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21 06, 2018

Researchers Identify New Species of Ancient Marine Lizard

By | June 21st, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Primitivus manduriensis – New Semi-Aquatic Lizard Honours Red Wine Grape

The discovery of an articulated fossilised skeleton with exceptional soft tissue preservation indicates that the enigmatic Dolichosaurs were around at least fifteen million years later than previously thought.  Researchers, including scientists from the University of Alberta (Canada), have described a new species of Dolichosaur, naming it Primitivus manduriensis.  The fossil specimen was found near Nardò (Lecce, Puglia), a small town located in the Salento Peninsula (southern Italy).   The animal was probably semi-aquatic, hunting for small fish in shallow waters whilst also venturing out onto land from time to time.  The specimen, although crushed flat, is so well-preserved that muscle, skin and scales can be observed under ultra violet light.  Even the small bones of its fish prey have been preserved in the gut.

The reptile, which was approximately one metre in length has been named after the local Manduria variety of red wine grape primitivo.

A Life Reconstruction of Primitivus manduriensis

Primitivus life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the newly described marine lizard Primitivus from southern Italy.

Picture Credit: Fabio Manucci

Found in Rocks Dating from the Late Campanian to the Early Maastrichtian

The fossil was discovered in what was once a shallow water environment, perhaps an embayment.  After it died, this member of the Squamata (it was related to lizards, snakes and Mosasaurs), sank to the bottom and was covered in sediment, safe from any currents that would otherwise have scattered its remains and away from scavengers.

Lead author of the paper, published in Royal Society Open Science, University of Alberta student Ilaria Paparella commented:

“The marine lizards are essentially small, long-bodied animals that look like regular lizards with longer necks and tails.  They have paddle-like hands and feet for swimming but could also move on land.”

Dorsal View of the Holotype Primitivus manduriensis Fossil Material

Views of the holotype of P. manduriensis.

Top – the holotype fossil material of P. manduriensis and (bottom) under UV light.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

The photographs (above), show the holotype of Primitivus manduriensis (MPUR NS 161) in natural (a) and UV light (b) as exposed from the matrix in dorsal view.  The imaging under UV radiations is a composite of two pictures, finalised with Adobe Photoshop CC 17 (2013 release).   Note scale bars equal 5 centimetres.

At around 70 million years old, this specimen is significantly younger than other existing specimens from the Dolichosaur group, extending the temporal range of their existence by about fifteen million years.  The fossil also represents the first evidence of the presence of Dolichosaurs in the southern Italian Carbonate Platform, filling a palaeogeographic gap in the Mediterranean Tethys.

Soft Tissue Preservation

For PhD student Paparella, one of the most fascinating things about the specimen was the ability to study the soft tissues, including scales, muscle and skin.  The Department of Biological Sciences student conducted the research as part of her PhD with University of Alberta palaeontologist Michael Caldwell, helping to write the paper.

Ilaria explained:

“There need to be very special conditions for soft tissue to be preserved on a fossil.  The location where the Primitivus manduriensis was found has a great deal of potential.  We hope to get permits from the Italian authorities to conduct further fieldwork.”

“This was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to look at the complete picture of a beautifully preserved specimen, right down to the scales.  For living species, scientists use scale patterns and skin for identification.   It was unique to be using these techniques to look at a specimen that died 70 million years ago.

When the area of the gut was studied, the researchers identified several tiny, rod-like fragments of bones visible under ultra violet light.  Although their identity could not be clearly assessed, this evidence suggests that Primitivus was feeding on small vertebrates (e.g. fish).

A View of the Crushed Skull of the Holotype (P. manduriensis)

Close-up view of the skull of P. manduriensis and the same fossil material under UV light.

Views of the skull of the holotype fossil of Primitivus manduriensis.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

The two photographs (above), show imaging of the skull of Primitivus manduriensis MPUR NS 161 under (a) natural light and (b) UV light.  The skull of the holotype is heavily crushed (a) and part of the elements are only preserved as impressions on the matrix, as observed under UV light (b), where the bone material still preserved is bright white.  Note scale bar equals 1 cm.

The new specimen may represent local persistence of a relict Dolichosaur population until almost the end of the Cretaceous in the Mediterranean Tethys, and demonstrates the incompleteness of our knowledge of Dolichosaur temporal and spatial distributions

The scientific paper: “A New Fossil Marine Lizard With Soft Tissues From the Late Cretaceous of Southern Italy” by Ilaria Paparella, Alessandro Palci, Umberto Nicosia, Michael W. Caldwell and published in Royal Society Open Science.

