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22 06, 2017

Baru – New Information on Australia’s Ancient “Super Croc”

By | June 22nd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

New Specimens of Extinct Crocodylian Baru Described

Australia might be home to some very unusual flora and fauna, but ever since the break-up of the ancient super-continent of Gondwana and the resulting separation of Australia from Antarctica during the Late Cretaceous, this substantial landmass has been isolated.  This isolation has enabled the development of unique ecosystems, many of which included super-sized animals much larger than those found in Australia today.

A paper published in the on-line open access journal PeerJ provides new information on one such ancient Australian resident, a genus of broad-snouted crocodile that probably specialised in ambushing large vertebrates, a formidable predator of prehistoric Australia.  The scientific paper describes new specimens of an extinct crocodylian genus Baru.  One species, Baru wickeni was previously only known from fossil material collected from the famous Riversleigh World Heritage area in Queensland.  However, the paper describes new B. wickeni fossil discoveries from a site approximately twenty-five miles south of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.  Thus, the known range for Baru wickeni has been extended.

A Reconstruction of the Large Prehistoric Crocodile Baru wickeni

The ancient Australian crocodile Baru wickeni

A life reconstruction of the broad-snouted ancient crocodylian Baru wickeni.

Picture Credit: Paul Willis

In addition, the paper documents the species of another member of the Baru genus – Baru darrowi.  B. darrowi was previously only known from the Bullock Creek site in the Northern Territory, but fossils of this reptile have also been found in the Riversleigh World Heritage area.  Thus, the range of this species has been extended too.

Baru- Formidable Ancient Aussie Croc

Crocodiles assigned to the Baru genus were formidable, large predators equivalent in length to a fully-grown, extant Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).  The skull was much more robust, the snout was broader and the head was deeper.  Furthermore, the teeth were proportionately bigger and the jaws were powered by particularly massive muscles.  Today’s “Salties” are extremely dangerous and they do attack large vertebrates including people when the opportunity arises, but mostly these crocodiles, the largest living reptiles, subsist on prey much smaller than themselves such as fish and turtles.

The skull and jaw adaptations of Baru indicate that this crocodylian was specialised towards subsisting on large vertebrate prey (animals of similar size to itself), ambushing its victims close to water sources.  In outward appearance Baru would have resembled a modern crocodile, but the deeper head and alligator-like overbite would have been more pronounced.

The Significance of the Scientific Paper

Author, Adam Yates, (Senior Curator of Earth Sciences at the Museum of Central Australia, part of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory), has established that these two species (B. wickeni and B. darrowi) had much wider geographic ranges that in all likelihood encompassed the northern third to half of the continent.  These two species, however, did not compete with each other, as they were separated in geological time.  Baru wickeni lived earlier, its fossils date from the Late Oligocene Epoch (about 25 million years ago).  In contrast, Baru darrowi lived more recently, its remains are associated with Middle Miocene Epoch deposits (approximately 13 million years old).

A Skull of Baru wickeni from the Riversleigh World Heritage Site (Queensland)

B. wickeni skull.

A skull of the prehistoric crocodile Baru wickeni.

Picture Credit: Adam Yates

The picture (above) shows a new skull (dorsal view) of B. wickeni excavated from Riversleigh World Heritage area deposits.  This skull represents the most complete skull of any Baru species described to date, full details can be found in the scientific paper: PeerJ Paper

Helping to Map the Timespan of Australia’s Cenozoic Terrestrial Vertebrate Fossil Sites

The Cenozoic vertebrate fossil assemblages of Australia have proved troublesome to date accurately due to the vast distances evolved between sites and their temporal isolation.  As these species of crocodiles have broad geographical ranges but relatively constrained chronological timespans, these fossils may be helpful when it comes to determining the age of some vertebrate fossil sites in Australia where there is no radiometrically dateable material and no associated mammal fossils that would normally assist with relative dating.

Another interesting implication from this paper is the presence of Baru wickeni from south of Alice Springs in what was then (and still is now) part of the Lake Eyre drainage system.  Previously Baru was known only from coastally draining marginal areas of northern Australia, while rocks of the same age in the Lake Eyre Basin of South Australia produced a distinctly different type of extinct crocodile called Australosuchus.  It was therefore suggested that Australosuchus was a denizen of the internally draining rivers of central Australia while Baru lurked in the northern fringes in rivers that drained to the north coast.  The presence of Baru wickeni south of Alice Springs, in what is part of the Lake Eyre Basin, disproves this hypothesis.  Instead the pattern may be the result of palaeolatitude, and consequently climate, with Australosuchus potentially being more tolerant of cooler conditions and subsequently occupying the cool south and Baru in the warmer northern part of the continent.

The scientific paper: “The biochronology and palaeobiogeography of Baru (Crocodylia: Mekosuchinae) based on new specimens from the Northern Territory and Queensland, Australia” by Adam Yates, published in PeerJ.

Our thanks to Adam Yates and the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory for the compilation of this article.

