All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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Dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed articles, features and stories.

16 07, 2018

Does the Fossil Record Represent True Diversity?

By | July 16th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

How Helpful is the Fossil Record When it Comes to Extinct Animal Diversity?

When it comes to understanding biodiversity in ancient palaeoenvironments, scientists have to rely on the fossil record for their information. Ghost lineages can be inferred, the likelihood of related genera can be proposed using cladistics and phylogeny, but ultimately it is the fossils that form the basis of our understanding about how diverse life was in the past.  This reliance on fossil material has numerous drawbacks.  The fossil record is very incomplete and there is a large preservation bias between different organisms and different environments.  For example, a snail with its hard shell, living on the muddy bottom of a shallow sea has got more chance of becoming a fossil than a soft-bodied mushroom living in a temperate forest.

Palaeontologists have to ask themselves: can the fossil record can be trusted to provide information about biodiversity?

Tyrannosaurus rex Might Be Popular with Museum Visitors but Other Meat-eating Dinosaurs Have a Much Less Complete Fossil Record

T. rex skeleton at the Frankfurt Natural History Museum

T. rex might be very popular with museum visitors, but in reality most of the Tyrannosauroidae are very poorly known.

Mosasaurs Help to Provide Some Insight

Species are often named and described on the flimsiest of evidence, take for example famous dinosaurs such as Trachodon and Troodon, dinosaurs that were first named based on the finding of isolated teeth.  Fortunately, these days ,there is a higher bar set when it comes to establishing that a fossil represents an animal new to science, although some new species are still named based on very fragmentary fossils.

Could it be that our understanding of past biodiversity is simply related to the quality of fossil material in different geological rock formations through time?  This question relates to a fundamental debate within palaeontology about the quality and trustworthiness of the fossil record.

Researchers from Bristol University and Leeds University set out to explore the relationship between the number and quality of fossils and their relationship with past diversity.  Writing in the journal “Palaeontology”, the scientists focused on the Mosasauridae, that family of marine reptiles closely related to today’s snakes and lizards that thrived in the Late Cretaceous before meeting their demise at the same time as the dinosaurs.

Using Mosasaur Fossils to Examine the Diversity of Extinct Animals

A Mosasaur exhibit on display.

Apex predator of the Late Cretaceous – looking at Mosasaur fossils to understand the diversity of extinct groups of animals

Picture Credit: Bonhams

Mosasaurs evolved into a number of different forms during the Cretaceous, some were giants, measuring more than thirteen metres in length and were the apex predators of marine ecosystems.  Other species were much smaller such as the five-metre-long Platecarpus that fed on fish, squid and ammonites.  Scientists have even identified a possible freshwater species of Mosasaur (Pannoniasaurus inexpectatus).

The Fossil Record Indicates Diversity Amongst the Mosasauridae

Illustrating the diversity of the Mosasaurs.

Fossils illustrate the diversity of the Mosasauridae.

Picture Credit: Tom Stubbs and Dan Driscoll

The picture (above), illustrates some of the diversity found in the Mosasauridae.  Some species are known from very fragmentary remains such as isolated bones and teeth, other species have been named based on far more complete skeletons.  The partial lower jaw (top picture), shows the rounded teeth, almost ball-like teeth of a member of the Globidensini tribe of Mosasaurs.   A group of Mosasaurs that evolved specialised teeth to cope with hard-shelled prey such as ammonites and crustaceans (durophagous diet).  The photograph (far right), shows a single Mosasaur tooth.  It is very large and the crown is robust and pointed, typical dentition associated with predatory behaviour, attacking and consuming other large vertebrates.  The picture (bottom), shows a complete, restored skull of a Mosasaur with a jaw containing small, recurved teeth indicative of a diet of fish or other small slippery creatures such as squid.

Dr Dan Driscoll (Bristol University), the lead author of the research stated:

“Mosasaurs have one of the richest vertebrate fossil records and have attracted study for over two centuries.  The first Mosasaur described was in 1808!  Often, studies of fossil record quality have focused simply on the numbers of fossil species, however, it is important to consider the completeness of individual fossil specimens, and whether this distorts our view of diversity.  To do this, robust statistical analysis is required.”

Using Mathematical Models to Test the Completeness of the Mosasaur Fossil Record

The researchers documented over four thousand and eighty Mosasaur specimens and scored them for their degree of completeness.  This is the largest quantitative analysis of its kind undertaken to date.  By using mathematical modelling, the scientists were able to demonstrate that fossil completeness does not bias the fossil record of Mosasaurs and that the rich fossil record of the Mosasauridae does provide an accurate illustration of the diversity and evolutionary history of these marine reptiles.

The Diverse Mosasauridae Family Occupied a Number of Niches within Marine Ecosystems

Tylosaurus attacks.

Fearsome marine reptiles such as Tylosaurus were apex predators.

Picture Credit: BBC Worldwide

Bristol University’s Dr Tom Stubbs, a co-author of the study explained:

“Mosasaurs were key players in Late Cretaceous marine ecosystems.  Our study confirms that Mosasaurs were a successful group of animals that continued to diversify through their evolutionary history, before being abruptly wiped out by the extinction event that also impacted dinosaurs and many other groups.”

