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Win with Everything Dinosaur – Competition Closes at 10pm on 7th May

Vote for Your Favourite Soft Toy Dinosaur to Win?

Now there are less than five days to go until the UK general election and just five days left to enter Everything Dinosaur’s free to enter competition.  Choose your favourite soft toy dinosaur for Prime Minister #votedinosaur!  When the polls close on Thursday night, we will close our competition and then one lucky winner will be sent their very own dinosaur soft toy.  The winner of Everything Dinosaur’s “dinosaur election”

We have seven candidates, having tried to represent the leaders of the seven main political parties with a dinosaur soft toy.  Each soft toy dinosaur being in the colours of the respective political party.

Vote Dinosaur! Which Political Dinosaur will you Vote For?

Vote Dinosaur! #votedinosaur

Vote Dinosaur! #votedinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In alphabetical order we have:

Ed – the red Spinosaurus, Dave – the blue Tyrannosaurus rex, Leanne – the green and red Spinosaurus hat (closest item we have that looks like a dragon), for the Party of Wales, Natalie – the green Stegosaurus, Nick – the yellow Velociraptor, Nicola – the Utahraptor and Nigel – the purple Triceratops.

The votes have been coming in thick and fast on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page, here is the current state of play.

The Voting So Far – State of the Dinosaur Parties

The voting is quite close.

The voting is quite close.

Table Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Bar Chart showing the State of the Dinosaur Parties

The current state of the parties.

The current state of the parties.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Vote Dinosaur for the Chance to Win a Dinosaur!

Voting is easy to do, just visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook (see logo/link below), like our page and comment under the picture of our seven dinosaur candidates telling us which dinosaur soft toy you want to see at Number Ten.  Competition will close when the polling booths close at 10pm on May 7th and we will announce the winner the next day.   A prize draw will be held and one lucky voter will receive the winning soft toy.

So to enter Everything Dinosaur’s competition, all you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then comment on the picture (either here or on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page)  voting for the dinosaur that you want to be the next Dinosaur Prime Minister.

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” Our Facebook Page and Enter Competition

For example, if you think that the green and red Spinosaurus called Leanne is your favourite, just comment “Leanne” either here or in the comments section on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page.

We will draw the lucky winner at random and our #VoteDinosaur competition closes at 10pm Thursday, May 7th.  Good luck to all our competition entrants.

Don’t forget to “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s Page on Facebook!

Like our Page (please).     Like our Facebook Page!

 

To view Everything Dinosaur’s huge range of soft toy dinosaurs: Dinosaur Soft Toys

Terms and Conditions of the Everything Dinosaur #VoteDinosaur Competition

Automated entries are not permitted and will be excluded from the draw.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Only one entry per person.

The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered.

The Everything Dinosaur #VoteDinosaur competition runs until 10pm on May 7th 2015.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing.

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur

It’s just for a bit of fun, but we thought we would give everyone the chance to vote for a real “political dinosaur” !

#Vote Dinosaur!

For a chance to win with Everything Dinosaur Toys and Games.

We apologise for not including all the political parties/candidates that are standing on the 7th of May, remember this is only just for a bit of fun!

Cretaceous Cockroach – A Deadly Night Time Predator

Predatory Cockroach  Manipulator modificaputis – An Insect Chimera from the Cretaceous

Stalking the forest floor, most probably in the dead of night around 97 million years ago, was a little Cretaceous critter, a predatory cockroach that possessed a range of characteristics making it look like an insect chimera.  At around one centimetre in length, it was not going to break any records for size but with its triangular shaped head, elongated legs and mouthparts it would have been a formidable hunter of other nocturnal Arthropods.  The fossilised remains of this insect, a new species, were found in a piece of amber collected from a mine in Noije Bum, northern Myanmar (Burma).  It had a narrow body resembling that of an extant Crane fly, graceful wings and it grasped prey using its modified front legs that were covered in short, strong spines.  The insect has been named Manipulator modificaputis, placed in a new family of extinct cockroaches (the Manipulatoridae) and it represents the first cockroach family to be reported exclusively from Burmese amber.

A Fearsome Night Time Predator of the Late Cretaceous

Cockroach predator of the Cretaceous.

Cockroach predator of the Cretaceous.

Picture Credit: Peter Vršanský 

Peter Vršanský (Geological Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia), along with co-author Günter Bechly (The Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart), have produced a paper on this new discovery.  The paper has been published in the academic journal “Geologica Carpathica”.  Readers of this blog may recognise the Stuttgart Museum as being the institution that co-operates with the German figure manufacturer Bullyland to make their museum line prehistoric animal models.

