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

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6 05, 2017

New Children’s Dinosaur Book “Thomas T. rex”

By | May 6th, 2017|Book Reviews, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Mum Inspired to Write Dinosaur Story Books

Nicole Mills has a background in publishing, so when she took an interest in her son’s dinosaur obsession, photographing him with his various prehistoric animal models and toys, her mind began to wonder how she could help other children share his fascination for these long extinct creatures.  Mum and son’s imaginations were certainly sparked, whilst Henry made up stories about his dinosaurs, Nicole decided to turn these into a series of dinosaur themed story books, aimed at young readers.

Nicole Mills and Son Henry

Dino-Mom and Dino-Boy

Nicole with Henry (dinosaur toys).

Picture Credit: Lavide (Phoenix)

Ideas can come from all kinds of places, you never quite know when inspiration will strike.  When Henry told his mum that he needed a detective to solve a dinosaur mystery, the idea of publishing a series of dinosaur detective story books was born.

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”, is the first title, in which detective “Thomas the T. rex” attempts to solve the riddle of some disappearing ferns by following a set of clues including some dinosaur footprints.  The press release provided with the inspection copy that was sent to Everything Dinosaur, states that children will be exposed to valuable life skills such as problem solving and the power of emotions, whilst the humour within the simple text will keep adult readers entertained.

Reading Together

Studies have shown that if parents enjoy reading and have a house filled with lots of books, then their children are more likely to become avid readers too.  Immersing children in literacy activities at an early age can help them gain confidence with their own reading and writing.  Exposure to books, with parents taking time to read to their offspring will help the child develop a bigger vocabulary and assist with spelling.  The large font and the adoption of a simple rhyming motif make the words in this story book very accessible for young children, although parents and guardians on this side of the Atlantic might struggle with the American spelling, “armor” and “favorite” being cases in point.

Creative, Imaginative Play can Help Children Prepare for Formal Education

Tyrannosaurus rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

T. rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

Picture Credit: Schleich

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus” is the debut book in this series, the author hopes to publish one book for each letter of the alphabet, after all, enough dinosaurs have been named and described to easily fill an alphabetical list.  The tone and text of this book accommodates aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), elements of the English national curriculum.  For example, within the statutory framework of the English national curriculum, literacy is a priority, with children being encouraged to link sounds and letters and to commence reading and writing independently.  The framework stipulates that children should be given access to a wide range of reading materials including poems to help ignite their interest.

Actual Dinosaur Models Feature in the Stories

Observant children will be able to recognise several of their dinosaur and prehistoric animal toys within the book.  For example, illustrations of the eponymous hero “Thomas the T. rex” suggests to us that the Papo brown standing T. rex dinosaur figure plays the detective role in Henry’s imaginative tales.  Using familiar models will help young readers to buy into the story, they can even recreate some of the story lines themselves (as well as inventing a few new ones).

The Papo Standing Tyrannosaurus rex Model (Brown)

Papo T.r ex figures.

The Papo brown T. rex figure with the Papo baby Tyrannosaurus rex.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Available from Archway Publishing Online Bookstore: “Dinosaur Detective – Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”

ISBN: 978-1-4808-3766-9 (soft cover) or hardback version 978-1-4808-3767-6 and in addition, a downloadable E-book is available.

Author, Nicole commented:

“It’s important for children and parents to read, play and discover together, so what better way to do it than with dinosaurs?  Through Henry’s obsession with dinosaurs, he has not only learned an encyclopaedic wealth of information, but I have too.”

We wish mum and son the very best of luck and we hope that “Thomas the T.rex” is able to crack all his cases.

5 05, 2017

Whipping Up Interest in Whiplash Dinosaurs

By | May 5th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Species of Diplodocid Dinosaur – Galeamopus pabsti

Writing in the academic journal “Peer J”, palaeontologists Emanuel Tschopp and Octávio Mateus (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), have identified a new species of diplodocid dinosaur within the Galeamopus genus.  The fossils, which come from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, specifically the Howe-Scott Quarry in the northern Bighorn Basin in Wyoming, (USA), further demonstrate the diversity of Sauropods associated with the Late Jurassic fauna of western North America.

A New Species of Diplodocid Dinosaur

Galeamopus pabsti illustrated.

A life reconstruction of G. pabsti.

Picture Credit: Davide Bonadonna with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Excavation began in 1995, by a Swiss field team led by palaeontologists Dr Hans-Jakob ‘Kirby’ Siber and Dr Ben Pabst (The Dinosaur Museum (Sauriermuseum) in Aathal, Switzerland).  The trivial name, honours Dr Pabst in recognition of his contribution to dinosaur fossil preparation and exhibition mounting.  This is the second member of the Galeamopus genus to be identified, the first species G. hayi, was erected in 2015, when Emanuel Tschopp and Octávio Mateus, along with colleagues from Oxford University and the Raymond M. Alf, Museum of Palaeontology, (Claremont, California, USA), published a paper that resurrected the genus Brontosaurus following an extensive review of the Diplodocidae.

