All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//April
10 04, 2011

Warm Weather Brings out the Alligators and Crocodiles

By | April 10th, 2011|Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Floridians Warned about Increased Alligator and Crocodile Activity

The warm weather over the last few days in Florida has led to state authorities issuing a number of warnings to Florida residents about the perils of getting up too close to those alligators and American crocodiles that have started to become more active.

Florida as two species of Crocodilian, the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis ) and the much rarer American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).  These two protected species are regarded as dangerous to humans, although the American crocodile (found in the southern parts of Florida), has not been recorded as attacking humans and is generally regarded as a very shy animal.  However, attacks on people have been logged elsewhere in this reptile’s geographical range, so authorities in the State urge residents to take extreme care when in these creature’s habitats.

As cold-blooded animals, American alligators and crocodiles have been largely inactive in the cold weather that has occurred over the last few months.  However, with the onset of spring these reptiles will start to move more and there is the risk that they will run into contact with humans.

The onset of warm weather in the spring is when Florida’s alligators and crocodiles begin getting active, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds Floridians and visitors to be cautious when having fun in and around water.

A Male American Alligator in Courtship Display

Picture Credit: Larry Linton

The FWC has published a set of handy guidelines to ensure that humans and Crocodilians can get along, the guidelines include:

1). Leave alligators and crocodiles alone.  The danger of being injured by a provoked alligator is much higher than by an unprovoked one.  Often if one of these reptiles is spotted on the waters edge basking in the sun, it will most probably move off on its own without being molested.

2). Never feed these animals, dispose of fish scraps from a fishing trip in the designated areas.  It is illegal to feed these creatures.  Alligators lose their natural fear of humans when fed, and become accustomed or attracted to people. Alligators that have been fed may be more likely to attack, and are more likely to become nuisance animals that must be destroyed.

3).  Don’t swim at night.  Alligators are more active at night or at dawn or dusk.  At these times they are more likely to be feeding than during the heat of midday.

4).  Do not swim in water that is known to contain large alligators, also do not swim outside of designated swimming areas.  Alligators are most active during the summer months.  Since this is the time of year when people are also likely to be in the water, areas known to contain alligators should be avoided.

5).  Never let children play alone near water.  Make sure children are supervised and in view.

6).  Do not allow pets to go near water that is known to contain these reptiles.  Dogs and other small pets are more likely to be attacked than humans because they resemble a natural prey item for the alligator.  Therefore, pets can attract alligators to swim areas and create a danger for humans also.

7).  Never capture or accept a baby alligator or crocodile as a pet.  Capturing alligators is illegal and can be dangerous.  Alligators do not become tame in captivity, and handling even small ones could result in a bite.

8).  Seek medical advice immediately if you are bitten or scratched by an alligator or crocodile.  Because of the environment in which they live, alligators’mouths can harbour very dangerous bacteria (particularly Aeromonus hydrophila).  Any bite or scratch, even a small one, should be examined by a doctor or trained medical staff.

More information on how to avoid alligator or crocodile encounters visit the FWC’s website:

Florida Wildlife Commission: FWC website

9 04, 2011

Expanding Birthdays

By | April 9th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

New Addition to the Everything Dinosaur Birthday Cards and Gift Wrap Range

At Everything Dinosaur, hardly a day goes by without some new product or other having been approved by our testers and getting added to our range.  Today, the new Tyrannosaurus rex birthday card and matching wrapping paper have gone into our retail product lines.

They can be found online at Everything Dinosaur Homepage

We already stock a variety of dinosaur themed cards but this new one, and the matching dinosaur gift wrap, appealed as they are so bright and colourful, after all, not many birthday cards depict an orange coloured T. rex.

The New Everything Dinosaur Birthday Card

A “Snappy” Birthday Card

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As one of our testers commented, the card and the brightly coloured wrapping paper made them “smile a lot”, so I guess we just had to include them.  Another tester stated that the wrapping paper was particularly good quality and they liked being able to cut out the dinosaur shapes once the gift wrap had been opened.

Colourful Dinosaur Gift Wrap

Dinosaur gifts all wrapped up

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The wrapping paper measures a generous 50cm by 70cm and features brightly coloured dinosaurs such as Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus and of course T. rex.  Both these new items fit in well with our existing gift wrap and dinosaur themed birthday card ranges.

