All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
11 05, 2013

Schleich Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model Reviewed

By | May 11th, 2013|Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Review of the Schleich Carnotaurus Dinosaur Replica by Everything Dinosaur

Schleich have introduced two new models into their “World of History Prehistoric Animals” model series in 2013.  These models are Carnotaurus and Styracosaurus.  Everything Dinosaur has produced a brief (5 minutes 45 seconds) video review of Carnotaurus, this new replica of “meat-eating bull”.

In this review, we discuss the discovery of Carnotaurus, reflect on this model and the recently introduced Papo version of this enigmatic Theropod, plus we discuss how the model reflects the known fossil material ascribed to this genus.

Everything Dinosaur Reviews the Schleich Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It is our intention to produce a video review of the Styracosaurus replica, in the meantime, we have concentrated on the Schleich Carnotaurus dinosaur figure, looking at the model’s pose, the details on the head and on the articulated jaws.  The skin texture for example, does reflect what has been seen in the fossil record, (impressions of the right side of the animal preserved alongside other holotype material).

A dinosaur model aimed primarily at younger dinosaur fans, but one that has a lot of merit as far as model collectors are concerned and it makes an intriguing contrast to other Carnotaurus models.

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

Carnotaurus is a member of the Abelisaurids, a strange and enigmatic group of carnivorous dinosaurs known mostly from the southern hemisphere (not withstanding one controversial fossil claim from France).  They were unknown to science until about thirty years ago.  They seem to have been, like the Tyrannosaurids, one of the last clades of meat-eating dinosaur to have existed.

10 05, 2013

Colourful Thank You Letters From Year 2

By | May 10th, 2013|Educational Activities, Photos/Schools, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

School Children Studying Dinosaurs Say Thank You

A few days ago Everything Dinosaur received a parcel from a teacher at a primary school we had visited (Great Wood Primary).  The teacher had asked her pupils to compose a thank you letter and to write about some of things they did during our visit to their school.   The parcel contained a set of thank you notes with lots of amazing and very colourful prehistoric animal drawings.  There were many different designs, although long-necked dinosaurs (Sauropods), proved a particularly popular subject for the front of the card.

Dinosaur Themed Thank You Letters

Drawings of long-necked dinosaurs (Sauropods) proved to be popular.

Drawings of long-necked dinosaurs (Sauropods) proved to be popular.

Picture Credit: James and Olivia

Ellie drew a flying reptile on the front of her card and she enjoyed learning about Tyrannosaurus rex, whilst Amy chose to illustrate her card with lots of pink dinosaurs and liked learning about Triceratops the best.  Jake drew a very scary looking dinosaur on his thank you card, Lucy illustrated her card with a spiky dinosaur, Matthew (Matthewosaurus) was particularly impressed with the skull of the armoured dinosaur that he saw.

Our mailbag was full of lovely dinosaur cards.

Our mailbag was full of lovely dinosaur cards.

Picture Credit: Elliot and Aki

Leah wrote that she “learned that T. rex had very big teeth“, Josh sent in a card covered with big ticks and asked how did the dinosaurs come alive?  A terrific question Josh, we think that all dinosaurs hatched from eggs, perhaps you can think of animals that are alive today that hatch from eggs, can you and your classmates come up with a list?  We loved the big smiling dinosaur on Toby’s card and Spencer wrote a very long letter, recalling lots of facts about dinosaurs that had come up in our work that day.  Our thanks to Dylan for his wonderful dinosaur drawing, the big bones that were in one of the boxes were part of the leg bones from a Stegosaurus, well spotted Dylan!

Spinosaurus and Spinosaurs by Max

Max drew a multi-coloured Spinosaurus.

Max drew a multi-coloured Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: Max

Lucy said that she had lots of fun and liked handling the fossils, she even drew some bones on the front of her card, Ruby had a great time as well and she liked learning about teeth. Isobel sent in a lovely picture of a dinosaur with a big smile, must be a very friendly dinosaur.

