All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//July
6 07, 2007

Why Brontosaurus is no more

By | July 6th, 2007|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Why Brontosaurus is no more

It is a sad fact but one of the best known dinosaur names –  Brontosaurus, cannot be used anymore although you would be hard pressed to believe this as Brontosaurus’s keep popping up all over the place, in books, comics, websites even the occasional scientific journal.  For example, in the film King Kong by Peter Jackson, there is a scene entitled “Stampede of the Brontosaurs”.  It is a great scene but unfortunately the name Brontosaurus had been struck out of the scientific record 30 years before this movie was made.  Scientists now use the name Apatosaurus to describe animals that were once called Brontosaurus.

You have to travel back in time yourself to unravel the mystery of the name change.  It all began in 1877 when the famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh described and named a new sauropod called Apatosaurus from fossils found in Colorado, USA.  Two years later, fossils of what was thought to be a new long-necked dinosaur was found in a quarry at Como Bluff, Wyoming.  This animal was named and described by Marsh, he called it Brontosaurus “Thunder Lizard” in recognition that an animal estimated to have weighed more than 30 tonnes and being over 20 metres long would have made the ground shake as it walked.

However, as more sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) fossils were unearthed it was realised that the animal named and described as Brontosaurus actually was the same genus as Apatosaurus.  Since Apatosaurus was described first, its name took precedence and the name Brontosaurus had to be disregarded.

In 1905 when the world’s first long-necked dinosaur went on display at the American Museum of Natural History, it was wrongly labelled in the press as Brontosaurus.  Thanks to this simple mistake and many Hollywood films, the name Brontosaurus seems to have stuck in people’s imaginations.

A Line Drawing of an Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus as was)

Drawing courtesy of Everything Dinosaur

Apatosaurus does not seem to have been a very lucky animal when it comes to palaeontology.  The skeleton found in 1879 was one of the most complete ever discovered in America, but unfortunately, it lacked a head.  Very often the relatively small head is missing when it comes to digging up sauropods.  In this instance, rather than spoil the look of their wonderful new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, when the skeleton went on display, it was given the head of a Camarasaurus to complete it.

The Camarasaurus skull sat proudly on the fossil Apatosaurus for many years, it was only taken down and replaced by an Apatosaurus skull in the 1970’s.

The name of Brontosaurus continued to linger on in scientific parlance, but it was finally removed from all scientific notes and correspondence in 1974.  This is a shame as Brontosaurus “Thunder Lizard” is a much more evocative name than Apatosaurus, but rules are rules and as Apatosaurus was named and described first this is the name we should use.

Just for the record, Apatosaurus means “deceptive lizard” which is rather appropriate given the what has happened to Brontosaurus.

5 07, 2007

Dinosaurs in Corsets!

By | July 5th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaurs in Corsets!

In the previous post “Asia’s Heaviest Dinosaur”, a comment was made about the body armour found on many Titanosaurs.  Scientists now know that many Titanosaurs excavated from places as far apart as Argentina, Malawi and France were covered in bony plates, separated by groups of bony tubercles.  Some of the larger specimens had bony plates or scutes the size of CDs, perhaps in life these were covered in horn and formed a spike.

The first recorded evidence of armour in a Sauropod was in 1896 when the eminent scientist Charles Deperet described Titanosaurus from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar.  At the time his paper on an armoured Sauropod was treated with derision.  It was not until the likes of Saltasaurus were described in the 1980s that Deperet’s paper was remembered and treated with more respect.

Scientist’s still ponder why such large creatures had armour on their backs.  These animals were huge (even the medium sized ones were 12-15 metres long and would have easily weighed far more than any known carnivores around at the time).

The skin of a Titanosaur has been estimated to be over 7 cms thick, even the most determined Tyrannosaur would have had a job to bite into this to cause any damage.

These observations have led scientists to put forward a different theory for the body armour.  The armour may have had nothing to do with defence.

Close study of the backbones of Titanosaurs show that these bones were very different from the backbones of other Sauropods such as the Camarasaurids and Brachiosaurids.  The backbones of Titanosaurs seem to lack the large hollows that are found in other types of long-necked dinosaur.  They lack the struts and bony projections that anchored the back muscles seen in other Sauropod families.  In fact the vertebrae are quite unsophisticated in their structure and quite small for such large animals.

Perhaps the armour on the back and flanks was more of a stiffening system to provide added strength to the back and hind quarters to aid locomotion.  From fossil trackways, it does seem like Titanosaurs had a very wide stance, the wide body was required to house the massive digestive tract that these animals possessed.   Like the carapace on a lobster to provide support or like wearing a set of corsets to help keep their tummies in.

