All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/2017
27 09, 2017

New T. rex Documentary Coming Soon to the BBC

By | September 27th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Press Releases, TV Reviews|0 Comments

T. rex” Documentary with Chris Packham

Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham will be presenting a special one-hour documentary on the “King of the Tyrant Lizards”.  Sources close to Everything Dinosaur expect this television programme to form part of the corporation’s Christmas 2017 schedule.

Chis Packham Brings Tyrannosaurus rex to Television

Chris Packham naturalist.

Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham will narrate a documentary about T. rex.

Picture Credit: BBC

New Insight into the Life and Behaviour of an Apex Late Cretaceous Predator

Life-long dinosaur fan Chris Packham once told Everything Dinosaur team members that one of the first things he made at school was a plasticine model of T. rex.  His model with its kangaroo stance and tail dragging on the floor was based on pictures of Tyrannosaurus rex he had encountered in books.  In the fifty years or so, since Chris made that model, our understanding of this iconic Late Cretaceous predator has been transformed.  This sixty-minute, one-off television programme, aims to bring viewers up to date and combines state-of-the-art computer animation and the very latest research into one of the largest land carnivores known to science.

Viewers Can Expect T. rex to be Depicted with a Shaggy Coat of Feathers

CollectA hunting T. rex model.

A hunting T. rex.  The latest dinosaur models show T. rex as a feathered dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the programme, Chris embarks on a journey to expose the myths and misconceptions surrounding T. rex.  He aims to separate the science from the often inaccurate portrayal of this dinosaur as seen in many movies.  Viewers can expect further information about the running speed of this 7-tonne monster, it is unlikely there will be any scenes with a Tyrannosaur chasing down a jeep à la Jurassic Park.  Taking inspiration from the “Tyrannosaur Chronicles – The Biology of the Tyrant Dinosaurs” by palaeontologist Dr David Hone (London University), the programme will explore the biology, diet, behaviour and anatomy of T. rex.

The Truth Behind an Iconic Theropod

Chris will meet numerous international experts and joins an excavation site in the Badlands of South Dakota to see how fossilised bones are excavated and prepared for study.  One of the aims of the production team will be to produce the most accurate CGI model of a T. rex created to date, that’s a long way from the plasticine figure from Chris Packham’s childhood.  Expect to see plenty of feathers in what is being hailed as a trailblazing documentary blending the latest research from palaeontologists, ideas from zoologists and ground-breaking computer technology.

To help put “flesh on the bones”, as it were, Chris will have access to Tristan (Tristan Otto), one of the most complete T. rex specimens ever found.  Discovered in 2010 in the Hell Creek Formation (Montana), some 170 bones from a single individual have been collected.  Tristan is housed in the vertebrate fossil collection of the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin).  It is the only actual fossil T. rex skeleton exhibit in Europe and a team of scientists are currently involved in an extensive research project to learn more about the life and times of this twelve-metre-long monster.

“Tristan Otto” on Display at the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin, Germany)

"Tristan" Tyrannosaurus rex on display (Berlin).

“Tristan Otto” the T. rex specimen on display in Berlin.

Picture Credit: Carola Radke (Museum für Naturkunde)

The documentary makers promise new information and insights into Tyrannosaur brain function and more details on those deadly, bone crushing jaws.

Chris Packham commented:

“Big, fierce and extinct!  It’s the most famous, most glamorous poster pin-up in the zoological world; it’s the greatest animal that ever lived.  And yet perhaps the most misrepresented too.  It’s time to put that right.  T. rex has evolved more in my lifetime than the last 65 million years.  It’s gone from a grey tail-dragging dullard to an intelligent, social super-predator.  Using science, we will at last tell the truth about T. rex.  Don’t bother to put the kettle on!”

Dinosaur fans in the UK can expect this documentary to light up their Christmas viewing, it will probably be available in other countries too, as broadcasting rights get sorted.

“T. rex” for BBC2 is a co-production between Talesmith and Cineflix.  The Executive Producer is Martin Williams and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Diene Petterle.

26 09, 2017

California Adopts a State Dinosaur

By | September 26th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Augustynolophus Makes the Grade

The duck-billed dinosaur Augustynolophus morrisi has become the state dinosaur symbol for California. “Auggie” as this Late Cretaceous member of the Hadrosaurinae has been nick-named by campaigners, joins a long list of symbols for the “Golden State”.  Thus, California becomes the eighth state in the Union to adopt a dinosaur as an official state symbol.

Hadrosaur Becomes the State Dinosaur for California

Augustynolophus image.

Augustynolophus has now become California’s dinosaur symbol.

