Category: Dinosaur Fans

Zombie Worms and Plesiosaurs

Bone-Eating Worms Consumed Marine Reptile Carcases

A type of bone-eating marine worm that had been thought to have evolved to exploit the food potential of cetacean carcases lying on the seabed also fed on the remains of giant marine reptiles, according to new research published in the academic journal “Biology Letters”.  The worm, the genus is known as Osedax, was only discovered in 2002 (formally described in 2004), has been found at depths of more than 4,000 metres.  It feeds on the bones of vertebrates that lie on the seabed.  As the bizarre worms were discovered in association with the carcases of whales, it had been suggested that these scavengers had co-evolved with whales and dolphins in the Cenozoic.  However, analysis of microscopic bore holes found in the limb bones of a Plesiosaur and the remains of an ancient turtle, indicate that Osedax worms existed much earlier than whales.  Their origins have been traced back at least 100 million years.

Osedax Worms Helped Breakdown the Corpses of Marine Reptiles

Fossil traces of Osedax worms found in marine reptile bones.

Fossil traces of Osedax worms found in marine reptile bones.

Picture Credit: Plymouth University/Dr. Nicholas Higgs

A number of species have now been identified and this genus seems to be widely distributed in the world’s seas and oceans.  The great geographic range of the worms had been a bit of a mystery for marine biologists, especially for those who believed that these worms, some females of which can grow up to fifty millimetres in length, solely fed on the bones of cetaceans, as corpses of whales and dolphins are extremely rare when the size of the marine environment is considered.  This new study suggests that the zombie bone-eating worms might be more generalist feeders, happy to bore into a variety of different types of carcase.  The Osedax genus has been classified as a member of the Siboglinidae (sigh-bog-lin-ee-day) family of worms.  The adults lack a mouth and any form of digestive system.  They feed by boring into bones by secreting acid through their root-like tendrils.  The worms rely on a symbiotic relationship with bacteria inside their bodies.  The bacteria converts the bone collagen and lipids that are absorbed into food for the host worm.

The research team, including Dr. Nicholas Higgs from the Marine Institute (Plymouth University), examined the fossilised bones of a Plesiosaur as well as the remains of a prehistoric turtle which were part of the marine reptile fossil collection at the University of Cambridge Museum.  Detailed CAT scans were taken, using the CAT scanner at the Natural History Museum in London. These scans and the subsequent computer models created from them, revealed that two bore holes in the bones from a Plesiosaurs’s flipper and four bore holes from the turtle bones, were remarkably similar to the bore holes made by Osedax in the bones of modern cetaceans.  These trace fossils suggest that before the whales evolved, these types of worm were already present in the marine ecosystem scavenging on the bones of dead marine reptiles.

The Bones of Plesiosaurs could have been Colonised by Osedax Worms

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

Commenting on the research, Dr. Higgs stated:

“Our discovery shows that these bone-eating worms did not co-evolve with whales, but that they also devoured the skeletons of large marine reptiles that dominated oceans in the age of the dinosaurs.”

Dr. Nicholas and co-author Silvia Danise (Plymouth University/University of Georgia), reported that the trace fossils suggest that marine reptile carcases, before whales, played a crucial role in the evolution and dispersal of Osedax and this study supports the idea that these worms are generalised scavengers of vertebrate remains.  The generalist ability to colonise different vertebrate corpses, such as fish, marine birds and reptiles would seem to be an ancestral trait.  The trace fossils suggest that the Siboglinidae evolved much earlier than previously suggested by phylogenetic estimates.

CAT Scans Showed Signature Bore Holes Made by Osedax spp.

Computer models from CAT scan data revealed the shape of the bore holes.

Computer models from CAT scan data revealed the shape of the bore holes.

Picture Credit: S. Danise/N. Higgs/Biology Letters

The scientists examined the bore holes and found that they resembled those caused by Osedax in the bones of extant whales.  Whilst scientists cannot be certain how many more marine reptile fossils might have been preserved without the likes of Osedax feeding on the bones and destroying them before they could be buried and potentially fossilised, it does seem likely that our fossil record for marine vertebrates is poorer as a result of at least 100 millions of feeding.

Back in 2014, Everything Dinosaur team members reported on the microscopic analysis of the bones of an Ichthyosaur which also showed signs of having been consumed by the action of a number of scavengers, including Osedax worms.

To read more about this research: What happens when an Ichthyosaur Dies?

The University of Plymouth team conclude that although the vast majority of marine reptiles died out at the end of the Cretaceous (Mosasaurs, Plesiosaurs) and the Ichthyosaurs died out a few million  years earlier, these worms survived on the carcases of turtles and other creatures in the twenty million years or so before the first whales evolved.

Prehistoric Times Spring 2015 Reviewed

A Review of Prehistoric Times (Issue 113)

Armour and artists dominate the latest edition of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur fans and collectors of all things Dinosauria.  The front cover features a spectacular piece of artwork created by the very talented Luis Rey, a feathered Tarbosaurus battles the ankylosaurid Tarchia.  Inside there is an interview with the London-based illustrator along with some selected images from his most impressive back catalogue.  Armoured prehistoric animals is a recurring theme, not only is Ankylosaurus the subject of a Phil Hore feature, but he also covers Archelon (giant prehistoric marine turtle) and Glyptodon a member of the bizarre Xenarthran group of Mammals.  Three Phil Hore features for the price of two, must be some sort of special offer for spring!

The Colourful Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Magazine

The wonderful artwork of Luis Rey is featured.

The wonderful artwork of Luis Rey is featured.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

The huge Ankylosaurus skull fossil is discussed in an article by Dr. Jordan Mallon, this specimen representing the largest individual known (CMN 8880) was discovered way back in 1947, but its significance and the implications for research into ankylosaurids has only just been realised.  Tracy Lee Ford explains how to get ahead when it comes to drawing the cranial features of these most armoured of all the dinosaurs.  This article, literally builds on a previously published one that explained the technicalities involved when it comes to producing accurate images of the wide bodies of these Ornithischians.

Amongst all the reader submitted artwork, news stories and book reviews (great to see the Blu-ray version of Dinosaur 13 reviewed, this was a super documentary), the forthcoming Jurassic World is not ignored.  Mike Fredericks provides a personal view on this long-awaited block buster.  There are some pictures from the movie, plus some images of the inevitable avalanche of merchandise – not too many spoilers (honest).  We shall have to see if Jurassic World has been worth the wait.

