Treasure hunters target Welsh beach where girl, four, discovered 215million-year-old dinosaur footprint as vandals armed with sledgehammers and crowbars try to remove rocks
- Lily Wilder found the dinosaur footprint on a beach at Bendricks Bay near Barry
- Armed vandals have since descended on the beach to get a glimpse of her find
- Environmentalists said ‘several people’ tried to remove rocks with hammers
- Vandals could face £20,000 fines as area is Site of Special Scientific Interest
Treasure hunters armed with sledgehammers and crowbars have raided a Welsh beach where a four-year-old girl found a 215-million-year-old dinosaur footprint.
Lily Wilder was hailed by scientists after discovering the print – described as the ‘finest’ of its type found in 10 years – on a beach at Bendricks Bay near Barry.
But armed vandals have since descended on the beach to get a glimpse of her find – with environmentalists warning of ‘several people’ trying to remove rocks with sledgehammers.
Vandals could face £20,000 fines for damaging the area – which is on a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Treasure hunters armed with sledgehammers and crowbars have raided a Welsh beach where four-year-old Lily Wilder (pictured pointing at the footprint with her mother Sally, father Richard and baby brother George) found a 215-million-year-old dinosaur footprint
Lily, from Llandough, near Cardiff, found the 3.9inch-long footprint when out walking with her father Richard Wilder, 47, last month.
The print was made by a two-footed dinosaur currently unknown to science.
The creature that created it is thought to have stood about 29.5 inches tall and 8.2 feet long.
Experts called it ‘the finest impression of a 215-million-year-old dinosaur print found in Britain in a decade’.
A spokesman for Natural Resources Wales said: ‘We’ve been made aware of a number of reports of anti-social behaviour this weekend, following the news of a new dinosaur footprint being discovered at a beach in south Wales.
‘Around 50 people attended the site near Barry – and although the majority of visitors left no trace of their visit, we’ve unfortunately received reports of several people trying to remove rocks with sledgehammers and crow bars leading to several areas of the site being damaged.
Lily was hailed by scientists after finding the print (pictured) – described as the ‘finest’ of its type found in 10 years – on a beach at Bendricks Bay near Barry
‘The site where the fossil was discovered is an SSSI, which contains geological features that require careful site management in order to protect and preserve them.
Lily’s mother Sally Wilder, 38, said she initially thought the footprint was carving made by artists.
She said: ‘Lily saw it when they were walking along and said, “daddy look”.
‘When Richard came home and showed me the photograph, I thought it looked amazing.
‘Richard thought it was too good to be true. I was put in touch with experts who took it from there.
‘We weren’t even sure it was real.
‘I was imagining an artist had gone down and scratched it out, but I knew dinosaur footprints had been found along that piece of coast before, so I just thought I’d ask some people.
‘I found this fossil identification page on Facebook and I posted it on there and people went a bit crazy.
‘It’s all been so exciting, discovering that it’s actually what they thought it was.’
It was inspected after Mr and Mrs Wilder reported the finding to experts, including palaeontologists.
Karl-James Langford, of Archaeology Cymru called it ‘the finest impression of a 215-million-year-old dinosaur print found in Britain in a decade.’
It was located in Bendricks Bay near Barry, Wales, and is the best dinosaur print of its age found in the UK in ten years.
He added: ‘It’s so perfect and absolutely pristine, it’s a wonderful piece.
‘I would say it’s internationally important and that is why the museum took it. I would say it’s the best dinosaur footprint found in the UK in the past 10 years.’
A spokesman from the National Museum in Cardiff said the detail in the fossil was of great value to science.
‘Its spectacular preservation may help scientists establish more about the actual structure of their feet as the preservation is clear enough to show individual pads and even claw impressions.’
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