Britain's oldest known dinosaur to be unearthed

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Edinburgh, November 4 (ANI): A team of researchers have announced that the are all set to excavate the remains of Britain's oldest known dinosaur almost 40 years after they were first discovered.

Bones of the Thecondontosaurus antiquus - ancient socket-toothed dinosaur - were entombed 210 million years ago, making them among the oldest found in the world.

Rock discovered near Bristol at Tytherington Quarry in South Gloucestershire in the 1970s contain the fossilized remains of the creature, which was about 2.6 metres long when fully grown.

Since then, scientists at the University of Bristol have been planning to fully excavate the sample and reveal the prehistoric bones within.

Now, according to a report in The Scotsman, the university was able to launch the excavation project after securing a grant of 295,000 pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

"This award from HLF will mean that the preparation laboratory can be expanded and a specialist technician employed to oversee the removal of bones from the rock. It will mean more volunteers can be recruited and trained in the extraction process," said Professor Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol.

"There will also be opportunities for young people from local schools to learn skills in palaeontology and conservation," he added.

The "Bristol Dinosaur" project will last three years and see a complete skeletal reconstruction of the creature attempted for the first time.

Thecodontosaurus antiquus is one of the most primitive dinosaurs in the world, lying at the very base of the dinosaur family tree.

During the Triassic period, the kangaroo-sized, plant-eating species lived in herds on lushly vegetated islands around where Bristol now is.

The first remains of the so-called Bristol Dinosaur were found in 1834 at Durdham Down. When it was found, it was only the fourth dinosaur to be discovered.

However, these were later destroyed when the museum was hit in a bombing raid during the Second World War.

Further remains were found at Tytherington Quarry in the 1970s and it is these that are at the heart of the current research project.

The university team hopes to secure further resources to build a permanent exhibit at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

The dinosaur - or possibly a herd of dinosaurs - will feature as a centrepiece of the exhibition, together with full details of how it was found and studied.

According to Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, "The remains of the Bristol Dinosaur are of international scientific and heritage importance. They offer a chance for us to further understand what our world was like 200 million years ago." (ANI)

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