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

Dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed articles, features and stories.

12 01, 2018

The Schleich Tawa Dinosaur Model is in Stock

By | January 12th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Stocks the Schleich Tawa Dinosaur Model

The new for 2018 Schleich Tawa dinosaur model has arrived and is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  The Schleich Tawa is one of three Theropod replicas introduced by the German-based figure manufacturer in 2018, but the only one that represents a hypercarnivore.  The other two Theropods are the Schleich Oviraptor and the new colour variant of the Schleich Therizinosaurus.

The Schleich Tawa (Tawa hallae) Model is the Only Hypercarnivore Theropod to be Added to Date (2018)

The Schleich Tawa hallae dinosaur model.

The new for 2018 Schleich Tawa dinosaur model (T. hallae).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Tawa hallae – A Triassic Hypercarnivore

A hypercarnivore is an animal that has a diet of more than 70% meat, the diet of Oviraptor and Therizinosaurus is not that well understood, but Oviraptor may well have been omnivorous and Therizinosaurus could have been a relatively sedentary browser.  However, Tawa, a Theropod that lived more than a hundred million years earlier, was most certainly carnivorous and perhaps a hunter of other dinosaurs such as Coelophysis.  The jaw may be slender, but it is lined with sharp and curved teeth, ideal for slicing through meat.  Tawa had strong grasping hands with each finger ending in a sharp claw, these hands were probably used to grasp and subdue small prey.

The Sharp Teeth and Grasping Hands of Tawa hallae

Schleich Tawa dinosaur model.

A close-view of the Schleich Tawa dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Ghost Ranch Location

This lithe dinosaur is known from the fossilised remains of several individuals recovered from sediments that make up part of the Petrified Forest Member of the famous Chinle Formation exposed at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.  All the fossils found to date represent immature individuals or juveniles which measure between two to three metres in length.  However, a single femur (thigh bone) found in association with the other remains provides tantalising evidence that these fast-running dinosaurs could grow much larger, perhaps more than four metres in length.  The Ghost Ranch location has provided palaeontologists with a fantastic insight into a Late Triassic palaeoenvironment, a time when the Dinosauria was beginning to dominate terrestrial environments, but they shared this seasonal world with other reptiles and mammal-like reptiles too.

Tawa hallae was named and scientifically described in 2009, to read an article about this dinosaur’s discovery: New Theropod Fossil Provides Evidence of Dinosaur Diversity

The Theropods of Ghost Ranch

Discovered by Edwin Colbert in 1947, the Coelophysis beds have produced more than 1,000 skeletons of Coelophysis, making this little Triassic Theropod one of the best known of all the Dinosauria.  In truth, the first evidence of dinosaur fossils from this location was recorded in 1885, but the native American people would have been aware of the strange bones eroding out of the ground for hundreds of years before western scientists.  The genus name for Tawa comes from the local Hopi people’s language.  It is their word for the Puebloan sun god.  It is fitting that a dinosaur from a part of New Mexico which would have been familiar to native peoples, has been given a name honouring the language and customs of these people.

To view the Schleich Tawa model and all the other figures in the Schleich prehistoric animal model range: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

10 01, 2018

Fossils of Folkestone, Kent by Philip Hadland

By | January 10th, 2018|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Press Releases|0 Comments

A Review of the Fossils of Folkestone, Kent

Fossil collecting is a popular hobby and there are a number of excellent general guide books available.  However, the newly published “Fossils of Folkestone, Kent” by geologist and museum curator Philip Hadland, takes a slightly different perspective.  Instead of focusing on lots of fossil collecting locations, Philip provides a comprehensive overview of just one area of the Kent coast, the beaches and cliffs surrounding the port of Folkestone.  Here is a book that delivers what its title implies, if you want to explore the Gault Clay, Lower Greensand and Chalks around Folkestone then this is the book for you.

The Fossils of Folkestone, Kent by Philip Hadland – A Comprehensive Guide

Fossil collecting guide to the Folkestone area.

Fossils of Folkestone, Kent by Philip Hadland and published by Siri Scientific Press and priced at £12.99 plus postage.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

A Comprehensive Overview of the Geology and the Palaeoenvironment of the Folkestone Area

The author clearly has a tremendous affection for this part of the Kent coast.  His enthusiasm is infectious and the reader is soon dipping into the various chapters, dedicated to the rock formations exposed along the cliffs and the fossil delights to be found within them.  Folkestone is probably most famous for its beautiful Gault Clay ammonites, the clay being deposited around 100 million years ago and a wide variety of these cephalopods can be found preserved in the rocks.  The book contains more than 100 full colour plates, so even the beginner fossil hunter can have a go at identifying their fossil discoveries.

Clear Colour Photographs Help with Fossil Identification

Ammonite fossils from Folkestone (Anahoplites praecox).

