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Dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed articles, features and stories.

9 12, 2017

Mojo Fun New Dinosaur Models for 2018

By | December 9th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Mojo Fun New Dinosaur Models for 2018

Some exciting new additions to the Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” range are announced by Everything Dinosaur today.  There will be four, new, colourful dinosaur models added to the range in 2018.  Of the four models, there is one representing a Jurassic dinosaur, the other three are models of dinosaurs associated with the Cretaceous.  One of the new dinosaur replicas in this skilfully crafted range is a herbivore, the other three are hypercarnivores.  The four models are Diplodocus, Giganotosaurus, Baryonyx and Deinonychus.

The New for 2018 Diplodocus Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Diplodocus model (2018).

Mojo Fun Diplodocus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Diplodocus

Mojo Fun already has a Brachiosaurus within its model portfolio, their second Sauropod is Diplodocus, the only Jurassic representative of the four new models and the plant-eater.  The colour scheme chosen is certainly striking with a verdant green, contrasting with the subtle yellow of the underside of the neck and the belly.  The company has chosen to give their Diplodocus a classic “swan-neck” posture, perhaps a nod towards famous palaeoartists such as Zdeněk Burian and Charles Knight, whereas, the row of prominent osteoderms running from back of the head down to the tail reflect some of the latest scientific thinking concerning this diplodocid.

Mojo Fun New for 2018 Baryonyx

Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

The Mojo Fun 2018 Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Continuing the trend for striking colour schemes, this is a spectacular model of “heavy claw”, the first fossils of which were discovered in a Surrey clay pit in 1983.  Baryonyx may have specialised in catching fish, a huge 31-centimetre-long claw on the first finger of each hand may have helped this dinosaur to hook its prey out of the water.  The vibrant blue colour scheme contrasts nicely with the muted, warmer tones of the underside, a nice example of the concept of counter shading.

A Close-View of the Head of the Mojo Fun New for 2018 Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

A close-up view of the new for 2018 Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This brilliant blue, Baryonyx is going to prove popular amongst dinosaur fans, especially when you consider what turned up in the recent “Jurassic World 2” trailer.

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model (2018).

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus

The next carnivorous dinosaur is Giganotosaurus.  It is great to see Mojo Fun increasing the variety of Theropod dinosaurs within the “Prehistoric & Extinct” range.  A model of one of the largest, if not the largest, meat-eating dinosaur known to science.  At around 35 centimetres in length, this is a very substantial figure, around ten centimetres longer than the hunting Tyrannosaur models introduced by this company in 2017.

The Head of the New for 2018 Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus

The head of the Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

A close view of the Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Deinonychus

With the aforementioned movie “Jurassic World” movie coming to cinemas from June 7th next year, it seems fitting that the last of the new for 2018 models from Mojo Fun should be a “raptor”.  In addition, to the company’s Velociraptors, the larger Deinonychus is being added to the range and at a whopping 32 centimetres long, it is the biggest dromaeosaurid model made to date by Mojo Fun.

The New for 2018 Mojo Fun Deinonychus Dinosaur Model

The Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model.

The Mojo Fun 2018 Deinonychus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Complete with a feathery coat, ulna feathers and a crest on the end of its long, stiff tail, this is a fascinating replica of “terrible claw”.  It’s another meat-eater and a dinosaur of the Cretaceous, just like Baryonyx and Giganotosaurus.

A Close-up View of the Head of the Mojo Fun Deinonychus

Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model (2018).

A close view of the head of the new for 2018 Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a close-up view of the head of the new Deinonychus, the feathery integument can clearly be seen as well as the excellent detail on the snout and jaws.

Model Measurements and Availability

  • Mojo Fun Diplodocus length 27 cm, height of the head 13 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Baryonyx length 27 cm, height of the head 10 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus length 35 cm, height approx. 12 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Deinonychus length 32 cm, height (raised tail) 14.5 cm.

All four of these new dinosaur models are expected to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in the early part of next year, perhaps as early as January 2018.

To view the current range of Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” models available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric & Extinct

Look out for further updates from Everything Dinosaur on the Mojo Fun model range, including details of model colour changes.

8 12, 2017

The Remarkable and Diverse Maniraptora (Halszkaraptor)

By | December 8th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Raptor That Took to Water (Halszkaraptor escuilliei)

A fossil that had been removed illegally from Mongolia has revealed a remarkable twist in the evolution of Theropod dinosaurs.  It seems that during the Late Cretaceous, one little meat-eating Maniraptoran evolved a long, swan-like neck and flippers for forelimbs and took to the water.  It may have even waddled around like a duck.  This latest discovery, written up in the journal “Nature”, demonstrates the remarkable diversity within Maniraptoran dinosaurs.  Several different kinds of “raptor-like” dinosaurs evolved adapting to different ecological niches, palaeontologists have known about dwarf forms and giants, meat-eaters adapting to herbivory and the evolution of powered flight within the Maniraptoran lineage.  This newly described dinosaur adds to this diversity and helps to demonstrate the flexibility of the Theropoda bauplan.  As well as the cursorial forms (fast runners), here is one little Maniraptoran showing adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle.

Named Halszkaraptor escuilliei, it may have been a forelimb-propelled, pursuit diver, hunting and catching fish in a similar way to living birds (to whom Halszkaraptor is distantly related), such as Auks and Penguins.

A Reconstruction of the Newly Described Halszkaraptor escuilliei

An illustration of Halszkaraptor escuilliei.

Artist’s reconstruction of Halszkaraptor escuilliei.

