All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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31 12, 2013

Palaeontology Predictions in 2013 – How Did We Do?

By | December 31st, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Reviewing What Everything Dinosaur Predicted in January 2013

It’s that time of  year again when we look back at our predictions made twelve months ago about what stories we would be covering in 2013.  Each year, team members at Everything Dinosaur get together with a pot a tea and the last of the Christmas cake and come up with a forecast of what is likely to happen in the world of fossil collecting, palaeontology and dinosaurs.  Back on January 3rd, we compiled a list containing eight predictions, now is the moment of truth, when we collectively look back to see how close (or how wide of the mark) we actually were.

To read the January 3rd article: Everything Dinosaur’s Predictions for 2013

 1).  New Genus of Horned Dinosaur from North America

The Ceratopsian clade just gets bigger and bigger, our dinosaur experts estimate that more new types of North American horned dinosaur have been discovered and named in the first thirteen years of this century than in the whole of the 20th Century.  This was one prediction that we were very confident about and sure enough, a number of specimens were named and described this year, although the fossil finds in most cases had taken place a few years earlier.   Texas got an exciting new horned dinosaur in the shape of Bravoceratops polyphemus.  This dinosaur may have been as big as Triceratops (T. horridus), with an estimated skull length of around 2.2  metres and brow horns over one metre long.  B. polyphemus is a member of the Chasmosaurine group of horned dinosaurs and Everything Dinosaur reported on the announcement of this new dinosaur back in June.  Overall it was a good year for the Chasmosaurines with the discovery of a baby Chasmosaurus fossil, found in the famous Dinosaur Park Formation of Canada, which we also reported upon, this time in November.

To read about the discovery of Bravoceratops: New Giant Species of Ceratopsian Announced

To see a picture and to read an article about the baby Chasmosaurus discovery: Fossils of Baby Horned Dinosaur Unearthed

Everything Dinosaur also covered the auction of the “duelling dinosaurs from Montana”, although much of the interest was directed towards the fossils that may indicate that Nanotyrannus is a valid genus, the Ceratopsian fossil preserved with this Theropod, may turn out to represent a new species of Chasmosaurine as well.

In addition, Everything Dinosaur reported on the unveiling of Nasutoceratops (N. titusi), a five metre long, horned dinosaur whose fossil remains had been found in southern Utah back in 2006.  Good to see a new type of Centrosaurine dinosaur too.

To read about Nasutoceratops: “Large Horn Face” Nasutoceratops

An Illustration of the New Centrosaurine Nasutoceratops (N. titusi)

Nasutoceratops -  a Centrosaurine dinosaur from Utah

Nasutoceratops – a Centrosaurine dinosaur from Utah

Picture Credit: Raul Martin

2).  Jurassic Park in 3-D to Inspire Another Generation of Dinosaur Fans

In a year when the cinema was dominated by sequels, prequels and continuing franchises, Jurassic Park in 3-D grossed nearly $20 million USD in its opening week in the United States.  At a time when speculation was rife about the future of the next Jurassic Park film (now due for release in 2015),  Universal Studios can be quite happy with a total take of around $46 million USD, placing the film at number 69 in the U.S. highest grossing film chart for 2013.  Interestingly, the new Walking with Dinosaurs in 3-D, released just a fortnight ago has taken $26 million USD despite very mixed reviews for this animated dinosaur adventure.

In the UK, we estimate that Jurassic Park in 3-D took around £400,00o GBP at the box office.  We don’t have box office figures for Walking with Dinosaurs in 3-D available at the moment.

3).  Milestones for Everything Dinosaur – What are We Going to be Doing?

Our third prediction concerned what Everything Dinosaur would be doing in terms of social media. It is always an act of bravado on our part to try to forecast exactly where we would be in terms of our company.  After all, we would readily concede that we are not gifted business forecasters and attempting to predict our work on the dynamic social media channels of today is far from easy.  Everything Dinosaur’s presence on line certainly grew in 2013, let’s recap on what we said and update our progress (or lack of it in some cases).

Six hundred and fifty Ezine articles approved and published – always a tough target, but we have produced a respectable total of several hundred articles on the Ezine platform.  There are 560 articles by Everything Dinosaur published on Ezine (86% of target).  Our viewing figures are up and the click through rate is also showing a positive upward trend.

One Thousand Facebook likes on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook Page – we are not quite there yet, but we have 850 “likes” at the moment (85% of target).  We are genuinely grateful for every “like” that we receive and we are happy in the knowledge that every single one of them has been earned, we have not opted for any “paid for service” where likes and things like Twitter follows can be purchased for a fee.

If you want to support Everything Dinosaur on Facebook, simply click the Facebook logo below and visit our Facebook page (please give our page a “like”).

Everything Dinosaur on Facebook
Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a "like".

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a “like”.

Ezine Challenge completed 365 articles approved and published since February 25th 2012 – this was achieved, in fact we published our 365th article in this Ezine challenge a month ahead of schedule.

