Dinosaurs Out of Africa?

New Research Suggests Dinosaur Precursors Evolved in Africa

It is accepted by most scientists and academics that our species Homo sapiens first evolved in Africa.  This continent has been referred to as the “cradle of mankind”, this is where the hominid lineage first evolved.  New research suggests that those members of the Archosaur group which were ancestral to the Dinosaurs also evolved in Africa.  Could this continent be referred to as the “cradle of the Dinosauria”?

The American based research team including Christian Sidor, a biologist at the University of Washington and a research associate at the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, United States), set about examining the fossil record of Late Permian and Early Triassic vertebrates from five locations in the southern hemisphere.  Their aim was to build up a picture of Tetrapod life before the Permian mass extinction and to plot what happened to the different types of animals after the end of the Permian and to assess how animal life changed during the Early Triassic.

This was an arduous undertaking.  The fossil record is relatively poor for this part of Earth’s long history and the pertinent fossil material for the study was to be found in many far flung museums and universities.  The team studied recent fossil finds as well as specimens that had been held in collections for many years.  There is a strong body of evidence to suggest that the Dinosauria did evolve in the southern hemisphere (fossils from South America), but pinning down where the very first Archosaurs on the road to becoming the Dinosauria, evolved was a much more exacting task.

Around 250 million years ago (252.3 million years), our planet suffered a mass extinction event.  It has been estimated that seventy percent of all terrestrial vertebrate life and ninety percent of all marine life became extinct.  The seas lost most of the corals, entire reef ecosystems collapsed.  The Trilobites and other Arthropods such as the sea scorpions died out and the likes of the sea lilies, Brachiopods, Bivalves and Gastropods suffered huge losses.  On land, some palaeontologists have estimated that some seventy percent of all vertebrate genera living on land vanished.  The causes of this extinction event, regarded as one of the “big five extinctions” of the Phanerozoic remain open to debate, but this scientific team were interested in mapping the consequences of the extinction event, not necessarily finding the cause.

Using the existing fossil record, terrestrial life in five locations, all part of the super-continent Pangea were mapped.  The sites studied were located in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa (fossils from the famous Karoo Basin) and Antarctica.  During the Permian and Triassic geological periods, Africa, South America, India, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica were joined together to form one vast land mass (Pangea).

The research team found that the dominant herbivores prior to the end of the Permian were the Dicynodonts.  These were short-tailed, stocky reptiles (synapsids) with beaked jaws.  These reptiles were part of a clade of reptiles that would eventually give rise to the mammals.  Terrestrial ecosystems were dominated by the same sorts of reptiles across all five locations studied.  Animal diversity was similar in all five of the locations studied.  However, as the scientists plotted the post-extinction fauna they discovered that over the ten million years or so after the Permian extinction the five locations had a much more diverse and varied vertebrate fauna.

Study Shows that Dicynodonts No Longer Dominated Terrestrial Ecosystems

Doomed to extinction - the Dicynodonts.

Doomed to extinction - the Dicynodonts.

The Dicynodonts went into decline and by the end of the Triassic these types of creatures were extremely rare – “dead clades walking” as they have been referred to.  Types of animal to be found in the fossil sediments of the Karoo Basin (pre-extinction), are not very common at all in younger strata such as that studied from Tanzania and Zambia.

The Early Triassic terrestrial faunas became increasingly dominated by the Archosaurs, a clade of reptiles that includes crocodiles,Pterosaurs (flying reptiles), dinosaurs and the dinosaurs descendants – birds.  Christian Sidor and his colleagues commented on the array of different Archosaurs present in the younger fossil bearing strata examined in this study.  The Tanzania site has produced the fossils of Nyasasaurus parringtoni, a fast-running, bipedal reptile that might prove to be the oldest specimen of a dinosaur known to science.  The fossils of N. parringtoni date from approximately 245-240 million years ago (Griesbachian to Early Anisian faunal stages).  Scientists remain uncertain as to whether the fossil material found is that of a true dinosaur, there are certainly anatomical characteristics in the fossilised bones of Nyasasaurus parringtoni that are synonymous with the dinosaurs.  This reptile could be the first member of the Dinosauria, a basal dinosaur, known as a Dinosauriform or a representative of a closely related Archosaur group – the Silesaurids.  What is strongly indicated by this new study is that there is a seemingly different ecosystem in Tanzania than what is seen in the Karoo Basin fossil material.

