All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/2012
21 12, 2012

Papo Wishing Everything Dinosaur a Merry Christmas

By | December 21st, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Papo sends us a Christmas Card

The Everything Dinosaur office has been brightened up with lots of Christmas cards, we have hung them up in and amongst the various dinosaur and other prehistoric animal drawings and pictures that we receive from dinosaur fans.  One of the cards that came into day was this particularly colourful one from the French figure and replica manufacturer Papo.

Papo’s Christmas Card

Christmas card from Papo of France.

Picture Credit: Papo

The message inside the card reads:

“L’equipe Papo vous presente ses meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle annee.”

It translates as the Papo team wishes you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

With a number of new Papo models being added to the company’s “prehistory” model range, team members at Everything Dinosaur are certainly going to very busy with Papo next year.

20 12, 2012

Freshwater Mosasaur from a Hungarian Bauxite Mine

By | December 20th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Pannoniasaurus inexpectatus – The Unexpected Mosasaur

A joint team of Hungarian and Canadian scientists have unearthed a new species of Mosasaur, one that as far as the known fossil record goes, was unique amongst the Mosasauridae – it lived in freshwater.  It seems that just like some species of extant cetacean (whales and dolphins), one group of Mosasaurs adapted to living in a freshwater environment.  There are river dolphins that live in the Amazon and other riverine habitats such as, until recently, the Yangtze river (Yangtze river dolphin believed to be extinct).  Now scientists have the fossilised remains of several freshwater Mosasaurs to study, a number of individuals, all of which have been assigned to a new species – Pannoniasaurus inexpectatus.

Mosasaurs are members of the Order Squamata (lizards and snakes), they evolved from terrestrial reptiles but they adapted to marine environments and rapidly diversified with many different genera and something approaching eighty different species being recognised.  Mosasaurs were typically streamlined, with long, narrow jaws, four paddles and possibly a fish like tail, (new evidence suggests that some Mosasaurs had tail fins like those found on extinct Ichthyosaurs and extant dolphins).  As vertebrates; their backbones became specially adapted to undulate in an up and down motion to aid propulsion through water.  Some of these marine lizards evolved into giant forms such as Tylosaurus and Hainosaurus which could have been as much as fifteen metres in length.  It seems that these reptiles, whose closest living relatives today are thought to be the monitor lizards (Varanus), evolved around ninety million years ago and spread throughout the world’s oceans before dying out approximately around 25 million years later.

The holotype fossil material, plus over one hundred Pannoniasaurus fossils so far collected from the location come from alluvial (floodplain and channel) deposits which form a section of the  Csehbánya Formation of Cretaceous aged strata.  The fossils which include juveniles and bones from specimens which may have exceeded six metres in length come from various exposures at the Iharkút open-pit bauxite mine in Hungary.

An Illustration of the Skeleton of P. inexpectatus

The Mosasaur that lived in freshwater.

Picture Credit: PLoS One

It is thought that this river Mosasaur had a similar body shape to other Mosasaurs as well as long, narrow, crocodile-like jaws.  Palaeontologists believe that this genus represents a basal member of the Mosasauridae, it may have retained feet with clawed toes that were capable of moving the animal about on land.  However, no lower limb bones have been found to date.  The flattened skull, may have been a useful adaptation for water-level hunting and the ambushing of terrestrial animals such as small dinosaurs that came close to water’s edge.  The research team speculate that more robust limbs with claws may have been retained by these Mosasaurs as they could have used their feet and claws to clamber over the bottom of the river just as extant crocodiles do today.  At six metres in length [about the size of a modern-day Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)], these Mosasaurs were the largest predators within this Late Cretaceous river environment.

Virtually all the other known Mosasaur fossils have been found in strata which was laid down in marine environments.  Previously, the only exception to this was some fragmentary fossils of the marine, nektonic Mosasaur known as Plioplatecarpus which was discovered in non-marine rocks in Western Canada (Alberta).  The Plioplatecarpus remains include teeth and a partial vertebra collected from the a mudstone unit in the middle of the Lethbridge Coal Zone.   These bones could have been re-deposited there after a tsunami or other flood event, or perhaps they represent individuals who went upstream from estuaries in a similar way to modern Bull sharks.

