Category: Dinosaur Fans

Duck-Billed Dinosaurs – Sweet Home Alabama!

Alabama Fossil Sheds Light on the Origins of Duck-Billed Dinosaurs

The Duck-Billed dinosaurs, or to be more precise, the Hadrosauroidea were a super-family of plant-eating, bird-hipped dinosaurs that dominated Late Cretaceous ecosystems throughout most of the northern latitudes.  The fossils of these large dinosaurs, some of which evolved into the biggest facultative bipeds known to science, can be seen in museums throughout the world, but little is known about the evolutionary origins of this very successful part of the Dinosauria.  However, a remarkable fossil find from Alabama (south-eastern United States), is helping to shed new light on the origins of the duck-billed dinosaurs.

The Fossils of Eotrachodon orientalis Laid Out

The skull and jaw bones including the predentary are nearest the camera.

The skull and jaw bones including the predentary are nearest the camera.

Picture Credit: Jun Ebersole, McWane Science Centre

The beautifully preserved fossils were found by amateur fossil hunters exploring a creek in Montgomery County, Alabama, when they come across one of the bones eroding out of the soft marine sediment.  Thanks to the efforts of an international team of researchers, the fossil material has been carefully prepared and it has been confirmed that these bones and the few teeth (see bottom right hand corner of the photograph), represent a new species of primitive duck-billed dinosaur.  The dinosaur has been named Eotrachodon orientalis (dawn rough tooth from the east).  It is the most complete primitive hadrosaurid dinosaur ever to be found in the eastern United States.

An Illustration and Scale Drawing of E. orientalis

The orange shaded area indicate fossils found.

The orange shaded area indicate fossils found.

Picture Credit: Florida State University with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

In Honour of Trachodon

Lead author of the scientific paper, published this week in the “Journal of Vertebrate  Palaeontology”, Albert Prieto-Marquez, stated that the genus name honours Trachodon, a name that would be very well known to fans of dinosaurs.  Trachodon is the genus erected in 1856 by Joseph Leidy as a result of fragmentary bones and teeth having been excavated from the Upper Cretaceous rocks (Judith River Formation) of Montana.  It was one of the very first American dinosaurs described, the first duck-billed dinosaur to be named (although some of the teeth used to describe it were later identified as Ceratopsian), and although the name is now regarded as a nomen dubium (not a valid genus), Trachodon appeared in countless books about dinosaurs for the best part of 120 years.  The popularity of Trachodon was helped by wonderful illustrations produced by palaeoartists such as Zdenek Burian (Trachodon and Tyrannosaurus rex).

Trachodon Became the Archetypal Duck-Billed Dinosaur

An illustration of Trachodon.

An illustration of Trachodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Now Trachodon has been honoured with a valid genus (Eotrachodon).  At perhaps, nine metres long, Eotrachodon orientalis was certainly not the biggest, but the fossil find is extremely significant none-the-less.  Firstly dinosaur fossil finds are rare from the south-eastern United States.  To read an article about which U.S. States have dinosaur fossils: 37th U.S. State with A Dinosaur Fossil

Commenting on the significance of the discovery, one of the authors of the scientific paper, Gregory Erickson (Florida State University) explained:

“This is a really important animal in telling us how they came to be and how they spread all over the world.”

Did the Hadrosaurs Originate in Appalachia?

Whilst the specimen was being prepared at the McWane Science Centre (Birmingham, Alabama), the scientists were able to piece together the skull bones and identify a modified nasal area of the skull that had, until now been regarded as a characteristic associated with Saurolophine hadrosaurids (solid-crested and crestless forms).  Dating the fossil to the Late Santonian faunal stage (83 million years ago), it suggests that the duck-billed dinosaurs originated on the continental landmass known as Appalachia.  During the Late Cretaceous, North America was split by into two by a wide sea (the Western Interior Seaway), Laramidia lay to the west, whilst the larger landmass of Appalachia lay to the east.  Phylogenetic analysis indicates that Eotrachodon is a basal member of the hadrosaurids and thus, it can be postulated that this group of dinosaurs evolved on Appalachia.  Land bridges formed as the Western Interior Seaway permitted these dinosaurs to migrate off this continental landmass and to spread to other parts of the Late Cretaceous world.

Reseracher Jun Ebersole, (McWane Science Centre), stated:

“For roughly 100 million years, the dinosaurs were not able to cross this barrier.  The discovery of Eotrachodon suggests that duck-billed dinosaurs originated in Appalachia and dispersed to other parts of the world at some point after the seaway lowered, opening a land corridor to western North America.”

