As four-year-old Lily Wilder was out walking with her dad Richard, she spotted a strange impression. They were walking on a rocky beach at Bendricks Bay near the Welsh town of Barry.
On closer inspection, they saw a small, perfectly preserved footprint about 100mm across. It has turned out to be a dinosaur footprint of over 215 million years old.
Richard snapped some photographs, took them home and showed them to his wife.
“Lily saw it when they were walking along and said, ‘Daddy look!’” Lily’s mom Sally Wilder said. “When Richard came home and showed me the photographs I thought it looked amazing… Richard thought it was too good to be true. I was put in touch with experts who took it from there.”
The stretch of beach has been described by the South Wales group of the Geologists’ Association as ‘the best site in Britain for dinosaur tracks of the Triassic period.’ However previous footprints have come from more crocodilian-type species rather than true dinosaurs. This footprint is thought to have belonged to a small dinosaur about 1 metre high and 2.5 m in length.
“Its species—one that’s not been seen before—is a mystery that’s set the scientific community alight.” Karl-James Langford of Archaeology Cymru hailed the find as “the finest impression of a 215-million-year-old dinosaur print found in Britain in a decade.”
Similar footprints in the United States and Mexico belong to a species of dinosaur called Coelophysis that lived 215 to 220 million years ago.
The footprint has been removed and taken to Amgueddfa Cymru – the Welsh National Museum in Cardiff, where curator Cindy Howells described it as, “The best specimen ever found on this beach.”
Said Sally Wilder, “We were thrilled to find out it really was a dinosaur footprint and I am happy that it will be taken to the national museum where it can be enjoyed and studied for generations.”
Ironically, during the Covid pandemic, the museum has been urging people to go outdoors and discover nature in their immediate locality. Said Cindy Howells, “Obviously, we don’t all have dinosaur footprints on our doorstep but there is a wealth of nature local to you if you take the time to really look close enough.”
So, if you intend to take a keener interest in your natural surroundings, you might take a four-year-old with you.
Feature image via National Museum of Wales