All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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19 11, 2017

Papo New Prehistoric Animal Models for 2018

By | November 19th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo New Prehistoric Animal Models for 2018

A lot of media sources have published pictures of the new for 2018 prehistoric animal models from Papo.  These sites have claimed that there is a total of five new items, however, many of these sites and media sources have omitted details about the introduction of a large, prehistoric animal themed play set from Papo due for release next year.  In this blog post we will provide details and images of all six of the new for 2018 releases heading for the Papo “dinosaurs” model range.

Papo Young Spinosaurus will be Available as an Individual Model

Papo juvenile Spinosaurus model.

Papo young Spinosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo young Spinosaurus figure will be available to purchase as an individual model.  Currently, this figure is only available in a box set with the Papo Ceratosaurus.  It has now been confirmed that the juvenile Spinosaurus with its articulated lower jaw will become part of the model range and that the limited-edition box set will be discontinued.

Fans of Papo and model collectors have just a few weeks in order to pick up the special edition gift box which features the Papo young Spinosaurus and the Papo Ceratosaurus figure.

The Limited-edition Papo Box Set (Young Spinosaurus and Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Models)

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

To view the special edition gift box and the rest of the Papo model range: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

Papo Amargasaurus Model

Papo have added another diplodocid dinosaur to join their young Apatosaurus figure.  The Papo Amargasaurus is depicted with a neck frill and a humped-back, perhaps an evolutionary adaptation to help this large, herbivorous dinosaur endure prolonged periods of drought.

The New for 2018 Papo Amargasaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Amargasaurus

Papo Amargasaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Prehistoric Man

Next up, is the Papo prehistoric man figure, complete with spear and club.  This model looks to us like a re-issue of the Papo caveman figure with spear that was discontinued some years ago.  This figure sports a new paint scheme and it is great to see an introduction of a “caveman” into the Papo collection, especially since France has a rich heritage of hominin fossils.

The New for 2018 Papo Prehistoric Man Figure

Papo Caveman with club and spear.

Papo prehistoric man.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Comparing the Papo Cavemen Figures

Papo cavemen comparison.

A comparison between the original Papo caveman and the 2018 Papo prehistoric man.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Therizinosaurus

The new Papo Therizinosaurus dinosaur model is expected to arrive sometime in quarter 2 (March to the end of June 2018), it too, will possess an articulated jaw, like the young Spinosaurus replica.  We have yet to have formal confirmation of the measurements, but we at Everything Dinosaur, believe that this is going to be Papo’s largest prehistoric animal model introduced next year.

New for 2018 the Papo Therizinosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Therizinosaurus.

Papo Therizinosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The sculpt is very typically Papo, with the design team favouring a more scaly representation, with feathers confined mainly to the arms and to that stubby tail.  The posture is interesting, with the left foot raised resulting in the replica balancing on the toe claws, reminiscent of the stance seen in the 2017 Papo Ceratosaurus.

New for 2018 the Papo Iguanodon Figure

Papo Iguanodon dinosaur model.

The new for 2018 Papo Iguanodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Expected to arrive around the same time as the Therizinosaurus replica is this fascinating model of Iguanodon.  It certainly is a very robust looking dinosaur and the limb proportions suggest that this model is based upon Iguanodon bernissartensis, which makes sense as fossils of this herbivorous dinosaur have been found in France, as well as elsewhere within Europe.  The Papo Iguanodon will have an articulated jaw.

With five figures added, it is worthwhile mentioning what models will be retired next year from the Papo model range.  The Pachyrhinosaurus, the baby brown Tyrannosaurus rex figure and the baby Woolly Mammoth model are now all out of production.

To read more about Papo model retirements: Papo Models and Retirements

The Papo “Land of Dinosaurs” 

The sixth edition to the Papo “Les Dinosaures” range is this large-sized, prehistoric animal themed play set.  Full details have yet to be released by Papo, but following the successful introduction of the bush outpost and playmat into the “La Vie Sauvage” (wildlife) range, it was almost inevitable that a prehistoric landscape would be made.

New for 2018 Papo “Land of Dinosaurs” Play Set

Papo dinosaur landscape play set.

Papo “Land of Dinosaurs” play set.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Constructed from sturdy card and other composite materials, the “Land of Dinosaurs” slots together to create a cave with an erupting volcano in which to place your prehistoric animal models.  We are not sure of the dimensions of this set, other than having been told “it’s big”.  In addition, we suspect that the prehistoric animals featured in the image above will not be included in the kit (figures sold separately).

When Will These Models/Play Sets be Available?

At Everything Dinosaur, we will publish more information when we receive it, but for the time being here are the proposed release dates:

Quarter 1 (between January and the end of March) – Young Spinosaurus, the prehistoric man, Papo Amargasaurus and the “Land of Dinosaurs” play set.

Quarter 2 (between the end of March and the end of June) – Papo Iguanodon and the Papo Therizinosaurus models.

18 11, 2017

Everything Dinosaur’s First Christmas Newsletter (2017)

By | November 18th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Getting into the Christmas Spirit

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…  Our warehouse and packing area is very busy as we enter that time of year when gift buying reaches its peak.  For the next six weeks or so Everything Dinosaur team members are going to be working as fast as we can to ensure that Christmas presents are packed and dispatched in time for the big day.  Our first newsletter about the festive season is about to go out and we have even added a new banner to mark the start of holiday season.