20 06, 2018

More Schleich Prehistoric Animals in Stock

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

Three New Schleich Conquering the Earth Prehistoric Animal Models

Three new for 2018, prehistoric animal models have arrived at Everything Dinosaur.  The Schleich Therizinosaurus (juvenile), Schleich Pteranodon and the juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex figures are now in stock.  Everything Dinosaur team members were given a “sneaky peek” of these three “Conquering the Earth” models several months ago and we did post up a number of photographs that we had taken onto our social media pages.  We are very excited to be able to add these three Archosaurs to our Schleich portfolio.

Just Arrived at Everything Dinosaur – New for 2018 Prehistoric Animal Models

New for 2018 Schleich prehistoric animal models.

Three new additions to Everything Dinosaur’s Schleich model range.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Schleich Tyrannosaurus rex Juvenile

Over the years, Schleich have produced several T. rex dinosaur models.  This latest edition to the “Conquering the Earth” range measures a little over twenty-three centimetres in length from the tip of that articulated lower jaw to the end of the tail.  The model is well balanced and shows lots of detail, the painting on the inside of the mouth is particularly well done.  It makes a striking companion piece to the Tyrannosaurus rex model introduced by Schleich in the summer of 2017.

The Schleich Adult and Juvenile T. rex Models

Schleich Tyrannosaurs (2017-2018).

The Schleich juvenile T. rex and the 2017 Schleich T. rex model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Schleich prehistoric animals in stock at Everything Dinosaur, including the three new figures: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Schleich Therizinosaurus Juvenile

Schleich have also introduced a juvenile Therizinosaurus dinosaur replica to go along with their repainted Therizinosaurus figure that came out earlier this year.  This model measures a fraction under sixteen centimetres high and is around twenty centimetres in length.

Schleich Therizinosaurs (Adult and Juvenile)

Schleich Therizinosaurs.

Schleich Therizinosaur dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Schleich juvenile Therizinosaurus dinosaur model has a pair of articulated front arms, just like the adult version of this Late Cretaceous Theropod.

Schleich Pteranodon

The last model to be added to Everything Dinosaur’s range is not a dinosaur, but a member of the Pterosauria, arguably one of the most famous of all the flying reptiles – Pteranodon.  Schleich have made Pteranodon models in the past, there was a Pteranodon included in the now retired “Saurus” range of prehistoric animal figures, but this new figure is much more brightly painted.

The New for 2018 Schleich Pteranodon Flying Reptile Model

A Schleich Pteranodon model.

New for 2018, a Schleich Pteranodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Pteranodon model is a representation of Pteranodon longiceps, the type species, first named and described in 1876 by the famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh.  The wingspan of the model measures approximately twenty-two centimetres.  It is a very colourful flying reptile and we note the texture of the model’s skin, giving the impression of a covering of pycnofibres (hair-like filaments) on the body.  It is likely that these pterosaurs were endothermic (warm-blooded), these fibres would have helped to retain body heat and to insulate the animal.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“These three new figures are welcome additions to the Schleich Conquering the Earth model range.  Two of the new models represent juvenile Theropods.  The long crest of the colourful Pteranodon probably played a role in display.”

19 06, 2018

More Evidence That Eumaniraptoran Dinosaurs Lived in Flocks

By | June 19th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Social Dinosaurs from Shandong Province

Everything Dinosaur has picked up stories circulating from several Asian media outlets reporting on the discovery of around 300 dinosaur footprints and tracks in Shandong Province in north-eastern China.  Some of these prints are believed to represent either dromaeosaurid or troodontid (Eumaniraptoran) dinosaurs.  Intriguingly, the researchers have uncovered four sets of distinctive two-toed tracks running in parallel.  This suggests that four Eumaniraptoran dinosaurs may have moved together, providing further evidence of possible pack behaviour in “raptors”.  In total, scientists have identified around 70 two-toed tracks that indicate the presence of Eumaniraptoran dinosaurs at this locality.  Unfortunately, the absence of any body fossils, such as bones and teeth restricts the palaeontologists in terms of identifying precisely what sort of dinosaurs made these tracks.

Scientists Have Identified Four Parallel Dinosaur Trackways

Parallel dinosaur tracks suggests flocking behaviour.

The scientists identified four, two-toed parallel dinosaur trackways.