Fossil Find Suggests Hadrosaurids Originated from Appalachia

Sweet Home Alabama.

Sweet Home Alabama!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A View of the Left Lateral Side of the Skull

Scale bar = 5cm

Scale bar = 5cm

Picture Credit: Albert Prieto-Marquez et al

Rebor “Punch and Judy” Dimorphodon Models Reviewed

Rebor “Punch and Judy” Dimorphodon Models Reviewed

The eagerly awaited Rebor Dimorphodon replicas are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur and what a splendid Pterosaur diorama these figures make.  The Rebor “Punch and Judy” Dimorphodon models are in approximate 1:6 scale and represent a male and female of the species (D. macronyx).  The male, nick-named Punch, is depicted as sitting on a log and like “Judy”, the female, it is available separately, but Everything Dinosaur are also offering the two models as a set, as when joined together they really do make a spectacular addition to any model fan’s collection.

Two Dimorphodons (Male and Female) by Rebor

A very well crafted Pterosaur dioramra.

A very well crafted Pterosaur diorama.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The diorama allows Rebor to explore the idea of sexual dimorphism in Pterosaurs.  A number of fossils indicate that it was the males of the Pterosauria that were likely to possess more flamboyant crests and ornamentation than the females.  Although, the dimorphodontids lack cranial crests, Rebor has opted to give their male a more colourful snout and a bright red tail rudder.  These are in stark contrast to the female (Judy), which tends to have a more muted colour scheme overall.

“Punch” the Flamboyant Rebor Dimorphodon Model

The male of the pair (Punch).

The male of the pair (Punch).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor are to be congratulated, they have depicted the deep skull, the dentition and robust limbs of this Early Jurassic Pterosaur very effectively.  Intriguingly, the male is only just a fraction bigger than the female (eighteen centimetres compared to sixteen and a half centimetres).  The fossil record suggests that the males and females of the species (Dimorphodon macronyx), were generally similar in size.  This is in contrast to later Pterosaurs, such as those that make up the genus Pteranodon.  In the pteranodontids, it is the males that are believed to have been much larger than the females.

The male is depicted as sitting on a log.  Clearly, Rebor have taken into consideration some of the more recent research into dimorphodonts.  It was once thought that these flying reptiles were the Mesozoic equivalent of Puffins and that they lived near the coast and dined on fish.  Studies into the teeth, jaw mechanics and the anatomy of these Raven-sized creatures indicate that they were in all likelihood insectivores and not particularly agile fliers.  They have been depicted as animals of the forests, grubbing around in the leaf litter for insects, larvae and other small animals.  The presence of a log for the male Dimorphodon to perch on pays homage to this idea that these flying reptiles were very much at home in woodlands.

“Judy” Soaring over the Skies

Lots of detail to be admired.

Lots of detail to be admired.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Judy – The Flying Dimorphodon Figure

The female is supplied with a stiff metal rod, which measures twenty centimetres in length.  One end of this rod is inserted into a small hole in the chest of the model, the other end can be inserted into a discrete hole in the base.  This permits the collector to depict this Pterosaur in a flight.  The overall height of the model is around twenty-two centimetres, no glue is required, we found that the rod held the female Pterosaur model securely without the need to resort to a permanent fix.  Both models have articulated lower jaws and the paintwork and detailing around the jaws is particularly noteworthy.

Anatomical studies indicate that Dimorphodon was a relatively poor flier.  Wing morphology and loading suggests that this deep-skulled Pterosaur would have had limited aerial manoeuvrability and may have been actually quite reluctant to take to the air.  Leading Pterosaur expert, the very talented Mark P. Witton, has speculated that Dimorphodon was a Mesozoic equivalent of an extent Rail or a Grouse and that flight would have been quite strenuous, perhaps only taking to the air for very short flights – hops between trees for example.  The wingspan of the female (Judy) is twenty-four centimetres and at 1:6 scale this roughly approximates to the known fossil record (wingspan up to 1.5 metres).

The Pair of Rebor Dimorphodons (Punch and Judy)

Although very splendid replicas in their own right, the models really come into their own when united and displayed in a single diorama.  The log which the male sits on can be positioned onto the base that comes with Judy.  In fact, Rebor have engineered their models to ensure that there is a snug fit between this base and the log.  The female can be depicted flying over the male whilst he sits, perched as if in readiness to join her in flight, who knows, a courtship between these two beautiful model Pterosaurs perhaps?

