Hoylandswaine Primary School Send in Thank You Letters

Year 1 and Year 2 Show Off their Writing Skills

Last month, a team member at Everything Dinosaur visited Hoylandswaine Primary School to help teach about dinosaurs and fossils as the Year 1 and Year 2 students had spent a good portion of their term learning all about prehistoric animals.

Under the guidance of Miss Birkinshaw, the teacher and with the support of Mrs Burr (teaching assistant), the school children had been studying how fossils are formed, the life of Mary Anning, dinosaurs and the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous.  The enthusiastic, young palaeontologists had even had a go at making their own fossils and creating their own dinosaur dig site in the classroom.  Our dinosaur expert felt very much at home surrounded by all the artwork and posters showing dinosaur facts and figures that the children had made.

At the end of the morning’s teaching, the Everything Dinosaur team member challenged the children to write a thank you letter.  Could they start their letter correctly?  Could they include a dinosaur fact or perhaps tell us about their favourite part of the morning’s dinosaur themed activities?  Would they use connectives, proper sentences, could they think of a way of ending their letter?

Having returned from some fieldwork, there was a bulging postal sack waiting in the office and amongst all our correspondence was a set of thank you letters from Hoylandswaine Primary.

Thank you Letter Received from Jacob

Jacob loved learning all about Spinosaurus.

Jacob loved learning all about Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Jacob

One of the many thank you letters received by Everything Dinosaur, young Jacob has illustrated his letter with some three-toed dinosaur footprints.

Gracie’s Thank You Letter to Everything Dinosaur

Gracie's favourite thing was learning all about giant sharks.

Gracie’s favourite thing was learning all about giant sharks.

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Gracie

Gracie chose to illustrate her letter with pictures of dinosaurs and a marine reptile swimming in the sea.  We had lots of colourful letters and we have posted them all up onto our huge warehouse wall so that we can look at them and smile whilst we are sorting out fossils and working on our dinosaurs.

Thank you Letter Sent in by Katie

"Amazing fossils"

“Amazing fossils”

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Katie

A very big thank you to all the children who sent us thank you letters, there are too many to post up here but we have put them all up onto our warehouse wall.  Miss Birkinshaw even got in on the act and sent us a short note to thank Everything Dinosaur for their morning’s teaching work at the school.

Teacher’s Thank You Note

"The children really did have a fantastic morning."

“The children really did have a fantastic morning.”

Picture Credit: Hoylandswaine Primary Year 1/2 – Miss Birkinshaw

Setting a creative writing exercise such as this, is very worthwhile.  Often it can be difficult for the teaching team to motivate the children to write, but this follow up exercise enables the teacher to assess a child’s writing and reading progress as well as testing recall and how the pupil conveys information.  At Everything Dinosaur we always follow up letters we receive and we send out a reply to the school so that the children can learn a little more about the work we do and what we have been doing since our school visit.

Once again, our thanks to all the children in Year 1 and Year 2 who sent in thank you letters.

Collecta Ichthyovenator Dinosaur Model Reviewed

A Review of the Collecta Ichthyovenator Dinosaur Model

Over the last decade or so, palaeontologists have begun to realise that the Spinosaurs were a very geographically widespread group of Theropod dinosaurs.  Fossils have been found in South America, Africa, Europe and there has even been fragmentary remains assigned to Spinosaurids found in Australia.

To learn more about the evidence for Spinosaurs in Australia: Evidence for Spinosaurs in Australia

When the fossils of Ichthyovenator were discovered by a French led, scientific expedition to the Savannakhet Basin of south, central Laos in 2010, they represented the first definitive spinosaurid fossil material to have been found in the whole of Asia.

Ichthyovenator is known from an individual specimen, all the fossil bones assigned to this new genus of carnivorous dinosaur were found in a single stone block, about two metres square.  The fossils consist of two dorsal vertebrae (backbones), five partially articulated sacral vertebrae (back-bones over the hips), two tail bones, elements from the hips themselves and a single rib.  No skull material was found so Collecta have modelled the head of Ichthyovenator on better known Spinosaurs such as Suchomimus.  The head on the dinosaur model is typical for a Spinosaur, the snout is long and narrow and there is a distinctive hook in the front portion of the upper jaw.