Picture Credit: Lukas Panzarin

Surprising Dinosaur from Southern Mongolia

The fossil, consisting of a single slab with a partially exposed, nearly complete and articulated skeleton, heralds from Ukhaa Tolgod in southern Mongolia.  The Upper Cretaceous sandstones (Campanian faunal stage), have been pillaged by fossil poachers for decades and Halszkaraptor was illegally excavated and circulated via the black market, passing through the hands of several private collectors.   In 2015, a French collector acquired the specimen and contacted the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the fossil was subsequently examined and studied in detail.  The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble was used to ensure that the bizarre fossil was not a forgery, that it was not a “chimera”, a combination of fossils that had been put together in order to fetch a better price when it was illegally sold.  The detailed X-ray phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography identified the specimen as genuine and provided palaeontologists with data on some of the bones that remained embedded in the matrix.

The research team concluded that this was a new type of dinosaur, one that would have been perfectly at home in the water.

The Holotype Fossil of H. escuilliei

Halszkaraptor escuilliei holotype.

Extremely well-preserved fossil of Halszkaraptor escuilliei from Mongolia, still partly embedded in rock.

Picture Credit: Thierry Hubin/Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Palaeontologist, Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“We always thought dinosaurs were terrestrial, but now it is very clear for the first time that there were also swimming dinosaurs.”

75 to 71 Million Years Old

The research team, which also included Phil Currie (University of Alberta), identified a number of anatomical characteristics in common with aquatic predators such as more teeth, including long, tube like teeth at the front of jaw which are typical of piscivores.  In addition, the scientists discovered a neurovascular mesh inside the dinosaur’s snout that resembles those found in modern crocodiles.  Halszkaraptor’s hands, with an elongated third finger, probably had flippers, with which it manoeuvred in the water like a penguin, using its long neck to grab prey in a surprise attack. Based on the hip structures, the palaeontologists think it walked upright like a duck.

Another co-author of the paper, Koen Stein (Free University Brussels, VUB) commented upon the 80-centimetres-long Theropod:

“Halszkaraptor is a great find.  It lived like a water bird, on land as well as in water.  Palaeontologists never expected dinosaurs to have explored this biotope.  The discovery shows how diverse dinosaurs were and how much there is still left to discover, even in long-studied regions like Mongolia.”

A Novel Clade Basal to the Dromaeosauridae

Halszkaraptor escuilliei is related to other enigmatic Late Cretaceous Maniraptorans from Mongolia.  However, it is so very different from its relatives, animals like the famous Velociraptor for example, that it has been placed in its own novel clade (Halszkaraptorinae), at the root of Dromaeosauridae.

The Skull of the Newly Described Maniraptoran – H. escuilliei

Halszkaraptor escuilliei skull (ESRF).

The skull of Halszkaraptor escuilliei (ESRF).

Picture Credit:  Thierry Hubin/Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences/ESRF (Grenoble)

Haven’t We Been Here Before?

The notion of a small, Theropod dinosaur becoming adapted to an aquatic life has been postulated previously.  Back in the 1970’s a second specimen of the Late Jurassic Theropod Compsognathus was described.  This specimen, from France, was much larger than the one originally used to describe the species Compsognathus longipes in the 19th Century.  The Compsognathus fossil material was associated with a tropical lagoon palaeoenvironment and it was proposed that this French Compsognathus represented a different species, one that was specifically adapted to an aquatic habitat.  It was named Compsognathus corallestris.  Although, very much at home on dry land, it was postulated that the three-fingered hand had become fused to make a paddle and that his one-metre-long dinosaur propelled itself through the water in much the same way as its Coelurosaurian descendant Halszkaraptor is believed to have done.

Compsognathus corallestris is Featured in “The Evolution and Ecology of the Dinosaurs” Published in 1976

Compsognathus corallestris - an aquatic dinosaur>

Compsognathus corallestris illustrated.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Who knows?  Perhaps the discovery of Halszkaraptor might re-ignite the debate surrounding Compsognathus?  Dinosaurs could swim, but just how adapted to an aquatic environment some of these animals became is open once again to speculation.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the press team at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in the compilation of this article.

7 12, 2017

Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model Retired

By | December 7th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Popular Papo Purple Acrocanthosaurus Out of Production

The purple coloured Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model that was introduced by Papo in the spring of 2017 is out of production and due to be retired.  The Papo Acrocanthosaurus was introduced alongside a green Ceratosaurus dinosaur figure just a few months ago, but the curtain has come down on one of the most popular Papo figures in recent years.

The Purple Coloured Papo Acrocanthosaurus is Out of Production

Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus.  Retired from the Papo range.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model

Everything Dinosaur team members had been aware of this model’s pending introduction in the autumn of 2016.   Our blog posts and social media coverage gained a big audience and JurassicCollectables produced a video review of one of our Papo Acrocanthosaurus figures that has been looked at over 20,000 times in just seven months.  However, in just a blink in geological time, the first Papo Acrocanthosaurus has been officially declared extinct and no more purple coloured versions of this figure are being made.

One of the Early Papo Acrocanthosaurus Production Figures

A view of the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Popular Amongst Collectors and Dinosaur Model Fans

This hand-painted Papo replica with an articulated lower jaw, has proved to be very popular amongst model collectors and dinosaur fans.  Since its addition to the Everything Dinosaur Papo range, this figure has attracted very favourable reviews.

