All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/2007
21 12, 2007

And the Beetles shall Inherit the Earth

By | December 21st, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Scientists Show that Beetles evolved alongside the Dinosaurs

A visitor to Earth 230 million years ago wandering the mid Triassic landscape may well have marvelled at the small, but swift moving, funny looking reptiles that seemed to becoming more abundant.   These were the first dinosaurs, who along with other fast moving reptiles such as the Ornithosuchia, ancient reptiles from the Archosaur group and the mammal-like reptiles and the “dead clades walking” left over from the Permian extinction made up the mega fauna of this period.  However, hopefully such a visitor might have taken time to study a much smaller group of animals, just beginning to make their presence felt in the undergrowth and flying around the horsetails and ferns.  These were the early ancestors of beetles, a group of insects classified as the order Coleoptera and arguably now the most successful group of creatures on the planet, with scientists estimating that beetles make up about 25% of all known animal species.  A conservative estimate of total beetle species (the vast majority yet to be named and described); puts the total number of individual beetle species at around 8 million – 1,000 times as many species of beetle than all the mammal species on Earth.

Now a British based research project tracing the origin of beetles indicates that these creatures appeared at the time of the first dinosaurs.  The research team, led by Professor Alfried Vogler from Imperial College London and the department of Entomology at the Natural History Museum, put the success of beetles down to their ability to diversify and fill a wide range of ecological niches.  The very large number of beetle species may be due to these animals ability to evolve rapidly to exploit new opportunities within ecosystems as they arise.

Certainly as the Jurassic period came along with its warmer and wetter climate this would have fuelled beetle diversification, just as it did with the dinosaurs.

The team used DNA sequencing from 1,880 beetle species, coupled with a review of the known beetle fossil record, to compile a family tree of Coleoptera, which could then reveal the key moments in the evolution and development of beetles.

Previous scientific research had indicated that the beetle group had diversified due to the emergence of flowering plants in the Cretaceous period.  This new study shows that beetles diversified and evolved into new forms much more quickly than previously thought.

Professor Vogler stated that beetles have displayed an exceptional ability to seize new ecological opportunities and develop a great range of life styles and feeding types.

“Unlike the dinosaurs which dwindled to extinction, beetles survived because of their ecological diversity and adaptability,” he said.

Gaining a better understanding about the evolution of beetles is an important part of learning about the world around us.  Studying such a successful group of insects can help scientists learn more about biodiversity and how ecological niches are filled.

The hard exoskeleton (carapace) of beetles and their abundance makes fossils of them pretty common.  Many pieces of amber contain beetle fossils and members of the Everything Dinosaur team have seen water beetle fossils from late Pleistocene times as they removed samples from tar pits.

20 12, 2007

A Prehistoric Handbag or Prehistoric Tool Kit?

By | December 20th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Rare Collection of Mesolithic Tools Provide Insight into Hunter/Gatherer Life

A beautifully preserved 14,000 year old sickle part of an ancient hunter/gatherer’s prized possessions has just been put on display at the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology at Jordan’s Yarmouk University.  The double bladed sickle, made from two carefully grooved horn pieces fitted with stone bladelets is part of a remarkable set of Mesolithic tools found at a site in Jordan.  The area was inhabited by the Natufian people, early humans that lived in the Mediterranean region, establishing some permanent settlements around water holes but mainly leading a hunter/gatherer existence.

Sometime around 14,000 years ago, one of these ancient people left a wicker or leather bag by the side of a stone round house and although the bag itself has long since perished its contents lay untouched awaiting discovery.  Now archaeologists have excavated the area and published their findings in the scientific journal “Antiquity”.

Although a lot of individual stone age tools and items have been discovered, it is very rare to find a collection, one person’s possessions.  The tools show that these people were well equipped for their hunter/gatherer lifestyle.

Describing the contents of the bag for journalists, Phillip Edwards, senior lecturer in the Archaeology programme at Melbourne’s La Trobe University (Victoria, Australia); stated that the tools indicate that this person hunted but also used some tools for gathering wild plant food.

The tools consist of a sickle for harvesting the wild cereals that grew in the region (wheat and barley), a cluster of flint spearheads and a larger piece of flint and a big stone (perhaps for striking more spearheads from the large flint).  Also included in the tool kit was a set of small, rounded pebbles, perhaps sling shots, a cluster of gazelle phalanges (toe bones) which were used to make decorative beads and part of a second bone tool.

