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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

A Sixth Mass Extinction Event?

Capitanian Extinction Event – Suggested by Northern Hemisphere Study

A team of geologists have published a paper in the prestigious Geological Society of America Bulletin postulating that there was a major global extinction event that took place in the Permian geological period.  To be more precise the evidence for the extinction can be found in rocks laid down approximately 262 million years ago (the Capitanian stage of the Guadalupian epoch of the Permian).  The idea that there was a major extinction event amongst both marine and terrestrial organisms in the Middle Permian is not new.  Studies of the diversification of marine invertebrates recorded in Mid Permian strata from lower latitudes indicated that several families of mollusc and Brachiopod had died out during this time in Earth’s history.  It had been thought that global cooling had resulted in the loss of so many types of marine animal from the tropics.  However, this new study indicates that the Middle Permian extinction is manifested in the fossil record preserved at higher latitudes.

To assess the extent of the extinction, the research team, led by Dr. David Bond (University of Hull) travelled to the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen to explore the Kapp Starostin Formation, a layer of marine strata that is up to four hundred metres thick.  These rocks were laid down over a period of around 27 million years and cover the crucial period of the Guadalupian epoch.   By assessing the number and type of Brachiopod fossils found in the rock layers, the scientists were able to demonstrate that there were two severe extinctions amongst Brachiopods in northern latitudes in the Middle to Late Permian.  These extinction events are separated by a recovery phase, a time when the diversity of Brachiopods increased.

Many Rhynchonellid Brachiopod Fossils Found Together

Study suggests global mass extinction event in the Permian.

Study suggests global mass extinction event in the Permian.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Brachiopods, superficially resemble shelled molluscs like clams and mussels, but they have a very different body plan.   They are not closely related to the Mollusca and the Brachiopoda is an entirely separate phylum.  These little creatures first evolved in the Cambrian and they are still around today.  Most can be found in deep water and they are benthic (live on the sea floor), they are not found in freshwater.  There are more than a dozen or so species to be found in the waters surrounding the British Isles.  Brachiopods are sometimes called “lamp shells” as some of them resemble the shape of oil lamps used by the Romans.  Shells are usually made from calcium carbonate, but some form phosphatic shells.  The shells which protect the soft tissues consist of two parts (valves), one part is always bigger than the other part.  They are often the commonest fossil to be found in Palaeozoic marine limestones that represent shallow water deposits, as a result there are a number of Brachiopod biostratification zones.

An Illustration of a Group of Brachiopods

Brachiopods anchored themselves securely using a pedicle.

Brachiopods anchored themselves securely using a pedicle.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Strontium isotope analysis coupled with examination of trace metals and magnetic polarity preserved within the strata, correlated the time of the formation of the layers that show a distinct decline in Brachiopod diversity to about 262 million years ago (Capitanian stage).  Older rocks show that Brachiopods dominated the fossil record, but there is an 87% fall in fossil Brachiopod diversity in the middle of the Capitanian-aged rocks.  Younger rocks do have preserved remains of Brachiopods but they are different from the ones in the Capitanian strata, in addition, the younger rocks show a change in the fauna, there are many more bivalves (molluscs) preserved as fossils.   This suggests that there was a catastrophic event that lasted tens of thousands of years which led to a dramatic change in the benthic  invertebrate populations, as recorded by the fossil evidence.  The research team visited Spitsbergen three times to conduct the research from 2011 to 2013, working in the month of July, taking advantage of the 24 hours of daylight available and the slightly warmer weather.  Polar bears were still a danger and the expedition had to be on the look out in case a curious bear came into their camp.

The existence of a separate and distinct global extinction event around 262 million years ago, remains controversial.  Just a few million years ago, the biggest mass extinction event known occurred, resulting in the loss of something like 96% of all sea-dwelling creatures.  The event is known as the end Permian mass extinction.   The vast majority of the invertebrates recorded in the rocks after the Capitanian event became extinct.  The authors of the paper, published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin, suggest that their research shows that the Capitanian extinction event devastated fauna in both the tropics and in northern latitudes.  They conclude that this extinction was not limited to the warmer areas of the planet but much more wider ranging, deserving the status of a global mass extinction event.

What Caused this Extinction?

