Dinosaurs, Rocks and Fossils

Dinosaurs, Rocks and Fossils with Year 3 (Broadway Primary School)

A busy morning spent working with the enthusiastic pupils in Year 3 at Broadway Primary as the children have been learning about life in the past and exploring dinosaurs as their topic for the second part of the autumn term.  This subject area links nicely into the national curriculum science element for England at Lower Key Stage 2 (Rocks, Animals and Working Scientifically).  One of the aims of that part of the curriculum related to learning about different types of rocks involves explaining how fossils form and what fossils can tell us about extinct animals.  The girls and boys got the chance to cast their own fossils from Everything Dinosaur’s collection and thanks to the classroom wall they learnt all about how sedimentary rocks get laid down.

Can you See the Layers of Sedimentary Rocks?

Can you see the different coloured bands which represent different layers of rock?

Can you see the different coloured bands which represent different layers of rock?

Picture Credit: Montana State University/Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a view of the amazing Judith River Formation which can be found in Montana (north-western United States).  These rocks were laid down in layers towards the end of “Age of Dinosaurs”, near to the end of the Cretaceous Period.  The dinosaur fossils we find in these rocks are approximately 79-75 million years old.  Duck-billed dinosaurs and horned dinosaur fossils can be found (herbivores).  There are also fossils of the meat-eating dinosaurs (carnivores) but these are much less common then the plant-eaters.  Can Year 3 work out why?

We can also find fossils of salamanders, bony fish, lizards and several types of crocodiles, although none of these crocodiles are closely related to the crocodiles alive today.

Dinosaurs and Maths

As part of our workshop and in order to support a number of mathematical themed extension exercises, we looked at how big the teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex really are.  One of the “pinkie palaeontologist” challenges we set the class was whether or not the children could use the special “greater than” and “less than” symbols we sent over to make a table listing items in the classroom that were bigger or small than the T. rex tooth they saw.  Could the children think of a way to present their data?

Benjamin’s favourite dinosaur was Velociraptor, he and some of his chums were shown an unusual way to measure a dinosaur.  Once this relatively small dinosaur had been measured we set the class another challenge that involved them trying to measure a much larger, carnivorous dinosaur.  Let’s hope they can master their eight times table, as this would certainly help!

Dinosaur Models Made by the Children

Model dinosaurs on display at Broadoak Primary School.

Model dinosaurs on display at Broadoak Primary School.

Picture Credit: Broadway Primary School

On the classroom walls there was lots of excellent evidence of independent learning, the books at the back of the classroom had inspired the young researchers.  There were also a number of wonderful dinosaur models on display.   The Year 3 class had produced some excellent dinosaur replicas and we loved the “Thomasaurus”.

Dinosaurs and Literacy

In collaboration with Miss Heaton (class teacher), we were able to advise on further extension resources, focusing on literacy.  Different types of writing activities were proposed (non-fiction and fiction) and we challenged the children to use some of the resources that we had provided to write statements about prehistoric animals and also to think up some questions to pose for us.  We know Ethan and Emma have questions, we suggested that they save them in their heads and then include them in a thank you letter that they could compose and send to the Everything Dinosaur offices.

We look forward to seeing some of the results of the children’s research as they study rocks, fossils and dinosaurs.

Renowned Palaeontologist Jack Horner Will Join Chapman University as Presidential Fellow

John “Jack” Horner to join Chapman University (California)

John R. “Jack” Horner, one of the world’s leading experts in palaeontology, MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and inspiration for the character of Alan Grant in the “Jurassic Park” movies, will join Chapman University in Orange, California as a Presidential Fellow, beginning in the autumn of next  year . He retires on June 30th, 2016 from a distinguished thirty-three year tenure as Regents Professor of Palaeontology at Montana State University and curator of palaeontology at the Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana).

John “Jack” Horner – To Join Chapman University

A new appointment for the distinguished palaeontologist.

A new appointment for the distinguished palaeontologist.

Picture Credit: Chapman University

Commenting on the appointment, Dr. Daniele Struppa, Chancellor and President-designate of Chapman University stated:

“I am delighted to announce that Jack Horner, one of the most creative living scientists, will join us as a Presidential Fellow in the next academic year.  We are not hiring Jack for our acclaimed film programme, nor for a palaeontology programme – we don’t have one – but rather for his unconventional and extremely successful approach to creativity and learning.  It is his ingenuity and his sense of curiosity and wonder that he will bring to Chapman as we continue to re-think the meaning of education and how students learn.”

For Horner, as he will be seventy when he takes up the appointment, the warmer climate in California might have helped tip the balance.  He will most certainly be missed after his remarkable career in Montana.  Everything Dinosaur reported on his retirement announcement back on the 18th of this month: Jack Horner Announces His Retirement (Well Almost)

With his tremendous energy and enthusiasm, he will be taking on a number of new challenges.  Speaking about his new role, he explained:

“I’m coming to Chapman because of its strong commitment to nurturing curiosity, inquisitiveness and creativity in all aspects of academia,  I very much look forward to helping Dr. Struppa and his staff create an integrative educational environment that accepts all learning styles.”

