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

26 05, 2018

A Scale Drawing of Pyroraptor

By | May 26th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

A Scale Drawing of Pyroraptor olympius

As team members at Everything Dinosaur make plans for the imminent arrival of the Beasts of the Mesozoic range of 1:6 scale dinosaur figures, we have been busy finalising the scale drawings of these extinct animals for use in our fact sheets.  For virtually every named prehistoric animal that we supply from Achelousaurus and Acheroraptor to Zhenyuanlong, we research and write a fact sheet.  In this way, our customers can learn a little about the prehistoric creature the model or soft toy represents.

A Scale Drawing of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Pyroraptor

A scale drawing of the dromaeosaurid dinosaur Pyroraptor olympius.

A scale drawing of the dromaeosaurid Pyroraptor olympius.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Estimating the Size of Dinosaurs

Estimating the size of dinosaurs is quite a tricky business.  When it comes to a dromaeosaur like Pyroraptor, we are hampered by the lack of fossil evidence.  This dinosaur is known from a handful of teeth and some fragmentary bones.  However, we estimate that this fast-running dinosaur was around 1.5 metres in size and weighed between eight and ten kilograms.  The poor fossil record of most dinosaurs hampers mass and length estimations, many of the fossils relate to sub-adults or juveniles so the exact size of an adult animal is very difficult to calculate.  A case in point is the recently described Sciurumimus (Sciurumimus albersdoerferi), from Germany.  This dinosaur is known from a single fossil specimen.  It is a spectacular fossil and very nearly complete.  However, the skeleton is that of a baby, a very young animal measuring around seventy centimetres in length.  This baby dinosaur could have grown up to become one of the largest Theropod dinosaurs known from the Jurassic of Europe.  Until more fossils of this species are found, the adult size of this carnivorous dinosaur remains entirely speculative.

The CollectA  Sciurumimus (Sciurumimus albersdoerferi) Dinosaur Model

CollectA Sciurumimus.

CollectA Sciurumimus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read about the discovery of Sciurumimus (2012): Megalosaurs Join the Tufty Club

25 05, 2018

How Birds Survived the Cretaceous Mass Extinction Event

By | May 25th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Ground Dwelling Birds Survived Asteroid Strike

One of the fascinating conundrums about the end Cretaceous extinction event is how did the avian dinosaurs (birds) survive, but their very close cousins the non-avian dinosaurs, animals such as Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops and Edmontosaurus fail to make it through this calamitous time in Earth’s history?  A team of international researchers, writing in the journal “Current Biology” have put together a fascinating explanation as to why we have birds today, but no other Theropods, or indeed any other representatives of the Dinosauria.

With the extra-terrestrial impact event some 66 million and 38 thousand years ago (plus or minus 11,000 years), the ecosystems on our planet were devastated.  Whether this single, huge impact was the sole cause of the mass extinction or whether this was the final “coup de grâce” is debatable, however, life would never be the same again.

Using a variety of data sources, the team, which included scientists from the University of Bath, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Yale University and the Field Museum amongst others, have pieced together what the impact event meant for the Aves.  Their scientific paper suggests that the only kinds of birds to survive the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) extinction were ground- dwellers.

How Our Feathered Friends Survived the Cretaceous-Palaeogene Extinction Event

Ground-dwelling birds survived the extinction event.

Ground-dwelling birds survived the K-Pg extinction event.

Picture Credit: Phillip Krzeminski

Why Did the Birds Survive?

A number of ideas and theories have been proposed to help explain why the birds are around today, but the non-avian dinosaurs are not.  Recently, Everything Dinosaur published an article on a piece of research that suggested that seed-eating may have contributed to the survival of birds during this devastating time in the history of our planet.

To read the article: Seed Eating May Have Helped the Birds Survive

Commenting on the scientific paper, lead author Daniel Field of the Milner Centre for Evolution (University of Bath) stated:

“We drew on a variety of approaches to stitch this story together.  We concluded that the devastation of forests in the aftermath of the asteroid impact explains why tree-dwelling birds failed to survive across this extinction event.  The ancestors of modern tree-dwelling birds did not move into the trees until forests had recovered from the extinction-causing asteroid.”

The Collapse of Forests

The scientists analysed the plant fossil record and identified that the world’s woodlands and forests were virtually wiped out by the extra-terrestrial impact.  Huge forest fires would have raged in the immediate aftermath of the impact and it is likely that much of the world had to endure a period of extensive “acid rain” as a result of the catastrophic event.  In the months, or maybe even tens of years afterwards, our planet could have been blanketed in a cloud of dust and ash.  This would have blocked out the sun and led to the collapse of food chains which relied on photosynthesising plants.