Anahoplites praecox fossil from Folkestone.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

Surprises on the Shoreline

The book begins by explaining some of the pleasures of fossil hunting, before briefly outlining a history of fossil collecting in the Folkestone area and introducing some of the colourful characters who were prominent fossil collectors in their day.  The geology of the area is explored using terminology that the general reader can understand and follow, but academics too, will no doubt gain a lot from this publication.  Intriguingly, the Cretaceous-aged sediments were thought to have been deposited in a marine environment, however, the Lower Greensand beds have produced evidence of dinosaur footprints.  The palaeoenvironment seems to have been somewhat more complex than previously thought, the Lower Greensand preserving evidence of inter-tidal mudflats, that were once crossed by dinosaurs.  Isolated dinosaur bones have also been found in the area and the book contains some fantastic photographs of these exceptionally rare fossil discoveries.

Helping to Identify Fossil Finds

Folkestone fossils - ammonites.

Folkestone fossils – ammonites.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

Prehistoric Mammals

To help with identification, the colour plates and accompanying text are organised by main animal groups.  There are detailed sections on bivalves, brachiopods, corals, crustaceans, gastropods, belemnites and ammonites.  There are plenty of photographs of vertebrate fossils too and not just fish and reptiles associated with the Mesozoic.  Pleistocene-aged deposits are found in this area and these preserve the remains of numerous exotic prehistoric animals that once called this part of Kent home.

Fossil Teeth from a Hippopotamus Which Lived in the Folkestone Area During a Warmer Inter-glacial Period

Folkestone fossils - Teeth from a Hippopotamus.

Pleistocene mammal fossils from Folkestone (Hippopotamus upper canine and molar).

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

The author comments that the presence of hippos, along with other large mammals such as elephants as proved by fossil finds, demonstrates how very different Folkestone was just 120,000 years ago.  It is likely that humans were present in the area, evidence of hominins have been found elsewhere in England and in nearby France, but as yet, no indications of human activity or a human presence in this area have been found.  Perhaps, an enthusiastic fossil hunter armed with this guide, will one day discover the fossils or archaeology that demonstrates that people were living in the area and exploiting the abundant food resources that existed.

A Partial Femur from a Large Hippopotamus Provides Testament to the Exotic Pleistocene Fauna

Folkestone fossils - partial femur from a Hippopotamus.

A partial femur (thigh bone) from a Hippopotamus.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

With a foreword by renowned palaeontologist Dean Lomax, “Fossils of Folkestone, Kent” is an essential read for anyone with aspirations regarding collecting fossils on this part of the English coast.  The book, with its weather-proof cover, fits snugly into a backpack and the excellent photographs and text make fossil identification in the field really easy.

If your New Year’s resolution is to get out more to enjoy the wonders of the British countryside, to start fossil hunting, or to visit more fossil collecting locations, then the “Fossils of Folkestone, Kent” by Philip Hadland would be a worthy addition to your book collection.

For further information on this book and to order a copy: Siri Scientific Press On-line

8 01, 2018

New Schleich Models in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

By | January 8th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases, Product Reviews|0 Comments

New Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The first of the 2018 Schleich prehistoric animal figures are in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  Five new models are now available, the new for 2018 Schleich Triceratops, the new colour variant Therizinosaurus plus the Psittacosaurus, Oviraptor and the amazing Dinogorgon replica.

New for 2018 Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

New Schleich prehistoric animals (2018).

New Schleich prehistoric animal models (2018).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models for 2018

Four of the five models to have arrived to date, are dinosaurs, the exception is the confusingly named Dinogorgon.  Dinogorgon is a member of the Therapsida and, as such, is more closely related to us humans than it is to any dinosaur.  One group of the therapsids, evolved into large, sabre-toothed predators – the gorgonopsids (named after the Gorgons from Greek myth), Dinogorgon is a gorgonopsid, a member of an African subfamily (the Rubidgeinae), which were the apex predators in southern Africa at the end of the Permian.

The Schleich Dinogorgon Model

Schleich Dinogorgon.

The Schleich Dinogorgon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This beautifully detailed figure measures around thirteen centimetres long and it is great to see Schleich making models of prehistoric animals that predate the Dinosauria.

Schleich Oviraptor Model

Schleich have also introduced a model of an Oviraptor into their dinosaur range.  The Oviraptor continues the trend to introduce feathered dinosaur representations into the company’s portfolio.  The figure is resplendent with its shaggy coat and prominent wing feathers.  The model stands some ten centimetres high, so it works in scale with larger replicas representing larger species.  The detail of the individual feathers on the Schleich Oviraptor has already attracted a number of favourable comments.

The Schleich Oviraptor Dinosaur Model

Schleich Oviraptor Dinosaur Model.

