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Rare pre-historic rhino tooth found on Isle of Wight

A teenage fossil hunter has discovered the tooth from a rare prehistoric rhinoceros that roamed the Isle of Wight 35-40 million years ago.

The tooth of the rhino-like Ronzotherium washed up on the beach on the coast near Yarmouth, in the north west of the island after being entombed in clay for million of years.

Theo Vickers, 18,was out fossil hunting when he came across the Rhino molar and knew straight away that he'd found something very special.

Ronzotherium tooth washed up on Isle of Wight Credit: Dinosaur Isle Museum

I knew straight away it was a species of rhinoceros, and after researching it further online I contacted Dinosaur Isle Museum. Finds of primitive rhinos like Ronzotherium are really rare.

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.

– Theo Vickers

The clays where the fossil was found were laid down in a sub-tropical swampy floodplain similar to the Florida Everglades that covered the area which is now the Solent.

There have only been a handful of these teeth found in the UK and and they are all at the Natural history Museum and date from the 19th century.

This is the first one that has been found in may years and the first in our collection which dates from 1820.

It dates from the Oligiocene period when the world was changing dramatically and the Northern hemisphere was cooling.

There was extensive swamp over the area we now know as the Solent, and at this point in our history the UK was connected to mainland Europe. Other teeth and bones have been found in France.

The tooth had only been out of the clays for a few days it was washed out of eroded clay but is still very shiny. I think it is important the tooth stays on the Island and it will be looked at by a specialist and hopefully will add to our knowledge.

– Dinosaur Isle Museum curator, Dr Martin Munt