All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
11 01, 2012

Google Doodle Commemorates Nicolas Steno

By | January 11th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities|0 Comments

Remembering One of the “Fathers of Modern Geology”

Google has commemorated the date regarded by many academics as the birthday of one of the “fathers of modern geology” Nicolas Steno by creating a stratigraphic “google doodle” which is being displayed as the main icon on the google home page.  It may have been the likes of Charles Darwin and Georges-Louis de Buffon that are better known when it comes to Europeans that have influenced the nascent sciences of palaeontology and geology but the contribution made by this Danish academic and member of the Catholic church in the 17th Century cannot be underestimated.

Nicolaus Steno, referred to in Denmark as  Niels Stensen, was born 374 years ago today (based on accepted data regarding his actual date of birth).  He lived by the principle that a person should try to investigate the world around them and not simply accept what was written down by others.  His, at the time, controversial views were to lead to disagreements and conflict amongst other scientists and the church.  The conclusions made by Stenos in the course of his life were to challenge the accepted religious doctrine.

Born in Copenhagen (Denmark) in 1638, as a  young man he had the opportunity to travel widely throughout Europe.  His inquiring mind and meticulous observations led him to investigate a very broad range of scientific subjects.  For example, he studied human anatomy and helped to improve medical knowledge.  However, he is perhaps best remembered for his written texts on how layers of sedimentary rock are formed.  He openly challenged the established religious doctrine regarding how old the Earth was and how it was formed.  His published work helped to lay the foundation for the modern science of geology and he is often referred to as “one of the founders of modern geology”.

The Google Doodle – Celebrating the Birth of Nicolas Steno

Remembering the Contribution of Nicolas Stenos

Picture Credit: Google

The clever doodle is split into the six google letters with each letter being made up of layers of rock.  The different colours of the layers and the fossils in them hint at one of the main tenets of the work of Steno, that layers are laid down in sequence and bizarre objects found in some of these layers such as “tongue stones” are actually the remains of long-dead animals that have been turned to stone (fossilised).

Other scientists in the 17th Century, thought that these strange objects we now identify as fossils, simply grew in rock formations.  Nicolaus Steno was not the first academic to consider fossil material but he made an  invaluable contribution to the foundation of geology and established a fundamental principle of stratigraphy (study of rock layers) – that in most cases younger rocks can be found on top of older rocks.

Younger rocks on top of older rocks is the abiding principle of the Law of Superposition, it was Nicolaus Steno who first formulated this law of geology and it is great to see google remembering this important European scientist.

10 01, 2012

A Hidden Benefit of High Speed Rail – Exposing Mesozoic Sediments

By | January 10th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Press Releases|3 Comments

London to Birmingham High Speed Rail Link Could Lead to new Fossil Discoveries

The first phase of a new high speed rail route linking London to the West Midlands of the UK is likely to be given the go ahead by the Government today (January 10th).  The controversial plan to build a new 100 mile long, high speed rail link from north-west London through the home counties, up to Birmingham has divided opinion, with supporters keen to see improvements in Britain’s rail infrastructure whilst opponents protest over the cost and the environmental damage the construction may cause.

The Government’s Transport Secretary, Justine Greening will announce that the first phase of this £32 billion project is to go ahead, a second high speed rail plan linking Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester has been proposed and it has been indicated that by 2033 the UK will boast a super fast rail network connecting London with the north of England, enabling trains to travel in excess of 200 mph.

 An Illustration of the Proposed Rail Route

The Geology of the Route

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The proposed route takes trains out of north-west London, through the home counties, north of Oxford and on to Birmingham.  Supporters say that the new link will alleviate overcrowding, improve the UK’s rail infrastructure and boost the economy by a huge amount.  However, opponents are considering legal action in a bid to delay the scheme or to have it postponed altogether.

The planned rail link will mean that engineers will be cutting through extensive Mesozoic strata, including Jurassic and Cretaceous marine deposits.  Just as with the first railways and before them the construction of the canals, this will expose fossiliferous strata, some of it as yet not fully explored and this could lead to scientists making a number of important discoveries.

Following the rail route from London the rocks get older and older.  Soon the Tertiary deposits of London and much of the south-east are replaced by a belt of Cretaceous aged rocks, and this gives way to Jurassic aged sediments as the rail link extends northwards.  The final part of the first phase of the rail link, the approach to Birmingham will see construction workers creating cuttings and such like through Triassic aged rocks.

