Dinosaurs Uncovered with Everything Dinosaur

Forge Mill Needle Museum Travels Back to the Age of Dinosaurs

The enthusiastic staff at the excellent Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch (England), have got their time travelling hats on again as they are holding a summer exhibition entitled “Dinosaurs Uncovered”.  Everything Dinosaur team members are making a special appearance on Sunday 11th August to provide visitors with the chance to handle dinosaur and other prehistoric animal fossils.  If you have ever wanted to know just how exactly T. rex went about eating his or dinner or why palaeontologists lick fossils then this is your chance to find out!

Take a trip back to the Mesozoic and meet the likes of the fearsome Velociraptor, the huge Triceratops and other amazing prehistoric creatures as the Forge  Mill Needle Museum hosts a special dinosaur themed day with puppet shows, face painting, fun trails, craft activities and of course, the dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur.

Terrifying Tyrannosaurus rex at the Forge Mill Needle Museum

T. rex and other dinosaurs visit Redditch.

T. rex and other dinosaurs visit Redditch.

The exhibition offers a chance to step inside the astonishing world of the dinosaurs.  Dinosaur buffs of all ages can test their knowledge on the Dino buster touchscreen and dig for bones in the specially prepared “bone yard”.  Everything Dinosaur team members will be on hand to guide visitors through the exhibition, as well as conducting some impromptu palaeontology throughout the day.

Everything Dinosaur Special Guests at Dinosaur Day

Meet dinosaur experts at the Forge Mill Needle Museum

Meet dinosaur experts at the Forge Mill Needle Museum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The special dinosaur day starts at 11am on Sunday the 11th August, it runs to 4pm (last admission 3pm) and it is going to be jam packed with Jurassic themed activities, Cretaceous crafts and Mesozoic monsters.

To read more about the summer dinosaur exhibition and the Forge Mill Needle Museum’s dinosaur day: The Museum’s website

The exhibition itself, started this week and it is on at the museum until Sunday 1st September, providing a great family orientated, summer holiday treat.  In addition, there is the added bonus of a special dinosaur themed day with the experts at Everything Dinosaur on the 11th August, a definite date for your diary so come along and bring your little monsters!

“Duelling Dinosaurs” Up for Auction

Tyrannosaurid and Ceratopsian Fossils Heading for Auction

Two fossils found in association with each other in sediments from the famous Hell Creek Formation of Montana seem destined to go up for auction next November.  The debate has once again sprung up between those who support commercial fossil hunters and those who believe that such discoveries should be made as a gift to science.

The fossils consist of a Tyrannosaurid, billed in the press releases sent out regarding the proposed auction, as an example of a Nanotyrannus lancensis and a horned dinosaur, a member of the Chasmosaurine clade of Ceratopsians and possibly a new species.  The two specimens have been referred to as “Montana’s Duelling Dinosaurs”.  It has been suggested that these specimens represent a fight between a meat-eating and a plant-eating dinosaur.  Although, team members at Everything Dinosaur have only a limited knowledge of what material has been excavated so far, it is likely that the “duelling dinosaurs” hypothesis has been put forward as the specimens were found in close proximity and after an examination of some of the pathology identified on the fossil bones.

“Duelling Dinosaurs” Go Up for Sale

Dinosaurs up for auction

Dinosaurs up for auction

Picture Credit: Bonhams

Very rarely has the fossil record preserved anything as dramatic as a fight between two vertebrate antagonists, in this case, an example of inter-specific interaction.  It is difficult to comment further as to the validity of these claims as with an auction looming, such statements might be aimed at “whetting the appetites of potential buyers rather than accurately reflecting evidence from a preliminary study” as a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented.

The very fact that a Nanotyrannus specimen might be available for sale is fascinating.  If it ends up in the hands of a private collector and as a result, it remains unavailable for study, this will disappoint a great many palaeontologists as well as their museum directors.  Nanotyrannus might be a dwarf version of Tyrannosaurus rex, however, it could also represent juvenile specimens of T. rex itself.  Skull material discovered in the 1940’s and originally described as a Gorgosaurus was re-examined in the 1980’s and it was suggested that the specimen represented an adult animal, an example of a new species of pygmy Tyrannosaur.  The Nanotyrannus genus was erected, its validity or otherwise has been debated ever since.