Looking Forward to the New Challenge

Last month, Horner spoke at Chapman University’s first annual Dyslexia Summit: Strength in Cognitive Diversity, where he recounted his inspirational life story.  As a child with undiagnosed dyslexia, he struggled in school and later dropped in and out of college, attending the University of Montana for seven years.  Although he never completed a formal degree, the University of Montana awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 1986 due to his astonishing list of achievements in the field of palaeontology.

Among other ground-breaking accomplishments, Horner and his teams discovered the first evidence of parental care in dinosaurs, extensive nesting grounds, evidence of gigantic dinosaur herds, and the world’s first dinosaur embryos.  Horner’s “outside the box” thinking skills led him to ask why no one had thought yet of slicing open fossilised dinosaur eggs – and the result was the discovery of the delicate embryos, fossilised in place.  He was a leader in the now-widely-accepted theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, social creatures more like birds than cold-blooded animals like lizards.

Helping to Popularise the Study of the Dinosauria

Horner has named several new species of dinosaurs, including Maiasaura, the “good mother reptile.”  Three dinosaur species have been named after him.  He has published more than a hundred professional papers, eight popular books and fifty popular articles.   His book “Digging Dinosaurs” was lauded by New Scientist magazine as one of the two hundred most important science books of the 20th century.

Horner was the technical advisor for Steven Spielberg on all four movies in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, including this past summer’s global hit “Jurassic World”.  He also helped inspire the lead character Alan Grant, portrayed by actor Sam Neill in the first and third films.

Awarded the famed MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 1986, Horner has received many other honours and awards.  Most recently, in 2013, he was awarded the Romer-Simpson Medal, the highest honour given by the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, for his lifetime of achievement in the field.  Earlier this year, he was recognised as one of the world’s top twenty-four scientists by Newton Graphic Science magazine.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges use of the press release from Chapman University as supplied by Mary Platt (Director of Communications and Media Relations) in the compilation of this article.

Prehistoric Times Issue 115 Reviewed

Prehistoric Times (Autumn 2015) Reviewed

The weekend has arrived and a chance to catch up with our reading.  First on our list is to browse through the latest edition of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for fans of dinosaurs, artwork and prehistoric animal models and what a super edition issue 115 is.  The Autumn 2015 copy of this quarterly publication features a fantastic, in-depth article on the making of the video game called “Saurian”.  The creators of this stunning game explain their reasons for basing the concept on the fauna and flora of the famous Hell Creek Formation of the United States.  Players of the game will get the chance to play a number of different animals, including the role of a herbivore and a potential prey item – Pachycephalosaurus.  On the subject of “bone heads”, Pachycephalosaurus is one of the highlighted prehistoric animals in the magazine and in a carefully crafted article, writer Phil Hore explains the history of “The Megatherium Club” and tells the story of some of this society’s more famous and notorious members.  The Smithsonian Institute will never be seen in the same light again!  Look out for some splendid Pachycephalosaur inspired artwork sent in by readers.

The Front Cover of Issue 115 of Prehistoric Times

Jorge Blanco painted the front cover (Deinotherium)

Jorge Blanco painted the front cover (Deinotherium)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

The second prehistoric animal the magazine sets its sights on is Deinotherium and once again Phil Hore provides a very informative article.  More wonderful artwork is included to illustrate this piece.  Look out for the detailed line drawing by British artist John Sibbick as well as David Hicks interpretation of a Deinotherium calf being rescued.  Notable mentions go to John Goodier and our good friend Patrick Krol Padilha.  There is also a photograph of an amazing sculpture created by Jim Martinez.

Editor Mike Fredericks, takes time out to give Everything Dinosaur a mention, our customer service and attention to detail have helped Everything Dinosaur to become a global player in the dinosaur models market and 2015 marks our tenth anniversary!

Everything Dinosaur Praised in Prestigious Magazine

Mentioned in dispatches!

Mentioned in dispatches!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Tracy Lee Ford provides further information on his poster presentation for the annual Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology conference (held in Dallas, Texas), the controversial area of how to tackle the “lips” of Theropods.  Lots of analysis, clever illustrations and comparative drawings to get your teeth into (no pun intended).  When done sir, we now have an article as reference material which covers fossae, lizard skull morphology as well as the smooth textured skull bones of Ornithischians.

Dinosaur Collector News

Randy Knol gives us an overview of new model releases and we note the “bootleg” Papo Archaeopteryx information that he kindly discusses, it is certainly a case of buyer beware!  For those collectors interested in what is coming out in 2016, keep checking Everything Dinosaur’s blog site and our Facebook page: Everything Dinosaur on Facebook we have not finished publishing all our exclusive “first peeks” at what models are due out next year.

Our chum, Anthony Beeson, continues to chronicle the history of the classic Invicta models and delivers a very informative and beautifully illustrated article all about the different variants that were manufactured.  The guide to base marks and the years of production is most enlightening.

