All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//February
10 02, 2017

Video of New for 2017 Papo Dinosaurs

By | February 10th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Dinosaurs 2017 – Quick Video

Last month, Everything Dinosaur team members got the opportunity to view the finished dinosaur models that are new for 2017 from Papo.  Papo will be bringing out a number of prehistoric animals this year, including a re-painted Velociraptor, a Ceratosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, a Polacanthus, an Acrocanthosaurus, plus a re-paint of the existing Oviraptor replica.  We were able to shoot a quick video (fifty seconds), which showcases these new models.

New from Papo 2017 (Papo Dinosaur Models)

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Dinosaurs for 2017

The video gives viewers an opportunity to see the relative sizes of the various new dinosaur models, the first of which (Polacanthus and the two re-painted replicas), are due in stock at Everything Dinosaur in a few days’ time.  The short video (we apologise for the lighting), gives viewers the chance to see how big the impressive Acrocanthosaurus is when compared to the other new models.  The Papo Sabre-Tooth Cat (Smilodon), the Dimorphodon figure and the Cave Bear models were not available at the time, but we do have some pictures of these finished models and we will be posting them up shortly.

To see the range of Papo prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

 Six New Papo Dinosaurs

The biggest of the new models, one of the largest models that Papo will be producing this year, is the awesome Acrocanthosaurus (A. atokensis) replica.  Like many dinosaur fans, Everything Dinosaur is delighted to see more models of this spectacular Cretaceous Theropod dinosaur coming onto the market.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Model Availability (Release Dates)

  • Polacanthus, Blue Oviraptor and Blue Velociraptor (imminent, expected within about two weeks).
  • Acrocanthosaurus, Ceratosaurus, the flying reptile figure (a Dimorphodon), the prehistoric cat (Smilodon) and the Cave Bear – around end quarter two, around June/July or thereabouts.
  • Papo Cryolophosaurus – the last model scheduled to be released, this is expected around August time, but it could be a little earlier.

Check out Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.

The Papo Polacanthus Dinosaur Model

Papo Polacanthus replica.

Papo Polacanthus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The photograph above shows the new for 2017 Papo Polacanthus, complete with that famous sacral shield.  The model should be with us in a few weeks, it too, is a great sculpt and we can’t wait to get this dinosaur (first named and described back in 1865), into stock.

The Papo Cryolophosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Cryolophosaurus dinosaur model.

Papo Cryolophosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The last model to be introduced this year, is the wonderful Papo Cryolophosaurus dinosaur figure.  The photograph shows a close-up view of this skilfully painted, meat-eating dinosaur.  The design team at Papo are to be congratulated for their clever and very creative colour schemes.  We have already nick-named this particular model “the Papo Elvis”, in honour of that unusual nasal crest that this dinosaur had, the function of which remains unknown, but it has been speculated that it had a role in visual display.

9 02, 2017

Foundation Children and Year 2 Study Dinosaurs

By | February 9th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

January – A Month of Studying Dinosaurs

Children in the Foundation Stage and Year 2 at Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, (Rotherham, South Yorkshire), spent last month learning all about dinosaurs and fossils.  The dedicated and enthusiastic teaching staff had put together an exciting and challenging scheme of work and as part of a planned range of experiences, Everything Dinosaur was invited into the school to deliver dinosaur and fossil themed workshops for the children.  The visitor from Everything Dinosaur had already liaised with the teaching staff to ensure that the Foundation Stage 1 children (Nursery), could be involved.  The Foundation Stage 1 children are split between a morning session and an afternoon session.  To allow all the Nursery and Reception children to participate, it was simply a case of dividing the Reception class into two.  This meant that some Reception children could have a workshop with the morning Nursery children, whilst the remainder of the class could have a workshop after lunch joining the afternoon Nursery class.  The dinosaur expert coordinated his lesson plans with the school so that each group had a similar kinaesthetic and visual learning experience.  This would help the Reception class team, when the children were brought together again, to review the many photographs of the workshop as part of a recall/recounting activity.

Lots of Amazing Dinosaur Designs

Drawings of dinosaurs.

