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13 05, 2017

Zuul – The Destroyer of Shins

By | May 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

 Zuul crurivastator – A New Ankylosaurid from the Judith River Formation of Montana

Another day and another new dinosaur, this time an armoured dinosaur from the Coal Ridge Member of the Judith River Formation (Montana).  Researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum, describe Zuul crurivastator, pronounced Zoo-ul cruh-uh-vass-tate-or, in a paper published this week in the journal of the Royal Society.  The genus name honours a fictional monster from the 1984 movie “Ghostbusters”.  The research team, that includes Victoria Arbour and David Evans, were reminded of the monster “Zuul the Gatekeeper of Gozer”, when studying the dinosaur’s prominent horns and ridges on the exquisitely preserved skull.

A Life Restoration of the Newly Described Late Cretaceous Ankylosaurid Zuul crurivastator

An ankylosaurid - Zuul crurivastator.

Life restoration of Zuul crurivastator (Danielle Dufault).

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault

The species name crurivastator means “destroyer of shins”, after the bony tail club, which on this specimen, was fifty-two centimetres long.  The club could inflict severe damage to the legs of any Theropod dinosaur aiming to make a meal out of Zuul.  The club may also have been used during intraspecific combat, with ankylosaurids fighting over territory or mates.

An Illustration of the Head of Z. crurivastator Compared to the Fictional Movie Character

Ghostbuster Zuul compared to the dinosaur.

Zuul compared to the Ghostbuster figure (Zuul).

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault and CBS

Most Complete Ankylosaurid Specimen Found in North America

Entire, or very nearly entire fossilised skeletons are exceptionally rare.  This is the first ankylosaurid specimen with an almost full set of skull bones to be found, it also has a virtually intact tail club.  Z. crurivastator represents the most complete ankylosaurid found to date in the whole of North America.  The fossil material (ROM 75860) was discovered by chance during the removal of overburden as a field team excavated the remains of a tyrannosaurid.  This six-metre-long armoured dinosaur is believed to lived between 76.2 and 75.2 million years ago (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.

The Posterior Portion of the Specimen with Members of the Research Team

Zuul crurivastator fossil material.

From left to right Ian Morrison (palaeontology technician, Marianne Mader (Director, Centre for Earth & Space/Fossils and Evolution), Victoria Arbour (NSERC postdoctoral fellow), Danielle Dufault (scientific illustrator) and David Evans (Temerty Chair in Vertebrate Palaeontology.

Picture Credit: Brian Boyle/Royal Ontario Museum

Lots of Taxa within the Sandstone Block

The majority of the skeleton was preserved in a sandstone concretion.  The tail, pelvis and dorsal vertebrae were articulated, whilst elements of the anterior of the specimen including the skull were disarticulated but in relative close association to their position in the skeleton when this dinosaur was alive.  Assigned to the tribe Ankylosaurini, a phylogenetic analysis nests Zuul crurivastator closer to Scolosaurus cutleri and Dyoplosaurus acutosquameus than to either Euplocephalus and Ankylosaurus.

The dinosaur was found upside down and was excavated in two large blocks, the largest of which, containing the torso, weighed more than 15 tonnes and is still undergoing preparation.  The dig site also produced the remains of numerous other Late Cretaceous animals and plants, including Theropods, hadrosaurids, turtles, crocodilyforms as well as invertebrates and fossils of some of the vegetation that the armoured dinosaur might have fed upon.

The presence of abundant soft tissue preservation across the skeleton, including in situ osteoderms, skin impressions and dark films that probably represent preserved keratin, make this exceptional skeleton an important reference for understanding the evolution of dermal and epidermal structures within the Ankylosaurinae clade.

A Close View of Preserved Soft Tissue on a Bony Spike on the Tail of Zuul.

Soft tissue preservation (Zuul).

Preserved soft tissue sheath of a bony spike on the tail of Zuul.

Picture Credit: Brian Boyle/Royal Ontario Museum

Skull and Jaws

The skull and jaws represent some of the best preserved ankylosaurid material ever found.  Once the skull had been prepared, the scientists were amazed at the detail that was revealed.  It led to comments that the skull and the jaws looked like that they had sculpted just a few days earlier, rather than representing the remains of an animal that roamed the United States at least 75 million years ago.

The Beautifully Preserved Skull and Jaws of Zuul crurivastator

Zuul crurivastator skull and lower jaw.

The skull and jaws of Zuul.

Picture Credit: Brian Boyle/Royal Ontario Museum

The newest member of the ankylosaurids had four large horns on its head.  One directly behind each eye (squamosal horn) and another horn that stuck out sideways from just underneath and slightly behind each eye-socket (quadratojugal horn).  It is these horns and the arrangement of the bony scales on the snout that enable palaeontologists to identify different types of Ankylosaur.

