Category: Dinosaur Fans

WIN, WIN with Everything Dinosaur

Competition Time Again with Everything Dinosaur

It’s competition time again with Everything Dinosaur and we have a signed copy of a fantastic new book all about British dinosaurs to win.  To celebrate the publication of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” one of the authors of this amazing account about all things Dinosauria, palaeontologist Dean Lomax, has autographed a copy from the very first print run.  Everything Dinosaur is going to give this away to one lucky dinosaur fan.

The Front Cover of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

This unique publication catalogues all the major dinosaur fossil discoveries from the British Isles.  With a foreward from Dr. Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum, Dean and his fellow author Nobumichi Tamura provide a comprehensive account on the dinosaurs of the entire British Isles.  With hundreds of photographs, detailed skeletal reconstructions and vivid life illustrations this is a “must have” for every dedicated dinosaur fan, fossil collector and budding palaeontologist.

Competition Details

So our competition is this, if you were to discover a new species of dinosaur in the UK – what name would you call it?  That’s right, we want you to come up with a name for a new species of British dinosaur!

To enter our “name a British dinosaur” competition, a chance to win this truly unique account of the dinosaurs of the British Isles, all you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then leave a comment with your suggested name for a new British dinosaur on the picture of the front cover of  the book (shown above).

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a "like".

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a “like”.

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” Our Facebook Page and Enter Competition

We will draw the lucky winner at random and the British dinosaur name competition closes on Friday, 31st October 2014.  Good luck to everyone and we can’t wait to see what British dinosaur names you come up!

Terms and Conditions of Name a British Dinosaur Competition

Automated entries are not permitted and will be excluded from the draw.

Only one entry per person.

The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered.

The Everything Dinosaur name a British dinosaur competition runs until Friday, October 31st 2014.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook or email.

Prize includes postage and packing.

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Us

To read Everything Dinosaur’s Review of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”: “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” Reviewed

Can’t wait to get hold of this book!  ”Dinosaurs of the British Isles” can be ordered from Siri Scientific Press: Visit the website

The Dinosaur Toy Forum Diorama Contest (Video)

The Dinosaur Toy Forum Diorama Contest Sponsored by Everything Dinosaur

Those clever people at the Dinosaur Toy Forum have compiled a video that displays all the entries for the 2014 diorama competition as sponsored by Everything Dinosaur and what a splendid selection of prehistoric themed scenes have been created.  It is certainly going to be a difficult job selecting the winners as there are some wonderful examples of creative use of models and modelling materials.  The winning entries will be selected by vote amongst forum members, a very democratic  and fair solution, to what would be a tricky task for a judging panel.

There is a Cambrian diorama, some splendid Triassic prehistoric animals, marine reptiles, Pterosaurs and plenty of scenes depicting Theropods, team members have enjoyed watching the video and identifying all the replicas contained therein.

The Competition Entries – Diorama Contest 2014

Video Credit: The Dinosaur Toy Forum

 A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, which has sponsored the competition this year stated:

“We have all been extremely impressed by the standard of competition entries.  Everything Dinosaur would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who entered, we are very proud to be involved as sponsors and clearly there are a lot of very talented forum members.”

The prizes have all been put aside in a special area of the Everything Dinosaur warehouse, once winners have been announced we can get these prizes (prehistoric animal models of course), sent out and on their way.

Best of luck to everyone involved and we look forward to posting up more news shortly.

Drawing of Sauropelta (Shield Lizard)

Sauropelta Illustrated

As we prepare for the 2015 introduction of the Sauropelta dinosaur figure in the Wild Safari Dinos model series (Safari Ltd), our team members have been working on the fact sheet that will accompany sales of this dinosaur model.  This large, early representative of that branch of the Ankylosauridae known as the nodosaurids was certainly a spectacular animal.  It had four pairs of spines projecting upwards and outwards from the neck and its body armour consisted of rows of bony studs interspersed with small, pebble-like osteoderms.  Sauropelta (S. edwardsorum) certainly needed its armour, as it shared a habitat with some very formidable Theropod dinosaurs.

As part of Everything Dinosaur’s preparations ,we have commissioned an illustration of this nodosaurid.  The drawing will help us to create a scale drawing, to give readers the chance to gauge just how big this dinosaur was.  It will also permit us to add “shield lizard” to our large collection of dinosaur drawing materials and downloads.