Punch and Judy can be Displayed Together

The "Punch and Judy" show!

The “Punch and Judy” show!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The view the Rebor Dimorphodon models and all the Rebor replicas: Rebor Replicas

Commenting on the addition of these models to the Rebor replica range, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The two models work really well together and Rebor have obviously strived hard to provide a very effective Pterosaur diorama.  It is great to see a flying reptile like Dimorphodon added to the Rebor range, Punch and Judy are very exciting additions to the Rebor product portfolio.”

There is certainly much to be admired from the latest Rebor introductions.  The base of Judy even comes with a little lizard figure.  Once the two models are united, this little reptile can be posed peeping out from underneath the log, as if it is hiding from the two dimorphodonts, just in case they decide to make a meal of him.

The Female Dimorphodon Replica (Judy) Comes with a Lizard Figure

Nice detail on Judy's base including a movable lizard figure.

Nice detail on Judy’s base including a moveable lizard figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 Well done Rebor!  Both models are very well made and together they make a fantastic Pterosaur diorama.

Highly recommended.

Cambridge Plesiosaur Donated to Oxford Could Be New Species

Potential New Plesiosaur Species

A nearly complete plesiosaur skeleton that came to rest in marine sediments now located in northern Cambridgeshire might just prove to be a new species.  The fossilised remains were excavated out of a layer of rock discovered in a fenland quarry in November 2014, by archaeologists from the Oxford Clay Working Group.  A nearly complete plesiosaur skeleton that came to rest in marine sediments now located in northern Cambridgeshire might just prove to be a new species.  Over the next four days the team were able to excavate and remove nearly 600 bone fragments that represent a considerable portion of the entire skeleton.  Only some limb elements are missing.  The fossil, nick-named Eve, represents an individual around five and a half metres in length, early indications are that the bones show similarities with another plesiosaur known from the Peterborough area, called Picrocleidus.  However, Picrocleidus is believed to have been much smaller, at less than half the length of this new discovery, and its fossils are associated with much younger Jurassic strata (Callovian faunal stage), whilst “Eve” was found in rocks dating from about 165 million years ago (Bathonian faunal stage of the Jurassic).

The Huge Humerus (Upper Arm Bone) of the Plesiosaur

Sea monster from a Cambridge fen.

Sea monster from a Cambridge fen.

Picture Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Dr. Carl Harrington, a member of the Oxford Clay Working Group, was the first person to find bones of this new sea monster.  Describing the find as “fantastic”, Dr. Harrington recalled the moment he first uncovered the delicate skull bones:

It was one of those absolute “wow” moments.  I was the first human to come face-to-face with this reptile.”

The quarry is owned by building supplies company Forterra and this part of Cambridgeshire has become very well known for its Jurassic vertebrate fossil finds.  For example, the first fossils of the giant prehistoric fish Leedsichthys  (L. problematicus) were also found in the Peterborough area.  Forterra have donated the specimen to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where the fossilised remains are currently being prepared and studied in more detail with a view to determining whether or not this is a new species of marine reptile.

An Artist’s Interpretation of the New Marine Reptile (Plesiosaur)

Scale bar = 1 metre.

Scale bar = 1 metre.

Picture Credit: Nobomichi Tamura with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Plesiosaurs had two pairs of  oar-like paddles which they used to propel themselves through the water, recent studies suggest that, just like extant penguins, these marine reptiles, some of whom could reach lengths in excess of fifteen metres, actually “flew” through the water.

To read more about this research into plesiosaur propulsion: Computer simulations and marine reptile underwater flight

Nice to see that Cambridge is prepared to donate a pair of oars to Oxford, their bitter rowing rivals.

The Field Team Exclaimed that they had Never Seen so Many Vertebrate Fossils in Such a Small Area

A very fossiliferous area indeed!

A very fossiliferous area indeed!

Picture Credit: Oxford Museum of Natural History

New Papo Prehistoric Animals Make Their Debut – Part 2

New Papo Models (Kaprosuchus and the Green Velociraptor)

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been able to get up close to the five new prehistoric animal models to be added to Papo’s exciting model portfolio this year.  We have already reported on three of the models, namely the feathered Velociraptor, the new version of the Tyrannosaurus rex and the impressive Papo Baryonyx which should all be with us in just a few weeks time.