As well as being the first definitive Spinosaur from Asia, Ichthyovenator is the first to be described that had two sail-like structures running along its back.  The two dorsal vertebrae, numbers 12 and 13 are adjacent to hip area, dorsal vertebrae 12 is tall and fan shaped, it is believed to have supported a sail that ran from just before the hips down to the shoulder.  The first sacral vertebra is less than 50% of the size of dorsal vertebra number 13, it is very much reduced, so it could not have supported a sail-like structure, the sacral vertebrae posterior to it are much larger and the sacral vertebrae numbers 3 and 4 are fan shaped just like dorsal vertebra number 12.  This suggests that a second “sail” ran from over the hips down to the base of the tail.

The Collecta Ichthyovenator Dinosaur Model

The first mainstream model available of this bizarre dinosaur.

The first mainstream model available of this bizarre dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In essence, based on the fossil evidence, Ichthyovenator seems to have U-shaped notch in the middle of its back.  The model shows these bizarre sails in fine detail.  The sails have been tipped with large scales and there is a row of spines running parallel to the sails on each side of the model.  There are also prominent projections on the thigh.  These projections, in combination with the triangular spines on the tail give this dinosaur a very crocodile-like appearance.

The model measures a fraction under eighteen centimetres in length.  No one knows for sure how big Ichthyovenator (I. laosensis) was but it has been estimated to have been between seven and a half and nine metres in length.  This makes this model to be around the 1:42 to 1:50 scale size.  Ichthyovenator could have weighed as much as two and half tonnes.

Collecta have decided to put their Ichthyovenator model onto a base.  This gives the model stability, allows the feet to be moulded in proportion to the rest of the dinosaur’s body and in this case, it gives a hint at where the animal might have lived.  The feet are sunk into the base, to give the impression of the dinosaur standing on soft mud, the base even has claw marks and a fragment of a leaf.  It is thought that Ichthyovenator hunted for fish on the banks of large rivers that criss-crossed Laos in the Early Cretaceous.

Ichthyovenator even has a small fish in its mouth, to reinforce the idea of this dinosaur being closely related to other fish-eating dinosaurs such as Suchomimus and Baryonyx.  It is appropriate for the Collecta dinosaur model to show this, after all, the name of this dinosaur translates as “Fish Hunter from Laos”.

A Close up Showing the Fish in the Mouth of Ichthyovenator

"Fish Hunter from Laos".

“Fish Hunter from Laos”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Collecta dinosaur models: Collecta Prehistoric Animal Models

This is a beautifully crafted, hand-painted replica of Ichthyovenator, a dinosaur that was only named and scientifically described two years ago.  It is an exciting addition to the Collecta range of dinosaur models.

Aim to Keep “Dakota” in North Dakota

Hugely Important Duck-Billed Dinosaur Fossil Plans to Keep it in North Dakota

The permanent home for one of the most important dinosaur discoveries made in the last fifty years or so is under discussion in the United States.  The fossil, representing a duck-billed dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous (Edmontosaurus regalis) has helped palaeontologists to learn a lot about these long extinct creatures as its state of preservation permitted large sections of the animal’s skin to be preserved along with ossified tendons, ligaments and even the possibility of having preserved internal organs.  Like many large specimens, the fossil has a nick-name, it is called “Dakota” as it was found in North Dakota back in 1999.  State officials in North Dakota are hoping that an agreement can be reached to permit the huge fossil to stay in the State, hopefully becoming a centre piece exhibit in a newly refurbished and expanded North Dakota Heritage Centre based in Bismarck (capital city of the State).  The Heritage Centre is due to re-open on November 2nd this year, the 125th anniversary of the State joining the United States of America.

A Close up of the Skin of the Edmontosaurus

Preserved skin on Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossil.

Preserved skin on Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossil.

Picture Credit: Associated Press

 To read more about the research into this remarkable dinosaur fossil: Dinosaur Fossil Begins to Show its Secrets

The Edmontosaurus died close to a river and the carcase was rapidly buried and a form of mummification took place, the fine grained sediments and the lack of oxygen when the body was buried prevented decay, hence the high degree of preservation.  The Edmontosaurus fossil was discovered by Tyler Lyson, on his uncle’s farm near the town of Marmarth.  The extraction and the preparation of the fossil was an enormous task.  The specimen was encased in two large blocks of stone, the largest of which weighed several tonnes.  The blocks were extensively scanned using sophisticated CT (computerised tomography) and even traces of organic compounds were identified in the matrix material.

