Category: Dinosaur Fans

No New Prehistoric Animals from Bullyland Next Year

No New Releases, No Retirements from Bullyland in 2015

Bullyland, the German based manufacturer of replicas and figures is not going to be adding to their range of prehistoric animal models in 2015, according to information received by Everything Dinosaur.  Bullyland currently produce a range of prehistoric animals including a colourful Lambeosaurus and a marvellous model of the dwarf Sauropod known as Europasaurus, both of which were introduced this year.

The Bullyland Lambeosaurus Dinosaur Model

Bullyland Lambeosaurus on the Everything Dinosaur fact sheet that accompanies this model.

Bullyland Lambeosaurus on the Everything Dinosaur fact sheet that accompanies this model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Europasaurus, when it came out was particularly popular, after all, this was one of the very first models made of this dwarf Sauropod, a dinosaur that lived on islands that once could be found off the coast of western Europe.

The Bullyland Europasaurus Dinosaur Model

The dwarf Sauropod - Europasaurus.

The dwarf Sauropod – Europasaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur also send out a special Europasaurus fact sheet with sales of this dinosaur model.  It may have been pint-sized in relation to its giant Macronarian cousins, but Europasaurus probably reached lengths in excess of six metres and the Bullyland Europasaurus model itself measures twenty-three centimetres in length.

To view the extensive range of Bullyland prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Bullyland Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

We have received quite a few reviews of Bullyland models over the years. Here are a couple of reviews on the Bullyland Europasaurus:

“Accuracy in detail, nice colour and a well sized replica are the characteristics of the Bullyland Europasaurus, perhaps the most well made replica of the company, worthy of a place alongside the best replicas of the other companies. Highly recommended.”

Another one:

“Nice model, good colour and size.”

We appreciate all the reviews and comments that we get from our customers, we have received over one thousand on the current Everything Dinosaur website.

Bullyland have also stated that there will be no retirements from their prehistoric animal model ranges next year.  According to our contact at Bullyland, the German model manufacturer has several new models in the planning stage and it will review its policy over model introductions/retirements over the course of next year.

Getting our Teeth into Malaysia’s Dinosaurs

Putting Malaysia on the Dinosaur Fossil Map

Back in February of this year, February 18th to be exact, Everything Dinosaur wrote an article about the discovery of Malaysia’s first dinosaur fossil, a small tooth believed to represent a member of the Spinosauridae.  Although, this fossil was just a little over two centimetres in length, it made a big impression on Asian palaeontologists.  Here was evidence that Malyasia, like Thailand and Laos, could be home to dinosaur fossil remains, most probably new species to boot.

Now, exactly nine months later, we are happy to report on the unearthing of more fossils from Malaysia, they hint at a potential treasure trove of new dinosaur discoveries that could be made, perhaps rivalling the recent dinosaur discoveries of Western Malaysia’s northern neighbour Thailand.

To read about the discovery of Malaysia’s first dinosaur fossil: Malaysia’s First Dinosaur – A Fossil Tooth is Found

Firstly, the team behind the discovery of and research into the Spinosauridae tooth have reported that they have found evidence of a second type of dinosaur in the same region.  It’s another fossilised tooth, but not from a meat-eating Theropod, this tooth is that of a herbivore and similar to the teeth of bird-hipped dinosaurs (Ornithischians), although the family is difficult to determine as the teeth looks to be heavily worn and from the photographs that have been released, it is not easy to determine any clear, distinguishing traits.  According to some press reports we have read, the tooth may have come from an armoured dinosaur, a member of the Thyreohora (shield-bearers), a sub-group of the Ornithischian dinosaurs that consists of the armoured dinosaurs.

Malaysia’s Second Dinosaur Tooth

A second fossil tooth has been discovered.

A second fossil tooth has been discovered.

Picture Credit: AFP

In the picture, of the lead researchers in the Malaysian dinosaur project, Dr. Masatoshi Sone from the University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur), holds up a coin to show the size of the fossil specimen.  This tooth is smaller than the Theropod’s discovered earlier, it is just 13 mm long and measures 10.5 mm wide.  The age of this fossil has yet to be determined but the research team, which also includes scientists from Japan’s Waseda University and Kumamoto University, hope to use pollen micro-fossils, recovered from the surrounding matrix to help date the specimen more accurately.  For the time being, the fossil tooth is being described as from the Early Cretaceous so it could be around 140 million years old.