The genus name for this new Mosasaur comes from the ancient Roman province of “Pannonia”, which contained this part of Hungary, the specific name “inexpectatus” means unexpected in Latin, a reference to the surprising occurrence of  Mosasaur fossils in a non-marine palaeoenvironment.

A More Typical Mosasaur (Marine Reptile Museum Exhibit)

Does this mean we have to stop calling Mosasaurs "marine reptiles".

The size of the individual fossil bones collected so far indicate that these bones represent a number of differently-sized creatures.  The smallest seem to have been less than a metre in length, the average overall length would have been around three to four metres.  This suggests that many animals of various sizes and ages were present together living in these prehistoric rivers.  In the paper, published in the on line scientific journal PLoS One (Public Library of Science), the research team state that their studies suggest no fossilisation bias and that the Pannoniasaurus fossils probably represent the population quite accurately.  This suggests that a population of these reptiles was living in the river system, it is unlikely that the fossils ended up in non-marine strata as Mosasaurs migrated upstream to take advantage of seasonal food opportunities or in order to give birth in freshwater rather than in the open sea.

This part of Europe during the Late Cretaceous consisted of a series of tropical islands, other fossils found in the Csehbánya Formation include fish, amphibians, crocodiles, turtles, several dinosaur genera, pterosaurs and birds.

19 12, 2012

More Potential Retirements from Bullyland

By | December 19th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|4 Comments

A Number of Models due to be Retired in 2013

The new 2013, catalogue of Bullyland, the German based figure and model manufacturer will show a much reduced number of prehistoric animal models.  The retirement of the Arizonasaurus model had been announced sometime ago and reported on this blog site as well as across other social media sites managed by Everything Dinosaur team members.

However, it is likely that a number of other models from the popular “Museum Line” and “Prehistoric World” ranges will also disappear in 2013.  The Ichthyosaurus model, along with the replicas of the Belemnite and Ammonite will not be featured in the new brochure, strong indications that production of these models is to be stopped.  The Iguanodon model with its articulated arm is also not going to be present in the new catalogue.  This model was introduced in 201o along with a replica of the fearsome South American predator Giganotosaurus.  A source close to Everything Dinosaur commented that although the Giganotosaurus was present in the latest Bullyland publication the Iguanodon was not there.

Absent from the 2013 Bullyland Brochure

Thumbs down for Iguanodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Bullyland is going to introduce two new models to its “Prehistoric World” series next  year, prehistoric mammals in fact.  These models have been described as a maned Sabre-tooth tiger (Smilodon) and a second member of the Machairodontinae; a Sabre-toothed cat.  We at Everything Dinosaur are not sure as to the distinction, the Sabre-toothed cats as members of the Felidae are a bit out of our specialist field.  However, we are not sure about the description of a Sabre-toothed tiger, but with the number of Sabre-toothed Felidae predators to choose from; having a maned Sabre-tooth lion-like animal makes an interesting addition to the range.

New Models to the Bullyland “Prehistoric World” Range in 2013

A pair of Sabre-Toothed Cats new to the range.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With the recent change in ownership of Bullyland plus changes in the distribution agents for the German based company, it seems that 2013 is going to be an interesting year for fans of Bullyland’s model ranges.

To view the range of Bullyland models available from Everything Dinosaur: Bullyland Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

18 12, 2012

Swiss Palaeontologist is Honoured by Having “Little Diplodocus” Named After Him

By | December 18th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Dinosaur Discovery from Wyoming Honours Hans-Jakob Siber

A long-necked Sauropod, believed to be closely related to the famous long-necked dinosaur Diplodocus has been named after a Swiss-based researcher who has made a substantial contribution to the study of dinosaur fossils.  The new dinosaur has been named Kaatedocus siberi to honour Hans-Jakob Siber, widely regarded as one of Switzerland’s most influential dinosaur experts.  Dr. Hans-Jakob Siber, is the founder and director of the Dinosaur Museum at Aathal, close to Zurich.  The name means “Siber’s small Diplodocid” and it has been described from a partial skeleton excavated from a sequence of Upper Jurassic strata which forms part of the famous Morrison Formation in the western United States.  An exhibit featuring this new Sauropod species is due to open at the Aathal museum, a chance for the Swiss public to gain an appreciation of the research work carried out by Dr. Hans-Jakob Siber and his colleagues.

