The “Carolina Butcher”

Carnufex carolinensis – Three Metre Long Crocodylomorph Challenged Early Theropod Dinosaurs

Palaeontologists from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have published a paper in the open access journal “Scientific Reports” about their research into one of the most fearsome predators that roamed the Americas during the early stages of the Late Triassic some 231 million years ago.  The reptile, identified as an ancestral crocodile has been named Carnufex carolinensis and it probably occupied an apex predator position in the lush, humid, tropical ecosystem as represented by the strata of the Pekin Formation found in North Carolina.

An Illustration of the Fearsome Crocodylomorph C. carolinensis

Fearsome predator of the Triassic.

Fearsome predator of the Triassic.

Picture Credit: Jorge Gonzales

 The fossilised remains were found in Chatham County. They include a fifty centimetre long partial skull, which when digitally mapped and reconstructed in three dimensions provided the scientists with a very accurate picture of the skull of this carnivore.  It may have walked on four legs for some of the time, but it would also have been able to rear up onto its powerful hind legs, perhaps to help it run down prey.  C. carolinensis was very probably a facultative biped.

Commenting on the significance of the study, Assistant Research Professor at North Caroline State University, Lindsay Zanno said:

“Fossils from this time period are extremely important to scientists because they record the earliest appearance of Crocodylomorphs and Theropod dinosaurs, two groups that first evolved in the Triassic Period, yet managed to survive to the present day in the form of crocodiles and birds.  The discovery of Carnufex, one of the world’s earliest and largest Crocodylomorphs, adds new information to the push and pull of terrestrial top predators across Pangea.”

After the end Permian extinction that wiped out a lot of terrestrial animals there seems to have been a period of rapid evolution as new animal types evolved to exploit the vacant positions in ecosystems.  The fossil record from the Early and Middle Triassic indicates that land-living predator diversity attained new levels with a seeming overabundance of carnivorous animals due to the evolution of entirely new types of predator.  One of the most significant clades to evolve was the Crocodylomorpha that still survive today.  The crocodiles represent one of only two Archosaurian lineages that are extant.  The second lineage are the Aves (birds).  In contrast to their modern-day descendants, the earliest Crocodylomorphs were generally small, cursorial animals occupying a subsidiary role to other types of predator.  However, C. carolinensis represents a large-bodied taxon with a slender skull, lined with sharp teeth.  It was clearly a formidable hunter and these fossils from Chatham County represent the remains of one of the oldest and earliest diverging Crocodylomorphs described so far.

Roaming Pangea at the time were large terrestrial predators which formed the Rauisuchians group, amongst the rauisuchids there was a sub-group of poposauroids which were also mainly predatory.  In the southern part of the super-continent, these types of ancient crocodile-like creatures competed with the rapidly evolving Theropod dinosaurs.  The fossils of Carnufex also suggest that in the northern part of Pangea, large-bodied Crocodylomorphs, not dinosaurs were making up a large portion of the apex terrestrial predators.

Lindsay Zanno went onto add:

“These animals hunted alongside the earliest Theropod dinosaurs, creating a predator pile-up.  We knew that there were too many top performers on the proverbial stage in the Late Triassic.  Yet, until we deciphered the story behind Carnufex, it wasn’t clear that early crocodile ancestors were among those vying for top predator roles prior to the reign of the dinosaurs in North America.”

Although the skull material was fragmentary, the scientists were able to build up a picture of the features of Carnufex using comparisons with better known Crocodylomorphs from the fossil record.  Sophisticated computer modelling helped the scientists to piece together the skull of this ancient crocodile.

A 231 Million Year Old Jigsaw Puzzle

Piecing together the skull from the fragmentary bones.

Piecing together the skull from the fragmentary bones.

Picture Credit: North Caroline State University

The picture above shows the various bones associated with the fossil specimen (blue), these have been superimposed on a model of a skull (white parts relate to fossil material, grey pieces are based on related animals from the fossil record).

As the Triassic period came to an end there was another set of extinctions, although nowhere near as dramatic as the End Permian extinction.  Many of these large, apex predators did not survive into the Jurassic, only the small-bodied Crocodylomorphs and the Theropoda survived.

Lindsay Zanno stated:

“Theropods were ready understudies for vacant top predator niches when large-bodied crocs and their relatives bowed out.  Predatory dinosaurs went on to fill these roles exclusively for the next 135 million years or so.”

