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“Moles” at College Town Infant and Nursery School Write About Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs Helping Children Develop Their Writing Skills

Encouraging Year 1 children with their writing was one of the learning objectives that the dinosaur expert from Everything Dinosaur set out to achieve during a visit to College Town Infant and Nursery School last week.  The children were certainly very enthusiastic and keen to learn lots of facts about prehistoric animals.  There were some excellent describing words used when it came to handling the various fossils and a number of “pinkie palaeontologist challenges” were set for the classes.  The school has a three form entry for Year 1 children, the classes are called “Rabbit”, “Hedgehog” and “Mole”, Miss Tuck (teacher), asked her “Mole” class to write a thank you letter as part of the extension ideas that had been discussed.

One of the Thank You Letters from the “Moles” in Mole Class

Super thank you letter.

Super thank you letter.

Picture Credit: College Town Infant and Nursery School/Everything Dinosaur

Good use of capitals, very well spaced and formed letters, what a lovely thank you letter.  Well done Pavan.

Vinzen’s Fantastic Letter

Vinzen's fantastic dinosaur themed letter.

Vinzen’s fantastic dinosaur themed letter.

Picture Credit: College Town Infant and Nursery School/Everything Dinosaur

Miss Tuck was obviously very impressed by the thank you letters that the children composed.  Our team members have certainly enjoyed reading them.

Esther’s Thank You Letter

A great thank you letter from Esther.

A great thank you letter from Esther.

Picture Credit: College Town Infant and Nursery School/Everything Dinosaur

Well done, Esther and her classmates, lots of carefully written letters with good use of punctuation.  Good examples of use of adjectives to describe the activities that the children took part in.

Our dinosaur expert set a number of writing challenges for the children.  Fact sheets and scale drawings were emailed over to help inspire the children.  It looks like the visit has really helped and “Dinosaur Mike”, one of our team members commented:

“It was wonderful to see the letters written by the children, I have shown them to my colleagues and pinned up some of them onto our display wall in the warehouse.  These are wonderful examples and all the children in Moles class can be proud of what they have done”.

Scotland’s Very Own Ichthyosaur

Dearcmhara shawcrossi - An Ichthyosaur from the Isle of Skye

No it’s not a dinosaur, contrary to some media reports.  It certainly is not “Nessie”, but it does mark the culmination of a tremendous effort by Scottish palaeontologists to collate and study marine reptile fossils that have been found in Scotland.  A new species of Ichthyosaur (marine reptile), has been described from fossils found on the Isle of Skye.  The “wee beastie” has been named Dearcmhara shawcrossi, the name comes from the Scottish Gaelic for marine lizard and the trivial name honours amateur fossil hunter Brian Shawcross who found the creature’s fossils at Bearreraig Bay in 1959.  Bearreraig Bay is part of a highly fossiliferous coastline which can be found on the eastern side of the island.  As far as we at Everything Dinosaur know, this is the first marine reptile to be given a Gaelic name, Dearcmhara is pronounced “jark vara”.

 A Model of an Ichthyosaur (Fish Lizard)

An Ichthyosaurus Model

An Ichthyosaurus Model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 Around 170 million years ago, much of the Isle of Skye was underwater.  A shallow sea separated the landmasses of Europe and North America, this sea formed when rifts in the Earth’s crust led to the break-up of the super- continent Laurentia.  Marine reptiles like Dearcmhara shawcrossi were part of a diverse ecosystem, Dearcmhara grew to around 4.5 metres in length, motor boat size as described by Dr. Steve Brusatte (University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences), who led the study.

Fossil Vertebra of the Newly Described Species

Most likely a dorsal vertebra from Dearcmhara.

Most likely a dorsal vertebra from Dearcmhara.

Picture Credit: BBC News

 Dr. Steve Brusatte (holding the fossil in the photograph) went onto comment:

“During the time of the dinosaurs, the waters of Scotland were prowled by big reptiles the size of motor boats.  Their fossils are very rare, and only now, for the first time we’ve found a new species that was uniquely Scottish.”

The Isle of Skye is a very important part of the world to palaeontologists.  Exposures along the shoreline and inland are strata that was laid down during the Middle Jurassic.  There are very few places in the world where such rocks are exposed and this makes any fossil discovery from the island very significant indeed.