For the last twenty years or so, the Swiss research team have visited a number of locations within the Morrison Formation of the United States to carry out excavations and other field work.  The new discovery comes from the Big Horn Basin area of Wyoming.  Over the years, the Swiss team have explored a number of fossil bearing sites, areas such as the Dana Quarry (Ten Sleep) and the Howe Ranch in central Wyoming.   They have found a number of specimens, including Apatosaurus, Allosaurus and Stegosaurus, but this is the first dinosaur from the Wyoming site to be named in honour of one of the team.

New Member of the Diplodocid Clade – Kaatedocus siberi

Honouring a Swiss palaeontologist.

.

Importantly, the fossil material ascribed to this new dinosaur genus includes a number of beautifully preserved cervical vertebrae (neck-bones), these well-preserved bones will help palaeontologists to explore the subtle differences between this type of long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur and those that evolved slightly later in the Jurassic, dinosaurs such as the famous Diplodocus.  Like Diplodocus, Kaatedocus, had a small head on a long neck, a huge body, supported by pillar-like legs and a whip-like tail.  Kaatedocus lived around 153-150 million years ago, making this fossil specimen an earlier example of a Diplodocid dinosaur when compared to Diplodocus genera.  The fossils were also found further north than the majority of other Upper Jurassic Diplodocid remains associated with this part of the Morrison Formation.  It could be speculated that the Diplodocids, gradually moved south, adapting to new environments and climatic conditions as this particular type of dinosaur evolved.

The specimen was first excavated by the Swiss team nearly twenty years ago, it was one of the first significant dinosaur bone assemblages they discovered, but the researchers opted to focus on working on more complete specimens so the importance of their fossil find was overlooked.  They were not aware that they had actually discovered an entirely new species of Late Jurassic dinosaur.

Fellow Swiss palaeontologist Emanuel Tschopp was responsible for the formal study of the specimen, including the analysis of a partial skull.  His paper has been published in the academic journal “The Journal of Systematic Palaeontology”.  In naming this new Sauropod, it was an opportunity to honour the work and contribution of Dr. Hans-Jakob Siber.

Kaatedocus was actually smaller than the likes of Diplodocus longus, however, the single individual known was a sub-adult.  The fact that this dinosaur was not fully grown and has left some very well preserved cervical vertebrae has provided palaeontologists with an opportunity to study how these type of dinosaurs grew (ontogeny).

To read an article on previous studies related to Diplodocid ontogeny: Baby Faced Dinosaurs

Diplodocid dinosaurs include Late Jurassic giants such as Apatosaurus and Barosaurus.   This clade survived into the Early Cretaceous, evolving into some bizarre forms such as the South American  Amargasaurus and the dinosaur that thought it was a “lawn mower” the African Diplodocid Nigersaurus (Nigersaurus taqueti).

17 12, 2012

New Papo Models for 2013

By | December 17th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|6 Comments

Woolly Rhino is joined by Carnotaurus and a Permian Pelycosaur

New additions to Papo’s Prehistory model series have been announced and the first of the pictures of the 2013 models have been officially released to Everything Dinosaur.  Papo, the French model and figure manufacturer have expressed a desire to increase the number of models in their “prehistory” series.  This range was originally called “Dinosaures”, but as the number of non-Dinosaurian models has increased it seems fitting to change the name to a more accurate description.

Papo Woolly Rhino Replica (Coelodonta)

Woolly Rhino enters the Papo range.

Picture Credit: Papo/Everything Dinosaur

This is a wonderful representation of this Pleistocene mammal.  It is great to see the French manufacturer adding to their prehistoric mammal range and highly appropriate as these hairy, and very probably grumpy beasts wandered across France and much of Europe.   This model is one of the first figures to be made next year, expect stocks in at Everything Dinosaur by around February 2013.

The second new introduction is also another non-Dinosaurian replica, but this time a reptile.  A super replica of the Late Permian predatory Pelycosaur known as Dimetrodon is going to be “sailing” into view.  This sail-back reptile has been a favourite amongst  model collectors for many years and although Dimetrodon pre-dates the first of the dinosaurs by several million years, this apex predator could certainly give a number of Theropods a run for their money.  Available in the spring of 2013 from Everything Dinosaur – March/April time perhaps?

A Striking new Model of a Pelycosaur – Dimetrodon (D. grandis)

Fearsome sail-backed reptile, with exquisite detail.