A detailed study of the Montana Tyrannosaur material may help to resolve this debate.  Many palaeontologists fear that if the specimen is sold at auction to a wealthy individual, then the chance to study the fossils may be lost.  According to other sources Tyrannosaurid teeth are embedded in the Ceratopsians bones and there may also be skin impressions preserved.  It has also been reported that the Tyrannosaurid may be considerably larger than other specimens of the nomen dubium N. lancensis, with well informed American palaeontologists suggesting that the individual Tyrannosaur may be about the size of another member of the Tyrannosaur family – Albertosaurus.

The two near complete skeletons were found by commercial fossil hunters on private land.  In the United States, fossils found on privately owned land are the property of the land owners, no matter what the significance to science.  In this case, the owners of the fossils in collaboration with the prospectors can put these rare objects up for sale to the highest bidder.  It has been estimated that the two specimens sold together as a single auction lot could fetch as much as £5.8 million (GBP).

The sale is going to managed by Bonhams auction house in New York.  The “city that never sleeps” may turn out to be an ill omen for the sellers, as in May 2012, the sale of another Tyrannosaurid, this time a Tarbosaurus was stopped after it was alleged the fossil material had been illegally removed from Mongolia.   The Tarbosaurus fossils were returned to Mongolia and a fossil dealer from Florida will be sentenced next month over his involvement in the importing of the Late Cretaceous fossils into the United States.

To read more about the Tarbosaurus auction: U.S. Officials Seize Tarbosaurus Skeleton

To read more about the legal action that followed: Tarbosaurus Case – Florida Man Pleads Guilty

Senior scientific advisor at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum and director of the Carthage Institute of Palaeontology (Wisconsin), Thomas Carr commented:

“This lines their pockets [commercial fossil hunters and the owners of private land] but hurts science.”

Approaches to museums and other educational bodies have already been made, but it seems that none are willing or able to pay the asking price, so the next step is for the fossils to be sold at auction.  Many fossil specimens, even mounted exhibits of dinosaurs are sold each year, but the sale of these two items for what might turn out to be a record amount is likely to attract a lot of media interest.

However, not everything sells at an auction, in 2008 a Triceratops skeleton went under the hammer but it failed to sell on the day of the auction.

Triceratops Fossils Up for Sale

Palaeontology up for sale?

Palaeontology up for sale?

Picture Credit: AFP

To read more about the Triceratops sale: Triceratops Specimen for Auction

If a wealthy individual purchases the auction lot, then all may not be lost.  Many adopt a philanthropic attitude to their acquisitions and make them available for further study, thus helping palaeontologists to learn more about long extinct prehistoric animals.  Unfortunately, there is no guarantee and many purchasers prefer to remain anonymous.  However, we, at Everything Dinosaur urge those responsible for the sale and indeed any prospective buyers to permit the specimens to be part of a formal study programme.  In this way, these specimens are not lost to science for good.

With the very high prices paid for fossils, especially dinosaur fossils, an entire industry has sprung up catering for the demand.  Whilst many of the organisations involved are highly professional and ethical, there are less honest fossil hunters out there, poaching, thefts and smuggling of fossil material is big business.  How big?  Nobody actually knows.

Let us hope that the sentencing of the Florida fossil dealer convicted of making false statements on customs forms when importing the Tarbosaurus material will help deter unscrupulous commercial fossil hunters.  However, given the huge rewards available and the lack of international efforts to curb the trade we think that these practices will continue.

There is another side to consider when examining the role of commercial collectors.  Many excavate their discoveries with the utmost care and are extremely professional.  Such companies and individuals have made significant contributions to the science of palaeontology and without their efforts many important specimens would never have been found and many more would not have been preserved, simply left to erode away as they are exposed to the elements.  With the cutbacks on museum funding, the number of field expeditions that museums can undertake has been reduced and commercial companies have successfully “plugged the gap” helping to preserve a large number of specimens that otherwise would have been lost to science.

Peter Larson, one of the world’s most distinguished commercial fossil hunters and an authority on Tyrannosaurs has stated that the bones are well-preserved and articulated, with some fossilised skin impressions present.  He has suggested that teeth from a predatory dinosaur are embedded in the cervical vertebrae (neck bones), whilst the Tyrannosaurs chest and skull bones show evidence of being crushed, perhaps from a kick from the massive Ceratopsian.

