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15 09, 2021

PNSO Connor the Torvosaurus Reviewed

By | September 15th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Our thanks to dinosaur fan and model collector William who sent in his detailed review of the PNSO Connor the Torvosaurus dinosaur model after his recent purchase from Everything Dinosaur.

PNSO Connor the Torvosaurus (product packaging).
The Torvosaurus product packaging, there is English writing on the reserve side. Dinosaur model fan William sent a detailed review of his model to Everything Dinosaur.

Reviewing a Torvosaurus Dinosaur Model

Here is William’s review of the PNSO Torvosaurus:

PNSO 2021 Torvosaurus tanneri “Connor”.
1/35-1/38 scale model.
Length: 11.5 inches.
Height: 3.1 inches.
Box: Standard white PNSO issue with the plastic stand and beautiful booklet.

Looking at the Head and Jaws

William states that the head of the model is based upon Professor Scott Hartman’s reconstruction which gives the head a longer snout – a wonderful Megalosauridae head. PNSO have given “Connor” a pair of lacrimal crests these are only seen in an as yet undescribed German specimen, but they are an attractive feature of this model.

The figure has a fully articulated jaw with fantastic white teeth as is the norm no lips and the teeth indicate that this dinosaur had an overbite. Great to see a dewlap under the jaw – the head looks very natural. The pink tongue and very detailed nasal passage finish off the business end of this Megalosauridae head.

PNSO Connor the Torvosaurus dinosaur model
A close view of the detailed and beautifully crafted head of Connor the Torvosaurus dinosaur model from PNSO.

William went on to comment that the nasal ridges run from the top of the snout to the lacrimal crests and below a pair of pale-yellow eyes with eyelids and skin folds around the eye sockets. William also praised the detail associated with the ear opening. He noted no shrink wrapping on the model.

Commenting on the Limbs

As a dinosaur model fan and collector, William was able to comment that the Torvosaurus possessed a pair of powerful forelimbs, a stark contrast to tyrannosaurs. He remarked that the forelimbs on the model ended in three-fingered hands with a strong, robust grappling-hook-like thumb claw. William speculated that this large claw could have been used for holding or despatching prey.

The hind legs are commented upon, they are described as robust and anchored to an equally robust pelvis. The powerful, muscular legs would have been ideally suited for chasing herbivorous dinosaurs. William pointed out that the feet had padded soles and large dewclaws with blunted toe claws – a detail praised as in life toe claws would not have been razor-sharp, but somewhat blunted.

PNSO Torvosaurus dinosaur model
The powerful limbs of the PNSO Torvosaurus dinosaur model.

Admiring the Torvosaurus Trunk

When discussing the body of the Torvosaurus model William declared:

“The classical long Megalosauridae body, oh we have wait for this for a lifetime…”

The scales, textures and other details such as the skin folds are praised and described as very lifelike. The osteoderms which run from the back of the skull down to the tail are also highlighted in William’s review.

When describing the row of osteoderms that run down the model’s back, William said:

“The spinal osteoderms are not to small nor too big, just correct running from the base of skull to the tip of the tail growing slightly smaller.”

When concluding his review of the body of the Torvosaurus William exclaimed that such an eye for detail in skin and scales was rarely matched by other manufacturers.

Paint Application and Colour Scheme

William ended his review of the PNSO Torvosaurus figure by commenting on the colour scheme. He explained that the design team at PNSO had chosen a good, well-defined grey paint scheme which was broken up by broad, mottled stripes, with a delicate pinkish underside that was “very pleasing to the eye.”

The russet orange depicted on the antorbital fenestra of the model suggested to William that this was a replica of a male Torvosaurus in his prime ready to battle for territory and hunting grounds.

PNSO Connor the Torvosaurus
The new for 2021 PNSO Connor the Torvosaurus dinosaur model, a stunning replica of a Late Cretaceous apex predator.

Discovery and History

Keen to demonstrate his knowledge of dinosaurs, William provided a brief summary of the Torvosaurus genus:

Torvosaurus tanneri “Tanner’s Savage Lizard”.

Temporal Period: Middle to Late Jurassic “Morrison Formation”
165–148 million years ago.

The year was 1979 Peter Malcolm Galton and James Alvin Jensen named and described the new type species Torvosaurus tanneri.

A second species was named and described in 2014 (Torvosaurus gurneyi), based on fossil material discovered in Portugal (Lourinhã Formation). The trivial name for this species honoured James Gurney, a world-renowned artist and creator of the “Dinotopia” book series.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog post about the naming of T. gurneyi: The Largest Meat-eating Dinosaur Known from Europe.

William added:

“2021 has been a very busy year for the entire team of Everything Dinosaur from the lockdowns to the move to the new premises but not for one moment have they faltered their service and stocks only grow and we you friends and loyal customers salute you all and look forward to marvels and surprises of 2022.”