From Britain to Brazil with an article submitted by Sergio Luis Fica Biston all about the Sauropods that once roamed the largest country in South America.  The editor, Mike Fredericks gets in on the action with a review of new replicas and resin casts, there is a section dedicated to a number of fossil and palaeontology news stories and look out for review of “How to Clone a Mammoth” by the very talented Beth Shapiro in the Mesozoic media section.  Beth very kindly sent an inspection copy of this super book to Everything Dinosaur about six months ago when it first came out.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of “How to Clone a Mammoth”: How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro

Look out for the article on visiting the “Dino Hotel” and we are delighted to see Jan Harrison’s article all about building up the Pegasus T. rex and Triceratops kits.  We know these kits very well, Everything Dinosaur is the exclusive seller in the UK and our next shipment is due in early next week, which makes us swish our dinosaur tails in excitement!

Vote for Your Favourites!

It is that time of year again, when if readers can tear themselves away from the magazine, they are asked to vote for their favourite prehistoric animal model kit of 2015, the best animal toy figure, favourite dinosaur book and most impressive prehistoric animal discovery – subscribe to Prehistoric Times and join in the fun.

For further information on Prehistoric Times and to enquire about subscriptions: Prehistoric Times Magazine

It really is “Dinotastic”!

Baby Dinosaur Returns Home

Baby Oviraptorosaur May Be New Species of Giant Feathered Dinosaur

The fossilised remains of a baby dinosaur, identified as a member of the Oviraptorosauria clade have been returned to China, some twenty years or so after it was taken out of the country.  The baby dinosaur, a hatchling, may represent a new species of dinosaur, possibly a dinosaur that could have grown to about eight metres in length, around the size of Gigantoraptor (G. erlianensis) which is the largest species of this type of feathered dinosaur described to date.

To read about the discovery of the 1,400 kilogramme Gigantoraptor: New Chinese Dinosaur Described – Gigantoraptor

There is a large market for illegally obtained dinosaur fossils from China, many fossils found by local farmers such as dinosaur eggs and even baby dinosaurs, end up being carefully collected and smuggled out of the country to become part of a wealthy individual’s private collection.  This is what happened to the baby dinosaur fossil, it was found perhaps in the mid 1990’s amongst a collection of fossilised eggs in the Henan Province of China, it would have moved through various parties until eventually winding up in the hands of a private collector in America.

The Fossilised Remains of “Baby Louie” – An Oviraptorosaur

"Baby Louie" returns home to China.

“Baby Louie” returns home to China.

Picture Credit: Darla Zelenitsky (University of Calgary) with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The nearly complete fossil specimen was eventually purchased by the Indianapolis Children’s Museum (purchased in 2013), even though it was now in a museum collection, detailed scientific study of the fossil material was not possible, to provide a more complete understanding of the significance of this dinosaur, it would need to be examined in conjunction with other dinosaur egg fossils from the same Upper Cretaceous strata.  The fossil, nick-named “Baby Louie” after photographer, documentary maker and acclaimed contributor to National Geographic, Louie Psihoyos, was returned to China and now resides in the collection of the Henan Geological Museum, where scientists are confident that with other contemporaneous fossil material available, much more will be learned about this particular dinosaur species.

Darla Zelenitsky, of the University of Calgary, recently updated the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology at their annual conference held in Dallas, (Texas), about the progress being made with the research.

Dr. Zelenitsky stated:

“I have initially started doing research on the specimen in an attempt to identify the parentage of the eggs, but interpreting the fossil wasn’t so simple.  Most dinosaurs are named from adult specimens and multiple studies have underscored the fact that dinosaurs changed dramatically as they grew up.”

Unable to Speculate on the Nature of the Species

Although it has been widely accepted that the fossil represents a baby Oviraptorosaur, it has proved difficult pining down a genus or indeed erecting a new species for this fossil.

Darla Zelenitsky summarised the problems:

“Because of the nature of the preservation and the immaturity of the skeleton, who laid the eggs was difficult to identify from the skeleton alone.  The best bet seemed to be some kind of Oviraptorosaur, feathery Theropod dinosaurs that had strange crests, and strange beaks.  Yet baby Louie seemed to large for such a species”.

It was not until that Gigantoraptor was described in 2007, that scientists became aware that some types of this Theropod dinosaur could grown to be very sizeable animals.  Most members of this clade tend to be just a couple of metres in length, some such as Caudipteryx are a lot smaller than that.

Dr. Zelenitsky added:

“The eggs themselves suggest Oviraptorosaur, but their size indicated an adult egg-layer that would have been more than a dozen times larger than most Oviraptorosaurs known at the time.”

Whilst it is still not possible to assign a species to the fossil, the discovery of Gigantoraptor suggests that “baby Louie” could have grown to a similarly large size.  Although it is difficult to speculate given the paucity of the fossil evidence, it has been suggested that this young dinosaur could have grown to be the size of Gigantoraptor.

Could Baby Louie Have Grown to the Size of Gigantoraptor?

Feathers used for display and courtship.

Feathers used for display and courtship.

Picture Credit: BBC (Planet Dinosaur Television Series)

Now that the specimen is in Henan Province, Dr. Zelenitsky and her colleagues can put together a sustained research project to learn as much as they can about how Oviraptorosaurs grew and matured.

