Celebrating the Flintstones Cartoon Series

Google Doodle Marks Fifty Years of the Flintstones

Any one turning to Google this morning will be greeted by a “Google Doodle” on the site’s homepage featuring the Flintstones family.  The image has been created to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the animated American sitcom “The Flintstones”; that was first shown in the United States on the 30th September 1960.

This cartoon show featured the antics of Fred Flintstone and his best buddy Barney Rubble with their long suffering wives Wilma and Betty.  The Flintstones was set in the stone age town of Bedrock and like all good television programmes and films depicting the past made in the sixties, there were lots of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures sharing this fantasy world.  The Flintstones even had their own pet dinosaur – Dino, as well as a giant, pussy cat which we think was supposed to be a Sabre-Toothed Cat.  Although, most of us at Everything Dinosaur are too young to remember the original broadcasts, the cartoons are frequently showed on UK television, especially in the Summer holidays when the children are off school.  This sitcom was a Hanna-Barbera production and it has been shown in many countries around the world.  In the fifty years that the Flintstones has been around, we wondered how many palaeontologists the programme had inspired.  For many young viewers, this programme may have been their first opportunity to view dinosaurs on TV.

Forty Eight Million Years before Van Gogh – Eocene Sunflowers

Fossils of Ancient Member of the Daisy Family Discovered in Argentina

The Dutch born, post impressionist, artist Vincent Van Gogh famously painted a number of still life pictures of sunflowers.  One such painting was sold at auction in the late 1980s for a little under $40 million USD.  However, researchers at the Argentinian Museum of National Sciences have discovered their own “portrait of sunflowers” with the finding of two exquisitely preserved fossilised flowering heads in southern Patagonia (Argentina).  Sunflowers are members of the Asteraceae (otherwise known as Compositae – we think) Family.  This family of flowering plants (Angiosperms), is one of the most diverse and widespread of all the plant families.  This family includes plants such as the daisy, dandelion and commercially important plants such as the tea bush and sunflowers.

Plant material is rarely preserved as a whole fossil, for instance, a fossil of the entire plant with roots, leaves and flowers all together.  Fossils normally occur as isolated individual parts such as cones, pollen grains, pieces of trunk and such like.  Delicate flowering heads (capitula) are extremely rare in the fossil record.  However, the discovery of a fossil that shows two complete flower heads, winged seeds and the flower stem is helping scientists to understand the evolution of this very important group of plants.

The fossil has been dated to approximately 47.5 million years ago (Eocene Epoch) and it was found in strata along the Pichi Leufu river.  During the Eocene, this part of the world had a sub-tropical climate with average temperatures of around 19 degrees Celsius.  The dense flower-head would have been attractive to pollinating insects, suggesting that flowers such as these primitive ancestors of the sunflower already had a long established relationship with insect pollinators.

The Fossilised Flower Heads

Picture Credit: Science

Dr. Viviana Barreda, one of the authors of the paper, the details of which have been published in the journal “Science”, suggests that the finding of this fossil supports the hypothesis that the ancestors of the Asteraceae Family evolved in the southern region of Gondwanaland and spread to most of this super-continent before this landmass began to break up.  This would explain the wide geographical dispersal of related genera.

Scientists believe that the common ancestor to a number of related plant families first evolved in sub-tropical Antarctica, (which was part of Gondwanaland), before migrating to Australia and South America as Antarctica cooled and became an unfavourable climate for most plant species.

Commenting on the discovery, University of Vienna (Austria) botanist, Dr. Tod Stuessy stated that this fossil and the related pollen grains were clear evidence of the existence of the sunflower sub-family at the early stages of Asteraceae diversification.  Dr. Stuessy wrote an accompanying article to the Argentinian scientific paper.  He went on to add that little is known about the origins of sunflowers and there is much still to learn about how these plants evolved and spread all over the world or indeed how members of the Asteraceae became so “incredibly diverse.”

The scientific paper on which the journal article is based is the culmination of two years of research.

