Dinosaur Themed Party Food – Ideal for Halloween

Prehistoric Insects in Amber Jelly – Simple Dinosaur Themed Treat

Another month is nearly at an end, it might be difficult to get over the concept of “Deep Time” when explaining aspects of the Earth Sciences but for us at the moment it is a question of wondering where 2012 has gone – time is whizzing by as we head towards Christmas.  Tonight being “All Hallows Eve” we thought we would get into the “spirit” of the occasion by putting up a short (4 mins 22 seconds) video that we made the other day explaining how to create prehistoric insects in amber – an ideal treat for Halloween fans or for budding palaeontologists.

In this video we explain how to make your very own preserved remains of insects in amber jelly squares.   It is easy to do, fun to make and with the jelly setting time taken into consideration this recipe takes about six hours (ten minutes to make up the jelly and so on but with about six hours required for the jelly pieces to set in the fridge).

We get asked a lot about dinosaur party food, this recipe is an ideal dessert for a dinosaur themed birthday party, but instead of individual portions we just make up a big bowl of jelly instead.

Prehistoric  Insects Preserved in Amber Jelly

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For further information on how to make up this tasty treat, check out our earlier article where we went through the recipe step-by-step and including plenty of pictures too.

Preserved Insects/Amber Recipe: Prehistoric Party Treats

So have a safe and happy Halloween from everyone at Everything Dinosaur.

A Review of the New Papo Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Brachiosaurus Reviewed

The first stocks of the new Papo Brachiosaurus dinosaur model have arrived at Everything Dinosaur and in between packing orders for customers we talk time off to produce a short video review on this super new Sauropod replica.

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of the Papo Brachiosaurus

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this brief product review (video is a just under four minutes long), we provide a little more information on the new Papo Brachiosaurus.   This is the largest dinosaur model yet made by Papo, it was originally scheduled to be released in the early Summer and it has been worth waiting for.  Made with a leaning towards the more traditional image of the Brachiosauridae this is a fine replica and one that will prove popular with collectors no doubt.

To view the Papo range at Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaurs

To enquire about the Papo Brachiosaurus or to ask for more information about this particular Papo replica simply email Everything Dinosaur at: Contact Everything Dinosaur

If the likes of “Arm Lizard” were alive today then an adult could look into the window of a five-storey office block.  The arm and hand of the Brachiosauridae are exceptionally long and the humerus is longer than the femur so the shoulders are very high and the back slopes downwards.  Most Brachiosaur remains are associated with strata laid down in the Upper Jurassic (Tithonian faunal stage).

Theory on How T. rex tackled Triceratops for Dinner

Scientists Publish Theory of T.rex Feeding Behaviour on Triceratops

It seems that most dinosaur films and television programmes feature a battle between meat-eating and plant-eating dinosaurs.  Viewers can’t get enough of these huge, extinct reptiles battling one another and now a team of researchers at the Museum of the Rockies (Montana, United States) have published a rather gory paper explaining how Tyrannosaurus rex may have fed on Triceratops.  The scientists postulate that this Tyrannosaur ripped the head off its victim so that it could feast on the large neck muscles that were in place immediately behind Triceratop’s bony neck frill.

Denver Fowler at the Museum of the Rockies and  his colleagues studied a total of eighteen Triceratops specimens from Montana’s Hell Creek Formation, some of which showed the characteristic Tyrannosaurus bite marks.   There are a number of Triceratops skulls in the fossil record that show signs of tooth marks and punctures made by the characteristic “D”shaped teeth of a Tyrannosaurid.  In a paper presented at the recent annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, the team graphically illustrated how a dead Triceratops may have been decapitated by a feeding Tyrannosaurus rex.

Gruesome Theory Concerning Tyrannosaurid Feeding Behaviour

Eating Triceratops one chunk at a time

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Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Signs of injuries and disease in fossils is known as pathology.  Palaeontologists have studied the fossilised bones of both the plant-eating Triceratops and the meat-eating Tyrannosaurids and there is a lot evidence to support the theory that T. rex attacked and fed upon this particular horned dinosaur.   However, in this new study the researchers were interested in working out what the marks and scars on the bones of this particular horned dinosaur said about the way in which a Tyrannosaur may have fed upon a Triceratops carcase.