For example, Alexus from America wrote:

“Beautifully sculpted figure!  Nice colors as well as magnificent detail!  Definitely one of their greatest looking figures.  You never cease to amaze.  Quick shipping as well. Only took less than 2 weeks to arrive!  Worth every penny I spent on it!  Fantastic job once again Papo on another outstanding figure!”

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus proved to be a big hit with the girls as well, with dinosaur fan Bela reflecting many of the comments and views received by Everything Dinosaur.

Bela said:

“Beautifully detailed figure with a striking pose and dashing paint job.  Perfect balance. A must-have for any collector.”

The purple Acrocanthosaurus is being replaced by a new version of the model, with a different paint scheme.

The New for 2018 Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus (new colour scheme for 2018).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We have nicknamed this new replica “Tiger stripes”, for obvious reasons, availability has yet to be confirmed but Everything Dinosaur could have stocks of this replica as early as March 2018.

In the meantime, the purple Papo Acrocanthosaurus is going to get rarer and rarer.  However, Everything Dinosaur was aware of this model’s impending demise and has managed to pick up some extra cases prior to the production being stopped.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We know how disappointed model collectors will be when they hear the news that the purple Acrocanthosaurus model is heading for extinction.  Whilst we are most impressed with the new colour scheme, we hope that collectors will be able to pick up this model before they become available solely through auction sites at extremely inflated prices.”

Everything Dinosaur has stocks of the purple Acrocanthosaurus available, no price change as well.  The Papo range including the soon to be no longer available Acrocanthosaurus can be found here: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

6 12, 2017

Thornton Triceratops is Actually Torosaurus

By | December 6th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Triceratops Skeleton Turns Out to be Torosaurus

A partial, horned dinosaur skeleton, initially thought to represent a young adult Triceratops has been reassessed following a month of preparation and cleaning and identified as a Torosaurus (T. latus).  It was back in September that Everything Dinosaur first reported on the dinosaur fossil discovery in Thornton, Colorado (USA).  Sadly, the highly respected Denver Museum of Nature and Science palaeontologist, Mike Getty was taken ill at the dig site and passed away shortly afterwards.

Turns out, what was initially identified as a Triceratops has proved incorrect.  As the Denver Museum of Nature and Science preparators have worked on the fossil bones, they have uncovered enough material to confidently ascribe the fossils to the closely related, but much rarer Torosaurus latus.

An Illustration of the Horned Dinosaur Torosaurus latus

Torosaurus illustrated.

An illustration of Torosaurus latus (Sergey Krasovskiy).

Picture Credit: Sergey Krasovskiy

Triceratops and Torosaurus

Analysis of the large head shield that projects backwards from the skull has shown the frill of bone to be quite thin, with two distinct large holes (fenestrae), anatomical traits that are associated with Torosaurus and not Triceratops.  The new diagnosis was made after a careful comparative study using Triceratops specimens already within the Museum’s vertebrate fossil collection.  Torosaurus fossils are exceptionally scarce.  There are several thousand Triceratops (T. horridus and T. prorsus) fossils, representing something like 2,000 individuals.  In contrast, there are approximately 7 partial skulls of Torosaurus known.

A Skeletal Drawing Showing the Extent of the Fossil Material Found at the Thornton Site

Thornton Triceratops turns out to be a Torosaurus.

The yellow parts of the skeleton represent those elements of the Torosaurus found.

Picture Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The fossil find at Thornton is highly significant.  The majority of the front-end of the individual has been excavated including an almost complete skull.  This specimen may provide palaeontologists with valuable information on how Torosaurus changed as it grew up.  In addition, these fossils could help to identify other Torosaurus specimens in museums that have been misidentified and labelled as Triceratops.”

Is Torosaurus Just a Very Old Triceratops?

The lack of Torosaurus fossil material compared to other horned dinosaurs from North America, led to speculation that Torosaurus was not a valid genus, that the fossil material ascribed to Torosaurus actually represented very old, very mature examples of Triceratops.  The Thornton specimen seems to represent a young adult animal, this may help to clarify the Torosaurus versus Triceratops debate.

To read an article published in 2010, that details an American study that suggested that Torosaurus fossils were actually Triceratops: The Extinction of Torosaurus – Second Time Around

Fossilised Bones Being Exposed at the Thornton Dig Site

The fossils of Torosaurus (T. latus).

Parts of the skeleton are exposed (Torosaurus latus).

Picture Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Joe Sertich (Curator of Dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science), stated:

“Not only is the fossil more complete and better preserved than I imagined, but it has also revealed itself to be something extremely rare.  The Thornton beast is by far the most complete, and best preserved, ever found.”

Nicknamed “Tiny”

The specimen has been nicknamed “Tiny”, but the work of preparing and studying these fossils is no small task.  The material was unearthed at a Saunders Construction site for a new Public Safety Facility.  Cleaning efforts have also revealed several more skull bones and a complete tibia (lower leg bone).  An estimated 95 percent of the skull and at least 20 percent of the skeleton have now been identified, making this the most complete Cretaceous-aged fossil discovered in Colorado.

Visitors to the Museum can observe the fossil preparation process in the Fossil Prep Laboratory, cleaning and preparing is estimated to take several more months.

Joe Sertich at the Dig Site Working on “Tiny” the Torosaurus

Excavating an Torosaurus.

Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs, (Denver Museum of Nature and Science) at the dig site (Thornton, Colorado).

Picture Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

We wonder what Mike Getty would have made of it all?

To read more about the sad death of renowned scientist Mike Getty: Highly Respected Palaeontologist Dies at Dig Site

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the press team at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the compilation of this article.