New from CollectA for 2016 (Part 3)

Two New CollectA Prehistoric Animal Models for 2016

In the third of a series of articles written by Everything Dinosaur team members, we can discuss the latest news about CollectA’s plans for prehistoric animal models which will be introduced in 2016.  There will be a further two additions to the CollectA Deluxe range of scale models next year.  Firstly, there is going to be a 1:40 scale model of the Late Jurassic carnivore called Torvosaurus.  Fossils of Torvosaurus have been found in Portugal and the western United States, currently two species have been named.  The Portuguese species (Torvosaurus gurneyi), is regarded by many scientists as the largest land carnivore known from Europe, it was certainly an impressive beast and it is great to see CollectA add a 1:40 scale model of this dinosaur to their Deluxe range.

To read an article by Everything Dinosaur about the discovery of Torvosaurus gurneyiThe Largest Meat-Eating Dinosaur Known from Europe?

New for 2016 a CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Scale Torvosaurus Dinosaur Model

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Both the original fossils from Colorado and the recently named second species (T. gurneyi) have been found in strata associated with a number of other types of Theropod dinosaur.  Dinosaurs such as Allosaurs and Ceratosaurs.  It has been suggested that these large, carnivorous dinosaurs were able to co-exist as they did not directly compete with each other for food.  Torvosaurus for instance, had strong forelimbs perhaps these played a role in its preferred hunting strategy.  The co-existence of several different types of meat-eating dinosaur has been cited by many academics as an example of “niche partitioning” amongst Theropods.

Explaining his reasoning for opting for a Torvosaurus model, designer Anthony Beeson explained:

“I chose the Theropod Torvosaurus gurneyi from Portugal as it is European and, at the moment, the largest land predator known from that part of the world.   I have always been keen on making Europe’s dinosaurs better known, most people generally know more about North American species.  The European Torvosaurus differs from the American species (Torvosaurus tanneri) mostly in its dentition.  It is named after the James Gurney, the splendid palaeoartist who created the Dinotopia books.”

The CollectA Deluxe Torvosaurus has an articulated lower jaw and the model measures twenty-four centimetres in length and the head stands some twelve and a half centimetres high.  It was scheduled for production and release in the spring of 2016, but the latest information received by Everything Dinosaur suggests that it will be available around the middle of next year.

A Model of a Member of the Elasmosauridae

Joining the  Pliosaur and the Rhomaleosaurus in the CollectA Deluxe range next year is this super 1:40 scale Thalassomedon replica.  Thalassomedon swam in the Late Cretaceous seas of Colorado around 95 million years ago (the American species of Torvosaurus comes from strata that was laid down in what is now Colorado, however, the Theropod lived some 55 million years before, this elasmosaurid evolved).  Like its more famous close relative Elasmosaurus, Thalassomedon had an enormous neck.  The neck contained more than sixty cervical vertebrae and this long, but quite inflexible neck made up over half of the animal’s entire body length.

New from CollectA in 2016 a 1:40 Scale Replica of Thalassomedon

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model measures thirty centimetres in length and when measured from the top of that deep body, the model is just over three and a half centimetres high.  It is splendid to see another marine reptile added to the CollectA Deluxe model range and it is great to see Thalassomedon rather than a model of an Elasmosaurus, after all the Elasmosauridae is made up of a surprising number of Cretaceous, long-necked Plesiosaur genera.  Expect this model to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur by mid 2016.  The model is one of the very first large scale production replicas to show evidence of a tail fluke that at least some species of Plesiosaur may have possessed.  The name Thalassomedon is from the Greek, it means “sea lord”.

Talented designer Anthony Beeson, gave us his reasons for choosing to create a Thalassomedon model.

“The marine reptile Thalassomedon (sea lord), is another favourite of mine, and not only for the animal itself.  As a somewhat singular and quirky aside, I have to admit that its name is special to me as I have always loved that Greek word “Thalassa” since, as a child, reading about the March of the Ten Thousand and of Xenophon’s army crying out joyously “Thalassa! Thalassa!”  The sea! the sea! after sighting the Black Sea at the end of their perilous march”.*

To view the current CollectA range of Deluxe models available at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Models

To view the remainder of the CollectA Prehistoric Life range: CollectA Prehistoric Life Not to Scale Models

A number of other websites and other media sources might be announcing the addition of two mini prehistoric animal model sets to the CollectA range today.  For Everything Dinosaur, these two sets of mini prehistoric animal models, with each box set containing ten very well crafted replicas, have been in stock for a while now.

The CollectA Mini Prehistoric Animal Box Set 1 (A1101)

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 The CollectA Mini Prehistoric Animal Box Set 2 (A1102)

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view these model sets and other dinosaur box sets and collections available from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Model Box Sets

*Xenophon was a Greek historian, writer and soldier who chronicled the conflicts that occurred in the late 5th and early 4th Centuries B.C.