300,000 Video Views on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube Channel – this target was also achieved, in fact it was smashed!  The sixty-six videos on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube video channel have been viewed over 592,000 times to date.  When this original target was likely to be exceeded back in March, we set an ambitious target of half a million video views. This target was reached early in December, we are well on the way to smashing through the 600,000 views mark.  Our thanks again to all our subscribers, commentators and loyal fans.

Back in December Everything Dinosaur’s Videos Reached Half a Million Views

Half a million views on Everything Dinosaur's Youtube channel.

Half a million views on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube

Everything Dinosaur to join Pinterest with 1,000 re-pins – Everything Dinosaur team members have posted up a total of 1,571 pictures and articles on Pinterest to date.  We have set up twenty-one boards and we have 106 likes with 160 followers so far.  This social media platform is relatively new for us, but we have far exceeded our pinning target for the year.  We shall see how these platforms develop over the months ahead.  Once again, a very big thank you to everyone who has become a follower, video fan, subscriber, etc.

4).  New Zealand to Hit the Headlines with a Prehistoric Animal Fossil Discovery

An intriguing prediction, one that certainly ranks as being a “sticking our collective heads over the parapet”, type of prediction, as there have been very few Mesozoic vertebrate fossil discoveries in New Zealand over recent years.  A number of important fossil discoveries were made in New Zealand strata this year, although we are not aware of any new Dinosauria or marine reptile material beings found or  major papers published.  The iconic Kiwi attracted a few headlines a couple of weeks ago when a paper published in a scientific journal challenged the long-held theory that this flightless bird evolved from the Moa family.  Fossils found in Otago (South Island), suggest that New Zealand’s national symbol is descended from Australian migrants.  These birds flew across the Tasman Sea more than twenty million years ago, once in New Zealand the gradually lost their ability to fly.  However, we did not report on any major Mesozoic vertebrate discoveries from New Zealand and therefore we can’t claim this as one of our successes.

5).  Controlled Cull of Saltwater Crocodiles in the Northern Territories

There were a number of fatal crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory this year, although there were calls for a cull of large crocodiles and a lot of lobbying of local politicians and government officials, we are not aware of any authority being given for an organised cull of these reptiles.  The growing Saltwater crocodile population in the Northern Territory, the increasing number of crocodile close encounters and the number of attacks, sadly some of which have proved to be fatal, has led to many demands for a cull to take place.  Perhaps 2014 will see a cull or indeed the controlled re-introduction of trophy hunting.

Remarkably, back in November we reported on a fascinating news story in which an angler fishing a lake in Hampshire claims to have spotted a small crocodile in the water.

To read about the suspected Hampshire crocodile: Fisherman Claims to Have Spotted Crocodile in Hampshire Lake

6). New Clothing Range to be Introduced by Everything Dinosaur

In May, we were able to proclaim to the world the launch of our first clothing range with our own label.  A range of quality sweatshirts were added to Everything Dinosaur’s clothing apparel and they have proved very popular.

2013 Saw the Launch of Everything Dinosaur’s Sweatshirt Range

T. rex bites back!

T. rex bites back!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Available in a range of attractive colours, these hard-wearing sweatshirts feature a stitched diagram of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull.  The motif on the front of the sweatshirts is based on a real T. rex fossil skull.  Look out for more exciting additions to Everything Dinosaur’s product portfolio over the next twelve months.

7).  More Evidence of Endothermic Properties of the Dinosauria (Warm-blooded dinosaurs)

Whether or not the Dinosauria were endothermic or ectothermic remains a  subject of great debate amongst palaeontologists.  Did the Dinosauria, or at least the majority of them rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature?  Lots of data has been produced in the last two or three years on this subject, 2013 was no exception.  Discoveries of dinosaur fossils that lived at high latitudes in the northern hemisphere have been made this year, along with some new finds of feathered dinosaur specimens from China.  In October, we published an article about the long necks of Sauropods, it was speculated that those long necks could have been used to help regulate the body temperature of these massive herbivores – an interesting theory.

To read the article: Sauropods Using the Necks As Radiators

Nothing definitive has been published to date, (as far as we know), just like a herd of Sauropods, we think this debate is going to rumble on.

8).  The Arab Spring Has Some Surprising Implications for Palaeontology

The political changes in north Africa during 2012 (and continuing), may have had an impact on a number of areas of scientific enquiry, but back in the early part of 2013 we predicted that palaeontology would benefit from the opening up of parts of north Africa that had been previously very difficult to access.  Exploration of strata in areas that had been subject to much more restricted access, would, we thought lead to a number of exciting fossil finds.  For example, with the peace settlement in Angola, one of the outcomes of the conflict’s resolution was that as more of the country was explored geologically, a number of new prehistoric animal fossil discoveries were made.  Everything Dinosaur team members predicted that there might be some exciting discoveries in North Africa, we even speculated that a new type of Arthropod or early Chordate might be excavated from the Nubian sandstone deposits of Libya.

