All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/2017
17 06, 2017

Theropod Tracks and Ornithopod Tracks

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

Distinguishing Theropod tracks from Ornithopod Tracks

Recently, Everything Dinosaur posted an article about a new study of the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument (Queensland, Australia), in which a three-dimensional Australovenator foot was used to assess what type of dinosaur was responsible for producing a set of eleven, large, three-toed footprints.  In this innovative research, conducted by scientists from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History and the University of Newcastle (New South Wales), it was concluded that the tracks could have been made by a meat-eating dinosaur.  Previous research had challenged the interpretation that the trace fossil site preserves evidence of a dinosaur stampede as a substantial group of smaller plant-eating dinosaurs evaded an attack from a big Theropod.

Other interpretations of the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument have suggested that the hundreds of tracks preserved at this location, some seventy miles south of the town of Winton in Queensland, do not represent evidence of a large, meat-eating dinosaur attacking a flock of smaller dinosaurs.  Some scientists have contradicted this analysis and proposed that the bigger, tridactyl tracks were made by a big Ornithopod, a herbivorous dinosaur, something like a Muttaburrasaurus.

Could the Larger Tracks at the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument have been made by a Herbivore?

Lark Quarry Ornithopod

The plant-eater wandering across the Lark Quarry environment

Picture Credit: Anthony Romilio, The University of Queensland

The Confusion Between Bipedal Plant-eaters and Bipedal Meat-eaters

Having published our article, we were then emailed and asked to explain how it was possible to confuse the footprints of a large bipedal, herbivorous dinosaur with those of an equally sized carnivorous dinosaur.  So, here are some pointers about the differences between the types of tracks, plus an explanation as to why it can be so hard to pin down which type of bipedal dinosaur left prints and tracks.

For those scientists that study dinosaur footprints, being able to distinguish the prints from a meat-eating Theropod from those of a large, herbivorous Ornithopod is a challenging task.  If the prints are ideally preserved with lots of detail, identification can be relatively straight-forward, if the body fossils of a dinosaur could be found close by, then there would be further evidence to support a diagnosis, but sadly, discovering exquisitely preserved dinosaur tracks – these are very rare events indeed!

An Exquisitely Preserved Dinosaur Track Assigned to the Ichnogenus Eubrontes

A three-toed dinosaur footprint from India.

The tridactyl print can be clearly made out, it has been assigned to the ichnogenus Eubrontes.

An Identification Guide

The track made by a Theropod dinosaur (the pes of a meat-eating dinosaur), if perfectly preserved, should show sizeable claw marks on the end of the toes.  The toes themselves should look quite slender and in general terms the print should look longer than it is wide.  The length of the foot when compared to the width should give the track a characteristic “v shape”.

The well-preserved track of a large Ornithopod, a plant-eater should lack distinctive claw marks.  The ends of the toes should be more blunt and rounded in appearance.  The toes tend to be quite wide and the foot proportions are different.  For example, the foot may be much wider.  The wider pes as a proportion of overall foot length gives the track a “u shape”.

Ornithopod versus Theropod Footprint – Identification Guide

Comparing different types of dinosaur footprint.

Theropod print compared to an Ornithopod print.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Identifying the Dinosaur from the Footprint – Problems

The fact that something so ephemeral as a single track or a trackway can survive for millions of years is remarkable.  However, over time these trace fossils can become distorted making identification extremely difficult.  Features, once very striking are easily masked by the effect of weathering and erosion.  Any repairs undertaken or attempts to preserve the prints could also lead to the loss of definition, causing further problems when it comes to making an assessment as to what type of animal produced the tracks.  Unauthorised attempts to make casts could also result in considerable damage to the track(s) thus further hampering identification.

It does not matter, whether the track represents a natural cast (created by sediments filling in a track), or whether it is a true track (the impression preserved in the ground made by the foot itself), determining what type of creature made the prints is an extremely difficult process.  Some of the most difficult tracks to interpret of all are undertracks.  An undertrack is formed below the sediment as surface material is compressed downwards as the organism moved across the area.  These undertracks lack many types of marks made only at the surface, scratches, scuffs, clear claw impressions or any evidence of a tail drag.

The thousands of dinosaur tracks at the Lark Quarry site (Dinosaur Stampede National Monument), are truly a remarkable record of the behaviour and activity of a group of dinosaurs.  What exactly those tracks represent is open to different interpretations – but that’s science for you.

Further articles on the Lark Quarry dinosaur tracks:

Could Australovenator have made some of the tracks at Lark Quarry?: Lark Quarry Dinosaur Footprints – Scientists Re-examine the Evidence

Lark Quarry Tracks Re-examined: A New Interpretation of the Lark Quarry Fossils

16 06, 2017

Australovenator Steps into Lark Quarry Dinosaur Debate

By | June 16th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Scientists Reconstruct Dinosaur Foot to Help Interpret Tracksite

The famous dinosaur tracks at Lark Quarry, (Dinosaur Stampede National Monument), near the town of Winton (Queensland, Australia),  have been the subject of research for decades.  Unlike dinosaur bones and teeth that can be transported a huge distance from the place where the dinosaur died, footprints and tracks preserve evidence of activity and behaviour.  The majority of trace fossils provide direct, in situ evidence of the environment at the time and location where the animal was living.

