All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//February
9 02, 2008

A Picture of a Triceratops Dinosaur Model

By | February 9th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos/Schools|0 Comments

Triceratops Dinosaur Model Pictured

When it comes to horned dinosaurs (Ceratopsians), the most popular member of this particular clade of the Dinosauria amongst boys, girls and general fans of dinosaur models is Triceratops (T. horridus).  To celebrate this and in tribute to all those emails and letters we receive asking for Everything Dinosaur to post up pictures of “three horned face” we have popped up a picture of the Schleich Triceratops.

Picturing a Horned Dinosaur (T. horridus)

Schleich Triceratops

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Schleich, the German based manufacturer, have produced a number of dinosaur models.  Triceratops has always featured prominently in Schleich dinosaur model lists and it is likely that this perennial favourite will continue to feature in dinosaur model and prehistoric animal replica ranges.

To view Schleich dinosaur and prehistoric animals: Schleich prehistoric animal figures

9 02, 2008

Dinosaur Models to appear in a Childrens’ Book

By | February 9th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaurs Help Children to Learn to Read

The team of teachers, parents and dinosaur enthusiasts at Everything Dinosaur get involved in all sorts of dinosaur and prehistoric animal projects, helping out schools, educational bodies and museums with lots of fascinating activities.

Our staff get asked to advise on the preparation of teaching resources, prepare quizzes, proof read materials, help write books and so on.  It is certainly a challenging job working for Everything Dinosaur, you never know what each day will bring.

Take for example a project we have been working on since mid January, working on a dinosaur book for children.  We have been asked by a UK based publisher of text books targeted at schools; to advise and assist with the production of a new dinosaur themed book to help young people learn to read.  A great deal of money and teaching resources are being dedicated to improving the reading skills of young children, prehistoric animals are popular and they make an ideal theme for a story book.  This new book will be available later on this year, it features a number of prehistoric animals – Brachiosaurus, Velociraptor, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus and of course Tyrannosaurus rex.  Other animals featured include Diplodocus (we used the new Diplodocus from Carnegie Safari to represent this animal) and Oviraptor.

Our experts have advised on the mix of prehistoric animals and they will also have a role to play checking the story and the factual information included.  Choosing the correct models to feature can be difficult, the animals have to be accurate and represent a typical impression of the dinosaur in question as well as being photogenic and acceptable to the studio team who have to work with these models under the lights.

A number of the models we chose came from the Bullyland Museum Line range.   This range of scale models are very detailed and make ideal models for collectors as well as being great for creative play.

Three of the Models used in the New Educational Dinosaur Book

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Bullyland range is authenticated by the palaeontologists and researchers at the museum for Natural History at Stuttgart, Germany.  Bullyland have an excellent reputation for designing accurate models of prehistoric animals.  The detail on the model is ideal for use in books and the models are robust, substantial and able to cope with the arduous conditions of being under studio lights.

The photographers wanted models that were flexible in the way that they could be used, good for long shots as well as close up work which would show their details.  The models in the picture are Tyrannosaurus rex, a 1:30 scale model, the large Brachiosaurus in the middle of the shot and an adult Apatosaurus which are also in 1:30 scale.

To view the individual models:

Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models

8 02, 2008

Primeval Team visit the Silurian

By | February 8th, 2008|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Saturday Night and a Trip to the Silurian

The ITV science fiction series Primeval (ITV1 7.20pm) takes viewers back to the Silurian period on Saturday night, the team of time travellers take on some very nasty Arachnids based loosely on the giant sea scorpions – animals such as Brontoscorpio which could grow to nearly a metre long.

Brontoscorpio means “thunder scorpion” it was certainly a fearsome predator of the late Silurian.  It is related to modern scorpions, but the huge arthropods such as Pterygotus which could grow to nearly 3 metres long would not have posed much of a threat to Professor Cutter and his team on land.

In this particular episode, the A.R.C (Anomaly Research Centre) team go through a time portal to around 420 million years ago to rescue a young girl and her dog.  However, some team members get stuck on the other side, trapped in the Silurian when the anomaly closes and they are left to deal with attacks from giant scorpions who erupt out of the sand beneath them.

Scientists have been impressed by the size and scale of some of these early arthropods, particularly the Eurypteridae such as Pterygotus and recent discoveries have shed further light on these fearsome ancient beasts.

It seems that these particular predators got even bigger during the Devonian, feeding on the early vertebrates, the ancestors of modern fish.

To read an article about sea scorpion discoveries: Claws! Giant Sea Scorpion of the Devonian

In reality, as far as we can ascertain from the fossil record, these arthropods would have been extremely cumbersome and awkward on land.  It has been speculated that these animals ventured out onto land to scavenge on the shoreline and to shed their exoskeletons but their primitive breathing apparatus would have had to be kept moist all the time so they would not have ventured far from water.  As the vertebrates evolved so the large species of Eurypteridae went into decline perhaps they were no longer able to compete with new predators such as the larger Placoderms (armoured fish) such as the fierce Dunkleosteus.

