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17 12, 2017

New Troodontid Dinosaur Described

By | December 17th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Almas ukhaa – Named after the Legendary Asian Bigfoot

A team of international scientists, including Dr Mark Norell (Curator of Palaeontology at the American Museum of Natural History, New York) and Professor Xing Xu (Chinese Academy of Sciences), have announced the discovery of a new species of Late Cretaceous troodontid from Mongolia.  This small, carnivorous dinosaur (it was probably less than a metre long), has been named Almas ukhaa, after the mythical Bigfoot-type ape that, according to some cryptozoologists, is believed to roam the more remote parts of Central Asia.

An Illustration of the New Troodontid Dinosaur A. ukhaa

Almas ukhaa illustrated.

An illustration of the newly described (2017) troodontid Almas ukhaa.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

From the Famous Djadokhta Formation

The fossil material which consists of an almost complete and articulated skull with an associated lower jaw and a substantial part of the postcranial skeleton, comes from the Ukhaa Tolgod region of the Gobi Desert, an area regarded as one of the richest concentrations of Cretaceous fossil vertebrates known to science.   Since this location was first mapped in 1993, numerous dinosaur skeletons have been found, including a nesting Oviraptor as well as several examples of Late Cretaceous mammals.  The rocks in this area form part of the Djadokhta Formation.

The Skull and Jaws of the Newly Described Late Cretaceous Troodontid Almas ukhaa

Almas ukhaa fossil skull and jaws.

Almas ukhaa cranial material (right lateral view).

Picture Credit: The American Museum of Natural History

Compared to other troodontids from Asia and North America, A. ukhaa had a relatively short snout.  The orbit is quite large, and these fossils could represent a juvenile, but if this turns out to be the remains of an adult animal, then this large eye-socket could indicate an adaptation to hunting in low light, perhaps Almas ukhaa was an elusive animal rarely seen in daylight, similar to the legendary Alma after which, this dinosaur is named.

Ukhaa Tolgod Sandstone Deposits

The sandstone deposits of Ukhaa Tolgod date from approximately 80 million years ago, (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).  The highly fossiliferous site was discovered by a joint American/Mongolian expedition in 1993.  Almas ukhaa (pronounced Al-mass ook-uh) is unlikely to be the last dinosaur found in this area.  The fossils show a number of autapomorphies (unique characteristics), that distinguish this southern Mongolian troodontid from other Asian members of the Troodontidae.  For example, the ischium (part of the hip girdle), has a distinct spike-like process and unlike other troodontids, the front part of the lower jaw lacks a lateral groove.

The scientific paper: “Osteology of a New Late Cretaceous Troodontid Specimen from Ukhaa Tolgod, Ömnögovi Aimag, Mongolia.”

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16 12, 2017

New Time for BBC T. rex Documentary

By | December 16th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

BBC – The Real T. rex with Chris Packham (New Time)

A television documentary focusing on how our perceptions regarding the most famous dinosaur of all has changed has been rescheduled and will now be broadcast on Tuesday, January 2nd.

“The Real T. rex” presented by naturalist Chris Packham was due to be shown in late December, but this programme will now be shown on BBC 2 at 9pm on January 2nd.

Television Documentary on Tyrannosaurus rex

Naturalist Chris Packham and a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Chris Packham next to “Tristan” at the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin).

Picture Credit: BBC/Talesmith/Cineflix/Gordon Welters

Travelling the World to Learn More About Tyrannosaurus rex

In the programme information sent to Everything Dinosaur by BBC Media, an outline of the format of the one-hour-long programme is provided.  Chris embarks on a global journey to learn more about how scientists are reinterpreting Tyrannosaurus rex, a dinosaur which very probably, did not look like or sound like the animal portrayed in so many science fiction movies, including the new Jurassic World film (Fallen Kingdom), due to reach cinema screens in the summer of 2018.

Ground-breaking research into the composition of dinosaur skin, teeth and musculature, combined with reconstructions of the brain of this super-sized Theropod, are helping to redefine this iconic dinosaur.

Reptile or Bird?

Meeting numerous international dinosaur experts, the presenter aims to answer questions such as was T. rex a hunter or a scavenger?  What colour was this dinosaur and just how much of this dinosaur’s body was covered in feathers?  Was T. rex more bird-like than previously thought?

To read an article on the scientific study of skin impressions from a Tyrannosaurus rexT. rex Sheds its Feathers

Dinosaur model fans will already know that Everything Dinosaur exclusively revealed in a recent blog post that CollectA will be making a new deluxe. 1:40 scale feathered T. rex model, but this figure will have reduced plumage.

The New for 2018 CollectA Deluxe Roaring Tyrannosaurus rex Model

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale roaring T. rex.

CollectA roaring feathered T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Collectors should be able to pick up this figure around the middle of next year, shortly before the premier of “Fallen Kingdom”.

Trailblazing Technology

Documentary viewers have been promised the most accurate CGI representation of a Tyrannosaurus rex ever created.  Chris travels to meet Dr Greg Erikson, whose research with alligators is revealing the true power of this carnivore’s incredible bite.  In Dino State Park (Texas), he walks in the footsteps of real and still visible dinosaur footprints and with the help of biomechanics expert Professor John Hutchinson and a virtual treadmill, they determine how the predator moved.  Chris Packham is given unique access to “Tristan” a star exhibit at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.