To view the Bullyland range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models: Bullyland Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

A Close Up View of the Predatory Insect

Preserved in amber.  The delicate wings, long neck, large eyes and modified mouthparts can be clearly made out in this dorsal view (top down) of the specimen.

Preserved in amber. The delicate wings, long neck, large eyes and modified mouthparts can be clearly made out in this dorsal view (top down) of the specimen.

Picture Credit: Peter Vršanský 

During the Cretaceous there was an extensive radiation of the Insecta Order.  Many new families evolved to take advantage in fundamental changes in flora as the Angiosperms (flowering plants) evolved and became the dominant land plants.   During this geological period, several different types of predatory cockroach-like lineages evolved, but only one Order survives today – the Mantodea (the Mantises).  The scientists conclude that this insect was probably not a direct ancestor of the Praying Mantis, but that it probably represents a early side branch of the stem group that makes up the first of the Mantodea.

An Exquisite Line Drawing of the Fossil Material

Potentially an ancestor of the extant Praying Mantis.

Probably not an ancestor of the extant Praying Mantis.

Picture Credit: Peter Vršanský 

A further four specimens have been reported including an immature individual.  These specimens are just a few of the dozens of preserved insect remains that have been preserved in amber found in this part of Asia.  Dr. Vršanský commented that the Noije Bum area, of northern Myanmar is the most important site of dinosaur-age amber in the world.  Many amber pieces contain complete adult insects, this fossil evidence is providing scientists with extensive information about some of the smaller creatures that inhabited terrestrial, arboreal environments that were dominated by the Dinosauria.

The etymology of the name Manipulator modificaputis alludes to the extremely long extremities that this insect possessed. These were used to capture, hold and manipulate prey.  The large eyes which gave this little insect excellent vision would have helped it to spot predators, after all, it would have made a tasty snack for a small dinosaur on a night time patrol.

How to Clone a Mammoth (Book Review)

How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro – Book Review

There is a saying “may you live in interesting times”, thought by many to be an ancient Chinese proverb.  We may not be too sure as to the derivation of this phrase, but for a geneticist, the early years of the 21st Century are most certainly “interesting times”.  Our understanding of DNA, that double helix shaped set of building blocks for life itself has come on in leaps and bounds over the last two decades.  Our species is on the brink of some startling developments in genetics, one of which is the ability, through the manipulation of an organism’s genome, to bring back once extinct creatures, or at least to produce a population of closely related living things that have characteristics of organisms that existed in the past.

Evolutionary biologist and ecologist Beth Shapiro, neatly summarises the current research and sets out some of the hurdles – scientific, moral and ethical, that mankind will have to overcome if the likes of a Woolly Mammoth will ever roam the Earth again.  Her book “How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth”, published by Princeton Press sets out to explain how state-of-the-art science can lead to genetic modification, consequences of which, include the possibility of the return of the Passenger Pigeon to North America or the Mammoth to the tundra of Russia.

How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth by Beth Shapiro

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

Picture Credit: Princeton Press

Written in an informative but never patronising style, Beth an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, takes the reader on a journey beginning with the tricky subject of which species to consider for “de-extinction” and then how to go about finding a suitable specimen for the all important donation of genetic material.  Her frank and knowledgeable account of Pleistocene fossil hunting expeditions in the Yukon and on the Taimyr Peninsula in the far north of Russia provides a fresh perspective on the difficulties involved in hunting for long extinct Ice Age creatures and the potentially game-changing genetic treasure that they may contain.

For further information and to purchase this book visit: Princeton Press

“How to Clone a Mammoth” provides a comprehensive account of the current research and sets out the role that genetically modified organisms will play in conservation.  Beth has skilfully blended cutting edge science with an overview of the ramifications that resurrecting lost fauna might have for the restoration of declining ecosystems.  This book will be of interest to a very broad audience, from academics and students, to the general reader with a lay person’s curiosity for the ways in which genetic engineering is shaping life on Earth.

The Author Associate Professor Beth Shapiro

A well-written and comprehensive account.

A well-written and comprehensive account.

