‘Hell herons’, metallic beetles, tiny shrimp – scientists have been busy describing unusual creatures despite Covid restrictions
Six new dinosaurs, an Indian beetle named after Larry the cat, and dozens of crustaceans critical to the planet’s carbon cycle were among 552 new species identified by scientists at the Natural History Museum this year.
In 2021, researchers described previously unknown species across the tree of life, from a pair of giant carnivorous dinosaurs known as spinosaurs – nicknamed the “riverbank hunter” and “hell heron” – to five new snakes that include the Joseph’s racer, which was identified with the help of a 185-year-old painting.
With international travel to field sites restricted, scientists at the London-based museum concentrated on describing existing collections and species that roamed the Earth millions of years ago.
“It has been a fantastic year for the description of new dinosaurs, especially from the UK,” said Dr Susannah Maidment, a senior researcher in paleobiology at the museum, who helped describe some of the new finds. “Although we’ve known about the UK’s dinosaur heritage for over 150 years, the application of new techniques and new data from around the world is helping us to uncover a hidden diversity of British dinosaurs.”
Spinosaurs were among four UK dinosaur species described by researchers alongside a new iguanodontian with an unusual snout from the Isle of Wight, and Pendraig milnerae, the earliest known carnivorous dinosaur from the UK…
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