For an article on the 2015 paper: The Return of Brontosaurus

Nearly Complete Fossil Specimen Just Missing the Tail

Importantly, much of the skull, although broken apart, was collected along with around the majority of the anterior portion of the skeleton.  The presence of fossilised wood and freshwater bivalves indicated that this individual had come to rest in a stream channel.  The skull has helped to assign a new species within the Galeamopus genus and the robust limb bones, such as the very sturdy upper arm bone (humerus), helps to distinguish the Galeamopus genus from the more gracile and slender Diplodocus.

Dr Emanuel Tschopp, who holds a number of academic posts including a position at the University of Turin, commented that the bones represent a young adult and that this dinosaur could have reached lengths in excess of twenty-seven metres.  Bite marks on the ribs and shed Theropod teeth found in association with the bones suggest that the dinosaur’s carcase was scavenged before it was finally buried.

A Late Jurassic Scene – Galeamopus pabsti Scavenged by Theropods

Scavenging the carcase of Galeamopus.

The carcase of Galeamopus is scavenged by an Allosaurus whilst two smaller Ceratosaurus approach warily.

Picture Credit: Davide Bonadonna

Dr Tschopp stated:

“Diplodocids are among the best-known Sauropod dinosaurs.  Numerous specimens of currently fifteen accepted species belonging to ten genera have been reported from the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous of North and South America, Europe, and Africa.  However, the highest diversity is known from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of the western United States, a recent review [the 2015 paper] recognised twelve valid, named species, and possibly three additional, yet unnamed ones.”

A View of the Reconstructed Skull of Galeamopus pabsti

Diplodocid skull (G. pabsti).

A right lateral view of the reconstructed skull of G. pabsti.

Picture Credit: Emanuel Tschopp and Octávio Mateus

Although, the tail bones are missing, the scientists are confident that like all the other diplodocids, Galeamopus pabsti had a long tail, which in this case, represents more than half of the animal’s total body length.  This long whip-like tail may have been used to help herd members keep in contact with each other or perhaps it had a role in defence.  If attacked these dinosaurs might have lashed out with their tails, or perhaps moved them so quickly that they would have made a sonic boom (breaking the sound barrier).

4 05, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Acrocanthosaurus

By | May 4th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Acrocanthosaurus Video Review

When the new for 2017 Papo prehistoric animal models were first announced, great excitement was generated around the introduction of a large Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.  Dinosaur fans and model collectors who have been lucky enough to pick up this model already, have raved about its quality.  Now viewers of the very informative JurassicCollectables YouTube channel can see what all the fuss was about, as a video review of this dinosaur replica has been posted up by JurassicCollectables.

The JurassicCollectables Video Review of the New for 2017 Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

The Papo model range continues to go from strength to strength and the JurassicCollectables video shows the quality of the paintwork and attention to detail on this model.  In this short video, which is just a fraction under five minutes in length, the narrator talks us through the features that have made this particular Papo model a “must have”.

Praise for the Camera Work

The camera work should be praised as this video provides some excellent close-up views of this Acrocanthosaurus, including the superb detail that can be found on the interior of the mouth, which as the narrator comments, has been lovingly sculpted.  Even the side of the jaw shows attention to detail with scales carefully depicted.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the video, the narrator comments on the excellent colour tones and skin texture seen in this Papo model.  The dynamic pose is discussed and this is compared to the Papo standing Tyrannosaurus rex replica, which also provides a good size comparison.  The wash on the feet and hands is noted, as is the care and attention to detail when it came to painting individual scales along the flanks.  As well as a regular appearance by “off-colour Alan”, an impression of size is given when the Papo Acrocanthosaurus is compared with the 2016 Papo Kaprosuchus prehistoric crocodile.  Just like the Papo Kaprosuchus, the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model also has an articulated jaw.

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel has amassed over 54,000 subscribers and is home to some 700 dinosaur and prehistoric animal inspired videos.

Everything Dinosaur recommends dinosaur and model fans to visit JurassicCollectables on YouTube and to subscribe: JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Acrocanthosaurus atokensis

Named and described in 1950, Acrocanthosaurus (A. atokensis) is regarded as one of the largest Theropod dinosaurs known from the Aptian and early Albian faunal stages of the Cretaceous.  Fossils of this huge meat-eater have been found in Oklahoma, Texas and Maryland (USA).  In addition, other fragmentary fossils and some trace fossils from other U.S. States have been assigned to this genus.

Everything Dinosaur Photographed the Papo Acrocanthosaurus Prior to its Formal Launch

A view of the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model and the rest of the excellent Papo “Les Dinosaures” model range: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models

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

3 05, 2017

The Last Dinosaur from Africa

By | May 3rd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Chenanisaurus barbaricus – Substantial Abelisaurid from Late Cretaceous Morocco

One of the last types of dinosaur to have existed in north Africa has been described in a new scientific paper published in the journal “Cretaceous Research”.  A fragment of jaw bone (dentary) and isolated teeth discovered in a phosphate mine at Sidi Chennane in the Oulad Abdoun Basin, (Morocco), has enabled scientists to identify a new species of abelisaurid.  The dinosaur, named Chenanisaurus barbaricus may belong to an as-yet undescribed family of Abelisaurs unique to Africa.