To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

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14 09, 2021

Modern Snakes Evolved from a Handful of Species

By | September 14th, 2021|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Key Stage 3/4, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New research published in the journal “Nature Communications” suggests that all extant snakes evolved from just a handful of species that survived the K-Pg extinction event 66 million years ago. The researchers conclude that this catastrophic extinction event, that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs and something like 75% of all terrestrial life, was a form of “creative destruction” leading to a burst of evolutionary development within the Serpentes.

Snakes benefitted from the End-Cretaceous extinction event.
Snakes benefitted from the End-Cretaceous extinction event. It enabled them to evolve rapidly and to exploit new, ecological niches. Picture credit: Joschua Knüppe.

Snakes benefited from the extinction event, the loss of so many competitors allowed them to diversify rapidly and to occupy new niches in food chains.

The Snake Fossil Record

The fossil record of snakes is relatively poor because snake skeletons are typically small and fragile making the preservation of fossil material a rare event.

It is generally accepted that snakes (Suborder Serpentes), evolved from lizards. Snakes gradually losing their limbs, whether the first snakes were burrowers and evolved from burrowing lizards or whether the first snakes were adapted to a life in marine environments is an area of on-going debate between vertebrate palaeontologists. For example, in 2016 a team of scientists challenged the conclusions from the paper that described Tetrapodophis amplectus, a primitive snake-like animal from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil. It had been suggested that T. amplectus, which had been described and named the year before, was adapted to a life underground, however, researchers from Canada and Australia challenged this view and proposed a marine habit for this 20 cm long animal that has been classified as being close to the base of the evolutionary lineage of true snakes.

Tetrapodophis Illustrated
The tiny limbs of Tetrapodophis may have been used to hold prey. Scientists are uncertain whether this animal was a burrower or adapted to a marine environment. Picture credit: Julius Csotonyi.

To read more about this research: Were the Very First Snakes Marine Reptiles?

Studying Fossils and the Genomes of Living Snakes

The research, led by scientists at the University of Bath in collaboration with researchers from Cambridge, Bristol and Germany, involved examining snake fossils and an analysis of the genomes of living snakes to pinpoint genetic differences permitting a picture of modern snake evolution to be built up.

The results indicate that despite the great variety of snakes alive today – cobras, vipers, pythons, boas, sea snakes and blind, burrowing snakes for example, all extant snakes can be traced back to a handful of species that survived the K-Pg extinction event that took place 66 million years ago.

A scientist examines a venomous Bushmaster snake (genus Lachesis), a type of pit viper known from Central and South America. Picture credit: Rodrigo Souza/Serra Grande Center.

Snake Survival Strategy

The authors postulate that the ability of snakes to shelter underground and go for long periods without food helped them survive the destructive effects of the bolide impact event. In the aftermath, the extinction of their competitors including Cretaceous snakes and small theropod dinosaurs, permitted snakes to move into new niches, new habitats and new parts of the world. Today, snakes are found in all but the highest latitudes and are present on every continent except Antarctica.

The researchers, which included lead author Dr Catherine Klein, a former graduate of Bath University but now based at the Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in Germany, state that modern snake diversity – including tree snakes, sea snakes, venomous vipers and cobras, and huge constrictors like boas and pythons – emerged only after the non-avian dinosaur extinction.

Dr Klein commented:

“It’s remarkable, because not only are they surviving an extinction that wipes out so many other animals, but within a few million years they are innovating, using their habitats in new ways.”

A Change in Snake Vertebrae

Fossils also show a change in the shape of snake vertebrae in the aftermath, resulting from the extinction of Cretaceous lineages and the appearance of new groups, including giant sea snakes, such as Gigantophis garstini from the Eocene of northern Africa which may have reached a length of ten metres. Gigantophis was scientifically described in 1901, it was thought to have been the largest snake to have ever lived, until in 2009 when the giant, South American boa – Titanoboa cerrejonensis was described.

Rebor Titanoboa Museum Class Maquette Monty Resurgent.
The Rebor Titanoboa Museum Class Maquette Monty Resurgent. A model of the largest snake known to science.

Rapidly Spreading Around the Globe

The research team also suggest that snakes began to spread rapidly around the globe. The “Greenhouse Earth” conditions that occurred close to the boundary between the Palaeocene and Eocene Epochs that led to the establishment of extensive tropical forests in the Northern Hemisphere, would have facilitated the geographical spread of cold-blooded animals such as snakes.

Although the ancestor of living snakes probably lived somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, snakes first appear to have spread to Asia after the extinction event.