Everything Dinosaur’s Sauropelta Illustration

Primitive nodsaurid from the United States.

Primitive nodosaurid from the United States.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Mike Fredericks

The Sauropelta Replica (Safari Ltd)

Available from Everything Dinosaur in early 2015

Available from Everything Dinosaur in early 2015

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

We think our illustration captures the anatomy of Sauropelta quite well, we shall add a human figure to the final drawing to provide scale.  One thing that has been pointed out to us, however, both the model and drawing with their small, down-turned snouts look unhappy.  Happiness is not an emotional state that is readily applied to the Dinosauria and we certainly should not anthropomorphosize, but perhaps the Sauropelta will look a little happier when these models start being snapped up by collectors and dinosaur fans alike.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of prehistoric animals from Safari Ltd: Dinosaur Models (Safari Ltd)

Safari Ltd Announce New Models for 2015

Safari Ltd – New Prehistoric Animal Models for 2015

Safari Ltd have provided Everything Dinosaur with information in regards to this company’s new prehistoric animal models scheduled for release in 2015.  As with the trend in recent years, the number of Wild Safari Dinos introductions outnumbers those in the Carnegie Collectibles, scale model range.  One new addition is being added to the Carnegie Collectibles series, a model of a feathered Velociraptor.

Feathered Velociraptor from Safari Ltd

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Estimated to be in approximately 1:50 scale the Velociraptor model measures a little over 19 cm in length and the model is a fraction under 8 cm tall.

The other prehistoric animal models that are due out next year are all part of the not-to-scale Wild Safari Dinos model range.  The introductions consist of a feathered Yutyrannus, the horned dinosaur Nasutoceratops, an Archaeopteryx figure and a model of the armoured dinosaur known as Sauropelta.

The Feathered Yutyrannus Dinosaur Model

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

The Yutyrannus model measures 20 cm long and is about the same height as the Velociraptor figure discussed earlier, just under 8 cm tall.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about the discovery of this “Chinese Feathered Tyrant”: One Tonne Basal tyrannosaurid

The Wild Safari Dinos Nasutoceratops

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

A beautifully crafted figure that keeps up the company’s proud tradition of introducing  at least one horned dinosaur model each year.  The Nasutoceratops measures 17 cm in length and stands 6 cm high.  To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the discovery of “large nose, horned face”: Nasutoceratops Article.

Next, we have a replica of Archaeopteryx, a replica painted to reflect some of the latest scientific thinking about “ancient wing” or Urvogel, as the Germans like to call it.  The model is quite large, it is just under 10 cm high and the wing span is around 10 cm too.  What a fantastic model it is.

Wild Safari Dinos Archaeopteryx Model due out in 2015

Due to land at Everything Dinosaur next year.

Due to land at Everything Dinosaur next year.

Last but not least, is the wonderful replica of Sauropelta.  At Everything Dinosaur we just love our armoured dinosaurs and we look forward to receiving this model into our range early in 2015.

Armoured Sauropelta from Safari Ltd

Available from Everything Dinosaur in early 2015

Available from Everything Dinosaur in early 2015

At Everything Dinosaur, we supply Safari Ltd models with our own prehistoric animal themed information sheet.  Scale drawings have already been commissioned for all these models, just to whet your appetites, here is the finished drawing of the basal tyrannosaurid Yutyrannus.

Yutyrannus Drawing from Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur drawing (Yutyrannus)

Dinosaur drawing (Yutyrannus)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To see the range of Safari Ltd prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

“Big Nose” Dinosaur – New Hadrosaur Species Described

Rhinorex condrupus – “King of the Dinosaur Noses”

A team of researchers from Brigham Young Museum of Palaeontology and North Carolina State University (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) have described a new type of duck-billed dinosaur, one with an enormous “conk”.    Duck-billed dinosaurs are well-known for sporting elaborate crests, even combs after recent research into the Edmontosaurus genus, but roaming the estuarine habitat of Utah around 75 million years ago was Rhinorex, a duck-billed dinosaur whose genus name translates as “Nose King”.

An Illustration of Rhinorex (R. condrupus)

"King nose" is surprised by a Cretaceous crocodilian.