Largest Dinosaur Thigh Bone In Europe

Huge Dinosaur Femur found In Spain

Palaeontologists from a dinosaur research institute in Spain have announced the discovery of the thigh bone of a huge, long-necked dinosaur.  This bone, known as the femur, is the longest found in Europe to date, the colossal bone measures nearly two  metres in length.  This discovery is one of a number of recent finds from the famous Las Hoyas Formation in central Spain.  For example, a few weeks ago, we wrote an article on the discovery of a new genus of meat-eating dinosaur from Spain – Concavenator corcovatus,  a bizarre Theropod that may have had a hump on its back.

To read this article: New European Meat-eater Discovered – One Lump or Two?

The femur, which is very well preserved, is believed to have come from the body of a huge Sauropod dinosaur.  Although, the species identification has yet to be confirmed, scientists involved with the excavation suspect that the thigh bone may have come from a Turiasaurus riodevensis.  Remains of this huge, thirty metre long animal had been found in the same area in 2004, and this monstrous reptile was officially named and described in 2006.  The name means “Teruel lizard”, as Turia is the Latin name of Teruel, the Spanish province in which the fossils were found.  Alongside the enormous femur was a 1.25 metre long tibia (lower leg bone) and a number of vertebrae.

Scientists at the Site Working to Excavate the Huge Bones

Picture Credit: AFP

The Las Hoyas site is in the Iberian Mountain Ranges, it has provided scientists with a number of very well preserved specimens from the Jurassic/Cretaceous geological boundary, helping to provide palaeontologists with information on the changes to the environment and ecosystems at this important time in our planet’s history.  The huge Sauropod fossils date from just before the end of the Jurassic, they have been dated to around 145 million years ago.

The scientists are confident that this new material, combined with the holotype material for Turiasaurus, will enable them to attempt a reconstruction of this huge, long-necked dinosaur, which may turn out to be the biggest genus of dinosaur known from Europe to date.

Mammoth Ivory Trade could Threaten Modern Elephants

Trade in Siberian Mammoth Tusks could Aid in Elephant Extinctions

The once diverse and widespread Order Proboscidea (animals with trunks) have very few representatives left on planet Earth.  Of the Elephants, these once quite common creatures are restricted to Africa and parts of Asia, however, trade in the ivory of long-dead members of the Elephantidae family – Mammoths, could harm existing populations of these animals.

Mammoths have been known for many thousands of years.  Humans relationship with the Mammoth goes back a very long way, the cave paintings of these hairy, long tusked creatures by our ancestors are testament to this relationship.  They are perhaps the most well researched animals from the Ice Ages and recent films such as the Ice Age trilogy have made “Manny the Mammoth” almost as popular as Tyrannosaurus rex.  Indeed, in the Everything Dinosaur annual prehistoric animal popularity survey, the Woolly Mammoth usually comes out in the top ten and is the often the most popular non-dinosaur animal.

The permafrost in Siberia is melting, as climate change takes affect.  So much fossil material is being discovered that a trade in dead Mammoth ivory has sprung up.  The trade has actually been around for over 100 years or so.  In the 19th Century, the native herds-people of Siberia used to regard the exposed carcases of Mammoths with fear.  Many of these people believed the Mammoths to be giant moles that were very much alive and to approach a thawing carcase would bring disease and bad luck.

The very last Mammoths, a population of dwarf Woolly Mammoths lived on Wrangel Island, to the north of Siberia. This isolated population became extinct only 4,000 years ago, just a few hundred years before the great Egyptian civilisation came about.

An Ice Age Woolly Mammoth Herd

Picture Credit: Schleich of Germany

To view Schleich prehistoric animals and other models including Schleich dinosaurs: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

A new study, undertaken by Care for the Wild, a conservation charity, suggests that up to sixty tons of ivory is taken from Siberia each year.  The amount of Mammoth ivory entering the global market now exceeds that from elephants, most of which is obtained by illegal poaching in sub-Saharan Africa.  So plentiful are the Mammoth remains, that some Russian businessmen have taken to hiring planes to scour the vast tundra so that rotting carcases can be spotted and the ivory removed.  This growing trade in prehistoric ivory has raised concerns over the effect on extant species of elephant.  The Mammoths may be fossils, but they are not permineralised, the ivory is not replaced by minerals.  The fossils are firstly, too young for full permineralistion to occur and their method of preservation, essentially frozen in the permafrost, like being stored in a giant freezer permits the organic ivory and other material to remain intact.

