Pendraig: The oldest carnivorous dinosaur in the UK
50 years after being discovered in a limestone quarry near Cowbridge, four tiny bone fragments have revealed a previously unknown dinosaur that once roamed our ancient country.
Experts from the Natural History Museum in London have used those fragments to identify the Pendraig milnerae, a dinosaur that existed over 200 million ago.
The Pendraig, which means ‘Chief Dragon’ in middle welsh, was, according to experts, likely to have been the apex predator in the environment around it.
But don’t imagine the Pendraig stomping on trees or eating lawyers off a toilet, the Pendraig was about the size of a chicken with a long tail.
Dr Stephan Spiekman from the Natural History Museum said: “It was a typical theropod; so, a meat-eating dinosaur that walked around on two legs, like T. rex or Velociraptor that you’ll know from the movies, but much earlier in time,”
“What’s so interesting and important here is that we’re getting to see the very early stages of the evolution of the dinosaurs. These animals eventually came to dominate the Earth, but in the late Triassic they were only one of several groups of reptiles that were living on land.”
The 214 million year old bone fragments, which spent much of the last 50 years stored in the wrong drawer, finally had their importance realised by scientists who then went on to classify the bones as belonging to a new type of dinosaur.
“We’ve only got these four fragments, but the preservation is fantastic. The fossil is completely three dimensional; it’s undistorted,” Dr Spiekman said.
The second part of the name, ‘Milnerae’ is to honour Angela Milner, an influential figure in British dinosaur science who died in August.
The Pendraig roamed what is now South Wales back in the late Triassic age, at that time South Wales was a series of small islands in the Bristol Channel.
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