There is a poignant feature on the Carnegie Collectibles range of models, written by Joshua Morrison.  Everything Dinosaur received news, a while back that the partnership between Safari Ltd and the Carnegie Natural History Museum was coming to an end, to read more about this: The End of the Line for Carnegie Collectibles.  In an article entitled “Fabled Beginnings: The Origin of the Carnegie Collection”, Joshua leads us through the early days of this iconic replica range.

Dr. John Noad takes readers on a brief guided tour of one of our favourite places on the planet – the Dinosaur Provincial Park of Alberta, Canada and on a very sad note there is an obituary for Stephen Czerkas, sculptor, scientist and author who sadly passed away earlier this year.

For further information on Prehistoric Times magazine and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Feedback from Everything Dinosaur Customers

Feedback from our Customers

People who purchase dinosaur toys and games from Everything Dinosaur provide feedback on their purchasing experience, teachers who invite our experts into schools give us their views on our dinosaur workshops, all of our customers are encouraged to provide Everything Dinosaur with feedback.  Team members from the Cheshire based dinosaur company even had an article about developing a good customer service ethos within companies published by the Chamber of Commerce recently.  We feel it is very important to have a two-way dialogue with our customers and contacts.  All the information we gather helps us to become a better company.

We are grateful for all the comments and views, in fact we get so many lovely comments that we often forget to publish them on our various social media platforms.  We always remember to thank those people who have taken the time to tell us how much they enjoyed working with us or how easy the shopping experience was, we just don’t post up all the wonderful feedback we receive.

Here is a selection of recent comments:

Key Stage 2 teacher:

 ”Firstly, thank you so much for today the children are now very excited about starting their dinosaur topic and remembered all of the key facts you told them today!  The ideas and resources you have provided are fantastic and will be used by us throughout our topic and we will email you some of our work and pictures.   Thanks again, we really enjoyed the session and feel very lucky that we had the opportunity to have you in our school.”

A mum to a young dinosaur fan:

“So glad I found your website, my son is only four but he loves sorting and arranging his dinosaur models.  He has a passion for pre-history and it gives him a brilliant way for him to connect; I watched him give a little ‘lecture’ to a group of 3 year old boys the other day with the pre-school dino models.” 

Feedback from one of our many telephone customers who ring the office to place orders:

“I just wanted to thank you.  I really appreciate the service that you offer your customers!”

Comments from a  dinosaur model collector:

“Thank you for checking over the dinosaurs before they were dispatched.  I find it very heart warming that your site actually takes the time to reply and check up on these things.  A big thank you!”

We Should Give Ourselves a Big “Iguanodon Thumbs Up”

Praise from a dinosaur!

Praise for a dinosaur company – Everything Dinosaur!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Achievosaurs – Reinforcing Positive Learning Behaviours

Soft Toy Dinosaurs Helping Young Children to Learn Life Skills (Achievosaurs)

Using a range of soft toy dinosaurs to help encourage young children to learn life skills and to reinforce positive values in schools is something Everything Dinosaur team members are very familiar with.  Now that the three inch plus dinosaur range known as the Itsy Bitsies are back in production, our team members set out to examine how one teaching concept, the “Achievosaurs,” came into being.

We were contacted by retired Bristol school teacher Lori Mitchell who explained to us how her idea for using dinosaur soft toys took shape.

Ms Mitchell explained:

“The idea for the Achievosaurs came after a South Gloucestershire Early Years course “Providing Challenge, Improving Outcomes” in October 2010.  During the day, we were asked to consider how we encourage our children to reflect on their learning, rather than just talk about their activities, and how we can help them develop the skills needed to become life-long learners.  We discussed the learning-focused qualities we wanted to encourage in our children and a colleague shared the “Curious Cat” she used with her class.  One of the Early Years advisors then said something like “you know, dinosaurs would be another could have a Thinkasaurus”…and that was it…I went home after the course and devised the Achievosaurs!”

The Achievosaurs (Dinosaur Soft Toys) in 2015

Helping to reinforce life-long learning skills.

Helping to reinforce life-long learning skills.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the dinosaur soft toys: Dinosaur Soft Toys and Achievosaurs

With the rigours of a new curriculum being rolled out across England, there is a great deal of emphasis placed upon preparing pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.  For example, the idea of introducing scientific working and the scientific method underpins a lot of Everything Dinosaur’s teaching activities in schools.  It is essential for those children at the Early Years Foundation Stage to acquire appropriate social skills as well as developing positive behaviours to help them make good progress.

We asked Lori, how the names of the first Achievosaurs came about and she explained that she based her prehistoric animal names on the specific learning qualities that she wanted to encourage in her Reception class (FS2).  For the last seven years of her working career, before taking early retirement, Lori was a teacher at Cadbury Heath Primary School, Warmley, near Bristol, South Gloucestershire (south-west England).  Using her experience, Lori devised a series of dinosaurs (plus one flying reptile), which she could use as props to help reinforce desired behaviours.

The names of Lori’s Achievosaurs were:

  • Exploring ideas and resources: Explorasor
  • Sticking to a task: Stickasaurus
  • Sharing ideas and resources: Shareadactyl
  • Trying their best: Tryatops
  • Asking questions: Askaraptor
  • Working to solve problems: Solveosaurus rex
  • Thinking carefully about tasks: Thinkadon

Over the years we have come across a number of variants, with something like 1,200 different dinosaur genera described to date and a new one being named on average every 20-30 days or so, educationalists certainly have plenty of scope.

When asked about how she came up with her Achievosaur names, Lori said:

“When I first drafted the idea, all the names ended in “asaurus,” but when I found the wonderful collection of Itsy Bitsy dinosaurs at Everything Dinosaur, my 20 year-old son got involved (dinosaurs really are any age child friendly), and selected the dinosaurs and adapted their name to “fit,” so, for example, we took Velociraptor to make “Askaraptor”.

Lori was invited to share her idea with a team of South Gloucestershire assessment co-ordinators and this simple, but very effective teaching aid has been taken up by a number of primary schools and other educational establishments.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur dedicate a lot of time to supporting teaching teams and many EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) and Key Stage 1 teachers incorporate a dinosaur themed topic into their scheme of work.  A spokesperson from the Cheshire based company stated that a topic based on prehistoric animals dove-tailed into desired learning outcomes across the curriculum, whether it was using the size and scale of dinosaurs to help build confidence with numbers or having a class imagine what it would be like to have a pet Triceratops in order to lay the foundations for some creative writing.

Dinosaurs as a Term Topic Can Encourage and Motivate Young Learners

Pupils learn about the shapes and sizes of different prehistoric animals.