The Ancient Tool Kit

Picture Credit: Discovery Channel

Scientist Phillip Edwards believes that the wicker or leather bag may have had a strap which enabled it to be slung over the shoulder, a bit like a modern handbag or man-bag for that matter.

The discovery, from an archaeological site called Wadi Hammeh 27 in Jordan has yielded a number of finds providing a glimpse into the lives led in this early civilisation.  The bag probably did not have any compartments so to protect these items they were probably wrapped in bark or small pieces of leather to prevent them bashing into each other.

The hunting weapons were used to kill the plentiful game that existed in the area at the time.  These people hunted aurochs (ancient cattle), gazelles, deer, hares as well as tortoises and many different types of bird.  The contents of the bag has led archaeologists to question our understanding of gender roles in early people.  As the bag contains beads and a tool for gathering plant material as well as hunting equipment, the original owner could have been either a man or a woman.

Perhaps the hunting and gathering roles were split up between the genders rather than the more traditional view of women gathering food and the menfolk being the hunters.

19 12, 2007

Allosaurus Fossils Discovered In Thailand

By | December 19th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Largest meat-eating Dinosaur Known to Date from Thailand

A group of palaeontologists working in the North-east of Thailand close to the village of Ban Saphan Hin in the Muang district have uncovered the fossilised bones of an Allosaurus – the largest carnivore found to date in the country.

Working in layers of sediment estimated to be 100 million years old (late Albian faunal stage), the scientists have uncovered the remains of several prehistoric animals, providing them with a unique insight into the ecosystem around in the mid Cretaceous.  As well as the partial remains of a member of the Allosauroid family, Iguanodontids and a duck-billed dinosaur (Hadrosaur) have also been discovered.  It is likely that these plant-eaters were the prey of the bigger Allosaur.  Without the complete skeleton it is difficult to estimate the size of this meat-eater but an examination of the teeth (some of which are more than 10 cms long) and other material indicates that this animal could have exceeded 10 metres in length.

The Allosaurs are a very widely distributed group of meat-eating dinosaurs, part of the order Theropoda.  Allosaur remains have been ascribed to Western USA, Africa and Portugal.  There has even been evidence of Allosaurs found in Australia.

Allosaurus was named and described by the American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877.  This is the same year that Stegosaurus was named and described.  The terms Allosaurus and Stegosaurus have been used by palaeontologists for 130 years.  An almost complete skeleton of Allosaurus (A. fragilis) was discovered in the United States in 1883.  Many more articulated skeletons have been found and Allosaurus is one of the better known Theropods.  Allosaurus got its name “different lizard” as Marsh noted that the back bones (dorsal vertebrae) had cavities in their sides and this had not been seen in other dinosaur fossils at the time.  These cavities (pleurocoels), probably contained air sacs and helped lighten the animals skeleton whilst retaining the skeleton’s strength.

A Typical Allosaurus – Picture of Model Taken from the Schleich Series (Dinosaurs)

Schleich Allosaurus Dinosaur Model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Model of Allosaurus: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models

Allosaurs were large predatory Theropods with relatively deep skulls.   Many had horns in front of the eyes or a row of bumps or hornlets along the tops of the nasal bones. The arms were much larger than in the later Tyrannosaurs and they possessed three, sharply clawed fingers on each hand.

Scientists believe that the Allosaurs had their hey day in the late Jurassic but then went into decline during the Cretaceous (possibly due to competition from Abelisaurs, Spinosaurs and Tyrannosaurs), but many genera seem to have survived in Gondwanaland and the southern continents.

A number of dinosaur fossils have so far been discovered, 1,000 fossils have been extracted and are awaiting further study.  Thai scientists are being supported by palaeontologists from China as they bid to classify them all.  The remains of a Pterosaur (flying reptile) have also been recovered from the site.

18 12, 2007

Ancient ancestor of Armadillos Found in the Andes

By | December 18th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Early Glyptodont Remains Provides Clue to Glyptodont Origins

A team of American palaeontologists have recovered the remains of an ancient armoured mammal – a Glyptodont from a remote fossil site high up in the Chilean Andes.

The fossils, part of the backbone, jaw and elements of the armoured shell that is so distinctive for this group, indicate that this is a new species, one of the earliest representatives of this mammal lineage.  It has been named Parapropalaehoplophorus septentrionalis, a very long name for this animal which was relatively small compared to some of this group’s later representatives which could weigh more than one tonne.

