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Dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed articles, features and stories.

27 04, 2017

JurassicCollectables Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus Review

By | April 27th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

Everything Dinosaur team members had the opportunity to examine the sculpt for the Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus model and we commented at the time that we thought this would prove to be one of the most popular Schleich models to be introduced for quite a while.  This has certainly turned out to be the case and now JurassicCollectables has given model fans the chance to get a good look at this Placoderm in their latest video review.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Prehistoric Fish into the Spotlight

This heavily armoured fish from the Late Devonian with its distinctive plates is one of the best known of all the prehistoric animals outside of the Dinosauria amongst model collectors.  As a group the Placoderms (Class Placodermi), evolved in the Silurian and Dunkleosteus, is regarded by many as the first vertebrate super-predator in the fossil record.  A number of species have been named and described, in the video the narrator states a length of six metres for this formidable marine monster, however, the lack of postcranial fossils precludes accurate measurements or even an assessment of the body plan of this prehistoric fish, but we at Everything Dinosaur have seen plates, (some of which are more than five centimetres think), that indicate individuals may have reached lengths in excess of nine metres.

In the short, highly informative video, the remarkable dermal plates and jaws are seen in close-up view and the narrator comments on the silver finish that Schleich opted for and the battered, scratched and nicked appearance of the plates.  This is very much how the plates would have appeared if you had braved diving in the Late Devonian and been unfortunate to meet one of these fearsome creatures.

A Dunkleosteus Guards the Entrance to the Fish Gallery at the Frankfurt Natural History Museum

Dunkleosteus on display.

The spectacular Dunkleosteus exhibit.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Comments on the Scale of the Scales

The JurassicCollectables video also pays close attention to the different types of scale depicted along the body.  The viewer is given the opportunity to compare and contrast the different sizes of scale depicted on this skilfully crafted replica.

A Close-up View of the Different Sized Scales on the Flank and Fins of the Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

Schleich "First Giants" Dunkleosteus.

Schleich Dunkleosteus model.  The scales are highlighted in the video.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

JurassicCollectables have a wonderful YouTube channel which is full of dinosaur model reviews and other very informative and interesting videos.  This YouTube channel has over 54,000 subscribers, that’s an amazing achievement, our congratulations to everyone at JurassicCollectables for such an amazing YouTube channel.

Visit the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables here: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , Everything Dinosaur recommends that prehistoric animal model fans subscribe to the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel.  The YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables has got reviews of a number of Schleich replicas, including all of the 2016 Schleich “First Giants” releases.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

The Dunkleosteus model from Schleich.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animal replicas available from Everything Dinosaur, including the Schleich “First Giants” Dunkleosteus: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

26 04, 2017

Headless Duck-Billed Dinosaur Reunited with Skull

By | April 26th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Corythosaurus Fossil Gets its Head Back

Scientists from the University of Alberta have been able to reunite the fossilised body of a Corythosaurus to its head, nearly one hundred years after the skull fossil was removed from the dig site.

Researchers have matched the headless skeleton to a Corythosaurus skull (C. excavatus) from the university’s Palaeontology Museum that had been collected in 1920 by the eminent George Sternberg during field work in what is now called the Dinosaur Provincial Park (southern Alberta).

Graduate Katherine Bramble, a co-author of the scientific paper that appears in the latest issue of “Cretaceous Research” commented:

“Based on our results, we believed there was potential that the skull and this specimen belonged together.”

The Corythosaurus (C. excavatus) Skull Collected by George Sternberg in 1920

Corythosaurus fossil skull.

The Corythosaurus skull collected by George Sternberg in 1920.

Picture Credit: The University of Alberta

Trophy Hunting When It Came to Dinosaur Fossils

The Corythosaurus skull shown in lateral view (above) was collected in 1920 and designated the holotype fossil for a new hadrosaurid (Corythosaurus excavatus) by C. W. Gilmore in 1923.  The skull, (UALVP 13) became part of the University’s vertebrate fossil collection.  In 1992, a previously uncovered, weathered, Corythosaurus skeleton was found.  A field team from the University of Alberta collected the specimen in 2012 and research undertaken by Darren Tanke (a technician at the Royal Tyrrell Museum), a co-author of the paper indicated that the body remains could be associated with the already known skull material.