Our thanks to all the pupils for creating such wonderful cards and to their teacher for taking time out of her busy schedule to send them into us.

Our Iguanodon gives Great Wood Primary a big “thumbs up”.

Iguanodon Gives the School Children a Big “Thumbs Up”!

Praise from a dinosaur!

Praise from a dinosaur!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

9 05, 2013

New Species of Bone-headed Dinosaur Announced

By | May 9th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|2 Comments

The First of the Bone-heads

A team of North American scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of Pachycephalosaur.  Pachycephalosaurs are bird-hipped members of the Dinosauria commonly referred to as the bone-headed dinosaurs.  Pachycephalosaurids are known from Upper Cretaceous fossil bearing sediments of the northern latitudes, most notably from North America. Much of our knowledge about this group comes from a few well-preserved skeletons ascribed to the genus Stegoceras.  Other species have been identified based on the fossilised remains of their thickened skulls.  Indeed, so thick are the skull bones (frontal and parietal), that often these are the only fossils ascribed to a particular genera, the rest of the skeleton material presumably having been lost to erosion or failing to be preserved.

This new species, named Acrotholus audeti may be one of the oldest types of Pachycephalosaur discovered to date, certainly a candidate for the oldest Pachycephalosaur known from North America.  The genus name means “high dome” a reference to the thickened skull, whilst the specific name honours Roy Audet, on whose land the best-preserved specimen of skull material was found back in 2008.  The scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum/University of Toronto along with co-researcher Dr Michael Ryan, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History have used the example of this Pachycephalosaur to attest that there may have been many more different kinds of smaller dinosaurs than previously thought.  The team state that the fragile, lighter bones of smaller dinosaurs would not have survived to the present day, unlike some of the bones of their giant cousins.  In this way, the fossil record may be biased towards large dinosaurs and the small dinosaurs may be under represented.

The  Partial Skull Fossil of Acrotholus audeti (2008 Specimen)

The very thick skull of this new Pachycephalosaur.

The very thick skull of this new Pachycephalosaur.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

Writing in the scientific publication, the “Journal of Nature Communications”, the research team describe their new dinosaur based on the remains of two skull domes, both from the Milk River Formation of southern Alberta (Canada).  The first specimen resides in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), it was collected more than fifty years ago, the second specimen, the better preserved example, was discovered on rancher’s Roy Audet’s land in 2008.

The Site of the Dome Skull Discovery (2008)

The white arrow in the centre of the picture shows the location of the fossil find.

The white arrow in the centre of the picture shows the location of the fossil find.

Picture Credit: Journal of Nature Communications

The picture above shows the location of the 2008 fossil find, it has been marked by a small pile of rocks, the rucksack in the foreground provides scale.

The fossils have been dated to approximately 85 million years ago (Santonian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).  This makes the fossils ascribed to A. audeti some of the oldest Pachycephalosaur material known.  Palaeontologists remain uncertain as to where and when the first true Pachycephalosaurs evolved.  Certainly, sometime in the Cretaceous a group of small, Ornithischian dinosaurs began to evolve reinforced skulls, but the paucity of the fossil record prevents scientists from tracing this clade’s particular family tree.  Some Pachycephalosaur material has been described from Upper Jurassic aged sediments, but since the fossil material is extremely fragmentary the placement within the Pachycephalosauridae is controversial.

Scientific Illustration of the New Pachycephalosaur Fossil Material

Dorsal and anterior views of the skull material.

Dorsal and anterior views of the skull material.

Picture Credit: Journal of Nature Communications

When extant ecosystems are studied, it is very evident that alongside the megafauna there is a whole array of smaller animals living in the same habitat.  It is likely that ecosystems in the Mesozoic were very similar with many more types of small dinosaur (under one hundred kilogrammes), living amongst the much larger dinosaurs.  However, small dinosaur fossils are less common than the fossils of larger animals in the fossil record.  Is this preservation bias or a true reflection of the nature of dinosaur dominated communities?