Corresponding author, Dr Nick Longrich, from the Milner Centre for Evolution (University of Bath), explained:

“Our research suggests that extinction acted as a form of “creative destruction”- by wiping out old species, it allowed survivors to exploit the gaps in the ecosystem, experimenting with new lifestyles and habitats. This seems to be a general feature of evolution – it’s the periods immediately after major extinctions where we see evolution at its most wildly experimental and innovative. The destruction of biodiversity makes room for new things to emerge and colonise new landmasses. Ultimately life becomes even more diverse than before.”

Further Serpentes Evolution Driven by Climate Change

The researchers also found evidence for a second major diversification event around the time that the world shifted from a warm and moist climate to a colder, more seasonal climate (Oligocene Epoch).

It seems, that for the snakes at least, global catastrophes can have their upsides. The patterns seen in snake evolution hint at the key role played by mass extinction events – they are the catalysts for driving rapid evolutionary changes.

The scientific paper: “Evolution and dispersal of snakes across the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction” by Catherine G. Klein, Davide Pisani, Daniel J. Field, Rebecca Lakin, Matthew A. Wills and Nicholas R. Longrich published in Nature Communications.

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11 09, 2021

Carnotaurus Skin Study

By | September 11th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

In 1984, a field team led by the renowned Argentinian palaeontologist José Bonaparte uncovered the fossilised remains of a theropod dinosaur in Chubut Province (Patagonia). The articulated fossil remains included most of the front-portion of the skeleton and although some of the bones had been deformed and distorted due to taphonomic processes, skin impressions of parts of the right side of the animal had been preserved. Skin impressions associated with the head of this dinosaur were also present, but these were not recognised during laboratory preparation and sadly they were lost as the skull fossils were cleaned and prepared.

A year later, Carnotaurus (C. sastrei) was formally named and described. Remarkably, despite the Carnotaurus skin impressions being the most completely preserved of any theropod, no detailed study of the skin had been undertaken.

All that changed this week with the publication of a scientific paper in the journal “Cretaceous Research”.

Carnotaurus Life Reconstruction
Researchers have described in detail the scaly skin of the abelisaurid Carnotaurus sastrei. The image shows a life reconstruction of Carnotaurus. Picture credit: Jake Baardse.

Not a Feather to be Found

Palaeontologist Dr Christophe Hendrickx from the Unidad Ejecutora Lillo in San Miguel de Tucumán (Argentina), worked with Dr Phil Bell from the University of New England (New South Wales, Australia), an expert in dinosaur integumentary coverings. Whilst the skin impressions only cover part of the body, (the largest skin impression is associated from the base of the tail), the scientists were able to determine that the skin covering consisted of a diverse range of scales and bumps of different shapes and sizes.

No evidence for any bristle-like structures or feathers could be found.

Carnotaurus skin study
The skin is preserved in the shoulder, flank, tail and, possibly, neck regions and consists of medium to large (20–65 mm in diameter) conical feature scales surrounded by a network of low and small (<14 mm) non-imbricating basement scales separated by narrow interstitial tissue. Picture credit: Christophe Hendrickx.

Dr Hendrickx remarked:

“By looking at the skin from the shoulders, belly and tail regions, we discovered that the skin of this dinosaur was more diverse than previously thought, consisting of large and randomly distributed conical studs surrounded by a network of small elongated, diamond-shaped or sub-circular scales.”

Have Carnotaurus Model Makers Got it All Wrong?

Contrary to previous interpretations and the attempts of model makers to depict Carnotaurus, the feature scales are randomly distributed and neither form discrete rows nor show progressive variations in their size along parts of the body. All those illustrations and replicas of Carnotaurus with a neat row of spines running down its back are not accurate according to the conclusions drawn from this research.

Nanmu Studio Carnotaurus (Ranger) dinosaur model
The Nanmu Studio Carnotaurus (Ranger), the distinct rows of prominent scales may not reflect the actual integument of this abelisaurid, but their random size fits the assessment of the skin composition as proposed by the researchers.

Reminiscent of a Thorny Devil

The composition of the skin and the morphology of the scales reminded the researchers of the integument of the Australian lizard the Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus). This small, spiny lizard which is relatively common in the deserts of western and central Australia, uses its spines primarily for defence. It would be difficult for any would-be predator to swallow it. Grooves between the spines allow the lizard to channel water to its mouth, a useful adaptation when living in an environment with infrequent rain.

Detailed view of the skin of Carnotaurus (base of the tail).
A close-up view of the scales from the base of the tail. The variety of bumps and scales are reminiscent of those found in the extant lizard the Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus). It has been suggested that the skin texture of Carnotaurus played a role in thermoregulation. Picture credit: Christophe Hendrickx.

At around 8 metres in length and since Carnotaurus is regarded as the apex predator in its environment, it is unlikely that the lumps and bumps on the skin were primarily for self-defence, but protection from intraspecific combat cannot be ruled out. However, recent studies have shown that Carnotaurus was a strong runner. If this large dinosaur had a very active lifestyle, then helping to regulate body temperature and permit heat-loss would have been very important.