This second fossilised tooth was found in the same locality as the first tooth fossil, the Taman Negara region of Pahang State (Western Malaysia), the exact location of the fossil find is being kept secret, to deter amateur fossil hunters from damaging the site.  The Taman Negara region is extensively forested and searching for fossils in a part of the world that is heavily vegetated is not easy, but the research team were keen to point out that construction projects often allowed access to bedrock and rock strata not normally within reach.  Dr. Masatoshi remarked that he often took his wife with him to explore the ground works of housing construction projects, as these building sites, with the vegetation cleared and excavations, were ideal places to look for evidence of ancient life in the freshly exposed rocks.

When asked about the possibility of further dinosaur finds, Dr. Masatoshi stated:

“It is plausible that large dinosaur fossil deposits still remain in Malaysia.”

How true!  No sooner has the University of Malaya held a press conference to show their new dinosaur discovery, then there comes a report from the Mineral and Geoscience Department of the Malaysian Geological Heritage Group that more evidence of dinosaurs has been found, this time in the Mount Gagau region of Terengganu State, some distance from the Pahang fossil finds.  These new fossils are believed to be unrelated to the finds made by the research team led by Dr. Masatoshi and they have yet to be accurately dated.  The discoveries consist of several footprints, bones and teeth and at least three different types of dinosaur are represented, although it is impossible to identify them down to the genus level at the moment.

Commenting on the dinosaur fossil finds, one of the directors of the Mineral and Geoscience Department of the Malaysian Geological Heritage Group, Datuk Yunus Abdul Razak stated:

“They are significant findings that will lead to even more dinosaur fossil enquiries, also, the fossils that we found were more intact.”

A tooth, measuring about 1.5cm in length and two footprints could be from an Iguanodontid, a member of a group of highly successful Ornithischian dinosaurs whose fossils have been found in Cretaceous aged deposits all over the world.  There have even been reports of Iguanodontid fossils recovered from Upper Jurassic strata, for example Camptosaurs and other North American Ornithopods.

The Rocks with the Tooth of an Iguanodontid are Shown to the Press

caption

Geoscience assistant Mohd Azrul Aziz shows the rocks that could contain Iguanodontid fossil material.

Picture Credit: Mineral and Geoscience Department of the Malaysian Geological Heritage Group

Fossils of Iguanodontids are known from South-East Asia, with a number of fossil specimens identified as belonging to members of the Iguanodontidae family, but once again, genus identification is difficult.  With luck, as more fossils are found, the scientists will be able to build up a picture of the Dinosauria of South-East Asia and assign some fossils to new genera.

At Everything Dinosaur, we look forward to hearing more about dinosaur discoveries from Malaysia.

More New Prehistoric Animal Models from Schleich (2015)

New Schleich Dinosaurs Added to World of History Range

Two more large dinosaurs will be added to the World of History model range in July 2015.  New versions of the fierce meat-eaters Giganotosaurus and Spinosaurus are being added to this Schleich model series.  The World of History model range next year is going to feature a lot of carnivores.

Orange Giganotosaurus from Schleich

With articulated jaw.

With articulated jaw.

Picture Credit: Schleich/Everything Dinosaur

Measuring around twenty centimetres in length, this is a beautifully painted Giganotosaurus and it has been given a very interesting pose, with its left leg raised as if this dinosaur is just about to take a step.  As it moves forward, it is balancing on its tail.

In addition to the fearsome Giganotosaurus, Schleich will be introducing another version of Spinosaurus to their model series.  Just like the orange Giganotosaurus, the Spinosaurus has been vividly painted and it too, will feature an articulated lower jaw.  The Spinosaurus is painted very brightly, in a beautiful violet colour.  Both these models will be available from Everything Dinosaur in July 2015.

Violet Spinosaurus from Schleich

Beautiful Spinosaurus dinosaur model from Schleich.

Beautiful Spinosaurus dinosaur model from Schleich.

Picture Credit: Schleich/Everything Dinosaur

Intriguingly, the Spinosaurus dinosaur model is posed in a quadrupedal stance.  This position, that of a carnivorous dinosaur walking on all fours, has recently found favour again after a scientific paper was published that, having reviewed the known Spinosaurus genus fossil material, suggested that this large dinosaur was semi-aquatic and was not capable of walking in a bipedal position.

