An Isle of Wight fossil hunter unearthed the most complete dinosaur skeleton found in the UK in a century, new research shows.

Nick Chase, who died in 2019, made the discovery in the cliffs of Compton Bay in 2013.

Jeremy Lockwood, a retired GP and University of Portsmouth PhD student, who helped with the dinosaur’s excavation, has spent years analysing the 149 different bones that make up the skeleton. 

The specimen, which is around 125 million years old, has a pubic hip bone the size of a ‘dinner plate'.

Jeremy determined that the skeleton represented a new genus and species, which he named Comptonatus chasei in tribute to Nick.

What the Comptonatus chasei would have looked like.What the Comptonatus chasei would have looked like. (Image: John Sibbick)

Jeremy said: “Despite Nick's many wonderful discoveries over the years, including the most complete Iguanodon skull ever found in Britain, this is the first dinosaur to be named after him.”

Jeremy also named the dinosaur Comptonatus after Compton Bay. ‘Tonatus’ is a latin word meaning ‘thunderous’.

When it was first found, the specimen was thought to be a known dinosaur called Mantellisaurus.

However, Jeremy’s study is able to show the dinosaur is different because of certain unique features in its skull, teeth and other parts of its body.

Jeremy said the animal would have been as big as a large male American bison.

He said: "And evidence from fossil footprints found nearby shows it was likely to be a herding animal, so possibly large herds of these heavy dinosaurs may have been thundering around if spooked by predators on the floodplains over 120 million years ago.”

Taken at the excavation in 2013. Nick Chase (in the foreground sketching), Steve Hutt (blue jumper), Jeremy Lockwood (wearing gloves), and Penny Newberry. Taken at the excavation in 2013. Nick Chase (in the foreground sketching), Steve Hutt (blue jumper), Jeremy Lockwood (wearing gloves), and Penny Newberry. (Image: Contributed)

Dr Susannah Maidment, senior researcher and palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum and senior author of the paper said the find demonstrates fast rates of evolution in iguandontian dinosaurs during this time period.

"It could help us understand how ecosystems recovered after a putative extinction event at the end of the Jurassic Period", she said.

Despite only four new dinosaur species being described on the Island in the whole of the 1900s, there have been eight new species named in the last five years. 

The dinosaur has been added to the collections at the Dinosaur Isle Museum in Sandown and the paper has been published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 

Dr Martin Munt, Dinosaur Isle curator, said: "Most of Nick’s most important finds have remained on the Island, a lasting legacy."

Mike Greenslade, General Manager for the National Trust on the IW, said: “Nick Chase's remarkable find and Jeremy Lockwood's dedicated research are a testament to the incredible history waiting to be uncovered here."