Sci & Tech

Oldest theropod dinosaur within the UK found in southern Wales – HeritageDaily

Scientists from the Natural History Museum and the University of Birmingham have described a brand new species of dinosaur from specimens present in a quarry in Pant-y-ffynnon in southern Wales.

Following on from a brand new species of ankylosaur, Pendraig milnerae marks the second new species of dinosaur described by Museum scientists in the previous couple of weeks.

The new dinosaur is a theropod, a bunch which additionally contains T. rex and trendy birds. Pendraig milnerae is the earliest instance of a theropod discovered within the UK up to now, dwelling between 200 and 215 million years in the past in the course of the Late Triassic interval. It seemingly had a physique dimension round that of a modern-day hen and would have been a metre lengthy together with its tail.


The fragmentary fossils of the species include an articulated pelvic girdle, sacrum and posterior dorsal vertebrae, and an related left femur, and by two referred specimens, comprising an remoted dorsal vertebra and a partial left ischium.

Dr Stephan Spiekman, Research Fellow on the Natural History Museum and first creator on the paper, mentioned: ‘Pendraig milnerae lived near the beginning of the evolution of the meat-eating dinosaurs. It’s clear from the bones we’ve that it was a meat-eater, however early within the evolution of this group these animals had been fairly small, in distinction to the very well-known meat-eating dinosaurs like T. rex which advanced a lot later.’

Image Credit : NHM

Dr Spiekman and his colleagues described the species and named it Pendraig milnerae: Pendraig which means ‘Chief Dragon’ in Middle Welsh, a reference to the species’ seemingly place as an apex predator of the realm and its discovery in Wales, and milnerae honouring Dr Angela Milner, who handed away on 13 August 2021 and who was instrumental in relocating the specimen, in addition to contributing considerably to our understanding of theropod dinosaurs from the UK.


Dr Susannah Maidment, a Senior Researcher in paleobiology on the Museum who labored with Angela, says, ‘I told Angela that I couldn’t discover the specimen, and so she went away and about three hours later she had it.

‘She found it in a drawer with crocodile material. She must have had the specimen in her mind’s eye from when she had beforehand regarded via that drawer. This paper wouldn’t have been doable with out her.

‘Angela was really important in the Museum for many years, she was not only the premier dinosaur researcher but also in a senior administrative position as Deputy Keeper of Palaeontology when women didn’t usually occupy such roles within the Museum, so for me as a pupil it was actually vital.

‘She really inspired me and was incredibly helpful when I joined the Museum. She went out of her way to show me the ropes, and that goes for me and so many others, including three of the authors of this paper.’

The discovery of this new species might additionally present proof for potential island dwarfism amongst species within the space, however this isn’t at the moment conclusive.

‘The area where these specimens were found was most likely an island during the time period in which it lived,’ explains Dr Spiekman. ‘Species which reside on islands usually are inclined to change into smaller than these on the mainland in a phenomenon referred to as island dwarfism.

‘Because the fossil reptiles from this space, together with Pendraig, are all fairly small-sized, we used statistical analyses to research whether or not Pendraig might need been an insular dwarf. The outcomes point out that Pendraig is certainly small, even for a theropod of that point interval, however not uniquely so.

‘Furthermore, primarily based on a number of characters on the bones, we had been capable of decide that, though the specimens of Pendraig weren’t very younger, they had been additionally seemingly not absolutely grown. So Pendraig might need gotten considerably greater than the specimens we’ve up to now, which limits our potential to carry out dependable physique dimension analyses.

‘With this in mind, we need more evidence from more species to investigate the potential for island dwarfism in this area during that time, but if we could prove it, it would be the earliest known occurrence of this evolutionary phenomenon.’

Richard Butler, co-author on the paper and Professor of Palaeobiology on the University of Birmingham, mentioned: ‘Dinosaur discoveries are really rare in Wales, and this is only the third dinosaur species known from the country. It’s very thrilling to study extra in regards to the dinosaurs that lived right here within the UK in the course of the Triassic, proper on the daybreak of dinosaur evolution.’


Header Image Credit : NHM

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