Picture Credit: Augustynolophus Twitter Account

The End of a Long Campaign

It was back in April that Everything Dinosaur first reported on moves within the Californian Senate to adopt a duck-billed dinosaur as a symbol for one of the most populous parts of the United States.  The Assembly member for Santa Monica, Richard Bloom, put forward the legislation for this long extinct reptile to become honoured in this way.  The fossils of this eight to ten-metre-long herbivore come from Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian deposits).  The fossil material, including several elements from the skull, have been excavated from marine deposits of the Moreno Formation, strata more frequently associated with Mosasaurs and Plesiosaurs.  It is likely that rivers in spate occasionally washed the carcasses of these dinosaurs out into the sea, the bodies settled on the seabed and were rapidly buried, thus preventing the corpses being broken up by scavengers.  California is the only place in the world where fossils of this particular duck-billed dinosaur have been found.  Two specimens are known, both are part of the vertebrate fossil collection of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

To read this earlier article: Moves to Adopt a Dinosaur State Symbol for California

Governor Jerry Brown announced earlier this week that the signing of a bill making “Auggie” one of the official insignia of California had taken place.

Once Saurolophus, now Augustynolophus but Always Californian

The first fossil evidence for the dinosaur that was to eventually become the newest Californian state symbol was found in the Panoche Hills of Fresno County in 1939.  A second specimen was excavated from strata in the nearby San Benito County two years later.  The excavation work was undertaken by field teams from the California Institute of Technology.  Both specimens were originally assigned to the Hadrosaur genus Saurolophus, a dinosaur that was first named and described in 1912 from fossils discovered in Canada.

Researchers Excavating the Fresno County Fossil Find (1940)

Augustynolophus excavation.

A field team from the California Institute of Technology excavating the fossils of Augustynolophus.

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

A review of the fossil specimens led to an assignment of a new species within the Saurolophus genus – S. morrisi (2013), however, a more recent reassessment, involving a number of scientists from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, established that there were enough differences in the fossilised bones to permit the establishment of a new genus.  The species name honours Dr William J. Morris, a notable American palaeontologist who did much to improve our understanding of Mesozoic reptiles found in California.  The genus name, which was formally adopted in 2014, pays tribute to Mrs Gretchen Augustyn, a long-time supporter of the Earth sciences and a former Trustee for the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Palaeontology in Claremont, California.

Helping to Spark an Interest in Science, History and Education

Augustynolophus (pronounced Awe-gus-tine-oh-loaf-us), was closely related to Saurolophus, but just three years after being placed into its own genus, the dinosaur has been honoured by becoming one of around thirty state symbols for the most heavily populated state in the Union.  It is not California’s state fossil, that accolade goes to Smilodon californicus, however, after sixty-six million years one of California’s oldest vertebrate residents has been recognised.  Some might think that such insignia are not important, but it is hoped that by raising the profile of the Dinosauria in this way, an interest in science, local history and the story of California will be sparked.

Fossils of Augustynolophus morrisi on Display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Augustynolophus fossils

Augustynolophus fossils on display.

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

25 09, 2017

Tyrannosaur Inspired Diorama

By | September 25th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaurs Feature in Dinosaur Diorama

Our thanks to Robert Townsend who set us some more photographs of the prehistoric animal inhabitants of his large dinosaur inspired diorama.  This time, the theme is Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaurus and the enthusiastic model maker has created a number of mini scenes featuring “Tyrant Lizard Kings” and their contemporaries.

A Pair of Tyrannosaurs Feeding on the Carcass of a Titanosaur

Two Tyrannosaurs feeding on the carcass of a Titanosaur.

A pair of Tyrannosaurs feeding on the carcass of a Titanosaur.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

The picture above shows a Wild Safari Prehistoric World T. rex (foreground) with a now retired, Carnegie Collectables special anniversary T. rex replica (background).  Titanosaurs did co-exist with Tyrannosaurs, especially in the more southern parts of Laramidia.  The Titanosaur Alamosaurus sanjuanensis is known from Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage) deposits, there is some evidence to suggest that T. rex scavenged carcasses of this huge Sauropod, whether or not they actively hunted these giants remains open to debate.  If you look carefully a series of three-toed dinosaur prints can be seen in the photograph, a nice touch from the model maker, adding realism.

An Adult T. rex Feeds a Juvenile

An adult T. rex feeds its baby.

T. rex mother and baby (feeding time).

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

One of the benefits of building such a large diorama is that various mini-scenes can be incorporated into the bigger scenario.  The photograph above shows an adult T. rex feeding a juvenile, one of the Schleich mini dinosaur figures.  In the picture below, an armoured dinosaur Euoplocephalus (from the Battat Terra range of figures) battles a T. rex.

Tyrannosaurus rex Attacks Euoplocephalus

T. rex and Euoplocephalus confrontation.

T. rex confronts Euoplocephalus.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

Detailed Prehistoric Animal Replicas and Models

As the number of detailed prehistoric animal models and replicas have increased, collectors have been keen to find new ways of displaying their collections.  Mr Townsend has constructed a substantial three-metre-long landscape that lends itself to a wide variety of scene building concepts representing different parts of the geological record.  For example, the Late Cretaceous of North America was the inspiration behind these images and horned dinosaurs made up a substantial portion of the megafauna in this part of the world at the end of the Mesozoic.  Robert does not disappoint dinosaur fans as he has included several Ceratopsians in his diorama.

Horned Dinosaurs (Einiosaurus and Achelousaurus) Confront Marauding Tyrannosaurs

A pair of Einiosaurus dinosaurs defend themselves against a couple of T. rex.