Picture Credit: Lu Yong

Didactyl Tracks – The Second Toe Lifted Off the Ground

Some members of the Eumaniraptoran clade of dinosaurs – the Dromaeosauridae and the Troodontidae for example, had an enlarged second toe claw that was held off the ground.  As these types of dinosaurs moved they would have left very distinctive, two-toed prints and tracks.  The finding of sets of prints indicating that the dinosaur track makers were all moving at the same speed and in the same direction suggests that these dinosaurs were social and moving in packs.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Whilst we cannot be certain what type of dinosaur made the parallel prints, it has been speculated, based on the proportions of the toes, that these tracks could have been made by a member of the deinonychosaurian (a dromaeosaurid).  The tracks were made approximately 125 million years ago and we know from the contemporary Jehol Biota of north-eastern China there were lots of “raptors” roaming about.”

The Raised Second Toe (Killing Claw) Results in a Two-toed Track

Typical two-toed dinosaur track.

The raised second toe results in a two-toed (didactyl) track.

Picture Credit: Matt Celeskey

Didactyl tracks have been referred to as the ichnogenus Dromaeopodus in the past.  Writing in the academic journal “Cretaceous Research”, the scientists have identified two morphotypes, at this fossil site.  The parallel tracks have been tentatively named as an example of the ichnospecies Menglongpus representing a Deinonychosaur.  The researchers have also named the tracks of an avian Theropod as the ichnospecies Tatarornipes.

One of the Two-toed Tracks Assigned to the Ichnospecies Menglongpus

Didactyl dinosaur track.

One of the two-toed tracks from the Shandong Province location – the track has been outlined in chalk.  It has been assigned to the ichnospecies Menglongpus.

Picture Credit: Lu Yong

Discovered in 2015

The fossilised footprints and tracks were discovered three years ago by Tang Yonggang, a visiting professor at Linyi University (Shandong Province).  The strata at the site, in the mountainous county of Tancheng, forms part of the Dasheng Group.  Over the last twelve months or so, a team of scientists led by Xing Lida, from the China University of Geosciences have mapped the hundreds of prints and tracks.

These types of two-toed tracks have been found all over the world, for example, back in 2008, Everything Dinosaur reported on a series of didactyl tracks that had been discovered in South Korea.

To read the article on the South Korean dinosaur tracks: Two-toed dinosaurs stalking South Korea

Lida Xing commented:

“Three hundred footprints is not a shockingly large number, but the diversity in the species found at one site is extremely rare.”

An Assemblage of Fossilised Dinosaur Tracks and Prints (Shandong Province)

Dinosaur tracks and prints fossil site (China).

Numerous tracks and prints have been exposed at the site representing at least seven dinosaur species.

Picture Credit: Lu Yong

The site preserves an Early Cretaceous dinosaur dominated biota consisting of small bipedal dinosaurs, larger Theropods and several different types of herbivore.

To read an article on the discovery of troodontid tracks in Iran: Feathered Dinosaurs from Iran

Fans of a certain movie franchise will be delighted to hear that there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that “raptors” were sociable, pack animals.

“Jurassic World/Jurassic Park” Raptors Behaving Like a Pack

"Jurassic World" raptors.

Not feathered in the movies, but certainly hunting in packs.

Picture Credit: Universal Studios

18 06, 2018

Megalosaurus bucklandii

By | June 18th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Buckland’s Great Lizard

Whilst visiting the Oxford Museum of Natural History, we took the opportunity to take lots of photographs of the dinosaur exhibits.  Naturally, our attention was drawn to that part of the museum that featured Megalosaurus (M. bucklandii).

The Iconic Right Dentary (Lower Jaw) of Megalosaurus bucklandii

The lower jaw of Megalosaurus.

The partial dentary with teeth associated with Megalosaurus bucklandii.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The photograph (above), shows the left side of the right dentary.  Megalosaurus (M. bucklandii) was the first member of the Dinosauria to be officially, scientifically described.  The name was first coined by the English surgeon James Parkinson in 1822 and Buckland published his description in 1824.  The jaw fossil was included in the original description by William Buckland, it has the classification number OUMNH J13505.  The right dentary is the designated lectotype, Buckland did not establish any holotype for M. bucklandii, instead he used several fossils, including the dentary to constitute the type fossil material for this species.  These fossils consisted of rib bones, bones from the hind limbs, vertebrae and elements from the pelvic girdle, together these fossils (the syntypes), describe the taxon.

17 06, 2018

Tiny Frogs Preserved in Cretaceous Amber

By | June 17th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Amber Fossils Provide Evidence of Cretaceous Frogs Inhabiting Wet, Tropical Environments

The remains of four tiny frogs preserved in Cretaceous-aged amber from northern Myanmar have provided palaeontologists with the first definitive evidence showing frogs 99 million years ago were inhabiting wet, tropical environments.

