A new-old dinosaur in England

Bones of a previously unknown species of flesh-eating dinosaur dating back more than 125 million years were discovered in a clay pit in the southern English county of Surrey. Scientists are hailing it as perhaps the most important find in Britain this century, Monitor contributor Vera Frankl reports.

What identifies the dinosaur as a brand new species is its massive claw bone, which is more than a foot long - at least half again as long as that of the most ferocious of the flesh eaters - tyrannosaurus rex. A spokesman at London's Natural History Museum said the creature could have been up to 15 feet tall when standing on its hind legs.

The bone was spotted back in January by an amateur fossil collector, Bill Walker, during a heavy rainstorm. He contacted the Natural History Museum and was promptly sworn to secrecy until the rainy spell ended and a proper investigation could be carried out. It was not until May that a team from the museum, led by Dr. Alan Charig, began the painstaking process of excavating the bones, using fine needles and brushes. The scientists were delighted when they found the skeleton virtually intact - complete with skull and an awe-inspiring set of teeth.

The bones have since been transferred to the museum, where experts face the daunting task of piecing them together. A spokesman said the job was expected to take several months, after which the reconstructed skeleton will go on public display.

But before it is unveiled, one important issue will have to be settled: What to call the newly discovered creature? In cases like this, scientists say, it is often named after the person who found it. Any advance on Walkersaurus?

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