The Impact Event Had Consequences for Virtually All Life on Earth

Earth impact event.

Cataclysmic impact event that led to the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs but not all the avian dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Don Davis (Commissioned by NASA)

The scientists look at the record of fossil pollen and spores to assess the types of flora present and how quickly, ferns, flowering plants (angiosperms) and other types of flora recovered after the extinction event.

Plotting the Turnover of Different Types of Flora from Pollen and Spore Counts

Flora turnover at the K-Pg boundary.

Floral turnover evidenced by changes in relative abundance of common pollen taxa across the K-Pg boundary.

Picture Credit: Current Biology with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur.

The diagram (above), plots the palynological record of the John’s Nose Section in North Dakota, a series of sequential strata laid down before, during and after the extinction event.  It helps to plot the demise of different types of plant and their recovery (floral turnover), as evidenced by changes in relative abundance of common pollen taxa across the K-Pg boundary.  Note, the “fern spike” recorded not long after the extinction event, ferns are usually the first type of plant to recover from natural disasters today, as evidenced by their ability to re-populate areas destroyed following volcanic activity.

Evolutionary Relationships of Living Birds

The research team examined the evolutionary relationships of extant birds and their ecological habits to map how bird ecology has changed over time.  The data revealed that the most common ancestor of all living birds, all the bird lineages that survived the K-Pg extinction event, most likely were ground-dwellers.  In contrast, many Aves that lived at the end of the age of dinosaurs (and there were lots of them), exhibited tree-dwelling, arboreal habits.  These species did not survive the mass extinction event and therefore they have no direct living descendants around today.

Daniel Field added:

“Today, birds are the most diverse and globally widespread group of terrestrial vertebrates, there are nearly 11,000 living species.  Only a handful of ancestral bird lineages succeeded in surviving the K-PG mass extinction event 66 million years ago and all of today’s amazing living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors.”

The researchers conclude that their findings shed light on the fundamental influence major events in the history of our planet have on the evolution of living things.  The team hope to build on this initial research and to explore the timing of the recovery of the vegetation and to develop a better understanding of the early radiation of the birds.  After all, those lucky survivors inherited a brave new world, devoid of non-avian dinosaurs and many other terrestrial and marine organisms too.

The scientific paper: “Early Evolution of Modern Birds Structured by Global Forest Collapse at the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction” by Daniel J. Field, Antoine Bercovici, Jacob S. Berv, Regan Dunn, David E. Fastovsky, Tyler R. Lyson, Vivi Vajda and Jacques A. Gauthier published in the journal Current Biology.

22 05, 2018

A Feature of the Archosauria – (Part 2)

By | May 22nd, 2018|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Labelling the Fenestrae in a Diapsid Skull

Recently, Everything Dinosaur posted up a picture of the skull of a large gharial and discussed the teeth located in distinct sockets, an anatomical trait characteristic of that great group of reptiles the Archosaurs (Archosauria).  Today, we complete this very brief look at the Archosaurs by labelling the fenestrae (holes) in the skull that identify the gharial, all crocodiles and their close relatives, including the dinosaurs, that are classified as diapsid reptiles.

The Skull of the Gharial with the Eye Socket (Orbit) and Fenestrae Labelled

A gharial skull with the fenestrae and eye sockets labelled.

Labelling the skull of a diapsid reptile.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The gharial (a long-snouted, crocodilian), skull is from the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy (London).  In the photograph (above), we have labelled the holes (fenestrae) in the skull, the left lateral side of the skull is seen and the lower (inferior) temporal fenestra has been labelled.  Behind the large orbits (eye sockets), on the top of the skull, the pair of upper (superior) temporal fenestrae have been labelled.  Please note each of the holes (singular) is termed a fenestra, but the plural is fenestrae.

The diapsid reptiles are an extremely diverse group that contains a number of extinct kinds of reptile as well as snakes, lizards, turtles, the last surviving member of the ancient order Ryhnchocephalia – the tuatara, crocodiles, dinosaurs and birds.  The last three listed, crocodiles, dinosaurs and birds are of course Archosaurs, and the Archosauria are characterised by a number of anatomical features including the two pairs of skull fenestrae.

The holes in the skull probably evolved to permit larger muscle attachments for the jaws, giving these animals a stronger bite.  The mouth could also be opened wider, a definite advantage of you are having to bolt down lumps of flesh or to cram into your stomach large amounts of nutritionally poor vegetation.

