The Beautiful Artwork of Schleich

The Beautiful Artwork of Schleich

The German manufacturer of models Schleich have been in business for something like seventy-five years.  They have established a strong reputation for producing accurate and beautifully painted animal models and historical figures.  In the company’s literature they claim that at the moment their range covers something like 500 different models, however, for us at Everything Dinosaur we are only really interested in their depiction of prehistoric animal models.

For their new 2010 catalogue Schleich commissioned several landscape shots featuring their figures and models.  Thanks to our close working relationship with this particular manufacturer we have been given permission to post them up (including their new beastie the Giganotosaurus).  We will add them to our website to help illustrate the models in the Schleich range that are featured in the landscapes, but below we have reproduced one of the shots showing the Sauropod Apatosaurus and the Azhdarchid Pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus.

An Example of Schleich Artwork

Picture Credit: Schleich

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

Whilst we accept that Apatosaurus is associated with the late Jurassic and the Azhdarchid Quetzalcoatlus is a Pterosaur from the late Cretaceous and these two animals are separated by millions of years, it is still a nicely composed picture.  We could be pedantic and object to the grass-like vegetation in the foreground but this would be missing the point, as a piece of artwork showing the fine detail of the Schleich Saurus models it works quite well.

We like the touch of the meteorite shower in the sky, perhaps this picture is showing the last few days of the Dinosauria on Earth before the majority of these amazing creatures were made extinct due to the disastrous impact of an ex-terrestrial body some 65 million years ago.

Say Hello to “Meg” the Megalosaurus

Meet “Meg” the Megalosaurus

It is always a pleasure to come across a company that cares passionately about what they do and how they create their products.  One such company is Dice Maestro the developers of the dinosaur themed card and dice combat game – Jurassic Wars.  We had the chance to meet up with the designers behind this award winning game the other day and we were introduced to “Meg” one of the meat-eating dinosaurs featured amongst the ten Theropod dinosaurs in Jurassic Wars.  “Meg” as she is called, is actually a Megalosaurus (Megalosaurus bucklandii), a swift hunter from the Mid Jurassic.

Say Hello to “Meg” the Megalosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It is very appropriate to have a Megalosaurus to promote this British manufactured game, after all Megalosaurus was the first dinosaur to be scientifically studied and formerly described and one of original founder members of the Order Dinosauria as stated by that famous English anatomist, Sir Richard Owen.

To view the game: Dinosaur Board Games and Puzzles

A great picture, an example of the lovely artwork that can be seen on all twenty dinosaur cards included in the Jurassic Wars game.  The running pose reminds of the the three-toed, dinosaur trackway in Oxfordshire that has recently been granted SSSI (site of special scientific interest) status.

To read more about this important dinosaur trackway: Dinosaur Footprints Get Special Protection

Although, ichnologists (scientist who specialise in studying tracks and footprints), cannot be sure what sort of meat-eating dinosaur made those prints, it could have been a Megalosaurus like “Meg”.  The illustration shows this beautifully balanced dinosaur in mid stride with its jaws opening perhaps depicting the last moments of a chase as this hunter prepares to attack its victim.

A delight to encounter “Meg” and a lovely illustration of this Jurassic carnivore.

Lapal Primary School and the Diplodocus

Lapal Primary School and the Diplodocus

Pupils at Lapal Primary school in Halesowen (England) have been travelling back in time to visit the age of Dinosaurs with a range of teaching activities organised for years 1 and 2.

Students have been getting to grips with fearsome creatures such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptors as well as marvelling at peaceful plant eating giants such as the armoured Stegosaurus and the huge Diplodocus.

For these young palaeontologists and their teachers, dinosaur themed activities have included creating their own prehistoric animal models and helping to paint gigantic posters featuring well-known dinosaurs.  The posters have been used to decorate the classrooms and the corridors.

For Miss Loughton’s class (2L) the front of the classroom is now adorned with an enormous Diplodocus grazing on a tree fern.  This artwork has been lovingly created by the children aided by Miss Loughton and the class teaching assistant Mrs Holden.