There have been a number of important discoveries made by scientists working in North Africa this year.  We did not have to wait too long to report on such a discovery, not from Palaeozoic strata but from much more recent sedimentary rocks, an exceptionally well preserved site that provides a fascinating insight into a prehistoric climate from around thirty million years ago.  This significant discovery came in Libya, from a site approximately 500 kilometres south-east of Tripoli (Zallah Oasis in the Sirt Basin (central Libya)) and we wrote about it in February.

To read the article: Researchers discovery important Oligocene fossil site in Libya

So all in all not a bad effort, some of our predictions were inaccurate, others proved to be quite perceptive.  We will repeat this exercise again, this time looking forward into 2014 to see if we can predict what exciting adventures and news stories we will be writing about in the next twelve months.

30 12, 2013

Papo Archaeopteryx – Measurements

By | December 30th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|2 Comments

Papo Archaeopteryx Model (2014) – Vital Statistics

Everything Dinosaur team members have just received an update from Papo of France about the measurements of the eagerly awaited Archaeopteryx figure.  This information is helpful to collectors and dinosaur model fans as it enables a scale for the actual model to be calculated.

Papo Archaeopteryx Model (2014 Release)
New from Papo for 2014 a model of Archaeopteryx.

New from Papo for 2014 a model of Archaeopteryx.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dimensions of the new for 2014 Papo Archaeopteryx model:

  • Length = 12.5cm
  • Wingspan = 13.5cm
  • Height = 6.5cm

Based on an approximate wingspan of Archaeopteryx lithographica being around 50 centimetres, we calculate that the new Papo model will be in 3.75 scale approximately.  No launch date has been announced by Papo, we don’t have a manufacture date either but we will find out more as we have a meeting with Papo senior management shortly and then we can post up more information on this blog.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s current range of Papo prehistoric animal models: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

29 12, 2013

Everything Dinosaur’s Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013

By | December 29th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013

As we move towards the end of the year, it is time to reflect on all the work put into the writing of this blog by Everything Dinosaur team members.  Over the last twelve months or so, a further 369 articles have been published on this blog and just for a bit of fun we thought it would be interesting to look at the top ten most popular articles posted.  How we have calculated the most popular web log articles is based on a combination of factors such as total number of comments placed, number of emails received, requests for further information, Facebook likes, Google pluses and of course things like re-pins and the posting up of our work onto other platforms.  Naturally, we have tried our best to remove any bias from the listings.  For example, an article posted up in January has more chance of getting into the list compared to a feature put up much more recently.

The top ten certainly cover a variety of subjects.  Naturally, there was a lot of interest in articles to do with Everything Dinosaur model reviews, or news of 2014 additions to model collections but lots of dinosaur themed and palaeontology based topics get into our top ten list.

So without any further fuss, here is the top ten blog articles for 2013.

10).  News of Papo’s new model releases for 2014 just sneaks into our countdown, the article posted up just a few days ago has attracted a great deal of interest as Papo state that an Archaeopteryx, a baby Triceratops and a Dilophosaurus dinosaur model are going to be included in their model range next year.  We at Everything Dinosaur, already knew about these introductions some time ago, we assisted on the pics and we have already committed to stocks.  Next meeting with Papo is in three weeks so we can provide more information after that.  To view the article: New from Papo for 2014

9).  ‘The discovery of a new dinosaur genus on the island of Madagascar, the first for a number of years, comes in at number nine.  The dinosaur discovered is a member of the Abelisaurid, Theropod dinosaurs it has been named Dahalokely tokana.  To read the article, which was originally published back in April: New Dinosaur Discovery Made in Madagascar

8).  We shoot forward to the Miocene for our next entry, a remarkable story of the discovery of a prehistoric lizard preserved in amber.  Insects, pollen yes, but a lizard preserved in fossilised tree resin, this was an amazing discovery, one that generated a lot of interest and emailed comments and requests for more information when we wrote about this astonishing fossil find in July: Miocene Lizard Preserved in Amber

7).  New research into dinosaurs’ paternal habits and behaviours makes it lucky number seven for the Dinosauria in our top ten.  The article, which postulated that the males may not have played a very significant role in brooding the young was published on the Everything Dinosaur web log in May: Dinosaurs as Devoted Dads?

6).  The latest research into that “Terror Bird” – Gastornis just misses out on our top five articles for 2013.  The article reviewed new data postulating that Gastornis may well have been herbivorous.  The article published in September, builds on earlier research that Everything Dinosaur reported upon back in 2012: Isotope Research suggests that Gastornis was a Herbivore

5).  Team members get lots of feedback from model collectors and dinosaur fans on their model reviews (both written and the video reviews).  Into our top five goes this very popular review of the Papo Carnotaurus model introduced in February of this year.  The video has had over fifteen thousand video views on Youtube.  You can see the video review of the Papo Carnotaurus dinosaur model below:

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of the Papo Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

4).  All the way back to January 2013, for our number four, an article on some of the latest research from the Lark Quarry site with its multitude of dinosaur tracks.  This new study suggests that the tracks were not made on land at all, but they were created as the various dinosaurs made their way through a body of water: Dinosaurs not Stampeding but Swimming?