Preserved in Cretaceous Amber – A Window into an Ancient Terrestrial Ecosystem

Prehistoric frog preserved in amber.

A polished amber nodule from Myanmar showing substantial organic remains including the remains of a frog.

Picture Credit: University of Florida

Electrorana limoae

The new species of Cretaceous amphibian has been named Electrorana limoae.  It was small, a juvenile, measuring around twenty millimetres in length, but this frog and other amazing fossil finds from Myanmar amber (burmite), some of which have been documented on this blog, provide scientists with an improved understanding of the micro-flora and micro-fauna of a tropical forest ecosystem that existed some ninety-nine million years ago.

The frog fossils provide the earliest irrefutable evidence of these types of amphibian living in wet, tropical forests.  They are the oldest-known examples of frogs preserved in amber.

Co-author of the study, published earlier this week in Nature’s “Scientific Reports”, David Blackburn (Florida Museum of Natural History) stated:

“It’s almost unheard of to get a fossil frog from this time period that is small, has preservation of small bones and is mostly three-dimensional.  This is pretty special, but what’s most exciting about this animal is its context.  These frogs were part of a tropical ecosystem that, in some ways, might not have been that different to what we find today – minus the dinosaurs.”

A Life Reconstruction of Electrorana limoae

A life reconstruction of Electrorana limoae.

Electrorana limoae – a life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Damir G Martin

Frogs – Probably Very Numerous But a Shockingly Poor Fossil Record

The fossil record for the Class Amphibia is extremely poor, it is believed that frogs may have evolved during the Triassic, although the fossils of an ancient frog/salamander ancestor discovered in Texas in 1995 might indicate that frogs were around many millions of years earlier.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about the discovery of a potential ancestral link between frogs and salamanders: Amphibian Ancestry a Little Clearer Thanks to New Discovery

Frogs tend to be small, as a result their light, often tiny bones are not likely to preserve well so they are very probably underrepresented in the fossil record.  What fossils we do have of frogs tend to be biased towards more robust species from arid, seasonal environments, although, if we consider today’s frogs, the bulk of frog diversity can be found in tropical rainforests.

Dr Blackburn added:

“Ask any kid what lives in a rainforest and frogs are on the list, but surprisingly, we have almost nothing from the fossil record to say that’s a longstanding association.”

A Computer-generated Model Showing Frog Bones (white) and the Remains of a Beetle (Orange)

Computer generated three-dimensional image of the bones of Electrorana limoae and the yet to be described beetle.

Computer generated three-dimensional image of the bones of Electrorana limoae and the yet to be described beetle in the amber nodule.

Picture Credit: University of Florida

The Burmite Deposits of Myanmar

The amber deposits of northern Myanmar (referred to as burmite), have provided palaeontologists with a unique record of an ancient Cretaceous tropical forest ecosystem. with fossil evidence of mosses, bamboo-like plants, aquatic spiders and velvet worms.  The discovery of Electrorana and the other fossils, the first frogs to have been found in burmite, will add to our understanding of frogs in the Cretaceous.  These fossils demonstrate that frogs have inhabited wet, tropical forests for at least 99 million years.  Frog fossils preserved in amber are exceptionally rare, previous examples have come from the Dominican Republic and Mexico and date back only to about 40 million and 25 million years, respectively.

A View of the Skeletal Remains Preserved in the Burmite

Computer generated images of Electrorana limoae.

Three-dimensional images of the skeletal remains of Electrorana limoae.

Picture Credit: University of Florida

Electrorana is the most well-preserved of the four frog fossils.  Clearly visible in the amber are the frog’s skull, its forelimbs, part of its backbone, a partial hind limb.  The other amber fossils contain two hands and an imprint of a frog that likely decayed inside the resin.

Answering Some Questions but Raising Many More

Many characteristics herpetologists use to discern details of a frog’s life history and determine how it’s related to other frogs, the wrist bones, the pelvis, hip bones, the inner ear, the top of the backbone, are either missing or were not yet fully developed in the juvenile frog.  The researchers, which include lead author Lida Xing (China University of Geosciences), have postulated that Electrorana limoae had similar features to extant Midwife toads and Fire-bellied toads, Eurasian species associated with temperate ecosystems.  Further CT scans and more fossil discoveries could help illuminate ancient evolutionary relationships, possibly clarifying how Electrorana fits into the frog family.

A Computer-generated Image of the Fossils of Electrorana limoae (note the presence of a beetle)

Computer generated image of Electrorana limoe and undescribed beetle.

Computer generated three-dimensional image of the bones of Electrorana limoae and the yet to be described beetle.