Two Tyrannosaurs face a pair of horned dinosaurs

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

It is the attention to detail that elevates this dinosaur diorama, such as the skilfully painted backdrop complete with Pterosaur stickers.  The attention to detail is demonstrated in this aerial shot of the landscape, a Tyrannosaur is making its way across the model and its tracks can be clearly made out in the substrate.

An Aerial Shot of the Dinosaur Diorama Showing a Theropod Trackway

T. rex making tracks.

T. rex footprints in a diorama.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

The image (above) also demonstrates the clever use of other props that add authenticity, such as the strategic placement of boulders and the use of various model plants to help represent the flora of the Mesozoic.

Plant Model Takes Centre Stage

T. rex lurks behind some prehistoric plants.

The Carnegie special edition Tyrannosaurus rex model behind a CollectA Monathesia and Cycad model.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

In this cleverly composed photograph, it is the model of the prehistoric plants that take centre stage (CollectA Monathesia and Cycads), this model is seen in sharp focus, whilst a Tyrannosaurus rex model is in the background, other prehistoric plants frame the photograph and provide perspective.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

” A large landscape such as this lends itself to all sorts of possibilities when it comes to depicting life in the past.  Much thought and care has gone into its construction and it is always a pleasure to see how Everything Dinosaur’s customers display their purchases.”

24 09, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Websites Upgraded to HTTPS

By | September 24th, 2017|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Websites – All Upgraded to HTTPS

As part of our on-going commitment to customer service, every one of Everything Dinosaur’s websites have completed the upgrade to HTTPS status.  This acronym stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure”, which means that the data sent between your browser and our website as you read this blog post is encrypted.  By upgrading from HTTP to HTTPS, were helping to protect your data from any third party that might want to have this information.  Although our blog site does not collect personal data, we welcome customer comments and feedback and, as a result, our visitors can be assured that Everything Dinosaur is taking their personal on-line security very seriously.

All Everything Dinosaur’s Websites Have HTTPS Security

Helping to keep visitors safe and secure (HTTPS).

The Everything Dinosaur blog site has HTTPS.  Helping to keep visitor data safe and secure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our TLS (Transport Layer Security protocols), are used to encrypt the transmitted information to secure identities and other personal information in cyberspace.   As a general guideline, all websites should have a TLS or, as it is sometimes known, a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to ensure data integrity, effective encryption and to support website authentication.  Even though this blog site (our dinosaurs for schools site as well), does not collect financial information or personal data of that nature, with the big search engines placing greater emphasis on security, we thought it would be best to convert all our sites to HTTPS, not just or main website: Everything Dinosaur.

Building Trust Helping to Avoid Nasty Surprises

When someone visits this blog site, our on-line shop, or visits our specialist site for schools: Dinosaur Workshops in School they can be assured that they are visiting a secure site.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“With the HTTPS configuration users can be assured that the website is secured and they can be confident exploring our huge web log, after all, just like the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, nobody likes nasty surprises!”

Everything Dinosaur’s Secure Websites Helps Avoid Nasty Surprises

The extinction of the dinosaurs.

HTTPS helps avoid nasty surprises.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Benefits of HTTPS on Websites

Having upgraded to HTTPS is not going to protect the planet from extra-terrestrial impacts, however there are a number of benefits such as:

  • Authentication – HTTPS ensures that users communicate with the intended website, it prevents data hijacking and “middle-man” attacks.  When you communicate with us via our websites, be it by leaving comments, placing orders, or by other means, you can be assured that you are communicating with us.
  • Encryption – Safe from unwanted eavesdroppers, when sending data via HTTPS, no-one can “listen in”, data cannot be tracked across multiple pages and information cannot be stolen.
  • Integrity of data – Information cannot be changed, modified or corrupted during the transfer.

Everything Dinosaur’s Commercial Website Upgraded to HTTPS Some Time Ago

HTTPS a secure website.

New security safeguards added to Everything Dinosaur’s website.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Search engines in future may notify browsers that they are visiting a site without HTTPS, but you can always check by examining the websites address in the page tool bar.

23 09, 2017

Crunchy Crustaceans and Rotting Wood on the Menu for Dinosaurs

By | September 23rd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Kaiparowits, Coprolites, Crustaceans and Consumption

This week sees the publication of a new scientific paper that questions the strictly herbivorous diet of Ornithischian dinosaurs.  Writing in the journal “Scientific Reports”, the researchers, which include lead author, Associate Professor Karen Chin, (University of Colorado, Boulder), describe the contents of several coprolites (dinosaur dung), from numerous sites in the Upper Cretaceous Kaiparowits Formation.  Turns out that some hefty Late Cretaceous herbivores were tucking into a smorgasbord of rotting wood, insects and crustaceans, despite the fact that when these dinosaurs lived, approximately 75 million-years-ago, this part of Laramidia was a botanist’s paradise.

Associate Professor Karen Chin Picking at Some Potential Prehistoric Poo

The quest for dinosaur coprolite

Karen Chin (Department of Geological Sciences and Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado Boulder), searching for coprolite.