Co-author of the scientific paper, David Evans (Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum), stated:

“The preservation of Zuul is truly remarkable.  Not only is the skeleton almost completely intact, but large parts of the bony armour in the skin are still in its natural position.  Most excitingly, soft tissues such as scales and the horny sheaths of spikes are preserved, which will be a focus of our future research.”

Royal Ontario Museum Palaeontologists Victoria Arbour and David Evans Study the Fossil

David Evans and Victoria Arbour study the bony club tail.

Victoria Arbour and David Evans study the bony club tail.

Picture Credit: Brian Boyle/Royal Ontario Museum

The scientific paper: “A new Ankylosaurine Dinosaur from the Judith River Formation of Montana, USA, Based on an Exceptional Skeleton with Soft Tissue Preservation” by Victoria M. Arbour and David C. Evans.

12 05, 2017

Popular Palaeontologist to Present at Prestigious Science Festival

By | May 12th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dean Lomax Presenting at Cheltenham Science Festival

Award winning palaeontologist Dean Lomax, an honorary scientist at Manchester University, will be presenting at next month’s prestigious Cheltenham Science Festival.  In what is likely to be one of the highlights of the annual event, Dean will be focusing on British dinosaurs and speaking about some of his research into the Ichthyosauria.

“Jurassic Britain” with Dean Lomax at the Cheltenham Science Festival 2017

Dean Lomax (palaeontologist) studies Ichthyosaur fossils.

Palaeontologist Dean Lomax with one of the Ichthyosaur specimens from a recent scientific study (Ichthyosaurus larkini).

Picture Credit: University of Manchester

The event, titled “Jurassic Britain” is scheduled to take place on Sunday June 11th at 5pm and further details can be found here: “Jurassic Britain” Information and Ticket Booking

A Fossil Detective Exploring Deep Time

Dean will expertly guide the audience through the myriad of amazing dinosaur fossil discoveries that sparked the original “dinomania” in Georgian and Victorian times.  From members of the Tyrannosaur family that once stalked Gloucestershire, Yorkshire Sauropods to huge Iguanodonts and armoured monsters that once roamed the Isle of Wight, often referred to as the “dinosaur capital of Europe”, the Doncaster-based scientist will demonstrate the importance of the British Isles when it comes to vertebrate palaeontology.

Dean explained:

“I’m looking forward to sharing with the public the incredible story of British dinosaurs.  When you hear the word dinosaur, most people think about dinosaurs from faraway lands, but it all started right here in Britain and I am going to introduce the public to some of the more incredible finds.”

Dean Lomax and Fellow Researcher Judy Massare Studying “Fish Lizards”

Dean Lomax and Judy Massare examining Ichthyosaur specimens.

Dean Lomax and Judy Massare examining Ichthyosaur specimens in the marine reptile gallery at the Natural History Museum (London).

Picture Credit: Dean Lomax

“Jurassic Britain” – Dinosaurs and Ichthyosaurs

Before the first dinosaur had been scientifically described, Georgian society was rocked by the discovery of the fossilised remains of bizarre sea creatures.  These fossil finds, such as those made by Mary Anning on the Dorset coast, helped shape the academic approach to the nascent sciences of geology and palaeontology.  In his hour-long lecture, Dean will also provide an insight into some of the latest research on one enigmatic group of marine reptiles – the Ichthyosaurs.

Dean added:

“The second part of my talk will focus on my continuing research into British Ichthyosaurs.  I’ve been researching these incredible marine reptiles for around eight years and in that time, some astonishing new species have been described.  If you like hearing about how fossils have been rediscovered and identified as something new to science then you should come along!”

Monster Marine Reptiles from Somerset (I. somersetensis)

Ichthyosaurus somersetensis holotype.

ANSP 15766, holotype specimen of Ichthyosaurus somersetensis.

Picture Credit: E. Daeschler Academy of Sciences of Drexel University.

The venue, for what no doubt will be a highly informative and illuminating presentation, is the impressive Crucible building, next to Cheltenham Town Hall, in the centre of this picturesque Gloucestershire town, that just happens to be not too far away from where distant relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex once stalked their prey.

“Jurassic Britain” – Sunday 11th June 2017 5pm to 6pm tickets £7 plus booking fee.

Eagle-eyed visitors may even be able to spot some Jurassic marine fossils for themselves.  Many of the town’s municipal buildings are constructed from Cotswold building stone.  These are limestones (Middle Jurassic), that were laid down in a marine environment and a number of small fossil shells and their casts can still be seen in the stonework.  How exciting to have one of the UK’s leading young palaeontologists discussing dinosaurs and marine reptiles in such an appropriate location!