The animal was named after another genus of these group Propalaehoplophorus, which was found in Argentina at a more southerly latitude.  The species name – septentrionalis is from the Latin for northern so this new glyptodonts name can be interpreted as“near to Propalaehoplophorus from the north”.

The American team worked at an altitude of 18,000 feet, making this site one of the highest fossil excavation sites in the world.  They had to work in freezing conditions, high winds and the lack of oxygen in the air made the work exceedingly difficult.  The fossil dates from the mid Miocene epoch (18 million years ago), and although the fossils were found at an elevation in excess of 5,000 metres scientists believe that when this animal lived the land was much lower.    This small herbivore weighed in at around 90 KGs and was about 1.2 metres long, it wandered around the grass lands that covered much of this part of the world in the mid Miocene.  Earth movements that are pushing up the Andean mountains led the fossil remains to be found at such a high altitude

A Picture of a Typical Glyptodont

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Glyptodont model here: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

Co-leader of the expedition, John Flynn (Dean of the Richard Gilder Graduate School and a curator at the American museum of Natural History); has stated that this fossil could indicate that the armoured-shelled glyptodonts could have originated in northern Chile, before diversifying across the rest of South America.  The armour for each species of Glyptodont tends to have  a different pattern, the armour on P. septentrionalis for example, consisted of tiny, circular bumps.

The fossils were first located in 2004 during a field expedition to the Salar de Surire region of northern Chile.  This site has yielded important information regarding the evolution of Miocene mammal groups.  To date 18 animal species have been recovered from the site, collectively they have been called “Chucal fauna” and they represent part of the complex ecosystem that thrived on the grassy plains.  As well as primitive relatives of modern armadillos (xenarthran mammals), remains of marsupials, rodents, and hoofed mammals (ungulates) have been discovered.  The site has also yielded the ancient remains of prehistoric frogs (they look very much like modern frogs).

The last of the giant Glyptodonts died out approximately 10,000 years ago, perhaps driven to extinction by a combination of changing climate, competition from other mammal species and hunting by early Man.

Glyptodonts are certainly very enigmatic.  There unusual shape and bizarre body armour makes them a popular prehistoric mammal.  They have been included in our Natural History range of prehistoric mammal soft toys.  An adult and a baby Glyptodon have been designed.  Unlike the dinosaur range, as these represent mammals they could be made more soft and fluffy.

The Soft Toy Glyptodon (Mother and Baby)

Cute and cuddly Glyptodons

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For mother and baby Glyptodon: Dinosaur Stuffed Animals

17 12, 2007

Long-necked Dinosaurs from the Antarctic

By | December 17th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Early Jurassic Dinosaur Found on Antarctic Mountainside

Scientists from the Field Museum in Chicago in co-operation with palaeontologists from Argentina (Museo Paleontologico – Chubut); have named and described a new genus and species of dinosaur that once roamed the Antarctic portion of Gondwanaland 190 million years ago.

The animal was a Sauropodomorph, an early long-necked dinosaur, although only partial remains were excavated (a femur and an incomplete ankle plus some foot bones); scientists estimate that this animal was 8 metres long and weighed 4 tonnes.  It has been named Glacialisaurus hammeri (Hammer’s glacial lizard), in honour of Dr. William Hammer who led the expedition.  This team’s paper on this new dinosaur has been published in the scientific journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.  The fossils were found at Mount Kirkpatrick near the Beardmore glacier, extracting them in the extreme cold proved very difficult but the site has yielded more evidence of the climate in the region during this time.  A second more advanced, true sauropod skeleton has been found nearby, it is hoped that these two discoveries will help palaeontologists understand the ecosystem that existed in this near polar environment.  Both fossil sites are at elevations that exceed 10,000 feet, making excavation extremely difficult.

During the early Jurassic, Antarctica was connected to the other southern land masses.  It was situated further north, having yet to settle over the south pole.  The region served as an important prehistoric animal highway, permitting animals to travel from Australia to South America across this huge land mass.  Although the area was not as cold as Antarctica is today, dinosaurs would have had to endure a period of darkness during the southern hemisphere winter and the climate would have been much harsher than further north.

An Artist’s Illustration of Glacialisaurus

Picture Credit: William Stout

The picture shows Glacialisaurus in a typical pose of a Sauropodomorph in the foreground is a mammal-like reptile which also shared Glacialisaurus’s environment.  In the sky a group of Pterosaurs can be seen, they look relatively large although the scale cannot actually be determined.  The lack of a tail indicates that these are Pterodactyls rather than Rhamphorhynchoids.