5 12, 2017

The Archaeopteryx That Wasn’t

By | December 5th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Ostromia crassipes – The First European Member of the Anchiornithidae

The first fossil of Archaeopteryx to have been discovered, turns out not to represent the “Urvogel” at all.  In a reassessment of the fossil, known as the Haarlem specimen, as it is part of the vertebrate collection housed at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem (Holland), it has been re-described as a small predatory dinosaur belonging to the anchiornithid family.  The dinosaur has been named Ostromia crassipes, the genus name honours the late John Ostrom, who identified the Haarlem specimen as a Theropod and was instrumental in the work that led to the definition of dinosaurs as dynamic, active reptiles.

The Haarlem Specimen – the Holotype of Ostromia crassipes

Ostromia crassipes holotype fossil.

The holotype fossil of Ostromia crassipes, previously thought to represent Archaeopteryx.

Picture Credit: Oliver Rauhut/Ludwig-Maximilians-University (Munich, Germany)

The fossil studied, actually consists of two parts, the counterslab TM 6929 (left) and the main slab (right) TM 6928.

Archaeopteryx was named in 1861, however, the Haarlem specimen was found four years earlier.  To date, around a dozen specimens have been assigned to the Archaeopteryx genus, including a single, fossilised feather.  The discovery of Archaeopteryx supported the theory of natural selection proposed by Darwin and Wallace as it represented a transitional form between reptiles and birds.  Archaeopteryx fossils support the idea that modern birds are descendants of carnivorous dinosaurs.

Writing in the academic journal “BMC Evolutionary Biology”, palaeontologists Oliver Rauhut and Christian Foth from the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde in Stuttgart have re-examined the Haarlem specimen.  They conclude that this fossil differs in several important respects from the other known representatives of the genus Archaeopteryx.  The researchers conclude that the fossil is not an Archaeopteryx at all, but a representative of the very bird-like maniraptoran dinosaurs known as anchiornithids.

These crow-sized, predatory dinosaurs possessed feathers on all four limbs, and they predate the appearance of Archaeopteryx by several million years.

Commenting on their study, Dr Oliver Rauhut stated:

“The Haarlem fossil is the first member of this group found outside China and together with Archaeopteryx, it is only the second species of bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic discovered outside eastern Asia.  This makes it [the Haarlem specimen] even more of a rarity than the true specimens of Archaeopteryx.”

Subtle Anatomical Differences and Bone Osteology

The scientists looked at the relative proportions of limb, toe and finger bones and noted that the Haarlem material (TM 6929 and TM 6928), was different from other Archaeopteryx specimens.  In addition, it had affinities with the fossilised remains of Anchiornis from China.  Furthermore, differences in bone osteology were observed.  For example, the Haarlem fossil specimen has a regular, well-developed longitudinal furrow on the exposed medial side of the preserved manual phalanx, this furrow is not present on any of the finger bones ascribed to Archaeopteryx.

Comparing the Finger Bones (Manual Phalanges) of Various Theropods

Theropod manual phalanges comparison.

Comparison of Theropod finger bones in highly compacted sediments.  Scale bar in mm.

Picture Credit: BMC Evolutionary Biology

The photograph (above) shows close-up views of the finger bones (manual phalanges) of several Theropods, analysis of the shape of the bones, their features and their proportions led the researchers to conclude that the Haarlem specimen was not Archaeopteryx.

(a).  the right manus (hand) of the Thermopolis specimen of Archaeopteryx

(b). the right manus of the Solnhofen specimen of Archaeopteryx

(c). the left manus of the juvenile Theropod from Germany Sciurumimus albersdoerferi (image resolved under UV light)

(d). the second finger of the small Late Jurassic Theropod Compsognathus longipes

(e).  the impression from the first finger of the anchiornithid Anchiornis huxleyi

(f). the first finger of Caudipteryx, a feathered Theropod from the Early Cretaceous of China

Learning About Fauna of the Solnhofen Archipelago

Discovered in 1857, the Haarlem fossil specimen was found about 6 miles (10 kilometres), to the north-east of the closest Archaeopteryx locality known (Schamhaupten) which is near the town of Altmannstein in southern Bavaria.  The Jurassic-aged rocks in this area were laid down in a shallow sea, in which were scattered numerous small islands, an archipelago, that provided an environment, superficially similar to that of the Caribbean today.  These islands that once covered southern Bavaria, are known as the Solnhofen archipelago, the region from which all known specimens of the genus Archaeopteryx come from.  The taxonomic reassignment of the Haarlem specimen to the feathered Anchiornithidae has provided a fresh insight into the evolution of the Avialae and indicates that the first bird-like dinosaurs originated in Asia.  During the Middle to the Late Jurassic these creatures migrated westwards, reaching the Solnhofen archipelago of Western Europe some 150 million years ago.

The Haarlem fossil was originally recovered from what was then the eastern end of the archipelago, quite close to the mainland.  Unlike Archaeopteryx, anchiornithids were (most likely), unable to fly, and might not have been able to reach the more remote islands offshore.   All true fossils of Archaeopteryx found to date were recovered from the lithographic limestone strata further to the west, closer to the open sea.  This implies that dinosaurs like Ostromia may have been limited in their distribution, compared to the volant Archaeopteryx.

Faunal Distribution in the Solnhofen Archipelago (Late Jurassic)

The Solnhofen archipelago and Ostromia/Archaeopteryx distribution.

