All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//September
22 09, 2011

Asteroid Thought Responsible for Late Cretaceous Impact May be Too Young

By | September 22nd, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

New Data Suggests Baptistina Asteroid Is Too Young for Mass Extinction Event

If an extraterrestrial impact played a significant role in the mass extinction event that took place at the end of the Cretaceous, then which asteroid collision in deep space may have been responsible for setting in motion the chain in events that would ultimately lead to the death of the dinosaurs?  This has been one of the intriguing questions that scientists have puzzled over since the publication of the paper by Luis and Walter Alvarez on the discovery of an iridium rich clay layer at the K-T boundary.

The finding of the Chicxulub crater, a crater estimated to have exceeded a diameter of more than 100 miles, indicates an impact with an object approximately ten kilometres across.  This collision some sixty-five million years ago may have speeded up the demise of the Dinosaurs, and their reptilian relatives the marine reptiles and the Pterosaurs.

Research suggests that there may have been a series of impacts around sixty-five million years ago.  Such a catastrophic bombardment would have resulted in global environmental damage and this may have contributed to the extinction of nearly seventy percent of all terrestrial life.  This impact theory has been largely accepted by the scientific community, but debate remains as to where this asteroid object that collided with Earth came from.

Everything Dinosaur reported back in 2007, on the work of a joint US and Czech team, published in the scientific journal Nature, that proposed an event between 140 mya and 180 million years ago may have set in motion the asteroid collision that would spell doom for the dinosaurs.

To read an article on this earlier research: End of the Dinosaurs Set in Motion by Jurassic Aged Asteroid Impact

However, a new study may have cast into doubt the identity of the asteroid that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

In the 2007 study, scientists concluded that a large asteroid known as Baptistina collided with another enormous space rock in the asteroid belt between the planets of Mars and Jupiter.  Huge fragments, debris from the collision were thrown out into the Solar System.  A chunk of rock, a remnant from the Jurassic aged collision between these two bodies was believed to have struck Earth sixty-five million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs.

But new data from the NASA-run Wise (Wide Field Infrared Explorer) telescope suggest that the Baptistina fragments are just far too young.  The candidate asteroid, Baptistina, is thought to have collided with another asteroid in the main asteroid belt during the Mid Jurassic – sometime around 160 million years ago.    A piece or pieces from this collision were flung out towards Earth, being captured by the gravity of the inner planets, this resulted in the devastating impact ninety-five million years later.

Scientists initially identified Baptistina as the source of this fragment, using estimates of its age from information gathered from visible-light telescopes based on the ground.

A Huge Asteroid Impacts with Earth

Picture Credit: Astro-virginia.edu

Making estimations of size and age of extraterrestrial bodies is notoriously difficult to do with only reflected sunlight readings to work with, so researchers at NASA have used infrared emissions from asteroids, measured by the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) to recalculate the sizes and ages of thousands of asteroids in the Solar System.

Crucially, this new, more accurate information suggests that Baptistina didn’t break apart until around 80 million years ago, giving it less time to make it to Earth in time to flatten Tyrannosaurus rex and chums.

Dr Amy Mainzer, chief investigator on the Neowise (Near-Earth Wise observations) project at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in California,  commented:

“Estimating the ages and origins of the asteroids should help us to correlate events on Earth and impact craters on the Moon with what is going on in the Solar System.”

Prior to the use of this new satellite based technology, estimates of the age of asteroids have been made from the size of the object and how reflective it is; a more reflective asteroid is generally thought to be younger.  The size of an object in space has been traditionally measured by looking at how much sunlight is reflected from it.  However, this methodology is fraught with problems, just like our own satellite (the moon), asteroids can wax and wane, depending on their position relative to the sun.  The composition of an asteroid will also significantly reflect results.  For example, ice covered objects will reflect more light compared to darker, rocky objects.

These problems can combine to make the size and age estimations inaccurate, a problem when considering Baptistina as the “smoking gun” asteroid collision evidence for the dinosaurs demise.

The WISE telescope instead looks at the infrared light emitted from space rocks, which is related to the temperature of the object.  Infrared light is emitted from all objects, even if they are dark, allowing a much more accurate calculation of their size and therefore their age.