Dinosaur drawings.

Picture Credit: Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Everything Dinosaur

Design Your Own Dinosaur!

Several extension ideas came out of the dinosaur workshops.  For example, we challenged the children to have a go at designing their own dinosaur.  We wanted to see if the children could label the body parts of their prehistoric animal creation, especially the skull.  We carefully arranged the drawings from the classes, (the teacher had kindly sent in the drawings to us), on our warehouse floor, these were photographed before they were pinned onto our various display boards.

Imaginative Dinosaur Designs

Dinosaur drawings.

Wonderful dinosaur drawings.

Picture Credit: Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Everything Dinosaur

We asked the Year 2 children to consider what colour the dinosaur might be?  Where would it have lived?  How would it have kept itself safe in the Age of Dinosaurs?  This activity for the Reception children helps them with their fine motor skills as well as reinforcing ideas about our own bodies and how they differ from animals.

Under the guidance of the teaching team, many of the children embellished their designs using different materials like sparkles, coloured circles, buttons and feathers.  Feathers are quite appropriate as palaeontologists are confident that a large number of dinosaurs were indeed, covered in a coat of shaggy feathers.

Lots of Dinosaurs were Feathered

A feathered ornithomimid dinosaur.

Mums and Dads with wings in the Ornithomimidae

Picture Credit: Press Association (illustration by Julius Csotonyi)

A Jessosaurus One of the Dinosaur Designs

A dinosaur design.

Jessosaurus – dinosaur design.

Picture Credit: Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Everything Dinosaur

A Long-Legged Dinosaur with Big Eyes

A very long-legged dinosaur.

A long-legged dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Everything Dinosaur

For further information about Everything Dinosaur’s teaching work in schools and dinosaur workshops: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Our thanks to the teaching team at Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School for sending into Everything Dinosaur such a super selection of dinosaur drawings.

8 02, 2017

“Les Dinosaures” Drawing Materials from Papo

By | February 8th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

“Les Dinosaures” Drawing Materials from Papo

Papo the France-based model and figure manufacturer have donated a pdf featuring prehistoric animals so that Everything Dinosaur can offer this as a free to download Key Stage 1 and EYFS teaching resource for schools.  Children enjoy colouring pictures of dinosaurs and other amazing creatures that lived in the past, the Papo colouring in materials features the horned dinosaur Styracosaurus (Late Cretaceous) and a Sabre-Tooth Cat, a Smilodon (Pleistocene Epoch).

The Prehistoric Animal Drawing to Colour In

Prehistoric animal scene to colour in from Papo of France.

Prehistoric animal drawing materials donated by Papo.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur and Papo

Everything Dinosaur offers a wide range of free to download teaching resources as part of its extensive work in schools, helping to teach about life in the past.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Our thanks to Papo for sending across the image, it will be available as a free to download pdf file from our specialist dinosaurs for schools website.  We now offer over thirty free downloads of teaching resources for schools, aimed at Foundation Stage through to Key Stage 4.”

To see the Everything Dinosaur specialist schools site and to gain access to the free to download teaching materials and other resources: Everything Dinosaur School Website

Word Mats, Lesson Plans and How to Demonstrate Birds are Dinosaurs

A number of Papo prehistoric animal models are used in our dinosaur themed workshops with children.  For example, when discussing evolution and natural selection with Year six pupils we use models of the various Velociraptors made by Papo to demonstrate how our ideas about dinosaurs have changed over time.  The Papo feathered Velociraptor is ideal for demonstrating how closely related to birds some Theropod dinosaurs were.

The Papo Velociraptor Dinosaur Model Makes a Useful Teaching Aid

The Papo feathered Velociraptor dinosaur model.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo feathered Velociraptor dinosaur model makes a wonderful, tactile teaching aid when demonstrating how closely related the Aves (birds), are to some kinds of dinosaur.  This element from our dinosaur workshop provides lots of extension ideas and activities.  The class become avid bird watchers, or should that be “avian dinosaur watchers”.

