TWO years of painstaking excavation, conservation and research have gone into the presentation of a remarkable “find” now on display in Bexhill Museum.
A plant-eating dinosaur, a species of Iguanodont - known as Hypsecospinus and the size of a single-decker bus - once roamed Bexhill.
But that was 140 million years ago and the world in the Lower Cretaceous period was a totally different place, as museum curator Julian Porter explains.
“Great Britain was roughly where Malta is now. Hypsecospinus lived in a world where there were no polar ice-caps so it was a lot warmer - quite apart from the fact that Britain was so much nearer the Equator.
“You are dealing with a big animal. It would have been as big as a single-decker bus.”
Paleontologists Peter and Joyce Austen, of Seaford, have done a great deal of work in the Bexhill area with local fossil-hunter David Brockhurst.
David, of Crowmere Avenue, has provided the independent, voluntarily-run museum in Egerton Road with many of its finest fossils, including that of the smallest known dinosaur.
Julian Porter says: “It was Joyce who found the first bones. She specialises in plant fossils and tends to cover more ground.”
David Brockhurst delved deeper and, over the course of time, recovered more and more of Hypsecospinus.
Now the Bexhill find is being written up by one of the leading authorities on Iguanodons. Dr David Norman, director of the Sedgwick Museum at Cambridge University is working in association with Joyce Austen.
Julian Porter says: “There are now known to be at least two types of dinosaur which are known by the term Iguanodont.
“We have got most of the parts, including the arms and legs. One thing which is missing, however, is the ‘thumb spike.’
“Either we have not looked in the right place or it may be that this particular species didn’t have the thumb spike like other Iguanodonts. It is believed that the thumb spike was a form of self-defence.
“David has been working on this for a couple of years and we are reasonably hopeful that most of it is out.”
The Hypsecospinus fossils are now on display in the museum’s Sargent Gallery.