Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Scientists have identified the oldest-known meat-eating dinosaur from the UK.

The theropod – a group that includes tyrannosaurus – was about the size of a chicken but would have been a metre long with its tail.

The fossils contain specimens from the pelvic region, vertebrae, and a left thighbone.

Undated handout photo issued by the Natural History Museum of fossils from the oldest known meat-eating dinosaur from the UK
Image:
The fossils are more than 200 million years old. Pic: Natural History Museum

They were found in a quarry in Pant-y-ffynnon, southern Wales, during the 1950s and are more than 200 million years old.

They were described in a 1983 thesis but scientists have now realised it marks the discovery of a new species – the oldest theropod found in the UK.

The dinosaur has been named Pendraig milnerae – Pendraig means “chief dragon” in Middle Welsh, and milnerae is in honour of Dr Angela Milner, who was the Natural History Museum’s deputy keeper of palaeontology for more than 30 years.

Dr Milner played an important role in relocating the specimen and educating people about theropod dinosaurs in the UK.

She died in August.

Dr Stephan Spiekman, research fellow at the Natural History Museum and first author on the paper, said: “Pendraig milnerae lived near the beginning of the evolution of the meat-eating dinosaurs.

“It’s clear from the bones we have that it was a meat-eater, but early in the evolution of this group these animals were quite small, in contrast to the very famous meat-eating dinosaurs like T. rex which evolved much later.”

The research from the Natural History Museum and the University of Birmingham is published in Royal Society Open Science.

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