Dr Mainzer explained:

“We have collected data from 120,000 asteroids, and this is helping us to learn how the belt is made up.”

Critically, the Baptistina family of asteroids – those that were formed when the larger asteroid destructively entered the main belt, according to this new research – were only formed around eighty million years ago.

This gives the dinosaur-killing asteroid chunk only fifteen million years to move into a suitable place to be flung out of the main belt and to travel to Earth in time for the impact that marked the end of the Cretaceous.  Scientists believe it would take an asteroid about ten million years to travel from the main asteroid belt between Mars and the gas giant Jupiter to Earth.

Dr. Mainzer added:

“This doesn’t give a Baptistina fragment much time to get into a suitable position.  The jury is still out, and we haven’t completely ruled out Baptistina.”

With new data being released all the time from the satellite/telescope teams at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA will have a great deal more information to work with.

Dr Mainzer expects that calculations, simulations and models based on this data “will keep people busy for decades.”

Let’s hope that for all our sakes, the scientists don’t find any nasty surprises in the analysis.

21 09, 2011

Planet Dinosaur – Feathered Dragons Reviewed

By | September 21st, 2011|Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Episode Two of Planet Dinosaur – Feathered Dinosaurs

Some of the most important dinosaur discoveries over the last twenty years or so have come from the Liaoning Province of north-eastern China and it is these exciting feathered dinosaur finds that dominate episode two of the BBC’s new dinosaur television series.  The programme featured a myriad of cursorial (some arboreal) dinosaurs that roamed around the lush forests of this part of the world during the Cretaceous.  Great to see a Microraptor gliding from tree to tree, using its feather covered limbs to pursue its prey and to escape from potential predators.  Microraptor may be quite well known to the general public, but we doubt whether many viewers would have come across Epidexipteryx before.  This pigeon-sized dinosaur, with its bizarre appearance certainly showed viewers how diverse the dinosaur clade was.  In episode one, it was all about big Theropods, now in the second part of this six part series the production team want to show us just how unusual some dinosaurs were and Epidexipteryx was portrayed as an animal at home in the trees, using its long fingers, especially its extended second finger to dig out beetle grubs in the same way as the secretive Aye-Aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) does.

To read an article on the discovery of Epidexipteryx: Is it a Bird or a Plane? No it is Epidexipteryx!

Take the feathered hunter Sinornithosaurus, the narrator alluded to the controversial paper published in 2009 that proposed that this fast-running predator may have had a venomous bite.  It is always refreshing to see some of the latest ideas and discoveries brought to life, the fast paced direction helped animate these dinosaurs and give the impression of creatures that lived “life in the fast lane”.  The more recent research (2010) into the diurnal or nocturnal characteristics of certain dinosaurs got a mention.  This refers to the widely publicised study into the orbits (eye sockets) of Theropod dinosaurs: the point we made at the time, one that the CGI backdrop designers miss, is that these forests were probably dark with lots of thick undergrowth.  The study of the orbits of dinosaurs would need to consider the possibility of these animals hunting in low light levels.

Whether the feathers were for flight, display or insulation the programme provided an insight into our increasing knowledge of “feathered dragons”.  So pleasing to see “Big Bird) – Gigantoraptor (Gigantoraptor erlianensis) featured, certainly based on the fossil evidence this is likely to be the largest feathered animal known in the current fossil record.

To read an article on the discovery of this dinosaur: New Chinese Dinosaur – Gigantoraptor as Tall as a Giraffe

A Drawing of Gigantoraptor erlianensis

The largest feathered animal known to science

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Credit must be given to the programme makers for the imaginative way in which they have brought to the screen some of the recent feathered dinosaur discoveries.

20 09, 2011

Happiness is a Healthy Socks Life

By | September 20th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Dinosaur Themed Socks for your Little Monsters

The new dinosaur themed socks and hand puppets have proved a “roaring” success with many comments received about these socks and how well they are made.  The new Tyrannosaurus rex socks are just what young palaeontologists have been looking for and there are two new additions to this range, both featuring an adult T. rex and a juvenile – a sort of Mum and Baby T. rex set.  With all the new evidence about Tyrannosaurid pack behaviour and theories about Tyrannosaurs having parental duties towards their offspring, it is always pleasing to see products keeping up with palaeontologists.

