Mini T. Rex: ‘Welsh Dragon’ May Be Earliest Jurassic Dinosaur

Jan 22, 2016

Photo credit: Bob Nicholls

By Laura Geggel

Two brothers hunting for ichthyosaur fossils along the coast of the United Kingdom came across something far more astounding: The bones of what may be the earliest known dinosaur from the Jurassic period in the U.K., and possibly even the world, a new study finds.

After finding the bones in 2014, Rob Hanigan contacted his brother, Nick. The two scoured the coast, located just south of Wales, for more of the fossils, taking careful geological notes along the way.

Later, they reached out to paleontologists at the University of Portsmouth, who confirmed that the bones belonged to a theropod, a group of mostly meat-eating dinosaurs. Moreover, the paleo-beast lived at a key point of dinosaur diversification at the beginning of the Jurassic, said study co-author Steven Vidovic, a doctoral researcher of paleontology at the University of Portsmouth.

“It’s a jumbled mix of bones that are a real puzzle to put back together,” Vidovic told Live Science in an email. “It was very rewarding reconstructing it.”

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