Year 1 Send Letters to Everything Dinosaur

Year 1 at Forden Church in Wales School Send Letters

The children in Year 1 at Forden Church in Wales School have been studying dinosaurs and prehistoric animals this term.  The young scientists have been learning all about fossils and life in the past.  A team member from Everything Dinosaur visited the school for a morning last month to show the children fossils and to teach them about dinosaurs.  Our fossil expert challenged the children in Year 1 to write letters to Everything Dinosaur and sure enough, yesterday, we received a lovely set of dinosaur themed letters from the children.

Year 1 Children Send in Letters to Everything Dinosaur

Schoolchildren write to Everything Dinosaur.

Examples of the dinosaur themed letters sent in.

Picture Credit: Forden Church in Wales School (Ellie, Evan, Faye and Logan)

Year 1 Learning about Technology

Mrs Davies, the enthusiastic teacher, explained that her class had written thank you letters after the fabulous morning of workshops with Everything Dinosaur.  Year 1 have been learning how to take photographs on the iPad and import them into a different document, the children have also been showing off their typing skills too.

Learning About the Biggest Meat-Eating Dinosaurs

William learnt about meat-eating dinosaurs.

A thank you letter from William.

Picture Credit: Forden Church in Wales School (William)

William now knows that Spinosaurus was bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex.  Hollie was amazed by all the fossils and she enjoyed playing the games.

Most Real Fossils Feel Cold When You Touch Them

Thank you after the dinosaur workshop.

A thank you letter from Hollie.

Picture Credit: Forden Church in Wales School (Hollie)

Hollie chose to illustrate her thank you letter to Everything Dinosaur using a model of a Pteranodon (flying reptile).  Jodie was amazed by all the fossils and she now knows that when you touch a fossil it feels cold!  Jodie also chose to illustrate her letter with a Pteranodon.  Jessica on the other hand, selected a wonderful model of a duck-billed dinosaur, a big plant-eater called Parasaurolophus for her letter.  She liked having her picture taken with the fossils.

Jessica’s Letter and the Parasaurolophus Model

A thank you note to Everything Dinosaur.

After the dinosaur workshop, Jessica wrote in to thank us.

Picture Credit: Forden Church in Wales School (Jessica)

A big thank you to all the children in Year 1 who sent in letters to Everything Dinosaur (Chloe, Arthur, Jack, Jodie, Jessica, Hollie, William, Evan, Ellie, Logan and Faye).  A special thank you to the teachers and staff at Forden Church in Wales School, for assisting the Year 1 children in their letter writing extension activity.

Gualicho Sticks Two Fingers Up at T. rex

Gualicho shinyae – A Dinosaur with Arms Reminiscent of Tyrannosaurus rex

With the formal publication of the scientific paper describing a new species of carnivorous dinosaur from Argentina, the Theropoda just became a little bit more curious.  Gualicho shinyae has been erected and it shows both Tetanuran (stiff tailed) and Ceratosaurian anatomical traits.  G. shinyae can also lay claim to being the most basal member of the Tetanurae clade to exhibit the reduction of digit III on the hand.  Reports in the media have compared this new Late Cretaceous South American dinosaur with Tyrannosaurus rex.  These two dinosaurs may have had very reduced arms and only two fingers on each hand, but Gualicho is not closely related to the “King of the Tyrant Lizards”.  In fact it seems that Gualicho shinyae is an example of convergent evolution, that is, not closely related organisms evolve independently similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.

Just why many large meat-eating dinosaurs had reduced arms and vestigial digits remains a mystery.

An Illustration of a the New Dinosaur from Argentina

gualicho_shinyae_illus

Picture Credit: Jorge González and Pablo Lara

In the picture above two predatory dinosaurs (Gualicho shinyae) ambush a flock of hypsilophodonts.

The Mystery Over Short Arms and Reduced Digits in Theropod Dinosaurs

The third digit is reduced to nothing more than a metacarpal splint, very reminiscent of tyrannosaurids and just like all the known Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaurs, the arms are also reduced in proportion to the body size.  Gaulicho is estimated to have been at least six metres long, but the forelimbs are no bigger than those of a child.  The left forelimb was recovered along with a short section of vertebrae from the back, the end portion of the tail, elements of both hind limbs including an articulated foot plus a left scapulocoracoid  A couple of rib bones and some gastralia (belly ribs) were also excavated.  The rest of the skeleton had been lost to erosion, but from these remains the researchers, which included scientists from the Field Museum (Chicago), the Dinosaur Institute of Los Angeles as well as palaeontologists from  Buenos Aires and Rio Negro Province, suggest that this new dinosaur is a neovenatorid with close affinities to the North African dinosaur Deltadromeus.

An Illustration of the Likely Skeleton of G. shinyae

Gualicho dinosaur drawing.