A New Banner for Our Newsletter (Christmas 2017)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Everything Dinosaur, Christmas Newsletter banner 2017.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Blue Triceratops Christmas

The Everything Dinosaur newsletter features information about a new addition to our huge soft toy prehistoric animal range.  It might be getting a little chilly outside but this blue, very cuddly Triceratops soft toy is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart.

A Blue Triceratops Soft Toy

A big, Triceratops soft toy.

A big, blue Triceratops soft toy.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The soft toy Triceratops measures a whopping 45 centimetres long and his colourful crest is some 22 cm in the air.  Made from sponge washable fabric, this is proving to be a firm favourite amongst young dinosaur fans.

To view the big, blue Triceratops and the other large soft toy dinosaurs available from Everything Dinosaur: Large Dinosaur Soft Toys

Dinosaur Themed Stocking Fillers

When it comes to prehistoric animal gifts and dinosaur themed stocking fillers, visitors to Everything Dinosaur’s website will be spoilt for choice.  The UK-based company stocks hundreds of different dinosaurs, marine reptiles, prehistoric mammals and flying reptiles.  All kinds of gifts at very reasonable prices all backed by the super-fast delivery service.

The Newsletter Highlighted Some Stocking Filler Gift Ideas

Christmas gift ideas for 2017.

Dinosaur themed Christmas gifts.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Personal favourites this year include prehistoric animal themed pendants and a splendid T. rex inspired clip-on reading light – just the thing to inspire the next generation of palaeontologists.  In addition, our thousands of model collectors were not forgotten, the newsletter contained information about the acquisition of some of the very last sets of prehistoric shark models from Safari Ltd.  The “Wild Safari Prehistoric Sharks Toob” has long since been retired, but Everything Dinosaur newsletter readers were notified about some sets having been acquired and they were offered them at a special discounted price.  No need to spend a fortune looking for rare models on auction sites, Everything Dinosaur has it covered – better grab these special offers soon before they disappear into “fin” [pun] air!

The Prehistoric Sharks Toob (Safari Ltd)

A set of prehistoric shark models.

Rare prehistoric sharks toob.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Check out the special offers and the wide gift selection: Everything Dinosaur’s website

Our dedicated team members are on hand to help with enquiries and we are working seven days a week to ensure parcels are dispatched promptly, However, we are still making time to answer questions and handle enquiries from our many thousands of newsletter subscribers.  It is certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

To subscribe to Everything Dinosaur’s regular newsletter, simply drop us an email: Email Everything Dinosaur

17 11, 2017

New CollectA Models 2018 (Part 3)

By | November 17th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

New CollectA Models 2018 (Part 3)

Time for a first peek, at the third batch of new for 2018 prehistoric animal models from CollectA.  Today’s releases feature a dinosaur, an animal often mistaken for a dinosaur but more closely related to the third new model announced this morning.  We have a Ceratosaurus, a Dimetrodon and a beautiful model of a prehistoric Proboscidean Gomphotherium!

The New for 2018 CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Scale Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Model

CollectA Ceratosaurus dinosaur model.

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

CollectA 1:40 Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Model

This beautifully proportioned dinosaur comes complete with an articulated jaw, all the better to show off that over-sized dentition that makes this relatively rare Late Jurassic Theropod so formidable.  The spotted and mottled black markings remind us of the spots found on extant leopards, an apt choice of artwork as this dinosaur was contemporaneous with the “lion of the Jurassic” Allosaurus.

The eye is drawn to the vivid colours around the skull and the row of scutes (scales) that run down the back of this predator.

Model designer Anthony Beeson explains:

“I have been wanting to make a model of this dinosaur for some time.  As the nasal horn is likely to have been an object of display rather than a weapon, I have given it a bright keratin sheath and a face paint that makes the most of it.  The animal’s back has a row of osteoderms along it and the tail is deep rather like that of a crocodile, as it may have been partly aquatic in its hunting.”

With the recent research undertaken into the Spinosauridae, the idea that Ceratosaurus may have been partially aquatic has once again gained prominence.  It is good to see this prehistoric animal provided with a base, this helps keep the feet in proportion and permits a more dynamic pose for the replica.

To view a CollectA Allosaurus model and other CollectA replicas: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models

Not a Dinosaur but a Dimetrodon

Joining the Ceratosaurus, is another predator, one that roamed the Earth over 100 million years before Ceratosaurus, a mighty sail-backed monster of the Permian – Dimetrodon.  Although, Dimetrodon is often mistaken for a dinosaur, it is more closely related to mammals like us, than it is to the Dinosauria.

The CollectA 1:20 Scale Dimetrodon Model

CollectA Dimetrodon model.

CollectA Dimetrodon in 1:20 scale.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

CollectA are not the first to make a replica of this iconic Pelycosaur.  However, the CollectA model shows a remarkable attention to detail and provides a different perspective on this, one of the most famous animals from the Palaeozoic.  Firstly, it has been given a striking camouflage, a wonderful mix of khaki, tan and green that would have helped this carnivore to blend into its environment.  The posture of the model depicts a highly mobile animal with strong legs and a tail lifted clear of the ground, in stark contrast to the portrayal of Dimetrodon in paintings from the early part of the 20th Century, in which Dimetrodon was depicted as a sluggish, slow-moving creature with a sprawling gait.  The model has an articulated jaw and the skin is rough and warty, it is a glandular skin, a stark contrast to other recently released Dimetrodon replicas that retain a scaly skin texture.  Whereas the underbelly is covered in much finer scales, as seen in other, related Permian synapsid fossils.

The model also shows signs of wear and tear, typically a large predator would pick up numerous injuries over the course of its lifetime.