Lark Quarry Dinosaur Tracks

Lark Quarry Dinosaur Tracks

Examples of Lark Quarry dinosaur footprints.

Picture Credit: Dr Steve Salisbury

Different Interpretations of the Dinosaur Tracks

At Everything Dinosaur, we think the first, formal attempt to interpret the numerous dinosaur tracks preserved in the finely grained sandstone at the Lark Quarry site took place in 1984.  Eleven, large, three-toed prints were interpreted as having been made by a big meat-eating dinosaur that had lunged at a flock of small Ornithopods that it had cornered.  The tracks were interpreted as a “dinosaur stampede” as the smaller plant-eating dinosaurs panicked and tried to avoid the jaws of a ten-metre-long Theropod.  The ichno genus (a name given to an animal known only from trace fossils), Tyrannosauropus was erected.  Over the years, a number of other interpretations have been put forward, including the hypothesis that the big tri-dactyl prints don’t represent a predator but were made by a large Ornithopod, something akin to a Muttaburrasaurus.  Other interpretations of this famous fossil site include that the tracks were made by dinosaurs as they swam and waded across a body of water.

Swimming Dinosaurs Hypothesis: Dinosaurs Not Stampeding but Swimming

No Tyrannosauropus at Lark Quarry After All: Lark Quarry Tracks Made by a Big Plant-Eating Dinosaur

Dinosaur Foot Reconstruction – A New Analysis of the Tracks

Distinguishing between the three-toed prints of meat-eating dinosaurs and those of similar sized plant-eaters, which also walked on three toes is a tricky business.  However, in an innovative piece of research, a team of scientists from from the University of Newcastle (New South Wales) and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in Winton, set about reconstructing the foot of an Australian Theropod dinosaur Australovenator wintonensis in a bid to reproduce the tracks in similar sediment, which could then be compared to the fossil trackway.

Reconstructing the Foot of Australovenator

Foot model helping to interpret Lark Quarry tracks.

Reconstructing the left foot of Australovenator.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

The picture above shows (A) calculating the claw length of Australovenator and (B-D) the four claws associated with the left foot of the dinosaur with reconstructed sheaths.  The bones of the foot have been reconstructed (F) and using Emu feet for an anatomical comparison, (G) shows the foot reconstructed with tendons added, whilst (H) is the skin covered biologically restored foot (left pes) of Australovenator.

Australovenator wintonensis

A three-dimensional foot of Australovenator was created as fossils of this Megaraptoran Theropod are known from similar aged strata as the Lark Quarry tracks.  In addition, Australovenator is the only meat-eating dinosaur from Australia which has had its foot bones discovered.  The researchers used a variety of substrates to test the prints, scuff marks and scratches made by the large dinosaur and they concluded that their recreated impressions were reminiscent of the trace fossils.  This suggests that the eleven, large, three-toed tracks at Lake Quarry (now known as the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument), could have been made by an Australovenator-like carnivorous dinosaur.

An Illustration of Australovenator wintonensis Crossing the Lark Quarry Sediments

Australovenator footprint study.

Australovenator making tracks.

Picture Credit: Travis R. Tischler

The CollectA Australovenator Dinosaur Model

Australovenator was a member of the Allosauria clade of Theropod dinosaurs.  Fossils of this six-metre-long carnivore were discovered in 2006.  Although the fossil material was far from complete, the Australovenator genus was formally erected by Australian palaeontologist Scott Hucknull in 2009.  CollectA introduced a model of Australovenator just three years after the scientific description.  Models of Megaraptoran Theropods are quite rare, it is great to see that CollectA have added an Australovenator replica to their “Prehistoric Life” model range.

The CollectA Australovenator Dinosaur Model

The CollectA Australovenator dinosaur model.

The CollectA Australovenator replica.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the full range of CollectA dinosaur and prehistoric animal models: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models

15 06, 2017

Curious African Cynodont Turns up in Brazil

By | June 15th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Aleodon from Africa Present in Brazilian Triassic Rocks

A team of international researchers have reported the discovery of fossils attributed to the African cynodont Aleodon in Middle-early Late Triassic rocks from several locations in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (southern Brazil).  Prior to these fossil finds, this protomammal (a member of the Probainognathidae family), a distant ancestor of modern mammals, was only known from Africa.

A Scale Drawing of the Skeleton of Aleodon (A. cromptoni)

Aleodon scale drawing.

The known bones of Aleodon are shown in yellow.

Picture Credit: PLOS ONE

In the picture above the known bones attributed to Aleodon (A. cromptoni) are shown in yellow and a cat provides a scale comparison.

Living Alongside Dinosaur Precursors

Writing in the on-line academic journal “PLOS ONE”, the researchers, which include Agustín Martinelli (Universidade Federal of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), conclude that fossils previously thought to represent another cynodont – Chiniquodon actually are Aleodon specimens, as such they are the first of this genus to be found outside of Africa.  The carnivorous Aleodon lived alongside basal members of the Dinosauria and other types of archosaur, as well as numerous mammal-like reptiles, including the giant herbivore Dinodontosaurus.  The fossils of Dinodontosaurus are so numerous that they are used to date the relative age of the strata in this part of southern Brazil.  All the fossils ascribed to Aleodon, including cranial material and teeth come from the Dinodontosaurus Assemblage Zone.

