All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//August
18 08, 2017

How the Chloroplast Got Started

By | August 18th, 2017|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

The Origin of the Chloroplast

At the centre of most of our planet’s ecosystems are plants and algae that utilise sunlight and transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and release oxygen.  These very specialised organisms can make their own food, by using light energy combined with CO2 and H2O.  As part of this process, the water molecule is split and oxygen is produced as a by-product.  This process takes place in specialised subunits within a cell called a chloroplast.

Plants and Algae are Fundamental to Most Food Chains on the Planet

Tropical ferns in the forest.

Plants and algae form the basis for most of Earth’s biota.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The theory as to how algae and plants evolved goes something like this – an ancient single-celled eukaryote absorbed a photosynthesising bacterium (blue-green algae otherwise known as photosynthesising cyanobacteria).  Such an event would normally have been disastrous for both parties, but for some reason, both the eukaryote and the cyanobacteria survived and this led to the development of a symbiotic association.  Whilst it is accepted that the cyanobacteria are the ancestors of the chloroplast, it is not clear which of the myriad of cyanobacteria are the closest relations of the chloroplast and when this association began, or indeed where on our planet this fortuitous event took place.

The Evolution of More Complex Life Via the Symbiotic Fusing of Different Kinds of Bacteria

The origins of complex life.

Complex eukaryote cells evolved by the symbiotic fusing of different kinds of bacteria.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The diagram above shows one theory of how more complex lifeforms evolved.  Four different types of bacteria, each with their own specific adaptations and biological characteristics may have merged to create the three main forms of multi-cellular life – animals, plants and fungi.

  • Merger 1 – Bacteria with the ability to produce food via fermentation merged with a swimming bacterium.
  • Merger 2 – An oxygen utilising bacterium invaded this first host and formed the cell mitochondria.
  • Merger 3 – Algae fused with photosynthesising cyanobacteria, which then became the cell chloroplast – the subject of the newly published study.

A team of scientists, including researchers from Bristol University, may have found the answers to these questions.  Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they postulate that the chloroplast lineage split from their closet cyanobacterial ancestor more than 2.1 billion years ago and this took place in low salinity environments.  The team conclude that it took another 200 million years for the chloroplast and the eukaryotic host to be fully united into a symbiotic relationship.  Marine algae groups diversified much later, at around 800 to 750 million years ago, sometime in the Neoproterozoic Era.

Lead author of the study, Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo (University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences), commented:

“The results of this study imply that complex organisms such as algae first evolved in freshwater environments, and later colonised marine environments – these results also have huge implications to understanding the carbon cycle.  Genomic data and sophisticated evolutionary methods can now be used to draw a more complete picture of early life on land; complementing what has been previously inferred from the fossil record.”

Co-author, Professor Davide Pisani (Bristol University) added:

“Our planet is a beautiful place and it exists in such a sharp contrast with the rest of the solar system.  Think about those beautiful satellite pictures where you see the green of the forests and the blue/green tone of the water.  Well, Earth was not like that before photosynthesis.  Before photosynthesis it was an alien place, uninhabitable by humans.  Here we made some big steps to clarify how Earth become the planet we know today, and I think that that is just wonderful.”

The team used a combination of phylogenomic and Bayesian analytical methods to conclude that the chloroplast lineage branched deep within the cyanobacterial tree of life, around 2.1 billion years ago, and ancestral trait reconstruction places this event in low-salinity environments.  The chloroplast took another 200 million years to become established, with most extant (modern groups living today), forms originating much later.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a Bristol University press release in the compilation of this article.

17 08, 2017

Chilesaurus – Shaking the Dinosaur Tree

By | August 17th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Transitional Fossil – Root and Branch Reform of the Dinosaur Family Tree

A bizarre Late Jurassic dinosaur called Chilesaurus diegosuarezi had been described as a member of the Theropoda group, but this strange little dinosaur that seemed to possess anatomical characteristics reminiscent of Sauropods, Ornithischian dinosaurs as well as meat-eating Theropods, has been re-described, this time as a “missing link” between the Theropods and the bird-hipped, Ornithischians.  The re-think has to do with the use of datasets to assess the taxonomic relationships between different types of dinosaur.  Chilesaurus may be the first dinosaur to be reassessed in the light of a new way of looking at the dinosaur family tree, chances are, it won’t be the last.

An Illustration of the Bizarre Late Jurassic Dinosaur from Southern Chile C. diegosuarezi

Chilesaurus illustration.

An illustration of Chilesaurus, once classified as a Theropod now regarded as a transitional fossil towards the Ornithischia.