Recently, Everything Dinosaur wrote about a new initiative to try and protect the island’s geological heritage in the wake of fears that unscrupulous fossil dealers might want to remove rare and valuable fossil bones of Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs.

To read the article: Action Taken to Safeguard Scotland’s Fossils

The discovery of a new species of Scottish Ichthyosaur is just part of a collaborative effort being undertaken by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Hunterian Museum, the National Museums of Scotland, Staffin Museum (Isle of Skye) and Scottish National Heritage to try and catalogue significant vertebrate fossil finds.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Without the donation made by local fossil enthusiast Brian Shawcross, this new species of Ichthyosaur would not have been recognised.  This goes to show how important amateur fossil collectors can be when it comes to learning about life in the past.”

To read an article that explains the importance of the Isle of Skye from a palaeontological perspective: Scotland’s Mid Jurassic Heritage

Thank You Cards from Customers

Everything Dinosaur Receives Thank You Cards from Customers

At Everything Dinosaur we try to help everyone who contacts us.  We get all sorts of correspondence, emails from teachers asking for advice and support with lesson plans, young dinosaur fans asking questions, museum enquiries and exhibitions wanting our help over the telephone and so on.  Part of our extensive customer base is made up of those parents and grandparents who may not be as internet savvy as the rest of the population.  We get letters sent into us asking for help in finding a specific dinosaur toy and phone calls from those customers who are reluctant to buy on line and prefer to talk to a person over the phone.

We are happy to help where we can and as a result of our customer service, we then get thank you cards and letters sent into the Everything Dinosaur offices by grateful customers.

Thank You Card Sent into Everything Dinosaur

Customer's send in thank you cards to Everything Dinosaur.

Customers send in thank you cards to Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We all work long hours and it is nice to know that our help is appreciated.  A typical response to some questions that we have answered for a budding, young palaeontologist is:

“I am so grateful, that you took the time and trouble to answer Ben’s questions.  The information you provided was certainly comprehensive and he was so excited when I showed him the email.  Thank you to for the lovely drawing materials that you sent.”

It’s all in a day’s work for us, although with the volume of correspondence we have these days, please be patient, we do try our best to respond to all those customers who have contacted us that require a reply.

Saying Thanks with Angiosperms – Customer Thank You Card

Thank you card received by Everything Dinosaur.

Thank you card received by Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur’s Social Media Targets 2015

Setting Targets for our Social Media in 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Targets:

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

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

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

  • Twitter

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

Targets:

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

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

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s Youtube Channel

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

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

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

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

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

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

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur's Pinterest pages.

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur’s Pinterest pages.

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

Ah But!  What about this Blog?

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

A Review of Everything Dinosaur’s Social Media Targets (2014)

How Did Everything Dinosaur Get On in 2014?

Everything Dinosaur team members made predictions about what our social media performance might be over 2014.  This formed part of a larger project that involved staff trying to forecast the news stories and articles that we would feature on this blog site over the year.  With so much emphasis being placed on customer interactions, two-way communication and such like, social media platforms are more important than ever before.  We at Everything Dinosaur, remain committed to being open and honest with all our customers, we try to help and assist where we can.  Our team members do their best to respond to every customer query, enquiries and questions sent into us about prehistoric animals.

“Tyrannosaurus Sue” set some targets regarding our social media work and exposure, these were reviewed periodically over the last twelve months (June and September).  We shall provide a sort of “end of year report”, an update on what we did and what we achieved.

To read the last update on Everything Dinosaur’s social media work (September 2014): Everything Dinosaur on Social Media

Everything Dinosaur on Facebook

This time last year, we set a target of 1,2oo “likes”, this kept being revised upwards as we continued to post up pictures, snippets from news stories, updates, previews of new models and such like.  In September, we set a new target of 1,380 likes before the end of December 2014.  We thought this was quite ambitious but by the end of the year we had achieved over 1,500.  A very big thank you to everyone who supported our Facebook page.

You can help us, by visiting Everything Dinosaur on Facebook (click the Facebook  logo below) and “like” the Everything Dinosaur page.

Everything Dinosaur on Facebook

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a "like".

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page and to give our page a “like”.