Jack Horner Announces Retirement (Well Almost)

Jack Horner Calls it a Day

Jack Horner, one of the world’s most famous palaeontologists, has announced his retirement from the post of Curator of Palaeontology at the Museum of the Rockies after thirty-three years in the post.  John “Jack” Horner, the Regents Professor of Palaeontology at Montana State University has enjoyed a sparkling career having been thrust into the scientific limelight with the discovery of Maiasaura (M. peeblesorum) and the implications on dinosaur nesting behaviour and how dinosaurs raised their young which subsequently arose.

The Very Influential Jack Horner

Palaeontologist John "Jack" Horner.

Palaeontologist John “Jack” Horner.

Picture Credit: Montana State University

The scientist who advised on the Jurassic Park franchise and is credited with being the inspiration behind the character Dr. Alan Grant (at least in part), will not be hanging up his geological hammer just yet.  Although he is retiring from some of his commitments, he has lots of other projects which are going to keep him busy well into his seventies.

Commenting on the announcement of his retirement, the Professor stated:

“I can assure you that I’ll not be slowing down any time soon.  I will be pursuing a number of projects, including helping another museum amass a large dinosaur collection and finishing a couple more books.  I also have a very exciting project that I’m not yet ready to announce.”

Jack Horner’s official retirement date is June 30th 2016, just shortly after his seventieth birthday.  Montana State University intends to hold a special public event on the campus to celebrate the Professor’s contribution to vertebrate palaeontology.

Shelley McKamey, (Executive Director of the Museum of the Rockies) stated:

“Jack and his team of staff and graduate students have amassed the largest collection of dinosaur fossils from the United States.  He opened the science of palaeontology to the general public and sparked the imagination of countless aspiring palaeontologists.”

Professor Horner, has championed the theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, he has also courted controversy in his rich and varied career, playing a pivotal role in the Tyrannosaurus rex “scavenger versus hunter” debate.

The discovery of “Good Mother Lizard” – Maiasaura, in the late 1970’s brought about a complete revision of theories relating to dinosaurs and their parenting strategies.  Jack Horner and his colleagues demonstrated that some dinosaurs provided extensive parental care (Maiasaura young were altricial – incapable of feeding themselves).

Maiasaura – Described by Jack Horner and Robert Makela in 1979

"Good Mother Lizard"

“Good Mother Lizard”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Long-time collaborator and University of California, Berkley professor Kevin Padian, wrote:

“It is difficult to imagine someone who, rising from such considerable obstacles, has achieved so much, given back so much to the profession, stimulated so much new investigation and supported so many younger colleagues and students.”

The search to replace John “Jack” Horner has started in earnest, however, finding a replacement with the same charisma and with the same high regard in this field of scientific endeavour is going to prove difficult.

Everything Dinosaur is grateful to Montana State University for the compilation of this article.

CollectA Mini Dinosaurs Box Sets Reviewed

CollectA Mini Dinosaur Box Sets Reviewed

Dinosaur enthusiasts and collectors of prehistoric animal replicas have been presented with a bit of a dilemma from CollectA.  In addition to the company’s highly regarded “Deluxe” series and the “Prehistoric Life” range of not to scale prehistoric animal models, CollectA have added two sets of miniature models and very splendid they are too.  The dilemma does not concern collecting them but how best to showcase what are very carefully crafted replicas in their own right.  For example, these little dinosaur models et al could be used in plenty of dioramas, or perhaps each box set could be split up so that the various models can be displayed with their counterparts from the not to scale range and the mainly 1:40 scale “Deluxe” models.

New from CollectA Two Sets of Prehistoric Animal Models

A1101 - one of two new prehistoric animal box sets from CollectA.

A1101 – one of two new prehistoric animal box sets from CollectA.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Both sets of mini prehistoric animal models are marketed as “dinosaur box sets”.  True, the majority of the models in each set represent a dinosaur, but there are marine reptiles and Pterosaurs featured too.  Each box set is packed into a clear plastic presentation case and the models inside have been placed in little compartments (two by two), separated by a strip of plastic.  This arrangement prevents the models from falling to the bottom of the box as the packaging has been designed to be presented on a carousel using hang tags and such like.  For model collectors, the big benefit here is that the models are separated and therefore any shaking or rough handling of the box itself will not cause the models to rub against each other and damage any of that lovely paintwork.

A1101 and A1102

Labelled by CollectA as A1101 and A1102, we at Everything Dinosaur prefer the more simple nomenclature of “box set 1″ and “box set 2″ and we recommend both sets to collectors and to dinosaur fans.

A1101 or Box Set 1 Contents

Prehistoric animal models from CollectA

Prehistoric animal models from CollectA

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Many of the models resemble their counterparts in larger, existing CollectA model ranges, for example in box set 1, there is a splendid model of a feathered T. rex which would make an ideal accompaniment to the bigger, feathered Tyrannosaurus rex replicas that have recently been introduced by the company.  The same can be said for the Baryonyx and the Mosasaurus that are also included in this box set, but this is not always the case, read on…

CollectA Box Set Two (A1102)

A1102 a box set of prehistoric animal models.

