Scientists have discovered a new species that they believe is the oldest carnivorous dinosaur found in the UK – a chicken-sized relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex called Pendraig milnerae.
According to an article published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the Pendraig milnerae are a “new small coelophysoid theropod from the Upper Triassic of Wales “and roamed the UK over 200 million years ago. Theropods are two-legged carnivores with hollow bones and three-toed feet, including the T. Rex.
Pendraig means “dragon chief” in Old Welsh.
The fossilized remains of Pendraig milnerae were unearthed in the 1950s in a Welsh mine in the town of Pant-y-ffynnon.
At first, scientists mistook the fossils for those of an already identified dinosaur species then known as Syntarsus, but the re-identification of many Syntarsus dinosaurs demanded a new look at the forgotten Welsh fossils, the Natural said. History Museum in London in a press release.
“There is no obvious character that sets this species apart. It exhibits some combination of several unique characters within its group, which has shown us that it is clearly a new species,” said study author Stephan Spiekman.
Scientists said they were unsure whether the fossils are small because they came from a juvenile, or whether it is a small adult specimen in part due to a dwarfism effect seen in some island fossils.
Pendraig milnerae owes its name to Dr Angela Milner, expert in paleontology and pioneer figure of the Natural History Museum, who died in August.
Milner helped move the specimens – long thought to be lost – that led to the discovery of the new species, said Susannah Maidment, senior palaeontology researcher.
“She found it in a drawer of crocodile material, and she must have had the specimen in her mind from the moment she ever looked at it. This paper wouldn’t have been possible without her,” Maidment said in the museum press release. .