Twitter

By September we had “tweeted” 1,670 times, but could we reach our target of 2,000 tweets before the year came to a close?  The answer was yes, just, with our 2,000th tweet being posted up in  late December.  Currently, we have 371 followers on our Twitter feed and we are following a total of 346.  We shall see what targets are set for 2015 shortly.

The Everything Dinosaur Blog (this site)

It was an ambitious target, to continue to post up articles, averaging one a day over the whole year.  If we achieved this level of posting, then, we would have over 2,800 articles and features on line.  By June, some 151 new articles had been added and by December 31st the blog site contained a grand total of 2,854 published news stories and features.  If we continue to work at this rate, sometime over the next one hundred and forty days or thereabouts we will hit the landmark of a 3,000th article on line.

Pinterest

Our initial target to have 3,000 pins was soon overtaken, in fact the target of 3,000 pins posted was achieved in May.  In June, we set an additional target, to get to 4,000, this too was passed and in September we set a new mark of 5,200 by the end of the year.  To our surprise, our enthusiastic pinning led to a total of 5,300 pins by the end of 2014.  We are following 495 other “pinners” and we have 731 “pinners” following us.  Another target, not simply met but smashed.  We now have a total of 31 boards.

Youtube

We would not regard ourselves as the next Cecil B. DeMille, our videos and video reviews are not of Jurassic World quality but they have proved popular once again this year.  Back in January 2014, we stated that we wanted to make more videos and to achieve over 800,000 views.  Our video output may not have been prolific, but by June we had added another fourteen and our viewing figures were already approaching the target amount.  We set a new target of 900,000 video views and sure enough in early December we surpassed this mark.  We will go over the 1,000,000 views mark in the next few weeks, we are so honoured and we thank everyone for watching our videos.

So all in all, not a bad effort, we have surprised ourselves with what we have achieved.  We will have to see how we get on this year (2015).

One Nine Tonne Block Potentially Six Plus Utahraptors

Utahraptor Predator Trap Promises Fresh Insight into Dromaeosaurs

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

The Fearsome Utahraptor ostrummaysorum

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

The Location of the Utahraptor Fossils

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

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

Picture Credit: James Kirkland/St. George News

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

An Illustration of a Fearsome Utahraptor

Speedy, dinosaur hunters

Speedy, dinosaur hunters

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

One of the Utahraptor Jawbones Found at the Site

Slab and counter slab.

Slab and counter slab.

Picture Credit: James Kirkland/St. George News

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

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

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

A Predator Trap?

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

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

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

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

Tyrannosaurus rex and a Chocolate Mountain

Has T. rex Bitten Off More than it Can Chew?

Yes, we know that tyrannosaurids did not chew their food.  The table manners of a Tyrannosaurus rex would have been non existent, these fearsome creatures were “tearers and gulpers” not to put too fine a point on it.  The team members at Everything dinosaur could not resist the strapline.  However, “she who must be obeyed”, our boss affectionately known, when she is out of ear shot as “Tyrannosaurus Sue” is slowly but surely making her way through the mountain of chocolates, sweets and goodies she seems to have accumulated over the holiday period.

“Chocolate Mountain” Slowly Being Eroded

A mountain of chocolate.

A mountain of chocolate.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Taking a perspective from a background in geology, “Tyrannosaurus Sue” assures us that her chocolate mountain, like all mountains is gradually being “eroded”.  Roll on Easter!

Palaeontology and Fossil Predictions for 2015

Everything Dinosaur Attempts to Forecast Future Events

It’s that time of year, when just for a little bit of fun, team members at Everything Dinosaur  try to predict some of the stories and articles that will feature in this web log over the next twelve months.  What will the top dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed news stories be in 2015?  We could cheat a bit and discuss the introduction of a new model of a “swimming Spinosaurus” or indeed confidently claim that a team of Utah-based researchers will reveal news about a predator trap discovery which sheds new light on Utahraptor. However, we won’t, as these stories are already scheduled to feature in our blog over the next few days or so.

So without further a do, let’s look at the predictions that we have come up with:

1). It’s a “Jurassic World”

Due to premier on June 12th and with another “teaser” trailer scheduled to be broadcast as part of this year’s Super Bowl coverage, we at Everything Dinosaur start our predictions with a no-brainer.  ”Jurassic World”, the fourth instalment in the “Jurassic Park” franchise is going to be huge.  It might not be the top film of 2015, after all, there is going to be stiff competition from the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger “Terminator Genisys”, a new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens” and another Avengers film to look forward to but it is going to be right up there and it will introduce dinosaurs to a whole new generation of young fans.