Some conservation groups are concerned that real elephant ivory could be passed off as Mammoth ivory, thus permitting the poaching network a route to market.  In the meantime, we shall continue to monitor the situation.

The author of this new study, Esmond Martin, an expert in the ivory trade; stated:

“Every year from mid-June when the tundra melts until mid-September, hundreds of people search the tundra in northern Siberia looking for Mammoth tusks”.

Scientists have estimated that the frozen north of Russia may still contain an estimated 150 million dead Mammoths, however, the exploitation of the Mammoths as a resource is also denying palaeontologists the chance to study these extinct animals.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is important to remember that we still have a great deal to learn about these amazing creatures [Woolly Mammoths], the ransacking of the tundra for Mammoth ivory is denying scientists the opportunity to study the remains properly.  As climate change affects our own species, we have the opportunity to learn about how temperature changes led to the demise of another large mammal species.”

The report is published in “Pachyderm” a journal focusing on elephant conservation.  It is published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.  Rather than taking the pressure off those elephant species that remain, the huge amount of Mammoth ivory coming onto the global market could lead to increased demand for ivory from any source, including extant elephants.

Esmond Martin, commented that the greatest threat on modern elephants lies in the possibility of Mammoth ivory being exported to Africa, where shipments could be mingled with tusks from African elephants.  The Indian Government has already imposed a complete ban on Mammoth ivory, fearing just such a threat and wanting to protect the few wild Indian elephants that remain.

Mark Jones, a spokesperson for Care for the Wild said:

“The trade in elephant ivory is illegal and we need to monitor anything that might increase the threat to elephants.  The hope must be that this Mammoth ivory will reduce demand but it is changing the whole market and we need to monitor it.”

There is another factor that needs to be considered when examining the trade in Mammoth ivory.  When scientists are working on the thawing carcase of a Mammoth such as Lyuba, the remarkably well preserved baby Mammoth found a few years ago, great care is taken to avoid contamination from germs and other pathogens that may be de-frosting too.  Some of these bugs could be quite harmful to our own species, after all, we have not been exposed to them for thousands of years.  When working with such fossil material there is always the risk of exposure, we suspect that no precautions are taken by the Mammoth ivory hunters.  Trade in Mammoth ivory may not just be deadly to elephants.

Silver Jubilee for Royal Tyrrell Museum (Alberta, Canada)

Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller Celebrates 25 Years

This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller (Alberta, Canada), a museum dedicated in the main to dinosaurs and the specimens to be found in the amazing strata of the Canadian province of Alberta.

The Tyrrell opened on September 25th 1985, it did not get the “Royal” status until 1990, this museum, adjacent to numerous outcrops and exposures of  Upper Cretaceous strata, has done much to put Canada “on the map” as it were when it comes to palaeontology and related disciplines.

Don Brinkman, Director of Preservation and Research at the museum, recalls that in the early 1980′s scientists began working on an extensive horned dinosaur bone-bed, at the time a very ambitious excavation.  The project to build a museum in the area of Drumheller was already underway when he joined in 1982.

He recalled:

“We had three years for designing the building, building the building and collecting the specimens.  Looking back it was phenomenally ambitious, but we were all very young and we had no idea that a project [of that size] should take ten years.”

At first the staff worked out of offices in Edmonton, but the first museum director, David Baird decided that to work best, the scientists needed to be in and amongst the fossils, so the young Don Brinkman found himself working in a converted Co-op grocers in Drumheller, with colleagues and facilities scattered around the town.  From the beginning, he knew that working for the “Tyrrell” would be very different.