Pupils learn about the shapes and sizes of different prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For further information on Everything Dinosaur’s teaching work in schools: Contact the Teaching Team at Everything Dinosaur

When asked why the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus are so popular with young learners Lori suggested:

“One reason I think is their wonderful names.  They sound fascinating, and what child doesn’t like to impress an adult by knowing long words and being able to pronounce them?  Another is that, although huge and terrifying when they lived, dinosaurs are not around anymore so they can’t get us!”

Dinosaurs enduring popularity with children (quite a few adults as well), is an area that has been explored frequently.  Team member, “Dinosaur Mike”, part of the company’s teaching team was interviewed by the BBC on this subject and he hypothesised:

“Dinosaurs are never really out of the media, so children are exposed to prehistoric animals such as Diplodocus and Tyrannosaurus rex from an early age.  When talking to Mums and Dads we know how proud they are when their son or daughter explains all about their favourite dinosaur.  With so many facts and figures associated with these prehistoric reptiles, they do help sow the seeds for an appreciation of life- long learning.”

Her Reception class loved the idea of Achievosaurs right from the start, but we wanted to know which was Lori’s own favourite.  Lori declared that she was very fond of them all as the encouragement these soft toys had given to her charges, getting them to think about learning skills and to develop positive behaviours, was of real benefit.

“It has been fantastic to hear the children identifying what they need to do in order to move their learning on, for example, suggesting they need to be a “Stickasaurus,” which concentrates, in order to learn their letters or a “Solveosaurus rex,” which makes links between ideas, when faced with a problem.  However, if I had to pick one favourite Achievosaur, I think it would be Tryatops”.

Lori explained:

“There is sometimes a perception that learning is just for “clever” children, and I think Tryatops helps to teach children that no matter what the activity or skill level, we can ALL try our best, never give up and in consequence, achieve.”

Tryatops – Based on the Horned Dinosaur Triceratops

An excellent replica of a Triceratops.

An excellent replica of a Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd/Everything Dinosaur

Not being discouraged, even when experimental results don’t quite turn out as expected, is an important aspect of scientific working.  Lessons learned early in life will help pupils face future challenges with more confidence.

In conclusion, we asked Lori if she could design her very own dinosaur what would it be like?

“The Achievosaurs were my first design attempt, with specific characteristics and names, to tie in with the Early Years Characteristics of Effective Learning.  I had a lot of fun inventing and writing about them and I couldn’t be more delighted that other Early Years professionals and schools have found the concept useful.  However, I’ve recently been thinking about the PSE side of things [personal, social and emotional development]: could an Achievosaur help children to take account of one another’s ideas (an Early Learning Goal) or be thoughtful/helpful?  What about a Respectadocus?  Now that the toys are back in production, anything is possible! “

At Everything Dinosaur we have had the privilege of working with a number of dedicated teaching professionals who have adopted and adapted dinosaur soft toys to assist them with their own learning objectives.  As a result, we have come across a large number of different Achievosaurs all aimed at reinforcing appropriate behaviours and encouraging the development of life-long learning.

Thank you Lori for being a wonderful “Shareosaurus” and sharing your story with us.

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival

Dinosaurs, DeLoreans, Deep Space and Debate

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival (June 2nd to June 7th 2015) returns with a line up bigger and better than ever, with over 165 different events scheduled, including talks from Professor Alice Roberts, Professor Brian Cox and Lord Robert Winston.  Joining a very eminent line up will be a number of leading scientists from the field of palaeontology, plus a seven metre long specimen of the fearsome tyrannosaurid Gorgosaurus.

Over the six days of the festival, visitors will be able to explore, engage with and be entertained by some of the greatest thinkers of our time, with everything from ground-breaking research to debates on the big science conundrums facing our species.  Cheltenham’s pop-up tented Science Village in the Imperial Gardens will be dominated by the Festival’s brand new “DinoZone”.  University of Manchester in a collaboration with the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research (South Dakota) will be highlighting their research on the Gorgosaurus specimen that they have been working on.  Distantly related to Tyrannosaurus rex, Gorgosaurus was a fearsome carnivore more than capable of feasting upon the remains of other tyrannosaurids that shared its Late Cretaceous habitat.

Recently, Everything Dinosaur team members wrote a short article which covered the research carried out on the fossilised skull and jaws of another Tyrannosaur (Daspletosaurus), by Dr. David Hone (School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of London) and Darren Tanke, an expert in vertebrate fossil preparation at the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Drumheller, Alberta, Canada).  The carcase of the Daspletosaurus was scavenged, the tell-tale postmortem feeding marks on the bones and teeth could have been a case of cannibalism, but it could also have been as a result of a hungry Gorgosaurus feasting.  The 7.4 metre long specimen of Gorgosaurus on display in the tented Science Village would have been more than capable of making a meal of the Daspletosaurus.

To read more about a potential case of a Gorgosaurus feeding on a tyrannosaurid: Tyrannosaurid Bite Marks on the Remains of Daspletosaurus

Phil Manning and Victoria Egerton (University of Manchester) will be on hand to discuss some of the latest research and they will be presenting a one hour lecture on Friday 5th June all about their various dinosaur activities and adventures.

Professor Phil Manning Next to the Beautiful Gorgosaurus Dinosaur Display

Gorgosaurus making a guest appearance.

Gorgosaurus making a guest appearance.

Picture Credit: University of Manchester

Everything Dinosaur team members had the pleasure of meeting up with Professor Manning and the University of Manchester team at the Royal Society (London) last summer.  The exhibit is extremely informative and the Dinosauria is one of the main themes of the Festival, where you can learn about mass extinctions, discover what dinosaurs really looked like (expect a few feathers to fly) and stare into the eye sockets of a Triceratops.

The other major themes include “Life”, “the Universe” and “Time Travel”, a DeLorean is even flying in to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the first of the “Back to the Future” films and the question “why don’t we have flying cars today?” will be explored.

To read more about The Times Cheltenham Science Festival: The Times Cheltenham Science Festival

The extremely talented Pete Larson, will also be attending.  ”Paleo Pete”, one of the world’s leading authorities on Tyrannosaurs, will be speaking at the EDF Energy arena on June 2nd (6.30pm to 7.30pm), his subject, “T. rex Appeal”, the story of “Sue” perhaps one of the most famous fossils ever found.

A Fantastic Communicator – Pete Larson

A fantastic and generous communicator.

A fantastic and generous communicator.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

American Pete Larson has had a most colourful career, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of vertebrate fossils and is a wonderful communicator, always patient and prepared to answer questions from dinosaur fans, young and old.

