Category: Dinosaur Fans

Quick Video Preview of New 2015 Papo Models

Papo Young Apatosaurus and the Papo Tupuxuara Models

Here is a quick video that showcases two of the new for 2015 prehistoric animal models from Papo.  The video features the Young Apatosaurus replica, (dimensions confirmed as being 37cm long, 13cm high) and the excellent Pterosaur figure – a Tupuxuara.  In this short, (43 second video), we also compare these two models to the enormous Papo Brachiosaurus dinosaur model that was introduced in the autumn of 2012.  The Tupuxuara Pterosaur may be small but it is beautifully painted and the crest detail is superb.

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Preview of the Young Apatosaurus and the Tupuxuara Models (Papo)

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Papo models: Papo Prehistoric Animal Replicas and Models

The Papo Brachiosaurus measures a whopping 40cm in length, the head is some 32cm high.  We used this model to provide a scale to compare the two new additions to the Papo range.  The Young Apatosaurus, in our view, represents a sub-adult, think of this replica as representing a teenage dinosaur.

Both the Papo Tupuxuara and the Papo Young Apatosaurus models are expected to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur early March, although they could arrive a little earlier.  Check out this web log and Everything Dinosaur’s social media pages for updates.

The Papo Tupuxuara Pterosaur Model

Watch out, a Pterosaur is coming this way.

Watch out, a Pterosaur is coming this way.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Video Preview of the Schleich Kentrosaurus and Anhanguera Models

New from Schleich for 2015 (Video Preview)

As team members from Everything Dinosaur eagerly await the arrival of the first batch of new prehistoric animal products from Schleich, we took time out to shoot a quick video preview of the new Anhanguera and Kentrosaurus models.  These two replicas, part of the World of History model range will be part of the first set of new replicas to be released by Schleich this year.  We are expecting to have stocks by February, possibly even earlier.  Both models are beautifully painted and the Pterosaur has an articulated lower jaw.

Short Video Preview of New Schleich Models (2015)

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

Schleich have invested heavily in the development of their dinosaur model range.  The company sees these new additions as part of a three-cornered strategy to continue to grow the Schleich brand in 2015, Schleich refer to this strategy as the 3-Ds (one of the Ds stands for dinosaurs).  Just for the record, the other two Ds stand for dragons (big increase in fantasy dragon figures in 2015) and for D.C. Comics (Schleich will be marketing a set of figures inspired by characters created by the comic strip company (Justice League).  Two further dinosaur models, a Giganotosaurus and a Spinosaurus will be added to the World of History model range in July.

CollectA Guidraco Pterosaur Picture

Colourful Guidraco (Pterosaur)

The “Supreme Deluxe” Guidraco Pterosaur model (1:4 scale model of a flying reptile), has certainly caused a stir around Everything Dinosaur’s offices.  The Atlantic Puffin inspired colours are certainly very eye-catching on this new CollectA replica.  I see CollectA themselves are equally inspired by this feisty Pterosaur, as it features on the front cover of the company’s 2015 brochure.

A Pair of Guidraco Pterosaurs

A colourful pair of Guidraco Pterosaurs.

A colourful pair of Guidraco Pterosaurs.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

 This feisty flying reptile was officially named and described in 2012.  The binomial name is Guidraco venator, the name is a combination of Chinese and Latin, it translates as “malicious ghost dragon hunter”.  With that rosette of pointy teeth this was very probably an agile predator that swooped down to snatch fish and other soft bodied creatures from the water.  A flock of these reptiles feeding would have been an awesome sight.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of CollectA scale models: Collecta Scale Prehistoric Animal Models

Everything Dinosaur Stocks Pegasus Hobbies Dinosaur Model Kits

Everything Dinosaur Stocks Pegasus Hobbies Dinosaur Model Kits to Range

Everything Dinosaur is now stocking all three of the superb 1:24 scale dinosaur models made by Pegasus Hobbies.  These kits, are for the avid dinosaur fan or model collector and once assembled and painted can become real show stoppers in a model collectors collection.  The range currently consists of a Tyrannosaurus rex (complete with captured baby Triceratops), an adult Triceratops and a huge Spinosaurus replica kit.  When completed and mounted on its base, the Spinosaurus kit measures an impressive fifty-one centimetres long.