As the Royal Tyrrell staff emphasise, this museum was never going to be simply a collection of fossilised bones.  The museum is named after the famous Canadian geologist Joseph Burr Tyrrell (1858-1957), who discovered the skull of Canada’s first meat-eating dinosaur (Albertosaurus) whilst prospecting for coal on behalf of the Geological Survey of Canada.  The name is pronounced with the onus on the first syllable, as in “squirrel”.

Discussing the culture and ethos of the museum, Don added:

“It was decided that the focus would be on palaeobiology.  We wanted to understand the animals as they were living.  The foundation of palaeobiology is the fossil, but now we’ve taken an object and created a world around it.”

He admits it wasn’t a widely followed approach:

“It was viewed as wishy-washy, because there hadn’t been the scientific rigour for that kind of observation.  One of the most important things over the museum’s 25 years has been the development of this type of approach as rigorous science.”

This philosophy explains why today, although most of the galleries feature dinosaurs, there are also extensive exhibits on life on Earth over the last 300 million years or so.  The museum has experts on dinosaurs, and also geologists, palaeobotanists, and other specialist all helping to take care of over 110,000 fossil specimens and over the twenty-five years of the museum – ten million visitors.

When people visit the museum, as Don Brinkman says:

“They are seeing dinosaurs in the context of where they lived and how they interacted.”

We at Everything Dinosaur have been lucky enough to visit the museum on several occasions.  We have worked on some of the dig sites and helped in the huge fossil store rooms, indeed we would wager that there are a number of new species awaiting to be discovered, once the staff at the museum get round to studying all the fossils that have been placed with them after their excavation.

The museum really is an amazing place and very user friendly, full of helpful staff.   It is one of our favourite museums in the world.

Dr. Donald Brinkman at the Royal Tyrrell

Picture Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum

Dr. Don Brinkman, Preservation and Research Director at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, is delighted to preside over the 25th anniversary of the museum’s opening.  It is difficult to say exactly what the exhibit is in the background, but we assume it is a specimen of Albertosaurus sarcophagus, the same type of dinosaur the Joseph Burr Tyrrell discovered.

A number of special events and programmes are planned to mark the silver jubilee.  Twenty-five specimens form part of a special exhibition that tells the story of the history of the museum, one exhibit for each year of the museum’s existence.  Together they tell the story of Royal Tyrrell, chronicling the stories, the people and the events.

One of the stars of the show is the exquisitely preserved T. rex fossil known as “Black Beauty” (TMP 81.6.1), one of only two T. rex fossils found in Alberta.  The fossil specimen is jet black and represents about 25% of the entire animal, including a substantial amount of cranial material.  The jet black colour of the fossil is a result of manganese deposited by local groundwater penetrating and coating the fossil.

Senior science educator Megan McLauchlin explains that the colour is not the only thing that is special about this particular Tyrannosaur fossil.  It is a fossil of a sub-adult animal, she went onto state:

“When you’re studying fossils, you really want a range of ages in the specimens.”

The specimens in this special exhibit tell uniquely local stories of scientific advancement.  The block of duck-billed Hadrosaur eggs and embryos found at Devil’s Coulee in southern Alberta, for example, featured a new species of Hypacrosaurus, and helped to advance theories about how these dinosaurs cared for their young and about population dynamics.

The braincase of the Troodon, a small, meat-eating Dromaeosaur, helped convince Dr. Philip Currie, one of the world’s most famous palaeontologists, of the link between dinosaurs and birds.

The almost complete Mosasaur skeleton, a monstrous marine reptile, included its last meal of sea turtles and large fish, a key discovery about its diet.

To view a model of a Mosasaurus and Carnegie Dinosaur Models: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models and Toys

And that’s the secret, McLauchlin says, behind Alberta’s success in the world of palaeontology.

She added:

“We had not only great conditions for the dinosaurs to live in, but also great conditions for them to die in and then be buried.”