There is even an examination of the social life of T. rex, a section of this documentary in which Chris Packham explores the Badlands of Alberta in the company of renowned palaeontologist Phil Currie (University of Alberta).

Those programme details again:

“The Real T. rex with Chris Packham” – Tuesday 2nd January, BBC 2 from 9pm to 10pm.

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13 12, 2017

The First Triassic Plesiosaur

By | December 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Oldest Plesiosaur in Town – Rhaeticosaurus mertensi

Following the end-Permian mass extinction event, the world’s ecosystems took several million years to recover.  In marine environments, just as on land, the mass extinction event led to devastating losses, it has been estimated that 57% of marine families died out.  However, as the Triassic progressed, a number of terrestrial reptiles adapted to marine habitats and new, diverse ecosystems evolved.  It had long been suspected that the Plesiosauria (the long-necked Plesiosaurs and the big-headed Pliosaurs), the most diverse and longest-lived of all the extinct marine reptile groups, had their origins in the Triassic, but the fossil evidence for basal Plesiosaurs was somewhat lacking.  However, the discovery of a partially articulated fossil in a clay pit, close to the village of Bonenburg in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), has helped to plug a gap in the fossil record.

The Fossilised Remains of the World’s Oldest Plesiosaur

Rhaeticosaurus fossil (A) with line drawing below (B).

Rhaeticosaurus fossil (A) with line drawing (B).

Picture Credit: Georg Oleschinski

The fossil discovery marks the first Plesiosaur specimen to be recovered from Triassic-aged rocks.  It is the oldest Plesiosaur to be found to date, the only one which dates from the Triassic Period.

Intriguingly, a study of cross-sections of some of the larger fossilised bones in the 2.37-metre-long skeleton, support previous research that suggests these marine reptiles grew rapidly and were (most likely), warm-blooded.  The new species has been named Rhaeticosaurus mertensi, (ree-ti-co-sore-us mur-ten-see), the genus name comes from the last faunal stage of the Triassic (the Rhaetian), the trivial name honours  private collector Michael Mertens, who made the initial fossil discovery.

201 Million-Year-Old Fossil

Michael Mertens discovered the specimen in 2013, some of the neck bones had been lost but the majority of the skeleton was in situ.  The resulting excavation, study and publication in the academic journal “Science Advances”, is a credit to the parties involved, namely Herr Mertens, the natural heritage protection agency, the Münster museum, and scientists from various institutes including Bonn University, the Osaka Museum of Natural History, the University of Tokyo and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, amongst others.

Co-author of the Scientific Paper Tanja Wintrich with the Fossil Finder Michael Mertens

Rhaeticosaurus fossil discovery.

PhD student Tanja Wintrich with Michael Mertens show where the fossil was found.

Picture Credit: Professor Martin Sander (University of Bonn)

The Long-lived and Diverse Plesiosauria

In a press release from Bonn University, Plesiosaurs are described as especially effective swimmers.  They evolved a unique, four-limbed propulsion using broad flippers, in essence, “flying underwater”.

One of the authors of the scientific paper Professor Martin Sander explained:

“Instead of laboriously pushing the water out of the way with their paddles, Plesiosaurs were gliding elegantly along with limbs modified to underwater wings.  Their small head was placed on a long, streamlined neck.  The stout body contained strong muscles keeping those wings in motion.  Compared to the other marine reptiles, the tail was short because it was only used for steering.  This evolutionary design was very successful, but curiously it did not evolve again after the extinction of the Plesiosaurs.”

An Illustration of a Typical Long-necked Plesiosaur

Plesiosaurus.

An illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

Bone Histology Suggests Rapid Growth and Potential Endothermy

The Triassic Plesiosaur already has the typical long-necked Plesiosaur bauplan and it was, like most of its descendants, a pelagic piscivore (an active swimmer, hunting fish).  Analysis of the bone structure indicates that the specimen represents a juvenile, one that was growing rapidly.  Thin cross-sections of fossil bone were compared to Jurassic and Cretaceous specimens and the team’s findings support the hypothesis that to grow this quickly, these reptiles needed to be warm-blooded.

Professor Sander stated:

“Plesiosaurs apparently grew extremely fast before reaching maturity.  Since Plesiosaurs spread quickly all over the world, they must have been able to regulate their body temperature to be able to invade cooler parts of the ocean.”

The Hind Leg Bones of Rhaeticosaurus mertensi

Hind leg bones of Rhaeticosaurus.

Left femur (f), tibia (ti) and fibula (fi). The proximal femur is a cast because the original was sectioned for histology (scale bar = 1 cm).

Picture Credit: Science Advances

In the photograph (above), the part of the femur (f) is a cast as this bone was cross-sectioned as part of the bone study.