The conclusions provided by this new research reveals new insights into the evolution of the Mosasauridae, and highlights that, although the fossil record is most definitely incomplete, variable fossil completeness does not appear to bias large scale evolutionary and ecological patterns.

Co-author, Dr Alex Dunhill, (School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds), added:

“Palaeontologists often presume that the vertebrate fossil record is heavily biased by sampling.  This may be so but, here we show that variation in the completeness of fossil specimens does not appear to bias large scale evolutionary patterns.”

The scientific paper: “The Mosasaur Fossil Record Through the Lens of Fossil Completeness” by D. Driscoll, A. Dunhill, T. Stubbs and M. Benton published in Palaeontology.

9 07, 2018

Triassic Dinosaurs Just Got a Lot Bigger!

By | July 9th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Ingentia prima – Giant Late Triassic Sauropodomorph from Argentina

Argentina might have been home to huge, plant-eating dinosaurs associated with Cretaceous-aged strata, after all, one of the biggest terrestrial vertebrates known to science is the Titanosaur called Argentinosaurus (A. huinculensis), just one of a number of super-sized leviathans from this part of the world.  However, a team of scientists, writing in the academic journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” have announced the discovery of yet another giant, South American dinosaur, but this time one that roamed northern Argentina around 210 million years ago, in the Late Triassic.

The dinosaur, classified as a member of the Sauropodomorpha, has been named Ingentia prima and it was certainly very big for a Late Triassic animal, with an estimated body weight of around ten tonnes and a length of approximately ten metres.  To provide a comparison, the Sauropodomorph Plateosaurus (P. engelhardti), from the Late Triassic of western Europe, that would have been a contemporary of Ingentia prima, is estimated to have reached a length of about eight metres with a body mass of around four tonnes.  The later Sauropodomorph Lufengosaurus (L. huenei), from the Early Jurassic of China, might have been around six metres long and is estimated to have weighed more than 1.5 tonnes, Ingentia is much, much bigger.

Sauropodomorpha Size Comparison

Sauropodamorpha size comparison.

Sauropodomorpha size comparison Plateosaurus, Lufengosaurus and Ingentia prima compared.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur with I. prima illustration by Jorge A. González

First Giant

The discovery of Ingentia prima does rather upset the dinosaurian apple cart.  It had been thought that gigantism in the Sauropodomorphs evolved in the Early Jurassic, however, here was a ten-tonne giant, comparable in size to those Early Jurassic Sauropods that roamed some thirty-five million years later.  The evolution of giant, plant-eating, long-necked dinosaurs came about as a result of the development of numerous anatomical characteristics but I. prima displays many features of the body plan of basal, small Sauropodomorphs and lacks most of the anatomical traits previously regarded as adaptations to gigantism.

The Fossilised Material in the Field (Partial Exposure)

Ingentia prima fossils.

The fossil material representing a single, large individual dinosaur is partially exposed.

Picture Credit: Cecilia Apaldetti

Lead author of the scientific paper, Dr Cecilia Apaldetti (Universidad Nacional de San Juan, San Juan, Argentina), commented:

“It [Ingentia] was enormous.  It was at least twice as large as the other herbivores of the time and until now it was believed the first giants to inhabit the Earth originated in the Jurassic, about 180  million years ago.”

The dinosaur’s scientific name pays tribute to its size, the name translates from the Latin to “first giant”.  It had been thought, that if the first dinosaurs appeared around 230 million years ago, it took fifty million years for the first giants to evolve, the discovery of a partial skeleton in San Juan Province (north-western Argentina), has changed all that.

Quebrada del Barro Formation

The fossil material consisting of shoulder blades, cervical vertebrae (neck bones) and elements from the forelimbs, heralds from the Quebrada del Barro Formation.  The Ingentia fossil material was found adjacent to the fossilised remains of three individuals belonging to the already known and closely related species Lessemsaurus sauropoides, which had been named and scientifically described back in 1999.

The researchers, in addition to describing I. prima formally for the first time, were able to examine the three new specimens of Lessemsaurus sauropoides.  Ingentia has been placed in a newly erected family of long-necked dinosaurs, the Lessemsauridae, a branch of the Sauropoda that evolved gigantic forms like the later Eusauropods (true Sauropods).  The Eusauropoda includes those famous Jurassic giants such as Diplodocus, Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus, as well as the later Titanosaurs such as the mighty Argentinosaurus, which roamed Argentina some 115 million years after Ingentia became extinct.

Circular Saws were used to Help Extract the Large Fossil Bones

Extracting the fossils of Ingentia prima.

Circular saws were used to remove the larger blocks of fossils after they had been jacketed.

Picture Credit: Cecilia Apaldetti

Why so Big?

Early Sauropodomorphs were small, agile bipeds, but the ancestors of Ingentia adopted a different evolutionary strategy.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Developing a larger gut would allow more effective processing of tough vegetation, enabling these types of dinosaurs to extract more nutrients from the plants that they consumed.  Furthermore, by becoming big, these dinosaurs would have had less to fear from the predators that shared their environment, including Theropod dinosaurs.  If you are very large, a meat-eating dinosaur might avoid you and look for an easier meal elsewhere.  Becoming a giant is an evolutionary strategy found in a number of herbivorous animals”.