Anthony Beeson explained:

“As you will see, our Dimetrodon is unlike any that have been issued before as toys.  His sail does not reach to the end of neural spines and echoes the theory that the skin did not necessarily fully cover it.  It has also sustained an injury, which would be a reality as examples of bent and fractured spines have been found.”

It makes sense to depict Dimetrodon with a degree of pathology present.  Numerous specimens preserve deformed areas on the neural spines that appear to be healed-over fractures and the webbing across that famous sail may not have been as extensive as previously thought.  It is going to be fun depicting this replica next to the recently announced CollectA Estemmenosuchus figure.

To read about the new for 2018 CollectA Estemmenosuchus and other CollectA model releases: New CollectA Models for 2018 (Part 2)

For the article outlining the first batch of new for 2018 CollectA models: New CollectA Models for 2018 (Part 1)

CollectA 1:20 Scale Gomphotherium

The third offering from CollectA is this magnificent Gomphotherium replica.  A model of “welded beast” joins the CollectA range and it makes a fine companion piece to the Woolly Mammoth figures and the Deinotherium model that already grace the CollectA range.

New for 2018 The CollectA 1:20 Scale Gomphotherium Model

CollectA Gomphotherium.

The CollectA 1:20 scale Gomphotherium model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Anthony comments:

“He is an addition to our prehistoric elephants.  He is a strange beast with his upper enamel-covered tusks recurving whilst the lower are thought to have been used for digging up roots or water plants.  The length of the trunk is unknown, so I have calculated what I believe would be a useful length.  I have given him a partial furring of hair.”

A number of species of Gomphotherium have been described since the genus name was first erected back in 1837.  The long, low skull of Gomphotherium is in sharp contrast to the domed skulls of the later Mammut (American Mastodon) and the Mammoths.  The design team have had to speculate on the length of the trunk, its length is not known, intriguingly the trunk length in the model is considerably longer than the trunk seen in an illustration of Gomphotherium in the “Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals”, that Everything Dinosaur team members recently reviewed.  That said, the trunk as depicted in the model, seems perfectly proportioned and given the unique dentition of this Proboscidean it is not unreasonable to suggest a prehensile trunk length as shown in this 1.20 scale replica.

CollectA Model Measurements

Here is the tale of the tape, that we know dinosaur fans and model collectors are after:

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus – length just under 27 cm with a height of just over 12 cm

CollectA Dimetrodon (1:20 scale) – length 19 cm with a maximum height at the top of the sale of 11 cm

CollectA Gomphotherium (1:20 scale) – length 18.5 cm long with a height of just over 7 cm

These are a fantastic trio of models and we look forward to adding them to our model range in the near future.

To view the range of CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life models currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life

16 11, 2017

Cataloguing the Ancient Forests of Antarctica

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

Permian, Triassic and Jurassic-aged Forests Explored on the Coldest Continent

Over the next few months, a team of intrepid scientists will be hoping to continue their exploration of some of the most remote fossil locations in the world.  Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have been mapping the sedimentary deposits at McIntyre Promontory, at the head of the Ramsey Glacier in Antarctica.  To date, the team have recorded an extensive series of strata ranging in ages from the Late Permian to the Jurassic, the numerous plant fossils found are helping the scientists to better understand the evolution of forests and their flora over the southernmost portions of Gondwana.

Remains of Prehistoric Forests Uncovered in Antarctica

Prehistoric tree trunk (geology hammer provides scale).

An ancient tree trunk discovered in Antarctica.

Picture Credit: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Antarctica in the Late Permian Period

A total of thirteen trees have been found with numerous fragmentary fossils of other plants, including Ginkgos and Glossopteris.  The oldest plants described by this research team, date from the Late Permian of around 260 million years ago.  Some of the fossils have stems and roots attached and have been preserved “in situ”.  No transport of fossil material is involved, the fossils are preserved where the plants grew.  The flora of this southerly habitat has been preserved thanks to occasional volcanic events that buried the primitive forests in ash.

Commenting on the significance of the Antarctic ancient flora, palaeoecologist and visiting assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Geosciences, Erik Gulbranson stated:

“People have known about the fossils in Antarctica since the 1910-12 Robert Falcon Scott expedition.  However, most of Antarctica is still unexplored.  Sometimes, you might be the first person to ever climb a particular mountain.”

Beautifully Preserved Plant Fossils

Ancient plant fossils from Antarctica.

Ancient plant fossil remains.

Picture Credit: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The Late Permian forests preceded the most extensive mass extinction event in the Phanerozoic (end Permian mass extinction event),  the scientists are hoping to use their growing knowledge of the ancient Antarctic forests to look at the possible impact on global warming on extant plant communities.  In addition, as the Antarctic forests grew at polar latitudes where plants can’t grow today, Gulbranson believes that the trees were an extremely hardy species and he and his colleagues are trying to determine why they died out.

Just like their modern counterparts, prehistoric tree fossils can reveal seasonal growth rings.  These rings when examined in microscopic detail can reveal patterns of seasonal growth.  Antarctica during the Late Permian was further north than it is today, even so, despite the milder climate, the forests would have had to endure prolonged periods of darkness, when the sun never emerged above the horizon.  The research team hopes to use the ancient growth rings to learn more about how these forests coped with such extremes.

Ancient Tree Trunks Can Help Decipher Seasonal Growth Patterns

Antarctic prehistoric plant life.

Ancient trees can reveal evidence of seasonal growth.