“King Nose” is surprised by a Cretaceous crocodilian.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

Terry Gates, a post-doctoral researcher with North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, collaborated with Rodney Scheetz (Brigham Young), to analyse the skull of a specimen that had been excavated from the Book Cliffs area of east-central Utah in the 1990′s.  This strata forms part of the Neslen Formation which consists of a series of sedimentary layers of rock representing both marine and terrestrial environments.  The specimen had been studied as associated with the fossil skull bones, were some very well preserved skin impressions.  However, it was only when the scientists constructed the skull that they realised they had a new species on their hands.

Commenting on their findings, which are reported in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, Terry Gates stated:

“We had almost the entire skull, which was wonderful, but the preparation was very difficult.  It took two years to dig the fossil out of the sandstone it was embedded in.  It was like digging a dinosaur skull out of a concrete driveway.”

Although the skeleton is far from complete, unique morphologies of the skull indicate that this is a new species of duck-billed dinosaur,  a member of the Hadrosauridae family.  The dinosaur has been named Rhinorex condrupus.  The name translates as “king nose buried in the cliffs”, the genus name makes reference to the unique shape of the nasal bones and premaxilla.  These bones indicate that this plant-eating dinosaur had a large, fleshy nose.  Whilst it is difficult to estimate the exact size of this dinosaur from the fossil bones that have been collected, comparisons with the closely related Gryposaurus and Kritosaurus give a maximum length of around nine metres, with a body weight in excess of three tonnes.  The sandstone sediments represent a low lying, swampy, estuarine environment and to date, Rhinorex is the only substantial Hadrosaur fossil known from this locality.

Terry Gates explained:

“We have found other Hadrosaurs from the same time period [Campanian faunal stage] but located about two hundred miles further south.  They may have been adapted to a different environment.  This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous and helps us to place contemporary species in their correct time and place.”

In essence, “King Nose” helps to fill a gap in the hadrosaurid family tree.

Many different types of duck-billed dinosaur existed during the later years of the Cretaceous, scientists have found fossils of hadrosaurids in almost all the Upper Cretaceous fossil bearing terrestrial formations in western North America.  Although the vast majority of these fossils are far from complete, they suggest that the varied Hadrosauridae family evolved as each genus occupied a relatively small geographical area.

The Reconstructed Skull of R. condrupus

The line drawing shows the reconstructed skull from the fossil bones (scale bar 5cm).

The line drawing shows the reconstructed skull from the fossil bones (scale bar 10cm).

Image Credit: Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

The line drawing (A) is labelled with the autapomorphies (unique characters or traits) that distinguish this dinosaur as a new genus, namely the hook-like structure (nap) nasal anteroventral process and the expansion of bone located posteroventrally on the premaxilla (ppd).

Why Such a Big Nose?

The large and fleshy snout remains a bit of a puzzle.  It may not be related to an enhanced sense of smell.

Post-doctoral student Terry postulated:

“The purpose of such a big nose is still a mystery.  If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell, but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, inter-herd recognition or perhaps it supported a large plant-smashing beak.  We are already sniffing out answers to these questions.”

It certainly would have looked a little odd with its enlarged naris.  However, when you consider the weird and wonderful Saurolophines, Parasaurolophus with its enormous, backward sweeping head crest, Edmontosaurus with a fleshy comb on its head and Tsintaosaurus which may have superficially resembled a unicorn, then we think Rhinorex would have fitted right in.

Autumn Edition of Prehistoric Times

Issue 111 (Autumn 2014) on its Way

The front cover of the next edition of Prehistoric Times depicts a dramatic scene.  A flock of Dromaeosaurs are attacking and over powering an Ornithopod.  We suspect that this is an interpretation of a fossil site whereby the carcases of a number of ferocious dinosaurs called Deinonychus were found in close proximity to the body of a much larger, herbivorous Tenontosaurus.  The scene was created by the highly talented Julius Csotonyi (interview with him in this magazine), it shows a group of Utahraptors overpowering a Hippodraco.  It is a digital painting created in 2013.

Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Autumn 2014)

Prehistoric Times magazine.