4 07, 2007

Asias Heaviest Dinosaur Discovered

By | July 4th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

The Heaviest Dinosaur yet Discovered from Asia

Hardly a week goes by without more exciting Dinosaur discoveries from China.  Yesterday, (July 3rd), the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing announced in a joint statement with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences the discovery of what may prove to be Asia’s biggest ever dinosaur.

Palaeontologists working in China’s Henan Province have unearthed fossils of a large Titanosaur, so far only a few individual fossil bones have been recovered but initial estimates put the animal at an estimated 18 metres long.  Measurements of the sacrum (the region of the backbone where the transverse processes are in contact with the pelvic girdle) – roughly the hips, indicate that it is over 130 cms wide, making this the biggest sacrum known from Asia.

The specimen has yet to be fully excavated and there is a great deal more to do before the creature can be officially named and described, but this is an important find helping to provide more clues as to the evolution and diversity of the Titanosaurs in the late Cretaceous.

Titanosaurs were the last sauropods (long-necked dinosaurs), to evolve and are mostly known from the southern hemisphere and the Gondwana landmass.  Many of these animals had bizarre body armour running down their backs and flanks consisting of scutes and plates.  It is not known whether this new Titanosaur was armoured.  Armour on Titanosaurs seems a little pointless, many of these animals were so large as adults that they would have been impervious to attack.  It would have to be a pretty desperate theropod (or possibly group of theropods) to take on a herd of 20 Tonne leviathans.

To see a typical armoured Titanosaur click below:

Schleich Models etc: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models

Recently, scientists have put forward a bizarre theory for these huge animals having armour along their backs.   Perhaps this inflexible armour helped strengthen the back-bone and provide a strong anchor point under the skin for the animal’s muscles.  This armour would serve as protection as well as give support to the animal as it walked, a bit like a huge armoured corset.

Dinosaurs in corsets, now that sounds interesting.

3 07, 2007

Blue and Yellow Tyrannosaurus rex – the Explanation

By | July 3rd, 2007|Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

Blue and Yellow T. rex – the Explanation

Yesterday we posted up a review of one of our new books, “Tyrannosaurus rex – King of the Dinosaurs”.  This hardback, pop-up book on T. rex had been well received by our young testers and their Mums and Dads.  The illustrations were particularly well liked and it was thought that they really provided a modern depiction of this fearsome dinosaur.

The artist responsible is John Sibbick.  John specialises in producing beautifully detailed illustrations of wildlife, mythology and fantasy artwork but perhaps he is most famous for his marvellous drawings of prehistoric animals and the evolution of mankind.  Many of the books which adorn our offices at Everything Dinosaur contain John Sibbick illustrations.  He has a rare and unique talent for combining anatomical accuracy with a real sense of imagery, capturing a snap shot of pre-history.

John studies the actual fossils and the diagrams produced by scientists before he starts to paint.  He works closely with palaeontologists so that he can interpret the very latest scientific thinking in his pictures.

Here is a link to John’s website where you can see some of his wonderful work:

www.johnsibbick.com

Whilst the Tyrannosaurus rex book was on test with our young readers we were asked on numerous occasions why John had decided to paint his Tyrannosaurus rex with blue and yellow markings – we put this question to John and here is his reply:

“I was asked to use bright colours by the publishers – avoiding greens, browns and greys and generally dull tones.  Because these colours would have to be consistent throughout the book and I knew that the cut away spread showing the layers of anatomical detail would have areas of reds and warm colours for the organs and muscles I needed the skin to contrast with that.

I know that some reptiles are blue – turtles, caimans and some iguanas so I chose to go with blue and yellow for the added drama and contrast.  Jack Horner (eminent American palaeontologist), is a great advocate of bright colours to emphasize the dinosaur/bird connection and feels that dinosaurs could have been as colourful as modern birds especially during display periods and, therefore, there should no limit to colour!”

John Sibbick’s T. rex (pop-up model from the book)

T. rex colourfully depicted

John is certainly right about the latest consensus on dinosaur colouration .  I remember viewing the cast of a T. rex braincase (STAN-BHI3033), and looking at the hole where the optic nerve exited – it was huge, big enough to get two of my fingers inside.  This, and the fact that both birds and crocodiles have colour vision has led palaeontologists to suspect that dinosaurs had excellent colour vision.
So why not a yellow and blue Tyrannosaurus rex!
3 07, 2007

Image from T. rex King of the Dinosaurs Book

By | July 3rd, 2007|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

T. rex King of the Dinosaurs Book

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, the UK based company that supplies dinosaur books and posters, were marvelling at the wonderful images in the children’s dinosaur book entitled “Tyrannosaurus rex – King of the Dinosaurs”.  The book has some super dinosaur artwork and drawings, all created by artist John Sibbick.