When working with younger children we challenge them to develop their vocabulary using pictures of Papo prehistoric animal models.  We have made a series of word mats, that once laminated can help children gain confidence with new words and can help them learn the differences between people and animals.  The accompanying pronunciation guide and geological time line proves very useful to the teachers too.

Papo Model Inspired Word Mats Produced by Everything Dinosaur

Word mat featuring Spinosaurus.

Papo Spinosaurus word mat.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Papo prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

7 02, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Customer Reviews

By | February 7th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Customer Reviews

As Everything Dinosaur prepares to introduce a new website, time today to reflect on all the wonderful reviews the company has received from its customers.  Over 1,500 comments, reviews and feedback from customers have been posted up on Everything Dinosaur’s website, we are grateful for them all.  The “dinosaurs for schools” website has a different review format.  This website in the Everything Dinosaur portfolio is dedicated to helping teachers, teaching assistants and educationalists and provides lots of helpful prehistoric animal themed resources for schools.  There are more than thirty free downloads available, all aimed at supporting the curriculum, this website has reviews of our dinosaur themed workshops posted up.  Over 170 schools have provided feedback and we are very proud of our five-star rating.

Recent Reviews on the Everything Dinosaur Website:

  • Sculptor Doug Watson has thoroughly consulted modern scientific literature on the “Tyrant King” to create this defining model.  Whilst the reality of soft tissue extent and integumentary coverage in Tyrannosaurus rex is long lost in the depths of time, this model is anatomically precise, and is a very feasible reconstruction based on the forensic modern approach to dinosaur research.  There is nothing “fluffy” or soft about this reconstruction.  It is perfectly realised as THE alpha predator stem bird!  Exceptional.  No collector should be without one! [Wild Safari Prehistoric World Feathered T. rex model].
  • An awesome model.  Absolutely quality, fantastic model; great size and beautiful detail!  [CollectA Kelenken Terror Bird replica].
  • Nice to deal with a company that cares about its customers.  I would just like to thank you, received my order today it is a lovely set, my grandson will love it, nice to deal with a company who cares about their customers from the start of ordering to end with delivery.  Keep up the good work.  Thank you. [Dinosaur Dinner Set]
  • It seems I was lucky in nabbing the last one from ED so I will just say, if you like the look of this replica, it’s well worth the effort hunting one down.  As usual ED are extremely helpful and super-fast dispatching their orders.  Thank you. [Rebor 1:1 scale Lourinhanosaurus replica – limited edition].

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Feathered T. rex Model Has Attracted a Lot of Favourable Reviews

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Feathered Tyrannosaurus rex.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Feathered T. rex.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Recent Reviews on the Everything Dinosaur “dinosaurs for school” Website:

  • The whole morning session was excellent.  Children (and staff) were engaged and enthralled by the information, fossils and activities.  Support and follow-up ideas are excellent and have really helped to shape my topic from this point.  Overall a fantastic experience and learning session for all involved.  Brilliant workshop!  [Dinosaur Workshop KS1]
  • The children had an amazing experience today.  The detail of the lesson plan and discussion beforehand meant that lots of knowledge was reinforced and gained.  Dino Mike had the whole class mesmerised for the duration of the session.  The resources were great.  [Year 1]
  • Another wonderful session.  All children involved very active and interactive, ideal for the age of the children.  Mike’s energy and personality are so well suited to these sessions.  I know Mike has visited at least seven times before over the years and I guarantee that we will book again.  [Reception]

Everything Dinosaur’s Workshops in Schools Help to Popularise Science in Schools

Getting involved in science.

Get up close to science with a hands-on public day at Daresbury SciTech.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We look forward to having even more reviews and customer comments on our new website.

6 02, 2017

Fossil Hunting at Nuremberg Airport

By | February 6th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Fossil Hunting at the Airport

Waiting at an airport can be quite boring.  Once check in and the security searches have been completed, then there is not much more to do prior to boarding your flight.  However, for Everything Dinosaur team members returning from Germany, one airport provided them with the opportunity to go on an unexpected fossil hunt.  The polished limestone floors at Nuremberg Airport (southern Germany), are full of Jurassic marine invertebrate fossils.