The Remarkable Skeleton of Ingentia prima

The lessemsaurids (Ingentia, Lessemsaurus and a third Early Jurassic dinosaur from South Africa named Antetonitrus), may have lacked the extremely long necks found in later Eusauropods, but their bones reveal some remarkable adaptations nonetheless.  Pneumatic structures have been identified in the vertebrae (air sacs), this indicates that these dinosaurs had a sophisticated and extremely efficient bird-like respiratory system.  These air sacs will have also helped to prevent these animals from overheating, a problem with large creatures, (surface area to volume ratio – hence one of the reasons why African elephants have large ears).  This kind of respiratory system implies the presence of cavities in their bones – a pneumatised skeleton that would have helped to lighten the animal and make locomotion more efficient.

Although Ingentia shows these adaptations to gigantism, it lacks many of the features associated with the later Sauropods.  For example, its legs were more bent and not the huge, weight-bearing columns associated with the Diplodocidae and the Macronaria.

The Remarkable Bones and Respiratory System of Ingentia prima

The sophisticated respiratory system of Ingentia prima.

The air sacs of Ingentia (green) the lungs shown in brown.

Picture Credit: Jorge A. González

A Dinosaur Ahead of Its Time

The quality of bone preservation permitted the research team to examine the histology of the dinosaur’s bones.  The scientists compared the bone growth in the new fossils with those of an earlier, bipedal Sauropodomorph as well as a later Eusauropod.  The histology of the earlier Sauropodomorph revealed a cyclical growth pattern, the animal growing in spurts, whereas, the Eusauropod bones, when examined in cross-section, revealed another pattern of growth.  This dinosaur grew acyclically, growing throughout its long life.  Members of the newly erected Lessemsauridae family grew differently.  Their bones show evidence of growth spurts, a trait found in their ancestors but when they grew, they really put on a spurt.  The researchers identified a growth rate of around two to three times faster than the already impressive rate of the later Eusauropods.

Ingentia demonstrates that the first wave of colossal giant dinosaurs evolved some thirty-five million years earlier than previously thought.  In addition, with an accelerated growth rate, unique limb adaptations and a bird-like respiratory system, the Lessemsauridae got big but they did it in a different way when compared to the later long-necked dinosaurs.

When it comes to the “LESSemsauridae” – Less may actually mean more…

The scientific paper: “An Early Trend Towards Gigantism in Triassic Sauropodomorph Dinosaurs” by Cecilia Apaldetti, Ricardo N. Martínez, Ignacio A. Cerda, Diego Pol & Oscar Alcober published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

8 07, 2018

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor “War Pigs”

By | July 8th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Video Review of the Rebor “War Pigs- Ankylosaurus Figures

The latest JurassicCollectables video to be posted up on their YouTube channel features not one, but three Rebor replicas to be exact.  All three of the recently introduced Ankylosaurus 1:35 scale figures have been reviewed in a single video, permitting collectors and dinosaur model fans to get a really good close up look at these armoured dinosaurs and compare the three different colour schemes.  Palaeontologists are not sure in which habitat Ankylosaurus (A. magniventris) lived, so Rebor  have cleverly introduced three different versions – “plain”, “mountain”and  “woodland”.

JurassicCollectables Reviews All Three War Pigs – “Plain”, “Mountain” and “Woodland”

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Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

A Flexible Bony Club Tail

In this detailed and most informative review, (the video lasts a little under nineteen minutes), viewers are given the opportunity to have a really good look at all three of these skilfully crafted replicas of one of the most famous plant-eating dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous.  In the video, viewers are shown just how flexible that bony club tail is.  The figure comes as a two-piece set, the tail can be inserted into a slot and this saves on packaging and helps to protect the tail and the rest of the figure during transit.  Once inserted, the tail can be moved into a variety of poses, collectors can depict their Ankylosaurus model swinging its club tail.

JurassicCollectables Demonstrating the Flexible Bony Club Tail

The flexible tail of the Rebor War Pig - Ankylosaurus

Demonstrating the flexible tail of the Rebor War Pig Ankylosaurus (Mountain colour variant).

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The head of each model can also be twisted and put into a variety of poses.  This is not demonstrated in the video, but JurassicCollectables cover this point in their most helpful comments section.

To view the Rebor War Pig Ankylosaurus replicas and the entire Rebor prehistoric animal model range: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Replicas

“Magnificent Fused Lizard”

Although named and scientifically described around 110 years ago and now representing an entire family of armoured dinosaurs (the Ankylosauridae), palaeontologists are increasingly becoming aware of just how atypical this armoured giant actually was.  Rebor’s interpretation follows the principles laid out in several recently published scientific papers and the narrator from JurassicCollectables carefully guides the viewer over some of the finer points of each colour variant.  The close up of the interior of the mouth with its glossy look and the demonstration of the articulated jaw are worthy of special mention, as is the comparison with the Papo Ankylosaurus figure that occurs towards the end of this video review.

The medium of video permits the differences between the three colour schemes to be clearly seen.  The narrator’s personal favourite is “plain”, seen on the left of the picture below.