The white shaded bones show the fossils of Gualicho that have been found.

Picture Credit: PLoS One with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Discovered back in 2007, the specimen, which consists of around 5% of the total skeleton was excavated and prepared by staff of the Museo Patagónico de Ciencias Naturales.  The genus name is derived from “Gualichu”, a spirit revered by Patagonia’s Tehuelche people.  The field team encountered quite a lot of misfortune during the 2007 expedition and during the subsequent preparation work.  Researchers joked about the “curse of Gualichu”.  The species name honours Ms Akiko Shinya, the Chief Fossil Preparator at the Field Museum (Chicago).  It was Ms Akiko who found the first fossil evidence of this new type of dinosaur during the 2007 expedition to the Neuquén Basin of Patagonia (southern Argentina).

Chief Fossil Preparator Ms Akiko Shinya Showing where the Fossils were Found

akiko_shinya_with_gualicho_shinyae

Picture Credit: PLoS One (Photo by Peter Makovicky)

Corresponding author Peter Makovicky (Field Museum) stated:

“Gualicho is kind of a mosaic dinosaur, it has features that you normally see in different kinds of Theropods.  It’s really unusual, it’s different from the other carnivorous dinosaurs found in the same rock formation, and it doesn’t fit neatly into any category.”

Estimated to have weighed around 450 kilogrammes and to have been about six metres long, Gualicho has been assigned to the Allosauria clade and placed within the Neovenatoridae family, however, its exact taxonomic position remains unclear.  The scientists conclude that it resembles Deltadromeus, a contemporaneous Theropod known from North Africa.

Cenomanian Faunal Stage

The fossils of G. shinyae were excavated from sandstone strata located close to the base of the Huincul Formation.  Everything Dinosaur estimate that this dinosaur roamed what was to become Patagonia some ninety-five million years ago (Cenomanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).

The New Dinosaur Discovery Adds to the Faunal Diversity of the Lower Part of the Neuquén Group

Gualicho adds to the faunal diversity of the Upper Cretaceous sediments.

A schematic stratigraphic diagram showing the position of the Gualicho fossil find.

Picture Credit: PLoS One

The picture above shows a schematic diagram of the lower part of the Neuquén Group of Upper Cretaceous strata exposed in the Neuquén Basin with the approximate level at which the holotype of Gualicho shinyae was collected from the base of the Huincul Formation.  The rocks contain a variety of vertebrate remains including a number of dinosaurs, especially Saurischian (lizard-hipped) forms.  The discovery of G. shinyae adds to the diversity of Theropods known, for example a number of carcharodontosaurids are known from this formation (Mapusaurus and Taurovenator), along with several abelisaurids such as Skorpiovenator and Ilokelesia.  There has even been some fossils found that were described as belonging to a giant raptor (Megaraptoran), this dinosaur was named Aoniraptor (A. libertatem) earlier this year, but similarities between the caudal vertebrae found and those now assigned to Gualicho, indicate that the Aoniraptor material may be synonymous with the holotype material of G. shinyae.

There have also be a large number of Sauropod remains associated with this strata.  For example, a number of rebbachisaurids have been described along with several Titanosaurs, including Argentinosaurus.

A Map Showing the Approximate Location of the G. shinyae Quarry

Showing the location of the G. shinyae fossil discovery.

A map showing the approximate location of the fossil discovery (star).

Picture Credit: PLoS One

The black star in the diagram to the left, indicates the approximate location of the G. shinyae quarry.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This new dinosaur discovery adds to the Theropod diversity known from the Late Cretaceous terrestrial strata of the Neuquén Basin, northern Patagonia.  It also reinforces the belief of the close affinities between the Huincul Formation and rocks of a similar age laid down in North Africa.  In addition, with the discovery of a short-armed, two-fingered dinosaur that lived some twenty-five million years or so before the end Cretaceous tyrannosaurids, palaeontologists can perhaps learn why reduced forelimb size was so prevalent in large carnivorous dinosaurs.”

The scientific paper from which this article was compiled is: “An Unusual New Theropod with a Didactyl Manus from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia, Argentina”.

Giganotosaurus Diorama from Paleo Paul

Carnegie Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Diorama

Dinosaur enthusiast and prehistoric animal model collector Paleo Paul emailed Everything Dinosaur and sent us a couple of pictures of his dinosaur diorama featuring a remodelled Giganotosaurus.  The talented model maker has used a Carnegie Collectibles Giganotosaurus replica and set this, now quite rare dinosaur model, in a prehistoric scene that features cycads and a flowering plant.  Giganotosaurus (G. carolinii) roamed Patagonia (southern Argentina) around ninety seven million years ago and it is regarded as one of the largest Theropod dinosaurs described to date.  It certainly makes a fitting centre piece to Paleo Paul’s prehistoric scene.

The Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Diorama

A cleverly crafted dinosaur diorama.

A Giganotosaurus dinosaur diorama from Paleo Paul.

Picture Credit: Paleo Paul

The Evolution of Flowering Plants

Great care has been taken to build up the vegetation in this diorama.  A range of prehistoric plants are depicted including a substantial angiosperm (flowering plant).  It was during the latter part of the Cretaceous geological period that flowering plants began to replace ferns, cycads, bennettitales and conifers as the dominant terrestrial flora.  Top marks to Paleo Paul for adding a flowering plant to his dinosaur diorama.

Paleo Paul wrote:

“Sharp-eyed collectors will notice a Carnegie Giganotosaurus dinosaur model, I used modellers putty to modify and then repainted.”

At Everything Dinosaur we get lots of pictures sent into us by model collectors and dinosaur fans.  We really enjoy seeing how prehistoric animal models are used to create prehistoric scenes and it never ceases to amaze us how talented and skilful a number of our customers are.

The Carnegie Collectibles Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model

The Carnegie Collectibles Giganotosaurus dinosaur model, as part of the scale model range of prehistoric animals made by Safari Ltd, was retired a few years ago.  Like the majority of this model range, that was endorsed by palaeontologists from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA), it is becoming increasingly difficult for model collectors and dinosaur fans to acquire.  Fortunately, Everything Dinosaur still has stocks and our strong links with the American manufacturer has assured Everything Dinosaur customers continued access to this range for the foreseeable future.

The Carnegie Collectibles Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model Features in the Diorama

The Giganotosaurus dinosaur model (Carnegie Dinosaurs).

The Carnegie Collectibles Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of prehistoric animal models including Carnegie Collectibles available from Everything Dinosaur: Carnegie Collectibles and Wild Safari Dinos Prehistoric Animal Models by Safari Ltd

Modifying a Giganotosaurus Model

Paleo Paul has skilfully repositioned the dinosaur’s tail and given this carnivore a deeper, more robust neck.  These and the other modifications really help to make the diorama stand out.  It’s an excellent prehistoric scene and great care and thought has gone into composition and layout.

A Close Up of the Giganotosaurus Dinosaur

A fearsome Giganotosaurus dinosaur diorama.

Paleo Paul’s Giganotosaurus dinosaur model diorama.

Picture Credit: Paleo Paul

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Our thanks to Paleo Paul for sending in these pictures, we really enjoy looking at all the photographs of prehistoric animal dioramas that we receive.  Giganotosaurus, as an apex predator, is a popular choice amongst model makers and we think that Paleo Paul’s interpretation is very praiseworthy.”

JurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor Bad Company Set

Rebor Bad Company Model Set Reviewed (Compsognathus)

Time to catch up with the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables, a great video channel showcasing the very best in prehistoric animal replicas and other items for collectors.  Take for example, their latest Rebor video, a brief review of the highly sought after Rebor “Bad Company” set of four Compsognathus figures.  This video gives dinosaur model fans the opportunity to peruse this model set prior to purchasing.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor “Bad Company” Compsognathus Set

Video Credit: Jurassic Collectables

Check out the YouTube channel of Jurassic Collectables here: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , it’s well worth a look and don’t forget to subscribe to the JurassicCollectables channel.

In this excellent video review, the narrator looks at the four models in turn and then reflects on how Rebor have been keen to make models similar to the Compsognathus dinosaurs from the second “Jurassic Park” movie – the “Lost World”.  As a spokesperson for JurassicCollectables stated on the company’s Facebook page: “you wouldn’t want to get lost in the forest with these guys around.”  The pack hunting habit and social behaviour of these little dinosaurs inferred in the film and from this set of four Rebor replicas, is of course, pure speculation.  Only two Compsognathus (C. longipes) have been described to date, the first specimen discovered came from the famous Upper Jurassic, lithographic limestone deposits of Solnhofen (southern Germany).  The second fossil specimen, was found in a limestone quarry near Nice (south-eastern France), in 1971.

The size of Compsognathus is debated, as there is a considerable disparity between these two specimens.  The German specimen (the holotype), is much smaller and probably represents a juvenile.  In the video, all four models are compared in size to a number of other models including “off colour Alan” and a Rebor Hatching Velociraptor model.  Rebor themselves, state a 1:6 scale for these replicas.

Mixing and Matching Rebor Replicas to Make Unique Dioramas

The JurassicCollectables reviewer demonstrates the flexibility of the Rebor range by bringing in a base from the Rebor Scout model “Breeze” baby Utahraptor and the 1:35 scale Ceratosaurus “Savage” base, these are used to create a little diorama that features the four compsognathids.  The single figure “Sentry” is also included in a couple of shots, this demonstrates how interchangeable the Rebor range is and we at Everything Dinosaur look forward to mixing and matching in this way as the Rebor portfolio grows.