Picture Credit: Kris Krug

 This field of scientific endeavour is moving at a rapid pace.  Recently, an international team of scientists, including Dr Love Dalén, from the Swedish Museum of Natural History (Stockholm), successfully sequenced the Woolly Mammoth genome.  In a separate study, researchers have highlighted the alarming decline globally of large herbivores, that might lead to “empty landscapes”.  Associate Professor Shapiro argues that elephants which have been genetically modified so that they are able to tolerate cold conditions could well play a significant role in habitat and ecosystem preservation in the near future.  ”How to Clone a Mammoth” may soon date as the science of “de-extinction” progresses, but it provides the reader with a road map for understanding the path that genetic research developments may take us down.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is a skilfully and conscientiously crafted book that explains the challenges and potential pit falls that lie ahead.  The author has done much to de-bunk the myths and misleading information that surrounds this topic and “How to Clone a Mammoth” provides the reader with a comprehensive account of the state of current research as well as tantalising glimpses with regards to what risks and potential rewards “de-extinction” might facilitate.”

Highly recommended.

For further information on “How to Clone a Mammoth” or to purchase a copy: Princeton Press

Dinosaur Day at Yew Tree Primary

Key Stage 1 Study Dinosaurs

A busy day yesterday working with Year 1 and Year 2 classes at Yew Tree Community Primary School in Tameside.  Arriving nice and early our dinosaur expert was able to have a chat to the teaching team to gain an appreciation of the learning objectives and to ensure that the dinosaur workshops dove-tailed into the overall scheme of work.  Like many primary schools, Yew Tree Community has experienced a big increase in pupil numbers in recent years and Key Stage 1 is made up of five classes, so in order to maximise the amount of teaching, the school hall was used for the day (apart when lunch was served and then it was a question of dinner with the dinosaurs).

The Children were Keen to Show the “Dinosaur Eggs” They had Discovered

Very colourful "dinosaur eggs".

Very colourful “dinosaur eggs”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The dedicated teaching team had developed an exciting range of activities, all part of the dinosaur term topic.  The photographs taken during the dinosaur workshops will certainly support the teaching work, with lots of recounting and recalling.  During the lunch break, Everything Dinosaur’s workshop leader saw some lovely examples of creative writing undertaken by Year 1, the children had certainly been inspired by the fossils.  After a busy day of teaching, it was straight back to the office to email over further materials and extension resources for use in a number of activities that we had planned with the teaching team during the course of the day.

With the first part of the Summer Term quite short, there is a lot to pack in so it was important to get the extension materials emailed over to the school as quickly as we could.

To contact Everything Dinosaur to learn more about our work in schools: Email Everything Dinosaur

Yi qi – The Dinosaur That Thought it was a Bat

Chinese Dinosaur Unveil Yi qi Another Weird and Wonderful Theropod

Hot on the heels of Chilesaurus* comes the second bizarre Theropod dinosaur to be named this week, the wonderful and weird Yi qi (pronounced ee-chee) from the Hebei Province of northern China.  A single specimen is known, this was discovered by a local farmer and subsequently sold to a museum in Shandong Province, careful preparation of the specimen, which although fractured, does reveal most of the anatomical details of this little dinosaur.  Remarkably Y. qi possessed a long, rod-like bone on each wrist that extended backwards.  No other Theropod dinosaur (or any dinosaur for that matter), had a bone quite like this.  Comparative analysis with extant animals suggests that this bone helped to support a flap of skin that could be stretched out to form a structure like a bat’s wing.  The absence of evidence for large muscles around the chest probably rules out any form of active, powered flight, but it is likely that this pigeon-sized dinosaur could have been a glider.  Not the dinosaur equivalent of Batman, more like a dinosaur equivalent of a flying squirrel.

The Second Bizarre Theropod Announced this Week – Yi qi

Mid Jurassic flier.

Mid Jurassic flapping flier no but glider yes (probably).

Picture Credit: Dinostar/Chinese Academy of Sciences

To read Everything Dinosaur’s earlier article about the research into Chilesaurus: Chilesaurus – A Dinosaur Designed by a Committee

The fossil material has been studied (and fully prepared) by scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology – IVPP) and researchers from Linyi University (Shandong Province).  Unlike a number of other feathered dinosaur specimens from China, the palaeontologists are confident that this specimen (STM 31-2) currently housed at the Tianyu Museum of Nature in Pingyi County, (Shangdong Province), had not be tampered with or augmented by unscrupulous fossil dealers hoping to inflate any purchase price.

The Holotype Fossil Specimen (STM 31-2) Yi qi

The only known specimen of Qi yi (holotype).

The only known specimen of Yi qi (holotype).

