All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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30 06, 2017

The Origin of Filter Feeding in Whales

By | June 30th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Coronodon havensteini – An Important Transitional Fossil

The classification and evolutionary history of whales has been a source of fascination for many scientists.  It was the famous Swedish biologist, Carl Linnaeus, who in 1758, defined whales as mammals and not fish.  Charles Darwin speculated on the origins of whales (Cetacea), if we at Everything Dinosaur recall correctly, Darwin proposed that whales and their smaller cousins, the dolphins and porpoises had a terrestrial ancestor, but the exact evolutionary history of this diverse group of vertebrates has yet to be fully unravelled.  Step forward, the newly described Coronodon havensteini, the premolars and molars of this Oligocene-aged toothed whale have provided tantalising evidence suggesting how filter feeding in whales evolved.

Coronodon havensteini Hunting Fish

C. havensteini feeding.

An illustration showing two Coronodon havensteini specimens chasing a shoal of small fish.

Picture Credit: Alberto Gennari

The picture above depicts a scene off the south-eastern United States some thirty million years ago (Oligocene).  A pair of Coronodon pursue a shoal of fish, whilst above, some toothed birds (Pelagornis sandersi), circle in the hope of picking off any injured fish that come to the surface.

Different Types of Whale – Different Types of Feeding

Although, all whales share a common ancestor, a terrestrial ancestor with teeth that hunted prey (raptorial behaviour), over the fifty million years or so, since the first ancestral whales, three main feeding strategies have evolved.

  1. Odontoceti – the toothed whales the most specious component of the Cetacea consisting of Sperm whales, the Beluga, dolphins, Orcas and porpoises.
  2. Suction feeders – within the Odontocetes, a number of genera have utilised their large, broad jaws and big skulls to help them suck prey into their mouths.  Examples include many of the beaked whales and the bizarre Narwhal.
  3. Mysticeti – the baleen whales, much less diverse and specious when compared to the Odontoceti, these are the filter feeders and as such, they include the largest vertebrates to have ever existed, leviathans like the Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) and the Humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae).

Whilst scuba diving in South Carolina’s Wando River on the hunt for sharks’ teeth, geologist Mark Havenstein came across the well-preserved skull of an ancient toothed whale, one that seems to be a transitional fossil between raptorial toothed whales and the evolution of filter feeding cetaceans.

The Evolution of Baleen – Keratinous Sieves

Scientists from the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History, Charleston, South Carolina (where the holotype material currently resides), along with colleagues from the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (New York), prepared and restored the fossil, a subsequent study of the teeth indicates that this prehistoric whale, named Coronodon havensteini was starting out on an evolutionary path that would eventually lead to functional filter feeding.

The Restored Skull of the Oligocene Whale Coronodon havensteini

The restored skull of Coronodon.

Two views of the restored Coronodon skull (a) oblique anterior view and (b) right lateral view.

Picture Credit: Geisler et al (Current Biology)

Writing in the academic journal “Current Biology”, the researchers propose that Coronodon represents the most basal member of the baleen whales (Mysticeti) found to date.  The teeth at the front of the jaws are conical, pointed and demonstrate procumbent dentition (the teeth in the front of the jaw point forward, ideal for spearing slippery fish).  These teeth indicate a piscivorous diet, that Coronodon actively hunted its prey (raptorial behaviour).  However, a detailed analysis of the huge molars at the back of the jaws revealed something remarkable.  The molars show very little signs of wear from shearing or cutting up food, instead these teeth may have served as simple sieves to sift out smaller prey items from seawater.  The broad, multi-cusped molars frame narrow slits and wear patterns on the cusps indicate a role in filter feeding.

This suggests that the Mysticeti evolved their baleen plates whilst they retained their teeth and that baleen did not evolve in the mouths of Odontocetes that specialised in suction feeding and as a result, lost their teeth.

The Specialised “Filtering Teeth” of Coronodon havensteini 

Coronodon havensteini molars.

The molars of C. havensteini acted as simple filters.

Picture Credit: Geisler et al (Current Biology)

Commenting on the implications for their discovery, lead author of the research paper, Associate Professor Dr Jonathan Geisler (College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York Institute of Technology), stated:

“The transition from teeth to baleen is widely contested, but our research indicates that ancient toothed whales relied on the spaces between their complex and enormous teeth for filtering.  It appears that over millions of years, the teeth were retained until baleen became sufficiently large and complex to take over the role of filter feeding.”

Giant Filter Feeders

The newly erected genus name Coronodon comes from the Greek for “crown tooth”, a reference to the multi-cusped molars that indicate filter feeding.  The species name honours Mark Havenstein who found the holotype.  The researchers suggest that later lineages of ancestral Mysticetes relied on specialised molars to act as functional sieves with baleen evolving in the mouth too.  At some point in the evolution of these whales a “tipping point” was reached with a shift from mostly teeth to mostly baleen in the jaw.  The bristle-like baleen of extant filter feeding whales is made from keratin, it hangs from the upper jaw and acts like a giant sieve, straining out tiny food particles such as krill.