A1102 a box set of prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the CollectA box set two (A1102), yes, it contains a model of a Liopleurodon and a Brachiosaurus which are very similar to other, larger CollectA models, but this set does include a Giganotosaurus replica (front row, left) as well as an Apatosaurus model (back row, right).  CollectA has not produced a model of “giant southern lizard” or indeed Apatosaurus before.  This has led to speculation that the company intends to introduce larger scale models of these two dinosaurs in 2016.  We, at Everything Dinosaur can assure readers that this is not the case, there are no plans (as far as we know), for CollectA to introduce a Giganotosaurus or an Apatosaurus next year.  If they did, they would have to go some way to beat the marvellous detail depicted in this set of prehistoric animals, they really are very good.

To see the range of dinosaur box sets available at Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Models and Box Sets

The Contents of A1101 (Box Set 1)

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Contents of A1102 (Box Set 2)

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Tracing the Family Tree of the Brachylophosaurini

New Dinosaur Species from Montana – Probrachylophosaurus

The Hadrosaurs, commonly referred to as the “duck-billed” dinosaurs were a highly successful group of Cretaceous ornithischian dinosaurs that dominated the mega fauna of most of Asia, North America and Europe towards the end of the Mesozoic.  Many different types of genera are known and there is a general consensus amongst palaeontologists in terms of the taxonomic relationships between most species.  However, even though these large herbivores were abundant and the fossil record of these animals as collected from famous formations such as Hell Creek, Dinosaur Provincial Park (North America), and the Jingangkou Formation of eastern China, is quite detailed when compared to other types of dinosaur, there is still a lot we don’t know about these animals.

The “Super Duck” Probrachylophosaurus

Talented artist John Conway was commissioned to produce this illustration for the press release.

Talented artist John Conway was commissioned to produce this illustration for the press release.

Picture Credit: John Conway

The publication of a paper announcing the discovery of a new “duck-billed” dinosaur, nick-named “super duck”, in the prestigious journal PLOS One, sheds new light on how one particular group of these prehistoric animals evolved over time.  The new dinosaur has been named Probrachylophosaurus bergei, it translates as “before short-crested lizard” in reference to the fact that this new genus was found in strata that was laid down earlier than the very closely related Brachylophosaurus canadensis.  Indeed, in the paper written by Professor Elizabeth Freeman Fowler (Montana State University) in collaboration with her mentor and fellow Montana State University palaeontologist Jack Horner, the authors outline the anatomical similarities between these two members of the Brachylophosaurini clade that suggest that Probrachylophosaurus was ancestral to the later Brachylophosaurus.  This newly named dinosaur could be regarded as a “missing link” neatly fitting in between a much older type of “duck-billed” dinosaur (Acristavus) and Brachylophosaurus.  In addition, when all three skulls of these related dinosaurs are studied, they reveal an evolutionary link towards the development of evermore elaborate crests as display structures.

Tracing the Timeline Showing Evolutionary Transition in the Brachylophosaurini

Mapping the evolutionary transitions that led to more elaborate crest development.

Mapping the evolutionary transitions that led to more elaborate crest development.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The diagram above shows the relative positions of fossil finds of dinosaurs that are grouped into the Brachylophosaur clade (Brachylophosaurini).  Acristavus gagslarsoni, from the lower portion of the Two Medicine Formation of western Montana lived around 81 million years ago.  It had no nasal crest.  Brachylophosaurus canadensis is known from Canada, the Oldman Formation of the Belly River Group, these fossils date to around 78 million years ago.  B. canadensis had a flattened, almost paddle-shaped nasal crest which projected backwards over the skull roof.  The very well known and more recent Maiasaura peeblesorum is also a member of the Brachylophosaurini.  The fossils of Maiasaura are associated with the upper portions of the Two Medicine Formation of western Montana and it had quite a substantial bump on its snout, a much larger more striking crest.

Commenting on the significance of Probrachylophosaurus, Professor Freedman Fowler stated:

“The crest of Probrachylophosaurus is small and triangular and would have only poked up a little bit on the top of the head, above the eyes.  Probrachylophosaurus is therefore exciting because its age – 79 million years ago – is between Acristavus and Brachylophosaurus, so we would predict that its skull and the crest would be intermediate between these species.  And it is.  It is a perfect example of evolution within a single lineage of dinosaurs over millions of years.”

Skull Comparisons between Probrachylophosaurus and the Later Brachylophosaurus

Skull comparisons between Hadrosaurs.

Skull comparisons between Hadrosaurs.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The picture above compares  some of the known cranial material from P. bergei with a crest of the later Brachylophosaurus canadensis (left lateral and dorsal views).  The green arrow indicates the extension to the naris and other bone changes that led to the evolution of a more prominent and pronounced crest in Brachylophosaurus.

Professor Freedman Fowler with the Probrachylophosaurus Illustration and Cranial Fossil Casts

Professor Freedman with an illustration, and casts of the skull material.

Professor Freedman with an illustration, and casts of the skull material.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

This newest member of the “duck-billed” dinosaurs was nick-named “super duck” after it emerged although not fully grown, this dinosaur would have measured close to ten metres in length.  Body mass estimates suggest an adult weight in excess of five tonnes.  The fossils, including substantial post-cranial material were discovered in 2007, near to the town of Rudyard in north central Montana.  The species name honours Sam Berge one of the landowners who allowed access to the site to excavate the exposed fossils.