To read an article about Nyasasaurus parringtoni: The Oldest Dinosaur?

A mass extinction event such as the Permian event has had a long-term impact on life on Earth.  Ten million years or so after the extinction, terrestrial life was very different from that which came before.  The more homogeneous and broadly distributed Late Permian fauna had given way to a more diverse and varied fauna.  Terrestrial vertebrates marginalised in the Late Permian were able to exploit the changes and diversify.  The beneficiaries of the Permian mass extinction event led to the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for the rest of the Mesozoic.  The age of the dinosaurs was ushered in.

Mass extinction events, in essence “wipe the slate clean”, animals once on the periphery of an ecosystem have an opportunity to exploit gaps in food chain that become vacated.  This study shows that ten million years after the extinction event, places such as Tanzania may have given rise to the first of the dinosaurs.  It seems that just like people, the dinosaurs may be “out of Africa”.

Exciting Cretaceous Fossil Finds from the “Jurassic Coast”

Fossils from Cretaceous Strata to be Found at Lyme Regis

In December 2001, the Dorset and East Devon coast (southern England), was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO.  This made this part of England’s coastline the country’s first natural World Heritage Site, ranking this part of the world alongside the likes of the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands.

Ninety-Five miles of stunning coastline from Orcombe Point at Exmouth heading east to the Old Harry Rocks, which marks a passage in the Earth’s geological history from around 250 million years ago to approximately 65 million years ago, a time known as the Mesozoic Era.  Places like Lyme Regis and Charmouth are great places to find Jurassic fossils, amazing remains of marine creatures such as ammonites, belemnites and crinoids (sea lilies).  However, with all the bad weather that the Dorset coastline has endured over the last two years or so, the beaches in the area are proving to be a happy hunting ground for some remarkable Cretaceous aged fossil specimens.

Brandon Lennon, a highly respected professional fossil collector from the Lyme  Regis area reports that with all the wet weather a lot of the Cretaceous beds from higher up the cliffs, overlying the older Jurassic aged strata have deposited younger fossil material onto the beaches surrounding Lyme Regis.  Land slips and mud slides have left large amounts of flint and chert rocks strewn about the beach.  Keen eyed fossil hunters, perhaps on an organised fossil walk with Brandon, have been able to find lots of Cretaceous aged fossils.

Some fine specimens of irregular sea urchins (Echinoids) (irregular sea urchins tend to have less circular and more oval tests), have been found including heart shaped specimens – Micraster sp.  One lucky fossil hunter (Iain) displays his sea urchin find in the picture below.

Fossils from Cretaceous Chalk Deposits Being Found at Lyme Regis

Cretaceous chalk fossils found at Lyme Regis

Cretaceous chalk fossils found at Lyme Regis.

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

Fossil expert Brandon commented:

“You literally see a  lot of Cretaceous aged debris scattered all across beach.  Beaches to the west and the east of the town [Lyme Regis] have been affected.  Some fine examples of Micraster sp, are being picked up from the mid beach areas.  One lady found a beautiful shark’s tooth in near perfect condition when sieving material on the beach.”

The bad weather and the subsequent land slides have provided fossil collectors with a rare opportunity to explore these beaches for younger Cretaceous aged marine fossils, from a time when much of the land we know today as the United Kingdom was covered by a warm, tropical sea.

A Close up of the Sea Urchin

Fossil finds at Lyme Regis.

Fossil finds at Lyme Regis.

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

This fossil has been preserved as an internal mould in the flint, or the Lyme Bay agate,  the calcite plates of the specimen have been lost but this is a terrific and rare fossil find for this part of the world.  We at Everything Dinosaur have just one specimen of an irregular sea urchin from the Cretaceous beds of Lyme Regis, plus some trace fossils of worm casts from the same deposits but our sea urchin specimen is not as well-preserved as this fine example.

With the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival set to get under way in a few days time (May 3rd until May 5th, it looks like there will be lots of interesting fossils to study and view.    The theme for this years festival is “Our Treasures”, it looks like it is not just Jurassic aged fossils that people can find on the beaches, some lucky fossil hunters might just find themselves a lovely sea-urchin fossil too.