To view our range: dinosaur gift cards and dinosaur wrapping paper pages

We are confident these two new products will help add that special finishing touch to any young dinosaur fan’s birthday.

8 04, 2011

Suspected Ranavirus in the Office Pond Frog Population

By | April 8th, 2011|Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Lethargic Frogs – We suspect Ranavirus Outbreak

Over the last couple of weeks, team members at Everything Dinosaur have observed some strange behaviour in the frog population around our offices.  As many as seven individuals were counted at any one time in the office pond at the height of the spawning season and we logged a record amount of frogspawn laid this year.  However, we have noticed some strange behaviour from the adult frogs.  Three frogs (Common Frog – Rana temporaria) were extremely lethargic, almost in a stupor.  The frogs seemed perfectly healthy but the were very slow to react to any disturbance and almost seemed to be in a trance.  The first frog, a little thin was moved away from the pond by a team member of Everything Dinosaur and placed in a safe and secure part of the yard, out of harm’s way in case one of the neighbourhood cats discovered it.  The second frog, left the pond but took almost six hours to cross the small courtyard and seek shelter behind some fence panels.  It was raining for much of this time, so the frog remained moist but we were all surprised to see the animal move so slowly and to expose itself to any predation in such a reckless manner.  Some team members commented that this particular frog had a “deathwish”.

At first we put the strange behaviour we had observed down to the fact that the frogs were in poor condition after mating, but the third frog we have been observing is making us question whether or not there is something more serious going on.

This frog, has been observed for the best part of a week now, it barely moves from a small rocky area by the office pond, it is thin and lethargic, not frightened by our approach at all.  It simply does not react.  We think that this lethargy may be the result of viral infection.  We are trying to observe this frog to see if we can spot any red blotches on the skin (erythema) or any bleeding (haemorrhaging), this and the drowsiness and lack of condition could indicate an outbreak of the dreaded Ranavirus.  If this is the case we will report our findings to froglife, the organisation that monitors the UK wild frog population.

Ranavirus was first found in the UK in the early 1980s.  It is most common in south-east England but known from elsewhere in the UK.  This virus could decimate the local population, there is no cure and for all we know if the adult frogs have caught the disease then this may have dangerous implications for the tadpoles in the pond.

We will keep monitoring the situation and if required, we will report this disease outbreak.

Fingers crossed that we have got this wrong.

7 04, 2011

Dinosaur Teaching Topics – How to Name a Dinosaur

By | April 7th, 2011|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|1 Comment

Brontomerus mcintoshi Research Helps School Pupils Get to Grips with Palaeontology

Pupils at Sacred Heart Primary school, Blackburn, have been travelling back in time to visit the age of Dinosaurs in a range of teaching activities. The budding young palaeontologists in Miss De Piano’s Year Three class, were given the chance to name their very own prehistoric animal.

Students had 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. This was part of the school’s science week events organised, to coincide with National Science and Engineering Week, by one of the school’s teachers – Mrs Smith. They were given the chance to look at some of the research carried out on a new species of long-necked dinosaur – Brontomerus mcintoshi.  This dinosaur, fossils of which have been found in Utah, (United States), has only just been formally named and scientifically described.  In total, fragmentary remains of two dinosaurs were discovered in the same quarry, one adult and a much smaller juvenile.  The name Brontomerus means “thunder thighs”, in recognition of an enlarged anterior portion of hip-bone associated with the remains of the smaller specimen.  Scientists have suggested that the expanded hip bone served as an anchor for large leg muscles, giving this particular dinosaur very strong legs.

An Artist’s Illustration of Brontomerus

Picture Credit: F.Gaso

For the young scientists in Miss De Piano’s class the challenge set by Everything Dinosaur was to consider how animals change as they get older.  If animals change as they grow, could they come up with an alternative name for Brontomerus once they had reviewed the fossil evidence?

The class was split into two groups for this part of the dinosaur teaching session, each group was given the task of answering questions on chickens, however, one group was asked to describe a chick, whilst the other portion of the class described an adult bird.  Although each group was asked the same questions, it soon became clear to the pupils that a chick looks very different when compared to an older bird.  Based on this, and with an overview of the fossil evidence of Brontomerus provided by Everything Dinosaur, the class set about creating their own names for this type of dinosaur.  All part of the fun when it comes to teaching about dinosaurs in school.