19 06, 2017

Volcanic Eruptions Heralded Dawn of the Dinosaurs

By | June 19th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

End-Triassic Mass Extinction Triggered by Volcanic Activity

The demise of the dinosaurs some sixty-six million years ago has been well documented.  This mass extinction event and its impact on the Dinosauria has been seared into the public’s consciousness with all the intensity of an asteroid impact, however, the domination of terrestrial ecosystems by dinosaurs may have been assisted by a period of intense, global volcanic activity some two hundred million years ago.

Much of the Diverse Terrestrial Fauna of the Late Triassic Died Out

The diverse fauna of Triassic Argentina.

Diverse fauna of north-western Argentina in the Triassic.

Picture Credit: Victor Leshyk

A team of researchers based at British universities have found that huge pulses of volcanic activity are likely to have played a major role in triggering the end-Triassic mass extinction event.  The early dinosaurs survived and with a lot of the competition removed, the scene was set for the domination of life on land by this Order of reptiles.

Scientists from the University of Exeter in collaboration with colleagues from Southampton University and the Department of Earth Science at the University of Oxford have published a paper that looks at the world-wide impact of immense gas emissions as a result of volcanism and their link to the end-Triassic extinction event.

Life on Earth at the End of the Triassic

Some fifty million years or so, after the “Great Dying” – the end-Permian extinction event that saw the demise of some 95% of all life on our planet, the end-Triassic extinction event led to wholesale changes in global ecosystems.  Numerous food webs on land and in the sea collapsed and many different types of animals and plants were affected.

The Landscape of the Triassic

Triassic landscape.

Ecosystems that had recovered from the end-Permian extinction event were to be devastated once again at the end of the Triassic.

Major Casualties of the end-Triassic Extinction Event

  • Marine molluscs (especially gastropods and cephalopods)
  • Brachiopods
  • Bivalves
  • Marine sponges
  • Conodonts
  • Marine vertebrates – fish and many types of marine reptiles (a number of Ichthyosaur genera along with the extinction of the Placodonts and the Nothosauroidea)
  • Several families of Archosaurs along with mammal-like reptiles and numerous types of amphibians
  • Large numbers of plants especially within the Lycopodiopsida (club mosses) and the Sphenopsida (horse tails)

Writing in the academic journal “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America”, the researchers conclude that huge volumes of volcanic gas had a dramatic effect on life on Earth and slowed the recovery of ecosystems afterwards.

A Large and Abrupt Release of Carbon Dioxide

Following the discovery of volcanic rocks of approximately the same age as the extinction event, huge amounts of volcanic carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted into the atmosphere had previously been suggested as an important contributor to this mass extinction event.  Previous studies had also shown that this intense volcanism might have occurred in phases, over tens of thousands of years, but the global extent and potential impact of these volcanic episodes had remained unknown.  Extensive areas of flood basalt, a consequence of the volcanic activity, built up across much of the super-continent of Pangaea, these basalts are now found on four continents, a consequence of plate tectonics and the break-up of Pangaea.  These deposits are known as the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP).

By studying the level of mercury found within sedimentary rocks formed during the extinction phase, the scientists were able to reveal clear links in the timing of the CAMP formation and the end-Triassic extinction.  The intense volcanic activity released mercury into the environment, which spread across the planet, before being locked away in sediments.  Any rocks formed during extensive volcanism would therefore have a higher than normal mercury content.

The research team studied sedimentary deposits from six locations (Austria, Argentina, Canada, Greenland, Morocco and the UK).  The levels of mercury were analysed and five of the six records showed a sizeable increase in the mercury content at the beginning of the end-Triassic extinction horizon.  Other peaks were observed between the start of the extinction event and the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, which occurred around 200,000 years later.

The Researchers Studied Sedimentary Deposits from Morocco

Late Triassic sediments (Morocco).

Late Triassic sediments (Morocco) were part of the mercury study.

Picture Credit: Jessica Whiteside

The higher levels of mercury coincided with previously established increases in atmospheric CO2 levels.  The volcanism would have produced vast amounts of carbon dioxide that would have affected the gaseous content of the atmosphere and led to periods of global warming.

One of the authors of the scientific paper, geologist Professor Stephen Hesselbo (Camborne School of Mines at Exeter University) commented:

“This volcanic activity is strongly believed to have led to one of the largest extinction events in the Earth’s history which, in turn, paved the way for the era of the dinosaurs.  By studying the sediment deposits in Europe, South America, North America and Africa, we have been able to show a large increase in levels of mercury, which shows a clear link between this volcanic activity – specifically from very large lava flows – and the mass extinction in the era.  It’s a fascinating discovery that paves the way to enhance our understanding of this and other significant climate change events.”

In a press release, lead author Lawrence Percival, a geochemistry graduate student at Oxford University stated:

“These results strongly support repeated episodes of volcanic activity at the end of the Triassic, with the onset of volcanism during the end-Triassic extinction.  This research greatly strengthens the link between the Triassic mass extinction and volcanic emissions of CO2.  This, further evidence of episodic emissions of volcanic CO2 as the likely driver of the extinction, enhances our understanding of this event, and potentially of other climate change episodes in Earth’s history.”

To read a related article on the rise of the Dinosauria: Extreme Equatorial Climates Slowed the Rise of the Dinosaurs

18 06, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Continues to Top Feedback Charts

By | June 18th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Highly Rated on FEEFO

Customers of Everything Dinosaur, the UK-based dinosaur company staffed by real dinosaur experts continue to rate the company’s products and customer service extremely highly.  The latest set of independent reviews published by FEEFO gives Everything Dinosaur a 4.9 rating out of 5 for customer service.