To read the report: Excitement Builds for New Papo Dinosaurs

However, we want to turn our attention to the other two models which Papo intend to release later in the year.  Time to show some photographs and comment upon the new for 2016 Papo Kaprosuchus and the re-painted Velociraptor replica.

The New for 2016 Papo Kaprosuchus Prehistoric Crocodile Model

The pen provides scale.

The pen provides scale.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This really is the pick of the bunch, when it comes to the new model introductions this year.  It is a wonderful figure, a fantastic replica of the Cretaceous crocodile Kaprosuchus (K. saharicus).  This fast-running ancient predator certainly captured the imagination of dinosaur fans when it was formally described back in 2009.  West Africa 95 million years ago, must have been a very scary place with the likes of Kaprosuchus on the prowl.  The model reminds us of the Papo Nile Crocodile figure, but the teeth and the limb position are all “Boar Crocodile” that’s for sure.  The figure measures 23 centimetres in length, but naturally, had that impressive and powerful tail been stretched out behind the model, it would have been a lot longer.  Based on the known fossil record, Everything Dinosaur estimates that this prehistoric crocodile figure is in approximately 1:20 scale.

Papo Kaprosuchus Replica – A Splendid Prehistoric Crocodile

An impressive ancient crocodile model.

An impressive ancient crocodile model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A number of Papo prehistoric animal models have articulated jaws, but unlike them, this figure does not have an articulated lower jaw.  In this instance it is the upper that is articulated.  Once the mouth is opened those magnificent teeth are revealed in all their glory.  The attention to detail does the team at Papo great credit.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s existing range of Papo figures: Papo Prehistoric Animals and Dinosaur Models

New for 2016 the Papo Green Velociraptor

As well as introducing a feathered Velociraptor model this year, (see yesterday’s blog article), Papo will be adding a green version of their existing Velociraptor model.  The model has been painted with a distinctive green hue.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur have already nick-named this dinosaur “Echo” in honour of one of the “Jurassic World” raptors.

The Papo Green Velociraptor Dinosaur Model

A new Velociraptor figure from Papo for 2016.

A new Velociraptor figure from Papo for 2016.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Good news, for dinosaur fans, the introduction of this colour variant does not spell the end for the existing Papo Velociraptor (Everything Dinosaur product code MOPA011, Papo model number 55023), there are no planned retirements from the Papo range this year.  Everything Dinosaur will therefore be stocking all three Papo Velociraptor models in 2016.

Both the Papo Kaprosuchus and the Papo green Velociraptor models are expected sometime in quarter 2 of this year (around June or perhaps July).  We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of these models in our warehouse.

Excitement Builds for New Papo Dinosaurs

New Papo Prehistoric Animals Make Their Debut – Part 1

Team members at Everything Dinosaur got the chance to admire the five new Papo prehistoric animal models for 2016 recently, the first opportunity staff have had to get up close to the new Papo Baryonyx, green Velociraptor, the coloured variant running T. rex , Papo Kaprosuchus and the feathered Velociraptor.  The models, four of them dinosaurs, certainly are quite a striking bunch (not sure what the collective noun for a group of Papo models should be), we were able to take measurements and get an idea of approximate scale.

First up, the very quirky Baryonyx, much more colourful than the catalogue pictures had indicated.  It definitely reflects the Papo style.

The New for 2016 Papo Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Available from Everything Dinosaur in a few weeks.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in a few weeks.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It is certainly a very intriguing replica, with its stripes, rusty coloured neck, spikes and tripodal stance.  The new Papo Baryonyx measures 33 centimetres long and that elegantly sculpted upper jaw reaches some 16.5 centimetres into the air.  This new model is bigger than the Papo Allosaurus and only slightly smaller than the imposing Papo Spinosaurus, it is approximately the size of the Papo Running T. rex replica.  Based on these measurements, team members estimate that the Papo Baryonyx figure is around the 1:30 scale, but since the maximum size of Baryonyx is not known, this may be an underestimate on our part.

Everything Dinosaur expects this exciting new Spinosauridae to be in its store Everything Dinosaur in a few weeks time.

New Papo Baryonyx Figure is Coming Soon!

Papo Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Papo Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Feathered Velociraptor

Also available in just a few weeks is the new Papo Velociraptor dinosaur model.

Papo Feathered Velociraptor Dinosaur Model

The Papo feathered Velociraptor model.