Picture Credit: Nobumichi Tamura

Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Discovery and Description

The first fossils of this three-metre long dinosaur were found by a pair of geologists who were hiking in the remote Aysén region of southern Chile.  Scientists have mapped and explored these deposits (the Toqui Formation – Upper Jurassic) and a description of this dinosaur was published in the journal “Nature” in 2015.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article written in 2015 reporting the discovery of Chilesaurus: Chilesaurus – a Dinosaur Designed by a Committee

The dinosaur had some strange features that set it apart from other dinosaurs.  Some of these features, such as the over-sized claw which could be extended outwards, on the first digit on the hands of Chilesaurus were reminiscent of the large claws found on the first digits of the front limbs of primitive Sauropods.  However, it had a skull similar to that seen in Theropods, but the jaws were lined with spoon-shaped teeth that pointed outwards at a slight angle.  These teeth were unique in the Theropoda and suggested a plant-eating diet.  In addition, the pubic bone in the pelvis was pointing backwards not forwards as in the Theropods, this pelvic arrangement was typical of a bird-hipped dinosaur, an Ornithischian.  These and other anatomical features made Chilesaurus into a bit of a conundrum for the palaeontologists studying it.  This dinosaur was difficult to place on the Dinosauria family tree, because of its combination of characteristics.  In the original 2015 paper, Chilesaurus was described as a Tetanuran Theropod, a member of the “stiff-tailed” group of bipedal, mainly carnivorous dinosaurs, meaning that it was distantly related to Megalosaurus, the ornithomimids and the Tyrannosaurs.

The Teeth in the Lower Jaw of Chilesaurus were Unlike Any Other Teeth of a Theropod

The fossilised jaw of Chilesaurus.

Teeth adapted for cropping plants.

Picture Credit: Dr Fernando Novas (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

New Dataset – New Classification

Researchers Matthew Baron (Cambridge University) and Paul Barrett (Natural History Museum), writing in the Royal Society journal “Biology Letters” describe how they applied a different dataset to assess the phylogenetic relationship between Chilesaurus and other dinosaurs.  When C. diegosuarezi was first described, back in 2015 the researchers used several datasets to test the interrelationships within the Dinosauria, but crucially, the focus of this analysis was on looking at the relationships within the Saurischia.  In March of this year, Matthew and his co-researchers proposed re-drawing the dinosaur family tree, in essence, resurrecting work undertaken by Thomas Huxley in the late 19th Century, that unites the Saurischia and the Ornithischia together into a new clade called the Ornithoscelida.

Theropods Grouped with Ornithopods

Under this revision, the Theropoda, which are closely related to extant birds and classified as Saurischian dinosaurs (lizard-hipped), were united with the bird-hipped dinosaurs, the Ornithopods, Thyreophora, Ceratopsian, Hadrosaurs etc.

When Chilesaurus was examined again, using the taxonomic relationships proposed by the newly drawn dinosaur cladogram, Chilesaurus was placed in a new position.  The idea that it was a Tetanuran Theropod based on this dataset could be discounted.  Instead, Chilesaurus is placed at a point in the dinosaur family tree where the Ornithischia diverged from their close relatives.  The basal position of Chilesaurus within the clade and its suite of anatomical characters suggest that it might represent a “transitional taxon”, bridging the morphological gap between the Theropoda and the Ornithischia.

Chilesaurus “Missing Link” on the Road to the Ornithischia

Chilesaurus consensus tree.

In this new Chilesaurus study, the consensus tree formed via the phylogenetic analysis indicates this dinosaur was a basal Ornithischian.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Biology Letters

In the diagram above, the Chilesaurus (red star) is seen as a potential link between the Saurischian Theropoda and the Ornithischian dinosaurs.  Chilesaurus may therefore provide an insight into the evolutionary origins of the bird-hipped dinosaurs.  It may also have an extensive ghost lineage (thin black line), going back to the Middle Triassic.

To read the Everything Dinosaur article, published in March 2017, about the redefinition of the Dinosauria: Root and Branch Reform in the Dinosaur Family Tree

Co-author of the research, Professor Paul Barrett (Natural History Museum) explained the significance of this new paper:

“Chilesaurus is one of the most puzzling and intriguing dinosaurs ever discovered.  Its weird mix of features places it in a key position in dinosaur evolution and helps to show how some of the really big splits between the major groups might have come about.”

Finding a Better Fit within the Dinosauria – Chilesaurus diegosuarezi 

The bizarre Chilesaurus.

An illustration of Chilesaurus that shows a suite of dinosaur traits.

Picture Credit: Gabriel Lio

16 08, 2017

Damselfly Honours Sir David Attenborough

By | August 16th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi – Sir David’s Cretaceous Damselfly

Broadcaster, naturalist and all-round good guy, Sir David Attenborough has been honoured yet again by having a newly described species named after him.  This time, it is a new species of Cretaceous damselfly discovered in a piece of Burmese amber (burmite).  Fossils of insects are extremely rare and the fossil record for this extremely important Class of Arthropods has been significantly enriched thanks to the preserved insect remains found in fossilised tree resin.

A Picture of the Holotype Specimen – Mesosticta davidattenboroughi

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi Cretaceous damselfly in amber.

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi sp. nov., holotype, NIGP164541, photograph of specimen.