Picture Credit: University of Florida

If ecosystems of today are anything to go by, it seems likely that there may be numerous frog fossils awaiting discovery, locked away in burmite.  We do not have a lot of single-species frog communities in tropical forest environments in the modern world, so it does seem likely that more frog fossils will be found in northern Myanmar.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from the University of Florida in the compilation of this article.

For further news stories about fossil discoveries from Myanmar burmite:

Evidence of insect mimicry preserved in amber: Those Clever Cretaceous Lacewings

A blood-sucking story: A Blood-sucking Story – Dinosaur Parasites

The tale of the spiders with tails: A Tale of the Spiders with Tails

Enantiornithine bird preserved in amber: Watch the Birdie!

16 06, 2018

4D Scanning Technology Helps to Predict Lava Flows

By | June 16th, 2018|Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

New Research Helps to Predict Unpredictable Lava Flows

Scientists, including researchers from Manchester University are using the latest 4D technology to predict the behaviour of lava flows after a volcanic eruption.  The results, published in the journal “Scientific Reports” help explain why some lava flows can cover many miles in just a few hours, whilst others travel much more slowly.  Highlighting the hazards posed by fast-moving flows will help to save lives and could lead to better management strategies.

New Technology Helping to Minimise the Threat of Lava Flows following Volcanic Eruptions

Volcanic eruptions in future may not be so deadly.

New technology is helping to predict lava flows.

Picture Credit: Universal Pictures

The research involves studying the processes that take place during crystallisation in basaltic magmas, 4D synchrotron X-ray microtomography technology is being utilised to study lava flow.  It is the first time this kind of 4D scanning technology has been used for investigating crystallisation during volcanic eruptions and for simulating the behaviour of these potentially devastating natural events.

The team, led by Professor Mike Burton, (Chair of Volcanology at Manchester University), monitored crystallisation in magmas, a fundamental process that drives eruptions and controls different kinds of volcanic activity.  Using this new and novel approach the team can, for the first time, watch the crystals grow in three dimensions in real-time, simulating the behaviour of lava flows once a volcano has erupted.  The process is similar to scenes recently witnessed at Kilauea in Hawaii.

The professor explained:

“During volcanic eruptions small crystals grow within magma.  These crystals can greatly change the way magma flows.  Simply put, the more crystals there are the slower the eruption will be which also reduces the speed and distance travelled by lava flows.  The fewer crystals present in the lava means the eruption will speed up, potentially becoming more powerful and devastating.  Our research and this new approach open an entirely new frontier in the study of volcanic processes.”

Studying Samples from Real Volcanic Eruptions

To study the rate of crystal growth, the team set up a sample from a real eruption in a high temperature cell, before performing X-ray CAT scans whilst controlling the temperature of the magma. This allowed the researchers to visualise the formation and growth of crystals, and measure how quickly they grew.

Using this method and technology the researchers can collect hundreds of 3D images during a single experiment. This data is then used in complex, numerical models to fully characterise the behaviour of volcanic eruptions more accurately.

Lead author of the recently published paper, Dr Margherita Polacci (University of Manchester’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences), added:

“Being able to more accurately predict the behaviour of lava flows could also allow us to help relevant safety agencies devise and develop new safety strategies and actions when dealing with eruptions in populated areas.”

Predicting the Flow of Lava Will Help to Save Lives

Dangerous lava flows.

Dangerous lava flows (Kilauea in Hawaii).

Picture Credit: Reuters

Extending this Technology into Other Fields

The researchers are confident that predicting lava flows will not be the only application for this new technology.  The team expect their research to have implications for mineral extraction as well as other geological processes.  For the time being, any advances in the prediction models for the behaviour of lava flows would be welcomed, given the obvious benefits such tools will have to the authorities when it comes to planning evacuations and minimising the risk to life.

The scientific paper: “Crystallisation in Basaltic Magmas Revealed via in situ 4D synchrotron X-ray Microtomography” by M. Polacci, F. Arzilli, G. La Spina, N. Le Gall, B. Cai, D. Di Genova, N. T. Vo, S. Nonni, R. C. Atwood, E. W. Llewellin, P. D. Lee and M. R. Burton published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from the University of Manchester in the compilation of this article.