The carcases of smaller animals would have been more easily consumed by scavengers, small bones would have been readily destroyed due to natural decay processes.  Even if they did fossilise and survived to the present day, as an example, a femur (thigh bone) of a fox-sized dinosaur would have been likely to be lost to the forces of erosion, abrasion, attrition etc. than the metatarsals (toe bones) of a dinosaur the size of an African elephant.

Intriguingly, the robust and very thick skull domes of Pachycephalosaurs that have survived to the present day may provide scientists with an insight into the diversity of small, Ornithischian dinosaurs that were around in North America during the Late Cretaceous.  The team that worked on the Acrotholus specimens, palaeontologists from the Royal Ontario Museum as well as graduates from the University of Toronto working in collaboration with scientists from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, suggest that there may have been many more types of smaller dinosaurs than previously thought.

An Illustration of Acrotholus audeti

In the shadow of larger dinosaurs, dog-sized Acrotholus walks next to larger dinosaur tracks.

In the shadow of larger dinosaurs, dog-sized Acrotholus walks next to larger dinosaur tracks.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

Dr Michael Ryan (Cleveland Museum of Natural History) stated:

“We can predict that many new small dinosaur species like Acrotholus audeti are waiting to be discovered by researchers willing to sort through the many small bones that they pick up in the field.”

The fossils of this new member of the Pachcephalosaurids, will be put on display this week at the Royal Ontario Museum, part of an exhibit that provides more information on the vertebrates found in the strata of the Milk River Formation.  Visitors to the museum will be able to see the skull bones of A. audeti and perhaps try to work out why these dinosaurs had such thickened skulls.  The skull bones of Acrotholus would have been up to ten centimetres thick, were the domed skulls used for display or did these dinosaurs butt heads just like some sheep and goats do today?

8 05, 2013

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough – Spotlight on Leicestershire’s Fossils

By | May 8th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Famous Figures|0 Comments

Wishing Sir David Many Happy Returns – Leicestershire Gives Up Fossil Secrets

Very best wishes to Sir David Attenborough, the broadcaster and naturalist, who celebrates his birthday today.  Sir David is as busy as ever, this week, a new BBC Radio 4 series entitled “Tweet of the Day” has started.  The programme is dedicated to birdsong and is due to be aired before the start of the “Today” programme at 05.58 am (BST) each morning.  Sir David will narrate for the first month, but the series will run for a whole year and feature 265 birds and their songs that can be heard around the British Isles.  The team behind the daily broadcast hope that the British public will learn more about birds through their songs and calls.  Each programme will begin with the bird song or call, followed by a brief story or fascinating fact about the particular bird featured.

With so many early starts recently, team members at Everything Dinosaur have been treated to a number of dawn choruses of late.  It is fascinating to hear these “avian dinosaurs” in the early morning.

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

Life Stories, just one of Sir David Attenborough's many media projects.

Life Stories, just one of Sir David Attenborough's many media projects.

Picture Credit: BBC

Sir David, in comments he made when being interviewed about his involvement in this new natural history series, stated that British people are very concerned when it comes to wildlife.  It can be rather taken for granted when it surrounds you all the time, you can become a little blasé about it all.

However, Sir David said:

“I think British people care more about the natural world because the Industrial Revolution started here.  We’ve been losing countryside for longer than anyone else.”

We look forward to seeing on television a new series on fossils and fossil collecting which will be fronted by Sir David Attenborough, this should be aired in the autumn.

In the meantime,  scientists from the BGS (British Geological Survey) in Nottinghamshire have been shedding some light on fossils that could have been found by a young Sir David Attenborough.  As a boy, Sir David loved collecting fossils as he grew up in Leicestershire.  There are a number of limestone outcrops which represent strata laid down in the Early Jurassic.  These Lower Jurassic sediments contain a variety of fossils and the young naturalist would often cycle to a quarry and search the scree for ammonites, bivalves and belemnites.