The parched, streaked cliffs behind her may not look like the forested, riverine plain of the Centrosaurus herd, but she says you just have to know how to read the rocks.  White sandstone indicates the fast-moving waters of oceans and rivers; darker mudstone represents slower moving swamps and lakes; black coal was once deep plant growth; and ironstone, look for the petrified wood chunks, speaks of a swampy forested environment.

And those cliffs are still talking, as Dr. Brinkman says:

“We keep going back to places like Dinosaur Provincial Park because there’s high erosion there and there’s lots to be found.  Last year was one of our best years yet in terms of significance of specimens.”

Much of what we now know about the Late Cretaceous, particularly the Campanian faunal stage is down to the scientific projects and field work carried out by Royal Tyrrell staff and volunteers.  We wish them the very best for their 25th anniversary celebrations and perhaps we can get over to Alberta again ourselves soon.

Everything Dinosaur Team Members at a Dig Site (Royal Tyrrell Field Work)

Pause for a pic next to a digs station

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur team members doing their bit for the Royal Tyrrell collection.  The pictures shows team members taking a break during a Hadrosaurine excavation.

Getting Ahead with an Ichthyosaur

Local Fossil Enthusiast Benefits from Lyme Regis Landslip

In May 2008, the beach area between the towns of Lyme Regis and Charmouth on the Dorset coast had its worst landslide in over 100 years.  The cliffs in this area are extremely dangerous and landslides are common.  It was hoped that a number of new fossil specimens, possibly some marine reptile remains, could have been uncovered and for one hard working amateur fossil hunter, the landslide led to them finding the skull of a huge Ichthyosaur.

Ichthyosaurs (fish-lizards), were the most completely adapted of all the marine reptiles to a life in the sea.  These animals had streamlined bodies and four paired flippers,  Fossils of these reptiles have been found with preserved embryos inside the bodies, or even while they were giving birth – proof that these animals were viviparous (gave birth to live young).

Devon based, local fossil enthusiast, Mike Harrison spent the last two years searching for parts of the giant Ichthyosaur skull having first found a shard of fossilised bone after the Dorset landslide.  In total he recovered a number of pieces of the skull and has managed to piece the 1.5 metre skull together, like an enormous prehistoric jigsaw.

Mr Harrison, said that he had spent as much time as he could on the beach looking for the fossil remains and then he slowly but surely put the skull back together, using his kitchen table to store the 25 stone head.

Remembering the start of his Ichthyosaur jigsaw puzzle, Mr Harrison commented:

“Within a week or two of the landslide in May 2008, I found the first piece of the skull.  From then on it was a race to find the rest of it which I did after six months hard work.  There were twenty-one pieces which were quite large, around 18 inches by 2 feet.”

Mr Harrison and the 190 million year old Ichthyosaur Skull

Picture Credit: SWNS

We at Everything Dinosaur pay tribute to Mike for his sterling efforts.  After all, if Mike had not recovered the fossil bones, they would have been eventually destroyed by abrasion and erosion forces on the beach.  Mike is pictured behind his Ichthyosaur fossil, a fossilised Ichthyosaur paddle is in the foreground.  The skull certainly looks exquisite even the sclerotic ring of bone in the orbit of the skull has been found.  This overlapping ring of bone helped support the eyeball at depth and may have aided vision by allowing sophisticated focusing of the eye lens in a marine environment.

Commenting on the teeth in the long jaws, Mr Harrison stated:

“Some of the teeth have broken off but the roots are still there.  So this may suggest that the dinosaur died of old age, or that it couldn’t feed itself.  They would have had around 150 teeth.”

When asked about his domestic arrangements, after all, not many households have a 190 million year old Ichthyosaur skull in the kitchen, Mike said:

“I’ve been storing the pieces in a spare room, but now it’s on the kitchen table so it’s been TV dinners for a while.”

For Mike Harrison this is the find of a life time and it is certainly the biggest specimen that we are aware of to have come out of the May 2008 landslide.

The discovery has been registered with the Charmouth Heritage Centre and will then be sent to a museum.