One word of advice, these fossils are being found on the beaches as the unstable cliffs collapse and there is still a risk of landslides.  It might be advisable to take a conducted tour of the Lyme Regis beaches with a professional fossil hunter and guide such as Brandon Lennon.

To read more about Brandon Lennon’s fossil walks: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

Dinosaurs Help Out at Hospital

Everything Dinosaur Supports the Renal Unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Staff at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (West Midlands, England), were holding an open day so that children and their parents/guardians could see some of the work that the Renal Unit does before they themselves were admitted for treatment.  Going into hospital can be a bit of an ordeal, and the nursing team wanted to highlight the importance of strong, healthy bones and eating the right foods, taking the right medicines and taking good care of yourself.  The team hit upon the idea of getting the children to look at the bones of dinosaurs and learning all about prehistoric animals, using dinosaurs and their fossilised bones to get some important points across.

The experts at Everything Dinosaur were contacted and team members busied themselves by sorting out the information and the resources the hospital needed to help make their “bone themed” open day a success.  As well as providing lots of writing and drawing materials, fossil find dig kits were supplied so that the children could experience what it is like to excavate dinosaur bones, using very similar items to those tools we actually use when working at a dig station in the field.

A Couple of Budding Palaeontologists Getting to Grips with the Dig Kits

Children at Birmingham Children's Hospital learn about their bones by studying dinosaurs.

Children at Birmingham Children’s Hospital learn about their bones by studying dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Birmingham Children’s Hospital

The Patient Information Day at Birmingham Children’s Hospital was held on Saturday 7th April, it went really well and the dinosaurs proved to be a big hit with the children and the grown ups too.  The Birmingham Children’s Hospital is one of the United Kingdom’s leading hospitals for the treatment of rare diseases.  The dedicated staff work very hard to help and assist the patients in every way that they can.  Everything Dinosaur team members were happy to help and some of the busy staff at the hospital very kindly sent us some photos of the children and the adults having fun as they played with the kits, excavated dinosaurs, built models and generally got to grips with all things Dinosauria.

Very Creative and Imaginative Use of a Windowsill in a Classroom

Dinosaur Scene Brightens up Classroom

It is important for teachers to create the right learning environment in a classroom.  The walls and cupboards are adorned with examples of the children’s drawings and posters, relating to the topics covered in the teacher’s scheme of work for the term.  Space is often at a premium and for one enterprising teacher the “dead space” of a windowsill in their classroom provided the perfect opportunity to create an imaginative prehistoric scene to inspire pupils.

Mr Simon Riggs, took up the challenge of utilising a ledge next to a long window high up on one of the walls of his classroom. Turning the few square feet that was available into an attractive dinosaur diorama featuring the likes of a bellowing Styracosaurus, a meat-eating dinosaur feeding on a dead Triceratops and a Pterosaur flying overhead surveying the scene below.  It looks as if the school children have got their own Jurassic Park to help inspire them when it comes to science topics, design and technology (DT) and creative writing.

The Classroom with its Own Jurassic Park!

A very clever and creative use of space in a classroom.

A very clever and creative use of space in a classroom.

The bellowing Styracosaurus can be seen in the foreground, it is looking out onto an array of dinosaur models including a Brachiosaurus, a Plateosaurus and several Theropod dinosaurs.  Mr Riggs, skilfully modelled the trees using twigs with mosses and lichens providing the foliage for the herbivorous dinosaurs to feed on.  A Pterosaur (flying reptile – Tapejara) is flying overhead, secured to the ceiling by a thin line.

The Pterosaur Flying Over the Dinosaur Diorama

The Pterosaur was attached to the ceiling by a thin line.

The Pterosaur was attached to the ceiling by a thin line.

Mr Riggs, teacher of class 5B has created a wonderful, imaginative dinosaur scene, one that we are sure will inspire his pupils.  He commented:

“Following my purchase from Everything Dinosaur about a month ago, for which I am building a diorama for a ‘dead’ windowsill in my classroom, you asked me to send you some photos.  So here it is. I still need to get some ‘ground’ down on half of it – but with my current distractions – it may not happen for some time!  Cheers for all of your help.”

