A team of scientists, including a researcher from the London Natural History Museum have named a new species of ancient sea scorpion (eurypterid), that at around one metre in length was probably a top predator in its marine environment. Named Terropterus xiushanensis, it has been assigned to the Mixopteridae family within the Eurypterida and as such, it is the oldest mixopterid described to date and the first to be associated with Gondwana.
Writing in the journal “Science Bulletin”, the research team describe this new marine arthropod based on several fossils mostly representing the spiny front appendages, excavated from the Lower Silurian (Llandovery) Xiushan Formation, Xiushan. Two incomplete, but much larger fossils from the roughly contemporaneous Fentou Formation of Wuhan in Hubei Province have also been assigned to the Terropterus genus.
A Formidable Predator
With an estimated length of around 1 metre, (based on the Fentou Formation fossils), Terropterus was far larger than any vertebrate predator known from Lower Silurian strata. Their second, and especially the third, pair of prosomal limbs are enlarged and armed with sharp spines. These limbs were presumably used for capturing prey, trilobites and other invertebrates as well as primitive fish.
Mixopterids More Widespread than Previously Thought
Little is known about the evolution and distribution of the Mixopteridae. Only four species in two genera have been described previously and most of the research into these eurypterids took place in the early 20th century. Until the discovery of Terropterus all the mixopterids were associated with the ancient landmass of Laurussia. Terropterus extends the range of this family into marine environments associated with Gondwana.
Members of the Mixopteridae
Mixopterus simonsoni 1883 (Estonia).
Lanarkopterus dolichoschelus 1899 (Scotland).
Mixopterus multispinosus 1921 (New York).
Mixopterus kiaeri 1934 (Norway).
Phylogenetic assessment suggests that T. xiushanensis is a sister taxon to L. dolichoschelus.
The researchers note that mixopterids might share a common body plan with highly specialised anterior appendages armed with spines, which presumably played a role in attacking and holding prey, but there are marked differences between the known genera. This might indicate that some mixopterids attacked different kinds of prey.
The scientific paper: “First mixopterid eurypterids (Arthropoda: Chelicerata) from the Lower Silurian of South China” by Han Wang, Jason Dunlop, Zhikun Gai, Xiaojie Lei, Edmund A. Jarzembowski and Bo Wang published in Science Bulletin.
An almost perfectly preserved specimen of the very bird-like theropod Caudipteryx has provided researchers with evidence of organic molecule preservation at a cellular and nuclear level. Writing in “Communications Biology”, scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with colleagues from the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature (Shandong Province, eastern China), report on a study of fossilised cells from cartilage associated with a Caudipteryx thigh bone that reveal exquisite molecular preservation.
Fragments from a Femur
The specimen (number STM4-3), is in the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature vertebrate fossil collection, one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the world. It was collected from the Yixian Formation near Chaoyang City, Dapingfang Town (Liaoning Province) and is almost complete and partially articulated. Gastroliths are preserved in the stomach cavity and the outline of some feathers can also be seen. A right femur, measuring 15 cm in length was examined, a fragment removed representing cartilage and divided into three portions to permit detailed scanning electron microscopy (SEM), histochemical staining, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) along with chemical analysis.
The research team realised that some cells had been mineralised by silicification after the death of the animal. This silicification is most likely what permitted the excellent preservation of these cells.
Li Zhiheng, an Associate Professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology and a co-author of the study commented that the discovery of cellular preservation in the cartilage was not unexpected stating:
“Geological data has accumulated over the years and shown that fossil preservation in the Jehol Biota was exceptional due to fine volcanic ashes that entombed the carcasses and preserved them down to the cellular level”.
Healthy Cells and Unhealthy, Dying Cells
The researchers discovered two main types of cells, cells that were healthy at the time of fossilisation, along with unhealthy cells that were porous and fossilised while in the process of dying.
Co-author Alida Bailleul (Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology), explained:
“It is possible that these cells were already dying even before the animal died”.
Cell death is a process that occurs naturally throughout the lives of all organisms. But being able to identify a fossilised cell at a specific life stage within the cell cycle is quite new in palaeontology.
Staining the Nuclei of Dinosaur Cells
The team isolated some cells and stained them with a purple chemical used by biologists to identify nuclei material. This chemical, hematoxylin, is known to bind to the nuclei of cells. Cells from a chicken were also stained to provide an extant comparison. One dinosaur cell showed a purple nucleus with some darker purple threads. This provides strong evidence to support the idea that the 125-million-year-old dinosaur cell has a nucleus so well-preserved that it retains some original biomolecules and threads of chromatin.
Chromatin is found within the cells of all living organisms. It consists of tightly packed DNA molecules. The results of this study thus provide preliminary data suggesting that remnants of original dinosaur DNA may still be preserved.