Organisms Change as they Grow

Helping students learn about dinosaurs

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The chicken was used in this dinosaur workshop to illustrate issues related to ontogeny (how organisms grow), helpful in explaining to the students differences in the fossil skeleton of the adult compared to the juvenile dinosaur.

The pupils worked on the theory that, if this plant-eating dinosaur really had very strong limbs, perhaps it could rear up onto its hind legs to help it to graze on parts of trees that other dinosaurs could not reach, just like a Gerenuk antelope in Africa does today.

Could Brontomerus do This?

Gerenuk Browsing on Trees

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A wide variety of alternative names were thought up, a few examples from the clever pupils were Two-legosaurus, Standuposaurus, Treeasaurus, Anteloposaurus and our personal favourite Vegesaurus.
It was a real pleasure visiting Sacred Heart Primary and helping the children with their 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.

6 04, 2011

The Itchy and Scratchy Show – Lice Plagued the Dinosaurs

By | April 6th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|1 Comment

The Tree of “Lice” – Parasites “Bugging” the Dinosaurs

Feathered dinosaurs and their non-feathered relatives were probably plagued by parasitic lice.  For the short-armed Tyrannosaurs and the even shorter-armed Abelisaurids not being able to scratch themselves would have made life quite unpleasant for these animals during the Mesozoic.  Perhaps extinction was a kindness after all, or maybe if the Dinosauria were weakened by parasites, this could help explain their demise sixty-five million years ago.

A new study carried out by an international team of researchers suggests that lice that plague those extant relatives of the Dinosauria (birds) and lice that associate themselves with mammalian hosts were diversifying quite merrily whilst dinosaurs still reigned supreme.  This suggests that the Aves and Mammalia were also diversifying in the Age of Reptiles, a concept alien to many members of the public but the fossil record shows that for both mammals and birds many new genera were evolving long before the dinosaurs, Pterosauria and the marine reptiles became extinct.

Dinosaurs, just like other reptiles had their fair share of biting insects and parasitic bugs and tics, fossils found in Cretaceous amber indicate this.  Indeed, some scientists have even cited the rise of parasites as a contributory factor leading to the demise of the dinosaurs.

To read an article on this: Did Bugs and Biting Insects Cause the Dinosaur Demise?

The lack of avian and mammalian fossils from the Mesozoic makes determining their speed of speciation (new species evolving), difficult.  However, by studying lice, scientists can draw conclusions on the hosts that the lice associated with.  Many lice only affect a single species.  For instance, lice of many bird species have evolved special hooks that permit them to lodge themselves between the filaments in a feather, thus making them almost impossible to remove by preening.

If the host evolves, then the parasites evolve to in a process called co-speciation.  Scientists used the fossil record for mammals and lice enabled scientists to build up a picture of the radiation of mammal species.  As if lice can be seen diversifying into different types, then it can be assumed that they are evolving and adapting to exploit a new host that has also evolved.

The researchers built up a map of related lice fossils and noted that these creatures began to radiate much earlier than previously thought, around 115 million years ago (Early Cretaceous – Aptian faunal stage).   The research work has been published in the scientific journal “Biology Letters”.

A Picture of Fossilised Louse (left) and an Extant Species (right)

Picture Credit: Vincent S. Smith (University of Illinois)

The picture shows a fossilised louse and an illustration of an extant species today.  The fossil was one of the specimens used to build up a family tree of lice – a sort of “tree of lice” as it were.

However, not wanting to put a fly into the ointment, sticking to the Arthropoda as it were,  but there is an additional factor that needs to be considered.  The Dinosauria were also diversifying at this time.  New types of dinosaur – Hadrosaurids, Pachycephalosaurids and Ceratopsians were evolving and indeed many dinosaurs were feathered (fossil evidence suggests this).  Is it appropriate to assume that the lice were living on mammals and birds, the radiation of lice species could reflect increased diversity amongst the Dinosauria, after all, feathered dinosaurs would have been prone to parasites just as much as their avian cousins.

Either way, this work shows how relationships between a parasite and a host can help scientists to “plug” the gaps in the vertebrate fossil record.  For us, it still does not explain how the short-armed Theropods were able to scratch themselves, perhaps they scratched up against a tree (Baloo in the Jungle Book style), or maybe there were smaller birds and dinosaurs that provided a tic removing service just as we see today on tropical reefs with cleaner fish.

