Year 1 Go “Walking with Dinosaurs”

“Walking with Dinosaurs” with Year 1

Class One and Class Two (Year 1), at Thorpe Hesley Primary School (South Yorkshire), have been studying dinosaurs over the summer term and Everything Dinosaur were invited in to help enthuse pupils and teachers alike with the term topic entitled “Walking with Dinosaurs”.  The children had lots of questions about prehistoric animals and over the course of the two workshops, our dinosaur expert did his best to answer them all.  We had some super questions from the children and even the teachers asked a few questions.  For example, Mrs Oakley, the teacher of Class Two asked what colour were dinosaurs?

As part of the scheme of work prepared for this topic, the dedicated teaching staff had laid out a number of dinosaur themed workstations for the children.  There was part of the well-organised classroom dedicated to dinosaur art and the children were encouraged to have a go at drawing dinosaurs.  There were some lovely examples of the children’s drawings on display.

A Well Thought Out Workstation Encouraging Children to Draw

Well thought out dinosaur themed workstation

Well thought out dinosaur themed workstation

Picture Credit: Thorpe Hesley Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The workstation was well lit, and roomy.  All the resources were handy to help the children with their illustrations.  Mr Docherty, told us about a little boy who loved Megalodon “C. megalodon“,  was an extinct type of shark, that may have measured more than fifteen metres long.  The children looked at some super-sized shark fossils as we explored how fossils feel and thought of suitable adjectives for them.   In addition, amongst the prehistoric animal extension resources Everything Dinosaur emailed over to the school after our visit, we made sure to include a Megalodon fact sheet and scale drawing.

We also included a set of marine reptile drawing materials, as well as pictures of Ammonites so that the children could create their very own prehistoric seascape.

Dinosaurs Appeal to Kinaesthetic Learners

Lots of tactile handling of different materials.

Lots of tactile handling of different materials.

Picture Credit: Thorpe Hesley Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Extension Ideas and Activities

Our dinosaur expert explored herbivores and carnivores and we looked at dinosaur teeth.  Some of the children’s names are very similar to the names of prehistoric animals, this permitted us to send over some additional information on armoured dinosaurs such as Lexovisaurus and Scelidosaurus harrisonii.  Perhaps these additional extension resources sent over to Mrs Oakley and Miss Moran (Class One teacher), will inspire the budding young palaeontologists to have a go at designing their very own dinosaur.  If they do, we would want to see lots of labels on their model or drawing, an opportunity to utilise more adjectives.  As for the colours the children choose, the information we emailed over to Mrs Oakley in answer to her question about dinosaur colouration may help.  The children could also be encouraged to think about habitat and environment.  What colour might a plant-eating dinosaur living in a forest be?  What colour might a meat-eating dinosaur that lived in a desert be?  Can we introduce ideas like camouflage, perhaps looking at animals alive today to help inspire the classes?

For further information on Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Sir Richard Owen

The pronunciation of prehistoric animals and all the terms that palaeontologists use can be a bit of a challenge.  Hopefully, the guide we gave Mrs Marshall (teaching assistant) will help.  Having met a young boy called Owen we explained that the word “dinosaur” was first coined by an Englishman (Richard Owen, later Sir Richard Owen).  We sent across some information all about this famous Victorian scientist, who recently had a blue plaque erected at his former school in Lancaster.  May be the children could create their very own blue plaque for Thorpe Hesley Primary, to celebrate studying “Walking with Dinosaurs”.

Blue Plaque Erected at the Former School of Sir Richard Owen

Sir Richard Owen honoured.

Sir Richard Owen honoured.

Picture Credit: LRGS

The Year 1 teaching team which also includes Mr Meares, Mrs Burns along with school visitor Mrs Hawkins even provided the children with some bones of animals to explore.  Our dinosaur expert enjoyed looking at the various skulls of farm animals that had been brought in.  We even recognised the T. rex soft toy that had been placed next to the cranial material (skulls and jaws).  We are not sure what a real Tyrannosaurus rex would have made of it all.

Year 1 Children Can Explore the Bones of Animals

Wonderful use of different materials to show different properties.