Commenting on the importance and the significance of this fossil, North Dakota’s state palaeontologist John Hoganson said:

“We want to keep that iconic fossil in North Dakota.”

The fossil was prepared in the preparation laboratory at the Heritage Centre and it has been on exhibit in Bismarck, the State capital, but such is the importance of the fossil that it has been in demand from other museums and it was carefully packed up and sent over to Japan to take part in a major exhibition about Cretaceous dinosaurs before being returned to North Dakota.

A Model of an Edmontosaurus (E. regalis)

Edmontosaurus a member of the Hadrosaurine group of duck-billed dinosaurs.

Edmontosaurus a member of the Hadrosaurine group of duck-billed dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The specimen is owned by Tyler Lyson, who since the fossil’s discovery has earned a doctorate in palaeontology from Yale University and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Smithsonian Institute.  Currently, Tyler is negotiating with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, sources suggest that the sum of money involved will be around $3 million USD to ensure the permanent future of this 76 million year old dinosaur.

Further research into “Dakota”: Dinosaur Mummy Reveals More Secrets

Tyler is reported to have said in a statement to the Associated Press:

“We are all working to keep Dakota at the North Dakota Heritage Centre and to establish a Marmarth Research Foundation endowment fund to be used to further vertebrate palaeontology.”

When the redeveloped Heritage Centre opens in November it will be a state-of-the-art museum and it would be fantastic to have “Dakota” as part of the dinosaur gallery.  It would also help with further study into this amazing specimen as keeping the fossil in a permanent home would help with fund raising efforts.  According to local sources, the finance to secure the fossil is not yet in place but it is likely that this iconic fossil will attract funding and significant sponsorship once arrangements for display have been put in place.

Dakota remains on loan to the Heritage Centre until 2015, all parties involved in the negotiations are keen to see the fossil stay in North Dakota and Everything Dinosaur team members are confident that there will be a swift resolution and that this fossil of a duck-billed dinosaur will remain in North Dakota.  Today, April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual event celebrated worldwide in which people demonstrate their support for environmental protection.  It is appropriate on this day of all days to be discussing the future of a dinosaur fossil, one that can tell scientists a lot about how these huge plant-eaters lived.

A Video Review of the Collecta Ichthyovenator Dinosaur Model

Collecta Ichthyovenator – A Video Review

Ichthyovenator laosensis, the “fish hunter from Laos is the only member of the Spinosauridae known from Asia.  Prior to this dinosaur’s discovery in 2010, fossil teeth from Asia had been ascribed to a Spinosaur and this dinosaur was tentatively named Siamosaurus.  Teeth that could have potentially belonged to a Spinosaur have been found in several locations in south-east Asia, most notably Thailand, hence the name Siamosaurus “lizard from Siam”, but the validity of this genus remains under dispute.  Ichthyovenator remains, for the moment, as the only member of the Spinosauridae from Asia.  In this short video (6.06), team members at Everything Dinosaur compare the new Collecta dinosaur model with the fossil material.

A Video Review of the Collecta Ichthyovenator Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although the video covers the bizarre twin sails on the back of this Theropod, it is not known why this dinosaur may have possessed such a strange anatomical feature.  Palaeontologists cannot even be sure what these structures looked like, or indeed how long they were.  As to their function, a number of theories have been put forward, for example, the first sail at the front may have played a role in visual communication, whilst the second structure, positioned over the hips, may actually have been a fleshy hump where food reserves could be stored, rather like the hump of a bison or the humps seen in extant camels today.

To view the Ichthyovenator dinosaur model at Everything Dinosaur and to see the complete range of Collecta prehistoric animals stocked: Collecta Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

Ancient Shark Fossil Provides Insight into Jaw Evolution in Vertebrates

325 Million Year Old Fossil Suggests Sharks are Not “Primitive”

Often described as a group of animals that have remained virtually unchanged for millions of years, extant shark species (and there are something like 470 known species) are actually more highly evolved than previously thought.  The discovery of a remarkably well-preserved specimen of an ancient shark-like creature that once swam in a marine ecosystem more than 325 million years ago (Pennsylvanian Epoch of the Carboniferous), has provided palaeontologists with evidence to suggest that early cartilaginous and bony fishes have more to tell us about the evolution of jaws.