For general information on the Cheltenham Science Festival, which runs from Tuesday 6th until Sunday June 11th: Cheltenham Science Festival 2017

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

For a general introduction to British dinosaurs, Everything Dinosaur recommends “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” written by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura.  This book provides a comprehensive account of the dinosaur discoveries from Britain and is aimed at the general reader as well as students and academics.

For further information about “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” and to purchase: Visit Siri Scientific Press

11 05, 2017

“Baby Louie” Dinosaur Fossil Identified as New Species

By | May 11th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A New Species of Giant Oviraptorosaur – Beibeilong sinensis

The mystery of the world’s largest dinosaur eggs has been solved, and an infamous baby dinosaur fossil once the property of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, now has a family.  In 1993, a fossilised clutch of giant dinosaur eggs and an associated embryo dinosaur skeleton was discovered east of the small village of Zhaoying, close to the township of Yangcheng, Xixia County, in western Henan Province.  Like many thousands of dinosaur egg fossils found in this part of central China, the specimen was illegally sold overseas to a buyer in America.  The fossil was then sold to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in 2001.  Subsequently, the partial nest with the small, articulated dinosaur skeleton, nick-named “Baby Louie”, was repatriated to China and it is currently housed in the Henan Geological Museum.

In a paper this week in “Nature Communications”, researchers which include Darla Zelenitsky (University of Calgary) and Professor Phil Currie (University of Alberta), have identified a new species of giant Oviraptorosaur – “Baby Louie” represents potentially one of the largest feathered creatures known to science.

The dinosaur has been named Beibeilong sinensis, the name means “baby dragon from China”.

Photographs of the Holotype Fossil Material (Beibeilong sinensis)

Beibeilong sinensis egg fossils with impression of egg size and position overlaid.

Right image shows schematic overlay of approximate locations of individual eggs. Eggs 1 through 4 are in an upper layer just beneath the skeleton, whereas egg 5 is in a lower layer of the block. Scale bar is in centimetres.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications/Darla Zelenitsky

The picture above shows two images of the holotype nest fossil from which the new species of dinosaur, B. sinensis was described.  The picture on the left shows the fossil material with the embryo fossil located just below the scale bar.  On the second photograph, the location of five of the eggs making up the clutch have been superimposed on the fossil to give an indication of their position.

Giant Dinosaur Eggs

The eggs were given their own oogenus, Macroelongatoolithus (the name means “large elongate stone eggs”).  These are the largest-known type of dinosaur eggs with some fossils measuring around sixty centimetres in length.  The eggs associated with the Beibeilong embryo measure about forty-five centimetres long.   That’s about three times as long as a typical Ostrich egg (Struthio camelus), although Ostrich eggs are more ovoid in shape.  The research team suggest that the dinosaurs which laid these eggs, giant caenagnathid Oviraptorosaurs, created nests that may have been around three metres in diameter.

An Artist’s Illustration of the Giant Oviraptorosaur Beibeilong sinensis

Beibeilong nesting scene.

A breeding pair of Beibeilong dinosaurs and their nest of giant dinosaur eggs.

 Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

The Gigantoraptor Effect

The discovery of the giant fragmentary fossils of a strange Theropod (Gigantoraptor erlianensis) in 2005 changed views on the Oviraptorosauria clade forever.  When formally described in 2007, Gigantoraptor was at least five times bigger than any other known oviraptorid.  Palaeontologists had proof that giant, beaked dinosaurs existed.

To read about the discovery of Gigantoraptor: New Giant Member of the Oviraptorosauria – Gigantoraptor

Beibeilong becomes the second genus of giant members of the Oviraptorosauria.  If “Baby Louie” had lived, then this dinosaur might have reached a length of eight metres or more and it would have easily weighed more than a tonne.  Beibeilong has been assigned to the Caenagnathidae, an enigmatic group of beaked Theropods closely related to the Oviraptoridae and nested with them into the Oviraptorosauria clade.

A Scale Drawing of a Giant Caenagnathid Oviraptorosaur (G. erlianensis)

Gigantoraptor scale drawing.

The largest feathered animals known to science.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Originally, the Caenagnathidae family was erected to describe, what was thought at the time, a lineage of extinct birds.  Over the last thirty years or so, more fossil discoveries have been made in North America and Asia.  When first described Gigantoraptor was thought to be a member of the Oviraptoridae, however, Gigantoraptor is now joined in the Caenagnathidae by perhaps, the equally large Beibeilong.

An Abundance of Giant Dinosaur Egg Fossils

The Beibeilong material was excavated from strata from the Gaogou Formation (Upper Cretaceous, Cenomanian to Turonian faunal stages).  The research team suggest that Beibeilong roamed central China some ninety million years ago, twenty million years earlier than Gigantoraptor.  An abundance of Macroelongatoolithus eggs reported from Asia and North America is in stark contrast to the very few bones found of giant caenagnathids.  Thanks to the association between “Baby Louie” and the giant eggs, the first known association between skeletal remains and eggs of caenagnathids, palaeontologists are confident that these giant, beaked dinosaurs may have been relatively common throughout the northern hemisphere during the Late Cretaceous.