The Museum of the Rockies team were intrigued to discover that many of the puncture and pull marks were on the bony neck frill of the fossil specimens they studied.  Triceratops had a very large skull, it was protected by three horns on its face, (the name Triceratops means “three horned face”).  It had a short nose horn and two further, much larger horns over the eyes. These horns could grow to be more than a metre long in mature adults.  Scientists have long speculated that the horns and frills of Ceratopsians performed many functions.  They may have been brightly coloured, an aid to visual communication amongst herd members.  The horns and frills may have also been used in intraspecific combats, for example, two Triceratops fighting together over mates or social status.   These facial ornaments were also defensive structures, very useful when you share the same environment as thirteen metre long Tyrannosaurs with an ability to swallow up to seventy kilogrammes of meat in one mouthful.

T. rex Feeding – A Scenario

T.rex tackles Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Nate Carroll

The skull of Triceratops was very heavy and in comparison to the rest of the body it did not have a lot of meat on it.  The neck frill would not have offered a lot of nutrition, so why the bite and pull marks?

An analysis of the fossilised Triceratops skull material revealed deep, parallel groves on the neck frill, suggesting that a feeding Tyrannosaurus rex may have used its immensely strong jaws and neck muscles to pull on the frill in order to reposition the carcase for feeding or indeed to move the corpse.  Many predators today; after they have made a kill attempt to drag the corpse of their victim to a concealed place so that they can feast in peace without being disturbed by scavengers or worse still, a bigger predator coming along and chasing them away from their dinner.  Leopards for example have been known to drag the body of a gazelle up into a tree so they can feed without being disturbed by lions.  Perhaps T. rex attempted to move their victims so that they could eat without the risk of being attacked by other Tyrannosaurs.  However, the prospect of dragging a seven tonne “dead weight” any distance would have been quite daunting and it would have wasted a lot of energy, perhaps the pull marks indicate where the body was torn apart – a sort of how to eat a Triceratops – one chunk at a time scenario.

If T.rex was attempting to reposition its prey then the scientists speculate that the bony neck frill would have prevented the carnivore from accessing the large muscles on the neck of Triceratops.  The team have proposed that this nasty predator probably used its teeth and jaws to pull on the frill in an effort to get at the meat behind the frill.

The gruesome conclusion made by the palaeontologists is that the easiest way to get to the large neck muscles is to pull the head right away from the body.  In this academic paper, it is postulated that T. rex ripped the heads of its Triceratops victims.

Further evidence to support the “heads-ripped-off-Triceratops” theory was found by the scientists when they examined the joint that attaches the neck to the skull.  This ball and socket joint, known as the occipital condyles showed signs of bite marks on the anterior surface.  The scientists concluded that such marks could only have been made if the head had been removed from the body.

The problem with this rather gruesome area of research is that we cannot rely on observations using extant animals (animals alive today) to support this theory.  The Tyrannosaurus rex versus Triceratops predator prey relationship involves a biped attacking a quadruped.  As we humans (H. sapiens) are the only true biped amongst the Mammalia alive today finding evidence to support this theory in the natural world is very difficult.  Wolves attack horned bison but observations of a wolf pack’s behaviour suggests that they avoid attacking the head and neck region and prefer to try to bring down their quarry by attacking the hind legs.  A wolf weighs fifty times less than a large bison, whereas an adult T.rex and an adult Triceratops were much more evenly matched in terms of body mass.  Scientists do not know whether Tyrannosaurs were solitary hunters or pack animals, if they were pack animals then this would suggest differences in hunting and feeding strategies.

Moreover, there are a number of Triceratops skulls preserved in the fossil record for palaeontologists to study.  Other parts of the Triceratops anatomy, the front legs for example are rarely found in the fossil record.  It has been speculated that the front legs rarely fossilised as this part of the body of a Triceratops was readily consumed as the carcase was broken up.