To read an article on the Spinosaurus research: Spinosaurus – Four Legs Are Better Than Two

With these two new additions (due out in July 2015), the Schleich World of History model range will grow to a total of twenty models.  Eleven of these models will represent Theropod dinosaurs.

The popular small dinosaurs range is being retired and replaced with a brand new range of six dinosaurs.  These models will also be available around July of next year.  This new range is also Theropod heavy, with only Triceratops (an Ornithischian dinosaur) a non-Theropod.

Once again these models are very colourful and they range in size from a fraction under seven centimetres in length to around twelve centimetres long.

New for Summer 2015 Schleich Small Dinosaurs Range

A new range of colourful dinosaur models.

A new range of colourful dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Schleich/Everything Dinosaur

The first models in this new range will be Carnotaurus, Giganotosaurus, Therizinosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor.  These dinosaurs have been wonderfully well painted and we love the vivid, vibrant colours.

The blue Carnotaurus has attracted some controversy.  It has been claimed on some websites and forums that Schleich have omitted the arms.  In the pictures of this model no forelimbs can be seen.  At Everything Dinosaur, we have high resolution images sent into us by Schleich and these too, in the case of the Carnotaurus replica, don’t seem to show any arms on this particular dinosaur model.

A Close up of the Carnotaurus (Forelimbs not Visible)

Arms not visible.

Arms not visible.

Picture Credit: Schleich/Everything Dinosaur

To help resolve the situation, we chased up Schleich for an official comment.  We have been told that this model does indeed have arms, but they are very small.  Carnotaurus did have minute arms, why these Theropods had very much reduced forelimbs remains a mystery.

Here is the official statement from Schleich:

“Carnotaurus belongs to the family Abelisauridae and is the one with the most distorted extremities.  Additionally, its arms are directed backwards.  We had to apply the right arm to the body due to release properties.  It may be that you cannot see this arm in the product image.  But it is there.”

Schleich have made a number of Carnotaurus models in the past.  A Carnotaurus model featured in the now retired “Saurus” range of prehistoric animal models and a Carnotaurus was included in the company’s World of History model range back in 2013.  Both these replicas had the small arms, so typical of an abelisaurid.

Comparing Schleich Models of Carnotaurus

Schleich Carnotaurus models from different ranges.

Schleich Carnotaurus models from different ranges.

Picture Credit: Schleich/Everything Dinosaur

We have yet to see a sample of the new, blue Carnotaurus that is included in the small dinosaurs model series.  Once we actually get to handle the model and photograph it ourselves, the “missing arms” mystery will be resolved.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s current World of History Model range: World of History Prehistoric Animals

Looks like Schleich and Everything Dinosaur have some interesting times ahead.

New from Collecta for 2015

Temnodontosaurus and Moropus Models

The last two Collecta models to go into production for 2015 are the remarkable Ichthyosaur replica depicting a Temnodontosaurus giving birth and the Chalicothere replica – Moropus).  These will be available in the late Spring of 2015, we suspect around May/June.

The Ichthyosaur replica (Temnodontosaurus platyodon), is we believe, a world first for a mainstream model manufacturer.  The replica depicts a female at the moment of giving birth.  Viviparity in the Ichthyosauria was just one of their adaptations to a fully marine existence.

New for 2015 The Collecta Temnodontosaurus Ichthyosaur Model

Detailed Ichthyosaur figure.

Detailed Ichthyosaur figure.

Picture Credit: Collecta

 This model measures around twenty centimetres long from the tip of the snout to the tail flukes.  The baby is being born tail first and it is not detachable from the mother. There have been some remarkable fossils found which show Ichthyosaurs preserved in the process of giving birth, we are not aware of any such specimens which feature T. platyodon, but it is fitting that Collecta should choose to produce their first Ichthyosaur based on Temnodontosaurus, as this was the first Ichthyosaur fossil to be described, when a specimen showing a nearly complete skull and articulated cervical vertebrae was discovered in Dorset back in 1810.

An Ichthyosaur Fossil Showing Viviparity (Live Birth)

Viviparity in Ichthyosaurs

Viviparity in Ichthyosaurs

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum

 In the picture above, a baby can be clearly seen emerging tail first from the mother.  Being born tail first prevented the youngster from drowning before it had time to free itself from its mother.  A number of Temnodontosaurus species have been described, at around twelve metres in length, T. platyodon was one of the largest of all the Ichthyosaurs known to science.  It would have been an predator (but not likely an apex predator) in the Early Jurassic seas of Europe. Everything Dinosaur team members thing that this marine reptile specialised in hunting Cephalopods.   Based on a length of twelve metres we estimate that this figure would be in 1:60 scale.