The Baleen of this Filter Feeding Whale Can be Clearly Seen in the Upper Jaw

A filter feeding whale - the fringes of baleen in the upper jaw.

The baleen hanging from the upper jaw acts as a filter feeding device in the Mysticeti whales.

The researchers conclude that Coronodon havensteini lends weight to the idea that filter feeding was preceded by raptorial, predatory behaviour and that suction feeding evolved separately.

The scientific paper: “The Origin of Filter Feeding in Whales” by Jonathan H. Geisler, Robert W. Boessenecker, Mace Brown, Brian L. Beatty published in the journal “Current Biology”

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29 06, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews Mojo Fun Red Hunting T. rex

By | June 29th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Mojo Fun Red Hunting T. rex Reviewed by JurassicCollectables

In a first for the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables, a video review of a Mojo Fun dinosaur model has been posted up.  The figure reviewed is the new for 2017, Mojo Fun red hunting Tyrannosaurus rex and in this brief video (it lasts around four minutes), dinosaur fans are given a guided tour of one of the newest models in the Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” range.

The company was founded in 2009 and the range of figures and replicas has grown steadily ever since.  Today, there are over thirty models in the Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” series and it is fitting for JurassicCollectables to start their association with this company by producing a video review of one of the hunting T. rex dinosaur models, as these figures are proving to be very popular with Everything Dinosaur’s customer base.

Although, this video review focuses on “red”, a number of Papo dinosaurs feature, helping to provide a useful comparison.  Also, look out for a regular appearance by “off-colour Alan”, he even tries riding on the back of the Mojo Fun model.

The Mojo Fun Hunting T. rex (Red) Video Review by JurassicCollectables

Video Credit: Jurassic Collectables

In the short video, the narrator guides the viewer through the details that can be seen on this carefully sculpted replica.  These videos are a great way for dinosaur model fans to learn about new collections.  JurassicCollectables takes great care to show the figure from numerous angles.  It is really helpful to have a 360-degree view.

JurassicCollectables have a brilliant YouTube channel crammed full of prehistoric animal model reviews and other very informative videos.  They have just achieved 55, 000 subscribers, that’s a fantastic achievement, our congratulations to the team.

Visit the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables here: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , Everything Dinosaur recommends that dinosaur model fans subscribe to the JurassicCollectables channel.

The Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” Hunting Tyrannosaurus rex Model

Mojo hunting Tyrannosaurus rex.

Mojo hunting T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun has produced several Tyrannosaurus rex figures, the range includes a juvenile T. rex plus a 1:40 scale version, along with a green painted, hunting T. rex figure.

To see these Tyrannosaurs and the rest of the Mojo Fun “Prehistoric and Extinct” range at Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Animals

In the JurassicCollectables video, the narrator explains the colour scheme on the figure and highlights the fine details of the skin texture.  It certainly is a fearsome looking dinosaur with its huge jaws and vicious teeth.

Our thanks to JurassicCollectables for this super video review and we look forward to viewing more Mojo Fun model reviews in the near future.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article published earlier this month announcing the arrival of the new Mojo Fun range: Everything Dinosaur Adds Mojo Fun Models

For a recently published article that challenges the idea of a feathered T. rexT. rex Sheds its Feathers

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28 06, 2017

Rebor Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model Reviewed

By | June 28th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Rebor “Crimson King” Carnotaurus Model Reviewed

Rebor’s latest addition to their 1:35 scale model range is the “Crimson King”, a replica of Carnotaurus (C. sastrei), a large carnivorous dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Argentina.  The model has an articulated lower jaw and is supplied with its own base, a representation of a lava field.

The Rebor Carnotaurus Figure “Crimson King”

The Rebor Carnotaurus dinosaur model.

The Rebor Carnotaurus dinosaur model “Crimson King”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Abelisaurids versus Tyrannosaurids

Carnotaurus is a member of the dinosaur family called the Abelisauridae.  In fact, it was the discovery of the Carnotaurus holotype material, a partial skeleton of a single individual that led to the reaffirmation of this new dinosaur family.  South American scientists, trying to build up their knowledge about strange Upper Cretaceous carnivorous dinosaurs of Argentina had not discovered anything like Carnotaurus before, so this thin-snouted, lightly built, horned carnivore was assigned to its own unique Theropod family along with Abelisaurus (A. comahuensis).  Since then, a number of abelisaurids have been described from Africa, including Madagascar, elsewhere in South America and also, potentially from Europe (Tarascosaurus).  In general terms, towards the end of the Cretaceous, the tyrannosaurids were the dominant, apex predators in the northern hemisphere, whereas in the southern hemisphere, it seems to have been the Abelisauridae that held sway.

Rebor are to be congratulated for introducing another type of Theropod dinosaur into their scale model range.  The head is quite beautifully painted and there are lots of details to admire.  The jaw can be a little difficult to open, but a quick “dunk” in a cup of hot water should heat up the plastic enough to allow free movement.  Once the jaw is opened that marvellous painted tongue can be seen.  It reminds us of the tongue of a lizard.