All Three Rebor War Pigs Shown Together

All Rebor Ankylosaurus models together.

All Rebor War Pig models “Plain”, “Mountain” and “Woodland” shown together.  Which one is your favourite?

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

All three figures together make a very impressive display, the idea of providing three distinctive colour schemes for this 1:35 scale replica based on different habitats is an inspirational one from Rebor.

All Three Rebor War Pigs can be Purchased as a Set from Everything Dinosaur (whilst stocks last)

All three Rebor War Pigs are available together as a special set.

All three War Pigs (Ankylosaurus models) are available as a set from Everything Dinosaur (whilst stocks last).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Comparing the Rebor War Pigs with Other Rebor Replicas

Off-colour Alan makes his customary appearance, there is a nice shot of Alan patting the head of one of the Rebor replicas.  JurassicCollectables have built up an extensive database of Rebor model reviews and it is pleasing to note that a size comparison is made using the Rebor Y-rex figure (Yutyrannus huali).

The Rebor Y-rex Figure Compared to the Rebor Ankylosaurus War Pig (Plain Colour Variant)

Rebor War Pig Ankylosaurus (plain) compared to the Rebor Y-rex figure.

The Rebor Y-rex figure (Yutyrannus) compared to the Rebor War Pig Ankylosaurs “plain” colour scheme.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

It is these little touches and these details that really help to make the JurassicCollectable’s YouTube channel stand out from all the other review channels.

Everything Dinosaur recommends the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables.  Visit the YouTube channel of Jurassic Collectables here: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , don’t forget to subscribe to the JurassicCollectables channel, after all, some 71,000 dinosaur and prehistoric animal model fans already have!

6 07, 2018

Win, Win, Win with Everything Dinosaur

By | July 6th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Win “You’re Roarsome” – Dinotastic Puns and Quotes

WIN! WIN! WIN! with Everything Dinosaur! 

Everything Dinosaur has teamed up with those clever, creative people at Summersdale Publishers and we have two copies of their latest offering “You’re Roarsome” to give away.  “You’re Roarsome” is an uplifting little book, full of dinosaur themed puns and quotes to rock your world.

Win a Copy of “You’re Roarsome” – (Front Cover Picture)

The front cover of the awesome "You're Roarsome".

“You’re Roarsome” front cover.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Summersdale Publishers

This pocket-sized, prehistoric publication is jam-packed with quotes, sayings and puns to tickle your “funny bone”, enthuse and inspire.  With a pink Tyrannosaurus rex in sunglasses on the front cover and quotes from such luminaries as William Shakespeare, Nelson Mandela and Bruce Lee inside, nothing like this has been published for over 65 million years!

Win a Copy of “You’re Roarsome” in Everything Dinosaur’s Competition

All you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then comment on the “You’re Roarsome” front cover picture, just tell us your favourite dinosaur and we will enter you into our free prize draw.

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

We will draw the lucky winners at random and the “You’re Roarsome” competition closes on midnight Monday 30th July.  Good luck, we hope you win this “Pterrific” little book.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaurs and prehistoric animal models and toys: Everything Dinosaur

Little Snippets of Wisdom, Puns and Quotes

Fossil-fuelled puns and quotes.

Fossil-fuelled puns and quotations.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Summersdale Publishers

Terms and Conditions of the “You’re Roarsome” 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  “You’re Roarsome” competition runs until midnight Monday 30th 2018.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Win, Win, Win with Everything Dinosaur

Win, win, win with Everything Dinosaur.

Win a copy of the “You’re Roarsome” book with Everything Dinosaur.  Like our Facebook page and comment on the front cover picture by telling us your favourite dinosaur to enter this free prize draw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Summersdale Publishers

“You’re Roarsome” is published in hardback and priced £6.99 (ISBN: 978 1 78685 812 2).

4 07, 2018

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter Early July 2018

By | July 4th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter (Early July 2018)

The latest prehistoric animal scale models from CollectA along with information about the new Rebor Velociraptor “Sweeney” and the Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant figure are all included in Everything Dinosaur’s latest customer newsletter (early July 2018).  Four new CollectA scale models are in stock, plus the Rebor Velociraptor “Sweeney” reserve list is now open and the Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant model (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) is due to arrive very shortly.

Everything Dinosaur’s Newsletter (Early July 2018) Features the New for 2018 CollectA Scale Models

CollectA Dimetrodon and the CollectA Estemmenosuchus 1:20 scale figures.

Two new Permian prehistoric animal figure models have arrived in stock at Everything Dinosaur – CollectA Dimetrodon and the CollectA Estemmenosuchus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Four New CollectA Scale Prehistoric Animal Models

The latest CollectA scale models have arrived at Everything Dinosaur and feature in the company’s latest newsletter.  Fans of CollectA  have requested that more Palaeozoic figures be added to the range.  Earlier this year, a 1:20 scale Dunkleosteus was added and now joining this Devonian Placoderm are two Permian figures, representing Dimetrodon and the Dinocephalian Estemmenosuchus.  Both these figures are also in 1:20 scale.