Swimming Dinosaurs Down Under?

Dinosaurs going for a dip!

Dinosaurs going for a dip!

Picture Credit: Anthony Romilio

3).  Into our top three and Collecta’s announcement regarding new model releases next year (2014) gets the bronze medal position.  Collecta’s strategy was to make several announcements over many weeks, as Everything Dinosaur has a very close working relationship with this company we were one of the very first to publish information.  Our blog posts got picked up and used in many forums and other sites and we received lots of comments and feedback.  The article in question was published towards the end of November: New Prehistoric Animal Models from Collecta

Bistahieversor – One of the New Models Coming (Summer 2014)

New for Summer 2014

New for Summer 2014

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

2).  Riding high at number two and just being pipped at the post as it were, comes a blog post about new model releases from Safari Ltd, posted in early September.  The article can be viewed here: Safari Ltd Announces a Number of New Model Introductions for 2014

Our blog post showed pictures of the new Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model (see below), as well as images of the very striking Theropod dinosaurs Monolophosaurus and Suchomimus.  Looks like dinosaur model collectors are going to have a busy year next year.

New Ceratopsian Dinosaur Model – Pachyrhinosaurus to be Introduced by Safari Ltd Next Year

Horned dinosaur from Safari Ltd new for 2014.

Horned dinosaur from Safari Ltd new for 2014.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Safari Ltd

1).  So what is the number one, the article that came out on top of our 360 plus articles published on the blog this year?  Ironically, our top post is related to the “Post” as Everything Dinosaur’s work on the Royal Mail stamp set featuring 150 years of British palaeontology and geology takes top spot.

Everything Dinosaur was contacted by Royal Mail to provide technical input into the project.  Our team members furnished Royal Mail with information on the various prehistoric animals featured on the set of first class stamps. The article originally published in October, can be viewed here: Royal Mail Issues New Set of Prehistoric Animal Stamps

British Prehistoric Animals Celebrated on Royal Mail Stamps

A set of first class stamps.

A set of first class stamps.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Royal Mail

Everything Dinosaur team members often get asked to help out with dinosaur themed projects, our work with Royal Mail must have been “first class”, as we received lots of comments, feedback and emails about this work.  We even got a set of the special stamps included within a special presentation folder.

So there you have it, our top ten blog posts for 2013, look out for more articles in the next twelve months or so.  No doubt 2014 will provide us with a huge array of dinosaur discoveries, new models, amazing fossil finds, museum exhibitions and so on to write about.

28 12, 2013

Paying Tribute to Dr. Bill Birch (Museum Victoria)

By | December 28th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Famous Figures, Geology|0 Comments

“Old Rocker” Set for Retirement

The turn of the year might be a time for new beginnings, but for one member of the Museum Victoria’s dedicated staff, the last day of December marks retirement after forty years as a curator.  The Museum’s (Museum Victoria, based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), longest serving employee, Senior Curator for Geosciences Dr. Bill Birch is going to be leaving the museum, but the dedicated geologist will still be making a contribution to Victoria’s geological heritage.

Very few visitors to a museum fully appreciate the hard work and sheer effort that goes into maintaining exhibits, looking after collections and managing departments.  With the news of Dr Birch’s retirement, we at Everything Dinosaur, who do a lot of work with museums and other institutions around the world, wanted to take time out to pay tribute to all the enthusiastic and long-serving members of museum staff who do so much to help with public outreach and education.

Dr. Bill Birch Set to Retire on December 31st
After forty years service Dr. Bill Birch retires.

After forty years service Dr. Bill Birch retires.

Picture Credit: Museum Victoria

Dr. Birch’s career at the Museum began in January 1974.  One of his first tasks was to update the historical geological collections and to apply modern approaches to curating as well as expanding the material held at the Museum via field trips, donations and acquisitions.  As well as assembling an extensive inventory of Victoria’s diverse geological make-up, he has built the international component of the collections through expeditions to Greenland, Siberia, Pakistan, and Canada.

He regards those collecting excursions as some of many highlights of those forty years, alongside the Dynamic Earth exhibition, which opened in Melbourne Museum in 2010.

Commenting on the highly successful exhibition, Dr. Birch stated:

“Before then, very few of our best specimens were on display for the public to see.  That exhibit has put some of our discoveries and acquisitions front and centre.”

Thanks to his efforts, in collaboration with colleagues, the Melbourne based museum has established a strong, world-wide reputation for geological research.  Bill, himself has written several books, had many hundreds of academic papers published and the Museum Victoria has more than forty “type” specimens of new minerals that Dr. Birch helped to formally describe amongst its much expanded collections.  With a life-long passion for geology, Bill describes never having felt unhappy about going to work and states that the Museum’s collections “became the foundation of my working life”.

Dr. Bill Birch on the Hunt for More Specimens
Dedicated geologist set to retire.

Dedicated geologist set to retire.