Picture Credit: Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

The remains of this winged insect were discovered in the Hukawng Valley of Kachin Province, northern Myanmar, an area famed for its amber deposits.  Details of some remarkable fossils have recently been published, for example, back in 2016 Everything Dinosaur blogged about the discovery of a partial tail from a feathered dinosaur in burmite.  As recently as June (June 2017), we wrote about the finding of the remains of a primitive bird, a hatchling that had become entombed and preserved.

To read the article about the discovery of the dinosaur tail: The Tale of a Dinosaur Tail

For the article on the baby bird fossil: Watch the Birdie! Enantiornithine in Amber

The full, binomial scientific name for the new species, belonging to a group more commonly known as shadowdamsels, is Mesosticta davidattenboroughi.  The researchers decided to name the new species after David Attenborough because of his long-standing appreciation of dragonflies, and to celebrate his recent 90th birthday, which he celebrated in May 2016.

Co-author of the scientific paper, Professor Edmund A. Jarzembowski commented:

“Dragonflies in amber are extremely rare and the recent discoveries by my Chinese colleagues are a new window on the past.  It is tradition in taxonomy [the naming of a new species] to contact the person concerned.  Sir David was delighted because he is not only interested in the story of amber, but also a president of the British Dragonfly Society.”

The fossil itself is extremely well preserved as it is encased in yellow transparent amber and includes a complete set of wings.  With the aid of photo technology, the scientists were able to digitally enhance and build a clear three-dimensional image of the new species, showing that it differed from previously described fossils, Mesosticta had quite stubby, short wings when compared to other Mesozoic species.

Images of the Forewings of Mesosticta davidattenboroughi

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi forewing images.

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi sp. nov., holotype, NIGP164541. A, photograph of left forewing; B, photograph of right forewing.

Picture Credit: Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

Lead author of the scientific paper, Daran Zheng (Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences), stated:

“Mesosticta davidattenboroughi is quite unique because we have uncovered a new species and it confirms the previous attribution of Mesosticta to the Platystictidae.  It is the first fossil group of modern platystictid damselflies and documents the appearance of Platystictidae as early as middle Cretaceous.”

Finding insect remains in amber is not unusual, however, this family of damselflies are very poorly recorded in the fossil record and as a result this discovery from northern Myanmar is especially significant.

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi is just the latest in a long line of animals which have been named in honour of Sir David Attenborough:

Silurian Arthropod honours Sir David Attenborough: Fossil Named after Sir David Attenborough

Kitten-sized marsupial lion named after Sir David Attenborough: Attenborough’s New Kitty

The scientific paper: “Mesostictinae subfam. nov., an archaic group of platystictid damselflies (Odonata: Zygoptera) from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber” by Daran Zheng, Bo Wang, André Nel, Edmund A. Jarzembowski, Haichun Zhang & Su-Chin Chang published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.

Read the full article online: Scientific Paper

15 08, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Stocks PNSO Age of Dinosaurs

By | August 15th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Model Range Available from Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur now stocks the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs model range and what a fantastic selection of prehistoric animals it is!  These museum quality replicas and beautifully crafted toys cover a wide selection of ancient creatures, there is a T. rex and Triceratops of course but the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs series also encompasses armoured dinosaurs such as Chungkingosaurus, prehistoric whales such as Basilosaurus and fearsome, mega-mouthed sharks like Megalodon.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Model Range

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs model range.

Picture Credit: PNSO/Yiniao Sci-Art

Twenty-Four Dinosaur Toys to Accompany Your Growth

The range includes a selection of small prehistoric animal models, each one with its own unique species name such as “Aaron the little Tyrannosaurus”, Jonas the little Archaeopteryx and “Sethi the little Kentrosaurus”.

Sethi the Little Kentrosaurus – Dinosaur Toys that Accompany Your Growth

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Kentrosaurus.

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Kentrosaurus model.

Picture Credit: PNSO/Yiniao Sci-Art

The picture above shows the Kentrosaurus dinosaur model figure, part of a series of twenty-four little prehistoric animals.  This range also includes some fantastic Chinese armoured dinosaurs including Wuerhosaurus (Xana the little Wuerhosaurus) and a Tuojiangosaurus (Rahba the little Tuojiangosaurus).

To view the range of PNSO Age of Dinosaurs available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The PNSO product range aims to inform and to educate and contains a huge variety of prehistoric animal models, both big and small.  It is wonderful to see replicas of some of the amazing dinosaurs from China incorporated into this product range and it’s not just dinosaurs too, there are Ichthyosaur models such as Himalayasaurus to collect and even a Confuciusornis!”

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Confuciusornis Model

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Confuciusornis model.

Confuciusornis model (PNSO Age of Dinosaurs).