Filling a Gap in the Fossil Record

The evolution of the Plesiosauria is poorly understood.  They are probably descended from a group of long-necked, marine reptiles known as Pistosaurs, fossils of which are associated with Middle to Late Triassic deposits.  An example of a Pistosaur is Bobosaurus (B. forojuliensis) from the Rio del Lago Formation of Italy (Carnian faunal stage of the Triassic).  However, Bobosaurus lived some thirty million years before Rhaeticosaurus evolved.  This German fossil discovery helps to fill in a little of the temporal gap in the fossil record of this successful lineage.  Rhaeticosaurus has been assigned to a basal position within the Pliosauridae family and its discovery reveals that the diversification of the Plesiosauria was a Triassic event and a number of genera survived the end Triassic extinction into the Jurassic.  The researchers conclude that the bone histology of this Late Triassic marine reptile suggests that the evolution of fast growth and an elevated metabolic rate were adaptations to an active, pelagic life-style foraging in open water.

Articulated Cervical Vertebrae (C) and Elements from the Left Front Limb (D)

Neck bones (c) and forearm, hand bones of Rhaeticosaurus.

Cervical vertebrae (C) and the left radius (ra), a phalanx (ph) and a (cr) carpal element (D).

Picture Credit: Science Advances

The new specimen corroborates the hypothesis that the open ocean life of Plesiosaurians facilitated their survival of the end-Triassic extinction.

The scientific paper: “A Triassic Plesiosaurian Skeleton and Bone Histology Inform on Evolution of a Unique Body Plan” by Tanja Wintrich, Shoji Hayashi, Alexandra Houssaye, Yasuhisa Nakajima and P. Martin Sander published in the journal “Science Advances”.

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11 12, 2017

Looking at the World’s Oldest Eye

By | December 11th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Insight into Evolution of the Compound Eye

A team of international scientists including researchers from Cologne University, Estonia and the University of Edinburgh have been looking into the evolution of the first eyes by studying the remarkably well-preserved remains of an eye from a trilobite that lived in the sea more than half a billion years ago.  The trilobite to which it belongs (Schmidtiellus reetae), comes from a fossiliferous zone where the first complete, large organisms appear in the fossil record.  As a consequence of this, it is probably the oldest record of an ophthalmic system likely to be discovered.

Unlike modern compound eyes, the eye of this trilobite had no lens.  The fossil is estimated to be around 530 million years old.

The Trilobite Fossil Providing an Insight into the Evolution of Eyesight

Schmidtiellus reetae fossil.

Schmidtiellus reetae fossil showing details of the eyes.

Picture Credit: G. Baranov (University of Cologne)

Schmidtiellus reetae – Fossil from Estonia

The research team, which included Dr Brigitte Schoenemann (University of Cologne) and her colleagues Helje Pärnaste (Tallinn, Estonia) and Euan Clarkson (Edinburgh University), examined the specimen (S. reetae) and examined the cellular structure of the compound eye.  This remarkable fossil shows how the eye was constructed and from this the team could infer what level of vision the Arthropod had.  As well as looking at similarities with extant Arthropods, the researchers were keen to see how the trilobite eye differed in structure and complexity.  The results show that modern compound eyes work in ways strikingly similar to those of half a billion years ago.  They are very conservative in their structure – and quite successfully so.

Dr Schoenemann commented:

“The principle of the modern compound eye most likely goes back to before the times of our first fossil records.  Half a billion years ago, it was in the early stage of its development, and with our work we have succeeded in uncovering the first visible steps of this extremely successful visual principle”.

Trilobite from Estonia

The fossil comes from Lower Cambrian sediments located in Estonia.  The bedding planes at this location reveal some of the very first fossils of complex animals with an exoskeleton.  The right eye of the trilobite is slightly abraded, allowing for a view into its interior.  It is a typical compound eye consisting of approximately 100 sub-units placed relatively far apart compared to modern forms of compound eyes.  The authors were able to show that each of these sub-units (ommatidia) consists of about eight sensory cells, just like modern compound eyes, grouped around a central rhabdom, a light-guiding receptive structure.  The rhabdom contains the visual pigments and conveys the brightness of the surrounding environment to the animal’s central nervous system.

The Right Eye of Schmidtiellus reetae from the Study

A view of the trilobite eye.

A lateral view of the right eye of the trilobite.

Picture Credit: G. Baranov (University of Cologne)

Dr Schoenemann explained:

“In contrast to the modern compound eyes of bees, dragonflies, and many crabs, this very old compound eye does not have a lens.  This is likely due to the fact that these rather soft-shelled Arthropods lacked the necessary layer in their shell responsible for lens formation.”

What Could the Trilobite See?

The physical features of the central rhabdom ensures that each element of the compound eye has a limited field of vision and that the animal’s overall visual impression already has the mosaic-like character of a modern compound eye.  The precision of such an eye can be determined by the number of its elements, just like the number of pixels determines the precision and detail within a computer image.  The eye was capable of detecting movement and it could roughly discern the distribution of light in its environment to help it avoid obstacles in its path.

The University of Cologne biologist and her team were also able to show that only a few million years after Schmidtiellus lived, new and improved compound eyes with higher resolution developed in another trilobite from the Baltic region called Holmia kjerulfi.  The performance of this species’ eyes even approximated to that seen in modern dragonflies.  A physical analysis of the compound eyes of both trilobites showed that the organism inhabited bright waters, most likely coastal shelf regions.