Peter and his company, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research based in South Dakota, have been involved in the project to excavate and prepare the fossil material since 2011.  Peter went onto add:

“The fossils provide potential evidence for two new kinds of dinosaurs.  They could settle long-running scientific debates over whether the pygmy tyrannosaur existed as a separate genus or was simply a juvenile T. rex, and whether it hunted as well as scavenged.”

We at Everything Dinosaur, hope that if the fossils are put up for sale at auction, then the buyer will be generous and permit the specimens to be studied by the scientific community.   Such a gesture would no doubt provide lots of positive PR and perhaps establish a blueprint for other lots that may go to auction to replicate.

Study Shows Dinosaur Brains Pre-programmed for Flight

Dinosaur “Bird Brains” – Enlarged Brains in the Dinosauria Aided the Evolution of Powered Flight

New research published in the academic journal “Nature” provides evidence that some types of dinosaur developed the brain power required to manage the complex co-ordinated movements that are necessary for powered flight.  It seems that, according to this new study, some dinosaurs were “bird- brained”.

The term “bird-brained” can be used in a derogatory sense, however, the brains of birds can be quite large in proportion to their body size, previous research has shown that parts of the brains of birds are highly developed, even when compared to mammals.  After all, it takes great skill and co-ordination to achieve the balance and control required for powered flight.  It seems that members of the Dinosauria evolved “bird-brains” long before their descendants actually took to the skies as true birds.

Avian and Non-Avian Dinosaur Brain Study

Research suggests some dinosaurs were "bird brains".

Research suggests some dinosaurs were "bird brains".

Picture Credit: AMNH/M. Ellison

Some extant birds are remarkably intelligent, the humble pigeon can demonstrate amazing feats of memory as they navigate, parrots and members of the starling family (Sturnidae) such as the famous Mynah bird are wonderful mimics. In 2009, Everything Dinosaur team members reported on a study involving members of the crow family (Corvidae) which demonstrated the problem solving abilities of some birds.

To read more about the clever crows: Birds show how clever their “bird-brains” are

Lead author Amy Balanoff, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History (New York) and a post-doctoral researcher at Stony Brook University, along with her colleagues has shown that a number of non-avian dinosaurs had brains that were at least as big (in proportion to body size), as that of Archaeopteryx lithographica.  This suggests that at a few of the members of the Dinosauria possessed the neurological hard-wiring essential for flight.

Computer Model Showing the Endocast of Archaeopteryx (A. lithographica)

The brain cast of Archaeopteryx lithographica, one of the earliest known birds, partitioned into neuroanatomical regions: brain stem (yellow), cerebellum (blue), optic lobes (red), cerebrum (green), and olfactory bulbs (orange)

The brain cast of Archaeopteryx lithographica, one of the earliest known birds, partitioned into neuroanatomical regions: brain stem (yellow), cerebellum (blue), optic lobes (red), cerebrum (green), and olfactory bulbs (orange)

Picture Credit: AMNH/Dr. Balanoff

Amy commented:

“Archaeopteryx has always been set up as a uniquely transitional species between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds, a half-way point.”

Recent studies, have suggested that the likes of Archaeopteryx may not be the first bird after all, its position as a transitional fossil has also been brought into question.  In the light of this new research, it seems that the brain of the Late Jurassic Archaeopteryx may not have been unique.

Amy went onto add:

“By studying the cranial volume of closely related dinosaurs, we have learned that Archaeopteryx might not have been that special.”

Archaeopteryx must be one of the most intensively studied vertebrates in the whole of the fossil record.  Back in 2009, a team of scientists based at the Natural History Museum (London) analysed Archaeopteryx fossil material in a bid to understand more about the brain function and sensory abilities of this crow-sized, feathered creature.  The research team concluded that Archaeopteryx could hear as well as an extant Emu.

To read an article on this research: Examination of the Senses of Archaeopteryx

When compared to extant reptiles, for their body size, birds generally have larger brains.  This “hyperinflation” is most obvious in the forebrain, an area of the brain dedicated to processing data from the optic nerve (eyesight) and co-ordinating body movement.  These anatomical and neurological features, once thought as exclusive amongst Aves (birds), may also be present in the Dinosauria.

The Model of a Woodpecker’s Brain with Endocast Partitioned to Show Neuroanatomical Positions

A modern woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons) with its brain cast rendered opaque and the skull transparent. The endocast is partitioned into the following neuroanatomical regions: brain stem (yellow), cerebellum (blue), optic lobes (red), cerebrum (green), and olfactory bulbs (orange).