A study published in the academic journal “Nature”, vividly demonstrates how new fossil discoveries can dramatically alter our understanding of the evolution of vertebrates.  The fossil, a three-dimensional concretion, shows a combination of primitive and more advanced anatomical features in a cartilaginous fish, evidence of a sophisticated jaw has been identified along with a complete gill section.  Importantly, the fossil shows the arrangement of the jaw and the gills “in situ”, the fossil has preserved these delicate organs in their natural, life position.  The layout of these anatomical features are very similar to that found in bony fishes as well as cartilaginous fish.  This suggests that this specimen might represent a common ancestor of these extremely important vertebrates.

The Concretion that Represents the Fossilised Jaws and Gill Structures of a Palaeozoic Fish

Scale bar = 10 millimetres

Scale bar = 10 millimetres

Picture Credit: American Museum of Natural Hisotory/Pradel

The picture shows two lateral views (views from sideways on) of the fossil material that was later scanned at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility to reveal its internal structures.

The first fish are believed to have evolved from Chordate animals (animals that possess a stiff rod that runs along or part-way along their body length for at least a portion of their life cycle).  The evolutionary links remain poorly known but fossils found in China indicate that the first jawless fish, (Agnathans) may have evolved more than 530  million years ago.  It is believed that sometime during the Silurian geological period, a crucial development in the history of life on Earth occurred, the first vertebrates with true jaws (Gnathostomes) evolved.  Although, this fossil, part of an enormous fossil collection donated to the American Museum of Natural History by Ohio University, may not represent the earliest jawed fish, its state of preservation has provided scientists with an insight into the evolution of jaws from modified gill arches.

The Evolution of Jaws in Fish (Agnathan compared to a Gnathostome)

How jaws may have evolved.

How jaws may have evolved.

In jawless fish (Agnathans), the first and second gill arches (branchial arches) support the first gill slit.  In jawed vertebrates, the first gill arch has become a pair of jaws and the first gill slit a spiracle to let water pass over the remaining gills.

Lead author of the research paper, post-doctoral researcher at the New York based museum, Alan Pradel stated:

“Sharks are traditionally thought to be one of the most primitive surviving jawed vertebrates.  Most textbooks in schools today say that the internal jaw structures of modern sharks should look very similar to those in primitive shark-like fishes, but we’ve found that’s not the case.  The modern shark condition is very specialised, very derived and not primitive.”

The story of this significant breakthrough, starts with Ohio University professors Royal and Gene Mapes and their students, who over the years amassed in excess of half a million Palaeozoic fossils from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  The fossils represent marine ecosystems and consist of invertebrates such as Trilobites, Ammonites, Brachiopods and Gastropods, as well as a number of fossils of primitive fish.  The fossilised skull of the new species named Ozarcus mapesae  is so well preserved it allowed scientists to create a three-dimensional model to show the organisation of the jaw in relation to the gill arches.  The trivial name for this new species honours the Ohio University professors.

Fish heads, including cartilaginous fish such as sharks and rays, are segmented into the jaws and a series of arches that support both the jaw and the gills.  However, as the fossils of most early Gnathostomes (jawed fish) are poorly preserved and usually distorted and flattened, this is the oldest known specimen found to date that shows the jaw/gill arch relationship in such clarity.

A Computer Generated Image that shows the Internal Structures of the Fossil

3-D image of fossil produced.

3-D image of fossil produced.

Picture Credit: American Museum of Natural History/Pradel

The picture above shows one of the three-dimensional images created after the fossil material had been bombarded with X-rays to produce the computer model.  The brain case can be seen at the top (shaded a tan colour), the structure of the jaws are shaded red, the jaws having evolved from the first gill arch.  The second gill arch, known as the hyoid arch is shown in blue.  The remaining gill arches are shaded yellow.

Commenting on the importance of this donated specimen, one of the study authors, John Maisey (American Museum of Natural History) added:

This beautiful fossil offers one of the first complete looks at all of the gill arches and associated structures in an early shark.  There are other shark fossils like this in existence, but this is the oldest one in which you can see everything.   There is enough depth in this fossil to allow us to scan it and digitally dissect out the cartilage skeleton.”

In order to study the three-dimensional concretion so the layout and the orientation of the delicate branchial arches (gill arches) could be mapped, the scientists took the specimen to the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), located at Grenoble in France so that high-resolution X-rays could bombard the specimen and produce a detailed, computer generated image of the fossil in three-dimensions.  The team discovered that the arrangement of gill arches is not like that seen in modern, extant sharks.  Instead the gill layout is fundamentally similar to that seen in bony fishes (Osteichthyans).