 

Lapal Primary School and their Diplodocus (class 2L)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows the Diplodocus mural (Diplodocus longus), we loved the spotted decorations and the addition of a tree fern so that this herbivorous dinosaur could be depicted chomping on plants.  After all, with a twenty tonne body to sustain, scientists believe that animals such as Diplodocus probably spent most of the time eating.

The Head of the Diplodocus

Diplodocus close up

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A close up of Lapal Primary school’s Diplodocus about to take a bite out of a tree fern.

Dinosaurs make a great topic for primary school children, helping them to express their creativity with story writing, imaginative play and aiding numeracy and reading development.

It was a real pleasure visiting the school and working with years 1 and 2, helping with the dinosaur experiments and showing some of our fossils.  Our thanks to all the students, teaching assistants and teachers who helped make the day so special.

Beipiaosaurus – Primitive Therizinosaur

Beipiaosaurus – the most Primitive Therizinosaur

Liaoning Province in northern China is world famous for its many dinosaur and other Mesozoic animal fossils.  The remarkable preservation of the fossils of Theropod dinosaurs and ancient birds have enabled scientists to make some amazing discoveries.  The creatures drowned in a shallow lake and sank to the muddy bottom, their bodies being quickly covered in volcanic ash, leading to an exquisite state of preservation.  A number of feathered dinosaurs have been identified from the Cretaceous deposits at quarries near the city of Sihetun in the area.  Famous discoveries such as Sinosauropteryx and the potentially venomous Sinornithosaurus show dinosaurs with traces of fibrous coats made of primitive feathers.

One of the largest feathered dinosaurs known in the fossil record is the mysterious Beipiaosaurus.  Fossils of this 2 metre long Theropod were found by a local farmer/fossil hunter in 1996, three years later this dinosaur was formerly named and described.  The holotype is stored at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing.  This partial specimen consisting of elements from the right hand side of the skull and jaw, plus vertebrae and limb bones shows a serious of filaments attached to the forelimbs.  These are believed to be primitive feathers indicating that Beipiaosaurus had a shaggy coat.  Classified as a Therizinosaur, this dinosaurs bionomial name is Beipiaosaurus inexpectus.  It was named after the Chinese city of Beipiao, near to which the first fossil remains were found, the specific name refers to some of the unexpected discoveries revealed by the specimen, after all, this was a Theropod that had adapted to a vegetarian diet.

A Scale Drawing of Beipiaosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view a model of Beipiaosaurus and other dinosaurs: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys- Dinosaur Models

“Sid Vicious” Raptor to Made Available to Researchers

Turkey-sized Dromaeosaur to be Handed over for Research

A nearly complete dinosaur skeleton, representing an unknown genus, that had been involved in a long-running legal battle is being handed over to researchers.  The small Dromaeosaur, nicknamed “Sid Vicious” was the subject of a court case when local palaeontologist Nathan Murphy was accused of stealing the fossil from a private ranch in Montana.  The seventy million year old specimen was stored in an evidence locker and formed part of the case for the prosecution of Nathan Murphy.  Mr Murphy was accused of a number of crimes against federal law including the removal of “Sid Vicious” without the prior approval or knowledge of the land owners.  In a successful prosecution Mr Murphy was sentenced to sixty days in jail.

In a separate federal case, that took place last year, Nathan Murphy was given a further custodial sentence and a hefty fine after pleading guilty on the charge of stealing fossils from federal land.

The raptor fossil will be prepared by scientists at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, based in South Dakota.  It is hoped that the specimen will be ready for a museum display exhibit by May.

To read the original story about the fossil theft: Local Fossil Collector Charged with Theft

Commenting on the little Dromaeosaur, President of the Black Hills Institute, Pete Larson stated:

“It’s a mean and nasty little dinosaur.  Even though it’s not very big, you wouldn’t want to meet it in a dark alleyway”.