5 04, 2011

Massachusetts “Mayfly” A Remarkable Fossil Discovery

By | April 5th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Fossil Hunter Stumbles Upon Amazing Fossil Behind Shopping Centre

Fossils come in all shapes, forms and sizes.  Palaeontologists group fossils into various categories, for example there are body fossils and trace fossils.  Body fossils preserve something of the bodily remains of organisms, whereas trace fossils preserve evidence of the activity of animals, such as a fleeting impression made in soft mud by a flying insect from over 300 million years ago.

Some 300 million years ago, what was to become the U.S. state of Massachusetts in what is now the eastern United States, lay close to the equator, part of an enormous land mass that consisted of both what was to become Europe and the Americas (except South America).  The land was dominated by dense swamps, roaming these lush environments were amphibians and the first types of reptiles.  The air was dominated by insects, the only creatures that had evolved to exploit an aerial way of life at the time.  One such insect, an ancestor of today’s mayflies landed on the muddy edge of a body of water, probably a puddle or small pool, it then took off again, but it left the delicate impression of its body and marks in the mud where its thin legs stuck into the soft sediment.

Remarkably, this tiny impression was quickly covered in fine sediment, perhaps it rained and the water level rose, sweeping grains of mud into the imprint left by the insect.  This trace of the fleeting resting place of an insect way back in the Carboniferous Period, was preserved as a fossil and stumbled upon by a keen fossil collector, who was looking for fossil bearing strata at the back of a shopping mall.

This primitive, ancestral mayfly fossil has become the oldest known full body impression of a flying insect, displacing the previous earliest discovered so far by some 30 million years or so.

The Trace Fossil of the Ancient Insect

Picture Credit: Richard Knecht

The trace fossil of the insect can be seen towards the left of the rock slab.

University undergraduate, Richard Knecht was looking for a fossil site, in a swampy area behind a shopping mall three years ago when he literally stumbled upon this amazing trace fossil.  As he emerged from the swamp he came to a rock outcrop of the type he was looking for, and the Harvard University Museum worker states

“I grabbed a loose piece of rock on the outer edge of the outcrop and it was already naturally split as rocks tend to do as they weather.  I opened it like a book and there were both halves [cast and mould] of the specimen.”

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur in the UK stated that this was like finding the slab and counter slab of a fossil, but to discovery such a perfectly preserved trace fossil of a flying insect is truly astonishing.  As insects are soft bodied and very light they rarely fossilise.  Trace fossils of these Arthropods are extremely rare, especially anything dating as far back as the Carboniferous.

Commenting on the discovery, Conrad Labandeira, curator of palaeoentomology at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington said:

“Most fossil insects, when you look at them, you don’t really have a lot of surface detail.  This is a very valuable type of preservation.  You can actually view some of the movements of the appendages.  This gives you some idea of the scope of movement of the legs… information that we don’t normally get from body fossils.”

The research team have been studying the fossil bearing site have had their findings to date published in the scientific journal “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.  Insects preserved in amber is one thing, but to have such a superb trace fossil of a primitive mayfly is very exciting.

The oldest evidence of any kind of insects comes from a body fossil dating to the Devonian Period (approximately 418 million years old).  The only other older insect specimen is one of a flightless insect, found by the same research team at the very same location as the mayfly trace fossil.  A number of fascinating fossils have been found so far, including the tracks of a primitive reptile as well as numerous insect and plant fossils.

Richard Knecht, commenting on the fossil discoveries made so far stated:

“We have found a lot of interesting stuff, this [mayfly fossil] is just one of the characters coming out.”

4 04, 2011

Shoshone Mountains Reptile

By | April 4th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Shonisaurus – Giant of the Ichthyosauria

Team members at Everything Dinosaur received an email the other day with a request for more information on giant Ichthyosaurs.  There were certainly a number of very large members of the Ichthyosaur family.  The Ichthyosauria are a very diverse Order, evolving in the early Triassic and surviving for over 140 million years before becoming extinct shortly before the end of the Cretaceous Period.   There is the giant Cymbospondylus (pronounced Sim-bow-spon-die-lus), fossils of which have been found in North America and Europe.  This gigantic marine reptile had a large body, an eel-like tail, a metre long head with large jaws.  Cymbospondylus is the biggest marine reptile known from Late Triassic strata.