Aleodon Skull Material and Line Drawing (Aleodon cromptoni)

Aleodon skull and line drawing.

Skull in left lateral view with accompanying line drawing. Scale bar = 50 mm.

Picture Credit: PLOS ONE

Namibian and Tanzanian Fossils

The Aleodon genus was first erected based on fossil material discovered in Tanzania and Namibia.  The South American material was compared to the African specimens and a new species of Aleodon, a sister taxon to the African species was named.  The new Aleodon species honours Dr Alfred “Fuzz” Crompton, who established the genus in 1955 with the naming of A. brachyrhamphus.

In a reassessment of the African fossil material, a specimen form Namibia which was thought to represent a member of the related family, the Chiniquodontidae or possibly a member of the Traversodontidae may actually be an Aleodon.  The scientists also identified as Aleodon a total of seven specimens from the Rio Grande do Sul region.  Phylogenetic analysis indicated that Aleodon cromptoni may be, as suspected, a species in the Chiniquodontidae family.

Whilst the research work was hampered due to the incomplete and partial specimens, the authors note that the identification of these Late Triassic Aleodon fossils in Brazil strengthens the correlation between probainognathians from this epoch in South America and in Africa.

Part of the Upper Jaw of A. cromptoni with Line Drawing

Upper jaw fossil material (Aleodon cromptoni).

Photographs and accompanying drawings of right maxilla MPDC-501-117 in lateral (A), ventral (B), and medial views (C). Scale bar equals 10 mm

Picture Credit: PLOS ONE

14 06, 2017

Win! Win! Win with Everything Dinosaur!

By | June 14th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Win a Pair of Tickets to the Amazing Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

WIN! WIN! WIN! with Everything Dinosaur!  Win a pair of tickets to the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition in Nottingham (UK).

Everything Dinosaur has another super prize draw giveaway.   We have a pair of tickets to the amazing Dinosaurs of China Exhibition being held in Nottingham (UK) this summer.  The Dinosaurs of China exhibition features an amazing collection of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals, with many of the specimens travelling outside of Asia for the first time.  From “ground shakers to feathered flyers” – this brilliant dinosaur exhibition is not to be missed!

The main exhibition is being held at Wollaton Hall & Deer Park in Nottingham with a satellite exhibition taking place at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre.  This once in a lifetime event runs from July 1st to October 29th.

Win a Pair of Tickets to the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

Win tickets in Everything Dinosaur's Prize Draw

Win a pair of tickets to visit the Dinosaurs of China exhibition in Nottingham.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has a pair of tickets to giveaway in our free to enter prize draw.

Win a Pair of Tickets to the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

To enter, simply “like” the post on Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK , page and leave a comment.  Or leave a comment on this blog post.  Tell us what you would like us to write about on the Everything Dinosaur blog and that’s it – you are entered into the prize draw to win a pair of tickets!

It would be great if you could also “like” our Facebook page, it’s not mandatory, but “liking” the Everything Dinosaur Facebook page would ensure that you don’t miss out on future competitions and promotions.  Feel free to share our prize draw with your friends!

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” our Facebook post, comment and enter the competition!

We will draw the lucky winner at random and the ticket prize draw giveaway closes at midnight (BST) on  Friday 30th June.  Good luck and we look forward to reading your comment.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur toys and models including some “ground shakers and feathered flyers”: Visit Everything Dinosaur’s Website

For further information about the Dinosaurs of China exhibition: Dinosaurs of China Website

Terms and Conditions for the Everything Dinosaur Win a Pair of Tickets Prize Draw

  • Automated entries are not permitted and will be excluded from the draw
  • Only one entry per person
  • The prize (a pair of tickets for the Dinosaurs of China exhibition), is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered
  • Open to UK residents, 16 years and upwards (excluding employees and relatives of Everything Dinosaur staff members)
  • To enter you must leave a comment on the Everything Dinosaur Facebook promotional post at: Everything Dinosaur on Facebook and leave a comment about what you would like us to write about in our blog OR leave a comment on this blog post – one comment per person
  • The Everything Dinosaur ticket prize draw runs until midnight (BST) on Friday 30th June 2017
  • The winner will be chosen at random and they will be contacted by a reply to the comment plus a Facebook message with 7 days of the competition closing date.  The winner will need to respond within 28 days or a new winner will be selected.
  • The prize (a pair of tickets) will be despatched by the event organisers, once Everything Dinosaur has confirmed the delivery address.  The winner will have to state a preferred date and time for their visit
  • The prize does not include travelling expenses or any accommodation
  • The promoter is Everything Dinosaur
  • By entering the prize draw giveaway, participants confirm that they have read, understood and agreed the terms and conditions of the competition
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook
13 06, 2017

Watch the Birdie (Enantiornithine in Amber)

By | June 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Nearly Complete Baby Bird Preserved in Amber

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with colleagues from the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (Canada) and the China University of Geosciences have announced the discovery of yet another prehistoric animal preserved entombed within a 99-million-year-old piece of amber from Myanmar.  The animal is a baby bird, perhaps only a few days old when it was engulfed in sticky tree resin back in the Cretaceous.  It is an astonishing discovery, one of a number of remarkable fossil finds made in recent years from the amber deposits of northern Myanmar.  Most of the skull and neck is preserved along with part of a wing, a hindlimb, complete with claws and some soft tissue surrounding the tail.  Some of the plumage has also been encased within the amber nodule.  Described as representing a specimen of the Enantiornithes clade, it is the most complete bird preserved in amber found to date.