We do appreciate just how busy teachers and their support staff are at this time of year.  The summer term is a short term and there is so much to do, but we are grateful to Mr Riggs, for taking time out of his busy schedule to send us some pictures of his handiwork.

A Creative use of Limited Space in a Classroom

Inspiring the next generation of scientists and model makers.

Inspiring the next generation of scientists and model makers.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur added:

“What a super way to use a bit of “dead space” in the classroom.  My colleagues and I were all very impressed.  The teacher has created a fascinating model scene, one that I am sure will inspire the pupils, it always amazes me how creative and clever our customers are.”

Our congratulations to Mr Riggs and our thanks to him for sending in some pictures of how prehistoric animal models can be used in such an innovative and enterprising way to brighten up a classroom.

Birds have the Dinosauria to Thank for Their “Crouching Gait”

How Changing Body Shape Affected Balance and Posture During the Evolution of the Dinosauria and Aves

The bipedal birds with their crouching gait have the dinosaurs to thank for their posture.  The birds, descendants from a group of Theropod dinosaurs, have a very different solution to standing on just two legs than our species H. sapiens.  Humans and birds, (birds are sometimes referred to as Avian dinosaurs), may both be bipedal but their legs are held in very different stances, giving them different gaits and postures.  Humans have their leg bones held straight underneath their hips, an efficient method of supporting body weight.  Our legs are straight and directly underneath us, a bit like a column in a building being straight and positioned directly under the roof that it is holding up.  Bird legs are bent into  a “z” shape with the femur (thigh bone) being held in a much more horizontal position.  Birds have adopted a “crouched standing position”, one that takes more energy and is less efficient that our own stance.  The crouched position requires more muscular effort in order to permit the organism to remain upright and balanced.

Birds and humans walk differently, birds have a digitgrade stance (walk on their toes, walking on their digits), a method of locomotion seen in Theropod dinosaurs, even the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex.  Human beings on the other hand (no pun intended), and their ancestors, adopted a different method of walking – plantigrade.  Organisms that adopt a plantigrade stance walk on their toes but their body weight is supported by the vast majority of the foot (or hand), for example bears have a plantigrade stance.  We have a plantigrade stance, we walk on our toes but also our heels.

New research published this week in the journal “Nature” shows that the conventional view of how birds got their crouching stance, a result of tails becoming lighter and shorter may not be entirely accurate.  Evidence is presented that suggests that body shape changed during Archosaur evolution and this had serious consequences for the Archosaurs, the dinosaurs and eventually those descendants of the dinosaurs, the birds.

This study, a collaboration between a number of scientists including leading researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (London), proposes that it was the enlargement of the forelimbs, rather than the shortening and the lightening of the tail that led to bipedal dinosaurs gradually adopting a crouched posture, with the thigh bone (femur) held in an almost horizontal position.  This characteristic associated with the bipedal Eumaniraptora was to be inherited by their descendants the Aves (birds).

Bird Posture Inherited From Dinosaurs

Figure 1: Animal standing or at the midpoint of a step (a). For the animal to balance, forces applied by the feet (red) must match the force of body weight (blue) pointing downwards from the centre of mass (yellow/black). If the centre of mass moves forward (b), then the feet must move forward (and thus the limb must get more crouched) to maintain balance, as in (c).

Figure 1: Animal standing or at the midpoint of a step (a). For the animal to balance, forces applied by the feet (red) must match the force of body weight (blue) pointing downwards from the centre of mass (yellow/black). If the centre of mass moves forward (b), then the feet must move forward (and thus the limb must get more crouched) to maintain balance, as in (c).

Picture Credit: Royal Veterinary College

Dr. Vivian Allen and Professor John R. Hutchinson of the Royal Veterinary College led the research which essentially consisted of creating extremely detailed computer models of skeletons of seventeen types of Archosaur, then adding digitally flesh and muscles to assemble the whole creature.  Sort of building up an animal from the bones outwards.  This allowed the scientists to see how body proportions changed as the Archosauria evolved.   The University of Liverpool’s Dr. Karl Bates and researcher Zhiheng Li, who at the time was based at the famous Institute for Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (Beijing, China) were also part of the research team.