The Papo feathered Velociraptor model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo have gained a strong reputation for their Theropod dinosaur models, and the existing Velociraptor model is a firm favourite amongst dinosaur fans and collectors.  The new feathered Papo Velociraptor is roughly the same size as the non-feathered Papo “raptor”, measuring 17 centimetres in length.  The tail has an attractive plume of feathers and, as you would expect from Papo the detailing and the paintwork are excellent.

A Close Up of the New Papo Feathered Velociraptor

A close look at the Papo feathered Velociraptor dinosaur model.

A close look at the Papo feathered Velociraptor dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Team members report that the hip height of this new dinosaur model is 7.5 centimetres approximately.  Like the Baryonyx, it too, will be available from Everything Dinosaur in just a few weeks.

Running T. rex Colour Variant

Joining the feathered Velociraptor and the Baryonyx at Everything Dinosaur will be a new colour variant of the very successful Papo Running T. rex dinosaur model.  It is the same size as the existing figure in the Papo range but the paintwork is most impressive and eye-catching.

The New for 2016 a Papo Running T. rex Colour Variant

Papo Running T. rex new colour version

Papo Running T. rex new colour version

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Just like the Baryonyx and the Papo feathered Velociraptor this replica will have an articulated lower jaw and on our first viewing all team members were impressed with the new style and paintwork.  It is a super edition to the Papo model range.

Papo Running T. rex – A Very Well Painted Dinosaur!

A new version of the Papo Running T. rex.

A new version of the Papo Running T. rex.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s current Papo model range: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

Our report and photographs of the other new for 2016 Papo prehistoric animal models (Kaprosuchus and the green Velociraptor) will be published shortly.

Quarry Site Might Reveal Evidence of Cretaceous Mass Extinction

Potential to Map End Cretaceous Extinction Event in New Jersey Quarry

The eastern part of the United States might be regarded as something of a “poor relation” to the western side of the country when it comes to dinosaur bones.  True, eastern USA dinosaur fossils are much rarer than from locations such as Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Montana in the west, but the State of New Jersey might just have one very special “Lagerstätte”, that tops those vertebrate fossil bearing rocks known elsewhere in America.  A disused quarry located close to the township of Mantua might provide palaeontologists with unique insights into the End Cretaceous mass extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs.

New Jersey Quarry Might Provide Fresh Insight into Cretaceous Mass Extinction Event

Excavating invertebrate fossils in the quarry.

Excavating invertebrate fossils in the quarry.

Picture Credit: Rowan University

Around sixty-five million years ago, this site was at the bottom of a shallow sea, close to the landmass known as Appalachia.  In one layer of rock, about fourteen metres below the level of today’s land surface, scientists have found a treasure trove of marine fossils.  Professor Kenneth J. Lacovara, a professor of palaeontology and geology at the nearby Rowan University describes this particular bed as a “mass death assemblage”.  Could all these animals have perished as a result of a single catastrophic event, such as an extraterrestrial impact event?

If this is the case, then this quarry, which sits behind a shopping mall, could be the only site in the world where animal remains can be found that date from the End Cretaceous mass extinction event.  Fossils are found in a number of rock layers in the quarry, but a vast assemblage is confined and concentrated to one bed in the strata.  The rocks have been dated to around 65 million to 66 million years old, but further radiometric and biostratigraphic analysis is required before the link with the mass extinction event can be given more validity.  If a connection is established, then this location could provide an unparalleled window into a pivotal moment in the history of life on Earth.

Elevated amounts of the rare Earth element iridium found in close proximity to the richest fossil bearing layer, indicate that these animals lived at a time extremely close to what is believed to have been an asteroid impact, one that played a major role in the extinction of about 75% of all terrestrial species.

Last year, Rowan University entered into an agreement to purchase the sixty-five acre site.  The University intends to turn the quarry into a world-class educational resource.  A number of open days have already been organised and it has been estimated that some 8,000 local people have already taken part in fossil digs.

An Aerial View of the Mantua Quarry Site

A window into the End Cretaceous extinction event.

A window into the End Cretaceous extinction event.

Picture Credit: Rowan University

Fossils found include a vast array of marine invertebrates, animals like Brachiopods, Bivalves and Molluscs.  In addition, shark teeth are relatively common and fossils from ancient crocodiles and turtles have also been discovered.  Occasionally, the fossilised remains of a Mosasaur (marine reptile) are found.  Bones and other remains from once living organisms such as teeth and shells can pile up as underwater currents relocate them on the seabed, concentrating them into one area, perhaps where the current dies away.  However, at this location, one bed reveals skeletons of larger animals have remained relatively intact.  This suggests that these animals all died at approximately the same time and then settled gently on the sea bottom.  Initial dating assessments, puts this fossil layer tantalisingly close to the extraterrestrial impact event that took place in the Yucatan peninsula (Mexico).