The mainly black pigmentation of the model is based on recently published research (Lund University, Sweden) that suggested that most Ichthyosaurs were dark coloured, although the conclusions made by the Swedish researchers have been challenged.

To read about the research into marine reptile skin colour: Marine Reptiles Dressed in “Little Black Numbers.

To view the article that challenges the colouration proposed for marine reptiles: Working out the Colour of Long Extinct Animals Just Got Harder.

Now let’s turn our attention to the Chalicothere model that Collecta will also be bringing out in the summer of 2015 (July 2015).  This is a model of the North American “knuckle-walker”, known as Moropus.

Collecta Deluxe Moropus Model Available in Summer 2015

Wonderful prehistoric animal model.

Wonderful prehistoric animal model.

Picture Credit: Collecta

Intriguingly, this replica has attracted a lot of attention, after all, there are not that many top quality prehistoric mammal replicas to be found and this model of a Miocene  herbivore is superb.  Everything Dinosaur intends to produce a fact sheet on this model, we intend to focus on Moropus elatus (named by Marsh).

There may also be confusion over to the scale of the Deluxe Moropus figure, some paperwork from Collecta states 1:12 scale, whilst other notes refer to the Moropus being a 1:20 scale model.  The Moropus figure measures a fraction under fourteen centimetres long from the snout to the tip of the tail and it stands a little over sixteen centimetres high (top of the head). Based on M. elatus with a shoulder height of around 2.4 metres we estimate that this figure is nearer to 1:20 scale than 1:12, although this calculation does depend on which species  and which fossil specimens are used as references.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s existing stock of Collect Deluxe: Collecta Scale Prehistoric Animals

Either way it is a super, new addition to the Collecta range and we look forward to adding both these replicas to our inventory.

Everything Dinosaur Stocks Rebor Yutyrannus Model

1:35 Scale Yutyrannus Model Added to Everything Dinosaur’s Range

For some time now, team members at Everything Dinosaur have been working with Rebor and the people behind this brand of new, highly collectible prehistoric animal replicas.  The first of the models in the Rebor series, the Yutryannus (Yutyrannus huali) is going to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur very shortly.  A few weeks ago, we made a quick video in our boardroom which introduces the Rebor range and looks at the Yutyrannus replica in detail.

The Rebor Yutyrannus (Y. huali) Video 

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 In this short video, five minutes and forty-seven seconds, we examine the packaging, discuss our involvement with Rebor and look at this beautiful tyrannosaurid model in more detail.  We comment on the integument that can be seen on the replica and explain a little about what is currently known about this particular feathered Chinese Tyrannnosaur.  Team members are finalising a fact sheet on this dinosaur, it is our intention to include this fact sheet with this new model, thus helping to provide collectors and dinosaur fans with a little additional information about this dinosaur, that was only formally named and described in 2012.

The Rebor 1:35 Scale (YREX) Dinosaur Model

1:35 scale replica

1:35 scale replica

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 Everything Dinosaur intends to offer this limited edition model at a special introductory offer price.

For further information and for more pictures, simply email Everything Dinosaur: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Researchers Report on Cretaceous Trace Fossils From Angola

Important Prehistoric Animal Tracks Discovered in Angola

Amongst the many exciting news stories that have come out of the annual Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology meeting held this week in Berlin, is the report from the Paleo Angola Project about the discovery of extensive vertebrate tracks preserved in sediment that now makes up part of a diamond mine in north-eastern Angola.

Angola is one of the new frontiers for palaeontology.  This vast, yet underdeveloped country in southern Africa is believed to contain a number of Mesozoic aged, highly fossiliferous deposits and it is likely that any dinosaur fossils excavated from this country are likely to be species new to science.

Researchers Map the Trace Fossil Locations

Mapping the fossil locations.

Mapping the fossil locations.

Picture Credit: Paleo Angola Project

The picture above shows an aerial view of some of the trace fossils with their locations highlighted by the research team.  Dinosaur tracks are highlighted in the centre and on the right of the photograph, whilst the mammalian tracks can be seen highlighted towards the bottom left portion of the picture.