The Museum of the Rockies team point to the fact that the bite marks on many of the neck frills show no signs of healing. This, they suggest indicates that these injuries occurred after the Triceratops had expired and provide evidence of feeding behaviour.  Unfortunately, an attack by a Tyrannosaurid as it attempted to bring down its prey, would have resulted in extensive bite marks too.  If the attack proved fatal then these wounds which were inflicted during the fight between these two protagonists could be easily confused with those pathologies caused as a result of feeding.

It seems that we may never know the exact methods used by Tyrannosaurs to maximise their feeding with the minimum of effort when it came to eating a Triceratops, however, this new research “heads” us in an interesting direction.

Insects in Amber – A Prehistoric Party Treat for Halloween

Dinosaur Birthday Party Food (Also a Tasty Halloween Treat)

With Halloween approaching the thoughts of many mums and dads might be turning towards preparing for the visits of trick or treaters on all Hallows Eve.  Here is a simple recipe our palaeontologists have come up with that gives a little bit of a dinosaur themed flavour to the night’s festivities.  This recipe also makes a smashing alternative to jelly when it comes to thinking about how to customise food for a dinosaur themed birthday party.  Whether it is creating some delicious treats to hand out to the children who come knocking at your door, or whether its a dinosaur themed birthday party you are planning, why not offer them some prehistoric preserved insects in amber, bite-sized treats that have a little bit of science behind them.  Time to link up the monsters associated with Halloween with another favourite children’s topic – the dinosaurs.

 Bite-Sized Party Treat – Prehistoric Insects in Amber

A fossil themed treat for Halloween or a dinosaur themed birthday party.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Amber Explained

Amber is the hardened remains of tree sap.  Certain types of trees, such as conifers for example, produce a sticky, scented resin which flows from damaged parts of the tree and helps to prevent against the spread of disease or the invasion of fungi into the living tree.  Trees have been producing tree resin, some of which has been turned into amber since the Jurassic geological period, a time when famous dinosaurs such as Diplodocus, Allosaurus and the armoured Stegosaurus roamed the Earth.  As the sap flows down the tree, it traps insects and other animals inside the sticky substance.  Plant remains too, can be caught up, pits of twig, bark, leaves and in later types of amber from the Cretaceous period even pollen from flowering plants can be captured.  The amber preserves these tiny organisms in exquisite detail providing palaeontologists with a unique and rich treasure trove of prehistoric remains to study.

To read an article about the remains of a spider’s web being preserved in amber: World’s Oldest Spiders Web Preserved in Amber

Preserve some prehistoric fossils yourself this Halloween with this simple version of a Halloween party treat that is fun to make and you can even get your kids to help you with this fun recipe idea.

Things You Will Need

  • Small pack of orange or raspberry jelly
  • Pair of kitchen scissors
  • Handful of raisins, currants or dried cranberries
  • A jug with a pouring spout and a mixing metal spoon
  • A couple of plastic ice cube trays
  • A shallow dish which is slightly bigger than the ice cube tray

The Things that You will Need to Make this Recipe

Prehistoric Insects Trapped in Amber Recipe.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Make up the jelly in the pouring jug.  Make sure you follow the instructions on the packet and mix the jelly cubes with the hot water according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Also check that the jug is suitable for holding hot water, a stout plastic jug or a kitchen jug is ideal. Put the jug with its liquid jelly aside to cool down.

Start by Making the Jelly

Palaeontologists get busy making jelly.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Creating the Fossilised Insects

To make the fossilised remains of the insects and other such prehistoric beasties, simply take the currants or raisins and cut them up roughly with the scissors.  If you are using cranberry pieces as well these can be chopped up nice and small using a kitchen knife.  The more frayed the better, they will look more realistic with your trick or treaters, or even your birthday party guests imagining that these are the petrified remains of prehistoric insects from the age of dinosaurs.