He used to take some of his finds to the New Walk Museum in Leicester, where a very kind and helpful geologist called H. H. Gregory would help him to identify them and catalogue them.  He even helped out at the museum during the school holidays.  It was learning about fossils that helped fuel his passion for the natural world.  The rocks exposed around the Charnwood Forest area of Leicester, although only a few miles from where the young Sir David was living, held no attraction for him.  These rocks although layered and stratified were regarded as Precambrian in age and by definition they were devoid of fossils.

All that changed in April 1957 when schoolboy Roger Mason, from the same Leicester grammar school that Sir David had attended less than twenty years earlier, found a fossil in the Charnwood rocks.  When climbing on some rocks with his friends a strange impression of a frond-like structure was spotted on the surface of a boulder.  This turned out to be evidence of an ancient marine organism that lived on the bottom of a deep ocean something like 570 million years ago.  The organism, superficially like a extant sea pen was named Charnia masoni.  A number of these fossils have been found subsequently in the Late Precambrian rocks in the Charnwood Forest area.  Several specimens including the original holotype material are on display at the New Walk Museum, but many more have been discovered thanks to the British Geological Survey team.

The research team painted silicone rubber onto the exposed rock surfaces in the Charnwood Forest area.  Once set, peeled off and brought back to the laboratory, casts could be made which revealed a substantial number of new Charnia specimens.

Casts Reveal Many New Charnia Fossils

Discovering more ancient Precambrian fossils.

Discovering more ancient Precambrian fossils.

Picture Credit: British Geological Survey

The cast above, shows the delicate, frond-like structure with bilateral symmetry.

Research team leader, Dr. Phil Wilby commented:

“By using the silicon moulds we have discovered there are literally thousands of fossils and they are gobsmackingly beautiful.”

Fossils of Charnia have been found elsewhere in the world, since the 1957 discovery.  Mistaken Point in Newfoundland is perhaps the most famous, but Charnia specimens have been found in Precambrian aged strata in Russia and Australia.  Each of the fossils is essentially an impression in soft sediments made by the outside of the organism, no internal structures have been preserved.

Dr. Wilby went on to add:

“They are absolutely world class.  Some of them are substantial in size but it’s almost impossible to see them in the forest because they only become visible when the sun is at the right angle.”

It has taken five years, but the research team have uncovered many more fossils and isotopic dating has been used to confirm the age of the rocks within which they [the fossils] have been deposited as definitely from the Precambrian.

“The fossils at Charnwood were considered so important because it was the one place in the world where we could definitively say fossils were of Precambrian age,” added Dr Wilby.

Had the young  Sir David, taken a wander around the Charnwood Forest area, perhaps  intrigued by the ancient layered strata, who knows what he might have uncovered.  However, during his long career, the naturalist and broadcaster has had the honour of having a number of extant and extinct organisms named after him.  Perhaps he won’t mind missing out on the discovery of Charnia, only a few miles from his boyhood home.

Many happy returns Sir David.

7 05, 2013

Schleich Styracosaurus Dinosaur Model Reviewed

By | May 7th, 2013|Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Schleich 2013 Styracosaurus Dinosaur Model in Review

The second of the new Schleich replicas introduced into their “World of History/Prehistoric Animal” model series is this striking model of the horned dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of North America – Styracosaurus.  It is very appropriate for Schleich to add a Styracosaurus to their model range this year, as 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the naming and describing of “spiked lizard”.  The first species of Styracosaurus was named in 1913 by Lawrence Lambe, Canada’s first professional palaeontologist.

The Schleich Styracosaurus Dinosaur Model (2013)

"Spiked Lizard!" celebrates 100th birthday!

"Spiked Lizard!" celebrates 100th birthday!

