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A four-year-old girl who found a ‘perfect’ footprint of a dinosaur unknown to archaeologists has had a museum display named in her honour.
Little Lily Wilder spotted the 220 million-year-old print fossilised in a rock while on a seaside stroll on the Welsh coast with her family in January this year.
Lily was looking for shells with dad Richard, 47, at Bendricks Bay near Barry, when she shouted: ‘Daddy, look at this.’
Archaeologists hailed it as the most impressive dinosaur footprint found in the UK in the last two decades and of international importance.
Experts were left fascinated and equally puzzled over the ‘absolutely pristine’ fossil that belonged to a two-footed dinosaur, whose species they have not yet been able to identify.
They say the 10cm print was made by a ‘currently unknown herbivorous dinosaur’ that stood about 75cm tall and 2.5m long.
The discovery today went on display at National Museum Cardiff in an exhibition titled ‘Lily’s Fossil Footprint’, with the little girl and her family invited to the opening as guests of honour.
Lily’s mum Sally, 38, from nearby Llandough, said: ‘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 we can be enjoyed and studied for generations.’
Sally initially thought an artist had scratched out the fossil into the rocks – but as Bendricks Bay is a stretch well-known for dinosaur prints they decided to report the find to officials.
To their shock, archaeologists confirmed it was a genuine footprint, leaving dinosaur-fan Lily who loves her pterodactyl toy, ‘so excited’ over her historic discovery.
Experts have described it as a finding of great importance as it will help palaeontologists better understand how early dinosaurs walked on the earth.
This dinosaur would have been slender and walked on two hind feet, hunting small animals and insects, experts previously said.
Karl-James Langford from Archaeology Cymru said: ‘As only the fifth person to see it live, I identified the dinosaur footprint, as of international importance, and the best to be discovered in the United Kingdom for 20 years or more.
‘This was very real. It was a much finer print than any I had ever seen, in all my years looking at the rocks on the beach with school parties and adults.’
Cindy Howells, the museum’s Palaeontology Curator, said: ‘This fossilised dinosaur footprint from 220 million years ago is one of the best-preserved examples of its type from anywhere in the UK and will really aid palaeontologists to get a better idea about these early dinosaurs and how they walked.’
Permission to extract the rock had to be sought as Bendrick’s Bay is privately owned and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Experts from the museum, the British Institute for Geological Conservation and Natural Resources Wales teamed up to oversee the removal and bring it to the museum.
Dr Kath Davies, the museum’s Director of Collections and Research, said: ‘We look forward to seeing visitors of all ages enjoy this exciting discovery and be inspired by Lily’s story.
‘Our dinosaur fossils and the dinosaurs in the Evolution of Wales gallery always prove popular with visitors and I hope people take this opportunity to find out more about dinosaurs and how life evolved in Wales.’ Source 1, Source 2
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