Making up our Prehistoric Insects Preserved in the Amber

The more frayed the better!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

When the jelly has cooled down a little, but is still liquid, carefully pour the mixture into the ice cube trays ensuring that all the individual cubes have roughly the same quantity of mixture in them, but do not overfill.  Then simply drop in a few pieces of the chopped dried fruit (currants, raisins etc), into the jelly.  Let the mixture cool a little more and then place on a shelf in the fridge to allow the jelly to set.

Placing our Insect Remains into the Jelly Amber

Ideal for parties or Halloween.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Of course, you don’t have to make up individual bite-size portions, handling jelly pieces can lead to a lot of sticky fingers so you can make up a big bowl of jelly instead.  We added candid peel to our big jelly mix, this looked like the remains of plant material that had become preserved in the amber too.

Take the ice cube trays out of the fridge and place them carefully into the shallow dish which you have prepared by putting in a small amount of hot water into it.  The hot water in contact with the sides of the ice cube trays will help to release the now set jelly pieces from the tray.  After letting the trays warm up in the water, the ice cube trays can be turned upside down and each container can be patted to release the jelly “amber” cube.  If the jelly proves a little reluctant the cubes can be slid out using a knife.

Use a Shallow Tray with Warm Water in it to Help Release the Cubes

Steady as she goes, cubes ready for turning out.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Arrange the amber cubes with their fossils inside on a plate, with perhaps a couple of small, plastic dinosaur models for decoration and there you have it, a cheap and fun party treat for Halloween with a dinosaur theme.

One standard pack of jelly makes about twenty fossils in amber pieces and that’s all there is to it.  A simple and cheap Halloween or dinosaur themed birthday party treat that can either be made up in bite-size portions or a single dessert dish.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of party products: Dinosaur Party Items and Birthday Party Products

Dinosaurs Help Young School Children with their Sentence Construction

Exploring Feelings Using Dinosaurs

For reception/foundation stage school children, one of the challenges can be getting to grips with sentence construction and expressing thoughts and feelings in words.  As many young children love dinosaurs and all things to do with the Dinosauria, these long extinct creatures can help when it comes to their educational development.

Within the mandatory framework for the education and development of children in the United Kingdom from birth to five years of age, as set out by the Department of Education, there are key objectives for teachers and educationalists to try to attain.  For example, educational activities must involve programmes that give children opportunities to experience a rich language environment and to develop confidence when it comes to expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a range of situations.  In addition, an important cornerstone of early years development is literacy.

Dinosaurs can help children in these areas as teachers encourage their charges to link sounds and letters and begin to read and write.  At this age it is important to think of materials that can enable children to explore and share their own thoughts and feelings, their ideas and moods through a variety of different media.

At Everything Dinosaur, our team members have created dinosaur drawings with speech bubbles in a bid to motivate children from four years and upwards to express themselves and develop sentence writing skills.

Stegosaurus Helps with Sentence Construction

A typical teaching resource provided by Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows one of our typical dinosaur themed educational resources.  This A4 sized document illustrates a Stegosaurus with a person next to it to show scale.  The dinosaur can be coloured in by the child and then their thoughts can turn to what the Stegosaurus might be thinking or saying.  It is their job to express the thoughts and feelings of the Stegosaurus using their sentence construction skills.  The name of the dinosaur is included, plus a handy pronunciation guide and the actual meaning of the prehistoric animal’s name.  Team members supply a variety of such dinosaur themed resources, all aimed at helping young children develop and learn.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Teaching professionals must consider the individual needs and interests of the children in their class.  Many children at reception/foundation stage already have a fascination for dinosaurs and so dinosaur themed activities can be used to create challenging and enjoyable learning experiences”.

With the likes of Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex already well known to most children of school age, it can help to utilise their love of dinosaurs in creative ways allowing key early years and foundation stage learning objectives to be achieved.

Canadian Researchers Find Evidence of Feathered Ornithomimids

Scientists Suggest “Wing Feathers” Evolved for Courtship

A new study into the fossilised bones of “bird mimic” dinosaurs a clade of the Dinosauria known as the Ornithomimids, by a team of scientists based in Canada has revealed that these dinosaurs too were covered in feathers, just like their Maniraptoran cousins.  However, the study which examined the fossils of juveniles as well as adults has concluded that wing feather-like structures are only to be found in older, more mature specimens.  This suggests that wing feathers may have evolved in some types of dinosaur to assist in courtship displays to find a mate.