Now that the future of this rather special site has been secured, scientists hope to undertake a much more extensive study of the palaeogeography of the area and to establish this location’s potentially unique relationship to the extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs as well as the Pterosauria and most of the marine reptiles.

A Sneaky Peek of the Schleich Dunkleosteus

Schleich Dunkleosteus –   A Sneaky Peek

Team members at Everything Dinosaur got the chance to get up close to a number of the new for 2016 Schleich prehistoric animal models the other day.  Feedback from our customers, those had already viewed the pictures on this blog in previous articles, has been positive, but we were asked to confirm whether or not the Schleich Dunkleosteus had an articulated jaw or not.  Just by chance we shot a short piece of video, showing the articulated jaw of the Dunkleosteus.  We do our best to respond to all the questions and queries we get regarding new model introductions, so without any further delay, here is a short ten second video which showcases the new Schleich Dunkleosteus and confirms that this Placoderm replica does indeed have an articulated lower jaw.

A Very Quick Peek at the New for 2016 Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This model is due to be introduced in the summer of 2016.  It is scheduled to become available at around the same time as the Herrerasaurus and the Baraparasaurus models.  For information on these two Schleich releases and for exclusive photographs, including more shots of that fantastic Dunkleosteus, check out this earlier article: New Schleich Dinosaurs* for 2016

Dunkleosteus from the Deadly Devonian

Reaching lengths of up to ten metres, Dunkleosteus (D. terrelli) was one of the largest vertebrates around during the Late Devonian.  Part of the highly successful Placoderm group, these armoured fish dominated marine and freshwater environments, having first evolved sometime in the Silurian.  This bizarre looking fish, with its huge jaw plates that acted like shears, was formally named and described in 1873 by Dr. John Newberry.  The genus name is in honour of the famous American palaeontologist Dr. David Dunkle of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

A Scale Drawing of the Giant Dunkleosteus

Fearsome marine predator of the Late Devonian.

Fearsome marine predator of the Late Devonian.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of large Schleich prehistoric animal models supplied by Everything Dinosaur: Schleich World of History Prehistoric Animal Models

The fearsome reputation of this prehistoric fish was firmly secured in the minds of fans of ancient life when the Devonian was rated number five in the BBC television documentary “The Seven Deadliest Seas”.  Adventurer Nigel Marvin came face to face with this leviathan in the programme.  He used a spherical diving cage to protect himself from those powerful cutting plates.

Of all the new Schleich releases scheduled for this year, the Schleich Dunkleosteus certainly seems to have captured people’s imaginations.

We hope readers like our sneaky peek of the Schleich Dunkleosteus.

Wales Gets a New Dinosaur – Dracoraptor

The Dragon Thief of Wales – Dracoraptor hanigani

The beautifully preserved meat-eating dinosaur fossil found at Lavernock Point (south Wales) has been formally named and described.  Say hello to Dracoraptor hanigani, a two metre long predator whose fossilised remains were found by brothers Rob and Nick Hanigan.  Reporting in the open access on line journal “PLOS One”, the fossilised material very probably represents the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur found to date in the British Isles.

Dracoraptor hanigani – An Agile Little Hunter

On display the fossils with a skeleton reconstruction.

On display the fossils with a skeleton reconstruction.

Picture Credit: National Museum of Wales

To read more about this exciting fossil find: Welsh Dinosaurs – New Early Jurassic Theropod from South Wales

The genus name means “dragon thief”, in honour of one of the national symbols of Wales, the species name honours the two fossil-hunting brothers who found it.  This little hunter may only be distantly related to the “raptors”, but it does represent a significant fossil find, as dinosaurs are particularly rare in Lower Jurassic rocks.  Dracoraptor, lived on an island archipelago, some 201.3 million years ago, plus or minus 200,000 years, the preserved bones and teeth (some 40% of the skeleton), have been so precisely dated in geological terms thanks to biostratigraphic dating of the strata.  The rock layers can be divided up into distinct zones (biozones) based on the characteristic fossils that layer contains.  The dinosaur’s remains were found between two well-documented zonal layers.  It was found above a conodont* zone (Chirodella verecunda), associated with the very end of the Triassic and below an ammonite zone Psiloceras planorbis, which is associated with the first faunal stage (Hettangian) of the Jurassic.