The Rebor Compsognathus Model Set “Bad Company”

Rebor Compsognathus set "Bad Company"

Rebor “Bad Company” Compsognathus model set.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 In the picture above the four Rebor Compsognathus replicas all look hungry.  This is one group of dinosaurs that you would not want to cross if you were alone in the woods on Isla Nublar or Isla Sorna for that matter.

To view the complete range of Rebor replicas including the new Rebor “Bad Company” and Rebor “Sentry” Compsognathus figures: Rebor Replicas and Figures

To see the review of “Sentry” by JurassicCollectables and for further information on Compsognathus longipesJurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor “Sentry”

A New Type of Horned Dinosaur Named “Hannah”

“Hannah” A New Species of Late Cretaceous Ceratopsian

PhD student Scott Persons (University of Alberta, Canada) is one of that admirable breed of young scientists, someone who simply exudes enthusiasm and passion for his work.  In the summer of 2015, at a dig site just outside the Dinosaur Provincial Park, Scott spotted the large nasal horn of a dinosaur sticking out of the ground.  The site the field team were exploring, had not been visited for decades, a couple of harsh Canadian winters would have reduced the nasal horn to frost shattered fragments but luckily Scott happened to spot the fossil and as a result a missing piece of the horned dinosaur family tree might get filled in.

Finding a Dinosaur Fossil “Nose First”

PhD student Scott Persons showing the location of the fossil skull.

Scott Persons must have a “nose” for dinosaur discoveries.

Picture Credit: Amanda Kelley

The matrix surrounding the horn corn was carefully removed and gradually more of the skull came into view.  The remarkably near complete skull represents a new type of Centrosaurine dinosaur, part of the horned dinosaur group.  Once the skull had been prepared, then a helicopter was brought in to airlift the specimen out of the remote canyon in southern Alberta, where it had laid since that part of the world was a lush, tropical paradise that teemed with prehistoric life.

A Dinosaur Named after a Dog

Fans of the Flintstones cartoon programme may remember a pet dinosaur called “Dino” that behaved very like a dog.  Well, thanks to Scott, things have gone full circle as he has nicknamed this new dinosaur “Hannah” after his own pet dog, that sometimes accompanies him on fossil digs.  We are not sure what Hannah the dog will make of her namesake, let’s hope that she does not chew on any of the bones.

The Top Part of the Skull Nearly Excavated

Ceratopsian dinosaur skull partially excavated.

The as yet, undescribed dinosaur skull partially unearthed.

Picture Credit: Amanda Kelley

The picture above shows the skull of “Hannah”, Scott is resting his hand close to where the eye socket is, the snout of this pick-up truck sized dinosaur is facing to the right.

An Important Transitional Fossil

A field team from the University of Alberta have returned to the quarry site in a bid to recovery post cranial fossil material.  The team are confident that a lot more of the skeleton remains embedded in the steeply sloping canyon side.  Already, a number of bones have been excavated including a complete scapula (shoulder blade).  The large nasal horn combined with evidence of forward projecting eppocipital elements from the top of the neck frill suggest that “Hannah” may possess a combination of traits leading scientists to tentatively propose that the specimen represents a transitional form from the older Centrosaurus genera to the younger and spectacular Styracosaurus.

Everything Dinosaur Attempts a Tentative Illustration of “Hannah”

"Hannah" the horned dinosaur.

Our interpretation of “Hannah” centrosaurine in nature with forward projecting epoccipital bones as part of the frill ornamentation.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fossils of Centrosaurus,  a dinosaur with a large nasal horn are found in older rocks, whilst fossils of the dinosaur known as Styracosaurus (another Centrosaurine) are found in younger rocks.  Biostratigraphically, this new specimen comes in between these two and it may represent a transitional form, allowing palaeontologists to potentially, fill in a piece of the Ceratopsian family tree.  Much more work has to be done before “Hannah” can be scientifically described but this does represent a significant discovery.

As a PhD candidate, Scott is well used to field work but he describes this specimen as by far the most exciting thing he’s ever discovered.

He commented:

“I’m incredibly thrilled, but discovering it in the field, it’s a really slow burn.”

Although there is a lot of work at the quarry still to be done, for every hour spent in the field, another ten hours will be spent in the preparation laboratory, cleaning and examining the fossils.

It might be a while before “Hannah” has a binomial name, but it looks very likely that this will be a new genus of horned dinosaur, one of a plethora of Centrosaurines and Chasmosaurines known from the Late Cretaceous of North America.