Wonderful use of different materials to show different properties.

Picture Credit: Thorpe Hesley Primary School

New Sauropodomorph Dinosaur from South Africa

Sefapanosaurus – Another Piece in the Dinosaur Jigsaw Puzzle

Yet another example of a new genus of dinosaur found lurking in a museum collection, this time from South Africa.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur often state that one of the best places to find a new dinosaur species is not out in the field but by re-examining fossil material already within a museum’s collection.  New techniques have enabled palaeontologists to gain a much better understanding of known fossils, many of which might have been excavated and prepared decades earlier.  As the number of dinosaur discoveries grows, so scientists can use new fossil finds to compare and contrast already studied specimens, this can provide fresh insight and help to place a museum specimen into a wider context within the Dinosauria.

That’s exactly what happened in the case of the newly described Sauropodomorph dinosaur named Sefapanosaurus zastronensis.   The team of South African and Argentinian palaeontologists who made this discovery, re-classified the fossils, which had been thought to represent another South African Sauropodomorph called Aardonyx (A. celestae).  Aardonyx had been named and described six years ago.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article announcing the discovery of Aardonyx celestae: New Basal Sauropod Described

Researchers from South Africa’s University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand, Museo de La Plata (Argentina) and Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (also Argentina) have published a scientific paper about this new dinosaur in the Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society.  It is hoped that S. zastronensis will help palaeontologists to better understand the phylogenetic relationships between basal Sauropodomorpha and their spread and diversity during the Late Triassic/Early Jurassic.

A Reconstruction of Sefapanosaurus zastronensis

The bones shaded in grey represent actual fossil material.

The bones shaded in grey represent actual fossil material.

Picture Credit: University of Witwatersrand

The fossils represent at least four individuals and consist of post cranial material (limb bones, foot bones and some vertebrae) and they were found back in the 1930′s and resided in the collection of the Evolutionary Studies Institute (University of Witwatersrand).  The Evolutionary Studies Institute houses the largest fossil collection in Africa, there are over 30,000 catalogued plant fossils and approximately 6,000 fossils from the Karoo Basin, most of the fossils originate from Africa, but there are a number of important specimens from elsewhere in the world housed at the Institute.

The Sefapanosaurus fossils were excavated from the Upper Elliot Formation (Zastron locality), the strata in this area dates from the very end of the Triassic to the beginning of the Jurassic geological period.   The fossils are estimated to be around 200 million years old and they were located more than one hundred miles south of where the Aardonyx celestae fossils were found.

One of the most distinctive features of this dinosaur are the ankle bones (astragalus), they are shaped like a cross.  This unique autapomorphy (distinct anatomical feature), accounts for this dinosaur’s name.  The genus name comes from the word “sefapano” in the local Sesotho dialect, it means “cross”.  The species name honours the small agricultural town of Zastron, which is close to where the fossils were found.

The Incomplete Left Foot (Pes) showing the Ankle Bones (Proximal View)

Holotype fossil material (386) showing ankle bones.

Holotype fossil material (386) showing ankle bones.

Picture Credit: University of Witwatersrand with additional annotation from Everything Dinosaur

One of the unique morphologies found in the fossil bones is the tall ascending process of the astragalus (ankle bone).

Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan (University of Cape Town), one of the co-authors of the scientific paper stated:

“The discovery of Sefapanosaurus shows that there were several of these transitional early Sauropodomorph dinosaurs roaming around southern Africa about 200 million years ago.”

A subsequent phylogenetic analysis of basal Sauropods from South American and southern Africa places Sefapanosaurus within the group of Sauropodomorphs more closely related to Sauropods than to the genus Massopondylus (Sauropodiformes).

Argentinian palaeontologist and lead author, Dr. Alejandro Otero, explained that Sefapanosaurus helps to fill in the gap between the earliest Sauropodomorphs and the gigantic Sauropods that are so well known, dinosaurs such as Brontosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Brachiosaurus from the Late Jurassic.

“Sefapanosaurus constitutes a member of the growing list of transitional Sauropodmorph dinosaurs from Argentina and South Africa that are increasingly telling us how they diversified.”