Picture Credit: University of Colorado, Boulder (Colorado)

Herbivorous Dinosaurs were Not Strictly Herbivores

Direct evidence of the diet of a dinosaur is not usually found, but there is some evidence, plant remains and other matter which is present in the body cavity for example.  Then there is the assessment of tooth wear at the microscopic layer, an analysis such as this when compared to the wear patterns on the teeth of extant animals can prove helpful, but most of our knowledge about dinosaur diet has been inferred from studying their fossilised faeces.  In this new study, the researchers describe the fossilised faecal matter (coprolites) that indicate a recurring consumption of crustaceans and rotting wood.  The scientists conclude that this may have been seasonal behaviour, with female duck-billed dinosaurs seeking out additional calcium and protein to help supplement their diets in preparation for egg laying.  Many species of avian dinosaur (birds), adopt similar feeding strategies today, deliberately selecting food items that contain calcium, copious quantities of which are needed if the female is going to be able to produce healthy, viable eggs.

The Remains of the Shell of a Crustacean Found in the Dinosaur Coprolite

The cuticle of a crustacean found in dinosaur dung.

The black objects represent the exoskeleton of a crustacean within the dinosaur coprolite (scale bar -= 2 mm).

Picture Credit: University of Colorado, Boulder (Colorado)

In mammals, the calcium taste receptor gene has recently been discovered, the same gene may exist in other Tetrapods – birds for instance.  It is also known that taste buds in different species are sometimes co-opted into undertaking different taste functions, so birds and by implication, their extinct close relatives the Dinosauria, might well have had specific calcium detecting sensors on their tongues or elsewhere in their mouths.  There is still a lot we don’t know about eggs of living dinosaurs, (birds) and we must be careful not to draw too many conclusions from this fossil evidence. However, this paper supports similar research undertaken previously, when the coprolites of Ornithischian dinosaurs (seventeen fossilised faeces), were studied from the Two Medicine Formation of the United States.

Which Dinosaur “Dung” It?

The coprolites are similar to those from the Two Medicine Formation, these trace fossils were attributed to the duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura.  The scientists cannot be certain as to what type of dinosaur produced this Kaiparowits Formation dung, there are a number of potential candidates.  Several bird-hipped dinosaurs are associated with the various bedding planes of the Kaiparowits Formation from which the coprolites were excavated, but which of these produced the dung, which dinosaur “dung” it?

Firstly, the coprolites are large, with some of them having an estimated volume of around ten litres, this rules out a hypsilophodontid, along with the Pachycephalosaur known from this formation.  Whichever type of dinosaur produced the dung, it must have possessed multi-toothed dental batteries capable of handling the coarse diet.  This probably rules out a Thyreophoran (armoured dinosaur).  That leaves three described genera of Ceratopsian – there is a Centrosaurine taxa -Nasutoceratops and two representatives of the Chasmosaurinae, namely Kosmoceratops and Utahceratops.  However, although both Ceratopsians and duck-billed dinosaurs possessed dental batteries, they chewed food in their mouths in different ways.  The scientists studying these coprolites concluded, that their constituents and their similarity to those fossil faeces ascribed to Maiasaura, suggests in all likelihood, that the coprolites were produced by a type of Hadrosaur.  Hadrosaurid bones are the most common body fossil associated with the Kaiparowits Formation and two genera are known, the crested Parasaurolophus (Lambeosaurinae) and the Hadrosaurine Gryposaurus.

Gryposaurus – A Likely Candidate for the Coprolites

Gryposaurus scale drawing.

A scale drawing of the duck-billed dinosaur Gryposaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rotten Wood and Insects

The scientists propose that duck-billed dinosaurs actively sought out rotting wood and ingested this material.  It would have provided a source of carbon and the fungi helping to break down the cell walls might also have provided additional nutrition.  Copious invertebrates would probably have been eaten too.  Many of these herbivores would have accidentally ingested small animals such as insects as they consumed leaves and other plants, but at least ten of the fifteen coprolites examined from three different stratigraphic layers, contained fragments of crustacean shells.  If these were crabs, the carapace of some of the specimens are several centimetres in diameter.  The researchers suggest that these herbivores would have known what they were eating, these fossils can be interpreted as evidence of plant-eating dinosaurs deliberately eating animals.  It might be reasonable to infer that these coprolites reflect a seasonal shift in the diet of herbivores, that might have related to the breeding cycle.  This interpretation of the fossil evidence provides yet another link between non-avian and avian dinosaurs.

Karen Chin summarised the research findings:

“While it is difficult to prove intent regarding feeding strategies, I suspect these dinosaurs targeted rotting wood because it was a great source of protein in the form of insects, crustaceans and other invertebrates.  If we take into account the size of the crustaceans and that they were probably wriggling when they were scooped up, the dinosaurs would have likely been aware of them and made a choice to ingest them.”

A few years ago, we remember seeing fragments of fossilised turtle, stuck between the teeth of a Camarasaurus.  At the time, we thought that this was as a result of the depositional process.  However, perhaps a pre-gravid Camarasaurus may have picked over the carcass of a turtle in a bid to pick up valuable nutrients.

Bits of Fossil Turtle Found in Between the Teeth of a Camarasaurus

Camarasaurus skull with turtle fossils in the teeth.