To read our article about another feature of the Archosauria – tooth sockets: A Feature of the Archosauria (Part 1)

21 05, 2018

A Feature of the Archosauria – (Part 1)

By | May 21st, 2018|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Examining Teeth in Sockets – Crocodilians (Archosauria)

Team members at Everything Dinosaur were given the opportunity to examine the skull of a large Gharial recently.  The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), has evolved a long, elongated snout and specialises in catching fish (piscivore).  These once widespread and diverse members of the Gavialidae are extremely rare in the wild.  They are restricted to a few fragmentary populations scattered amongst the river systems of the northern parts of the Indian sub-continent.

Examining the Skull of a Large Gharial

The skull of a gharial.

The skull of a gharial from the Grant Museum of Zoology (London).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The skull of this crocodilian portrays several characteristics that identifies it as a member of the Archosauria, the same clade of reptiles that includes dinosaurs, pterosaurs and birds.  The skull has a number of holes in it (fenestrae), these holes establish it as a member of the diapsid, one of three main groups of reptiles that can be distinguished from each other by the presence or absence of such fenestrae and their number.  Establishing shared characteristics between different species (synapomorphies), is the standard model for classifying organisms.   These shared characteristics, came from a shared, common ancestor.  Essentially, taxonomists are looking to identify similarities and differences.  The number of holes in the skull is one of the synapomorphies that establishes this gharial as a member of the Archosaurs (ruling reptiles).

Teeth in Sockets

Another synapomorphy shared amongst the Archosauria, (although derived members of this group such as the birds have subsequently lost this trait), can be seen in the jaw.  The teeth of the gharial are set in sockets.  These sockets are termed alveoli (singular alveolus).  Being strongly anchored in a bony socket allows the tooth to withstand greater forces.  It is less likely to be lost during predation and feeding.  This enabled many of the early Archosaurs to evolve powerful jaws, capable to tacking struggling prey or coping with tough, fibrous vegetation.  This evolutionary trait may help to explain their success.

On the Skull of the Gharial – the Teeth Sockets can be Easily Seen

Teeth in sockets - characteristic of the Archosaurs.

A defining characteristic of the Archosauria – teeth in sockets.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

20 05, 2018

New Papo, New CollectA and New Rebor Feature in Newsletter

By | May 20th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

New Papo, New CollectA, New Rebor Figures all Feature in Newsletter

Subscribers to Everything Dinosaur’s newsletter received their latest bulletin a few days ago.  They were amongst the first to know about the arrival of the latest batch of new for 2018 Papo figures as well as the shipment of CollectA models including the 1:40 scale Mapusaurus figure.  In addition, our newsletter featured an update on the latest offerings from Rebor.

The Papo Therizinosaurus and the Papo Iguanodon Models are in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The new for 2018 Therizinosaurus and Iguanodon models from Papo.

New for 2018 Papo Therizinosaurus and Papo Iguanodon dinosaur models in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur customers who had requested a Papo model be put on reserve for them have already been contacted by staff members.

To view the range of Papo prehistoric animal and dinosaur models available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Prehistoric Figures and Models

CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life

Five new CollectA prehistoric animal figures have arrived.  There are 1:40 scale figures of the fearsome Mapusaurus and a beautiful Iguanodon.  In addition, CollectA have introduced a 1:20 scale replica of the giant Devonian Placoderm Dunkleosteus and just like the amazing Mapusaurus, it too has a movable jaw.

Newsletter Readers were Amongst the First to Find Out About the New CollectA Models

New CollectA figures in stock at Everything Dinosaur

New for 2018 CollectA prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As well as the new scale models from CollectA, our latest bulletin included details of the two new, not-to-scale dinosaur figures that have just come out.  The drinking Mantellisaurus has been eagerly anticipated by model collectors and joining this Ornithopod, is a model of the bizarre, carnivore Sciurumimus, that despite being only known from a 70 cm long skeleton, may actually represent one of the largest types of Theropod from Jurassic Europe.

To view the scale model series from CollectA: CollectA Deluxe

To see the Mantellisaurus and the Sciurumimus models and the rest of the huge CollectA Prehistoric Life range: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models

Rebor “Chickenosaurus” and an Amazing 3D Lenticular Poster

Rebor continue to innovate and have added an amazing dinosaur embryo figure to the company’s “Oddities” range.  This cleverly designed item is a fantastic model of a genetically modified baby dinosaur.  The Rebor Chickenosaurus is supplied with a battery and has a light-up base and it makes a real focal point within a model collection.

Rebor Introduces a “Genetically Modified” Dinosaur and a Poster of “Wind Hunter”

"Chickenosaurus" and the 3-D Utahraptor poster from Rebor.