A Close View of the Head and Jaws of the Rebor Carnotaurus Model

The Rebor Carnotaurus dinosaur model.

The Rebor “Crimson King” Carnotaurus replica.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture above, you can clearly make out the horns over the eye-socket, the anatomical feature that was the inspiration for the Carnotaurus genus name – “meat-eating bull”.  As with Rebor, the skull has some lovely details and we like the skin texture, after all, the original Carnotaurus fossil material had skin impressions associated with it.

To view the entire Rebor model range, including the “Crimson King” dinosaur model: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Replicas

Wonderful Skin Texture on the Rebor Model

A lot of care has gone into the sculpting of this dinosaur model.  The skin impressions found indicate that this dinosaur had a scaly skin, covered in irregular scales, Rebor has taken considerable care to reproduce an appropriate skin tone and texture.

A Close View of the Tail of the Rebor Carnotaurus

The tail of the Rebor Carnotaurus.

The Rebor “Crimson King” tail (right lateral view).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fast Theropod

Research undertaken (Currie and Persons, 2011), suggests that the tail was adapted to permit a larger, more powerful musculature than that found in other equally sized Theropods.  This built on earlier research which looked at the biomechanics of the Carnotaurus hind limbs.  These studies support the idea that this dinosaur was a fast runner, perhaps capable of bursts of speed in excess of fifty kilometres an hour (thirty mph).  The legs of this Rebor replica certainly look powerful and the model is very stable on its well sculpted toes.

A Lean and Powerful Apex Predator (Carnotaurus sastrei)

Rebor Carnotaurus dinosaur model the "Crimson King".

Rebor Carnotaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Rebor “Crimson King” is a very welcome addition to the range of Rebor prehistoric animal replicas.  It is often the little details that impress the team members here at Everything Dinosaur.  For example, on the base there is an illustration of the skeleton of Carnotaurus.   The cervical vertebrae are beautifully drawn.   It is these little touches that endears the Rebor range to dinosaur fans and model collectors alike.

The Base of the Rebor Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model (“Crimson King”)

The base of the Rebor "Crimson King".

The base of the Rebor Carnotaurus replica with a geological ruler to provide scale.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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27 06, 2017

Smallwood Academy Study Dinosaurs

By | June 27th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaur Drawings and Super Spelling

A day of dinosaur workshops with the Key Stage 1 children and the Reception class at Smallwood CofE Primary Academy in Cheshire and what a busy day it was too.  Under the enthusiastic tutelage of the dedicated teaching team, the children in Ash, Elm and Willow classes have been learning all about prehistoric animals and famous fossil hunters such as Mary Anning.  Several of the children had brought in their own fossil finds to show their classmates.  The children’s splendid fossils are not quite as big as the “gigantic”, “giant”, “humongous” Jurassic ammonites that our dinosaur expert took into school.  However, we are sure that the fossils that the children brought in will help to enrich this exciting term topic.  After explaining how fossils formed, there was lots of fossil handling and plenty of opportunities for the pupils to try out some super describing words.

Ash Class (Year 1) Design Dinosaurs

Year 1 dinosaur designs.

Year 1 children design dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Smallwood CofE Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

Extension Activities

One of the extension activities involved challenging the class to design their own prehistoric animals.  Could the pupils label the body parts including the skull?  Could they come up with a name to describe their very own dinosaur?  Having worked with the Key Stage 1 classes in the morning, during the lunch break, our dinosaur expert was handed a selection of the drawings from the budding young palaeontologists in Ash class (Year 1) – what a colourful collection of dinosaurs!

A Pink and Green Dinosaur from Florence

A colourful dinosaur design.

Florence (Ash class) designed a very colourful dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Smallwood CofE Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

New Dinosaur Discoveries

At Everything Dinosaur, we keep a register of newly described and named dinosaurs.  On average, a new dinosaur is named every three weeks and so far around 1,200 different genera have been erected – there are certainly lots of amazing dinosaurs to help inspire the children with their very own dinosaur designs.  We even emailed over to the teaching team a fact sheet and scale drawing of one dinosaur (Maiasaura), could the children work out from the drawing and fact sheet what Maiasaura ate?

Aimee Drew an “Apartesarrs”

A long-necked dinosaur drawaing.

A beautiful dinosaur drawing from Aimee.

Picture Credit: Smallwood CofE Primary Academy/Everything Dinosaur

Amazing Questions

Elm class (Year 2), had thought of some brilliant questions to ask and in the afternoon, we met up with the enthusiastic Reception class (Willow) and our dinosaur expert was introduced to Oliver – Willow’s resident dinosaur expert.

A very big thank you to the children for producing such a wonderful collection of dinosaur drawings and our thanks to the teaching team at Smallwood CofE Primary Academy for inviting Everything Dinosaur into the school.