“Jurassic World” a Guaranteed Roaring Success for 2015

Jurassic World Poster

Jurassic World Poster

Picture Credit: Universal Studios

We have already recorded some impact from the film already.  Every year, Everything Dinosaur team members calculate an index of the top ten most popular prehistoric animals.  In 2014, new in at number nine came Diabolus rex the big dinosaur, “bad-girl” of the film.  To see part of the article we wrote on the popular prehistoric animals of 2014: Everything Dinosaur’s Top Ten List of Prehistoric Animals (Part 1)

Who knows, one of our predictions for the future is that one day, a dinosaur genus will be erected called Diabolus!

2). Metallome Research Provides Fresh Fossil Insights

Lots of people may have heard of the term genome and we do expect to write more articles related to developments in genetics and the genomes of long extinct organisms, but the metallome is still a relatively unknown term.  A metallome refers to the presence of metals in relation to organic material, biometals if you like, present in cells and other organic structures.  Sophisticated analytics is permitting palaeontologists to detect the minute traces of elemental metals that are associated with organic processes.  They can “filter out” biometals preserved as fossils from the background of elements within the surrounding rocky matrix.  From an analysis of these “prehistoric elemental fingerprints”, palaeontologists will be able to learn more about the biological processes associated with extinct organisms.  Mapping the metallome of Archaeopteryx lithographica perhaps?  This branch of science is still in its nascent form, it has been around for about ten years or so, but it is developing all the time and we predict that we shall be featuring a story about metallome plotting and mapping over the next twelve months.

3). Stegosaurus into the Limelight

Now that “Sophie”, the 5.6 metre long specimen of Stegosaurus stenops has been safely installed at the Natural History Museum in London, we predict that a new paper will be published this year providing a fresh perspective on this iconic dinosaur.  Even though, Stegosaurus featured in our top five most popular prehistoric animals of 2014, very little research on the Stegosauridae, even those famous Morrison Formation examples, has been published in the last one hundred years.  We expect 2015 to change all this and we predict that fresh insights into the Stegosaurs and that tiny brain of theirs will be made.

Stegosaurus to Take Centre Stage in 2015

The preserved skeleton of "Sophie" the Stegosaurus.

The preserved skeleton of “Sophie” the Stegosaurus.

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum of London (picture selected by Milan)

 To read the article on the top five prehistoric animals of 2014: Top Five Most Popular Prehistoric Animals (Everything Dinosaur’s survey)

 4). “Good Day” to Aussie Dinosaurs

Things have been a little quiet “down under” over the last couple of years or so, but we expect all that to change in 2015 with Everything Dinosaur covering a news story about further dinosaur fossil finds in Australia.  Perhaps, more research will be published on the multitude of dinosaur tracks found along parts of the coast of Western Australia, or maybe will be hearing about a new body fossil find near Winton (Queensland).  However, 2015 we predict is going to be an important year for dinosaur fossil discoveries in Australia.  This may prove to be some consolation to Australians in 2015 as we also predict that England will win back “The Ashes” – some hope!

5).  More Insights into Human Evolution – Oldest Hominid Genome Sequenced to Date

We know that scientists are working on this and we think this year, the oldest hominid genome so far, will be sequenced.  In the past, Everything Dinosaur team members have reported on the research into the ancient hominid discoveries found at the Simo de Los Huesos (the “pit of bones”) in the Atapuerca Mountains of northern Spain.  Back in 2013, we reported on the research into the mitochrondial DNA, passed down the maternal line.  The study threw up a surprise as links to the Denisovan hominids from eastern Europe were found.  Was this evidence of interbreeding between ancient Neanderthals and other species of hominid, or the ancestors of the Neanderthal lineage?  Everything Dinosaur predicts that much more complete details related to the nuclear DNA of the Spanish cave remains will be published.  A 400,000 year old mystery about hominid populations and interbreeding will begin to unfold.  We note that a number of science sites have made a similar prediction, they must also be following the research of educational bodies such as the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

What did our Ancestors Get up To?

New gene research helping to unravel human evolution.

