A dinosaur bone has been found in a Sunderland back garden, thought to be from a dinosaur called Iguanodon which grew up to 10m long. The person who found it while digging amongst tree roots thought it may have been a bone, and brought it to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens to see what the experts could make of it.
Sylvia Humphrey, Keeper of Geology at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, was on hand when the person brought the incredible find into Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.
Sylvia spotted the possibility of it belonging to an extinct species called the Iguanodon immediately and contacted specialists at the Natural History Museum in London to verify the find.
Sylvia said: “It’s really quite a puzzle as to how the bone got there. Dinosaur bones are younger than the rocks of this area, as this region is on the Permian strata, which is 250 million years old.
“The rocks of this region are far too old for it to have lain here, so it has been lost or dropped by someone in the past.
“We think, although we can never be sure, that it is a piece of vertebrae from an Iguanodon, and may originate from the Wealden area. It has similarities to material from the collection of the Natural History Society of Northumbria on display at the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle.”
The dinosaur bone is now on display in Museum Street in Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens so visitors can see this bizarre find for themselves.
Jo Cunningham, Manager of Sunderland Museums said: “We’re very grateful to our museum visitor for bringing this amazing find in to us; it will always remain a mystery as to how it found it’s way there, and if they hadn’t been digging up their garden it could have lain undiscovered.
“The person who found it wishes to remain anonymous, but has kindly agreed to loan it to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens so that the people of the region can enjoy this unusual find.”
Dr Angela Milner from the Palaeontology Department at the Natural History Museum, London, who confirmed that the bone is from the spine, or tail of an Iguanodon-like dinosaur said: “The bone is the solid part (the centrum) of vertebra from the tail of an Iguanodon-like dinosaur. It is not complete enough to identify it more precisely.
“The rocks around Sunderland are much too old to contain dinosaur bones so there are only two explanations as to how it got there - either by glacial transport or a one-time souvenir from the south coast of England where Iguanodon bones are not infrequently found by fossil hunters.”
The Iguanodon (the name means ‘Iguana tooth’), walked the earth 130 to 115 million years ago, during the Lower Cretaceous period and was famously the first dinosaur to be recognised, by a 19c doctor called Gideon Mantell.
Iguanodon teeth and bones collected by Gideon Mantell are on display in the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle, from the collection of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.
The Wealden is a rock formation in the South East of England, and takes its name from the Weald region of Kent, and has historically yielded many dinosaur fossils, mostly that of Iguanodon-like creatures.
Sylvia Humphrey works for Tyne & Wear Archive & Museums between Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens and the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle, both of which display dinosaur fossils.