11 July 2017

Help! There’s a dinosaur on the loose in Cardiff

A woman and a replica of a dinosaur tail

Dinosaur tail, St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff capital of Wales

 by St Fagans National Museum of History

Maesteg-osaurus. Dai-ceratops. Dai-rannosaurus. Velociraptorfaen-blaenau-gwent. These are just some of the names of Welsh dinosaurs which we’ve made up, just now.  But as the recent spate of dinosaur-sightings in Cardiff continues, we separate the fact from the fiction. 

Dinosaurs in the Welsh capital? Good heavens…

Image of dinosaur claws on the roof of the National Museum, Cardiff

Dinosaur claws at the National Museum Cardiff, Cardiff Capital of Wales

 by National Museum Cardiff

We fear so. In July, a dinosaur tail, footprints and eye were spotted at St Fagans National Museum of History. This follows earlier reports of dinosaur-related damage in central Cardiff, when dinosaur claws appeared on a museum, a statue was broken, and shop windows smashed. The culprit left behind dinosaur footprints and a large pile of poo. The technical term for fossilised poo is ‘coprolite’. You’re welcome.

What caused it?

Image of dinosaur claw emerging from a pile of rubble

Dinosaur claw at the slate museum, Snowdonia Mountains and Coast  

 by The National Slate Museum

A roaming dinosaur, according to experts at National Museum Cardiff. But since the museum is currently showing a major dinosaur exhibition, a certain amount of suspicion has fallen on their marketing department.  Dinosaur Babies, part of Wales’ Year of Legends, runs until 5 November 2017 at the National Museum Cardiff . It’s really very good. 

Were there really dinosaurs in Wales?

Dinosaur claws emerging from the earth at Big Pit in Blaenavon

Dinosaur on the loose, Big Pit National Coal Museum, South Wales Valleys

 by Big Pit National Coal Museum

Yes, back in the days when Wales was a tropical paradise fringed with azure seas (much like today, really). Dinosaurs roamed freely, along with small lizards and tiny shrew-like mammals. There’s even a specifically Welsh dinosaur – the dracoraptor – whose fossilised skeleton was found here in 2014. A small carnivorous hunter, it’s the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur, and lived near present-day Cardiff around 200 million years ago. 

Do dinosaurs present a threat to the Welsh public?

Image of a dinosaur's claws on the rood of Cardiff museum

Dinosaur claws at National Museum Cardiff, Cardiff capital of Wales

 by National Museum Cardiff

Highly unlikely. Most of them became extinct around 66 million years ago. The survivors evolved into present-days birds. Oh, and those tiny shrew-like mammals? They evolved into us humans.


Five places to see dinosaurs in Wales

01 Dinosaur BabiesA hands-on exhibition complete with dinosaur eggs, nests, embryos and skeletons, is at the National Museum Cardiff until 5 November 2017.
National Museum Cardiff #DinoBabies

02 National Show Caves Wales. There are more than 220 life-sized dinosaur models in the Dinosaur Park here, making it one of the world’s biggest collections. Other draws include a Fossil House, Shire Horse Centre and playgrounds, as well as the gigantic caverns themselves. 

03 The Dinosaur Park Tenby. The indoor and outdoor adventure areas offer lots of fun for younger children, while the Dinosaur Trail has 30 big beasts lurking in the wood. 

04 Brecon Beacons National Park. The movie Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom is filming scenes in the Brecon Beacons this summer, according to director JA Bayona. You may not see actual dinosaurs, but a sighting of the film’s star, Hollywood big beast Chris Pratt, might be equally thrilling.

05 Touch a real dinosaur. The Glamorgan Heritage Coast is our own Jurassic Coast, and it happens to be the best spot to go a-hunting (the dracoraptor was discovered near here in 2014). Beware: the crumbly cliffs can be dangerous, but at places like Dunraven Bay it’s easy to find fossilised bivalves and ammonites on the rocky foreshore – they’re absolutely everywhere.  Remember though, leave them where they are so others can discover the magic, too!