Picture Credit: Papo/Everything Dinosaur

The superb colouration and detailing of the scales makes this a truly stand out replica of a Dimetrodon.  This is our personal favourite amongst those new releases from Papo.

Note to team members – we must write more about Dimetrodon and Pelycosaurs in general!

Last but not least comes a dinosaur model, another in a long line of excellent dinosaurs made by this French company.  Due out later in 2013, Papo will be unleashing an amazing replica of a Carnotaurus.  Already, this replica has got collectors and dinosaur enthusiasts swishing their tails and roaring with excitement.

Carnotaurus from Papo (due out later in 2013 – February?)

With articulated lower jaw - Papo Carnotaurus.

Picture Credit: Papo/Everything Dinosaur

As with the other excellent Theropod models in this series, the Carnotaurus will have an articulated lower jaw.  Let’s see what the Papo design team and artists make of this dinosaur’s dentition.  It looks like there are going to be some exciting times ahead for the Papo production line.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s current range of Papo prehistory models: Papo Dinosaurs and other Prehistory Models

16 12, 2012

Update on Christmas Post for UK Mail (Royal Mail)

By | December 16th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Royal Mail Postal Information for Christmas

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are working around the clock to prepare, pack and despatch orders so that customers can get their parcels in time for Christmas.  Once again the dedicated staff have been working all weekend packing parcels and sorting out orders, aided by the occasional mince pie and hot chocolate drink.  It is always a good idea to try to beat the inevitable Christmas rush by posting early, however, Royal Mail does publish guidelines concerning the last recommended safe posting dates for Christmas mail.

Royal Mail states the following for UK post:

Last recommended safe posting date for second class parcels is Tuesday 18th December

The last recommended safe posting date for first class parcels is Thursday 20th December

The best advice we can give customers is to order early, we will continue to work as hard as we can pack and despatch parcels, team members will be packing until around 10pm this evening, in this way as many parcels as possible can go out with the first collection on Monday morning.  One other point worth noting, before finally pressing the “submit” button and sending the order to Everything Dinosaur, please take a moment to check the delivery address.  Our team members do check delivery addresses and all our address labels are checked at least twice by our staff, but just occasionally, an order with an incorrect delivery address is sent through to us (usually the postcode is wrong).  Incorrectly addressed orders can lead to delays in delivery and the possibility of that all important Christmas delivery being missed.

Please help us to help you by taking a moment to check delivery addresses.

15 12, 2012

Ancient Ostracod from Herefordshire – Reconstructing the Silurian

By | December 15th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Pauline avibella – A new Species of Silurian Ostracod named after Professor’s Wife

It may be difficult to believe, especially after the sub-zero temperatures endured by many people in the United Kingdom over recent days, but once the landmass that was to form England sat much closer to the equator than it does today.  Back in the Silurian, much of the land that we now know as the UK was underwater, part of an extensive, shallow sub-tropical sea that marked the boundary between two landmasses, Laurentia in the west and Baltica in the north.  Scientists from the University of Leicester (East Midlands), have identified a new species of crustacean, an animal that lived in this warm, shallow sea something like 425 million years ago.

The one centimetre long shelled creature had been found in rocks in Herefordshire, from a site that University of Leicester researchers describe as a “treasure trove” of fossil material.  It seems that part of the sea bed had been covered by a fine layer of volcanic ash as a volcano to the west erupted.  This ash layer buried much of the lifeforms that existed in the area at the time, preserving their bodies and hard shells in exquisite detail.  The fossils have soft tissue and even components such as eyes and mouth parts have been preserved.

Professor David Siveter, who led the research, has named the new species Pauline avilbella in honour of his late wife who supported him throughout his career.  Ostracods are relatively abundant in the fossil record.  These primitive shelled Arthropods of the Order Crustacea are related to crabs, lobsters, barnacles and shrimps.  The fossils of these tiny creatures first appear in Cambrian rocks and although these creatures first evolved in a marine environment, many modern species can be found in freshwater.  Like all Arthropoda, these animals have bilateral symmetry and their paired body parts are usually enclosed in a hinged, bivalve-like shell made of magnesium calcite.  One piece of the shell structure is normally bigger than the second part of the shell and these shells are commonly preserved in the fossil record, however, being able to identify soft tissue parts in Silurian aged fossils is extremely rare.