Looking at the evolution of the Arthropod brain: Arthropod Brain and Nervous System Studied

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10 12, 2017

Packing All the Christmas Post

By | December 10th, 2017|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Working All Weekend To Help Our Customers

At Everything Dinosaur, we know how stressful it can be in the run up to Christmas, but with just over two weeks to go to the big day, when it comes to parcels, our dedicated team are keeping right on top of things.  Staff have been busy packing orders all weekend so that all orders placed on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday can be despatched as quickly as possible.  All orders placed over this period will go out on Monday.

Hot tea and warm mince pies have kept us going and we shall be working seven days a week now as the build up to Christmas continues.

Royal Mail service updates that we receive state that normal weekend deliveries and collections of mail should be made in all parts of the UK and we are not anticipating any problems with collections from our warehouse next week despite the inclement weather.  For our international customers, it is worth noting the last recommended posting dates for parcels to be sent overseas, we have listed this information in the table below.

Last Recommended Posting Dates for Christmas 2017

Last posting dates for Christmas.

Last recommended posting dates for Christmas (Royal Mail).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur and Royal Mail

The table (above) has been compiled using Royal Mail data.

Please note, Wednesday 13th December is the last recommended posting date for parcels heading for Germany, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic.  Thursday 14th December is the last recommended posting dates for the USA, Canada, Finland and Sweden, whilst next Friday (15th), is the last recommended posting dates for much of the rest of Europe.

Helpful Suggestions from Everything Dinosaur

Here are some helpful hints and tips to ensure you get your season’s greetings delivered on time:

1).  Post items as early as possible, this gives parcels the best chance of reaching their destination in time for the big day.

2).  Remember to check that delivery address (house number, business name, postcode/zip code) as you progress through the check out.

3).  Before pressing the “submit order” button, to send an order to Everything Dinosaur, check the delivery address one more time, remember the phrase “check the address to save you stress”.

4).  You can always nominate a neighbour’s address where the parcel can be delivered to if you are likely to be out when the parcel is delivered.  There is a message box available for every order, so you have the opportunity to add helpful information about delivery or where the parcel can be left if you are out.

5).  A different delivery address, other than your home address can be specified during our check out process.  Perhaps the parcel could be sent to your work, a relative, a friend etc.

Our dedicated team are on hand to handle telephone and email enquiries, at this time of year, Everything Dinosaur is doing all it can to ensure its customers have a happy Christmas.

For additional help and advice over Christmas deliveries, simply email Everything Dinosaur: Contact Everything Dinosaur

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9 12, 2017

Mojo Fun New Dinosaur Models for 2018

By | December 9th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Mojo Fun New Dinosaur Models for 2018

Some exciting new additions to the Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” range are announced by Everything Dinosaur today.  There will be four, new, colourful dinosaur models added to the range in 2018.  Of the four models, there is one representing a Jurassic dinosaur, the other three are models of dinosaurs associated with the Cretaceous.  One of the new dinosaur replicas in this skilfully crafted range is a herbivore, the other three are hypercarnivores.  The four models are Diplodocus, Giganotosaurus, Baryonyx and Deinonychus.

The New for 2018 Diplodocus Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Diplodocus model (2018).

Mojo Fun Diplodocus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Diplodocus

Mojo Fun already has a Brachiosaurus within its model portfolio, their second Sauropod is Diplodocus, the only Jurassic representative of the four new models and the plant-eater.  The colour scheme chosen is certainly striking with a verdant green, contrasting with the subtle yellow of the underside of the neck and the belly.  The company has chosen to give their Diplodocus a classic “swan-neck” posture, perhaps a nod towards famous palaeoartists such as Zdeněk Burian and Charles Knight, whereas, the row of prominent osteoderms running from back of the head down to the tail reflect some of the latest scientific thinking concerning this diplodocid.

Mojo Fun New for 2018 Baryonyx

Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

The Mojo Fun 2018 Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Continuing the trend for striking colour schemes, this is a spectacular model of “heavy claw”, the first fossils of which were discovered in a Surrey clay pit in 1983.  Baryonyx may have specialised in catching fish, a huge 31-centimetre-long claw on the first finger of each hand may have helped this dinosaur to hook its prey out of the water.  The vibrant blue colour scheme contrasts nicely with the muted, warmer tones of the underside, a nice example of the concept of counter shading.

A Close-View of the Head of the Mojo Fun New for 2018 Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

A close-up view of the new for 2018 Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This brilliant blue, Baryonyx is going to prove popular amongst dinosaur fans, especially when you consider what turned up in the recent “Jurassic World 2” trailer.

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model (2018).

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus

The next carnivorous dinosaur is Giganotosaurus.  It is great to see Mojo Fun increasing the variety of Theropod dinosaurs within the “Prehistoric & Extinct” range.  A model of one of the largest, if not the largest, meat-eating dinosaur known to science.  At around 35 centimetres in length, this is a very substantial figure, around ten centimetres longer than the hunting Tyrannosaur models introduced by this company in 2017.