Picture Credit: Museum Victoria

One of the great joys about geology (and palaeontology for that matter), is that you are never too young or too old to get involved.  Official retirement might beckon after forty years of dedicated service, but for Dr. Birch there is still so much work for him to do.   He is expecting to work up to three days a week on further research as an Honorary Research Associate and Emeritus Curator with Museum Victoria.

Today, we pay tribute to all the those hard working, enthusiastic people, like Dr. Bill Birch, who have contributed so much over a their long careers in the Earth Sciences.

Have a long and happy retirement.

27 12, 2013

New North American “Raptor” Described

By | December 27th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

New North American Dromaeosaurid with Affinities to Asia’s Velociraptor

A team of scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada) working in collaboration with a number of other Canadian palaeontologists have announced the discovery of a new type of Dromaeosaur from the Hell Creek Formation of Montana (United States).  The Dromaeosaurs are fast running, relatively small, carnivorous dinosaurs that flourished during the Cretaceous period.  This new genus, known from fossilised teeth as well as upper jaw material (maxilla) and lower jaws (dentary), lived at the same time as Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex.  The fossils represent the latest Dromaeosaurid known from North America (Maastrichtian faunal stage) and a phylogenetic analysis reveals that this dinosaur is perhaps more closely related to Late Cretaceous Asian “raptors” such as Velociraptor (V. mongoliensis) and Tsaagan (T. mangas) rather than to North American Dromaeosaurs that lived in the Campanian faunal stage.

An Illustration of a Typical Feathered Dromaeosaurid Dinosaur

A typical "raptor".

A typical “raptor”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This new predator has been named Acheroraptor temertyorum.  It was most probably feathered and around 2.5 to 3 metres in length, perhaps weighing as much as forty kilogrammes.  It probably hunted small mammals, birds, lizards and other small animals whilst avoiding the attentions of the much larger apex predators the Tyrannosaurs.  It may also have scavenged the kills of T. rex.  Acheroraptor (pronounced Ack-ear-oh-rap-tor) means “Acheron Robber or Plunderer”, the genus name being derived from Acheron, the River of Pain in the underworld of ancient Greek mythology, along with the Latin word “raptor” – plunderer or robber.  The species name honours James and Louise Temerty who have financially supported the palaeontology department of the Royal Ontario Museum.  A detailed paper outlining the new discovery, and the implications for the Hell Creek Formation and its fauna, has been published in the scientific journal Naturwissenschaften.

The size of the jaws plus the isolated teeth found in the Hell Creek Formation in the past, indicate that Acheroraptor was relatively large for a Late Cretaceous Dromaeosaur.  It was certainly bigger than the better known, and perhaps more famous Velociraptor (which was about the size of a turkey).

Lead Author of the study, Dr. David Evans, Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum commented:

“Acheroraptor gives us a more complete picture of the ecosystem in North America just before the great extinction that marked the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.  The close evolutionary relationship of Acheroraptor to a small group of late-occurring Asian species that includes Velociraptor suggests migration from Asia continued to shape North American dinosaur communities right up until the end of the Cretaceous period.”

It had long been suspected that Dromaeosaurs existed alongside the likes of Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex but apart from numerous isolated teeth, there was no definitive proof of their existence until this new fossil material was prepared and described.

The Maxilla and Dentary of A. temertyorum

The jaws of Acheroraptor.

The jaws of Acheroraptor.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

Professor Phil Currie, an expert on the Dromaeosaurids found in the older Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada (Campanian faunal stage), stated:

“We have had scanty evidence for more than a century that “raptors” lived with Tyrannosaurus rex until the end of the Cretaceous, but the absence of clearly identifiable Dromaeosaurid fossils has been perplexing to the dinosaur hunters who have worked in the Hell Creek area, which has otherwise produced abundant fossils.”

The strongly curved, quite large teeth with distinctive serrations (denticles) had been known from the Hell Creek Formation for many decades, but in the absence of fossil bones, researchers did not have the material available to help them to understand the evolutionary relationships between this Late Cretaceous Dromaeosaur and other members of the Dromaeosauridae from the northern hemisphere until now.  Studies of more abundant fossil material from Asia suggests that Acheroraptor, which roamed North America around 67-66 million years ago is more closely related to the long-snouted Velociraptorines of Asia than it is to earlier North American Dromaeosaurids.  This suggests that even very late in the Cretaceous there was extensive migration and mixing of different species from Asia and North America.

Discussing the new dinosaur, Derek Larson, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, who studies under Dr. Evans said:

The most exciting aspect of the specimen is the teeth.  We now know that those teeth all belong to the same animal and we now know enough about what that animal looks like to distinguish it as its own species.”

Analysis of Acheroraptor’s teeth in the context of a larger sample of small meat-eating dinosaur teeth suggests a decline in Dromaeosaur diversity in North America just before the end-Cretaceous extinction event.