*Conodonts are an extinct group of tiny, jawless, marine animals that had mouths filled with several pairs of tooth-bars.  They are believed to be related to early, jawless fish and probably superficially resembled eels.  Their distinctive teeth, often found in abundance, provide very useful “markers” in rocks, helping palaeontologists to date the relative ages of different rock layers.  Conodonts became extinct at the end of the Triassic.

Helping to Understand the Early Diversity of the Dinosauria

The fossil, collected from a cliff fall at Lavernock Point, has had a charmed life.  Firstly, the fossil was found in marine sediments, apparently, the carcase of this little dinosaur was washed out to sea and settled on the sea floor.  Sea urchins crawled over it and most likely fed on the rotting flesh, some of these sea urchins have been preserved in the surrounding rock matrix.  Currents did not disturb the bones, which explains why the specimen is so complete.  In addition, if Rob and Nick Hanigan had not chanced upon the specimen, the fossils would have been washed out to sea and lost forever in just a few days.

Furthermore, Everything Dinosaur reported on the serendipitous discovery of more of the specimen, by third year palaeontology student Sam Davies, who coincidently is tutored by one of the authors of the PLOS One paper, Dr. David Martill (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth).

To read more about Sam’s lucky find: Lucky Find Puts Welsh Dinosaur on a Firm Footing

Views of One of the Teeth Associated with the Specimen (Presumed to be from the Upper Jaw)

This dinosaur probably ate insects and other small animals.

This dinosaur probably ate insects and other small animals.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Explaining the significance of this fossil discovery, co-author of the paper Steven Vidovic (PhD Researcher at Portsmouth University), commented:

“It’s right at that point in the diversification of dinosaurs where so-called Theropod dinosaurs,  the meat-eating ones, became what are called Neotheropods.  It’s from this moment onwards that they go on to become all the forms we know, like T. rex, Velociraptor and even birds.”

Very Rare Fossil Find

Early Jurassic dinosaur fossils are extremely rare and this particular specimen, which may represent an immature adult, is very important as it provides data on the evolution of meat-eating dinosaurs so soon after the Triassic/Jurassic extinction event.  Dracoraptor hanigani is the first dinosaur to be described from the Jurassic of Wales.  It probably lived on a small island (part of St David’s Archipelago), or perhaps its corpse had been washed out sea from the nearby, larger land mass known as the Welsh Massif.  It is one of very few early Theropod remains found in Europe.

The Palaeogeography of the Early Jurassic (Europe – Hettangian)

Europe consisted of a series of islands 200 million years ago.

Europe consisted of a series of islands 200 million years ago.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The picture above show the palaeogeography of western Europe, approximately 200 million years ago.  Modern western Europe has been superimposed to provide a reference.  The numbers in the small, yellow circles record the location of other early Theropod or Neotheropod discoveries:

  1. Isle of Skye
  2. Barrow upon Soar (Leicestershire)
  3. Wilmcote (Warwickshire)
  4. Lavernock Point – the location of the Dracoraptor find
  5. Dorset
  6. Airel (France)
  7. Brouch (Luxembourg)

A cladistic analysis suggests that Dracoraptor was a basal Neotheropod and it may have been related to Tawa hallae and Daemonosaurus chauliodus ( both from the Ghost Ranch location, New Mexico, United States).  Everything Dinosaur has written about the discovery of both Tawa and Daemonosaurus, for further information on these fast-running little predators, see the links below.

To read more about Tawa: New Theropoda Dinosaur Discovery Sheds Light on Dinosaur Diversification

To read more about Daemonosaurus: Little Demon from the Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Name a Megaloceros Competition! WIN WIN WIN with Everything Dinosaur!

Win a Super Megaloceros Soft Toy.  Go pink with Everything Dinosaur!

WIN! WIN! WIN! with Everything Dinosaur!

Everything Dinosaur has another super, soft toy giveaway.  We have a big, bright and very cuddly soft toy which needs a home.  It is a reindeer and very sweet it is too, but our palaeontologists have been pretending that it is a baby Megaloceros – can you give it a new home?

Win a Very Pink Soft Toy Member of the Cervidae (Deer Family)

Deer little thing!

Deer little thing!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The deer family (Cervidae) go back a long way in the fossil record.  Whether it is a Megaloceros or a baby Reindeer, it certainly is very cute and one lucky person is going to win it, just give this bright pink little chap a name.