If the plans are given the go ahead, an indirect benefit might be the opening up of cuttings and other types of excavation associated with the rail line construction, that could lead to a number of new, exciting fossil discoveries.  Perhaps the fossils of marine reptiles might be exposed, or even a dinosaur’s remains, the last resting place of a carcase that was washed out to sea and settled on the seabed more than one hundred million years ago.

We shall wait to see what develops.

9 01, 2012

Pteranodon Puppet Added to the Everything Dinosaur Product Range

By | January 9th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Creative Play Encouraged by Pteranodon Puppet

You don’t have to have access to your very own exhibition company to bring dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals to life.  For all budding palaeontologists, a prehistoric animal  hand-puppet may be all that is required for your young dinosaur fans to go off on their own dinosaur land adventures.

Just added to the Everything Dinosaur range of soft toys is this super, soft and cuddly Pteranodon hand-puppet.  The puppet is big enough to allow an adult’s hand to fit inside so Mums and Dads can join in the fun too.

Pteranodon (Pterodactyl Hand-Puppet from Everything Dinosaur

Bright and Colourful Hand-Puppet of a Cretaceous Pterosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The puppet represents the head of a large, Late Cretaceous flying reptile an animal known as Pteranodon.  Pteranodon fossils have been found in many parts of the world and some types of this Pterosaur had wingspans in excess of six metres in diameter.  The hand-puppet shows the toothless beak of this large reptile and even has a bright and colourful crest on the back of the head, just like the real fossils of this animal that lived at the end of the Age of Reptiles.

Puppets are great for encouraging creative play amongst children.  They can make up their own stories and go on adventures with their fish-eating, flying reptile friends.  We adored the cute, pink and curly tongue on our hand-puppet and these soft toys proved very popular when we put them on test with our field researchers.

To view the extensive range of puppets and soft toys, including the Pteranodon puppet available from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Soft Toys

So no excuses then, children can create their own “Jurassic Park” theatre company with prehistoric animal hand-puppets.

8 01, 2012

Getting to Grips with Writing More Articles

By | January 8th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Team Members Praised for their Articles

It is always a pleasure to hear nice things about Everything Dinosaur.  We all work hard to deliver the best customer service that we can and this web log (all 1,650 articles), has become an important tool in our attempts to help communicate new research in Earth Science to a wider audience.

Over the next twelve months or so, we will remain committed to writing at least once a day, helping to produce articles covering subjects as diverse as new fossil discoveries, updates on research, outlines regarding museum exhibitions and so on.  We have received praised from a number of other organisations as we try to bring scientific topics to a wider audience.

Helping to Spread the Word about Earth Science

Picture Credit: E-zine ArticlesUsing such excellent formats and platforms such as the Everything Dinosaur E-zine articles, we shall strive to get at least two hundred extra articles published up on this article platform in 2012.  With articles already on E-zines as diverse as “Winning Ways with Dinosaur Party Food” and articles on the origins of life on Earth, their certainly is an eclectic mix.  If we achieve our aims this would mean that there would be nearly three hundred published articles by Everything Dinosaur authors on this media.  Nice to hear the Everything Dinosaur’s article writing ability is being praised.

7 01, 2012

Stella the Dinosaur Expert

By | January 7th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Children Know their Dinosaurs – Manufacturers Beware!

One of the most frustrating aspects of our jobs is when we come across an item that contains grossly inaccurate or misleading information about prehistoric animals on a product designed for young children.   As we can all attest to, young dinosaur fans really know their stuff and to find on sale a dinosaur themed toy that misinforms is extremely disappointing especially when we spend a considerable proportion of our time offering advice (usually free) to help correct some of the more obvious mistakes.  When we visit schools to teach about dinosaurs we are amazed at the children’s prior knowledge.

One of the viral phenomena doing the rounds on Youtube and other social network platforms is this short video of a young girl called Stella, pointing out the inaccuracies on a horned dinosaur described on the product packaging as a Triceratops.

Stella – The Dinosaur Expert

Video Credit: Sarah Hatton – Artist

It saddens us when we come across instances such as this, young Stella knows her horned dinosaurs and in this short video she points out the dinosaur image on the front of the box does not represent a Triceratops.  She suggests that the picture is more representative of another horned dinosaur, one that is only distantly related to Triceratops, a dinosaur known as Styracosaurus.

As a company made up of teachers and prehistoric animal enthusiasts we marvel at how much knowledge some children acquire when it comes to these extinct creatures.  They seem to be able to absorb information like a sponge absorbs water and we are often corrected when we are working in a school or at a museum if we are seen to get something slightly wrong.  Only yesterday, I was discussing the Jurassic Stegosaur Tuojiangosaurus (T. multispinus) with the mother of a five year old who had insisted on a model of this dinosaur and had refused a Kentrosaurus replica, because in his words “he knew the difference“.