The discovery of Sefapanosaurus and other recent dinosaur fossil finds in the southern hemisphere reveals that the diversity of plant-eating dinosaurs in Africa and South America was remarkably high in the early Jurassic, a time when these two continents were joined together as part of a single super-continent known as Gondwana.

A picture of the Right Scapula (shoulder blade)

Scale bar =

Scale bar = 8cm

Picture Credit: University of Witwatersrand

Early European Had Close Neanderthal Ancestor

Early Modern European Humans Interbred with Neanderthals

The very last of the Neanderthals may have died out some 28,000 years ago but their legacy lives on as the modern human genome (Homo sapiens) contains traces of Neanderthal genetic material.  The Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) are the closest related species to our own, we share a common ancestor but this fact alone does not account for the one to three percent contribution to the genome of Eurasians, scientists believe that some time in the recent past these two species interbred.  It seems that interbreeding between these two related species may have taken place much more recently than previously thought.  A new scientific paper published in the journal “Nature” reports on the study of an ancient human jawbone, this research suggests that interbreeding took place as recently as some 40,000 years ago.

The Ancient Human Jawbone Used in the Genetic Study

DNA analysis reveals very recent Neanderthal ancestor.

DNA analysis reveals a very recent Neanderthal ancestor.

Picture Credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology/Svante Pääbo

A robust human mandible was discovered in a cave system close to the town of Anina in south-western Romania back in 2002.  The cave contains a huge amount of mammal bones including large numbers of Cave Bears (Ursus spelaeus) which probably used one of the chambers in the cave system as a hibernation den.  The explorers found that a number of bones had been placed on nearby rocks, this suggested human activity and sure enough, the remains of early modern humans were found.  A beautifully preserved human jawbone (mandible) and part of a skull were discovered.  Radiocarbon dating estimates that the jawbone is around 37,800 years old, making these fossil materials the oldest modern human bones to have been found in Europe.  The cave, was called the “Peștera cu Oase”, which translates from the Romanian to mean “the cave of bones”.

Even if more conservative dating methods are used, the human remains come out at between 37,000 and 42,000 years old.  The jaw is definitely H. sapiens as it shows a number of modern human morphologies including a prominent chin.  However, a genetic analysis carried out by an international team of researchers which included scientists from Harvard Medical School, the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, indicates that between six to nine percent of this person’s genome originates from Neanderthals.  This is far greater than any other human sequenced to date.  As large segments of this individual’s chromosomes are Neanderthal in origin, it suggests that a Neanderthal was among this person’s most recent ancestors, perhaps just four to six generations back in this Romanian’s family tree.  This new study provides substantial evidence that the first modern humans that arrived in Europe interbred with local Neanderthals.

Put simply, the person whose jawbone was found in the cave may have had a Neanderthal great grandparent!

A Researcher Carefully Extracts Fragments of Bone for the DNA Analysis

For their analysis the researchers used 35 milligrams of bone powder from the jawbone.

For their analysis the researchers used 35 milligrams of bone powder from the jawbone.

Picture Credit: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology/Svante Pääbo

A previous study had suggested that early modern humans migrating out of Africa mixed with Neanderthals in the Middle East between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.  Modern humans spread eastwards into Asia and westwards into Europe.  Eventually, it was our species that spread to all parts of the world, the last of the Neanderthals dying out around 28,000 years ago.

One of the lead authors of the report Qiaomei Fu (Chinese Academy of Sciences), stated:

“The data from the jawbone imply that humans mixed with Neanderthals not just in the Middle East but in Europe as well.”

Svante  Pääbo (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology), added:

“It is such a lucky and unexpected thing to get DNA from a human who was so closely related to a Neanderthal.”

The research team had to very carefully sift out all the contaminating DNA before being able to assess the presence of remnants of Neanderthal genetic material.  Most of the contamination was caused by microbial DNA in contact with the bone whilst it was in the cave, most of the hominin DNA recorded came from researchers who had handled the fossil bone.  Only a very tiny proportion of the genetic material analysed could be traced back to its Neanderthal origins.