The researchers speculate that the flightless Ostromia could not have reached the islands furthermost from the mainland whilst Archaeopteryx with its powered flight capability was able to reach outlying islands.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the diagram above, Ostromia may have been unable to reach the more remote parts of the island chain whilst Archaeopteryx, which was capable of powered flight (its aerial abilities are still debated), would have been more able to “island hop”.

Based on these new findings, the researchers postulate that other known Archaeopteryx fossils may need reassessment.

Dr Rauhut suggests:

“Not every bird-like fossil that turns up in the fine-grained limestones around Solnhofen need necessarily be a specimen of Archaeopteryx,”

The scientific paper: “Re-evaluation of the Haarlem Archaeopteryx and the Radiation of Maniraptoran Theropod Dinosaurs” by Christian Foth and Oliver W. M. Rauhut published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

An article on Archaeopteryx research: Archaeopteryx Had Feathered “Trousers”

The oldest Archaeopteryx fossil: The Oldest Archaeopteryx in Town?

2 12, 2017

Hamipterus Nesting Ground Discovery

By | December 2nd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Pterosaurs Even More Like Birds

Pterosaurs like birds, were capable of powered flight.  It seems that command of the skies is not the only thing that these two types of vertebrate had in common.  Thanks to a remarkable series of discoveries from the remote Turpan-Hami Basin located in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (north-western China), palaeontologists have learned that Pterosaurs, like many living birds nested in colonies, that they had preferred nesting sites and when young, Pterosaurs needed a degree of parental care, just like many species of birds today.

Pterosaur Nesting Colony (Hamipterus tianshanensis)

Hamipterus tianshanensis nesting ground.

Male (right) and female Hamipterus tianshanensis looking after their brood, whilst more Pterosaur chicks hatch in the foreground.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

Hundreds of Pterosaur Eggs Discovered

Writing in the journal “Science”, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences along with collaborators from a number of research institutions in Brazil have published a paper describing the discovery of 215 Pterosaur eggs, 16 of which contain the remains of embryos.  The eggs and the numerous fossil bones associated with the site have been attributed to Hamipterus tianshanensis, a flying reptile first named and described in 2014 whose exact taxonomic position in the Pterosaur family tree remains open to debate.

That point notwithstanding, H. tianshanensis has been propelled to super-stardom, like a Pteranodon taking to the air, representing one of the most significant Pterosauria discoveries made to date.

An Assemblage of Pterosaur Fossils

Hamipterus tianshanensis fossils including eggs and embryos.

Pterosaur fossil eggs and bones representing individuals of various ages.

Picture Credit: Xinhua/Wang Xiaolin

Pterosaur Nesting Grounds

Significantly, the number of eggs discovered are far too many to have been laid by a single female.  This suggests that these flying reptiles nested in colonies and furthermore, the overlaying of multiple clutches of eggs indicates that Pterosaurs, like many birds today, returned to the same nesting sites each year.  As the authors conclude, “the similarity between these groups goes beyond wings”.

The Remains of Numerous Individuals at the Site

Hamipterus fossil remains.

Hundreds of Pterosaur bones lying on the surface.  Note the tip of a geological hammer providing a scale.

Picture Credit: Xinhua/Alexander Kellner

Three-Dimensional Fossil Egg Preservation

The eggs were not laid at the location where they were discovered.  This exceptional Lagerstätte preserves a series of tragic events, it seems that periodically, the nesting area was subjected to flooding as a result of seasonal storms.  Many of the eggs have been preserved in three dimensions, caused by the encroachment of sediment.  Computed tomography scans have revealed minute details of some of the embryos preserved within the eggs.  For example, an almost complete skeleton of a hatchling shows that bones related to flight were less developed than bones of the hind limb, indicating that new-borns might have been able to walk but not fly.   The front limb bones lack ossification and had yet to fully form, whilst the leg bones such as the femora are well developed.  This suggests that the young Pterosaurs were unable to fly, but not completely helpless, their strong legs would have meant that they would not have been stuck in the nest but quite capable of locomotion.  However, these new insights have led the palaeontologists to conclude that, in the case of Hamipterus at least, the offspring were less precocious than previously assumed.

In short, mum and dad (coming to that bit next), had to take care of their young, bring food to them and protect them from predators.

Evidence Suggests that Pterosaurs Cared for their Young

Hamipterus feeding their young.

The male Hamipterus (background) stands guard whilst the female regurgitates food to her offspring (altricial behaviours in Pterosaurs).

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

The Significance of Dad

Hamipterus tianshanensis was named and described three years ago.  This fossil location had been discovered several years before, but the Pterosaur body fossils and the associated Pterosaur egg material (forty specimens and five eggs), were not scientifically described until 2014.  In the 2014 paper (Wang et al), which was written by many of the scientists involved in this latest study, it was postulated that differences in head crest shape or size helped to distinguish males from females.  It was proposed that specimens with larger skull crests were males.  This suggests sexual dimorphism in this species and, if this idea is taken a little further, it implies that the males may have played a role in helping to bring up the next generation. After all, fossilised remains of what might represent adult males have been swept together with the nest site fossils.  Many male birds share parental responsibilities and lots of extant Aves such as the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) for instance, pair for life.  Perhaps, adult Pterosaurs also had monogamous behaviour.

A Close-up View of the Preserved Leathery Egg of Hamipterus

Egg fossils (Pterosaur).

Pterosaur egg fossils (Hamipterus tianshanensis).