Much Further Work is Required
Whilst highlighting the significance of this study, after all discovering that 125-million-year-old dinosaur cells react to hematoxylin staining in the same way as living cells is remarkable, the researchers concede that a much more refined and precise approach will be required if dinosaur DNA is to be identified and recovered in any quantity.
In 2020, Everything Dinosaur reported upon the discovery of chromosome-like chromatin threads preserved in the fossilised cartilage of a 75-million-year-old hadrosaur (Hypacrosaurus stebingeri). This study identified nuclear and cellular preservation which was previously unknown in a Cretaceous fossil specimen. To read our article: Cartilage, Proteins and Potential Dinosaur DNA?
The scientific paper: “Nuclear preservation in the cartilage of the Jehol dinosaur Caudipteryx” by Xiaoting Zheng, Alida M. Bailleul, Zhiheng Li, Xiaoli Wang and Zhonghe Zhou published in Communications Biology.
Due to on-going issues with global logistics, delays at ports and the shortage of delivery drivers, Everything Dinosaur urges its customers to shop early for Christmas. Several major retailers have already issued warnings about problems with stock (Ikea, Tesco, Nestle) and major ports such as Felixstowe in the UK have reported cargo logjams and the port of Los Angeles (California) is having to work around the clock to clear back logs.
Team members at Everything Dinosaur are awaiting a number of deliveries, the first of which (CollectA) is scheduled to arrive next week (October 2021).
A spokesperson for the UK-based mail order company stated:
“We have been aware of potential problems with the delivery of stock for some time. Since the global pandemic first started, there have been problems with global shipping, team members are doing all they can to minimise the disruption for our customers. We will continue to monitor the situation and we have put in place robust plans to help manage product stocks”.
Delays with Parcel Deliveries
Parcels continue to be packed and despatched promptly and Everything Dinosaur will shortly begin packing orders 7-days a week to ensure a rapid despatch. Although postal and courier services are coping well at the moment, the company is anticipating that due to staff shortages in the mail system and other factors, Christmas parcel deliveries may take longer this year than usual.
Everything Dinosaur urges customers to shop early for Christmas.
If you have a question about Everything Dinosaur’s delivery services, or if you require additional information on deliveries as we approach the festive season contact Everything Dinosaur: Email Everything Dinosaur.
The next video to be posted up on the Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel will feature the new for 2021 ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis dinosaur model. In this short video, due to be published next week (October 2021), Everything Dinosaur will update viewers on the product testing and provide a little bit of information on the controversial species – Dilophosaurus sinensis. Dinosaur fans and model collectors can expect the movie “Jurassic Park” to get a mention too.
ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis Dinosaur Model
In Everything Dinosaur’s brief video, viewers will be able to see the new ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis dinosaur model on the company’s turntable. This will provide a 360-degree view of the figure, we will also show how big this model is and provide measurements, as well as providing a little information about the validity of the species.
That Spectacular Neck Frill
The narrator will comment on the spectacular neck frill and demonstrate how to fit the dinosaur model securely into its display base. The steps to bring this product to the UK will be explained and details on the independent testing that has been carried out by Eurofins will be highlighted.
In Stock at Everything Dinosaur Before Christmas 2021
The ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis figure is due to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur before Christmas (2021). A spokesperson for the company stated that if all goes to plan, this excellent dinosaur model should be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in early December. It will be registered for sale by Everything Dinosaur under EU 2019/1020 market surveillance regulations so customers in Europe as well as elsewhere in the world can acquire this model too.
ITOY Studio have produced an incredible range of models including spectacular models of Ceratosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex and the giant Cenozoic mammal Paraceratherium. To view the range of ITOY Studio prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: ITOY Studio Models.
Our thanks to dinosaur model fan and fossil collector Luke who sent into Everything Dinosaur some pictures of one of his latest acquisitions, the PNSO Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus model. One of the pictures that Luke provided featured the impressive PNSO Carcharodontosaurus displayed alongside an equally impressive fossil tooth that Luke has in his collection. The broken tooth specimen most probably represents a carcharodontosaurid and we suspect that this fossil originated from Morocco (Kem Kem Formation).
The Kem Kem Formation
The Kem Kem Formation of Morocco and Algeria consists of a series of strata laid down in the Early to the early Late Cretaceous (Albian to Cenomanian faunal stages), approximately 95 to 100 million years ago. The majority of the deposits represent an inter-tidal, estuarine environment, with wide lagoons and flood plains crossed by many rivers. This environment supported an extensive and diverse flora and fauna. The fossils recovered tend to be fragmentary in nature, but numerous large predators have been identified including several different types of theropod dinosaur – abelisaurids, spinosaurids noasaurids and carcharodontosaurids such as Sauroniops and Carcharodontosaurus.