Picture Credit: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Climate Change and the End Permian Mass Extinction Event

The cause or causes of the end Permian extinction event remain an area of controversy within palaeontology, although many scientists now believe that a huge increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases such as methane and CO2 which resulted from extensive global volcanic activity led to world-wide climate change.  John Isbell (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), has visited Antarctica before, on this expedition he examined the matrix and other sediments surrounding the in situ fossils to determine how these plant remains fitted into the geology of Antarctica.

To read an article written by Everything Dinosaur in 2015, that explains how rocks from South Africa are helping scientists to unravel global extinction events: Karoo Rocks Provide a Fresh Insight into Extinction Events

The Plant Fossils Might Represent New Species

The prehistoric forests of Antarctica.

Delicate plant fronds have been preserved.

Picture Credit: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The extensive forests may have stretched across the whole of the super-continent Gondwana.  Evidence of Glossopteris fossils and other plant remains have been used to help substantiate the theory of continental drift.  These Permian forests would have looked very different from today’s temperate woodlands, the flora would have been dominated by mosses, ferns, Pteridosperms (seed ferns) and conifers.

Erik Gulbranson explained that the Antarctic fossils have provided important information about plant diversity at higher latitudes. During the Permian, forests were a potentially low diversity assemblage of different plant types with specific functions that affected how the entire forest responded to environmental change.  This is in direct contrast to today’s high-latitude forests that display greater plant diversity.

Gulbranson added:

“This plant group must have been capable of surviving and thriving in a variety of environments.  It’s extremely rare, even today, for a group to appear across nearly an entire hemisphere of the globe.”

Tough Forests Failed to Survive Climate Change

The researchers conclude that these tough trees and plants did not survive the climate change that marked the end of the Permian.  Younger plant fossils from Triassic and Jurassic sediments provide evidence of the changing Antarctic flora over time, but many of the types of plants found in the Permian forests, despite their resilience, died out.

Erik Gulbranson Can Study the Permian Plant Fossils in the University Laboratory

Plant fossils being examined.

Examining the Permian plant fossils (Erik Gulbranson – University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

Picture Credit: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee/Troye Fox

By analysing the preserved tree growth rings, the scientists have found that these trees transitioned from summer activity to winter dormancy very rapidly, perhaps within a few weeks.  Extant plants make the same transition over the course of several months and also conserve water by making food during the day and resting at night.  Scientists don’t yet know how months of perpetual light would have affected the plants’ day-and-night cycles.

The team hope to return to the various Antarctic dig sites in the early part of 2018.  They hope to learn more about the annual growth cycles of the trees and to determine how the forests coped with rising levels of greenhouse gases and a warming climate.  It is hoped that by studying the Permian flora of Antarctica, models looking at how living plants will cope with climate change can be developed.

15 11, 2017

Dinosaur Letters – Answering Questions

By | November 15th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaur Letters from Streethouse Primary

Our thanks to the Year 5/6 class at Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School (West Yorkshire), for sending in some super dinosaur letters and some amazingly colourful prehistoric animal posters.  We set this Key Stage 2 class a series of extension exercises (hope the children have enjoyed researching the Coelacanth), one of the extensions involved writing a thank you letter and sending them into our office.  We have received a collection of wonderful dinosaur-themed correspondence.

Dinosaur Letters Sent by Schoolchildren

Prehistoric animal themed letters.

A collection of correspondence from Year 5/6 pupils.

Picture Credit: Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School

Answering Questions

Violet wanted to know if we could name a dinosaur, what would we call it?  That is a very good question, given that Violet lives in Yorkshire and that numerous dinosaur fossils have been found in that part of the world, if we were lucky enough to find a new dinosaur in northern England, we might have to name it “Yorkshiresaurus”.

Violet’s Letter

Dinosaur thank you letter.

A thank you letter from Violet.

Picture Credit: Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School

Jack explained in his letter that Tyrannosaurus rex could have been a hunter as well as a scavenger.  Kelsey asked if drift wood a fossil?  Drift wood that you find on the beach is not a fossil, but if it gets buried in the sand then it can be fossilised.  At Everything Dinosaur, we have lots of fossils of plants and trees, the oldest of which are around 360 million years old.  Laura wrote to say that she enjoyed holding the fossils and learning about bones.

Archie’s Very Colourful Prehistoric Animal Drawings

Colourful dinosaurs.

We received lots of colourful dinosaurs from Year 5/6.

Picture Credit: Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School

Kai wanted to know what was the fiercest dinosaur?  That, is quite a difficult question to answer.  The meat-eating dinosaurs belong to a group called the Theropoda, the big carnivores were very dangerous, but some of the smaller, carnivorous dinosaurs, if they were around today, would probably have wanted to add Year 5/6 pupils to their diet.  Perhaps the children can look up dinosaurs such as Saurornitholestes and Atrociraptor and produce a poster with lots of dinosaur facts.  Our thanks to Kaya for including a picture of a marine reptile in the thank you letter that we received.  Charlie sent us a beautiful spotted long-necked dinosaur and described the morning of activities as “awesome”, whilst Cameron enjoyed learning about Megalodon and Evie wanted us to come back and visit the class again.

Tyler and His Thank You Letter

Dinosaur letter

Stegosaurus featured in a number of the children’s letters.

Picture Credit: Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School

Amazing Posters and Letters Sent in by Year 5/6

Beautiful dinosaur posters.

Amazing dinosaur posters from Year 5/6.

Picture Credit: Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School

A number of the children asked what was our favourite dinosaur?  We have been recently working on a really odd dinosaur called Sciurumimus, which means “squirrel mimic” as when this dinosaur was young, it had a bushy tail just like a squirrel.

