Olorotitan Model now in Stock

Olorotitan Model now in Stock (Collecta Dinosaurs)

The new model of a duck-billed dinosaur from Asia, a Lambeosaurine called Olorotitan is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  This model, part of the Collecta prehistoric life series is based on fossils of a large duck-billed dinosaur excavated from a site close to the Amur river in the far east of Russia.

The Collecta Olorotitan Dinosaur Model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the model: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

A nearly complete fossil skeleton was excavated, making this discovery the most complete fossilised member of the Lambeosaurinae found outside North America.  Olorotitan was a large duck-billed dinosaur, based on the one major find to date its size has been estimated at approximately 12 metres long.  The Tsagayan Formation, the stratigraphic layer of rock within which the specimen was discovered, dates from the very end of the Age of Reptiles.  This particular dinosaur lived at the end of the Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage), 67-65 million years ago.  It shared the environment with a number of other Lambeosaurine genera, as well as Nodosaurids (a type of armoured dinosaur) and meat-eating Theropods.

Interestingly, Maastrichtian aged strata in North America contains relatively few Lambeosaurine Hadrosaur remains, the flat-headed dinosaurs such as Edmontosaurus and Anatotitan seem to have dominated the mega fauna in this part of the world, whilst in Asia the Lambeosaurine Hadrosaurs seem to have been much more common,  surviving up to the very end of the Mesozoic.  The differences in the fauna may be due to climate or environmental factors.

The name Olorotitan means “gigantic swan”, this particular Hadrosaur had 18 cervical vertebrae, more than any other known duck-billed dinosaur.  Its long neck reminded the scientists of the graceful neck of a swan and that is how this particular duck-billed dinosaur got its name.

A bit like the story of the ugly duckling growing up to be a swan, except in this case it is a 12 metre, late Cretaceous Hadrosaur with the swan-like connection.

Party Favour Idea – Dinosaur Rings

Dinosaur Party Rings – A Great Party Favour Idea

When a keen, young dinosaur fan asks for a dinosaur themed party, it can be a bit of a headache for the parents and guardians who have to organise them.  However, help is at hand from the parents, teachers, and dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur.

Dropping an email to the team (found by visiting the website) and Everything Dinosaur staff can supply by return prehistoric animal fact sheets and drawing materials free of charge for those all important party bags.  These materials are as big a hit with the mums and dads as they are for the party goers.  After all, there are not many party hosts that can provide drawing materials and fact sheets for their guests that are actually written by people who dig up dinosaurs.

By visiting the Everything Dinosaur party cakes and recipes section, recipes for dinosaur themed cakes and biscuits can  be downloaded.  For example, on this particular part of the website, a template for producing a dinosaur shaped birthday cake can be found.  Everything you need is on-line waiting to be downloaded, from the template to the instructions/recipe and of course a list of ingredients.  Best of all this is FREE!

Cakes and biscuits are easy to make, all the recipes have been tried out by members of the team, there are even pictures posted up to show you how the cakes and biscuits look.

For dinosaur shaped birthday candles, dinosaur plates, cups, table cloths and other party items, simply visit the Everything Dinosaur party pages and make your selections.

As for those all important party gift bags, the company has a selection of party gifts (favours and favors) to choose from including some novel dinosaur rings which make ideal inexpensive party gifts.

The rings feature five different prehistoric animals – Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops, plus a Pteranodon (Pterosaur, flying reptile),  Prehistoric mammals are also represented, there is a Sabre-Tooth cat and Woolly Mammoth ring.  These unusual and thoughtful gifts are bound to delight the party guests.

The set of Five Prehistoric Animal Party Rings

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the dinosaur party rings and other party products at Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Party – Dinosaur Birthday Party Supplies

China’a Prehistoric Animal Fossil Exhibiton Gets Underway

Exhibition of Prehistoric Animals starts in Chongqing

Residents and visitors to the Chinese city of Chongqing in Sichuan Province can get a glimpse into China’s prehistoric past as a new exhibition featuring a number of dinosaurs and ancient mammals opens at Liberation Monument Square.

A herd, or considering how closely some dinosaurs are related to birds, should that be a flock of animals ranging from Sauropods and Theropods to Woolly Mammoths are on display.  In total over thirty specimens are available for viewing including a reconstruction of a huge long-necked dinosaur.

The exhibition includes animatronic models that roar, bellow and move, it can be quite daunting for a Chinese school child to have a Mammoth wave their trunk at them.  The animatronic Mammoth is a reconstruction of a 2.5 metre tall fossil Mammoth that has been mounted as part of the exhibit.  The Mammoth skeleton has been estimated to be 3 million years old.