To view the new CollectA Deluxe scale models and the rest of the CollectA scale model range: CollectA Deluxe Models

The 1:40 Scale CollectA Deluxe Ceratosaurus and the CollectA 1:20 Scale Gomphotherium Figure

CollectA Gomphotherium 1;20 scale model and the 1:40 scale CollectA Ceratosaurus.

The CollectA Ceratosaurus and the CollectA Gomphotherium models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In addition to the CollectA Dimetrodon and the CollectA Estemmenosuchus, also just in are the 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus dinosaur model and the prehistoric elephant Gomphotherium.  Like the CollectA Dimetrodon figure, the 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus dinosaur model has an articulated lower jaw.

The Reserve List for the New Rebor Velociraptor “Sweeney” Has Opened

Newsletter subscribers are among the first to learn that another Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor replica is on the way.  A reserve list has been opened for Rebor “Sweeney”, subscribers can ensure that they are able to purchase this new Theropod figure when it arrives at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse later this month.

To reserve a new Rebor Velociraptor figure “Sweeney” or to request a subscription to Everything Dinosaur’s regular company newsletter, simply drop us an email: Email Everything Dinosaur

The New Rebor Velociraptor “Sweeney” and the Eofauna Straight-tusked Elephant

The new Rebor "Sweeney" Velociraptor figure and the Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant.

The new Velociraptor figure from Rebor “Sweeney” and the Eofauna Palaeoloxodon antiquus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur newsletter is a great way for subscribers to keep up with new model introductions, information about figure retirements and other news about collecting dinosaurs and prehistoric animal figures.

The New Eofauna Straight-tusked Elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus)

Readers of our latest newsletter were also provided with an update on the progress being made with the eagerly awaited Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant figure (Palaeoloxodon antiquus).   This new prehistoric animal replica, the second in the exciting Eofauna range, is due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse in just a few days.  A reserve list has been opened for this popular 1:35 scale model, collectors don’t need to tie a knot in their trunks to remember, let Everything Dinosaur take care of reserving a model for you.  When the stock arrives, we will set a figure aside for you and even drop you an email to let you know that this model is available to purchase.

Newsletter subscribers can look out for more updates about other new for 2018 figures shortly.  At Everything Dinosaur, we do all we can to keep our readers and subscribers informed.

3 07, 2018

Eggshells and Eggs Provide a Unique Insight

By | July 3rd, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Cracking the Code – What Eggs and Eggshells Can Tell Us

A researcher based at the University of Edinburgh has produced a “cracking” assessment on the use of eggs and eggshells of living and extinct Archosaurs to obtain information about ancient environments, the behaviour and biology of vertebrates that may have lived many millions of years ago.

Writing in the open access Royal Society Open Science, Shaena Montanari (School of GeoSciences, Edinburgh University), has reviewed how the use of eggshells in the modern and fossil record allow an interpretation of a variety different Archosaurs and other amniotes across deep time, providing a unique record of ancient environments and ecosystems.

A Nest of Large Dinosaur Eggs

Titanosaur dinosaur eggs.

An example of Titanosaur fossil eggs.  Fossil eggs and eggshell can provide valuable insights into egg-layers and environments.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Overlooked Body Fossils

Biologists studying living vertebrates and palaeontologists studying extinct animals can look at the skeleton (fossil bones) and make deductions.  Other materials in both modern and ancient environments can be overlooked.  Take for example, the shelled eggs of Archosaurs, the Squamata and potentially monotremes, these, if they are preserved in the fossil or archaeological record, can provide a wealth of information to help support other areas of research.  Palaeontologists know that dinosaur eggs were not that much different from the eggs of living birds.  Eggs provide another biogenically created material that can be used to reveal specific information about the egg-layers and the environments they live in when assessed with different types of geochemical, morphological and molecular techniques.   The matrix surrounding the holotype fossil material of the dromaeosaurid Deinonychus (D. antirrhopus), contained fragments of fossil eggshell, later assigned (in all probability due to the low energy depositional environment and taphonomy of the fossil material), to Deinonychus.   This was the first record of a dromaeosaurid egg, however, this material was either overlooked or perhaps ignored when the dinosaur bones were first found back in the 1930’s.

Examples of Fossil Eggshell

Examples of fossil eggshell.

Three examples of fossil eggshell.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

The photograph (above) shows three examples of dinosaur eggshell fragments from the Gobi Desert.  Such items may be overlooked in the quest for more substantial body fossils but different eggshell types possess varied forms of ornamentation and can help to establish more information about the fossil biota.  The three pieces in the photograph, probably represent different types of dinosaur (from left to right Titanosaur, oviraptorid and potentially troodontid).  Microscopic analysis of the shell structure, along with pore density and isotope data can provide information about the ancient environment and inferred nesting behaviour of long extinct creatures.  Isotope analysis from eggshell can even provide information on the diet of the animal that laid the egg.

Post-doctoral researcher Shaena, explains in the paper that archaeologists can learn a remarkable amount about early human settlements by examining ostrich eggshells.  Ostrich eggshell is found in association with human food waste dumps, as bead decorations, sometimes associated with ritual burial or as containers for water.  Archaeological sites as far apart as China, India and north Africa have yielded Ostrich egg remnants.  These pieces of shell could be used to provide direct evidence of environments where early communities settled.

A Selection of Whole or Virtually Complete Dinosaur Eggs

Examples of fossil Archosaur eggs.