Prehistoric Times magazine.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

To read more about Prehistoric Times and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

What a dramatic and beautifully crafted scene depicted on the front cover of the autumn edition.  We note also that the film “Dinosaur 13″ will be discussed, we look forward to reading this article, after all, we had a small role in the pre-publicity with regards to this movie that hit selected cinema screens in August.  There is also an interview with the very talented Julius Csotonyi.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur had the great honour of reviewing Julius’s latest book earlier this year “The Palaeoart of Julius Csotonyi” and what an excellent publication it is to.  On the subject of excellent publications, we are really looking forward to the next edition of Prehistoric Times.

Closing Date for Name a Dinosaur (T shirt Competition) Approaches

Dinosaur T-shirt Competition Closes on Friday 19th September (2014)

Just a few more days to go, but there is still time to enter Everything Dinosaur’s “Name the Dinosaur on our Exclusive T. rex T-shirt Competition”, seriously, we are going to have to think of easier titles.  Anyway, the contest closes on Friday 19th September.  PLEASE NOTE THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.

Back on August 22nd, Everything Dinosaur introduced a little contest to celebrate the introduction of the company’s exclusive range of dinosaur themed T-shirts.  We called it our “T-errific, T-yrannosaurus, T-easer, T-shirt competition (there we go again with the long titles).  Our “Apprentice Palaeontologist” tee featured a very cute baby Tyrannosaurus rex.  It even held in its claws a geology hammer, very sweet, but we did not have a name for this little critter.  That reminds us, thanks to Sandra and Mary for their suggestion of “crittersaurus”, this name has been added to our competition entries.

Cute Tyrannosaurus rex Baby Needs a Name

Think of a name for me to win a T-shirt!

Think of a name for me to win a T-shirt!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur themed clothing for children: Dinosaur Themed Clothing for Children

Entering the competition is really easy, remember it’s a chance to win a dinosaur themed T-shirt for your own budding palaeontologist, just “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then comment on the picture of the baby dinosaur design on our red T-shirt (as seen above, the same picture will be posted up on our Facebook page today, so that it is easy to find).  It is a very friendly looking “Apprentice Palaeontologist”, our little dinoaur just needs a name.

Don’t forget, to enter, just visit Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK  and “like” our page and leave a suggested name for our baby dinosaur by adding a comment to the baby dinosaur’s picture.

Everything Dinosaur on Facebook

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a "like".

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a “like”.

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” Our Facebook Page and Enter Competition

We will draw the lucky winner at random after the name caption competition closes this Friday that’s  Friday 19th September 2014.  Good luck to everyone taking part.

Full terms and conditions, the competition rules and so forth can be found here: Dinosaur T-shirt Competition Extra Information

PLEASE NOTE THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Pterosaur Named after Avatar Dragon

Ikrandraco avatar – New Species of Cretaceous Pterosaur Described

An international team of palaeontologists have described a new species of flying reptile that lived in what is now China during the Cretaceous period, about 120 millions years ago, and named it after the flying dragon-like creatures from the 2009 movie blockbuster directed by James Cameron – Avatar.  The fossils, which have both been laterally compressed, were found at two separate sites, around fifteen miles apart, although one is smaller than the other, they have both been assigned to a single new species - Ikrandraco avatar, the name translates as “Ikran dragon from Avatar”.

One of the Newly Described Pterosaur Fossils

White scale bar =

White scale bar = 5cm

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports/Xiaolin Wang et al

Both fossils come from the Jiufotang Formation of north-eastern China (Liaoning Province), although the exact stratigraphic location for both specimens has been difficult to determine.  The larger of the two specimens indicates a wingspan in excess of 2.4 metres, making this flying reptile slightly larger than a Golden Eagle.  The lower jaw had a distinct, semi-circular crest on its anterior portion, it has been suggested that a large “hook” at the back of this structure helped to support either an enlarged throat or a pouch, broadly similar to that seen in extant Pelicans.   The joint Chinese and Brazilian research team that studied the fossil material and published the scientific paper on the new discoveries, propose that this Pterosaur probably fed on small fish.  It may have flown over the water catching prey by skimming its lower jaw into the water.  Once the jaw connected with a fish, it snapped shut and the fish was stored in the throat pouch prior to swallowing.

This type of feeding, a skimming over the water surface to collect fish approach has been proposed before for members of the Pterosaur family.  To read an article written by Everything Dinosaur team members back in 2007, click on the link here: Pterosaur Feeding Habits – Could they Skim Surface Waters for Fish?