The authors state that it is not unexpected that sharks, because of their long evolutionary history, would undergo evolution of these anatomical structures, but bony fish may have more to tell us about the first jawed ancestors of land-living vertebrates such as ourselves than living sharks.  Bony fish are the most successful group of Gnathostomes.  All Tetrapods (that includes us) are descended from bony fish.

Sharks – A very Diverse and Geographically Widespread Group

Sharks - a diverse group with over 470 extant species.

Sharks – a diverse group with over 470 extant species.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Review of the Xenoceratops Dinosaur Model from Collecta

Everything Dinosaur Reviews the Collecta Xenoceratops

The prehistoric animal model manufacturer called Collecta have produced a number of horned dinosaur models over recent years and in 2014 they have introduced a replica of the bizarre Xenoceratops, a horned dinosaur that is distantly related to the better known Styracosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus.

This dinosaur is known only from fragmentary skull material representing at least 3 individual animals found in Upper Cretaceous strata in south-western Alberta, the rest of the animal has been modelled on more complete fossil material.  Collecta have chosen to give their replica a very striking paint job, with a black body contrasting with a lighter coloured underside and white strips on the head crest standing out against flashes of blood red located on the nasal bone and on the top of the neck frill.

The Collecta Xenoceratops Dinosaur Model

The dinosaur with "alien" headgear

The dinosaur with “alien” headgear

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Note that Xenoceratops has been give a line of bristle-like protrusions running along the top of the hips to the base of the tail.  Palaeontologists have uncovered evidence to suggest that some Late Cretaceous horned dinosaurs may have had bristles or quills on their rumps.  If they had such structures,  then there purpose remains unclear, perhaps they were brightly coloured and used in visual communication between members of the herd.  If viewed from the side, the bristles may have made this herbivore look bigger than it actually was, a deterrent to an attacking Tyrannosaur.  Or indeed, it has even been suggested that the structures were made up of sharp spines that could protect the hip area from attack, it has even been proposed that these spines were tipped with poison.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Collecta models including the new 2014 releases: Collecta Prehistoric Animal Models

The model measures approximately thirteen and a half centimetres long  and the tip of those impressive, white horns on the top of the frill are about seven centimetres off the ground.  Although it is difficult to conclusively gauge the size of this dinosaur based on the fossil record, we estimate that this model is in approximately 1:44 scale based on an adult Xenoceratops being around six metres in length.

The bizarre horns and neck shield of this dinosaur are very well recreated by Collecta.  It did have a spectacular frill with two huge horns sticking out of the top of the neck frill and two large, sideways pointing horns positioned over the eyes.  Analysis of a partial, right nasal bone suggests that this dinosaur may also have possessed another horn on the tip of its nose, this is not shown in the model but the base, the boss, is painted a bright red colour.

One area of a dinosaur model, often overlooked is the cloaca or vent, the posterior opening of the animal.  Collecta have made sure that their Xenoceratops has a very obvious vent and the model shows lots of nice detail on the underside.  Note the correct number of fingers and toes, again Collecta taking the time and trouble to make sure that the replica is anatomically correct.

View of the Underside of the Collecta Xenoceratops Dinosaur Model

Excellent detail on the underside of the dinosaur model.

Excellent detail on the underside of the dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is an excellent addition to the Collecta range of prehistoric animal models, this is, after all, a replica of a dinosaur that itself was only named and described less than two years ago.

To read an article published by Everything Dinosaur announcing the discovery of this horned dinosaur: Horned Dinosaur with “Alien Headgear”

Extracting an Ichthyosaur Fossil

Newly Discovered Ichthyosaur Fossil Removed from Beach

After the exhilaration of finding a fossil specimen such as a near complete Ichthyosaur, comes the hard work of extracting the specimen.  This has to be done with great care and planning, as the aim is to remove the material as intact as possible without damaging any of the actual fossils.  For Ben and his dad Dave, they also had to cope with the threat of an incoming tide as Ben found his Ichthyosaur on the eastern beach of Lyme Regis (Dorset, England) and although the specimen was exposed at low tide, once the tide starts to turn, it comes in really quickly, so there is added pressure.  The specimen, representing a young Ichthyosaur was found by Ben a couple of days ago.  He and his father then set about working most of that day and into the evening trying to prepare the fossil for that all important lift, the first time that the Ichthyosaur would have been moved for 180 million years or so.

