Welsh Dracoraptor bones confirmed to be new Jurassic species

© National Museum of Wales
British scientists have confirmed that dinosaur fossils discovered in Wales in 2014 belong to an entirely new species of prehestoric reptiles that roamed the UK’s landscape during the Jurassic Period some 200 million years ago.

After a scrupulous examination of the fossilized remains, discovered in 2014 on a beach near the Welsh town of Penarth by Nick and Rob Hanigan, the distant relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex has been named Dracoraptor hanigani.

READ MORE: Miniature T-Rex foot found on Welsh beach

The findings, published in a study in the PLOS ONE scientific journal by David Martill from the University of Portsmouth and his team from National Museum Wales and the University of Manchester, concluded that the newly discovered species was a small carnivore and an agile animal, measuring about 70 cm tall and about 200 cm long. 

The fossils suggest that the Dracoraptor, or ‘dragon robber’, had a long tail, likely to help it to balance. The new species belongs to the theropod group. Testing the fossils (some 40 percent of the animal was preserved, including its skull, claws, teeth and foot bones) also suggested that the species from the Jurassic Period was a juvenile animal, as most of its bones had not yet been fully formed or fused.

The new specimen represents the most complete theropod from Wales, and is now on the record of the oldest known Jurassic dinosaurs in the UK.

“The Triassic-Jurassic extinction event is often credited for the later success of dinosaurs through the Jurassic and Cretaceous [periods], but previously we knew very little about dinosaurs at the start of this diversification and rise to dominance,” researcher on the study Steven Vidovic told IBTimes UK. “Now we have Dracoraptor, a relatively complete two meter long juvenile theropod from the very earliest days of the Jurassic in Wales.”