Camarasaurus skull with turtle fossil fragments in the teeth.

Picture Credit: Peter Larson Black Hills Institute of Geological Research

The scientific paper:  “Consumption of Crustaceans by Megaherbivorous Dinosaurs: Dietary flexibility and Dinosaur Life History Strategies” by Karen Chin, Rodney M. Feldmann & Jessica N. Tashman published in the open access journal “Scientific Reports”.

22 09, 2017

Countdown to TetZooCon 2017

By | September 22nd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

TetZooCon 2017 (October 21st, 2017)

The fourth annual Tetrapod zoology conference (TetZooCon), is rapidly approaching and for those of us used to dealing with deep geological time, the 21st October is coming around really fast!  Playing host to this Everything Dinosaur supported event, is The Venue, Malet Street, London and this year’s agenda is jam-packed with great speakers and super presentations.

TetZooCon – 2017

The TetZooCon logo for 2017

The Tetrapod Zoology Conference (October 21st 2017).

Picture Credit: Darren Naish/John Conway

A Wide Range of Scientific Topics

The organisers have once again provided a rich, diverse and varied range of topics with some notable book signings and a special palaeoart inspired activity that is being kept rather hush-hush for the moment.  If you have an interest in biology, animal behaviour, evolutionary history, ecology, conservation and all other matters related to Tetrapods, this conference is well-worth checking out.  Tickets are £50 per person for the whole day and booking details can be found here: Further Information and Booking Details for TetZooCon 2017.

Renowned palaeoartist, Pterosauria expert and author, Dr Mark Witton will once again be at TetZooCon, attendees will have the opportunity to acquire Dr Witton’s latest book “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”, a publication, Everything Dinosaur was invited to review a few weeks back*.

An illustration of a small herd of Machairoceratops dinosaurs by Mark Witton.

A herd of Machairoceratops dinosaurs making their way to TetZooCon (illustration by Mark Witton).

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The conference is open to anyone, this not a technical event or one that is only for professionals, if you have a fascination for dinosaurs, enjoy reading about the Earth sciences or an interest in fossils, then TetZooCon is ideal for you.  Last year’s event was a sell-out, so a bigger venue “The Venue” has been chosen this year.  If you like palaeoart, enjoy learning about how scientific discoveries are interpreted and illustrated, then get yourself booked!

One of the event organisers, Darren Naish, will brief conference participants on the latest developments in the world of cryptozoology and another highlight will undoubtedly be Beth Windle’s update on Thylacine research.  This is the fourth TetZooCon and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.

Everything Dinosaur Supports TetZooCon

Everything Dinosaur has provided a range of great goodies to help support this annual gathering. These will be available as prizes at the end of conference quiz.  One of the prizes donated is the amazing “Them – Age of Dinosaurs” with stunning illustrations by Zhao Chuang and text by Yang Yang and Mark Norrell.   This hardback book outlines the evolution of life using wonderful artwork and the copy we have donated to TetZooCon is the only one in Europe, as far as we are aware.

The Beautifully Illustrated Book – “Them – Age of Dinosaurs”

"Them - Age of Dinosaurs" book.

“Them – Age of Dinosaurs” by Zhao Chaung, Yang Yang and Mark Norrell.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Them – Age of Dinosaurs”

Combining scientific research with vivid prehistoric animal dioramas, life in the Mesozoic is revealed in all its spectacular, multi-coloured glory.  The illustrations are exquisite and this beautiful book might not be printed anymore, its future publication is in doubt.  Attendees at TetZooCon will have the chance to win this amazing prize, along with PNSO Tyrannosaurs and wonderful Rebor models.

One of the Stunning Illustrations from the Book

Amazing dinosaur illustrations.

Fantastic illustrations.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are delighted to support TetZooCon, this is a marvellous event for anyone with an interest in cryptozoology, biology, evolution and everything else covered in that well-written blog Tetrapod Zoology.  We congratulate Darren Naish, John Conway and all those involved in helping to bring about this annual event.”

We have been promised some photos of this year’s activities, presentations and attractions and we are looking forward to posting them up onto our various social media platforms.

The link for further information and to book tickets: Ticket Information and Booking Details

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”: A Review of “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”

21 09, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Cave Bear Model

By | September 21st, 2017|Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Papo Cave Bear Video Review (JurassicCollectables)

The latest video review from JurassicCollectables has been posted up and it features the wonderful Papo Cave Bear model.  This replica is one of two prehistoric mammals being added to the Papo “Les Dinosaures” model range this year.  The Smilodon replica has been delayed, so for the time being we have this Ursus spelaeus figure to admire.  In this short video review, (it lasts just under three minutes), the narrator takes us on a tour of this beautifully painted Papo model.

The JurassicCollectables Video Review of the New for 2017 Papo Cave Bear Model

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

It is great to see another prehistoric mammal added to the Papo range, especially after the retirement of the Woolly Rhino figure a couple of years ago and the recent news that the Papo baby Woolly Mammoth is going out of production*.   The JurassicCollectables video displays the quality of the paintwork and attention to detail on this model.  Thanks to “off-colour Alan” and a handy Tyrannosaurus rex, this video provides a good idea of the model’s size and scale.