A modern woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons) with its brain cast rendered opaque and the skull transparent. The endocast is partitioned into the following neuroanatomical regions: brain stem (yellow), cerebellum (blue), optic lobes (red), cerebrum (green), and olfactory bulbs (orange).

Picture Credit: AMNH/Dr. Balanoff

The scientists used high-powered computerised tomography scans (CT scans) to piece together the braincases of more than two dozen specimens, modern birds such as woodpeckers, the ancient Archaeopteryx and closely related non-avian dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurs and Oviraptorids.  The three-dimensional images that were created allowed the research teams to identify specific portions of the brain such as forebrain as well as permitting a calculation regarding overall cranial capacity.  Major regions of the brain such as the olfactory bulbs, cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem and optic lobes could be identified.

Reflecting on this study, co-author Gabriel Bever (Assistant Professor of Anatomy at the New York Institute of Technology), said:

“The story of brain size is more than its relationship to body size.  If we also consider how the different regions of the brain changed relative to each other, we can gain an insight into what factors drove brain evolution as well as what developmental mechanisms facilitated those changes.”

When compared to the members of the Tyrannosaur family, or to Oviraptorids, the research team discovered that in terms of brain volume, Archaeopteryx is not in a unique, transitional position between what are termed non-avian dinosaurs and extant birds.  Several other non-avian dinosaurs examined, including Oviraptorids and Troodontids, actually had larger brains relative to body size when compared to A. lithographica.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, stated:

“Relatively large and well developed brains in certain families within the Dinosauria are not that surprising when you consider some of the niches that these reptiles may have occupied.  The dinosaurs included in this study were probably very active, possibly living in packs or family groups with attendant complex behaviours.  They were active, agile hunters and as many were very probably feathered, it is also likely they performed complicated movements as part of courtship or other types of visual displays.”

The Endocast of the Oviraptorid Citipati (C. osmolskae)

The transparent skull and opaque brain cast of Citipati osmolskae, an oviraptor dinosaur, is shown in this CT scan. The endocast is partitioned into the following neuroanatomical regions: brain stem (yellow), cerebellum (blue), optic lobes (red), cerebrum (green), and olfactory bulbs (orange).

The transparent skull and opaque brain cast of Citipati osmolskae, an oviraptor dinosaur, is shown in this CT scan. The endocast is partitioned into the following neuroanatomical regions: brain stem (yellow), cerebellum (blue), optic lobes (red), cerebrum (green), and olfactory bulbs (orange).

Picture Credit: AMNH/Dr. Balanoff

In conclusion, Dr. Balanoff stated:

“If  Archaeopteryx had a flight-ready brain, which is almost certainly the case given its morphology, then, so did at least some of the non-avian dinosaurs.”

Oviraptorids Included in the Study

Note the Tail Plume

Note the Tail Plume

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The research team also examined another factor which is vital to powered flight in modern birds, a neurological structure referred to as the wulst, which has an important role in data processing and motor control.  In the scans of the Archaeopteryx cranial region, the scientists discovered an indentation that might be homologous to the wulst seen in the brains of extant birds.  No evidence of this indentation could be found in the brains of the dinosaurs that were involved in this study, even though proportionately, these dinosaurs had bigger brains than Archaeopteryx.

The evolution and development of the wulst is an area  of research which the American based team are keen to explore.

Everything Dinosaur is grateful to the American Museum of Natural History for information used in the compiling of this article.

Giovanni’s Wonderful Clay Models

Giovanni Gets Creative with Clay

A few days ago, Everything Dinosaur team members put out an appeal on the company’s Facebook page for pics of clay dinosaurs.  An unusual request, but the explanation for it is quite simple.  August 1st is the official 8th anniversary of Everything Dinosaur and a traditional gift associated with this landmark, is china or pottery.

Staff went through lots of pictures from our own archives but we could not find many examples of pottery or clay dinosaurs, so we put out an appeal.   We received a lot of pics and we are grateful for all of them, however, a special mention goes to Giovanni of Italy who sent in some lovely jpegs of his very clever and well crafted clay prehistoric animals.

Amongst the pictures Giovanni sent in was one of a pair of his clay models, a replica of the bizarre Therizinosaurus standing next to a Desmatosuchus, an armoured herbivorous reptile which lived during the Triassic.   We think the models are excellent and we are always impressed at the creativity and skill of our customers.