After Murphy’s conviction in state court, the raptor fossil was turned over to the owners of the property, Bruce and Barb Bruckner, and they in turn sent it to the Black Hills Institute so that it could be prepared for display.

When asked about the delay in allowing researchers to study the fossil, Pete Larson said:

“What’s a few years here and there when you’re talking about a dinosaur that’s 70 million years old.  The science could wait.  It’s more important to do things properly and make sure the proper owner was identified.”

To compensate the Black Hills Institute for the many hundreds of hours of preparation work involved, they have been allowed to sell commercial replicas.  It has been estimated that to own your very own seventy million year old Dromaeosaur customers would expect to pay somewhere around $12,500 USD for a museum quality replica.

One replica will be donated by the Bruckners and the Institute to the new Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field Station in Malta, the field station is close to where the fossil was originally found.

Carnegie Collection Spinosaurus

Carnegie Collection Spinosaurus

Everything Dinosaur continues to work closely with Safari Ltd of the United States and just in is the Spinosaurus model, part of the Carnegie Collectibles range of models.  This finely detailed 1:70 scale model of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus stands 12cm high at the hips and has an overall length of approximately 38cm.  It is a more gracile representation of this member of the Spinosauridae compared to the model produced by Schleich.  There are a number of differences between the two interpretations of this large Theropod.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been asked to write a review of these two prehistoric animal models for an ezine and this will be done in the near future.

Carnegie Spinosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This model is beautifully painted and continues the marked improvements being made by Safari in their interpretation of prehistoric animal fossils.  The most significant feature of the skeleton of Spinosaurus is the array of spines that run along the backbone.  In life, this would have been covered in skin and formed a sail-like structure.  The exact purpose of this is unknown, although it may have played a role in regulating body temperature or it could have been an elaborate signalling device.  Spinosaurus is usually depicted as a solitary hunter, perhaps a colourful sail-like structure was used to help communicate between individuals when they met.

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

The detail shown on this particular model is excellent, even down to the pronounced kink in the upper jaw, a characteristic of the Spinosaurids.  The snout is shown to be very narrow and in combination with the kinked upper jaw it is thought these are adaptations for catching fish.  Spinosaurus is believed to have been a specialised piscivore, however, such a large Theropod, (some estimates give it a length of around sixty feet), would be capable of predating upon herbivorous dinosaurs that shared its north African habitat.

The Fine Detail of the Model

Spinosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The close up clearly shows the accurate detailing of the teeth and jaws, plus a small crest on the centre of the snout above the nostrils.  The nostrils are located in a position to permit the jaws to be dipped in water without them going under the water too, this is a useful adaptation for a fish eater.  Incidentally, such an arrangement would permit this large dinosaur to scavenge the bodies of dead animals.  The narrow jaws permitting easy access to the body cavity of carcases.  It is likely that Spinosaurids filled out their fish diet with some scavenging on carrion.

Dinosaurs Unleashed Exhibition Opens this Week

Dinosaurs Unleashed Exhibition Opens on January 28th

Dinosaurs Unleashed opens in London’s West End this week.  The largest animatronic dinosaur ever to be seen in the United Kingdom will be just one of the many exciting features of the Dinosaurs Unleashed exhibition at Parklife, Oxford Street (London).  Joining the 30 metre long Diplodocus will be a range of 23 life size dinosaur models featuring the likes of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops and the armoured dinosaur Stegosaurus.

Large Theropod Stalking Oxford Street

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs Unleashed

Dinosaurs Unleashed opens its doors on Thursday, January 28th and runs until the end of April.  The exhibition offers visitors the chance to see prehistoric animals in a unique Mesozoic forest setting, as the exhibition also includes a range of prehistoric plants that were around at the time of the Dinosaurs.

Are you Brave Enough to Face a Dromaeosaur?

A terror on Oxford Street

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs Unleashed

This particular dinosaur encounter is designed to be educational, informative and lots of fun for all the family.