Enantiornithine Hatchling Preserved in Burmese Amber

Baby Enantiornithine bird trapped in amber.

Baby bird preserved in amber.

Picture Credit: Ryan McKellar (Royal Saskatchewan Museum) et al.

The picture above shows the amber nodule (a).  The nodule measures approximately 86 mm × 30 mm × 57 mm it has been assigned the specimen number HPG-15-1 and it has been cut in half.  The cut-mark is represented in (c) which shows the cut as a dotted line against a line drawing of the bird’s remains preserved in the nodule.  An interpretation of the high-resolution scans showing the skeletal components is shown in (b).  The disarticulated remains of this individual has led the research team to speculate that the corpse of this young bird might have been scavenged prior to its entombing in the tree resin.

A Very Young Bird

Writing in the academic journal “Gondwana Research”, the scientists conclude that the shape of the skeleton and the plumage indicates a very young bird, the well-developed wings, claws and the presence of some filamentous body feathers suggests that Enantiornithines were hatched in a relatively advanced state, being perhaps able to feed itself almost immediately.  Being born nearly fully developed and independent of the parents is termed precocial.  Many modern birds are precocial, examples include ostrich chicks and ducklings.  These birds are able to keep themselves warm and move about, often leaving the nest in just a few hours.  The scarcity of body feathers on the Cretaceous bird represents a distinct departure from the feather coverings found in today’s precocial birds.  Perhaps the Enantiornithines relied on their parents to brood them to keep them warm, or perhaps these birds hatched during the hottest part of the year, when insulation was not as necessary.

A Three-Dimensional Model Created from the High-Resolution Scans

Fossil bird trapped in amber.

Using 3-D scans the researchers were able to create a model of the death pose of the bird.

Picture Credit: Ryan McKellar (Royal Saskatchewan Museum)

Commenting on the importance of this fossil discovery, Ryan McKellar (Royal Saskatchewan Museum) stated:

“We’ve had more complete specimens, where you get more of the skeleton preserved, from compression fossils, but never with this level of detail.  It’s like a little diorama.”

Nicknamed “Belone”

The amber nodule also contains insect remains, plant material and mites, providing an insight into the fauna and flora of a conifer forest that existed around 99 to 100 million years ago.  The amber was found by a miner back in 2014, at first the claw was thought to have come from a lizard but once the piece had been purchased by the Hupoge Amber Museum in Tengchong City, China, a correct identification was made.  The specimen was nicknamed “Belone” a local term for an amber-coloured bird called the Oriental skylark.

Researchers including palaeontologist Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences), used CT scans to examine fossil elements hidden from view.  These scans revealed the skull and part of the spine, although the cutting of the nodule damaged the anterior portion of the head and the tiny jaws.

As for its feathers, the bird had different kinds: some that palaeontologists have seen on dinosaurs, but others that are closer to modern-day birds.  This, the research team commented, was one of the most surprising and rewarding finds.

The Enantiornithine Hind Leg

Enantiornithine hindlimb

A closer view of the hind limb of the Enantiornithine bird.

Picture Credit: Ming Bai

A Precocial Bird

The presence of strong toes equipped with sharp claws suggests that this bird could clamber around in the trees shortly after hatching, yet more evidence of just how independent this young bird was.  Precociality is thought to be ancestral in birds.  Thus, altricial birds tend to be found in the most derived families within the Aves (birds) Order.   There is some evidence for precociality in the Dinosauria.  It seems that being independent at birth is a characteristic that is basal to the birds.

A Close View of One of the Claws

Enantiornithine claw.

A close view of the claw, even individual scales have been preserved in the amber.

Picture Credit: Ming Bai

The amber mines of Kachin Province (northern Myanmar) are renowned for their remarkable fossils, back in 2016, Everything Dinosaur wrote an article about the remnants of a bird’s wing that had been preserved trapped in amber.

To read more: Bird Wing Trapped In Amber

Later that year, Everything Dinosaur reported on discovery of a fragment of a dinosaur’s tail that had been found preserved inside amber.  That remarkable specimen was studied by a number of the researchers who contributed to the study of this baby bird fossil.

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

The scientific paper: “A mid-Cretaceous Enantiornithine (Aves) Hatchling Preserved in Burmese Amber with Unusual Plumage” by Lida Xing, Jingmai K. O’Connor, Ryan C. McKellar, Luis M. Chiappe, Kuowei Tseng, Gang Li, Ming Bai published in Gondwana Research.

12 06, 2017

Dinosaurs of China – Exhibits Arrive

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

Chinese Takeaway Delivered Safe and Sound

The amazing dinosaur exhibits that form this summer’s world exclusive Dinosaurs of China exhibition have arrived safe and sound at their Nottinghamshire venues.  This exciting exhibition, which features a number of specimens that have not been seen outside of Asia before, opens on Saturday, July 1st and the dedicated staff at Wollaton Hall and the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre with the collaboration of technicians from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing, have just three weeks to put all the exhibits together.