Picture Credit: Xinhua/Wang Xiaolin

Inferring Behaviours

To what degree the Pterosauria and Aves share behaviours remains a controversial area.  Further research into the remarkable Hamipterus Lagerstätte has greatly increased our knowledge about flying reptiles but we must be careful not to infer or imply too much from the fossil evidence.  The scientists conclude that the discovery of all these bones and fossilised eggs supports the idea that these Pterosaurs nested in colonies and that they returned to a favoured nesting site to breed.

Two of the Authors of the Scientific Paper Inspect Part of the Remote Dig Site

Collecting egg fossil specimens (Pterosaur).

Palaeontologists Wang Xiaolin (right) and Alexander Kellner collect specimens in a desert in Hami, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Picture Credit: Xinhua

The scientific paper: “Egg Accumulation with 3D Embryos Provides Insight into the Life History of a Pterosaur” by Xiaolin Wang, Alexander W. A. Kellner, Shunxing Jiang, Xin Cheng, Qiang Wang, Yingxia Ma, Yahefujiang Paidoula, Taissa Rodrigues, He Chen, Juliana M. Sayão, Ning Li, Jialiang Zhang, Renan A. M. Bantim, Xi Meng, Xinjun Zhang, Rui Qiu and Zhonghe Zhou published in the journal “Science”.

1 12, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Gets Exclusive Access to Beasts of the Mesozoic Range

By | December 1st, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur will be Stocking the Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor range in 2018

Everything Dinosaur will be stocking in early 2018, the Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor series.  The UK-based specialist supplier of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models has been granted exclusive access to this exciting 1:6 scale model range.  No need for collectors and prehistoric animal fans to get their feathers in a flap, these amazing, highly-detailed and scientifically accurate feathered dinosaurs will be available on this side of the Atlantic.

The Range of 1:6 Scale Deluxe “Raptor” Figures Coming to Everything Dinosaur in Early 2018

Beasts of the Mesozoic Deluxe 1:6 scale "Raptors".

The Deluxe Raptors in the Beasts of the Mesozoic range coming to Everything Dinosaur in 2018.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor series consists of 15 deluxe Maniraptora models, including Dromaeosaurus albertensis, Saurornitholestes langstoni, Balaur bondoc and of course, Velociraptor mongoliensis, all skilfully designed and sculptured by the highly-respected David Silva of Creative Beast Studio.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is great news for collectors.  David Silva has done a brilliant job producing what will be a highly sought after and very collectable model range, all backed by Everything Dinosaur’s formidable reputation for customer service.”

Accessory Packs will also be Stocked Including the Superb Desert Scene Featuring Mononykus

Desert Accessory Pack (Beasts of the Mesozoic)

The amazing desert accessory pack featuring a replica Mononykus (Beasts of the Mesozoic).  For serious model collectors!

Coming to the UK in Early 2018

The first shipment of figures is due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse in February, although sources close to the company have stated that models could be in stock as early as January 2018.

Everything Dinosaur will also be bringing in the beautiful accessory packs that feature the likes of Microraptor and Troodon.  Thanks to David’s creative skills, there will even be a range of “raptor nestlings” with three different types of plumage available.

“Raptor” Nestlings with Colourful Plumage

For serious collectors Beasts of the Mesozoic nestling raptors.

A set of three “raptor” nestlings (amber) part of the Beasts of the Mesozoic range.

With Everything Dinosaur on board, the Creative Beast Studio team can accelerate their development plans for future dinosaur models.  The spirit of transatlantic co-operation is already evident, with Everything Dinosaur providing helpful data sheets to assist Creative Beast Studio staff as they plan a new range of horned dinosaur replicas, whilst facts and useful information that inspired the Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor series has been heading over to the UK.

David Silva (Creative Beast Studio) stated:

“We are immensely proud of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptors.  We want to create a range of scientifically accurate dinosaur figures that really does reflect the fossil evidence.  It is fantastic to be teaming up with such a well-respected company such as Everything Dinosaur, who like us, share a passion for prehistoric animals.”

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor Series

This stunning model series highlights the amazing variety of feathered, meat-eating dinosaurs that once roamed our planet.  Each of the deluxe Raptors has 26 points of articulation, realistic detail and movement, all based on the latest scientific discoveries and is supplied complete with its own custom-made display base.

The Stunning Fan’s Choice Saurornitholestes langstoni will be Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2018

Saurornitholestes langstoni (Beasts of the Mesozoic).

Saurornitholestes langstoni 1:6 scale figure. A great replica for discerning collectors.

Thanks to Everything Dinosaur and the Creative Beast Studio, collectors have the opportunity to build up their own collection of highly accurate, museum quality figures.

Aimed at Dinosaur Figure Collectors from 14 Years Upwards

Zhenyuanlong suni packaging (Beasts of the Mesozoic).

The beautiful Zhenyuanlong suni in its packaging (Beasts of the Mesozoic).

Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptors will be flocking your way very soon…

To request more information about the Beasts of the Mesozoic range: Email Everything Dinosaur

30 11, 2017

“Fuzzysaurs” Dinosaurs May Have Been Fluffier Than Previously Thought

By | November 30th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

For Dinosaurs Think “Fuzzysaurs”

A new study suggests that dinosaurs may have been somewhat more fluffy than previously thought.  To date, most illustrations of feathered dinosaurs have been analogous to modern, living birds, after all, the majority of scientists believe that birds are living dinosaurs and closely related to a group of Theropod dinosaurs (Maniraptora).  However, in a paper published in the journal of the Palaeontological Association, a team of Bristol University researchers have revealed new details about feathered dinosaurs, allowing palaeoartists the chance to refine how these animals are depicted.  It seems that dinosaurs may have been quite fluffy, a feathered Theropod dinosaur is one thing, but a fuzzy Velociraptor, that may take a little while to sink in.