Joining Professor Alice Roberts to explore what dinosaurs may have actually looked like, will be palaeontologist Professor Mike Benton (Bristol University) and the gifted palaeoartist Bob Nicholls,  whose job is to illustrate dinosaurs once the fossil evidence has been interpreted.  Historian Joe Cain will be on hand to guide the audience through nearly two hundred years of dinosaur research.

By the time The Festival comes around, the world premier of the eagerly awaited film “Jurassic World”, will be just ten days away.  As well as being an advisor on the entire “Jurassic Park” movie franchise, dinosaur expert Jack Horner, on whom the film character Dr. Alan Grant was partly based, will be talking about his own dinosaur discoveries as well as giving audiences a behind-the-scenes look at “Jurassic World”.

Guest Director, BAFTA award winning Steve Backshall, one of television’s most respected wildlife presenters commented:

“I’m really excited to be Guest Director; it’s a brilliant opportunity for me to share my passion for wildlife and explore everything from giant telescopes to dinosaurs.”

The full Festival line-up is at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival.

Tickets go on sale to Members on Wednesday, April 15 and to the general public on Wednesday, April 22 available at The Festival website or at 0844 880 8094.

The Sensory Capabilities of Terror Birds

New Study Suggests Phorusrhacids had Deep Voices

A ninety percent complete fossil specimen of a Terror Bird (phorusrhacid) excavated from cliffs south of the Argentinean city of Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires Province), has provided palaeontologists with new information regarding the sensory capabilities of these predators.  The superbly preserved skull permitted the researchers to re-construct this flightless bird’s inner ear and the team were able to deduce that this particular phorusrhacid had a greater sensitivity to low frequency sounds than many modern Aves.  From this, it is has been suggested that these large birds vocalised by producing low frequency sounds.

The Phorusrhacidae are an extinct family of birds that belong to the Order Cariamiformes.  The ancestors of these large, flightless birds probably evolved sometime in the Late Cretaceous and it was after the demise of the dinosaurs that many new forms evolved, taking over the role of apex predators on the isolated continent of South America. Typically, phorusrhacids had long, powerful legs, a narrow pelvis, very reduced, stubby wings and large skulls, endowed with a long, strong hooked bill.

A Typical South American “Terror Bird” (Kelenken guillermoi)

The Kelenken in all its Glory

The Kelenken in all its Glory

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows a colourful interpretation of Kelenken, a large phorusrhacid of the Middle Miocene of South America.  This new “Terror Bird” has been classified as a member of the sub-family of the Phorusrhacidae, the Mesembriornithinae and the fossil material excavated from sandstone which forms part of the cliffs at La Estafeta Beach, to the south of the popular tourist destination of Mar del Plata, has been dated to older than 3.3 million years (Middle Pliocene).  The bird has been named Llallawavis scagliai.  The genus is from the Latin for bird “Avis” and the word Llallawa from the local Quechua language for “magnificent”, in reference to the amazing fossil preservation and the nearly complete skeleton found.  The species name honours Galileo Juan Scaglia (1915–1989), naturalist, director  and one of the founders of the nearby Museo Municipal de Ciencias Naturales Lorenzo Scaglia, where the specimen is on display.  Grandson Fernando Scaglia, now himself a highly regarded member of the Museum’s staff, was one of the authors of the scientific paper that has just been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.

 The Skeleton on Display and an Illustration of Llallawavis scagliai

The most complete "Terror Bird" fossil found to date.

The most complete “Terror Bird” fossil found to date.

Picture Credit: Skeleton courtesy of M. Taglioretti and F. Scaglia/Illustration Degrange et al

The wonderful skeleton allows the scientists to learn more about these birds anatomy and as it is very nearly complete, it permits researchers to learn more about how different types of “Terror Bird” were related to each other.

Standing at about 1.2 metres tall and weighing about 18 kilogrammes, L. scagliai was about as big as today’s largest South American bird, the Greater Rhea (Rhea americana).  Dr. Degrange, one of the research paper’s authors commented that this bird probably ate small mammals, other birds and lizards.  The exquisite skull gave the researchers the opportunity to take some precise CAT scans and to reconstruct the inner ear.  Based on subsequent measurements and comparative studies of both extinct and extant Aves, the team concluded that this bird was capable of rapid head movements, a behaviour indicating that this predator, did indeed, hunt small prey.  In addition, with a preserved trachea and a map of the inner ear, the scientists could postulate about vocalisation and the sort of sounds that Llallawavis could hear.  The researchers state that their estimations of hearing sensitivity in Cariamiformes, places Llallawavis below the average for a living species.  As the vocalisation range of most birds falls within the lower half of their hearing sensitivity range, Llallawavis scagliai may have produced low frequency sounds.

Dr. Degrange explained:

“Based on our comparisons with living species, these measurements suggested that the ears of terror birds like Llallawavis were most sensitive to low-pitched sounds.  We are able to say that Terror Birds had low frequency sensitivity – so it seems reasonable to suggest that they also produced low-frequency sounds.”

 The Beautifully Preserved Skull of Llallawavis scagliai

Llallawavis fossil skull.

Llallawavis fossil skull.

Picture Credit: Degrange et al

Not all the so-called “Terror Birds” were predators.  Back in 2013, Everything Dinosaur reported on some new research on Gastornis (also referred to as Diatryma), which suggested that this  early “Terror Bird” was a vegetarian.  Contrary to popular belief, Gastornis was not closely related to the phorusrhacids.

Read more about this study: Isotope Study Suggests “Terror Bird” Gastornis was a Herbivore

Calling Calamosaurus!

Isle of Wight Fossil Find – British Compsognathidae?

It may not look like much, it is a dinosaur fossil but highly eroded and with a great deal of the original bone material missing but this could just be one of the most important fossil finds on the Isle of Wight for a decade.  Amateur fossil collector  Dave Badman found the 4 cm long dinosaur bone at Chilton Chine.  It has been identified as a neck bone (cervical vertebrae) from a small meat-eating dinosaur, that roamed the area that was to become the Isle of Wight around 130 million years ago.  This is the first fossil find associated with this species for nearly 140 years.

Calling Calamosaurus – Significant Fossil Find

A rare fossil find indeed - the first of its kind for nearly 140 years.

A rare fossil find indeed – the first of its kind for nearly 140 years.

Picture Credit: Isle of Wight Council

 The photograph above shows the fossil being held in David’s hand, this provides a “handy” scale, like we stated earlier, it may not look like much but this fossil discovery could prove to be very significant.