The “Mum and Baby” T. rex Socks

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The socks shown are the “ice blue” T. rex socks but there is also another new pair in the same design except they are coloured a sandy brown.  These make great additions to our dinosaur themed clothing range.

In addition, Everything Dinosaur has just introduced some snazzy long dinosaur socks that also can double up as dinosaur sock puppets. There are two fetching designs, firstly a skeleton of a horned dinosaur and in hot pursuit of its next meal comes a eye-catching Tyrannosaurus rex themed sock puppet.

Dinosaur Socks/Hand Puppets from Everything Dinosaur

Turn your socks into a theatre company

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The horned dinosaur themed socks are on the left (blue), the T. rex is on the right.  Not sure which Ceratopsian is represented, we assumed Triceratops, perhaps the nose horn has been lost somewhere in the toes, anyone for Diceratops in the meantime?

To view the range of socks from Everything Dinosaur and other themed dinosaur clothing: Dinosaur Clothing for dinosaur fans

Either way, we know that young palaeontologists are going to have happy feet!

19 09, 2011

Prehistoric Sharks Toob – Video Review

By | September 19th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Prehistoric Sharks Model Set by Safari Ltd

It is not very common to see a prehistoric shark model swim into view, let alone a set of ten from a mainstream model maker.  However, this is exactly what you get with the Prehistoric Sharks Toob from Safari Ltd.  Whether it is primitive sharks from the Devonian or Cretaceous giants such as Cretoxyrhina that get your shark fins swishing with excitement this set of ten models is a credit to the manufacturer.

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of the Prehistoric Sharks Toob

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With palaeontologists able to trace the evolution of sharks back some 420 million years, some might say that  a museum quality set of prehistoric shark models was somewhat overdue.  This set of ten prehistoric shark models made by Safari Ltd showcases the diversity of forms that these cartilaginous fish evolved into.   There may be more than 400 species of shark alive today, but there have been thousands of species of shark that are now extinct .  Scientists know that the fossil record of these superb, streamlined creatures stretches back to the Late Silurian and the models made by Safari Ltd highlight some of the bizarre forms that these members of the Elasmobranchii evolved into.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of prehistoric animal models: Dinosaur Toys for Girls – Dinosaur Models

The ten, well-painted and colourful models represent key genera of shark that lived during the Palaeozoic and the Mesozoic eras.  Sharks such as Cladoselache (pronounced Klad-oh-sel-lak-ee) from the Devonian, the Age of Fishes and the fearsome Cretoxyrhina (Cre-tox-ee-rhine-ah) from the Western Interior Seaway of the Late Cretaceous.  The model makers have shown great care in making their selection of which extinct sharks to make replicas of.  They have included a number of important sharks in terms of their significance to the fossil record and highlight the myriad of forms that these predatory fishes evolved into.

Perhaps our favourite is Stethacanthus (Steth-ack-anth-thus), the “ironing board” shark, so called due to the bizarre shape of this shark’s dorsal fin.  It certainly is a great set of Safari Ltd prehistoric sharks.

18 09, 2011

Canadian Fossil Symposium a Big Success

By | September 18th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre Hosts International Fossil Symposium

This week saw the conclusion to the third, bi-annual Manitoba Palaeontology Symposium hosted by the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (Morden, Manitoba, Canada).  The symposium began in 2007 as an idea to bring palaeontologists and fossil enthusiasts within Manitoba together, to network and discuss a shared interest in the fossils and geology of this province of Canada, a part of the world that contains a number of extremely important and significant fossil sites.

This symposium was a great success with participants from Manitoba, Alberta, North Dakota and Japan.  Ranging from academics, geologists, palaeontologists, students and the general public, curious to learn about some of the new discoveries made about prehistoric life.  The research topics presented varied from extinct birds, very appropriate considering the recent work on fossilised feathers discovered preserved in amber in Alberta; the palaeoenvironment of Manitoba eighty million years ago, once again, extremely significant given the Alberta amber fossil study to an analysis of historical railway cuttings exposing fossil beds.  These topics were presented either in poster or platform (oral) format by undergraduate and graduate students and researchers.