7 02, 2008

No Lyme Regis Fossil Festival for 2008

By | February 7th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival Cancelled for this Year

The Lyme Regis Fossil Festival that was scheduled to run over the first Bank Holiday weekend of May, has been cancelled.  Unfortunately, what would have been the fourth festival has been pulled due to lack of sponsorship for this event.

Plans are already in place to continue the festival and to make the event bigger in 2009, themed around the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the English scientist who influenced scientific thought through his theory of evolution.

Everything Dinosaur has been involved with this event since its inception,  helping to organise the event and participating with the events down at the Lyme Regis sea front and at nearby Charmouth on the “Jurassic” Dorset coast.

Past programmes have involved experts from the Natural History museum running fossil roadshows and identifying local finds, as well as events to mark the redevelopment of this part of the coast and the Lyme Regis coastal protection scheme.

Team members from Everything Dinosaur will no doubt be down in Dorset over the next few months and we will of course post further updates as progress on the 2009 events is made.

So roll on 2009.

6 02, 2008

Chirotherium “Hand Beast” – Tracks in the Mud

By | February 6th, 2008|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Before Dinosaurs – Bizarre Hand-Prints Preserved

In the Triassic rocks of North America, Europe (including England) and Africa a number of trackways of strange footprints have been uncovered, the first trackway being discovered in Germany in the central state of Thuringia in 1834.  Although, individual footprints and trackways had been known to the scholars of the day for some time, these footprints were remarkable as they resembled the imprint of a human hand.   The footprints had five digits and the fifth digit (which in fact represents the equivalent of our little finger or toe), stuck out sideways and gave the impression of being poseable like our own thumbs.

At the time, the science of geology and the study of fossils were very much in their infancy.  These strange footprints were claimed to the imprints left by those unfortunate people not able to survive the Biblical flood.  Other educated people at the time speculated that they could have been the hand-prints of apes or monkeys.

Strange Fossilised Footprints

Picture Credit: L. B. Halstead

The footprint in the picture, certainly looks like the imprint of a human hand.  The trouble is these trackways have been found in sediments dated to the early Triassic around 240 million years ago.  Since the prints resembled human hands, scientists named the animal that could have made them Chirotherium “hand beast”.

No actual fossil bones or other remains have been found in association with these trackways.  In spite of this, palaeontologists have been able to provide an impression of what the animal may have looked like.  The hind prints are nearly twice the size of the front prints, the trackways are also narrow indicating an upright gait rather than the more typical sprawling gait of other reptiles.  There is no sign of a tail drag in any of the trackways so Ichnologists (scientists who specialise in studying footprints); have deduced that the tail was held well clear of the ground.

A Possible Body Plan of Chirotherium

Picture Credit: L. B. Halstead

Many years later a nearly complete skeleton of another reptile from similarly aged sediments was unearthed. This animal resembled the reconstructions of Chirotherium, it was an Archosaur in the region of 2-3 metres long.  This fossil find was named Ticinosuchus.  This fossil helped vindicate those palaeontologists who had depicted Chirotherium (sometimes also known as Cheirotherium) as a predatory ancestor of the dinosaurs with legs positioned directly under the body.

During the early and middle Triassic a number of different animal groups evolved and expanded to fill the ecological niches left after the Permian extinction.  As the dinosaurs evolved, they shared the world with other large reptiles such as Batrachotomus, a huge six metre long carnivore.  Similar in general build to the likes of Chirotherium (but much bigger) these fierce animals competed with the dinosaurs for places at the top of the food chain.  Huge “land crocodiles” such as Batrachotomus were very successful and their fossil remains have been found all over Pangaea.

Scale model of Batrachotomus: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

However, these very large, predominantly quadrupedal predators eventually became extinct around 220 million years ago, perhaps they were no longer able to compete with the rapidly expanding bipedal Theropod dinosaurs.

We are grateful to Mike Batty, for pointing out to us that the accepted spelling for the footprints is Chirotherium.  The correct Greek spelling is Cheirotherium, a name we still use round the office, as it was the accepted name for a time; but scientific nomenclature principles state that the first name used as a descriptor should take precedence hence the use of Chirotherium in this instance.

5 02, 2008

China Has More Dinosaurs Than Anybody Else

By | February 5th, 2008|Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

China Takes Over from America in Terms of Dinosaur Species Described

Up until 2007 the United States of America could claim to have had more dinosaur species named and described from fossils found within its borders than any other country in the world.  However, the substantial vertebrate fossil finds from China, including a huge amount of dinosaur fossil material, means that from now on China can claim to have more dinosaurs (in terms of species named).  From Liaoning and the likes of Gansu province a huge amount of dinosaur fossilised bones have been discovered and increasingly a greater proportion of the Dinosauria are being named by Chinese scientists and scholars.