A large body mass would have been helpful in cold climate.  Although it would have taken longer to warm up, the large body would have lost body heat slower than smaller creatures around at the time.  Perhaps these animals migrated south feeding on the lush growth that would have been permitted in the short season when there was maximum daylight, it is unknown whether this species was a migrant or a permanent resident of this environment.  The single skeleton provides no evidence of herd behaviour which is what would have been expected had the animal migrated south to feed.  This behaviour is usually seen in herding animals, who gather together on the move to protect themselves from predators.

The diet of this animal has yet to be determined.  The lack of skull material makes this difficult.  Other animals of similar size, for example, the Prosauropod Massopondylus, had an enlarged thumb claw, an upper jaw that stuck out and  a variety of teeth types within the jaws.  Some palaeontologists claim that this evidence indicates that this animal was a carnivore, certainly the lizard-hipped dinosaurs gave rise to the great carnivorous lineages of dinosaurs, but perhaps Glacialisaurus was an omnivore eeking out an existence eating plant food and supplementing this diet by catching smaller creatures.

16 12, 2007

Happy 90th Birthday Sir Arthur C. Clarke

By | December 16th, 2007|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Famous Figures, Main Page|1 Comment

Happy Birthday to Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Today, (December 16th) marks the 90th birthday of Sir Arthur C. (stands for Charles); Clarke – author, scientist and thinker.  Perhaps Sir Arthur is best known for his ground breaking novel “2001 – A Space Odyssey”, which was later made into a film of the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick.  To many palaeontologists and other scientists, Sir Arthur acted as an inspirational figure.   In 1980; an ITV television series “Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World” was aired.  This thirteen part series covered the paranormal and explored strange mysterious such as UFOs, monsters of the deep, apeman and other phenomenon.  In one of the later episodes (episode 11), entitled “Dragons, Dinosaurs and Giant Snakes” – Sir Arthur explored the then, current myths and stories about unknown animals lurking in explored parts of the world.  Each programme was written in a documentary style with an introduction and conclusion filmed with the great man from his residence in Sri Lanka.  An earlier episode had focused on the strange stories from around the world of lake monsters such as Nessie and Champ.  A book was published in 1981 to accompany the series.

Quick correction: The film 2001: A Space Odyssey was loosely based on & developed by Sir Arthur & Mr Stanley Kubrick from Clarke’s short story ‘The Sentinel’, first published in 1951 and much-reprinted. The novel of 2001 was first published in 1968 to accompany the film’s release, based on the screenplay.  Our thanks to Epacris for this information.

The Front  Cover of the Book

Picture Credit: AntiQbook:

Sir Arthur’s rational approach helped de-bunk some of the more outlandish stories but in his concluding commentary on episode 11, comments, which can be found in the book that accompanied the series, he tells a strange story from his childhood.  His mother once claimed to have seen strange sheep with five horns in a neighbour’s field.  Young Arthur dismissed this sighting stating that she must have been mistaken.  Off they went on their bikes to see for themselves and sure enough in the field just as his mother had stated was a small flock of strange curly horned sheep the like of which he had never seen.

It may be relatively easy to dismiss strange stories of sea monsters like Pliosaurs, or Plesiosaurs roaming remote parts of the world’s oceans.  Claims of a sighting of a long-necked dinosaur in the inhospitable marshlands and rain-forests of the Congo may seem unlikely but as Sir Arthur famously commented:

“The truth as always will be far stranger”.

You never know…

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur.

15 12, 2007

New Giant Meat-Eater Discovered In Africa

By | December 15th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New species of Carcharodontosaurus Discovered in Niger

For graduate Steve Brusatte, a palaeobiologist at the University of Bristol, England, the long wait for the naming and describing of his 1997 fossil find is finally over.  Elements of the skull, including the premaxilla and cervical vertebrae discovered in an expedition to Niger (Africa) have been described in the scientific publication “The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology” out this week.

Although only fragments of the skeleton have been found the skull material and teeth have enabled scientists to identify this animal as belonging to the Carcharodontosaurus genus.  The animal has been named C. iguidensis and it would have been one of the top predators in the area around 95 million years ago (Cenomanian faunal stage).