An Illustration of the Late Cretaceous Abelisaurid Chenanisaurus barbaricus

Chenanisaurus barbaricus illustration.

An illustration of Chenanisaurus barbaricus.

Picture Credit: University of Bath with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

A Blunt Snout with an Unusually Short and Robust Jaw

Analysis of the fragment of dentary, along with the associated teeth, indicates that the jaw of this dinosaur was very short, even for an abelisaurid.  The morphology of the jaw is described as being even more extreme than that seen in other abelisaurids such as Carnotaurus.  Extensive wear on the teeth suggests hypercarnivory (diet consisting of more than 70 percent meat), Chenanisaurus was around 7-8 metres in length and it may have been an apex predator within the Late Cretaceous ecosystem.

A Photograph Showing Two Views of the Jaw Fragment

Jaw fragment fossil C. barbaricus.

Jaw fragment fossil (labial and buccal view).

Picture Credit: University of Bath

Marine Deposits from a Phosphate Mine

Lead author of the scientific paper, Dr Nick Longrich (Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath), along with colleagues from Morocco, France, and Spain studied the jaw fossil and teeth that had been found in 66 million-year-old strata in a phosphate mine located in northern Morocco.  Dinosaur fossils from the end of the Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage) are exceptionally rare in north Africa.  Rising sea levels had isolated Africa as the super-continent of Gondwana continued to break up and from about 95 million years onwards, much of the former terrestrial habitat of the Dinosauria in north Africa was lost to the sea.

Commenting on the rarity of the fossil find, Dr Longrich stated:

“This find was unusual because it’s a dinosaur from marine rocks – it’s a bit like hunting for fossil whales, and finding a fossil lion.  It’s an incredibly rare find – almost like winning the lottery.  But the phosphate mines are so rich, it’s like buying a million lottery tickets, so we actually have a chance to find rare dinosaurs like this one.”

Confirming a Distinct African Terrestrial Fauna

Not only was Chenanisaurus barbaricus one of the last dinosaurs to roam our planet, its discovery supports the idea of a distinct north African terrestrial fauna towards the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.  During the Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous, horned dinosaurs and hadrosaurids were the most common and specious large, plant-eating dinosaurs in North America and Asia, whereas a different group of dinosaurs dominated terrestrial ecosystems in South America, India and Madagascar (Titanosauriformes and abelisaurids).  In North America and Asia, the dominant, apex predators were Tyrannosaurs.

In 2004, a paper published in the “Journal of African Earth Studies”, provided details of a right hindlimb (femur, tibia and fibula), that had been found in phosphate deposits near the town of Khouribga (central Morocco).  Just like Chenanisaurus, these fossils date from approximately 66 million years ago and were also found in marine rocks.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur are not aware of a new genus having been established as a result of the discovery of the leg bones, but their presence in the rocks does indicate that titanosaurids survived in north Africa until the very end of the Cretaceous.  These fossils along with the Chenanisaurus material suggests the persistence of a classic Gondwanan abelisaurid/titanosaurid fauna in mainland Africa right up to end- Cretaceous extinction event.

Tyrannosaurid versus Abelisaurid Distribution

Abelisaurid versus tyrannosaurid distribution.

Tyrannosaurid versus abelisaurid distribution.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur


Tyrannosaurids = green

Abelisaurids = brown

The picture above shows a general distribution of apex predatory dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous, with the exception of southern Europe, tyrannosaurids dominated the apex predator positions in Laurasia, whilst the abelisaurids dominated in the regions that made up Gondwana.

Phylogenetic analysis undertaken by the research team suggests that Chenanisaurus may represent a lineage of abelisaurids that is distinct from those previously described from the latest Cretaceous of South America, Indo-Madagascar, and Europe, consistent with the hypothesis that the fragmentation of Gondwana led to the evolution of endemic dinosaur faunas during the Late Cretaceous.

Dr Longrich added:

“We have virtually no dinosaur fossils from this time period in Morocco, it may even be the first dinosaur named from the end-Cretaceous of Africa.  It’s also one of the last dinosaurs in Africa before the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.  It is an exciting find because it shows just how different the fauna was in the southern hemisphere at this time.”

2 05, 2017

Basal Brachiosaurids – Vouivria damparisensis

By | May 2nd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

French Revolution for the Brachiosauridae

This week there have been a number of papers published announcing newly described dinosaurs.  In time, we will get around to writing about several of them, but first, let’s take a look at the basal brachiosaurid Vouivria damparisensis, which has been described from fossil material representing a single animal that was first discovered back in 1934.

Earliest Relative of Brachiosaurus from north-eastern France

Vouivria damparisensis (brachiosaurid).

A newly described basal brachiosaurid Vouivria damparisensis.