15 06, 2018

Mexico’s Oldest Member of the Ankylosauria

By | June 15th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Acantholipan gonzalezi – Coahuila’s Oldest Dinosaur

A new genus of armoured dinosaur has been described.  This dinosaur roamed northern Mexico around 85 million years ago (the Santonian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).  Described as a nodosaurid, the dinosaur has been named Acantholipan gonzalezi and it is the oldest dinosaur described to date from the Coahuila region of Mexico.  Its discovery is no real surprise, some osteoderms (dermal armour), associated with ankylosaurids have been described from the geologically younger (Campanian), Cerro del Pueblo Formation exposed in the Coahuila region.  In addition, a single tooth identified as nodosaurid, has been discovered in the Mexican state of Baja California.  This fossil tooth was found in Campanian-aged deposits.  Palaeontologists had expected that armoured dinosaur fossils would be found elsewhere in Mexico, extending their known range further south.

The Southernmost Nodosaurid from North America – Acantholipan gonzalezi

A life reconstruction of Acantholipan gonzalezi.

A model of the Mexican nodosaurid Acantholipan gonzalezi.

Picture Credit: Museo del Desierto (Mexico)

Identified from Fragments of Bone

Fragmentary fossils found near to the city of Ocampo in northern Mexico, back in 2011, suggested that nodosaurids roamed this part of North America during the Late Cretaceous, but it was thought that the fossil material was not sufficient to support the establishment of a new species.  The fossils consist of a single dorsal vertebra, a tail bone (caudal vertebra), a partial ulna, a fragment of rib, one large spike (osteodermal spine) along with a portion of an upper arm bone (distal end of a humerus).

The Fragmentary Fossil Material (CPC 272)

Acantholipan fossil material.

Fossil fragments representing a nodosaurid from Coahuila, Mexico (Acantholipan gonzalezi).

Picture Credit: Museo del Desierto (Mexico)

The photograph (above), shows the nodosaurid fossil material from Coahuila.  Although very fragmentary, subsequent comparative analysis with younger North American nodosaurids has permitted the establishment of a new species.

Key

Distal end of right humerus in (a) dorsal, (b) ventral, (c) anterior, and (d) posterior views.
Dorsal vertebra in (e) cranial, (f) caudal, and (g-h) lateral views.
Right ulna in (i) dorsal, (j) ventral, and (k-l) lateral views.
Osteodermal spine (m-p).

Note: Scale bar = 5 centimetres

A Skeletal Illustration of A. gonzalezi – Known Fossil Material Outlined in Red

Acantholipan gonzalezi skeletal drawing.

The known bones of A. gonzalezi are shown in red.

Picture Credit: Museo del Desierto (Mexico)

Armoured Dinosaur Bones Found in Marine Shales

The fossil material was discovered in marine shales associated with the Pen Formation.  The research team studying this material have concluded that the carcass of the dinosaur, a juvenile approximately 3.5 metres long, had been swept out to sea, before sinking to the seafloor and becoming buried by sediment.  If this dinosaur had reached maturity, the scientists estimate that it could have reached a length of about six metres and weighed several thousand kilograms.  With the naming of Acantholipan gonzalezi, this dinosaur becomes the oldest member of the Dinosauria described from the Coahuila region, and the first member of the Ankylosauria clade to have been named from Mexican fossils.

Commenting on the new species of armoured dinosaur, José Rubén Guzmán Gutiérrez of the Museo del Desierto and one of the co-authors of the scientific paper describing the dinosaur in the Swiss Journal of Palaeontology, stated:

“Here in Mexico, we have a significant palaeontological wealth, specifically in the state of Coahuila.  We have this palaeontological richness and it is worthwhile for the population to get involved in getting to know this heritage that belongs to all Mexicans.”

The name of this new species of armoured dinosaur honours its Mexican roots.  The genus name comes from the Greek “akanthos”, which means spine, combined with the name of the native Indians which inhabited this part of northern Mexico.  The species name honours Arturo González-González, the director of the Museo del Desierto.

To read an article from 2017 reporting on the discovery of a new species of horned dinosaur from the Coahuila region of Mexico: Yehuecauhceratops – A New Horned Dinosaur from Northern Mexico

14 06, 2018

Everything Dinosaur to Conduct Dinosaur and Fossil Workshops at The Beacon Museum

By | June 14th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur at the Beacon Museum

As part of The Beacon Museum’s summer exhibition “Brick Dinos”, team members from Everything Dinosaur will be conducting a weekend of dinosaur and fossil themed workshops.  Join Mike and Sue from Everything Dinosaur from Friday afternoon 27th July and throughout that weekend and help them hunt for fossils including dinosaur bones!  Team members from Everything Dinosaur will be conducting a series of workshops at the Beacon Museum, giving participants the chance to be a palaeontologist and cast museum quality fossil replicas.  Turn dinosaur detective and get up close to some amazing fossils and learn how to find evidence of ancient life. Best of all, what you find on the fossil dig, you can keep!