The robust jaw and teeth do show some Neanderthal morphologies, this is to be expected given the close relatedness of this person to H. neanderthalensis.  The scientists hope to continue their studies and identify more Neanderthal genetic material from ancient human remains.  This will help them map potential Neanderthal/human interactions across Europe and Asia.

2,000 “Likes” on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook Page

2,000 “Likes” on Facebook for Everything Dinosaur

Over the last few days or so, the Everything Dinosaur Facebook page has passed the 2,000 “likes” mark.  We just want to say a very big thank you to all our customers, readers and dinosaur enthusiasts who have given our page a “like”.  Every “like” is greatly appreciated and unlike many companies, we have never purchased “likes” or manipulated the site to add fake likes.  All these endorsements have come from people who genuinely think that we are good at what we do.

Two Thousand “Likes” on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook Page

Two thousand likes on Everything Dinosaur's Facebook page.

Two thousand likes on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Recently, there have been a number of studies undertaken into how businesses can purchase endorsements such as positive reviews, favourable blog articles, Facebook “likes” and so forth.  BBC journalists have even tracked down individuals who have posted up company reviews and been paid for doing so.  We at Everything Dinosaur believe that good companies don’t need to mislead customers and potential new customers in this way.  We let our good service and hard work speak for us.

To read a recent article about misleading company and product reviews being posted online: Fake Reviews Mislead Customers

We are truly grateful for all the Facebook “likes” that we receive.  We really enjoy posting up pictures, articles and information on our Facebook page, we have lots of friends and last year we accumulated 1,580 “likes” so we are truly honoured to have added nearly five hundred more this year.  At Everything Dinosaur we believe that Facebook “likes” have to be earned and not purchased we shall continue to work hard to earn every appreciative “like” that we receive.

At the start of 2015 we set ourselves a few “targets” for Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page, let’s see how we are doing:

Targets:

  1. Increase “likes” to “2,000″ by the end of 2015 (we have reached this target by the third week of June)
  2. Increase the number of friends we have on Facebook to 400 by the end of the year (gaining more Facebook friends all the time and we should pass this target later on this year)
  3. Run at least three competitions and free giveaways to show our gratitude to our Facebook fans (just like we did last year), a new competition will be announced shortly
We believe customer service is the key to getting "likes".

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

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

Perhaps we should reset our Facebook “likes” target for 2015 to 2, 500!

Dinosaur Day with Year 1

Abbey Hey Primary Academy and Dinosaurs

Another busy week with lots of dinosaur workshops with team members travelling to Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire.  There was just enough time to squeeze in a trip to Abbey Hey Primary Academy to meet all the budding young palaeontologists in Year 1.  The children in classes 1Wh, 1G and 1W have been studying dinosaurs and learning all about these amazing prehistoric creatures with the help of their enthusiastic teaching team.  Out in the playground our dinosaur expert spotted some wonderful dinosaur shaped chalk boards

Playground Jurassic Park

Fun and creative dinosaur themed playgrounds.

Fun and creative dinosaur themed playground accessories.

Picture Credit: Abbey Hey Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

With three classes to teach there was no time to lose, so it was straight into the Infants Hall to conduct the first dinosaur workshop with Miss Whitty’s class (1Wh) assisted by Miss Ahmed and Mr Jackson.  We were most impressed with the pictures that had been posted up onto Abbey Hey’s school website.  Clearly the children enjoyed themselves and they certainly had learned a lot.

Next it was onto class 1G, to visit the children in their classroom and to conduct a second dinosaur and fossil themed session.  Our dinosaur expert marvelled at the wonderful examples of dinosaur inspired writing he saw posted up around the classroom.  The children had focused on two dinosaurs, the armoured Stegosaurus and the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex, they had been working out what these dinosaurs were like and compiling a list of dinosaur facts on flip charts.

Stegosaurus and T. rex Inspired Facts 

Learning facts about dinosaurs.