A nearby dig site revealed a fragmentary juvenile of the transitional Probrachylophosaurus, which suggests that successive generations of the Brachylophosaurus lineage grew larger crests by changing the timing or pace of crest development during growth into adulthood.  This change in the timing or rate of development is called heterochrony, a process which is being increasingly recognised as a major driving force in evolution.

Explaining the importance of heterochrony and how fossils of juvenile dinosaurs can assist scientists in piecing together evidence regarding change in populations, the professor said:

“Heterochrony is key to understanding how evolution actually occurs in these dinosaurs, but to study heterochrony we need large collections of dinosaurs with multiple growth stages, and a really precise time framework for the rock formations that we collect them from.”

The well-documented and accurately dated Campanian-Maastrichtian faunal stages as mapped out in the exposed Upper Cretaceous strata of North America provide palaeontologists with an opportunity to map heterochroneous relationships between animals of different ages but of the same species.  These in turn can permit the analysis of how these changes influenced the macro-evolution of the entire lineage.

An Illustration of the Closely Related (But Later) Brachylophosaurus

Brachylophosaurus illustrated.

Brachylophosaurus illustrated.

Picture Credit: Houston Museum of Natural Science

Celebrating South African Dinosaurs

Poster Celebrates  South African Dinosaurs

Earlier this week, scientists from the Evolutionary Studies Institute of Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg) put on display the fragmentary fossils of a huge dinosaur which roamed South Africa.  The fossils date from the Early Jurassic and represent an plant-eating dinosaur, a Sauropod that measured perhaps in excess of sixteen metres.  There have been a number of remarkable fossil finds over the last two years or so in South Africa.  These discoveries have helped to shed new light onto the fauna and flora of the Late Triassic and the Early Jurassic geological periods.  The announcement of the latest dinosaur discovery the “Highland Giant” coincided with the celebration of UNESCO’s World Science Day for Peace and Development.  A special poster has been commissioned to celebrate South African dinosaurs and other prehistoric life.  This poster was designed by artist and poet Maggie Newman.

Celebrating the  Prehistoric Life of South Africa

The prehistoric life of South Africa.

The prehistoric life of South Africa.

Picture Credit: The Evolutionary Studies Institute (Witwatersrand University)

The beautiful and very detailed poster depicts South Africa some 200 million years ago (Hettangian faunal stage of the Early Jurassic), a time when the continents were formed into a super-sized landmass that was beginning to split apart.  Dinosaurs were becoming the dominant terrestrial fauna but they shared the land with a wide range of other bizarre reptiles as well as some synapsids that were from the branch of the Tetrapoda that would lead to modern mammals.

Poster Key

This poster shows a scene in South Africa between 200 and 183 million years ago.  At the time the continents were splitting apart and there were many volcanic eruptions (1).  The climate was drying and there were sand dunes (2), tree ferns (3), yellowood (4), monkey puzzle (5) and ginkgo trees (6) formed patches of forest.  Early dinosaurs like this egg-laying Massospondylus (7) are shown fending off a hungry Coelophysis (8).  Heterodontosaurus (9) was different from other dinosaurs because it had incisor, canine and molar type teeth for cutting, biting and grinding up their plant food.  The name Heterodontosaurus means “different types of teeth” and this interesting small animal may have had quills like a porcupine.  In the scene, three Heterodontosaurus are fleeing a kill made by a crested dinosaur called Dracovenator (10), a relative of Dilophosaurus.  The Dracovenator is being threatened by a Ceratosaur (11).  The herbivorous Aardonyx dinosaurs (12) in the background are foraging peacefully.  Dinosaurs were not the only animals alive at this time.  Megazostrodon (13) was a small insect eating animal closely related to the earliest mammals.  Tritylodon (14) was a mammal ancestor with teeth like a dassie (Rock Hyrax – Procavia capensis).  The animal that looks like a lizard (15) is a small armoured land-dwelling crocodile called Protosuchus.

The original fossils of the dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals depicted in the poster are on display at institutions and museums around South Africa.

Dr. Jonah Choiniere (senior researcher at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Witwatersrand University) stated:

“We think that this poster will show young learners…. ‘yes, South Africa does have dinosaurs’.  We hope that it will get them excited about studying the science behind South Africa’s incredible palaeosciences heritage.”

The poster is available for free and upon request to all visitors to the Origins Centre while stocks last and it will also be distributed to science centres, museums and visiting schools in the country.

To read an article all about the latest addition to the dinosaur dominated fauna of South Africa: South Africa’s “Highland Giant”

Everything Dinosaur would like to take this opportunity to thank those institutions involved with the commissioning of the poster, helping to inform and to educate people about life in the past.

New from CollectA for 2016 (Part 2)

Beishanlong, Lythronax, Struthiomimus New for 2016

You wait ages for an Ornithomimosauria clade model to come along and then, thanks to CollectA, two arrive!  These models are part of the exciting 2016 introductions, along with a replica of the “King of Gore” Lythronax (L. argestes), a ferocious tyrannosaurid, fossils of which come from Utah.