Unloading Giant Dinosaur Vertebrae

Unloading an exhibit (Dinosaurs of China).

Vertebrae from the giant Mamenchisaurus exhibit are carefully unloaded.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

Jumbo-Sized Jigsaw Puzzles

Before the exhibits can tell the fascinating story of how the dinosaurs evolved into birds, all the individual parts of the various dinosaurs have to be put together.  This is no mean feat, as Wollaton Hall will be home to a massive Mamenchisaurus dinosaur skeleton for the next five months.  The neck of Mamenchisaurus is a fraction under ten metres in length and it contains nineteen giant bones (cervical vertebrae).  The finished Mamenchisaurus exhibit will stand the same height as three double decker buses!

Unloading a Dinosaur at Wollaton Hall

Workmen unloading dinosaur dorsals.

The people unloading the exhibits provide a handy scale for the Mamenchisaurus specimen.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

After a fifty-day, five-thousand-mile trip from China to the UK, this is one Chinese takeaway that will take a lot of careful handling.

The main exhibition at Wollaton Hall will feature twenty-six prehistoric animal skeletons and fossils that include some of the best-preserved specimens in the world.  Dr Adam Smith, Exhibition Curator, commented:

“It’s absolutely incredible to have the Dinosaurs of China here, having completed their two-month long, inter-continental journey.  Seeing such important finds up close is really thrilling and we can’t wait to start the installation process so we can share them with the rest of the country this summer!”

Dr Adam Smith Checks Over a Specimen

Checking over an exhibit.

Counting the bones – all present and correct.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

Visitors to the complementary exhibition at Nottingham Lakeside Arts will be greeted by two fascinating dinosaur skeletons – the Alxasaurus, which when it was alive, was probably covered in a coat of shaggy feathers and the fearsome Early Jurassic Dilophosaurus.   Dilophosaurus has two, thin, bony crests that ran from the top of its nose to the back of its head, hence this dinosaur’s name which means “double-crested lizard”.

Dilophosaurus “Double Crested Lizard”

Dilophosaurus dinosaur model.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Dilophosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Dilophosaurus Puzzle

The Dilophosaurus fossils found in China, may not be Dilophosaurus at all!  Some palaeontologists think that these fossils belong to a different, but related dinosaur called Sinosaurus (Sinosaurus triassicus).  That’s the great thing about palaeontology, new theories about these long extinct creatures are being put forward all the time, as more fossils are found.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“We are finding out new things about dinosaurs all the time!  That’s why this exhibition is so very special as it will give visitors the chance to learn about some of the most important dinosaur discoveries ever made.”

Preparing for the Dinosaur Exhibits

Preparing for the dinosaur exhibit.

Preparing a steel frame to help support a dinosaur exhibit.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

Lots of Family-Friendly Activities

Nottingham Lakeside Arts have lots of exciting family-friendly activities planned including an interactive exhibition that will explore how palaeo-art and science helps palaeontologists to work out what dinosaurs looked like.  Check out Nottingham University’s Life Science collection that will also be on display.

There will also be plenty of exciting activities and workshops to keep families entertained at Wollaton Hall too.  A free “Dino Explorer Zone” is being installed to provide families with a range of themed activities and puzzles.

All in all, there’s enough going on to make every young dinosaur fan roar with excitement and for the mums, dads, grandparents and guardians, you can expect to learn something new about these amazing prehistoric monsters.

Tickets for the exhibition are now on sale.  Prices are £7.70 for an adult and £5.50 for a child.  Family tickets are £22 for two adults and two children.  Children under five go free, so there really is no excuse – catch up with the dinosaurs from July 1st until October 29th!

For more information, please visit Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

11 06, 2017

How Did the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry Get Its Name?

By | June 11th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

How Did the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry Get Its Name?

After having published an article on a new theory explaining the mass death dinosaur assemblage preserved at the Cleveland-Lloyd fossil site in the Morrison Formation (Brushy Basin Member), we were sent an email asking how the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry got its name if the site is a long way from Cleveland, Ohio?

Students Excavate the Bones of an Allosaurus from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry (Utah)

Working at Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

Students excavate the bones of an Allosaurus (Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry).

Picture Credit: Joe Peterson

The picture above shows Indiana University of Pennsylvania students Alex Patch, Heather Furlong and Josh Colastante working on the jumbled fossil bones of an Allosaurus at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

It is true, the fossil site, which represents the greatest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur fossils known to science, is a very long way from the city of Cleveland, but it is near the small town of Cleveland, Emery County, in Utah.  This famous fossil site was named in part, as it was close to the town of Cleveland.  The second part of the hyphenated name “Lloyd” is all to do with funding,

Map Showing Sites, Stratigraphic Section Line, and Regional Stratigraphy in Context of the San Rafael Swell

Location of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

Map showing sites, stratigraphic section line, and regional stratigraphy in context of the San Rafael Swell.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

In the picture above CLDQ marks the location of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and JONS indicates the location of the nearby Johnsonville fossil site in Utah.  The inset map shows the location of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in relation to the rest of the state of Utah.

To read the article: The Mystery of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

Where Did the Lloyd Part of the Name Come From?