Giovanni’s Clay Prehistoric Animal Models

magnifico, eccellente

magnifico, eccellente

Picture Credit: Giovanni from Italy

Well done Giovanni, and on behalf of all of us at Everything Dinosaur – grazie.

Freshwater Pliosaur from Cretaceous Victoria

Fossil Tooth Provides Evidence of an Australian Freshwater Pliosaur

When amateur palaeontologist Mike Cleeland found a fossilised tooth whilst exploring an area close to San Remo for dinosaur bones, he did not think at the time that his fossil find would lead to new insights into the lifestyles and habits of sea monsters.

Thanks to a joint investigation by scientists from Museum Victoria, Monash University (Australia) and Oxford University (England), palaeontologists have evidence of a giant, freshwater Pliosaur.  The discovery suggests that both short-necked and long-necked Plesiosaurs lived in freshwater for at least some parts of their lives.  Perhaps, like some species of extant cetaceans such as the river dolphins of the Amazon Basin and the Ganges in India, these reptiles lived their entire lives in freshwater and they had adapted to a life in rivers and estuaries.

The tooth measures approximately 45 millimetres in length and it was found in 1994, in an area around fifty miles from the centre of Melbourne (Victoria).  The strata in which the fossil was found represents a 100 million year old river system. During the Cretaceous, this part of Australia was a low-lying plain which was crossed by many meandering, large rivers.  At first the tooth was thought to belong to a particularly big crocodile, as fossils of Cretaceous crocodilians had been found in the area in the past, but the tooth was not intensively studied until a couple of years ago when Dr. Erich Fitzgerald (Senior Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology a Museum Victoria), decided to take a closer look at the specimen.

Under the microscope, a series of ridges in the preserved enamel could be seen.   The ridges, essentially a series of fine lines, are spaced apart from each other and stop short of the crown apex (the top of the tooth).  This ridge pattern differs from that seen on smaller teeth found in the same locality.  The smaller teeth measure between 10 and 20 millimetres in size and possess ridges that are closer together and continue closer to the apex of the crown (the tip of the tooth).  Dr. Fitzgerald suspected that Mike Cleeland’s fossil tooth could be that of a freshwater Pliosaur, but he consulted Dr. Roger Benson (Oxford University), who was in Melbourne at the time studying dinosaur fossils that had been discovered in the area. Dr. Benson had studied a number of Pliosaur fossils that had been found in England and he was able to confirm Dr. Fitzgerald’s initial view that this large tooth was indeed that of a Pliosaur.

The Thumb-sized Tooth of the Freshwater Pliosaur

Evidence of a freshwater reptile predator

Evidence of a freshwater reptile predator

Picture Credit: Museum Victoria

Thus began the long, painstaking process to establish a body of evidence to suggest that this was a freshwater Pliosaur tooth.  The matrix from which the tooth was extracted was examined, other fossils found in the location were studied and an examination of the palaeo-environment undertaken.  The research team have concluded that the tooth was from a five metre long Pliosaur, a predator that used to live in the waterways that once criss-crossed this part of Australia.

Scientists had found evidence of a smaller, Plesiosaur, a long-necked Plesiosaur living in the same ancient river system. This is the first evidence of a large Pliosaur sharing rivers with another member of the Plesiosauria.

An Illustration showing Types of Plesiosaur in a Freshwater Environment

Marine reptiles, now a contradiction!

Marine reptiles, now a contradiction!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/M. Witton/Lyme Regis

The picture above is a composite made by Everything Dinosaur team members based on an image of a Pliosaur produced by renowned artist Mark Witton and the image of a Plesiosaur from Lyme Regis museum.  The picture shows a scene in the freshwater environment of Cretaceous Australia where Plesiosaurs and Pliosaurs shared the same eco-system.

Commenting upon the differences between short-necked Plesiosaurs and long-necked Plesiosaurs, Dr. Fitzgerald stated:

“The Plesiosauria include all those sea-going reptiles from the age of dinosaurs that have these very long snake-like necks and they’ve often been used as a model for the mythological Loch Ness Monster.  The Pliosaur is a shorter-necked, much more robust and crocodile-headed relative of those long-necked Plesiosaurs.”

The palaeontologist confirmed that the Plesiosaur had much smaller teeth which revealed information about the diet of the now extinct species.