The Premaxilla (front part of the upper jaw) and a Scale Drawing of C. iguidensis

Picture Credit: National Geographic

The Carcharodontosaurids are named after the Great White Shark (C. carcharias), these fierce meat-eaters (the name means shark toothed lizards), roamed North Africa in the mid to late Cretaceous and one species C. saharicus is estimated to have rivalled Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosaurus as being the biggest Theropod discovered so far.  The Carcharodontosaurids are members of the Allosaur family.  Size estimates for this new species put this animal at around 14 metres in length, but considerably lighter than the likes of T. rex, Giganotosaurus and its close relative from Morocco C. saharicus.  It weighed approximately 3.2 tonnes.

There were a number of large Theropods roaming this part of the Gondwanaland during this stage of the Cretaceous, as well as the Carcharodontosaurids, there were the likes of the Spinosaurus and the Abelisaurs.  However, it seems likely that these massive carnivores did not necessarily compete with each other over food sources.  Studies of jaw material indicates that the Spinosaurs may have been mainly fish eaters, whilst the Abelisaurs had much more slender and narrow jaws perhaps indicating a different prey than the broader and sturdier jawed Carcharodontids.

The Carcharodontid family are still little known, the original fossils were described by the famous German palaeontologist Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach.  Several expeditions were sent to North Africa between 1911 and 1914. At first the fossils of Carcharodontosaurs were classified as belonging to a Megalosaur, the Megalosaurus genus has been used as a dumping ground for unknown Theropod remains for many years.  The original fossil bones and teeth were destroyed by bombing in WWII, only later did these fossils get ascribed to their own separate genus. Megalosaurs have been used to place various indeterminate fossils of meat-eaters, a previous web log article discussed this point:

Megalosaur Miscellany

Commenting on the abundance of large meat eaters in North Africa at this particular stage of the Cretaceous, Steve Brusatte stated that during this period sea levels were rising and this may have isolated dinosaur communities, allowing new species of carnivorous dinosaur to evolve.

14 12, 2007

Updates on the Christmas Post

By | December 14th, 2007|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Remember to Post Early for Christmas

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are in the office today working hard to ensure that all the orders placed for Christmas delivery get packed and despatched as quickly as possible.  All the orders received before 4pm each afternoon will be  despatched same day.  Everything Dinosaur personnel will also be undertaking a special collection service on Saturday mornings to make sure that any last minute gifts get sent on their way as quickly as we possibly can.  Royal Mail have stated the last recommended posting dates for UK parcels, however, if you are waiting for a gift to arrive, it is worth remembering that there are a number of areas of the UK where extra deliveries are taking place and Royal Mail has also organised Sunday deliveries in many parts of the country, especially in cities.

Many of the week days leading up to the big day will be treated by Royal Mail as standard working days.  There will be a normal delivery and collection service.   Couriers will be operating a next day delivery service to ensure parcels sent out get to their destinations across the majority of the UK in plenty of time.  Everything Dinosaur staff will be in the office from 7am every single day leading up to Christmas and it is our intention to work late helping where we can.   The best advice we can give our customers, to avoid disappointment when purchasing dinosaur toys and gifts for Christmas, please order early.

13 12, 2007

A “Selection Box” of Prehistoric Animal Drawings

By | December 13th, 2007|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings|0 Comments

Prehistoric Animal Drawings from Everything Dinosaur

Whilst trawling through the extensive Everything Dinosaur database, we came across a selection of prehistoric animal drawings.  Team members are not sure where these have originated from or indeed which extinct animals from prehistory they represent but as they were quite colourful, we thought we would post them up.  Everything Dinosaur sends out a lot of drawings and other educational materials to schools as part of the company’s outreach programme that involves teaching about dinosaurs in school and delivering dinosaur workshops.  This is certainly quite an assortment of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

A “Selection Box” of Prehistoric Animal Drawings

A "selection box" of prehistoric animal drawings.

A “selection box” of prehistoric animal drawings.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

But which animals do the drawings represent?  This has led to some debate amongst Everything Dinosaur team members, we can’t agree on them all but reading from left to right as you look at the picture, this is what we think:

  • Hypsilophodont (Hypsilophodon, Leaellynasaura, Drinker, Changchunsaurus, Qantassaurus etc.)
  • Cetiosaurus
  • Camarasaurid – Camarasaurus?
  • Allosaurid – Sinraptor?
  • Rhamphorhynchus
  • Stegosaurus

However, we could be wrong of course, that’s one of the challenges of vertebrate palaeontology, trying to work out what long dead animals looked like.

12 12, 2007

Why does a Baby Diplodocus have a Short Neck?