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26 06, 2017

Rebor Crimson King Makes a Splash

By | June 26th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Main Page|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter Features Rebor Carnotaurus

The latest Everything Dinosaur newsletter features the newly arrived, magnificent Rebor Carnotaurus (C. sastrei), 1:35 scale replica.  As soon as stock of this new Rebor replica arrived at our warehouse, we were able to send out a newsletter to our customers informing them that this new addition to the Rebor model range was available.

The Rebor Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model Grabs the Headlines

The Rebor "Crimson King" Carnotaurus model.

Introducing the Rebor “Crimson King” Carnotaurus replica.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor’s prehistoric animal model range goes from strength to strength and we know that this Theropod model has been eagerly anticipated.  Fortunately, for Everything Dinosaur customers, they were able to reserve a replica to ensure that collectors did not miss out.  With its articulated lower jaw, great design and beautifully detailed “lava field” model base, the Rebor “Crimson King” is bound to become a firm favourite amongst dinosaur model fans.

The Rebor Carnotaurus Replica “Crimson King”

Rebor Carnotaurus replica.

The Rebor “Crimson King” Carnotaurus replica.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Rebor replicas in stock at Everything Dinosaur including the new Rebor “Crimson King” Carnotaurus figure: Rebor Replicas

Rebor Limited Edition Velociraptors and Natural History Museum Dinosaurs

In the latest Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter, details are provided as to how readers can get their hands on a limited edition set of Rebor Velociraptor figures – the “Winston and Stan” model set in the bronze effect finish.  In addition, updates on the availability of the Natural History Museum dinosaur models are given.  With prices starting from around £4.99 plus post and packing (June 2017), these replicas represent excellent value for money.

The Everything Dinosaur Customer Newsletter

Natural History Museum dinosaurs and Rebor replicas.

Rebor limited edition Velociraptor models and Natural History Museum dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Stegosaurus

Sales of Mojo Fun models in the “Prehistoric & Extinct” range remain strong.  This range was added to Everything Dinosaur’s portfolio a few weeks ago and since all the Mojo Fun models in this range are stocked, collectors have been able to acquire those figures that had been missing from their collections.  Furthermore, many existing Everything Dinosaur customers who had not purchased this range before have been snapping them up, including the beautiful Mojo Fun Stegosaurus model.

Mojo Fun Models and Pegasus Kits

Pegasus dinosaur kits and Mojo Fun models.

Mojo Fun and Pegasus dinosaur kits.

Picture Credit Everything Dinosaur

The newsletter also gave us the opportunity to update subscribers with regards to the current availability of the much-loved Pegasus kits.  The Spinosaurus and the Triceratops kits are currently in stock.

How to Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur’s Newsletters

Customers can subscribe to Everything Dinosaur’s newsletter when placing an order. Visitors to our company website: Everything Dinosaur can also subscribe by scrolling down the home page and completing the form on the bottom right portion of the screen.

It is Easy to Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur’s Newsletter

Subscribe to the Everything Dinosaur newsletter.

Scroll down the Everything Dinosaur home page to find the subscription area.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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25 06, 2017

The Sensitive Face of Neovenator

By | June 25th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

The Neurovascular System of Neovenator – A “Touchy” Subject

When it comes to European Theropods, most are only known from a handful of fragmentary bones.  An exception to this is the allosauroid Neovenator (N. salerii) from the Barremian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous.  Some seventy percent of the skeleton of an individual animal has been excavated from the Wessex Formation exposures on the Isle of Wight and crucially, this fossil material, the holotype, includes portions from the front of the skull.  Although it has been some twenty years, since this dinosaur was formally named and described, the fossils, especially the cranial material, can still yield intriguing information about the capabilities and potential behaviour of carnivorous dinosaurs.

A Model of Neovenator (N. salerii)

A model of Neovenator.

“New Hunter” from the Isle of Wight

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from Southampton University in collaboration with European colleagues, provide a detailed study using computed tomography of two bones from the front part of the skull that make up the upper jaw (premaxilla and maxilla).  The research reveals the presence of a substantial network of neurovascular canals which are linked to the external surfaces of the jaw bones.  This suggests that Neovenator had a “sensitive face”, it might have been able to sense its environment, or perhaps the anterior portion of some Theropod skulls played a tactile role in behaviour, dinosaurs rubbing noses for example, perhaps as a way of reinforcing bonds in a pack.    The snouts of meat-eating dinosaurs could have had a functional role, similar to the same role that our fingertips perform for us primates.  It is an intriguing thought.

The Skull of Neovenator Showing the Location of the Premaxilla and Maxilla Fossil Bones

The skull of Neovenator showing the upper jaw bones.

The head of Neovenator reconstructed showing the holotype premaxilla and the maxilla.