Picture Credit: Zheng Xiaoting

This little dinosaur probably weighed less than 400 grammes and that bat-like wingspan was around sixty centimetres across  The short, deep skull was less than four centimetres long.  It forms part of an amazing fauna that thrived in a forested environment some 160 million years ago.  Over the last ten years or so, Chinese scientists have built up a very detailed picture of the palaeoenvironment in this part of northern China during the Mid to Late Jurassic.  The forests consisted of ancient ferns, ginkgos and conifers and breaking up the sub-tropical woodlands were large, shallow lakes.  Nearby volcanoes occasionally erupted and buried the surrounding area with a huge layer of very fine dust trapping and killing everything that got buried.  It is thanks to these frequent eruptions that such a wealth of ancient material has been so exquisitely preserved.  The Yi qi fossil shows evidence of long, filamentous feathers on the limbs as well as signs of a membrane of skin attached to that rod-like wrist bone and between the three digits.  The tiny claws on those digits suggest that this dinosaur could have climbed up trees, certainly an arboreal existence has been proposed.  Yi qi probably hunted insects up in the branches, climbing up the trunks of trees and gliding from tree to tree.

A Close up of the Skull of Yi qi

The large eye (orbit) and the peg-like teeth at the front of the jaws can be clearly made out.

The large eye (orbit) and the peg-like teeth at the front of the jaws can be clearly made out.

Picture Credit: Zheng Xiaoting

The large orbit (eye socket) seen in the picture above suggests that this little dinosaur had big eyes providing stereoscopic vision, all the better to judge distances and to spot its insect prey amongst the dark, leafy canopy,  Those short, peg-like teeth would have been more than a match for any insect that this gliding dinosaur encountered.  It probably was not agile enough to catch prey in mid flight but probably scurried along branches looking for insects and spiders.

It would have had plenty of company in its forest home.  There were lots of Pterosaurs around, along with numerous feathered dinosaurs and a large number of bizarre mammals including some recently described Docodonts.  To read an article about the remarkable fauna from the  Daohugou Beds of the Tiaojishan Formation: Unravelling the Sequence of Deposition in North-eastern China

To read about the peculiar mammals from this part of China (Mid to Late Jurassic): Widespread Ecological Diversity Amongst Early Mammals from China

An Example of Convergent Evolution

This anatomy is not found in other Theropods.

This anatomy is not found in other Theropods.

Picture Credit: Zheng Xiaoting

The rod-like bone extending from each wrist is not found in any other known member of the Dinosauria, but similar features are found in a number of gliding and flying Tetrapods.  At first the scientists were stumped by this strange anatomy, Xu Xing, one of the authors of the academic paper stated:

“We spent quite some time to identify the body structure of Yi qi, because the specimen is so different.  At first we did not have the slightest idea about what was the rod-like bone.”

It was only after a researcher undertook a study on extant flying vertebrates that the connection was made.

Zheng Xiaoting (Linyi University), another co-author of the study explained:

“Living in the mid period of the Jurassic, the dinosaur Yi qi could be a pioneer in the evolution of flying ability.”

The rod-like wrist bones are an example of convergent evolution, that is, when unrelated organisms evolve the same adaptations, such as tail flukes in dolphins and Ichthyosaurs.  Not only is this one of the most remarkable Theropod fossils discovered to date, Yi qi is one of the smallest dinosaurs so far described.  It also has several other claims to fame, for example, with a binomial, formal scientific name of just four letters, it has the shortest name for any member of the Dinosauria that we at Everything Dinosaur can think of.  In addition, as the fossil material is part of the Tianyu Museum of Nature’s Collection, it is part of the largest dinosaur fossil collection housed in a single museum anywhere in the world.  Back in 2010, the Guinness Book of Records announced that this museum had the greatest number of dinosaur specimens on exhibit at any one time.  The museum has over 28,000 square metres of exhibition space, a large proportion of which is dedicated to the Dinosauria.  The museum claims to possess over 1,100 different dinosaur specimens and tens of thousands of other vertebrate fossils in its collection.

Yi qi has been phylogenetically assigned to the clade Maniraptora, specifically being placed in the Family Scansoriopterygidae, a very odd group of dinosaurs, known for their small size, assumed arboreal habits, long arms and elongated third fingers.  In all other members of the Theropoda it is the second digit that is the longest. The Scansoriopterygidae contains a number of genera, with Epidexipteryx (E. hui) being perhaps the best known since it appeared in an episode of the BBC documentary series “Planet Dinosaur” back in 2011.  Epidexipteryx hui was named and described in 2008.