Dr. Alexander Kellner of the Federal Univervisty (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), one of the senior authors of the academic paper and an authority on Cretaceous Pterosaurs commented:

“Ikrandraco didn’t have a crest on the top of its elongated head as many Pterosaurs did.  Behind the lower jaw crest was a hook-like structure that appears to have been the anchor point for the throat pouch.”

The Jiufotang Formation is a member of the extensive Jehol Group and scientists have been able to build up an detailed picture of the environment that existed in this part of the world in the Early Cretaceous.  Although the exact age of the Jiufotang Formation is still debated, most observers now believe that the majority of the strata was laid down in the Early Cretaceous (Aptian faunal stage).

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“It is now thought that the highly fossiliferous rocks of this part of the world were laid down around 120 million years ago.”

Ikrandraco avatar exhibits a number of anatomical characteristics that suggest it was a piscivore.  For example, the teeth in the jaw are small, sharp and pointed, ideal for grabbing and holding slippery fish.  The unusual blade-like crest on the lower jaw reminded the scientists of the crests seen on the dragon like creatures in the 2009 movie Avatar.

Creature from a Film Inspires Pterosaur Name

Note the long, orange coloured crest on the lower jaw

Note the long, orange coloured crest on the lower jaw

Picture Credit: 20th Century Fox

Most flying reptile fossils have been found in marine strata.  However, over the last twenty years or so an increasing amount of Pterosaur fossil material has been found in rocks that were laid down inland.  A number of different Pterosaur types co-existed in this part of China around 120 million years ago, intriguingly, these reptiles shared the air with a large number of primitive, enantiornithine birds.  The habitat was a tropical paradise, with verdant forests and a great many, large bodies of freshwater that teemed with fish.  Fossils found in this region include feathered dinosaurs (Saurischian as well as Ornithischian), early mammals, frogs, turtles, fish and birds.

Commenting on the habitat, Dr. Xiaolin Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“It [Ikrandraco] lived in a warm region teeming with life that included feathered dinosaurs, birds, mammals and frogs along with a variety of trees and other plants.”

An Artist’s Impression of Ikrandraco avatar (Early Cretaceous of North-eastern China)

A flock of Ikrandraco Pterosaurs "fishing".

A flock of Ikrandraco Pterosaurs “fishing”.

Picture Credit: Chuang Zhao

Of the 130 or so genera of Pterosaur described to date, a  number of them are known to have had skull or jaw crests.  These crests were either made of bone or formed by a combination of bone and soft tissue.  However, Ikrandraco avatar is unique in that it only had a crest on its lower jaw (mandible).  There is no evidence of a crest on the skull or upper jaw.  Up until now, blade-like crests were known exclusively in the Anhangueria family and in Cimoliopterus cuvier with such crests also noted in Ludodactylus sibbicki (although the evidence of a blade-like crest in this species is debated).

The researchers also note that Cearadactylus atrox (an ornithocheirid from Brazil), also possessed a crest, but only on the front portion of the upper jaw (the premaxilla).  The crest configuration of a crest on the skull but none on the mandible is much more common in the Pterosauria.  In essence, skull crests are far more common than crests on the jaws and a single, lower jaw crest in a species was unheard of until Ikrandraco came along.

The Second Specimen of Ikrandraco avatar

Scale bar = 5cm

Scale bar = 5cm

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports/Xiaolin Wang et al

The photograph and line drawing above shows the second referred specimen of I. avatar.  The crest on the lower jaw with its distinctive “hook” at the back (labelled dcr – dentary crest) can clearly be made out.

As the specimens were found around fifteen miles apart, it could be that these two fossils represent different, but closely related species.  However, the researchers discounted this as both specimens were preserved in a left lateral view and although flattened, the team did not record any observable anatomical differences.  Both specimens revealed evidence of a unique, hook-like structure at the back of the blade-like crest.  This could have served as an anchor point for soft tissues that made up either an extended throat or a pouch.

The presence of throat sacs (pouches) in Pterosaurs has been proposed on numerous occasions.  The suggestions have been made for Late Jurassic species from the famous Solnhofen deposits of southern Germany.  It has been suggested that both Rhamphorhynchus and Pterodactylus had pouches.  In all previously described cases, the pouch starts at the posterior ventral part of the mandible and extends until the level of the third or fourth neck bones (cervical vertebrae).   Due to the difficulties of preservation of such structures, their properties, size and shape are disputed.  Some palaeontologists have proposed that these pouches were similar to those seen in extant Pelicans, others have used the more neutral term of “loose extensible skin”.  These protagonists argue that this gullet structure might have helped them swallow larger prey items whole, as seen in modern day Ostriches, for example.