Picture Credit: Darren Naish

The Trigeminal Nerve

The research team took care to rule out the idea that these observed internal structures may have resulted from imaging errors arising from the scanning process.  In addition, Theropod skulls like many extant Tetrapods, have lots of air spaces in the bones (skeletal pneumaticity), the researchers interpreted these canals and channels as being independent and separate from the pneumatic system.  The branching structures that the team identified were concluded to be part of the neurovascular system, components the team identified were interpreted as constituents of the trigeminal nerve, sometimes referred to as the fifth cranial nerve.  This multi-branching nerve is responsible for tactile information, external temperature assessment, it has a role in motor control such as our chewing motion and provides pain receptors within the face.  It seems that Neovenator had a sensitive snout.

The Articulated Premaxilla and Maxilla of Neovenator – Scan Reveals a Network of Neurovascular Structures

Neovenator skull scan reveals neurovascular structures.

Articulated premaxilla and maxilla of Neovenator holotype MIWG 6348 in left lateral view showing neurovascular structures.

Picture Credit: Barker et al University of Southampton

A Specialised Tactile Organ

When the size of these canals and structures were assessed they were calculated to occupy 7.3% of the volume of the premaxilla and 6.7% of the total volume of the maxilla.  If this large Theropod had a very sensitive face, then this leads onto the question regarding the role or function of such a sensitive area of skin.  Some research has already been undertaken when it comes to the sensory abilities of large Theropods.  For example, the cranial morphology of Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus) has been studied, in particular the enlarged foramina (openings) associated with the surface of the premaxilla.  Spinosaurus is believed to have been an aquatic dinosaur, these enlarged and numerous foramina may have played a role in helping this dinosaur make sense of its aquatic environment.  Crocodylians for instance, have very sensitive jaws, lined with tiny foramina that provide sensory information (integumentary sense organs), their exact role is uncertain but they probably play a role in prey detection and orientation.

The Long Jaws of Spinosaurus Could Have Provided Sensory Information

Spinosaurus

From paddler to swimming the “evolving” image of Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: BBC

In addition, earlier this year, Everything Dinosaur published a short article summarising research undertaken on a newly described species of Tyrannosaur (Daspletosaurus), which may have had a sensitive snout: New Species of Daspletosaurus Announced – The Sensitive Side of Theropods

Exploring the Sensory Capabilities of the Dinosauria

Commenting upon the significance of this new study, one of the co-authors of the scientific paper, Dr Darren Naish, (National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton) stated:

“This is a pretty exciting study; the results were unexpectedly good and reveal a level of anatomical detail we hoped for but didn’t realise we’d actually get.  Quite what this facial sensitivity means for the behaviour and biology of these animals is the big question – roles in feeding, foraging, nesting and social behaviour are all possible.”

Scan of the Anterior Portion of the Skull of Neovenator

Neovantor face scan.

The complex neurovascular system observed in the premaxilla including the nervous system associated with tooth sockets.  Foramina marked in blue.

Picture Credit: Barker et al University of Southampton

The discovery of large, complicated internal canals within the bones of the anterior portion of Theropod dinosaur skulls suggests that these were sensory organs providing an enhanced tactile function in conjunction with information about the dinosaur’s immediate environment.  This well-written paper poses a number of intriguing questions as to the function(s) of these structures.  One of the ideas suggested is that a sensitive snout helped with the mechanical process of stripping flesh from a carcass, perhaps guiding the feeding to ensure that teeth did not impact with bone.  Or maybe these structures played a role in thermoregulation, helping to keep the animal cool.  It also shows that a surprising amount of new data can be obtained by revisiting very well documented fossil material.  The researchers conclude that extensive neurovascular facial structures may not have been limited to the spinosaurids and as such regarded as an adaptation to aquatic foraging.  What roles they did play is open to speculation, enhanced facial sensitivity could be linked to a very wide range of behaviours such as precise feeding, social bonding, identifying individuals, nest selection, intraspecific combat and social interaction.

More work is required in this fascinating area of Dinosauria anatomy and our understanding of the facial neurovascular systems of extinct Archosaurs would be aided with a better understanding of the facial neurovascular structures of living Archosaurs such as the crocodylians and birds.

The scientific paper: “Complex neuroanatomy in the rostrum of the Isle of Wight theropod Neovenator salerii” by Chris Tijani Barker, Darren Naish, Elis Newham, Orestis L. Katsamenis & Gareth Dyke published as an open access paper in the journal Scientific Reports.

Paper is available here: Open Access Paper is here

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24 06, 2017

Preparing for Uintatherium

By | June 24th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|2 Comments

Getting Ready for the Arrival of the CollectA Uintatherium

Not long to wait now before the arrival of the last of the 2017 CollectA model releases.  Stock is expected in the middle of next month or thereabouts (July 2017).  In the meantime, we have been busy checking over all the new fact sheets and scale model drawings that have been commissioned to mark the arrival of models such as the Basilosaurus and the CollectA Deluxe Uintatherium.

The CollectA Deluxe Uintatherium Replica

CollectA Deluxe Uintatherium model.