Everything Dinosaur Customer Service Rating by FEEFO (4.9 out of 5)

Everything Dinosaur rated very highly by FEEFO.

FEEFO customer service rating 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/FEEFO

To read all the FEEFO published reviews about Everything Dinosaur: Everything Dinosaur on FEEFO

Everything Dinosaur has a customer service rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars and a product rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, that’s a 98% customer service rating and a 96% product rating respectively, very high marks indeed.

Everything Dinosaur Continues to Perform Exceptionally Well

Everything Dinosaur FEEFO rating.

Everything Dinosaur FEEFO ratings (mid June 2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/FEEFO

What is FEEFO?

FEEFO is an organisation that collects independent, verified reviews from customers.  These represent genuine feedback about Everything Dinosaur’s customer service and the products that it supplies on the company’s website: Everything Dinosaur’s Website.  Founded in 2010, FEEFO now provides rating information on over 2,500 organisations and on-line shoppers can rely on FEEFO for their transparency and honest feedback concerning a company.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

 “We are grateful for all the feedback we get from our customers.  The FEEFO ratings provide visitors to our website with independent, impartial feedback about Everything Dinosaur’s products and the way in which we look after our customers.  Such feedback, reviews and comments can give site visitors confidence that when they make a purchase at Everything Dinosaur, no matter where they are in the world, they can be confident that they are dealing with a highly respected organisation and brand.”

The FEEFO feedback module was added to Everything Dinosaur, when the new, revised and updated website was launched back in February (2017).  In the eighteen weeks or so since the new website went live, the company has received over 132 customer reviews and 243 product reviews, of which only 4 reviews give products three-stars, the rest, (over 98%), are either five-star or four-star product ratings.

In addition, Everything Dinosaur has now logged 1,629 product reviews on its own website product pages.

Shopping for Dinosaur Models and Prehistoric Animal Toys

So, when shopping for dinosaur models and prehistoric animal toys, Everything Dinosaur would be a very good place to start!  Several hundred independent product and customer reviews suggest that Everything Dinosaur is very reliable, good to do business with and offers excellent products.

Everything Dinosaur would like to express its gratitude to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback about our business.

Thank you.

17 06, 2017

Theropod Tracks and Ornithopod Tracks

By | June 17th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Distinguishing Theropod tracks from Ornithopod Tracks

Recently, Everything Dinosaur posted an article about a new study of the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument (Queensland, Australia), in which a three-dimensional Australovenator foot was used to assess what type of dinosaur was responsible for producing a set of eleven, large, three-toed footprints.  In this innovative research, conducted by scientists from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History and the University of Newcastle (New South Wales), it was concluded that the tracks could have been made by a meat-eating dinosaur.  Previous research had challenged the interpretation that the trace fossil site preserves evidence of a dinosaur stampede as a substantial group of smaller plant-eating dinosaurs evaded an attack from a big Theropod.

Other interpretations of the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument have suggested that the hundreds of tracks preserved at this location, some seventy miles south of the town of Winton in Queensland, do not represent evidence of a large, meat-eating dinosaur attacking a flock of smaller dinosaurs.  Some scientists have contradicted this analysis and proposed that the bigger, tridactyl tracks were made by a big Ornithopod, a herbivorous dinosaur, something like a Muttaburrasaurus.

Could the Larger Tracks at the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument have been made by a Herbivore?

Lark Quarry Ornithopod

The plant-eater wandering across the Lark Quarry environment

Picture Credit: Anthony Romilio, The University of Queensland

The Confusion Between Bipedal Plant-eaters and Bipedal Meat-eaters

Having published our article, we were then emailed and asked to explain how it was possible to confuse the footprints of a large bipedal, herbivorous dinosaur with those of an equally sized carnivorous dinosaur.  So, here are some pointers about the differences between the types of tracks, plus an explanation as to why it can be so hard to pin down which type of bipedal dinosaur left prints and tracks.

For those scientists that study dinosaur footprints, being able to distinguish the prints from a meat-eating Theropod from those of a large, herbivorous Ornithopod is a challenging task.  If the prints are ideally preserved with lots of detail, identification can be relatively straight-forward, if the body fossils of a dinosaur could be found close by, then there would be further evidence to support a diagnosis, but sadly, discovering exquisitely preserved dinosaur tracks – these are very rare events indeed!

An Exquisitely Preserved Dinosaur Track Assigned to the Ichnogenus Eubrontes

A three-toed dinosaur footprint from India.

The tridactyl print can be clearly made out, it has been assigned to the ichnogenus Eubrontes.

An Identification Guide

The track made by a Theropod dinosaur (the pes of a meat-eating dinosaur), if perfectly preserved, should show sizeable claw marks on the end of the toes.  The toes themselves should look quite slender and in general terms the print should look longer than it is wide.  The length of the foot when compared to the width should give the track a characteristic “v shape”.