The researchers speculate that the skin may have played a vital role in thermoregulation, a role consistent with integument function in living mammals and reptiles.

Detailed view of the skin of Carnotaurus
No evidence for feathers on the skin of Carnotaurus was found in this study. Scientists conclude that the lumps, bumps and large scales on the skin could have played a role in thermoregulation. Picture credit: Christophe Hendrickx

The scientific paper: “The scaly skin of the abelisaurid Carnotaurus sastrei (Theropoda: Ceratosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia” by Christophe Hendrickx and Phil R. Bell published in Cretaceous Research.

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10 09, 2021

Ulughbegsaurus – Bossing Tyrannosauroids

By | September 10th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A new species of carcharodontosaurid has been named from a single fragment of upper jawbone found in Uzbekistan. The dinosaur has been named Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis and it was probably the apex predator in the ecosystem suggesting that carcharodontosaurids remained the dominant predators relative to tyrannosauroids, at least in Asia until around 90 million years ago.

Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis fossil material (various views)
Left maxilla of Ulughbegsaurus (fossil specimen UzSGM 11-01-02) in (a) lateral, (b) medial, (c) ventral, (d) anterior and (e) posterior views. Reconstruction of skull in lateral view (e) – grey missing bones are based on Neovenator, modified from Naish et al. Picture credit: Tanaka et al.

The First Late Cretaceous Carcharodontosaurian from Central Asia

Ulughbegsaurus has been named based on partial maxilla found in strata associated with the Bissekty Formation of the Kyzylkum Desert (Uzbekistan). Several other predatory theropods have been described from fossils found in this formation, but all of them are considerably smaller. The tyrannosauroid Timurlengia euotica was coeval, but much smaller than Ulughbegsaurus providing further support for the idea that carcharodontosaurians were the dominant, apex predators in Laurasia until their extinction some 20 million years prior to the end of the Cretaceous, from which point onwards it was the tyrannosauroids that took over this niche in most Laurasian ecosystems.

Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis and Timurlengia euotica life reconstruction
A life reconstruction of Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis (top) compared in size with the coeval tyrannosauroid Timurlengia euotica which was named and described in 2016. Picture credit: Julius Csotonyi.

Estimating Size from a Single Fragment of Bone

Palaeontologists can use the size of the tooth row in the maxilla to help them estimate the body size of theropod dinosaurs. Studies of carcharodontosaurids and tyrannosaurids have demonstrated that the length of the tooth row in the maxilla is isometrically correlated with femur length, which is very helpful, as the length of the thigh bone is widely used to help calculate body mass. Based on this data, the authors of this paper, calculate that the Ulughbegsaurus specimen was at least 7 metres long and over a tonne in weight. The researchers, which included corresponding author Kohei Tanaka (University of Tsukuba, Japan) and Darla Zelenitsky (University of Calgary, Canada), conclude that the individual represented by the single bone was probably 7.5 to 8 metres in length.

Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis was much bigger than any other theropod known from this region. The tyrannosauroid Timurlengia was approximately 3-4 metres long and around 8 times lighter. This suggests that Timurlengia was a secondary predator along with an as yet, unnamed large dromaeosaurid, whilst Ulughbegsaurus occupied the niche of apex predator. The discovery of Ulughbegsaurus records the geologically latest stratigraphic co-occurrence of carcharodontosaurid and tyrannosauroid dinosaurs from Laurasia and evidence indicates carcharodontosaurians remained the dominant predators relative to tyrannosauroids, at least in Asia, as late as the Turonian faunal stage of the Cretaceous.

Tyrannosauroids Kept in Check by Carcharodontosaurians

For much of the Cretaceous allosauroids (part of the Carnosauria clade), including carcharodontosaurians were the largest terrestrial predators on Earth. It was only after their extinction that tyrannosauroids (members of another theropod clade, the Coelurosauria), became much larger and occupied the role of apex predators in most ecosystems across Laurasia.

Evidence of larger tyrannosauroids is not known until the Campanian of North America, some 7 million years after Ulughbegsaurus and Timurlengia lived. Palaeontologists remain uncertain as to the dynamics of apex predator evolution amongst the Theropoda as the fossil record from 90 to 83 million years ago (Coniacian-Santonian) is extremely poor.