What’s All the Fuss?

Whizz back in time to 1882 or thereabouts, two articulated cervical vertebrae were purchased by the then British Museum (now the Natural History Museum, London).  These bones were part of a collection being sold by the estate of the Reverend William Fox (1813-1881) who had been an avid collector of vertebrate fossils on the Isle of Wight, whilst the curate of Brighstone Church.  These two bones were stored with fossils of turtles but the “Keeper of the Fossils” at the British Museum, Richard Lydekker, noticed how similar these bones were to that of a dinosaur – Coelurus, a small Theropod.  Lydekker erected the genus Calamospondylus in 1889, however, this had to be changed two years later to Calamosaurus as the name Calamospondylus had already been used back in 1866 to name another Theropod dinosaur from the Isle of Wight.  The way these neck bones fitted together suggested that the dinosaur had a curved neck, their size indicated that the dinosaur was relatively small, no more than three metres in length.  It was postulated that this was further evidence that compsognathids roamed what was to become the British Isles.

Dinosaurs of the Family Compsognathidae are small, some of the smallest dinosaurs known.  They were fast-running, long-necked hunters with light bodies, small heads, graceful legs and lengthy tails.

An Illustration of a Typical Compsognathid Dinosaur

Small, agile dinosaur.

Small, agile dinosaur.

No other fossils related to this genus had been found since, that was until sharp-eyed Dave spotted one on a beach at Chilton Chine.

Mr Badman’s discovery helps to reaffirm the belief that the original two fossils were from the Wealden Group Beds exposed at the coast just a few miles from the village of Brighstone, where the Reverend Fox lived.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The Reverend Fox was an amateur fossil collector so it is very appropriate for another amateur fossil collector to find the next material to be associated with this elusive dinosaur.  Although, very little is known about Calamosaurus (C. foxii), there were probably a number of small Theropods, scurrying around the undergrowth in this part of the world during the Early Cretaceous.  Perhaps more fossil material will come to light, hopefully we won’t have to wait another 14o years or so before it does.”

The fossil has been donated to the Dinosaur Isle Museum.

Councillor Shirley Smart, (Executive Member for Economy and Tourism) on the island stated:

 ”This find has once again shown the Isle of Wight is one of the world’s best sites for dinosaur fossil discoveries and there is a real community spirit.  I want to thank Dave for bringing the specimen to the museum and allowing it to go on display so that it can be enjoyed by visitors for years to come.”

Dastardly Daspletosaurus a Cannibal?

Tyrannosaurid Bite Marks on the Remains of Daspletosaurus

Palaeontologists have been aware for some time of a growing body of evidence to suggest that a number of different types of Theropod dinosaur engaged in intraspecific combat, that is, one member of a species fights with another member of the same species.  Pathology preserved on skull and jaw bones has been found in a number of different types of meat-eating dinosaur to suggest that activities such as facial biting could have been common place.  These face bites could have been part of some form of ritual combat, perhaps over pack status or perhaps the bites resulted due to competition over mates (or they may have even been inflicted during mating).  A research paper published in the on line academic journal PeerJ, provides further evidence of facial injury, this time the evidence suggests that some of the wounds were premortem, they occurred whilst this dinosaur lived, the other wounds indicate that a large meat-eating dinosaur scavenged the carcase.

The fossils of a Daspletosaurus recovered from the Dinosaur Provincial Park (Alberta, Canada) reveal a rather gruesome story.  This dinosaur suffered from a serious of facial bites whilst it was alive, when it was dead its body was fed upon by another dinosaur. Could this be evidence of cannibalism in the Dinosauria?

Daspletosaurus was a large tyrannosaurid, whose fossils have been found in Alberta and the western United States.  It lived several million years before its more famous relative Tyrannosaurus rex.  Established as a distinct genus in 1970, this stocky, robust carnivore, may have reached lengths in excess of nine metres and weighed as much as an Indian elephant.

A Model of the Fearsome Predator – Daspletosaurus

The fearsome tyrannosaurid Daspletosaurus.

The fearsome tyrannosaurid Daspletosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A number of specimens of Daspletosaurus have been associated with facial injuries.  This particular specimen that consists of a mostly complete but disarticulated skull, vertebrae, ribs including gastralia (belly ribs) and some wonderfully well-preserved tail bones, was discovered in 1994.  The corpse seems to have been transported in a slow moving river system (low energy environment).  Other parts of the skeleton may have originally been present but these probably were eroded away prior to excavation.  A partial femur was also recovered but this has been crushed and distorted.  The authors of the scientific paper Dr. David Hone (School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of London) and Darren Tanke, an expert in vertebrate fossil preparation at the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Drumheller, Alberta, Canada), consider the thigh bone to have been crushed not long after the animal died, i.e. the damage occurred in the Late Cretaceous.  They conclude this as much more delicate and thinner skull bones show no damage at all.

An Illustration of Face Biting Amongst Two Daspletosaurs

The skull and mandible of the dinosaur shows facial injuries.

The skull and mandible of the dinosaur shows facial injuries.

Picture Credit: Luis Rey

Note the illustrator, the very talented Luis Rey, has chosen to represent Daspletosaurus as a feathered dinosaur.

Based on an analysis of other Daspletosaurus material, the researchers estimate that this dinosaur was not fully grown when it died.  It was probably around ten years of age, measured 5.8 metres and weighed more than half a tonne.  This dinosaur suffered a number of injuries, one dorsal rib shows evidence of a fracture but this was well healed by the time the animal died.  It is the skull and the jaws that show most signs of pathology.   Not all the injuries to the skull came from bites, but there is plenty of evidence preserved on the bones to indicate that this dinosaur lived a tough life and that it had its face bitten on numerous occasions.  Many of the bite marks do match the tell-tale shape of puncture wounds from Tyrannosaur teeth, including one particularly savage bite that left a considerable tooth-shaped hole in the back of the skull.

Pathology on the Skull and Upper Jaw Bones of the Daspletosaurus Specimen

Evidence of premortem injury.

Evidence of premortem injury (left lateral view).

Picture Credit: PeerJ

The picture above shows a digital image of the premaxilla, maxilla and other skull bones with the arrows indicating different injuries that were sustained.

A. = A bite to the tip of the snout leaving a sub-circular depression with a diameter of 13 mm and a depth of 6 mm.

B. = A lesion in the bone that resembles a tyrannosaurid bite and drag mark.  Lesion is 22 mm long and at its widest 8 mm, maximum depth 1.5 mm.