By | December 12th, 2007|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

The Joys of Working with Baby Dinosaurs – the wonders of Ontogeny

Ask any young dinosaur fan to draw a Diplodocus, an Apatosaurus and even a Brachiosaurus and they will most likely produce a picture of a big animal with a large body, a long tail and of course a very long neck, just the way these animals are depicted in books, CDs and television programmes.  These dinosaurs, known as sauropods, are also commonly called long-necked dinosaurs as one of their distinguishing features is of course their elongated, muscular necks.

However, when it comes to working on a soft toy that depicts a baby Diplodocus, our thoughts about the typical long-necked dinosaur shape have to be discarded.   Baby dinosaur fossils are extremely rare, baby sauropods are no exception.  Unfortunately, a baby Diplodocus would have made a nice bite-sized snack for a hungry Allosaurus so if a youngster happened to perish in a location where fossilisation had a chance of occurring, chances are the body would have been eaten before sediments could cover the remains up.

Very occasionally a baby or a juvenile fossil sauropod is found.  One nearly complete specimen was discovered at the Howe Quarry, near the town of Shell in Wyoming, USA.  When fully excavated this little long-neck measured just over 2.4 metres long.  Although, the skeleton was just about complete, the head was missing (a problem palaeontologists usually face with all sauropod remains); so it has proved difficult to assign this animal to any genus of sauropod, but the consensus of opinion is that this little chap (or young lady) was an Apatosaurus.  The fossil shows a relatively, short neck compared to the adults.  This fossil was extracted from sediments which make up the famous Morrison formation, it has been dated to the late Jurassic, approximately 145 million years ago.  The original fossils are on display in a museum in Switzerland.

But how do we know that this animal was a youngster?  Could it be a new species of mini-sauropod?  The fossils have provided us with a number of clues to indicate that this animal was a juvenile, only a few years old.  Firstly, as we get older some of our bones grow closer together and fuse, the same applies to dinosaurs.  The fossil shows unfused bones in the hip region, tail and the scapula (shoulder blade).  The lack of wear and tear on the wrist and ankle bones also supports the theory that this animal was quite young when it died.  Dinosaur bones, if thinly sliced and studied under a powerful microscope can show growth rings, similar to the growth rings seen in wood.  The tiny femur (thigh bone) was analysed and its study revealed that the animal was less than 5 years old.

The  Baby Diplodocus Soft Toy (with a short-neck)

Diplodocus Soft Toy

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Stuffed Animals: Dinosaur Stuffed Animals

So when it comes to thinking about  a baby Diplodocus soft toy we have to consider the process of ontogeny.  As animals grow their body proportions change, its physical features change in relation to body size.  A foal looks very different from its mother.  Its head looks larger, and the legs are proportionately longer.  This trait is related to a process called distal growth.  Another beautifully preserved and virtually complete skeleton of a baby long-necked dinosaur was discovered in Utah in 1922.   This time the head was preserved and the fossil was identified as a Camarasaurus, it had a large head and a relatively short neck when compared to an adult.   This was the basic blueprint for our baby Diplodocus in both the Itsy Bitsy and the Pocket Pals range of soft toys.

Scientists think that animals like Diplodocus laid eggs about the size of footballs, buried in clutches of about 100 eggs or so.  After incubation the eggs hatched and the young sauropodlets emerged on mass just as turtles and crocodiles do.  This would give some of the babies the opportunity to get away from predators.  Palaeontologists estimate that at hatching a baby Diplodocus was around 1 metre in length.  Hiding in the fern undergrowth of forests the youngsters probably spent their first few years away from the adults living in small groups, using the dense forest as cover to protect them from the many predators that were about.  Their growth rates were astonishing, it has been estimated that in their first year these animals with their constant feeding on mosses and ferns, were able to put on about 2 kilogrammes per day and that after 12 months these young dinosaurs were over 3 metres in length and weighed as much as an adult Friesian cow.

The Pocket Pals Diplodocus

Pocket Pal Diplodocus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As Everything Dinosaur is a company made up of parents, teachers and real dinosaur experts we have tried to illustrate scientific principles behind the products that we put into our shop.  As with the Itsy Bitsy soft toy Diplodocus, in the slightly larger (and older) Pocket Pal Diplodocus we have tried to keep the head relatively large with the neck and tail short.  Naturally, this process can only go so far, because with the adults the heads were very small compared to the body proportions.  For example, a fully grown Diplodocus could exceed 30 metres in length, the head being about the size of a horse’s balanced on a neck that was as long as a bus.

Dinosaur Stuffed Animals: Dinosaur Soft Toy Animals

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