A University of Portsmouth Palaeontology undergraduate discovered a dinosaur foot believed to belong to the earliest known ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Sam Davies, a third year at the University, made the discovery on Lavernock Beach Penarth beach in South Wales.
Speaking to the Portsmouth News, Sam said: “It was pure luck that I found it. It was just sitting on top of a slab of rock.
“It was obvious the fossil was fingers or toes, because there were three in a row, but the first thing that came to mind was that it was some sort of plesiosaur.”
Sam donated the foot to National Museum Wales, where the remainder of the skeleton is on display after it was discovered following a cliff fall at the beach last year.
Experts believe it to be that of a theropod dinosaur, a carnivorous dinosaur which appeared in the late Triassic and early Jurassic period almost 232 million years ago.
Dr David Martill, reader in Palaeobiology at the University of Portsmouth, speaking to the Portsmouth News, said: “The timing of this was critical. If I hadn’t put Sam on this project, if he hadn’t been there at that time, if the cliff fall hadn’t happened, if the tide had come in, then Sam wouldn’t have found it.”
Dr Caroline Buttler, Head of Palaeontology at Amgueddfa Cymru added:
“The dinosaur found by Nick and Rob Hanigan is the first skeleton of a theropod found in Wales. Sam’s find adds to its significance because we can learn more about the animal and how it is related to the dinosaurs that eventually evolved into birds.
“We’re very grateful to Sam for donating the foot to the Museum and hope to put it on display for our visitors to see very soon.”