A Fossil Spotted at the Airport (Nuremberg Airport)

The stone floors at Nuremberg airport are full of fossils.

A cephalopod fossil (ammonite) on the airport stone floor.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Jurassic of Germany

In southern Germany, particularly the state of Bavaria, in the region from Nuremberg in the north to Munich in the south, there are many limestone exposures and limestone quarries to be found.  Formed from carbonate rich muds that once existed at the bottom of salty lagoons and shallow coastal margins, the rocks are famous for their fine-grained structure and flat cleaving.  These properties help to make this limestone ideal building material and the stone in this part of Germany (known as Plattenkalk), has been quarried for thousands of years.

Most of the limestone represents sediments laid down in the Middle and Late Jurassic and large areas are highly fossiliferous.  Travellers at Nuremberg Airport were quite surprised to see members of Everything Dinosaur on their hands and knees, examining and photographing various floor tiles.

Jurassic Invertebrate Fossils in Abundance at Nuremberg Airport

Jurassic fossils at Nuremberg Airport.

An ammonite fossil with the cross section of a belemnite guard.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture above, the cross section of a belemnite guard can be clearly seen on one tile, abutted up against it is another tile that shows the cross-sectional outline of an ammonite.  There are also numerous bivalve and brachiopod fossils preserved in the stone floor.  Thousands of people visit Nuremberg Airport every week, but we wonder how many of them actually notice what they are walking on!

 Ten years ago, Everything Dinosaur blogged about an innovative fossil hunting tour that could be undertaken by travellers at John Lennon Airport (Liverpool).  The ancient remains of long extinct sea creatures can be seen in the stone of the walls and floors of the concourse.  John Lennon Airport introduced the “JLA Fossil Mystery Tour” in collaboration with the Liverpool Geological Society.

To read more about the John Lennon Airport Fossil Hunting Tour: Why Not go on a Fossil Hunt Whilst Waiting at the Airport?

Perhaps the Nuremberg Airport authorities have missed a trick, with such a wonderful stone floor, travellers could be encouraged to have a go at finding fossils for themselves.  There are certainly many hundreds of fossils to see, perhaps if a tour could not be organised, then it might be a good idea to put up some information boards and displays.  You never know, it might encourage more tourists to visit the museums in the area such as the Naturhistorisches Museum of Nuremberg.

Ancient Traces Preserved in the Limestone Floor

Two fossils in the airport.

Fossils at Nuremberg airport.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows two more ammonite fossils, although it is difficult to identify genera, the larger specimen (bottom left), still shows its fine, straight ribs that would have adorned the outside of the shell.  The smaller ammonite cross section (right), shows some preservation of internal structure, could those be suture lines we are seeing?

What an Ammonite Actually Looked Like

A model of an Ammonite.

A great ammonite model for use in schools, museums and for model collectors.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the excellent Wild Safari Prehistoric World ammonite model.  If you look carefully at the stone floors at Nuremberg Airport you can spot the preserved remains of Jurassic ammonites and other extinct marine creatures.

To view the range of prehistoric animal models including the Wild Safari Prehistoric World ammonite available from Everything Dinosaur: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models

5 02, 2017

Ancient Rhino Remains on a Norfolk Beach

By | February 5th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Storms Reveal Rhino Remains

The recent storms and high tides have further eroded the cliffs at the West Runton beach (Norfolk, East Anglia), revealing the beautifully preserved remains of a neck bone from an ancient rhinoceros that roamed this part of England around 700,000 years ago.  The fossilised remains of a single neck bone, the atlas (cervical 1), was spotted and local volunteers in collaboration with fossil conservation experts have carefully excavated and removed the rare find.

Spotted on West Runton Beach – A Fossil Neck Bone from a Rhino

Cervical vertebra of an ancient rhino.

The exposed elements of the Atlas (C1) of the rhinoceros found on West Runton beach.