A Dinosaur with a Facial Deformity

Dwarf Duck-billed Dinosaur with Facial Tumour

Scientists have identified the first recorded evidence of a benign facial tumour in the fossilised jaw bone of a duck-billed dinosaur (Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus).  The dinosaur died before adulthood, it is not known whether the facial tumour contributed to this dinosaur’s demise.

The paper published in the journal “Scientific Reports”, was written by an international team of scientists, which included PhD students Mihai D. Dumbravă (Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania) and Kate Acheson (Southampton University), along with  Dr Zoltán Csiki-Sava (University of Bucharest, Romania), who led the field trip that found the jaw bones of this unfortunate reptile.  The facial tumour known as an ameloblastoma is a non-cancerous growth known to afflict mammals and reptiles, including our own species too.  This is the first time such a deformity has been documented in the fossil record.

An Artist’s Impression of the Juvenile Telmatosaurus with the Facial Tumour on the Left Dentary

Dinosaur with a facial tumour (Telmatosaurus).

A drawing of the facial features of Telmatosaurus showing the tumour on the left dentary.

Picture Credit: Mihai Dumbravă with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Commenting on the significance of the discovery, student Kate Acheson stated:

“This discovery is the first ever described in the fossil record and the first to be thoroughly documented in a dwarf dinosaur.  Telmatosaurus is known to be close to the root of the duck-billed dinosaur family tree, [Hadrosauridae] and the presence of such a deformity early in their evolution provides us with further evidence that the duck-billed dinosaurs were more prone to tumours than other dinosaurs.”

Telmatosaurus – A Primitive Member of the Hadrosauridae

Telmatosaurus lived on the Hateg archipelago, a series of islands in the middle of the Tethys Sea.  A number of different dinosaurs are known from the Hateg Island group and the fossils of Telmatosaurus date from around 69-67 million years ago (Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).  Like many of the prehistoric animals known from these deposits, the four-metre-long Telmatosaurus exhibits “island dwarfism”, a lack of resources led to a decrease in the size of individuals within the population.

An Illustration of Telmatosaurus (T. transsylvanicus)

A Illustration of the Hadrosaur Telmatosaurus

Telmatosaurus a primitive Hadrosaur of the Hateg archipelago.

Picture Credit: Mihai Dumbrava

Deformed Jaw Fossil

The fossil jaws were discovered more than ten years ago.  Comparison with other Telmatosaurus jaw material indicated that the lower portion of the left dentary was deformed but the reason for the deformity was not made clear until the fossil was subjected to high resolution scans at the Switzerland based SCANCO Medical AG.  The scans revealed that the juvenile Telmatosaurus had been suffering from a condition known as “ameloblastoma”, a benign tumour which is known to affect the jaws of mammals and some modern reptiles.

Scans Reveal the Presence of an Ameloblastoma in a Dinosaur Fossil

Scans of the Telmatosaurus facial tumour.

Scientists scan the jaw fossils and compare the jaw to a human mandible.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The picture above shows (A) the two lower jaw fossils (dentary) of the Telmatosaurus in frontal view (anterior).  The abbreviation exo on the left jaw indicates the position of the tumour growing on the bone (exostosis).  The computer model (B) shows the left jaw bone with elements colour coded, for example, red shows the primary neurovascular canal, yellow the secondary neurovascular pathways, orange – functional teeth, blue – replacement teeth, light blue – segmented dentary bone, purple – lytic density areas.  Pictures C and D show three-dimensional micro CT scan images with a rectangular section cut out to show the exostosis (C) and (D), the portion of the dentary showing the external exostosis.

Close up Examination of the Fossil Bone

Cross-sectional micro CT scans reveal the presence of a facial tumour.

Cross-sectional scans reveal the presence of abnormal bone growth.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

In the image above, (E) shows a cross-section of the jaw, with a highly magnified section (F), in the picture labelled “Scans Reveal the Presence of an Ameloblastoma in a Dinosaur Fossil”.  The middle image (G) is a cross-section of a second micro-CT and (H) provides a close up detail of that section.  Image (I) represents a cross-section of another CT image and (J) is a radiograph of the left dentary of a person exhibiting an ameloblastoma and (K) a further image showing a left jaw (H. sapiens) with an ameloblastoma.

Abbreviations:

cb = cortical bone; cbe = cortical bone expansion; cbt = cortical bone thinning; dt = dentary tooth; exo = exostosis; im = internal margin; itrb = internal trabeculae; lda = lytic density areas; mgr = mandibular groove; pnvc = primary neurovascular canal; rb = resorbed bone; rt = resorbed tooth; rtr = resorbed tooth roots; sba = soap bubble appearance; snvc = secondary neurovascular pathways.

Scale bars (A,B): 50 mm. Scale bars (C–I): 5 mm. Scale for (J,K) not reported.

A Simplified View Showing the Approximate Placement of Telmatosaurus within the Hadrosauridae

Telmatosaurus is a basal hadrosaurid dinosaur.