New Study Gives Anchiornis a New Look

A clambering Anchiornis with contour feather illustration.

A clambering Anchiornis illustration with a drawing of the forked contour feather.

Picture Credit: Rebecca Gelernter

The Contour Feathers of Anchiornis

The researchers, which included Dr Jakob Vinther (Bristol University), examined, at high resolution, an exceptionally well-preserved fossil of an Anchiornis (A. huxleyi) comparing its fossilised feathers to those of other dinosaurs and extinct birds.  Anchiornis is known from numerous fossil specimens from north-eastern China (Liaoning Province).  It is likely that the specimens hail from the Tiaojishan Formation of Upper Jurassic rocks and these fossils are estimated to be around 160 million years old.  Where this crow-sized, four-winged creature sits (or should that be perches/or clambers), on the Dinosauria family tree remains open to debate.  The fossils may precede Archaeopteryx by several million years and when first described Anchiornis (the name means “near bird”), was seen as a transitional form, very close to the split between dinosaurs and birds (Aves).  Other studies have challenged this placement, with an affinity with the troodontids being proposed.

Currently, the consensus seems to be that Anchiornis is a basal member of the Paraves clade, a part of the Maniraptora that incorporates the dromaeosaurids, the troodontids and the avialans, those dinosaurs that lead directly to birds as we know them today.

Anchiornis huxleyi – Illustrated from a Recent Research Paper (Spring 2017)

An illustration of Anchiornis huxleyi.

An illustration of Anchiornis huxleyi.

Picture Credit: Tony Csotonyi

The feathers around the body of Anchiornis, known as contour feathers, revealed a newly-described, extinct, primitive feather form consisting of a short quill with long, independent, flexible barbs erupting from the quill at low angles to form two vanes and a forked feather shape.  The scientists conclude that the details of the contour fossils were preserved as some of these feathers became detached from the body during decomposition.  When buried and fossilised, this taphonomy made the feather structure easier to analyse.

Fluffy Anchiornis

Such feathers would have given Anchiornis a fluffy appearance relative to the streamlined bodies of modern flying birds, whose feathers have tightly-zipped vanes forming continuous surfaces. Anchiornis’s unzipped feathers might have affected the animal’s ability to control its temperature and repel water, possibly being less effective than the vanes of most modern feathers.  This shaggy, fuzzy plumage would also have increased drag when Anchiornis took to the air.  It was probably not capable of powered flight, most likely it was a glider, however, these contour feathers lacked the aerodynamic qualities of the feathers of extant birds.

Comparing Contour Feathers – Anchiornis Against a More Recent Fossil Specimen

Contour feather comparison.

Anchiornis contour feathers (left) compared to a modern form of contour feather preserved in the fossil record.

Picture Credit: Bristol University

Having to Compensate for the Forked Contour Feathers

In addition, the wing feathers of Anchiornis lack the aerodynamic, asymmetrical qualities of modern flight feathers.  This new study shows that the vanes on the feathers of Anchiornis were not so tightly “zipped” together when compared to those of modern birds.  The feathers of Anchiornis would have provided little lift for the animal, so to compensate Paravians like Anchiornis packed many rows of long feathers into the wing, in contrast to extant, volant birds where most of the wing surface is formed by just one row of feathers.  Anchiornis had four wings, feathers on the legs as well as the arms and elongated feathers on the tail.  These structures would have increased the surface area of the animal assisting with gliding and helping to keep the animal stable in mid-air.

Palaeoartist Works with Palaeontologists

Scientific illustrator Rebecca Gelernter collaborated with researchers Evan Saitta and Dr Vinther, (University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences and School of Biological Sciences), to produce a life reconstruction of Anchiornis (see above).  The colour patterns in Rebecca’s illustration are very similar to those in the earlier drawing produced by Julius Csotonyi, details of the feather pigmentation of Anchiornis had been revealed in a previous study, but this new illustration shows a more fuzzy, fluffy prehistoric animal.

Commenting on the new depiction of Anchiornis, researcher Evan Saitta said:

“The novel aspects of the wing and contour feathers, as well as fully-feathered hands and feet, are added to the depiction.  Most provocatively, Anchiornis is presented in this artwork climbing in the manner of Hoatzin chicks, the only living bird whose juveniles retain a relic of their dinosaurian past, a functional claw.  This contrasts much previous art that places Paravians perched on top of branches like modern birds.  However, such perching is unlikely given the lack of a reversed toe as in modern perching birds and climbing is consistent with the well-developed arms and claws in Paravians.  Overall, our study provides some new insight into the appearance of dinosaurs, their behaviour and physiology, and the evolution of feathers, birds, and powered flight.”

Anchiornis Fossil Material (Liaoning Province)

Anchiornis fossil specmen.

The fossilised remains of an Anchiornis (A. huxleyi).

Picture Credit: Thierry Hubin

Rebecca Gelernter added:

“Paleoart is a weird blend of strict anatomical drawing, wildlife art, and speculative biology. The goal is to depict extinct animals and plants as accurately as possible given the available data and knowledge of the subject’s closest living relatives.  As a result of this study and other recent work, this is now possible to an unprecedented degree for Anchiornis.  It’s easy to see it as a living animal with complex behaviours, not just a flattened fossil.”