Happy Chinese New Year to all those Chinese dinosaur experts and everybody else in China!

4 02, 2008

Dinosaur Model Suggestions – The Dinosaur Collection Set

By | February 4th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaur Model Series – The Dinosaur Collection

As Everything Dinosaur team members are often asked about prehistoric animal models by parents and teachers seeking to purchase some items for their children or school, we thought it best if we made a quick comment about a particular model series.

There are certainly a lot of prehistoric models available and more in the pipeline, especially with the impact of film and TV merchandise.  The current dinosaur stage show and tour using huge animatronic models will also fuel interest in these amazing prehistoric animals.  Much has already been written on the models created by Schleich and Bullyland of Germany.  These are highly detailed, beautifully made and hand-painted models for the real enthusiasts.  We know about a number of new introductions that are due this year and we will no doubt get around to writing about them in the near future.

In addition, there are changes to the Natural History museum collection of models.  This range of 1:40 scale models is going through a bit of a transition at the moment, switching back and forth between having models available on a plinth or as frees standing items.  There is also a range of larger prehistoric animal models going to be available, but delays in production and with the design process have made a 2008 launch unlikely.

With so  many changes it can be difficult to pick your way through the model minefield.  Everything Dinosaur are always able to help fans trace a particular model or animal.  We advise people from all over the world about new introductions, which models are being retired and such like.

You can try us by simply logging onto our website, dropping an e-mail to us (address found on contact page of website), or indeed you and call upon the assistance of our “Dino Hunt” Service.

Everything Dinosaur web: Everything Dinosaur

If you cannot find the particular item or named prehistoric animal by using our search facility (Dino-Search can be found on the top left side of our home page), you can follow the links to our contact us page and send us a request for assistance and our team will do their best to help you.

To read more about our Dino-Hunt service: Launch of the Everything Dinosaur – Dinosaur Hunt Service

When it comes to recommending a prehistoric animal set or range, there are certainly a great deal to choose from, but one set that is well worth considering is the Dinosaur Collection series  manufactured by Procon.  This set of six prehistoric animals (Triceratops, Velociraptor, Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Pteranodon and of course T. rex), is made in solid plastic, is robust and although not to scale the models show plenty of detail.  They have been specially designed to fit in the palm of a child’s hand so as to encourage active play.  The models are surprisingly large, the Tyrannosaurus rex is 19 cm long and the Pteranodon has a wingspan of over 16 cm.

The Dinosaur Collection Set from Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The models in this series are accurate and detailed enough to satisfy the serious collector and also appealing to children.  They are available as individual models from Everything Dinosaur, but can also be purchased as a set of six models.  Naturally, every named model supplied by Everything Dinosaur comes with its own detailed fact sheet on the animal, providing information and insight into these amazing animals.

To view Dinosaur Collection Set (six models): Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

3 02, 2008

Visiting Trade Shows – Everything Dinosaur is a sought after Company

By | February 3rd, 2008|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Trade Shows – Everything Dinosaur Team Members being asked for Advice

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are often asked by parents and teachers to recommend a model or a set of models for a young dinosaur fan.  There are certainly lots of models to choose from and as a result the choice of a model can be a little confusing.

Many parents and teachers want to purchase dinosaur models that are reasonably accurate, that come with correct and scientifically based information and of course can help encourage creative play.  There are so many dinosaur sets around these days, but many are poorly designed and are simply not accurate.  Some of the team members at Everything Dinosaur are asked to advise on hang tag information, to write information notes to accompany models and such like.  Recent visits to a couple of trade fairs demonstrated clearly how many items purporting to depict prehistoric animals are available but they are simply not accurate.  It is a great shame to us (and also a source of immense frustration); when we see a model or an item such as a child’s dinner service, all nicely designed but the information provided is simply not correct.  Many adults purchase dinosaur and prehistoric animal merchandise in the belief that they are helping educate and encourage their children, but it saddens us when we see items and merchandise that contain information that are simply not accurate.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of prehistoric animal models: Dinosaur Models and Dinosaur Toys

We do appreciate that to employ palaeontologists and museum staff to check and research data can be expensive but when the packaging, design and tooling costs are considered any expense in checking information would be relatively small.  Many of the wholesalers and retailers of such items are ignorant of this, they claim that their products are educational and talk openly about the information and facts that are included with their products.  However, as palaeontology is such a fluid science it can be difficult to keep up with the latest research and findings.  Many items have spelling mistakes, incorrect fact sheets and so on, which is a shame as young children have such an enthusiasm and are so keen to learn and absorb information.  We openly admit, we can make mistakes from time to time.  On numerous occasions the error of our ways has been pointed out by a well-informed young person and we do understand the appearance of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals can be open to interpretation.  For example, in many instances the posture of a model has to be compromised due to the difficulties in being able to sculpt and design an animal that can stand up.  The Theropods are the worst, getting an Allosaur or a Tyrannosaur model to be stable when they are bipedal and difficult to balance with big heads and long tails, for instance.  This problem is solved by making the feet disproportionately bigger, or by putting the animal in a more stable posture “kangaroo style” as we call it.

