Mysterious fossils from a dinosaur never seen before in Britain have been found in Oxfordshire.

Researchers believe that teeth found in Oxfordshire could have belonged to the earliest relatives of birds and a group of dinosaurs named maniraptorans.

The National History Museum and Birkbeck College have used machine learning to train computer models to identify which extinct animal the fossils were most likely to belong to.

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The computers were given data about thousands of teeth from different dinosaur species and 3D models of the fossils were made.

Remains of the teeth were also found in Gloucestershire and Dorset.

It is believed that the maniraptorans walked the earth between 174 million and 164 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic era.

However, new research has suggested that some of these dinosaurs could have existed almost 30 million years earlier.

Simon Wills, a PhD student at the Natural History Museum, said: “Previous research had suggested that the maniraptorans were around in the Middle Jurassic, but the actual fossil evidence was patchy and disputed.

“Along with fossils found elsewhere, this research suggests the group had already achieved a global distribution by this time.

“The teeth we analysed include what are currently the only troodontid (a small bird-like dinosaur) and therizinosaur fossils ever recorded from the UK and are the oldest evidence of these dinosaurs anywhere in the world.”

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The findings include evidence of a large herbivore with long scissor-like claws which featured in the most recent Jurassic World film.

This herbivore is called the therizinosaur dinosaur.

Fossils from this time period are rare and little is known about the origins of these dinosaurs.


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He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

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