Learning facts about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Abbey Hey Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

Teacher, Miss Ellison explained that the pupils had been really engaged with this term topic and they had loved working out just how big some dinosaurs were.  Miss Russell and Miss Farrington took plenty of photographs during the dinosaur workshop, these would help in the planned recall and recount activity that the teaching team had prepared for the afternoon.  There was even a model of a big dinosaur egg in the classroom, this topic certainly seems to have captured the imagination of the teachers.

Year 1 Children Have Been Learning About Dinosaur Habitats

Year 1 explore dinosaur habitats.

Year 1 explore dinosaur habitats.

Picture Credit: Abbey Hey Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

A number of the classes had created their own dinosaur habitats, learning about what animals need to keep them healthy and happy.  Good job the children knew how to distinguish the carnivores from the herbivores.

In the afternoon, it was time to work with class 1W.  Miss Sarwar (the teacher), had briefed our dinosaur expert on exactly where the children were on the term topic, as a result we were able to help reinforce learning and check understanding as we explored prehistoric animals with the class.  Miss Heap and Miss Statham (teaching assistants) were on hand to help the enthusiastic children learn how Triceratops used its horns, how Ammonites caught fish and the special, secret powers of armoured dinosaurs.

A spokesperson for the school, commented on the school’s class pages:

Year 1 had a visit from a dinosaur expert [Everything Dinosaur].  They were shown dinosaur fossils dating back over 150 million years.  The children thoroughly enjoyed the day and they learnt some much more about dinosaurs.”

To learn more about Everything Dinosaur’s school visits and to download free dinosaur themed teaching resources: Dinosaurs in School

Study Suggests Sixth Mass Extinction Phase

Our Planet is Entering New Mass Extinction Phase

A team of international scientists based in the United States and Mexico have published a report declaring that a sixth mass extinction event is well under way and our species is running out of time to reverse this trend through conservation efforts.  Everything Dinosaur team members have written a number of articles on this blog about reports detailing the current rate of extinctions being recorded and the irreversible loss of ecosystems and biota.  This latest research takes a more conservative approach to calculating species loss than many earlier studies and this study focuses on the impact on vertebrates.  Even so, the team conclude that animals with back bones are becoming extinct more than 114 times faster than the “normal”, background extinction rate.

Scientists from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, (Mexico), the University of California, Stanford University, Princeton University and the University of Florida state that the Earth is entering the sixth great mass extinction event, some sixty-five million years after the fifth mass extinction which ended the reign of the dinosaurs.

Report States This is the Greatest Extinction Phase Since the Demise of the Dinosaurs

Cataclysmic impact event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Cataclysmic impact event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Don Davis commissioned by NASA

The fossil record suggests that there have been five major extinction events in the Phanerozoic Eon which represents the last 545 million years or so of our planet’s history.  The term Phanerozoic is derived from the Greek, for “visible life”, this reflects that the preserved fossilised remains of organisms become much more plentiful in rocks dated from 545 million years ago and younger.  Over this huge amount of time, there have always been extinctions.  Scientists are aware of the fact that there is a “background” level of extinction, but in this new research, the scientist report that amongst vertebrates the current trends suggest extinction rates 114 times faster than normal.

A Table Showing the Five Previous Mass Extinctions

Mass Extinction in Summary

Table Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Gerrado Ceballos, (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico), lead author of the paper, that has just been published in the academic journal “Science Advances” commented:

“We are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event.  If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on.”

The report concludes that since 1900, more than four hundred species of vertebrates have died out.  Such a loss would normally occur over 10,000 years if extinction rates were at the normal, background level.  The rapid loss of biodiversity is put down to the effect of an increasing human population on our planet.   The number of humans living on our planet is estimated to have been around 1.9 billion in 1900, today, the human population is estimated to be around 7.325 billion, an increase of 385% over the last one hundred and fifteen years.  The expansion of urban populations, pollution, loss of habitats, deforestation and climate change are some of the reasons for the dramatically increasing loss of vertebrates according to the paper’s authors.

With the disappearance of key vertebrate species from an ecosystem, the other components such as insects and plant life will also be affected.   The report states that beneficial insects such as pollinating bees could be lost to humanity within three human generations.  The loss of these pollinators would have a huge impact on human food resources and place our own species Homo sapiens very much under threat.