The new for 2018 Schleich Oviraptor dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view all the new Schleich prehistoric animal figures currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models

Schleich Therizinosaurus

Another Theropod, but like Oviraptor, very probably not a hypercarnivore.  Schleich have introduced a new colour version of their popular Therizinosaurus figure.  Just like its predecessor, this model has an articulated jaw and moveable arms.

The New for 2018 Schleich Therizinosaurus (Colour Variant)

Schleich Therizinosaurus dinosaur model.

Schleich new Therizinosaurus (2018).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Schleich New for 2018 Triceratops Dinosaur Model

An old favourite has been remodelled for 2018 by Schleich.  The German-based company has introduced a large model of Triceratops.  The figure measures a whopping 21 centimetres long and it works well in scale with the Tyrannosaurus rex models introduced by Schleich.  The Schleich Triceratops has been given a vivid red colouration, in stark contrast to the battleship grey that covers the majority of the figure.

The New for 2018 Schleich Triceratops Dinosaur Model is in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

Schleich Triceratops dinosaur model (2018).

The new for 2018 Schleich Triceratops dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Schleich Psittacosaurus

The last of the new for 2018 figures to be featured is the splendid Schleich Psittacosaurus.  We know that Schleich will introduce more models in the near future but for the time being, we will conclude this brief overview of new prehistoric animal models by commenting on the Schleich Psittacosaurus.

The Schleich Psittacosaurus (2018)

Schleich Psittacosaurus (2018).

New for 2018, the Schleich Psittacosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This model shows lots of detail and the skull with its prominent jugals (bony projections) deserves praise.  The painting around the open mouth is particularly well done and it is good to see that Psittacosaurus has been given a set of bristles at the end of its tail, as the fossil record suggests.  The bright green colouration contrasts nicely with the muted, pale undertones of the belly, thus emphasising the idea (as supported by a recent scientific paper), that these types of dinosaurs were countershaded.

To read an article about countershading in Psittacosaurus:Calculating the Colour of Psittacosaurus

All in all, it is a big Iguanodon’s thumb up from Everything Dinosaur for these new Schleich replicas.  We also look forward to commenting on the new for 2018 Tawa (T. hallae) figure when it arrives at our warehouse.

7 01, 2018

Triassic Inspired Prehistoric Animal Diorama

By | January 7th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Triassic Prehistoric Animal Landscape

Our thanks to dinosaur fan and model maker Robert Townsend who has sent in to Everything Dinosaur some pictures of his Triassic inspired prehistoric landscape.  Robert has constructed a large diorama complete with prehistoric vegetation, a waterhole and dinosaur footprints in the substrate.  In the latest set of photographs emailed to Everything Dinosaur, the prehistoric landscape has been populated with a range of prehistoric animal models that represent extinct creatures from the Triassic.

The Triassic Inspired Prehistoric Animal Diorama

A Triassic montage.

The Triassic landscape by Robert Townsend.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

A Terrific Triassic Landscape

The Triassic represents a transitional period in terrestrial faunas associated with the single, giant landmass Pangaea.  A number of reptile families died out towards the end of the Triassic and the Dinosauria emerged as the dominant terrestrial fauna.  Robert’s diorama includes a number of dinosaurs, such as the recently introduced Wild Safari Prehistoric World Coelophysis model and other Theropods such as the larger Liliensternus (CollectA).

A Coelophysis Inspects a Hatching Dinosaur

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Coelophysis model.

A Coelophysis mother and hatching egg.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Coelophysis (C. bauri) is known from the famous Ghost Ranch area of New Mexico, from exposures that represent part of the Petrified Forest Member of the Chinle Formation.  More than 1,000 individual skeletons of this meat-eating dinosaur have been excavated and the palaeofauna of the Ghost Ranch location featured in the first episode of the iconic 1999 television series “Walking with Dinosaurs”.  The episode was entitled “New Blood” and highlighted the radiation of the dinosaurs.  Other prehistoric animals to feature in that episode, such as Postosuchus and Plateosaurus are also included in Robert’s excellent diorama.

A CollectA Plateosaurus is Threatened by a Liliensternus (CollectA)

A Liliensternus threatens the larger Plateosaurus.

The CollectA Liliensternus confronts the CollectA Plateosaurus.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Model maker Robert stated:

“I thought that you might like another selection of my latest prehistoric diorama pictures.  This time it’s from the Late Triassic of North America and Europe.  It is interesting to note that in the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic the continents of North America and Europe/Asia appear to have been so close together that there were plenty of land bridges to connect the two and that land animals could easily pass between them in either direction.”

A Postosuchus (left) Encounters the Extremely Long-necked Tanystropheus

Tanystropheus and Postosuchus at the waterhole.