Picture Credit: Martin Warren

West Runton Beach

The Norfolk cliffs at West Runton, just west of the town of Cromer are world-famous for their Pleistocene Epoch exposures, particularly the, peaty Upper Freshwater Bed which has produced a huge variety of vertebrate and invertebrate fossil remains.  Fossil expert and former curator at the nearby Cromer Museum, Martin Warren explained:

“There has been quite a bit of interest in scouring the Cromer cliff area for geological finds recently.  In the aftermath of storms, more people are coming to see what they can find, but the West Runton Freshwater Bed is a precious scientific resource.”

The area has SSSI status (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and hammering or digging into the cliffs is strictly forbidden.  However, time and tide is exposing this area’s ancient fauna and flora, although no formal identification of the atlas bone has been made, it is likely the fossil comes from a Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis, a rhino whose fossils are associated with the Upper Freshwater Bed locality.  A partial skull with teeth was found in January 2015, close to this new discovery.  It is not known whether the neck bone and the skull represent the same animal.

The Partial Skull and Teeth of S. hundsheimensis found in Early 2015

Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis fossils.

Stephanorhinus – Partial Skull and Teeth.

Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis

The neck bone has been dated to a warm interglacial period known as the Cromerian Interglacial.  Such is the importance of the West and East Runton beaches to geologists, that the Cromerian Interglacial was named after the nearby town of Cromer.  It was from these Norfolk beaches that geologists first identified fauna and flora indicating a period of global warming in between Ice Ages.

An Illustration of the Ancient Rhinoceros – Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis

Stephanorhinos hundsheimensis illustration.

An illustration of the prehistoric rhinoceros (Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis).

Picture Credit: C. C. Flerov, Sammlungen, Senckenberg Research Institute, Research Station of Quaternary Palaeontology,Weimar

Standing around 1.2 metres high at the shoulder Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis weighed around 750 kilogrammes and it was widespread across Europe for much of the Pleistocene Epoch.  Regarded as a generalist, living in both forest and more open habitats, this rhino, which was named from a fossil site in Austria, faced increasing competition when two, more specialised types of rhinoceros evolved.  Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis, also known as the Merck’s rhinoceros, began to displace the Hundsheim rhino in forest habitats and the Steppe rhino (Stephanorhinus hemitoechus) gradually replaced S. hundsheimensis on the grasslands.  One ancient rhino was superseded by better adapted species of rhinoceros, Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis became extinct around 580,000 years ago.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Hopefully this new fossil will shed further light on the remarkable fauna of East Anglia during the Pleistocene Epoch.  Although we advise care, especially around the cliffs, local fossil hunters and collectors can often spot important specimens that might otherwise get washed into the sea.”

4 02, 2017

Schleich Models Have Arrived!

By | February 4th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

The First of the Schleich 2017 Prehistoric Animals are in Stock

The first of the new for 2017 prehistoric animal models by the German manufacturer Schleich have arrived at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse.  Three new Schleich models are available, the Allosaurus with its articulated jaw, the large, green Brachiosaurus figure (amazing textured skin) and the feathered Utahraptor complete with poseable arms and an articulated jaw.

The First of the New for 2017 Schleich Dinosaur Models Have Arrived

New for 2017 Schleich dinosaurs.

New Schleich dinosaur models are in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These models are the vanguard for a number of new figures that will be introduced by Schleich, including a couple of models that have yet to be officially announced (expect to hear more news about them in the spring).

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of large Schleich dinosaur models including the 2017 additions: Schleich World of History Prehistoric Animals and Dinosaurs

Schleich Utahraptor Dinosaur Model

The trend for producing feathered dinosaur models continues with the addition of the Utahraptor to the Schleich range.  This model has moveable forelimbs and an articulated lower jaw.  Like the other new models, the Utahraptor comes with a hang tag booklet entitled “Conquering the Earth”.  The models are very well painted and the textured skin and feathers on the Utahraptor replica give these dinosaur figures a very tactile quality.  Such features are bound to prove popular with very young dinosaur fans, as will the bright blue colouration on the “raptor”.

The Schleich Utahraptor Dinosaur Model

The Schleich Utahraptor model.

The Schleich Utahraptor dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Look out for those grasping hands!