Dr. Allen explained that the researchers created complex computerised three dimensional images of the species in the study.  Detailed reconstructions was possible using analysis of the fossilised bones as well as computerised tomography (CT scans) of extant relatives.  Earlier research papers had proposed that the Archosaurs in the Early Triassic were anatomically very similar to modern Crocodilians with long, heavy tails and a sprawling or semi-erect gait.  However, early in the evolution of the Dinosauria, perhaps as a result of the Archosaurs diversifying to take advantage of gaps in food chains as a result of the Permian mass extinction, the Dinosauria seem to have become bipedal.  From these fast, cursorial bipeds the Dinosauria evolved, first the Saurischian (lizard-hipped) and later the Ornithischian (bird-hipped) forms.  The anatomical characteristics associated with a bipedal stance and gait were inherited by the dinosaurs descendants the birds.  Prehistoric creatures studied in this research include the famous Archaeopteryx (Upper Jurassic  strata of Germany), Microraptor a feathered, flying dinosaur from Lower Cretaceous China and Velociraptor from Upper Cretaceous fossil bearing sediments.

Microraptor’s Wings Suggest a Link to Bird Stance and Posture

Three-dimensional models of dinosaurs were created.

Three-dimensional models of dinosaurs were created.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It had been thought that the relatively strange way of locomotion for birds and their stance had evolved gradually as the tails of their ancestors become shorter and lighter.  Extant birds do not have a tail as such, but compressed highly reduced bones (the last five caudal vertebrae that make up the pygostyle.  As the tail got shorter and less heavy, the centre of mass of the organism was slowly shifted forward.  As certain dinosaurs became more avian, the legs needed to become less vertical and  more crouched with a near horizontal femur to keep the centre of mass balanced over the feet.

This change in stance and body position, may hot have been driven by tail shortening.  The enlargement of the forelimbs in the Dinosauria could have been the catalyst.  Birds that fly have enlarged front limbs that form wings, dinosaurs did not evolve large forelimbs for flight, this may have just been an indirect consequence of the need to evolve larger forelimbs to chase and grasp prey.

Professor Hutchinson stated:

“We’d never doubted the hypothesis that the tail was responsible for the major changes in dinosaur balance and posture. The tail is the most obvious change if you look at dinosaur bodies.  But as we analysed, and re-analysed, and scrutinised our data, we gradually realised that everyone had forgotten to check what influence the forelimbs had on balance and posture, and that this influence was greater than that of the tail or other parts of the body.”

With an aim of trying to determine when and how the centre of mass changed its position in the Dinosauria, modern computer-based techniques were used to assess the timing of the change in stance as recorded by fossil material preserved in the fossil record.  When this change may have occurred remains controversial.  Was the change in body position and stance gradual, or was it relatively swift as the first birds evolved powered flight?  The British based researchers in collaboration with their Chinese counterparts found evidence to support both scenarios.  There were gradual changes in the fossil specimens associated with the early dinosaurs and more sudden changes associated with the first birds and just before flight may have evolved.

An implication for this research is that due to the effects on the central mass position on leg posture, the size of the forelimbs and leg function are linked bio-mechanically.  As forelimbs got larger, this altered the way the dinosaurs and their descendants stood walked and ran.

Intriguingly some super-heavy weight Theropods such as the Tyrannnosaurids and the Abelisaurs had very much fore-shortened front-limbs.  The three-dimensional computer models in conjunction with other aspects of this research could shed light on the reasons why these large predators evolved such short arms.

Dinosaurs Help Stop Bullying

Dinosaurs Inspire Anti-Bullying School Poster

On a recent school visit to work with Year 1 and Year 2 children, teaching about dinosaurs and fossils, an anti-bullying poster was spotted in the school hall and we thought it was worth taking a picture of it and displaying it on the Everything Dinosaur blog.

Getting the message across that bullying will not be tolerated is very important.  We applaud all efforts to help stop and indeed prevent bullying in schools.  This dinosaur themed poster says it all.  We thought that it was a very clever poster so top marks to the school staff!

Dinosaurs Inspire an Anti-Bullying Poster

Make Bullying Extinct!

Make Bullying Extinct!