It is important to distinguish Acheroraptor from “Archaeoraptor”, the generic name given to a composite fossil that was at the centre of a scandal a few years ago.  A fossil found in China had an article published in National Geographic magazine which claimed this was a transitional, “missing link” between birds and fast-running Theropod dinosaurs.  Prior to the article being published in this prestigious publication, doubts had been raised about this fossil, as it seemed to show a long-tailed dinosaur with feathers and wings.  Phil Currie was one of the scientists asked to examine the fossil material and this specimen was eventually proved to be a forgery.  It was actually a clever composite made up of several fossils skilfully glued together.  The tail was later identified as belonging to Microraptor spp. but the legs, feet and toes belonged to an entirely different creature, very probably a prehistoric bird.  The Archaeoraptor scandal, a fossil forgery that fooled a number of leading scientists highlighted the illegal fossil deals that take place in some parts of the world.  As a result of this scandal, one that ended in humiliation for a number of academics and for the National Geographic magazine, there have been calls for much more scientific scrutiny of vertebrate fossils.

26 12, 2013

Diabetes Risk in Modern Humans may have been “Inherited” from Neanderthals

By | December 26th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

New Study Suggests Interbreeding with Neanderthals Led to Increase in Risk of Diabetes

Now that the both the human (H. sapiens) and the Neanderthal (H. neanderthalensis) genomes have been mapped and fully documented, any research into genetic variation in modern human populations permits scientists to trace the origins of gene types back into the history of hominin evolution.  A large scale study of people living in Latin America has revealed that their increased risk of diabetes could have been inherited as a result of modern humans interbreeding with a Neanderthal population.

In a paper published in the academic journal “Nature”, scientists from Harvard Medical School (Massachusetts, United States), working in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany) and the Broad Institute (Massachusetts),  carried out a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) on a sample of more than 8,000 Mexicans and other people from the Latin American population.  The research mapped the genomes of the study sample and sought patterns within the genes in a bid to identify different traits and characteristics.

The team found that a variant on the genetic make up of the population, a gene form named SLC16A11 which when present in a genome, predicates those in the population to a higher likelihood of getting diabetes.  This gene form has also been identified in a study of genetic material extracted from Neanderthal bones found in a cave located in the Altai Mountains, Siberia (Denisova cave).  It can therefore be speculated that since the Denisova remains pre-date the evolution of modern man, this genetic trait which makes part of the population prone to type 2 diabetes may have been inherited as a result of interbreeding between ancient Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

Could Neanderthals Have Passed On To Us the Gene Responsible for a Higher Risk of Diabetes?

New gene research helping to unravel human evolution.

New gene research helping to unravel human evolution.

Previous studies have shown that non-African modern humans carry a portion of Neanderthal (and Denisovan) genetic material in their genes.  The proportion of Neanderthal is usually less than 2% but can be approaching 4% in some groups of Europeans.  It had been thought that inherited genes from another member of the human family tree were present as H. sapiens shared a common ancestor with H. neanderthalensis, the common ancestor is believed to be Homo heidelbergensis, but the percentages were just too high for this fact to explain it all.  The higher than expected levels of inherited genetic material in modern populations could only be explained by interbreeding between the two closely related species sometime in our recent past.  It is likely that interbreeding between populations took place whenever these species came into close proximity and can perhaps be linked to movements of ice sheets and inter-glacial periods permitting migrations and the geographical spread of hominins.

It is known that people who carry the higher risk version of the gene are twenty-five percent more likely to have diabetes than those who do not have this gene type.  Modern humans who have inherited copies of this gene from both parents are fifty percent more likely to have diabetes as a result.  This higher risk gene (SLC16A11)  has been found in nearly half of people with recent Native American ancestry, including the Latin American population.  This study into the gene pool of Mexicans and other members of the population with a Latin American ancestry has shown that this population is at particular risk of diabetes.  The higher risk gene, SLC16A11 is rarely found in genetic studies of European and African populations.

Co-author of the study, Jose Florez (Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School) stated:

“To date, genetic studies have largely used samples from people of European or Asian ancestry, which makes it possible to miss culprit genes that are altered at different frequencies in other populations.  By expanding our research to include samples from Mexico and Latin America, we’ve found one of the strongest genetic risk factors discovered to date, which could illuminate new pathways to target with drugs and a deeper understanding of the disease [diabetes].”

Scientists have been able to use knowledge of the genome of some species of hominins to map the routes of genetic inheritance.  The routes and pathways are proving to be more complicated than previously thought due to the interbreeding that seems to have taken place between species.  The functional implications of such inherited genetic material is only just beginning to be understood by researchers and geneticists.

Co-author of the study, David Altshuler (Broad Institute), commented:

“One of the most exciting aspects of this work is that we have uncovered a new clue about the biology of diabetes.”

The higher risk gene (SLC16A11) is part of a group of genes that code proteins for the transport of metabolites around the body.  These metabolites are involved with the human body’s various chemical reactions.   A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur speculated that the gene could have evolved as a result in changes to our ancient ancestors diet.  Changing the levels of SLC16A11 can change the amount of a type of fat that has been implicated in the risk of diabetes.  This new study indicates that SLC16A11 could be involved in the transport of an unknown metabolite that impacts on the fat levels in cells and therefore increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

It is very likely, that more insights into the origins of our genetic make up and the genetic variation seen in human populations will be revealed in the next few years as more ancient hominin fossil material is analysed for the presence of genetic data.