An Illustration of Epidexipteryx

Epidexipteryx hui

Epidexipteryx hui

Picture Credit: Nature

Plastic Dinosaur Skeleton Models – Great for Creative Play

Plastic Dinosaur Skeletons from Everything Dinosaur

A term topic on dinosaurs for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) can provide a number of opportunities for young minds to develop through creative play.  Most children are fascinated by dinosaurs and prehistoric animals and Everything Dinosaur team members often get asked by teachers and teaching assistants for ideas on how to stimulate the class when the children have been learning about dinosaurs.  We recommend a wide range of tactile activities to help young learners explore the nature of materials and the wider world.  For example, this set of twelve plastic prehistoric animal skeletons gives the children the chance to play at being a palaeontologist.

Prehistoric Animal Skeleton Set Available from Everything Dinosaur

A set of assorted prehistoric animal and dinosaur skeletons.

A set of assorted prehistoric animal and dinosaur skeletons.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These robust, plastic skeleton models represent a number of very well known dinosaurs.  Prehistoric creatures such as Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Brachiosaurus.  There are even some meat-eating dinosaurs and a Pterosaur (Pteranodon), in this twelve figure set.  We bury these models in the sand pit play area at the school and invite the children to excavate their own dinosaur fossils using paint brushes and plastic spades.  This is a fun activity  and the addition of a couple of magnifying glasses so that the children can examine the bones helps the pupils to feel like scientists.  These models can also be used in the wet play area as children explore which objects float.  They are a wonderful resource for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS plastic dinosaur skeletons).

Use the Models to Make Impressions Just Like Fossils

Showing how fossils form.

Showing how fossils form.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

By pressing these study models into modelling clay the children can learn how fossils form and they can have a go at making fossils for themselves.  Each of these little models is around ten centimetres in length and as there are twelve in the series they are very useful when it comes to playing sorting and counting games, for example:

  • Sort out all the skeletons of animals that have horns
  • Group the skeletons into those that walk on four legs and those that walk on just two
  • Split the plant-eaters from the meat-eaters – can you work out which is which?

The models have a remarkable level of detail on them, the children can easily work out which model is which.  The other day, a five-year-old pointed out the Dimetrodon (not a dinosaur) to us.  We were most impressed!

To view the range of educational products available from Everything Dinosaur including these skeleton models: Educational Dinosaur Themed Learning Resources from Everything Dinosaur

We Even Used Our Dinosaur Skeletons to Make Footprints

A cheap but very effective learning resource.

A cheap but very effective learning resource.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To see the full range of educational toys, games and models that Everything Dinosaur offers: Everything Dinosaur

Chilesaurus – A Dinosaur Designed by a Committee!

 Chilesaurus diegosuarezi – A Theropod that Took a Very Different Path

It may have been little more than three metres long and if it had been included in the forthcoming dinosaur film “Jurassic World”, this little dinosaur would not have lingered long in the film goers memory but the publication of a scientific paper on the newly described Chilesaurus (C. diegosuarezi) represents a very big deal for the scientific community.   Here is a member of the Theropod dinosaur family, distantly related to the likes of Allosaurus, Velociraptor, Spinosaurus and T. rex that evolved into a plant-eater and what a bizarre looking dinosaur Chilesaurus is.  It does look like a dinosaur designed by a committee.

An Illustration of the Newly Described Patagonian Dinosaur C. diegosuarezi

A curious little dinosaur from southern Chile.

A curious little dinosaur from southern Chile.

Picture Credit: Gabriel Lio

Theropod dinosaurs were the dominant land predators throughout most of the Mesozoic era.  It is thought that the very first dinosaurs, those that evolved perhaps as early as 240 million years ago, had very similar body plans.  They were small, fast running, agile predators that had long tails, slender legs and for the most part were entirely carnivorous.  These were the lizard-hipped dinosaurs, the Saurischia, one of two great divisions into which all the dinosaurs are divided, the other division being the bird-hipped dinosaurs, the Ornithischia.  It was a British scientist, Harry Govier Seeley, who in 1888, classed the then known dinosaurs into one of two clades based on the structure of the bones that make up their hip girdles.  Lizard-hipped forms which include the Theropods have their pubis bone projecting forward (usually see below), in contrast to the bird-hipped forms that have the pubis bone pushed backwards.

Chilesaurus is a member of the lizard-hipped clade.  It is a Theropod and palaeontologists know that the Theropoda are perhaps the most diverse Sub-order of all the Dinosauria, but no one quite anticipated such a bizarre looking dinosaur from one of the southern most parts of the South American continent.

 Classifying Dinosaurs by their Hip Structures

Classifying dinosaurs by the shape of their hip bones.