However, for the ancestors of today’s crocodiles, gharials, caimans and alligators there were plenty of other ecological niches for them to exploit.  As the Theropods began to get bigger and bigger, these early crocodiles continued to flourish but this time they occupied secondary predatory roles.

Graduate student Susan Drymala of North Carolina State University and a co-author of the study put it rather nicely when she explained:

“The ancestors of modern crocs initially took on a role similar to foxes and jackals, with small, sleek bodies and long limbs.  If you want to picture these animals, just think of a modern fox, but with alligator skin instead of fur.”

Perhaps the most famous member of the Order Rauisuchia is Postosuchus, fossils of this six metre long giant have been found in North Carolina.  However, it appeared around ten million years after Carnufex carolinensis roamed the Earth.  The last of the large-bodied rauisuchians became extinct at the end of the Triassic.

A Famous Early Crocodile – Postosuchus

Scale drawing of Postosuchus

Scale drawing of Postosuchus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Nest Site Vandalised

Vandals Destroy Dinosaur Nests and Footprints

Everything Dinosaur has received press reports that vandals have smashed a number of dinosaur eggs and footprints that made up part of an outdoor display at the Mirador del Cretáceo dig site  in Coll de Nargó, Catalonia (north-eastern Spain).  The tourist attraction was opened in 2005 and combines a serious palaeontological study of Upper Cretaceous highly fossiliferous sediments with a tourist attraction, which permits onlookers to walk round the site and to view some of the fossil specimens in situ as well as other exhibits that show how dinosaurs nested.

Some of the items believed to have been smashed include dinosaur eggs that had been reassembled from the fossil remains to give the impression that they had just been laid.

Sites containing dinosaur egg remains and evidence of nesting behaviour are extremely rare and the dig site in the Pyrénéen village is believed to represent the largest location of its kind yet discovered in Europe.  In addition, the fossils are very well preserved and these in conjunction with the numerous dinosaur footprints that have been mapped in the area indicate the presence of at least six different types of dinosaur present in this Late Cretaceous ecosystem.

One of the Fossilised Eggs Preserved at the Site

An important Late Cretaceous dig site.

An important Late Cretaceous dig site.

Picture Credit: (Xavier Delclòs, Faculty of Geology UB)

Sadly, this is not the only example of vandalism reported upon by Everything Dinosaur, back in 2012, team members from Everything Dinosaur published an article about an act of dinosaur vandalism in Alberta, Canada.

To read more about this incident: Hooligans smash duck-billed dinosaur fossils

More recently, a Sauropod bone at the Dinosaur Monument in Utah was broken and a piece stolen, this theft and the damage to that part of the bone that remained led to the specimen having to be removed.

Salvador Moyà, the manager at the Palaeolithic Institute of Catalunya (ICP) called the destruction of the fossils “inconceivable” and the mayor of Coll de Nargó, Senor Benito Fité stated that this was a “catastrophe”.

These incidents are all to frequent, especially at sites which are relatively open and allow public access.  Back in 2013, the site was raided by a local resident and several specimens stolen.  These were only returned when it became public knowledge that whoever was responsible for the theft would face prosecution for their criminal action.

Those Highly Adaptable Humans

Research Suggests that H. sapiens Adapted Quickly to Different Environments

If the onset of a period of deforestation resulting from climate change provided the stimulus for the evolution and development of that part of the Homo genus that would eventually give rise to our own species H. sapiens, then how did our species cope when encountering extensively forested habitats?  The answer according to new research conducted by scientists from Oxford University, Sri Lanka and the University of Bradford is that our big-brained ancestors coped remarkably well.

Writing in the on line edition of the academic journal “Science” the research team report on carbon and oxygen isotope analysis carried out on the teeth of twenty-six individuals whose remains are associated with archaeological sites in Sri Lanka that date from the Pleistocene into the Holocene Epochs.  The isotope analysis provides evidence of human diet and it seems that humans as far back as 20,000 years ago were obtaining a significant proportion of their food requirements from the rainforest.

Early Homo sapiens – Made their Home in the Forest

Some early humans made the rainforest their home.

Some early humans made the rainforest their home.