Picture Credit: PNSO/Yiniao Sci-Art

A Cretaceous Bird Named after a Chinese Philosopher

Many Confuciusornis fossils have been found in the Liaoning Province (north-eastern China) and fossils of these early birds (they belong to a group called the Enantiornithines), have helped palaeontologists to work out how Maniraptoran feathered dinosaurs evolved into birds.  We are sure that the great Chinese philosopher and teacher Confucius would have approved of these prehistoric animal replicas, helping to inform and educate about China’s remarkable fossil record.  Male birds were slightly different from the females, just like many extant species of birds today.  The males had a pair of long tail feathers, the females lacked these adornments.  The PNSO Dinosaurs of China Confuciusornis model is therefore a male bird.  The long tail feathers played no role in powered flight, they probably were used in visual displays as the males attempted to attract a mate.

A Bird in the Hand – The PNSO Confuciusornis Model

PNSO Confuciusornis model.

“A bird in the hand”, the Confuciusornis model from PNSO.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Marine Monsters and Museum Quality Dinosaur Replicas

As well as family favourites such as Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex, the larger models include spectacular models of sea monsters.  There is a serpentine Basilosaurus replica, that at around half a metre in length, makes a brilliant centrepiece to any model collection.  We must also mention the fantastic Megalodon (C. megalodon) replica, the detail on this giant shark figure is stunning.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus Model

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus replica.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus model.

Picture Credit: PNSO/Yiniao Sci-Art

Swimming alongside the Basilosaurus in the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs model collection (but not necessarily in the same geological record), is the hugely impressive Megalodon shark model.

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Megalodon Shark Model

Megalodon replica from the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs range.

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Megalodon model.

Picture Credit: PNSO/Yiniao Sci-Art

To view the range of prehistoric animals: PNSO Dinosaur Models and Figures

14 08, 2017

Basilosaurus Illustrated

By | August 14th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

A Drawing of the Early Predatory Whale Basilosaurus

Basilosaurus was one of the first, large whales to evolve.  This animal named “regal reptile”, the first species of which was named and described by Richard Owen (Basilosaurus cetoides), in 1839, has grown in popularity amongst fans of prehistoric animals.  Basilosaurus appeared in an episode of the “Walking with Beasts” television series made by the BBC, (episode two “Whale Killer”).  With CollectA recently introducing a replica of this placental mammal, collectors have the opportunity to add an early cetacean to their model collection.   Everything Dinosaur has commissioned drawings of Basilosaurus.  In the light of the adding of the PNSO range of models to Everything Dinosaur’s huge product portfolio, we have posted up a PNSO inspired Basilosaurus drawing, one that has not been published on this blog that often.

An Illustration of the Giant Prehistoric Whale Basilosaurus

PNSO Basilosaurus illustration.

An illustration of Basilosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although this fearsome carnivore, superficially resembled the toothed whales that are around today.  Basilosaurus was an evolutionary dead end, when Basilosaurus became extinct some 36 million years ago, towards the end of the Eocene Epoch, it left no descendants.  The drawing above is based on the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus replica.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus Replica

The PNSO Basilosaurus replica.

The Basilosaurus replica (PNSO).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In addition to this illustration, Everything Dinosaur also commissioned a line drawing of the CollectA Basilosaurus replica.  Both of these drawings were commissioned to support our work producing data sheets and fact sheets about prehistoric animals.

The Illustration of the CollectA Basilosaurus Model (Everything Dinosaur)

CollectA Basilosaurus illustration.

The CollectA Basilosaurus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Compare the line drawing of the CollectA Basilosaurus model, with a picture of the actual CollectA Basilosaurus (seen below).

The CollectA Basilosaurus Model

An early whale model - CollectA Basilosaurus

The CollectA Basilosaurus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

13 08, 2017

Papo Cave Bear Model Reviewed

By | August 13th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|2 Comments

A Review of the New for 2017 Papo Cave Bear Model

The Papo Cave Bear model is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  This eagerly anticipated Papo replica arrived at our warehouse today and team members at Everything Dinosaur have been busy checking inventory and putting models to one side for those customers who requested that we reserve one for them.  It really is a splendid model and it is great to see the French manufacturer extend their model range by including a prehistoric mammal, especially since the recent retirement of their popular Woolly Rhino (Coelodonta) figure.

The Papo Cave Bear Model is Now in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The new for 2017 Papo Cave Bear model.

Lateral view of the Papo Cave Bear model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Ursus spelaeus

Cave bears shared a common ancestor with the modern Brown bear (Ursus arctus) and they evolved around 300,000 years ago and survived until the late Middle Palaeolithic of the Stone Age, (around 40,000 years ago).  The last Cave bears existed in the Caucasus mountain range, but these large bears once roamed an area of Europe from southern Russian to southern England.  Everything Dinosaur is not aware of Cave bear fossils having been found in Ireland, although the Brown bear is known to have existed in Ireland.

A View of the Beautifully Sculpted Snout and Skull of the Papo Cave Bear

Papo Cave Bear replica.