The site was first discovered in 1927, the first extensive excavations commenced in 1929, (University of Utah).  The siltstones were deposited in the Late Jurassic and the strata makes up part of the Brushy Basin Member at the northern end of the San Rafael Swell.  For the next decade, regular expeditions to the site were undertaken and these were funded, in the most part, by a lawyer from Philadelphia called Malcolm Lloyd.  This is how the famous dinosaur dig site came to be named.

The quarry is world-famous for its very high concentration of dinosaur bones.  The scattered remains of over seventy dinosaurs are believed to be present, representing nine dinosaur genera.  However, around two-thirds of all the bones are attributable to a single dinosaur taxon Allosaurus fragilis.  Most of the other bonebeds associated with the Morrison Formation contain a higher proportion of herbivorous dinosaurs. Furthermore, when the A. fragilis material is assessed over 85% of the fossils represent juveniles or sub-adults of the species.

Further exploration of this extremely fossil rich location is planned.

So, the site with the greatest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur bones known to science was named after a lawyer from Philadelphia and the nearest township.

Stegosaurus Fossil Material is Known from the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

A skull of a Stegosaurus.

A Stegosaurus skull (Los Angeles Museum)

Picture Credit: Los Angeles Museum

10 06, 2017

Mojo Models Feature in Newsletter

By | June 10th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter Features Mojo Models

Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models feature in the latest edition of the Everything Dinosaur newsletter.  To celebrate Mojo models coming into stock at Everything Dinosaur, the latest company newsletter was dedicated to these excellent prehistoric animal models.

Mojo Fun Prehistoric Animal Figures Feature in the Everything Dinosaur Newsletter

Mojo prehistoric animal models.

Everything Dinosaur features Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models in the latest newsletter.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has introduced all thirty-one of the current figures made by Mojo in their “Prehistoric and Extinct” model range.  Unlike most other figure manufacturers, the Mojo range includes some recently extinct (or at least currently regarded as extinct), animals – creatures such as the Thylacine and the Quagga (a sub-species of Plains Zebra)*.  Naturally, the first model to be featured in the newsletter is the T. rex, specifically the green hunting Tyrannosaurus rex.  Mojo has a total of six “Tyrant Lizard King” replicas in its range, including a spectacular 1:40 scale model, which can be seen in the picture below (bottom right), as well as a model of a juvenile T. rex.

Marine Reptiles and Prehistoric Mammals in the Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” Range

Mojo prehistoric animal models.

Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” animal figures.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun – Animal Planet

Mojo was founded eight years ago (2009), the company focuses on the design and production of high quality models.  Better known as “Mojofun”, the first model range was introduced in 2011 and the company’s product portfolio has grown steadily since.  The enthusiastic Mojo team members have plenty of ambition, they intend to continue to create the finest quality models that they can and to increase the range of animals featured.

The thirty-one models in the “Prehistoric & Extinct” range represent a total of nineteen different creatures, all of them are either reptiles or mammals and they lived during the Mesozoic or the Cenozoic Eras.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • Dinosaurs = nine dinosaurs represented (4 carnivores and 5 herbivores).
  • Prehistoric Mammals = six animals are represented.
  • Recently Extinct* = two models (Thylacine – Tasmanian Tiger and the Quagga)
  • Marine Reptiles = one model (Tylosaurus)
  • Prehistoric Crocodile = one model (Sarcosuchus)

Several of the Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models have recently been re-painted, allowing a number of new colour variants to be introduced.  The Mojo Parasaurolophus models are a case in point (see picture below).

Mojo Parasaurolophus Models (Biped and Quadruped)

Mojo Parasaurolophus dinosaurs.

The Mojo Parasaurolophus dinosaur models (biped and quadruped).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Studies of the fossilised bones of the duck-billed dinosaur Parasaurolophus indicate that this large, Late Cretaceous dinosaur was a facultative biped.  It probably spent most of its time on all fours, but when the need arose, for example, to flee an attacking Tyrannosaur, this dinosaur could run using just its hind legs.  We congratulate Mojo for including two versions of Parasaurolophus in its model range – one in a bipedal pose, the other representing Parasaurolophus as a quadruped.

Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” Models

Almost as many mammal models are included in the ” Prehistoric and Extinct” range as dinosaurs.  Model collectors have seen the number of prehistoric animal models in production decline in recent years, the addition of figures such as the Mojo Smilodon, Deinotherium and the Entelodont Daeodon, to Everything Dinosaur’s inventory is very welcome.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Mojo produces Velociraptor, Triceratops and Stegosaurus models and of course, this range offers a variety of Tyrannosaurs, but one of the attractions for us is that Mojo also offers some of the less common prehistoric animals such as a Hyaenodon replica and a Brontotherium.  We know that these types of replicas are greatly appreciated by model collectors.”

To view the range of Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Prehistoric and Extinct Models

Extinction*

The last known Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), died in captivity in 1936.  It is officially recognised as extinct, but a genetic research programme has been established for nearly twenty years with the aim of ultimately re-introducing these animals via cloning.  In addition, periodic sightings and reports of living Thylacines both from Tasmania and the Australian mainland have prompted a team of scientists to set camera traps in a remote part of northern Queensland to see if they can obtain evidence of a living population.  To read more about this: The Hunt for Tasmanian Tigers.