The model is painted a metallic blue, with speckles of white running in bands either side of the prominent backbone, which itself is painted a golden and orange colour.  These markings match the very colourful “eye flashes”, the skin covered holes in the huge neck frill.  The fenestrae (skin covered holes), are clearly visible in this model.  Some palaeontologists have speculated that a number of horned dinosaurs had such holes in their frills to help lighten them, whilst others have speculated that the holes only occurred as the animal grew and matured and perhaps the skin that covered them was used to flash warnings at rivals or to deter predators.  The large “eye flashes” on this Schleich replica would have made a stunning visual display and alarmed all but the most determined predator.

The spikes and the single horn are painted a white colour, to give the impression of solid bone.  The open beak of this dinosaur figure is also painted this colour and the detail around the mouth is remarkable, the row of teeth that can be made out in the maxilla for example.

The Styracosaurus model measures seventeen centimetres from the tip of the beak to the end of the somewhat stumpy tail.  Based on an adult Styracosaurus albertensis, which might have reached lengths in excess of five and a half metres, it is estimated that the scale of this replica is approximately 1:32 scale.  The model gives an impression of a stocky, powerful animal, one that would have weighed nearly three tonnes in real life.

To view the Schleich range of prehistoric animal models: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models

It is pleasing to note that the design team at Schleich have taken care to get the number of digits on the front feet correct and the skin texture on this replica is excellent, there are even folds of skin behind the heavy-looking neck frill.

The Robust Ceratopsian Styracosaurus (Schleich Styracosaurus Dinosaur Model)

Styracosaurus dinosaur model

Styracosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture  Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is a solid and robust model of a solid and robust horned dinosaur, one of the more spectacular Ceratopsians known from the Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  This herbivorous dinosaur probably lived in herds and a fully grown Styracosaurus would have been a formidable adversary of the large Tyrannosaurids that were the apex predators in North America during this part of the Mesozoic.

An attractive dinosaur model, a welcome addition to the Schleich model range, one that marks the 100th anniversary of the naming of the first species of Styracosaurus with some style.

6 05, 2013

Tarbosaurus Skeleton To Be Handed Over to Mongolian Officials

By | May 6th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

Dinosaur Skeleton Handed Back to Mongolia

An exhibit of a fearsome Tarbosaurus is due to be handed over to Mongolian officials today.  The end of a long legal battle to return fossils back to their country of origin.  The eight metre long skeleton was put up for sale at a New York auction house back in May 2012, it sold for approximately £630,000 GBP ($1,052,000 USD), but the sale was cancelled after a dispute arose regarding the legality of the sale.  Tarbosaurus (T. bataar), was a Late Cretaceous Theropod dinosaur, closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex. 

To read an article about the dispute which arose after the auction: U.S. Authorities Set to Seize Dinosaur Skeleton

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, once notified of the intended auction, mobilised and helped petition the U.S. authorities to investigate how such a specimen could be offered for sale, when in all likelihood the fossils had come from Mongolia, where it had been illegal to export such items out of that country for more than fifty years.  The Mongolian President even intervened to try to prevent the sale.  A long legal battle ensued and it resulted in the prosecution of Mr. Eric Prokopi of Gainesville Florida who had brought the fossilised bones into the United States and prepared them for sale.  As part of a guilty plea entered last year, Mr. Prokopi agreed to forfeit the Tarbosaurus auction specimen, a slightly smaller Tarbosaurus, two duck-billed dinosaur specimens and a pair of Oviraptors, which he confessed had been illegally imported into America.  Mr. Prokopi is awaiting sentencing, now rescheduled for August 30th, he could go to prison or face fines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Mounted Tarbosaurus Skeleton Offered for Sale and at the Centre of the Legal Case

The skeleton offered for sale at an auction in New York

The skeleton offered for sale at an auction in New York.

This landmark case demonstrates the determination which the U.S. authorities pursue instances of illegal fossil smuggling and the smuggling of other rare artefacts with the intention of making profits from any subsequent sales.  The federal investigation revealed, according to the filed complaint, that from April 2010 until August 2012, Mr. Prokopi and unnamed others conspired to “smuggle and clandestinely introduce” the bones through deliberately misleading and fraudulently labelled shipments with the ultimate aim of selling them for high profit.