Relationship between coeval small tyrannosauroids and non-tyrannosauroid predatory dinosaurs
Comparisons between small tyrannosauroid and large non-tyrannosauroid predatory theropods. Phylogenetic tree (a) comparing Tyrannosauroidea with sympatric allosauroid taxa. Guanlong with sympatric Sinraptor from the Late Jurassic Shishugou Formation of China (1); Tanycolagreus and Stokesosaurus with sympatric Allosaurus and Saurophaganax from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation of the United States (2); Eotyrannus and sympatric Neovenator from the Early Cretaceous Wessex Formation of the United Kingdom (3); Moros and sympatric Siats from the early Late Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation of the United States (4) and (5) Timurlengia and sympatric Ulughbegsaurus from the Turonian Bissekty Formation of Uzbekistan indicating that sympatric large allosauroid taxa are found at least until the Turonian faunal stage of the Cretaceous. Bivariate plot of body mass between tyrannosauroids and non-tyrannosauroid predatory theropods that stratigraphically co-occur (b). The analysis indicates that tyrannosauroids were small when other large predatory theropods were present. The grey shadow is where tyrannosauroids are larger than non-tyrannosauroid theropods and demonstrates the tyrannosauroid apex predatory dominance during the Late Cretaceous. Picture credit: Tanaka et al.

Honouring a Sultan of the Timurid Empire

Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis (pronounced Ul-lug-bey-sore-us uz-bek-ee-stan-en-sis), was named in honour of Ulugh Beg, a sultan and polymath of the Timurid Empire in the fifteenth-century. The species or trivial name honours the country of Uzbekistan.

A Significant Fossil Discovery

Although Ulughbegsaurus has been described from a single bone, its discovery is very significant. U. uzbekistanensis represents the first definitive fossil evidence of carcharodontosaurians from Central Asia. It fills a geographic gap in the clade between Europe and East Asia and shows that carcharodontosaurians were widespread across Asia.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2016 article about the discovery of Timulengia euotica: Fossil Study Shows How Tyrannosaurs Got Big.

To read about the diminutive tyrannosauroid Moros intrepidus that co-existed with the much larger allosauroid Siats meekerorum: Fleet-footed Tyrannosaur Leaps 70 million-year Gap.

The scientific paper: “A new carcharodontosaurian theropod dinosaur occupies apex predator niche in the early Late Cretaceous of Uzbekistan” by Kohei Tanaka, Otabek Ulugbek Ogli Anvarov, Darla K. Zelenitsky, Akhmadjon Shayakubovich Ahmedshaev and Yoshitsugu Kobayashi published in Royal Society Open Science.

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9 09, 2021

Titanokorys gainesi – Giant Cambrian Radiodont

By | September 9th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada), have announced the discovery of a new species of armoured arthropod from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia. A study looking at 12 fossil specimens collected from Marble Canyon and Tokumm Creek in the Kootenay National Park (British Columbia), has been published this week by Royal Society Open Science. The arthropod has been named Titanokorys gainesi and at around 50 cm in length, it is a giant by Cambrian biota standards.

Titanokorys gainesi life reconstruction.
A life reconstruction of Titanokorys gainesi. Picture credit: Royal Ontario Museum.

The authors of the scientific paper, Dr Jean-Barnard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum, an expert on Burgess Shale fauna and PhD student Joe Moysiuk, classify Titanokorys as a member of the Radiodonta, a stem group of the Arthropoda. Radiodonts were extremely diverse and geographically widespread during the Late Cambrian and many of them were giants when compared to other animals alive during this time in Earth’s history. Perhaps the most famous radiodont is the taxon Anomalocaris, regarded by many palaeontologists as the world’s first super-predator.

Anomalocaris life reconstruction.
The Terror of the Trilobites – Anomalocaris. Anomalocaris was a member of the Radiodonta stem group of the Arthropoda. At a metre in length, it was a giant compared to most other Late Cambrian animals. Picture credit: BBC Worldwide/Framestore.

Living on the Seabed – A Benthic Existence

Radiodonts are characterised by their compound eyes, disc-shaped mouthparts and paired frontal appendages, which in the case of Titanokorys consist of comb-like structures which may have been used to sift through mud in search of prey. The broad, flattened carapace of Titanokorys supports the idea that it was benthic – living on the seabed.

Views of the Cambrian radiodont Titanokorys gainesi
Life reconstruction of Titanokorys gainesi (a) dorsal view, (b) ventral view, (c) lateral view and (d) anterior view. Picture credit: Lars Fields/Royal Ontario Museum.

Dr Caron stated:

“The sheer size of this animal is absolutely mind-boggling, this is one of the biggest animals from the Cambrian period ever found.”

Coeval with Cambroraster falcatus

The bedding planes that provided the Titanokorys fossil material have also revealed an abundance of the smaller, but closely related Cambroraster falcatus, which was named and described by Caron and Moysiuk in 2019. Cambroraster was named after the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars franchise, as its carapace resembled the shape of this iconic spaceship. The co-occurrence of these two species on the same bedding planes highlights potential competition for benthic resources and the high diversity of large predators sustained by Cambrian communities.

To read about the discovery of Cambroraster falcatus: Prehistoric Predator with a Mouth Shaped Like a Pineapple Ring.

