LONDON – A four year old girl made a great discovery.
While walking along a beach in Wales with her father and dog, she discovered an extremely well-preserved dinosaur footprint that has delighted paleontologists around the world.
Lily Wilder made the discovery near Bendricks Bay in South Wales, Great Britain, and found an imprint believed to have been left 220 million years ago.
“It was on a low rock, shoulder high for Lily, and she just spotted it and said, ‘Look, Daddy,'” her mother Sally Wilder, 41, told NBC News on Saturday by phone.
“She’s really excited but doesn’t quite understand how great it is,” said Sally, an engineer. Her husband took photos on the beach and later shared them with the family. It was Lily’s grandmother who encouraged her to turn to local experts and fossil enthusiasts for further research.
While it is impossible to identify exactly what type of dinosaur left the 10 centimeter (3.9 inch) footprint, some facts are discernible, Cindy Howells, Curator of Paleontology, Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum of Walessaid NBC News.
It’s likely that the footprint was made by a dinosaur that was about 75 centimeters (29.5 inches) tall and 2.5 meters (about 8 feet) long, she said.
It would have been a slender animal with a tail that walked on both of its hind feet and actively chased other small animals and insects, she added. The sample’s footprint is known as the “grallator” and could help scientists learn more about how dinosaurs walked.
“It’s brilliant,” Howells told NBC News.
“It’s really a stunning preservation … you can see every detail of the muscles and see where the joints are in the foot.”
It’s likely that in Wales and many other landmasses historically dinosaurs roamed around them, Howells said. Unfortunately, there are no fossilized bones to match the print, she said, but similar footprints have been found in the United States that are known to be made by the dinosaur “Coelophysis”.
“We haven’t even found a fraction of the total dinosaur species,” Howells said, adding that the print found provides a very useful “clue” to Lily.
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Welsh Beach is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the fossil that has been preserved has now been safely removed. It will soon be the Cardiff National Museum for future generations to enjoy and for scientists to study who Museum said in a statement.
The museum, which is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said that after it reopens, Lily and her school class will be invited to read the article and have her name next to it as the official “finder”.
Lily, who loves dinosaur TV shows and has a collection of toys and models, told NBC News the T-Rex was her favorite.
While playing with her little brother George 1, Lily’s mother encouraged parents faced with coronavirus lockdown restrictions to take their children for nature walks where it is safe to do so.
“We’ll continue to encourage people to explore outside,” Sally said. “It’s great because they really care and the whole family can learn together.”