The Head of the New for 2018 Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus

The head of the Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

A close view of the Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Deinonychus

With the aforementioned movie “Jurassic World” movie coming to cinemas from June 7th next year, it seems fitting that the last of the new for 2018 models from Mojo Fun should be a “raptor”.  In addition, to the company’s Velociraptors, the larger Deinonychus is being added to the range and at a whopping 32 centimetres long, it is the biggest dromaeosaurid model made to date by Mojo Fun.

The New for 2018 Mojo Fun Deinonychus Dinosaur Model

The Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model.

The Mojo Fun 2018 Deinonychus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Complete with a feathery coat, ulna feathers and a crest on the end of its long, stiff tail, this is a fascinating replica of “terrible claw”.  It’s another meat-eater and a dinosaur of the Cretaceous, just like Baryonyx and Giganotosaurus.

A Close-up View of the Head of the Mojo Fun Deinonychus

Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model (2018).

A close view of the head of the new for 2018 Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a close-up view of the head of the new Deinonychus, the feathery integument can clearly be seen as well as the excellent detail on the snout and jaws.

Model Measurements and Availability

  • Mojo Fun Diplodocus length 27 cm, height of the head 13 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Baryonyx length 27 cm, height of the head 10 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus length 35 cm, height approx. 12 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Deinonychus length 32 cm, height (raised tail) 14.5 cm.

All four of these new dinosaur models are expected to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in the early part of next year, perhaps as early as January 2018.

To view the current range of Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” models available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric & Extinct

Look out for further updates from Everything Dinosaur on the Mojo Fun model range, including details of model colour changes.

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8 12, 2017

The Remarkable and Diverse Maniraptora (Halszkaraptor)

By | December 8th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Raptor That Took to Water (Halszkaraptor escuilliei)

A fossil that had been removed illegally from Mongolia has revealed a remarkable twist in the evolution of Theropod dinosaurs.  It seems that during the Late Cretaceous, one little meat-eating Maniraptoran evolved a long, swan-like neck and flippers for forelimbs and took to the water.  It may have even waddled around like a duck.  This latest discovery, written up in the journal “Nature”, demonstrates the remarkable diversity within Maniraptoran dinosaurs.  Several different kinds of “raptor-like” dinosaurs evolved adapting to different ecological niches, palaeontologists have known about dwarf forms and giants, meat-eaters adapting to herbivory and the evolution of powered flight within the Maniraptoran lineage.  This newly described dinosaur adds to this diversity and helps to demonstrate the flexibility of the Theropoda bauplan.  As well as the cursorial forms (fast runners), here is one little Maniraptoran showing adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle.

Named Halszkaraptor escuilliei, it may have been a forelimb-propelled, pursuit diver, hunting and catching fish in a similar way to living birds (to whom Halszkaraptor is distantly related), such as Auks and Penguins.

A Reconstruction of the Newly Described Halszkaraptor escuilliei

An illustration of Halszkaraptor escuilliei.

Artist’s reconstruction of Halszkaraptor escuilliei.

Picture Credit: Lukas Panzarin

Surprising Dinosaur from Southern Mongolia

The fossil, consisting of a single slab with a partially exposed, nearly complete and articulated skeleton, heralds from Ukhaa Tolgod in southern Mongolia.  The Upper Cretaceous sandstones (Campanian faunal stage), have been pillaged by fossil poachers for decades and Halszkaraptor was illegally excavated and circulated via the black market, passing through the hands of several private collectors.   In 2015, a French collector acquired the specimen and contacted the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the fossil was subsequently examined and studied in detail.  The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble was used to ensure that the bizarre fossil was not a forgery, that it was not a “chimera”, a combination of fossils that had been put together in order to fetch a better price when it was illegally sold.  The detailed X-ray phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography identified the specimen as genuine and provided palaeontologists with data on some of the bones that remained embedded in the matrix.

The research team concluded that this was a new type of dinosaur, one that would have been perfectly at home in the water.

The Holotype Fossil of H. escuilliei

Halszkaraptor escuilliei holotype.

Extremely well-preserved fossil of Halszkaraptor escuilliei from Mongolia, still partly embedded in rock.

Picture Credit: Thierry Hubin/Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Palaeontologist, Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“We always thought dinosaurs were terrestrial, but now it is very clear for the first time that there were also swimming dinosaurs.”

75 to 71 Million Years Old

The research team, which also included Phil Currie (University of Alberta), identified a number of anatomical characteristics in common with aquatic predators such as more teeth, including long, tube like teeth at the front of jaw which are typical of piscivores.  In addition, the scientists discovered a neurovascular mesh inside the dinosaur’s snout that resembles those found in modern crocodiles.  Halszkaraptor’s hands, with an elongated third finger, probably had flippers, with which it manoeuvred in the water like a penguin, using its long neck to grab prey in a surprise attack. Based on the hip structures, the palaeontologists think it walked upright like a duck.