Picture Credit: Imperial College London

Writing in the journal “Peer J”, lead author Dr Philip Mannion (Dept. of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College, London) and his co-workers Ronan Allain (Natural History Museum, Paris) and Oliver Moine (Laboratory of Physical Geography, CNRS / University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), propose that these fossils represent the earliest known brachiosaurid, a family of dinosaurs that include such well-known animals as Brachiosaurus and Giraffatitan.  However, despite the high profile (no pun intended), of “arm lizard” in particular, surprisingly, very little is known about the evolution of these Sauropods, Vouivria helps to fill in some significant gaps.

A Photograph of a Dorsal Vertebra from Vouivria damparisensis

A back bone of Vouivria.

A dorsal vertebra of Vouivria.

Picture Credit: Peer J

The picture above shows a bone from the spine of V. damparisensis.  The bone comes from the front part of the dorsal vertebrae, (A) left lateral view, (B) right lateral view, (C) anterior view; (D) ventral view. Scale bar equals five centimetres.

Middle/Late Oxfordian Sauropod

The Brachiosauridae seem to have had their heyday in the Late Jurassic, Vouivria is important as relatively few Sauropods are known from rocks of this age.  Most Sauropod fossils from the Jurassic are associated with rocks that were laid down in the latter stages of this geological period, namely during the Kimmeridgian–Tithonian faunal stages.  Vouivria damparisensis comes from strata that is several million years older, having lived around 160 – 158 million years ago.  In addition, it is known from relatively complete remains. Contrast this with the UK’s Late Jurassic Sauropod fossil material, in particular the likes of Duriatitan (D. humerocristatus), which like Vouivria, has been assigned to the Titanosauriformes, the clade of long-necked dinosaurs to which the Brachiosauridae family belongs.  Duriatitan is known from a single fossil bone (left femur) and this fossil, which comes from Dorset, was found in rocks that are believed to be about four million years younger than the rocks in which Vouivria was discovered.

At an estimated 15 tonnes and some 15 metres in length, Vouivria was a sizeable beast.  It is likely that this dinosaur fed on the upper storeys of pine trees and Araucaria, using its long neck to reach parts of trees that other herbivorous dinosaurs could not reach.

An Illustration of a Typical Brachiosaurid

Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

A colourful Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Revolutionising the Brachiosauridae Family Tree

The researchers were able to conduct an analysis of the Brachiosauridae family tree and an assessment of the evolutionary relationships indicates that by the Early Cretaceous, brachiosaurids were restricted to Africa and the United States.  They were probably extinct in Europe.

Furthermore, the team were able to postulate that fossils that most likely represent brachiosaurids are only known from the USA, Africa and western Europe.  Previously, studies examining the fossils of another long-necked dinosaur, Padillasaurus (P. leivaensis), from Lower Cretaceous rocks of Columbia, had suggested that Padillasaurus was a brachiosaurid.  The detailed description of Vouivria casts doubt on this suggesting that Padillasaurus was not a member of the Brachiosauridae and that as a result brachiosaurids remain unknown from South America.  Padillasaurus is placed within the Somphospondyli, another clade of Titanosauriformes, related to the brachiosaurids, but one with a much more global distribution.

A Modified Map Showing the Original Location of the Fossil Bones at the Dig Site

The layout of the bones of Vouivria.

A map showing the position of the bones at the original dig site.

Peer J modified from Dorlodot (1934)

Building upon the original 1934 description (Dorlodot) and the subsequent reassessment of the fossil material Lapparent (1943), before the fossil material was confined to storage, the researchers have provided a valuable insight into the radiation and geographical spread of brachiosaurids.  The current fossil evidence suggests that this type of Sauropod spanned the Late Jurassic (Oxfordian) through to the Late Albian/Early Cenomanian of the Cretaceous.  The last of the brachiosaurids lived in what is now known as the United States and it is likely that by the earliest Late Cretaceous (approximately 98 million years ago), the Brachiosauridae were extinct.

A Better Understanding of the Palaeoenvironment 

The scientific paper provides a better understanding of how the remains of the dinosaur were preserved.  During this period of Earth’s history, much of what we now know as western Europe consisted of a series of low-lying tropical islands.  The earlier studies had concluded that as the rocks in which this dinosaur was found originally come from a coastal environment, then the corpse of Vouivria was probably washed out to sea.  More detailed analysis of the surround rocks and sediments tell a different story.  The researchers conclude that Vouivria died in a lagoon, a habitat that existed during a brief decline in sea levels.  When sea levels rose again, the carcase was buried.

Commenting on the importance of these fossils, lead author of the study Dr Philip Mannion (Imperial College London), stated:

“We don’t know what this creature died from, but millions of years later it is providing important evidence to help us understand in more detail the evolution of brachiosaurid Sauropods and a much bigger group of dinosaurs that they belonged to, called Titanosauriformes.”

1 05, 2017

Everything Dinosaur to Stock Mojo Models

By | May 1st, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Adds Mojo Models

Everything Dinosaur is to add Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models to the company’s already extensive product range.  The Mojo models are scheduled to go live on the Everything Dinosaur website in the middle of May, around week commencing 15th May.  JurassicCollectables exclusively revealed that Mojo models were coming to Everything Dinosaur in a recent unboxing video posted up on their YouTube channel.