Good luck to him we say.  A fascination for dinosaurs can open up a whole world of learning for young children.  We have observed reception aged students  reluctant to read any other material but absolutely enthralled with a reference book on dinosaurs, happy to point out to us, which dinosaurs were meat-eaters and where they lived.  It is astonishing how many facts and snippets of dinosaur information they can pick up and woe betide us if we should venture to say something that does not entirely agree with an aspect of the Dinosauria that  they may have read about in one of their many dinosaur books.

One of the worst cases we have come across, was discovered whilst visiting a trade show a couple of years ago.  On a colourful exhibitors stand, there was a range of melamine plates, bowls and cups all with a dinosaur theme.   There were pictures of prehistoric animals, plus some brief information, one or two “facts” as it were.  The designers had obviously taken care over their bright and attractive children’s dinner service, I am sure many parents of young dinosaur fans would have been keen to purchase these items for their young, budding palaeontologists.  However, a cursory examination of the “factual”  information revealed some distressing oversights.  For example, the word “Corythosaurus” (a well-known Hadrosaur and a dinosaur that is featured in many children’s books and games), was not spelled correctly.  In addition, printed around one of the pieces in the set ( we can’t remember whether it was the bowl or the plate), was  a statement that “Brachiosaurus was the biggest dinosaur of all time”.  These inaccuracies distress us.  We did have a quiet word with the sales representative on the trade stand, pointing out these errors, we even offered to help fix the problems, but this was all to no avail.

Children deserve better than this.  A love of dinosaurs from an early age can help young children to develop the habit of life-long learning, it is such a shame that a growing number of manufacturers wish to exploit a child’s fascination with all things prehistoric by producing goods that carry misleading images, spelling mistakes and other dinosaur inaccuracies.

We at Everything Dinosaur will continue our efforts and to try to help where we can.  We take care when delivering a dinosaur workshop in school to get our facts straight.  If we don’t then some budding young palaeontologist is bound to point out our error.

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur themed workshops: Dinosaur Workshops in School

6 01, 2012

100th Edition of Prehistoric Times Magazine – Here we Go!

By | January 6th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews|0 Comments

Expecting our Anniversary Edition of Prehistoric Times Any Day Now

One of the most exciting events of the Holocene epoch is nearly upon us, the long awaited, highly anticipated arrival of the 100th edition of Prehistoric Times.  To mark this special occasion the team behind the U.S. based magazine will be printing it with two centenary front covers.  As Mike Fredericks, the editor of Prehistoric Times, (otherwise known as PT) states:

“I am very proud to announce that the 100th issue of Prehistoric Times magazine is being printed now and will start shipping next week.  The issue features Albertosaurus and Dimetrodon, has an interview with the amazingly talented artist Peter Schouten, a behind the scenes look at the Terra Nova TV show, plus Steve Brusatte lists the top Paleo News of 2011 and on and on!”

When asked about to describe the two special front covers that have been chosen for this landmark publication, Mike added:

“The issue sports two different awesome Albertosaurus front covers. One by Fabio Pastori and the other by Raul Martin.  It is because of our loyal readers that I get to continue to have the time of my life producing this magazine.  I can’t thank you enough.”

Which Cover will you Get?

All Albertosaurus but which one will you get?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Prehistoric Times

We are looking forward to receiving our copy and to writing a review of this very special publication.

5 01, 2012

New Ichthyosaur Species Swims into View

By | January 5th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Palaeontological articles|3 Comments

German Discovery – Challenges Ichthyosaur Extinction Theory

The partial remains of an Ichthyosaur discovered by a fossil collector whilst exploring cuttings made by a road construction crew in Germany, may hold the key to shedding light on one of the mysteries surrounding the evolution of Ichthyosaurs.  After a careful comparison with other known Ichthyosaur specimens from Germany, England and the USA, this new creature has been regarded as a new species and given the name Acamptonectus densus.   The name means “rigid swimmer”.

Ichthyosaurs, otherwise known as “fish-lizards” are an Order of reptiles that evolved in the Early Triassic and survived right up to near the end of the Cretaceous.  Ichthyosaurs were fast-swimming, nektonic and predatory marine reptiles.  With their dolphin-like bodies and with the ability to give birth to live young (viviparous), these creatures seemed to have been one of the most successful of all the marine reptile types.