To read an article on the legal battle: Dinosaur Smuggling Case – Florida Resident Pleads Guilty

Commenting on the legal case, John T. Morton, (Director of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement) stated:

“Think about it.  Here’s something that’s been in the ground for 70 million years.  This was the last of the great living dinosaurs right before extinction, roaming the plains of what is now Mongolia at the very end of the period of the dinosaurs.  And here you have looters and black marketeers exercising the level of arrogance that is unbelievable, that they’re going to engage in personal profit on something that has literally witnessed this span of time.  It is shocking.”

Mr. Morton went on to explain that the formal repatriation is set for 11am today, (Eastern Daylight Time), in the presence of officials from the Mongolian president’s office and culture ministry.

He added:

“We’re working with our foreign counterparts to protect heritage just as we would like them to protect our heritage. There’s an increasing awareness in the public and the art world that there’s a real cost-paying consequence to this kind of theft and black market sales.  No one benefits when people loot dinosaur bones or engage in grave robbing or defacing temples.  We need to take real steps to preserve these treasures around the world so that when you get to Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat is still there.”

Mr. Prokopi’s lawyer, Georges Lederman, said he had advised his client not to make any public statements before his sentencing, but he also said Mr. Prokopi was cooperating with the United States government “for a favourable outcome.”

It is believed that the fossils were sent to Florida by a fossil dealer based on the south coast of England.  At this time, Everything Dinosaur is not aware of any ongoing investigation into the UK’s connection with the importation of these rare fossils into the United States.

5 05, 2013

New Dinosaur Species from North-western China

By | May 5th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

New Meat-Eating Dinosaur from China

Fossils uncovered in 2006 by a team of international researchers as they explored a remote part of Xinjiang Province have been identified as a new species of predatory Theropod dinosaur.  This new, meat-eating dinosaur discovery has been tentatively ascribed to the Coelurosauria.  Although this is the seventh Theropod and the fourth Coelurosaur discovered in strata from the Shishugou Formation, it represents the earliest fossil Coelurosaur discovered from this Formation to date.

Fossils of small dinosaurs are exceptionally rare, those specimens known from the Middle Jurassic tend to consist of isolated fragments of bone, or individual teeth.  Although far from complete, the fossil material represents an individual animal and it consists of the skull and mandible, limb bones, vertebrae, digits and elements from the pelvic girdle.  The three previously discovered Coelurosaurs from the same Chinese location (Guanlong, Haplocheirus and Zuolong) were found at higher stratigraphical layers, thus indicating that this new discovery is much older than those previously found.  It is thought that this new discovery dates from approximately 161 million years ago, (Callovian faunal stage).  This would suggest that this little carnivore roamed China during the Middle Jurassic, however, this specimen could also be referred to as Late Jurassic as the radiometric dates for the strata from which the fossil was excavated, fall within the margin of error delineating the geological boundary between the Middle and Late Jurassic.

The Skull of Aorun zhaio

The coin provides a scale.

The coin provides a scale.

Picture Credit: James Clark/George Washington University

The picture above shows the skull with a coin providing scale.

The new species has been named Aorun zhaio (The Dragon King of the West), from “Ao Run” taken from the Mandarin Chinese language and the Chinese epic folklore tale, “Journey to the West”.  The species name honours  Professor Zhao Xi-jin, a renowned vertebrate palaeontologist who has been prominent in helping to open up this remote part of China to scientists from outside of the country.

The field team led by James Clark (Ronald B. Weintraub Associate Professor of Biology) at the George Washington University (United States), suggest that this dinosaur was less than a metre long when it died and it probably weighed little more than fifteen hundred grammes.  A detailed analysis of the fossilised bones suggest that this dinosaur was less than twelve months old when it died.  It may not represent an example of a small Theropod, as an adult, this dinosaur could have grown up to be an apex predator, perhaps similar in size to the Chinese Allosaurid Sinraptor.