Unboxing 2017 Prehistoric Animal Models Including Some Mojo Models

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

In this short, ten-minute video, the narrator discusses the contents of the latest parcel of prehistoric animals to be sent from Everything Dinosaur to JurassicCollectables – new for 2017 Papo models, the first batch of the 2017 CollectA replicas and in a scoop for this excellent YouTube channel, JurassicCollectables was able to reveal that the Mojo range had been added to Everything Dinosaur’s product portfolio.  The Mojo dinosaur models include Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, Velociraptor, Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Spinosaurus and a new for 2017 Allosaurus.

Mojo Models Coming to Everything Dinosaur

Mojo dinosaur and prehistoric animal models.

Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” model range.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Prehistoric and Extinct Animal Models

Formed in 2009, Mojo has created an exciting range of animal and fantasy figures.  In 2016, many of their existing models were given makeovers and new paint schemes ready for a re-launch this year.  In addition, a number of new sculpts and prototypes were prepared in order to expand the company’s product range.  Everything Dinosaur will be bringing into stock all thirty-one of the models in Mojo’s “Prehistoric and Extinct” animal model range, including the quite rare and hard to get prehistoric mammals such as the excellent Deinotherium model seen in the JurassicCollectables unboxing video.

In addition, new for 2017 Mojo dinosaurs will be available from Everything Dinosaur, including the wonderful Mojo Tyrannosaurus rex hunting (red) replica which led the narrator in the JurassicCollectables video to exclaim:

“The detail on this looks absolutely stunning” and “This looks amazing!”

The New for 2017 Mojo Hunting Tyrannosaurus rex (red colour)

Mojo hunting Tyrannosaurus rex.

Mojo hunting T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Two versions of the large, hunting T. rex model will be available from Everything Dinosaur, the Mojo hunting T. rex (red) see picture above and JurassicCollectables video, plus a green version of this dinosaur model.  In total, there will be six new Tyrannosaurus rex models, including a juvenile replica and a 1:40 scale T. rex.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We have been most impressed by the way that the Mojo range has developed and we are delighted to be able to add these new replicas to our inventory.  In particular, it is great to see some of the more unusual prehistoric and extinct creatures featured.  For example, we will be adding the re-painted Hyaenodon gigas plus the entelodont Daeodon and the exquisite Brontotherium model to our product range.”

The JurassicCollectables unboxing video certainly highlights the quality of the prehistoric animals currently available and we look forward to viewing individual model reviews on the YouTube channel.

The YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables provides an extensive library of informative prehistoric animal model reviews, if you have not already subscribed to this extremely professional channel then we at Everything Dinosaur, encourage you to do so.

Visit the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel: View JurassicCollectables on YouTube and Subscribe

To visit the Everything Dinosaur models section of the website: Prehistoric Animal Models

30 04, 2017

DNA from Ancient Hominins Discovered in Cave Sediments

By | April 30th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

DNA from Cave Sediments Reveals Ancient Human Occupants

Close to the Belgium town of Modave, there is a large cave.  It overlooks the Hoyoux River, a tributary of the Meuse and although no human bones have ever been found at this cave site, palaeoanthropologists are confident that it was once occupied by ancient humans as animal bones with stone tool cut marks are associated with the site.  The cave is called Trou Al’Wesse (“Wasp Cave” in Walloon) and thanks to a remarkable application of technology, scientists now know that some fifty thousand years ago, a Neanderthal relieved himself inside the cave.  That person’s urine and faeces may have long since decomposed but, left in the cave sediments were minute traces of his DNA.  Researchers have shown that they can find and identify such genetic traces of ancient humans, enabling them to test for the presence of ancient hominins even at sites where no human bones have been discovered.  In addition, the same technique can be used to map other mammalian fauna at these locations.  The scientists, including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany) propose that this technique could become a standard tool in palaeoarchaeology.

Excavations at the site of El Sidrón, (Spain) – One of the Cave Sites in the Study

Searching for evidence of ancient hominin DNA.

Excavations at the site of El Sidrón, Spain.

Picture Credit: El Sidrón research team

The Secrets of Cave Soils and Sediments

Human remains are extremely rare and although scientists are aware of the existence of ancient hominins such as the Denisovans, they are only known from a handful of fossilised bones (literally, a single finger bone and a possible femur, plus some teeth).  However, cave soils and sediments themselves can provide genetic evidence in the form of tiny traces of ancient hominin DNA.  By examining cave soils and sediments and extracting genetic traces, scientists can gain a better understanding of the evolutionary history of humans, even if no bones or stone tools are present.

The research team members collected eighty-five sediment samples from seven caves in Europe and Russia that humans are known to have entered or even lived in during the Pleistocene Epoch.  The samples dated from between 14,000 and 550,000 years ago.  Using a refined DNA analysis technique, one that was originally designed to identify plant and animal DNA, the team were able to search specifically for hominin genetic evidence.