Tropical rainforest environments are nutritionally poor and their dark and often treacherous interiors are difficult to navigate.  They would have represented challenging environments for human hunter/gatherers and up until now they had been little concrete evidence presented to suggest human habitation of rainforest environments prior to the advent of the Holocene, some 10,000 years ago.  This new study suggests that humans were exploiting rainforests for food, rather than more open habitats at least 20,000 years ago and in the scientific paper, the research team postulate that our species could have been making a home in tropical forests perhaps as far back as 45,000 years ago.  Previous archaeological research provides “tantalising hints” that humans could have been occupying rainforest ecosystems back in the Late Pleistocene (Late Tarantian stage), although it is not clear whether these early rainforest inhabitants were seasonal visitors or whether they permanently occupied the forests.   The research represents a collaborative effort between Britain-based scientists and their counterparts from Sri Lanka (The Institute of Archaeology and the Department of Archaeology, both based in Colombo).

Commenting on the research findings, co-author Professor Julia Lee-Thorp (Oxford University) stated:

“The isotopic methodology applied in our study has already been successfully used to study how primates, including African great apes, adapt to their forest environment.  However, this is the first time scientists have investigated ancient human fossils in a tropical forest context to see how our earliest ancestors survived in such a habitat.”

If the “Out of Africa” theory of H. sapiens evolution is accepted, then it is from Africa that modern humans migrated, this migration eventually leading to the colonisation of the rest of the world.  Fossils found in south-west Asia, Jordan for example, indicate a complex pattern of human and Neanderthal migrations most likely driven by climate change.  From around 60,000 years ago, modern humans moved eastwards across Asia into India, south-east Asia and eventually into Australia.  This migration may have taken as little as fifteen thousand years.

The scientists examined the fossilised teeth of humans from three archaeological sites in Sri Lanka, which are today surrounded by rainforest or more open terrain.  The isotope analysis revealed that all of the humans in the study had a diet sourced from slightly open, “intermediate rainforest” environments, only two individuals showed signs of a diet mainly sourced from an open grassland habitat.  However, the teeth that showed the “grassland signature” were dated to around 1,000 B.C. (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age), some of the youngest teeth used in the study.

Early Humans Exploited Different Environments

A Prehistoric Scene

A Prehistoric Scene

This new research supports the notion of just how adaptable early, modern humans were.  Back in 2011, Everything Dinosaur published an article about a remarkable discovery in East Timor that suggests as early as 40,000 years ago humans were catching Tuna.

To read this article: Prehistoric Fisherman Able to Catch Fast Swimming Tuna

Lead author of the scientific paper, Patrick Roberts (Oxford University) explained:

“This is the first study to directly test how much early human forest foragers depended on the rainforest for their diet.  The results are significant in showing that early humans in Sri Lanka were able to live almost entirely on food found in the rainforest without the need to move into other environments.  Our earliest human ancestors were clearly able to successfully adapt to extreme environments.”

The rapid spread of our species across the globe after the initial out of Africa migration does seem to support the idea that early H. sapiens were extremely adaptable, although they are not the only member of the Homo genus to have made the rainforest their home.  Homo erectus,  was the first widespread hominin species.  Fossils have been found in China and Indonesia.  It is very likely that H. erectus also adapted to forested regions.  In addition, the mysterious Homo floresiensis, fossils of which come from the remote Indonesian island of Flores was very well adapted to its mostly forested island home.  H. floresiensis may have survived to 13,000 years ago, but islanders talk of stories of strange little people living in the forest from much more recent times, perhaps until just a few hundred years ago.

Wild Safari Dinosaurs Monolophosaurus Wins Award

Monolophosaurus Voted Best Prehistoric Animal Toy Figure of 2014

Readers of “Prehistoric Times” magazine have voted the Monolophosaurus dinosaur model made by Safari Ltd as the best prehistoric animal toy figure for 2014.  This dinosaur is known from just one fossil specimen found in north-western China (Xinjiang Province), it has been assigned to the Megalosauroidea super-family of the Theropoda, although its phylogenetic affinities remain unclear.  It was certainly a formidable hunter, reaching lengths in excess of five metres and perhaps weighing as much as four male African lions (Panthero leo).

Award Winning Monolophosaurus Dinosaur Model

Middle Jurassic Theropod Dinosaur

Middle Jurassic Theropod Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

This model, originally sculpted by Doug Watson, is part of the highly successful Wild Safari Dinosaurs model range made by Safari Ltd.   The Monopholosaurus was one of three, new dinosaurs added to this range in 2014, the others being the spinosaurid Suchomimus and the horned dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus.