Great Writing from the Children Including this Example from Jayden

Thank you letter from Jayden.

A thank you letter from Jayden.

Picture Credit: Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School

Wonderful Examples of Cursive Writing on Display

Year 5 and Year 6 children and their letters to Everything Dinosaur

Cursive writing on display from Year 5/6.

Picture Credit: Streethouse Junior, Infants and Nursery School

“Dinosaur Mike” who had visited the school to conduct the morning workshop with the class, commented:

“I want to say a big thank you to all the children in Year 5/6 at Streethouse Primary.  My colleagues and I enjoyed looking at the posters and reading the letters that were sent in.  Some wonderful hand-writing and great grammar.  Congratulations to you all!”

14 11, 2017

Evidence of Placental Mammals – Early Cretaceous Purbeck

By | November 14th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|1 Comment

Durlstotherium newmani and Durlstodon ensomi

Finally got round to reading the paper on the discovery of evidence of Eutherian (placental) mammals in Early Cretaceous deposits on, ironically, “the Jurassic Coast”.  The two teeth found during sieving of material collected on the Dorset coast by University of Portsmouth undergraduate student Grant Smith, has led to the erection of two new mammal species.  These fossils represent the earliest, undisputed fossils of mammals that belong to that same group of mammals – the placentals, as we do.  It is wonderful to think that the Dorset coast can still provide amazing fossil discoveries and secondly, it is great that such an important discovery can be made by a relative newcomer to the science of palaeontology.  When done to all involved in the research and the writing of the academic paper, published in the journal “Acta Palaeontologica Polonica”.

It also gives us an excuse to include the amazing image created by Dr Mark Witton that illustrates the Purbeck palaeoenvironment around the beginning of the Cretaceous.

Dorset Around 145 Million Years Ago

Purbeck Lagoon 145 mya as darkness falls Durlstodon (top left) looks on whilst two Durlstotherium scurry through the undergrowth. In the centre a Durlstotherium has been caught by Nuthetes destructor.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The two teeth, found at Durlston Bay near Swanage, represent two rat-like Eutherian mammals.  These creatures have been named Durlstotherium newmani and Durlstodon ensomi.  In Dr Witton’s remarkable illustration (above), a scene at dusk is depicted.  It is most likely that these early placentals were nocturnal, even so, as darkness fell there were still plenty of dangers lurking.  The Sauropods in the background might not pose much of a threat to our distant ancestors but in the centre of the image, a Durlstotherium has been caught by a two-metre-long Theropod dinosaur Nuthetes destructor.  This dinosaur is mainly known from isolated teeth and based on such fragmentary evidence it is difficult to place Nuthetes within the dinosaur family tree, however, it has been suggested that it was a dromaeosaurid.  Thus, the Purbeck area of southern England during the Early Cretaceous was not only home to placental mammals but, potentially, also the residence of the earliest known member of the Dromaeosauridae.

One of the authors of the paper on the two new mammals, Dr Steve Sweetman (Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth), concluded that the fossilised teeth and jaw fragment ascribed to N. destructor indicate a taxonomic affinity with the Velociraptor branch of the Dromaeosauridae family.

Various Views of the Two Fossil Teeth (Durlstotherium and Durlstodon)

Purbeck Mesozoic mammal teeth.

Two fossil teeth of the Purbeck Mesozoic mammals, Durlstotherium (A1-4) and Durlstodon (B1-4) , named after Durlston Bay in Dorset.

Picture Credit: Portsmouth University

Dr Sweetman, an expert in the dentition of small vertebrates explained how Grant Smith discovered the fossil teeth:

“Grant was sifting through small samples of earliest Cretaceous rocks collected on the coast of Dorset as part of his undergraduate dissertation project in the hope of finding some interesting remains.  Quite unexpectedly he found not one but two quite remarkable teeth of a type never before seen from rocks of this age.  I was asked to look at them and give an opinion and even at first glance my jaw dropped!”

With Mammal Fossils It’s All About the Teeth

While these Dorset fossils may seem a little underwhelming, comprising only two molar teeth with no roots, that measure just a few millimetres across, the unique specialisations of mammal teeth for processing food result in complex tooth shapes.  These shapes evolve in patterns that allow palaeontologists to identify what group a mammal belongs to, meaning that even a single tooth can permit palaeontologists to gather a great deal of information.

The wonderful thing about mammal teeth is that they are very distinctive.  Every type of mammal has a different set of teeth.  The teeth vary in shape from the back to the front of the jaw and you can tell from a single tooth fossil exactly where in the jaw it was located, whether it came from the upper or lower jaw, whether it was on the right side of the skull of the left side.  The pattern on the crowns of the teeth (molars and premolars) provides information on the type of diet the animal had.  These fossil teeth from the Early Cretaceous of Dorset, might be extremely small, but they can tell us a great deal about the animals which had the teeth and provide information on the evolutionary relationship between these animals and other members of the Mammalia.

Dr Sweetman added:

“The teeth are of a type so highly evolved that I realised straight away I was looking at remains of Early Cretaceous mammals that more closely resembled those that lived during the latest Cretaceous, some 60 million years later in geological history.  In the world of palaeontology, there has been a lot of debate around a specimen found in China*, which is approximately 160 million years old.  This was originally said to be of the same type as ours but recent studies have ruled this out.  That being the case, our 145 million year old teeth are undoubtedly the earliest yet known from the line of mammals that lead to our own species.”