A View of the Dinosaur Embryo Skeleton (Beibeilong sinensis) and Accompanying Line Drawing

Beibeilong fossil and line drawing.

“Baby Louie” fossil (Beibeilong sinensis) and line drawing – scale bar = 5 cm.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications/Darla Zelenitsky

The picture above shows a close view of the embryo skeleton (left) and a simplified line drawing highlighting important bones.

Key

fr = frontal bone (skull), or = orbit (skull), lj = lower jaw, d = dentary, fi = fibula, ti – tibia, il= ilium, f = femur.

10 05, 2017

Amazing Ammonite “Tool Mark” Fossil

By | May 10th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Ammonite Fossil Captures Brief Moment in Deep Time

Every once in a while, a fossil is found that provides a remarkable insight into life in the past.  An example of this is an Ammonite fossil that dates from the Late Jurassic.  The shell of the dead Ammonite was rolled along the floor of a shallow lagoon, before it finally came to rest on the finely grained sediment.  An event that lasted for perhaps just a few seconds has been preserved within the fossil record, it has persisted for over 150 million years.

An Artist’s Illustration of the Ammonite Shell Drag

Ammonite shell drag.

Capturing a moment in the Late Jurassic (Cephalopod shell trackway).

Picture Credit: Manchester University

The Solnhofen Plattenkalk (Solnhofen limestone)

Located in the southern German State of Bavaria, the world-famous limestone beds that form the Solnhofen Lagerstätte, preserve, in exquisite detail, a remarkable fossil record of animals and plants including soft-bodied creatures such as jelly fish and delicate insects such as dragonflies.  Many vertebrate fossils have also been excavated, perhaps the most famous of which are the fossils of the Theropod Archaeopteryx, referred to as “Urvogel”, German for “first bird”.

The international team of scientists, which includes palaeontologist Dean Lomax (Manchester University), have been studying the 8.5-metre-long trackway a fossil of an Ammonite shell as it was rolled along the soft, carbonate mud by the lagoonal currents.  At the end of the track, the cricket ball-sized Ammonite (Subplanites rueppellianus) came to rest.

The Team of Scientists Mapped the Progress of the Ammonite Shell Across the Bed of the Lagoon

Ammonite body and trace fossil.

Mapping the path of the Ammonite shell across the floor of the lagoon.

Picture Credit: Manchester University

The picture above shows the track of the Ammonite (left to right), with line drawings of each element of the highlighted “tool mark” fossil shown below.  The Ammonite itself can be found at the end of the track (extreme right).  The Ammonite, a specimen of S. rueppellianus was already dead when the track was made, although fossils such as this have been found before, it is an extremely rare find.  Technically, although the shell left a drag mark in the sediment and the body fossil is preserved, the track itself can’t really be regarded as a trace fossil.  Trace fossils such as trails, footprints, burrows and borings preserve evidence of the activity of animals.  As the Ammonite was dead when the track was created, it should not really be referred to as a trace fossil.  A more accurate term might be “tool mark” to describe the fossilised movement of the shell across the lagoon floor.

Dean, lead author of the scientific paper published in the on-line academic journal PLOS One, commented:

“With fossils, we usually find body fossils, such as bones, teeth or shells, or trace fossils, such as tracks and burrows.  However, the drag mark has not been made by the Ammonite in life and does not reflect behaviour.  Instead, the drag mark was created by the lake’s current moving the Ammonite shell.  It is easy to understand why such fossils have been misinterpreted as the traces of living organisms.”

A Spectacular Record of a Late Jurassic Ecosystem

During the Late Jurassic, much of western Europe was covered by a warm, tropical sea.  There were islands and these were home to an array of dinosaurs and other exotic creatures.  The landscape included stagnant lagoons that had limited access to the open sea.  These shallow bodies of water were extremely saline and very few organisms could tolerate the harsh conditions.  As a result, if animal or plant remains were washed into the lagoon from the land, or if, in this case, an Ammonite was washed into the lagoon from the sea, there were very few scavengers or micro-organisms around to ingest the organic material.  The still waters, devoid of life, helped the preservation of these animal and plant remains. Slowly, they would have become buried in the soft, finely grained mud at the bottom of the lagoon, or in this case a rare current had disturbed the rotting Ammonite and rolled the shell along the lagoonal floor, before the shell finally fell over and came to rest.

Subplanites rueppellianus Fossil Preserved at the End of the Trackway

Subplanites rueppellianus fossil.

Subplanites rueppellianus preserved at the end of the track.