The CollectA Uintatherium model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Largest of the “Terrible Horns”

Uintatherium was one of the largest members of the Order Dinocerata (the name means “terrible horns”), just one look at that formidable skull on the CollectA model and you can see why Dinocerata is such an appropriate name for this Order of bizarre mammals.  Uintatheres were placental mammals, but where they fit onto the Mammalia family tree is open to debate.  Some vertebrate palaeontologists support the theory that these animals were distantly related to the odd-toed, hoofed mammals, the Perissodactyla, a large group of placentals that includes extant animals such as rhinos, tapirs and horses.  Other scientists have proposed that the Dinocerata have an affinity with the Meridiungulata (mammals with hooves that flourished in South America).  Yet another theory put forward is that the uintatheres with their small cheek teeth and distinctive tooth crown patterns may be distantly related to today’s lagomorphs (rabbits)!

The Giant Uintatherium

The first of the uintatheres probably originated in Asia and they evolved in the Late Palaeocene/Early Eocene.  Within a few million years, representatives of this group were amongst the largest terrestrial animals on the planet, with elephant-sized specimens like Eobasileus “dawn emperor” and the “Uintah beast” Uintatherium.

A Scale Drawing of the Giant Uintatherium (Uintatherium anceps)

A scale drawing of a Uintaherium.

Uintatherium scale drawing.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Uintatherium has the distinction of having one of the smallest brains, in proportion to its body size of any known mammal living or extinct.  That one-metre-long skull with its paired horns (ossicles), which were most prominent in males, protected a very tiny brain, approximately 40% the size of the brain of a modern horse.

Estimating the body weight of a long extinct creature is a challenge, but thanks to the plentiful fossil remains, particularly those from North America, femoral measurements suggest a body mass of around 2 to 2.2 tonnes.

To view the current range of CollectA “Prehistoric Life” and the CollectA Deluxe models visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur

We look forward to the arrival of the last set of new for 2017 models from CollectA, along with the Basilosaurus and the CollectA Uintatherium we are also expecting the super-sized CollectA Dimorphodon model and the set of mini prehistoric animals.  Next month is going to be a very busy month for Everything Dinosaur.

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23 06, 2017

Key Stage 1 Learn About Dinosaur Geography

By | June 23rd, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaurs Help Children Learn About the Continents

The national curriculum in England for children in Key Stage 1 states that pupils should know the location of the seven continents and they should be able to name them along with the five oceans. A requirement of this area of the curriculum (geography), is that children should develop locational knowledge. Everything Dinosaur has developed a dinosaur based geography exercise that helps with the teaching of this topic. It uses children’s pre-knowledge about prehistoric animals and their enthusiasm for dinosaurs to help them learn and recognise the location of the different continents.

Everything Dinosaur – Using Dinosaurs to Help Children Learn about the Location of the Continents

Dinosaur geography exercise.

Key Stage 1 – dinosaurs and geography exercise.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Demonstrating Learning and Linking Subject Areas

Palaeontologists have found dinosaur fossils on all seven continents.  Dinosaurs even roamed Antarctica, although, in the past, due to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and other factors, the landmass we now know as Antarctica was much warmer than it is today.  Using a child’s fascination for prehistoric animals, Everything Dinosaur has developed a dinosaur geography based lesson.  Can the children identify where in the world different dinosaurs lived?

Palaeontologists Have Found Dinosaur Fossils in Antarctica

Fossil hunting in Antarctica.

Isolated and very difficult to reach – fossil hunting in Antarctica.

Picture Credit: The Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A Dinosaur Geography Exercise

Our comprehensive lesson plan provides the teaching team with simple instructions and the only resources required are a map of the world as it is today, some round-ended scissors to cut out the various dinosaurs from the worksheets and some sticky tape to secure the dinosaur in the correct place on the map.  The Everything Dinosaur geography exercise asks children to place a total of twenty-five different dinosaurs onto the various continents where the dinosaur’s fossils have been found.  Two of the dinosaurs have to be placed on the continent of Antarctica, the armoured herbivorous dinosaur Antarctopelta and the fearsome, meat-eating dinosaur Cryolophosaurus.

To read an article about Cryolophosaurus, a dinosaur that lived in Antarctica: Twenty Years of Studying the Antarctic Dinosaur Cryolophosaurus

Twenty-five Dinosaurs – Can the Children Find the Continent Where Their Fossils Have Been Discovered?

Dinosaur geography exercise.

A selection of prehistoric animals in the dinosaur geography exercise.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Learning About Where Famous Dinosaurs Lived

The national curriculum demands that pupils should develop a knowledge about planet Earth.  Within a dinosaur topic, learning about where well-known dinosaurs lived enables the teaching team to link this subject to the aims and objectives of the geography section.  Dinosaurs can help children learn the names and location of the seven continents and the five oceans.  Introducing famous fossil hunters such as Mary Anning and Sir Richard Owen can help children locate places in the UK where fossils have been found.

Everything Dinosaur’s geography exercise challenges Key Stage 1 pupils to place on a map of the world where famous dinosaurs like Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex lived.