Molluscs and Brachiopods need calcium to make their shells (most of them), Dr. Bond believes massive volcanic eruptions in what is now the Chinese Province of Sichuan released huge amounts of carbon dioxide which in turn, acidified the oceans locking up the calcium.  In addition, depletion of oxygen on the sea floor may also have contributed to the extinction event.

Today, April 22nd is designated “Earth Day”, a day in which we recognise the plight of our planet, issues like global warming, extinction and loss of habitat.  It is apt for us to be considering the evidence for a sixth mass extinction event recorded in the Phanerozoic Eon (visible life).

Jurassic World – Official Global Trailer

“We Have an Asset out of Containment”!

Fifty two days to go and counting.  That’s how long we have to wait for the premier of the movie “Jurassic World”, which opens on June 12th (there will be some screenings the day before we are led to believe), a new global trailer has been brought out and it really whets the appetite for what will be one of the most eagerly anticipated film releases for many a year.  The trailer shows the main dinosaur villain of the piece INDOMINUS REX (the name means fierce or untamable [untameable] king).  This genetically engineered chimera breaks out, causing Park Operations Manager, Claire Dearing (played by Bryce Dallas Howard ), to exclaim with glorious understatement our strapline to this article.

Jurassic World Official Global Trailer

Video Credit: Universal Studios

Twenty Thousand people trapped on an island with the prehistoric animals running riot, not enough boats, not enough guns and by the looks of the trailer there are plenty of meat-eating dinosaurs around, enough to cause hero Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt), plenty of concern.

The Genetically Engineered Indominus rex

The dinosaur instructs some Pterosaurs!

The dinosaur instructs some Pterosaurs!

Picture Credit: Universal Studios

It seems this super intelligent dinosaur has some remarkable qualities, including being able to communicate with other prehistoric creatures.  In this still from the new trailer, the third trailer to be released, the fearsome Indominus rex persuades some Pterosaurs (Pteranodon longiceps) to join in the mayhem.

We can’t wait to see the film.

Rebor Ceratosaurus “Savage” and Everything Dinosaur

Rebor Ceratosaurus “Savage”

The latest edition to the highly regarded Rebor collection of prehistoric animal replicas, a 1:35 scale model of Ceratosaurus, is due at our warehouse in the next few days or so.  Fans of dinosaurs are excited about the prospect of adding a Ceratosaurus to their growing collection of Rebor replicas.  A number of species of Ceratosaurus have been described, all of them dating from the Late Jurassic, although fossils have been found both in the United States, Portugal and China, indicating that this genus must have been very widespread towards the end of the Jurassic period.  Most of the fossils of this Theropod dinosaur come from the Morrison Formation (western United States), although it is not the most common meat-eating dinosaur from the Morrison, at least in terms of the number of fossils found.  That honour belongs to the Allosaurus genus.

The Rebor Collection 1:35 scale “Savage” Ceratosaurus Replica

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Palaeontologists debate just how big Ceratosaurus actually was.  The Ceratosaurus species represented in the Rebor replica is Ceratosaurus dentisulcatus, one of the largest species of Ceratosaurus described to date.  The model has an articulated lower jaw and it has been sculpted in very fine detail.  Ceratosaurus is the only Theropod dinosaur that had a row of osteoderms running down its back.  These armoured scales would have made this dinosaur look like a giant, terrestrial crocodile.  Like all Ceratosaurs, it had a relatively long tail in proportion to the rest of its body.  The species name was given as the teeth associated with this particular species, are proportionately large and more recurved than those teeth associated with Ceratosaurus nasicornis.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Rebor replicas: Rebor Collection Replicas

The Dorsal View (Viewed from the Top Down) Shows the Row of Osteoderms

The characteristic bony armour (ossicles and osteoderms) can be clearly made out.

The characteristic bony armour (ossicles and osteoderms) can be clearly made out.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 ”Savage” the Rebor replica Ceratosaurus will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in a about three days.  In addition, the company is expecting more “Wind Hunter” Utahraptor replicas and some rare “Jolly” the hatching Triceratops figures.

To reserve one of these highly collectible replicas simply email Everything Dinosaur: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Giant Mosasaurs from Jurassic World

New Poster for Jurassic World Features Huge Mosasaur

In a bid to show movie goers new monsters in the fourth instalment of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, a marine reptile is to be included in “Jurassic World”.  The marine reptile featured is a Mosasaur, a member of the Squamata Order of reptiles (lizards and snakes), that according to the film makers at least, is absolutely huge.  Everything Dinosaur team members have already written about the Mosasaurus seen in the trailer for the forthcoming blockbuster.  In that article, we did point out that this prehistoric reptile seems to have been subjected to some form of Hollywood “size ray”, as it was many times bigger than the fossil record seems to suggest.