“What we can tell from studying the teeth of these river reptiles is that the smaller species was feeding on relatively small prey.  If you have smaller, finer, needle-like teeth, you’re much more likely to be using your teeth as a fishtrap to catch small fish.”

However, the much larger teeth of the Pliosaur indicate that it was feeding on much larger animals, perhaps bigger types of fish, the Plesiosaurs themselves, crocodiles or even small dinosaurs as they came down to the riverbank to get a drink.

A Close up of the Pliosaur Tooth Showing the Fine Ridges

Shown at high magnification and from different angles the fine ridges can be made out.

Shown at high magnification and from different angles the fine ridges can be made out.

Picture Credit: Museum Victoria/M. Benson

This is the first evidence to suggest that two Plesiosauria lived inland together at the same time, in the same river system. Recently, a team of scientists studying a Late Cretaceous Mosasaur fossil found in Hungary have concluded that Mosasaurs too, had members of their group that also lived in freshwater.

To read more about the Mosasaur research: Freshwater Mosasaur from a Hungarian Bauxite Mine

It seems that the term marine reptiles, when applied to the Plesiosauria and even the Mosasaurs may not be technically accurate anymore.

Ichthyovenator “Fish Hunter” New for 2014 from Collecta

Putting Laos on the Palaeontology Map with Ichthyovenator

Collecta have announced the third of their new prehistoric animal models for 2014 and fans of the Spinosaurs are not going to be disappointed.   The company is committed to producing models of more unusual Theropods and the planned introduction of Ichthyovenator (I. laosensis) in 2014 will certainly cement Collecta as  being a pioneering dinosaur model maker as this dinosaur was only formally named and described in 2012.

New for 2014 Ichthyovenator from Collecta

"Fish Hunter" from Laos

"Fish Hunter" from Laos

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

This dinosaur is known from fragmentary remains that were discovered in Laos in 2010.  Fossil bones include vertebrae, a partial rib, plus elements of the hip area.  All the fossil material represents post cranial material, no skull fossils were found.  The striking thing about this basal Spinosaurid, currently assigned to the Baryonchidae is that it may have had two sails, running down its spine.  One sail seems to conclude at the first sacral vertebrae (back bones above the hip), the second starting from the second sacral vertebrae.  Collecta have depicted this feature in their new model, due for release in 2014, the skull is modelled on Suchomimus as is the dentition.  The dermal scutes and crocodilian appearance of the tail, the proportions of the limb bones are speculative, once again based on better known members of the Spinosaurid group.

Although the fossil material represents less than 15% of the entire skeleton, when the specimen was discovered in 2010 it represented the most complete Spinosaur specimen yet to be found in Asia.   The strata from which the fossils were excavated dates from the Aptian faunal stage of the Cretaceous (125 million to 112 million years ago).  The Spinosaurids were thus a very widely distributed group with fossil specimens having been found in Europe, South America, Africa and potentially Australia.

To read about the evidence of Spinosaurids in Australia: Australia’s First Spinosaur?

Trouble is, we have evidence of Barremian Spinosaurids (Baryonyx walkeri) from Europe, then we have Aptian Spinosaurid fauna the likes of Suchomimus tenerensis and Ichthyovenator laosensis and then later Spinosaurids such as Irritator (I. challengeri) and of course Spinosaurus itself (potentially two species), but nothing representing this group into the Late Cretaceous.  This suggests that the Spinosaurid fossil assemblage is extremely fragmentary and the group as a whole is poorly known.  It is very likely that there are many other spectacular Spinosaur fossils awaiting discovery.

The model measures 22cm long approximately (measured from the tip of the jaws to the tip of the tail), although in reality the model is a little bigger as the head is slightly curved inwards ) and it stands around 8.5cm high at its tallest point over the hips.  Palaeontologists are not sure how big Ichthovenator was, the fossil specimen may represent an immature adult or a fully grown individual.  Size estimates range from 7-9.5 metres.

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Review of the Collecta Diabloceratops Dinosaur Model

Everything Dinosaur Reviews “Devil Horned Face”

Collecta have rapidly earned themselves a reputation for producing models of more obscure and unusual dinosaurs. Amongst the many replicas of Ceratopsians within the company’s range, a model of the horned dinosaur known as Diabloceratops (D.eatoni) has just been added.

Everything Dinosaur team members have produced a short (4.49) video review of this dinosaur model.  In the video we review the model, comment on the vivid colouration of the neck shield and remark on the appearance of the jugal processes (flared out bone from the cheeks).

