The Monitor Daily (U.S.) – Welcome the latest addition to the Jurassic predators list: Dracoraptor, a carnivorous dinosaur the fossils of which were dug out from a Welsh cliff.
The fossilized remains of this early Jurassic dinosaur were the chance finding of fossil hunters Rob and Nick Hanigan. Back in 2014 the Hanigan duo stumbled upon some fossilized remains of what turned out to be the oldest known dinosaur fossil in the U.K. Following their discovery, a University of Portsmouth student found foot bones at the exact same spot. The scene was set for in-depth exploration. Now, the results of the University of Portsmouth, University of Manchester and the National Museum of Wales joint research are published in the PLOS ONE journal.
What was left of the Welsh Dracoraptor were the skull, complete with teeth, claws and foot bones. It was sufficient for the paleontology team to construct a full portrait of the oldest Welsh Jurassic dinosaur to date. The dating process revealed that the carnivorous dinosaur fossilized remains are over 200 million years old. Dracoraptor hanigani received its name after the Hanigan fossil hunters. Draco stands for ‘dragon’, while raptor is approximative for ‘robber’. The feeding pattern of Dracoraptor as revealed by an analysis of the fossilized teeth won the Jurassic dinosaur this name.
David Martill with the University of Portsmouth and lead author of the study declared that finding dinosaur fossils in Wales is a rare feat. Thus, the researchers were delighted to welcome the latest addition to the Jurassic predators list: Dracoraptor, particularly since it’s the oldest known dinosaur fossil in the U.K.
The site where the carnivorous dinosaur fossilized remains were found is known as Lavernock Point. Based on this location, the paleontology team believe Dracoraptor lived along the shorelines, where it also hunted down its prey. 200 million years ago, Wales wouldn’t have looked much different. The coastal region of South Wales would have been the same during the early Jurassic.
The shoreline-dwelling carnivorous dinosaur would have been smaller compared to other predators. Only 6.5 feet wide and a little above two feet in height, the early Jurassic dinosaur also sported an elongated tail. Researchers believe such a long and strong tail would have been used for balance.
It’s not clear yet if this were the maximum sizes of the early Jurassic dinosaur. According to the researchers, the fossilized foot bones indicated that they weren’t fully fused. This clue suggests that the carnivorous dinosaur Dracoraptor would have died as a juvenile.
Photo Credits: Express.co.uk