A Computer Generated Image of the New Ostracod Species

425 million year old Ostracod with a shell shaped like a "bird's wing".

Picture Credit: Press Association/University of Leicester

Commenting on the new species, Professor Siveter, the lead author of the scientific paper, stated that this was a very important discovery as it represented one of only a handful of fossil Ostracods with the soft-tissues preserved.  The species name “avibella” was chosen as the two piece shell resembles the shape of a bird’s wing.  Most Ostracod shells are kidney or bean shaped, but this particular shallow water species had a shell that was swept back, similar to the shape of the wing of a bird.  The name “avibella” means “beautiful bird”.

The process of extracting the tiny microfossils from the surrounding limestone matrix involves slowly grinding the specimen down, micron by micron with scanning photographs taken at each stage.  When the mechanical process is completed the data is fed into a powerful computer which can produce a detailed three-dimensional image of the organism, including its delicate soft body parts.  With each specimen more than five hundred images were produced, resulting in an extremely detailed picture of the organism – a sort of “virtual fossil”.

The work of the Leicester University based team is helping scientists to understand the diversity of benthic (animals and plants that live on the sea floor), marine fauna during the Silurian period, an important period in the evolution and diversity of marine organisms as rising sea levels created a number of warm, shallow sea environments and fauna was almost entirely restricted to marine habitats.

14 12, 2012

Culling Crocodiles May not Solve Northern Territories “Crocodile Problem”

By | December 14th, 2012|Animal News Stories|0 Comments

Culling Estuarine Crocodiles may Not Reduce Crocodile Attacks

Calls for a cull of the Saltwater crocodile population in the Northern Territories (Australia) are growing after two fatal attacks on children within the last month.  Such a cull could prove to be counter productive and ironically, lead to an increase in crocodile attacks on people.  Biologists are aware that large crocodiles set up territories and are very aggressive towards others of their own species, a cull of big Saltwater crocodiles could result in one of the natural controls of species numbers in the wild, predation by other crocodiles, being removed.  This in turn, could lead to a population increase as more of the reptiles reach breeding age, thus increasing the likelihood of crocodile attacks.

Two children were killed in separate incidents over the last four weeks.  In the first, a seven year old girl was eaten by a Saltwater crocodile at Gumarrirnbang outstation.  In the second attack, which took place at Port Bradshaw in East Arnham Land, a nine year old boy was grabbed and dragged under the water.  The crocodile was attacked by spear fishermen, but they could not force the crocodile to let go of the child and the four-metre specimen disappeared into deeper water taking its victim with it.  It is believed that some locals had been in the habit of feeding a large crocodile, behaviour that police authorities condemned.  Such instances are indeed a tragedy and there have been a number of vociferous calls for a cull of these large predators.  Fatal attacks remain rare in Australia, Saltwater crocodiles are responsible for a virtually all of the attacks, although it is a mistake to think that the smaller Australian crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni) is not aggressive, this species has been known to attack swimmers too, especially in the crocodile’s breeding season when the males in particular are extremely aggressive.

Crocodiles are superb ambush predators, a five metre long Saltwater crocodile can remain underwater for more than forty minutes.  It can detect movement in the water around it and it feeds by grabbing animals that come down to the water to drink.  The jaws are extremely powerful and can “snap” down onto potential prey with many times the bite force of a mammal apex predator such as a lion.  Once caught in the jaws, the crocodile’s instinct is to drag the victim underwater where they will drown.  In many cases, crocodiles do not eat their victims straight away but store the unfortunate prey underwater.   Such behaviour may lead to a crocodile making several attacks, even when it has enough food to sustain it for a considerable time already stored away in its various larders.

As Estuarine crocodiles (the other name for “Salties”) have been protected in Australia for nearly fifty years, their numbers once decimated by over hunting, have recovered rapidly.  Crocodiles are now encroaching into areas of human population, animals are frequently caught by rangers and removed from areas such as Darwin harbour as a precaution to prevent the threat of crocodile attacks.  Netting and traps are also employed but large crocodiles can learn to avoid such hazards and unlike sharks, they can always get out of the water and walk on land to find a suitable river, creek or billabong to inhabit.  Saltwater crocodiles are not just restricted to inland areas, as their name suggests they are very comfortable in the sea and they are quite happy to swim long distances.  This ability to survive a long time at sea, not only helps them to “hop” around the coast from bay to bay but it has permitted the Saltwater crocodile to thrive over a huge area of eastern hemisphere.  This species of crocodile has the largest territory of any crocodile, from Sri Lanka, through to the Philippines as well as the northern coast of Australia.

