When you think about the average day in the life of a toddler, crayons, and cartoons likely come to mind. Discovering an immaculately preserved 215-million-year-old dinosaur footprint? Probably not.
But that’s just what happened when 4-year-old Lily Wilder was taking a nature walk with her father on a rocky beach at Bendricks Bay near the Welsh town of Barry last month.
The indented impression spotted by eagle-eyed Lily measures just shy of four inches. Experts believe it was created by a two-footed dinosaur that likely stood about 30 inches tall and was 8.2 feet long.
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.”
“Lily saw it when they were walking along and said, ‘Daddy look!’” Lily’s mom Sally Wilder said in a statement widely reported by the UK media.
“When Richard came home and showed me the photograph 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.
“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.”
After permission was granted by Natural Resources Wales to remove the fossil from the beach legally, the specimen was transported to Amgueddfa Cymru, the National Museum in Cardiff, where expert paleontologists hope to discover its secrets.
They believe by studying it, they will be able to better learn how such dinosaurs actually walked. “Its spectacular preservation may help scientists establish more about the actual structure of their feet as the preservation is clear enough to show individual pads and even claw impressions,” an Amgueddfa Cymru spokesperson told The Daily Mail.
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“Its acquisition by the museum is mainly thanks to Lily and her family who first spotted it,” Amgueddfa Cymru Paleontology Curator Cindy Howells told The Irish Times, giving credit where credit was due.
Apart from its scientific potential, Howells also pointed out Lily’s dino-mite discovery was part of one perhaps unexpected but hopefully trending upside to the coronavirus lockdown.
“During the Covid pandemic scientists from Amgueddfa Cymru have been highlighting the importance of nature on people’s doorstep, and this is a perfect example…
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“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.”
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And if you want to find something truly spectacular? Just bring your favorite 4-year-old along as scout.
(MEET the girl who made the paleontological find in the ITV News video below.)
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