Examples of whole or partial fossilised eggs.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

The photograph shows a variety of fossil Archosaur eggs from Mongolia (a) three bird eggs from the Gobi Desert, (b) a pair of unidentified Theropod dinosaur eggs from the Cretaceous of Mongolia (AMNH FR 6513).  Photograph (c) shows an oviraptorid egg (Cretaceous of Mongolia -AMNH FR6508) and (d) is a probable Ornithopoda egg, again from the Cretaceous of Mongolia (AMNH field number 707)

Clumping Isotopes – Learning About Body Temperature

Researchers have developed a technique in which the body temperature of the dinosaur laying the egg can be calculated by plotting the presence of two rare isotopes found in calcium carbonate a key element in the formation of eggshell and a material that has a high preservation potential.  From an analysis of the way in which these two isotopes clump together in the same molecule, scientists are able to infer data about the body temperature of the mother.  As the eggs are formed within the oviduct(s) of egg-laying animals, the temperature of mineral formation should reflect the body temperature of the ovulating female.  In this way, such studies can inform the debate about endothermy or otherwise within the Dinosauria.

The scientific paper: “Cracking the Egg: The Use of Modern and Fossil Eggs for Ecological, Environmental and Biological Interpretation” by Shaena Montanari and published in the Royal Society Open Science.

1 07, 2018

New Deluxe CollectA Figures in Stock

By | July 1st, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

New Deluxe CollectA Figures in Stock

The new for 2018, CollectA Deluxe prehistoric animal models are in stock at Everything Dinosaur.   The CollectA 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus, along with the CollectA 1:20 scale Dimetrodon, Gomphotherium and the amazing Estemmenosuchus.  These hand-painted replicas are welcome additions to, what is already an extensive range of prehistoric animal figures offered by CollectA

CollectA Prehistoric World Scale Models in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur stocks the hand-painted, CollectA Prehistoric World scale models.

CollectA Prehistoric World – prehistoric animal models in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the latest figures to be added to Everything Dinosaur’s CollectA inventory.  In response to the requests from model collectors, the company has decided to make more models of Palaeozoic animals, hence the addition of the bizarre, “crowned crocodile” Estmmenosuchus and the iconic, sail-backed reptile Dimetrodon.  A model of the Late Devonian Placoderm Dunkleosteus was introduced by CollectA earlier in the year.  Another Theropod dinosaur has been added, this time it is a 1:40 scale model of the Late Jurassic predator Ceratosaurus.  The last of the quartet is a superb replica of the early elephant (Gomphotherium), a timely reminder, that the elephant family was once far more diverse than it is today.

The Age of Dinosaurs 1:40 Scale Range

As the CollectA range has expanded, the company has undertaken a degree of rebranding.  A new “Age of Dinosaurs 1:40” scale range has been introduced, although model collectors will note that it also includes pterosaurs and marine reptiles.  New to this range is the 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus, a vividly coloured meat-eating dinosaur with an articulated lower jaw.  A number of species have been assigned to the Ceratosaurus genus, most of which were somewhat lighter and smaller than other hypercarnivores associated with the Morrison Formation of the United States.  To achieve an accurate depiction, CollectA have cleverly depicted their Ceratosaurus figure on a sculpted base.  This permits a more dynamic pose and allows the hind feet to be in appropriate proportion to the rest of the body.

The New for 2018 CollectA 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus Model

CollectA Ceratosaurus dinosaur model.

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Ceratosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view all four models and to see the rest of the scale CollectA figures: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Animal Models

CollectA Other Prehistoric Animals

Three new models have been added to this range.  There is the remarkable Estemmenosuchus, a large, robust animal, distantly related to modern mammals.  Fossil of this Dinocephalian come from Europe (Russia).   Two species have been described, the smaller, E. mirabilis (which we think this CollectA replica represents), was named and described fifty years ago.  It is apt therefore, that on the golden anniversary of the naming of this species, CollectA should introduce a 1:20 scale replica.

Famous for the Bony Horns – Estemmenosuchus from CollectA

Estemmenosuchus model from CollectA.

A Deluxe 1:20 scale Estemmenosuchus model from CollectA.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

1:20 Scale Dimetrodon Model

No Palaeozoic model series is complete without a replica of Dimetrodon.  This pelycosaur is one of the best known of all the Permian synapsids and a number of species have been named.  The new for 2018, CollectA Dimetrodon is in 1:20 scale and it shows some of the very latest thinking concerning this carnivore.   That famous sail does not extend all the way up those tall spines, reflecting the views of a number of palaeontologists.  The Dimetrodon has been given a coat of camouflage, a nod to the likely predatory habits of this reptile, it was probably an ambush hunter, relying on camouflage to permit prey to approach too close, unaware of the presence of the predator.  The CollectA model also has an articulated lower jaw.  Note also the hole in the sail, many fossil specimens show signs of pathology, so CollectA have given their Dimetrodon figure a little bit of “battle damage”.

The CollectA 1:20 Scale Dimetrodon Model

CollectA Dimetrodon model.