Commenting on the significance of this research, Matthias Meyer (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology) and co-author of the study published in the journal “Science” stated:

“We know that several components of sediments can bind DNA.  We therefore decided to investigate whether hominin DNA may survive in sediments at archaeological sites known to have been occupied by ancient hominins.”

Entrance to the Archaeological Site of Vindija Cave, Croatia

Searching for traces of ancient human DNA.

Entrance to the archaeological site of Vindija Cave, Croatia.

Picture Credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology/J.Krause

The picture above shows a view from the entrance of Vindija Cave in northern Croatia, one of the seven sites studied.  Analysis of microscopic amounts of mitochondrial DNA at the Vindija Cave location confirmed the presence of several large mammals including Cave Bears at this location.  The researchers found evidence of a total of twelve different mammalian families across the sites that were included in this study, including enigmatic, extinct species such as Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Rhinoceros and Cave Hyena.

 Mitochondrial DNA Helps Map the Presence of Large Mammals (Including Hominins)

DNA analysis identifies cave inhabitants.

DNA analysis helps map the presence of mammalian fauna in the absence of body fossils.

Picture Credit: Journal Science

Once animal DNA had been mapped the researchers turned their attention to identifying ancient human genetic traces within the samples.

Lead author of the research paper, PhD student Viviane Slon (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology), explained:

“From the preliminary results, we suspected that in most of our samples, DNA from other mammals was too abundant to detect small traces of human DNA.  We then switched strategies and started targeting specifically DNA fragments of human origin.”

In total, nine samples from four cave sites contained enough ancient hominin DNA to permit further analysis.  Of these, eight sediment samples contained Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA, either from one or multiple individuals, whilst one sample contained evidence of Denisovan DNA.  The majority of these samples were taken from archaeological layers or sites where no Neanderthal bones or teeth had been previously found.

A New, Important Tool for Palaeoanthropology

Svante Pääbo, another co-author of the paper and director of the Evolutionary Genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology commented that the ability to retrieve ancient hominin DNA from sediments represented a significant advance in palaeoanthropology and archaeology.  The use of this technique could become a standard analytical procedure in future.

A Sample Ready for Testing

Testing cave sediments for ancient human DNA.

A cave sediment sample is prepared for DNA testing.

Picture Credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology/S. Tüpke

Even sediment samples that were stored at room temperature for years still yielded DNA.  Analyses of these and of freshly-excavated sediment samples recovered from archaeological sites where no human remains are found will shed light on these sites’ former occupants and our joint genetic history.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the contribution of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in the compilation of this article.

29 04, 2017

Japan’s Most Complete Dinosaur Discovery

By | April 29th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Late Cretaceous Hadrosaur “Japan’s Greatest Dinosaur Fossil Find”

Scientists for Hokkaido University and Hobetsu Museum have announced the discovery of the fossilised remains of a Late Cretaceous duck-billed dinosaur.  In truth, a number of fragmentary fossils relating to a dinosaur had been found some years earlier, most notably caudal vertebrae (tail bones), before a more detailed and larger scale excavation was carried out to determine just how much of the dinosaur skeleton laid buried on a steep slope forming part of the large hills on the island of Hokkaido.

Many hundreds of hours of fieldwork later and some six tons of material have been removed containing one hundred and ninety fossils which represent the remains of an eight-metre-long hadrosaurid.  The fossils of this duck-billed dinosaur are the largest and most complete dinosaur discovery from Japan.  In a country where understatement tends to be the norm, some commentators have stated that the discovery of these fossils represent “one of the greatest discoveries in Japanese dinosaur research history.”

A Photograph Taken in 2013 Showing the Position of the Dig Site

Digging up the dinosaur bones (Hokkaido, Japan).

The outcrop on the steep slope where the fossilised remains of the duck-billed dinosaur were found on Hokkaido (Japan).

Picture Credit: Hobetsu Museum

Found in Marine Deposits

The hadrosaurid bones were found in the marine deposits of the Upper Cretaceous Hakobuchi Formation.  These sediments represent continental shelf strata, with a water depth of anything from 80 to 200 metres.  Scientists are not sure how the terrestrial dinosaur came to be located in offshore rock sediments.  Perhaps the dinosaur was washed out to sea and drowned or, the carcase of a dinosaur could have travelled out to sea with the gases inside its large gut keeping it afloat before the body cavity was ruptured and the corpse sank and settled on the seabed.  Ammonites and other zonal fossils indicate that the rocks from which the dinosaur was excavated are approximately 72 million years old (Late Campanian to Early Maastrichtian faunal stage).

A Photograph Showing the Dig Site with the Location of Several Bones Mapped Out

Part-way through the Japanese dinosaur excavation.

A photograph showing a large rock nodule with fossil dinosaur bone positions marked.