To read an article written in 2014 about potential mass extinctions: Heading for a Sixth Mass Extinction?

The number of global mass extinction events preserved in the fossil record has been challenged recently.  Back in April of this year, Everything Dinosaur reported on a new study that suggested that there had been an additional, major extinction event around 260 million years ago in the Permian geological period.  This extinction phase preceded the End Permian extinction event that is believed to be the most devastating extinction known from the Phanerozoic.  Some 95% of all life is believed to have died out.

To find out more: A Sixth Mass Extinction Event?

Woman Killed by Rock Fall at Popular Fossil Hunting Location

Fatal Accident at Llantwit Major (South Wales)

A twenty-four year old woman has been killed after a rock fell on her at Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan (South Wales).  The accident happened yesterday evening and emergency services were called to this popular walking and fossil hunting location just before 5.30pm. A spokesperson for the Welsh ambulance service stated that they had received a report of an incident where a rock from the cliffs had fallen on a person’s head.  Unfortunately, the impact proved fatal and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.  The cliffs are extremely dangerous and there are numerous signs posted up along the beach warning visitors of the potential hazards.

Very Dangerous Cliffs along the Welsh Coast

Rock falls are a constant hazard.

Rock falls are a constant hazard.

Picture Credit: UK Fossils Network

Each year, the beautiful beaches to be found in this part of south Wales attract thousands of visitors, many of whom are keen to explore the area looking for fossils.  There are a lot of different types of fossil to be found, including giant Gastropods and numerous bivalves.  Occasionally, vertebrate fossils can be discovered, fish scales and teeth as well as isolated bones from marine reptiles.  The blue lias rocks date from the Early Jurassic and they are approximately 200 million years old.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“This is very sad news.  We will soon be at the height of the holiday season with thousands of tourists flocking to locations such as the Vale of Glamorgan, Ravenscar and the Dorset coast.  However, many of the cliffs at these places which are so popular with tourists, are extremely dangerous.  Rock falls and land slips are very common around the Lyme Regis and Charmouth areas for example and we urge all visitors to heed the warning signs and to stay away from cliffs.”

 Back in 2012, Everything Dinosaur reported on a fatal accident that took place at Hive Beach (near Bridport, Dorset), this latest terrible incident demonstrates that care and precaution must be taken at all times and visitors to locations such as Llantwit Major are urged to stay clear of the cliffs.

If you are looking for fossils, Everything Dinosaur advises that visitors limit their searches to the rocks along the foreshore and the shales exposed on the beach away from the cliffs.  Fossils are being constantly eroded onto the beach and there are always plenty of specimens to find.

Our team members are happy to provide advice and guidance to fossil hunters, in addition, we wrote an article a few years ago now that provided hints and safety tips for fossil hunters.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s tips on safe fossil collecting: Fossil Collecting Code – Safety Tips

The accident occurred just a few miles to the west of Lavernock Point, it was at Lavernock Point that the fossilised remains of an Early Jurassic meat-eating dinosaur were discovered in 2014.   These fossils have just been put on display at the National Museum of Wales.  This exceptional fossil find might persuade more people to visit these sites along the Welsh side of the Bristol Channel, whilst fossil hunting can be a wonderful hobby, all the team members at Everything Dinosaur strongly urge that visitors take great care and that they do not approach the cliffs. No fossil collecting should be attempted from the cliffs themselves or any adjacent scree slopes.

Papo Velociraptors Claim to Fame

“Jurassic World Raptors” and the Papo Velociraptor Replica

Some of the most exciting scenes in the record breaking dinosaur movie “Jurassic World” involve the pack of “raptors” and the various chase scenes.  Velociraptors, at least over-sized ones anyway, have been a mainstay of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, ever since the first film came out way back in 1993.  Pack hunting and some form of social behaviour has been ascribed to these types of dinosaurs, which as members of the Dromaeosauridae (swift lizards) family, are closely related to modern birds.  In reality, the two species of Velociraptor described to date were much smaller than their movie counterparts, but even so, they would very probably have been aggressive animals and formidable hunters, much feared by even the largest of the herbivores that shared their Asian habitat towards the end of the Cretaceous period.