CollectA Dimetrodon in 1:20 scale.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

CollectA Deluxe Gomphotherium

Last but not least, is the excellent CollectA Deluxe Gomphotherium figure.  This model too is in 1:20 scale and it is great to see another species of prehistoric elephant being included in the model series. Although the Gomphotheres have an extensive fossil record, with some evidence suggesting the very last of them died out around 8,000 years ago, they are not that closely related to extant elephants.

The CollectA Deluxe Gomphotherium 1:20 Scale Model

CollectA Gomphotherium.

The CollectA 1:20 scale Gomphotherium model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Intriguingly, the length of the trunk is speculative, as the trunk contains no bones, it does not readily fossilise and the length of this iconic piece of a Proboscidean is not known.  CollectA have opted to give their Gomphotherium figure a functional trunk.

Commenting to Everything Dinosaur when these models were first announced, designer Anthony Beeson stated:

“He [the Gomphotherium model] is an addition to our prehistoric elephants.  He is a strange beast with his upper enamel-covered tusks recurving whilst the lower are thought to have been used for digging up roots or water plants.  The length of the trunk is unknown, so I have calculated what I believe would be a useful length.  I have given him a partial furring of hair.”

All four of these exciting replicas are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

29 06, 2018

Papo Acrocanthosaurus (Colour Variant) in Stock

By | June 29th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

New for 2018 Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The new for 2018 Acrocanthosaurus colour variant from Papo is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  Dinosaur fans and model collectors have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new version of the Papo Acrocanthosaurus replica, today, that wait came to an end.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus (Colour Variant) Model is in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus (new colour scheme for 2018).  This model, like its Acrocanthosaurus predecessor has an articulated lower jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Papo Acrocanthosaurus model and the rest of the Papo prehistoric animals: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Figures

A New Acrocanthosaurus Colour Scheme

In 2017, Papo introduced a purple-coloured version of Acrocanthosaurus, this model was intended to “whet the appetite” for Papo model fans, as it was withdrawn at Christmas.  The new colour variant, nick-named “tiger stripes” replaces the purple colour scheme figure.  The Papo Acrocanthosaurus with the purple colouration is no longer in production and rapidly become a rare figure.

The Original Papo Acrocanthosaurus (2017 Vintage)

Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read an article about the retirement of the original Papo Acrocanthosaurus: Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model Due to be Retired

A Large Papo Dinosaur Model

The two Papo figures are essentially the same sculpt, but with different paint profiles and colour schemes.  The models are quite sizeable, they measure a fraction under twenty-nine centimetres in length and that impressive tail tip is just under sixteen centimetres off the ground.

Fortunately, team members at Everything Dinosaur were able to secure the very last of the production run of the purple Acrocanthosaurus.  This figure is available from Everything Dinosaur whilst stocks last, collectors have the opportunity to complete their collection, before this excellent figure becomes extinct.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus (2017)

Papo Acrocanthosaurus (2017)

The 2017 Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit:  Everything Dinosaur

An Early Cretaceous Apex Predator of America

Known from Early Cretaceous strata from the United States, “high-spined lizard”, is estimated to have reached lengths in excess of eleven metres. It probably was the apex predator within the ecosystem, but its classification within the Theropoda has been debated over the years.  When first scientifically described (1950), it was assigned to the Allosaurus family, indeed it might be related to the Late Jurassic Allosaurs, but most palaeontologists today classify Acrocanthosaurus as a basal member of the Carcharodontosauridae (the shark-toothed lizards).  The tall neural spines associated with many of this dinosaur’s vertebrae inspired the scientific name for Acrocanthosaurus.  However, they also clouded the taxonomic assessment.  Acrocanthosaurus has been assigned to the Spinosauridae as well as the taxonomic Megalosaurus waste basket in the past.  Affinities with the British Theropod Becklespinax have also been proposed.

One thing is for certain, this new Papo model with its spectacular “tiger stripes” is going to lead to fans of the Papo model range assigning this particular figure to their model collections.

28 06, 2018

Deinonychus – Dinosaur Renaissance

By | June 28th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Deinonychus – Dinosaur Renaissance

Everything Dinosaur team members have just updated their Deinonychus (D. antirrhopus) fact sheet.  From time to time, all our fact sheets get reviewed, revised and updated.  The dromaeosaurid Deinonychus has a special place in vertebrate palaeontology, as it was following the publication of a scientific paper by the American palaeontologist John Ostrom in 1969, that the Dinosauria began to be depicted as animals as active as living birds and mammals.  Prior to Ostrom’s seminal paper “Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus, an Unusual Theropod from the Lower Cretaceous of Montana” in July 1969, dinosaurs were still largely depicted as slow-witted, slow-moving, cold-blooded reptiles.

The Illustration of Deinonychus from the 1969 Scientific Paper

The Dinosaur Renaissance - Deinonychus

The original “Dinosaur Renaissance” inspired by Bakker (Deinonychus).