The Distinct Sloping Forehead of U. spelaeus 

The narrator talks about the distinctive sloping forehead of Ursus spelaeus that helps to distinguish this model from more ubiquitous models of Brown Bears (Ursus arctos).  He also explains about some of the problems that can occur when trying to sculpt realistic looking fur on models of large mammals.

The Papo Cave Bear Figure (New for 2017)

The Papo Cave Bear Model.

A powerful looking Cave Bear model from Papo.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this excellent video, the narrator comments on the beautifully sculpted feet and paw pads.  The dynamic pose is discussed and the position of the hind legs noted.

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel has amassed well over 54,000 subscribers and has something like seven hundred dinosaur and prehistoric animal inspired videos.  We think this might be the first video review of a Cave Bear replica undertaken by the team at JurassicCollectables.

Everything Dinosaur recommends prehistoric animal enthusiasts and model fans to visit JurassicCollectables on YouTube and to subscribe: JurassicCollectables on YouTube

The Powerfully Built Cave Bear

Becoming extinct as recently as 24,000 years ago, the Cave Bear would have been known to the people of the Late Pleistocene.  It was a powerfully built animal, but not the largest bear that ever lived, a common misconception. True, a fully grown, male might have weighed as much as one tonne and when it reared up on its strong hind legs it could have stood more than 3.3 metres high, but the fossil remains of a South American Short-faced Bear (Arctotherium angustidens) indicate that this animal was much larger, weighing around 1.6 tonnes.

Everything Dinosaur Photographed the Papo Cave Bear Last Year

Cave Bear model by Papo.

Papo Cave Bear (dorsal view of one of the first models to be made).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Papo Cave Bear replica and the rest of the excellent Papo “Les Dinosaures” model range: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models

Our thanks once again to JurassicCollectables for producing such an interesting and informative video.

* Everything Dinosaur has blogged about Papo model retirements.  For an article that reveals which models are being dropped from the Papo range: New Papo for 2018 and Model Retirements

20 09, 2017

Beelzebufo ampinga- Consumer of Dinosaurs

By | September 20th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Giant Prehistoric Frog Capable of Tackling Small Dinosaurs

Ever since it was formally named and described back in 2008, the beach-ball-sized Late Cretaceous frog Beelzebufo (B. ampinga) has fascinated scientists.  The fossil record of frogs (Order Anura), is very poor, although these small, usually unobtrusive creatures have a long evolutionary history.  Imagine the surprise of palaeontologists when they discovered the fossilised remains of a 68 million-year-old monster frog in Upper Cretaceous deposits in Madagascar.

The Late Cretaceous Giant Frog Beelzebufo Compared to an Extant Bull Frog

Beelzebufo (Late Cretaceous) compared to an extant Bull Frog.

Beelzebufo ampinga illustrated.

Picture Credit: Associated Press

It had been speculated that this huge frog could have eaten small dinosaurs.  Writing in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports”, a team of researchers including scientists from the University of Adelaide have concluded that “the frog from hell” had a strong bite capable of tackling relatively large prey, including, potentially, reptiles, birds and mammals.  Small dinosaurs and juveniles of larger species of dinosaur could have been on Beelzebufo’s menu!

Scaling up the Bite Forces from South American Horned Frogs

The vast majority of the frogs and toads alive today have relatively weak jaws.  Most of these amphibians specialise in attacking prey much smaller than themselves such as insects and slugs.   However, one living group of frogs, the South American horned frogs (genus Ceratophrys), are an exception.  These large-mouthed frogs have voracious appetites and their comically big heads allow them to tackle much more substantial prey items.  By scaling up the bite force readings from these types of frogs, the researchers concluded that a frog the size of Beelzebufo could have had a bite force in excess of 2,200 newtons, that’s about twice as much force as a typical adult human can generate when the force of the bite from their molars is assessed.

Measuring the Bite Force of Ceratophrys

Measuring the bite force in extant horned frogs.

An individual Ceratophrys cranwelli biting a force transducer.

Picture Credit: University of Adelaide

One of the paper’s authors, Dr Marc Jones (University of Adelaide) explained:

“Unlike the vast majority of frogs which have weak jaws and typically consume small prey, horned frogs ambush animals as large as themselves, including other frogs, snakes, and rodents.  Their powerful jaws play a critical role in grabbing and subduing the prey.”

The study found that small horned frogs, with a head width of about 4.5 centimetres, can bite with a force of 30 newtons (N) or about 3 kg of pressure.  When these readings were scaled up to take into account much larger extant species, such as the horned frogs from South America, the researchers concluded that for frogs with a head width of around 10 centimetres a bite force of almost 500 newtons could be generated.

Based on their scaling data, the scientists estimated the bite force of the giant extinct frog Beelzebufo may have been up to 2,200 N, comparable to formidable mammalian predators such as female tigers and wolves.

Dr Jones stated:

“At this bite force, Beelzebufo would have been capable of subduing the small and juvenile dinosaurs that shared its environment.”