For further information about Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur workshops in schools: Dinosaur Workshops in School

To read ratings and feedback from teachers about Everything Dinosaur’s school workshops: Feedback and Ratings from Teachers

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22 06, 2017

Baru – New Information on Australia’s Ancient “Super Croc”

By | June 22nd, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

New Specimens of Extinct Crocodylian Baru Described

Australia might be home to some very unusual flora and fauna, but ever since the break-up of the ancient super-continent of Gondwana and the resulting separation of Australia from Antarctica during the Late Cretaceous, this substantial landmass has been isolated.  This isolation has enabled the development of unique ecosystems, many of which included super-sized animals much larger than those found in Australia today.

A paper published in the on-line open access journal PeerJ provides new information on one such ancient Australian resident, a genus of broad-snouted crocodile that probably specialised in ambushing large vertebrates, a formidable predator of prehistoric Australia.  The scientific paper describes new specimens of an extinct crocodylian genus Baru.  One species, Baru wickeni was previously only known from fossil material collected from the famous Riversleigh World Heritage area in Queensland.  However, the paper describes new B. wickeni fossil discoveries from a site approximately twenty-five miles south of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.  Thus, the known range for Baru wickeni has been extended.

A Reconstruction of the Large Prehistoric Crocodile Baru wickeni

The ancient Australian crocodile Baru wickeni

A life reconstruction of the broad-snouted ancient crocodylian Baru wickeni.

Picture Credit: Paul Willis

In addition, the paper documents the species of another member of the Baru genus – Baru darrowi.  B. darrowi was previously only known from the Bullock Creek site in the Northern Territory, but fossils of this reptile have also been found in the Riversleigh World Heritage area.  Thus, the range of this species has been extended too.

Baru- Formidable Ancient Aussie Croc

Crocodiles assigned to the Baru genus were formidable, large predators equivalent in length to a fully-grown, extant Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus).  The skull was much more robust, the snout was broader and the head was deeper.  Furthermore, the teeth were proportionately bigger and the jaws were powered by particularly massive muscles.  Today’s “Salties” are extremely dangerous and they do attack large vertebrates including people when the opportunity arises, but mostly these crocodiles, the largest living reptiles, subsist on prey much smaller than themselves such as fish and turtles.

The skull and jaw adaptations of Baru indicate that this crocodylian was specialised towards subsisting on large vertebrate prey (animals of similar size to itself), ambushing its victims close to water sources.  In outward appearance Baru would have resembled a modern crocodile, but the deeper head and alligator-like overbite would have been more pronounced.

The Significance of the Scientific Paper

Author, Adam Yates, (Senior Curator of Earth Sciences at the Museum of Central Australia, part of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory), has established that these two species (B. wickeni and B. darrowi) had much wider geographic ranges that in all likelihood encompassed the northern third to half of the continent.  These two species, however, did not compete with each other, as they were separated in geological time.  Baru wickeni lived earlier, its fossils date from the Late Oligocene Epoch (about 25 million years ago).  In contrast, Baru darrowi lived more recently, its remains are associated with Middle Miocene Epoch deposits (approximately 13 million years old).

A Skull of Baru wickeni from the Riversleigh World Heritage Site (Queensland)

B. wickeni skull.

A skull of the prehistoric crocodile Baru wickeni.

Picture Credit: Adam Yates

The picture (above) shows a new skull (dorsal view) of B. wickeni excavated from Riversleigh World Heritage area deposits.  This skull represents the most complete skull of any Baru species described to date, full details can be found in the scientific paper: PeerJ Paper

Helping to Map the Timespan of Australia’s Cenozoic Terrestrial Vertebrate Fossil Sites

The Cenozoic vertebrate fossil assemblages of Australia have proved troublesome to date accurately due to the vast distances evolved between sites and their temporal isolation.  As these species of crocodiles have broad geographical ranges but relatively constrained chronological timespans, these fossils may be helpful when it comes to determining the age of some vertebrate fossil sites in Australia where there is no radiometrically dateable material and no associated mammal fossils that would normally assist with relative dating.

Another interesting implication from this paper is the presence of Baru wickeni from south of Alice Springs in what was then (and still is now) part of the Lake Eyre drainage system.  Previously Baru was known only from coastally draining marginal areas of northern Australia, while rocks of the same age in the Lake Eyre Basin of South Australia produced a distinctly different type of extinct crocodile called Australosuchus.  It was therefore suggested that Australosuchus was a denizen of the internally draining rivers of central Australia while Baru lurked in the northern fringes in rivers that drained to the north coast.  The presence of Baru wickeni south of Alice Springs, in what is part of the Lake Eyre Basin, disproves this hypothesis.  Instead the pattern may be the result of palaeolatitude, and consequently climate, with Australosuchus potentially being more tolerant of cooler conditions and subsequently occupying the cool south and Baru in the warmer northern part of the continent.