Palaeontologist Phil Davidson said:

”It’s fairly common to find small isolated bones on the beach, but to find such an enormous skull is very rare.  The time and effort Mike put into finding it, going back again and back again after the landslide is incredible.”

We would like to add our congratulations to Mike Harrison .  The specimen looks superb and we know just how hard it is to put one of these Jurassic “jigasauruses” together.  Team members were actually on beach at Lyme Regis the day before the landslide, fortunately the slip occurred at high tide and at night so no people were hurt when it happened.  We have been teased a little and “blamed” for the landslide, but it was not our fault, besides we are far too sensible to risk going to near the cliffs, we know just how dangerous they are.

We have just added a new Ichthyosaur model into the Everything Dinosaur model range, this Ichthyosaur has a Ammonite in its mouth, great to see a model so strongly associated with Lyme Regis and the Jurassic coast.

Carnegie Collection Ichthyosaurus Model

Ichthyosaurus Model (Carnegie Collectibles)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the new Ichthyosaurus model and Carnegie Dinosaur toys: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

Making a Note of Dinosaurs – Dinosaur Notepads from Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Notepads – A Stocking Filler Idea

Notepads and notebooks for school children are always a good idea and to help encourage young dinosaur fans to do more writing, Everything Dinosaur has introduced a range of dinosaur themed notepads.  Each pocket sized notepad is securely spriral bound and contains sixty lined pages, ideal for school.  On the cover of each notepad is an illustration of a dinosaur scene, there is a bright and colourful Theropod (meat-eating dinosaur), a horned dinosaur and as a special request, we have ensured an Ornithomimid is on the third notebook in this series.

The Range of Dinosaur Notepads from Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The choice of an Ornithomimid on the cover of a dinosaur notebook, may seem a little unusual but we at Everything Dinosaur know that dinosaurs such as Gallimimus and Struthiomimus are very popular with young dinosaur fans and we are asked frequently to provide dinosaur toys and games with illustrations of these dinosaurs.

To view the notepads and other dinosaur themed school items: Back to School Stationery & Other Supplies

These handy-sized, practical notebooks can easily fit into a school bag or satchel and they make an ideal stocking filler for Christmas.

The Curious Ceratopsians just got a Little Peculiar

Two New Genera of Ceratopsian Announced

Just when one complete review of the phylogeny of a particular clade of the Dinosauria is carried out then Mother Nature throws a horned-dinosaur sized spanner in the works with the discovery of new types of Ceratopsian.  We are eagerly awaiting our copy of the recently published “New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs”, but already we fear that new finds will have rapidly outdated the information contained in this book.

Two new genera of Ceratopsian dinosaur (horned dinosaurs) were officially announced yesterday (Wednesday) and put on display at the Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City.  Both have been described as “weird and wonderful” as each genus sported some very impressive head gear.

The two new horned dinosaurs have been named Kosmoceratops richardsoni (the name means Richardson’s ornate horned face) and Utahceratops gettyi (Getty’s horned face from Utah).  Both these new types of herbivorous dinosaurs have been assigned to the Chasmosaurinae – a group of advanced horned dinosaurs, typically with long neck shields, and brow horns bigger than any nose horn.  These large animals roamed what today is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah around 75 million years ago (Late Campanian faunal stage).  The discovery of these two types of horned dinosaur in the same strata indicates that these animals lived at the same time (co-occurring), many scientists had thought that these types of dinosaurs lived at different times in the Late Cretaceous, this new discovery and other recent finds from western North America challenge this view and further complicate our understanding of Late Cretaceous eco-systems.