A Review of the Carnegie Collectibles Spinosaurus Model

Spinosaurus (Carnegie Collectibles Spinosaurus) Gets Reviewed

A few weeks ago, we asked our loyal followers what dinosaurs and prehistoric animal models they would like us to review.  We are grateful for all the suggestions that we received and slowly but surely we are getting through the list that was compiled.  One of the most popular requests was for Everything Dinosaur to produce a video review of the Carnegie Collectibles Spinosaurus dinosaur model, so this is exactly what we have done.

This short review ( 5 minutes 25 seconds), explains a little about the fossil evidence which has led a number of scientists to postulate that this dinosaur was perhaps the largest, carnivorous, terrestrial, animal known to science.  The approximate scale of this replica is discussed and we consider what purpose the sail-like structure on the back of this animal might have had.

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Review of Spinosaurus (Carnegie Collectibles by Safari Ltd)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Carnegie Collectibles: Carnegie Collectibles Dinosaur Models

Launched in 2009 this Spinosaurus model has proved to be very popular with collectors and dinosaur fans.  It is interesting to note the great variety of Spinosaurid models available, each manufacturer seems to have their own distinct interpretation of the fossil material.  Safari Ltd have made their Spinosaurus look very graceful, even elegant.  It is a long-limbed, lightweight version of Spinosaurus.  This contrasts with other Spinosaurus models such as the recently introduced Spinosaurus (World of History) replica made by Schleich.

To see a video review of the Schleich Spinosaurus: World of History Spinosaurus Dinosaur Model Reviewed

Celebrating St Georges Day – Looking at a Dragon

April 23rd St Georges Day – Remember the Dragon

Today is April 23rd, St Georges Day, the patron saint of England and an important figure in many other countries and cultures.  April 23rd is traditionally regarded as the day that St George died in the fourth Century A.D.  He is remembered for a number of acts and deeds, perhaps most famously for slaying a dragon.  Some authorities on English folklore state that the White Horse at Uffington is a representation of the dragon that St George fought, or perhaps the figure carved out of the chalk hill is a stylised image of St. George’s horse.  Nearby Dragon Hill, a low mound with a very flattened top, has been suggested as the location of the fight between St. George and his foe.  Part of Dragon Hill, is very bare and has little grass, the very thin soil does not allow a lot of grass growth, however, some observers believe that this is the spot where the dragon was killed and its blood left a bare patch on the ground where even today no plants will grow.

Whatever the legend, the concept of a fearsome dragon has helped inspire the naming of a number of prehistoric animals including dinosaurs.  For example, the Early Cretaceous Tyrannosaur from China known as Dilong (Dilong paradoxus) means “Emperor Dragon”.  The crow-sized Troodontid known as Mei long, whose fossils were formerly named and described in 2004 means “sleeping dragon”.

Perhaps one of the more unusual dinosaur names is that of the “Dragon King of Hogwarts” – Dracorex hogwartsia.  The species name Dracorex hogwartsia honours the author J. K. Rowling, the writer of the Harry Potter series.  The scientists thought that the skull of this dinosaur resembled the skull of a dragon and with its strange lumps and bumps it looked quite magical.  This coupled with the reaction of young visitors to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, where the skull was first put on display, convinced the scientists to name this dinosaur after dragons and the fictional school – Hogwarts the school in the Harry Potter series of novels.

“Dragon King of Hogwarts School”

Fearsome looking Dragon from Hogwarts.

Fearsome looking Dragon from Hogwarts.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With dragons being very prominent in folklore from both the oriental and occidental worlds it is very likely that more dinosaurs will named after “Dragons”.

Today is Earth Day – Recognising the Threats to our Planet

Earth Day April 22nd 2013

Today, April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual event which raises awareness for the need to be concerned over our environment, climate change and the fragility of our planet.  This day is marked by schools, colleges, environmental groups, lobbyists, governments and other organisations who demonstrate their support for environmental protection.  We share our home with an estimated eight million other species (not including bacteria and other micro-organisms), many of these species are threatened with extinction and it has been stated that our planet is in the midst of another mass extinction event.