Looks like a Meat-Eater has its Eye on You

Meat-eater has its sights on you.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs Unleashed

Everything Dinosaur staff have been involved in this event helping to set up the retailing.  For a fun-packed experience with an amazing array of prehistoric animals visit Everything Dinosaur’s social media sites for updates.

Keep up to date by reading the Everything Dinosaur blog.

Dinosaur Footprints turn out to be Predator Traps – New Research

Huge Dinosaur Footprints Trap Smaller Dinosaurs

A multi-national team of palaeontologists have published a new paper providing fresh insight into a bizarre dinosaur discovery in China – a vertical bone bed.  Canadian researchers aided by scientists from America and China have been painstakingly piecing together the story surrounding the remarkable find of several Theropod dinosaur skeletons that seemed to have become trapped on top of each other.

The fossil site is in the Dzungaria area of northern China and over the period between 2001 and 2005 several vertical pits have been excavated with many containing the remains of small meat-eating dinosaurs preserved in a heap, with one carcase on top of other fossilised remains.  The key to unlocking what had actually happened 150 million years ago (Late Jurassic) has taken several years of research, but a new paper published in the scientific journal Palaios offers a remarkable explanation.

These pits into which these unfortunate dinosaurs fell, were not natural depressions, but the remnants of huge footprints left by a Sauropod as it rumbled on by.  The strata indicates that the ground was very soft and there was lots of volcanic ash around as a result of a recent eruption.  One small bipedal dinosaur fell into a footprint and became trapped in the soft, volcanic mud.  This attracted the attentions of other meat-eaters who one by one came to inspect the pit, hoping for an easy meal.  These animals too, became trapped and unable to escape.  Over time a sort of pyramid of Theropod bodies built up and this is the way they have remained until the scientists began to piece together this amazing fossil puzzle.

The remains of an adult and an immature Guanlong (a primitive crested Tyrannosaur) and two unknown Ceratosaurs have been recovered, along with the fossils of at least 18 other individuals in the three pits that the team excavated.  The pits themselves are up to 2 metres deep and the scientists have speculated that they were made by a Mamenchisaurus (20 metre long Sauropod).   Fossils of Mamenchisaurus have been found nearby.

Dr. David Eberth of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta (Canada) stated:

“None of us had ever seen anything like this before.  In most bonebeds, remains are scattered across flat surface these skeletons were stacked one on top of another, in what appeared to be pits full of volcanic mud.”

Evidence showed the small Theropods became stuck in the mud-filled footprints of the larger dinosaur and died.  The high quality of the preservation of the remains indicated that these dinosaurs were buried within days to months of dying and then more creatures would become stuck above them, successively burying the dinosaurs.

Dr. Eberth added:

“Discovering that the preservation of these skeletons was attributable to the track-making of a giant, long-necked dinosaur was simply bizarre.”

This discovery may have implications for other dig sites, as if researchers could locate large amounts of bone in these Sauropod made “predator traps”, it would cut down the time taken to extensively survey each dig site.

Review of Prehistoric Times Winter 2010 (Edition 92)

Review of Prehistoric Times (Edition 92)

Our winter edition of Prehistoric Times arrived today, a Saturday, giving me the first chance to read the magazine as I was the first one into the Everything Dinosaur office this morning.  This is issue ninety-two of the magazine for dinosaur fans and prehistoric animal modellers and what a great read it is.

Lovely to see a review of the John Sibbick prehistoric animal art exhibition that took place on the Isle of Wight as well as an interview with  Dr. Scott Sampson palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist, who discusses some of the latest dinosaur discoveries from the Badlands of the United States.

Featured prehistoric animals in this edition include Stegosaurus, with lots of fascinating facts and information plus many drawings and Stegosaurus artwork contributed by readers.  Great to see a feature on the Palaeozoic super-predator Anomalocaris, some wonderful pictures and lots of really interesting data on this bizarre apex predator of the Cambrian.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Winter 2010)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Inside the magazine there is a summary of the major palaeontological discoveries over the last twelve months plus a behind the scenes look at how Safari Ltd design their prehistoric animal models.