A Postosuchus and a Tanystropheus at a Triassic waterhole.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

It is great to see that model producing companies are prepared to make models of early dinosaurs along with prehistoric animal figures that represent animals from the Triassic.

Our thanks to Robert for sending in these fascinating pictures of his Triassic inspired diorama.

6 01, 2018

JurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor “Rose”

By | January 6th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

A Review of the Rebor “Rose” Velociraptor Figure by JurassicCollectables

Those clever and talented people at JurassicCollectables have posted up another Rebor replica review.  The latest video features the Rebor Velociraptor named “Rose”, a representation of a female “raptor”, one of a pair of figures (one male, one female) introduced by Rebor last month.  These videos are a splendid way for dinosaur fans and model collectors to get a good look at any potential acquisition.  As well as showing the model, the narrator highlights key features and also compares the figure to other similar replicas, so collectors can gain an appreciation of its size and scale.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor Raptor “Rose”

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Rebor “Winston”, Rebor “Pete” and Rebor “Rose”

The narrator praises the figures calling them “lovely sculpts with lovely paint jobs”.  The Rebor female raptor “Rose” is compared with the recently reviewed Velociraptor “Pete” and a third Rebor Velociraptor replica “Winston”.  In the video, the skull shape and eyes of the Rebor “Winston” and the new “Rose” are carefully considered and the viewer is treated to a detailed inspection of the differences between the skulls and the eyes of these two models.

The female Velociraptor is depicted in a squatting position, as if the animal is resting and the points of articulation are discussed.  This Rebor replica has an articulated lower jaw as well as poseable forearms.  The exquisite colouration and details of the scales on the body are reviewed and commented upon.

The Rebor Velociraptor Figure “Rose”

Rebor "Rose" Velociraptor Model.

Rebor Velociraptor “Rose”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Pack of “Raptors”

In this carefully made video, JurassicCollectables have included a review of the packaging.  The back of the Rebor “Rose” box shows the range of Rebor Velociraptor figures in 1:18 scale that have been made so far.  With Rebor, dinosaur fans and model collectors have a wonderful opportunity to build their own pack of dromaeosaurids, very reminiscent of the Velociraptors seen in the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World film franchises.

It is good to see the various Rebor models and figures shown together.  Viewers can get an appreciation of potential dinosaur dioramas when the likes of Rebor “Winston” and the dynamic leaping Rebor “Spring heeled Jack” are included in the same video.  Rebor is certainly building a strong reputation for its 1:18 scale figures.

To view the range of Rebor models available from Everything Dinosaur including the difficult to obtain Rebor “Winston” and “Spring heeled Jack”: Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

In terms of new scale models, collectors are going to have to wait until April before there are more Rebor releases.  However, collectors and model fans have plenty to enjoy in the current range and these excellent video reviews by JurassicCollectables really show these figures in superb detail.  Look out for the cameo appearance of “off-colour Alan” towards the end of this fifteen-minute review.  He appears just after the “tale of the tape” when Rose is measured.  The narrator makes a very good point, the Rebor 1:18 scale raptor range works very well in terms of scale with the original Jurassic Park models and figures.

The Rebor Female Velociraptor Dinosaur Model – “Rose”

Rebor "Rose" a 1:18 scale Velociraptor figure.

The Rebor Velociraptor “Rose”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The narrator concludes the video by stating that for fans of the Velociraptors seen in films such as Jurassic Park III, the models from Rebor are a must-have for the collection.  We shall shortly post up details of the JurassicCollectables review of the partner model to accompany “Rose”, the male Velociraptor appropriately termed “Gunn”.

In the meantime, check out the amazing YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables, it is crammed full of beautiful video reviews and other fantastic material for the dinosaur model enthusiast.

JurassicCollectables: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube.

2 01, 2018

Palaeontology Predictions for 2017 – How did we do?

By | January 2nd, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Palaeontology Predictions for 2017 – How did we do?

Back in early January 2017, Everything Dinosaur team members had a go at predicting the news stories that our blog site would cover in the next twelve months or so.  After our crystal ball gazing we made a total of seven predictions:

1).  A New Epoch – Arise the Anthropocene!

2).  More Mini Dinos – The “Microsaurs” are Coming!

3).  “Enormosaurus” to Get a Formal Scientific Name

4).  The Impact of the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition in the UK

5).  Everything Dinosaur’s New Website

6).  Fossil Sites and Vandalism

7).  Dinosaur Fossilised Eggs Discovery

Arise the Anthropocene!

The impact of our own species on the planet was never far from the news channels last year, a trend that will be continued long into the future.  In the early 2017 blog article, we specifically highlighted the problem of non-biodegradable plastics and their impact on the ecology of the ocean.  This huge problem was brought into sharp focus with the excellent “Blue Planet II” television series broadcast by the BBC.

