A DINOSAUR bone from 115million years ago has been found in a Sunderland pensioner’s back garden.
Thought to be from an Iguanodon, which could grow up to 10m long, it was found by the OAP as he was doing a spot of gardening.
Thinking it may be a bone, he popped it in a carrier bag and took it down to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens in case it was of interest.
Little did he realise that he had uncovered a major palaeontological find.
Staff at the museum in Burdon Road were amazed when they realised what the pensioner had brought to them. The remarkable discovery is thought to be the first of its kind in the Sunderland area.
The Iguanodon walked the earth 130 to 115 million years ago, during the Lower Cretaceous period.
Sylvia Humphrey, keeper of geology at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, spotted the possibility of it belonging to an extinct species and immediately contacted specialists at the Natural History Museum in London to verify the find.
It is believed the bone originates from the south of the country, but has somehow made it up to Sunderland.
She said: “It’s really quite a puzzle as to how the bone got here. Dinosaur bones are younger than the rocks of this area, as this region is on the Permian strata, which is 250 million years old.
“The rocks of this region are far too old for it to have lain here, so it has been lost or dropped by someone in the past.
“We think, although we can never be sure, that it is a piece of vertebrae from an Iguanodon, and may originate from the Wealden area.”
The dinosaur bone is now going on display in Museum Street in Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens so visitors can see this bizarre find for themselves.
Jo Cunningham, manager of Sunderland Museums said: “We’re very grateful to our museum visitor for bringing this amazing find in to us; it will always remain a mystery as to how it found it’s way there, and if they hadn’t been digging up their garden it could have lain undiscovered.
“The person who found it wishes to remain anonymous, but has kindly agreed to loan it to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens so that the people of the region can enjoy this unusual find.”
Dr Angela Milner from the Palaeontology Department at the Natural History Museum, London, who confirmed that the bone is from the spine, or tail of an Iguanodon-like dinosaur said: “The bone is the solid part - the centrum - of vertebra from the tail of an Iguanodon-like dinosaur. It is not complete enough to identify it more precisely.
“The rocks around Sunderland are much too old to contain dinosaur bones so there are only two explanations as to how it got there - either by glacial transport or a one-time souvenir from the south coast of England where Iguanodon bones are not infrequently found by fossil hunters.”
•Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens will close for Christmas on December 23 at 5pm and reopen on January 7 at 10am.