Join Everything Dinosaur Team Members over the Weekend of July 27th to July 29th

Everything Dinosaur at the Beacon Museum

Everything Dinosaur will be conducting a series of family friendly dinosaur and fossil themed workshops from July 27th – July 29th.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Detectives and Perceptive Palaeontologists

The “Brick Dinos” event allows visitors to travel back in time and to interact with a series of prehistoric animal exhibits that have been created by the famous plastic bricks (Lego®).  Everything Dinosaur will be conducting a series of 2-hour-long, family friendly, dinosaur and fossil themed workshops, utilising the ground floor of the Beacon Portal.  Numbers are limited so booking is essential.

Dinosaur and Dino Pro combination tickets available please ring 01946 592302 for details, or alternatively, you can contact the Beacon Museum for tickets and further information: Contact The Beacon Museum at Whitehaven

Mike from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are going to be bringing lots of different fossils which have been collected from various dig sites, sharks teeth, corals, ammonites, crocodile armour and of course, real dinosaur bone.  Visitors to the Beacon will have the opportunity to hunt for fossils and you can take home what you find, starting your own fossil collection.”

Everything Dinosaur at the Beacon Museum Friday July 27th to Sunday July 29th

Everything Dinosaur and fossil workshops.

Everything Dinosaur at the Beacon Museum 27th July to 29th July.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Proposed Itinerary*

Everything Dinosaur team members are going to be very busy over that weekend.   The team intend to conduct a 2-hour dinosaur and fossil workshop on Friday afternoon (starting 2pm) and to delivery two further workshops on Saturday and Sunday morning.  On Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Everything Dinosaur will be laying out their fossil trays and inviting visitors to join them on a fossil hunt, looking for fossils which will include teeth from prehistoric sharks, belemnite guards and dinosaur bones.

Friday 27th July
• 2pm to 4pm – Dinosaurs and Fossils Workshop

Saturday 28th July
• 9.30am to 11.30am – Dinosaurs and Fossils Workshop

• 1pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

• 2pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

• 3pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

• 4pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

Sunday 29th July
• 9.30am to 11.30am – Dinosaurs and Fossils Workshop

• 1pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

• 2pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

• 3pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

• 4pm – Fossil Trays and Finding Fossils

Proposed itinerary* potentially subject to change contact The Beacon Museum for further information.

Finding Fossils Including Shark Teeth

fossilised shark teeth.

A successful fossil hunt.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Further information and tickets: Contact The Beacon Museum at Whitehaven

13 06, 2018

Sooty Owls Send in Questions

By | June 13th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Reception Class (Sooty Owls) Send in Questions

Our congratulations to all the budding palaeontologists in Sooty Owls class (Foundation Stage 2), at Laithes Primary in south Yorkshire for compiling such a fascinating set of questions about dinosaurs.  The children in Foundation Stage at this Barnsley school have just started their summer term topic and they are very excited to be learning about dinosaurs and life in the past.

Questions Compiled by Sooty Owls for Everything Dinosaur

Foundation Stage children think up questions about dinosaurs.

The children in the Sooty Owls class have compiled a set of questions about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Laithes Primary School

Why do Dinosaurs Roar?

Sophie asked why do dinosaurs roar?  This is a very difficult question to answer as we don’t have a living Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus or any other non-avian dinosaur to study.  Dinosaurs certainly do a lot of loud roaring in movies like “Jurassic Park”, but it is hard to work out what sort of sounds they made by just studying the fossilised bones alone.  Having said that, the tiny bones of the inner ear that have been found have given palaeontologists some ideas as to the sort of sounds that these animals might have heard.  Dinosaurs seem to have had good hearing so they probably did make some sounds, perhaps some of the smaller dinosaurs might have chirped like their near relatives the birds.  Other dinosaurs might have squawked, twittered or clucked, whilst very big dinosaurs may have made low frequency rumbling sounds, the vibrations of which, could have been detected by their feet (elephants are believed to be able to detect low frequency sounds in this way).

Some Very Big Dinosaurs Could have Picked Up Sounds Using their Feet

Spinophosaurus dinosaur life reconstruction.

Some very big dinosaurs could have picked up sounds using their feet.

When do Dinosaurs Sleep?

