New Wales Dinosaur Species is Earliest Known Dinosaur from the Jurassic

Posted on February 13, 2016

Dracoraptor hanigani

A dinosaur fossil recently discovered in Wales is the earliest known dinosaur from the Jurassic Period. It is also the first Jurassic fossil ever found in Wales. The fossil is thought to be around 200 million years old.

The dinosaur was likely a shoreline-dwelling predator and scavenger. It has been given the name Dracoraptor hanigani. Dracoraptor means "dragon thief" in Latin. The second portion of the name honors brothers Nick Hanigan and Rob Hanigan who discovered the fossil at the foot of a cliff at Lavernock Point in South Wales in 2014.

The fossil find includes about 40% of a Dracoraptor skeleton, including its skull, claws and teeth. The Hanigan brothers donated the fossil to the National Museum of Wales.

Dr. Dave Martill, co-author of the research paper, such in a statement, "This animal was small, slim and agile. It was probably only around 70 centimetres tall and two metres long - the size of a leopard or a cheetah maybe. It also had a long tail to help it balance."

The research paper was published here in the journal, PLoS One.

Image: Bob Nicholls