Commenting on the picture sent by Luke, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated, that the tooth fossil was a fine example of a theropod tooth and it was in very good condition. The spokesperson added:
“The tooth is a fine addition to any fossil collection”.
PNSO Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus Compared to an Elephant Model
In addition to the fossil tooth photograph, Luke kindly sent in a picture of the PNSO Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus compared to a model of an African elephant (Loxodonta). The two figures work well and reminded team members at Everything Dinosaur of the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation fight between a carnivorous dinosaur and an elephant from the 1969 film “The Valley of the Gwangi”.
Our thanks to Luke for sending in the pictures. To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal figures in stock at Everything Dinosaur, including Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.
Eofauna will introduce a replica of the Late Jurassic sauropod Diplodocus carnegii. This exciting dinosaur model will be available from Everything Dinosaur in 2022 and it is expected in stock in February (2022). Several species of Diplodocus have been named, D. carnegii, named after the Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-born, American industrialist, is arguably the best known. This species was erected in 1901 based on CM 84, a beautifully preserved specimen consisting of most of the anterior portion (excluding the skull) of a single animal from the Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation (Wyoming, USA).
The 8th Eofauna Scientific Research Model
The new for 2022 Diplodocus figure is the 8th prehistoric animal replica in the series and the fifth dinosaur after the introduction of Giganotosaurus, Atlasaurus and the Triceratops pair – Cryptic and Dominant, that came out earlier this year (spring 2021).
The Diplodocus figure is the longest in the range, it measures approximately 60 cm in length and that carefully crafted head is around 11 cm off the ground. The Diplodocus carnegii has a declared scale of 1:40.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“It is great to hear that this amazing Diplodocus model is coming out shortly. The hard-working and dedicated staff at Eofauna have built up a deserved reputation for the quality and accuracy of their prehistoric animal figures. The arrival of this new Diplodocus replica in February 2022 or thereabouts, is being eagerly anticipated by dinosaur fans and model collectors”.
Eofauna Scientific Research Models in Stock at Everything Dinosaur
Everything Dinosaur has been proud to support his excellent range of prehistoric animal figures. The first model (Steppe Mammoth) was introduced in 2017 and this range of scale models is going from strength to strength.
Fans of the now retired Carnegie Collection series of prehistoric animal models, might remember a model of the therizinosaur Beipiaosaurus (B. inexpectus). The model, introduced in 2006 and withdrawn in 2014, might have given dinosaur fans the wrong impression when it comes to this Chinese theropod. Not that the replica made by Safari Ltd was highly inaccurate, but when the model was produced, only the skull of Beipiaosaurus had actually been studied in detail. Now, some twenty-two years after this small therizinosaur was named, scientists including Xing Xu who was one of the authors of the paper describing the skull, have revisited the fossil material and completed their analysis by focusing on the postcranial fossils.
Named and described in 1999, from fossils found by a local farmer three years earlier, Beipiaosaurus heralds from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation (Sihetun locality, near Beipiao), Liaoning Province, China. Described as a basal therizinosaur, it is thought to represent a key taxon in helping scientists to understand the evolution of the Therizinosauridae. Scientists writing in the on-line, open access journal PLOS One, provide an extensive description of the postcranial fossil material associated with the holotype specimen (IVPP V 11559). After Beipiaosaurus had been named, more bones associated with the holotype were found at the original fossil site and these fossils have helped palaeontologists to identity further unique, anatomical characteristics.
Analysis of the hip socket (acetabulum) length provided a new autapomorphy helping to distinguish Beipiaosaurus from other therizinosaurs.
The shape of the ilium, specifically the pubic peduncle (marked as I.P.P in picture C, above), provides a second unique characteristic for this genus identified in this study.
The manual ungual (finger claw bone) in digit III is the longest one in B. inexpectus. In other therizinosaurs, it is the manual ungual of digit II that is the longest. This is the third additional autapomorphy identified in this research paper.
The authors of the scientific paper, provide a detailed description of the skeleton of Beipiaosaurus, including fossil bone associated with the holotype that have not been reported upon before. Their study has revised the diagnostic features associated with this dinosaur. For example, the researchers examined two dorsal vertebrae that had previously not been studied.
The new study into this feathered dinosaur that was named and described more than twenty years ago has helped palaeontologists to better understand the postcranial skeleton of Beipiaosaurus, helps distinguish it from other therizinosaurians and provides insights into therizinosaur evolution.
Furthermore, the researchers, who include Shiying Wang and Chun-Chi Liao (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Lindsay Zanno (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) as well as Xing Xu, identified several new synapomorphies helping to clarify the evolutionary history of the Therizinosauridae family. A synapomorphy is a characteristic present in an ancestral species and shared exclusively (in a more or less modified form) by its evolutionary descendants.