Win a Super Soft Toy in our Competition

All you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then comment on the pink deer picture including a suggestion for the name for this super and very sparkly soft toy.  It is certainly a “deer little thing”  but he/she needs a name!

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” our Facebook page and enter the competition!

We will draw the lucky winner at random and the name caption competition closes on Friday 12th February.  Good luck, we “deerly” hope you win!

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of super prehistoric animal soft toys: Prehistoric Animal Soft Toys

Terms and Conditions of Soft Toy Name Caption Competition

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

Only one entry per person

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

The Everything Dinosaur name a soft toy competition runs until Friday 12th February 2016.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur

New Schleich Dinosaurs* for 2016

New Schleich Prehistoric Animals for 2016 (Part 3)

Today, we conclude our short series, for the time being, previewing the exciting new prehistoric animal models coming out from Schleich this year.  The German company may be moving towards more gift sets and play sets as a rule, but Schleich still remain committed to making prehistoric animals that appeal to both the discerning collector and to children.  This, the last of our Schleich preview articles for the time being, showcases the talent of the design team and includes pictures of the Herrerasaurus, Dunkleosteus and the Baraparasaurus models on our blog site for the first time.

The Schleich Herrerasaurus Dinosaur Model

The Schleich Herrerasaurus Dinosaur Model

Available in the summer of 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Available in the summer of 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With its robust looking body and sturdy jaws, Schleich have interpreted Herrerasaurus as a bit of a “bruiser”.  Herrerasaurus was one of the first, really big carnivorous dinosaurs to evolve.  At around five metres long and with teeth in excess of four centimetres in length, this was the apex predator in the region now known as north-western Argentina, during the Late Triassic.  Speaking of jaws, yes, this model does have an articulated lower jaw and Everything Dinosaur expects this replica to be in its warehouse around late June/early July.

The Schleich Herrerasaurus measures around 22 centimetres long, and that long tail points some 10.5 centimetres into the air.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus

It is pleasing to see that Schleich are keen to add other prehistoric animals, not just dinosaurs, to their product portfolio.  Say hello to a super replica of Dunkleosteus, the Placoderm super-predator that would have made a meal of Herrerasaurus, had the Theropod dinosaur existed some 130 million years earlier and decided to go for a swim in the sea.  Dunkleosteus too, was an apex predator, one of the largest vertebrates to have ever existed by the time it became extinct towards the end of the Devonian.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus Replica

The Schleich Dunkleosteus model.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Measuring a substantial 21.5 centimetres long, this is a beautiful replica and we are most impressed with the way in which Schleich have interpreted that famous bony head.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus has an Articulated Jaw

Swimming into view in June/July 2016.

Swimming into view in June/July 2016.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Schleich prehistoric animal models: World of History Prehistoric Animal Models

Dunkleosteus Model by Schleich

The pen provides scale.

The pen provides scale.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Dunk”, as we have affectionately called this replica, will be available in the summer.

Schleich Baraparasaurus “Big Legged Lizard”

Dinosaurs from the Early Jurassic of India don’t often get a look in, so it is wonderful to see a Baraparasaurus replica introduced by Schleich.  Baraparasaurus may have been one of the largest of the Early Jurassic Sauropods and its phylogenetic affinities may still be debated, but it is great to see this giant from southern India, dating from around 190 million years ago, being added to the Schleich model range.  The name means “Big legged lizard” at around eighteen metres long, this was one of the giants of the (Sinemurian/Pliensbachian – possibly Toarcian) faunal stages.

The Schleich Baraparasaurus Dinosaur Model

A very colourful dinosaur model.

A very colourful dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Like many of the Sauropods, no skull material is associated with this genus, however, despite over 300 individual bones have been assigned, no bones from the feet have been found either.  The Schleich Baraparasaurus dinosaur model measures an impressive 32 centimetres long, it is the largest prehistoric animal model Schleich will be bringing out this year.  The head of the model stands around 14.5 centimetres high.

A Brightly Coloured Schleich Sauropod

An intriguing pose.

An intriguing pose.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

New Schleich Dinosaurs* – for simplicity we included the Dunkleosteus model in this article as it is due to be released at the same time as the Schleich Herrerasaurus and the Schleich Baraparasaurus

To view the smaller dinosaur and prehistoric animal models made by Schleich: Schleich Dinosaurs

 New Schleich Dinosaurs (Part 1): New Schleich Dinosaurs (part 1)

New Schleich Dinosaurs (Part 2): New Schleich Dinosaurs (part 2)

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