A Model of a Typical Ichthyosaur

Affected by at least 3 major extinction events

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 However, scientists have identified at least three major extinctions that have affected the Ichthyosaur Order.  Although the fossil record is far from complete, it is believed that the Ichthyosaurs were subjected to the first mass extinction around 200 million years ago as the Triassic gave way to the Jurassic.  The second mass extinction took place as the Jurassic gave way to the Cretaceous around 145 million years ago, where factors such as climate change reduced the number of highly specialised Ichthyosaurs surviving into the latter part of the Mesozoic.  The third major extinction event for the Ichthyosaur Order took place around 90 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous.  The Ichthyosaurs did not survive to the very end of the Mesozoic.

A Table Showing the Approximate Dates of Ichthyosaur Major Extinction Events

Mass Extinctions of the Ichthyosaur Order

Table Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It had been thought that the more specialised clade of Ichthyosaurs known as the Ophthalomosaurs, which had thrived in the Jurassic did not survive the second mass extinction event at the onset of the Cretaceous.  Ichthyosaur fossils found in Cretaceous aged strata have tended to be representative of a second clade of these “fish-lizards”, known as the Platypterygians.   There had been a number of fossil finds recorded from sediments laid down in the Cretaceous that have been ascribed to the Ophthalomosaur clade, but these remains have been very fragmentary, so most scientists who had studied the Ichthyosaur fossil record did believe that only the Platypterygians survived into the Cretaceous geological period.  What caused these extinction events is still debated, but a number of other nektonic marine creatures, including other types of marine reptile also suffered major extinction events around these dates – especially at the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary.
A New Type of Ichthyosaur Swims into View

Ophthalomosaurs surviving into the Cretaceous

Picture Credit: DPA
The discovery of a much more complete Ophthalmosaur Ichthyosaur in Germany, provides the best evidence yet that this type of dolphin-like, marine reptile did survive well into the Cretaceous.  The specimen, which represents an animal around three metres long has been studied by a number of Ichthyosaur specialists.  It is believed this marine reptile fed on fish and cephalopods.
Private fossil collector Hans-Dieter Macht discovered the  specimen whilst collecting fossils at the construction site of a new main road in the  Cremlingen area, (Lower Saxony, Northern Germany), in the late spring of 2005.   After finding some isolated vertebrae the collector informed the director of the State Natural History Museum at Braunschweig and a formal excavation began.  As the need to complete the roadway was pressing, the field team had just three days to study the site and remove any more fossilised bones.  Despite the extreme time pressure the scientists were able to find fragmentary skull material, parts of the jaws, elements from the scapular girdle, pieces of rib, vertebrae and a complete right humerus (upper arm bone).
Ichthyosaur Fossils Provide Evidence of Ophthalomosaurs Surviving into the Cretaceous

The crushed skull of a new species of Ichthyosaur

Picture Credit: PLoS One
Commenting on the find, the director of the State Natural History Museum (Braunschweig), Ulrich Joger stated:
“With this, an entire extinction theory will be questioned.”
Since the discovery of these bones almost seven years ago, palaeontologists from Germany, Scotland, England and Belgium have compared the skeleton with a similar one found back in 1958 on the north-east coast of England and determined that there is fossil evidence to suggest Ophthalmosaurus did indeed survive into the Cretaceous.
4 01, 2012

Lots of new Dinosaur Models for 2012

By | January 4th, 2012|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Lots of new Prehistoric Animal Models to Look Forward to in 2012

Something to brighten us all up as we start the New Year, there are lots of new dinosaur and prehistoric animal model releases to look forward to over the coming months.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, have been playing around with the product images and practising their Adobe CS5 photoshop skills (yes, we need lots of practice).

Just a little pic, posted below, where we have combined the new, large scale Triceratops horridus and the Tyrannosaurus with the Struthiomimus for its dinner, using our logo as a backdrop.

New Models in 2012 (Collecta Dinosaurs)

T. rex and a Large Scale Triceratops

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

There are so many exciting new prehistoric animal models to look forward.  It looks like it is going to be a “bumper” year for new dinosaur model introductions.

3 01, 2012

Dinosaur Picture Viewer

By | January 3rd, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Press Releases, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Dinosaur Picture Viewer

A handy little dinosaur picture viewer has just been added to the Everything Dinosaur product range, sales of which help support the Natural History Museum in London.    Simply insert one of the three, robust discs that comes with the viewer, hold it up to the light and look through the special lens and you will be treated to images of dinosaurs and important dinosaur fossils, with all the images having come from the Museum’s collection.