We try and advise manufacturers and many approach us to pick our collective brains over prototypes and design concepts.  One of the interesting things that has begun to happen over the last 12 months or so is that our team members have been actively sought out by the MDs of companies to help and assist with design processes and packaging.  Having been to two trade fairs in 48-hours we have come back with a few new product ideas and suggestions and a lot of requests for assistance and help with other dinosaur and prehistoric animal related products.

2 02, 2008

Time Running out for the Indian Gharial

By | February 2nd, 2008|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

The Indian Gharial may be Close to Extinction

The Indian Gharial, one of only two surviving species of the living fossil family Gavialidae with an ancestry dating back to the Late Cretaceous is close to becoming extinct in the wild.  This magnificent and graceful Crocodilian, capable of growing to lengths in excess of 6 metres had been under severe pressure in the early 1970s as the growing Indian population competed with these animals for space and fish.  Radical steps were taken to protect the nesting areas of this reptile and to preserve stretches of waterway to provide a pristine haven for these long-snouted crocodiles.  Numbers had begun to recover but over the last two years the breeding population has declined to such an extent that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) reclassified the species last year as “Critically Endangered” acknowledging that this fish-eating crocodile was on the brink of extinction.

The Gharial, sometimes called the Gavial is now facing a new threat.  A large number of dead Gharials have been found in the Chambal river area of India, a stretch of water designated a Gharial preserve.  Despite the land’s preservation status, Gharial numbers have been threatened by illegal fishing, the removal of sand for building sites, destroying nesting areas and poaching.  Now a mysterious ailment is causing the death of many of these animals and scientists are unsure as to what the cause might be.

Post-mortems carried out on the dead Crocodilians indicate high levels of lead in their bodies, but tests on the fish population (the gharials main food source), do not show high levels of lead in the fish.  The Gharials are observed as becoming dull and lifeless with slowed reactions (symptoms of poisoning) and then a few days later their carcases are found bloated and floating in the water.  Such has been the mortality that an urgent Indian scheme has been launched to investigate the deaths and to consider ways to protect the remaining Gharials in what was once their only stronghold.

1 02, 2008

Crocodile “Missing Link” Unearthed in Brazil

By | February 1st, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Brazilian Palaeontologists report on new Genus of Crocodile from the Cretaceous

Crocodiles and their close relatives Caiman, Alligators and Gharials are often described as living dinosaurs but although related to the Dinosauria (along with birds they are the last representatives of the Archosaurs – the group of reptiles that gave rise to the dinosaurs), they are not dinosaurs as such.

However, they do represent a very ancient lineage and the Crocodilian’s basic body plan has not changed for something like 240 million years.  Now a team of palaeontologists from Brazil have published a paper on a new genus a crocodile – a semi-upright,  long legged animal that wandered amongst the dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous.

This fossil, which was found in 2004, near the town of Monte Alto, in San Paulo state is very well preserved and quite complete.  Most importantly skull material has been found and this can help to link this fossil specimen with today’s modern crocodiles.  The fossil has been named Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi.  It would have grown to about 2 metres in length and would have been an active predator of smaller animals including dinosaurs in the Brazilian Late Cretaceous.  The relatively long limbs give scientists an indication about this animal’s behaviour.  Perhaps it was more terrestrial than its modern descendants, using its semi-upright gait to pursue prey.

An Illustration of Montealtosuchus

Illustration supplied by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

The picture depicts Montealtosuchus in the foreground with a Theropod and a Titanosaur in the background.

“This is scientifically important because the specimen literally is the link between more primitive crocodiles that lived in the era of the dinosaurs 80-85 million years ago and modern species,” said palaeontologist Ismar de Souza Carvalho of Rio de Janeiro Federal University, who is one of the scientists responsible for the study of this rare find.

Missing Link Croc – Skull Material and Reconstruction

Transitional fossil for Crocodyliforms

Picture Credit: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

The pictures shows the beautifully preserved skull of this ancient crocodile, the osteology and morphology links this specimen to modern Crocodilians.  A model of the animal is depicted in the background.

Crocodilians have many links to dinosaurs, they don’t just share a common ancestor.  The name Crocodilian was given to this group of reptiles by Sir Richard Owen in 1842; the same year that Sir Richard had his work on “Dinosauria” published and dinosaurs came into the scientific arena.

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