The fossilised remains of a previously unidentified species of dinosaur were discovered at an archaeological site in the city, representing the first ever Jurassic find in Ireland.
According to a leading paleontologist, the discovery challenges current thinking about the Jurassic era and whether dinosaurs existed in Ireland.
The remains were unearthed in an area known as the Viking Triangle, the oldest part of the city where excavations had been taking place as part of a Waterford 1100 archaeological project with a team of visiting archaeologists from Britain. The city is currently celebrating its 1100th birthday since its founding by Vikings in 914AD.
The discovery of the “incredibly well preserved” fossil is confounding experts as its exact species is unknown. Leading paleontologists initially thought it was an Ornithopod – a small herbivorous dinosaur similar to a deer, bison, and wildebeest. Since they were relatively low on the food chain, it’s believed that most genera of ornithopods roamed the plains and woodlands in herds of hundreds or thousands, to better protect themselves from raptors and tyrannosaurs.
However, Professor Emeritus Dr Bartholemew Rubble who flew into Waterford yesterday, said the shape and size of the fossil does not match that of an Ornithopod and he is still trying to identify the exact type.
“This is an incredibly important find. Notwithstanding the fact that the fossil discovered yesterday is the first such find in Ireland, we haven’t arrived at identifying its exact type. All previous fossils found in Ireland are under a layer of stratification under the seabed on the Antrim coast. This is perfectly preserved and will challenge the previous thinking about Jurassic life in Ireland,” he said.
The remains are expected to go on display at the Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum next year.
Waterford City Council said it is already planning to transform the Viking Triangle, Waterford city’s medieval quarter, into a Jurassic theme park, similar to that at Universal Orlando, to be called Deise –saurus.
“We’re thinking Dinosaur-shaped blaas, dinosaur merchandise in the Deise colours and a fusion of Viking and Jurassic themed bus tours around the Mall,” said a spokesperson. “We’d pump the 1.5million gallons of water needed every day for the theme park out of the Suir – and hopefully the water charges wouldn’t be too steep.”