This year was the first time that the symposium included an international field trip.   James Bamburak of the Manitoba Geological Survey and John Hoganson of the North Dakota Geological survey lead a two day field trip to various stops in southern Manitoba and northern North Dakota.  The objective was to try and begin to close the gap between the nomenclature (naming) of the rock layers and offer suggestions as to why certain fossils may be seen in one locality and not another across the border.  Ammonite fossils were found during the Manitoba leg of the field trip and these fossils were previously unrecorded in Southern Manitoba.  A rare bird fossil was discovered in North Dakota, helping to provide more information about the evolution of Aves in this part of North America.

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre’s host committee consisting of Trevor Fehr, Anita-Maria Janzic and Ted Nelson had assistance from the following supporters and sponsors for the event; Town of Morden, Manitoba Geological Survey, North Dakota Geological Survey, Appatoba Barbecue, Canadian Geological Foundation and the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre.  Without this generous support, such events such as this symposium would not be able to take place.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Events such as this symposium are extremely helpful, permitting scientists and researchers to exchange ideas and views on a wide range of topics.  It also gives members of the public unprecedented access to important fossil locations and helps build bridges between the scientific community and the wider public”.

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre is an important scientific institute in Canada.  It houses the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada, including a 43-foot long Mosasaur named “Bruce”, the largest Mosasaur in the country.

To read an article which highlights some of the marine animals discovered in excavations organised by the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre: Monsters from Manitoba

17 09, 2011

Canadian Palaeontologists in a Flap over Feathers

By | September 17th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Fossilised Feathers Preserved in Cretaceous Amber Provide Insight into Ancient Ecosystem

An analysis of many thousands of amber nodules from Alberta in Canada has led to the discovery of a number of prehistoric feathers that had become entombed.  Scientists have been able to study the perfectly preserved filaments and this has given them more information on the diversity of feathered creatures that lived in Alberta during the Late Cretaceous.  Although it is not possible to distinguish dinosaur feathers from the feathers found on birds, the different feather types found indicate that there were a wide variety of feathered creatures in the swampland and tropical lowland jungle that was Alberta towards the end of the reign of the dinosaurs.

Amber is a sticky, scented resin produced by certain types of trees as protection against damage to their bark.  Insects, plant debris and now even feathers become stuck in the resin and when it fossilises it becomes amber, preserving fragments of a prehistoric world within it.

Over the last few years there have been some remarkable discoveries made by studying the contents of amber nodules.  The resin covers and entombs organic matter permitting some extremely rare and fragile fossils to be formed, that would not survive other fossilisation processes.  For example, a few years ago scientists discovered preserved spider silk in an amber nodule.

To read more about this amazing discovery: World’s Oldest Spider’s Web Found Preserved in Amber

The research from a University of Alberta team and published this week in the scientific journal “Science” confirms that they have found the world’s first proto-feathers preserved in amber.  This shows that some small predatory dinosaurs that roamed southern Alberta about eighty million years ago were likely covered in proto-feathers, or alternatively, it provides tantalising evidence regarding the diversity of those Avian dinosaurs – the birds.

Palaeo-ecologist at the University of Alberta, Alexander Wolfe stated

“It gives us something we’ve never had before.  It gives us, for the first time, the opportunity to really study these proto-feathers in detail.”

Although scientists had previously found evidence pointing to the existence of proto-feathers, this is the first time they have been found preserved in amber, Wolfe went onto say.

Although, as far as we at Everything Dinosaur know, there have been no fossils of feathered dinosaurs discovered to date in Alberta.  Preservation conditions have to be very special indeed to permit the fossilisation of such fine and delicate structures.  However, such conditions existed in the Cretaceous of northeastern China (Liaoning Province) and some remarkable specimens have been excavated here.  Many fossils of small, cursorial Theropods have been found, along with thousands of fossils of birds.  One of the most amazing feathered dinosaur fossils is “Dave” a fossil of a small dinosaur known as Sinosauropteryx (Sinosauropteryx prima), which had halos of black fuzz surrounding its fossil, these have been interpreted as being feather-like structures, probably helping to insulate and keep this active, endothermic creature warm.