The scientific paper: “Postcranial osteology of Beipiaosaurus inexpectus (Theropoda: Therizinosauria” by Chun-Chi Liao, Lindsay E. Zanno, Shiying Wang and Xing Xu published in PLOS One.
Our thanks to Caldey who sent into Everything Dinosaur another drawing of a horned dinosaur. This time Caldey has chosen to illustrate a centrosaurine, the spectacular Diabloceratops (D. eatoni), a plant-eater that roamed Utah during the Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.
With its huge pair of horns extending beyond the headshield and its large, brow horns, Diabloceratops (devil horned face), was one very impressive-looking dinosaur.
Inspired by a Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsian
Team members at Everything Dinosaur think that this colourful ceratopsian illustration was inspired by the colour scheme on the Beasts of the Mesozoic articulated Diabloceratops figure.
A Diabloceratops Duo
This Diabloceratops illustration we received this week is not the first Diabloceratops drawing from Caldey that we have been sent. In 2019, Schleich introduced a Diabloceratops figure, this model proved to be extremely popular and shortly after its introduction Caldey sent into Everything Dinosaur her illustration of the Schleich model.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“Some of the spectacular horned dinosaurs that have been recently named and described have proved very popular with palaeoartists of all ages. Our thanks to Caldey for sending into us her Diabloceratops drawing. Her artwork is greatly appreciated”.
PNSO will add a replica of the giant, Late Triassic ichthyosaur Himalayasaurus to their mid-size model range. The replica called Tucson the Himalayasaurus is part of a shipment of PNSO prehistoric animal figures that are already heading towards our UK warehouse. We expect to have this exciting, new marine reptile model in stock in just a few weeks.
Named and described by the highly influential Chinese palaeontologist Dong Zhiming in 1972, Himalayasaurus (H. tibetensis), is known from fragmentary remains. Its body size is uncertain, but comparisons with better-known members of the Ichthyosauria, specifically other large-bodied ichthyosaurs within the Shastosauridae family suggest that this marine reptile could have been more than 15 metres long and weighed in excess of 40 tonnes.
PNSO Himalayasaurus Model Measurements
The PNSO Himalayasaurus model measures 31 cm long. The actual model measures a total of 32.8 cm when the curvature of the replica is considered. The distance between the dorsal fin and the bottom lobe of the asymmetrical caudal fin is 7 cm.
PNSO do not publish a scale for their mid-size models. However, based on the curved length of the figure and the size estimate of Himalayasaurus postulated by palaeontologists, team members at Everything Dinosaur suggest that Tucson the Himalayasaurus is in approximately 1:45 scale.
PNSO Tucson the Himalayasaurus
Everything Dinosaur team members are not sure why this particular marine reptile model has been named “Tucson”, what we are certain about is that this stunning figure will be supplied with two transparent support stands to help the model to be displayed.
In Stock at Everything Dinosaur
A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur confirmed that the PNSO Tucson the Himalayasaurus would be in stock at Everything Dinosaur possibly as early as November (2021). The spokesperson added:
“We have known about this exciting model for a while. The Himalayasaurus and other new for 2021 PNSO figures are already on the water heading for a UK port. It is wonderful to see PNSO bringing out more prehistoric marine animals to add to their recently introduced Helicoprion, Dunkleosteus, Basilosaurus, Tylosaurus and Kronosaurus models”.
To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.
The Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri model features in the latest customer newsletter from Everything Dinosaur. This new for 2021, 1:20 scale dinosaur model of a Brazilian dinosaur designed by a Brazilian design team has been given star billing in the latest Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter.
In Stock After Product Testing
As a responsible importer and supplier of prehistoric animal replicas, Everything Dinosaur took responsibility for obtaining a sample and then getting this product tested by an independent testing company (Eurofins). Once the test report had come back, Everything Dinosaur was able to legally import these excellent dinosaur models from China into the company’s UK warehouse. Customer safety is at the heart of the company’s business philosophy, once the test reports had been published and team members were able to adopt the report’s recommendations, the Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri stock could be brought into the UK.
Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri
The Irritator challengeri figure is the first dinosaur model to be made under the Dino Hazard brand by YvY Figures. The project had originally been set up as a crowdfunded operation. A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“We do appreciate how difficult setting up production has been in this current economic climate. We were able to work with the manufacturer and bring in a quantity of the available stock into our warehouse. By doing this, this stunning 1:20 scale figure will be available to many more collectors and dinosaur model enthusiasts”.
The Everything Dinosaur Customer Newsletter
The Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter is sent out periodically to newsletter subscribers. It is free and allows customers to be updated about new products, receive offers, take part in exclusive competitions and to be informed about product development.
Measuring around 37 cm in length and supplied with an optional display base and a model of a prehistoric lungfish, typical of the sort of prey this large theropod hunted, the arrival of the Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri figure has been greeted very enthusiastically by fans of prehistoric animal models.