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DRACORAPTOR

a meat-eating neotheropod dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of Wales.
dracoraptor.png
Pronunciation: DRAH-ko-RAP-tuh
Meaning: Dragon plunderer
Author/s: Martill, et al. (2016)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Glamorgan, Wales
Chart Position: 766

Dracoraptor hanigani

The remains of Dracoraptor were discovered by the fossil-foraging Hanigan brothers on Lavernock beach after a storm-caused cliff collapse in 2014. Both Nick and Rob cunningly avoided serious injury by being nowhere near the rock-fall at the time. But they were first on the scene to rake through the rubble and did the right thing, donating their find to the National Museum of Wales where their resident expert, along with paleontologists from the universities of Manchester and Portsmouth, realised its importance. Dracoraptor is only the fourth dinosaur to be discovered in the UK since 1980 and, despite extensive outcrops of early Mesozoic strata in the south of the country, the first dinosaur skeleton from the Jurassic of Wales. But better still, it may well be the oldest Jurassic-aged dinosaur known from anywhere.

Little is known about dinosaurs from the early part of the Jurassic period, when the earth was recovering from a Triassic extinction event that wiped out most of the larger land animals and several vacant eco niches were up for grabs. Many millions of years would pass before dinosaurs became the dominant critters though, and many more still until they super-sized into the mega-ton behemoths that populate today's museums. Dracoraptor, for instance, was just a couple of meters long, and although hailing from a period that could be described as a "brand new world" when dinosaurs were primed to evolve in a plethora of diverse ways, there is something comfortingly familiar about it.

Dracoraptor followed the basal theropod dinosaur blue print in being small, slender, bipedal and probably swift-running, with a long tail, and small needle-sharp teeth with steak-knife serrations. Despite being only 40% complete, it can be distinguished from all other basal theropods by features of its vertebrae, lower leg, ankle, fingers, skull bones and snout. However, Dracoraptor does share some features with the archaic Tawa and Daemonosaurus, and the coelophysoids Coelophysis and Syntarsus, which are all from the Late Triassic.
(Hanigan's dragon plunderer)Etymology
Dracoraptor is derived from the Latin "draco" (dragon—alluding to the dragon on the flag of Wales) and "raptor" (plunderer, robber, snatcher or thief). The species epithet, hanigani, honors brothers Nick and Rob Hanigan who found the specimen and generously donated it to the Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum of Wales.
Discovery
The remains of Dracoraptor were discovered in the Bull Cliff Member of the Blue Lias Formation, after a cliff fall on Lavernock beach, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, in 2014. The holotype (NMW 2015.5G.1–2015.5G.11) is a 40% complete sub-adult skeleton including 2/3s of the skull. What may be this specimen's missing foot was found after another cliff fall on the same beach by palaeontology student Sam Davies of Bridgend, at the beginning of January 2015.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Jurassic
Stage: Hettangian
Age range: 201-196 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 2 meters
Est. max. hip height: 0.7 meters
Est. max. weight: 25 Kg
Diet: Carnivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Saurischia
Theropoda
Neotheropoda
Dracoraptor
hanigani
References
• David M. Martill, Steven U. Vidovic, Cindy Howells & John R. Nudds (2016) "The Oldest Jurassic Dinosaur: A Basal Neotheropod from the Hettangian of Great Britain". PLoS ONE 11(1): e0145713. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145713
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "DRACORAPTOR :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 20th Aug 2017.
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