New Additions to the Everything Dinosaur Product Range

Pegasus Hobbies Dinosaur model kits are available from Everything Dinosaur.

Pegasus Hobbies Dinosaur model kits are available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The company specialises in military kits, including planes, ships, armoured vehicles and figures but the PVC vinyl range has recently expanded to include three iconic dinosaur figures.

1:24 Scale Triceratops Dinosaur Figure

Great quality model kit to build and paint.

Great quality model kit to build and paint.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All three of the PVC vinyl kits were sculpted by the very talented palaeo-sculptor Galileo Hernandez Nunez, who has built up a strong reputation for his work on prehistoric animal models.  The paintwork seen on the boxes is the work of the equally talented Shane Foulkes.  The kits are recommended for people who are fourteen or over and each kit consists of several pieces that have to be assembled and glued together to complete the piece.  Please note, as with many of these types of replica kits, there is no paint or glue provided in the box.

How To Build a Triceratops

Easy to follow guides.

Easy to follow guides.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The kit comes with a display base and in the case of the Tyrannosaurus rex and the Triceratops models, a name plate is provided.

To see the range of Pegasus Hobbies model kits at Everything Dinosaur: Pegasus Hobbies Dinosaur Model Kits

The Superb, Museum Quality T. rex Dinosaur Model

A model kit featuring the "Tyrant Lizard King".

A model kit featuring the “Tyrant Lizard King”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We have long been admirers of the work of Galileo Hernandez Nunez and Shane Foulkes. in our view, is one of the most talented artists and model makers around.  We are delighted to be able to offer Everything Dinosaur customers the opportunity to acquire and build these marvellous kits.”

The detail on the models is fantastic and as with the T. rex figure, the Spinosaurus is depicted hunting.  However, the Spinosaurus, regarded as a specialist fish hunter, is shown having caught a Xiphactinus.  Spinosaurus may be regarded as the largest land carnivore known to science but it would have done well to have caught such a fish.  Firstly, although Xiphactinus (a voracious predator in its own right), fossil material is known from the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, as far as we are aware, no fossils of this giant predatory fish have been found in Africa (the home of the Spinosaurus genus).  In addition, the likes of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus had been extinct for some twenty-five million years before Xiphactinus evolved.

The Pegasus Hobbies 1:24 Scale Spinosaurus Model Kit

Spinosaurus catching a Xiphactinus fish?

Spinosaurus catching a Xiphactinus fish?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Spinosaurus replica is a terrific addition to the model series.  Yes, as our dinosaur experts point out, the Xiphactinus in a lacustrine or riverine environment is extremely unusual, as far as the known fossil record goes, these fish were entirely marine and highly nektonic with no likely need to venture close to shore or into fresh water. Putting this little quibble aside, all three models are terrific and Everything Dinosaur is delighted to able to add them to its range.

Spinosaurus Swimming into View

Pictures of the Swimming Spinosaurus from CollectA

In addition, to the Deluxe Spinosaurus replica due to be introduced by those clever people at CollectA, two other models of this iconic dinosaur are to be added this year.  2015 marks the centenary of the naming of Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus), and this event is being commemorated with a couple of new, not-to-scale figures showing Spinosaurus as a quadruped.  The first of these new additions to the CollectA “Prehistoric Life” range depicts Spinosaurus in, what many scientists believe to be its natural habitat – water.  Isotope analysis of fossilised remains conducted by a team of scientists, including Romain Amiot (University of Lyon), back in 2010, revealed that Spinosaurs may have spent a large portion of their lives in water.  The concept of aquatic dinosaurs had once again come into the limelight.

To read an article about a theory that proposes that all dinosaurs were aquatic: Aquatic Dinosaurs

The Swimming Spinosaurus Dinosaur Model

An aquatic dinosaur?

An aquatic dinosaur?

