The oldest known carnivorous dinosaur in the UK was discovered in a South Wales quarry – and has been named the Chief Dragon.
The newly discovered dinosaur species is part of the theropod family, a group of dinosaurs that eventually evolved into the most famous Tyrannosaurus Rex.
It lived between 200 and 215 million years ago during the Upper Triassic Period and is believed to have a body size close to that of a modern chicken.
Including his tail, he would have been a meter long – far from the huge T-Rex.
The species, found in Pant-y-ffynnon, has been named Pendraig milnerae – Pendraig meaning ‘dragon chief’ in Middle Welsh, a reference to the species’ likely position as the region’s supreme predator and its discovery in Wales, which has a dragon on the national flag.
The fossils found include fragments of his pelvic girdle and left femur, from two specimens.
“Pendraig milnerae lived near the beginning of the evolution of carnivorous dinosaurs, ”said Stephan Spiekman of the Natural History Museum in London.
“It is clear from the bones we have that it was a meat eater, but at the beginning of the evolution of this group these animals were quite small, unlike the very famous carnivorous dinosaurs like the T-Rex which evolved much later. “
The discovery is detailed in the journal Royal Society Open Science.