Abstract

Isolated spinosaurid teeth are relatively well represented in the Lower Cretaceous Wealden Supergroup of southern England, UK. Until recently it was assumed that these teeth were referable to Baryonyx, the type species (B. walkeri) and specimen of which is from the Barremian Upper Weald Clay Formation of Surrey. British spinosaurid teeth are known from formations that span much of the c. 25 Ma depositional history of the Wealden Supergroup, and recent works suggest that British spinosaurids were more taxonomically diverse than previously thought. On the basis of both arguments, it is appropriate to doubt the hypothesis that isolated teeth from outside the Upper Weald Clay Formation are referable to Baryonyx. Here, we use phylogenetic, discriminant and cluster analyses to test whether an isolated spinosaurid tooth (HASMG G369a, consisting of a crown and part of the root) from a non-Weald Clay Formation unit can be referred to Baryonyx. HASMG G369a was recovered from an uncertain Lower Cretaceous locality in East Sussex but is probably from a Valanginian exposure of the Hastings Group and among the oldest spinosaurid material known from the UK. Spinosaurid affinities are both quantitatively and qualitatively supported, and HASMG G369a does not associate with Baryonyx in any analysis. This supports recent reinterpretations of the diversity of spinosaurid in the Early Cretaceous of Britain, which appears to have been populated by multiple spinosaurid lineages in a manner comparable to coeval Iberian deposits. This work also reviews the British and global records of early spinosaurids (known mainly from dental specimens), and revisits evidence for post-Cenomanian spinosaurid persistence.

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