C. = Comma shaped potential bite and drag mark on the maxilla which is 22.5 mm long and about 6.5 mm wide at its maximum width.

E. = A puncture wound on the left nasal bone approximately 9 mm radius and 2 mm deep.  Most likely caused by a bite.

All these lesions show signs of healing so they are regarded as premortem.

2. = The base of the  left maxilla is broken and these breaks can be aligned with the left lacrimal bone.  This damage could have been caused either when this animal was alive or as a result of feeding postmortem, or perhaps by trampling or transport by water to the final resting place of the carcase.  This damage is treated conservatively by the authors and regarded as indeterminate, not being classed either as premortem or postmortem damage.

The right surangular bone (rear most portion of the jaw that abuts the dentary and sits above the angular bone), also shows signs of premortem damage.  There are a number of lesions and patches of osteomyeltic bone (bone which shows signs of infection).  This pathology also supports the hypothesis that the Daspletosaurus suffered a series of facial injuries when the animal was alive.

A Close up of the Right Surangular Bone Showing Evidence of Lesion

Scale bar = 20 mm

Scale bar = 20 mm

Picture Credit: PeerJ

The red arrow in the picture shows the roughened bone area that indicates a lesion.  Below this lesion a lighter (light grey) area can be seen, this is almost circular in shape.  This is damage to the fossil that was probably caused by the excavation process.

The scientists also point out evidence of postmortem damage to the specimen.  This damage is defined based on the lack of any indications of healing (swelling, reactive bone).  There are a series of tooth marks with one set of bite-marks found on the medial side of the right dentary (inside of the bone facing the tongue).  A number of other elements have been noted that show possible signs of biting which indicate feeding on the carcase.  The spaces between the tooth marks suggest that a large Theropod made these marks, probably scavenging on the carcase prior to its burial.

Evidence of Postmortem Damage – Tyrannosaur Feeding

Evidence of scavenging on the carcase.

Evidence of scavenging on the carcase.

Picture Credit: Peer J

The picture above shows the rear part of the dentary, the medial side of the lower jaw bone (side facing the inside of the mouth).   The white arrow indicates a near vertical break in the bone, whilst the black arrows highlight damage to the surface of the bone caused by teeth from a large dinosaur.  Other predators were present in the Dinosaur Provincial Park ecosystem, indeed alongside the Daspletosaurus remains, the scientists uncovered a couple of bones (tibia and phalanx) from a small Theropod, along with teeth from crocodilians and a tooth from Champsosaur (long-snouted, reptile that probably ate fish).  The tooth marks are quite widely spaced up to two centimetres apart.  This spacing rules out a crocodile scavenging on the carcase as the crocodilian fauna associated with the Dinosaur Park Formation are all relatively small.  The research team conclude that only a large Tyrannosaur could have left such trace fossils in the specimen.

Daspletosaurus Cannibalism?

Commenting on the animal’s injuries, Dr. David Hone stated:

“This animal clearly had a tough life, suffering numerous injuries across the head including some that must have been quite nasty.  The most likely candidate to have done this is another member of the same species, suggesting some serious fights between these animals during their lives.”

But does the evidence of feeding on the carcase indicate a case of cannibalism?  The authors are careful to state that this probably is not a case of one large Tyrannosaur hunting and killing a smaller Tyrannosaur – a predator/prey relationship.  Instead, the term “late stage carcase consumption” is used.  It is unusual for feeding evidence to be found on the skull and jaws, these areas would not have had a lot of flesh on them.  It can be speculated that much of the carcase had already been buried when a carnivore found the skull and jaw bones and fed upon them.  This unfortunate sub-adult Daspletosaurus could have been scavenged by a member of its own species.  However, another potential scavenger also co-existed with the Daspletosaurs.  A second type of Tyrannosaur, Gorgosaurus, lived at the same as Daspletosaurus and as this predator reached lengths of around nine metres or so, it would have been more than capable of chomping the bones of the fallen Daspletosaurus.

It is not possible to determine whether a passing Gorgosaurus fed on the corpse or whether this is a case of Daspletosaurus cannibalism.

There have been a number of papers published on the face biting phenomenon in Theropod dinosaurs.  Everything Dinosaur team members recently reviewed data published on Monolophosaurus from the Middle Jurassic of China, a Megalosaur, which also shows evidence of intraspecific combat (face biting).

To read the article on evidence of facial biting found on the fossilised remains of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rexEvidence of Facial Biting in tyrannosaurids

CollectA have made a super Daspletosaurus dinosaur model, no evidence of face biting, but none the less a fantastic dinosaur replica.

To see the CollectA range of not to scale prehistoric animal models: CollectA Prehistoric Animal Models

The Return of Brontosaurus?

Is Brontosaurus Back?

There have been lots of comments about the paper published yesterday in the academic, on line, open access portal PeerJ as the resurrection of the genus Brontosaurus has been proposed.  Could “thunder lizard” be back?  We thought it would be a good idea to summarise the research and provide a brief explanation as to what the paper actually means.  So with apologies to the three authors Dr. Emanuel Tschopp​, Professor Octávio Mateus, (both associated with the Museu da Lourinhã, Portugal),  Dr. Roger Benson (Oxford University) and to their academic editor Dr. Andrew Farke (Raymond M. Alf, Museum of Palaeontology, Claremont, California, USA) here are our thoughts on the research.

Brontosaurus Resurrected

Brontosaurus Resurrected

The Problem with Brontosaurus 

Let’s start at the very beginning, why was the dinosaur name Brontosaurus dropped in the first place?

It was the famous American palaeontologist O. C. Marsh who described and named the genus Apatosaurus back in 1877.  He placed two species in this genus Apatosaurus ajax and Apatosaurus grandis.  Both these two dinosaurs come from the famous Morrison Formation (more about this later), A. ajax from Gunnison County, Colorado and A. grandis from Albany County, Como Bluff (Wyoming).  Two years later, more bones of a large, long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur were found by an expedition led by Marsh, close to the Albany County quarry where the fossils of Apatosaurus grandis had come from.  Marsh named this new dinosaur Brontosaurus (Brontosaurus excelsus), the name translates as “Noble Thunder Lizard”.

So we have Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus….

But, during the late 1870′s and the 1880′s Marsh was in competition to find dinosaur bones in the western United States with his great rival Edward Drinker Cope.  The personal feud between these two men has become known as the “Bone Wars”.  A consequence of their rivalry was a need to outdo each other when it came to publishing details of new dinosaur discoveries.  As a result, a number of new species of long-necked dinosaurs from the Morrison Formation came to be erected, some within the Apatosaurus genus, some within Brontosaurus, plus several others as well.  In essence, a number of questionable genera were established.