The bones of nine dinosaurs are also on display.  Sichuan Province is a very important area for dinosaur fossil discoveries.  The Dashanpu quarry, near the city of Zigong is the world’s most famous mid Jurassic dinosaur site.  Over the last forty years or so, many tonnes of dinosaur fossils have been excavated.  The mudstone quarry represents a wet, lowland area with dense conifer and fern forests.  There was a vast river delta that existed in a stable environment for many millions of years.  Dead animals were washed into the river system and deposited in areas of calmer water, slowly covered in sediments and a number became fossils.

Scientists have been able to gain a unique insight into a mid Jurassic environment.  Fossils of Stegosaurs, Allosaurs and a large number of different types of Sauropod have been discovered.  Each type of Sauropod seems to have had its own niche in the food chain, with some long-necked genera such as Mamenchisaurus specialising in browsing between trees whilst smaller species such as Shunosaurus (S. lii, S. ziliujingensis), were grazers of shorter trees and cycads.

Shunosaurus is one of the best known Sauropods from China, in fact one of the best known long-necked dinosaurs in the world.  A number of skeletons have been discovered including near complete individuals.  It was very abundant in the region and probably lived in large herds.  The most unusual feature of Shunosaurus is the spiked club, (like an Ankylosaur) on its tail.  When the first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in the late 1970s the strange caudal bones were thought to be the site of a disease or injury in the animal, armour and weapons on Sauropods were largely unknown.  However, as more skeletons were found showing the same feature scientists concluding that this nine metre long dinosaur had a spiked club on the end of its tail.

An Illustration of Shunosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view a model of Shunosaurus: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaurs

The Chongqing exhibition is open until May 24th.

Cretaceous Mass Extinction not Necessarily Linked to Asteroid Strike

Cretaceous Extinction Event – Further Evidence

A team of American and Swiss based scientists have added to the debate regarding the demise of the dinosaurs, an extinction event that heralded the start of the Cenozoic.  The reasons why the mass extinction event occurred approximately 65 million years ago, have been debated for many years by scientists.  It had been thought that a large extraterrestrial object crashed into the Earth and this disaster ended the Age of Reptiles.  Evidence for this theory, an enormous impact crater was found in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.  The impact theory of extinction is most widely associated with Luis and Walter Alvarez, an American father and son team who, in 1980 announced the discovery of a global layer of iridium enriched clay sediment present in rocks dating to 65 million years ago.  They argued that the iridium, a rare Earth element, was deposited due to the impact of a meteorite or asteroid.  The discovery of the Yucatan crater was evidence of the “smoking gun” that added impetus to their theory.

To read an article on the Yucatan crater: Geologists get to the bottom of the Yucatan Crater

In new research, published by the scientists from Princeton University, New Jersey and their colleagues from Lausanne (Switzerland), it is claimed that the impact event strata show little sign of species decline, but extinction events did occur approximately 300,000 years after the impact.  In a scientific paper published in the Journal of the Geological Society, the theory that the catastrophic impact of the extraterrestrial body wiped out many hundreds of genera in a few days or weeks is challenged.

Commenting on the team’s findings, Gerta Keller (Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University) stated:

We found that not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub impact”.

Calling their results “astonishing” the team have questioned the accepted scientific thinking with regards to the Cretaceous extinction.

The research team studied sediments that were linked to the time of the mass extinction event and discovered that they were laid down later than the sediments that are associated with the meteor or asteroid impact.  Their work indicates that the asteroid or meteor impact may not be directly linked to the mass extinction – a time on Earth when an estimated 65% of all life forms, including the dinosaurs, ammonites, marine reptiles and pterosaurs became extinct.

Examination of the sediments that separate the extinction strata and the layer of clay saturated with iridium were characteristic of normal geologic sedimentation over a long period of time, perhaps 300,000 years or so.  The team have challenged the scientific supposition that the sediments in the immediate vicinity of the impact strata were rapidly deposited and are the results of earthquakes and tsunamis, as the world literally rocked after the huge impact.

The team’s research suggests that the Yucatan peninsula impact was not a blow to species diversity, while the event thousands of years later may have killed 31 out of 44 species recorded at the Mexican research site.

A number of theories have been put forward to try to explain the Cretaceous mass extinction, some of them wildly imaginative to say the least.  For example, it has been suggested that the dinosaurs and other large animals were hunted to extinction by aliens visiting Earth.  A more likely candidate and probably a strong contender, is the evidence of massive volcanic eruptions on the Indian sub-continent.  The deposits of basaltic lava, known as the Deccan Traps are evidence of huge volcanic activity that lasted for millions of years.  The enormous amounts of ash, gas and debris thrown up into the atmosphere would have had a dramatic effect on global climate.