However, big teeth and jaws (no pun intended) put bottoms onto cinema seats so the Mosasaurus has been beefed up to a considerable extent.  The Great White shark eating exploits of this sea monster (as seen in the trailer), are illustrated once again in the latest poster release to promote “Jurassic World”.  In the poster, a little boy looks on whilst the super-sized Mosasaurus in its huge aquarium pursues a Great White, with seemingly only one winner likely.

The Latest Jurassic World Poster

Huge Mosasaur about to tackle "jaws".

Huge Mosasaur about to tackle “jaws”.

Picture Credit: Universal Studios

It is a very dramatic image and we appreciate the illustration of the ptyerygoid teeth, but even the largest genus of Tylosaurinae we know, (Hainosaurus) was nowhere near the size of the reptile shown in the poster.  Perhaps in captivity with all the genetic “jiggery pokery” that has gone on, the scientists managed to create a colossal marine reptile, far bigger than any, as yet described species known from the fossil record.

To read the earlier article by Everything Dinosaur on the “Jurassic World”  Mosasaurus: The Mighty Mosasaurus – A Little Too Mighty?

No doubt the diverse Super Family Mosasauroidea evolved into a myriad of forms.  This group of lizards, whose closest extant relatives include the Monitor Lizards, dominated life in marine environments for the last twenty million years or so of the Cretaceous.  Many types were the apex predators in their ecosystems, with some specimens estimated to have reached lengths in excess of 12 metres.  Indeed, a number of palaeontologists have cited much larger size estimates, for example Tylosaurus proriger could have been in excess of fourteen metres long.  Mosasaurus hoffmanni may have been thirteen metres long although estimates of up to seventeen metres have been given for some Mosasaur genera.

The Beautifully Detailed CollectA Mosasaurus Model

Fearsome marine predator from CollectA.

Fearsome marine predator from CollectA.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Many types of Mosasaur were formidable, general predators.  Bones of prey recovered from the body cavities of specimens include turtles, sharks, other marine reptiles and even the bones from a giant, flightless bird Hesperornis.  It is likely that the largest of these marine reptiles would have attacked and eaten sharks, even sharks as formidable as the “Cretaceous Great White” – Cretoxyrhina (C. mantelli), which grew up to seven metres long.  Mosasaurs did not have it all their own way, large sharks such as Cretoxyrhina would have also preyed upon smaller Mosasaurs.  A number of  Mosasaur specimens have been collected from Kansas, which represent fauna of the Western Interior Seaway, many bones show extensive Cretoxyrhina bite marks and these have been interpreted as evidence of predator/prey interaction as well as scavenging on the carcases by sharks.

To view the CollectA Mosasaurus model and other marine reptiles: CollectA Prehistoric Animal Models

Zombie Worms and Plesiosaurs

Bone-Eating Worms Consumed Marine Reptile Carcases

A type of bone-eating marine worm that had been thought to have evolved to exploit the food potential of cetacean carcases lying on the seabed also fed on the remains of giant marine reptiles, according to new research published in the academic journal “Biology Letters”.  The worm, the genus is known as Osedax, was only discovered in 2002 (formally described in 2004), has been found at depths of more than 4,000 metres.  It feeds on the bones of vertebrates that lie on the seabed.  As the bizarre worms were discovered in association with the carcases of whales, it had been suggested that these scavengers had co-evolved with whales and dolphins in the Cenozoic.  However, analysis of microscopic bore holes found in the limb bones of a Plesiosaur and the remains of an ancient turtle, indicate that Osedax worms existed much earlier than whales.  Their origins have been traced back at least 100 million years.

Osedax Worms Helped Breakdown the Corpses of Marine Reptiles

Fossil traces of Osedax worms found in marine reptile bones.

Fossil traces of Osedax worms found in marine reptile bones.