In the 19th and early 20th Century, palaeontologists in North America were almost faced with an embarrassment of riches when it came to dinosaur fossils.  The extensive fossil deposits in Utah, Montana and southern Alberta led to many field teams simply “cherry picking” and only collecting the most spectacular of fossils, items such as claws, skulls, dermal armour, horns and teeth.  It is relatively common for a field team working in the Dinosaur Provincial Park to come across specimens missing skull material.

A Close-Up View of a Corythosaurus Dinosaur Model

CollectA Corythosaurus dinosaur model.

A close-up of the head of Corythosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Lower Jaw (Dentary) Found

In addition, an isolated Hadrosaur dentary (lower jaw bone), found in 1992, close to the articulated, postcranial skeleton may be one of the missing jaw fossils from the holotype skull.  The idea that this postcranial material be the skeleton of the holotype of Corythosaurus excavatus was tested using anatomical information and statistical analyses.  Statistical comparisons suggest that it is possible that the skull and dentary belong to the same individual.  Furthermore, the researchers postulate that the postcranial material could belong to the UALVP 13 skull.

Katherine Bramble explained:

“Using anatomical measurements of the skull and the skeleton, we conducted a statistical analysis.  Based on these results, we believed there was potential that the skull and this specimen belonged together.”

Matching Disparate Fossils to Individual Dinosaurs

This discovery highlights a growing field of study in palaeontology, wherein, scientists try to develop new ways of determining whether various parts of a skeleton, often located in different museum collections, belong to the same individual.  For this paper, the team used anatomical measurements, but there are several other ways of matching up fossil bones, such as conducting a chemical analysis on the surrounding matrix to identify the rocks from which the fossils were found.

The scientific paper, “Reuniting the ‘head hunted’ Corythosaurus excavatus (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae) holotype skull with its dentary and postcranium,” published in the journal of “Cretaceous Research.”

24 04, 2017

Lucky Dinosaur Fossil Egg Find in China

By | April 24th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Five Dinosaur Fossil Eggs Found by Chance

Construction workers have unearthed five dinosaur eggs in the city of Foshan (Guangdong Province, south-eastern China).  The eggs, preserved in red sandstone, were laid by a herbivore, but scientists are unable to identify the genera.  The eggs are quite rounded in shape and measure approximately 13-14 centimetres in diameter.  The strata dates from around 70 million years ago (Late Cretaceous) and the fossils have been taken to a local museum for safekeeping and further study.

The Dinosaur Eggs were Briefly Put on Display Before Being Removed for Further Analysis

Dinosaur eggs from Guangdong Province.

Plant-eating dinosaur fossil eggs from China.

The two blocks containing the fossils were found at a depth of eight metres and Qiu Licheng from Guangdong’s Archaeological Institute in China commented:

“We found five eggs, three were destroyed, but they are still visible.  The other two have their imprints on the stone.”

The discovery was made last Monday and video footage has been taken showing the construction site and the fossils that were found.  Dinosaur eggs have been found in the Foshan area before, although to find a clutch is quite significant.  Local palaeontologists are hopeful that these fossils will help to provide a clearer picture of what life was like in this part of China during the Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.

The “Red Beds” of sandstone have produced a number of dinosaur fossils, including Theropods.  At least three different types of dinosaur egg fossil have been described and in some parts of southern and south-eastern China, they act almost like index fossils helping to date the relative ages of sediments.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that Titanosaurs are known to have lived in this part of China around 70 million years ago, but the eggs are too small to be ascribed to a type of Titanosaur with any confidence.  The eggs may have come from a hadrosaurid.