Everything Dinosaur produced a short, video review of this model back in February 2014.  This video (running time of 5:49), provides details about this dinosaur, its discovery and reflects on the way the model maker has interpreted the fossil evidence.

Everything Dinosaur Reviews the Wild Safari Dinosaurs Monolophosaurus

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It’s a pat on the back for Safari Ltd for having their Monolophosaurus honoured in this way.  For us, it is very pleasing to see Middle Jurassic dinosaurs from China being included in such a prestigious model series.  Most model ranges include the likes of Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex but for a company to produce a replica of Monolophosaurus, this really helps to make that range stand out.”

To view the range of Safari Ltd models available from Everything Dinosaur: Safari Ltd Prehistoric Animal Models

For us, what’s the most intriguing thing about “Single Crested Lizard”?  Surprisingly, it’s not trying to work out the function of that bizarre, thin crest on the head.  The jawbone of the holotype showed signs of puncture marks and scratches that were made by the teeth of another meat-eating dinosaur.  Since no other parts of the holotype fossil material showed such signs, this was interpreted as not post-mortem scavenging on the carcase, but evidence of “face biting” between rivals, perhaps even siblings.

Giant Ordovician Filter Feeder Provides Clues to Arthropod Evolution

Two Metre Long Aegirocassis benmoulae Expands Ecological Role of Anomalocarids

A beautifully preserved fossil of a giant Arthropod from Morocco is helping palaeontologists to gain a better understanding of the evolution and the development of the Arthropoda as well as providing a new perspective on the fauna that formed an extensive and diverse ecosystem in an Early Ordovician sea.

The Arthropoda are the largest phylum in the Kingdom Animalia and the first fossils of these segmented creatures with their hard, external skeletons date from the Early Cambrian.  Characteristics of these animals include that exoskeleton, a segmented body plan and paired, jointed appendages that can perform a variety of functions, such as swimming, walking and feeding.  Typical Arthropods include crustaceans, spiders, king crabs, scorpions, mites and insects, all very familiar to us today. Extinct forms include the Trilobita and the anomalocarids, one of which turns out to be a two metre long giant that fed like a baleen whale.

A team of researchers including scientists from Yale University and the University of Oxford have been examining the three-dimensional remains of this strange, new type of anomalocarid in a bid to understand how the Arthropods diversified and those highly adaptable paired, jointed appendages first evolved.  It could be argued that it is the Arthropods that dominate animal life on our planet.  As a phylum they have adapted to a huge range of different habitats and they make up over eighty percent of all described animal species.  Enter into the debate, a newly described anomalocarid named Aegirocassis benmoulae.  The anomalocarididae family are long-extinct.  However, they are regarded as basal members of the Arthropoda and their fossil record extends from the Cambrian into possibly the Devonian, although Devonian anomalocarids remain a controversial area of palaeontology due to differing interpretations of fossil material.   These marine creatures grew to very large sizes in relation to other marine fauna and the majority of them were nektonic predators.  However, A. benmoulae evolved in a very different direction.

An Illustration of the Giant Aegirocassis benmoulae – Filter Feeder of the Early Ordovician

An early, filter-feeding giant.

An early, filter-feeding giant.

Picture Credit: Marianne Collins, ArtofFact

The anomalocarids were like no living animal today.  The mouth was circular on the underside of the head and surrounded by frightening, jagged (in most cases) hard tooth plates, designed for crushing the exoskeletons of other Arthropods.  The large, compound eyes gave these active hunters an excellent all-round field of vision and at the front of the head was a pair of spiny, grasping appendages used to grab prey.  Their elongated, segmented bodies had flaps on the side that were used for propulsion.  Until the discovery of A. benmoulae it had been believed that anomalocarids had only one set of flaps per body segment and that they had completely lost their walking legs.

The fossils, which have been preserved in three dimensions, an extremely rare preservation state for an Arthropod, come from the Draa valley in south-east Morocco.  The sediments were formed at the bottom of a deep sea and the strata has provided palaeontologists with an insight into life in the Early Ordovician.  Very occasionally violent storms disturbed the seabed and buried large numbers of animals.  These events led to the formation of a very rich Lagerstätten, which has helped scientists to map the pace of evolution from the Cambrian explosion some sixty million years before these fossils formed to the end of the Ordovician some 443 million years ago.  The fossils from this part of Morocco form the Fezouata Biota, representing a marine habitat dating from around 485-480 million years ago.