Our chum Brandon, a local fossil expert himself, was on hand to record the moment when the fossil was ready for extraction.

Carefully Extracting an Ichthyosaur Specimen from the Beach at Lyme Regis

Video Credit: Brandon Lennon

The specimen was quite fragile, so glue was used to help secure the fossil and keep it intact.  Once this had been done,  it was time to prepare the block of Blue lias in which the fossil was located for lifting.  Chisels were then hammered into key points underneath the block to allow it to be freed from the bed.  Once this process had been completed it was time to get ready to lift the specimen and remove it.  This in itself is a tricky process, in the video you can see just how much water was seeping into the dig site and Ben and Dave were aware of the oncoming tide.  With skill and care the two intrepid fossil hunters were able to lift out the fossil.  The tail section broke, if you look carefully on the video you can see that there is a natural fault on the block and as a result the end piece broke off.  However, we can report that the rest of the specimen was removed safe and sound.  The two pieces of rock will now be prepared so that the skeleton can be fully exposed.

Lyme Regis is a great place to visit and fossil hunting on the beach is a lot of fun, however, we at Everything Dinosaur suggest that visitors take advantage of a guided fossil walk led by a local expert.

To read more about guided fossil walks: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

Congratulations to Ben and Dave, glad all their hard work paid off.

Ichthyosaur Fossil Discovered at Lyme Regis

New Ichthyosaur Fossil Discovery at Lyme Regis

Yesterday, team members at Everything Dinosaur received news that a beautifully preserved Ichthyosaur specimen had been discovered at Lyme Regis.  Our chum Brandon, a local fossil expert from Dorset, sent us some pictures and a video which illustrate the exciting discovery.   The specimen was discovered on the beach to the east of the town of Lyme Regis, near to where the council have been working to strengthen the cliff area and to improve the town’s coastal defences.

Video Footage of the Ichthyosaur Discovery

Video Credit: Brandon Lennon

 The video shows the block which contains the fossil specimen, vertebrae can be clearly seen along with some of the rib bones, the skull is only partially exposed.  The dig team will cut the block away from the surrounding material and carefully transport the specimen away so that it can be prepared and examined in detail.  From the video, the bones don’t look too compressed or deformed and although some of the distal elements of the skeleton are probably missing, this particular Ichthyosaur looks relatively complete.  It is a little difficult to get our bearings just from the video and the photographs that we have received but we think the specimen was discovered in the Blue Lias of the Church Cliffs section of beach, immediately east of Lyme Regis.

The Location of the Fossil Discovery

The location of the fossil find.

The location of the fossil find.

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

Water is carefully removed from around the fossil matrix, sand bags will be put in position to help keep the fossil material protected and then the dig team will map the exposed bones and work out the best way to cut and remove the stone block.

The Fossil Material is Carefully Examined

Icthyosaur fossil find April 2014.

Ichthyosaur fossil find April 2014.

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

Carefully the specimen is exposed and then the layout and orientation of the fossil material is studied.  Consideration needs to be given to the tide times as the specimen will be covered once the tide turns.

A Close up of the Ichthyosaur Fossil

The vertebrae can be clearly made out.

The vertebrae can be clearly made out.

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

The hand in the photograph helps to provide scale.  The Ichthyosaur is lying with its head facing towards the bottom right and the tail up towards the top left of the photograph.  The vertebrae can be clearly seen in the picture.  It is certainly a member of the Ichthyosauria Order, but it is very difficult to assign a species name to the specimen at this stage just having the short video and the photographs to study.  As a guess, it might be an example of Ichthyosaurus breviceps, however, it is best to wait until the fossil material has been more thoroughly prepared before any precise identification can be made.

The Ichthyosauria were an Order of fast-swimming, nektonic and (as far as we know entirely marine), predatory marine reptiles with dolphin-shaped bodies.  As a group, these highly specialised reptiles evolved in the Early Triassic and thrived throughout the Jurassic and for much of the Cretaceous, before finally becoming extinct around 80 million years ago.

An Illustration of a Typical Jurassic Ichthyosaur

Dolphin-like prehistoric animals.

Dolphin-like prehistoric animals.