The Impact of Plastics in our Oceans was Highlighted in Early 2017 by Everything Dinosaur

Plastic pollution, the impact of mankind on the environment

Non-biodegradable plastics and other debris on a beach.

As yet, the Anthropocene has not been formally adopted as a distinct unit of geological time.  The body tasked with defining the start of this new Epoch and also defining the end of the current Epoch (the Holocene), the Anthropocene Working Group, has not reported back to the International Commission on Stratigraphy.  The idea to mark the impact on the environment by our own species, with the establishment of a new unit of geological time has been accepted, it is now a case of agreeing when in history our influence started to become profound.

Mini Dinosaur Discoveries

With the Dinosauria, it is often the big fossil specimens that grab the headlines. Everything Dinosaur predicted that a number of new species of small Theropod dinosaur would be named and described.  Sure enough, a number of “little critters” had scientific papers written about them, for example, in March, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced the discovery of a new species of Early Cretaceous dromaeosaurid.  Zhongjianosaurus yangi was about eighty centimetres long (most of that was tail), it has been described as “Microraptor on stilts”.

Newly Described Chinese Dinosaur Z. yangi

The holotype fossil material of Zhongjianosaurus yangi.

The holotype of Zhongjianosaurus yangi.   A new “Microsaur” described in 2017.

Picture Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

“Enormosaurus” Gets Formal Scientific Name

The huge Titanosaur dubbed “Enormosaurus”, which had been featured in the television documentary “Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur” was finally named and described, just as we predicted.  A scientific paper published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biology)” in August announced Patagotitan mayorum to the world.  Attenborough’s giant, sixty-nine tonne dinosaur finally had a scientific name.

An Illustration Showing the Size of Patagotitan mayorum

Patagotitan size comparison.

Patagotitan mayorum size comparison with an adult African elephant and a human for scale.

Picture Credit: G. Lio/Everything Dinosaur

To read the article about the naming of P. mayorumGiant Dinosaur Gets a Name

The Dinosaurs of China Exhibition Proves to be a Big Hit

In the summer and autumn of 2017, visitors to Nottingham were given the opportunity to view some amazing Chinese dinosaur fossils close up.  The “Ground Shakers to Feathered Flyers” exhibition show-cased some of the astonishing dinosaurs from north-eastern China that demonstrate the evolutionary link between Theropod dinosaurs and birds.  As we predicted, the exhibition proved to be a big commercial success with hundreds of thousands of visitors “flocking” to the East Midlands.

A Huge Gigantoraptor Towers Over the Exhibition

Dinosaurs of China 2017.

Giant dinosaurs featured in the exhibition.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur is already working on a number of dinosaur, monster and prehistoric animal themed events for 2018…

The New Everything Dinosaur Website

Just as we said, our new website went live in the early Spring of 2018.  It is mobile device friendly, has lots more interactivity and permits us to make purchasing dinosaur toys and models so much easier than ever before.  Tens of thousands of orders processed and FEEFO 5-star ratings across the board provide testimony with regards to the site’s success.

Visit Everything Dinosaur: Everything Dinosaur

Fossil Sites and Vandalism

Sadly, our prediction about more deliberate damage to fossil sites came true, all too frequently.  Over the course of the last twelve months we have reported upon the apprehension of a Chinese dinosaur egg fossil thief (March 2017) and last month, we reported the sad news that a three-toed dinosaur foot print fossil in Australia had been deliberately vandalised.

To read the story: Dinosaur Footprint Vandalised

Dinosaur Fossil Eggs

For such a geographically widespread group, with a huge temporal range, dinosaur eggs are relatively rare.  However, our last prediction concerned the discovery of dinosaur fossil eggs and sure enough, on December 25th (blogged about on December 27th), we picked up reports that Chinese construction workers had discovered more than twenty dinosaur egg fossils during the construction of a school in Jiangxi Province (south-eastern China).

Dinosaur Egg Fossil Discovery

Chinese dinosaur egg fossils.

Local scientists examine the dinosaur egg fossils.

Picture Credit: Ming Kangping/China News Service

We wonder what amazing dinosaur news stories and fossil discoveries we will cover in this blog over the next twelve months or so…

31 12, 2017

Gigantism in Penguins

By | December 31st, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Giant Prehistoric Penguins Not Just Once But Several Times

A team of scientists writing in the academic journal “Nature Communications” have identified a new species of giant, prehistoric penguin.  This new species, named Kumimanu biceae is not closely related to previously described giant penguins and this suggests that gigantism in penguins evolved several times in the evolution of these birds.  K. biceae was described based on a partial skeleton excavated from the Palaeocene Moeraki Formation at Hampden Beach in the Otago region in New Zealand’s South Island.  An accurate size is difficult to establish based on the fragmentary fossil remains, but when swimming with its long beak and flippers extended, this bird could have measured more than two metres in length.  When on the shore, it would have stood around 1.7 metres tall.   The new fossil is one of the oldest giant penguins found so far and is clearly outside a clade including the giant Eocene and Oligocene Sphenisciformes, substantiating multiple origins of gigantism in fossil penguins.