Which Dinosaur Model Most Closely Resembles the Movie Raptors?

This accolade, we think, goes to Papo for their Velociraptor replica.  The Theropod dinosaurs in “Jurassic World” have been criticised for not reflecting some of the latest thinking with regards to meat-eating dinosaurs. For example, there is an absence of feathers and many palaeontologists now think that the majority of the Theropoda were at least partially feathered.  The Papo Velociraptor dinosaur model is also not feathered.

Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and a Velociraptor

The Papo Velociraptor model closely resembles the "Jurassic World" Velociraptors.

The Papo Velociraptor model closely resembles the “Jurassic World” Velociraptors.

Picture Credit: Universal Studios with additional material from Everything Dinosaur

Papo, the French model and figure manufacturer, has built up a strong reputation for its excellent replicas.  The company’s dinosaur model range was believed to have been inspired by the first film, “Jurassic Park” that was released in 1993.  The current range consists of over thirty different prehistoric animal models.

To view the full Papo prehistoric animal model range: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

In the film, animal trailer turned dinosaur behaviourist Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, leads a pack of Velociraptors, describing himself as the “alpha” member of the pack, Owen is able to exercise some degree of control over the actions of his dinosaurs.  How much control..?  Well, that would be giving away details of the plot and since not all our readers have seen the film yet, we shall say no more.

Fake Reviews Misleading Potential Customers

Genuine Reviews from Teachers after Dinosaur Workshops

This week there have been a number of reports commissioned that focus on the allegations over the publishing of fake and misleading reviews on retailing websites.  In a survey carried out by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), some 54% of the adults questioned revealed that they relied on reviews that had been posted up on websites and that many respondents found them invaluable.  Third party testimonials, posted up feedback and customer reviews are a very helpful source of information.  Visitors to a website can read the comments and other information posted and this does affect their purchasing decisions.

It is important that customers can feel confident about the information in reviews, that these reviews have been provided by genuine customers, whether it be a service or product purchased.  There have also been a number of allegations made of people “blackmailing” businesses with threats to leave very negative reviews in order to obtain a benefit such as a discount.  In addition, many of the reviews that are posted up are often paid for, examples of which are Tweets from innovators and celebrities endorsing a product, or favourable blog articles singing the praises of a company.  Some of these blog posts endorsing a firm or its goods and services do state within the article that this is a paid for posting, whilst others do not.  The CMA has launched an investigation into several companies, as the use of paid for endorsements without a clear admission of payment may be unlawful.

Everything Dinosaur team members would like to reassure readers that every review posted up on its websites is genuine.  The reviews, feedback and comments we receive are from our customers or, as is the case on our dinosaur workshops in school website, from teachers or senior management from an organisation that has had one of our dinosaur themed workshops.

Review Given to Everything Dinosaur from Year 1 Teacher

Every review posted is genuine feedback from a member of the teaching team.

Every review posted is genuine feedback from a member of the teaching team.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 Take for example, the image above.  This is our latest review, teaching feedback given to us after a dinosaur workshop with a class of Year 1 children.  We have removed the teacher’s surname and email address in order to compile with our own online publishing policy in terms of protecting an individual’s privacy.  The teacher even took the trouble to colour in the stars as she awarded as “five stars” for our dinosaur workshop.

Nikki (the teacher), stated:

“Fantastic knowledge of dinosaurs, very interactive.  Children thoroughly enjoyed it!  Great workshop. Thank you.”

Thank you Nikki, your comments are greatly appreciated.  We log all our feedback, comments, reviews and such like.  Teaching feedback for example, is stored so that we can use this information to help improve our service to schools and to demonstrate to STEM/STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – Network) how we have feedback loops built into our training to help promote continuous development.

Nisha Arora, Senior Director at the CMA, commented to the BBC:

“We are committed to ensuring that consumers’ trust in these important information tools is maintained.  We will take enforcement action where necessary to tackle unlawful practices.”