The Quagga Project was established in 1987 to reintroduce Quagga-like phenotypes via a selective breeding programme.

9 06, 2017

The Mystery of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

By | June 9th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Has the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry Mystery Been Solved?

One of the most prolific dinosaur fossil sites to be found anywhere in the world lies thirty miles to the south of the town of Price in Utah.  The site is close to the small community of Cleveland (Emery County) and some 15,000 dinosaur bones have been collected from this site to date.  The strata represent Upper Jurassic siltstone (Brushy Basin member of the Morrison Formation) and this location is the densest collection of Jurassic dinosaur fossils known to science.

Since the first excavations were carried out in the late 1920’s, palaeontologists have been puzzled by the assemblage of vertebrate fossils they found.  Although, carnivorous dinosaurs were probably less common in the palaeoenvironment than the plant-eaters, at this site, the fossils of Theropods (carnivores) outnumbers the fossils of herbivorous dinosaurs by almost three to one.  In addition, the most common dinosaur fossil material is Allosaurus, the bones of this large dinosaur are extremely numerous at least forty-six individuals (based on femur bone counts) are recorded.

A Mounted Skeleton of the Late Jurassic Carnivore Allosaurus

An Allosaurus skeleton.

Allosaurus fossils dominate the Cleveland-Lloyd quarry fossil assemblage.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For nearly one hundred years, palaeontologists have puzzled over this unique fossil assemblage.  Why is this particular location so full of the bones of carnivorous dinosaurs?  Why are the vast majority of these bones from a single genus – Allosaurus?

A Pie Chart Showing the Proportion of Different Dinosaur Fossils from the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry

Cleveland-Lloyd fossil assemblage.

A pie chart showing the proportion of dinosaur fossils by genus.

Picture Credit: PeerJ with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The pie chart above lists dinosaur fauna plus one turtle (Glyptops) and a crocodyliform (Goniopholis) from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.  The bone symbol identifies meat-eating dinosaurs and the fir tree, plant-eating dinosaurs.  The fossils of Allosaurus dominate the bonebed.

Theories Explaining the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry Bonebed

Several theories have been suggested as to what caused the build-up of dinosaur fossils at this location and why the majority of them represent one carnivorous genus.

  • This was a predator trap.  A pond attracted dinosaurs to the site as it was a source of water in the dry season.  These animals got stuck in the mud and they died, this in turn attracted scavengers who also become stuck and perished.
  • This site could mark a mass death assemblage of a lot of dinosaurs which died in a drought.
  • Was the water source toxic and this poisoned a lot of dinosaurs?  The rotting corpses attracted scavengers and these too were poisoned.

Writing in the academic journal “PeerJ” a team of researchers have put forward a new theory to explain the unusual taphonomy (the process of fossilisation).  The use of modern data techniques suggests that the quarry represents a series of catastrophic events that occurred at the same place over time, rather than a single mass death assemblage.

The research team, which included lead author Joseph Peterson (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh), conclude that the myriad of small bone fragments found at the site, were created during periods of drought as bones which were not buried were weathered and eroded away on the surface.  Dinosaur carcasses were washed into the site which represented a temporary (seasonal or ephemeral pond) during frequent flood events.  As the corpses decayed, they led to very high levels of minerals and organic material in the water (hypereutrophic conditions).  This discouraged scavenging (which explains the lack of gnaw marks and other evidence of scavenging by predators at the site).  As more flood events took place, so more corpses were washed into the area and the existing skeletons were re-deposited.  Hence the jumble of bones.  The hypereutrophic water created an environment in which fish, turtles and crocodiles could survive and carnivorous dinosaurs were dissuaded from eating the carcasses.  Only a handful of crocodyliform teeth have been found at the Cleveland-Lloyd site, along with some turtle shell fragments, whereas, elsewhere in the Morrison Formation, turtle and crocodyliform teeth are much more numerous.

Explaining the Unusual Bonebed at the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry Site

How did the Cleveland-Lloyd fossil site form?

Explaining how the Cleveland-Lloyd fossil site came into being.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

The image above reflects the newly proposed theory as to how the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry formed.

(A) A flood causes the carcasses of dinosaurs to be deposited in the quarry area.  High levels of organic matter decaying leads to hypereutrophy (an excess of minerals in the water source).  This discourages predators from scavenging and deters freshwater fauna such as fish, turtles and crocodile-like creatures.

(B) As water levels fall during the dry season, bones that were not buried during the flood stage remain exposed on the surface.

(C) In arid conditions the surface bones are subjected to weathering and erosion.

(D) A subsequent flood event leads to more carcasses being incorporated and the reworking of existing bones within the deposit.

The scientists conclude that this cycle was repeated until the deposit maintained a higher water table, producing the limestone layers above the bone-bearing silts and muds.

A Model of the Fearsome Late Jurassic Predator Allosaurus (A. fragilis)

Schleich dinosaur model (Allosaurus).