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

There is other evidence to suggest that Spinosaurus may have spent a great deal of time wadding and swimming in the lakes and rivers of its North African habitat.  For example, the Kem Kem region, where many Spinosaurus fossils have been found (Kem Kem Formation of Morocco), was a low-lying area close to the remnants of the mighty Tethys Ocean.  It was a wetland habitat, that some scientists have compared to Florida’s Everglades.  There were many large lakes and rivers and it is interesting to contemplate, that if one removes the possibility of substantial post mortem transportation of bodily remains, spinosaurid fossils are usually found in sediments that represent ancient lacustrine or riverine environments.

Another View of the CollectA Swimming Spinosaurus

Splashing about - Spinosaurus.

Splashing about – Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

The model, which measures around 26cm in length, does not stand up on its own.  A clear, plastic stand will be provided so that the replica can be displayed.  The model is based on the 2014 re-interpretation and review of Spinosaurus fossil remains.  Everything Dinosaur team members wrote an article about this new interpretation, on what is regarded as the largest carnivorous dinosaur known to science, back in September.

To read this article: Spinosaurus – Are Four Legs Better Than Two?

How Did Spinosaurus Swim?

The inference from one of the conclusions following the re-interpretation of Spinosaurus as a dinosaur very much at home in the water, is that Spinosaurus was a good swimmer.  When our dinosaur experts visit schools to conduct dinosaur themed workshops we often come across pictures of Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs downloaded in all innocence by the teaching team from on line retailers of teaching resources, these are described as “swimming dinosaurs”.    Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs are not members of the Dinosauria, and, as far as the fossil record shows, no member of the Dinosauria adapted to a marine environment.  However, like most vertebrates, it is suspected that dinosaurs, if forced to, could swim quite well.  There is even some evidence that those ungainly looking Pterosaurs could swim, bizarre though it may sound.

A herd of Sauropods could cross rivers and estuaries in search of food.  Once they had waded out of their depth, these giants could have quite happily paddled their way across.  There have even been trace fossils found that have been interpreted as being the scratches and marks made by a dinosaur as it swam across a body of water.  The marks being made on the river or lake bed as the reptile occasionally “touched down” only to push itself off again.

To read an article about one of these remarkable trace fossils: Evidence of Swimming Dinosaurs

Which swimming stroke the Spinosaurus preferred is very much open to debate.  The CollectA replica shows an animal swimming in an undulating, sideways motion, with propulsion provided by the long, strong tail.  This is reminiscent of the swimming motion of extant crocodilians.  In crocodiles, the limbs don’t really play a role in the swimming action.  In the absence, of much of the skeleton, what we do have, as investigated by the team of international scientists last year, may have come from very different sized individuals so limb proportions are conjectural to some extent.  Could Spinosaurus have adopted a sort of “doggy paddle” approach, swimming with all four limbs?  Perhaps, this super-sized dinosaur propelled itself along in the same way as one of the largest land carnivores around today does.  Polar bears (Ursus maritimus), technically a marine mammal considering the amount of time they spend on the sea ice, swim with a different motion.  They paddle themselves along just using their massive front paws, the back legs provide the steering, a sort of “rear wheel steer”.

We at Everything Dinosaur are not aware of any papers having been published with regards to the proposed swimming action of the Spinosauridae, perhaps one will be published soon.

“Wind Hunter” Rebor Announces New Replica

Utahraptor ostrommaysorum – “Wind Hunter” from Rebor

No sooner have we completed writing about the work to remove an enormous sandstone/mudstone block that may contain the remains of six Utahraptors, then it is time to release the first pictures of the new Utahraptor replica from those clever people at Rebor.  The next edition to the 1:35 scale replica series is going to be model of Utahraptor ostrommaysorum and what a beautiful sculpt it is.  Our team members have followed the “Utahraptor story”, since this enigmatic dinosaur was formally named and described back in 1993.  It is regarded as the largest of the “raptors” and we have speculated that a similar sized “raptor” may one day be discovered in Europe.

Coming Soon to Everything Dinosaur 1:35 scale Replica of Utahraptor

The largest known member of the Dromaeosauridae.

The largest known member of the Dromaeosauridae.