It is interesting to note that the inspiration for the scientific name came from the movie Avatar. Next year sees the release of Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the extremely successful Jurassic Park franchise.  Although a closely guarded secret, the film is very likely to include a super-sized, apex predator with a large number of teeth.  We at Everything Dinosaur confidently predict that whatever the film makers come up with, it will one day be the inspiration behind the naming of another prehistoric animal that is new to science.

Feedback from Everything Dinosaur Customers

Customer Says Hi and Thank You

We are very lucky to have some amazing customers and we really enjoy learning all about the adventures our dinosaur toys get up to.  The other day, amongst the very many complimentary emails we received about our customer service, there was one from dad Kevin, who wrote to us about his young son Ted.

It seems that Ted is a budding palaeontologist and he just loves the dinosaur models that came from Everything Dinosaur.

Kevin wrote to say:

“I recently made an order of about five dinosaurs from you.  Ted’s growing obsession with dinosaurs led me to your site and I was impressed by the quantity, quality and value for money of the models that you offer.  I was thoroughly impressed by your service, the dinosaurs really are top quality and not only that but they arrived fast, nicely packed and came with info sheets that were a pleasant surprise too.”

Ted Ensuring that his Diplodocus Gets a Good Feed

Young Ted knows that Diplodocus was a herbivore.

Young Ted knows that Diplodocus was a herbivore.

Picture Credit: Dad (Kevin)

It’s always a pleasure to hear from our customers.  We receive a lot of feedback from parents, teachers, guardians, museum staff – all sorts of people.  We genuinely try and help all that we can.

Kevin went onto add:

“The main purpose of this email, was to thank you and to share with you some of the joy your products have brought us all.”

We are grateful to Kevin and his family for sending us a splendid picture of young Ted making sure his Diplodocus gets plenty of food to eat.  Kevin commented that thanks to his dinosaurs, he was learning all about what different animals eat.  An understanding of animals, plants and learning about food chains is part of the national science curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 for England.  Dinosaurs as a teaching topic does help enthuse and engage the minds of young children.

Spinosaurus “Four Legs are Better than Two”?

Spinosaurus – Steps into the Spotlight (Once Again)

And so, the long awaited paper that re-evaluates the fossil data on the Spinosaurus genus and specifically S. aegyptiacus was published in the academic journal “Science” yesterday.  Time to open a new chapter on this, one of the most enigmatic, mysterious and bizarre of all the known Theropoda.  Since the paper’s submission in the summer, there has been a lot of debate in scientific circles with regards to what this new study will show.  The paper’s title “Semi-aquatic Adaptations in a Giant Predatory Dinosaur”, is almost an understatement, when this is contrasted with the lurid headlines we have seen from a large number of media outlets.

Re-examining What We Thought We Knew About Spinosaurus

In very brief summary, the dedicated team of international researchers have re-assessed the known fossil material on Spinosaurus.  They have been able to track down the location in Morocco from which a number of Spinosaurus bones were excavated and sold via a fossil dealer.  The team have then re-examined this site and found further material.  Their efforts has led to a considerable re-think in terms of what this animal looked like and how it moved.  This new study interprets Spinosaurus as a sixteen metre plus dinosaur, that considered itself more at home in the water than on land.  Although capable of terrestrial locomotion, unlike every other large Theropod, a new rendering sees Spinosaurus as an obligate quadruped.  Here is a meat-eating dinosaur that walked on all fours.

A Semi-Aquatic Obligate Quadruped – Spinosaurus

Very much at home in the water.

Very much at home in the water.

Picture Credit: Davide Bonnadonna, Nizar Ibrahim, Simone Maganuco

In the picture above, a web-footed Spinosaurus pursues a prehistoric swordfish, known as Onchopristis.  Earlier studies and research based on other members of the Spinosauridae suggest that fish may have made up a substantial proportion of their diet.  Instead of perching on the river bank, attempting to claw fish out of the water like some form of giant, prehistoric Grizzly bear, an ecological niche trumpeted by ourselves to the CGI team helping with the rendering of Spinosaurus for an episode of the BBC television series “Planet Dinosaur” back in 2011, this latest interpretation goes a lot further.