Kumimanu biceae Size Comparison

Kumimanu biceae size comparison.

Kumimanu biceae stood around 1.7 metres tall and weighed over 100 kilos.

Fragmentary Fossil Material

The partial skeleton represents a single individual and the fossil material consists of a fragment of a left scapula, an incomplete right coracoid, a portion of the sternum, a partial left humerus, incomplete proximal end of left ulna, a right femur, a right tibiotarsus lacking proximal end, a partial synsacrum, three vertebrae and various bone fragments. The giant penguin’s name comes from Maori myth, kumi was a large, mythical monster and manu means bird.  The species or trivial epithet honours Beatrice (Bice) A. Tennyson, the mother of one of the paper’s authors, Alan Tennyson of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.  It was Alan’s mother who first inspired  him to take an interest in natural history.  The fossil material is believed to be somewhere between 59.5 and 55.5 million years old.

Comparing Kumimanu biceae with other penguins.

Kumimanu biceae fossils compared to other penguins.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

The picture above shows the wing and pectoral girdle bones of the new giant penguin.  (a) shows the partially prepared concretion with bones in situ, whilst (b) shows the partial right coracoid, the dotted lines indicate the reconstructed outline of the bone.  The left coracoid of the prehistoric penguin species Waimanu tuatahi (c) is shown for a size comparison.  Pictures (d-f) show the fragmentary end of the left ulna of K. biceae in various views, whilst pictures (g-h) depict a left ulna of an as yet, undescribed new species of penguin from the Waipara Greensand.  A CT image of the surface of the partial left humerus of K. biceae is shown in (i) whilst (j) shows the exposed surface of the bone.  Pictures (k-l) show the humerus with minimum (k) and maximum (l) size estimates for the bone based on the partial fossil material.  The left humerus of the Palaeocene penguin Crossvallia unienwillia is shown (m).  C. unienwillia was one of the largest known prehistoric penguins.  The left humerus of another giant penguin, Pachydyptes ponderous from the late Eocene of New Zealand (n) is provided for further comparison.  The scale bars in the picture above equate to 5 cm.

The research team conclude that based on the fragmentary fossils, Kumimanu biceae is amongst the largest of the fossil penguins reported so far and since it seems more basal to the family than other giant forms, this suggests that gigantism evolved several times over the long history of penguin evolution.

30 12, 2017

Favourite Blog Articles of 2017

By | December 30th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Favourite Blog Articles of 2017

As the year draws to a close, it is time to reflect on some of the blog articles that we have produced over the last twelve months or so.  It has certainly been an amazing year for palaeontology with lots of new fossil discoveries and some fascinating new insights into previously described species.  With over 300 articles to choose from on this blog, here is the list of our favourites produced in 2017.

Dinosaur Collagen Confirmed

Back in January, we reported on the remarkable duplication of a famous dinosaur study first undertaken in 2009, when dinosaur collagen was found within fossil bone.  A team of researchers from North Carolina State University, North-western University and the University of Texas – Austin, were able to repeat the experiment and retrieve collagen peptides from an 80-million-year-old dinosaur femur.

To read the full article: Researchers Confirm Dinosaur Collagen

In 2018, we can expect the next instalment of the “Jurassic Park/Jurassic World” to arrive in cinemas, even with this research, we are a long way from resurrecting dinosaurs.

Monster Worms

Everything Dinosaur’s report on the discovery of a giant worm in Devonian sediments in late February caused one or two shivers amongst our readers.  It seems that the vertebrates had a rival for dominant, apex predator in marine environments.  Step forward Websteroprion armstrongi, with its vicious jaws.

Giant Predatory Worm of the Devonian

A monster worm from the Devonian.

Websteroprion attacking a Devonian fish.

Picture Credit: James Ormiston

Biggest Dinosaur Footprint?

The Dampier peninsula of Western Australia hit the headlines this year, with a scientific paper published that attempted to map the extensive dinosaur tracks and footprints, representing a rare insight into the fauna of Early Cretaceous Australia.  Amongst the tracks studied, were a series of giant footprints, some of which measure more than 1.7 metres long.  These tracks were dubbed the “Biggest dinosaur footprints in the world”

One of the Huge Sauropod Prints

Broome sandstone giant Sauropod print.

Richard Hunter provides the scale next to the giant Sauropod print. Scale depiction of dinosaur provided below.