Rebor “Chickenosaurus” and the 3-D Utahraptor poster.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor has introduced a three-dimensional poster of the Utahraptor figure “Wind Hunter” produced by the company.  This poster, the first to be made by Rebor, is also available from Everything Dinosaur.  This colourful and very striking dinosaur poster measures 26.5 cm by 20 cm (including the frame) and it is a limited-edition item.  It makes a smashing backdrop to the 1:35 scale Rebor Utahraptor ostrommaysorum figure.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Once again the design team at Rebor have produced a pair of innovative carnivorous dinosaur themed items.  The “Chickenosaurus” has a light up base and when lit, the superb detail on the little dinosaur embryo can be clearly seen.  As for the three-dimensional, lenticular poster, it gives the impression that the eyes of a pack of hungry Utahraptors are following you around the room – spooky.”

To request a subscription to Everything Dinosaur’s regular newsletter, simply drop us an email: Email Everything Dinosaur

18 05, 2018

Preparing for Beasts of the Mesozoic

By | May 18th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Getting Ready for the Arrival of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Range

Everything Dinosaur team members are getting ready to receive the new Beasts of the Mesozoic range of 1:6 scale figures.  The stock is due to arrive in our warehouse next week.  For virtually every named prehistoric animal replica or model that we supply, our team members research and write a fact sheet on that creature.  These fact sheets are then sent out with the models and figures so that purchasers can read about the extinct animal the model represents.

Lots and Lots of Maniraptoran Fact Sheets Have Been Prepared

Fact sheets prepared for the Beasts of the Mesozoic range of models.

A collection of Beasts of the Mesozoic fact sheets created by Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Managing the Maniraptora

A few years ago, we could have referred to the Beasts of the Mesozoic range as representing members of the Dromaeosauridae family of dinosaurs, however, with the reclassification of Balaur bondoc from the Hateg Formation of Romania, as a flightless, ground-dwelling bird, we have had to extend our classification somewhat.  The Maniraptora clade is comprised of all those dinosaurs that includes the birds and the non-avian dinosaurs that were more closely related to them than to the North American ornithomimid Ornithomimus velox.  Amongst the many 1:6 scale models coming in there are plenty of vicious, fearsome carnivores.  Certainly, enough to keep fans of “raptors” happy.

The Skull of Linheraptor exquisitus (Holotype IVPP V 16923)

Linheraptor fossil skull.

Linheraptor skull in right lateral view.

Picture Credit: Zootaxa

The picture (above) shows the fossilised skull of Linheraptor exquisitus (holotype), the white scale bar = 5 centimetres.

The skull is shown in right lateral view, abbreviations: a, angular; aof, antorbital fenestra; f, frontal; hy, hyoid; itf, infratemporal fenestra; j, jugal; l, lacrimal; ld, left dentary; lpa, left prearticular; lsp, left splenial; m, maxilla; mf, maxillary fenestra; n, nasal; nf, narial fenestra; o, orbital; p, parietal; pmf, promaxillary fenestra; pmx, premaxilla; q, quadrate; qf, quadrate foramen; qj,
quadratojugal; rd, right dentary; sa, surangular; sq, squamosal.

The Linheraptor figure is just one of the 1:6 Beasts of the Mesozoic replicas due to arrive next week, already excited about this, but not to worry, we are definitely not in a flap!

17 05, 2018

Largest Pterosaur Mandible Ever Found

By | May 17th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Giant Romanian Pterosaur Hints at Ecological Niches within the Azhdarchidae

Transylvania back in the Late Cretaceous was a very scary place.  This central part of Romania, might be associated with vampires today, thanks mainly to Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror “Dracula”, but towards the end of the Mesozoic, much of Europe was under the sea, rising above the remnants of the once mighty Tethys was an island and real monsters lurked there.

The island is known as Hateg Island and it was a very strange place indeed.  There were dinosaurs, but the apex predator was an animal capable of flight, just like the blood-sucking protagonist from the 1897 novel.  Huge azhdarchid Pterosaurs stalked Hateg Island and an international team of researchers writing in the academic journal “Lethaia”, report finding the largest Pterosaur jawbone known to science.

Huge Azhdarchid Pterosaurs Stalked Hateg Island

A group of azhdarchid Pterosaurs hunting.

Some Pterosaurs were as tall as a giraffe.  These were the real monsters of Transylvania.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

Niche Partitioning Amongst Giant Flying Reptiles

Pterosaurs in the family Azhdarchidae, represent the largest flying animals to have ever existed, with the longest skulls of any terrestrial tetrapod.  They were globally distributed, with azhdarchid fossils having been reported from every continent except Antarctica.  However, despite their huge size (wingspans in excess of ten metres have been estimated for several species), their fossil record is extremely poor, with most species, even giants such as Quetzalcoatlus, known from a few fragmentary, mere scraps of bone.