To read an article from Everything Dinosaur about Angolan fossil exploration: Angola Starts to Share its Fossil Secrets

In a report to the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, researchers from the Paleo Angola Project described a location in the silt and sand deposits that represents a lacustrine (lake) environment dating from approximately 118 million years ago (Aptian faunal stage).  Approximately, seventy distinct footprints have been identifed so far.  These trace fossils represent footprints made by Sauropod dinosaurs, crocodiles and a relatively large prehistoric mammal.  The mammal print is particularly intriguing.  Most mammals during this part of the Cretaceous were very small, no bigger than rats, but the five-toed print measuring more than three centimetres across indicates that a mammal the size of a Bedlington Terrior dog or a North American Raccoon.  The scientists stated that the tracks were probably made over a substantial period of time, as the lake dried out over several seasons.

A Close Up and Line Drawing of a Single Mammalian Print

Five digits can be clearly seen.

Five digits can be clearly seen.

Picture Credit: Paleo Angola Project

The mammalian track suggests that in at least this part of Africa, mammals were much larger than previously thought.  The mammal track has been described as “a very rare find.”

Working out what kind of mammal left the rare footprints may not be possible, after all, no body fossils have been found.

Commenting on the discovery, Marco Marzola, one of the palaeontologists with the Paleo Angola Project explained:

“We cannot narrow down to a species but we can say what they [the footprints] do belong to.  They were made by an exceptionally large mammal, that we can say for sure.”

In the same location, eighteen Sauropod tracks have been discovered, the Paleo Angola Project team have already named and described one giant, long-necked dinosaur that once roamed Angola.  The fossils of this dinosaur were found in marine sediments.  It is likely that the corpse floated out to sea and there is evidence preserved on the fossilised bones of feeding from sharks, that were scavenging the carcase.

To read about the discovery of Angola’s first dinosaur: Angolatitan – Dinosaur that Ended Up as Fish Food

Praising the action of the consortium which owns the diamond mine (Catoca mine, the fourth largest diamond mine in the world), the scientists said that the mine owners stopped all activity at the mine to allow the researchers to map and plot the trace fossils.  The mine owners put the promotion of vertebrate palaeontology in Angola ahead of their own desire to make money.

Ankylosaurs with Air Conditioning

Complicated Nasal Passages Helped Keep Ankylosaurs Cool

Animals have a number of ways of controlling their body temperatures and cooling down.  Some warm-blooded animals like kangaroos and antelopes seek shade during the heat of the day.  Elephants cover themselves with mud or take a cooling dip.  Dogs pant and humans sweat, but how did the heavily armoured dinosaurs keep cool?  These “living tanks” with their huge, armoured bodies could have been in danger of overheating as they wandered around in the Mesozoic.  A new paper suggests that their complicated nasal passages not only would have helped these animals with their sense of smell, but they would have acted as very efficient heat transfers.

Ankylosaurids with Built in Air Conditioning

Armoured dinosaur models.

Armoured dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A team of scientists based at Ohio University used CAT scans of ankylosaurid cranial material to map the anatomy of the complex nasal passages in two different North American Ankylosaur species.  The team then modelled the air flow in three dimensions using a computer programme that interpreted the CAT scan data.  Palaeontologist Jason Bourke, one of the authors of the scientific paper stated that the complex nasal passages would have given the inhaled air more time to warm up to body temperature by drawing heat way from blood vessels in the nasal cavity.  This would have helped cool the blood and in turn this would have cooled vital organs such as the brain.  The brain of even the largest ankylosaurids was extremely small when compared to their body size.  The dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur regularly compare the brain of a large Ankylosaur such as Euoplocephalus tutus to the size of a child’s fist.  The nasal passages would have helped to keep the brain in its heavily armoured skull cool and stable.

Mammals and birds use scroll-shaped bones called conchae, otherwise known as turbinates to warm air that is breathed in, but the armoured dinosaurs seem to have achieved the same result with a completely different anatomical configuration.

Commenting on the study, Jason Bourke stated:

“There are two ways that animal noses transfer heat while breathing.  One is to pack a bunch of conchae into the air field, like most mammals and birds do, it is spatially efficient.  The other option is to what lizards and crocodiles do and simply make the nasal airway much longer.  Ankylosaurs seem to have taken this second approach to the extreme.”