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Review of Diabloceratops

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Diabloceratops has been classified as a basal member of the Centrosaurine clade of horned dinosaurs.  Its discovery highlights the great diversity of horned dinosaurs that roamed western North America during the Late Cretaceous.  This is a super model of a horned dinosaur and Collecta are to be congratulated for creating replicas of some of the lesser known members of the Dinosauria.

The Tale of a Hadrosaur’s Tail

Researchers Uncover the Articulated Caudal Vertebrae of  a Lambeosaurine Hadrosaur

A team of palaeontologists and researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), also of Mexico, have a tale to tell as they have just finished uncovering the tail bones of an enormous, Late Cretaceous duck-billed dinosaur.  Hadrosaur fossils have been found before in Mexico, but what makes this discovery so fascinating is that the fifty or so caudal vertebrae are articulated -positioned in relation to each other as they would have been when the dinosaur roamed.

The Field Team Working on the Enormous Fossilised Tail of a Dinosaur

Articulated dinosaur tail discovered in Mexico

Articulated dinosaur tail discovered in Mexico

Picture Credit: AFP

The fossilised tail has been dated to the Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous, the strata in the area is approximately 72 million years old and although the genus and species has not yet been determined, the palaeontologists are certain that their dinosaur was a sizeable beast, after all, the tail itself is more than five metres in length.  It is likely that the dinosaur would have measured something in the region of twelve metres in total.  The fossil comes from the Coahuila desert region of Ejido Guadalupe Alamitos municipality of General Cepeda.

The duck-billed dinosaur fossil was spotted by José López and Rodolfo Espinoza, in early May 2005.   However, it was only reported to the National Institute of Anthropology and History last month and after a quick, preliminary inspection a field team was despatched to excavate the specimen.  Digging started on July 2nd and the field team thought that they were dealing with just a few vertebrae, but after twenty days, the almost complete tail had been revealed.  Other elements from the skeleton have also been found including bones from the hip area, these in conjunction with the caudal vertebrae, have led scientists to suggest that this is a fossil of a Lambeosaurine Hadrosaur.  It is likely that this dinosaur sported a crest on its head, perhaps it was similar to a Parasaurolophus.

An Illustration of the Lambeosaurine Hadrosaur Parasaurolophus walkeri

A crested, duck-billed dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is the first fully articulated dinosaur tail found in Mexico and is one of the few complete articulated dinosaur tails that have ever been found in the world.  The researchers are optimistic that they will  find the rest of the dinosaur in the rock beneath the site where the tail was found.

Back in 2008, team members at Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of Mexico’s first unique dinosaur, another Lambeosaurine Hadrosaur that was named Velafrons coahuilensis.  This specimen was the first example of a significant dinosaur fossil in Mexico that did not reflect other specimens found in the southern United States.

To read about this discovery: Viva Mexico! Lambeosaurine Dinosaur Discovery

More recently, the discovery of a horned dinosaur was announced.  To read an article about a Ceratopsian from Mexico: Giant Horned Dinosaur from Mexico

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is a really special fossil find.  With the tail bones in such an alignment palaeontologists can understand more about how the tail actually functioned, the specimen is so well-preserved that the space where cartilage was distributed between the actual bones can be identified.  This will help scientists to understand more about the biomechanical properties of the tail.”

Commenting on the field work, palaeontologist Angel Ramirez Velasco, one of the team members on the project stated:

“This finding is important for the biological study of  dinosaurs, we will have a sequence that will reveal the characteristics of the vertebrae.  They will be seen differentiating in size depending on their position in the spine.”

A Close up of the Beautifully Preserved Caudal Vertebrae

A tale to tell!

Picture Credit: AFP

The hefty specimen will be removed from the field location in sections, to avoid as much damage as possible.  The pieces will then be put back together again in a special laboratory.  After further cleaning and study, it is hoped that this amazing fossil will be put on general display so that members of the public can marvel at the tail-end of a Late Cretaceous herbivore, that once roamed Mexico.

Walking with Cavemen and Swimming with Sharks at the Beacon Museum

Everything Dinosaur Prepares to Help Out at Museum Exhibitions

Team members from Everything Dinosaur will be on hand to guide visitors through the Beacon Museum’s two exciting summer exhibitions when they make special guest appearances, the first of which is taking place on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of August.