23 04, 2017

Happy St George’s Day

By | April 23rd, 2017|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaur Names Related to Dragons – St George’s Day

Today, April 23rd, is St George’s Day, the national day for England (St George is the patron saint of England, a saint incidentally celebrated and revered by a number of other countries too).  The story about brave St George slaying a dragon might be a myth, but we thought just for fun we might try and list as many dinosaurs associated with dragons as we could.  This is harder than it seems, for example, St George is honoured in both western and eastern cultures and in China, the origin of the dragon legends could have originated from the discovery of fossils of dinosaurs.  Which dinosaurs?  We don’t think anyone can be sure.

The White Horse Prehistoric Chalk Figure at Uffington (Oxfordshire) Has Been Described as Dragon

The Uffington chalk figure.

Children draw the Uffington prehistoric chalk figure.

Picture Credit: Great Wood Primary School

Chinese Dragon Dinosaurs

The word “long” translated from the Chinese means “dragon” so we could have the Theropods Guanlong, Shaochilong, Zhenyuanlong, Dilong and Zuolong for starters.  To this list, we could add the basal Ceratopsian Yinlong (Y. downsi) and we must not forget the beautiful “sleeping dragon” fossil, representing a troodontid, named as Mei long.

An Illustration of the Sleeping Dragon (M. long)

Mei long illustration.

The sleeping dragon Mei long.

Dinosaurs and Dragons

As well as those dinosaurs from Asia with names that reference dragons, there are a number of genera named after the Latin for dragon “draco”. How many can we name?

Firstly, we have Dracoraptor hanigani, a very early Jurassic dinosaur from Wales, a country with its own dragon culture and stories.

An Illustration of the Welsh Theropod Dracoraptor (D. hanigani)

Dracoraptor hanigani.

An illustration of the Theropod dinosaur from Wales Dracoraptor hanigani.

Picture Credit: Bob Nicholls (National Museum of Wales)

In addition, we can add Pantydraco (P. caducus), a Late Triassic member of the Sauropodomorpha from the Vale of Glamorgan.  What other dinosaur dragons can we think of?

Here’s our list:

  • Dracovenator (D. regenti) – from the Early Jurassic of South Africa, believed to be a dilophosaurid.
  • Dracorex (D. hogwartsia) – A member of the bone-headed Pachycephalosauridae named and described in 2006
  • Draconyx (D. loureiroi) – from Portugal a possible iguanodontid.
  • Dracopelta (D. zbyszewskii) – from Portugal, fragmentary fossils indicate a Thyreophoran (armoured dinosaur affinity)
  • Dracoraptor (D. hanigani) – from Wales (see notes above)
  • Pantydraco (P. caducus) – (see above)

A Mounted Skeleton of Dracorex (D. hogwartsia)

Reconstruction of Dracorex.

Dracorex fossil skeleton.

Picture Credit: Indianapolis Children’s Museum

How many dragon inspired dinosaurs can you name?

22 04, 2017

The Tactile Nature of a Schleich Brachiosaurus

By | April 22nd, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

The Schleich Brachiosaurus and Creative Play

The recently introduced Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model is proving to be a big hit amongst teachers and teaching assistants who work with Foundation Stage children and those children in Year 1.  The model, which measures around thirty-two centimetres in length and stands a fraction under twenty centimetres high is an ideal size for little hands to handle and the dinosaur is sturdy enough to withstand the attentions of even the most enthusiastic, budding palaeontologist during creative play.

The Schleich Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Suitable Dinosaur Models for Early Years Foundation Stage 

Children in Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) will be mostly learning through games and creative play activities, although in Reception classes (Foundation Stage 2), by the beginning of the summer term, many schools will be introducing more structured learning routines to help prepare the children for the greater emphasis on cognitive abilities which comes with Year 1.  One of the key areas of learning is to help children to develop language and communication skills, as well as learning about the properties of materials (understanding the world).  The Schleich Brachiosaurus model has a roughened texture over part of the dinosaur’s body.  Other areas are smooth, as a result, the figure is ideal for exploring how different objects feel.