Doctor Lawrence Witmer (Ohio University), who was also involved in this research explained:

“Our team discovered these “crazy-straw” airways several years ago, but only recently have we been able to scientifically test hypotheses on how they functioned.  By simulating airflow through these noses, we found that these stretched airways were effective heat exchangers.  They would have allowed these multi-tonne beasts to keep their multi-ounce brains from overheating.”

Ohio University researchers had previously studied the complex nasal passages of another group of Ornithischian dinosaurs – the Pachycephalosaurs.

To read this earlier article: Nosing Around Pachycephalosaurs

Just like noses in humans, (Homo sapiens) ankylosaurid noses are likely to have served more than one function.  As the complex nasal passages helped condition the air that was breathed in and out, water may have been removed from exhaled breath helping these dinosaurs to retain water, important when you live in arid environments.  In addition, the convoluted passageways may have added resonance to the low-pitched sounds this dinosaur made.  The nose could have amplified these sounds acting as a resonator, making the noises made by Ankylosaurs  heard over greater distances.

New Collecta Models (Part 2)

New Releases from Collecta for 2015 and Model Measurements

Those clever people at Collecta have released the second batch of new additions to their “Prehistoric Life” model series.  These are all models that will be stocked by Everything Dinosaur in 2016.  In this short article, we provide pictures of the new models and update readers on the dimensions of all the 2015 releases to date.

So let’s jump straight in..

Collecta Smilodon Replica (May 2015)

Nicely crafted Sabre-Tooth Cat model.

Nicely crafted Sabre-Tooth Cat model.

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

This is a very well designed model of a Sabre-Tooth Cat.  The replica measures a little under 13cm in length and the head stands around 8cm high.  The model is in the not-to-scale range and Everything Dinosaur believes it is a replacement for the earlier Smilodon model introduced a few years ago.  This earlier Smilodon is likely to become a rare model so Everything Dinosaur urges collectors to acquire this replica before it is officially retired.

To view the existing Collecta Smilodon model: Ice Age Toys and Models

Let’s retain the prehistoric mammal model theme and discuss the entelodont replica, the 1:20 scale model of Daeodon.  This model will also be available from Everything Dinosaur in the late spring of 2015.

1:20 Scale Deluxe Daeodon Entelodont Model from Collecta

Soon to be available from Everything Dinosaur.

Soon to be available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

This beautifully painted model of a “war pig” as we like to call it measures a fraction under 16cm in length and the height of the hump is 9.5cm off the ground.

Sticking with the Deluxe range, another new addition, in what will be termed the Supreme Deluxe range and available from Everything Dinosaur in the late spring of 2015 is this excellent model of the Pterosaur called Guidraco.  This is in approximate 1:4 scale and the model measures 25cm long and it stands approximately 25cm high.  This replica will have an articulated lower jaw. The colour scheme has been based on an Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), one of our favourite sea birds.  Guidraco (fossils from the famous Lioaning Province of China), like the Puffin, was believed to be a fish-eater.

The Wonderful Model of the Guidraco Pterosaur

Available from Everything Dinosaur in late spring 2015.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in late spring 2015.

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

Super colours on this Pterosaur replica.  The model will also feature an articulated lower jaw.

Another addition to the Deluxe range is this replica of the Theropod dinosaur Acrocanthosaurus.

Collecta Deluxe Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

A 1:40 scale model from Collecta.

A 1:40 scale model from Collecta.

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

This model measures a fraction under 30cm in length and the head height is around 12cm.  It is slightly smaller than the Deluxe Feathered T.rex from Collecta that is also due out next year (see below).

The Deluxe 1:40 Scale Feathered Tyrannosaurus rex

1:40 scale model of a feathered T. rex.

1:40 scale model of a feathered T. rex.

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

The model looks fantastic, the colouration is based on the juvenile feathered T. rex replica that came out this year.

The Juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex Model (2014)

A young T. rex

A young T. rex

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Collecta range stocked by Everything Dinosaur: Collecta Models – Prehistoric Life Series

Last week, Everything Dinosaur team members posted up images and further information on the first of the 2015 model releases from Collecta.  To view this article: First Pictures of New Collecta Model Releases

Here are the measurements of the models we featured:

  • Xiongguanlong – this Cretaceous tyrannosaurid model measures 10cm long with a head height of around 6cm
  • Nasutoceratops – a beautiful horned dinosaur model which measures 13cm long with a head height of 6cm
  • Medusaceratops – a slightly larger horned dinosaur model which is 14.5cm in length with a head height of around 7.5cm
  • Daxiatitan – a model of a huge, Chinese Titanosaur which measures over 29cm long with a head height of a fraction under 21cm

Collecta Deluxe Pliosaurus Model

Collecta Pliosaurus model.

