More than 100 different species of dinosaur once roamed Britain including three cousins of America's top predator the Tyrannosaurus rex, a palaeontologist has said in his new book.
But the UK's rich reptilian past has largely been overlooked in popular culture, palaeontologist Dean Lomax has claimed, despite Britain once being a "dinosaur paradise".
British dinosaurs included stegosaurs, ankylosaurs, ornithopods and gigantic sauropods, one of which may be the largest dinosaur found in Europe.
At least three different types of tyrannosaur - carnivorous theropods which stood on two legs – also hunted in the British Isles, but “only passing comments” have been made in British records, Mr Lomax said.
"The term Dinosauria, meaning 'terrible lizard', was conceived by the British palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen almost 200 years ago for fossils found in England," he told Phys.org.
"Sadly, when most people are asked to name a dinosaur, the chances are they would give a foreign example, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, even though the British Isles was a veritable dinosaur paradise."
He added: "Growing up in Yorkshire, I had always wanted to learn about the dinosaurs discovered here, yet all the books I read, or programmes watched on TV, made only passing comments to some of the remains discovered in the British Isles.”
Most UK dinosaur remains have been recovered from rocks dating to the Middle Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
The majority come from Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight, but significant finds have also been made in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The first ever dinosaur to be described in 1824, Megalosaurus, was found in Oxfordshire.
"The three British tyrannosaurs would have resembled their infamous cousin, T-rex, but were smaller - between three and five metres in length – possessed longer forelimbs, were more agile and, geologically speaking, a lot older," he said.
"I hope the book, which has involved collaboration with more than 40 institutions worldwide, will inspire and encourage a new wave of future palaeontologists with a real passion for British dinosaurs."
Dinosaurs of The British Isles, by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura, is published by Siri Scientific Press.
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