Classifying dinosaurs by the shape of their hip bones.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The beautiful, mountainous and sparsely populated Aysén region of southern Chile was being explored by a Chilean couple, both of whom are geologists (Manuel Suarez and Rita de la Cruz), back in 2004 when the fossils of this strange dinosaur were discovered. This remote part of Chile is renowned for its extensive mineral deposits, but whilst exploring a rocky exposure near General Carrera Lake, the son, Diego, who was seven at the time, picked up a couple of odd looking objects.  The parents recognised these as a partial rib and a vertebra and the family set about searching the immediate area to find more fossilised bones.  Sister Macarena joined in and in a short while the family had collected quite a number of bones representing several individual animals.  Over the last decade or so, a team of South American scientists have been piecing together the evidence and this has led to the naming of this new and very unusual genus.

One of the lead authors of the scientific paper published in the journal “Nature”, Dr. Fernando Novas (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales (Buenos Aires, Argentina), explained:

“I don’t know how the evolution of dinosaurs produced this kind of animal, what kind of ecological pressures must have been at work.  What’s surprising is that in this locality the most bizarre dinosaur is not the exception, but the rule.  It is the most abundant animal we find.”

 A Skeletal Drawing and Illustration of Chilesaurus diegosuarezi

Light, agile plant-eating dinosaur.

Light, agile plant-eating dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Gabriel Lio

 Chilesaurus ran around on long legs, each foot had four toes.  The forelimbs were less than a third the size of its hind legs, so it retained the bipedal stance of its meat-eating ancestors, but the neck was long and slender and the skull small.  The teeth had evolved, squared-off tops, adaptations to a diet of plants.  The jaw supported a beak, very reminiscent of those beaks seen in bird-hipped dinosaurs like Stegosaurus and Triceratops.  The hands were reduced and only two fingers had claws, the third finger was little more than a stump and effectively vestigial.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Chilesaurus, shows anatomical characteristics quite unlike any other Theropod dinosaur.  For example, the pubis bone is projecting backwards, which is similar in orientation to the layout of the pelvic girdles of Ornithischian dinosaurs, but other features identify this as a member of the lizard-hipped Theropoda.”

All four toes of the hind feet supported the weight of the animal, whilst in the Theropoda, the vast majority of these animals have a tri-dactyl (three-toed stance).  It seems that this plant-eater, not having the need to pursue prey was slowly evolving a foot morphology similar to the early plant-eating Prosauropods.

Excavating Fossil Bones in the Beautiful Aysén Region of Southern Chile

A beautiful but very remote fossil dig site.

A beautiful but very remote fossil dig site.

Picture Credit: Dr. Fernando Novas

The strata in this region of southern Chile is part of the Upper Jurassic Toqui Formation and dates to around 145 million years ago.  Apart from the numerous fossils of Chilesaurus, which represent a number of individual animals at various stages of growth, the site has yielded a number of Archosaur remains as well as several Crocodyliforms and highly fragmentary remains of a few Sauropods tentatively assigned to diplodocid and titanosaurians.

How to classify this little dinosaur with its strange mix of features?  The scientists have described this dinosaur as a basal Tetanuran, a distant relative of the likes of the Tyrannosaurs, Dromaeosaurs and the Therizinosauridae, a Family of Theropods associated with Cretaceous deposits that also adapted to a herbivorous diet.  The genus name reflects the location of the fossil discovery.  Chilesaurus is the first complete dinosaur from the Jurassic geological period found in Chile and the fossils represent one of the most complete and anatomically documented Theropod dinosaurs known from the southern hemisphere.

Dr. Novas added:

“Although plant-eating Theropods have been recorded in North America and Asia [Therizinosauridae], this is the first time a Theropod with this characteristic has been found in a southern landmass.”

A Fragment of Jaw from a Juvenile Showing the Bizarre Teeth

Teeth adapted for cropping plants.

Teeth adapted for cropping plants.

Picture Credit: Dr. Fernando Novas

This bizarre Late Jurassic Theropod dinosaur really looks like it has been designed by a committee!

Win, Win, Win with Everything Dinosaur!

Vote for Your Favourite Soft Toy Dinosaur to Win?

Just twelve days or so to go until the general election in the UK and for a little bit of light relief Everything Dinosaur has come up with a free to enter competition, the chance to win your very own political dinosaur!

Having heard the phrase “political dinosaur”, with many people who hold public office being referred to as “dinosaurs”, we thought it would be fun if we gave everyone the chance to vote for a dinosaur soft toy – #vote dinosaur!  Our lucky winner will be sent their very own dinosaur soft toy, the one that wins Everything Dinosaur’s “dinosaur election”.

