A new carnivorous dinosaur species named Dracoraptor hanigani has been uncovered in the south of Wales, which could possibly be the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur from Britain, according to a study.
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth, England, and colleagues from National Museum Wales and University of Manchester analysed the dinosaur skull and bones, discovered in 2014 on a beach near Penarth, Wales, and concluded that it is a new species.
The name Dracoraptor means “dragon robber”. Draco, meaning dragon, is the national symbol of Wales. The species name honours Nick and Rob Hanigan, who discovered the fossil.
From their analysis, the researchers believe this dinosaur was meat-eating, from the theropod group. They also suggested that it may have been a juvenile animal, as most of its bones were not yet fully formed or fused.
Compared to its distant relative the T. rex, it appears to be a small, agile animal, probably only about 70 cm tall and about 200 cm long, with a long tail, likely to help it balance.
It lived at the beginning of the Jurassic Period (201 million years ago), at the time when south Wales was a coastal region like it is today. However, at the time, the climate was much warmer, and dinosaurs were just starting to diversify.
The study findings were published on January 20 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.