A simplified Hadrosauridae family tree showing Telmatosaurus as a basal member.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mihai D. Dumbravă explained:

“It was expected, due to the impoverished nature of the fauna, that our project to investigate diseases of the bone in the dwarf dinosaurs of the Haţeg County Dinosaurs Geopark would reveal some interesting results, but the discovery of a rare modern tumoural condition, and one that is so far unique in the fossil record, was a wonderful surprise.”

The Cause of Death?

As only the jaws of this dinosaur have been discovered, it is not possible to determine the impact of the ameloblastoma on the animal’s life, however, Dr Zoltán Csiki-Sava, another of the authors of the scientific paper postulated:

“We know from modern examples that predators often attack a member of the herd that looks a little different or is even slightly disabled by a disease.  The tumour in this dinosaur had not developed to its full extent at the moment it died, but it could have indirectly contributed to its early demise.  The particular make-up of the rocks allowed us to identify that this fossil was preserved near the channel of an ancient river.”  

Student Kate Acheson added:

“In a setting like this, it is extremely rare to find the complete specimen, and so it is almost impossible to determine the specific cause of death.  One can only make an informed guess based upon the evidence we have.”

The academic paper published in the journal “Scientific Reports” and it is entitled:

“A dinosaurian facial deformity and the first occurrence of ameloblastoma in the fossil record.”

The Daresbury Laboratory Open Day

The Dino Zone at Daresbury Laboratory Open Day

All is set and ready for the Daresbury Laboratory Open Day, taking place today.  Team members arrived at the site, located close to Warrington (Cheshire) and set up all the fossils and other dinosaur related items for the “Dino Zone”.

All Ready for Action at the “Dino Zone”

The Dino Zone and Everything Dinosaur

Ready for action, the Everything Dinosaur exhibit as part of the Dino Zone at Daresbury Laboratory.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Staff had been on site the day before to help organise the layout and to assist in the first stage of the set up, then it was an early start to ensure we were ready to begin meeting and greeting dinosaur fans from the time the science fair opened promptly at 9am.  Sure enough, despite the inclement weather we had our first visitors a few minutes later.

The Calm Before the Storm

Everything Dinosaur and their Dino Zone

Fossil digging and lots of fossils to explore.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We had just finished setting up the fossil identification display boards when the first family arrived.  In total, something like 7,500 people had registered for this free-to-attend science event.  It was a long day for Everything Dinosaur team members, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and there were lots of happy children, mums and dads, despite the rain.

Feedback on the Daresbury Laboratory Open Day

We noted lots of wonderful, positive feedback on social media.  It seems that the event has been a really big success.

Marielle wrote to say:

“Such a fantastic science discovery day!  Well done Daresbury Lab/STFC and all who helped make this a truly amazing public and family-friendly event!!  My 6 year-old and I enjoyed everything we experienced, from walking the T. rex, having our infra-red picture taken to digging up human bone replicas and ‘driving’ mini-rovers, and more!  But the winning attraction seems to have been the Dino Zone, especially fossil digging… Please, please, do not wait 10 years to organise another one!!!  (Oh, and the logistics was great too!).  Thank you.”

Lisa added:

“Thanks to all the organisers and staff for a thoroughly enjoyable day.  We are so lucky to have such a great place on our doorstep where wonderful things are happening each day and by allowing the community to visit you are inspiring our children to want to do great things in life.”

It seems that the Daresbury Laboratory Open Day and the “Dino Zone” was a roaring success.  Just time to thank all the wonderful staff and volunteers at Daresbury Laboratory for making today, a day to remember for lots of people.

Everything Dinosaur Ready for Daresbury Open Day

All Ready for Daresbury Open Day

Everything Dinosaur team members are all ready for the Daresbury Open Day taking place tomorrow (Saturday 9th July).  After working with the Science and Technology Facilities Council earlier in the week, supporting the outreach work with schools at the Daresbury Laboratory site (Warrington, Cheshire), our attention has turned to final preparations for the public open day.  Everything Dinosaur will be working in the “Dino Zone” encouraging visitors to dig for fossils and if you find a fossil you can keep it!

Everything Dinosaur’s Demonstration Space at the Daresbury Open Day

Daresbury Open Day with Everything Dinosaur

Ready for all the excited dinosaur and fossil fans.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Staff from Manchester Museum will be on hand to bring visitors up to date with amazing new fossil research and they have brought some super casts and fossil replicas for people to see, including a replica of the horn from a huge Triceratops (T. horridus we think).  There will be an Ichthyosaur cast to examine, plus we promise to bring some coprolites for brave people to hold and there might even be a few fossils of Woolly Mammoth on  hand, we promise to bring some fossil teeth.