Picture Credit: Plymouth University/Dr. Nicholas Higgs

A number of species have now been identified and this genus seems to be widely distributed in the world’s seas and oceans.  The great geographic range of the worms had been a bit of a mystery for marine biologists, especially for those who believed that these worms, some females of which can grow up to fifty millimetres in length, solely fed on the bones of cetaceans, as corpses of whales and dolphins are extremely rare when the size of the marine environment is considered.  This new study suggests that the zombie bone-eating worms might be more generalist feeders, happy to bore into a variety of different types of carcase.  The Osedax genus has been classified as a member of the Siboglinidae (sigh-bog-lin-ee-day) family of worms.  The adults lack a mouth and any form of digestive system.  They feed by boring into bones by secreting acid through their root-like tendrils.  The worms rely on a symbiotic relationship with bacteria inside their bodies.  The bacteria converts the bone collagen and lipids that are absorbed into food for the host worm.

The research team, including Dr. Nicholas Higgs from the Marine Institute (Plymouth University), examined the fossilised bones of a Plesiosaur as well as the remains of a prehistoric turtle which were part of the marine reptile fossil collection at the University of Cambridge Museum.  Detailed CAT scans were taken, using the CAT scanner at the Natural History Museum in London. These scans and the subsequent computer models created from them, revealed that two bore holes in the bones from a Plesiosaurs’s flipper and four bore holes from the turtle bones, were remarkably similar to the bore holes made by Osedax in the bones of modern cetaceans.  These trace fossils suggest that before the whales evolved, these types of worm were already present in the marine ecosystem scavenging on the bones of dead marine reptiles.

The Bones of Plesiosaurs could have been Colonised by Osedax Worms

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

Commenting on the research, Dr. Higgs stated:

“Our discovery shows that these bone-eating worms did not co-evolve with whales, but that they also devoured the skeletons of large marine reptiles that dominated oceans in the age of the dinosaurs.”

Dr. Nicholas and co-author Silvia Danise (Plymouth University/University of Georgia), reported that the trace fossils suggest that marine reptile carcases, before whales, played a crucial role in the evolution and dispersal of Osedax and this study supports the idea that these worms are generalised scavengers of vertebrate remains.  The generalist ability to colonise different vertebrate corpses, such as fish, marine birds and reptiles would seem to be an ancestral trait.  The trace fossils suggest that the Siboglinidae evolved much earlier than previously suggested by phylogenetic estimates.

CAT Scans Showed Signature Bore Holes Made by Osedax spp.

Computer models from CAT scan data revealed the shape of the bore holes.

Computer models from CAT scan data revealed the shape of the bore holes.

Picture Credit: S. Danise/N. Higgs/Biology Letters

The scientists examined the bore holes and found that they resembled those caused by Osedax in the bones of extant whales.  Whilst scientists cannot be certain how many more marine reptile fossils might have been preserved without the likes of Osedax feeding on the bones and destroying them before they could be buried and potentially fossilised, it does seem likely that our fossil record for marine vertebrates is poorer as a result of at least 100 millions of feeding.

Back in 2014, Everything Dinosaur team members reported on the microscopic analysis of the bones of an Ichthyosaur which also showed signs of having been consumed by the action of a number of scavengers, including Osedax worms.

To read more about this research: What happens when an Ichthyosaur Dies?

The University of Plymouth team conclude that although the vast majority of marine reptiles died out at the end of the Cretaceous (Mosasaurs, Plesiosaurs) and the Ichthyosaurs died out a few million  years earlier, these worms survived on the carcases of turtles and other creatures in the twenty million years or so before the first whales evolved.

Prehistoric Times Spring 2015 Reviewed

A Review of Prehistoric Times (Issue 113)

Armour and artists dominate the latest edition of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur fans and collectors of all things Dinosauria.  The front cover features a spectacular piece of artwork created by the very talented Luis Rey, a feathered Tarbosaurus battles the ankylosaurid Tarchia.  Inside there is an interview with the London-based illustrator along with some selected images from his most impressive back catalogue.  Armoured prehistoric animals is a recurring theme, not only is Ankylosaurus the subject of a Phil Hore feature, but he also covers Archelon (giant prehistoric marine turtle) and Glyptodon a member of the bizarre Xenarthran group of Mammals.  Three Phil Hore features for the price of two, must be some sort of special offer for spring!

The Colourful Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Magazine

The wonderful artwork of Luis Rey is featured.