Upper Jurassic Dinosaurs – Allosaurus and Brachiosaurus

The other two models to arrive are the Allosaurus and the Brachiosaurus figures, both dinosaurs that Schleich has produced models of in previous years.  The Allosaurus has an articulated jaw and the skin texture of the larger Brachiosaurus replica has been very finely crafted.  The neck, back, the long tail, and the upper parts of the limb bones are covered in large, pebble-like scales.  This is a very intriguing interpretation of this long-necked, Late Jurassic herbivore.

The Schleich Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model (2017)

Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The carefully crafted skin texture on the dinosaur will prove very helpful to us at Everything Dinosaur.  We use several Schleich dinosaur models in our work in schools with children who have special needs.  Feeling the scaly rough skin and comparing how the model feels compared to other objects will help us in our “exploring materials and the wider world” dinosaur themed workshops.  These workshops are aimed at children at Foundation Stage or Key Stage 1 and we are often asked to spend a few minutes with a child and their one-to-one support after we have finished our main teaching session.  We are looking forward to adding the new Schleich Brachiosaurus to our range of school resources.  Its impressive size will also be a “wow” for young dinosaur fans no doubt.

The Schleich Allosaurus Model with Articulated Jaws

Schleich dinosaur model (Allosaurus).

The new for 2017 Schleich Allosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

3 02, 2017

Many Happy Returns Gideon Mantell

By | February 3rd, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|1 Comment

Happy Birthday Gideon Mantell

February 3rd, is the anniversary of the birth of Gideon Mantell, one of the early pioneers of the science of palaeontology.  It was Mantell who named Iguanodon, the second genus of dinosaur to be erected (1825), although at the time, the Order Dinosauria had itself not been established.  Throughout much of his working life, Mantell had a bitter rivalry with Sir Richard Owen.  Owen attempted to undermine a lot of Mantell’s research and he even took the credit for some of Mantell’s insights, however, these days, most scientists appreciate the contribution made to the nascent study of ancient life made by this Sussex doctor and amateur geologist.

Gideon Mantell – A Pioneer in the Study of Ancient Vertebrates

Gideon Mantell.

Gideon Mantell (1790-1852).

Estimating the Size of Iguanodon

Gideon Mantell did much to fire the public’s imagination for prehistoric animals and monsters from the past.  He spent as much time as he could, often at the expense of his own medical practice, studying the strange fossilised bones and teeth that were being found in quite surprising numbers in the local Sussex quarries.  Mantell is famous for identifying the fossilised, leaf-shaped teeth of a plant-eating prehistoric animal.  He compared the teeth with the dentition of a living iguana, a lizard that had recently been brought to London from Barbados (1824).  He was struck by how similar the fossil tooth was to the tooth of the living reptile, but the fossil tooth was much bigger.  The tooth study led Mantell to erect the genus Iguanodon (iguana tooth).  Just how big was this extinct prehistoric reptile?  To calculate the size of Iguanodon, Mantell compared the ancient bones to the bones of, what he thought at the time was its living relative, the iguana lizard.  As the scapula (shoulder blade) was twenty times bigger, this and other comparative measurements led Mantell to state that Iguanodon must have been around twenty times the size of a five-foot iguana.  The fossil reptile, therefore could have been approximately 100 feet long.

An Early Illustration of the Dinosaur Iguanodon as Depicted by Mantell

Early reconstruction of an Iguanodon.

Early sketch of the dinosaur Iguanodon, depicted as huge lizard-like creature.

The thought of such a huge beast fascinated the Georgian public and academics alike.  Our fascination with dinosaurs had begun.

Of course, Mantell’s simple linear scale was incorrect, even the largest iguanodontids were only around nine to ten metres in length.  Still sizeable, but not the thirty metre plus leviathans that Mantell had envisaged.  In addition, extensive revisions to the Iguanodon genus and the Iguanodontidae family has led to the change of the holotype for this species from the isolated teeth and partial remains identified by the Sussex doctor.  The original holotype material (assigned to Iguanodon anglicus), consisted of teeth and fragmentary bones.  The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) ruled in 2000 AD that the type species be changed to the I. bernissartensis with the new holotype IRSNB 1534, a much more complete specimen which was part of a treasure trove of Iguanodon fossils (at least thirty-eight individuals) discovered in a Belgium coal mine in 1878 and studied by Louis Dollo.