The Beautiful Texture on the Schleich Brachiosaurus

The texture on the neck and shoulders of the Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The beautiful texture of the Schleich Brachiosaurus is ideal for creative play.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Looking at the Properties of Different Materials

Dinosaur toys and models are a source of fascination for both young boys and girls.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur use an assortment of dinosaur models and figures in their outreach work with children, particularly those children in Year 1 and Foundation Stage.  The tactile, kinaesthetic quality of the Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur makes it ideal, as the children feel the model’s rough scales and smooth skin.  We also use this Schleich dinosaur model to help children learn and remember the names for different parts of the body and to compare our bodies to that of a dinosaur.

Can You See His Eyes?  How Many Eyes Does the Dinosaur Have?

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The tactile quality of a Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Schleich model is ideal for exploring parts of the body with young children at Foundation Stage and Year 1.  Can they point to the teeth?  Where’s the dinosaur’s tongue?  Can you count the dinosaur’s toes?

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animal models including the robust, sturdy Schleich Brachiosaurus figure: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model has a very tactile nature, a result of the carefully moulded scales on various parts of the body.  It is a robust and sturdy dinosaur model, ideal for use when working with EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage).

20 04, 2017

SpinoDude Reviews Polacanthus

By | April 20th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Polacanthus Video Review

SpinoDude has produced a very informative review of the new for 2017 Papo Polacanthus dinosaur model.  Papo’s promotional images of this plant-eating dinosaur did not do it justice and SpinoDude addresses this by showcasing some of the exquisite details that can be found on this replica, one of six dinosaur figures (including two repaints), to be added to Papo’s “Les Dinosaures” range this year.

The Video Review of Polacanthus

Video Credit: SpinoDude Reviews

In this short, seven-minute video review, SpinoDude shows the model in close-up and highlights some of the features of this replica, such as the carefully painted eye and the subtle detailing around and inside the mouth.  One of the great things about SpinoDude dinosaur model reviews is that the narrator starts by providing some scientific information about the dinosaur in question.  For example, the sacral shield is commented upon and the video contains images of the sacral shield and pelvis elements collected from the Lower Cretaceous of Barnes High, (Isle of Wight), what are in fact, the pelvis fossils of the Polacanthus holotype (NHMUK R175).

The SpinoDude YouTube channel has nearly 1,000 subscribers and the channel contains dozens of skilfully made prehistoric animal model reviews.

To see the channel and to subscribe to SpinoDude: SpinoDude Reviews YouTube Channel

 An Eagerly Anticipated Dinosaur Model

The narrator describes the Papo Polacanthus as one of the most eagerly anticipated figures to be introduced by Papo this year.  The spectacular Acrocanthosaurus and Papo Ceratosaurus may have stolen a lot of the limelight, but discerning collectors will appreciate the quality of this armoured dinosaur.  On our travels, we have had the pleasure of studying North American Cretaceous polacanthids as well as writing about the discovery of “the Horsham specimen” from Rudgwick, Surrey.  The disarticulated fossil material recovered from a brickworks quarry, representing strata deposited in the Early Cretaceous (Barremian faunal stage), has led to the establishment of a new member of the armoured dinosaurs, within the Polacanthinae clade but not that closely related to Polacanthus foxii.  This new dinosaur has been named Horshamosaurus. (H. rudgwickensis).

Everything Dinosaur’s Picture of the Papo Polacanthus

Papo Polacanthus replica.

Papo Polacanthus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Papo prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Papo Polacanthus Dinosaur Model

Papo Polacanthus model.

Papo Polacanthus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dr William Blows (the scientist responsible for describing and naming Horshamosaurus), recently published an excellent book which comprehensively reviewed the research undertaken into British polacanthids and their North American cousins.

“British Polacanthid Dinosaurs” by William T. Blows

"British polacanthid Dinosaurs".

Written by William T. Blows.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

For further details: Visit the Website of Siri Scientific Press

Our thanks to SpinoDude for his super Papo Polacanthus video review.