Why some radiodonts evolved such a bewildering array of head carapace shapes and sizes is still poorly understood and was likely driven by a variety of factors.

Titanokorys gainesi fossil material.
Views of the carapace of Titanokorys gainesi (paratype ROMIP 65168).

Dr Caron added:

“These enigmatic animals certainly had a big impact on Cambrian seafloor ecosystems. Their limbs at the front looked like multiple stacked rakes and would have been very efficient at bringing anything they captured in their tiny spines towards the mouth. The huge dorsal carapace might have functioned like a plough.”

Honouring Professor Robert Gaines

The genus name is derived from the Greek Titans, powerful gods of huge size and from the Greek “Korys” for helmet. The species or trivial name honours Professor Robert Gaines who was instrumental in the co-discovery of the Marble Canyon fossil deposit, where some of the Titanokorys specimens were found.

The scientific paper: “A giant nektobenthic radiodont from the Burgess Shale and the significance of hurdiid carapace diversity” by J.B. Caron and J. Moysiuk published by Royal Society Open Science.

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8 09, 2021

New PNSO Models Arriving at Everything Dinosaur

By | September 8th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur has received news from our freight forwarders that a shipment of PNSO prehistoric animal models should be delivered to our warehouse tomorrow (September 9th, 2021). The delivery will include six new for 2021 PNSO figures – Haylee the Helicoprion, Connor the Torvosaurus, Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus, Yinqi the Yutyrannus and the 1:35 scale Stegosaurus model set (Biber and Rook).

PNSO prehistoric animal models due in stock at Everything Dinosaur (September 2021
In total six new for 2021 models are due in stock tomorrow (September 2021) at Everything Dinosaur. They are Connor the Torvosaurus, Haylee the Helicoprion, Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus, Chuanzi the Tarbosaurus, Yinqi the Yutyrannus and the 1:35 scale Stegosaurus models Biber and Rook.

PNSO Prehistoric Animal Figures

The delivery should include a total of 31 different PNSO prehistoric animal product lines. This will enable Everything Dinosaur to replenish stock of existing models as well as allowing them to post up the six new figures on the company’s website.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that they did not know exactly when the delivery would arrive, but team members would be at work even earlier than usual and they would do all they could to get the models safely unloaded, stored in the warehouse and then made available on-line as quickly as possible.

PNSO Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus dinosaur model
The PNSO Gamba the Carcharodontosaurus dinosaur model. Due into stock at Everything Dinosaur on September 9th 2021.

The spokesperson added:

“We know how keen dinosaur fans and collectors are to get hold of these wonderful replicas. Team members will be busy emailing all those Everything Dinosaur customers who have asked to have one of these prehistoric animal models reserved for them. Staff will be working late into the night to ensure that everyone is contacted.”

Mid-size Model Range

The majority of the new for 2021 figures coming in are from the PNSO mid-size model range. The exception is the PNSO 1:35 scale Scientific Art Stegosaurus pair Biber and Rook.

PNSO Stegosaurus dinosaur models (Biber and Rook)
The PNSO Stegosaurus dinosaur models (Biber and Rook) in anterior view, these two figures are due to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur. This 1:35 scale model set consists of an adult Stegosaurus and a juvenile.

To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models in stock at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Prehistoric Animals and Dinosaurs.

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7 09, 2021

New Species of Abelisaurid Described

By | September 7th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A team of international researchers have identified a new species of Late Cretaceous carnivorous dinosaur from fragmentary fossil bones found in south-eastern Brazil. The dinosaur has been named Kurupi itaata, the strata from which the fossils came were laid down in a very arid environment, as such, Kurupi itaata is the first named tetrapod from the Late Cretaceous Marília Formation (Bauru Group).

Kurupi itaata life reconstruction
A life reconstruction of the newly described Brazilian abelisaurid Kurupi itaata. The semi-arid environment as revealed by the Marília Formation deposits. Picture credit: Júlia d’Oliveira.

Bones from the Tail and a Partial Pelvic Girdle

Described from three tail bones (caudal vertebrae) and a partial pelvic girdle, the research team were able to identify anatomical traits that led them to conclude that Kurupi was an abelisaurid. Estimated at around five metres in length, its discovery provides further information on the dinosaurs that inhabited South America around 70 million years ago (Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).

Analysis of muscle attachment scars associated with the pelvic girdle and an assessment of the shape of the tail bones indicating a rigid tail suggest that Kurupi was a strong runner. The fossil bones come from the Municipality of Monte Alto in the state of São Paulo.

The dinosaur was named after a monstrous child from the Guarani indigenous culture – Kurupira. A child of evil spirits in local legend Kurupira is the lord of forests and the protector of all the animals that lived in them as well as being a God of fertility and sexual prowess. The species or trivial name “itaata” refers to the extremely hard surrounding rock matrix that proved difficult to remove.