The new for 2017 Schleich Allosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

8 06, 2017

Megalosaurus Fossil Still Surprises

By | June 8th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

World’s First Named Dinosaur Reveals New Teeth

The fossils that led to the first scientific account of a dinosaur can still provide some surprises, even 193 years after the original paper describing them was published.  The first dinosaur to be scientifically described Megalosaurus (M. bucklandii), has stepped once more into the spotlight.  A team of researchers have discovered five new teeth within the lower jaw fossil of the world’s first named dinosaur.

Megalosaurus Fossils Used to Describe the First Dinosaur in 1824

Megalosaurus teeth and jaws.

Views of the dentary (lower jaw) and individual teeth (lectotype Megalosaurus).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the original lithograph of the right dentary of Megalosaurus.  The jawbone is show in lingual* view (top) and in buccal** view (middle) with drawings of individual teeth (bottom).

Using state-of-the-art computer tomography scanning technology and three-dimensional computer generated modelling software, the researchers from the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), an academic department at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Oxford’s Museum of Natural History have been able to provide new insights about one of the most iconic fossils in the world.

One of the authors of the study, presented this week at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)’s conference in Italy, Professor Mark Williams stated:

“Being able to use state-of-the-art technology, normally reserved for aerospace and automotive engineering, to scan such a rare and iconic natural history specimen was a fantastic opportunity.  When I was growing up I was fascinated with dinosaurs and clearly remember seeing pictures of the Megalosaurus jaw in books that I read.  Having access to and scanning the real thing was an incredible experience.”

Famous Dinosaur Jawbone

In 1824, the Reverend William Buckland published a description of various fossils that had been found as quarrying tunnels were excavated at Stonesfield, north of Witney in Oxfordshire.  The fossils had been found some years before, the dentary having been placed in the collection of the Oxford Anatomy School at Christchurch College (Oxford) in 1797.  Reverend Buckland believed the fossilised bones and teeth came from a giant, antediluvian lizard, hence the name “Big Lizard”, Megalosaurus having been proposed by James Parkinson in 1822.

A 19th Century Interpretation of Megalosaurus Compared to a Modern Interpretation of M. bucklandii

The changing view of Megalosaurus.

A modern interpretation of Megalosaurus (left) with a reconstruction based on the original illustration by Richard Owen (right).

Picture Credit: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick

The illustration above shows an artist’s impression of how Victorian palaeontologists such as Richard Owen thought the Megalosaurus looked (right), compared with a modern interpretation of this Middle Jurassic carnivore.

Digital Three-Dimensional Image of the Dentary

Using state of the art CT scanning technology and specialist three-dimensional analysis software, Professor Williams took more than 3,000 X-ray images of the world-famous Megalosaurus jawbone, creating a digital three-dimensional computer generated image.  The image revealed five previously unseen teeth embedded in the dentary and also provided important insights into historical repairs.  It turns out that there is actually less plaster and filler in the fossil, as this technique has allowed scientists to see the extent of the infilling and repairs for the first time.

Megalosaurus bucklandii was Probably an Apex Predator

The Megalosaurus model (Oxford Museum)

Dinosaur in the Garden (Megalosaurus)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The specimen is damaged, it is likely that some of the damage occurred when the fossil was excavated but over the two hundred years since the fossil was found some restoration work has taken place.  For example, records at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where the specimen is housed, show that sometime between 1927 and 1931 repairs to the jawbone took place.  The scans show the true extent of repairs on the fossil for the first time, revealing that there may have been at least two phases of repair, using different types of plaster.  This new information will help the museum make important decisions about any future restoration work on this iconic fossil.

The analysis also revealed the presence of five teeth that had not been detected before.  The teeth consist of the remains of old, worn and broken teeth plus embryonic replacement teeth.  Unlike us, Megalosaurus was able to continually replace its teeth throughout its life.  The replacement tooth grew inside the jaw, adjacent to the root of the active tooth on the lingual* side of the jaw.  A full-sized, but very thin crown formed first and this grew in thickness as more layers of dentine were added.  The growth of the embryonic tooth placed pressure on the active tooth root, causing the root to become slowly reabsorbed into the jawbone.  The replacement tooth was able to push itself inside the old tooth root and effectively usurp that tooth from the socket in the jaw where it had been located.  The old, worn tooth having been weakened, would most likely break and the crown would be lost, permitting the younger tooth to replace it in the jawline.  A similar process is seen in extant Crocodylia today.

Helping to Identify Forgeries

This research was made possible through a collaboration between Professor Williams’ research group at WMG, University of Warwick – including PhD researcher Paul Wilson – and Professor Paul Smith, director of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.   When not being scanned or used in other research, the Megalosaurus jawbone forms part of an extensive British dinosaur fossil display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

An ability to utilise a non-invasive technique to map fossil material provides palaeontologists and conservators with vital information about the preservation status of a specimen.  It also identifies and maps any repairs that have taken place previously.  In addition, this technique which does not harm the fossil, can detect the presence of filler and other modifications often added by unscrupulous dealers to raise the potential value of their fossil finds.

Forgeries and hoaxes have no hiding place when it comes to CT scans.

The research was recently presented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)’s International Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference in Torino, Italy.

The scientific paper, “Utilising X-Ray Computed Tomography for Heritage Conservation: The case of Megalosaurus bucklandii”

* lingual view = a view of the side of the jaw that is adjacent to the tongue.

** buccal view = a view of the side of the jaw that is adjacent to the cheek.

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