A Fossilised Dinosaur Tooth (Iguanodontidae)

Dinosaur fossil tooth (iguanodontid).

A fossil teeth assigned to the Iguanodontidae.

A memorial has been erected to Gideon Mantell, it is located in the village of Cuckfield, near Haywards Heath (West Sussex, England).  It was from Cuckfield that many of the fossil remains of the Iguanodon were discovered.  Dr Mantell received a sandstone block that contained an array of dis-articulated Iguanodon bones. This huge block of stone is on exhibit at the London Natural History museum, it has been nick-named the “Mantell-piece”.  Happy birthday Gideon.

2 02, 2017

The Making of Antarctica

By | February 2nd, 2017|Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Why Did Antarctica Suffer a Big Freeze?

The icebound, snowy wastes of Antarctica remain one of the most hostile environments for terrestrial animals, however our southernmost continent has not always been such a cold, inhospitable landmass.  In the past, dinosaurs roamed its lush polar forests and even after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs, Antarctica continued to remain largely unfrozen for tens of millions of years into the Cenozoic.  That all changed around 34 million years ago, when global temperatures plunged an average of five degrees Celsius, permitting the Antarctic ice sheets, the glaciers we know today to form.  The Antarctica big freeze has remained a mystery, but a team of scientists including researchers from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) may have worked out the answer.

The Antarctic Ice Sheets formed Around 34 Million Years Ago

A view from an icebreaker, looking back at Antarctica.

Antarctica was not always a frozen wasteland.

Picture Credit: Galen Halverson

Two Competing Theories

The new explanation for why Antarctica suffered a big freeze at the end of the Eocene Epoch, essentially combines two existing ideas.  One of the big mysteries in the scientific world is how the ice sheets of Antarctica formed so rapidly about 34 million years ago, helping to mark the boundary between the Eocene and Oligocene Epochs.

The Two Theories

  • The first explanation is based on global climate change.  Scientists have shown that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels declined steadily since the beginning of the Cenozoic Era, 66 million years ago.  Once CO2 dropped below a critical threshold, cooler global temperatures allowed the ice sheets of Antarctica to form.
  • The second theory focuses on dramatic changes in the patterns of ocean circulation.  The theory is that when the Drake Passage (which lies between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica) deepened dramatically about 35 million years ago, it triggered a complete reorganisation in ocean circulation.  The argument is that the increased separation of the Antarctic land mass from South America led to the creation of the powerful Antarctic Circumpolar Current which acted as a kind of water barrier and effectively blocked the warmer, less salty waters from the North Atlantic and Central Pacific from moving southwards towards the Antarctic landmass leading to the isolation of the Antarctic region and lowered temperatures which allowed the ice sheets to form.

No one has thought to link these two competing explanations before

A group of scientists, including researchers at McGill University’s Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences now suggest that the best way to understand the creation of this phenomenon is, in fact, by linking the two explanations.

In a paper published on this important area of climatology published in “Nature Geoscience” earlier this week, they argue that:

•  The deepening of the Drake Passage resulted in a change in ocean circulation that resulted in warm waters being directed northwards in circulation patterns like those found in the Gulf Stream that currently warms north-western Europe.

•  That this shift in ocean currents, as the warmer waters were forced northward, lead to an increase in rainfall, which resulted in, beginning about 35 million years ago, reduced carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.  Eventually, as the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dropped, as a result of a process known as silicate weathering (whereby silica-bearing rocks are slowly worn away by rainfall leading the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to eventually become trapped in limestone), there was such a significant drop in CO2 in the atmosphere that it reached a threshold where ice sheets could form rapidly in Antarctica.  Glaciation occurred in Antarctica.

Ocean Circulation and Climate Change

Galen Halverson teaches in the Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Science at McGill and is one of the authors of the paper.  He believes that no one has thought of combining the two theories before because it’s not an intuitive idea to look at how the effects of changing patterns of ocean circulation, which occur on time scales of thousands of years, would affect global silicate weathering, which in turn controls global climate on time scales of hundreds of thousands of years.