The scientific paper: “The biochronology and palaeobiogeography of Baru (Crocodylia: Mekosuchinae) based on new specimens from the Northern Territory and Queensland, Australia” by Adam Yates, published in PeerJ.

Our thanks to Adam Yates and the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory for the compilation of this article.

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21 06, 2017

Tyrannosaur Skull from British Columbia

By | June 21st, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Hiker Finds Part of a Tyrannosaur Skull Near Tumbler Ridge

Fossil hunter Rick Lambert was hiking in the Tumbler Ridge area of British Columbia when he spotted an unusual object partially exposed in a large rock.  It turns out the eagle-eyed chiropractor from Vancouver Island had found the maxilla bone from a Tyrannosaur skull.    The maxilla is part of the upper jaw, this fossil and the teeth/teeth sockets that it contains, can help palaeontologists to identify the type of dinosaur down to genus level.  This is the first dinosaur skull fossil material to have been found in this area and although the one-hundred-kilogram rock containing the fossil is not part of the local strata, it was probably moved to the site as part of a landscaping project, it’s discovery could help scientists to better understand the geographic distribution of a genus of Tyrannosaur from the Late Cretaceous.

The Tumbler Ridge Tyrannosaur Skull Fossil (Maxilla)

Tumbler Ridge Tyrannosaur upper jaw fossil.

A view of the Tumbler Ridge Tyrannosaur jaw fossil.

Picture Credit: The Canadian Pres/HO/Richard McCrea

A Significant Tyrannosaur Fossil Find

Large Theropod footprints have been found in the Tumbler Ridge area in the past, indeed, this location has provided the palaeontologists based at the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre, which was established back in 2003 to study the fossils, with hundreds of dinosaur teeth, fragmentary bones as well as the remarkable trace fossils, but this upper jaw bone could be a real game changer for the region.

The director of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre, Richard McCrea commented:

“We are in a frontier in British Columbia because there’s been no research in this area.  This is quite a jump for us.”

Having studied and worked in geology, Rick Lambert knew he had found something significant, but he had no idea how important his fossil find could prove to be.  Rick was used to finding fossils in the area, but he wasn’t expecting to find a bone from the skull of a Theropod dinosaur, a skull that would have measured more than a metre in length.

Rick explained:

“I never expected to find something like that.  It’s not anything I actually kept my eye out for.  I thought at least they would have four or five of those in a drawer somewhere.”

An Illustration of a Typical Tyrannosaur Skull Showing the Location of the Maxilla Bone

Outline of skull showing location of maxilla.

A diagram of a typical Tyrannosaur showing the location of the maxilla.

Picture Credit: The Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre

McCrea said finding this specific piece of bone is significant because it can be used to determine the type of Tyrannosaur it originated from.  Elements from the skull can be very helpful when it comes to identifying dinosaurs, however, the sandstone rock in which the fossil was found rules out a Tyrannosaurus rex.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“The Cretaceous-aged exposures in this area, mostly date from the Upper Cretaceous but they are nowhere near young enough to permit the preservation of a T. rex or any close relative of that iconic dinosaur.  The sandstone block containing the fossil material is very similar in composition to nearby deposits that are around 74-75 million years old, many millions of  years younger than the Cenomanian/Turonian strata from this locality.  The sandstone dates from the Campanian, so the maxilla very probably comes from a member of the Tyrannosauridae family that lived during that time – something like an Albertosaurus or perhaps a large Gorgosaurus.”

From a Large Tyrannosaur

Roughly shaped like a reversed capital “C”, the fossil measures between 30 to 40 centimetres in length and is around 25 centimetres wide.  It is a sizeable bone, indicating that this belonged to a very large Tyrannosaur, something in excess of eight metres in length.  Local palaeontologists calculate that the entire skull of this Theropod, if it could be found, would measure over a metre.

The curator and collections manager at the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre, Dr Lisa Buckley commented:

“The exposed maxilla and teeth are eroded, but their shape is perfectly preserved, including fine details of the delicate serrations that form the cutting edge of the teeth. The specimen has twelve teeth evident, with the potential to expose more.  The tooth count and tooth shape make it likely that this is part of the skull of a tyrannosaurid like Albertosaurus, and is probably around 75 million years old.  We aim to establish the point of origin of this rock.”

A View of One of the Teeth Associated with the Jaw Fossil

Tumbler Ridge Tyrannosaur fossil tooth.

A close up of a Tyrannosaur tooth found in association with the maxilla bone at Tumbler Ridge (British Columbia).  The tooth serrations can be clearly seen.

Picture Credit: The Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre

The forested terrain, steep gullies and lack of roads in this part of British Columbia makes prospecting for fossils quite challenging, however, field team members and volunteers can study the sandstone formation from which the block came from in the hope of finding more elements from the skull.

An Illustration of a Typical Tyrannosaurid (Albertosaurus)

Albertosaurus illustrated.

An illustration of Albertosaurus sarcophagus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read an article about Theropod dinosaur prints found in the Tumbler Ridge area: Dinosaur Footprint Discovered in British Columbia

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