The well-preserved track of a large Ornithopod, a plant-eater should lack distinctive claw marks.  The ends of the toes should be more blunt and rounded in appearance.  The toes tend to be quite wide and the foot proportions are different.  For example, the foot may be much wider.  The wider pes as a proportion of overall foot length gives the track a “u shape”.

Ornithopod versus Theropod Footprint – Identification Guide

Comparing different types of dinosaur footprint.

Theropod print compared to an Ornithopod print.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Identifying the Dinosaur from the Footprint – Problems

The fact that something so ephemeral as a single track or a trackway can survive for millions of years is remarkable.  However, over time these trace fossils can become distorted making identification extremely difficult.  Features, once very striking are easily masked by the effect of weathering and erosion.  Any repairs undertaken or attempts to preserve the prints could also lead to the loss of definition, causing further problems when it comes to making an assessment as to what type of animal produced the tracks.  Unauthorised attempts to make casts could also result in considerable damage to the track(s) thus further hampering identification.

It does not matter, whether the track represents a natural cast (created by sediments filling in a track), or whether it is a true track (the impression preserved in the ground made by the foot itself), determining what type of creature made the prints is an extremely difficult process.  Some of the most difficult tracks to interpret of all are undertracks.  An undertrack is formed below the sediment as surface material is compressed downwards as the organism moved across the area.  These undertracks lack many types of marks made only at the surface, scratches, scuffs, clear claw impressions or any evidence of a tail drag.

The thousands of dinosaur tracks at the Lark Quarry site (Dinosaur Stampede National Monument), are truly a remarkable record of the behaviour and activity of a group of dinosaurs.  What exactly those tracks represent is open to different interpretations – but that’s science for you.

Further articles on the Lark Quarry dinosaur tracks:

Could Australovenator have made some of the tracks at Lark Quarry?: Lark Quarry Dinosaur Footprints – Scientists Re-examine the Evidence

Lark Quarry Tracks Re-examined: A New Interpretation of the Lark Quarry Fossils

16 06, 2017

Australovenator Steps into Lark Quarry Dinosaur Debate

By | June 16th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Scientists Reconstruct Dinosaur Foot to Help Interpret Tracksite

The famous dinosaur tracks at Lark Quarry, (Dinosaur Stampede National Monument), near the town of Winton (Queensland, Australia),  have been the subject of research for decades.  Unlike dinosaur bones and teeth that can be transported a huge distance from the place where the dinosaur died, footprints and tracks preserve evidence of activity and behaviour.  The majority of trace fossils provide direct, in situ evidence of the environment at the time and location where the animal was living.

Lark Quarry Dinosaur Tracks

Lark Quarry Dinosaur Tracks

Examples of Lark Quarry dinosaur footprints.

Picture Credit: Dr Steve Salisbury

Different Interpretations of the Dinosaur Tracks

At Everything Dinosaur, we think the first, formal attempt to interpret the numerous dinosaur tracks preserved in the finely grained sandstone at the Lark Quarry site took place in 1984.  Eleven, large, three-toed prints were interpreted as having been made by a big meat-eating dinosaur that had lunged at a flock of small Ornithopods that it had cornered.  The tracks were interpreted as a “dinosaur stampede” as the smaller plant-eating dinosaurs panicked and tried to avoid the jaws of a ten-metre-long Theropod.  The ichno genus (a name given to an animal known only from trace fossils), Tyrannosauropus was erected.  Over the years, a number of other interpretations have been put forward, including the hypothesis that the big tri-dactyl prints don’t represent a predator but were made by a large Ornithopod, something akin to a Muttaburrasaurus.  Other interpretations of this famous fossil site include that the tracks were made by dinosaurs as they swam and waded across a body of water.

Swimming Dinosaurs Hypothesis: Dinosaurs Not Stampeding but Swimming

No Tyrannosauropus at Lark Quarry After All: Lark Quarry Tracks Made by a Big Plant-Eating Dinosaur

Dinosaur Foot Reconstruction – A New Analysis of the Tracks

Distinguishing between the three-toed prints of meat-eating dinosaurs and those of similar sized plant-eaters, which also walked on three toes is a tricky business.  However, in an innovative piece of research, a team of scientists from from the University of Newcastle (New South Wales) and the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History in Winton, set about reconstructing the foot of an Australian Theropod dinosaur Australovenator wintonensis in a bid to reproduce the tracks in similar sediment, which could then be compared to the fossil trackway.

Reconstructing the Foot of Australovenator

Foot model helping to interpret Lark Quarry tracks.

Reconstructing the left foot of Australovenator.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

The picture above shows (A) calculating the claw length of Australovenator and (B-D) the four claws associated with the left foot of the dinosaur with reconstructed sheaths.  The bones of the foot have been reconstructed (F) and using Emu feet for an anatomical comparison, (G) shows the foot reconstructed with tendons added, whilst (H) is the skin covered biologically restored foot (left pes) of Australovenator.

Australovenator wintonensis

A three-dimensional foot of Australovenator was created as fossils of this Megaraptoran Theropod are known from similar aged strata as the Lark Quarry tracks.  In addition, Australovenator is the only meat-eating dinosaur from Australia which has had its foot bones discovered.  The researchers used a variety of substrates to test the prints, scuff marks and scratches made by the large dinosaur and they concluded that their recreated impressions were reminiscent of the trace fossils.  This suggests that the eleven, large, three-toed tracks at Lake Quarry (now known as the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument), could have been made by an Australovenator-like carnivorous dinosaur.

