'Dragon robber' one of the UK's oldest dinosaurs

The 'Dragon robber' could be the oldest Jurassic dinosaur found (Bob Nichols)
The 'Dragon robber' could be the oldest Jurassic dinosaur found (Bob Nichols)

A newly discovered carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Wales is thought to be the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur from the UK.

The remains of Dracoraptor hanigani were found on a beach near Penarth, Wales in 2014 and a study published today in the PLOS ONE journal confirms it is a new species.

Dracroraptor translates to 'dragon robber', while the species name, hanigani, honours Nick and Rob Hanigan who found the fossil.

Researchers believe the dinosaur was a meat eater from the theropod group and was likely to be a juvenile because most of the bones weren't fully formed or fused.

It is a distant relative to the Tyrannosaurus rex, but is smaller and more agile – it is thought to be only about 70cm tall and about 200cm long, with a long tail to help it balance.

The Dracoraptor was thought to live around 201 million years ago at the beginning of the Jurassic Period when south Wales was a coastal region like it is today, though the climate was much warmer and dinosaurs were starting to diversify.

The find represents the most complete theropod from Wales and could also be one of the oldest known Jurassic dinosaurs in the UK or even the world.

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