Views of the partial hip bones of Kurupi itaata
Views of the partial hip bones of Kurupi itaata, the partial pelvic girdle and the caudal vertebrae are believed to represent the bones from a single individual animal. Note scale bar equals 15 cm. Picture credit: Iori et al.

Potentially More Dinosaurs?

The presence of a large predator suggests that the fossils of herbivorous dinosaurs might be found in the Marília Formation, although it is not known whether Kurupi was a permanent resident of the arid, Late Cretaceous environment represented by the deposition or whether it was a seasonal visitor.

Described as a mid-sized abelisaurid, its discovery provides further information of the diversity of the Abelisauridae in western Gondwana, although a phylogenetic analysis proved inconclusive and this dinosaur’s taxonomic placement within the Abelisauridae remains uncertain.

The scientific paper: “New theropod dinosaur from the late Cretaceous of Brazil improves abelisaurid diversity” by Fabiano Vidoi Iori, Hermínio Ismael de Araújo-Júnior, Sandra A. Simionato Tavares, Thiago da Silva Marinho, Agustín G. Martinelli published in the Journal of South American Earth Sciences.

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6 09, 2021

PNSO to Add an Olorotitan

By | September 6th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

PNSO are to add an Olorotitan dinosaur model to the company’s popular mid-size model range. Ivan the Olorotitan will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in a few weeks – approximately late October 2021.

PNSO Ivan the Olorotitan dinosaur model
The new for 2021 PNSO Ivan the Olorotitan dinosaur model.

PNSO Ivan the Olorotitan Dinosaur Model

It is fitting to give this wonderful hadrosaur figure the nickname of Ivan. As Olorotitan (O. arharensis), is synonymous with Russia. This lambeosaurine is known from the Late Maastrichtian Udurchukan Formation of the Amur River region in far eastern Russia. When it was excavated and prepared, the single specimen from which this genus was named, proved to be the most complete dinosaur discovered to date in Russia. Its fossilised remains represent the most complete lambeosaurine known from outside North America.

PNSO Ivan the Olorotitan posterior view.
The new for 2021 PNSO hadrosaur figure (Ivan the Olorotitan) in posterior view.

The PNSO Models Representing the Lambeosaurinae

PNSO have already introduced two duck-billed dinosaur figures, both of which depict North American lambeosaurines. Audrey the Lambeosaurus and Caroline the Corythosaurus were introduced in 2020, it is great to see another member of the Lambeosaurinae introduced to the PNSO mid-size model range. Olorotitan may have lived more recently than both Lambeosaurus and Corythosaurus (although it is believed to be closely related to Corythosaurus). The geological age of the beds from which the holotype fossil came from is disputed. Most palaeontologists agree that the strata were laid down during the Maastrichtian faunal stage, the last stage of the Cretaceous, but whether these rocks represent Early or Late Maastrichtian deposition is uncertain.

PNSO Olorotitan dinosaur model.
A close-up view of the magnificent head crest on the new for 2021 PNSO Olorotitan dinosaur model.

PNSO Olorotitan Model Measurements

The magnificent crest of the model stands some 14 cm off the ground and the model measures approximately 16.5 cm in length. Scientists are not sure how big this dinosaur was. Despite having a nearly complete skeleton to study, size estimates for Olorotitan vary considerably. Some palaeontologists, notably the American palaeontologist Thomas Holtz (University of Maryland), have claimed that Olorotitan could have been up to 12 metres long.

As with other PNSO models in their mid-size range, no scale for this figure is declared.

PNSO Ivan the Olorotitan model measurements.
The model stands 14 cm high and it measures approximately 16.5 cm in length.

A Transparent Support Stand

Olorotitan was very probably a facultative biped. It probably spent most of the time as a quadruped, but it could walk or run on just its back legs, should the need have arisen. The PNSO model is depicted in a bipedal pose, as if the dinosaur is scanning the horizon for any possible signs of danger. A transparent support stand is supplied with this figure to help stabilise it in this dynamic pose.

PNSO Olorotitan model is supplied with a support stand.
A transparent stand is supplied with the Olorotitan figure to help stabilise the model and permit this dinosaur to be displayed in a dynamic pose.

Ironically, although the strata associated with Olorotitan have produced abundant vertebrate fossils, including several hadrosaurs, turtles, crocodilians, evidence of titanosaurs and theropods, no carnivorous dinosaurs have been named to date from the Udurchukan Formation, although large tyrannosaurs were almost certainly present.

In Stock Soon at Everything Dinosaur

Ivan the Olorotitan was already being prepared for shipping to Everything Dinosaur, even before this figure was officially announced. This exciting new dinosaur model is likely to be in stock late October or possibly early November (2021).

