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.

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