Beyond “Planet Dinosaur” – The Transformation of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus

From paddler to swimming the "evolving" image of Spinosaurus.

From paddler to swimming the “evolving” image of Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: BBC

Building Up a New Picture

Having re-visited what records and remaining photographs that exist of the original Stromer material excavated from the Western desert of Egypt around a 100 years ago, the dedicated research team then set about mapping previously known Moroccan finds including jaw bone fossils that had been discovered in the mid 197o’s.  To this eclectic mix they added information obtained from the fossils from the newly “rediscovered” Moroccan site, which itself makes up what is now known as the neotype for Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.  A neotype is a specimen that is deemed to represent a species in the absence of the holotype material that has either been lost or destroyed.  Add a pinch of material not known from the Spinosaurus genus but described from related animals baryonychids, spinosaurids and so forth, combined with a soupcon of inferred parts of the anatomy as the bones are not known at all in the fossil record and you have a “composite” view of the animal.

The Latest Interpretation of Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus)

Life-size reconstruction and supplemental figure

Life-size reconstruction and supplemental figure

Picture Credit: Davide Bonnadonna (top) Ibrahim et al (bottom)

The illustration (top), depicts Spinosaurus as a dinosaur that walked on four legs, in this new study the centre of gravity is positioned further forward, the pelvic girdle is estimated to have been much smaller and the hind limbs with their robust but very short femur  reflect the adaptations of a paddler more than that of a bipedal walker.

The picture below, referred to by a colleague as the “Spinosaurus colour chart” is a figure from the scientific paper’s supplementary data.  The colour coded bones illustrate the composite nature of this digital reconstruction.

The “Spinosaurus Colour Chart” Key

RED = the neotype fossils (FSAC-KK 11888)

ORANGE = the original bones from Stromer’s expeditions

YELLOW = isolated fossil material ascribed to Spinosaurus spp. from the same geological Formation as the neotype (Kem Kem Formation)

GREEN = scaled up bones derived from better known spinosaurids

BLUE = additions to help complete the skeleton based on no known fossils but derived from adjacent bones in the digital restoration

We at Everything Dinosaur applaud the efforts of the international team responsible for this new reconstruction.  A revaluation of the known Spinosaurus fossil material has been long overdue and this is the first time that palaeontologists have been able to relocate the bones from a private fossil collection to the actual site where they were excavated.  We commend the team for their perseverance.

Taking a Different Perspective

However, as with all good science, a number of counterpoints have already been made.

Scott Hartman, addresses these concerns in his web log: There’s Something Fishy About Spinosaurus

Scott, with a background in anatomy, and an expert in skeletal reconstructions, makes a number of excellent points in his article.

The dinosaur referred to as Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was one of the last of the Spinosauridae.  There is a British connection to this story.  One of the spinosaurids used in the comparative study was Baryonyx (B. walkeri).  When this dinosaur, whose bones were found in a Surrey clay pit, was formally described back in 1986 it was depicted as a semi-aquatic dinosaur, fish scales found in the body cavity suggested that fish made up at least a portion of its diet.

Commenting on this new research, Dean Lomax, (Honorary Visiting Scientist: School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester) and author of the recently published “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” which includes extensive information on the Baryonyx fossil finds, stated:

“The new discovery is very interesting as it potentially confirms what had been suspected for quite some time, that Spinosaurus lived a semi-aquatic lifestyle.”

For further information on the book “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura, which includes some fantastic skeletal drawings by Scott Hartman visit: Siri Scientific Press

This new paper, marks a new chapter in the story of Spinosaurus, but it’s not the end of the story that’s for sure.  Ironically, although Stromer originally depicted S. aegypticacus as a biped, we recall that in the distant past (the 1970′s), Spinosaurus had previously been thought of as a dinosaur that walked on all fours.

An Illustration of Spinosaurus from 1976

Spinosaurus as a terrestrial quadruped.

Spinosaurus as a terrestrial quadruped.

Picture Credit: Giovanni Caselli (from the book “The Evolution and the Ecology of the Dinosaurs” by L. B. Halstead)

We suspect there are going to be a few more twists and turns in the Spinosaurus story.

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