By the beginning of the 20th Century both Marsh and Cope had passed away and a new generation of palaeontologists were continuing to explore the strata of the Morrison Formation in the quest for dinosaur fossils.  One such scientist was Elmer Samuel Riggs. Riggs discovered an Apatosaurus specimen in 1900 near the town of Fruita, Mesa County, (Colorado).  He went on to review and examine the then known, Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus material and concluded that B. excelsus was so similar to ascribed Apatosaurus fossil material  that it should be considered part of the Apatosaurus genus.  Thus in 1903, in a paper entitled  “Structure and relationships of opisthocoelian dinosaurs, part I” (part II dealt with his newly discovered Brachiosaurus), Riggs successfully argued that the genus Brontosaurus should be dropped in favour of the genus Apatosaurus.  Brontosaurus was no more, instead it was regarded as a junior synonym of Apatosaurus.  Time to erase Brontosaurus out of the literature….

Synonyms and More Synonyms

What on Earth does the term “Brontosaurus is now a junior synonym of Apatosaurus” mean?

Taxonomy is the science of classifying organisms.  In scientific classification there are certain rules.  Most of these rules were laid out by the great Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus in his publication classifying flowers in 1735.  It was Linnaeus who first set out the ground rules for defining genera and species as part of a hierarchy or ranking system that is termed Linnaean classification.  A synonym is simply another name used for an object.  One of the rules in taxonomy, is that the earlier a name is used the more senior it is to other names used for the same organism.  Apatosaurus was named in 1877, Brontosaurus in 1879, therefore when Riggs proposed that Brontosaurus was so similar to known Apatosaurus fossil material, the Apatosaurus name, which had been used first, took precedence and Brontosaurus became a junior synonym of Apatosaurus.

An Illustration of Brontosaurus

Old fashioned illustration but the name is correct after all.

Old fashioned illustration but the name is correct after all.

Picture Credit: Leutscher and Cox (1971)

Over the last hundred years or so, there have been several reassessments of the dinosaurs included in the Diplodocidae Family.  We are not aware of anyone disputing that both Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus should be included in this family of long-necked dinosaurs.  Indeed, the fossil specimens referred to as Brontosaurus and Apatosaurus are placed in the same sub-group of diplodocids, the Apatosaurinae (as opposed to the other sub-group in this family which includes the likes Barosaurus and Diplodocus).  This new research has gone further, it undertook a comprehensive revision of the diplodocids not at a genus level, or indeed by looking at the combined characteristics of several specimens that represent a single species, but by looking at individual specimens – lots and lots and lots of individual specimens.  The researchers conducted the most complete review of the fossil material that has ever been done.  It has taken five years and we think it is the largest scale study of this kind ever carried out.

So Why do this Research?

The scientists did not set out to establish the dinosaur name Brontosaurus once again.  They are not (as far as we know), part of some secret, shadowy organisation devoted to supporting all those lazy movie makers, and toy manufacturers who churned out films, models, dinosaur toys and other merchandise associated with the Brontosaurus moniker.   The resurrection of Brontosaurus as a valid genus is just one consequence of an amazingly detailed analysis which set out to review how the Diplodocus Family of dinosaurs was classified from a taxonomic perspective.  Something like fifty-five percent of all the diplodocid species known were named and described in the 19th or early part of the 20th Century, often from fragmentary specimens, from dig sites that had been poorly mapped.  Approximately, three-quarters of the all the diplodocid genera named to date come from the Morrison Formation of the western United States (see, we said we would mention the Morrison again), and no one had yet gone through all the available fossil material with a fine-toothed comb at the individual specimen level and tried to work out how closely related each type of diplodocid was to the other Diplodocidae.

How do you Decide a Species?

When it comes to extinct animals it’s a lot more complicated.  There is not a lot of Diplodocidae DNA knocking about for a start.  Palaeontologists look at the bones that they have, try to find bones from the same part of the body, cranial material (skull) or vertebrae for example, can be particularly helpful when assessing the long-necked dinosaurs, these are then compared to find similarities and differences.   It helps if mature, fully grown individuals can be compared, for example, we think that the first Apatosaurus species named A. ajax back in 1877 might be made up of the bones from several individual dinosaurs and some of them probably represent sub-adults.  This form of analysis relies on the concept that all the Diplodocidae shared a common ancestor and evolutionary relationships can be established by looking at all the anatomical features and seeing which species share the same derived characteristics.  The more derived characteristics in common between two species the closer they are on the family tree, in other words, these two species are closely related and would sit close together on a diagram showing the Diplodocidae family tree.

In total, the scientists identified 477 different characteristics with which to classify this part of the Sauropoda.  They built up a massive data set and then used computer algorithms to examine it all and work out the best “pattern of fit” for the information, what evolutionary tree diagram best matched.  When this was done, the statistical analysis revealed that those specimens assigned to Apatosaurus excelsus, were so different morphologically to other specimens assigned to the Apatosaurus genus that they belonged outside Apatosaurus in a distinct genus.  Time to resurrect Brontosaurus then and to bring back B. excelsus.

A Model of Apatosaurus (Wild Safari Dinos Series)

Apatosaurus with an identity crisis perhaps?

Apatosaurus with an identity crisis perhaps?

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd/Everything Dinosaur

Three Species of Brontosaurus

What’s more, this extremely detailed study has thrown up a number of other important points.  The Apatosaurinae deck of cards has been well and truly shuffled!  A species of long-necked dinosaur that had been named Apatosaurus yahnahpin  in 1994 was re-named by Bob Bakker, after a revision in 1998, as Eobrontosaurus.  Eobrontosaurus means “dawn thunder lizard”, because it was thought to be more primitive than Apatosaurus.  When the eminent Dr. Bakker erected the genus Eobrontosaurus , it permitted the name Brontosaurus, at least in part, to be associated once again with a super-sized, Late Jurassic herbivore from the Morrison Formation.  However, under this new more complete interpretation of the Diplodocidae, Eobrontosaurus has gone, along with A. yahnahpin.  It turns out that this particular dinosaur shares more derived characteristics with Brontosaurus and as a result, it has been resigned to the Brontosaurus genus and has adopted the name B. yahnahpin to comply with binomial classification rules.