The Ornithomimids (bird mimics) are a group of Cretaceous Theropod dinosaurs known from the northern hemisphere (North America and Asia).  They were named Ornithomimids, not because scientists first thought that these reptiles were feathered, but from anatomical studies of their fossilised bones it was clear that these dinosaurs shared a lot of common features with modern ground dwelling birds.  They had lightly built skeletons, light bones and as a group they tended to have small skulls, beaks but with jaws mostly lacking teeth, long legs and long tails.

Although Ornithomimids had similar body plans individual genera are distinguished by differences in their beaks, the size of the arms and hands and their body proportions.  Deinocheirus (Deinocheirus mirificus) is believed to have been a member of the Ornithomimids – the largest discovered to date with some palaeontologists estimating this animal to have been about the size of a Tyrannnosaurus rex.

Feathered Ornithomimid – Deinocheirus

Giant winged Theropod.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The study, a collaboration between scientists at the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrrell Museum, both in Alberta, Canada, suggests that feathers associated with dinosaur fossils may actually be found in strata that was previously thought to be too coarse grained to preserve delicate structures such as the filaments from primitive feather-like structures.

Palaeontologists François Therrien (curator at the Royal Tyrrell Museum) and Darla Zelenitsky (University of Calgary) studied a series of Ornithomimus fossils that had been found in Upper Cretaceous strata exposed in the Canadian Province.  Ornithomimus was first named and described by the American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1890.  A number of species are associated with this genus and Ornithomimus seems to have been a particularly widespread Ornithomimid with fossils having been discovered all over the western part of North America, from Alberta in the North to Texas in the south.  The particular Ornithomimus fossils studied by the Canadian scientists come from the Badlands of Alberta and date from approximately 75 million years ago (Campanian faunal stage).

The specimens studied included a juvenile and two adult skeletons preserved in a sandstone deposit.  Although the fossils had been known for many years, it was only recently the evidence of feathers was found after the fossil material was subjected to intense analysis using ultra violet light scans and computerised tomography.  It had long been suspected that Ornithomimids were covered in downy, insulating feathers but this is the first time that feathered dinosaur specimens have been found in the western hemisphere.  The discovery of the feathers re-affirms earlier research that suggested that most if not all Ornithomimids were covered in a coat of feathers.

Assistant Professor Darla Zelenitsky commented that this was “a really exciting discovery”.  Although many different types of “bird-mimic” dinosaur are known these Canadian specimens are the first to reveal that Ornithomimids were covered in feathers, just like other types of Theropod dinosaur such as the Dromaeosaurs.

Parents with Wing-like Forearms in the Ornithomimidae

Mums and Dads with wings in the Ornithomimidae.

Picture Credit: Press Association (illustration by Julius Csotonyi)

Interestingly, the research team noted differences in the feathers between the juvenile and the adult animals.  The mature, older individuals had developed larger feathers on their arms, these formed a wing-like structure but clearly adult Ornithomimus were too big to fly, with some specimens reaching over four metres in length.

Associate Professor Zelenitsky explained the significance of this finding by stating:

“This pattern differs from that seen in birds, where the wings generally develop very young, soon after hatching.”

The development of primordial wing structures in adult animals suggests that juveniles and sub-adults did not have these feathered structures on their arms until they had grown up and become old enough to mate and reproduce.

Therrien postulated that:

 The fact that wing-like forelimbs developed in more mature individuals suggests they were used only later in life, perhaps associated with reproductive behaviours like display or egg-brooding.”

The finding of evidence of fossilised feathers in sandstone rocks has potential implications for future discoveries of feathered dinosaurs in North America.  Feathered dinosaurs are known from fine grained formations such as those from the Liaoning Province of China.  The discovery of traces of feathers on dinosaurs excavated from sandstone, a very common fossil bearing sedimentary substrate suggests that a more detailed examination of existing fossil dinosaurs from sandstone deposits may reveal more signs of dinosaur plumage.

