Where was the first dinosaur fossil found
Paleontologists have found the fossil remains of two species of Jurassic dinosaur in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. These are the first ever dinosaur remains from the Emerald Isle, and they are among the furthest west found in Europe.
"This is a very significant discovery," said Dr. Mike Simms, curator and paleontologist in the Department of Natural Sciences at the National Museum Northern Ireland.
“The great rarity of such fossils here comes from the fact that most of Ireland's rocks are the wrong age for dinosaurs, either too old or too young. That makes it almost impossible to confirm that dinosaurs existed on these shores. "
The two fossil bones were found by Roger Byrne, a school teacher and fossil collector, who donated them to the Ulster Museum along with other fossils.
"The fossils Roger Byrne found may have been washed into the sea, dead or alive, to sink to the Jurassic seabed, where they were covered and fossilized," says Dr. Simms.
The fossils were originally thought to have come from the same animal, but Dr. Simms and colleagues were surprised to discover that they came from two completely different dinosaurs.
One is part of a femur (thigh bone) of a four-legged plant eater with the scientific name Scelidosaurus.
The other bone is part of a tibia (lower leg bone) of a two-legged meat eater, similar to Sarcosaurus.
"When we analyzed the shape and internal structure of the bones, we found that they belonged to very different animals," says Dr. Robert Smyth, paleontologist in the School of the Environment, Geography and Geological Sciences at the University of Portsmouth.
"One is very dense and robust, typical of an armored plant eater."
"The other is slender, with thin bone walls and characteristics found only in theropods, fast, two-legged predatory dinosaurs."
“Despite their fragmentary preservation, these fossils provide valuable insight into a very important period in the evolution of dinosaurs, approximately 200 million years ago,” he adds.
"It was the time when dinosaurs began to dominate the world's land ecosystems."
“Scelidosaurus continues to appear in marine layers, and I'm starting to think that it might have been a coastal animal, maybe even eating seaweed like sea iguanas do now, ”says Professor David Martill, also of the School of the Environment, Geography and Geological Sciences at the University of Portsmouth.
The results were in the Proceedings of the Geologists' Association published.
Michael J. Simms et al. First dinosaur remains from Ireland. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, published online November 11
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