Another co-author of the paper, Koen Stein (Free University Brussels, VUB) commented upon the 80-centimetres-long Theropod:

“Halszkaraptor is a great find.  It lived like a water bird, on land as well as in water.  Palaeontologists never expected dinosaurs to have explored this biotope.  The discovery shows how diverse dinosaurs were and how much there is still left to discover, even in long-studied regions like Mongolia.”

A Novel Clade Basal to the Dromaeosauridae

Halszkaraptor escuilliei is related to other enigmatic Late Cretaceous Maniraptorans from Mongolia.  However, it is so very different from its relatives, animals like the famous Velociraptor for example, that it has been placed in its own novel clade (Halszkaraptorinae), at the root of Dromaeosauridae.

The Skull of the Newly Described Maniraptoran – H. escuilliei

Halszkaraptor escuilliei skull (ESRF).

The skull of Halszkaraptor escuilliei (ESRF).

Picture Credit:  Thierry Hubin/Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences/ESRF (Grenoble)

Haven’t We Been Here Before?

The notion of a small, Theropod dinosaur becoming adapted to an aquatic life has been postulated previously.  Back in the 1970’s a second specimen of the Late Jurassic Theropod Compsognathus was described.  This specimen, from France, was much larger than the one originally used to describe the species Compsognathus longipes in the 19th Century.  The Compsognathus fossil material was associated with a tropical lagoon palaeoenvironment and it was proposed that this French Compsognathus represented a different species, one that was specifically adapted to an aquatic habitat.  It was named Compsognathus corallestris.  Although, very much at home on dry land, it was postulated that the three-fingered hand had become fused to make a paddle and that his one-metre-long dinosaur propelled itself through the water in much the same way as its Coelurosaurian descendant Halszkaraptor is believed to have done.

Compsognathus corallestris is Featured in “The Evolution and Ecology of the Dinosaurs” Published in 1976

Compsognathus corallestris - an aquatic dinosaur>

Compsognathus corallestris illustrated.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Who knows?  Perhaps the discovery of Halszkaraptor might re-ignite the debate surrounding Compsognathus?  Dinosaurs could swim, but just how adapted to an aquatic environment some of these animals became is open once again to speculation.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the press team at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in the compilation of this article.

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7 12, 2017

Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model Retired

By | December 7th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

Popular Papo Purple Acrocanthosaurus Out of Production

The purple coloured Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model that was introduced by Papo in the spring of 2017 is out of production and due to be retired.  The Papo Acrocanthosaurus was introduced alongside a green Ceratosaurus dinosaur figure just a few months ago, but the curtain has come down on one of the most popular Papo figures in recent years.

The Purple Coloured Papo Acrocanthosaurus is Out of Production

Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus.  Retired from the Papo range.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model

Everything Dinosaur team members had been aware of this model’s pending introduction in the autumn of 2016.   Our blog posts and social media coverage gained a big audience and JurassicCollectables produced a video review of one of our Papo Acrocanthosaurus figures that has been looked at over 20,000 times in just seven months.  However, in just a blink in geological time, the first Papo Acrocanthosaurus has been officially declared extinct and no more purple coloured versions of this figure are being made.

One of the Early Papo Acrocanthosaurus Production Figures

A view of the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Popular Amongst Collectors and Dinosaur Model Fans

This hand-painted Papo replica with an articulated lower jaw, has proved to be very popular amongst model collectors and dinosaur fans.  Since its addition to the Everything Dinosaur Papo range, this figure has attracted very favourable reviews.

For example, Alexus from America wrote:

“Beautifully sculpted figure!  Nice colors as well as magnificent detail!  Definitely one of their greatest looking figures.  You never cease to amaze.  Quick shipping as well. Only took less than 2 weeks to arrive!  Worth every penny I spent on it!  Fantastic job once again Papo on another outstanding figure!”

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus proved to be a big hit with the girls as well, with dinosaur fan Bela reflecting many of the comments and views received by Everything Dinosaur.

Bela said:

“Beautifully detailed figure with a striking pose and dashing paint job.  Perfect balance. A must-have for any collector.”

The purple Acrocanthosaurus is being replaced by a new version of the model, with a different paint scheme.

The New for 2018 Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus (new colour scheme for 2018).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We have nicknamed this new replica “Tiger stripes”, for obvious reasons, availability has yet to be confirmed but Everything Dinosaur could have stocks of this replica as early as March 2018.

In the meantime, the purple Papo Acrocanthosaurus is going to get rarer and rarer.  However, Everything Dinosaur was aware of this model’s impending demise and has managed to pick up some extra cases prior to the production being stopped.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We know how disappointed model collectors will be when they hear the news that the purple Acrocanthosaurus model is heading for extinction.  Whilst we are most impressed with the new colour scheme, we hope that collectors will be able to pick up this model before they become available solely through auction sites at extremely inflated prices.”

Everything Dinosaur has stocks of the purple Acrocanthosaurus available, no price change as well.  The Papo range including the soon to be no longer available Acrocanthosaurus can be found here: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

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6 12, 2017

Thornton Triceratops is Actually Torosaurus

By | December 6th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Triceratops Skeleton Turns Out to be Torosaurus

A partial, horned dinosaur skeleton, initially thought to represent a young adult Triceratops has been reassessed following a month of preparation and cleaning and identified as a Torosaurus (T. latus).  It was back in September that Everything Dinosaur first reported on the dinosaur fossil discovery in Thornton, Colorado (USA).  Sadly, the highly respected Denver Museum of Nature and Science palaeontologist, Mike Getty was taken ill at the dig site and passed away shortly afterwards.