Picture Credit: Manchester University

How exactly did the fossil move after it had already died?  Ammonites had gas chambers, which they used to control their buoyancy and movement, similar to a submarine.  However, the shell of the Ammonite was probably empty and the authors of the study speculate that some of the gas remained present in the shell.  This meant the Ammonite did not sink straight to the bottom and fall over.  Instead, the S. rueppellianus shell was dragged along the bottom of the tropical lagoon by what must have been a calm and steady current.

Dean Lomax Provides a Scale for the 8.5-metre-long Fossil Drag Mark

Examining the Ammonite trace fossil.

Dean Lomax (University of Manchester) examines the drag mark fossil.

Picture Credit: Manchester University

The start of the drag mark is not preserved, so the shell may have been rolling for much longer.  The mark was created by contact of the Ammonites’ ribs (ridges on the shell), with the lagoon floor.  The mark begins with just two lines, suggesting only two of the Ammonite’s ribs were in contact with the bottom of the lagoon.  The number of ribs increases along the drag marks length.

Dean Lomax added:

“Fossils such as this are super rare and provide a snapshot of an unusual moment in deep time.”

Revolutionising the Way Palaeontologists Can Showcase Fossil Material

Intricate digital photogrammetry and three-dimensional modelling was used by the research team to create a detailed video of the fossil, showing the progression of the Ammonite until its final resting place.

Dean Lomax Carefully Maps the Final Movements of the Ammonite Shell

Mapping an Ammonite trace fossil.

Analysing the final movements of the Ammonite shell.

Picture Credit: Manchester University

Palaeontologist Peter Falkingham, (Liverpool John Moores University) and one of the co-authors of the study explained:

“We created a virtual model of the fossil by compiling over 600 photographs of the specimen.  We then created a video, which shows the drag mark and the preserved Ammonite.  Such modern techniques, like the photogrammetry method we used, have really revolutionised the way palaeontologists can study fossils.”

To see a remarkable video of this shell drag and body fossil: PLOS ONE Ammonite Drag Fossil

Video Credit: PLOS ONE

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the University of Manchester Press Team for their help in the compilation of this article.

9 05, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Ceratosaurus

By | May 9th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Papo Ceratosaurus Video Review

Those clever and talented people at JurassicCollectables have posted up another dinosaur model review onto their YouTube channel.  This time it is the stunning new for 2017 Papo Ceratosaurus in the spotlight.    The Papo Ceratosaurus is one of six new dinosaurs or repainted dinosaurs being added to the Papo range this year and it has attracted praise from many model forums and collecting communities, it is a fantastic model of the Late Jurassic predator.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Jurassic Collectables

Ceratosaurus Takes Centre Stage

In this video, which lasts a little over four minutes, the narrator takes the viewer on a guided tour of this excellent figure.  Starting with a detailed examination of the skull and that articulated lower jaw, the spokesperson for JurassicCollectables comments on the use of various washes to add detail and the careful choice of paints as well as highlighting how nicely sculpted the digits and claws are.  In a lot of the artwork that depicts Theropod dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation of the western United States, it is often the larger Allosaurus that is given centre stage, a case in point being the David Bonadonna artwork that accompanied our article (May 5th), on the new diplodocid Galeamopus pabsti.*

With the introduction of the Papo Ceratosaurus dinosaur model, Ceratosaurus is likely to gain in popularity, especially amongst dedicated collectors, who perhaps may not have heard a lot about this Late Jurassic Theropod.

The Papo Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Ceratosaurus model.

Papo Ceratosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Several Species within the Ceratosaurus Genus

A number of species have been assigned to the Ceratosaurus genus, including a species from Portugal and a tentative assignment after fossil material was discovered in Tanzania.  The large skull in proportion to the body size has been captured in this Papo replica and the JurassicCollectables video review provides plenty of scope for viewers to study this replica from a variety of angles.  Those bony ridges (extensions of the lacrimal bones), are shown in close-up view and the narrator takes care to discuss the paintwork associated with the dermal armour that runs down the back and the flanks.

The New for 2017 Papo Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Ceratosaurus.

The Papo Ceratosaurus dinosaur figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Scale Comparisons with Other Papo Models

A feature of the video reviews from JurassicCollectables are the size comparisons undertaken using other well-known prehistoric animals.  Naturally, “off-colour Alan” is on hand to help out and in this video, the 2016 Papo Kaprosuchus along with a Papo Velociraptor figure are used to provide an indication of the size of the Ceratosaurus.  For good measure, the recently reviewed Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model is filmed next to the Papo Ceratosaurus.  It is great to see these highly collectable figures shown in this way.