* The fossil from China that Dr Sweetman is referring to Juramaia sinensis a tiny, shrew-like mammal, fossils of which come from 160 million-year-old deposits from the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning Province.  Juramaia was named in 2011, it has been controversially described as a basal Eutherian mammal and it suggests that the very earliest placentals were probably arboreal.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about this fossil discovery: The “Mother” of all Placental Mammals

If Juramaia is proved to be an Eutherian, then this indicates that placental mammals had their origins in Asia in the Jurassic and that they had spread across Asia to Europe (Laurasia) by the Early Cretaceous.

Scanning Electron Microscope Images of the Tiny Purbeck Teeth

Early Cretaceous mammal teeth from Swanage (Dorset).

Purbeck Mesozoic mammal teeth under the electron microscope.

Picture Credit: Portsmouth University

Very Worn Molars

The crowns of the teeth are very worn, this suggests that despite the threat of being eaten by predatory dinosaurs, both mammals lived a long time.

Professor David Martill, who supervised the research project and is a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“What I’m most pleased about is that a student [David Grant] who is a complete beginner, was able to make a remarkable scientific discovery in palaeontology and see his discovery and his name published in a scientific paper.  The Jurassic Coast is always unveiling fresh secrets and I’d like to think that similar discoveries will continue to be made right on our doorstep.”

One of the new species has been named Durlstotherium newmani, honouring Charlie Newman, a keen, amateur fossil hunter and the landlord of the Square and Compass pub in the village of Worth Matravers, near to where the fossils were discovered.  The trivial name of the second species, Durlstodon ensomi honours Paul Ensom, a palaeontologist who did much to improve our understanding of the palaeoenvironments represented by the geology of Dorset.

13 11, 2017

“Thunderfoot” A Real “Ground Shaker”

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

Brontopodus plagnensis – New Ichnospecies Named for Giant Sauropod Tracks

A series of dinosaur footprints, made by a giant, long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur have been assigned an ichnospecies name.  The tracks from the Jura plateau of France, located near the village of Plagne not too far from the Swiss border are, at around 155 metres in length, the longest Sauropod trackways known to science.  The ichnospecies has been named Brontopodus plagnensis, this translates as “thunderfoot of Plagne”.  The ichnogenus Brontopodus has had a number of ichnospecies assigned to it already, including tracks from the southern United States and dinosaur footprints found in Early Cretaceous rocks in China.

A View of Part of the Sauropod Trackway

Sauropod Tracks (Brontopodus plagnensis).

A picture of the Sauropod trackway (Plagne, France).

Picture Credit: P. Dumas/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

To read an article about Sauropod tracks found on the Isle of Skye: Isle of Skye Sauropods and their Water World

Enormous Stride Length = Enormous Dinosaur

The stride length of this huge Sauropod has been measured at 2.7 metres, the dinosaur was walking at around 4 kilometres/hour, which means that the average human would have had no trouble keeping up with it, however, you might have had to jog alongside, as its huge strides would have meant that it covered a great deal of ground with every pace.  From the footprints, the scientists, which included French palaeontologist Jean-Michel Mazin, have calculated that this dinosaur might have been around 35 metres in length and weighed perhaps as much as forty tonnes.

Early Tithonian Trackways

The research team, writing in the journal “Geobios” have precisely dated the tracks to the Early Tithonian faunal stage of the Late Jurassic, the prints are approximately 150 million years old.  The footprints show varying degrees of preservation along the trackway, the palaeoenvironment has been described as a littoral mudflat, a flat area close to a shoreline.  During the Late Jurassic, much of western Europe was covered by a warm tropical sea, the presence of large dinosaurs indicates that there must have been enough food resources on the archipelago of islands in the area to sustain megaherbivores.   Perhaps, these tracks represent a dinosaur crossing mudflats at low tide walking between islands.  Numerous dinosaur tracks are known from this region, including a series of tridactyl (three-toed prints), assigned to the ichnogenus Megalosauripus.  The prefix ichno- is added when a taxon is described based solely on trace fossils of an animal, rather than on anatomical remains such as its bones and teeth.

An Illustration of Brontopodus plagnensis and an Estimation of Its Size

A drawing of Brontopodus plagnensis.

An illustration of Brontopodus plagnensis.

Picture Credit: A. Bénéteau, photography Dinojura

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2009 article about the original discovery of the trackways: On the Trail of Big Foot – Giant Sauropod Trackways Discovered in France

The scientific paper: “The Dinosaur Tracksite of Plagne (Early Tithonian, Late Jurassic; Jura Mountains, France): The Longest Known Sauropod Trackway” by Jean-Michel Mazin, Pierre Hantzpergue and Nicolas Olivier published in the journal Geobios.

12 11, 2017

Giant Otter with a Bite Like No Other Otter

By | November 12th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Very Powerful Bite of Siamogale melilutra

Back in January, Everything Dinosaur reported upon the scientific description of a new species of giant otter from the Late Miocene of south-west China.  At around fifty kilogrammes in weight, the new species Siamogale melilutra, is a much more heavy-set and robust animal compared to extant otter species.  At the time, the scientists responsible for studying the fossil material, which included an almost complete but crushed cranium, speculated on what this super-sized member of the weasel family would have fed on.  Writing in the journal “Scientific Reports”, some of the scientists involved in the original description have followed up this research by publishing a new paper on the feeding capabilities of such a powerful carnivore.

This wolf-sized, aquatic predator had a surprisingly strong bite that might have made S. melilutra an apex predator.

A Digitally Reconstructed View of the Skull and Jaws of Siamogale melilutra

Digitally restored cranium of S. melilutra right lateral view.

A digitally reconstructed cranium of S. melilutra .

