All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//September
4 09, 2011

Planet Dinosaur – Cast of Characters

By | September 4th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Prehistoric Animals that Feature in BBC Television’s “Planet Dinosaur”

Not too long to wait until the first episode of this new BBC television series airs (September 14th at 8.30pm BST) on BBC1.  By now many websites and blogs would have reported on the sort of prehistoric animals that are going to be featured.  For example, episode one, entitled “Lost World” will introduce the predators Carcharodontosaurus, Spinosaurus and the crocodile called Sarcosuchus.  We thought it would be helpful at Everything Dinosaur if we discussed some of the less well-known prehistoric animals that will be featured.

An example might be Kimmerosaurus, a Plesiosaur that makes an all too brief appearance in the programme that features “Predator X” – a giant Jurassic Pliosaur whose, fossils were discovered in Norway in 2008.  Kimmerosaurus is a victim of this huge marine predator, perhaps the largest known Pliosaur in the fossil record (although recent discoveries from Dorset (UK) may challenge this).  Fossils that have been assigned to the Kimmerosaurus genus were found in the same strata as the huge Pliosaur fossils.  In the programme, “Predator X” attacks a hapless Kimmerosaurus and tears it apart with its one foot long conical teeth.  This is one of the goriest parts of what is quite a gory series.

To read an article on the power of “Predator X”: The Bite Force of a Pliosaur

Then there are the bizarre and amazing feathered dinosaurs that feature in episode two.  Take for example Epidexipteryx, a pigeon-sized feathered dinosaur from China.  This predator was most bird-like of any dinosaur and is the first known case of ornamental feathers in the fossil record.  Small feathered dinosaurs such as Microraptor will also feature but look out for “big bird”, the 8-metre long Gigantoraptor.  Feathers may have been used for flight, for insulation or even to intimate and attract.  These dinosaurs not only hint at how animals might have developed flight but also suggest that dinosaurs may still live among us today… as birds or as we say “avian dinosaurs”.

There are certainly a whole host of new prehistoric animals in the television series, whether it is giant Pterosaurs such as Hatzegopteryx, horned dinosaurs like Chasmosaurus or fierce carnivores such as Daspletosaurus we are confident that these new programmes will both inform and delight.

To view models of prehistoric animals featured in the BBC television series: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

3 09, 2011

National Fossil Day – What a Good Idea

By | September 3rd, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

National Fossil Day – October 12th 2011

The second National Fossil Day, Americas day for promoting public awareness and stewardship of fossils is scheduled to take place on October 12th.  The inaugural National Fossil Day was held last year.  A series of nation-wide events and activities are being held across the United States with many museums, schools, educational institutions and national parks taking part.  This special day dedicated to fossils is a part of Earth Science Week, an event that encourages people everywhere to explore the natural world and learn about the geosciences.  Earth Science Week is celebrated the second full week of October.  With most states having their own “state fossil” symbol and more than 230 national parks having fossil sites within them it seems a very sensible idea.

Organised by the National Park Service and the American Geological Institute we at Everything Dinosaur, wish everyone involved with this project the “very best”, just as President Obama stated when he sent a personal message of support to celebrate last years event.  Perhaps the United Kingdom too, should have a national fossil day?

2 09, 2011

BBC Planet Dinosaur Trailer

By | September 2nd, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Planet Dinosaur Starts Wednesday 14th September

Planet Dinosaur – the new six part television series starts on BBC1 at 8.30pm September 14th.  Looks like it is going to be an unmissable event for dinosaur fans.

We were kindly sent this video trailer for this series by one of the publicists for this particular programme at the BBC television centre – enjoy!

Dinosaur Planet – Trailer

Video Credit: BBC

The first episode will feature Spinosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus.  In an episode entitled “Lost World” viewers are transported back to Africa in the Early Cretaceous to view an ecosystem dominated by two very different apex predators.  Look out for the fearsome crocs as well.

2 09, 2011

A Review of the Bullyland Dimetrodon Model

By | September 2nd, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Museum Line Dimetrodon Model Reviewed

One of the new additions to the Museum Line scale model range of prehistoric animals has been reviewed by team members at Everything Dinosaur.  It is always a pleasure to see a new model added to the range of prehistoric animals offered by the German manufacturer Bullyland, especially since Dimetrodon (D. grandis) is one of our favourite Permian animals.