Turns out, what was initially identified as a Triceratops has proved incorrect.  As the Denver Museum of Nature and Science preparators have worked on the fossil bones, they have uncovered enough material to confidently ascribe the fossils to the closely related, but much rarer Torosaurus latus.

An Illustration of the Horned Dinosaur Torosaurus latus

Torosaurus illustrated.

An illustration of Torosaurus latus (Sergey Krasovskiy).

Picture Credit: Sergey Krasovskiy

Triceratops and Torosaurus

Analysis of the large head shield that projects backwards from the skull has shown the frill of bone to be quite thin, with two distinct large holes (fenestrae), anatomical traits that are associated with Torosaurus and not Triceratops.  The new diagnosis was made after a careful comparative study using Triceratops specimens already within the Museum’s vertebrate fossil collection.  Torosaurus fossils are exceptionally scarce.  There are several thousand Triceratops (T. horridus and T. prorsus) fossils, representing something like 2,000 individuals.  In contrast, there are approximately 7 partial skulls of Torosaurus known.

A Skeletal Drawing Showing the Extent of the Fossil Material Found at the Thornton Site

Thornton Triceratops turns out to be a Torosaurus.

The yellow parts of the skeleton represent those elements of the Torosaurus found.

Picture Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The fossil find at Thornton is highly significant.  The majority of the front-end of the individual has been excavated including an almost complete skull.  This specimen may provide palaeontologists with valuable information on how Torosaurus changed as it grew up.  In addition, these fossils could help to identify other Torosaurus specimens in museums that have been misidentified and labelled as Triceratops.”

Is Torosaurus Just a Very Old Triceratops?

The lack of Torosaurus fossil material compared to other horned dinosaurs from North America, led to speculation that Torosaurus was not a valid genus, that the fossil material ascribed to Torosaurus actually represented very old, very mature examples of Triceratops.  The Thornton specimen seems to represent a young adult animal, this may help to clarify the Torosaurus versus Triceratops debate.

To read an article published in 2010, that details an American study that suggested that Torosaurus fossils were actually Triceratops: The Extinction of Torosaurus – Second Time Around

Fossilised Bones Being Exposed at the Thornton Dig Site

The fossils of Torosaurus (T. latus).

Parts of the skeleton are exposed (Torosaurus latus).

Picture Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Joe Sertich (Curator of Dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science), stated:

“Not only is the fossil more complete and better preserved than I imagined, but it has also revealed itself to be something extremely rare.  The Thornton beast is by far the most complete, and best preserved, ever found.”

Nicknamed “Tiny”

The specimen has been nicknamed “Tiny”, but the work of preparing and studying these fossils is no small task.  The material was unearthed at a Saunders Construction site for a new Public Safety Facility.  Cleaning efforts have also revealed several more skull bones and a complete tibia (lower leg bone).  An estimated 95 percent of the skull and at least 20 percent of the skeleton have now been identified, making this the most complete Cretaceous-aged fossil discovered in Colorado.

Visitors to the Museum can observe the fossil preparation process in the Fossil Prep Laboratory, cleaning and preparing is estimated to take several more months.

Joe Sertich at the Dig Site Working on “Tiny” the Torosaurus

Excavating an Torosaurus.

Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs, (Denver Museum of Nature and Science) at the dig site (Thornton, Colorado).

Picture Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

We wonder what Mike Getty would have made of it all?

To read more about the sad death of renowned scientist Mike Getty: Highly Respected Palaeontologist Dies at Dig Site

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the press team at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the compilation of this article.

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5 12, 2017

The Archaeopteryx That Wasn’t

By | December 5th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Ostromia crassipes – The First European Member of the Anchiornithidae

The first fossil of Archaeopteryx to have been discovered, turns out not to represent the “Urvogel” at all.  In a reassessment of the fossil, known as the Haarlem specimen, as it is part of the vertebrate collection housed at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem (Holland), it has been re-described as a small predatory dinosaur belonging to the anchiornithid family.  The dinosaur has been named Ostromia crassipes, the genus name honours the late John Ostrom, who identified the Haarlem specimen as a Theropod and was instrumental in the work that led to the definition of dinosaurs as dynamic, active reptiles.

The Haarlem Specimen – the Holotype of Ostromia crassipes

Ostromia crassipes holotype fossil.

The holotype fossil of Ostromia crassipes, previously thought to represent Archaeopteryx.

Picture Credit: Oliver Rauhut/Ludwig-Maximilians-University (Munich, Germany)

The fossil studied, actually consists of two parts, the counterslab TM 6929 (left) and the main slab (right) TM 6928.

Archaeopteryx was named in 1861, however, the Haarlem specimen was found four years earlier.  To date, around a dozen specimens have been assigned to the Archaeopteryx genus, including a single, fossilised feather.  The discovery of Archaeopteryx supported the theory of natural selection proposed by Darwin and Wallace as it represented a transitional form between reptiles and birds.  Archaeopteryx fossils support the idea that modern birds are descendants of carnivorous dinosaurs.