Picture Credit: Queensland University

Elk Hunter Stumbles Across Elasmosaur

Hunter David Bradt won’t forget on Elk hunting trip that he undertook.  Whilst hunting in Montana’s Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge,  he stumbled across some large fossil bones in a stream bed.  He thought that he had found a dinosaur but no, had uncovered the fossilised remains of a new species of short-necked Elasmosaur from the Western Interior Seaway.  The marine reptile was named Nakonanectes bradti in April 2017.

David Bradt Poses with his Unusual Find

David Bradt with his fossil find.

Hunter David Bradt photographed in the stream bed with the fossils.

Picture Credit: David Bradt

Shingopana songwensis

There were several newly described dinosaurs in 2017 too.  Lots of different types.  For example, in August Everything Dinosaur reported on the naming of a new Cretaceous Sauropod from Tanzania.  This fossil discovery helps to open up a new area of research into Titanosaur diversity in the southern hemisphere during the Cretaceous.

Shingopana songwensis Illustrated

Shingopana illustration.

An illustration of Shingopana songwensis.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

Purbeck Fossil Discoveries

Nearer to home, the Dorset coast also sprang a few fossil surprises student Grant Smith found two fossil teeth in Early Cretaceous sediments on the “Jurassic Coast” that proved the presence of placental mammals in this location.  It was amazing to think that the Dorset coast, one of the most explored and research palaeoenvironments in the world, could still hold some surprises and well-done to the relatively inexperienced undergraduate student for making such an incredible discovery.  The new placentals were named Durlstodon and Durlstotherium.

It of course, gives us another opportunity to post up some of Mark Witton’s beautiful artwork.

A Purbeck Lagoon (Early Cretaceous)

Purbeck (Dorset) 145 million years ago.

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

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

These are just some of our favourite blog articles of 2017, we look forward to all the exciting discoveries and fossil finds we will report on in 2018.

 

29 12, 2017

Television Documentary Gives T. rex a Makeover

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

T. rex Gets a New Look for a Television Documentary

The most iconic vertebrate in the fossil record, Tyrannosaurus rex has been given a makeover as part of a new television documentary programme due to be shown on the BBC.  The hour-long documentary entitled “The Real T. rex with Chris Packham” is due to be shown on BBC Two on Tuesday, 2nd of January.  According to the latest scientific research, this formidable Late Cretaceous predator may have looked very different from the way it is usually depicted in books, television programmes and on the big screen.

An Illustration of Tyrannosaurus rex (2018)

A fuzzy T. rex with orange eye-markings and bristles.

A new illustration of T. rex (2018).

Everything Dinosaur team members have known about the television documentary for several months, the aim of this programme is to update what T. rex might have looked like based on the very latest palaeontology, including studies of other feathered Theropods and the publishing of a scientific paper on the skin of Tyrannosaurus rex.

To read about the forthcoming documentary: Rediscovering T. rex Television Documentary

Confirmation of broadcast timings in the UK: New Time for Tyrannosaurus rex Documentary

Covered in Bristles with a Markings Around the Eyes

The Tyrannosaurus rex makeover will not hold many surprises for dinosaur fans.  Most of the information the programme divulges is not new, but for those viewers who think that the solitary, scaly hunter with a huge roar as in “Jurassic World”, is an accurate depiction, they are in for quite a shock.

A New Look for T. rex

T. rex makeover (2018).

A new look for Tyrannosaurus rex (2018).

This iconic dinosaur from the Hell Creek Formation of North America is depicted as having a sparse covering of bristle-like feathers, a scaly skin covered in dark blotches and brightly coloured, orange flashes directly above the eyes.  Instead of a terrifying roar, this dinosaur was capable of producing a limited range of vocalisations, roaring is out, replaced by a virtually, inaudible low-frequency rumble, reminiscent of an elephant.

Over the course of the programme, presenter Chris Packham discusses with various experts what T. rex probably looked like and how it might have behaved based on the latest fossil evidence.  It is not that surprising, but the consensus of opinion is that Tyrannosaurus rex had more in common with birds than it does with today’s crocodiles.  Not an astounding revelation given that T. rex was a lot more closely related to birds than to crocodilians.

Covered in Dark Blotches

In the segment featuring Professor Julia Clarke (University of Texas), the skin colouration of this seven-tonne giant is discussed.  Professor Clarke postulates that this animal was covered in dark patches.  An analysis of fossilised dinosaur skin has identified structures similar to those that produce the natural pigment melanin.  This suggests that T. rex could have been dark coloured and blotchy, perhaps to help break up its outline in dappled light, in a similar vein to the markings on some World War II battleships.  The colouration of this dinosaur remains controversial, as the tendency to find structures that resemble melanin might reflect a bias in the fossilisation process.