New gene research helping to unravel human evolution.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

6).  A New Chinese Pterosaur

We expect the number of genera of Pterosaurs described to increase once again this year, with a number of Pterosaur fossil stories being published on the Everything Dinosaur web log.  One prediction is that a new genus of Pterosaur from Chinese Cretaceous strata will be erected and the fossil specimen, most likely the designated holotype material, will provide palaeontologists with a fresh insight into Pterosaur anatomy and/or behaviour.  Perhaps, the new Chinese flying reptile will provide a new insight into the diet of dsungaripteroids, or maybe a fossil assigned to the Ornithocheiridae will help to unravel the mystery of how these reptiles nested.

Time for a Chinese Pterosaur Discovery

Our Pteranodon flying

Our Pteranodon flying

 Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

7). Everything Dinosaur social media – Targets and more Targets

Targets and even more targets are going to be set for Everything Dinosaur and the company’s social media output.  Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are a great way for a small business such as ourselves to reach out and communicate with fellow fossil collectors and fans of prehistoric animals.  We expect “Tyrannosaurus Sue” to be setting more targets in 2015 when it comes to our work on social media platforms.  Will our Facebook page get to 2,000 likes this year?

8).  Malaysia Firmly on the Dinosaur Map

They may turn out to be extremely fragmentary, perhaps there will be almost as much tooth fossil as bone found, but we predict that further dinosaur discoveries will be made in Malaysia in 2015.  We have already written articles featuring dinosaur discoveries from Malaysia and we expect, as more construction work takes place, further dinosaur fossils, most likely dating from the Early Cretaceous, will be found.

To read an earlier article about a Malaysian dinosaur fossil discovery: Getting Our Teeth into Malaysia’s Dinosaurs

9). New species of Horned North American dinosaur Announced

With Everything Dinosaur about to publish an article about a nine tonne stone block that may contain the remains of several Utahraptors, we switch to the Ornithischia for our next prediction.  We believe that the spate of new Ceratopsidae discoveries will continue and that a new genus of North American horned dinosaur will be named and described this year.  Perhaps, instead of a giant Centrosaurine or Chasmosaurine, scientists may uncover more evidence of much smaller species living alongside and amongst their giant relatives.  How about another fast running, facultative biped, a little “Ceratopsian critter” for 2015.

10). Fossil Finding is Child’s Play

Our final prediction and remember this is only a bit of fun, is that somewhere in the United Kingdom in the next twelve months, a young person will make an important fossil discovery.  Perhaps a young girl out on a family walk will come across the bones of an Ice Age mammal, or maybe a boy taking his dog for a rum along a beach might spot a fossil of a marine reptile.  As with all our predictions, we shall have to wait and see.

This time next year, 2016, now that does feel like the future, we will review our predictions and see how we got on.

Teaching Resources from Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur Supplies Teaching Resources to Schools

In celebration of all the exciting, educational resources that Everything Dinosaur supplies to schools and museums the company has introduced a new banner for the website.  The banner showcases the range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed resources that are supplied to schools, whether EYFS (early years foundation stage) or even Key Stage 4 and beyond.

Prehistoric Animal Themed Teaching Resources for Schools and Museums

Fossils, books, puzzles and games for schools.

Fossils, books, puzzles and games for schools.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson for the Cheshire based company explained:

“We are supplying more and more items into schools and museums these days.  Whether it is small dinosaur models for sorting or counting games, books or museum quality replicas we have seen demand for these items grow.  We even have received requests for real dinosaur fossils.  Happy to show school children fossils in our collection and we do supply a range of inexpensive fossils, including sharks teeth, but we would draw the line at supplying dinosaur fossils.”

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of prehistoric animal learning resources: Learning and Teaching Resources

Reviewing Everything Dinosaur’s Palaeontology Predictions for 2014

Looking Back at How Our 2014 Predictions Turned Out

After the mince pies, time for a slice of humble pie as we review how our palaeontology and dinosaur predictions made last year turned out.  At the start of each year, team members at Everything Dinosaur get together, usually whilst completing the company’s annual stocktake and put forward suggestions about the sort of news stories and articles that this weblog will feature over the following twelve months.  It is just a bit fun, but the debate can be quite lively at times.  So one year on, let’s take a look at what we predicted and how things turned out.