Facebook “likes” are another area of concern.  We know of a number of companies who have purchased thousands of likes to help boost the profile of the Facebook pages and in turn, their own brand/web presence.  Facebook, claims to have cracked down on this practice but there are still many examples on this social media platform.

Sue Judd, the Finance Director of Everything Dinosaur stated:

“A huge, international business has sprung up in the last few years all aimed at helping to promote companies, boost brands and endorse products.  At Everything Dinosaur, we pride ourselves in publishing genuine feedback, reviews and comments and we would never knowingly post up information such as fake reviews and endorsements.”

The CMA estimates that some £23 billion (GBP) a year of consumer spending was potentially influenced by online reviews.  So called “astroturfing”, the practice of creating fake grass root reviews can lead to big rewards for unscrupulous businesses.  There have also been reports made about businesses writing fake reviews of themselves to boost their ratings on review sites and even some examples of firms writing or commissioning fake negative reviews to undermine rivals, for malicious reasons or for personal gain.

Purchased Facebook “Likes”

Customers can gain some understanding of the practices employed by examining the business profiles of companies on Facebook.  If an organisation suddenly has hundreds or even thousands more “likes”, then this could be an example of purchased likes being added to the business profile.  Although, as site managers aim to get on top of this problem, the firms and individuals behind such practices are getting smarter.  Rather than post up huge numbers of “likes” in a short period, contracts are drawn up whereby dozens and dozens of fake “likes” are posted up over a period of several weeks.  These trends are more difficult for administrators and site security watchdogs to spot.

Everything Dinosaur currently has around 2,020 Facebook “likes”, this number has been steadily rising since the Facebook page was launched.

Everything Dinosaur’s Reviews – The Numbers

Here is a list of the numbers of published reviews from customers posted up on Everything Dinosaur’s websites:

  • 1,286 customer reviews on Everything Dinosaur’s website - Everything Dinosaur Sadly, we were not able to transfer the many thousands of reviews that had been posted up previously when we transferred website servers.
  • 2,020 Facebook “likes”
  • 57 dinosaur workshop reviews since this site went live at the end of August 2014.  See the reviews here: Dinosaur Workshops in Schools

Recently, social media sites such as Facebook have introduced a number of enhancements.  For instance, visitors to a company’s Facebook page can get an insight into the firm’s responsiveness if the site displays a logo (found under the Page’s cover photo) that states that this firm is very responsive to messages.  To qualify a Page must have done both of the following over the previous 7 days:

  1. Responded to 90% of messages
  2. Maintained a median response time of five minutes for all replies sent

These are quite tough, especially when you consider the global nature of a business such as ours.  We do our best to respond quickly, but messages sent from Australia could arrive when all our team members are tucked up in bed.  Everything Dinosaur confidently predicts that very soon (if not already), a number of dubious practices will be offered by various individuals/companies to provide a false impression of a firm’s responsiveness.

Thank You for All the Dinosaur Pictures

Lots of Dinosaur Pictures Sent to Everything Dinosaur

Just time to say a very big thank you to all the dinosaur fans and budding fossil collectors that have sent in prehistoric animal pictures.  We do look at every single one that we receive and we are humbled when we get so many sent into us.  We know that a lot of schools have been teaching dinosaur themed topics during the latter part of the spring term and for the first part of the summer term, as a result, we have been very busy visiting schools and we have seen some wonderful examples of artwork as well as inspiring the next generation of palaeoartists to send in their pictures to Everything Dinosaur.

A Pink Stegosaurus (Very Colourful)

A very colourful pink plant-eating dinosaur.

A very colourful pink plant-eating dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Enan

We have posted up a large number of the illustrations on our warehouse notice boards, others have been put up on the office walls, they certainly cheer the place up.  Lots and lots of brightly coloured prehistoric animals such as this very pink Stegosaurus drawn by Enan, aged 4.  His mum says that Stegosaurus is his favourite dinosaur (for the moment), but he does tend to change quite frequently and he likes to tell his parents about his dinosaur models and to explain which ones ate plants and which ones ate meat.  Well done, Enan.

Hopefully, we will have time to post up more examples, on our social media pages and of course on the Everything Dinosaur blog.

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