A anterior view of the Papo Cave Bear model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a close-up view of the Papo Cave Bear model.  Cave bears can be distinguished from modern Brown bears as they tended to be larger and more powerfully built.  The skull has a distinctive slope down to the bridge of the long muzzle, this feature can be clearly made out in the excellent Papo replica.  The large canines are prominent and each of the incisors at the front of the jaws have been individually painted, the paint work on the model is really good and we like the darker colouration along the back, giving the impression of a thicker coat on this part of the animal’s body.

The limb bones of Cave bears were of slightly different proportions when compared to their modern cousins.  The limbs on the Papo figure give an impression of huge power and strength, the Cave bear was a formidable animal best avoided by people, recent studies have suggested that there was very little ecological interaction between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens and Cave bears, they may have used the same rock shelters and caves but at different times in history.  A number of carved artefacts and paintings have led some anthropologists to suggest that these large mammals were revered by our ancestors.

A Close-up View of the Large, Powerful Paws of the Papo Cave Bear Figure

The huge paws of the Papo Cave Bear model.

The large paws of the Papo Cave Bear model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the new for 2017 Papo Cave Bear model and the rest of the Papo prehistoric animal range available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

Papo Cave Bear Model

Measuring a fraction under fourteen centimetres in length and standing some eight and half centimetres high at those muscular shoulders, this is an excellent Pleistocene-aged mammal model, one that works well in scale with several Woolly Mammoth replicas including the Papo Woolly Mammoth models as well as the CollectA Neanderthal figures.

The Papo Cave Bear Model (New for 2017)

The Papo Cave Bear Model.

A powerful looking Cave Bear model from Papo.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The remaining new for 2017 Papo models, the Sabre-toothed cat and the Dimorphodon replica should be available next month (September 2017).

12 08, 2017

Giant Dinosaur Gets a Name

By | August 12th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Patagotitan mayorum – 69 Tonnes of Titanosaur

This week has seen the long-awaited publication of a scientific paper on the super-sized Titanosaur fossils that Everything Dinosaur blogged about in May 2014.  Writing in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biology)”, the researchers, which included José L. Carballido and Diego Pol (Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio, Trelew, Argentina), have described this new dinosaur and given it a formal scientific name.  Patagotitan mayorum translates as “the Mayo family Patagonian Titan”.  It may already be familiar to readers, as this fossil discovery was documented in a BBC television programme narrated by Sir David Attenborough back in 2016.  Indeed, a life-size cast of this dinosaur has been on display at the American Museum of Natural History (New York) for nearly eighteen months.

The Life-size Mounted Exhibit of the Newly Named Titanosaur (Patagotitan mayorum)

Patagotitan mayorum cast.

A cast of the giant Titanosaur Patagotitan mayorum.

Picture Credit: BBC TV

Size Isn’t Everything

Most of the media sources that have covered this announcement have focused on the estimated weight of Patagotitan.  When first studied, the body weight estimate of this beast, (represented by the fossilised remains of at least seven individuals) was put at 77 tonnes.  The researchers have down-sized Patagotitan somewhat in the scientific paper, but at a reported 69 tonnes, this is still an immensely heavy beast, potentially close to the theoretical limit for a body weight of a terrestrial animal.

Patagotitan mayorum – A Size Comparison

Patagotitan size comparison.

Patagotitan mayorum size comparison with an adult African elephant and a human for scale.

Picture Credit: G. Lio/Everything Dinosaur

With an estimated body length of 37 metres and a weight of 69 tonnes, Patagotitan can lay claim to the title of the largest land living animal to be described to date based on substantially complete fossil remains.

To read an article on the initial excavation of the Titanosaur fossil bones: Biggest Dinosaur of all – a New South American Contender

For an article providing information on the BBC documentary: Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur

An Unprecedented Quantity of Titanosaur Fossil Material

The species’ scientific name was inspired by the region where this new species was discovered, Argentina’s Patagonia (Patago); by its strength and huge size (titan), and by the Mayo family, on whose ranch the fossils of this new Sauropod species were discovered.  The substantial amount of fossil material including a celebrated 2.4-metre-long femur was discovered in three distinct layers, representing flood plain deposits.  The researchers have concluded that these large herbivores must have been regular visitors to this area, perhaps this was on a migration route.  The water flow was unable to dislodge most of the fossil bones, their sheer bulk allowing the remains to be preserved relatively “in situ”, although in a disarticulated state.

The Life-size Cast of Patagotitan mayorum at the American Museum of Natural History (New York)

Patagotitan mayorum at the American Museum of Natural History (New York).

Titanosaur exhibit (Patagotitan mayorum).

Picture Credit: The American Museum of Natural History/D. Finnin

Estimating the Body Weight of Giant Titanosaurs

The Titanosauria clade represents the most disparate group, in terms of body size of all known Sauropods.  Some of the smallest members of the Sauropodmorpha are represented by Titanosaurs such as the five-metre long Magyarosaurus from Romania, whilst this clade also contains giant animals like Argentinosaurus, Alamosaurus, Dreadnoughtus and the newly described Patagotitan.  Calculating the body weight of an extinct animal, even one with numerous fossil bones to study, is a challenging task, body weight has to be inferred using a variety of methods.