One of the research team stated:

“The impact-kill theory is beautiful in its simplicity, the ground truth, the data that supports the impact theory at the same time refutes it, the theory is messy and complicated by normal geological processes”.

Much like the aftershocks from a meteor impact, the debate between scientists as to the cause of the Cretaceous mass extinction is going to rumble on.  In truth, a number of factors could have contributed to the extinctions, not just a single catastrophic event.

To read more about the Deccan Traps: Asteroid Impact Theory Challenged – Blame the Deccan Traps

To view on article on the impact theory: Sulphureous Skies Linked to Mass Extinction

Animated Styracosaurus – Striking a Pose

Animated Styracosaurus – Interesting Replica Model

We have received a lot of positive comments about the Procon/Collecta model range.  This range has expanded dramatically since it was first introduced about three years ago.  Some Everything Dinosaur team members worked on the first sculpts and advised on anatomical details, particularly series 1 models such as Triceratops and Brachiosaurus.

To view our range of Procon/Collecta replicas: Dinosaurs for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models

Singled out for notable praise has been the Styracosaurus model from this range.  The model is not a typical representation of this horned dinosaur (Ceratopsian).  This dinosaur (aptly named Styracosaurus “spiked lizard”) is depicted in a very animated stance.  This is unusual for what would have been a relatively heavy and squat quadruped.

The Styracosaurus Model (Procon/Collecta)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Styracosaurus model: Dinosaur Models and Toys for Girls and Boys

The pose the Styracosaurus is in reminds us of an illustration from a book published by the BBC in the 1970s called “Before the Ark”.  Part of this book is dedicated to the then new theories put forward by the likes of Ostrom, depicting dinosaurs as active animals not sluggish creatures.  The Styracosaurus pose is quite startling.  It looks like it is bellowing and attempting to rear up as if in mock battle with a rival for a mate or trying to see off a marauding Tyrannosaur perhaps.  Either way it is refreshing to see such a different posture and pose for a Ceratopsian.

Dinosaurs of the Arctic

Belgian Expedition Provides Further Information on Arctic Dinosaurs

The versatility and adaptability of the Order Dinosauria is quite extraordinary.  It is certainly a very diverse order, what with tiny Ornithopods such as Micropachycephalosaurus and huge Sauropods such as Paralititan at the other end of the size and scale spectrum.  Recent discoveries at high latitudes in northern Canada have shown that dinosaurs were capable of living in the far north and in cold climates, environments where, perhaps the mean annual temperature was not much above 50 degrees Farhenheit.

Now a team of palaeontologists from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Brussels), have found evidence that dinosaurs roamed the cold regions of northern Asia.  A number of late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils have been discovered in north-eastern Russia including Theropod teeth and evidence of nesting sites that indicate that dinosaurs were at home in relatively cold climates.

The fossils have been found in the valley of the Kakanaut River, the strata has provided a wealth of late Cretaceous vertebrate fossils, dinosaur such as Hadrosaurs, Tyrannosaurs, Ankylosaurs and Dromaeosaurs are represented.  The Kakanaut Formation has not yielded any small reptiles or amphibians (presumed to be cold-blooded).  It seems that the climate was just too cold for them.  Dinosaurs seem to be well adapted to this high latitude ecosystem, one dominated by polar conifer forests.  The presence of egg shells indicate that these animals were not migrants but possibly permanent residents, although there is some doubt over the evidence supporting this theory.

Even accounting for shifting continents, these dinosaurs from the Kakanaut Formation (Maastrichtian Faunal stage), would have lived at a latitude of over 70 degrees, putting them well inside the Arctic circle.

Illustration of Theropod Tooth found in Kakanaut Formation

Picture Credit: Natural Science

The tooth is from a meat-eating dinosaur, and although there is no scale; from the broad nature of the tooth and lack of curvature we think that this is material from a Tyrannosaur.

The Arctic may have been warmer 68-65 million years ago compared to today but it would still have had freezing winters and darkness for a good part of the year as the sun dipped below the horizon.  However, in summer there would be periods of almost 24-hour sunlight, an ecosystem “boom” time with vegetation growing 24-hours a day.  A rich environment dinosaurs seem equipped to exploit.

The research paper from the Belgian team has been published in the scientific journal Naturwissenschaften.