1:4o Scale Deluxe Beishanlong (B. grandis)

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2016.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Fossils of this giant, member of the “bird mimic” clade come from Gansu Province (China), it was a contemporary of the feathered tyrannosaur Xiongguanlong, (X. baimoensis), a replica of which was introduced by CollectA earlier this year.  Beishanlong was one of the largest of the Ornithomimosauria known, although the best preserved specimen represents an immature animal, the fragmentary fossilised bones when compared to more complete specimens suggest that this dinosaur grew to a length in excess of eight metres.  Skull material is absent from the fossil record, so CollectA have based their replica on more complete ornithomimids.  It certainly is a most impressive figure.

Anthony Beeson, the designer behind the CollectA range of prehistoric animal models explained:

“Beishanlong, was an “ostrich mimic” and a Chinese dinosaur.  It was amongst the largest of the ostrich mimics and is important as being an earlier relative of Deinocheirus.  The CollectA model is based on a skeleton that I admired at Hong Kong’s Science Museum during my last visit.”

Beishanlong is going to be one of the new additions to the Deluxe scale model range made by CollectA.  It will be available from Everything Dinosaur in the spring of 2016, or thereabouts.  As it stands an impressive 23 centimetres tall it is going to tower over the smaller CollectA Xiongguanlong replica.   This is quite apt, as Beishanlong would have towered over Xiongguanlong when they shared the same Asian habitat some 120 million years ago.

To read an article published in 2009 but the discovery of Xiongguanlong and Beishanlong: Giant Ornithomimid and New Tyrannosaur from Gansu Province

Lythronax – “The King of Gore”

Available from Everything Dinosaur around the middle of 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur around the middle of 2016.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Approximately, the size of Beishanlong but much heavier and decidedly more dangerous, Lythronax was a top predator of the Middle Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  The genus name translates as “the King of Gore”.  With its wide but short snout and robust jaws, this dinosaur would have been very formidable.  Many palaeontologists believe that this Theropod was a direct ancestor of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex.  CollectA are beginning to assemble quite a collection of Tyrannosaurs – Eotyrannus, Tarbosaurus, the feathered T. rex, Xiongguanlong and another close relative of Lythronax, Bistahieversor that roamed what was to become New Mexico around four million years or so after “the King of Gore” became extinct.

To read about the discovery of Lythronax: “The King of Gore” – New Tyrannosaur from Utah

Anthony commented:

“The early Tyrannosaur Lythronax from Utah was chosen really because of its importance in the evolutionary chain of that genus and also because I love the name!  One can never have too much gore in play as most boys know.  Like Tyrannosaurus , Lythronax had eyes pointing to the front giving it binocular vision and the ability to gauge depth.”

Some nice detail is shown in the photograph of the model, the shaggy, feathered coat, tufts of feathers on the top of the head and evidence of almost pennaceous feathers on the forelimbs.

The CollectA Lythronax replica measures around 18 centimetres long, the head height is a fraction over 8.5 centimetres.  It will be available from Everything Dinosaur around the middle of 2016.

The last of the latest batch of dinosaur model pictures to be released by CollectA is another feathered dinosaur.  Once upon a time, feathered dinosaur models were the exception, now thanks to the work of the likes of CollectA more and more feathered dinosaur replicas are being produced.

New for 2016 The CollectA Struthiomimus Model

New for 2016 a Struthiomimus dinosaur model.

New for 2016 a Struthiomimus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Named almost one hundred years ago (1917), this is the dinosaur that gave rise to the term “ostrich mimic”, as this is what the genus name Struthiomimus means.  It is great to see a replica of this fast-running Late Cretaceous resident of North America.  Once again, CollectA have to be applauded, as they have given their model, long pennaceous feathers on the forearm, this suggests that they have been keeping up to date with the latest ornithomimid studies, in particular some recently published papers on remarkably well-preserved Ornithomimus specimens.

There are not many models of the Ornithomimidae around, this is a very welcome addition.

Commenting on this, the second of the ornithomimids to be introduced next year, Anthony Beeson said:

“I have wanted to do a Struthiomimus model for a long time and also to produce more ornithomimids or ostrich mimics .  In the 1950’s Struthiomimus was well known to dinosaur enthusiasts, but since Jurassic Park, Gallimimus has eclipsed it in popular culture.  John Sibbick, the palaeoartist once bemoaned its passing to me.  It has not previously featured greatly in the toy record.  It was a very common ornithomimid dinosaur that was found in Late Cretaceous North America.”

The model is scheduled to come out at about the same time as the Lythronax replica (mid 2016), it measures 11 centimetres long, and that head stands some 6.5 centimetres off the ground.

So that’s the very latest information on new CollectA prehistoric animals for you, in summary, one Tyrannosaur, two members of the Ornithomimosauria clade, three feathered Theropods and top notch replicas they are too.

To view the current CollectA range of Deluxe models available at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Models

To view the remainder of the CollectA Prehistoric Life range: CollectA Prehistoric Life Not to Scale Models


This article has been amended to ensure more accurate terms related to taxa and classification are used.

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