The wonderful artwork of Luis Rey is featured.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

The huge Ankylosaurus skull fossil is discussed in an article by Dr. Jordan Mallon, this specimen representing the largest individual known (CMN 8880) was discovered way back in 1947, but its significance and the implications for research into ankylosaurids has only just been realised.  Tracy Lee Ford explains how to get ahead when it comes to drawing the cranial features of these most armoured of all the dinosaurs.  This article, literally builds on a previously published one that explained the technicalities involved when it comes to producing accurate images of the wide bodies of these Ornithischians.

Amongst all the reader submitted artwork, news stories and book reviews (great to see the Blu-ray version of Dinosaur 13 reviewed, this was a super documentary), the forthcoming Jurassic World is not ignored.  Mike Fredericks provides a personal view on this long-awaited block buster.  There are some pictures from the movie, plus some images of the inevitable avalanche of merchandise – not too many spoilers (honest).  We shall have to see if Jurassic World has been worth the wait.

There is a poignant feature on the Carnegie Collectibles range of models, written by Joshua Morrison.  Everything Dinosaur received news, a while back that the partnership between Safari Ltd and the Carnegie Natural History Museum was coming to an end, to read more about this: The End of the Line for Carnegie Collectibles.  In an article entitled “Fabled Beginnings: The Origin of the Carnegie Collection”, Joshua leads us through the early days of this iconic replica range.

Dr. John Noad takes readers on a brief guided tour of one of our favourite places on the planet – the Dinosaur Provincial Park of Alberta, Canada and on a very sad note there is an obituary for Stephen Czerkas, sculptor, scientist and author who sadly passed away earlier this year.

For further information on Prehistoric Times magazine and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

The Achievosaurs – Reinforcing Positive Learning Behaviours

Soft Toy Dinosaurs Helping Young Children to Learn Life Skills (Achievosaurs)

Using a range of soft toy dinosaurs to help encourage young children to learn life skills and to reinforce positive values in schools is something Everything Dinosaur team members are very familiar with.  Now that the three inch plus dinosaur range known as the Itsy Bitsies are back in production, our team members set out to examine how one teaching concept, the “Achievosaurs,” came into being.

We were contacted by retired Bristol school teacher Lori Mitchell who explained to us how her idea for using dinosaur soft toys took shape.

Ms Mitchell explained:

“The idea for the Achievosaurs came after a South Gloucestershire Early Years course “Providing Challenge, Improving Outcomes” in October 2010.  During the day, we were asked to consider how we encourage our children to reflect on their learning, rather than just talk about their activities, and how we can help them develop the skills needed to become life-long learners.  We discussed the learning-focused qualities we wanted to encourage in our children and a colleague shared the “Curious Cat” she used with her class.  One of the Early Years advisors then said something like “you know, dinosaurs would be another could have a Thinkasaurus”…and that was it…I went home after the course and devised the Achievosaurs!”

The Achievosaurs (Dinosaur Soft Toys) in 2015

Helping to reinforce life-long learning skills.

Helping to reinforce life-long learning skills.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the dinosaur soft toys: Dinosaur Soft Toys and Achievosaurs

With the rigours of a new curriculum being rolled out across England, there is a great deal of emphasis placed upon preparing pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.  For example, the idea of introducing scientific working and the scientific method underpins a lot of Everything Dinosaur’s teaching activities in schools.  It is essential for those children at the Early Years Foundation Stage to acquire appropriate social skills as well as developing positive behaviours to help them make good progress.

We asked Lori, how the names of the first Achievosaurs came about and she explained that she based her prehistoric animal names on the specific learning qualities that she wanted to encourage in her Reception class (FS2).  For the last seven years of her working career, before taking early retirement, Lori was a teacher at Cadbury Heath Primary School, Warmley, near Bristol, South Gloucestershire (south-west England).  Using her experience, Lori devised a series of dinosaurs (plus one flying reptile), which she could use as props to help reinforce desired behaviours.

The names of Lori’s Achievosaurs were:

  • Exploring ideas and resources: Explorasor
  • Sticking to a task: Stickasaurus
  • Sharing ideas and resources: Shareadactyl
  • Trying their best: Tryatops
  • Asking questions: Askaraptor
  • Working to solve problems: Solveosaurus rex
  • Thinking carefully about tasks: Thinkadon

Over the years we have come across a number of variants, with something like 1,200 different dinosaur genera described to date and a new one being named on average every 20-30 days or so, educationalists certainly have plenty of scope.