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel is jam-packed with hundreds of amazing and very informative dinosaur and prehistoric animal videos.  Everything Dinosaur recommends subscribing to this really well managed channel: Find JurassicCollectables on YouTube Here

Papo’s “Les Dinosaures” Model Range

Although, Papo has chosen not to create scale models, their range of prehistoric animal figures is increasingly rapidly.  In addition, to the models already introduced this year, Everything Dinosaur is expecting stocks of the new Dimorphodon, Cave Bear, Smilodon and the Cryolophosaurus dinosaur to arrive shortly.  In terms of Theropods (not including models of birds), Papo currently offers nearly a dozen Theropods and several variations of the most popular carnivorous dinosaurs such as Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex.  There are plans to add yet more in the late autumn, (more about this nearer the time).  For the moment, we shall watch the JurassicCollectables Papo Ceratosaurus video review once more.

To the full range of Papo prehistoric animals including the Papo Ceratosaurus model on Everything Dinosaur’s website: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

*To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on Galeamopus pabstiWhipping Up Interest in Whiplash Dinosaurs

8 05, 2017

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

By | May 8th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Sir David Attenborough 91 Today

Happy birthday Sir David Attenborough!  Sir David Attenborough is ninety-one years’ young today.

Many Happy Returns Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough has inspired so many.

Although not as active as he was, Sir David continues to take a great interest in natural history and science projects around the world and today, we at Everything Dinosaur take time out to honour this naturalist and broadcaster who has done so much to raise the profile of the natural world.

Over the last twelve months or so, Everything Dinosaur have published a number of articles inspired by Sir David.  For example, back in August, we wrote about a pocket-sized marsupial lion that had been named in honour of the English broadcaster: Attenborough’s New Kitty.

More recently, in March of this year, we wrote about the naming of a new species of Silurian Arthropod that had been also be named in Sir David’s honour: Newly Described Silurian Fossil Honours Sir David Attenborough

Our very best wishes to you Sir, we hope you enjoy your birthday.

7 05, 2017

Imaginative Dinosaurs

By | May 7th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Children Draw Long-necked Dinosaurs

Time to catch up on our correspondence and to pause between dinosaur workshops and other teaching assignments in what has been a busy start to the summer term.  As part of our service to schools, the dinosaur and fossil themed workshops that we deliver often lead to lots of extension activities, all aimed at supporting the curriculum and the school’s scheme of work.  For example, during a session with Key Stage 1 children and a Reception class, a child asked why did the long-necked dinosaurs grow so big?  Our dinosaur expert provided an explanation (large gut for processing lots of coarse vegetation), as well as touching upon a couple of other relevant points.  This led on to a discussion as to what was the biggest dinosaur of all?  An opportunity to discuss the Titanosauriformes, (simplified language that is age appropriate, of course), even ones that have yet to be officially named and scientifically described.

A Typical Titanosauriform – Saltasaurus

Saltasaurus dinosaur model

“Reptile from Salta Province” – Saltasaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Dinosaur Themed Extension Activity

We made a note of the questions that were asked and once the dinosaur and fossil workshops had concluded for the morning, we discussed with the class teachers ways in which we could develop extension activities that relate to the topics raised by the children.  For example, we sent the children a link to an article that featured an as yet, undescribed dinosaur from Argentina that is believed to represent the biggest dinosaur known to science.  Could the children come up with a name for this dinosaur discovery?  We explained to the class teacher how this idea could be developed into a recording of data exercise whereby the class vote for their favourite dinosaur name and calibrate their results using a simple graph or table.

Using Dinosaurs to Explore How to Record and Show Data

Dinosaurs inspire graphs and data representation in schools.

Plotting dinosaur data in class.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An article on the largest dinosaur known to science: Biggest Dinosaur Needs a Name

Cross Curricular Activities

As well as supporting the numeracy element of the curriculum, our dinosaur expert set the children some “pinkie palaeontologist challenges” as we call them.  Extension ideas that involve both fiction and non-fiction writing and provide an opportunity to compare our bodies to that of a dinosaur.  A simple drawing activity involving drawing an enormous long-necked dinosaur provides a touchstone to expressive arts and design, involving children exploring and playing using a wide range of media and materials.  Encouraging young learners to share their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of art themed activities.

Reception-Age Children Draw a Long-necked Dinosaur (Sauropodomorpha)

Reception child draws a Sauropod.

Long-necked dinosaur by a Reception-aged child.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To request further information about Everything Dinosaur’s activities in schools including dinosaur and fossil themed workshops: Contact Everything Dinosaur – School Workshops

We encourage the class teachers to take lots of photographs during our dinosaur and fossil themed workshops.  These are great for recall and recounting activities after the session and the teaching team (with permission of the school), can always post some up onto social media such as Twitter, so parents and guardians can see what the class have been doing that day.