Picture Credit: Hobetsu Museum

Incredibly Rare Find

Japanese dinosaur discoveries are few and far between, with most of Japan’s dinosaurs having been described from a few, isolated fragments.  Experts say it’s incredibly rare to unearth so many fossils and be able to piece back together almost the entire skeleton.  Researchers from Hokkaido University and Hobetsu Museum are confident that these fossils will prove to be a new species of duck-billed dinosaur.  The excavation and preparation work has taken a total of four years.  Fortunately, the researchers had been posting regular updates on their progress to keep the inhabitants of the nearby town of Mukawa (on the southern coast of Hokkaido), fully informed and to deter any curious parties attempting to remove any of the partially excavated remains.

Commenting on the significance of the discovery, Professor Yoshitsugu Kobayashi (Hokkaido University) stated:

“The fossils are also valuable in global terms.  We hope to discover what kind of dinosaur habitat existed along the coast.”

The Cleaned Bones Laid Out in Anatomical Position (Japanese Hadrosaurid)

Japanese hadrosaurid fossils.

Remains of a Late Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaur found in Japan.

Picture Credit: Avalon Red

The Hadrosaurid Fossils Probably Represent a New Species

Japanese hadrosaurid fossils.

The fossils of this duck-billed dinosaur represent the largest and most complete dinosaur discovery from Japan.

Picture Credit: Avalon Red

The picture above shows the scale of the dinosaur and the number of fossil bones discovered, laid out in approximate anatomical position.  The articulated section of caudal vertebrae, one of the first fossil finds at the site, are shown on the far right of the photograph.

An Artist’s Impression of the Hadrosaurid Corpse Floating Out to Sea

Dinosaur corpse washed out to sea.

An artist’s illustration of the duck-billed dinosaur carcase washed out to sea.

Picture Credit: Masato Hattori

The dinosaur has been nick-named the “Mukawa dragon” and it is hoped that an exhibit will soon be created telling the story of how this duck-billed dinosaur came to rest at the bottom of a shallow tropical sea and what its carcase can tell palaeontologists about life in the Late Cretaceous.

Other Japanese dinosaur discoveries:

Schoolboy finds dinosaur bone: Japanese Schoolboy Finds Dinosaur Toe Bone

Hinting at a Japanese Theropod: Fragmentary Fossil Teeth Indicate Large Japanese Theropod Dinosaur

28 04, 2017

Fossil with “Can-opener” Claws – Tokummia katalepsis

By | April 28th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Origins of the Mandibulate Body Plan

Scientists at the University of Toronto in collaboration with colleagues at the Royal Ontario Museum, have published this week a scientific paper describing Tokummia katalepsis, a predator from the Cambrian, one that has provided palaeontologists with a better understanding of the evolution of one of the most numerous and diverse group of animals on Earth.  The fossils, collected during extensive field work exploring 508 million-year-old sedimentary rocks near Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park, (British Columbia), shed light on the origin of a group of arthropods collectively known as the Mandibulata.  The Mandibulata is a clade of the phylum Arthropoda that consists of millipedes, centipedes, the crustacea and insects.  Mandibulates are united by having a pair of specialised jaws “mandibles”, which can be used for a variety of purposes such as hunting, biting, cutting food into smaller pieces, digging, carrying items and constructing nests.

A Computer-Generated Image of Tokummia katalepsis

Tokummia katalepsis computer generated image.

A three-dimensional computer generated image of Tokummia katalepsis showing serrated pincers and the pair of mandibles.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

The mandibulates constitute the largest, most speciose and most varied clade within the Arthropoda, but their evolutionary origins are poorly understood.  The discovery of several well-preserved specimens of T. katalepsis documents, for the first time, the anatomy of an early member of the Mandibulata.

Commenting on the significance of this research, Cédric Aria (University of Toronto) and lead author of the paper published in the journal “Nature” stated:

“In spite of their colossal diversity today, the origin of mandibulates had largely remained a mystery.  Before now we’ve had only sparse hints at what the first arthropods with mandibles could have looked like and no idea of what could have been other key characteristics that triggered the unrivalled diversification of that group.”

One of the T. katalepsis Fossils Used in the Study

Tokummia fossil material.

The flattened fossil of Tokummia showing numerous legs, the dorsal carapace and the specialised pincers.

Picture Credit: Jean-Bernard Caron (Royal Ontario Museum)

The photograph above shows one of the beautifully preserved fossils found in 2014.  This specimen of Tokummia katalepsis shows a number of strong legs on the left partially protruding from the body, the shape of the bivalved carapace and dozens of small paddle-like limbs below the trunk at the lower right.

A Cross Between a Crab, a Centipede and a Can-opener

Described by some observers as looking like a cross between a crab, a centipede and a can-opener, Tokummia lived in a tropical sea that teemed with early marine life-forms including the ancestors of vertebrates.  At around ten centimetres in length, T. katalepsis was one of the largest predators in the ecosystem.  It had large pincers which the researchers thought would have been too delicate to tackle shelled animals like brachiopods and bivalves.  The research team postulate that Tokummia was primarily benthic (living on the sea floor), where it scuttled about digging into the sediment to catch soft bodied creatures such as worms.  The claws reminded the scientists of a can-opener, once grasped, any unfortunate prey would have been cut up into more easily digestible pieces by those revolutionary, broad, serrated mandibles.