Dr José Luis Carballido (Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio) explained:

“We compared the remains of Patagotitan mayorum with all the species that could be related to it, not only in terms of size, but also those that lived at the same time or had certain features in common.  Among them we included species such as Argentinosaurus, Puertasaurus and Futalognkosaurus, which are other giant species of dinosaurs from Argentina.”

The researchers undertook a phylogenetic study and concluded that the majority of the giant Titanosaurs of Patagonia belong to a single lineage.  This suggests that gigantism within the Titanosauria evolved only once and not multiple times.  The scientists conclude that all the truly huge dinosaurs were related to each other and form a natural group – the Lognkosauria.

Dr Diego Pol added:

“This group of giants probably emerged by the end of the Lower Cretaceous (Patagotitan mayorum would be the oldest) and had survived until the middle Late Cretaceous between 100 and 85 million years ago.”

Patagonia – A Titanosaur Paradise

Titanosaurs diversified and radiated around Gondwana during the middle Early Cretaceous and as a group they survived right up to the end of the Cretaceous, but in Patagonia during the early Cenomanian faunal stage some species obtained enormous sizes the reasons for an evolutionary pressure to grow so big are unclear.

Dr Pol commented:

“About 100 million years ago, a subgroup of Titanosaurs really went crazy in body size.  There must be something in the environment, in how much resources and food was available, in the climate, something must have allowed this fantastic size.  All these contenders for the heavyweight championship of dinosaurs, they all lived in same place, in the same time…understanding why and how these animals evolved into such a fantastic size is the million-dollar question.”

When Excavating Giant Titanosaurs Limb Bones Make Excellent Seats

The giant Titanosaur dig site (Patagotitan mayorum).

Filming the documentary “Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur”.

Picture Credit: Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio

Links to the Rinconsauria

In addition, the scientists consider this super-sized lineage of Titanosaurs a sister group to the Rinconsauria, a clade of Titanosaurs also known from Argentina which are regarded as basal to the group, or at least retaining primitive traits.  The Rinconsauria, which includes Rinconsaurus caudamirus and Aeolosaurus were not giants themselves, in fact, this clade includes some of the smallest South American Titanosaurs described to date.

For the time being the moniker used to describe this huge dinosaur when it was being excavated – “enormosaurus” is redundant, that is until the next huge Sauropod fossil find!

The scientific paper: “A New Giant Titanosaur Sheds Light on Body Mass Evolution Among Sauropod Dinosaurs” by José L. Carballido, Diego Pol, Alejandro Otero, Ignacio A. Cerda, Leonardo Salgado, Alberto C. Garrido, Jahandar Ramezani, Néstor R. Cúneo, Javier M. Krause published in “The Proceedings of the Royal Society B”.

11 08, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews “Spring-heeled Jack”

By | August 11th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

A Video Review of the Rebor Leaping Velociraptor “Spring-heeled Jack”

JurassicCollectables have been hard at work again and their latest video to be posted is a review of the amazing “Spring-heeled Jack”, the Rebor Velociraptor, 1:18 scale dinosaur model.  Rebor has continued to set the standard when it comes to introducing “retro raptors” and this new Velociraptor joins “Winston, Stan” and “Alex DeLarge” in the Rebor replica range.

JurassicCollectables Reviews “Spring-heeled Jack”

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

In this brief video review, (it lasts just over six and a half minutes), viewers are given the opportunity to have a really good look at this skilfully modelled Late Cretaceous Theropod.  The narrator discusses various aspects of “Spring-heeled Jack”, named after a strange being from English folklore that was first reported 180 years ago.  For example, the video looks at the base of the model in detail and demonstrates the articulated jaw and the forelimbs that can be set in various positions.

To view the Rebor 1:18 scale replica “Spring-heeled Jack”, the counterpart model “Alex DeLarge” and the entire Rebor prehistoric animal model range: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Replicas

“Jurassic Park” Velociraptors

With the ground-breaking dinosaur movie “Jurassic Park”, hitting cinema screens in 1993, Velociraptors were up front and centre when it came to the prehistoric animals featured.  We won’t open up the debate on the size of the “raptors” in the film, suffice to say, thanks to this movie and the work of Stan Winston, the American film and television special make-up and special effects master, a whole new generation of young dinosaur fans was created.  The Velociraptors in the Rebor replica range, pay tribute to the contribution played in the portrayal of dinosaurs by Stan Winston, that’s why a number of the models in this range carry his moniker.  The leaping “Spring-heeled Jack” is reminiscent of the leaping Velociraptors from the Jurassic Park film franchise.

The Rebor Velociraptor “Spring-heeled Jack” Replica

Rebor "Spring-heeled Jack" Velociraptor model.

Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor “Spring-heeled Jack”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The genus name means “speedy robber or speedy thief” and the JurassicCollectables video review shows these dynamic models in all their beauty.

Compared with the Rebor Tyrannosaurus rex and the Rebor Carnotaurus Models

Our thanks to those clever people at JurassicCollectables for including in this video review comparisons with the Rebor Tyrannosaurus rex replica (King T. rex) and the recently reviewed Rebor Carnotaurus figure “Crimson King”.  Off-colour Alan even gets in on the action, he is shown riding on the back of the leaping Velociraptor and the figure looks really good next to “Spring-heeled Jack”, very reminiscent of the scene from the first Jurassic Park” movie where big-game hunter, Robert Muldoon meets his demise.

JurassicCollectables have a brilliant YouTube channel crammed full of prehistoric animal model reviews and other very interesting and informative videos, including reviews of the aforementioned Rebor Carnotaurus replica and the Rebor “King T. rex“.

Visit the YouTube channel of Jurassic Collectables: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , please remember to subscribe to the JurassicCollectables channel, after all, some 50,000+ dinosaur and prehistoric animal model fans can’t be wrong!

10 08, 2017

Monster Jurassic Crocodile Honours Motorhead’s Frontman

By | August 10th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Lemmysuchus obtusidens – Named after Lemmy from Motorhead

On December 28th 2015, the English heavy-metal musician, Lemmy, the founder of Motörhead and doyen of the metal-music genre passed away.  Since that day, many scientists who were fans of Lemmy’s music have sought out ways to honour him*.  It seems that tracks such as “Bomber”, “Overkill”, “Louie Louie” and the iconic “Ace of Spades” are very popular with academics and scientists from a number of disciplines and this week, hard-drinking, hard-living Lemmy, was honoured by having a particularly nasty Jurassic teleosaurid crocodile named after him.  Say hello to Lemmysuchus obtusidens, the newest member of the Teleosauridae, the name means “Lemmy’s blunt-toothed crocodile”.

Dorsal View of the Skull of Lemmysuchus obtusidens

Skull fossil and line drawing.

Skull fossil and accompanying line drawing of Lemmysuchus.  Scale bar = 10 cm.

Picture Credit: Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

From a Clay Pit Near Peterborough

The fossil material now assigned to this new genus was excavated in 1909 from a clay pit near the town of Peterborough (Cambridgeshire), several specimens were collected from the Middle Jurassic strata (Callovian faunal stage).  It was incorrectly catalogued and assigned to a different species, several cladistic and anatomical reviews later and the blunt-snouted, blunt-toothed teleosaurids have undergone a significant revision and fossil material formerly assigned to Steneosaurus obtusidens has ended up in need of a new taxa hence the establishment of Lemmysuchus within the academic literature.

One of the authors of the scientific paper, which has just been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Michela Johnson (University of Edinburgh), described Lemmysuchus:

With a metre-long skull and a total length of 5.8 metres, it would have been one of the biggest coastal predators of its time.”

A Close View of the Jaw Showing the Robust Teeth

The jaw of Lemmysuchus.

Part of the jaw of Lemmysuchus showing the robust teeth.

Picture Credit: Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Durophagous or Macrophagous Diet

In contrast to several other Middle Jurassic teleosaurids, Lemmysuchus had a broad snout and large, robust teeth, this suggests that this substantial crocodylomorph had a different diet to its relatives.  Most teleosaurids were fish-eaters and their jaws, teeth and skulls show adaptations to a piscivorous diet.  The jaws of Lemmysuchus indicate that this reptile might have dined on turtles or other hard-shelled creatures such as ammonites.  It could have made short work of any small marine reptile carcass that it found, it could even have been an active predator of other marine reptiles.

A Nasty Crocodile from the Middle Jurassic of England

A illustration of the Jurassic teleosaurid Lemmysuchus.

Lemmysuchus obtusidens illustration.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

Paleoartist Dr Mark Witton has recreated the terrifying world of Lemmysuchus obtusidens.  The beautiful reconstruction shows a large Lemmysuchus feeding on a plesiosaur, whilst Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs scavenge the remains of an Ichthyosaur that has been washed ashore.

Subtle Nods to Lemmy and to John Martin

The atmospheric image created by Mark Witton, includes a subtle hint towards one of the pieces of artwork associated with Motörhead.  The pattern on top of the crocodylomorph’s skull is a homage to the “snaggletooth” logo that adorned a number of album covers.  In addition, this stunning artwork, depicting a European shoreline some 164 million years ago, pays tribute to one of the earliest depictions of ancient marine reptiles, an illustration by John Martin for the seminal publication “Great Sea Dragons”, by Thomas Hawkins, which was first printed back in 1840.

John Martin depicted a savage, violent seascape dominated by great serpent-like creatures.  Having noted the serpentine archway in Dr Witton’s illustration, Everything Dinosaur contacted Mark and enquired how this archway came to be included.