25 12, 2013

Merry Christmas from Everything Dinosaur

By | December 25th, 2013|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are taking a short break for the festive period.  However, we will be back with business as usual once the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays are over.  Our thanks to all those who sent us prehistoric animal themed Christmas cards and drawings, they certainly have brightened up the offices and the warehouse.

For those of you tucking into turkey, goose or chicken for Christmas, click the link below to see the article we wrote a few years ago that shows how your Christmas dinner has a close affinity with the Dinosauria:

Dinosaurs and Your Christmas Dinner

We Wish You All a Merry Christmas

Can you spot the Pterosaur?

Can you spot the Pterosaur?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Over the next few days will be compiling our list of the top ten news stories and articles on the Everything Dinosaur web log, as well as finishing off the survey of the top ten most popular prehistoric animals of 2013.  In addition, we shall be reviewing our progress with regards to the targets we set ourselves in terms of Youtube video views, Facebook likes and so on.  Lots to write about over the Christmas holidays.

Just time to wish everyone a Happy Christmas!

24 12, 2013

A Jurassic Christmas Tree

By | December 24th, 2013|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities|0 Comments

It was the Night before Christmas… Conifers Used as Christmas Trees Have a Long Evolutionary Heritage

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a Mussaurus!

Our apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, but as we are about to close the offices on this Christmas Eve, one final posting on the web log before the big day – a prehistoric themed Christmas tree.

A Jurassic Tree Ready to be Decorated for the Holidays
Prehistoric Plants get ready for Christmas

Prehistoric plants get ready for Christmas

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It is worth noting that most modern families of conifers (including those that contain the ones that are used as Christmas trees), evolved in the Mesozoic, during the age of dinosaurs.  Although a number of ancient types of conifer did go extinct towards the end of the Cretaceous Period.  However, the origin of the conifers goes back a lot further.  It is thought that the first conifers, as a type of gymnosperm, evolved in the Carboniferous Period.  Next time you look at a Christmas tree, consider how the first trees of that type probably evolved more than 330 million years ago.

23 12, 2013

Free Do-It-Yourself Dinosaur Calendar from Everything Dinosaur

By | December 23rd, 2013|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Free 2014 Dinosaur Themed Calendar to Download

Since the dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur created their downloadable calendar for 2014 at the beginning of the month, we have been hard at work emailing all those who requested one.  With 2014 just over a week away (this year seems to have whizzed by, faster than a speeding Struthiomimus), there is still time to get your prehistoric animal themed calendar for the start of the New Year.  Everything Dinosaur has produced a simple, colour in calendar which features various drawings of prehistoric animals and prehistoric scenes.  Each page of the calendar has a month on it and above the dates there is a prehistory inspired picture for young palaeontologists to colour in.

Artist friend and fellow dinosaur buff, Mike Fredericks has helped with a lot of the layouts and the prehistoric animals featured include Stegosaurs, horned dinosaurs, flying reptiles, Plesiosaurs and of course Tyrannosaurus rex.

Everything Dinosaur’s 2014 Dinosaur Calendar to Download for Free

Free dinosaur calendar to download.

Free dinosaur calendar to download.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To request your free Everything Dinosaur calendar: Email Everything Dinosaur to Request a Free Calendar

Once you have the download, it is just a case of simply printing off the pages, (fourteen, one for each month with front and back covers) and your calendar is ready to be stapled together and coloured in.

If you like the way in which Everything Dinosaur tries to encourage  people to learn about prehistoric animals and if you are on Facebook, please look us up (click on the Facebook icon below) and give Everything Dinosaur a “like”.

“Like” Everything Dinosaur on Facebook

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a "like".

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a “like”.

Please visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook and “like” our page: Click here to visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook and to “like” our page

22 12, 2013

Walking with Dinosaurs in 3-D Reviewed

By | December 22nd, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Movie Reviews and Movie News|0 Comments

“Patchi” and Friends in a Coming of Age Saga Set in the Cretaceous

Just in time for Christmas comes the release of the long-awaited “Walking with Dinosaurs in 3-D” a film that features an array of Late Cretaceous prehistoric animals (dinosaurs mostly) with the narrator of our story being Alex an Alexornis, an ancient bird* who via a segue that manages to link the present day to the Late Cretaceous of North America, is introduced as our guide to the adventures of a horned dinosaur called “Patchi”.  The fact that there were many different types of prehistoric bird around, is just one of the snippets of information that can be gleaned from seeing the film.  The movie is a collaboration between BBC Earth and 20th Century Fox and although it shares the same title as the BBC’s ground breaking television series “Walking with Dinosaurs” that first aired back in 1999, this is a very different “beastie”.

