The oldest-known meat-eating dinosaur discovered in the UK has been named in honor of trailblazing Museum scientist Angela Milner, who passed away in August 2021.
The small carnivorous dinosaur lived over 200 million years ago in what is now Wales. Discovered in a quarry in the 1950s, it was initially thought to be part of a different group of dinosaurs altogether, but scientists have now realized it represents an entirely new species, Pendraig milnerae.
Its name honors both its Welsh origins and Angela Milner, a paleontologist at the Museum who was the driving force behind its Dinosaurs gallery and who named a variety of new species herself.
As well as being a leading light in the field for decades, the naming also reflects Angela’s help in relocating the dinosaur after it went missing in the Museum for many years.
Dr. Susannah Maidment, a senior researcher in paleobiology at the Museum who studied under Angela, says, ‘I told her that I couldn’t find it, and so she went away and about three hours later she had it.
‘She found it in a drawer of crocodile material, and she must have had the specimen in her mind’s eye from when she had previously looked through it. This paper would not have been possible without her.’
The new species has been described in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
The new species has something of a mysterious past, having been lost, found and renamed over the last 40 years.
It was originally discovered at Pant-y-ffynnon in southern Wales, in a type of deposit known as a fissure fill. This is where remains fell into crevices before being covered over and fossilising.
Over the years these fissure fills have provided a variety of fossils dating to the Period, giving researchers a look at the early evolutionary history of mammals, crocodiles and dinosaurs.
In 1952 a few of the dinosaur’s bones, including parts of the back, legs, and hips, were discovered from one of the fissures. Though it may not have been much to go on, the researchers were able to discern that the animal was probably a coelophysoid. This was a smaller, carnivorous dinosaur with a long, narrow snout, common to the Late Triassic and Early .
The species is the oldest-known theropod dinosaur found in the UK and represents a major leap in our understanding of the early evolution of Europe’s dinosaurs.
Dr. Stephan Spiekman, a research fellow at the Museum and the paper’s lead… Brinkwire News Summary.