Picture Credit: Rebor/Everything Dinosaur

With its integumental covering of coarse “proto feathers” and quills on the forearms, this is indeed an intriguing interpretation of a carnivorous dinosaur.  We love the fact that the base has been painted a dark, red, sandstone colour, we suspect that this is in recognition of the work done on the Arches National Park Utahraptor concretion, that has been featured in the media very recently, but was actually first discovered back in 2004 (first bone from the site in 2001).  The Arches National Park, found to the north of the town of Moab (Utah), is famous for its sandstone arches and structures.  Parts of the Park, managed by the U.S. National Parks Service, are referred to as the “Red Rock Wonderland” due to the abundance sandstone geological features.

The Rebor 1:35 Scale Utahraptor Replica

Beautiful detail on this model.

Beautiful detail on this model.

Picture Credit: Rebor/Everything Dinosaur

Like the earlier releases Yutyrannus and T. rex, this replica has an articulated lower jaw.  The forelimbs also move, in recognition that these types of dinosaurs were “graspers and grabbers” as one of our colleagues frequently mentions whenever we get onto the subject of Early Cretaceous Theropods.

A Striking, Dynamic Pose for the Replica

Depicting an agile, active dinosaur.

Depicting an agile, active dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Rebor/Everything Dinosaur

The dinosaur can be removed from its base (can you spot the skull bones on the mount in the picture) and it is certainly a very dynamic and dramatic pose.  Made from a composite of PVC and polystone (like the Rebor Yutyrannus), this looks like to be another “must have” prehistoric animal replica for 2015.

Everything Dinosaur team members will post up more information soon, it will be added to our Rebor range later in the spring.

For further information and to see the current Rebor models: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Models

To contact Everything Dinosaur with a view to reserving one of these superb Rebor Utahraptor replicas: Email Everything Dinosaur

Guidraco 1:4 Scale Model (CollectA)

Guidraco Pterosaur Model is on Its Way

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are very excited as we await the arrival of the first of the 2015 model releases from CollectA.  One of the first replicas that will be available in the early Spring is a super model of the Pterosaur known as Guidraco, the name means “malicious ghost dragon” and this model is in the company’s “Supreme Deluxe” range.  One look at the model and you can see why it needed the “supreme” designation, it is very well designed and a wonderful depiction, of what we think is a member of the Ornithocheiridae.

The 1:4 Scale Guidraco Pterosaur Replica

Model has an articulated jaw.

Model has an articulated jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Described as standing around 25 centimetres tall, if you include the crest, this is not much smaller than the reconstructions of Guidraco venator seen in several Chinese museums.  The skull size is around 13cm and the largest of those vicious rostral teeth are around 14 millimetres in length.  The wing finger is a whopping 26cm long.  The overall length of the model that we have measured is 23 centimetres, this really is a very impressive replica indeed.

Can I Keep These Please?

A pair of Guidracos, note the articulated jaws.

A pair of Guidracos, note the articulated jaws.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The above picture gives you some idea of just how big these flying reptile replicas are.  It also gives you quite a good idea about how excited we are about these new additions to the CollectA “Prehistoric Life” model range.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of CollectA scale models: The Range of Scale Prehistoric Animal Models from CollectA

We have already prepared a fact sheet on this fascinating and enigmatic creature, this fact sheet will be sent out with models.  These new for 2015 models will be with us shortly, if you would like more information or if you would like to reserve one (with no obligation to purchase) just drop us an email: Email Everything Dinosaur to Reserve a Guidraco

Everything Dinosaur’s Social Media Targets 2015

Setting Targets for our Social Media in 2015

Having reviewed our progress on the various social media platforms that we support, Facebook, Twitter, Everything Dinosaur’s Youtube channel and so forth, it is time to look ahead to what we think we can achieve over the next twelve months.  She who must be obeyed “Tyrannosaurus Sue” has set targets for “likes” on Facebook, followers on Twitter, pins on Pinterest and so forth.  We are going to list them here and periodically, throughout the year review our progress.  2015 should be an exciting time for Everything Dinosaur, we are going to have lots of new and exciting dinosaur toys and prehistoric animal models, but first and foremost let’s take a look at those targets.