An Illustration of Australovenator wintonensis Crossing the Lark Quarry Sediments

Australovenator footprint study.

Australovenator making tracks.

Picture Credit: Travis R. Tischler

The CollectA Australovenator Dinosaur Model

Australovenator was a member of the Allosauria clade of Theropod dinosaurs.  Fossils of this six-metre-long carnivore were discovered in 2006.  Although the fossil material was far from complete, the Australovenator genus was formally erected by Australian palaeontologist Scott Hucknull in 2009.  CollectA introduced a model of Australovenator just three years after the scientific description.  Models of Megaraptoran Theropods are quite rare, it is great to see that CollectA have added an Australovenator replica to their “Prehistoric Life” model range.

The CollectA Australovenator Dinosaur Model

The CollectA Australovenator dinosaur model.

The CollectA Australovenator replica.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the full range of CollectA dinosaur and prehistoric animal models: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models

14 06, 2017

Win! Win! Win with Everything Dinosaur!

By | June 14th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Win a Pair of Tickets to the Amazing Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

WIN! WIN! WIN! with Everything Dinosaur!  Win a pair of tickets to the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition in Nottingham (UK).

Everything Dinosaur has another super prize draw giveaway.   We have a pair of tickets to the amazing Dinosaurs of China Exhibition being held in Nottingham (UK) this summer.  The Dinosaurs of China exhibition features an amazing collection of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals, with many of the specimens travelling outside of Asia for the first time.  From “ground shakers to feathered flyers” – this brilliant dinosaur exhibition is not to be missed!

The main exhibition is being held at Wollaton Hall & Deer Park in Nottingham with a satellite exhibition taking place at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre.  This once in a lifetime event runs from July 1st to October 29th.

Win a Pair of Tickets to the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

Win tickets in Everything Dinosaur's Prize Draw

Win a pair of tickets to visit the Dinosaurs of China exhibition in Nottingham.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has a pair of tickets to giveaway in our free to enter prize draw.

Win a Pair of Tickets to the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

To enter, simply “like” the post on Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK , page and leave a comment.  Or leave a comment on this blog post.  Tell us what you would like us to write about on the Everything Dinosaur blog and that’s it – you are entered into the prize draw to win a pair of tickets!

It would be great if you could also “like” our Facebook page, it’s not mandatory, but “liking” the Everything Dinosaur Facebook page would ensure that you don’t miss out on future competitions and promotions.  Feel free to share our prize draw with your friends!

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” our Facebook post, comment and enter the competition!

We will draw the lucky winner at random and the ticket prize draw giveaway closes at midnight (BST) on  Friday 30th June.  Good luck and we look forward to reading your comment.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur toys and models including some “ground shakers and feathered flyers”: Visit Everything Dinosaur’s Website

For further information about the Dinosaurs of China exhibition: Dinosaurs of China Website

Terms and Conditions for the Everything Dinosaur Win a Pair of Tickets Prize Draw

  • Automated entries are not permitted and will be excluded from the draw
  • Only one entry per person
  • The prize (a pair of tickets for the Dinosaurs of China exhibition), is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered
  • Open to UK residents, 16 years and upwards (excluding employees and relatives of Everything Dinosaur staff members)
  • To enter you must leave a comment on the Everything Dinosaur Facebook promotional post at: Everything Dinosaur on Facebook and leave a comment about what you would like us to write about in our blog OR leave a comment on this blog post – one comment per person
  • The Everything Dinosaur ticket prize draw runs until midnight (BST) on Friday 30th June 2017
  • The winner will be chosen at random and they will be contacted by a reply to the comment plus a Facebook message with 7 days of the competition closing date.  The winner will need to respond within 28 days or a new winner will be selected.
  • The prize (a pair of tickets) will be despatched by the event organisers, once Everything Dinosaur has confirmed the delivery address.  The winner will have to state a preferred date and time for their visit
  • The prize does not include travelling expenses or any accommodation
  • The promoter is Everything Dinosaur
  • By entering the prize draw giveaway, participants confirm that they have read, understood and agreed the terms and conditions of the competition
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook
13 06, 2017

Watch the Birdie (Enantiornithine in Amber)

By | June 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Nearly Complete Baby Bird Preserved in Amber

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with colleagues from the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (Canada) and the China University of Geosciences have announced the discovery of yet another prehistoric animal preserved entombed within a 99-million-year-old piece of amber from Myanmar.  The animal is a baby bird, perhaps only a few days old when it was engulfed in sticky tree resin back in the Cretaceous.  It is an astonishing discovery, one of a number of remarkable fossil finds made in recent years from the amber deposits of northern Myanmar.  Most of the skull and neck is preserved along with part of a wing, a hindlimb, complete with claws and some soft tissue surrounding the tail.  Some of the plumage has also been encased within the amber nodule.  Described as representing a specimen of the Enantiornithes clade, it is the most complete bird preserved in amber found to date.

Enantiornithine Hatchling Preserved in Burmese Amber

Baby Enantiornithine bird trapped in amber.