Sinosauropteryx Fossil Showing “Halo of Black Fuzz” – Proto-Feathers

Picture Credit: ED/media files

The close up of the head and neck of a Sinosauropteryx fossil shows the strange, feather-like structures.  Some scientists refused to believe that these were feather-like filaments.  Some argued that this was evidence of organic residue from the fossilisation process or a continuous crest of skin that ran down the spine of the animal.  However, more feathered dinosaur fossils have been found, including more specimens of Sinosauropteryx and the feathered dinosaur theory is now widely accepted.

Commenting on the difference between the Canadian amber fossils and the Chinese specimens, Wolfe stated:

“You can’t really see them [the feathers] with anywhere near the kind of details with which we can see these structures in amber.  Essentially these things are mummified in the plant resin, and it’s incredibly stable and it’s incredibly tough.  So we actually have these organic remains, the structures in amber have been trapped for 80 million years and haven’t been transformed chemically or visually to any degree.”

The proto-feathers – single strands or clumped bunches of strands – most likely came from small Theropod dinosaurs that thrived during the Late Cretaceous. Theropods are the group of dinosaurs most closely related to today’s birds, and include large predators such as Daspletosaurus torosus and small, stealth hunters that probably lived in the undergrowth avoiding the attentions of their larger, fearsome cousins, dinosaurs such as Troodon, (T. formosus).

Feather Filaments Preserved in Canadian Amber

Our Feathered Friends – fossilised

Picture Credit: Science

Wolfe added:

“Nothing even comparable to that exists in modern birds today.”

The tiny proto-feather strands would have become stuck on sap when dinosaurs bumped up against trees at a time when southern Alberta was a lush, swampy, forest lowland, located west of the shore of the western interior sea, a shallow, warm ocean that extended from the Arctic to Texas effectively isolating eastern North America from the west.  The tree sap containing the primitive proto-feathers became fossilised, turning into amber, which is often found in coal in Alberta, especially around the Taber and Grassy Lakes areas.

Along with the preserved proto-feathers, the researchers found more highly evolved feathers from the same time period.  These finds include downy feathers from diving birds as well as flight feathers.  Although the scientists cannot be certain that some of the feather-like structures once adorned the hides of dinosaurs, these fossils provide tantalising evidence and certainly raise that possibility.

One of the research team members added:

“We would not have predicted to have such a broad evolutionary range of feather adaptations and feather morphological specialisations, everything from flight to insulation to water retention and diving.  We would not have expected to find this all together.”

It was University of Alberta palaeontology graduate student Ryan McKellar who first started looking for bits of feather trapped in amber about four years ago, while searching samples for preserved insects.  The tiny amber samples, most just a few millimetres long, came from several collections, including from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the University of Alberta and from amateur collectors in the Medicine Hat area.

Ryan commented:

“We’re very excited about the find.  It’s a truly unique snapshot of what was going on in some of these Cretaceous ecosystems.  It paints a picture where, basically, you’ve got dinosaurs such as Theropods with fuzzy or hair-like plumage alongside birds with relatively advanced feather structures, in the same forest at the same time, about eighty million years ago.”

Only about one in fifty amber samples contain any biological material, McKellar added, who recently finished his thesis and is now a palaeontologist doing postdoctoral work at the University of Alberta.  Out of 4,000 amber samples that did contain biological material, the University of Alberta team found a total of eleven containing evidence of feathers.

Such fossils are incredibly rare, the researchers examined over 200,000 pieces of amber to find just eleven examples of fossilised feather material.

The feather strands are so well preserved that researchers can see micron-scale structures on them, as well as pigments, this may help palaeontologists piece together the organic structures that reveal what colour the dinosaurs with feathers may actually have been.  This adds a new and exciting dimension to the University of Manchester (England) team’s work as they use powerful scanning computers to interpret minute organic molecules that could preserve some record of the colour of Theropod dinosaurs.

To read more about Manchester University’s study: Taking the Bio-Synthetic Pathway

An article on the findings, written by McKellar, Wolfe, palaeontologist Brian Chatterton and renowned dinosaur expert Philip Currie, is published this week in “Science”.