Perhaps our favourite large Ichthyosaur is Shonisaurus (Shonisaurus popularis), a marine reptile that may reached lengths in excess of fifteen metres.  The first fossils of this Ichthyosaur were found by miners around the now deserted mining town of Berlin, Nevada in North America.  The fossils were so plentiful that miners used them to decorate their dwellings and some of the large, flat vertebrae were even used as dinner plates!  Reports of these fossils had been made from as early as 1869 but the miners were too busy digging for gold and silver to worry.

Shonisaurus popularis is the largest Ichthyosaur to have been discovered to date in the United States and was believed to be the biggest in the world until fossils of a new species of Ichthyosaur over 23 metres long were unearthed in Canada just a few years ago.

A Scale Drawing of Shonisaurus popularis

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This Ichthyosaur had a very deep body, and four, long, narrow equally sized flippers.  Teeth were present only in the front of the jaw.  This animal probably hunted cephalopods – ammonites, belemnites, squid and octopi.

3 04, 2011

Watching a Blue Triceratops

By | April 3rd, 2011|Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Triceratops – Wild Watchers

Recently introduced into the Everything Dinosaur, extensive range of prehistoric animal soft toys are four new soft toys, each one representing a different dinosaur.  We think, that as they look so cute, that they resemble young animals (prior to distal growth), the big eyes and large heads giving these soft toys the appearance of baby dinosaurs.  There is an Oviraptor (with glow in the dark eyes), a Diplodocus, a very cute Tyrannosaurus rex (if such a thing is possible) and a bright blue baby Triceratops.

Yes, bright blue and why not indeed.  Nobody knows for sure what colour horned dinosaurs were so why not blue.  There are a number of reptile genera which are coloured blue, many birds and reptiles are brightly coloured.  Scientists are fairly confident that like birds and crocodiles the Dinosauria had colour vision and colour would have played an important role in their lives, if their extant relatives are anything to go by.

Wild Watchers Triceratops Soft Toy

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This new dinosaur soft to is part of a range called “Wild Watchers”, to see these items and other dinosaur soft toys, click on the link reproduced here: Dinosaur Stuffed Animal Toys

It is also important to remember that the dinosaur clade first evolved in a world that was dominated by greens and browns, there were no bright, colourful flowering plants (Angiosperms), these did not evolve for around 100 million years after the first dinosaurs appeared.  So being colourful against a backdrop of mainly greens and browns may have been useful when displaying to attract a mate for example.

In comparison to reptiles and Aves (birds) our own Order (Mammalia) are surprisingly colour shy – we of course have some remarkably colourful mammals, for example the Okapi and let us not forget the stark contrast of a herd of zebras but the team members at Everything Dinosaur could not think of a single type of mammal that was coloured predominantly green.  Indeed, the colour blue itself is very rare in the mammalian colour scheme, some primates, monkeys and such like have blue faces (and other parts) but we could not think of many more.  Even Belgium blue cattle and the Blue Whale are not coloured exactly blue, not least from the pictures we could find that depicted these animals.

2 04, 2011

New Species of Tyrannosaur Announced

By | April 2nd, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Zhuchengtyrannus magus – A fearsome Chinese Tyrannosaurus

It may have been a little awkward, after all, with the press releases about the discovery of a new member of the Tyrannosaur clade, one that may rival the likes of Tarbosaurus bataar and Tyrannosaurus rex in terms of size on the eve of April Fool’s Day, but the good news is the ever growing family of Tyrannosauridae has definitely got a new member, and who knows, perhaps a second one is on the way.

The trouble is, if there is a press release sent out about dinosaurs at the end of March, some parts of the media automatically query it as they regard such information as a potential April Fool story.  There are a number of bogus articles doing the rounds, we know, we have been asked to comment on a few and indeed, aid in the preparation of one (Sauropod femurs turning up on the coast of Cumbria).  However, amongst an extensive Hadrosaur bone-bed an international team of dedicated palaeontologists have literally pieced together the evidence to indicate that there was at least one giant Tyrannosaur Theropod roaming the Shandong province of China in the Late Cretaceous and what a fearsome beast Zhuchengtyrannus may turn out to be.