Persuading Frogs to Bite onto a Custom-made Force Transducer

Corresponding author for the scientific paper, Professor Kristopher Lappin of the Biological Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University, (California), outlined how the study was undertaken.  The scientists managed to persuade their amphibian subjects to bite down onto leather straps attached to a custom-made force transducer.  This device provided an accurate measurement of the amount of force being applied by the animal.

Professor Lappin said:

“This is the first time bite force has been measured in a frog and speaking from experience, horned frogs have quite an impressive bite and they tend not to let go.  The bite of a large Beelzebufo would have been remarkable, definitely not something I would want to experience.”

It seems those assumptions made by the original researchers back in 2008 were right, based on this evidence Beelzebufo would have been more than capable of snapping up a small dinosaur for dinner.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2008 article about the discovery of Beelzebufo and its implications for the radiation of frogs: Beelzebufo – The Frog from Hell

19 09, 2017

New Papo and Prehistoric Animal Model Retirements

By | September 19th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|2 Comments

Papo New Releases and Retirements (Les Dinosaures)

Just arrived at Everything Dinosaur, a limited edition Papo gift box dinosaur model set.  The Papo special edition gift box features two dinosaurs, a Papo juvenile Spinosaurus and a Papo Ceratosaurus.  The Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus is a new figure, Everything Dinosaur team members saw this model around twelve months ago, it is not known whether this super Spinosaurus will be available as an individual model in 2018.

The Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus and the Papo Ceratosaurus Special Edition Gift Box

Papo juvenile Spinosaurus and the Papo Ceratosaurus special edition gift box.

The Papo juvenile Spinosaurus and the Papo Ceratosaurus gift box.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus

The Papo juvenile Spinosaurus measures eighteen centimetres in length and like the similarly sized Ceratosaurus, it has an articulated lower jaw.  The skull and body proportions have been skilfully modelled by the Papo design team and this figure does look like a young animal.  The sail on the back is not quite as pronounced as it is in the Papo adult Spinosaurus replica and the paint scheme on the juvenile Spinosaurus is exquisite.  This pair of models are offered for sale in a special presentation gift box, or as the French would say “offre speciale”.

The Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus Model

Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus.

The Papo juvenile Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo special edition gift box can be found here: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

Papo Prehistoric Animal Model Retirements

There are going to be several models retired from the Papo “Les Dinosaures” range in 2018.  The Papo Pachyrhinosaurus figure, the Papo Baby Woolly Mammoth model and the baby brown T. rex are out of production and no more of these figures will be made, according to sources close to Everything Dinosaur.

Proposed Papo Model Retirements in 2018

Papo models due to retire in 2018.

The Papo Pachyrhinosaurus, Baby Woolly Mammoth and the Baby Brown T. rex are due to be retired in 2018.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo baby Woolly Mammoth and the baby brown Tyrannosaurus rex figures were introduced into the model range in 2012.  Originally, there were two baby T. rex figures, however, the green variant was retired some years ago.  As for the Papo juvenile Woolly Mammoth, as far as Everything Dinosaur team members are aware, this model will continue to be made next year.  It is the Papo baby Woolly Mammoth that is becoming extinct.

It is also sad to see the retirement of the Papo Pachyrhinosaurus figure.  This horned dinosaur model has proved to be very popular amongst Papo collectors.  The Papo Pachyrhinosaurus was introduced in 2010, within the Papo range there are still two Ceratopsians, naturally there is a Triceratops (adult and young), plus a brightly coloured Styracosaurus.

The Papo Pachyrhinosaurus is Being Retired

Papo Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All three of the retired models are still available from Everything Dinosaur, whilst stocks last.  The Papo prehistoric animal range can be viewed here: Papo Prehistoric Animals

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are delighted to see this special edition box set and the juvenile Spinosaurus is a very welcome addition to the Papo model portfolio.  We don’t know whether this model will be available as an individual piece but we have lobbied the senior management of Papo about this, however, no decision as to its future has been made.  Providing information on model retirements allows collectors and dinosaur fans to snap up any models before they become rare and start to sell on auction sites for silly prices.  There are some exciting new models from Papo coming next year and when we have permission to talk about them and show pictures we will post them up.”

18 09, 2017

Mysterious Dickinsonia Definitely an Animal

By | September 18th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Soft-bodied Dickinsonia – An Animal

The Late Proterozoic saw the evolution of a variety of bizarre, multi-cellular organisms, fossils of which, are extremely rare and what evidence we have, does little to shed light on where on the tree of life these organisms would sit.  Food chains existed but the organisms that made up the biota are so strange and so unlike anything alive today, it’s almost as if palaeontologists looking at Ediacaran fauna are studying life on another planet.  True, Earth back in the Ediacaran geological period (635 to 542 million years ago), was a very different place than it is now.  However, one group of scientists studying one type of Ediacaran organism – Dickinsonia, have confirmed previous studies that place this peculiar disc-shaped organism as definitely belonging to the Kingdom Animalia.  Dickinsonia, looks like nothing alive today, but it has been classified as metazoan, or possibly a placozoan – that puts it in the same Kingdom as you and me.

Dickinsonia – Classified as an Animal

Ediacaran fossils (Dickinsonia)

Dickinsonia confirmed as an animal in new study.

