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Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha
Genus: Pantydraco
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The Pantydraco dinosaur was in existence from the Late Triassic through the Early Jurassic period. One of the wondrous mysteries of the dinosaur world, it is believed to have lived approximately 219 to 200 million years ago. It used to roam the jungles of the European continent as is known from the Discovery of fossils in Wales, United Kingdom. It is one of the very few dinosaurs found in the country of Wales, although the United Kingdom collectively has rich diversity when it comes to dinosaurian deposits.

The discovery of fossils
The dinosaur was found in the Pant-y-ffynnon quarry In the Bonvilston province of Wales. The fossils were discovered in 1952, in an underground limestone cave fissure and comprised of a skull, a partial jawbone, and vertebrae of the cervix, an incomplete right pelvic bone, and partial forelimbs. The fossils are believed to belong to a juvenile or non-adult dinosaur, since the sacral neura are not fused together.
The species was first assigned to Thecodontosaurus in 2003 by Adam Yates. The new species was Thecodontosaurus caducus as it could not be assigned to T. antiquus because of minor dissimilarities. During further analysis it was seen that the T. caducus and T. antiquus were, in fact very different and thus the T.caducus was assigned to the genus of Pantydraco by Galton in 2007.
The name is derived from the Pant-y-ffynnon quarry and the word ‘draco’ which means dragon. Caducus translates to the ‘fallen’. In Welsh, pantyffynnon refers to an underground well/hollow. Thus, the translation of the Pantydraco caducus is an irony in itself since much about the creature is still unknown.

The Pant-y-ffynnon quarry
The Pant-y-ffynon quarry is located in the village of pantyffynnon in Carmarthenshire, in Southern Wales. The quarry is a deep well-like excavation pit. The region is located at the base of a mountain between two rivers. Thus, the region was a characteristic wetland in the ancient era. The area consists of alluvial silts deposited by the rivers and sand and limestone. The climate ranges from arid to semi-humid.

The Chronological periods
The Upper Triassic is also known as the Late Triassic period. It is the last and uppermost period from the Triassic group. It comprises of three ages (or stages) viz. the Rhaetian, Norian and Carnian in reverse chronological order. The advent of the upper or late Triassic is 237 million years ago and it its end is marked by the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event, roughly 201.1 million years ago.
The Jurassic period follows the Triassic period. The Jurassic extends from 201 to 145 mya. The Jurassic branches off into three other periods, namely the Lower, Middle and the Late Jurassic periods.
The early Jurassic period extends from 201 to 182 million years old. In the early Jurassic period, the supercontinent Pangaea gradually split into two, thus marking significant geological changes. It consists of four stages: the Toarcian, the Pliensbachian, the Sinemurian and the Hettangian, in descending chronological order. The Hettangian is the first stage of the Lower Jurassic period. It extends from the 201.3 to 199.3 million years ago. The Pantydraco dinosaur lived through the Hettangian age.

The physical characteristics of the Pantydraco
The Pantydraco dinosaur was of moderate built. It was not a huge dinosaur and was about the height of a full grown adult human being. The creature had a long tail that tapered towards the end and was broad at the hip joint. It had a dragon shaped head with a strong jaw.
The forelimbs of the dinosaur were developed for grasping prey while the hind limbs were adapted for supporting the creature’s body weight. The center of mass lies near the pelvic bone, meaning the creature was in fact, bipedal. The forelimbs were shorter than the hind limbs. The hands had three movable digits while the fourth digit was embedded. It had well developed claws. It hunted on lesser animals that could be easy prey to this dinosaur’s agility and flexibility.
The juvenile fossils’ estimated height is from about 0.7 meters to a meter long. Adults are believed to have been about 3 meters tall. The estimated weight for an average adult of this species of dinosaurs is about 50 kilograms. Thus, the creature was fairly gracile. The teeth were well developed.

About the Pantydraco dinosaur
The Pantydraco dinosaur was a bipedal creature. It used to run on two legs, its hind limbs. The limbs were stout for supporting the body weight. The creature like all other known prosauropods of that time was either omnivorous or carnivorous. It used to feed on the meat of the small insects and dinosaurs.
The Pantydraco lived through the Triassic Jurassic Extinction event. It is one of the rare species of known dinosaurs that survived through the splitting of the Pangaea. This makes it an important dinosaur. In a cladistics study, the Pantydraco could help us understand the relation between the two ecologies of the pre-Jurassic and Jurassic periods.
Thus the Pantydraco is one of the key dinosaurs to understanding evolution and transition. It could also tell us more about the Triassic Jurassic Extinction Event which is one of the biggest extinction events in the geological timeframe of the Earth. The physical aspects of this dinosaur could tell us how it survived while others perished.
If there were any adaptations to the climatic and geological changes in the earth’s environment, only a detailed study of the fossil data can establish. This would require more data and subsequently more and better preserved and articulated fossils. The fossil remains of the known Pantydraco dinosaurs are those of juveniles. If adult fossils are found, it could help us study this creature more.
Thus, as is the case with a majority of the dinosaurs, a more detailed study of the dinosaur would require fossils. Excavations are being carried out to find more fossils and footprints to establish this creature’s role and importance in its time. Only then can we shine a light down the dark, hollow abode of this fallen dragon.