  •  Everything Dinosaur’s School Website (Dinosaurs for Schools)

Since this website went live in August of last year, we have been able to help many hundreds of teachers and thousands of school children.  The free downloads, teaching resources, lesson plans and activity ideas have been very well received indeed.  In 2014, we posted up sixty-seven articles on the teaching blog, all about dinosaur discoveries and about how to teach about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in school.  We featured pictures, drawings, dinosaur museums that had been set up in classrooms, all sorts of creative and imaginative teaching ideas.   With the focus in England very much on working scientifically we shall continue to do all we can to assist teaching professionals, museums and home educators.

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s website for schools and home educators: Teaching About Dinosaurs in Schools

So in 2015 our targets for the Dinosaurs for Schools website are:

  1. A further 125 articles posted up on the teaching blog site (total by the end of the year to be 192 articles)
  2. At the moment we have twenty downloads available to support schools, we intend to add another ten to this list, (total number of downloads available = 30)
  •  Everything Dinosaur on Facebook

We really enjoy posting up pictures, articles and information on our Facebook page, we have lots of friends and last year we accumulated 1,580 “likes” we are truly honoured.   We have about 175 friends on Facebook too.  At Everything Dinosaur we believe that Facebook “likes” have to be earned and not purchased we shall continue to work hard to earn every appreciative “like” that we receive.

Targets:

  1. Increase “likes” to “2,000″ by the end of 2015
  2. Increase the number of friends we have on Facebook to 400 by the end of the year
  3. Run at least three competitions and free giveaways to show our gratitude to our Facebook fans (just like we did last year)
We believe customer service is the key to getting "likes".

Target for 2015 is 2,000 earned “likes”.

Feel free to “like” our page by clicking on the Facebook logo – that would be brilliant!!

  • Twitter

With over 2,000 “tweets”, Everything Dinosaur team members are beginning to find their feet on Twitter, we love the immediacy of this platform and sharing pictures of fossils and illustrations of prehistoric animals.  Our Twitter feed is linked to our dinosaurs for schools website so we can “tweet” about good teaching practice and post up pictures of children’s artwork and such like.

Targets:

  1. 3,200 “tweets” by December 31st 2015
  2. To increase the number of people we follow over 5oo (up from 345).
  3. To increase the number of people following us from 370 to 650 by the end of the year
  • Youtube

At the moment our Youtube channel: Everything Dinosaur on Youtube has ninety-six videos, this is a few less than we anticipated after we did not get all the videos made that we wanted to last year.   However, we are still really impressed with the number of channel views which now stands at over 890,000 (thanks to everyone).  Subscriber numbers have topped 1,200 which is also very impressive as far as we are concerned.  We make model and replica reviews, post up collecting tips and hints and generally like to feature our favourite prehistoric animal models.  Our targets for the Everything Dinosaur Youtube channel are listed below our Youtube banner.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s Youtube Channel

Click on the banner to visit Everything Dinosaur's Youtube channel.

Click on the banner to visit Everything Dinosaur’s Youtube channel.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

  1. Number of videos up from 96 to 125 by the end of December 2015
  2. To achieve 1,000,000 video reviews by June 12th 2015 (the day of the world premier of “Jurassic World”) and then to achieve 1,235,000 views in total by the end of the year
  3. To up our channel subscribers from 1,200 to 1,750
  • Pinterest

With 5,300 pins on a total of 31 boards and 735 followers (496 following), Everything Dinosaur team members have worked hard to post up pictures and helpful information related to Pterosaurs, marine reptiles and of course dinosaurs.  We will create a dedicated board to marine reptiles and attempt to get over 250 pins up on this new board by the end of the year.  In addition, we shall set the following goals for Everything Dinosaur’s Pinterest presence.

  1. 8,500 pins
  2. 1,050 followers
  3. 600 following

To visit our Pinterest pages, simply click on the Pin It logo below:

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur's Pinterest pages.

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur’s Pinterest pages.