PNSO Ivan the Olorotitan product packaging.
As with all the other models in the PNSO mid-size model range, the clean lines of the packaging are to be admired.

To view the range of PNSO models and figures in stock: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

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5 09, 2021

Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon

By | September 5th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon is in stock at Everything Dinosaur. This new sabre-toothed cat model is the only prehistoric animal figure being added to the Mojo Fun prehistoric animal model range for 2021.

Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon
Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon (sabre-toothed cat).

A New Model of “Knife Tooth”

Mojo has had a long history of producing sabre-toothed cat figures. Almost ever since a prehistoric animal range was conceived, a Smilodon figure has been part of the range. In 2017, Mojo added an updated version to their product portfolio and now there is a new sculpt depicting this iconic cat.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur confirmed that at this stage, no information about the continued production of the 2017 Smilodon model had been released, although it had been speculated that the addition of a 2021 figure might lead to the retirement of the 2017 Smilodon model.

The Smilodon genus was first established by the Danish palaeontologist and naturalist Peter Wilhelm Lund in 1842 following the study of fossil material from Brazil. The genus name means “knife tooth” a reference to the animal’s oversized and exceptionally long upper canine teeth, that in some specimens of Smilodon populator reach 28 cm in length.

Mojo Smilodon prehistoric animal figure
The Mojo Smilodon model is a replica of a sabre-toothed cat. The Smilodon model measures approximately 13 cm long.

Everything Dinosaur Supplies Photography

The original images of this new model supplied by Mojo did not reflect the actual colour scheme of the figure. Team members at Everything Dinosaur took their own images of the new for 2021 Smilodon figure as they did not want the official images to mislead model collectors.

Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon
The new for 2021 Mojo Smilodon model is in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon – Original Images

The original studio image for the new Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon showed a figure with a much lighter, paler colouration and more muted spotting. The side of each ear was also painted white. The sclera of the eye in the studio images is a pale yellow, whilst the production model has an amber-coloured sclera. The actual colour scheme on the model is much bolder with the spotted patterning of the figure much more pronounced. The sides of the ears are painted black.

Mojo prehistoric life
One of the original catalogue images of the Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon model. The actual production model colour scheme differed from the promotional stills.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We had been alerted by Mojo that the actual model had a different colour scheme to their studio images. We decided that it would be best to show the model rather than to rely on the studio shots as we did not want to confuse customers. It is our understanding that Mojo will commission new model photography in the near future and replace their original images with more accurate photographs of the Mojo Prehistoric Life Smilodon.”

To view the new Mojo Smilodon model and to see the rest of the figures available from Everything Dinosaur in this model range: Mojo Prehistoric Life Models and Figures.

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4 09, 2021

Beasts of the Mesozoic Xenoceratops

By | September 4th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Today, we feature an image of one of the forthcoming Wave 3 Ceratopsians in the fabulous Beasts of the Mesozoic model series. The image shows the magnificent Xenoceratops (X. foremostensis), a Canadian centrosaurine ceratopsid that was formally named and described back in 2012.

Beasts of the Mesozoic Xenoceratops
The Beasts of the Mesozoic Xenoceratops (background shot) a magnificent articulated dinosaur model in 1:18 scale.

“Alien Horned Face”

Fossils collected in south-western Alberta, close to the small community of Foremost, back in 1958 had been held in storage for decades. The fossils represented skeletal material from at least three individual animals. The scientific paper describing this new horned dinosaur, the first member of the Ceratopsia to be described from material associated with the Foremost Formation, was published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences on the 8th of November 2012.

The genus name translates as “alien horned face”. A common misconception is that this dinosaur was named due to the “alien-looking” arrangement of horns on its head. Xenoceratops certainly had some very impressive ornamentation, including two large horns above its eyes. It may have had a nose horn too, but in the stunning Beasts of the Mesozoic model, the sculpting team have decided to give their Xenoceratops a prominent boss, on the naris, rather than a nose horn.

The “alien” reference is a reflection of the limited vertebrate fossil material collected from the Foremost Formation. In comparison to other Upper Cretaceous rocks in North America, the sandstones, shales, mudstones and coal deposits of the Foremost Formation have yielded very few dinosaur specimens and what has been found is extremely fragmentary. Xenoceratops was regarded as “alien” by the scientific team describing this plant-eating dinosaur, as it was quite a surprise to find a ceratopsid.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article from 2012 about the discovery of this new Canadian ceratopsid: New Horned Dinosaur from Alberta.

Xenoceratops foremostensis
The Beasts of the Mesozoic 1/18th scale figure – Xenoceratops foremostensis. An articulated horned dinosaur model.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that the Xenoceratops model, along with the other Wave 3 ceratopsians in the Beasts of the Mesozoic series would be in stock before Christmas (2021).

To see the current range of Beasts of the Mesozoic articulated dinosaur models: Beasts of the Mesozoic.

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