Mark explained:

“The archway in the background is a nod to the serpentine creature in the background of John Martin’s classic 1840 illustration “The Sea-Dragons as They Lived”.  Much of the right side of the image is a tribute to this work, as is the fact that virtually all the animals in my painting are savage and predatory.  We know that the Jurassic didn’t have any serpentine creatures like those imagined by Martin, so I had to improvise a little by changing his animal to a rock feature and landmass (the adjacent island is where the second ‘hump’ of his creature would be).  I decided to homage his work because, in a lot of ways, 19th century palaeoart is not dissimilar to iconography associated with the harder side of rock music, to which Lemmysuchus has an obvious connection.  Both are a bit silly in how dark and aggressive they are so, though stemming from very different cultures, they’re actually artistic bedfellows.”

“Great Sea Dragons” Illustration by John Martin circa 1840

"Great Sea Dragons" illustration by John Martin

The 1840 illustration of marine reptiles and pterosaurs by John Martin.

Talented paleoartist Mark has recently published a new work, highlighting his illustrations and providing an insight into the process or imagining and then recreating prehistoric scenes.  The book is entitled “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”, it is highly recommended.

To read a review of “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”“Recreating An Age of Reptiles” by Dr Mark Witton

Dr Witton added:

“It was quite fun bringing three very different influences together for this painting: the science of the animal itself; the aggressive, dark imagery associated with Motörhead and the influence of old school palaeoart.”

Lemmy from Motörhead (Ian Fraser Kilmister)

Motörhead frontman Lemmy

Lemmy (birth name Ian Fraser Kilmister).

Co-author Lorna Steel, (Dept. of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum), proposed that the fearsome crocodylomorph should be named after her late musical hero.

Dr Steel stated:

“Although Lemmy passed away at the end of 2015, we’d like to think that he would have raised a glass to Lemmysuchus, one of the nastiest sea creatures to have ever inhabited the Earth.”

*In early 2016, a petition was organised to get the discoverers of the recently named, super-heavy element 115 Ununpentium, to change its name to Lemmium.  Despite attracting a reported 100,000 signatures the bid to place the heavy metal music pioneer onto the Periodic Table failed.  Still it’s not every day that you get a bone-crushing, Jurassic marine crocodile named after you.

9 08, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter Rebor and More!

By | August 9th, 2017|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter Rebor and More!

Subscribers to the Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter were treated to some privileged information last week when they got notice of the arrival of the new Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor replicas “Spring-heeled Jack” and “Alex Delarge”.  Many customers had already taken advantage of the company’s no hassle, no obligation product reservation service and they knew that these dinosaur models had been set aside for them.  Once the newsletter had been received, the orders for these two beautiful Velociraptor replicas started to come in.

The Pair of Rebor Leaping Velociraptors Feature in the Latest Everything Dinosaur Customer Newsletter

Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter.

Rebor Velociraptor models feature in the latest Everything Dinosaur newsletter.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the full range of Rebor replicas available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Replicas and Models

Our next newsletter is due out shortly, there is just so much going on at the moment, it really is quite difficult for our team members to keep up with the exciting developments.

If blog readers would like to subscribe, then all you have to do is to drop us an email: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Rebor “Spring-heeled Jack” and the Rebor Velociraptor “Alex Delarge”

Rebor "Spring-heeled Jack" and "Alex Delarge" Velociraptor replicas.

Rebor “Spring-heeled Jack” and “Alex Delarge” Velociraptor models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The stunning Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor models are sold as a pair and they are also available separately.  Each model has an articulated lower jaw and the arms can be placed in various positions.  The dinosaurs measure around twenty centimetres in length and when put on the larger of the two metal rods that come with these figures, the model stands some twenty-five centimetres in the air.

Carnotaurus and Cards

The Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter also permits us to update subscribers when new stocks of existing models arrive as well as letting people know about new products.  The early August newsletter confirmed that fresh supplies of the popular Rebor “Crimson King” – Carnotaurus sastrei had arrived.  The company’s initial stock having sold out very quickly, however, with a new batch of abelisaurs safely put into the warehouse, fans of Rebor could acquire this Theropod replica.  In addition, this newsletter allowed us to highlight a new range of dinosaur themed gift and greetings cards that had just arrived in stock.

The Rebor Carnotaurus Replica “Crimson King” and Dinosaur Cards

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter (August 2017).

Everything Dinosaur’s newsletter features a variety of dinosaur themed products.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The dinosaur themed greetings cards feature three very famous dinosaurs, these dinosaurs are Diplodocus, Tyrannosaurus rex and as shown in the snippet from our customer newsletter (above), a very colourful Stegosaurus.  Each card is blank inside so that you can write your own message and there is a surprise inside each card too – a pop-up prehistoric animal, that we are sure will delight the recipient.  Dinosaur themed greetings and gift cards can be found in the huge party section of Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur Party Items.

Everything Dinosaur plans to publish more newsletters over the next few weeks and months, helping to keep our ever-growing customer base informed about the company and its product range.

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