6 05, 2017

New Children’s Dinosaur Book “Thomas T. rex”

By | May 6th, 2017|Book Reviews, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Mum Inspired to Write Dinosaur Story Books

Nicole Mills has a background in publishing, so when she took an interest in her son’s dinosaur obsession, photographing him with his various prehistoric animal models and toys, her mind began to wonder how she could help other children share his fascination for these long extinct creatures.  Mum and son’s imaginations were certainly sparked, whilst Henry made up stories about his dinosaurs, Nicole decided to turn these into a series of dinosaur themed story books, aimed at young readers.

Nicole Mills and Son Henry

Dino-Mom and Dino-Boy

Nicole with Henry (dinosaur toys).

Picture Credit: Lavide (Phoenix)

Ideas can come from all kinds of places, you never quite know when inspiration will strike.  When Henry told his mum that he needed a detective to solve a dinosaur mystery, the idea of publishing a series of dinosaur detective story books was born.

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”, is the first title, in which detective “Thomas the T. rex” attempts to solve the riddle of some disappearing ferns by following a set of clues including some dinosaur footprints.  The press release provided with the inspection copy that was sent to Everything Dinosaur, states that children will be exposed to valuable life skills such as problem solving and the power of emotions, whilst the humour within the simple text will keep adult readers entertained.

Reading Together

Studies have shown that if parents enjoy reading and have a house filled with lots of books, then their children are more likely to become avid readers too.  Immersing children in literacy activities at an early age can help them gain confidence with their own reading and writing.  Exposure to books, with parents taking time to read to their offspring will help the child develop a bigger vocabulary and assist with spelling.  The large font and the adoption of a simple rhyming motif make the words in this story book very accessible for young children, although parents and guardians on this side of the Atlantic might struggle with the American spelling, “armor” and “favorite” being cases in point.

Creative, Imaginative Play can Help Children Prepare for Formal Education

Tyrannosaurus rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

T. rex model and a young dinosaur fan.

Picture Credit: Schleich

“Dinosaur Detective: Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus” is the debut book in this series, the author hopes to publish one book for each letter of the alphabet, after all, enough dinosaurs have been named and described to easily fill an alphabetical list.  The tone and text of this book accommodates aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), elements of the English national curriculum.  For example, within the statutory framework of the English national curriculum, literacy is a priority, with children being encouraged to link sounds and letters and to commence reading and writing independently.  The framework stipulates that children should be given access to a wide range of reading materials including poems to help ignite their interest.

Actual Dinosaur Models Feature in the Stories

Observant children will be able to recognise several of their dinosaur and prehistoric animal toys within the book.  For example, illustrations of the eponymous hero “Thomas the T. rex” suggests to us that the Papo brown standing T. rex dinosaur figure plays the detective role in Henry’s imaginative tales.  Using familiar models will help young readers to buy into the story, they can even recreate some of the story lines themselves (as well as inventing a few new ones).

The Papo Standing Tyrannosaurus rex Model (Brown)

Papo T.r ex figures.

The Papo brown T. rex figure with the Papo baby Tyrannosaurus rex.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Available from Archway Publishing Online Bookstore: “Dinosaur Detective – Thomas T. rex and the Case of the Angry Ankylosaurus”

ISBN: 978-1-4808-3766-9 (soft cover) or hardback version 978-1-4808-3767-6 and in addition, a downloadable E-book is available.

Author, Nicole commented:

“It’s important for children and parents to read, play and discover together, so what better way to do it than with dinosaurs?  Through Henry’s obsession with dinosaurs, he has not only learned an encyclopaedic wealth of information, but I have too.”

We wish mum and son the very best of luck and we hope that “Thomas the T.rex” is able to crack all his cases.

5 05, 2017

Whipping Up Interest in Whiplash Dinosaurs

By | May 5th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Species of Diplodocid Dinosaur – Galeamopus pabsti

Writing in the academic journal “Peer J”, palaeontologists Emanuel Tschopp and Octávio Mateus (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), have identified a new species of diplodocid dinosaur within the Galeamopus genus.  The fossils, which come from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation, specifically the Howe-Scott Quarry in the northern Bighorn Basin in Wyoming, (USA), further demonstrate the diversity of Sauropods associated with the Late Jurassic fauna of western North America.

A New Species of Diplodocid Dinosaur

Galeamopus pabsti illustrated.

A life reconstruction of G. pabsti.

Picture Credit: Davide Bonadonna with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Excavation began in 1995, by a Swiss field team led by palaeontologists Dr Hans-Jakob ‘Kirby’ Siber and Dr Ben Pabst (The Dinosaur Museum (Sauriermuseum) in Aathal, Switzerland).  The trivial name, honours Dr Pabst in recognition of his contribution to dinosaur fossil preparation and exhibition mounting.  This is the second member of the Galeamopus genus to be identified, the first species G. hayi, was erected in 2015, when Emanuel Tschopp and Octávio Mateus, along with colleagues from Oxford University and the Raymond M. Alf, Museum of Palaeontology, (Claremont, California, USA), published a paper that resurrected the genus Brontosaurus following an extensive review of the Diplodocidae.