In the six part BBC television series, each half hour episode was narrated by Sir Kenneth Branagh, (although he wasn’t a Knight at the time), these programmes combined the BBC’s tradition for making excellent nature documentaries with ground-breaking computer generated special effects.  Back in 1999, seeing a dinosaur come to life on the screen or to view a prehistoric habitat was something very memorable.  After all, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park may have resurrected the Dinosauria and shown for the first time how powerful CGI could be, but the back drops to the fearsome dinosaurs were all modern day locations.  In the BBC television series, the programmes managed to create the effect that here was an actual nature documentary shot in the Mesozoic.

Much the same look is achieved in this cinema offering, the background scenery (the location shots were taken in New Zealand and Alaska) is breath taking, however, fourteen years on, we are so used to CGI that the effects seem to have lost some of their impact.  With so many fantasy films, computer programmes and in the Youtube generation, perhaps our senses have been dulled somewhat.

The story seems to follow the typical plot of a film aimed very much at young viewers.  An underdog, the runt of the litter gets into all sorts of scrapes and adventures before finally growing up to become a hero.  There is even a love interest, yes, romance in a film all about dinosaurs, but more of that later.  “Patchi” and his big brother (“Scowler”) are Pachyrhinosaurs, horned dinosaurs that are distantly related to the more famous Triceratops, but lack the impressive nose and brow horns.  Thanks to an encounter with a speedy, carnivorous Troodon, “Patchi” gains a hole in his frill, which is very distinctive, a useful cinematic device to make him distinguishable from all the other Pachyrhinosaurs in the herd scenes, helpful for very young viewers so that they can follow the story line more easily.  The film has been described as “infotainment”, as periodically the action is frozen and the Latin names of the prehistoric creatures and other supporting data is displayed on the screen, perhaps this is a nod to the grown-ups who can take solace in the fact that this film might have some educational value.  The film is very reminiscent of Disney’s offering “Dinosaur”  (released in 2000), the dinosaurs even have American accents – apt, as the action does take place in North America.

The characters depicted in the film may be largely reptilian (there are mammals and birds too), but all of them have been anthropomorphosised and often they come across as mere caricatures although it is hard to consider how human-like, a two tonne, extinct Ceratopsian might possibly have been.  The story jogs along at a merry pace and covers ten years in the life of the herd, time enough for “Patchi” to prove that brains are sometimes better than brawn.  The dialogue can be a bit grating at times, there are all sorts of modern-day references, (as if dinosaurs, knew anything about chew toys or ninjas) and the film makers seemed to be passionately concerned with ensuring that there must dialogue for every frame of the film.  For animals capable of only screeches, bellows and roars, the dinosaurs certainly do talk a lot.

“Patchi” – The Runt of a Litter of Pachyrhinosaurs

Do animals that lay eggs have a runt in the litter?

Do animals that lay eggs have a runt in the litter?

“Patchi” with his brown eyes meets “Juniper” a female Pachyrhinosaurus from a neighbouring herd (she has blue eyes), eye colour in Ceratopsians is something that we at Everything Dinosaur haven’t actually considered.  “Patchi” and his brother get separated from their herd after a forest fire, they join up with another group of migrating Pachyrhinosaurs and “Patchi” is thrown together with “Juniper”.  When these young dinosaurs get lost again, thanks to an attack by a gang of Gorgosaurs (Tyrannosaurids similar to T.rex but smaller and lighter), another set of adventures begins and the love interest with “Patchi” falling head over his Ceratopsian heels for “Juniper”.  The three animals have to find their own way to the winter feeding grounds.  This part of the film has echoes of the “Incredible Journey” another Disney offering about three pets trying to make it back to their owners.  The original “Incredible Journey” came out in 1963 with a re-make thirty years later starring the voice over talents of the likes of Michael J. Fox, Sally Field and Don Ameche.  From this perspective dogs and cats seem easier to anthropomorphosise than dinosaurs.

The film carries a “U” certificate, although parents of particularly young children will need to be mindful that this film does depict predators attacking,  it is very much a case of nature “red in tooth and claw”.  At eighty-seven minutes, the film is fractionally shorter than the “Walking with Dinosaurs” stage show, but unlike the live event there is no fifteen minute interval.  To the delight of the young viewers the humour has lots of scatological references, our hero “Patchi” literally gets “dumped on from a great height” at one point.  No doubt the film will do very well which then could bring about the prospect of a sequel, or indeed an entire franchise of these dino-inspired, infotainments.  For us, we can always put on one of the BBC “Walking with Dinosaurs” episodes from that ground-breaking television series, which in our view are far superior.

Blue-Eyed “Juniper” – Romance in the Late Cretaceous?

A blue-eyed, horned dinosaur.

A blue-eyed, horned dinosaur.

Note about Prehistoric Birds from the Late Cretaceous

*Alexornis is a member of the Enantiornithines, a clade of prehistoric birds that were relatively abundant towards the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.  Something like fifty different species of Enantiornithines have been named so far.

A Model of an Adult Pachyrhinosaurus (P. canadensis)

A Pachyrhinosaurus Model.

A Pachyrhinosaurus Model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the model range that features the Pachyrhinosaurus replica shown: Papo Dinosaurs and the Pachyrhinosaurus Dinosaur Model

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