Here is the list of the ten predictions we made (published on 2nd January 2014):

2014 Predictions

  1. Storms around the UK’s Coasts will Lead to a Number of Vertebrate Fossil Discoveries
  2. Further Insights into the Genetic Make Up of Hominins and The Relationship between Other Hominins and H. sapiens
  3. Trailer for Jurassic Park IV to be Released
  4. Polar Exploration Leads to Fossil Find
  5. Three-Dimensional Printers Come of Age
  6. New Species of Mammal (probably a rodent discovered in South-east Asia)
  7. Arthropod Study Leads to Further Evidence for the Common Ancestor of Spiders and Scorpions
  8. Everything Dinosaur to Develop a New Dinosaur Workshop/Teaching Website
  9. Further Evidence for Feather-like, Filamentous Integuments to be Found in the Ornithischia
  10. Where will Everything Dinosaur Be in Terms of Social Media by the End of 2014?  Setting Targets

To see the article we wrote back in January 2014 about our predictions: 2014 Predictions

1). Storms around the UK’s Coasts will Lead to a Number of Vertebrate Fossil Discoveries

There were a number of important fossil discoveries concerning marine reptiles, particularly those related to the Ichthyosauria or their ancestors.  Significant fossil discoveries were made in China and Chile and indeed, the very wet and stormy weather of the winter may have contributed to vertebrate fossil discoveries made around Britain’s coasts.  Back in April we reported on the discovery of a juvenile Ichthyosaur at Lyme Regis (Dorset) and just recently we wrote an article all about the “Penarth Ichthyosaurus”, a fossil discovered by an amateur collector.

The Excavated Remains of the “Penarth Ichthyosaurus”

Penarth's very own prehistoric monster.

Penarth’s very own prehistoric monster.

Picture Credit: Jonathan Bow

This specimen from South Wales is almost complete, making it a remarkable find, although we have to admit it was spotted in September, long after the winter storms had supposedly done their work.

2).  Further Insights into the Genetic Make Up of Hominins and The Relationship between Other Hominins and H. sapiens

One of our most popular blog articles of last year (it made our top ten most popular web log articles list), discussed the research into the Neanderthal genome that demonstrated that some of diseases of modern humans could be traced back to our Neanderthal ancestry.  So much research is currently being undertaken in this area of science, that we confidently predict that more insights into our ancestry and other hominins such as the Denisovans will be published this year (one for our 2015 predictions list we think).

To read the article: Study Suggests that some Diseases in Modern Humans are Linked to Neanderthal DNA

3).  Trailer for Jurassic Park IV to be Released

Just like our second prediction, this one was a bit of a no brainer.  ”Jurassic World” is due to be premiered in June 2015 and it is going to be one of the biggest films of the year (there will be a lot of competition, Star Wars, Avengers, Terminator movie etc.)  The trailer was due to released in December 2014 but in the end it was brought forward and Everything Dinosaur put up an article about the trailer on November 25th.  Everything Dinosaur is expecting “Jurassic World” to have a big impact on this blog site as well as other aspects of our business.  For example, the main protagonist in the film Diabolus rex, the genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, made it into our top ten list of most popular prehistoric animals of 2014 which we published a few days ago.

To read the article featuring Diabolus rexEverything Dinosaur’s Top Ten of Prehistoric Animals 2013 (Part 1)

Jurassic World Official Trailer

Video Credit: Universal Studios

Expect a second “Jurassic World” trailer to be released as part of the Superbowl coverage.

4). Polar Exploration Leads to Fossil Find

There were a number of important fossil discoveries made in the extreme latitudes over the last twelve months.  In March 2014, Everything Dinosaur published a number of articles featuring dinosaur discoveries that had been made in the high Arctic.  A description of a new type of pygmy tyrannosaurid certainly generated a lot of debate.  This new member of the Tyrannosaur family, Nanuqsaurus hoglandi, was very probably feathered and the discovery supports the theory that at least in the far north during the Late Cretaceous a complex ecosystem flourished.

An Illustration of Nanuqsaurus hoglandi

Potentially a very, shaggy coated Tyrannosaur!