When asked about how she came up with her Achievosaur names, Lori said:

“When I first drafted the idea, all the names ended in “asaurus,” but when I found the wonderful collection of Itsy Bitsy dinosaurs at Everything Dinosaur, my 20 year-old son got involved (dinosaurs really are any age child friendly), and selected the dinosaurs and adapted their name to “fit,” so, for example, we took Velociraptor to make “Askaraptor”.

Lori was invited to share her idea with a team of South Gloucestershire assessment co-ordinators and this simple, but very effective teaching aid has been taken up by a number of primary schools and other educational establishments.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur dedicate a lot of time to supporting teaching teams and many EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) and Key Stage 1 teachers incorporate a dinosaur themed topic into their scheme of work.  A spokesperson from the Cheshire based company stated that a topic based on prehistoric animals dove-tailed into desired learning outcomes across the curriculum, whether it was using the size and scale of dinosaurs to help build confidence with numbers or having a class imagine what it would be like to have a pet Triceratops in order to lay the foundations for some creative writing.

Dinosaurs as a Term Topic Can Encourage and Motivate Young Learners

Pupils learn about the shapes and sizes of different prehistoric animals.

Pupils learn about the shapes and sizes of different prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For further information on Everything Dinosaur’s teaching work in schools: Contact the Teaching Team at Everything Dinosaur

When asked why the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus are so popular with young learners Lori suggested:

“One reason I think is their wonderful names.  They sound fascinating, and what child doesn’t like to impress an adult by knowing long words and being able to pronounce them?  Another is that, although huge and terrifying when they lived, dinosaurs are not around anymore so they can’t get us!”

Dinosaurs enduring popularity with children (quite a few adults as well), is an area that has been explored frequently.  Team member, “Dinosaur Mike”, part of the company’s teaching team was interviewed by the BBC on this subject and he hypothesised:

“Dinosaurs are never really out of the media, so children are exposed to prehistoric animals such as Diplodocus and Tyrannosaurus rex from an early age.  When talking to Mums and Dads we know how proud they are when their son or daughter explains all about their favourite dinosaur.  With so many facts and figures associated with these prehistoric reptiles, they do help sow the seeds for an appreciation of life- long learning.”

Her Reception class loved the idea of Achievosaurs right from the start, but we wanted to know which was Lori’s own favourite.  Lori declared that she was very fond of them all as the encouragement these soft toys had given to her charges, getting them to think about learning skills and to develop positive behaviours, was of real benefit.

“It has been fantastic to hear the children identifying what they need to do in order to move their learning on, for example, suggesting they need to be a “Stickasaurus,” which concentrates, in order to learn their letters or a “Solveosaurus rex,” which makes links between ideas, when faced with a problem.  However, if I had to pick one favourite Achievosaur, I think it would be Tryatops”.

Lori explained:

“There is sometimes a perception that learning is just for “clever” children, and I think Tryatops helps to teach children that no matter what the activity or skill level, we can ALL try our best, never give up and in consequence, achieve.”

Tryatops – Based on the Horned Dinosaur Triceratops

An excellent replica of a Triceratops.

An excellent replica of a Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd/Everything Dinosaur

Not being discouraged, even when experimental results don’t quite turn out as expected, is an important aspect of scientific working.  Lessons learned early in life will help pupils face future challenges with more confidence.

In conclusion, we asked Lori if she could design her very own dinosaur what would it be like?

“The Achievosaurs were my first design attempt, with specific characteristics and names, to tie in with the Early Years Characteristics of Effective Learning.  I had a lot of fun inventing and writing about them and I couldn’t be more delighted that other Early Years professionals and schools have found the concept useful.  However, I’ve recently been thinking about the PSE side of things [personal, social and emotional development]: could an Achievosaur help children to take account of one another’s ideas (an Early Learning Goal) or be thoughtful/helpful?  What about a Respectadocus?  Now that the toys are back in production, anything is possible! “

At Everything Dinosaur we have had the privilege of working with a number of dedicated teaching professionals who have adopted and adapted dinosaur soft toys to assist them with their own learning objectives.  As a result, we have come across a large number of different Achievosaurs all aimed at reinforcing appropriate behaviours and encouraging the development of life-long learning.

Thank you Lori for being a wonderful “Shareosaurus” and sharing your story with us.

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