Writing in the academic journal “BMC Evolutionary Biology”, palaeontologists Oliver Rauhut and Christian Foth from the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde in Stuttgart have re-examined the Haarlem specimen.  They conclude that this fossil differs in several important respects from the other known representatives of the genus Archaeopteryx.  The researchers conclude that the fossil is not an Archaeopteryx at all, but a representative of the very bird-like maniraptoran dinosaurs known as anchiornithids.

These crow-sized, predatory dinosaurs possessed feathers on all four limbs, and they predate the appearance of Archaeopteryx by several million years.

Commenting on their study, Dr Oliver Rauhut stated:

“The Haarlem fossil is the first member of this group found outside China and together with Archaeopteryx, it is only the second species of bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic discovered outside eastern Asia.  This makes it [the Haarlem specimen] even more of a rarity than the true specimens of Archaeopteryx.”

Subtle Anatomical Differences and Bone Osteology

The scientists looked at the relative proportions of limb, toe and finger bones and noted that the Haarlem material (TM 6929 and TM 6928), was different from other Archaeopteryx specimens.  In addition, it had affinities with the fossilised remains of Anchiornis from China.  Furthermore, differences in bone osteology were observed.  For example, the Haarlem fossil specimen has a regular, well-developed longitudinal furrow on the exposed medial side of the preserved manual phalanx, this furrow is not present on any of the finger bones ascribed to Archaeopteryx.

Comparing the Finger Bones (Manual Phalanges) of Various Theropods

Theropod manual phalanges comparison.

Comparison of Theropod finger bones in highly compacted sediments.  Scale bar in mm.

Picture Credit: BMC Evolutionary Biology

The photograph (above) shows close-up views of the finger bones (manual phalanges) of several Theropods, analysis of the shape of the bones, their features and their proportions led the researchers to conclude that the Haarlem specimen was not Archaeopteryx.

(a).  the right manus (hand) of the Thermopolis specimen of Archaeopteryx

(b). the right manus of the Solnhofen specimen of Archaeopteryx

(c). the left manus of the juvenile Theropod from Germany Sciurumimus albersdoerferi (image resolved under UV light)

(d). the second finger of the small Late Jurassic Theropod Compsognathus longipes

(e).  the impression from the first finger of the anchiornithid Anchiornis huxleyi

(f). the first finger of Caudipteryx, a feathered Theropod from the Early Cretaceous of China

Learning About Fauna of the Solnhofen Archipelago

Discovered in 1857, the Haarlem fossil specimen was found about 6 miles (10 kilometres), to the north-east of the closest Archaeopteryx locality known (Schamhaupten) which is near the town of Altmannstein in southern Bavaria.  The Jurassic-aged rocks in this area were laid down in a shallow sea, in which were scattered numerous small islands, an archipelago, that provided an environment, superficially similar to that of the Caribbean today.  These islands that once covered southern Bavaria, are known as the Solnhofen archipelago, the region from which all known specimens of the genus Archaeopteryx come from.  The taxonomic reassignment of the Haarlem specimen to the feathered Anchiornithidae has provided a fresh insight into the evolution of the Avialae and indicates that the first bird-like dinosaurs originated in Asia.  During the Middle to the Late Jurassic these creatures migrated westwards, reaching the Solnhofen archipelago of Western Europe some 150 million years ago.

The Haarlem fossil was originally recovered from what was then the eastern end of the archipelago, quite close to the mainland.  Unlike Archaeopteryx, anchiornithids were (most likely), unable to fly, and might not have been able to reach the more remote islands offshore.   All true fossils of Archaeopteryx found to date were recovered from the lithographic limestone strata further to the west, closer to the open sea.  This implies that dinosaurs like Ostromia may have been limited in their distribution, compared to the volant Archaeopteryx.

Faunal Distribution in the Solnhofen Archipelago (Late Jurassic)

The Solnhofen archipelago and Ostromia/Archaeopteryx distribution.

The researchers speculate that the flightless Ostromia could not have reached the islands furthermost from the mainland whilst Archaeopteryx with its powered flight capability was able to reach outlying islands.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the diagram above, Ostromia may have been unable to reach the more remote parts of the island chain whilst Archaeopteryx, which was capable of powered flight (its aerial abilities are still debated), would have been more able to “island hop”.

Based on these new findings, the researchers postulate that other known Archaeopteryx fossils may need reassessment.

Dr Rauhut suggests:

“Not every bird-like fossil that turns up in the fine-grained limestones around Solnhofen need necessarily be a specimen of Archaeopteryx,”

The scientific paper: “Re-evaluation of the Haarlem Archaeopteryx and the Radiation of Maniraptoran Theropod Dinosaurs” by Christian Foth and Oliver W. M. Rauhut published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

An article on Archaeopteryx research: Archaeopteryx Had Feathered “Trousers”

The oldest Archaeopteryx fossil: The Oldest Archaeopteryx in Town?

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