To read about the discovery of a giant, predatory anomalocarid from the same region of Morocco: Giant Marine Predator of the Ordovician

The description of Aegirocassis benmoulae provides new evidence for Arthropoda evolution.  The exquisite preservation reveals that anomalocaridids had in fact, two separate sets of flaps per segment.  The upper flaps equate to the upper limb branch of modern Arthropods, while the lower set of flaps represent modified walking limbs that were adapted for swimming.  A reassessment of older anomalocarid fossilised remains also show two separate flaps per body segment.  The scientists have concluded that the anomalocaridids represent a stage of Arthropoda evolution before the fusion of the upper and lower appendages that form the double-branched limbs of extant Arthropods.

Peter Van Roy, an associate research scientist (Yale University) and an authority on the Fezouata Biota stated:

“It was while cleaning the fossil that I noticed the second, dorsal set of flaps.  It is fair to say I was in shock at the discovery and its implications.  It once and for all resolves the debate on where anomalocaridids belong in the Arthropod tree and clears up one of the most problematic aspects of their anatomy.”

As if to reflect the adaptability of the Arthropoda bauplan, it seems that this Moroccan giant evolved to exploit the abundance of small marine organisms that flourished in the Early Ordovician.  The head appendages that formed the spiky, grasping claws of this anomalocarid became modified into delicate filter feeding apparatus.  It is likely that this creature cruised the oceans feeding on tiny plankton and other organisms floating on the currents just like modern baleen whales, manta rays and whale sharks.

A Close up Showing the Delicate “Fronds” of the Filter Feeding Net

Delicate feeding apparatus.

Delicate feeding apparatus.

Picture Credit: Peter Van Roy (Yale University)

The picture shows a close up of the prepared fossil material showing the delicate fronds which the creature used to sieve sea water for food (scale bar = 10 mm).

Commenting on the implications for Early Ordovician ecosystems, c0-author of the scientific study, Dr. Allison Daley (Oxford University’s Department of Zoology) stated:

“These animals are filling an ecological role that hadn’t previously been filled by any other animal.  While filter feeding (filtering water to find food) is probably one of the oldest ways for animals to find food, previous filter feeders were smaller, and usually attached to the sea-floor [benthic].  We have found the oldest example of gigantism in a freely swimming filter feeder.”

We have Frog Spawn in our Office Pond

Frog Spawn Spotted in the Office Pond

This morning we have discovered the first frog spawn in the office pond for 2015.  Team members had seen a couple of frogs over the last few days, it was thought that these were males.  However, around dawn this morning the first frog spawn was produced.  The office pond is quite choked with weed and we had considered cleaning it out, but fearful of disturbing any frogs and other wildlife we decided the best course of action was to leave well alone.

Frog Spawn in the Office Pond (March 12th 2015)

Frog spawn spotted in the office pond.

Frog spawn spotted in the office pond.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our thanks to everyone who advised us leaving comments on the Everything Dinosaur Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.  Apparently, the weeds have not put the frogs off and the first spawn has been produced.  In the UK, all native species of amphibian (and reptile for that matter), are protected.  The frogs in our pond are Common Frogs (Rana temporaria), the name is a bit of a misnomer as these amphibians have become increasingly rare over the last few decades.  We shall take care not to disturb any other frogs that might be ready to breed but observe the number of spawnings that occur.

Interestingly, this is very early for us to have frog spawn, looking back at our records we can see that the first frog spawn does not normally occur into the third week of March, usually between the 18th and the 20th.  The mild day temperatures, coupled with a period of rain may have stimulated the frogs to start breeding a little earlier than usual.  We shall observe and see what happens next.

The End of the Line for the Carnegie Collectibles Range

Safari Ltd and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Part Company

It has been announced that Safari Ltd, the American figure and model manufacturer, has ended its twenty-eight year collaboration with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  This means that the scale model series known as the Carnegie Collectibles will be coming to an end.  First marketed in 1988, the Carnegie Collectibles range has featured a number of iconic dinosaur figures, the 1:10 scale feathered Velociraptor model, which arrived at Everything Dinosaur’s website just a few weeks ago, will be the last of this series to have been introduced.

The Carnegie Collectibles Feathered Velociraptor Model

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

The hand-painted replicas have been a staple for dinosaur fans and model collectors alike.  Each figure was authenticated by palaeontologists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and this model series had been described as “the world’s premier line of scale model dinosaur figures.”