To read the article on the Canadian fossil finds indicating dinosaurs living on the American continent at high latitudes: North American Arctic Dinosaurs

Teaching, Teaching, Teaching (hopefully some learning)

Teaching, Teaching, Teaching Advising Teachers How to Teach About Dinosaurs in Schools

Everything is in full swing on the teaching front, we have got some work to complete for one of the UK universities over the next few weeks and then it seems to be full steam ahead as a number of regional primary schools are having science weeks over the next month or so.  Our diaries are always quite full, but what with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the 150th anniversary of the publication of his ground breaking book “The Origin of Species” we seem to be busier than ever with our dinosaur workshops in schools and our dinosaur themed teaching activities.  To be fair to Charles Darwin for a moment; we should acknowledge the full title of his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” – catchy title isn’t it.

Hopefuly, we will get some time to visit the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival that is scheduled to take place at the end of the month, I know one of us has to go to Dorset as they want to view some Ichthyosaur remains that are currently being prepared.

Charles Darwin describes in great detail his arguement to support his theory of Natural Selection.  He described the first edition of his book as “brief” when it was first published, for the record; our office copy has over 470 pages (including glossary).  If you want to understand the theory, the book is a great place to start and the published notes on Darwin’s Beagle voyage is well worth a read too.  Although once again it is no “rough guide to South America”, Darwin describes in fine detail his trips on land whilst on the Beagle expedition.  It is a little known fact that whilst on the Beagle expedition Darwin spent a great deal of his time away from the ship exploring the mainland and islands of South America.  If you want to understand a little of the background to the theory of evolution put forward by Darwin, then reading his descriptions and notes regarding his voyage is a good place to start.

Trouble is, we never seem to get a spare minute just to sit down and read a good book!

 

Review of the Spring Edition of Prehistoric Times (Edition 89)

Review of Prehistoric Times Spring Edition (Spring 2009)

Spring is in the air, we don’t have to worry about frosts in the morning any more and we have the chance when we get a moment to read our spring edition of Prehistoric Times, the excellent magazine for dinosaur fans and model collectors.

In this edition, prehistoric lions are featured with lots and lots of Panthera inspired artwork as well as fascinating facts and analysis of fossil finds.  Great to see part of the magazine dedicated to that star of the short-frilled Ceratopsids – Styracosaurus.  We agree with Mike Fredericks (editor), Styracosaurus is probably one of our favourite dinosaurs too.

Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Spring Edition)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Intriguing to read Mark Berry’s article regarding “Primeval” the science fiction TV series now into a third series on ITV1.  There are rumours that negotiations have started in the USA for the production of an American TV spin off and there has been talk of a film based on the TV series.  One minor point, in the magazine, Primeval is referred to as a BBC TV programme but we don’t think this is the case as it is a production from Impossible Pictures and we don’t think the BBC are involved.  However, one small quibble in what is another excellent edition of Prehistoric Times.

Wonderful to read an article on Zdenek Burian, a very well known artist of landscapes and prehistoric animals, whose work was featured in many dinosaur books some of which we can remember reading in our youth (millions of years ago).

To visit the website of Prehistoric Times: Prehistoric Times Magazine

New Giant Ornithomimid Reported from China

Super-sized “Ostrich-like” Dinosaur from China

Over the last two summers, an international team of palaeontologists have been excavating a number of new dinosaur specimens from Cretaceous aged strata in the southern part of the Gobi desert (Gansu Province, China).  A number of new discoveries have been made including an ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex (Xiongguanlong baimoensis), pronounced shong-GWAN-long by-mo-EN-sis.  The name is a bit of a mouthful, which is appropriate for this meat-eating dinosaur as it had at least 70 sharp teeth in its jaws.  The name means Grand Pass Dragon of the White Ghost, in reference to the area the fossils were found and their proximity to a geological feature called the “White Ghost Castle”.

The new Tyrannosaur and a huge Ornithomimid (ostrich-mimic), another type of Theropod from these sediments are described in detail in the on-line journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B this week.  Further detailed information on these two discoveries will be published in a special volume entitled “Recent advances in Chinese Palaeontology”, in recognition of the enormous volume of vertebrate fossils that have been discovered in China over the past few years.

The Ornithomimid has been named Beishanlong grandis, pronounced bay-SHAN-long gran-DIS.  It may be the largest Ornithomimid discovered to date.  Size estimates are difficult to pin down as to date only a partial skeleton has been discovered.  From these remains (part of a forelimb, leg-bones, tail chevrons and caudal vertebra the animal has been estimated to have stood at least 3 metres high at the hips and weighed over 600 kgs, that’s over four times the weight of a male Ostrich.