Picture Credit: Robert T. Bakker (1969)

Ostrom along with his student Robert T. Bakker helped to usher in a “Dinosaur Renaissance”, that dinosaurs were potentially endothermic and the body plan of Deinonychus could only represent an extremely active, agile hunter.  Writing in the bulletin (Bulletin 30 – July 1969) of the Peabody Museum of Natural History (Yale University), Ostrom explained:

“A detailed description is presented of the skeletal anatomy and adaptations of Deinonychus antirrhopus (Ostrom 1969), a very unusual carnivorous dinosaur (Order Saurischia, Suborder Theropoda) from the Cloverly Formation (Early Cretaceous) of Montana.  The species is characterised by a number of features that indicate an extremely active and agile animal, fleet of foot and highly predaceous in its habits.”

In this very detailed monograph (it runs to something like 160 pages), Ostrom even described the likely “habits of Deinonychus”.  Ostrom compared the vertebrae to those of living flightless birds such as Moas (Ratites),  he concluded that the backbones were held horizontal to the ground and not in the inclined attitude (the kangaroo stance), usually depicted for Theropods.  Comments were made about the potential speed of this dinosaur, it was stated that Deinonychus was likely to be a fast runner, but the absence of a femur restricted Ostrom from making specific claims as to the velocity of this obligatory biped.  Ostrom did state that the elongated foot bones were reminiscent to those found in deer, the cheetah and in fast-running ground dwelling birds.

Ostrom wrote:

“Regarding locomotion, the hind limbs of Deinonychus appear to have been powerful limbs for moderately, but not unusually fast running.”

This description gave plenty of scope to movie makers when it came to depicting “raptors”, in films such as “Jurassic Park” that were to inspire and thrill in the early 1990’s.

The Scale Drawing of Deinonychus antirrhopus on the Everything Dinosaur Fact Sheet

Deinonychus life reconstruction (2017).

Deinonychus life reconstruction showing feathers.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

No Feathers

We don’t think that the Deinonychus paper published in 1969 mentioned the possibility of this dinosaur having a coat of feathers.  After all, despite the holotype material having been preserved in fine clay, which eventually turned to mudstone, no evidence of feathers has been found in association with D. antirrhopus fossil material.  The presence of feathers is inferred based on exquisite feathered dromaeosaurid fossils, most notably from northern China.  Ostrom did however, start to make the connection with Deinonychus and the possibility of this dinosaur being covered in feathers, a year after his ground-breaking paper was published.  Whilst viewing what was thought to be a Pterosaur fossil from Solnhofen, at the Teylers Museum in Holland, Ostrom identified it as an Archaeopteryx specimen (A. lithographica).  He was able to subsequently make the link between the bones preserved on this fossil slab and those of Deinonychus he had described the year before.  The idea that dinosaurs and birds were closely related was revived, as Bakker later put it, the “Dinosaur Renaissance” had begun.

27 06, 2018

Rare Dinosaur Fossil from Japan

By | June 27th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Researchers Report the Discovery of a Partial Femur from a Hadrosaur

Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in Japan, so when one is discovered, it makes quite a story.  Japanese media have reported upon a paper delivered at last weekend’s meeting of the Palaeontological Society of Japan, which provided details of partial hadrosaurid femur that had been found on Kamikoshikijima Island, at the southernmost tip of the land of the rising sun.

The fossil was discovered two years ago (July 2016), its discovery was announced at the meeting by a team from Kumamoto University and the National Museum of Nature and Science (Tokyo).

The Partial Dinosaur Femur at the Dig Site

Fossil partial Hadrosaur femur (Japan).

The fossilised remains of the partial Hadrosaur femur in situ (tape measure provides scale).

Picture Credit: Satsuma-sendai City Government

Identifying the Fossil as a Duck-billed Dinosaur (Hadrosaur)

Whilst it may not be possible to assign a genus to this fossil, the single bone does at least permit scientists to assign it to the Hadrosauridae family.  The femur is similar in shape when compared to the thigh bones of better known hadrosaurids.  It lacks the pneumatic texture as seen within the bones of Theropod dinosaurs and the position of the fourth trochanter, a flange of bone on the femur associated with muscle attachment, is within the scope of placement associated with duck-billed dinosaurs.

The sediments in which the femur was found date from the Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous, indicating that this herbivorous dinosaur roamed this part of the world some 70 million years ago.

Commenting on the importance of the fossil find, researcher Yuka Miyake, who made the initial discovery stated:

“It is a clue that may enable us to grasp the extent of the diversity of dinosaurs that flourished in Asia.”

The bone measures about 70 centimetres long, if it had been complete it would have measured around 1.2 metres in length.  The scientists estimate that the dinosaur would have measured in excess of ten metres.

An Illustration of Late Cretaceous Hadrosaurs

A typical Late Cretaceous hadrosaurid.

Typical Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage) hadrosaurids.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

This is the tenth reported Hadrosauridae discovery from Japan.  However, this is the first time a dinosaur fossil has been found on Kamikoshikijima.  Sensibly, the researchers have refused to state the exact location of the fossil find, this will help to protect the fossil site.  The bone will go on public display at the city government’s Kashima branch office in Shimokoshikijima from the middle of next month.

To read other blog articles published by Everything Dinosaur about dinosaur fossil discoveries from Japan:

Tyrannosaurus Roamed Late Cretaceous Japan

Japan’s Most Complete Dinosaur Discovery

Fragments of Fossilised Teeth Hint at Late Cretaceous Japanese Theropod

Japanese Schoolboy Finds Dinosaur Toe Bone

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