Alexandre Pariente (CEO of Safari Ltd) commented:

“We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Carnegie, so this was a very difficult decision.  We are proud of the value created through this cooperative effort over the years for our Carnegie Dinosaurs line.  We took our time and carefully analysed Safari’s direction and ultimately concluded that Carnegie and Safari have divergent interests and it made sense for us to part ways.  We wish Carnegie will in its future endeavours.”

In contrast to the limited numbers of new models introduced under the Carnegie Collectibles banner, the Wild Safari Dinos range, had four new additions, this year, including the highly acclaimed Yutyrannus replica, which joins an ever growing list of Theropod replicas within this series.  For example, a new interpretation of Suchomimus was added in 2014 along with an award winning Monolophosaurus dinosaur model.

The Feathered Yutyrannus (Y. huali) Part of the Wild Safari Dinos Model Range

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2015.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

Safari Ltd have stated that they are moving forward and exploring new opportunities, including the potential to work with other museums and educational institutions that have significant prospects for growth and the potential to add value to the educational marketplace.

CEO Alexandre Pariente went onto add:

“While Safari Ltd very much appreciates the years of great collaboration with Carnegie in creating the best quality figurines that helped teach children around the globe about dinosaurs we’re not looking back.”

We imagine that there will be even greater emphasis place on the Wild Safari Dinos range and we at Everything Dinosaur are already anticipating a number of new releases in this line in 2016.

Production has ended for the Carnegie Collectibles range, which means that stocks will soon run out.  Collectors and dinosaur fans therefore, only have a short window of opportunity to purchase any models that they have not yet acquired.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We do understand the reasons for the relationship between these two fine organisations coming to an end.  However, we know how committed Safari Ltd are to the production of fine quality, hand-painted prehistoric animal models and we, as long-term partners of Safari Ltd look forward to working with them even closer over the next few years.”

Everything Dinosaur has stocks of this model range and a further shipment is due in shortly, but once they’re gone, they’re gone!

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Carnegie Collectible prehistoric animal replicas: Safari Ltd Carnegie Collectibles and Wild Safari Dinos

Everything Dinosaur Adds Social Media Share Buttons

Everything Dinosaur Adds Share Buttons to the Blog

Everything Dinosaur has announced today that it has added social media share buttons to its main blog site.  The buttons including Pinterest and Facebook will help readers of the company’s blog articles to share information about dinosaur research, fossil discoveries and new product developments.  Social media share buttons are already present on the Cheshire based company’s main website: Everything Dinosaur and the prehistoric animal model and toy enthusiasts also stated that social media share button facilities will be enhanced on the firm’s dedicated teaching website.

Social Media Share Buttons Added to Everything Dinosaur Blog

It's only fair to share!

It’s only fair to share!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

At the bottom of each of the articles published on this blog,  the share buttons will be shown.  Every single article published on this site since, May 2007 (the start of the blog), will have these buttons – that’s nearly 3,000 separate articles and features.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Readers could copy and paste links in the past, but it is our company philosophy to make things as convenient as we possibly can for our customers and blog readers.  So we have added social media share buttons to assist model collectors, palaeontologists, home educationalists, teachers and general readers.  After all, it’s only fair to share.”

Everything Dinosaur has developed a substantial social media presence with over 5,000 pins on Pinterest, one hundred videos on Youtube as well as very active Twitter and Facebook accounts.  We are delighted to have been able to make our content more convenient for readers.

Dinosaurs Roam at John Locke Academy

EYFS Children Learn All About Dinosaurs at John Locke Academy

It has been a busy and exciting term for the children at John Locke Academy.  Early Years Foundation Stage have been learning all about dinosaurs with the help and support of the enthusiastic teaching team at this new school, which was only opened last September.  The Spring Term topic was entitled “Stomp, Stomp, Roar” and there were some very colourful displays of the children’s work posted up in the spacious classrooms.  A Reception class had even set up their very own dinosaur museum and the fossil expert from Everything Dinosaur who visited the school to conduct Foundation Stage dinosaur workshops, was lucky enough to be given a guided tour.

Visit our Dinosaur Museum (Reception Class)

Come visit our dinosaur museum

Come visit our dinosaur museum

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/John Locke Academy

The children’s interest in all things prehistoric had been sparked by the discovery of some strange and very large eggs. What sort of creature could have laid eggs so big?  This was one of the questions posed by the teachers, all part of an exciting, learning through play focused curriculum which is currently being rolled out across the Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception).  Using the giant eggs as a stimulus, the teaching team encouraged the children to explore what sort of animals alive today lay eggs and to make links between the size of the eggs and the size of the animal that could have laid them.  Could a dinosaur have visited their school?