This paper explains that up until very recently, extinct dinosaurs were considered to be all covered in scales, just like crocodiles are today.  Very few fossils of primitive birds (stem Avians) were known until the Liaoning deposits were explored.  However, over the last twenty years or so much as changed.  From a re-examination of Archaeopteryx (A. lithographica) to the establishment of the evolution of feathered creatures that dates back to the Mid Jurassic  Feathered animals abound and extend deep into non Avian history, even, perhaps, to basal dinosaurs. Now, instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually drab creatures, we have solid evidence for a fluffy, coloured past.

Next Wednesday, the BBC television series “Planet Dinosaur” focuses on the amazing feathered dinosaur discoveries of north-eastern China.  Viewers will be able to see amazing Theropod dinosaurs such as Microraptor (Microraptor gui) a feathered dinosaur that to all intents and purposes could fly and to meet miniature feathered predators such as Sinornithosaurus (S. millenii) with its potentially poisonous bite.

16 09, 2011

A Review of the Inostrancevia Gorgonopsid Model

By | September 16th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Inostrancevia – Vicious Predator of the Permian

Long before the dinosaurs evolved, other huge prehistoric reptiles roamed the land.  It is always a pleasure to see a new and unusual prehistoric animal added to a range of replicas and we were delighted by the introduction of Inostrancevia (Gorgonopsid) by Safari Ltd.

In this short video, we review this model and discuss the Therapsids and how they show fossil evidence of being ancestral to mammals.  We use the Inostrancevia model to highlight these anatomical characteristics.

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of Inostrancevia

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although the Gorgonopsids did not survive into the Triassic, we marvel at their adaptations which made them fearsome predators.  One of the biggest was Inostrancevia and in the video we comment on the size and function of the huge “sabre-teeth”.  These over-sized canines were up to twelve centimetres long in the largest specimens.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of prehistoric animal models including the Wild Safari Dinos Inostrancevia: Dinosaur Toys for Boys – Dinosaur Models

Although the Palaeozoic lasted much longer than the Mesozoic in terms of geological time, creatures that lived during this era tend to be under represented in the model ranges of manufacturers.  The Gorgonopsids were a fascinating group of reptiles, we think they were the first vertebrates to develop sabre-like fangs, an evolutionary adaptation for tackling over vertebrates that has bene repeated on many occasions over the evolution of back-boned animals.

15 09, 2011

Planet Dinosaur Carcharodontosaurus

By | September 15th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

“Shark-Tooth Lizard” – Carcharodontosaurus

For a long time, this particular dinosaur was the only known representative of the Carcharodontosaurids, for a time it was described as a Megalosaurus, falling into that particular taxonomic waste basket.  However, it was Ernst Stromer who revised the initial study and changed this dinosaur’s name to Carcharodontosaurus saharicus.  The slightly curved and serrated teeth which were long but quite thin reminded Stromer of the teeth of sharks, hence the name “shark-tooth lizard” as Stromer stated, the name was chosen as a result of “its mainly Carcharodon-like teeth”.

As the BBC television programme alluded to in last night’s episode “Lost World” a great deal has been discovered about dinosaurs in the last ten years or so.  The Carcharodontids are no exception with a number of large Theropods from the southern hemisphere now classified as members of this family, even one or two from Laurasia (northern latitudes) are possible members of this family,

Carcharodontosaurus fossils have been found in North Africa and indicate a large Theropod, perhaps measuring more than 14 metres in length, larger than a T. rex just as the planet dinosaur Carcharodontosaurus was portrayed in last night’s programme.

Everything Dinosaur’s Illustration of C. saharicus

Illustration Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An expedition to Morocco by the Chicago Field Museum in the mid 1990s discovered more fossils of this dinosaur including skull material.  The skull and jaw bones found were some of the biggest Theropod skull bones ever found and this dinosaur’s reputation as a giant was sealed.

