Thursday, 21 January 2016

Scottish beach is oldest-known Jurassic species

by Chuck Bednar

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth, University of Manchester and National Museum Wales have discovered a new species of dinosaur believed to be the oldest known Jurassic-period creature of its kind ever discovered in the UK, a new PLOS One study has revealed.

The new species, which was discovered in southern Wales, was named Dracoraptor hanigani, a name selected to honor the country’s national symbol, the dragon, the research team explained in a statement. The first part of the name, Dracoraptor, means “dragon robber,” while the hanigani part was selected to recognize the men who discovered the fossils, Nick and Rob Hanigan.

Lead author and Portsmouth paleobiologist Dr. David Martill and his colleagues reported in their study that they had recovered approximately 40 percent of the new dinosaur’s skeleton, including its cranial and postcranial remains, and that it was a new kind of basal neotheropod dinosaur.

Analysis of the bones, which were originally discovered in 2014 on a beach near Penarth, Wales, found that Dracoraptor hanigani was likely a carnivorous theropod, and since its bones were not yet fully formed or fused, it is probable that it was a juvenile. The creature would only have been about 28 inches tall and 79 inches long, with a long tail for balance, the authors said.

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