These Utah discoveries lend support to the theory that there were distinct bio-geographical provinces of Dinosauria in North America during the last few million years of the Cretaceous Period.  The fossil record indicates that the major Ornithischian groups, the Hadrosaurs and Ceratopsians for example, underwent a spectacular radiation and a number of new genera evolved, both these types of Ornithischian dinosaur show extensive diversification in terms of genera; leading to a number of dinosaur types being restricted to specific geographical locations.  This theory, as to the provincial eco-systems of mega fauna is much debated, but the discovery of these two Ceratopsians adds weight to the hypothesis of dinosaur endemism – dinosaurs being unique to a region.  Put simply, it is like having different ethnic groups of dinosaurs restricted to certain areas.  If this hypothesis is correct it raises some interesting questions – such as why the diversification of Ornithischian dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous, why the establishment of distinct “provinces” of dinosaurs and why only in certain parts of the world (that relatively thin strip of land on the western borders of the interior seaway – Laramidia)?

To read more about this theory: Ethnicity in North American Dinosaurs

The paper detailing these discoveries and their potential implications is published in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE (Public Library of Science).  U. gettyi is known from at least six individual specimens, including two partial skulls which together provide palaeontologists with over 95% of the skull and nearly three-quarters of the postcranial skeleton (the rest of the body).  Kosmoceratops richardsoni is known from four individual specimens, one of which provided a near completely preserved skull.  Although, less fossil material of K. richardsoni has been excavated to date, scientists estimate that they have unearthed approximately half the skeleton.

An Illustration of U. gettyi and K. richardsoni

Picture Credit: PLoS ONE/Utah Museum

The larger Ceratopsian (Utahceratops gettyi) is A, whilst the smaller K. richardsoni can be seen on the right of the illustration, notation B.  A scale bar of one metre is shown and the areas shaded indicate the fossil material recovered.

The Utahceratops skull is more than two metres in length with horns that grow sideways out of the skull like a those of a cow.  Kosmoceratops has fifteen horns, some also growing sideways, along with ten curving down from the top of the fan-shaped neck shield. Kosmoceratops has more horns than any other known genus of horned dinosaur, hence the reference to “ornate” in its scientific name.

Scott Richardson, an amateur palaeontologist and seasonal worker helping to map and explore the geology of southern Utah, discovered the first fossils of Kosmoceratops back in 2006.  He was exploring an area of the Kaiparowits Plateau when he found a baseball-size piece of bone.  More pieces of bone were found nearby and he took his finds to Mike Getty, Palaeontology Collections Manager at the Utah Museum of Natural History.

Richardson said:

“The next day [Getty] came into town and I asked him about the bone.  He said it was nothing but a big grin came across his face and he said it was an incredible find.”

Scott is very honoured to have a new species of dinosaur named after him stating that it was “awesome”. 

Utahceratops honours the state of Utah, the second dinosaur to be named after this American state (the first was the Theropod Utahraptor).  Mike Getty first found evidence of Utahceratops ten years ago, but it has taken the research team and field workers nearly a decade to find and piece together all the fragments of bone.  The species name reflects that it was Getty who found the first fossil evidence.  Unfortunately, the fossil material was spread over an extensive area and assembling the skeleton has been like “putting together a puzzle”.

These two new dinosaurs make a total of sixteen new species discovered in the area over the last eleven years or so.  Scientists at the Utah Museum are optimistic about finding many more.  The fossils are going to go on public display along with other finds from the dig sites.

An Illustration of the Two New Ceratopsians

Picture Credit: Utah Museum of Natural History

The picture shows the head of Utahceratops above that of the smaller Kosmoceratops.  In the background is a map of North America approximately 75 million years ago.  At this time in Earth’s history, much of the area now known as North America was covered by a shallow tropical sea (The Western Interior Seaway).    The strip of land to the west (Laramidia) seems to have been home to a very diverse population of large dinosaurs, but there is evidence to suggest distinct “ethnic groups” of dinosaurs, different types of animal restricted to different areas.  In the absence of any known natural barriers such as mountains or an extensive river system, scientists remain puzzled by this apparent phenomenon.

The arrangement of the horns and other elements of ornamentation on these dinosaurs is certainly bizarre.  Side-ways facing brow horns would have limited practical use as defensive weapons when inter-specific competition is considered, such as an attack from a large Tyrannosaur.  However, they may have had a display function or have been used in intra-specific combat in the same way that bison “lock horns” in ritual combat to decide herd status and to win mates.