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of Dimetrodon

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur, but a member of the Pelycosaurs (synapsid reptile).  Why Dimetrodon is often featured in a model range that focused on dinosaurs always puzzles us.  Perhaps manufacturers just like to add a cool sail-backed reptile to their model series.

We did once write an article on this phenomenon – Dimetrodon being added to models of dinosaurs etc.  To read this article: Why Does Dimetrodon Get Added to Dinosaur Model Ranges

1 09, 2011

Tasmanian Tiger No Sheep Killer

By | September 1st, 2011|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Thylacine Not a Sheep Killer – No “Jaws” for Alarm

The Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) became extinct in 1936 when the last known living specimen died at Hobart Zoo.  Scientists believe that the Thylacine had been extinct in mainland Australia for some 2,000 years but populations survived in remote parts of Tasmania up until the early 20th Century.  One of the reasons given for this apex predator’s decline was that it was hunted extensively by farmers and land owners in a bid to reduce attacks on their sheep.

However, the Thylacine may have been wrongly accused of killing sheep, a new study published in the Zoological Society of London’s “Journal of Zoology” has found that the “tiger” had such weak jaws that its prey was probably no larger than a possum.

Lead author, Marie Attard of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Computational Biomechanics Research Group stated:

“Our research has shown that its rather feeble jaw restricted it to catching smaller, more agile prey.  That’s an unusual trait for a large predator like that, considering its substantial 30 kg body mass and carnivorous diet.  As for its supposed ability to take prey as large as sheep, our findings suggest that its reputation was a bit overblown.”

The Thylacine, otherwise known as the “Tasmanian Tiger” was probably a hunter of much smaller prey, other marsupials and flightless birds being cited as typical prey examples, but not the introduced livestock such as sheep, goats and young cattle.  A generous bounty was paid for every dead Thylacine and this hunting and trapping led to the rapid extinction of an animal population that was already under considerable stress due to loss of habitat and indigenous prey.

Author Marie Attard with a Thylacine Jaw

Picture Credit: Marie Attard

The picture shows Marie holding the skull of a Thylacine, note the wide gape of this predators jaws.

Marie added:

“While there is still much debate about its diet and feeding behaviour, this new insight suggests that its inability to kill large prey may have hastened it on the road to extinction.”

Despite its obvious decline, it did not receive official protection from the Tasmanian Government until two months before the last known individual died (the Hobart Zoo Thylacine).

Using advanced computer modelling techniques, the UNSW research team were able to simulate various predatory behaviours, including biting, tearing and pulling, to predict patterns of stress in the skull of a Thylacine and those of Australasia’s two largest remaining marsupial carnivores, the Tasmanian devil and the spotted-tailed quoll.

The Thylacine’s skull was highly stressed compared to those of its close living relatives in response to simulations of struggling prey and bites using their jaw muscles.  This indicates that tackling sheep was not on the Thylacine’s menu – the fear of a “tiger” attacking a flock of sheep would be unfounded.  There would be no “jaws” for alarm.

A Computer Generated Image Showing the Stress Levels on Thylacine Jaws

Could not think of a snappy title

Picture Credit: Marie Attard

The picture shows the digital stress tests revealing weakness (red/white areas in right-hand image) in the Thylacine jaw.

Director of UNSW’s Computational Biomechanics Research Group, Dr. Stephen Wroe stated:

“By comparing the skull performance of the extinct Thylacine with those of closely related, living species we can predict the likely body size of its prey.  We can be pretty sure that Thylacines were competing with other marsupial carnivores to prey on smaller mammals, such as bandicoots, wallabies and possums.”

It seems that the bounty on the Thylacine may have been unjustified, a case of “shoot first and think later” as a member of the Everything Dinosaur team commented.

Dr.Wroe added:

“Especially among large predators, the more specialised a species becomes the more vulnerable is it to extinction.  Just a small disturbance to the ecosystem, such as those resulting from the way European settlers altered the land, may have been enough to tip this delicately poised species over the edge.”

The Hobart specimen died on September 7th 1936, this date is commemorated in Australia as the National Threatened Species Day, helping to highlight the plight of other endangered species on the continent.  Ironically, there are from time to time reports of sightings of Thylacine-like animals both on the Australian mainland and in Tasmania.  Many cryptozoologists believe that small populations of this pouched predator may still survive in remote parts of the Australian outback.  A few fuzzy photographs and 8mm film footage exist, taken by people who claim to have seen a strange animal, but as yet there has been no real evidence to suggest that the Thylacine is still with us.

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