Everything Dinosaur team members have sorted through our range of soft toys and identified our candidates.   We have tried to represent the leaders of seven political parties with a dinosaur soft toy, each soft toy being in the colours of their respective political parties.

Vote Dinosaur! Which Political Dinosaur will you Vote For?

Vote Dinosaur! #votedinosaur

Vote Dinosaur! #votedinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In alphabetical order we have:

Ed – the red Spinosaurus.

Dave – the blue Tyrannosaurus rex.

Leanne – the green and red Spinosaurus hat (closest item we have that looks like a dragon), for the Party of Wales.

Natalie – the green Stegosaurus.

Nick – the yellow Velociraptor.

Nicola – the Utahraptor.

Nigel – the purple Triceratops.

We apologise for not including all the political parties/candidates that are standing on the 7th of May, remember this is only just for a bit of fun!

Vote Dinosaur for the Chance to Win a Dinosaur!

Voting is easy to do, just visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook (see logo/link below), like our page and comment under the picture of our seven dinosaur candidates telling us which dinosaur soft toy you want to see at Number Ten.  Competition will close when the polling booths close at 10pm on May 7th and we will announce the winner the next day.   A prize draw will be held and one lucky voter will receive the winning soft toy.

So to enter Everything Dinosaur’s competition, all you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then comment on the picture (either here or on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page)  voting for the dinosaur that you want to be the next Dinosaur Prime Minister.

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” Our Facebook Page and Enter Competition

For example, if you think that the purple Triceratops called Nigel is your favourite, just comment “Nigel” either here or in the comments section on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page.

We will draw the lucky winner at random and our #VoteDinosaur competition closes at 10pm Thursday, May 7th.  Good luck to everyone who enters!

Don’t forget to “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s Page on Facebook!

Like our Page (please).     Like our Facebook Page!

 

To view Everything Dinosaur’s huge range of dinosaur soft toys: Dinosaur Soft Toys

Terms and Conditions of the Everything Dinosaur #VoteDinosaur Competition

Automated entries are not permitted and will be excluded from the draw.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Only one entry per person.

The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered.

The Everything Dinosaur #VoteDinosaur competition runs until 10pm on May 7th 2015.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing.

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur

It’s just for a bit of fun, but we thought we would give everyone the chance to vote for a real “political dinosaur” !

#Vote Dinosaur!

For a chance to win with Everything Dinosaur Toys and Games.

Feedback from Everything Dinosaur Customers

Customers Praise Everything Dinosaur

More comments and feedback from Everything Dinosaur customers.  We have had a very busy April, what with squeezing in lots of dinosaur workshops and other teaching commitments in between the spring term holiday.  In addition, we have added a number of new items to our vast, prehistoric animal themed range and we are preparing for more new products, including the Rebor Ceratosaurus “Savage” dinosaur replica.

However, we always have time for our customers and we respond to all the emails, letters and contact forms that require a reply.

Here is some more feedback from recent Everything Dinosaur customers:

“Very nice to find a company that gives such personal attention to their customers!   Very much appreciated!   Given how efficient you are at Everything dinosaur, you probably already know that I have ordered (and received, in perfect condition) a couple of Wild Safari Ceratopsians, since ordering and receiving my Papo dinosaurs.  Thank you!”

“Hi,  just to let you know it [my parcel] has arrived OK.  Grandson loves it and  thanks for the fact sheets too.”

“Richard asked me to let you know that the models arrived safely.  Thank you for your efficient service as always :-) .”

“Thanks a lot for your assistance!”

“You are awesome!  This is the fastest response I have ever had to an enquiry regarding purchases.”

“You guys are literally the best!  Thank you!”

“I’d just like to say thank you for the dinosaurs which arrived at 9 am this morning.  Incredible service considering we are at the very top of the map in the far North of Scotland and I  only ordered this yesterday.  It’s a pleasure doing business with you and we will look to doing so again should the need arise.  Thank you again.”

We try our best to help all our customers and to respond as quickly as we can to queries and enquiries.

Woolly Mammoth Genome is Sequenced

Scientists Sequence the Mammoth Genome, not Once but Twice

A new study of the genomes of two Woolly Mammoths has been published in the scientific journal “Current Biology”.  An international team of researchers have been able to sequence the complete genome of two of these iconic, ancient elephants.  The researchers are not involved in experiments to resurrect a Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), the focus on this research has been on how Mammoth populations declined and the stress the last few Mammoths may have been under before the final population became extinct.  Knowing the genetic diversity of isolated populations and searching out evidence of in-breeding as the numbers of a species dwindles, can provide scientists with valuable data to help support conservation efforts for severely endangered species around today.