That’s about all for social media targets, but we will continue to remain as dedicated to our customers as we always have been and we look forward to hearing from you in the future.  Let’s see how close or how far over the targets the team members at Everything Dinosaur achieve by the end of the year.

Ah But!  What about this Blog?

Last but not least we come to the Everything Dinosaur web log.  Since we started blogging back in May 2007, we have tried to post up an article at least once a day, aiming for a total of 365 articles and news stories per year.  To date we have published an incredible 2,867 features, stories and articles.  We estimate that by May 20th we will have posted up our 3,000 blog post, to us, that’s simply amazing.  We will have to mark that landmark, with for a start, a special blog post.  By the end of the year our target is to have added another 365 articles to this site, making a total by December 31st of 3,221 or thereabouts.  We shall see…

The Inspiration behind Nasutoceratops?

The Diversity of the Ceratopsidae

The last decade or so has been regarded by many palaeontologists as the “Golden Age of Horned Dinosaurs”.   There have been so many new genera of horned dinosaur described, revisions of earlier research and a whole set of new theories looking at everything from mating rituals, ontogeny and phylogenetic relationships.  Model manufacturers have been keen to reflect the changing state of play with this branch of the Ornithischia.  Both CollectA and Safari Ltd have got into the habit of producing at least one new Ceratopsian figure each year.

In 2015, for example, a Nasutoceratops dinosaur model will be introduced by both CollectA and Safari Ltd.  This dinosaur, the name means “large nosed horn face”, was only formally described back in 2013.   It lived in what was to become Utah, towards the end of the Cretaceous period and this hefty herbivore sported a pair of large brow horns that pointed forward like the horns of some types of cow.

An Illustration of Nasutoceratops (N. titusi)

Nasutoceratops -  a Centrosaurine dinosaur from Utah

Nasutoceratops – the brow horns face forward.

Picture Credit: Raul Martin

To view an article written by Everything Dinosaur on the dinosaur discovery: “Large Nose, Horn Face” – Nasutoceratops

Both models are extremely well done and Everything Dinosaur will be stocking both the CollectA Nasutoceratops and the Wild Safari Dinos model.

New for 2015 the Wild Safari Dinos Nasutoceratops

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd/Everything Dinosaur

The diversity of the horns and bony ornamentation within the Ceratopsidae is amazing.  When the fossil material which was to become the holotype for the Nasutoceratops titusi was being evaluated, it was remarked how the horns reminded the scientists of the horns of a cow.  We spotted a cow the other day that reminded us of the new CollectA Nasutoceratops dinosaur model.  Could this have been the inspiration behind the CollectA replica?

Cow Reminds Everything Dinosaur of Nasutoceratops

the inspiration behind a dinosaur model?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A cow from the Mesozoic, how ridiculous, not at all, as this article proves: Prehistoric Udders!

One Nine Tonne Block Potentially Six Plus Utahraptors

Utahraptor Predator Trap Promises Fresh Insight into Dromaeosaurs

Lots of media coverage in the last few days concerning the efforts of a research team from Utah and their remarkable work to remove a nine tone block of mixed mudstone and sandstone that may contain the fossilised remains of a pack of Utahraptors from an isolated Mesa located in the Arches National Park (eastern Utah).  The block is believed to represent what is known as a “predator trap” and it may contain the fossilised remains of six Utahraptors, a fleet-footed, feathery hunter, related to the Velociraptor of Mongolia, but much, much bigger.  If the sandstone/mudstone block can be prepared, then palaeontologists will be able to gain further information about the growth habits (ontogeny) of these Theropod dinosaurs.  It may be difficult to ascertain whether the fossils represent a pack of dinosaurs that perished together, or whether the concretion represents the demise of a number of dinosaurs over a prolonged period, i.e. individual dinosaurs becoming fatally trapped rather than the whole group succumbing together.