Baby bird preserved in amber.

Picture Credit: Ryan McKellar (Royal Saskatchewan Museum) et al.

The picture above shows the amber nodule (a).  The nodule measures approximately 86 mm × 30 mm × 57 mm it has been assigned the specimen number HPG-15-1 and it has been cut in half.  The cut-mark is represented in (c) which shows the cut as a dotted line against a line drawing of the bird’s remains preserved in the nodule.  An interpretation of the high-resolution scans showing the skeletal components is shown in (b).  The disarticulated remains of this individual has led the research team to speculate that the corpse of this young bird might have been scavenged prior to its entombing in the tree resin.

A Very Young Bird

Writing in the academic journal “Gondwana Research”, the scientists conclude that the shape of the skeleton and the plumage indicates a very young bird, the well-developed wings, claws and the presence of some filamentous body feathers suggests that Enantiornithines were hatched in a relatively advanced state, being perhaps able to feed itself almost immediately.  Being born nearly fully developed and independent of the parents is termed precocial.  Many modern birds are precocial, examples include ostrich chicks and ducklings.  These birds are able to keep themselves warm and move about, often leaving the nest in just a few hours.  The scarcity of body feathers on the Cretaceous bird represents a distinct departure from the feather coverings found in today’s precocial birds.  Perhaps the Enantiornithines relied on their parents to brood them to keep them warm, or perhaps these birds hatched during the hottest part of the year, when insulation was not as necessary.

A Three-Dimensional Model Created from the High-Resolution Scans

Fossil bird trapped in amber.

Using 3-D scans the researchers were able to create a model of the death pose of the bird.

Picture Credit: Ryan McKellar (Royal Saskatchewan Museum)

Commenting on the importance of this fossil discovery, Ryan McKellar (Royal Saskatchewan Museum) stated:

“We’ve had more complete specimens, where you get more of the skeleton preserved, from compression fossils, but never with this level of detail.  It’s like a little diorama.”

Nicknamed “Belone”

The amber nodule also contains insect remains, plant material and mites, providing an insight into the fauna and flora of a conifer forest that existed around 99 to 100 million years ago.  The amber was found by a miner back in 2014, at first the claw was thought to have come from a lizard but once the piece had been purchased by the Hupoge Amber Museum in Tengchong City, China, a correct identification was made.  The specimen was nicknamed “Belone” a local term for an amber-coloured bird called the Oriental skylark.

Researchers including palaeontologist Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences), used CT scans to examine fossil elements hidden from view.  These scans revealed the skull and part of the spine, although the cutting of the nodule damaged the anterior portion of the head and the tiny jaws.

As for its feathers, the bird had different kinds: some that palaeontologists have seen on dinosaurs, but others that are closer to modern-day birds.  This, the research team commented, was one of the most surprising and rewarding finds.

The Enantiornithine Hind Leg

Enantiornithine hindlimb

A closer view of the hind limb of the Enantiornithine bird.

Picture Credit: Ming Bai

A Precocial Bird

The presence of strong toes equipped with sharp claws suggests that this bird could clamber around in the trees shortly after hatching, yet more evidence of just how independent this young bird was.  Precociality is thought to be ancestral in birds.  Thus, altricial birds tend to be found in the most derived families within the Aves (birds) Order.   There is some evidence for precociality in the Dinosauria.  It seems that being independent at birth is a characteristic that is basal to the birds.

A Close View of One of the Claws

Enantiornithine claw.

A close view of the claw, even individual scales have been preserved in the amber.

Picture Credit: Ming Bai

The amber mines of Kachin Province (northern Myanmar) are renowned for their remarkable fossils, back in 2016, Everything Dinosaur wrote an article about the remnants of a bird’s wing that had been preserved trapped in amber.

To read more: Bird Wing Trapped In Amber

Later that year, Everything Dinosaur reported on discovery of a fragment of a dinosaur’s tail that had been found preserved inside amber.  That remarkable specimen was studied by a number of the researchers who contributed to the study of this baby bird fossil.

To read more about the dinosaur tail discovery: The Tale of a Dinosaur Tail

The scientific paper: “A mid-Cretaceous Enantiornithine (Aves) Hatchling Preserved in Burmese Amber with Unusual Plumage” by Lida Xing, Jingmai K. O’Connor, Ryan C. McKellar, Luis M. Chiappe, Kuowei Tseng, Gang Li, Ming Bai published in Gondwana Research.

12 06, 2017

Dinosaurs of China – Exhibits Arrive

By | June 12th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Chinese Takeaway Delivered Safe and Sound

The amazing dinosaur exhibits that form this summer’s world exclusive Dinosaurs of China exhibition have arrived safe and sound at their Nottinghamshire venues.  This exciting exhibition, which features a number of specimens that have not been seen outside of Asia before, opens on Saturday, July 1st and the dedicated staff at Wollaton Hall and the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre with the collaboration of technicians from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in Beijing, have just three weeks to put all the exhibits together.

Unloading Giant Dinosaur Vertebrae

Unloading an exhibit (Dinosaurs of China).