The mandible fossil is part of the largest Pterosaur mandible (lower jaw) found to date.  The fossil was collected from Maastrichtian continental deposits near Vălioara in the Hațeg Basin, Romania.  The azhdarchid Pterosaur Hatzegopteryx thambema is known from these Upper Cretaceous sandstone deposits (Red Cliffs), but this new fossil cannot be confidently referred to H. thambema due to the absence of overlapping skeletal elements.  In short, the lower jaw fossil of H. thambema which would correspond to the newly described mandible has not been found.

It has been suggested that this, as yet, unnamed Hateg Pterosaur, may have been a relatively stocky, heavy-set flying reptile, with a short neck and a huge head.  It is reported that comparisons with previously described large‐sized azhdarchid mandibles indicate a certain degree of morphological and probably ecological disparity within the Azhdarchidae.  Different giants may have occupied slightly different niches in the ecosystem, in this way they could avoid direct competition.  The dividing up of resources in this way is referred to as niche partitioning.

A View of the Red Cliffs in Romania (Location of Fossil Find)

The steep cliffs of the dig site (Sebes, Romania).

The Red Cliffs dig site near Sebeș in Romania.  These sandstones represent continental sandstone deposits from the end of the Cretaceous.

Picture Credit: Mátyás Vremir

A Six to Eight Metre Wingspan

Lead author of the study, published in “Lethaia”  an international journal of palaeontology and stratigraphy, Mátyás Vremir of the Transylvanian Museum Society stated:

“It is not the largest Pterosaur ever found, but it is the largest mandible recovered to date, with a reconstructed length of 110 to 130 centimetres.  This might indicate a very large size Pterosaur, possibly 8 to 9 metres in wingspan.”

A trio of enormous Pterosaurs are associated with the Hateg Formation.  With the discovery of this partial mandible, Transylvania can claim to be a “hot spot” for super-sized flying reptiles.  It had been thought that towards the end or the Cretaceous, the Pterosauria were in decline, however, a paper published in March this year identified a Late Cretaceous ecosystem in Morocco with at least six coeval species of Pterosaur including the presence of two azhdarchid Pterosaurs, one of whom could have been a giant.

To read our article about the Moroccan fossil discovery: Pterosaurs more diverse than previously thought

Fragmentary remains of another azhdarchid Pterosaur from Romania, uncovered in 2009, which have yet to be formally described, confirm that Hateg Island was home to a variety of giant flying reptiles.  The fossils associated with this Pterosaur have been nicknamed “Dracula” by scientists.

A Piece of the Pterosaur Fossil Bones Nicknamed “Dracula” Eroding Out of a Cliff

A fragment of Pterosaur fossil bone (Mátyás Vremir).

A piece of Pterosaur fossil bone eroding out of the cliff.

Picture Credit: Mátyás Vremir

Specimen Number LPB (FGGUB) R.2347

The mandible fossil, part of the back of the lower jaw exhibits anatomical traits that are present in both azhdarchid and tapejarid Pterosaurs.  This suggests that the specimen (LPB (FGGUB) R.2347), comes from an animal that had a more basal position within the Azhdarchidae family.  The researchers conclude that this bone shares a number of features with the smaller azhdarchoid Bakonydraco galaczi ,which is known from much older Cretaceous deposits in Hungary.

Vremir added:

“Except for a few scraps, after more than a century of fossil collecting in Transylvania, nothing was known about Pterosaurs until the last 16 years.  In the past 10 years, the picture changed substantially and over 50 fossil specimens were collected from various sites.”

Azhdarchid Pterosaur Wrist Bone

Azhdarchid Pterosaur wrist bone (Hateg Formation).

Azhdarchid Pterosaur wrist bone.

Picture Credit: Mátyás Vremir

The huge, partial mandible, the only part of the new animal found so far, was originally dug up in the Hateg region of Transylvania in 1978, but at the time it wasn’t recognised as a Pterosaur fossil. Vremir and co-author of the scientific paper, Gareth Dyke, (University of Debrecen, Hungary), were visiting Bucharest’s fossil collection in 2011 and made the connection.

Flightless Giants

Using analogies such as the Elephant Bird of Madagascar and the Dodo from Mauritius, island life can lead to volant creatures evolving in very different directions.   The Dodo and the Elephant bird were descended from birds that could fly, but once established on an island, with few predators, these birds adopted a ground-dwelling existence and over many subsequent generations they lost the ability to take to the air.  Mátyás Vremir and his colleagues speculate that some of the very largest Hateg Pterosaurs may have taken a similar evolutionary route.  Perhaps as young animals they could fly, a very good way to avoid terrestrial predators, but as they grew and became adults reaching a size whereby they were unlikely to be attacked by other animals, they were unable to fly.

Everything Dinosaur team members are aware that are number of papers are currently being prepared that explore this intriguing idea further.