For an article published in March 2017 that provides further information on Anchiornis research: Very Near to “Near Bird”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a Bristol University press release in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Additional Information on the Primitive Contour and Wing Feathering of Paravian Dinosaurs” by E. Saitta, R. Gelernter and J. Vinther published in Palaeontology, the journal of the Palaeontological Association.

28 11, 2017

Sauropod Feet Had Plenty of Traction

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

Sauropod Print from South Korea Reveals Polygonal Scales

A team of scientists based in South Korea have published a paper in the academic journal “Nature” that reports on the discovery of a Sauropod dinosaur footprint that has preserved the impression of the underside of the foot. The polygon-shaped scales on the underside of the long-necked dinosaur’s feet (plantar surface), would have provided grip and traction, helping these large creatures to traverse soft mud and slippery ground.

Sauropod Foot Impression Fossil (South Korea)

The preserved impression of the underside of a Sauropod's foot.

Distinct skin impressions in a sauropod footprint (a) and on its cast (b) described in the study published in the journal “Nature”.

Picture Credit: Nature

Largest Sauropod with Underside Surface Preserved

The very distinctive foot impression and its cast, reported upon in this study, represent the largest known Sauropod footprint with skin details found to date.  The single print measures more than fifty centimetres across.  The footprint impression was left in silty mudstone as a large Sauropod crossed a mudflat in the late Early Cretaceous (Albian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous).

The researchers from Pukyong National University, Busan (South Korea) and Seoul National University (Seoul), describe a single footprint from the Lower Cretaceous Haman Formation discovered in south-eastern South Korea, they suggest that the floodplain sediments were formed by sheetflood processes, where shallow water moves relatively slowly across slightly sloping ground.  The palaeoenvironment is interpreted as being a semi-arid area with lakes and ponds which was occasionally subjected to wetter weather, resulting in some flooding.

Microbial mats formed across the low-lying ground, adjacent to the water sources and the presence of these microbial mats may have helped with the preservation of the foot details.

A Reconstruction of the Sauropod Foot (Underside)

Illustration of the underside surface of the Sauropod foot.

Reconstruction of the plantar surface (underside) of a Sauropod foot with polygonal skin.

Picture Credit: Hyun Jeong Yoo

The researchers conclude that some Sauropods by the late Early Cretaceous had a well-developed polygonal skin texture covering nearly the whole of their foot pads.  This foot pattern is reminiscent to that found on the pads of extant elephants.  These scales would have helped increase stability when these large and heavy animals crossed wet ground.

26 11, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus

By | November 26th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|1 Comment

A Video Review of the Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

JurassicCollectables have produced another fascinating video review of a dinosaur model.  This time, it is the Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus model that is put into the spotlight.  Mojo Fun was formed in 2009 with the objective of creating enjoyable and accurate model figures.  The “Prehistoric & Extinct” range contains a wide range of dinosaurs, prehistoric animals and recently extinct creatures.  This model range helps to highlight the link between extinctions of the past and the plight of many animals today and it includes replicas of animals such as the Tasmanian Tiger and the Quagga, animals that largely due to the actions of our own species, have become extinct.

The JurassicCollectables Video Review of the Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus Model

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

The Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Figure

In this short video review, the narrator compares the Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus with the brachiosaurids seen in the original “Jurassic Park” film, released in 1993.  The model is described as being “desk top size”, it is an ideal size for creative, imaginative play, yet retains enough detail to make it the target of model collectors.

Various features of the model are highlighted.  The skin texture is commented upon as is the paintwork around the eye, the use of shiny, glossy paint for the eye is praised.  The model represents a traditional view of a Macronarian Sauropod and we particularly appreciated the comments about the skin creases that have been incorporated into the model.

The Mojo Fun Large Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun large Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The Mojo Fun Large Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Reference to a Deleted Scene in “Jurassic Park”

“Off-colour Alan” provides a useful scale reference and the narrator comments that this figure resembles the Brachiosaurs that were to be included in a scene featuring these dinosaurs that was left on the cutting room floor when it came to piecing together the original “Jurassic Park” movie.  The Mojo Fun dinosaurs do seem to have been heavily influenced by the CGI dinosaurs from the “Jurassic Park” franchise and this makes them ideal for film fans who are trying to re-create mini-scenes from their favourite movie.

To view the “Prehistoric & Extinct” Mojo Fun model range available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric & Extinct Models

Measuring Dinosaur Models

One of the features of a video review by JurassicCollectables is the measuring of the model.  Providing the “vital statistics” of a Brachiosaur might be quite a tricky business, but JurassicCollectables cope admirably and providing a size guide helps model collectors to get a better idea of the scale of any figure.  It was also great to see the recently reviewed, new for 2017 Mojo Fun Hunting T. rex model also included in the video review.  It too, provides a helpful guide to scale and size.

For an article that features the recent review of the Mojo Fun red Hunting Tyrannosaurus rexJurassicCollectables Reviews the Mojo Fun Red Hunting T. rex

Mojo Fun has produced a number of dinosaur models, this range is gaining a very good reputation amongst discerning figure collectors and it is great to see such a well-shot and informative video review of the Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus.

Everything Dinosaur recommends that readers visit the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables.  This channel is jam-packed with informative videos all with a dinosaur/prehistoric animal theme and we strongly recommend subscribing to this channel.  Visit: JurassicCollectables Videos on YouTube

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