There always are extinctions, a background level, however, there is a growing body of evidence to support the theory that extinction rates are accelerating.  Conservative estimates suggest that between five and fifty species are becoming extinct every day.  Put simply, from today until the end of the year, perhaps more than 12,000 species will have become extinct, died out forever.  The rate of loss is very difficult to calculate, however, if we look at just two classes of animals – Aves (birds) and Mammalia (mammals), it has been estimated that today there are about 13,400 living species.  At least one hundred species of birds and mammals have become extinct over the last Century or so.  The rate of extinction seems to be escalating due to pressures placed on the planet by a number of factors such as the rapidly increasing human population, loss of habitat and global climate change.  The extinction rate is many thousands of times faster than the normal background rate attributed to natural selection.

Many biologists and other scientists have speculated that this period in Earth’s history – the Holocene Epoch, could make another mass extinction event – the “Sixth Extinction” to add to the previous “Big Five” – Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic and Cretaceous.

Everything Dinosaur is doing its bit, we have a programme of school visits this week.  We will be working with hundreds of primary aged school children exploring fossils and extinction events.  Along with the likes of cyanobacteria, our species is one of those “touchstone species” we refer to, as we are able to influence our environment and change the climate.  Events like Earth Day, a worldwide celebration of our planet’s diversity, helps to raise awareness of our pivotal role, one that we can all take part in, to help safeguard the rich and varied life on Earth that we share our home with.

Tyrannosaurus rex Glow in the Dark Skeleton Wall Sticker Reviewed

A Review of the T. rex Glow in the Dark Skeleton Wall Sticker

Tyrannosaurus rex, the Late Cretaceous dinosaur famed with its huge teeth and powerful jaws is very popular with young dinosaur fans, both boys and girls and here is a half metre long glow in the dark wall sticker to help make any child’s bedroom their very own Jurassic Park.

It can often be quite tricky trying to create a child’s bedroom with a dinosaur theme.  Posters and such like certainly help but when it is bedtime the wall posters cannot be seen any more, but this Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton can as it glows in the dark.  Once exposed to a light source for a few minutes the plastic pieces that make up this wall display item are able to glow with an inflorescence and quite a striking image this little kit makes too.

The Tyrannosaurus rex Glow in the Dark Dinosaur Sticker Kit

A glow in the Dark T. rex wall poster

A glow in the Dark T. rex wall poster.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The pieces are easy to put together, the handy picture on the front of the pack that this kit is supplied in shows the glow in the dark skeleton assembled.  It  provides all the guidance that is required and it only takes a few minutes to construct the Tyrannosaurus rex.  Then it is just a question of deciding where to display it.  Most young dinosaur fans (recommended age is three years plus), would be delighted with this glow in the dark kit, but just to make sure that your young palaeontologists does not get too frightened, it might be a good idea to leave the pieces out on the floor for the first night, so that the child can get used to the glow in the dark dinosaur effect.   To further ease any initial worries about a scary dinosaur in their bedroom at night, get the child to help put together the skeleton and to assist in deciding where in the bedroom this wall sticker is to be put up.

This dinosaur skeleton kit is certainly big, when put together it measures more than fifty centimetres in height, so a considerable amount of wall space is required to show it off.  We found the darker the wall, the better the kit appeared to look.

The kit can be easily taken off the wall and re-positioned if required.  One tip that we found particularly useful was to glue the skeleton onto a piece of black material, sticking it to a large, square section of cardboard that had been painted black worked equally well.  Then it was simply a question of pinning up the material or hanging the cardboard backing on the wall.  The dark background effect that this creates really shows off the glow in the dark properties of the plastic pieces.

Mounted on a Dark Background to Maximise the Glow in the Dark Effect

Over half a metre high.

Over half a metre high.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Even a few minutes exposure to natural light seemed to charge up the skeleton so that it glowed quite effectively once the bedroom light was turned off.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur themed bedroom items: Ideas to Theme a Child’s Bedroom with Dinosaurs

This is an inexpensive and cleverly designed glow in the dark  T. rex  kit.  Admittedly, the skeleton may not be all that anatomically correct but it is accurate enough with the large skull and big teeth to make young dinosaur fans look forward to bedtime.

Dinosaurs at Bedtime – Glowing T. rex Skeleton

Night time with Dinosaurs.

Night time with Dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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