Dr. Clark and his then, doctoral student, Jonah Choiniere were able to establish that this little dinosaur was less than a year old when it died and got buried in stream sediments.  As the fossils represent a very young animal, an animal whose features would change as it grew, it is very difficult to pin down where in the phylogeny within the Coelurosauria this specimen should be placed.  A scientific paper, published in the “Journal of Systematic Palaeontology” outlines the discovery, describes the fossil material and discusses the importance of this specimen with regards to understanding the evolution and radiation of the smaller Theropods.

An Interpretation of the Fossil Material

Small, bipedal and possibly feathered.

Small, bipedal and possibly feathered.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The illustration above shows Aorun zhaio as an agile, fast-running dinosaur with a slightly elongated snout and a long tail.  As other members of the Coelurosaur clade are believed to have been feathered, in this illustration A. zhaio is depicted as a feathered dinosaur.

A spokes person from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Teeth from the upper and the lower jaw have been found.  Their shape indicates that this little dinosaur was a meat-eater, hunting smaller reptiles, insects and perhaps even primitive mammals.  Reptiles such as snakes, turtles and crocodiles today lay many eggs, but few of the hatch-lings survive to adult hood.  It is likely that this Coelurosaur was part of a large brood, but like many of its siblings it did not live very long”.

Many people consider the meat-eating dinosaurs to be all very large animals, but today the Order of Mammalia known as the Carnivora consists of a wide range of differently sized predators.  There are wolves and tigers within this Order but also weasels and small cats.  It was the same during the Mesozoic, some Theropod dinosaurs were very large, but others remained small.  Each type of  Theropod dinosaur evolved to fit a particular ecological niche.

4 05, 2013

Carnegie Collectibles Concavenator Dinosaur Model Reviewed

By | May 4th, 2013|Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Product Reviews|1 Comment

Model of Concavenator (Safari Ltd) Reviewed by Everything Dinosaur

It is always pleasing so see replicas of some of the more unusual dinosaurs introduced, especially if it is a model of a bizarre European Theropod.  Concavenator, known from just a single fossil specimen, has just been added to the Carnegie Collectibles model series made by Safari Ltd.  This is a colourful dinosaur model, the only new addition to the Carnegie Collectibles range this year.  Everything Dinosaur team members have produced a short (under five minutes) video review, in which we discuss the merits of this replica and attempt to shed some light on this dinosaur’s strange hump/crest that ran backgrounds from near the base of the tail.

Everything Dinosaur’s Concavenator Dinosaur Model Review

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this video, our team members speculate that this carnivorous dinosaur was not a predator that lived on the open plains of Las Hoyas, but that it was similar to the Theropod called Eotyrannus (E. lengi).  It may have been a forest dweller, a cursorial predator of the animals that shared its woodland home.  If this is the case, then it begs the question what larger Theropod dinosaurs may be awaiting discovery in the Lower Cretaceous sediments of this part of the Iberian mountains.

To view the Carnegie Collectibles dinosaur model collection: Carnegie Dinosaur Models including Concavenator et al

3 05, 2013

Walking with Dinosaurs 3-D Movie Trailer

By | May 3rd, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Press Releases|4 Comments

First Trailer for New Dinosaur Movie

Scheduled for a cinematic debut this Christmas, the first trailer has been released for the eagerly awaited new dinosaur film – “Walking with Dinosaurs in 3-D”.  This beautifully crafted film takes viewers to the Late Cretaceous of North America and tells the story of a Pachyrhinosaurus and its fight for survival, it being the runt of the litter and its ultimate triumph against the odds.

The Trailer for “Walking with Dinosaur 3-D”

This film has divided the scientific community somewhat, the computer graphics are excellent and there are some lovely details shown and it will no doubt prove to be very popular with cinema audiences.  However, the anthropomorphising (giving human characteristics to animals) as led to some commentators describing this film as “Bambi meets the Land Before Time”.