The scientific paper: “Partial Mandible of a Giant Pterosaur from the Uppermost Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) of the Hațeg Basin, Romania” by Mátyás Vremir, Gareth Dyke, Zoltán Csiki‐Sava, Dan Grigorescu and Eric Buffetaut.

16 05, 2018

“Simple but Elegant” Solution to Dinosaur Egg Incubation

By | May 16th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

How to Brood Your Eggs When You Weigh More Than a Tonne

The question of how dinosaurs incubated their eggs without crushing them has been a puzzle ever since the first dinosaur nesting sites were discovered nearly a hundred years ago.  A Canadian-led study has found a link between the radius of the nest of Oviraptorosauria clade members and the body size of the parent.  In research into the nesting habits of Oviraptorosaurs, the scientists discovered that small species laid eggs in clusters, just like many extant birds today.  Much larger species, the giants such as Gigantoraptor, laid eggs in a stacked ring, so that they could keep their eggs close without crushing them with their bodies.

The Larger the Oviraptorosaur the Bigger the Nest Diameter

Small Oviraptorosaurs compared to Large Oviraptorosaurs.

New study suggests a link between the layout of eggs and dinosaur size.

Picture Credit: Masato Hattori

Dedicated Parents

Palaeontologists think that there were many different nesting strategies adopted by the diverse dinosaurs, but this study focused on the incubation of the eggs associated with Oviraptorosaurs, a group of very bird-like Theropods that are known from the Late Cretaceous of North America and Asia.  It is very likely that these dinosaurs were dedicated parents and that they spent many weeks, incubating their eggs by sitting on the nest.  How much parental care dinosaurs showed to their offspring remains an area of considerable controversy, but just like birds today, dinosaurs probably adopted a range of altricial, semi-precocial and precocial strategies* when it came to their young.

Lead author of the study, published in the Royal Society journal “Biology Letters”, Darla Zelinitsky, (Assistant Professor of Geoscience at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada), commented:

“In the largest Oviraptorosaur clutches [Macroelongatoolithus], the central opening represents most of the total clutch area, likely allowing giant-sized species to rest their entire weight on this area so as not to crush the eggs.”

Forty Fossil Nests Studied

The research team, which included a former PhD student of Darla’s, Kohei Tanaka (Nagoya University, Japan), studied and measured around forty Oviraptorosauria fossil nests, most of which come from China, but fossils from North America and from elsewhere in Asia, were included in the study.  The smallest nests revealed eggs laid in clusters, but the largest nests, associated with the largest of the Oviraptorosaurs, were up to 3.3 metres wide, took on a ring shape with a large, flat, central area, presumably where the adult animal sat.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Some of the largest nests associated with the Oviraptorosauria are so wide that a smart car could be parked in the space in the middle, the metaphor is quite appropriate given that a number of giant species have been named.  Dinosaurs like the colossal caenagnathids Gigantoraptor or Beibeilong may have been much heavier than a smart car, yet it is thought that these huge animals had to sit on their nests and incubate the eggs.”

The Oogenus Macroelongatoolithus

Just like dinosaur bones, tracks and the fossilised remains of dinosaur eggs can lead to the establishment of a new genus or species.  Footprints and other trace fossils that are given a formal scientific name are characterised by the epithet “ichno”, whereas, egg fossils are characterised by the epithet “oo”, the root of which is “oolithus” from the Latin meaning “stone egg”.  Numerous dinosaur oogenera have been erected, one of the largest eggs Macroelongatoolithus, some of which measure sixty centimetres in length, are associated with the Oviraptorosauria.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2017 blog article about the establishment of a new species of giant Oviraptorosaur from embryos associated with Macroelongatoolithus eggs: Dinosaur Embryo Fossil Leads to New Dinosaur Species

The researchers conclude that the smallest Oviraptorosaurs probably sat directly on the eggs, whereas with increasing body size more weight was likely carried by the central opening, reducing or eliminating the load on the eggs and still potentially allowing for some contact during incubation in giant species.  This adaptation, not seen in birds, appears to remove the body size constraints of incubation behaviour in giant Oviraptorosaurs.

The Ring-shaped Layout of Eggs Associated with a Large Oviraptorosaur

Giant Oviraptorosaur nest.

A nest of a giant Oviraptorosaur.

Picture Credit: Kohei Tanaka (Nagoya University)

Numerous species of Oviraptorosaurs have been named, most of these dinosaurs were relatively small around 2-3 metres in length, however, considerably larger taxa have been identified, giants such as Gigantoraptor erlianensis, which may have reached lengths of more than eight metres and weighed around 1.4 Tonnes.

While most nests have been found in Asia, in particular the Gobi Desert, Zelinitsky conducted research on dinosaur nests found in South Korea and Canada.