Dr Love Dalén, from the Swedish Museum of Natural History (Stockholm), commented that the first ever publication of the full DNA sequence of the Woolly Mammoth could help those trying to bring this Ice Age creature back, a sort of “de-extinction of the Mammoth”.

The doctor stated:

“It would be a lot of fun [in principle] to see a living Mammoth, to see how it behaves and how it moves.”

However, when one considers the suffering of any surrogate Asian elephant females that may be involved in any attempt to genetically engineer a Woolly Mammoth, he added that he would rather not see the research used for this purpose:

“It seems to me that trying this out might lead to suffering for female elephants and that would not be ethically justifiable.”

Bone and Occasionally Tusks are Used to Extract Genetic Material

Great care is taken to prevent contamination of any genetic material recovered.

Great care is taken to prevent contamination of any genetic material recovered.

Picture Credit: Swedish Museum of Natural History/Current Biology

The genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, the information needed to build and maintain an organism, be it a fungus, a tulip or indeed a Woolly Mammoth.  The genome includes all the genes involved with coding proteins and all the non-coding elements of the DNA or RNA.  In the case of the Woolly Mammoth, the genome is extremely long, consisting of several billion base pairs or nucleotides (A’s with T’s, C’s with G’s and so forth).

The two Mammoths studied came from both geographically and chronologically distant places.  The first of the Mammoth genomes sequenced represents a Woolly Mammoth from Wrangel Island dating from approximately 4,300 years ago, one of the very last of the Mammoths to have been alive.  The second Mammoth genome represents a specimen from north-eastern Siberia.  This one dates from the Late Pleistocene and is estimated to be about 44,800 years old.  The genetic research shows that the last remaining Mammoths on the very remote and isolated Wrangel Island suffered from inbreeding.  The authors of the scientific paper cannot state categorically that the inbred population was the cause, or contributed to the extinction of this species, however, although inbreeding sometimes does not have a detrimental effect on a population it can do and therefore the results of this study make inbreeding a potentially significant factor in the demise of the Woolly Mammoth.

The 40,000 year time difference between the two samples enabled the molecular clock of the Woolly Mammoth to be re-calibrated.  A molecular clock for an organism is a very simple concept.  If it is assumed that the rate of genetic change (mutation) is relatively constant, then by comparing the genomes of two animals which died at different times will show the amount of difference in the genetic material over this time period.  The research team describe two “bottlenecks” that occurred in the history of the Woolly Mammoth, each bottleneck leading to a reduction in animal numbers and a reduction in the genetic diversity of the Woolly Mammoth.

We note that Associate Professor Beth Shapiro (University of California, Santa Cruz) has commented on this particular piece of Mammoth research.  Beth is an evolutionary biologist and a pioneer in ancient DNA research, and one of Everything Dinosaur’s team members is currently reading her newly published book “How to Clone a Mammoth”.

How to Clone a Mammoth

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

Picture Credit: Princeton University Press

In this excellent book, Beth, discusses the joys of hunting for Mammoth remains in the Arctic tundra.  She recounts an amusing tale when Dr. Dalén was asked to participate in a television documentary all about the hunt for Woolly Mammoth fossils.  It seems that sometimes, documentary makers have to have quite a bit of poetic licence when it comes to programme making, fossils, even those of three tonne elephants don’t always appear when they are supposed to.

You can read more about “How to Clone a Mammoth” and order the book here: Princeton Press

Associate Professor Shapiro explained that there was a lot more work to be done before a Woolly Mammoth, or at least an elephant with Mammoth characteristics capable of surviving in the high Arctic could be born.  When explaining the significance of the genome sequencing she stated:

“We’ll probably find answers to questions that we’ve yet to think of.  Genomes are rich sources of information, and we have only tapped the surface of that information.”

This might be an important step, but scientists remain a long way from Woolly Mammoth cloning and for the moment Mammoth de-extinction will require a number of other important breakthroughs in genetic research before we can see these ancient elephants roaming the Arctic tundra.

Last month, Everything Dinosaur reported on research carried out by Harvard Medical School that resulted in genetic material from a Woolly Mammoth being inserted into the skin cells from an Asian elephant which were being grown in a petri dish.

To read more about this research: Woolly Mammoth Genes Inserted into Asian Elephant Skin Cells

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