The Ornithomimid specimens used in this study will be put on display as part of a larger exhibition on Theropods at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.  These fossils also indicate that primordial wing-like structures on the arms of dinosaurs evolved earlier than previously thought amongst non-maniraptoran Theropods.

Although such structures were never intended for flight, a set of feathery arms would have helped an adult to brood a clutch of eggs, sheltering them and keeping them warm whilst the adult sat on the nest.  Once the eggs had hatched than the feathery structures could act as a shade for the youngsters in the nest as well as providing warmth and shelter.  If the family went on the move then the adult could use the feathered arms to signal to their offspring, part of the non-verbal communication between a parent and young.

Update on the Papo Brachiosaurus (New Model from Papo)

Papo Brachiosaurus Model – Latest News

Papo were in touch with Everything Dinosaur team members this morning.  There are going to be some new Brachiosaurus models arriving in Europe but the deliveries are going to be staggered.  Only about 50% of the European stock is going to arrive in time for Christmas as we understand the current situation.  We at Everything Dinosaur, as we work closely with Papo, will be largely unaffected by this, the first of our models should be with us next week, a second delivery is going to be sent mid November.

Papo are very aware how much interest has been generated by their Brachiosaurus replica.  It is a substantial model which measures approximately forty centimetres in length and stands something like  thirty-one centimetres tall.  Papo have an excellent reputation for producing beautiful dinosaur models and this new figure is no exception.  Staff at Papo are doing all they can to ensure models are despatched from the factory as quickly as possible.

To view the concept images of the Papo model: Update on the Papo Brachiosaurus – Pictures

We should have enough models to go round and we remain committed to doing what we can to supply everybody who has requested this model.  Our intention is to do this on a first come, first served basis so that those people who have contacted us earlier get their model first, this seems the fairest way to deal with the situation until our second delivery arrives.

Of course, things can go wrong, we are dependent on Papo shipping the deliveries over to us and supplying the number of models that we have requested.  However, we will do our best to accommodate everybody and I am so pleased that we do not insist on a pre-order policy where people pay for models up front like some other companies do.  I fear that some people who have already allegedly purchased a model from other companies on a pre-order basis might be disappointed when their item is not available this side of Christmas.

Schleich Announce Product Changes for 2013

Schleich Drop Saurus Line in 2013 but Strengthen the World of History Model Series

Schleich the figure and model manufacturer based in Germany have informed Everything Dinosaur team members about their intended changes to the company’s prehistoric animal models in 2013.   The remaining five models in the Saurus range of museum quality replicas are being withdrawn, this will bring the curtain down on this model series which has been a mainstay in the manufacturers’s product portfolio since the turn of the Century.

However, two new models are being added to the not-to-scale World of History series, to find out what they are read on…

First to dwell on the retirement of the remaining models in what was the 1:40 scale model series, known as Saurus.  The last models – Quetzalcoatlus, Spinosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Allosaurus and the T. rex are being phased out next year.

Soon to Become Extinct

Heading for Extinction the Schleich Saurus range.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the models that are going to be retired.  The oldest of these models, the Tyrannosaurus rex was launched in 2006 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the scientific naming and description of this iconic dinosaur being published.  The Allosaurus and the Spinosaurus followed in 2007 with the Quetzalcoatlus (Pterosaur) model being introduced in 2009 and the spectacular Giganotosaurus being added just two years ago.  It seems that the introduction of a model of one of the largest land predators of all time will have been the swansong for the design team.

All these prehistoric animals are available in the World of History range. This new range is based on the larger scale model series and it was launched in the spring.  Currently, this model series contains ten figures, nine dinosaurs and one Pterosaur (Quetzalcoatlus). The meat-eating dinosaurs in this model range have articulated jaws, a newly introduced element to the dinosaur models by Schleich in 2012.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Schleich prehistoric animals (Saurus range and the World of History range), click on the link here: Dinosaur Models including Schleich

Now to news of what is being added by Schleich in 2013.  Next May expect to see Everything Dinosaur writing reviews on two new additions to the World of History dinosaur range.  Firstly, there will be a model of the horned dinosaur Styracosaurus added to this series.  The first member of the Styracosaurus genus was described by the Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe in 1913.  This new model will make the 100th anniversary of the naming and describing of this horned dinosaur.