Dinosaurs of China 2017.

A Gigantoraptor exhibit, one of the largest feathered dinosaurs known to science.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Zelinitsky added:

“It’s a unique structure, no other dinosaurs build their nests in that shape, and no living animals incubate their eggs this way.  I just think it’s really neat that we’re able to say something more about the nesting behaviours and how they changed in these Oviraptorosaur dinosaurs among the various species and species sizes.”

The researchers aren’t sure why these dinosaurs sat on their eggs.  If it was to keep the eggs warm, those dinosaurs that sat in the middle of the ring probably couldn’t transfer heat as effectively as the ones that sat directly on the eggs.  However, these dinosaurs had arms covered with feathers, these “wings” could have helped to shelter the eggs and to protect them as well as providing a warmer surface area to help the eggs maintain an appropriate temperature.

The researchers describe the organisation and egg layout of the nest as a “simple and elegant” solution to the problem of large dinosaurs crushing of their own eggs.

*Altricial and Precocial Nesting Behaviours

Modern birds demonstrate a variety of behavioural responses when it comes to raising their young.  Some bird species like ducks and ostriches have highly precocial young.  The babies are able to vacate the nest and feed themselves within just a few hours of hatching.  Other bird species have a different approach, for example, most of the passerines (song birds), such as wrens, blackbirds and thrushes are helpless when they hatch and rely on their parents to provide food and to keep them warm.  In reality, the Aves (which are very closely related to the extinct Oviraptorosaurs), exhibit a wide range of behaviours.  Altricial and precocial traits tend to be at opposite ends of a spectrum, given the paucity of the fossil record, it is difficult to clarify the development strategy of any extinct species.

The Altricial and Precocial Nesting Behaviour Spectrum

Birds - altricial and precocial behaviours.

Altricial and precocial behaviours in Aves – a spectrum.  It is very likely that a spectrum of nesting behaviours was also exhibited by the Dinosauria.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

15 05, 2018

Papo Therizinosaurus Video Review

By | May 15th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|1 Comment

A Review of the Papo Therizinosaurus Model by JurassicCollectables

A month before the new “Jurassic World” film “Fallen Kingdom” hits cinema screens, JurassicCollectables have been busy creating their own blockbuster.  Today, we feature their video review of the eagerly awaited Papo, new for 2018 Therizinosaurus dinosaur model.  This new Theropod figure is rapidly becoming a firm favourite amongst dinosaur fans and model collectors.

The JurassicCollectables Video Review of the Papo Therizinosaurus Replica

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

The Papo Therizinosaurus Model

Therizinosaurus is one of the more bizarre members of the dinosaurian Sub-Order Theropoda.  It is widely believed that Therizinosaurus was herbivorous, those formidable metre-long claws on the hands, were probably used to hook branches to help this large animal feed.  The claws may also have played a role in defence against marauding tyrannosaurids, Papo have sculpted their figure in a pose that makes the animal look like it is rearing up, perhaps to threaten an approaching pack of Tyrannosaurs.  In the JurassicCollectables video review, which lasts just under nine minutes, the narrator comments upon the pose of this new Papo replica.  The model is very stable and “firmly seated”, the figure is resting on its tail, with one foot on the ground and the other slightly raised, so that the toes help provide support.

The New for 2018 Papo Therizinosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Therizinosaurus.

Papo Therizinosaurus dinosaur model.  A tall model with a fascinating pose.

Picture Credit: Everything

To view the new for 2018 Papo Therizinosaurus and the other prehistoric animals in the Papo range: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models

Fine Feathers

In this very well put together video, the viewer is given a guided tour of the Papo model and the figure is highly praised for its detailed feathery textures running down the neck and across the back and shoulders.  The abrupt transition from feathers to scales on the flanks is commented upon and the wonderfully well-painted wings are shown.  As a rather pot-bellied dinosaur, (a large gut is synonymous with a plant-eating dinosaur), Therizinosaurus had a relatively narrow set of jaws, the spokesperson for JurassicCollectables demonstrates the articulated lower jaw on the model and comments on the wet gloss look given to the mouth.  The head shows lots of amazing detail including a prominent beak, a characteristic associated with most derived Ornithischian dinosaurs, but also present on this lizard-hipped representative of the Dinosauria.

A Close-up of the Head Showing Lots of Detail and a Prominent Beak

The head of the Papo Therizinosaurus dinosaur model.

The beautiful head of the Papo Therizinosaurus showing lots of detail including a prominent beak.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

“Papo Have Really Got This Nailed”

The narrator is most impressed by this new for 2018 Papo model.  He examines the fine textures and skin tones on the body of the dinosaur very carefully and compliments the French manufacturer.  A number of Papo models are used to compare the size of the Papo Therizinosaurus and off-colour Alan makes a welcome appearance towards the end of this excellent video review.

