04 Jul 2017 Last updated at 14:00

Theo's prehistoric rhino tooth find

Avid Island fossil collector Theo Vickers, 18, has discovered a tooth from a rare prehistoric rhinoceros which lived 38 to 35 million years ago. He has presented it to Dinosaur Isle Museum at Sandown to care for and put on display.

Theo, who has just finished his A-levels and is off to study marine biology and oceanography at university in September, found the tooth of the rhino-like Ronzotherium washed up in sand on a beach on the Island’s north-west coast.
 
Theo, who goes fossil hunting regularly, said he was looking for fossil teeth, bones or turtle shells when he discovered the molar from the Ronzotherium in the Bouldnor formation clays on the coast between Yarmouth and Hamstead.
 
“I knew straight away it was a species of rhinoceros, and after researching it further online I contacted Dinosaur Isle Museum to bring it to their attention, as finds of primitive rhinos like Ronzotherium are really rare from the Bouldnor formation.
 
“I was incredibly lucky to find it as only a few mammal species are found there regularly, let alone a species as rare as this – and I was more than happy to donate it to the museum, to add to our knowledge about the diversity of animals that lived here during that time in the Island’s past.
 
“It’s strange to think that such an iconic animal that people would usually associate with the African savannah, was actually evolving here, on the Isle of Wight, 35 million years ago.”
 
The clays where the fossil was found were laid down in a sub-tropical swampy floodplain similar to the Florida Everglades. Turtle, fish and crocodile fossils are very common along the Island’s north-west coast, and Theo said he occasionally finds the bones and teeth of prehistoric animals that lived in the swamps.
 
Dinosaur Isle Museum curator, Dr Martin Munt, said: “This is an incredibly rare find from Theo. There are just a handful of specimens from the UK, being on the edge of the geographical range, 38 to 35 million years ago. We are very grateful he has chosen to leave it in the care of Dinosaur Isle Museum, and it will go on display later this week.”

Cabinet member for environment and heritage, Councillor John Hobart, said: “This is a fascinating find by Theo and yet another important item we can put on display at Dinosaur Isle Museum. I would like to congratulate Theo on his discovery and thank him for choosing to pass it on to the museum. We are very lucky on the Island to have so many dedicated and responsible fossil hunters and it is reassuring that this is being carried on by future generations.”

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Dinosaur Isle Museum, Sandown
Dinosaur Isle Museum, Sandown
Factfile
  • The Ronzotherium lived 38 to 35 million years ago.
 
Isle of Wight, UK