19 04, 2017

Prehistoric Seagull from the Outback

By | April 19th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Nanantius eos and the Eromanga Sea

The Queensland town of Richmond may be several hundred miles from the Coral Sea that laps against the coast of north-eastern Australia, but back in the Cretaceous this part of world, famous for its droughts and arid outback, was covered for millions of years by a shallow, tropical sea (the Eromanga Sea), that teemed with prehistoric life.  Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and the dedicated researchers at Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner a new ancient resident has been identified, not a sea monster, or an ancient fish but a primitive bird that probably filled an ecological niche similar to today’s seagulls.

Swooping into view comes Nanantius eos, the name translates as dawn dwarf-enantiornithine*.  Slighter smaller than a Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), perhaps weighing no more than a couple of hundred grammes, the fossils come from marine sandstone deposits that were laid down more than 100 million years ago, (Aptian to Albian faunal stage of the Cretaceous).  Fossils of Nanantius have been found in Winton sandstone exposures around three-hundred miles to the south-west of Richmond, but these consist of only a few isolated bones.  Working at a site just eight miles from the centre of Richmond, Dr Patrick Smith (Curator at the Kronosaurus Korner Fossil Museum), is confident that the number of bird bones found so far indicates that there might be complete skeletons present in the deposit.

Pictures of the Fossil Material Ascribed to Nanantius eos from the Richmond Site

Nanantius fossils from the Richmond site.

Nanantius eos fossils including a partial humerus (left).

Picture Credit: Dr Patrick Smith

Dr Smith commented:

“It’s very, very rare to find dinosaurs out here, there’s only been about a handful known, so finding these dinosaur birds is amazing.  We haven’t had any of these sorts of primitive birds found in Richmond.”

The “Richmond Raptor”

Volunteer Mike D’Arcy found the first evidence of a fossil bird some five years ago.  Ever since his first discovery, he has been busy recruiting volunteers to help him find more fossil evidence.  As, for much of the Early Cretaceous, Richmond was underwater and many miles from land, it is surprising to find evidence of an enantiornithine bird in marine sandstone deposits.  Scientists are unsure how the bird fossils came to be deposited.  Do they represent an accumulation of carcases of birds washed out to sea?  Or perhaps flocks of Nanantius eos (which was probably a capable flyer), may have flown out far to sea in order to feed.  Mike has nick-named the bird the “Richmond Raptor”.  It did have small, sharp teeth in its jaws and claws on its wings but small fish and insects were probably its choice of prey.

Volunteer Mike D’Arcy Working at the Fossil Site

Volunteer Mike D'Arcy working at the dig site.

Mike D’Arcy at the fossil dig site.

Picture Credit: Mike D’Arcy

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Local residents can play an important role in helping palaeontologists to collect fossils from sites, that the palaeontologists themselves may not have time to visit and explore themselves.  Thanks to these volunteers, many fossils that would otherwise have been eroded away can be saved, permitting scientists the opportunity to study them.”

Likely member of the Enantiornithine Clade*

Although described as a member of the Enantiornithes clade, a group of abundant, primitive birds of the Cretaceous, it is hoped that the Richmond fossils will be able to confirm this assessment.  Previously, fossils found near the small town of Boulia, (Queensland), included a partial tibiotarsus (ankle and lower leg bone), were attributed to Nanantius.  The shape of this bone was once thought to be diagnostic of the Enantiornithines but more recent Mesozoic bird discoveries have cast doubt on the morphology of the tibiotarsus being suitably diagnostic of a Enantiornithine affinity.  With more fossil bones found, including limb elements (humerus and unguals), palaeontologists may be able to confirm the taxonomic position of N. eos.

Examining a Pedal Ungual (Nanantius eos)

Viewing a claw fossil of Nanantius eos (Cretaceous bird).

Mike D’Arcy examining one of the fossil toe claws.

Picture Credit: Mike D’Arcy

Mike D’Arcy added:

“The first half a dozen pieces I got, we couldn’t really assign what it was and it wasn’t until we got the humerus that we could say it was definitely a bird.”