The JurassicCollectables spokesperson states:

“Papo have really got this nailed.”

Off-colour Alan had better keep well clear of those fearsome-looking claws of this plant-eating dinosaur.

The Detailing on the Fingers and Claws is Highlighted in the Video Review

The fingers and claws of the Papo Therizinosaurus.

The wonderful detail on the fingers and claws of the Papo Therizinosaurus figure.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables provides a comprehensive resource for prehistoric animal and dinosaur model reviews.  The videos are skilfully produced and provide viewers with the chance to examine prehistoric animal figures in detail.

Visit the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables here: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , Everything Dinosaur recommends that prehistoric animal model fans subscribe to JurassicCollectables.

14 05, 2018

CollectA Deluxe Pliosaurus Diorama

By | May 14th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

CollectA Pliosaurus 1:40 Scale Figure Diorama

The talented model maker and artist Martin Garratt has made a spectacular marine reptile diorama using a CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Pliosaurus model.  The skilfully painted figure has been supported on a raised mound of sand and the orientation of the flippers have been changed to provide a very realistic swimming effect.  If you look carefully, you can see lying on the sandy base an ammonite shell, it is these little touches of detail that help Martin’s creations to stand out from those of other model makers.

The Marine Reptile Diorama

A Pliosaurus diorama (CollectA Pliosaurus)

A customised CollectA Pliosaurus scale model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/UMF Models

Pliosaurus – Top Ocean Predators for Much of the Mesozoic

Pliosaurs (short-necked plesiosaurs), were widely distributed.  Fossils of Pliosaurs have been found in Europe and the Americas and some of these marine reptiles were giants, growing to lengths in excess of twelve metres.  These animals evolved in the Early Jurassic and persisted until the Early Cretaceous.  Biomechanical tests on the jaws suggests that some species had the most powerful bite of any known vertebrate.  In Martin’s diorama he has taken great care to paint the jaws and the inside of the mouth and that black band across the eye really gives this model a menacing look.  The back of the throat has been given a wash treatment that adds an extra sheen to the paint, giving a wet look to the animal’s mouth.

Superbly Painted Head and Jaws of the CollectA Pliosaurus Figure

CollectA Deluxe Pliosaurus figure customised.

CollectA Pliosaurus model customised by Martin Garratt.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/UMF Models

Clever Countershading

The subtle blues, mottled greys and that off-white underbelly reflect theories regarding the colouration of these apex predators.  Although the skin colour of these reptiles is unknown, they were very probably surface water predators and as many extant, pelagic predators show this sort of countershading today, Martin has opted for this colour scheme on his Pliosaurus diorama.

The Streamlined Body of the Model

CollectA Deluxe Pliosaurus diorama.

Martin Garratt has made a marine reptile diorama using the CollectA Deluxe Pliosaurus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/UMF Models

Model Transformation

The diorama has certainly transformed the CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Pliosaurus figure.  However, it just goes to show what a good replica the CollectA Pliosaurus is, it provides the basic anatomical details that permits a skilled and experienced model maker to create such a stunning display.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Scale Pliosaurus Marine Reptile Model

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Pliosaurus marine reptile diorama.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Pliosaurus diorama.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the CollectA Pliosaurus and the other Deluxe scale figures available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life Models

Missing the Lampreys

When CollectA introduced their Deluxe Pliosaurus model in 2015, collectors noted that there were strange red markings on the flank of the figure.  The designer of this model Anthony Beeson, had added lampreys to the replica, as many large marine animals today are plagued by adult lampreys that attach themselves to their bodies, bore into their flesh and feed (micro-predation).  The lampreys effect was a clever touch on the original model, but Martin decided to utilise the lampreys and create a wound on his version.

Martin has Converted the Lampreys into a Bite Mark on the Model

A Pliosaurus diorama (CollectA Pliosaurus)

A customised CollectA Pliosaurus scale model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/UMF Models

If you look carefully at the picture (above), you can see that just above the right shoulder, a bite-mark effect has been created.  This wound could have occurred as the Pliosaur hunted or it could have resulted from intraspecific combat.

Marilyn of UMF models explained how Martin created this effect:

“He took the Lampreys off and used a hot needle to melt the rubber slightly to create a ‘bite mark’ and the red colouring is blood”.

This beautifully painted figure shows what can be achieved using an inexpensive model such as the CollectA Pliosaurus, it really is a spectacular marine reptile diorama.  Well done Martin!

To read an article that features a makeover of the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus figure by Martin Garratt: Kronosaurus Model Makeover

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