For an article on the 2015 paper: The Return of Brontosaurus

Nearly Complete Fossil Specimen Just Missing the Tail

Importantly, much of the skull, although broken apart, was collected along with around the majority of the anterior portion of the skeleton.  The presence of fossilised wood and freshwater bivalves indicated that this individual had come to rest in a stream channel.  The skull has helped to assign a new species within the Galeamopus genus and the robust limb bones, such as the very sturdy upper arm bone (humerus), helps to distinguish the Galeamopus genus from the more gracile and slender Diplodocus.

Dr Emanuel Tschopp, who holds a number of academic posts including a position at the University of Turin, commented that the bones represent a young adult and that this dinosaur could have reached lengths in excess of twenty-seven metres.  Bite marks on the ribs and shed Theropod teeth found in association with the bones suggest that the dinosaur’s carcase was scavenged before it was finally buried.

A Late Jurassic Scene – Galeamopus pabsti Scavenged by Theropods

Scavenging the carcase of Galeamopus.

The carcase of Galeamopus is scavenged by an Allosaurus whilst two smaller Ceratosaurus approach warily.

Picture Credit: Davide Bonadonna

Dr Tschopp stated:

“Diplodocids are among the best-known Sauropod dinosaurs.  Numerous specimens of currently fifteen accepted species belonging to ten genera have been reported from the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous of North and South America, Europe, and Africa.  However, the highest diversity is known from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of the western United States, a recent review [the 2015 paper] recognised twelve valid, named species, and possibly three additional, yet unnamed ones.”

A View of the Reconstructed Skull of Galeamopus pabsti

Diplodocid skull (G. pabsti).

A right lateral view of the reconstructed skull of G. pabsti.

Picture Credit: Emanuel Tschopp and Octávio Mateus

Although, the tail bones are missing, the scientists are confident that like all the other diplodocids, Galeamopus pabsti had a long tail, which in this case, represents more than half of the animal’s total body length.  This long whip-like tail may have been used to help herd members keep in contact with each other or perhaps it had a role in defence.  If attacked these dinosaurs might have lashed out with their tails, or perhaps moved them so quickly that they would have made a sonic boom (breaking the sound barrier).

4 05, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Acrocanthosaurus

By | May 4th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Acrocanthosaurus Video Review

When the new for 2017 Papo prehistoric animal models were first announced, great excitement was generated around the introduction of a large Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.  Dinosaur fans and model collectors who have been lucky enough to pick up this model already, have raved about its quality.  Now viewers of the very informative JurassicCollectables YouTube channel can see what all the fuss was about, as a video review of this dinosaur replica has been posted up by JurassicCollectables.

The JurassicCollectables Video Review of the New for 2017 Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

The Papo model range continues to go from strength to strength and the JurassicCollectables video shows the quality of the paintwork and attention to detail on this model.  In this short video, which is just a fraction under five minutes in length, the narrator talks us through the features that have made this particular Papo model a “must have”.

Praise for the Camera Work

The camera work should be praised as this video provides some excellent close-up views of this Acrocanthosaurus, including the superb detail that can be found on the interior of the mouth, which as the narrator comments, has been lovingly sculpted.  Even the side of the jaw shows attention to detail with scales carefully depicted.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the video, the narrator comments on the excellent colour tones and skin texture seen in this Papo model.  The dynamic pose is discussed and this is compared to the Papo standing Tyrannosaurus rex replica, which also provides a good size comparison.  The wash on the feet and hands is noted, as is the care and attention to detail when it came to painting individual scales along the flanks.  As well as a regular appearance by “off-colour Alan”, an impression of size is given when the Papo Acrocanthosaurus is compared with the 2016 Papo Kaprosuchus prehistoric crocodile.  Just like the Papo Kaprosuchus, the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model also has an articulated jaw.

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel has amassed over 54,000 subscribers and is home to some 700 dinosaur and prehistoric animal inspired videos.

Everything Dinosaur recommends dinosaur and model fans to visit JurassicCollectables on YouTube and to subscribe: JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Acrocanthosaurus atokensis

Named and described in 1950, Acrocanthosaurus (A. atokensis) is regarded as one of the largest Theropod dinosaurs known from the Aptian and early Albian faunal stages of the Cretaceous.  Fossils of this huge meat-eater have been found in Oklahoma, Texas and Maryland (USA).  In addition, other fragmentary fossils and some trace fossils from other U.S. States have been assigned to this genus.

Everything Dinosaur Photographed the Papo Acrocanthosaurus Prior to its Formal Launch

A view of the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model and the rest of the excellent Papo “Les Dinosaures” model range: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models

Our thanks once again to JurassicCollectables for producing such an informative video.

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