"Like an armadillo on steroids": Scientists announce unique dinosaur species at Sussex museum

By Ben Miller | 18 September 2015

Horsham Museum dinosaur differs from Polacanthus and is unique, more robust species, says expert

A photo of a section of brown dinosaur bone found in Horsham
The vertebra of the new Horshamosaurus© Courtesy Horsham Museum
A dinosaur whose fossils were found in a brick pit by a museum volunteer has been renamed in honour of the West Sussex town of Horsham after scientists discovered it belongs to a species they say is “like an armadillo on steroids”.

The bones, which were discovered during the 1980s, were presumed to belong to a spike-laden Polacanthus. But Dr William Blows, a specialist in armoured dinosaurs, has used 20 years of research to identify the specimen as a unique new genus of dinosaur from 125 million years ago, only normally found in the US and Asia.

“The major characteristics of Polacanthus - or indeed of all Polacanthids - are absent in this specimen,” says Dr Blows, who has renamed the dinosaur, on show at Horsham Museum, the Horshamosaurus rudgwickensis.

“This may be partly because many elements of the skeleton are missing, but also because what is present does not match Polacanthus.

“It’s a much bigger and more robust animal compared with the smaller and more slender Polacanthus.

“The armour is very different, and it includes a piece of armour which has never been found in Polacanthus, but has been found in nodosaurids and ankylosaurids outside of Europe.

“On the face of it, the material available provides no justification for calling this animal a polacanthid.

“Several other researchers have produced cladograms of the Ankylosauria in which they included Polacanthus rudgwickensis. None of these cladograms found the Horsham specimen to be a sister taxon to Polacanthus, and this adds weight to the conclusion that this is an animal very different to Polacanthus.”

Dr Blows has also compared the scapula of the dinosaur to a Polacanthus in nearby Bexhill, finding differences in size and structure.

  • You can see the fossils at Horsham Museum from 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Three museums to see dinosaurs in

SeaCity Museum, Southampton
Moving dinosaurs, gigantic creatures from the past and lots of interactives all feature in the current Dinosaur Encounter exhibition. Until September 27 2015.

New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester
The Rutland Dinosaur, a Cetiosaurus, is taking centre stage in the new exhibition, The Dinosaur Gallery: Exploring Lost Worlds, showing how extinct animals were not ‘prehistoric monsters’ but living and breathing creatures.

Great North Museum Hancock, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Learn about the major changes to the landscape and the animals and plants that were around millions of years ago in the permanent exhibition, Fossil Stories.
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