Then there is the case of Elosaurus (E. parvus).  This Sauropod dinosaur was named and described in 1902 (before the Riggs revision).  The specimen was excavated from Albany County (Wyoming), not too far from where the first fossils of Apatosaurus grandis (1877) and Brontosaurus excelsus had been discovered.  It was formerly believed not to be too closely related to either Apatosaurus or Brontosaurus, but under this new research, Elosaurus has been “nested” inside the Brontosaurus genus.  The fossils ascribed once upon a time to Elosaurus are now Brontosaurus parvus.

So we have three species of Brontosaurus in the Brontosaurus genus:

  1. Brontosaurus excelsus (1879)
  2. Brontosaurus parvus (1902)
  3. Brontosaurus yahnahpin (1994)

It really is a case of “Bully for Brontosaurus”!

This comprehensive study, a truly Sauropod-sized undertaking has provided a fresh perspective.  We applaud the efforts of the scientists behind this research.  To trawl through the thousands of specimens, to cope with a fragmentary fossil record, as well as one that has been, in part, poorly recorded and mapped – this is an astonishing academic feat.  To be able to determine morphological characteristics for the analysis, whilst contending with ontogenic considerations as well as issues related to distortion, crushing and inappropriate curating of specimens, this is amazing.

Some of the conclusions made will no doubt, lead to further debate, other revisions have been made by the team behind this research to the Diplodocidae and more will follow as further fossil finds add to the database.  But perhaps the most important lesson here has nothing to do with Brontosaurus at all.  This research has demonstrated how individual specimen-based analysis can be used to help evaluate the Sauropoda.  This approach can be applied to other parts of the Dinosauria and indeed to other sections of the fossil record, potentially revealing fresh, new evolutionary relationships in our study of taxa.

Answering Questions from Young Dinosaur Fans

Questions from Young Dinosaur Fans

Time to catch up on our mailbag and in particular to tackle some of those tricky questions posed by young dinosaur fans.  Everything Dinosaur gets sent emails, letters drawings, pictures and photographs of school displays – all about prehistoric animals and life in the past.  We do our best to respond to all that we receive and to reply to those that require a reply.  For example, we were sent in a lovely photograph from a school near Bath, (south-west England) of the Year Six work on the Stone Age.  Charcoal drawings recreated cave paintings and the children used bone shapes to write facts about life in the past (they enjoyed seeing our Woolly Mammoth fossils too).

Stone Age Studies (Year 6)

Charcoal was used to create  cave paintings.

Charcoal was used to create cave paintings.

Picture Credit: Combe Down Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Our thanks to the school for showing us their wonderful classroom display.

Was Eustreptospondylus a strong predator?

Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis is one of our favourite dinosaurs.  The name means “Oxford’s well curved vertebrae”, as the single, partial specimen assigned to this genus was found at the bottom of a clay pit in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire (England).  Eustreptospondylus was a member of the Megaloasauridae family (most likely), and although the fossils represent a juvenile it has been estimated that this meat-eating dinosaur grew to lengths in excess of six metres and it weighed more than half a tonne.  It would have been one of the most dangerous dinosaurs around during the Middle Jurassic, so yes it was a formidable and strong predator.

The Mounted Specimen of Eustreptospondylus (Wolvercote Specimen)

The fossil specimen on display.

The fossil specimen on display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Siri Scientific Press

Who was bigger Suchomimus or Ichthyovenator?

These two dinosaurs are members of the Spinosauridae family.  They lived at roughly the same time (120-112 million years ago), but in very different places.  The one specimen of Ichthyovenator found to date comes from Laos in south-east Asia, whilst Suchomimus lived in Niger (Africa).  Based on the fossils found it seems that Suchomimus was larger and heavier.  Suchomimus has been estimated to have been around 11 metres in length and approximately 3 tonnes, whereas Ichthyovenator may have reached lengths in excess of nine metres and probably weighed about half as much as a fully grown Suchomimus.

Who was bigger Ichthyovenator or Neovenator?

A supplementary question with a request for information about Neovenator salerii.  Known from just one specimen discovered in 1978 at Brighstone Bay (Isle of Wight), Neovenator provided the first direct evidence that Allosaurs similar to those that roamed the western United States also lived in Europe.  It was around 10 metres long and it weighed as much as 1.5-2 tonnes.  It would have been an apex predator, hunting and killing other dinosaurs.  Intriguingly, the Neovenator fossils show that this dinosaur had a very tough existence.  Its bones display signs of healed wounds (pathology).  Some of the ribs had been broken, vertebrae cracked and this particular dinosaur has suffered a nasty injury to its chest.  As these wounds had healed, the dinosaur had survived these injuries, as to their cause, they probably came about from fights with other dinosaurs.

Where have fossils of Hypsilophodon been Found?

The small Ornithopod called Hypsilophodon was one of the first dinosaurs to be named and described, it being studied prior to the great fossil hunting expeditions that took place in America during the 1870s.  Fossils of this small dinosaur are associated with the Isle of Wight (England) and Spain.

What is Everything Dinosaur’s Favourite Dinosaur Model Series?

We are very lucky to have worked with lots of very clever and enthusiastic model making companies.  We don’t really have a particular favourite.

Who was bigger Bahariasaurus or Edmarka?

Bahariasaurus  (B. ingens) is known from a substantial shoulder girdle and several other bones that were unfortunately, all destroyed in the Second World War.  It was a large, predator perhaps reaching lengths of 11 metres or more.  It is believed to have lived during the Late Cretaceous, but an exact date for the fossil material assigned to this specimen cannot be given.  Bahariasaurus’s taxonomic relationship with other Theropods (where it sits on the Theropod family tree), is disputed.  It may have been related to Carcharodontosaurus or perhaps it was an abelisaurid.  It lived in a coastal swamp and the long leg bones indicate that it was a speedy runner.  Bahariasaurus could be a specimen of Deltadromeus (D. agilis), another meat-eating dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of North Africa, if this is the case then Bahariasaurus was actually more closely related to the Ceratosaurs.

Edmarka too, is having a bit of an identity crisis.  It is known from at least three partial specimens, one of which represents a very young animal.  Fossils of parts of the skull, ribs and a scapula (shoulder bone) have been found in Morrison Formation exposures located in Wyoming.  The name Edmarka rex was erected in 1992, (Bakker, Krails, Siegworth and Filla), but the fossils might represent Torvosaurus tanneri which was named in 1979.  If this is the case then Edmarka becomes a junior synonym of Torvosaurus.  The species name “rex” was in recognition that this dinosaur was probably the largest and heaviest predator around the western United States at the time.  It was around 11 metres long, making it roughly the same size of Bahariasaurus.  More fossils are required before palaeontologists can present further information related to these two Theropods.

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