Collecta Pliosaurus model.

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

This model measures 31cm in length and that bulky body stands around 6cm high.  The replica is based on a Dorset fossil specimen, a spectacular Pliosaur known as P. kevani which is known from a two metre long skull and jaw currently on display at the Dorset County Museum.  This Pliosaurus has Sea Lampreys attached to it. Although, we at Everything Dinosaur, are not aware of any fossil evidence to suggest Lampreys attaching themselves to marine reptiles, since a number of Sea Lampreys feed on Cetaceans in coastal waters today, it is likely that these ancient, jawless fish fed on the giant marine reptiles of the past.

Egg Shape Could Explain Survival of Birds into the Cenozoic

New Study Suggests Egg Shape Might Hint at Clues to Survival

Eggs come in many different shapes and sizes.  There are large ones, small ones, those that are more rounded, others that can be more ovoid in shape and so on.  However, a new study, conducted by evolutionary biologists at Lincoln University (UK), suggests that egg shape could have been a factor in why some birds survived the Cretaceous extinction event, whilst other types of bird and the Dinosauria did not.  The research published in the on line journal of the Royal Society, looks at the geometry of eggshells and highlights morphological differences between the eggs of birds and those of their extinct, but very close relatives, the Theropod dinosaurs.

Birds, Reptiles and Mammals are linked as all these types of creature are descended from Carboniferous Tetrapods that evolved an ability to reproduce from an egg that was contained within a semi-permeable eggshell.  These early terrestrial animals were no longer dependent on the presence of water in order to breed and reproduce successfully.  These types of eggs are called Amniotic eggs.

A Diagram Showing the Structure of an Amniotic Egg

The growing embryo is protected by a semi-permeable egg shell.

The growing embryo is protected by a semi-permeable egg shell.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Safe from drying out, the embryo inside the egg is further protected by a robust, internal membrane called the Amnion.  It is the evolution of the Amniote egg that permitted Tetrapods to conquer all terrestrial environments.

In this new study, the research team noted that there were notable differences between the eggs of birds that survived the Cretaceous mass extinction event that took place around sixty-five million years ago, and the shape of the eggs of those creatures that become extinct.  Although, the fossil record is far from complete when it comes to preserving evidence of eggs and reproductive strategies, the results suggest that early birds from the Mesozoic laid eggs that had different shapes to those of modern birds.  It is possible that egg morphology indicates different physiologies or different rates of embryonic development and this may have implications when it comes to surviving a mass extinction event, such as that which led to demise of around 70% of all terrestrial life, including all the non-avian dinosaurs.

Could Theropod Egg Shape Have Doomed the Dinosauria?

Dinosaur Eggs - New Extinction Theory gets Laid Down

Dinosaur Eggs – New Extinction Theory gets Laid Down

Picture Credit: Associated Press

One of the authors of this new paper, Dr. Charles Deeming (School of Life Sciences, Lincoln University) explained:

“These results indicate that egg shape can be used to distinguish between different types of egg-laying vertebrates.  More importantly they suggest Mesozoic bird eggs differ significantly from modern day bird eggs, but more recently extinct Cenozoic birds do not.  This suggests that the range of egg shapes in modern birds had already been attained in the Cenozoic.”

As extant Amniotic eggs vary considerably in size and shape and this variety reflects different patterns of egg formation and development, then the variation seen in the fossil record of eggs may also reflect different patterns of egg formation, egg development and even nesting behaviour.

Dr. Deeming commented:

“From a biological perspective, it is self-evident that different egg shapes by birds, both past and present, might be associated with different nesting behaviours or incubation methods.  However, hardly any research has been carried out on this topic and fossil data are insufficient to draw firm conclusions.  We hope that future discoveries of associated fossil eggs and skeletons will help refine the general conclusions of this work.”

Although there might be a link between eggshell shape and the ability to survive the Cretaceous mass extinction, it is likely that a lot of other factors contributed to the survival of one group of vertebrates whilst others died out.  The eggshell shape itself may be a part of the story, but palaeontologists are confident that dinosaurs, including many Theropod dinosaurs engaged in complex nesting behaviours, brooded eggs on nests and invested a great deal of time and effort in raising the next generation.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“Although the fossil record for eggs and nesting sites is extremely fragmentary, there is evidence to suggest that members of the Dinosauria exhibited altricial and precocial behaviours.  How one group of birds, the Neornithines were able to dominate the Aves remains uncertain, more research in this area is needed.  However, this data adds a fresh perspective and it is certainly intriguing.” 