An Illustration of Zhuchengtyrannus magus

Picture Credit: Robert Nicholls

With the information being published in the scientific journal “Cretaceous Research” we can reveal that based on measurements made of the fragmentary elements of the skull material found, it seems that this particular Tyrannosaur may have measured as much as 11 metres long with a body weight tipping the scales at around six tonnes.

Dr. David Hone from University College (Dublin), the palaeontologist given the job of naming this ferocious predator and the scientist who led the research team that has worked on the fossilised bones stated:

“There is no doubt that Zhuchengtyrannus was a huge Tyrannosaurine.”

More information on this remarkable discovery, we think only the second really big Tyrannosaur to be discovered in this region of China, can be found on David”s excellent and highly informative web log – Archosaur Musings.

Dr. Hone went on to comment:

“With only some skull and jaw bones to work with, it is difficult to precisely gauge the overall size of this animal.  But the bones we have are just a few centimetres smaller than the equivalent ones in the largest T. rex specimen.”

The binomial name for this new member of what is a rapidly expanding clade of the dinosaur family tree is Zhuchengtyrannus magus.The name means “Tyrant from Zhucheng city”, as the fossils were found in the city of Zhucheng – a part of the world gaining a reputation as a “hot spot” for dinosaur fossils.  This is the first dinosaur that Dr. Hone has named (as a first author) and although the lack of fossil material prevents the scientist from making more definite calculations as to the size of this Tyrannosaur; from the dentary (lower jaw bone) and the maxilla (upper jaw bone), it is clear that this dinosaur was very, very big.  The species element of the binomial name reflects the large size of this dinosaur.

The Fossil Evidence for this New Tyrannosaur

New genus of Tyrannosaur discovered

Picture Credit: D. Hone / Cretaceous Research

Zhucheng is a relatively small town and has already been recognised in recent years for the great vertebrate fossil potential the area has.  A number of new dinosaurs have been discovered in this area, this new Tyrannosaur is just the latest of a whole range of important discoveries that have been made by palaeontologists.  It seems that much of the strata in the area may represent flood deposits where a large number of corpses have been washed up together forming extensive bone-beds.  The material ascribed to Zhuchengtyrannus (pronounced “zoo-cheng-tie-ran-us”) was found in a Hadrosaur bone-bed deposit.

Tyrannosaur maxillae are important bones as they help distinguish different genera, the different taxonomic characters can be determined by careful study of certain parts of the fossil skeleton and the maxilla and other parts of the skull are key bones in helping researchers to determine whether or not they have discovered a new genus.

Importantly, what fossil material that has been found is in excellent condition and measurements taken of the dentary show that this new Tyrannosaur would probably only have been slightly smaller than its Chinese cousin Tarbosaurus (Tarbosaurus bataar) and also not quite the size of the largest specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex known to science.  But this new discovery suggests that there are other super-sized, apex predators in the Tyrannosaur family.

Dr. Hone comments:

“Zhuchengtyrannus is basically just another giant Tyrannosaurine in the mould of these two more famous giants [T. rex and Tarbosaurus].

Remarkably, the site where the fossils of Zhuchengtyrannus were found may yield many of other discoveries, including another giant Tyrannosaur.  The research team excavated a number of teeth and postcranial elements including vertebrae, femora and various metatarsals (backbones, thigh bones and toe bones).  Importantly they found another maxilla and another dentary, neither of which match the material ascribed to Zhuchengtyrannus magus or other known Tyrannosaurs. This suggests that there may be at least one other Tyrannosaur at the dig site awaiting further analysis.

However, if there is another taxon present, then this will complicate matters for the palaeontologists.  Imagine trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle, without knowing for sure how many pieces you have or indeed the precise identity of what you are trying to create.  Then imagine the added complication of having to try to put together two similar but definitely different jigsaws, with all the known pieces you have jumbled up together, each one having no illustration to guide you, and you still do not know how many pieces of each you have to work with – tricky.

The potential to find another taxon is covered in the scientific paper, but for the time being just one new taxon has been named and described.  Expect to hear a lot more about the bone-beds of Shandong Province and the amazing dinosaur fossils that await discovery.

Our congratulations to Dr. David Hone and his colleagues for their work.

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