The fossils are currently on display at the Kronosaurus Korner Fossil Museum. Nanantius is regarded as seabird as fossils have been found in association with marine deposits.  In addition, in 2003, a paper was published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society – Biology” that described the stomach contents discovered in association with a gravid female Ichthyosaur (Platypterygius longmani).  Amongst the fossilised remains of baby turtles and fish, the scientists discovered limb bones from an Enantiornithine bird, probably from the Nanantius genus.  How the bones came to be in the body cavity of an Ichthyosaur is unknown, perhaps the marine reptile grabbed the bird as it rested on the water, or maybe the Ichthyosaur had fed on a corpse that had been washed out to sea.

17 04, 2017

Prehistoric Times Magazine (Spring 2017) Reviewed

By | April 17th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|1 Comment

A Review of Prehistoric Times Magazine (Spring 2017)

Issue 121 (Spring 2017), of the quarterly magazine “Prehistoric Times” has just arrived and this edition of the popular journal for dinosaur fans and prehistoric animal model enthusiasts has a distinctly “English” feel to it.  Yes, we know the front cover features the amazing artwork of the highly influential Zdeněk Burian, an artist and palaeo illustrator from Czechoslovakia.  This issue contains details of Burian’s commissioned artwork used to help illustrate fiction, one of a series of articles all about the great man written by John Lavas.  However, also included is a feature on London-born, Alice Bolingbroke Woodward, who like Burian, was a pioneer of prehistoric animal illustration, plus look out for Phil Hore’s informative piece on a very enigmatic English Theropod Metriacanthosaurus and the John Sibbick Reader Art.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Issue 121

The front cover of Prehistoric Times magazine (Spring 2017).

The front cover of prehistoric times magazine (Spring 2017).

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” features artwork by Zdeněk Burian.

To learn more about “Prehistoric Times” and to subscribe visit the website: Prehistoric Times Magazine

Pliosaurs and the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The “English theme” continues with our chum Anthony Beeson’s contribution, a short article highlighting the extensive marine reptile collection associated with the Bristol City Museum.  Anthony discusses the historical significance of the specimens, many of which were originally collected by Mary Anning. He then brings us right up to date with details about a forthcoming marine reptile exhibition that runs from June 17th until early January 2018.

Phil Hore’s second contribution in the magazine, is an article on the bizarre Therapsid Estemmenosuchus, fossils of which come from the Urals, however, Phil’s article begins with comments made by the 19th Century English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley.  It turns out that “Darwin’s Bulldog” got these cow-sized beasties completely wrong.  Look out for some fantastic reader artwork that accompanies this article.

The Sound of the Mesozoic

Robert Telleria continues to put the spotlight on the artwork associated with sound recordings that feature prehistoric animals and on the subject of artwork, check out “What color were dinosaurs?”  Mike Fredericks and Tracy Lee Ford have collaborated on a new dinosaur themed colouring book.  It is reviewed in the “Mesozoic Media” section of the magazine.  Lots of palaeontology news including the discovery of new species of horned dinosaur (Yehuecauhceratops mudei) from Mexico is discussed and check out the wonderful Siats meekerorum illustration by Fabio Pastori.

Yehuecauhceratops mudei – A New Mexican Horned Dinosaur

Yehuecauhceratops Museum Replica

Scientists have constructed a model of the Mexican dinosaur called Yehuecauhceratops.

Picture Credit: Museo del Desierto, Mexico (The Coahuila Desert Museum)

Paying Tribute to Aurora Prehistoric Scenes

Our favourite article in the Spring edition of “Prehistoric Times”, comes from Steve Kelley, who takes readers on a very personal journey as he discusses his love of the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes model series.  What a fantastic collection Steve has been able to amass!  Ironically, this, very informative article does not include any pictures of the “Jungle Swamp” set, which was voted amongst Everything Dinosaur team members as our favourite.  Perhaps it will feature in part two, which is promised for issue 122.

Our Favourite Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Model Set – “The Jungle Swamp”

Aurora Prehistoric Scenes "Jungle Swamp".

Super Aurora Model Kit from childhood.