Note to dinosaur model collectors, you will be able to tell those companies who are passionate about dinosaurs and know their stuff from other Schleich suppliers because we doubt very much whether anybody else, even Schleich themselves will have realised the significance of the 2013 date to fans of Styracosaurus.

Back in the early noughties Schleich had a Styracosaurus model in their Saurus range.  This replica was retired many years ago and it is relatively rare.

The Earlier Schleich Styracosaurus Model (Saurus)

An Earlier Styracosaurus (Centrosaurine) Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Expect the new 2013 model to be a little more colourful and interestingly, although it is going to be a member of a not to scale model series, as Styracosaurus was smaller than Triceratops, this replica will work well with 1:40 scale models or similar of “three-horned face”.

The second new model to be added to the World of History series, is also “a blast from the past” as Schleich, once upon a time, had a replica of this dinosaur in their Saurus range also.  The dinosaur in question is Carnotaurus.  Expect this new model to have an articulated lower jaw, that is what is planned according to sources at Everything Dinosaur.

The Earlier Version of the Saurus Carnotaurus

"Meat-eating Bull" Returns

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Pictures will be released by Schleich to our team members in plenty of time for the May launch of these two, new dinosaur models.

If Schleich are re-visiting their back catalogue to gain inspiration for new additions to the World of History series can we expect models of Ouranosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Torosaurus and Edmontonia in the future?

Finally to conclude our update on the Schleich product changes for 2013 we have been reliably informed that there are no changes planned for the “dinosaurs” range.  Once this range of “little dinos” – Schleich’s term for them not ours, consisted of twelve replicas, there are six available – Brachiosaurus, T. rex, Velociraptor, Allosaurus, Triceratops and Dilophosaurus.  These six will remain for 2013.

 Schleich Dinosaurs Available in 2013

Still going strong - Schleich Dinosaurs models series.

 Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Origins of Teeth – Research Suggests some Placoderms Developed Teeth

The First Jaws with Teeth – Scientists Identify The Toothy Grin of the Placoderms

An international team of researchers have used high powered X-rays to look inside the mouths of an ancient group of fishes and discovered that some of these marine creatures had teeth, whose structure was very similar to our own teeth.  With the development of teeth, these fish had an evolutionary advantage over other marine animals and teeth capable of biting would have upped the evolutionary arms race between hunter and the hunted accelerating other evolutionary adaptations and developments.

Fish fossils from a rock formation, known as the Go Go Formation (Kimberley region, Western Australia) had been collected by scientists ever since this fossil rich area was discovered more than seventy years ago.  The strata represents a reef environment in a warm, shallow tropical sea that existed in the Late Devonian geological period (approximately 380 million years ago – Frasnian faunal stage).

A wide variety of Devonian fish specimens have been collected from this location, including many Placoderms.  Placoderms were a highly successful and diverse clade of fish that had primitive jaws.  The name “Placoderm” means plated skins as these nektonic animals had broad, flat bony plates over the head and the front of their bodies, protection against attack from other predatory fish and Eurypterids (sea scorpions).  Palaeontologists have classified the Placodermi into seven main groups, it is fish fossils from one such group that show signs of modern teeth in this new study.

An Illustration of a Typical Placoderm

Evidence that Arthrodires had the first teeth.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It has long been believed that teeth are highly modified fish scales, although it has been hotly debated how teeth with a pulp canal, dentine and an outer surface made of enamel like our teeth first evolved.  Placoderms had jaws but until now it was not thought that they had teeth-like structures.  This particular group of fish probably had a skeleton made of cartilage, indicating that they may share a common ancestor with sharks and rays.  The jaws of most Placoderms had self-sharpening bony plates that served as teeth.  Placoderms evolved a pair of sharp bony plates that hung from the top jaw, whilst the edges of the lower jaw were also bony and razor sharp.  These jaws could be closed together like a pair of self-sharpening shears.