To learn more about Prehistoric Times: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Crocodiles that can Respond when their Names are Called

Pair of Dwarf Caiman Respond to Voice Commands claims Visitor Attraction

Crocodiles have a deserved reputation for being nasty characters, of the twenty of so species in the world today, all are meat-eaters and they also have in common a powerful set of jaws that can close with an immense amount of force.  However, according to a press release from the Blue Planet Aquarium (Cheshire), there may be some species capable of responding to training.

A pair of dwarf Caiman at the Blue Planet Aquarium called Paleo and Suchus have learned to recognise their names and respond to this sound when their keeper calls to them.  In a press release from the Ellesmere Port based visitor attraction, it is claimed that a training programme, usually used to train mammals in captivity, has succeeded in developing a cognitive response from these small crocodile-like animals.

This species of Crocodilian, known as Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman, as this species was first formerly named and described by Cuvier (famous French scientist) in 1807; is one of the smallest, extant species of Crocodilians in the world today with individuals rarely exceeding lengths of 1.5 metres in the wild.  The Caiman is usually found in the Amazon basin and has a reputation for inhabiting fast flowing streams and rivers, not the usual haunts of its larger Caiman cousins such as the Black Caiman and the Spectacled Caiman.

The Latin name for the Dwarf Caiman is Paleosuchus palpebrosus from this information it is clear how the two aquarium exhibits acquired their names.  The dermal armour of this particular type of Caiman is different from many other Crocodilian species.  The bony scutes or plates extend from the back down the flank and onto the belly.  It is thought that this is an adaptation to help buffer the animal against strong currents and to protect it as it moves across the swift waters where it lives.  For this particular animal, this unusual arrangement of body armour has given it an additional advantage.  The hides are no use for the handbag industry, as a result, there has been very little hunting of the Dwarf Caiman in its Amazon home, although the species is still threatened due to the loss of habitat.

Commenting on the training programme, the attraction’s manager Tom Cornwall stated:

“They are very intelligent and started responding to their names in just a few days.”

Dwarf Caiman – Responding to their own Names

Picture Credit: Blue Planet

In a bid to train them to permit inspections from the keeper and to make the giving of any medicines easier, the animals have been trained with morsels of food to reinforce positive behaviour.

The training programme is based on a similar scheme which is in operation at the famous Madras Crocodile Bank Trust in India.   The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust was set up by the famous Crocodile expert Romulus Whitaker and it provides essential conservational support for rare reptile species most notably the extremely endangered Gharial.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, are aware of a number of training programmes that have been put in place to help build a “rapport” with certain Crocodilians in parks and zoos.  We know of a number of such establishments that have put in place such training in a bid to make the handling of these animals that much easier and to add enrichment activities.

Once fully trained, Tom Cornwall hopes that:

“As well as enabling us to approach them and inspect and treat any potential health issues it will also allow us to set up tasks and foraging exercises for them to mimic the types of behaviour they would have to use in the wild.”

We have come across a number of similar examples, perhaps most strikingly the training of three Cuban Crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer), so that these animals could respond to their names and move to a specific part of their enclosure when prompted to do so to enable their cage to be cleaned.  The beautifully marked Cuban Crocodile, is one of the rarest animals in the world, its hide being highly prized.  Although, shy and secretive in the wild, the three Crocodiles in the enclosure seemed to respond to their names being called and would often react by moving out of their pond and up onto the bank in response to the shouting of the keepers.

However, these animals were far from domesticated and as we recall, just like any Crocodile, if given the chance they would happily attack any person foolish enough to come within range.  Reaching lengths of nearly 3 metres, the Cuban Crocodile is regarded as a man-eater, and in captivity even the best trained animal is capable of attacking the unwary.  Biting the hand that feeds them as it were.

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