Vertebrae from the giant Mamenchisaurus exhibit are carefully unloaded.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

Jumbo-Sized Jigsaw Puzzles

Before the exhibits can tell the fascinating story of how the dinosaurs evolved into birds, all the individual parts of the various dinosaurs have to be put together.  This is no mean feat, as Wollaton Hall will be home to a massive Mamenchisaurus dinosaur skeleton for the next five months.  The neck of Mamenchisaurus is a fraction under ten metres in length and it contains nineteen giant bones (cervical vertebrae).  The finished Mamenchisaurus exhibit will stand the same height as three double decker buses!

Unloading a Dinosaur at Wollaton Hall

Workmen unloading dinosaur dorsals.

The people unloading the exhibits provide a handy scale for the Mamenchisaurus specimen.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

After a fifty-day, five-thousand-mile trip from China to the UK, this is one Chinese takeaway that will take a lot of careful handling.

The main exhibition at Wollaton Hall will feature twenty-six prehistoric animal skeletons and fossils that include some of the best-preserved specimens in the world.  Dr Adam Smith, Exhibition Curator, commented:

“It’s absolutely incredible to have the Dinosaurs of China here, having completed their two-month long, inter-continental journey.  Seeing such important finds up close is really thrilling and we can’t wait to start the installation process so we can share them with the rest of the country this summer!”

Dr Adam Smith Checks Over a Specimen

Checking over an exhibit.

Counting the bones – all present and correct.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

Visitors to the complementary exhibition at Nottingham Lakeside Arts will be greeted by two fascinating dinosaur skeletons – the Alxasaurus, which when it was alive, was probably covered in a coat of shaggy feathers and the fearsome Early Jurassic Dilophosaurus.   Dilophosaurus has two, thin, bony crests that ran from the top of its nose to the back of its head, hence this dinosaur’s name which means “double-crested lizard”.

Dilophosaurus “Double Crested Lizard”

Dilophosaurus dinosaur model.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Dilophosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Dilophosaurus Puzzle

The Dilophosaurus fossils found in China, may not be Dilophosaurus at all!  Some palaeontologists think that these fossils belong to a different, but related dinosaur called Sinosaurus (Sinosaurus triassicus).  That’s the great thing about palaeontology, new theories about these long extinct creatures are being put forward all the time, as more fossils are found.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“We are finding out new things about dinosaurs all the time!  That’s why this exhibition is so very special as it will give visitors the chance to learn about some of the most important dinosaur discoveries ever made.”

Preparing for the Dinosaur Exhibits

Preparing for the dinosaur exhibit.

Preparing a steel frame to help support a dinosaur exhibit.

Picture Credit: Dinosaurs of China

Lots of Family-Friendly Activities

Nottingham Lakeside Arts have lots of exciting family-friendly activities planned including an interactive exhibition that will explore how palaeo-art and science helps palaeontologists to work out what dinosaurs looked like.  Check out Nottingham University’s Life Science collection that will also be on display.

There will also be plenty of exciting activities and workshops to keep families entertained at Wollaton Hall too.  A free “Dino Explorer Zone” is being installed to provide families with a range of themed activities and puzzles.

All in all, there’s enough going on to make every young dinosaur fan roar with excitement and for the mums, dads, grandparents and guardians, you can expect to learn something new about these amazing prehistoric monsters.

Tickets for the exhibition are now on sale.  Prices are £7.70 for an adult and £5.50 for a child.  Family tickets are £22 for two adults and two children.  Children under five go free, so there really is no excuse – catch up with the dinosaurs from July 1st until October 29th!

For more information, please visit Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

11 06, 2017

How Did the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry Get Its Name?

By | June 11th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

How Did the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry Get Its Name?

After having published an article on a new theory explaining the mass death dinosaur assemblage preserved at the Cleveland-Lloyd fossil site in the Morrison Formation (Brushy Basin Member), we were sent an email asking how the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry got its name if the site is a long way from Cleveland, Ohio?

Students Excavate the Bones of an Allosaurus from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry (Utah)

Working at Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

Students excavate the bones of an Allosaurus (Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry).

Picture Credit: Joe Peterson

The picture above shows Indiana University of Pennsylvania students Alex Patch, Heather Furlong and Josh Colastante working on the jumbled fossil bones of an Allosaurus at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

It is true, the fossil site, which represents the greatest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur fossils known to science, is a very long way from the city of Cleveland, but it is near the small town of Cleveland, Emery County, in Utah.  This famous fossil site was named in part, as it was close to the town of Cleveland.  The second part of the hyphenated name “Lloyd” is all to do with funding,

Map Showing Sites, Stratigraphic Section Line, and Regional Stratigraphy in Context of the San Rafael Swell

Location of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.

Map showing sites, stratigraphic section line, and regional stratigraphy in context of the San Rafael Swell.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

In the picture above CLDQ marks the location of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and JONS indicates the location of the nearby Johnsonville fossil site in Utah.  The inset map shows the location of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in relation to the rest of the state of Utah.

To read the article: The Mystery of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

Where Did the Lloyd Part of the Name Come From?

The site was first discovered in 1927, the first extensive excavations commenced in 1929, (University of Utah).  The siltstones were deposited in the Late Jurassic and the strata makes up part of the Brushy Basin Member at the northern end of the San Rafael Swell.  For the next decade, regular expeditions to the site were undertaken and these were funded, in the most part, by a lawyer from Philadelphia called Malcolm Lloyd.  This is how the famous dinosaur dig site came to be named.