A team of scientists led by researchers from Bristol University, in collaboration with Australian colleagues studied the fossilised remains of a particular type of  Placoderm, a member of one of the largest families that make up the Placoderm clade, (Arthrodira), a species known as Compagopiscis croucheri using powerful X-ray tomographic microscopy.  The X-rays are produced by a huge circular device known as a synchrotron.  This machine, located in Switzerland, fires electrons round a circuit which is encased  in powerful magnets.  Powerful X-rays are emitted and this permits scientists to see internal structures of fossil material without damaging the fossil material itself.  The images generated showed teeth inside the jaws that consisted of dentine and bone with a distinct pulp cavity.

The scientists have concluded that teeth and jaws may have evolved simultaneously in the Arthrodira.  The researchers suggest that more complicated teeth evolved within the Gnathostome (vertebrates with jaws) very soon after jaws themselves evolved.

Doctor Kate Trinajstic, from Western Australia’s Curtin University, one of the scientists involved in the study explained that to determine whether teeth were present in the jaws of Placoderms would have meant the destruction of the fossil material so that the internal structure could be studied, if conventional methods had been used.

She stated:

The problem has been that to look at teeth you have to look at internally and museum directors aren’t too fussed on the idea of cutting up their specimens.”

Professor Philip Donoghue (University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences) went onto add:

“This is solid evidence for the presence of teeth in these first jawed vertebrates and solves the debate on the origin of teeth.”

The Placoderms themselves were a very successful and diverse group of fishes during the Late Devonian, perhaps their success can be put down in part to their sophisticated jaws and nascent teeth.  Some of the Arthrodires were apex predators, such as the giant Dunkleosteus that grew up to six metres in length.  Many Placoderms adapted to freshwater environments and this group of fish were some of the first animals with backbones to adapt to living in freshwater.  However, despite their adaptations, it seems that the toothy Placoderms were doomed to extinction.  Very few fossils of these creatures are found in rocks dating from the very end of the Devonian geological period and it seems that by around 360 million years ago (beginning of the Carboniferous), these fish had become extinct.

In June 2008, scientists published remarkable evidence indicating that some types of Placoderm my have given birth to live young (vivparous behaviour), to read more about this: Placoderm Parents

Everything Dinosaur Sent to Coventry

Providing an Illuminating Talk on Late Cretaceous Theropods in Coventry

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been busy writing a synopsis for a speaking appointment next month at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry (England).  Staff at this city centre museum have already seen the company present various dinosaur themed workshops aimed at families as part of their “Dinosaurs Uncovered” exhibition which is open until January 2013.

Now events staff have asked Everything Dinosaur to present a talk on an aspect of the Dinosauria to the audience at Herbert Illuminations – a monthly, free drop in session held at lunchtime at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.    With so much going on in the world of vertebrate palaeontology and with the Dinosauria in particular at the moment, it is going to be difficult to boil things down into a forty-five minute presentation with questions to follow, after all with approximately 160 million years of dinosaur evolution there is certainly no lack of subject material.

Recalling some of the work undertaken on recent science teaching and other outreach projects the talk will focus on the developments in our understanding of that most famous of all Late Cretaceous clades of Theropods – The Tyrannosaurids.  Expect other super predators to get a look in, Abelisaurids perhaps, certainly expect the North African Spinosauridae to be featured with due respects to Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach et al.

At the weekend we sat down and brainstormed what we ought to cover (or should that be brainstemed), the working title was “Everything you wanted to know about T. rex but were afraid to ask”!  Given the ongoing debate in relation to super predators and given the latest research into the Tyrannosaurs and their tendency to dominate those ecosystems in which these carnivores were present we came up with the slightly more catchy title of “T. rex bites back!”

The Proposed Marketing Slide for the Talk

Update on the Tyrannosaurids.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The talk is to take place at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum on Tuesday 20th November, we will put up a link when the publicity for the talk has been posted.

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