The absence of a total body covering of feathers in an adult animal is explained by the concept of the rate of heat loss based on the ratio between surface area and volume.  A large animal in excess of thirteen metres long, such as Tyrannosaurus rex would have had a large volume compared to its surface area.  It would have lost heat to its surroundings more slowly than smaller animals.  Over-heating for an active predator could have been more of a problem rather than trying to keep warm, especially if T. rex was endothermic (warm-blooded).  Hence, the lack of feathers on the body, a few stiff bristles and some tufts rather than a thick, shaggy coat.  Younger animals with a larger surface areas compared to their volume, such as the sub-adult “Tristan” Tyrannosaur that features in the programme, may have had a more substantial coat helping to insulate the animal.

The idea of a sparsely feathered T. rex has already been explored by model manufacturer CollectA.  In 2018, they will be introducing a 1:40 scale replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex with fewer feathers than their current feathered T. rex model.  In a direct comparison with modern flightless birds such as the Cassowary, the television documentary suggests that this dinosaur may have retained “a light patching of feathery bristles strategically placed for social display”.

Less Feathers on the New for 2018 CollectA T. rex Replica

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale roaring T. rex.

CollectA roaring feathered T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Distinctive Markings Like a Bird of Prey

Detailed scans of the fossil bones suggest that these dinosaurs might have fought with each other, perhaps over food, mates or even to decide hierarchies within packs or family groups.  The bright orange crests over the eyes also portray T. rex with more affinities to the Aves.  Birds have colour vision and rely on colour for visual displays.  The scientists argue that the thickened ridges found on the skulls of adult animals may represent the remains of crests or prominent lumps that were very colourful and used to show maturity, dominance and perhaps played a role in ritual displays.

Chris Packham Comes Face to Face with the New T. rex

Chris Packham and the new T. rex.

Presenter Chris Packham comes face to face with T. rex.

Picture Credit: BBC Media

To read an article on the study of the skin of T. rexT. rex Sheds Its Feathers

28 12, 2017

Attenborough and the Sea Dragon

By | December 28th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Television Documentary on Ichthyosaurs Scheduled for BBC One

A television documentary exploring the life of a remarkable Ichthyosaur is due to be shown on BBC 1 on the evening of Sunday 7th January.  Entitled “Attenborough and the Sea Dragon”, this hour-long programme follows the excavation of an Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur fossil on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.  Sir David Attenborough, a keen fossil hunter himself, joins a team of experts as they attempt to excavate the fossilised remains and piece together the life story of an ancient sea monster.

A Computer-Generated Image of an Ichthyosaur

A monster of the deep - Ichthyosaurus.

A computer generated image of an Ichthyosaur.

Picture Credit: BBC Media

A Giant Sea Dragon

The fossilised remains, believed to represent the largest Ichthyosaur known from the British Isles, were discovered by Dorset fossil hunter Chris Moore in 2016.  The documentary programme will include a segment in which the fossil bones are scanned and a replica skeleton of the 200 million-year-old “fish lizard” is created.  By examining the bones, the team hope to bring this prehistoric sea creature’s story to life.

Fossil Hunter Chris Moore with Some Blocks of the Ichthyosaur Material

Dorset Fossil Hunter Chris Moore.

Chris Moore with some of the blocks containing the Ichthyosaur fossils.

Picture Credit: Richard Austin

Chris spotted the fossil material eroding out of a high cliff and the material had to be removed before the winter storms hit, otherwise the rare fossils would have been lost forever.

The extraordinary fossil includes skin impressions, this leads to new revelations about how these predators might have looked.   As the story unfolds, Sir David compares the sea dragon to animals alive today, including dolphins, sharks, crocodiles and turtles.

A 200 Million-Year-Old Murder Mystery

As more of the fossil bones are revealed the scientists make a startling discovery.  This Ichthyosaur did not die of natural causes, it was attacked, but what fearsome beast could have killed this giant?  Using techniques more at home in a police forensics laboratory than a paleo-preparation lab, the team piece together evidence that points the figure of suspicion at another huge Ichthyosaur – a seven-metre-long monster called Temnodontosaurus.

A Replica of a Temnodontosaurus (T. platydon) A Giant, Viviparous Ichthyosaur

CollectA Temnodontosaurus platyodon model.

Detailed Ichthyosaur figure. Temnodontosaurus platyodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Using state of the art imaging technology and cutting-edge CGI the team build the skeleton and create the most detailed animation of an Ichthyosaur ever made, bringing this Lyme Regis discovery to life as well as reconstructing its fate.

Programme Details

The one-hour television documentary is confirmed for BBC One on Sunday 7th January 8pm to 9pm.

It’s going to be well-worth watching.

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