Review of the Safari Prehistoric Sealife Toob

Safari Prehistoric Sealife Toob

Safari Ltd, the American manufacturer of models and historical figures has for a long time marketed sets of small, well-made models in a clear plastic, storage tube.  These sets have proved very popular and a variety of these “toobs”, as our American friends call them, are available.

Naturally, we at Everything Dinosaur, are only interested in those items in the range that are related to dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  What’s more; our dinosaur experts are particularly fussy about what products we stock.  Each item, is assessed for creative play, quality and the types of prehistoric animals depicted in any model sets.  We work closely with Safari and have already been briefed about new products for 2011, expect to see a tube of prehistoric crocodiles available soon (we will blog about this shortly).

However, returning to the present for a moment, we have just taken stock of the new prehistoric sealife toob.

Prehistoric Sealife Toob from Safari

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the ten models that are available in the new prehistoric sealife toob (tube of prehistoric animal models).

Top row, from left to right: Metriorhynchus (prehistoric Jurassic crocodile), Elasmosaurus (Cretaceous Plesiosaur), Tylosaurus (Cretaceous Mosasaur), Ichthyosaurus (marine reptile), Basilosaurus (primitive whale).

Bottom row, from left to right: Frilled Shark (prehistoric shark), Nothosaurus (Triassic marine reptile), Dolichorhynchops (Cretaceous member of Plesiosaur family), Liopleurodon (Jurassic Pliosaur) and Henodus  (Late Triassic Placodont that resembled a turtle).

One of the benefits of a set of models like this, is that it gives collectors the chance to own a model of a prehistoric animal not found in other collections.  A number of creatures featured in this tube for example, are not found in any mainstream model collection.  Each model measures around 8 centimetres in size.  Although, the models are not to scale, they make super additions to any model scenes that are being created.  The Henodus replica for example, would add authenticity to any prehistoric scene featuring primitive Ichthyosaurs, and as the Henodus is only a few centimetres long it would fit the scale of many Ichthyosaur models that are available.

As the tube contains, ten models, it lends itself to creative play.  Obviously the manufacturers have spent time deciding what animals are to be included in the set, and then quite detailed models have been produced.  Great to see a Basilosaurus model.  Basilosaurus was the primitive whale that featured in the television documentary series “Walking with Beasts”.  It was in episode two – “Whale Killer”.  At around fifteen metres long, this predator took over the niche in the food chain left vacant with the extinction of the marine reptiles.  Fossils of this whale have been found in the Sahara desert, which was part of a warm, shallow, tropical sea 40-36 million years ago.

To view the range of dinosaur sets and tubes and other dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

It is always a pleasure to see a new prehistoric animal model range introduced, the prehistoric sealife set, features a number of prehistoric animals not normally found in model ranges.  Safari are to be congratulated for bringing such a well crafted set of models in a handy storage tube to the market.

Introducing Video

Sat in the Boardroom Making a Video

One of our more unusual weeks, the new website is looking really good, we intend to launch this in 2011, it could go live sooner as virtually everything is ready but what with our busy Christmas season we want to be able to give the website our full attention and with the Christmas rush we may not be able to do that, so the new website with its improved customer operations and loads more features is on hold for a few more weeks.

We have to make a video review about one of the new prehistoric animal models that we have just put into our online shop – Everything Dinosaur Website the plan is that we can talk a little about the design process and how palaeontology and the fossil record influences the final look of a model.  This is a bit of a frightening prospect as although some of our experts have done some television work, radio interviews and such like, sitting in front of a video camera in the boardroom with all your work colleagues staring at you does sound like a bit of an ordeal.  Still we will give it a go.

Everything Dinosaur, is going to have its own Facebook page, we have been set a little task by our IT consultant and we have a few days to sort this out.  It should be good to have a Facebook page, simply as we have so many pictures and drawings from our customers it might be a good place to put them on display – on our “wall” I think that is the correct term.

Looks like we are going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

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