Museums Scotland, said:
“It was a bit of a serendipitous discovery.”
“It was the near the end of the day and I was running to catch up with the rest of the members of the team, who were quite far away.”
“I realised I had run over something that didn’t look right. It wasn’t clear exactly what kind of animal it belonged to at the time, but there was no doubt it was a dinosaur bone.”
She said it was “hugely significant” find, adding: “Globally, Middle Jurassic fossils are rare and until now the only dinosaur fossils found in Scotland were on the Isle of Skye.”
“This bone is 166 million years old and provides us with evidence that stegosaurs were living in Scotland at this time.”
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Dr Steve Brusatte, a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Elsa’s discovery of this bone is really remarkable.”
“This fossil is additional evidence that plate-backed stegosaurs used to roam Scotland, which corroborates footprints from the Isle of Skye that we identified as being made by a stegosaur.”
The bone has now been moved to the collections of National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh.