New Early Jurassic Carnivorous Dinosaur From Wales

Brothers Nick and Rob Hanigan discovered the fossil find of a lifetime back in April 2014 when they found the remains of a dinosaur which had been exposed on a Welsh beach after bad weather.  The fossils come from strata at Lavernock Point (Vale of Glamorgan) and represent the remains of a three metre long, meat-eating dinosaur whose corpse was washed out to sea and eventually came to settle on the seabed.  The rocks on this part of the Welsh coast date from the Late Triassic into the Early Jurassic.  After careful examination by a number of notable palaeontologists including Dr. David Martill (University of Portsmouth), the mudstone containing the skeletal remains of the dinosaur have been assigned to the Early Jurassic (Hettangian faunal stage).  This, as yet to be fully scientifically described and named dinosaur, could well represent the earliest Jurassic dinosaur fossil ever found in Europe.

Vertebrae and Leg Bones from the Early Jurassic Dinosaur

Two of the five stone blocks that contain the fossils.

Two of the five stone blocks that contain the fossils.

Picture Credit: National Museum of Wales

Nick Hanigan, contacted Everything Dinosaur to explain how the fossil had been prepared.  He stated:

“When the skull block was picked up, quite a bit of bone, for example, the lacrimal [bone from the front of the eye socket] and part of the maxillae [upper jaw] had already been washed out but the imprints were still left in the rock.  We took a silicon peel and made positive and negative casts of the surface and we also x-rayed and CT scanned the block before we prepared it.   As a result Rob and I built up a lot of information to support any future description and as such we can reconstruct quite a bit of the skull and missing part of the leg bones.”

About five percent of the actual skeleton has been discovered, enough for scientists to establish this as a new genus.  The dinosaur was not fully grown when it died, it may have reached a length of more than five metres, making this “Welsh dragon” one of the largest predators known from this part of the Jurassic.

An Illustration of the Dinosaur from Wales

The dinosaur roamed what was Wales some 200 million years ago.

The dinosaur roamed what was Wales some 200 million years ago.

Picture Credit: National Museum of Wales/Bob Nicholls

It seems that dragons did once roam Wales, fearsome meat-eating dinosaurs.  This discovery is hugely significant as further research using the fossilised bones will help scientists to understand more about how the dinosaurs diversified into a myriad of different types of carnivorous dinosaur during the Jurassic.

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