A New Dinosaur Called the Chief Dragon Was the Size of a Chicken

A new island-dwelling dinosaur has been discovered recently, and it is the oldest meat-eating dinosaur. The new species has been dubbed the chief dragon and seems to have been no bigger than a modern chicken.

The Chief Dragon Was Discovered In the United Kingdom and Was a Clawed Predator

Artistic Representation of Pendraig Milnerae, or the Chief Dragon
The chicken-sized dinosaur lived in today’s Wales some 215 to 200 million years ago, during what scientists call the late Triassic period. Although it was actually very small in size, the researchers think it was probably an apex predator, so they named it Pendraig Milnerae, meaning chief dragon. The dinosaur lived at the start of the evolution of meat-eating in dinosaurs, and its bones make it clear that it was a meat-eater. However, it is early in the evolution of the group and rather small in contrast to huge meat-eating dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The Chief Dragon Was Described from One Incomplete and Two Fragmentary Specimens

Researchers used one incomplete and two fragmentary specimens to describe the chief dragon. Those were discovered at a quarry in a south Wales village called Pant-y-ffynnon. The dinosaur’s remains show that it was some 3 feet long with its tail included and that it was a theropod. According to experts, it is exciting to add a new species of theropod to the few discoveries from the late Triassic period.

The Fossils of Pendraig Milnerae, or the Chief Dragon

The chief’s fossils were discovered decades ago, but until now, it wasn’t identified as a new species. That changed when the study’s senior author Susannah Maidment decided to reexamine the bizarre remains. According to researchers, the chief dragon could owe its slight stature to its environment. The area where these dinosaurs lived was likely an island during its time, and species that live on islands tend to become smaller due to an effect called island dwarfism.

To investigate the island origins of the chief dragon, researchers compared its statistical analyses to those of other early theropods and coelophysoids. The study found that even though some theropods evolved to be bigger, the chief dragon remained considerably smaller. Its results also indicated that it is small for a theropod of its period, although uniquely so.