To subscribe to Prehistoric Times Magazine: Prehistoric Times Magazine

16 04, 2017

Elk Hunter Stumbles Across Elasmosaurid

By | April 16th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|5 Comments

Nakonanectes bradti – Shortest Neck and Youngest Elasmosaur from the Western Interior Seaway

A new genus of elasmosaurid has been added to the list of marine reptiles associated with the Western Interior Seaway.  Named Nakonanectes bradti, this fish-eating monster lived around 70 million-years ago.  A paper detailing the discovery has been published this week in the “Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology”, Nakonanectes is the youngest elasmosaurid, stratigraphically speaking from the Western Interior Seaway, it also had a very short neck, short at least, when compared to other Late Cretaceous elasmosaurids.

A New Genus of Short-Necked Elasmosaurid from Montana

Nakonanectes illustrated.

An illustration of the newly described elasmosaurid Nakonanectes bradti.

Picture Credit: James Havens

Marine Reptile Discovered by an Elk Hunter

David Bradt in 2010, stumbled across fossils of the marine reptile whilst out hunting for elk in Montana’s Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.  He noticed a series of articulated bones in a stream bed and thinking that the fossils might represent a dinosaur, David alerted the authorities.  When a field team visited the remote site, they followed the trail of bone fragments uphill and discovered more fossils including the remains of an exquisitely preserved skull.  The Late Cretaceous reptile has been named after the native Nakona people of Montana and the trivial name honours David Bradt.

Field Team Members Working at the Excavation Site

Excavating the elasmosaurid fossil bones.

The location of the elasmosaurid bones.

Picture Credit: Erin Clark/Associated Press

One of the authors of the scientific paper, Pat Druckenmiller (University of Alaska Museum of the North), commented:

“This group [elasmosaurids] is famous for having ridiculously long necks, I mean necks that have as many as seventy-six vertebrae [Albertonectes].  What absolutely shocked us when we dug it out, it only had somewhere around forty vertebrae.”

Nakonanectes bradti Compared to Albertonectes vanderveldei

The Bearpaw Shale Formation has provided scientists with a number of intriguing Cretaceous vertebrate fossils, including Albertonectes (A. vanderveldei).  It is regarded as the longest Plesiosaur known (estimated to have been more than twelve metres long).  Albertonectes also has the longest neck of any Plesiosaur described to date.  The neck is estimated to have been around seven metres long.  The single specimen (holotype) of Albertonectes comes from the Bearpaw Shale Formation, however, these fossils were found in Alberta (near Lethbridge) and as such, come from exposures some two hundred miles north-west of the stream bed in Montana where the remains of Nakonanectes were found.

Nakonanectes bradti is believed to have had around 39-42 neck bones (cervical vertebrate).  In comparison, Albertonectes had a body length twice as long and its neck was two-and-a-half times the length of N. bradti.

Comparing the Size of Nakonanectes to Albertonectes

Elasmosaurid neck size comparison.

Elasmosaurid size comparisons (Bearpaw Shale Formation).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The palaeontologists conclude that the neck of Nakonanectes was about 2.3 metres long.  It is difficult to accurately date the strata that makes up the Bearpaw Shale Formation.  These two very different elasmosaurids may not have co-existed, but the discovery of Nakonanectes indicates that there was considerable variety in the neck length of members of the Elasmosauridae.  It also suggests that as the Cretaceous period progressed so at least one lineage of Elasmosaurs evolved shorter necks.

David Bradt Next to the Fossils (2010)

David Bradt with his fossil find.

Hunter David Bradt photographed in the stream bed with the fossils.

Picture Credit: David Bradt

The scientific paper: “A New Elasmosaurid (Sauropterygia, Plesiosauria) from the Bearpaw Shale (Late Cretaceous, Maastrichtian) of Montana Demonstrates Multiple Evolutionary Reductions of Neck Length within Elasmosauridae”, by Serratos, D. J., P. Druckenmiller, and R. B. J. Benson published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.