Lyme Regis is an amazing place to visit and a fossil hunting trip to the beach is highly recommended, although we at Everything Dinosaur would advise that you take advantage of the local knowledge of a fossil hunting expert so that you can get the most from your visit.

To read more about guided fossil walks: Guided Fossil Walks (Lyme Regis)

We look forward to hearing more about this exciting fossil find and no doubt there will be more marine reptile discoveries made over the next few months.

A Review of the Collecta Xenoceratops Dinosaur Model

Collecta Xenoceratops Dinosaur Model Reviewed

Although this dinosaur was named and formally described less than two years ago, Collecta have been quick to introduce a model of this strange horned dinosaur, whose fossil remains have been found in Alberta, Canada.  In this brief video review, (4.42),  team members at Everything Dinosaur discuss the model and relate this replica to the known fossil material.  Since only cranial material has been found, the shape of the body is based on other Centrosaurine members of the Ceratopsidae such as Pachyrhinosaurus, Centrosaurus and Styracosaurus.

The Video Review of the Collecta Xenoceratops

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This video looks at the colouration chosen for the model, comments on how the horns and neck frill have been depicted and we even talk about posterior vents!

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Collecta dinosaur and prehistoric animal models: Collecta Prehistoric Animal Models

Measuring around six metres in length, Xenoceratops (Xenoceratops foremostensis) was a sizeable beast.  In a number of on line articles, it has been stated that this dinosaur was named because with its many horns it looked alien.  Xenoceratops does mean “alien horned face”, but this Ornithischian dinosaur was named not because of its “alien looking” appearance but due to the rarity of Ceratopsian fossil material known from the Foremost Formation of south-western Alberta.

Prehistoric Times Magazine Issue 109 Reviewed

A Review of Prehistoric Times Magazine (Spring 2014)

Another bursting at the seams edition of Prehistoric Times with its front cover of a Chasmosaurus (model by Shane Foulkes) highlighting the fact that “Chasm Lizard” is one of the prehistoric animals featured in issue 109.  Phil Hore does an excellent job on summarising the rather convoluted history of this genus and his article has some super Chasmosaurus inspired artwork sent in by readers.  Not to be undone, Tracy Lee Ford chips in with a detailed explanation of the various species assigned to Chasmosaurus and does a splendid job in sorting out which of the former members of the Chasmosaurus genus have been reassigned elsewhere and why.  In addition, he even manages to insert a little bit of the work of Charles Dickens and we though Dicken’s only wrote about Megalosaurs (Bleak House).

Prehistoric Times (Issue 109)

Beautiful Chasmosaurus on the front cover.

Beautiful Chasmosaurus on the front cover.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times/Everything Dinosaur

In the news section, there is information on Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, whose fossils were find well inside the Arctic Circle.  It’s name means “polar bear lizard” which is very appropriate.  News stories featured include Anzu wyliei from North Dakota and possibly the largest Theropod dinosaur known from our side of the Atlantic, Torvosaurus gurneyi.  T. gurneyi fossils have been found in Portugal, this is a specimen that we at Everything Dinosaur know quite well, what with the amount of new discoveries being reported to us by our friends on the Iberian peninsula.

To read more about Torvosaurus gurneyi: Meet “Savage Lizard” – Europe’s Largest Meat-Eating Dinosaur Described to Date?

Allen Debus takes us back to the 1930′s a time when Chicago was host to the Worlds Fair which featured an exhibition of life-size prehistoric animals.  Part two of this highly informative article will be in the next edition.

To read more about Prehistoric Times/subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Lots of model news and reviews, plus a super section dedicated to giant prehistoric birds, with a focus on the Ratites.  Once again, the article is accompanied by some excellent reader artwork and imagery.  Sculptor and artist John Gurche is interviewed and there is a special feature on how John was tasked with creating fifteen hominin sculptures for the Smithsonian Institute and its “Hall of Human Origins”.  Some of the models he has produced are simply breathtaking, the Smithsonian will shortly become the  museum for all other palaeoanthropologists to look up to.  John’s book “Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art and Imagination Help Us to Understand Our Origins” is reviewed in the excellent Mesozoic Media section and the book is already on our Christmas shopping list along with ironically, another book reviewed, “At the Top of the Grand Staircase”, which documents the fauna and flora from the Upper Cretaceous deposits to be found in this part of southern Utah.

All in all, an excellent magazine jam packed with lots and lots to keep dinosaur fans entertained and informed.

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