Picture Credit: University of Oregon

What on Earth was Dickinsonia?

Living more than 550 million years ago, Dickinsonia fossils do not resemble any living organism.  It is round or oval in shape, segmented with a distinct “head” and “tail” end, but which was the front and which was the back is debated and whether the terms “head” and “tail” are applicable at all is disputed.  As far as we at Everything Dinosaur are aware, no evidence of a gut or other internal structures have been found.  These fossils, some of which are up to a metre in diameter have been described as early jellyfish, segmented worms, fungi and even an early form of lichen.

Hundreds of examples showing all stages of growth (ontogeny) and in various states of preservation have been found, most famously from the Ediacara Hills in South Australia, from which this geological period is named. In 1946, geologist Reginald Spriggs discovered fossilised imprints in rocks in this area that represent a marine biota, an ancient sea floor.  This was the first known fossil record of multi-cellular life on Earth that predates the Cambrian.  This diverse and exquisitely preserved community of ancient organisms represents a significant snapshot of our planet’s geological heritage, but working out what these fossils represent and where they fit in with the evolution of Cambrian organisms (if they do fit in), is very much open to debate.

In a new study, carried out by scientists at Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford universities in conjunction with the British Geological Survey, strong support is provided for the theory that Dickinsonia was an animal, that it has affinities with the Metazoa, specifically the Eumetazoa plus the Placozoa.  The research is published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B”.

Finding a Place in Biology for Dickinsonia

Dickinsonia costata fossil.

The Ediacaran fossil Dickinsonia costata, specimen P40135 from the collections of the South Australia Museum

Picture Credit: Dr Alex Liu (Cambridge University)

The Metazoa are a very basal clade of the Kingdom Animalia.  They are animals that have three types of tissue layer in the embryo and are multi-cellular).  Metazoans are regarded as a sister group to the Porifora (Sponges).  The Placozoa are associated with the metazoans, they are represented by one living genus – Trichoplax and they are flattened, multi-cellular organisms that absorb nutrients through their surface area.

Dr Renee Hoekzema (Oxford University) and one of the authors of the research paper explained:

“Dickinsonia belongs to the Ediacaran biota, a collection of mostly soft-bodied organisms that lived in the global oceans between roughly 580 and 540 million years ago.  They are mysterious because despite there being around two hundred different species, very few of them resemble any living or extinct organism and therefore what they were, and how they relate to modern organisms, has been a long-standing palaeontological mystery.”

The team examined a large number of Dickinsonia fossils, of varying growth stages and applied a quantitative method for plotting the development of the organism, essentially how the animal grew and changed as it got bigger.  An assumption was made as to which fossils represented juveniles and which ones were adults and based on this, the researchers concluded that the growth body plan for Dickinsonia placed it within the Animalia.

This study was undertaken using the principle that growth and development are “conserved” within lineages.  To put it another way, the way a group of organisms grows today would not have changed significantly from the way its ancestors grew hundreds of millions of years ago.

Dickinsonia is composed of multiple “units” that run down the length of its body.  The researchers counted the number of these units in numerous specimens, measured their lengths and plotted these against the relative “age” of the unit, assuming growth from a particular end of the organism.  This data produced a plot with a series of curves, each of which tracked how the organism changed in the size and number of units with age, enabling the researchers to produce a computer model to replicate growth in the organism and test previous hypotheses about where and how growth occurred.

Dr Hoekzema added:

“We were able to confirm that Dickinsonia grows by both adding and inflating discrete units to its body along its central axis.  But we also recognised that there is a switch in the rate of unit addition versus inflation at a certain point in its life cycle.  All previous studies have assumed that it grew from the end where each “unit” is smallest, and was therefore considered to be youngest. We tested this assumption and interpreted our data with growth assumed from both ends, eventually coming to the conclusion that people have been interpreting Dickinsonia as having grown at the wrong end for the past seventy years.”

The First of the Ediacaran Biota to be Described

Dickinsonia was the first organism from the Ediacaran fossil material (Flinders Range), to be described (1947).  Using this computer model, the researchers were able to cross-reference data with studies into how this organism may have moved across the seabed and concluded that it was an early animal, belonging to either the Placozoa or the Eumetazoa.

An Illustration of Life in the Ediacaran Period

Ediacaran marine life.

Life in the Ediacaran.  The brown elongated disc in the centre of the picture is Dickinsonia.

Picture Credit: John Sibbick

Dr Hoekzema went onto state:

“This is one of the first times that a member of the Ediacaran biota has been identified as an animal on the basis of positive evidence.”

The methodology used in this study could be applied to other Ediacaran organisms, so long as there are sufficient fossils to comprise a significant data set.

Co-author Dr Liu stated:

“This finding demonstrates that animals were present among the Ediacaran biota and importantly confirms a number of recent findings that suggest animals had evolved several million years before the “Cambrian Explosion” that has been the focus of attention for studies into animal evolution for so long.  It also allows Dickinsonia to be considered in debates surrounding the evolution and development of key animal traits such as bilateral symmetry, segmentation and the development of body axes, which will ultimately improve our knowledge of how the earliest animals made the transition from simple forms to the diverse range of body plans we see today.”

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