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

Comparing Otter Skulls and Jaws

The researchers digitally recreated jaw models of extinct otters as well as ten extant species (living species of otters) and then subjected these models to engineering stress tests.  The researchers discovered that the jaw of Siamogale melilutra was six times stronger than expected.  Although, the teeth morphology and biting efficiency was found to be very similar to living otters, these very strong jaws open up the possibility that Siamogale melilutra fed on a range of animals that its modern-day contemporaries could not.  Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) and the African Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis), specialise in feeding upon shellfish and have a durophagous diet.  Even accounting for the size difference between the Miocene giant Siamogale melilutra and these living otter species, the jaws of S. melilutra are much stronger.

Comparing the Stress on Jaws on Living and Extinct Species of Otter

Calculating the bite of Siamogale melilutra.

Stress during biting (otter jaw comparison).

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The picture above shows the results of computer modelling to indicate potential bite force stresses in a number of otter species.  Warmer colours depict high levels of bite stress, whilst cooler colours depict areas of lower stress.

(a) Pteronura brasiliensis (Giant South-American Otter)

(b) Lontra canadensis (North American River Otter)

(c) Lontra longicaudis (Neotropical Otter of Central America)

(d) Lontra felina (South American Marine Otter)

(e) Enhydra lutris (Sea or Marine Otter)

(f) Hydrictis maculicollis (Spotted-necked Otter)

(g) Siamogale melilutra – extinct Miocene species

(h) Lutra lutra (European Otter)

(I) Aonyx capensis (African Cape Clawless Otter)

(j) Aonyx cinerea (Asian Small-clawed Otter)

(k) Lutrogale perspicillata (Indian Smooth-coated Otter)

The research team conclude that S. melilutra has no living analog.  Its huge size and powerful jaws could have enabled this otter to exploit an environmental niche not found in living otter species.  It might even have been an apex predator.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the scientific description of Siamogale melilutraSuper-sized Otter as Big as a Wolf

The scientific paper: “Feeding Capability in the Extinct Giant Siamogale melilutra and Comparative Mandibular Biomechanics of Living Lutrinae” by Z. Jack Tseng, Denise F. Su, Xiaoming Wang, Stuart C. White and Xueping Ji published in the journal “Scientific Reports”.

11 11, 2017

Why Do Asteroids Always Land in Craters? Lesson Plan Idea

By | November 11th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Why Do Asteroids Always Land in Craters?  A Lesson Plan

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been busy preparing another lesson plan idea linked to the concept of “working scientifically” when it comes to delivering teaching outcomes related to the science elements of the national curriculum for England.  The lesson is aimed at both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 students and asks the question “Why do asteroids always land in craters”?

The Lesson Plan with Teaching Notes for Key Stage 1

Why do asteroids....? Lesson plan and teaching notes.

PDF download of teaching notes/lesson plan is available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Linking to the Dinosaur Extinction Event as well as Space Modules

The dinosaur extinction is linked to a large impact event, in this lesson plan our aim is to encourage the children to work scientifically, experience and observe phenomena, devise and complete simple comparative tests, communicate ideas, observe closely and to use simple equipment to find answers.  This lesson plan relates to both the “dinosaurs” and the “space” term topic.  It should also help young minds to explore everyday materials and describe the simple physical properties of those materials.  One of the factors involved in the extinction event at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs involved an extra-terrestrial object crashing into our planet, so teachers can tie in extinction and the causes of extinction to an extension activity involving the class having to work scientifically to explore what happens when objects fall to Earth.

Two types of lesson plans have been developed, the lesson plan with accompanying teaching notes aimed at Upper Key Stage 2 deals with issues such as animals and their habitats, natural selection, evolution and introduces the idea of the force of gravity.

Essentially, to test this idea of asteroids always landing in craters, the children would have to develop an experiment whereby they drop objects into a substrate and record what happens.

Suggested Resources to be Used to Test the Hypothesis

"Why do asteroids always land in craters?" Suggested resources.

Resources suggested for the “why do asteroids always land in craters?” A lesson plan.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Suggested Resources for the Key Stage 1 Lesson Plan

Here is a list of typical resources suggested to test the idea of asteroids always landing in craters with a Key Stage 1 class.  Essentially, the children need to consider a suitable substrate and to test what happens when objects are dropped into the substrate.

* Tray
* Flour or sand (substrate)
* Objects of various sizes, shapes and weight
* Table covers/newspaper
* Ruler for measuring (optional)
* Paper for making notes (optional)
* Camera to record experiment results (optional)

Outlining the Lesson with the Class

Whilst exploring with the class the idea that the non-avian dinosaurs no longer exist, seek an unprompted definition of the word “extinction”.  Can the class demonstrate further pre-knowledge by explaining about how the dinosaurs died out?  If needed, explain about the space rock impact idea and challenge the children to work out whether asteroids always land in craters or does the impact create the crater?

Can the Children Create Simple Comparative Tests?

Testing the impact of different objects in flour - asteroid impact modellling.

Different objects landing in flour, modelling asteroid impacts.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Extension Ideas – Questions to Ask

What sort of craters do the different objects make?
What makes the larger crater a big object or a small object?
Which makes the deeper crater a heavy object or a light object?
What sort of craters do different shaped objects make?
Does it make a difference if you vary the height from which you drop the objects?
Can the children make a prediction about the size/shape/depth of the crater depending on the object dropped?

In addition, the Key Stage 2 lesson plan and teaching notes asks the class to devise their own experiments to answer the asteroid/always in a crater question.