Lobbyists who are pro-hunting point out that trophy hunters would pay top dollar for a chance to bag one of the largest predators on Earth, certainly the largest reptile on the planet, a creature that would not look out of place amongst the dinosaurs.  After all, the crocodilians have been around for a very long time, and the ancestors of today’s alligators, caimans, gharials and true crocodiles did indeed live alongside the dinosaurs.  The crocodiles themselves are tourist attractions with a number of companies operating river cruises where brave tourists can get up close and even feed one of the most dangerous animals to be found anywhere in the world today.

With news of fatal crocodile attacks and more frequent incidents when crocodiles encroach onto areas of population, it can be argued that Australia receives adverse publicity.  However, the tourist industry, a vital source of revenue for the Northern Territories remains vibrant with a large number of visitors attracted to this part of the country, specifically because of the chance to see crocodiles and other exotic wildlife.

A cull of crocodiles could result in an increase in crocodile attacks.  Crocodiles are capable of cannibalism and large crocs do attack and eat smaller members of their own species.  If a number of top predators are shot, then a natural check on the population of smaller crocodiles would be removed.  This could result in more crocodiles growing up and therefore an increase in total crocodile numbers.  The Venezuelan Government introduced a cull to reduce the number of large, male caimans in their country’s river system.  A cull was carried out on large males in some populations, whilst other populations were left alone.  When scientists compared the numbers of caiman from the culled areas and the populations where no controls had been put in place, they discovered that the overall numbers and biomass of these reptiles had actually increased where the cull had taken place.  After the large bull caimans were removed from the ecosystem, sub-adult males grew more rapidly and reached maturity quicker and in greater numbers.  These animals subsequently bred leading to a net increase in the population.  In areas where no cull had occurred the caiman population remained static.

Calls for a cull of the crocodile population of the Northern Territory.

It seems a cull, even a relatively minor one where trophy hunters could kill up to fifty individuals a year may not be the answer.  Already in place are a number of education programmes advising locals and tourists of the danger of crocodile attacks and what steps can be taken to reduce the threat of a potential crocodile encounter.  Since these apex predators of Australia received protection back in 1971, their numbers have risen from an estimated less than 4,000 individuals left after widespread hunting, to something like 90,000 crocodiles today.

The debate over how best we can live alongside these dangerous animals is set to continue.  More attacks will occur and there will be fatalities, it seems that there is no easy answer as to how humans and “Salties” can share the same environment.

13 12, 2012

Mass Extinction Event Not Just the Dinosaurs but Lizards and Snakes as Well

By | December 13th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

Asteroid Strike Squashed the Squamata!

Most people now accept that there was a huge extraterrestrial impact around sixty-five million years ago that contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.  However, it was not just the Dinosauria that died out, many other types of animal and plant were also wiped out at around this time in our planet’s history.  A new study by a team of American scientists has revealed that some groups of reptile, lizards and snakes for example, suffered extensive extinction amongst species and genera.  More than eighty percent of all the Squamata (lizards and snakes), became extinct according to the researchers.  Catastrophic climate change, rising sea levels and volcanic activity on a huge scale may have wiped out the likes of Triceratops and T. rex but all sorts of fauna and flora suffered including other types of reptile such as snakes and lizards.

Mass Extinction Event – Asteroid Impact Marks the End of the Cretaceous

Spelling the end for most of the Squamata.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The research team, lead by Nicholas Longrich a postdoctoral palaeontologist with the department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University, reviewed the Squamata fossil assemblage from western North America (Maastrichtian faunal stage).  They examined the diversity of lizard and snake fauna immediately before the Cretaceous mass extinction event that marked the end of the dinosaurs and the ending of the Mesozoic.

The team studied lizard and snake fossils from New Mexico in the south right up to Alberta (Canada) and they discovered  a total of nine new species as a result of their research.  During the course of the team’s research; fossils ascribed to the genera Leptochamops (L. denticulatus) were re-assigned to a new genera and a new species was established.  This new species of insect-eating lizard, required a new scientific name and in honour of the President of the United States the lizard has been named Obamadon gracilis.

