The specimen discovered by British scientists in Wales has been proven to belong to an entirely new species of dinosaurs. The newly discovered species named Dracoraptor hanigani was a distant theropod relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex that lived in present-day U.K. 200 million years ago.
According to the findings published in the journal PLOS One by Dr. David Martill and his colleagues, the specimen was first discovered in March 2014 at a minor cliff in Lavernock Point by Nick and Rob Hanigan. The materials were then prepared and cleaned manually showing 40 percent of the skeleton ready for additional analysis.
'Theropod dinosaurs are extremely rare in the Lower Jurassic and most reports are of only fragmentary remains. This rarity results in a considerable gap in our knowledge of these animals at a time when, indications are, theropods were diversifying rapidly,' the scientists wrote in their study. 'In Europe Early Jurassic theropods are reported from the Hettangian of Scotland, England, France, and Belgium, but all of these occurrences are of fragmentary material, isolated bones, or a few associated elements, with most of it non-diagnostic at generic level,' they added.
As stated by the results of the study, the Dracoraptor has a long tail and was probably 70 centimetres high and 200 centimetres long–similar to the size of a cheetah or a leopard. With its location, it is possible that it could be the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur and also the first Jurassic dinosaur skeleton from Wales. The name Dracoraptor was derived from draco or dragon and raptor that means robber.
'The draco part of the name seemed fitting because the fossils were found in Wales and will be displayed in Wales, reflecting the red dragon of the Welsh flag,' Dr. Martill said in an interview with RD Magazine . 'Dracoraptor was a meat-eating dinosaur that would have used its small needle-sharp teeth with steak-knife serrations to pinch bits of meat here and there, hence the part of its name meaning thief,' he added.
The research was done by Dr. Martill and Steven Vidovic from the University of Portsmouth, Cindy Howells from the National Museum Wales and John Nudds from the University of Manchester. You may access the full research of Dr. Martill and colleagues here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0145713.