An Illustration from the Dinosaur Book

Wonderful illustration of Tyrannosaurus rex from a dinosaur book for kids.

Wonderful illustration of Tyrannosaurus rex from a dinosaur book for kids.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

John Sibbick’s artwork comes to life in this wonderful children’s book “T. rex King of the Dinosaurs”.  John is one of our favourite palaeoartists.  He is a very talented individual.  This clever children’s book has several “pop-up” pages which dramatically portray dinosaurs in three-dimensions.  It is packed full of facts and information about Tyrannosaurus rex.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur books for children: Dinosaur Book Collection

2 07, 2007

T. rex Cover (Digging up Dinosaurs Book)

By | July 2nd, 2007|Book Reviews|0 Comments

Dinosaur Books for Kids

When it comes to a dinosaur book with lots of activities and ideas, this “Digging up Dinosaurs” title is hard to beat.

Dinosaur Books for Children

A guide to digging up dinosaurs

 Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A clever hardback book aimed at children from six years and upwards.

Ever wondered how and where fossils of dinosaurs are found?  This interactive dinosaur book complete with dinosaur dig activities, a metre wide dinosaur poster and fossil finders handbook provides the answers.

Fascinating facts about two famous dinosaurs Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex.

2 07, 2007

Tyrannosaurus rex – King of the Dinosaurs (Book Review)

By | July 2nd, 2007|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

Tyrannosaurus rex – King of the Dinosaurs (Book Review)

One of our ambitions at Everything Dinosaur is to encourage young people to read about  dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  We have spent quite a long time looking at various books to see if we would like to add them to our shop.   As we have run our focus groups and Hall tests we have asked young readers to give us their views on certain books.  After much research and deliberation the first set of books is now available and we can review it here.

Tyrannosaurus rex – King of the Dinosaurs is a colourful, pop-up book with illustrations from John Sibbick (a world renowned dinosaur illustrator).  The innovative pop-up design was well liked by our young testers who recommended that the book be rated as suitable for 5 years and upwards.  They liked the pull mechanisms in the book which revealed the T.rex skull structure and showed how the legs worked and such like.

The book also contains a pull-out cardboard model of a Tyrannosaurus which is about 60cm long – this went down really well with the young scientists.

As for the Mums and Dads, they liked the hard-book robust nature of the book itself and the way in which key words and concepts were explained along the way.

Everyone agreed that the illustrations were superb, a credit to John Sibbick no doubt, although some were a little puzzled as to why T. rex would have a blue and yellow back.  Why not?  Since colour does not fossilise it is hard to say what colour Tyrannosaurus rex, or any dinosaur for that matter might be.  The dappled skin could be useful to help break up the huge animal’s outline as it moved around in poor light conditions such as early dawn or through the shafts of light from a grove of southern beech trees.

Here is a link to the book on our website:

Dinosaur Books: Dinosaur Books for Kids

All in all a good book, worthwhile adding to junior’s collection.  However, one point noted by our dinosaur team – the actual title “Tyrannosaurus Rex” is not quite how scientists would write the name of T. rex.  In science, when it comes to classifying animals they have a genus name i.e. Tyrannosaurus and a species name in this case rex.  When these names are written down the genus name is always in capitals and the species name, rex is written in lower case.  It is not correct to put a capital R onto rex.

Being pedantic, you are supposed to write the species name in italics like this:

Tyrannosaurus rex but on many occasions this etiquette is ignored.  These things are important to us, even in dinosaur books for children, perhaps more so.

 

1 07, 2007

Everything Dinosaur Offices

By | July 1st, 2007|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Photos|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s Offices

Things are really getting sorted at Everything Dinosaur’s offices.  The offices have been equipped and all the computers set up and the warehouse shelving is partly finished.  It is starting to feel like a proper company.

Ready for Work at Everything Dinosaur

Ready for Work!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Still we couldn’t help ourselves, if you look carefully in the picture you can see a number of dinosaur models and dinosaur themed gifts that really belong in the warehouse, but we have kept them with us for the moment as they help to brighten up the place.

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