Wales’ very own Dinosaur!!! Dracoraptor hanigani: New Species of Dinosaur Discovered in Wales
A partial skeleton of the new dinosaur, including a skull and teeth, was discovered on a beach near Cardiff. It was analyzed by a team of UK scientists led by Dr. David Martill from the University of Portsmouth, and was identified as a new species and genus of the theropod dinosaur.
“Approximately 40% of a skeleton including cranial and postcranial remains representing a new genus and species of basal neotheropod dinosaur is described,” Dr. Martill and his colleagues from the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, the University of Manchester, and the University of Portsmouth, wrote in a paper in the journal PLoS ONE.
“It was collected from fallen blocks from a sea cliff that exposes Late Triassic and Early Jurassic marine and quasi marine strata on the south Wales coast near the city of Cardiff.”
Dr. Martill and co-authors proposed the name Dracoraptor hanigani for this new dinosaur.
“The genus name Dracoraptor is from Draco alluding to the dragon of Wales with raptor, meaning robber, a commonly employed suffix for theropod dinosaurs,” they explained.
“The species name honors Nick and Rob Hanigan who discovered the skeleton.”
According to the paleontologists, Dracoraptor hanigani was a small, agile carnivore, about 2.3 feet (70 cm) tall and 6.5 feet (2 m) long, with a long tail.
It was a distant cousin of T. rex and lived at the beginning of the Jurassic period, approximately 200 million years ago, possibly making it the oldest Jurassic dinosaur in the UK or even in the world.
The specimen also represents the most complete theropod dinosaur from Wales and the first dinosaur skeleton from the Jurassic of Wales.
It is thought that the fossil was from a juvenile animal as most of its bones are not yet fully formed.
“The Triassic-Jurassic extinction event is often credited for the later success of dinosaurs through the Jurassic and Cretaceous, but previously we knew very little about dinosaurs at the start of this diversification and rise to dominance,” said co-author Dr. Steven Vidovic, of the University of Portsmouth.
“Now we have Dracoraptor, a relatively complete 6-foot-long juvenile theropod from the very earliest days of the Jurassic in Wales.”
Martill D.M. et al. 2016. The Oldest Jurassic Dinosaur: A Basal Neotheropod from the Hettangian of Great Britain. PLoS ONE 11 (1): e0145713; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145713