It should be a fun filled and action packed day tomorrow, we might even spot a Tyrannosaurus rex on walkabout.  Dinosaur fans of all ages will be roaring with excitement.

Cambrian Suspension Feeder Provides Clue to Common Ancestor

The Secretive and Solitary Oesia disjuncta

Research carried out by UK and Canadian academics has shed light on how Cambrian life-forms may have led to more complex creatures including vertebrates and ultimately our own species.  It turns out that a small sea worm Oesia disjuncta with its mix of anatomical traits, might point the way towards a better understanding of the Kingdom Animalia.  The fossils of Oesia have also provided evidence about how these worms kept themselves safe against the ever increasing number of predators by building long, tube-like homes to live in.

According to the scientists, whose work is published in the academic journal “BMC Biology”, the ancient Cambrian sea bed may have been marked by perforated tubes that resembled “exceedingly thin brandy snaps”, as one Everything Dinosaur team member reported it.  Some of these structures may have been more than five hundred millimetres in length, gargantuan by Cambrian standards.  The study, undertaken by scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada), Cambridge University and two other Canadian universities (Toronto and Montréal), originated from a reassessment of fossils that were thought to have represented a type of marine green algae (Margaretia dorus).

Marble Canyon Quarry Oesia Fossil

A fossil of the worm Oesia (primitive hemichordate)

Oesia fossil with labels (anterior – front end, posterior – rear end)

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

To give an impression of scale of the specimen, the width of the photograph above is approximately three centimetres.

Learning More About Oesia disjuncta

Oesia disjuncta, the only species within the Oesia genus, has been known to science for more than 100 years.  It was described in 1911 by the great Charles D. Walcott, the American geologist who had discovered the Burgess Shale deposits (British Columbia, Canada) and the abundance of Cambrian fossils that they contain, two years earlier.  It had been described as a type of annelid marine worm (segmented worm), but this classification had subsequently fallen out of favour and a number of affinities had been suggested such a Oesia representing a basal chaetognath (arrow worm).  Recently, it had been proposed that this creature was taxonomically closer to the hemichordates, animals like acorn worms that have closer affinities to the chordates than they do to the Echinodermata (starfish, sea lilies, brittle stars and sea urchins.  This research supports the hypothesis that O. disjuncta should be placed within the hemichordates, which means it forms a link between marine worms and all the animals with backbones (vertebrates) and this includes our own species – H. sapiens.  The genus name for this worm, which lived a solitary life inside the protection of its tube, comes from a small lake (Lake Oesia), located just a few miles from the Burgess Shale quarry where the first fossils of this ancient animal were found.

An Illustration of Oesia Worms in their Tubes

The Oesia worm in its tube.

An illustration of the Oesia worm living in its tube.

Picture Credit: Marianne Collins

The Importance of the Marble Canyon Site

In 2012, a new highly fossiliferous site was discovered, around 25 miles from the original Burgess Shale fossil quarries excavated by Walcott.  This location has yielded many more examples of Oesia and they are generally better preserved than the specimens discovered in the previous Century.  The new quarries have yielded a number of new species as well as shedding more light on already described genera.  A study of these specimens has confirmed that Oesia was most likely a basal member of the hemichordates.  As such, being a hemichordate, it is nested within the superphylum Deuterostomia which also includes the vertebrates (amongst others).

Lead Author Karma Nanglu Pausing on the Trail up to the Marble Canyon Quarry

Student Karma Nanglu (University of Toronto)

University of Toronto PhD student and lead author Karma Nanglu on the trail leading up to the Marble Canyon site.

Picture Credit: Joe Moysiuk

Unravelling the Origins of Today’s Phyla

The bulk of the Kingdom Animalia which are more complex than the Cnidarians (jellyfish), with their radial symmetry, are divided into two main groups:

  1. Deuterostomia – bilateral symmetry mainly, with only the echinoderms showing radial symmetry, this group includes the vertebrates and acorn worms etc.
  2. Protostomia – bilateral symmetry including the molluscs, arthropods, nematodes and worms.

These lineages are believed to share a common ancestor that lived during the Ediacaran geological period.  With the placing of Oesia within the deuterostomes, scientists hope that they may be able to identify the distant common ancestor of all the Deuterostomia.

A Filter Feeder

With more data on Oesia, it suggests that this common ancestor was very probably a “filter feeder”, sucking in water and straining out nutrients that were trapped on gill structures.  Oesia was such a filter feeder with “u-shaped” gills running down most of its body length.  The tube-like structure it lived in was highly porous, this would have allowed water to flow in and out of the tube aiding filter feeding.

Lead author of the research Karma Nanglu (University of Toronto) stated:

“Hemichordates are central to our understanding of how deuterostomes evolved.  Through them, we can get clues about the anatomy and lifestyle of the last common ancestor that we all share, and this adds further evidence to the hypothesis that the ancestor was a filter-feeder like Oesia.”