Cretaceous Lizard and Snake Fauna of Western North America

Lizards and Snakes were very diverse in the Late Cretaceous.

Picture Credit: Reuters

The picture above shows the carnivorous lizard Palaeosaniwa stalking  a pair of hatchling  Hadrosaurs (Edmontosaurus) as the snake Cerberophis  basks on a tree branch and the agile  lizard Obamadon looks on.  In the background a Tyrannosaurus rex confronts a herd of Ceratopsians (Triceratops), whilst the sky is lit up by a falling asteroid spelling doom for much of life on Earth.

O. gracilis means “Obama’s slender teeth”, this little lizard, had tall, straight teeth and so the research team thought it a good idea to honour the President of the United States Barack Obama, as he to has a big, toothy smile.  It is just one of nine new species that have been erected as a result of this research.

The study, the findings of which have been published in the academic journal “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, suggests that as much as eighty-three percent of all Squamata species became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous geological period.  This time may be known as the “Age of Dinosaurs”, but according to the researchers, a more appropriate term to describe the fauna might be the “Age of Lizards and Snakes”.  The study shows that there were a large number of genera living in the shadow of the dinosaurs towards the end of the Cretaceous in western North America.

Snakes such as constrictors, large two-metre long predatory lizards that probably ate baby dinosaurs as well as a myriad of small, lithe lizards that scuttled in the undergrowth shared the Late Cretaceous world with the dinosaurs.  Many of these animals, assigned to archaic Squamata genera became extinct, leaving the way for other types of lizard and snake to evolve in the Cenozoic.

It seems that one fundamental Cretaceous extinction rule of thumb still applies, the larger the organism, the more likely it was to become extinct.  Those lizards and snakes that did survive seem to have been very small, the bigger the snake or lizard the more likely it was to die out.  One interesting and thought provoking outcome of this Squamata extinction is that if this pattern occurred across the planet, then the small mammals that survived into the Cenozoic would have found that there were very few reptile predators around to predate on them.  Could the extinction of much of the Squamata have been a lucky break for the Mammalia?

With the warming of the Earth during the early Palaeogene which gave rise to the establishment of extensive rain forests across much of the globe, lizard and snake populations gradually recovered and rapid speciation did occur, leading to the species that are found today.  However, one previously common sub-family of lizards the Polyglyphanodontia were particularly hard it by the Cretaceous extinction event.  The Yale based researchers have concluded that this clade of lizards were totally wiped out, leaving no descendants into the Cenozoic.

It seems that the dinosaurs were not the only losers at the end of the Mesozoic.  At least the President of the United States can reflect on the honour of having a toothy lizard named after him.

12 12, 2012

Kindergarten Helping Bullyland with their Artwork

By | December 12th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Children Provide Backdrop for Bullyland Dinosaur Models

Bullyland, the figure and replica manufacturer based in Germany are about to introduce their 2013 catalogue showcasing their products.  The company’s range is split into four sub-categories Animal World, Prehistoric World, Figurine World and Comic World.  It is the Comic World range that handles the various licensed models and products the company makes.  Naturally, for us dinosaur fans, it is those models in the Prehistoric World range that interest us the most.  The colourful artwork that is shown at the beginning of each part of the Bullyland 2013 catalogue has been provided by pupils at a local kindergarten (school children), close to the Bullyland regional head quarters.  As Bullyland state in a letter written to Everything Dinosaur:

“The paintings lead into the product groups in an original and, as we think, very charming way”

At the start of the Prehistoric World section, the Bullyland Therizinosaurus Museum Line dinosaur is featured against a backdrop of an eerie, primeval landscape.

The Kindergarten Illustration of Prehistoric World

Cretaceous Prehistoric Landscape with a "Scythe Lizard".

Picture Credit: Regional Kindergarten

It certainly is a super drawing by the school children, our congratulations to them.  The Museum Line Therizinosaurus looks quite at home against this background, but we think it would have preferred to have had one or two more trees in the picture, upon which this herbivore could graze.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Bullyland Museum Line Dinosaurs: Bullyland Museum Line Dinosaurs

Load More Posts