15 04, 2017

New Tiny Dromaeosaurid from the Jehol Biota

By | April 15th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Zhongjianosaurus yangi from the Early Cretaceous of China

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have published information on-line about the discovery of another dromaeosaurid from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province (north-eastern China).  The little, long-legged “raptor”, that measured around eighty centimetres in length has been described as looking like “Microraptor on silts”.  The dinosaur has been named Zhongjianosaurus yangi, in honour of Yang Zhongjian regarded as the founder of vertebrate palaeontology in China.  The forelimbs are nearly as robust as the back legs which is a little unusual.  In addition, the ulna (bone in the lower arm), is longer than the humerus (upper arm bone), an anatomical feature that this dinosaur shares with many volant (capable of flight), birds.  The forelimb anatomy of Z. yangi contrasts with the anatomy of most non-avian Theropods, where the ulna is almost always much shorter than the humerus.

A Skeletal Drawing and an Illustration of Zhongjianosaurus yangi

Skeletal drawing and illustration.

Zhongjianosaurus fossil material (in white) shown in a skeletal drawing with a scientific illustration below.

Picture Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

In the skeletal drawing (above) the fossil material assigned to Z. yangi is shown in white.  Note the skull has not been found (scale bar equals five centimetres).

Eight Dromaeosaurid Species from the Jehol Group – Niche Partitioning 

The dromaeosaurids, which are a group of maniraptoran Theropods, are globally distributed and they have left a relatively extensive fossil record, but the earliest representatives of the Dromaeosauridae family come from the Lower Cretaceous Jehol Group of western Liaoning Province.  So far, a total of eight dromaeosaurid species have been reported from the Jehol Group, they are remarkably diverse and show numerous differences in their body plans which indicate that each type of dromaeosaurid was adapted to a different habitat or niche in the ecosystem.  This newly described dinosaur, Zhongjianosaurus yangi, classified from a single slab of fossilised bones continues this trend for Dromaeosaur diversity.  It is many times lighter than the largest dromaeosaurid (Tianyuraptor ostromi), known from this locality.  With an estimated 0.31 kilogramme mass, the Z. yangi holotype representing an adult individual, confirms that some Jehol dromaeosaurids are among the smallest known non-avialan Theropods described to date.

The Holotype Fossil Material (Post-cranial Material) of Z. yangi

The holotype fossil material of Zhongjianosaurus yangi.

The holotype of Zhongjianosaurus yangi.

Picture Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

Zhongjianosaurus yangi has been assigned to the Microraptorinae sub-family and the single fossil specimen was excavated from strata representing lake deposits in Sihedang, Lingyuan County, (western Liaoning).  The ninth dromaeosaurid of the Jehol Biota is difficult to date accurately, as Sihedang strata lacks biostratigraphical markers.  Z. yangi has been tentatively dated to the Aptian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous (125 million-years-ago approximately).   Many of the other Dromaeosaur fossils have been retrieved from private collections and they subsequently lack stratigraphical context.  However, even if all nine different types of dromaeosaurid did not live at the same geological time they certainly represent a very disparate group and this suggests that these little dinosaurs adapted to different habitats and perhaps sources of food (niche partitioning).

Galapagos Finches

As reported in the advanced on-line publication, the researchers, Xing Xu and Zi-Chuan Qin propose that this collection of dromaeosaurids demonstrates niche partitioning and they compare the Jehol Dromaeosaurs to Darwin’s Galapagos finches.  Darwin noted that although the finches on the various islands that make up the Galapagos shared a common ancestor, they showed remarkable diversity in beak form and function.

In the absence of cranial material, it is not possible to identify what the tiny Zhongjianosaurus ate, but it is postulated that it could have been an insectivore, perhaps living high up in the tree canopy to escape the fast-running, larger hypercarnivores (other Dromaeosaurs), that roamed the forest floor.  Zhongjianosaurus was very probably feathered and those robust forelimbs could have supported wings that helped it to glide or flap its way from branch to branch.

The scientific paper: “A New Tiny Dromaeosaurid Dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Jehol Group of Western Liaoning and Niche Differentiation Among the Jehol Dromaeosaurids”, by Xing Xu and Zi-Chuan Qin (Chinese Academy of Sciences).

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