“Egg-citing” Discovery Made in the Classroom

Dinosaur eggs made from a balloon covered in paper mache.

Dinosaur eggs made from a balloon covered in paper mache.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/John Locke Academy

Dinosaurs as a term topic had certainly enthused teachers and children alike.  Prehistoric animals such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops and the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex are rarely out of the media spotlight these days, as our dinosaur expert pointed out when he explained that a new dinosaur species is, on average, named and described every thirty days or so.  The children demonstrated a remarkable level of knowledge, some of the Nursery class knew about geological periods and which dinosaurs lived in them.  In addition, the children were keen to point out which dinosaurs ate meat and which ones ate plants.

With all the wonderful examples of writing the children had produced, they needed somewhere to display them all, so one part of the dinosaur museum had been set aside as an area for showcasing all the books about prehistoric animals that the children had written.

Dinosaur Books Written by FS2 On Display

"Stomp, stomp, roar"!  Reception class make books about dinosaurs.

“Stomp, stomp, roar”! Reception class make books about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/John Locke Academy

The nursery children too, had created some wonderful and very informative dinosaur themed displays, all good examples of learning through imaginative, creative play.   If you are going to have a dinosaur museum in the classroom, then just like any other museum it might be a good idea to have a set of “Golden Rules” for visitors to follow.  The children were so engrossed in the idea of their very own classroom museum that they had drafted a set of rules to help guide visitors. This certainly demonstrates the children’s ability to apply what they had been learning to an appreciation of the wider world.

“Golden Rules” Designed for the Classroom Dinosaur Museum

Children design rules for their dinosaur museum.

Children design rules for their dinosaur museum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/John Locke Academy

The concept of learning through exploring, developing ideas and allowing the children the freedom to challenge themselves is certainly a philosophy that John Locke himself, would have approved of.  There was lots of evidence on display demonstrating that this new school is certainly meeting learning needs, allowing the children the opportunity to fulfil their potential in a rich, diverse environment with plenty of support.

As part of the topic, the children in the two Reception classes have been working on a number of writing exercises, all aimed at helping them to develop their competence and to expand their vocabularies.  The visitor from Everything Dinosaur was presented with a large number of  questions that the children had written in preparation for the dinosaur workshop.  There were so many excellent examples that our expert had to use part of the school hall to lay them out so they could be photographed.

Dinosaur Topic Aims to Develop Writing Skills

Encouraging FS2 to write about dinosaurs.

Encouraging FS2 to write about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/John Locke Academy

All in all, the topic entitled “Stomp, Stomp, Roar”, has been a “roaring success”, for the Academy.  A topic that has been enthusiastically embraced by children and teachers alike.  The children certainly enjoyed the Foundation Stage dinosaur workshops.

International Women’s Day 2015

Recognising the Role of Women in Science and Education

Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day.  A day for celebrating the role of women in society and for championing the continuing struggle for equality.  Although, the origins of this special day go back to pre World War One, the fight to recognise the role of women in society continues and we at Everything Dinosaur, with our female boss, take time out to recognise the immense contribution of women to the Earth Sciences and science teaching.  Our team members have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the most enthusiastic and engaging science teachers in the country.  This dedicated group, many of which, at the Primary School level at least are women, are tasked with enthusing and motivating the next generation of scientists.

Take for example, Miss Sparre, a Primary School teacher we met last week.  As part of her mixed Year 1/FS2 classes’s study of dinosaurs they had turned part of the classroom into a dinosaur museum.  The children were eager to show off their museum to our fossil expert who had come to the school to conduct a dinosaur workshop.

A Science Museum in the Classroom

Come to our dinosaur museum!

Come to our dinosaur museum!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Young Megan, (aged five), had been to the “Jurassic Coast” of Dorset and found lots of amazing Ammonite and Belemnite fossils, she was delighted to be able to explain what the fossils mean and we presented her with a drawing of what an Ammonite looked like when it swam in the Mesozoic seas.  The contribution to science and education by women has been immense and with enthusiastic young Megan explaining that she too, wants to be a palaeontologist, the important role of women in science is set to continue.

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