Dr. Deeming advised that this new paper does not provide all the answers, but it hints at the tantalising possibility that eggshell morphology could have been an contributory factor in the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Dr. Deeming and this paper’s co-author Dr. Marcello Ruta (Lincoln University), are continuing their investigations.  The scientists intend to explore how highly variable amounts of yolk (food for the embryo) and albumen (egg white) could possibly effect egg shape.

Tracing the Origins of the Ichthyosaurs

Short Snouted Basal Ichthyosauriform from the Lower Triassic of China

It had long been predicted, but until now one of the enduring mysteries of the marine reptiles had remained unsolved.  One of the most successful clades of marine vertebrates ever to have existed were the Ichthyosaurs , reptiles that form the Order Ichthyosauria (fish lizards), also known as the Ichthyopterygia (fish flippers).  These animals thrived in the seas and oceans for much of the Mesozoic but unlike other types of back-boned animals that had adapted to a life in water, no fossils of transitional forms showing a link with terrestrial ancestors had been found.

However, this week a team of researchers led by scientists from the University of California have published a paper detailing the discovery of an amphibious Ichthyosaur, an animal that, although adapted to a life in the sea was still capable of clambering about on land.  This specimen is believed to represent a transitional form, between the Ichthyosauria and their terrestrial ancestors.  Writing in the science Journal “Nature”, the researchers document a nearly complete specimen (just end of the tail missing), of a forty centimetre long, amphibious reptile that is probably part of a group of animals that were the ancestors of the nektonic Ichthyosaurs, widely regarded by many palaeontologists as the most well-adapted to a marine existence of all the reptiles.

The Fossil Specimen that Indicates a Transitional Form

Cartorhynchus

Picture Credit: University of California – Davis/Professor Motani

Commenting on the research, lead author Professor Ryosuke Motani (University of California, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences) stated:

 ”But now we have this fossil showing transition.  There’s nothing that prevents it from coming onto land.”

Professor Motani and his colleagues uncovered the fossil specimen in eastern China (Anhui Province) from Lower Triassic strata believed to date from around 248 million years ago (Olenikian faunal stage).  Unlike the long-snouted fully marine Ichthyosaurs this animal, which has been named Cartorhynchus lenticarpus, had a short snout, its bones were also heavier, traits associated with fully terrestrial ancestors.  Unlike later Ichthyosaurs, the flippers were large in proportion to the body size and the wrists flexible.  These features helped this creature crawl around on land, in a similar way to extant seals.  C. lenticarpus means “truncated snout with flexible wrists”, an apt name for this little reptile that spent part of its life on land.  During the early part of the Triassic, eastern China was covered by a shallow tropical sea, there were numerous small islands, the whole area resembled the Caribbean today.  The isolated islands with their limited resources probably acted as a spur for vertebrate evolution.  There was plenty of food in the sea but it was a question of being able to reach it, this probably led to the evolution of reptiles that were more at home in water than their ancient ancestors.

The researchers also had to consider the implications of the Permian mass extinction event on the evolutionary pressures that these animals were under.  Just four million years earlier, planet Earth had undergone the most devastating extinction event known in the history of our planet.  More than 95% of all life on Earth died out.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“Extinction events mean the inevitable demise of many genera and families.  However, for those organisms able to survive, such events open up a whole range of new opportunities and often there is a “burst” of evolution as animals and plants adapt to take advantage of vacated niches and new resources.”

Collaborating with the University of California were scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University, Anhui Geological Museum, the University of Milan, and the Field Museum (Chicago).  As a basal Ichthyosauriform has been discovered in China, and the most primitive true Ichthyosaurs are also known from Triassic rocks from this region, then it is likely that the Ichthyosauria evolved in this part of the world.  This clade then radiated out and occupied a number of ecological niches including apex predatory positions before dying out in the Late Cretaceous.

Later Ichthyosaurs were agile, swimmers, although the end of the tail is missing, scientists speculate that Cartorhynchus lenticarpus was probably a relatively poor swimmer.  It probably hunted soft bodied animals and Arthropods in coastal waters.

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