One of the more unusual aspects of the Carcharodontosaurids is that their fossil remains are often found in association with other large Theropods.  Carcharodontosaurus for example, shared its environment with the large Coelurosaur Deltadromeus.  It also lived alongside Spinosaurus and the Abelisaur Rugops as depicted by the BBC in their programme last night.  This suggests that these carnivores may have been exploiting different food resources and filling different niches in the eco-system.  This would have reduced inter-specific competition.  Perhaps some of these creatures were diurnal hunters whilst others hunted at night.  This could help explain some of the ornate eyebrow crests and ridges above the eyes of these predators.  These features could have shielded a predator’s eyes from strong sunlight helping the animal see in poor light conditions.

With the newly discovered Tyrannotitan, Eocarcharia, Mapusaurus as well as Giganotosaurus it seems like palaeontologists are going to have their hands full trying to classify all these meat-eaters.

15 09, 2011

A Review of the Kaprosuchus Prehistoric Crocodile Model

By | September 15th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

“Boar Croc” Reviewed  – in Praise of the Safari Ltd Wild Safari Dinos Model

The welcome introduction of a Kaprosuchus prehistoric crocodile model into the Wild Safari Dinos model range  provides collectors and dinosaur fans with the chance to own a replica of a terrestrial crocodile.  Kaprosuchus, a fearsome predator of the Niger during the Cretaceous.  It allows us at Everything Dinosaur the opportunity to compare and contrast the land-based croc. Kaprosuchus with the aquatic Crocodyliform Deinosuchus, also available as a model from Safari Ltd.

In our video review, we discuss the fossil evidence which suggests that Kaprosuchus was a terrestrial carnivore – the stereoscopic vision, the robust, impact resistant snout and the strong neck are all characteristics of a predator that fed on land.  We pay tribute to the Wild Safari Dinos Kaprosuchus.

The Everything Dinosaur Review of Kaprosuchus 

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this video, Everything Dinosaur compares the model of Kaprosuchus to the Deinosuchus replica and looks at the characteristics that indicate that Kaprosuchus was a terrestrial predator.

To view Safari Ltd models and replicas available from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

14 09, 2011

Planet Dinosaur – Episode One “Lost World” Reviewed

By | September 14th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Spinosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus Lead the Way in New BBC Television Series

Well, the first episode of the new BBC series “Planet Dinosaur” has hit the ground running with an insightful and informative trip to the Cretaceous of North Africa (Albian to Cenomanian faunal stage).  One of the objectives of this new six-part series was to bring viewers up to date with dinosaur discoveries that have been made in the years since “Walking with Dinosaurs” was first aired.  We were intrigued to see how the narration would work with the narrator, the distinguished actor John Hurt, providing a voice over to the CGI action as well as commentating on the parts of the programme that focused on the research.  The difficulty we envisaged was how the factual evidence from institutions such as the Chicago Field Museum would be blended with the story-telling.  The production team have managed to merge the dynamic CGI footage with the vertebrate palaeontology upon which the story-lines were based; effectively.

The two big stars were of the apex predators Carcharodontosaurus and the more colourfully decorated Spinosaurus (loved the flashy red patches on the snout and skull).  The thrust of the programme dealt with how these predators would have interacted.  A nice touch was the Spinosaurus catching the Pterosaur and we enjoyed the sequence with the Spinosaur fishing, behaving something like a fifteen metre-plus Grizzly.

A quick mention for the musical score (Ilan Eshkeri) which we did not find as intrusive as we feared.  However, one comment – “talk about red in tooth and claw”.  The action was somewhat visceral and whilst we accept the need for authenticity in such programmes we wondered whether all the predation and fighting would frighten younger viewers.

The Spinosaurus featured, was an elongate form, not the robust bruiser from the Jurassic Park trilogy.  We thought this interpretation favoured those Spinosaurus replicas that were made by Safari Ltd and Collecta with their recent introductions of Spinosaurus replicas into their model ranges.

To view the models available from Everything Dinosaur including Spinosaurus: Dinosaur Toys

The ferocious carnivore Sarcosuchus was an interesting addition, showing the diversity of Crocodyliforms in the Cretaceous fossil record.  This particular prehistoric predator has been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest crocodile of all time.

Can’t wait for episode two – off to China to view the arboreal antics of feathered dinosaurs and their cursorial cousins – Theropods behaving like Aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis) anyone?

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