The quarry is world-famous for its very high concentration of dinosaur bones.  The scattered remains of over seventy dinosaurs are believed to be present, representing nine dinosaur genera.  However, around two-thirds of all the bones are attributable to a single dinosaur taxon Allosaurus fragilis.  Most of the other bonebeds associated with the Morrison Formation contain a higher proportion of herbivorous dinosaurs. Furthermore, when the A. fragilis material is assessed over 85% of the fossils represent juveniles or sub-adults of the species.

Further exploration of this extremely fossil rich location is planned.

So, the site with the greatest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur bones known to science was named after a lawyer from Philadelphia and the nearest township.

Stegosaurus Fossil Material is Known from the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry

A skull of a Stegosaurus.

A Stegosaurus skull (Los Angeles Museum)

Picture Credit: Los Angeles Museum

10 06, 2017

Mojo Models Feature in Newsletter

By | June 10th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter Features Mojo Models

Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models feature in the latest edition of the Everything Dinosaur newsletter.  To celebrate Mojo models coming into stock at Everything Dinosaur, the latest company newsletter was dedicated to these excellent prehistoric animal models.

Mojo Fun Prehistoric Animal Figures Feature in the Everything Dinosaur Newsletter

Mojo prehistoric animal models.

Everything Dinosaur features Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models in the latest newsletter.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has introduced all thirty-one of the current figures made by Mojo in their “Prehistoric and Extinct” model range.  Unlike most other figure manufacturers, the Mojo range includes some recently extinct (or at least currently regarded as extinct), animals – creatures such as the Thylacine and the Quagga (a sub-species of Plains Zebra)*.  Naturally, the first model to be featured in the newsletter is the T. rex, specifically the green hunting Tyrannosaurus rex.  Mojo has a total of six “Tyrant Lizard King” replicas in its range, including a spectacular 1:40 scale model, which can be seen in the picture below (bottom right), as well as a model of a juvenile T. rex.

Marine Reptiles and Prehistoric Mammals in the Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” Range

Mojo prehistoric animal models.

Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” animal figures.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun – Animal Planet

Mojo was founded eight years ago (2009), the company focuses on the design and production of high quality models.  Better known as “Mojofun”, the first model range was introduced in 2011 and the company’s product portfolio has grown steadily since.  The enthusiastic Mojo team members have plenty of ambition, they intend to continue to create the finest quality models that they can and to increase the range of animals featured.

The thirty-one models in the “Prehistoric & Extinct” range represent a total of nineteen different creatures, all of them are either reptiles or mammals and they lived during the Mesozoic or the Cenozoic Eras.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • Dinosaurs = nine dinosaurs represented (4 carnivores and 5 herbivores).
  • Prehistoric Mammals = six animals are represented.
  • Recently Extinct* = two models (Thylacine – Tasmanian Tiger and the Quagga)
  • Marine Reptiles = one model (Tylosaurus)
  • Prehistoric Crocodile = one model (Sarcosuchus)

Several of the Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models have recently been re-painted, allowing a number of new colour variants to be introduced.  The Mojo Parasaurolophus models are a case in point (see picture below).

Mojo Parasaurolophus Models (Biped and Quadruped)

Mojo Parasaurolophus dinosaurs.

The Mojo Parasaurolophus dinosaur models (biped and quadruped).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Studies of the fossilised bones of the duck-billed dinosaur Parasaurolophus indicate that this large, Late Cretaceous dinosaur was a facultative biped.  It probably spent most of its time on all fours, but when the need arose, for example, to flee an attacking Tyrannosaur, this dinosaur could run using just its hind legs.  We congratulate Mojo for including two versions of Parasaurolophus in its model range – one in a bipedal pose, the other representing Parasaurolophus as a quadruped.

Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” Models

Almost as many mammal models are included in the ” Prehistoric and Extinct” range as dinosaurs.  Model collectors have seen the number of prehistoric animal models in production decline in recent years, the addition of figures such as the Mojo Smilodon, Deinotherium and the Entelodont Daeodon, to Everything Dinosaur’s inventory is very welcome.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Mojo produces Velociraptor, Triceratops and Stegosaurus models and of course, this range offers a variety of Tyrannosaurs, but one of the attractions for us is that Mojo also offers some of the less common prehistoric animals such as a Hyaenodon replica and a Brontotherium.  We know that these types of replicas are greatly appreciated by model collectors.”

To view the range of Mojo “Prehistoric and Extinct” models available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Prehistoric and Extinct Models

Extinction*

The last known Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), died in captivity in 1936.  It is officially recognised as extinct, but a genetic research programme has been established for nearly twenty years with the aim of ultimately re-introducing these animals via cloning.  In addition, periodic sightings and reports of living Thylacines both from Tasmania and the Australian mainland have prompted a team of scientists to set camera traps in a remote part of northern Queensland to see if they can obtain evidence of a living population.  To read more about this: The Hunt for Tasmanian Tigers.

The Quagga Project was established in 1987 to reintroduce Quagga-like phenotypes via a selective breeding programme.

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