The genus name honours Tokumm Creek, a small river that runs through Marble Canyon, the location of the fossil finds.  The species or trivial name is derived from the ancient Greek for “grasping”.

A Computer-Generated Image from a Video that Demonstrates Tokummia Locomotion

Tokummia katalepsis - computer generated image.

A computer animated image showing the basic body plan of Tokummia katalepsis.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

Co-author of the scientific paper and an expert on the Burgess Shale biota, Jean-Bernard Caron (Royal Ontario Museum and an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto), stated:

“This spectacular new predator, one of the largest and best preserved soft-bodied arthropods from Marble Canyon, joins the ranks of the many unusual marine creatures that lived during the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid evolutionary charge starting about half a billion years ago when most major animal groups first emerged in the fossil record.”

Numerous Fossil Specimens Studied

Careful mechanical preparation of the numerous specimens coupled with photographic work carried out under differing wavelengths of light, revealed the details of the Tokummia body plan.  The segmented trunk of Tokummia consisted of fifty small segments covered by a wide, two-piece carapace.  The delicate fossils show evidence of the pair of broad, notched mandibles as well as the large but quite delicate-looking front claws (maxillipeds), which are typical features of extant mandibulates.

Importantly, the animal bears subdivided limb bases with tiny projections called endites, which can be found in the larvae of certain crustaceans alive today and are now thought to have been critical innovations for the evolution of the various legs of mandibulates, and even for the mandibles themselves.

Fossils Providing an Insight into the Evolution of the Mandibulata

Tokummia katalepsis fossil.

Dorsal/ventral view of Tokummia katalepsis fossil material.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

Graduate student Cédric Aria added that the many segments that make up the body are very reminiscent of living Myriapoda, the sub-phylum of Arthropoda that includes centipedes, millipedes and their relatives.

He went onto state:

“Tokummia also lacks the typical second antenna found in crustaceans, which illustrates a very surprising convergence with such terrestrial mandibulates.”

The study also resolves the affinities of other emblematic fossils excavated from Canada’s famous Burgess Shale deposits, more than a hundred years after their initial discovery.  Burgess Shale fossils such as Branchiocaris, Canadaspis and Odaraia form with Tokummia, a group of crustacean-like arthropods that can now be placed at the base of all mandibulates, they can be regarded as basal members of the Mandibulata.

The scientific paper: “Burgess Shale Fossils Illustrate the Origin of the Mandibulate Body Plan”: by Cédric Aria and Jean-Bernard Caron, published in the journal “Nature”.

27 04, 2017

JurassicCollectables Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus Review

By | April 27th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

Everything Dinosaur team members had the opportunity to examine the sculpt for the Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus model and we commented at the time that we thought this would prove to be one of the most popular Schleich models to be introduced for quite a while.  This has certainly turned out to be the case and now JurassicCollectables has given model fans the chance to get a good look at this Placoderm in their latest video review.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Prehistoric Fish into the Spotlight

This heavily armoured fish from the Late Devonian with its distinctive plates is one of the best known of all the prehistoric animals outside of the Dinosauria amongst model collectors.  As a group the Placoderms (Class Placodermi), evolved in the Silurian and Dunkleosteus, is regarded by many as the first vertebrate super-predator in the fossil record.  A number of species have been named and described, in the video the narrator states a length of six metres for this formidable marine monster, however, the lack of postcranial fossils precludes accurate measurements or even an assessment of the body plan of this prehistoric fish, but we at Everything Dinosaur have seen plates, (some of which are more than five centimetres think), that indicate individuals may have reached lengths in excess of nine metres.

In the short, highly informative video, the remarkable dermal plates and jaws are seen in close-up view and the narrator comments on the silver finish that Schleich opted for and the battered, scratched and nicked appearance of the plates.  This is very much how the plates would have appeared if you had braved diving in the Late Devonian and been unfortunate to meet one of these fearsome creatures.

A Dunkleosteus Guards the Entrance to the Fish Gallery at the Frankfurt Natural History Museum

Dunkleosteus on display.

The spectacular Dunkleosteus exhibit.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Comments on the Scale of the Scales

The JurassicCollectables video also pays close attention to the different types of scale depicted along the body.  The viewer is given the opportunity to compare and contrast the different sizes of scale depicted on this skilfully crafted replica.

A Close-up View of the Different Sized Scales on the Flank and Fins of the Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

Schleich "First Giants" Dunkleosteus.

Schleich Dunkleosteus model.  The scales are highlighted in the video.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

JurassicCollectables have a wonderful YouTube channel which is full of dinosaur model reviews and other very informative and interesting videos.  This YouTube channel has over 54,000 subscribers, that’s an amazing achievement, our congratulations to everyone at JurassicCollectables for such an amazing YouTube channel.

Visit the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables here: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , Everything Dinosaur recommends that prehistoric animal model fans subscribe to the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel.  The YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables has got reviews of a number of Schleich replicas, including all of the 2016 Schleich “First Giants” releases.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

The Dunkleosteus model from Schleich.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animal replicas available from Everything Dinosaur, including the Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

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