The tubes were quite spacious for Oesia, they are at least twice as wide as the creature’s body and many times longer.

Co-author of the scientific study, Professor Simon Conway Morris (Cambridge University) added:

 “Oesia fossils are pretty enigmatic,  they are very rare and until now we could not prove which group they belonged to.  Now we know that they were primitive hemichordates – perhaps the most primitive of all.”

This new research establishes Oesia was similar to extant marine acorn worms.  These worms have a proboscis, a reproductive collar region and a long, narrow body.  The tube may have acted as a sanctuary protecting the soft-bodied worm from an array of rapidly evolving predators.

Not Associated with Margaretia dorus

The researchers realised that Oesia must have lived in tubes because among the Marble Canyon finds there are dozens of examples where the fossil remains of the worm are found within those of what was thought to be the remains of the green algae Margaretia dorus.

Oesia also hints that at some point, acorn worms underwent an evolutionary development that led to them leaving their tubes and opting for an existence burrowing in the mud of the sea bed.  The researchers suggest that as more efficient predators evolved, living in the mud at the bottom of the sea may have been a more advantageous lifestyle.  Extant acorn worms occupy this niche, rather than an epifaunal, filter feeding habit, they live in the sediment and feed on the nutrients that it contains.

Fossils Reveal the Tube-Like Structures of Oesia

Fossils of the tube-like structures associated wit Oesia.

Fossils of the tube-like structures once thought to be algae but now identified as the home of Oesia worms.

Picture Credit: BMC Biology

Professor Conway Morris explained:

“In its own depressing way this is a story of Darwinian competition.  The levels of competition and predation increased, life sped up and got harder and animals had to protect themselves more.  One way of doing this was to abandon life filter feeding in a tube, and instead to dig into the sediment and eat mud.  Once there, they found a new niche and were able to make a perfectly good life for themselves.”

The study, “Cambrian suspension-feeding tubicolous hemichordates”, is published in the journal BMC Biology.  Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the Royal Ontario Museum in the compilation of this article.

“Edge of Extinction” by Laura Martin Reviewed

“Edge of Extinction” – Dinosaur Adventure Book

As the summer holidays approach many dinosaur fans are looking forward to selecting their prehistoric animal themed reading.  As well as all the non-fiction texts that noses will get buried into over the vacation, try “Edge of Extinction” a new dinosaur adventure story penned by the talented Laura Martin.

Ideal Reading for Young Dinosaur Fans

Edge of Extinction by Laura Martin

An exciting young person’s read. Dinosaurs meets Lara Croft!

Picture Credit: Harper Collins Children’s Books

“Jurassic World meets “Indiana Jones”

The exciting plot revolves around the adventures of twelve-year-old Sky Mundy, a bit of a rebel and living in a world dominated by dinosaurs.  Two hundred years ago, scientists made the folly of bringing back the dinosaurs via cloning.  A disease that came with the Dinosauria, wiped out most of the human race forcing the survivors to hideaway in a twilight world.  The underground compounds offer some security, but Sky has to venture out into the world of dinosaurs to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.  As an aside, she and her best friend Shawn have to save the world!

To commemorate the publishing of Laura’s first novel, Everything Dinosaur is running a special competition on their Facebook page to win a copy of this thrilling new book.

Book Competition – Win with Everything Dinosaur

Simply “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then provide a name for the big, meat-eating dinosaur that features on the front cover of this thrilling paperback!

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” our Facebook page and enter the competition!

We will draw the lucky winner at random out of one of our hard hats and the dinosaur name caption competition closes on Sunday 31st July.  Good luck, just come up with a name for the big front cover dinosaur and “like” our Facebook page for a chance to win.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s fantastic range of dinosaur themed goodies: Everything Dinosaur

You can find “Edge of Extinction”  by Laura Martin here: Search Here for “Edge of Extinction”

We believe customer service is the key to getting "likes".

“Like” our Facebook page to enter the competition.

An Ideal Read for Teenagers and for Dinosaur Fans from Nine Years and Upwards

Described as a blend of “Jurassic Park” meets “Indiana Jones”, this debut novel by Laura has received rave reviews from young readers:

Alex (aged 10), stated: “The book was about a group of dinosaurs, which had taken over the world.  It was full of tension, action and danger.”

Nine-year-old Ross added: “Edge of Extinction by Laura Martin is a riveting read.  It was action packed and I could not put it down.”

A Note for Mums and Dads

Commenting on the publication of this new story all about life in a prehistoric animal dominated world, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur said:

“This book, published by Harper Collins, makes an ideal summer read for a young dinosaur fan.  In addition, it is great to see a girl as the central character and the heroine of the story.”

Staypressed theme by Themocracy