Pachyrhinosauruus was a member of the Centrosaurine group of horned dinosaurs.  The presence of fenestrae in the neck frill was a surprise to us, perhaps it is an old injury that never healed properly, and the lack of feathered, shaggy looking dinosaurs in the scenes filmed during the migration could perhaps be challenged, especially as the herd of herbivores are moving into northern latitudes.

Expect lots of Tyrannosaurids, Hadrosaurs and providing the threat to the young Pachyrhinosaurs – plenty of Dromaeosaurids.  Should be a visual treat.

At Everything Dinosaur we are expecting Pachyrhinosaurus to have a surge in popularity as a result of this movie.  There are a number of excellent models available at the moment, a number of interpretations of this seven metre long plant-eater.  For example, both Collecta and Papo have introduced a Pachyrhinosaurus model, part of a great expansion in the number of Ceratopsian dinosaur models available as a number of new genera have been named and described over the last five years or so.

Pachyrhinosaurus Compared – Papo and Collecta Models

Papo and Collecta Pachyrhinosaurs are compared.

Papo and Collecta Pachyrhinosaurs are compared.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the Papo Pachyrhinosaurus model on the left compared to the Collecta model on the right.  Both these model makers have chosen to give this dinosaur a solid neck frill although the pair of fenestrae (holes in the bone but covered with skin), can be clearly seen on both replicas.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s model range: Dinosaur Models including Pachyrhinosaurus

Three species of Pachyrhinosaur are currently known, the third species to be named and described was Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum.  The fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in the far north of Alaska (dinosaurs living at high latitudes is explored in the movie), the fossils were found in 2006 and this new species named and described back in 2011.

To read an article on the discovery of P. perotorum:  Discovering a New Species of Pachyrhinosaurus

The film has been estimated to have cost somewhere around $80 million USD (£51 million GBP) to make, the original estimates were around £40 million GBP.  This is still relatively small compared to the budgets of other films, or indeed when compared to the cost of the BBC’s original Walking with Dinosaurs six part television series first aired in 1999, which for the number of minutes of actual footage shown, represents one of the most expensive projects in the BBC’s history.

3 05, 2013

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival Starts Today

By | May 3rd, 2013|Educational Activities, Geology|0 Comments

Celebrating “Our Coastal Treasures” Lyme Regis Fossil Festival Starts

The Lyme Regis Fossil Festival starts in earnest today with a special day set aside for visits from Primary schools.  Lots of events are planned for the Bank Holiday weekend (the Festival runs from Friday 3rd May until Sunday 5th).  This is the eighth event that has taken place since the inaugural fossil festival in 2005.  There are lots of events planned, hands-on science, Jurassic themed art for all the family to have a go at, the chance to meet fossil experts, talks, shows, even a travelling cinema shaped like a Pliosaur.

The Lyme Regis Fossil Festival Starts Today

Fossil Festival starts today.

Fossil Festival starts today.

Visitors to the picturesque town of Lyme Regis will be able to learn about fossils from top experts, see amazing stone balancing (we have seen this and it has to be seen to be believed) and hear about some of the latest scientific studies being carried out by top academic institutions.  The main theme for this year’s festival is “Our Coastal Treasures”.  The Fossil Festival will explore the marine habitats that produced the very different types of geological formations seen on the Jurassic coast.

One word of advice, visitors to the beach should avoid the cliff areas as these are exceptionally dangerous at the moment.  The heavy rain last summer, coupled with recent dry weather has left much of the coastline in a fragile state.  There have already been a number of landslides, leaving a considerable amount of debris on the beach.  On Tuesday evening, a twenty metre section of chalk cliff, east of Lyme Regis, at St Oswald’s Bay collapsed into the sea.  The coastguard and Dorset police have warned visitors to the area to “exercise due care, behave responsibly and to observe all warning and diversion notices”.

Wishing all the volunteers who help make this such a super event the very best for the next few days.  Fingers crossed for some decent weather.

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