Visitors to the Beacon Museum can come face-to-face with life size replicas of giant prehistoric beasts from the Ice Age as well as learn all about amazing creatures from the deep as the Copeland museum hosts “Ice Age – Life after Dinosaurs” and “Shark! Myths and Reality”.

To read more about these exciting exhibitions at the Beacon Museum, Whitehaven: Visit the Beacon Museum Website

Staff from Everything Dinosaur will explain how the Sabre-Toothed Tiger got its misleading name and what to do if attacked by a Woolly Rhinoceros.  Providing an insightful Ice Age survival guide as well as pointing out just how closely related to Neanderthals some of the residents of Whitehaven might actually be.

Sharks are an ancient group with a fossil record stretching back over 420 million years and Everything Dinosaur team members will explain some of the similarities between sharks and “land-sharks” otherwise known as dinosaurs.

Despite the fearsome reputation of giant shark predators such as the enormous Megalodon, whose jaws were so big it could have swallowed a Great White Shark whole, Everything Dinosaur will also be introducing museum visitors to some of the other super-sized predators that once terrorised the seas.

Everything Dinosaur Team Member Mike Walley with a Megalodon Tooth

Something fishy going on at the Beacon Museum

Something fishy going on at the Beacon Museum

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Team members from Everything Dinosaur will be special guests at the Beacon Museum over the weekends of 3rd/4th August and October 26th/27th, visitors to the museum will be able to handle fossils, pose questions and participate in various activities as Everything Dinosaur staff explore over 400 million years of Earth’s history.

Prehistoric Times Issue 106 Reviewed

A Review of the Summer 2013 Edition of Prehistoric Times Magazine

The first prolonged period of hot, summer weather in the UK for quite a while has been made all the more enjoyable with the arrival of the latest edition of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur model fans and prehistoric animal enthusiasts.  It is ideal reading material for sitting outside the office and soaking up some sunshine, if only the other Everything Dinosaur team members would let go of the magazine for long enough.

This issue (number 106), marks the first copy to be produced after the twentieth anniversary issue and it sets the standard for the next two decades with some excellent articles and features.  The two prehistoric animals given most prominence are Tyrannosaurus rex and the “T. rex” of its day the fearsome Triassic predator Postosuchus.  We expect that Mike Fredericks, the editor would have been swamped with artwork and indeed, lots of reader’s illustrations are featured, especially of T. rex.  There are some wonderful depictions, even feathered versions of T. rex.

Tracy Lee Ford’s excellent series, “How to Draw Dinosaurs” focuses on this apex predator.  He compares the arm bones of Tyrannosaurus rex with those of other Tyrannosaurids and sets about building up a picture of a powerful predator with exceptionally strong hind legs, a deeper body and a more massive tail.  He concludes that such a dinosaur was not a particularly fast runner, but still an immensely capable and powerful opportunistic hunter.

Amongst all the collector news and model releases, there is a special tribute to Ray Harryhausen, whose stop motion special effects amazed us all in such fantastic films as  “Jason and the Argonauts”, “The Valley of the Gwangi” and “Clash of the Titans”.  Ray sadly passed away on May 7th, William Stout has produced a super article with artwork in tribute to Ray and there is a model diorama of the monster from the 1953 film “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms”, it looks like lighthouses were not monster proof!

The front cover artwork (featuring T. rex), was created by up and coming Ukrainian artist Sergey Krasovskiy.  Sergey has chosen to depict this fearsome Late Cretaceous carnivore with a conspicuous red head ala theories from Bob Bakker et al.  Sergey also contributes to the feature on Postosuchus with some great drawings of Prestosuchus chiniquensis, Ornithosuchus longidens and Postosuchus kirkpatricki.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times – Summer 2013

Marking the 20th anniversary of the magazine.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the magazine.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times/Everything Dinosaur

There are also articles on the life-sized prehistoric animal models sculpted by Josef Pallenberg, updates on dinosaur discoveries and a special interview with artist Ricardo Delgado, part of a series the commemorates twenty years since the first Jurassic Park movie.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur even spotted some prehistoric animal drawings that we know very well in this edition and it was particularly interesting to see how clever Steven B. DeMarco “made over” three dinosaur model kits which were manufactured by Pyro many moons ago.

Once again, a great magazine and a great read.

To view the Prehistoric Times website: Prehistoric Times

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