Emir wanted to know about dinosaur sleeping habits.  He asked when do dinosaurs sleep?  There are lots and lots of different types of dinosaurs and some of them were probably nocturnal (active at night), so these types of dinosaurs would have slept during the day.  Can the children in Sooty Owls class make a list of animals alive today that are nocturnal?  Most dinosaurs would have slept at night, just like we do, but all dinosaurs would have probably napped from time to time to.  Palaeontologists have found fossils of sleeping dinosaurs.  Some dinosaurs may have slept with one eye open so that they could stay safe.

A Sleeping Dinosaur (Mei long)

Mei long illustration.

Did dinosaurs sleep with one eye open?

The fossils of the dinosaur from China called Mei long, suggest that some dinosaurs slept like birds.  The name Mei long means “sleeping dragon”.

Were Dinosaurs Cold-blooded?

Tyler asked were dinosaurs cold-blooded?  Reptiles that are alive today, animals like snakes, lizards and crocodiles, have to rely on external sources of heat to help them keep warm and active.  Reptiles bask in the sun, using the heat from the sun to warm their bodies.  It is likely that most dinosaurs, which were probably much more active than snakes and crocodiles, were not cold-blooded, that is, they could have maintained a body temperature that was warmer than their surroundings.  Many dinosaurs had feathers and these feathers helped trap body heat to keep these dinosaurs from getting too cold.

Some dinosaurs lived in Antarctica and some dinosaurs lived in the Arctic Circle, so they would have been well-used to chilly conditions.  Mammals and birds are warm-blooded, birds are very closely related to dinosaurs.

Warm-blooded or Cold-blooded Dinosaurs?

warm-blooded or cold-blooded dinosaurs?

Where on the spectrum between endothermic and ectothermic are the Dinosauria?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Would a T. rex Bite My Arm?

Rayen wanted to know about Tyrannosaurus rex and asked the following question – would T. rex bite my arm?  Tyrannosaurus rex was a meat-eating dinosaur, if it was around today, then a T. rex might indeed try to eat you.  T. rex was so big that he could have eaten everyone in Sooty Owls class for dinner and eaten the class teacher for dessert.  A fully-grown T. rex would have been capable of swallowing Rayen in one big bite!  It is reassuring to know that these types of dinosaurs, known as the non-avian dinosaurs are extinct!

Our thanks once again to the children in Sooty Owls class for compiling such a wonderful set of dinosaur themed questions.

12 06, 2018

The Pneumatic Bones of Theropods

By | June 12th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Pneumatic Bones of Theropods (Living and Extinct)

Air-filled (pneumatic), bones are unique to birds amongst living terrestrial vertebrates.  However, it is known that many different types of Archosaurs as well as the birds had post-cranial bones with lots of air sacs.  Non-avian dinosaurs in the form of the Theropoda had them to.  Whilst visiting the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in London, this shared anatomical trait was beautifully demonstrated when viewing a number of avian exhibits.

An Ostrich Femur (Thigh Bone) Showing Pneumaticity

An ostrich femur showing extensive pneumaticity.

A cross-section of an ostrich femur showing the extensive air sacs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The caption in the display case reads:

“OSTRICH FEMUR – Birds have honeycomb bones to reduce weight for flight.  Flightless ostriches evolved from flying birds and retain this feature”.

The above statement is true, but technically (most probably), pneumatic, post-cranial bones have been inherited from the Dinosauria.

A Fragment of Theropod Bone Showing the Highly Pneumatised Internal Structure

The tell-tale honeycomb structure of fossil bone indicates Theropod dinosaur.

A close up of the fossil bone shows the typical honeycomb structure indicative of a Theropod dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Jason Love/Burke Museum

Air-filled Bones Evolved Independently in Several Groups Avemetatarsalia

The fossil record has provided evidence of pneumaticity in Late Triassic Archosaurs (at least 210 million years ago), it is very likely that air-filled bones evolved much earlier in the branch of the Archosaurs (Avemetatarsalia), that includes the dinosaurs, pterosaurs and birds.  Bones with air sacs are also associated with derived members of the Sauropodomorpha.  It has been postulated that this characteristic evolved independently in several groups and that pneumaticity did not occur amongst these different Archosaurs as a result of sharing a common ancestor.

The evolution of light, but strong air-filled bones can be explained for the birds, as such bones would help reduce weight and make flying easier.   As for the other, extinct Archosaurs, this characteristic evolved in the Pterosauria (flying reptiles) for very probably the same reason – to reduce weight to make flying easier.  As for the dinosaurs and other largely non-volant Archosaurs that had this feature, pneumatisation might have evolved to reduce energy expenditure as these animals moved about.  After all, if you weigh several tonnes, as in the case of a basal Sauropod, if you could evolve a more efficient method of locomotion, than this makes a lot of evolutionary sense.

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