The Fearsome Utahraptor ostrummaysorum

Utahraptor is the largest genus of Dromaeosaur described to date.  Although regarded by many scientists as being the “Arnold Schwarzenegger” of this particular type of meat-eating dinosaur, it was very typical of the group.  It was a fast running, bipedal predator and most likely feathered.  Adults reached lengths of around five and a half metres with a skull length in excess of fifty-five centimetres.  The sickle-shaped second toe claw was up to thirty-eight centimetres long and like other “raptors”, palaeontologists have postulated that Utahraptor could lift up its sickle claw whilst running, with toes three and four bearing the weight of the animal.  Utahraptor was named and described in 1993, one of the scientists involved in the formal scientific description was James Kirkland. James Kirkland, now one of the best known American palaeontologists, was leading a field trip involving University of Utah students back in 2001, when the first dinosaur bone, a leg bone was found indicating that a site on a 240 metre high Mesa in the Arches National Park, might yield an exciting dinosaur discovery.

The Location of the Utahraptor Fossils

The inset shows a close up of the nine tonne boulder in situ.

The inset shows a close up of the nine tonne boulder in situ.

Picture Credit: James Kirkland/St. George News

The inset and the red arrow indicates the location of the fossil find on the Mesa which is managed by the U.S National Parks Service.  Removing fossils from such locations is prohibited without special permits issued by the Government.

An Illustration of a Fearsome Utahraptor

Speedy, dinosaur hunters

Speedy, dinosaur hunters

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Further expeditions to the site, indicated that this was something special.  Back in 2004, it was confirmed that there was a mass of disarticulated and associated fossil bones preserved and over the last decade or so, the on-going investigation led scientists to believe that the best option was to remove the majority of the fossils in one massive block.  The excavation culminated in the removal of an 18,200 lb mass of boulders, carefully protected by burlap and plaster.  It was a tricky job negotiating the steep slopes of the Mesa but after heavy plant was brought in the huge rock was loaded onto a low loader for transportation to the Utah Department of Natural Resources (Salt Lake City).

One of the Utahraptor Jawbones Found at the Site

Slab and counter slab.

Slab and counter slab.

Picture Credit: James Kirkland/St. George News

Commenting on the fossils, which may represent at least six different aged Utahraptors, James Kirkland (Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Utah) stated:

“We realised all the raptors were intertwined.  As we tried to separate the bones from the ground, we kept running into more skeletons.  We ended up with a giant mass.”

Amongst the fossil material listed so far is a nearly two foot long adult skull, along with elements from a baby Utahraptor’s ten centimetre long skull.  These fossils will help scientists to work out how these animals changed as they grew and developed.  This discovery, part of an extremely rich fossil heritage from the American State has been described as a “Rosetta stone of dinosaur fossil hunting for Utah.”

A Predator Trap?

In conjunction with the Utahraptor remains, scientists have uncovered fragmentary fossils of a herbivorous iguanodontid.  It has been proposed that the stench of the rotting carcase of the herbivore attracted the predators who were hoping to scavenge on the rotting corpse.  However, these creatures too, become stuck in what was effectively quicksand and what killed them helped preserve their bodily remains.  Predator traps occur when large number of meat-eaters congregate around the corpse of a prey animal that has become stuck in mud or quicksand.  A number of predator traps are known from the fossil record, the Early Cretaceous tyrannosaurid Guanlong has been associated with a predator trap, the tar pits at La Brea (Los Angeles), are effectively one huge predator trap, they still catch out unwary birds and small mammals today.

To read an article about how scientists think large dinosaur footprints could have proved deadly for smaller animals: Did Dinosaur Footprints Trap Small Animals?

Commenting on the Utahraptor fossil discovery, a spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur stated:

“These fossils represent a remarkable opportunity for palaeontologists to learn about one of the most formidable predators of the Cretaceous.  Around 120 million years ago, this part of what is now the desert of Utah, was covered in a series of large and often seasonal lakes.  As the water evaporated over the long, dry season, so herbivorous dinosaurs would run the risk of getting stuck in the mud and soft sand on the shore.  With water seeping away from such sites, quicksand was quickly formed and these would ensnare unwary dinosaurs.  It will be difficult for the scientists to state with any degree of certainty whether or not this fossil site provides evidence of pack behaviour in  Dromaeosaurs, but we suspect that the debate over this type of dinosaur behaviour, already inferred by other fossil finds, will come to fore once more.”

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