The Dinosaur Picture Viewer

Bring your Favourite Dinosaurs into Focus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The beautiful and full colour images depict a number of very popular dinosaurs including Triceratops, Giganotosaurus, Stegosaurus, Psittacosaurus and of course T. rex.  The viewer also enables young dinosaur fans to view actual dinosaur fossils including a close up of the head of “Dippy” the Diplodocus – D. carnegiei, the huge long-necked dinosaur that stands in the entrance hall to the museum.  As the Diplodocus head is several metres in the air, it is not possible to view this museum exhibit very closely, however, thanks to this little gadget, this is no longer a problem.

One of the Fearsome Giganotosaurus Illustrations from the Viewer

Biggest Land Carnivore Known to Science?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows one of the detailed images, this dinosaur picture viewer is bound to get young dinosaur fans roaring with excitement.

To see more details of the Natural History Museum Dinosaur Picture Viewer: Dinosaur Party Items

Complete with a handy lanyard so that  young dinosaur fans can wear their picture viewer and as it has the logo of the Natural History Museum on the front they will feel just like a real palaeontologist.  It is a wonderful addition to Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur party items.

Sales of this product support the Natural History Museum.

2 01, 2012

Palaeontology Predictions for the Year Ahead

By | January 2nd, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Predictions for 2012

With 2012 already upon us it is time for those brave team members at Everything Dinosaur to stick their heads above the parapet and have a go at predicting some of the news stories and articles we will feature on this web log in the coming twelve months.

At the start of each year since the Everything Blog began, we have had a go at trying to predict what might happen in palaeontology and other Earth Science fields in the year ahead.  We have to admit to very mixed results when we review what we said at the end of the year.  However, fortune favours the brave as they say, so having put our heads together this is what we have come up with.

1).  New Tyrannosaurid to be discovered in China

With the amount of field work going on in China at the moment, it is almost certain that a number of new dinosaur species will be discovered, however, we have suggested that a new member of the Tyrannosaur family will come to light, perhaps  a Chinese version of the large Late Cretaceous Theropods that roamed North America.  Perhaps another huge Tyrannosaurus from somewhere such as the Shandong Province.

2).  Fossil Found in an Unusual Place

With Iguanodon fossils turning up in Sunderland, museum fossil material regarded as “rubbish” turning out to be a new species of dinosaur it is amazing where fossils can be found.  We predict that there will be a news story on such an unusual discovery.  An Allosaurus in an allotment, that would be unlikely, but perhaps somewhere, a strange-shaped stone in a rockery or on a garden path might turn out to be something rather special.

3).  Dinosaurs and the Olympics

With the London Games due to start in a little over 200 days or so, we expect there to be lots of media outlets piggy-backing news and press releases around the Olympics.  Natural History Museums and such like we not be exempt from all this as we get closer and closer to the start of the Summer games.

4).  A High Profile Trial and Conviction for Damage to an SSSI

Incidents where important fossil locations have been damaged due to the activities of unscrupulous collectors will no doubt increase again in 2012, but we predict that the authorities will fight back and there will be news of a conviction in the UK resulting from vandalism from a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

5).  Landslip at Lyme

With the cliffs at Lyme Regis becoming more and more dangerous we predict that 2012 will see another major land slip on the Dorset coast.  High tides and high winds will combine to further weaken the rock strata and a significant land slip will result.

6). Up, Up and Away with the Discovery of  a New Pterosaur Genus

2012 is the year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar, and we suspect that another winged creature will hit the headlines over the coming year.  We suspect that a new species of Pterosaur will come to light, perhaps from the Santana Formation of Brazil, or from the South East of Asia, or even Australia.

7).  Advancing Techniques Yield New Data Concerning Dinosaur Skin

Increased use of high tech. facilities once the sole property of NASA will permit palaeontologists to make more amazing discoveries.  High resolution electron microscopy or advanced tomographic systems linked to advanced computer imagery software will reveal more secrets about ancient animals, perhaps even some further information about dinosaur skin and its potential colour.

8).  Land of the Giants – New Titanosaur Discovery in Gondwanaland

Last but not least, our eighth and final prediction deals with the largest terrestrial animals that ever lived.  We predict that in a part of the world that once made up the southern continent of Gondwanaland, scientists will unearth the fragmentary fossilised bones of a new type of Titanosaur (long-necked dinosaur).  May be something to rival the “super heavyweights” of Argentina and Africa.

Well that’s it, it only remains to review what we have said in twelve months time or so, to see how right (or how wrong) we were.

Happy New Year to all our readers.

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