A Scale Drawing of B. grandis and the early Tyrannosaur X. baimoensis

Picture Credit: M Donnelly/Chicago Field Museum

The scale drawings show the Tyrannosaur and the Ornithomimid compared to an adult human.  The bones in the diagrams represent those parts of the fossil skeleton discovered to date.

The Ornithomimids (members of the Dinosaur family Ornithomimosauria), are regarded as ostrich mimics.  Their anatomy resembles extant ground dwelling birds such as ostriches, emus and rheas.  They were lightly built, with compact bodies, long legs, a long neck and a small head.  They majority of these type of dinosaurs had toothless beaks just like birds.

Research project leader Peter Makovicky commented:

“When I first saw the fossils I thought, this dinosaur is much bigger than it should be, so it took a while to identify, but it’s really cool”.

Analysis of the micro-structure of fossilised bone indicates that this particular dinosaur was aged about 14 years when it died.  It was still actively growing and had not reached full size.  The joint US/Chinese team are looking forward to unearthing even bigger specimens of this type of Theropod in the near future.

The strata from which these two dinosaurs have been recovered has been dated to approximately 120 million years ago, placing these animals in the early Cretaceous.

To view a model of a baby Mammoth and dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys and Prehistoric Animal Models

Baby Mammoth Stomach Contents under Scrutiny

Baby Mammoth Reveals Secrets in Television Documentary

An almost perfectly preserved fossilised baby Mammoth is slowly and surely providing scientists with an insight into prehistory.  The 4 foot high, grey and brown Mammoth carcass was discovered by a reindeer herder a couple of years ago in the relatively remote Yanmal-Nenets region of Siberia.  The calf, a female, is one of the best preserved Mammoth specimens recovered to date and the almost perfect state of preservation has enabled scientists to gain fresh information on this ancient elephant species.  The Mammoth has been nicknamed Lyuba (after the reindeer herder’s wife); was studied by a team of scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences before travelling to Japan for further analysis.

To view the article on the Mammoth’s discovery: Baby Mammoth Found

Stomach contents have been studied and the researchers have found faecal residues and traces of prehistoric milk in the digestive track.  Analysis of the stomach contents of adult Mammoths has provided evidence of what these huge herbivores ate, but to be able to study such a young animal is a very rare event.

The baby was approximately one month old when she died, approximately 40,000 years ago (Pleistocene epoch).  The international team of scientists charged with researching the animal have suggested that this animal was healthy when she died, perhaps drowning or becoming trapped and suffocating in mud near the edge of a lake.

Using high tech equipment such as computer tomography and other forms of electronic scanning the research team have studied her bones, soft tissues and teeth.  The stomach contents and digestive tract contained traces of her mother’s milk and the fat hump on the back of the head indicates that the calf was well looked after.

Commenting on the presence of a reserve of fatty tissue, one of the researchers, Daniel Fisher of the University of Michigan stated that the hump generated heat and was used by baby mammoths to stay warm during the first months of their lives.  It has been presumed that Mammoths would give birth in the spring to allow their youngsters to grow up in the warmer spring and summer months, but even if this assumption is correct, baby Mammoths would have faced a harsh environment.

Fisher stated:

“This is the first time we have a really healthy specimen to study”.

Referring to Lyuba as being a Mammoth very much “in the pink”, the scientists are excited about how much information the carcass will provide.  Other baby mammoths that had been found including the famous preserved baby Mammoth called Dima were not in very good shape when they died.  For example, Dima was about nine months old when he died.  Analysis of the carcass indicated that this Mammoth was under nourished and very small for his age.  The stomach had a high level of parasites preserved within it and their presence indicates that this particular animal was poorly.

The faecal material found in the female calf’s intestines was similar to an adult Mammoth’s. It was likely that the mother encouraged her baby to eat dung to help establish a healthy microbial presence in the gut.  This is typical behaviour seen in a number of extant mammals.

Daniel Fisher went on to state:

“We are learning more about what [mammoths] ate and how to recognise animals that are healthy versus stressed”.

Further study of Lyuba’s teeth may provide information on the environment at the time of her death providing clues as to what caused many Ice Age mammals to vanish at the end of the Pleistocene epoch.

Scientists remain unsure as to what caused the extinction of a number of a large mammal species approximately 10,000 years ago (the demise of mega fauna).  The extinction of the mammoths is believed to have occurred relatively rapidly, some scientists believe human hunters may have played a significant role in the extinction of Mammoths, others believe that climate change may have been the cause.

To view a model of a baby Mammoth and dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys and Prehistoric Animal Models

Staypressed theme by Themocracy