Halverson commented:

“It’s an interesting lesson for us when it comes to climate change, because what we get is a thumbnail shift between two stable climatic states in Antarctica – from no glaciers to glaciers.  And what we see is both how complex climate changes can be and how profound an effect changing patterns of ocean circulation can have on global climate states, if looked at on a geological time scale.”

To scientific paper “Enhanced weathering and CO2 drawdown caused by latest Eocene strengthening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation,” by Geneviève Elsworth, et al in Nature Geoscience:

The research was funded by: the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of McGill University in the compilation of this article.

1 02, 2017

More Dinosaur Proteins Found

By | February 1st, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Evidence of Preserved Collagen in the Early Jurassic Dinosaur Lufengosaurus

Just days after writing about a scientific paper published in the academic publication “The Journal of Proteome Research”, which confirmed the presence of collagen in the fossilised bones of an 80 million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur, then a second paper comes along reporting evidence of preserved collagen in a much older dinosaur, a Lufengosaurus, a herbivore that roamed Asia back in the Early Jurassic.

Lufengosaurus – a Sauropodomorph from the Early Jurassic

The CollectA Lufengosaurus dinosaur model.

The CollectA Lufengosaurus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Writing in the journal “Nature Communications”, researchers from the National Central University of Taiwan, the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Centre (Taiwan) and in collaboration with palaeontologist Robert Reisz (Dept. of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) report on the discovery of protein preservation in a terrestrial vertebrate found inside the vascular canals of a rib of a 195-million-year-old sauropodomorph dinosaur, where blood vessels and nerves would normally have been present in the living reptile.

The Lufengosaurus Rib Bone that was Used in the Research

Lufengosaurus rib fragment.

A fragment of Lufengosaurus rib bone prior to collagen study.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

Evidence of peptides and amino acids have been found before in dinosaur bones, even evidence of dinosaur blood and red blood cells, although a lot of this research remains controversial.  What is significant about this study, is that the vast majority of the organic traces found within the Dinosauria fossil record relate to bones of animals that lived during the Late Cretaceous.   In this new paper, the scientists report evidence of proteins that make up collagen in a fossil rib bone from a dinosaur that lived some 195 million-years-ago.

Palaeontologist Dr Robert Reisz, heralded the significance of this research, which used a synchrotron to analyse the mineral content of a cross-section of rib bone, he stated:

“We hope to be able to learn more about the biology of these animals and the more we know about their soft tissues the more we will know about them overall.  We are actually looking at the preservation of the original materials that were in the living organism rather than an impression of the soft tissues that were there.”

Blood from a Dinosaur?

The synchrotron permitted the team to examine the infrared spectroscopy of tiny fragments of the rib bone.  Signatures of proteins typical of collagen were picked up along with iron-rich proteins found within the walls of microscopic blood vessels located deep with the rib (specimen number CXPM Z4644).

A Highly-magnified Section of the Rib Showing a Vascular Canal with Potential Dinosaur Blood Remnants

Evidence of dinosaur blood?

Rib section with vascular canal associated with dark iron rich particles that probably constitute preserved elements of dinosaur blood.

Picture Credit: Dr Reisz (University of Toronto Mississauga)

The image above shows a rib section with vascular canal associated with dark iron rich particles (haematite) that probably constitute preserved elements of dinosaur blood.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s recently published article about duck-billed dinosaur collagen: Researchers Confirm Duck-billed Dinosaur Collagen

This new study may not represent the oldest traces of reptile proteins found in the fossilised remains of Mesozoic creatures.  In 2016, Everything Dinosaur reported on evidence of blood vessels and proteins having been identified within the fossilised bones of some Triassic marine reptiles, to read about this: Spectroscopic Studies on Organic Matter from Triassic Reptiles

The scientific paper detailing the Lufengosaurus research: “Evidence of preserved collagen in an Early Jurassic sauropodomorph dinosaur revealed by synchrotron FTIR microspectroscopy”, published in the journal “Nature Communications”.

Load More Posts