As a “wow” moment to conclude the lesson plan, try this idea.  Working outside, what happens when a really big object such as a football is dropped into a bucket of flour?  The spraying of flour should provide a suitable memorable moment to help the class remember the key learning points from this simple experiment.

For further advice and ideas about science teaching in school, visit Everything Dinosaur’s “dinosaurs for schools” website: Dinosaurs for Schools

10 11, 2017

New CollectA Models 2018 (Part 2)

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

New CollectA Models 2018 (Part 2)

The next batch of new for 2018 CollectA prehistoric animal figures include a stunning 1:40 scale deluxe replica of the famous Ornithopod Iguanodon (I. bernissartensis).  Here is another CollectA dinosaur figure honouring Gideon Mantell (Mantell named Iguanodon), after the news about the introduction of Mantellisaurus, it is great to see an updated version of the iconic Iguanodon too.  Fossils of Mantellisaurus and I. bernissartensis have been found in the same horizon, namely the Wessex Formation (Early Cretaceous, Barremian faunal stage).  It is likely that these two herbivores were contemporaneous and therefore, diorama fans can place both Mantellisaurus and Iguanodon into the same prehistoric scenes.

The New for 2018 1:40 Scale Deluxe Iguanodon Dinosaur Model

CollectA Deluxe Iguanodon.

CollectA 1:40 scale Iguanodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Designer Anthony Beeson commented:

“It seemed about the right time to produce a new Iguanodon which had been one of our earliest models.  I had wanted to do a Mantellisaurus, so we decided to do a deluxe Iguanodon to bring the species up to date in our models.  As Mantellisaurus seems to have herded with Iguanodons, the two can go together in play or dioramas notwithstanding the differences in size.”

Spectacular Estemmenosuchus

The Dinocephalians (the name means “terrible heads”) are represented by this spectacular 1:20 scale replica of Estemmenosuchus and what a beautiful model of one of the most amazing therapsids to have ever lived.  It is great to see Permian giants like Estemmenosuchus (pronounced Est-ter-men-oh-sook-us), included in the CollectA Deluxe model range.  This wonderful replica has an articulated jaw and it is being produced in an approximate scale of 1:20, in line with other prehistoric animal models on the “mammalian line” of the tree of life, already represented in the CollectA model range.

The Estemmenosuchus 1:20 Scale Deluxe Model by CollectA

Estemmenosuchus model from CollectA.

A Deluxe 1:20 scale Estemmenosuchus model from CollectA.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Estemmenosuchus uralensis

Best on our calculations, this model represents the type species Estemmenosuchus uralensis.  We look forward to revealing our scale drawing of this amazing creature, that is distantly related to us.  As for those strange, bony growths on the head, their purpose remains unknown.  They could have used in intraspecific combat, perhaps over herd hierarchy or to win mates.  The design team at CollectA are to be congratulated for creating such a fantastic prehistoric animal model.  It is brilliant to see Permian reptiles represented in model ranges.

CollectA Deluxe 1:20 Scale Dunkleosteus

Another iconic prehistoric monster is being introduced as a 1:20 scale deluxe replica.  The Devonian giant Dunkleosteus is being included in the new for 2018 releases.  Like Estemmenosuchus, this model too, will have a moveable, articulated jaw.

A Dunkleosteus Model – New for 2018 from CollectA

CollectA Dunkleosteus.

CollectA 1:20 scale Deluxe Dunkleosteus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dunkleosteus: this was a terrifying armoured fish of the Late Devonian era that could grow up to 6m in length. The skull was armoured and although some models show this as exposed bone plates, the CollectA model correctly shows it covered with skin. It did not possess teeth but had bone shears instead. As only the bone skull survives in the fossil record as the rest of the body was made of cartilage therefore, the rest of the body is based on other smaller and related species. The new model adopts the idea that such a huge fish would have had to have had a heterocercal caudel fin rather like the shark in order to efficiently manoeuvre around. The CollectA replica comes with a movable jaw.

The introduction of this new scale model marks 145 years since the Dunkleosteus genus was erected (1873).  CollectA had introduced a mini Dunkleosteus figure in their very popular mini prehistoric marine animal set, this set which features ammonites, a trilobite, marine reptiles and prehistoric fish was introduced this year.  The mini Dunkleosteus could perhaps play the role of another species of Placoderm in a Devonian dioramas that get constructed.  We can’t wait to see how these models will be used together.

To view the CollectA mini prehistoric animal set and the other models in the CollectA Prehistoric Life series: CollectA Prehistoric Life

Commenting on the introduction of this apex Devonian predator, designer Anthony Beeson stated:

“I have never liked reconstructions where the plates appear like the fish is wearing a suit of armour, so they are covered with skin.  I have had second thoughts about the shape of the tail since producing the mini version and have now given him a heterocercal tail which would afford such a large animal a greater ability to manoeuvre in the water”.

CollectA Model Measurements

Here is the all-important measurement data for dinosaur fans and model collectors:

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Iguanodon model – length 28 cm, height 11.5 cm – available from Everything Dinosaur early Spring

CollectA Deluxe 1:20 scale Estemmenosuchus – length 17.5 cm, height 10.5 cm – available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2018

CollectA Deluxe 1:2o scale Dunkleosteus – length 28 cm, height 6 cm – available from Everything Dinosaur early Spring

We look forward to posting up more news about 2018 CollectA releases, in the meantime, here is a link to our article on the first batch of CollectA models to be announced: New from CollectA 2018 (first batch)

To view the existing range of CollectA Deluxe models: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life

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