Potentially a very, shaggy coated Tyrannosaur!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The publicity surrounding the description of “Polar Bear Lizard”, allowed us to reminisce over the naming of Cryolophosaurus twenty years ago and to write an article about the most northerly dinosaur fossil discovered to date.  That honour goes to a bone from a duck-billed dinosaur found on Axel Heiberg Island, part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

5).  Three-Dimensional Printers Come of Age

Prices of printers came down and more museums and universities started to use this technology.  When linked to powerful CT scans remarkable insights into fossils, often ones still trapped in a matrix of rock, can be made.  However, prices falling to such a level that many schools and academies could access this technology did not occur in 2014.  There was some work into the motor skills and brain function of the Dinosauria as we predicted, but not as much as we thought.  Back in October 2014, we wrote a short piece highlighting the research into Pachycephalosaur sensory function, three-dimensional images had provided an insight into the sense of smell of these dinosaurs.

To read about the Pachycephalosaur research: Nosing Around a Dinosaur’s Sense of Smell

6).  New Species of Mammal (probably a rodent discovered in South-east Asia)

Well, we did write about a new species of slender nosed crocodile from Africa, but there was no blog article about a new mammal species being announced.  Not one of our most accurate predictions.

7).  Arthropod Study Leads to Further Evidence for the Common Ancestor of Spiders and Scorpions

We fared a little better with this prediction.  Some amazing research conducted by those clever people at Manchester University/London Natural History Museum and the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin), led to a computer model of a walking 400 million year old Arthropod being generated.

To read more about this study: Ancient Creepy-Crawlies Resurrected

In addition, thanks to the beautifully preserved Arthropod specimens that form part of the Chengjiang Biota (China), scientists were able to gain insights into the development of invertebrate nervous systems.  There was even a paper published all about the brain of a Cambrian super-predator.

Research into Understanding Anomalocarids (Lyrarapax)

The grasping claw on this specimen can clearly be seen.

The grasping claw on this specimen can clearly be seen.

Picture Credit: Peiyun Cong

Further information: Describing the Cardiovascular System of a Cambrian Arthropod

Further information: The Brain of the World’s First Super-Predator Studied

8).  Everything Dinosaur to Develop a New Dinosaur Workshop/Teaching Website

In late August, this prediction came true when team members launched a special website dedicated to helping teachers, museums and educationalists to teach about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric life.  The website went live on August 26th, just in time for the start of the autumn term and the major roll out of the new curriculum in England.

Dinosaur Workshops and Teaching about Dinosaurs in Schools

Everything Dinosaur aims to help teachers, museums and home educators.

Everything Dinosaur aims to help teachers, museums and home educators.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Since the site went live, several thousand school children have benefited from the free downloads and teaching resources that we supply.  Our outreach work with school visits continues at a pace and January 2014 is likely to be our busiest month to date in terms of school visits.

9).  Further Evidence for Feather-like, Filamentous Integuments to be Found in the Ornithischia

Our ninth prediction concerned feathered dinosaurs.  Over the last few years the debate as to whether members of the Dinosauria had feathers has moved on.  Most palaeontologists now believe that a number of different dinosaurs were feathered and that filamentous integumental coverings, the fore-runners of true feathers were an evolutionary trait of the dinosaurs.  However, the discussion is now more about which types of dinosaur were feathered.  In July, we wrote an article on the implications of the discovery of a one metre long basal Ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia.  It may have been small, but the paper published on Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus may just have been one of the most significant papers on vertebrate palaeontology published all year.

A Small but Very Important Dinosaur

Feathered dinosaur down amongst the horsetails.

Feathered dinosaur down amongst the horsetails.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

The article can be found here: Did All Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

10).  Where would Everything Dinosaur be with Social Media Targets?

Social media is certainly bigger than ever.  Sales of smart phones and other clever devices reached unprecedented levels in 2014 and they are set to continue their spectacular growth over the next few years. The number of smart phones and other devices in the world was estimated to have reached 1.9 billion by some analysts.  Traditional pc sales and desktop devices continues to decline and there is much more “surfing on the go” as we like to refer to it.  Everything Dinosaur set itself some ambitious targets in terms of Pinterest pins, Tweets and Facebook likes in 2014.  We will write a separate article on how we did when it came to reaching these targets.  Importantly, we remain committed to replying to every email, question, request for information that we receive and this will remain core to our business this year as well.

All in all, not a bad performance in terms of predictions, some turned out to be more accurate than others.  We will publish news about our predictions for 2015 shortly, let’s see how we do this year.

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