All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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22 01, 2008

Review of Prehistoric Times – Issue 84 (Winter 2008)

By | January 22nd, 2008|Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

Review of Prehistoric Times – Issue 84

Mike Fredericks, his colleagues and contributors kick start 2008 with another very informative and packed edition of Prehistoric Times – the magazine for dinosaur enthusiasts and prehistoric animal merchandise collectors.

The front cover features a Nothosaur – a Triassic marine reptile.  The picture has been specially commissioned for Prehistoric Times and was created by John Sibbick perhaps the most eminent dinosaur illustrator around today.  The front cover links to an article on the Nothosaurid group providing a history of fossil finds and giving palaeoartists the opportunity to depict these animals in their watery environment.

Keeping to the theme of prehistoric animals beginning with the letter “N” there is a special section on Nodosaurs, part of the armoured dinosaur family the Thyreophorans, similar to Ankylosaurs but lacking the tail club.  Putting aside the opening paragraphs depicting a battle between a male Edmontonia and a bull Triceratops, the article sets out to “right some of the wrongs” concerning Nodosaurs and give this group a little of the limelight so often hogged by the Stegosaurs and Ankylosaurs.

As well as the usual features about new products, fossil finds and the latest theories, issue 84 features a section on dinosaurs of Brazil.  The article is written by Augustin Martinelli and Ezequiel Vera, palaeontologists from Argentina and the article is well written and most informative.

The new developments at the famous Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry in the middle of the Morrison formation are discussed with cool pictures showing the new facilities and some of the latest fossil finds and last by not least T. rex gets a look in with the second part of an article tracing the history of Tyrannosaurus illustration.

All in all, an excellent read.

Prehistoric Times website: Visit Prehistoric Times

21 01, 2008

Human Kind Origins Traced to Fish – “Meet your next of Fin”

By | January 21st, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Scientists Trace Humans Fishy Origins

Neil Shubin, professor of Anatomy at Chicago University is due to publish a new book which explores the links between the osteology of humans and links to their ancient ancestors; the first fish and amphibians.

Using evidence related to the evolution of fishes and the first land living vertebrates, Shubin demonstrates that many of the traits associated with H. sapiens, traits thought unique to us, have their origins in animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago.

Professor Shubin and his team reinforce the believe that the origin of human hands and digits lie in the emergence of the lobe-finned fish in the middle of the Devonian period.  Lobe-finned fish, more precisely described as Sarcopterygians, were so called as their fins sprouted from muscular lobes supported by bone.  Indeed, Shubin heralds Eusthenopteron (means “good strong fin”), a lobe-finned fish of the late Devonian as evidence of the development of upper arm bones such as the humerus.

A Fossil Eusthenopteron

Picture Credit: Parc National de Miguasha

This fossil Eusthenopteron (head is pointing to the right), shows the scales and the typical tail fin arrangement so typical of this group of primitive fishes.

His team go on to cite a number of examples from the fossil record that indicate that the majority of the human genome (the instructions or blueprint for making a person), evolved millions of years ago.  Study of an ancient sea creature, a Tiktaalik (fossils discovered in the Arctic in 2003), may provide a clue to the origin of our shoulder and arm joints.

Interestingly, many of the early Tetrapods such as Acanthostega and Ichthyostega had many more digits than humans.  This may be a legacy of the digits first evolving to help water based creatures clamber over vegetation in the shallows rather than for supporting body weight for movement around on land.

Close study of early amphibian fossilised vertebrae can show evidence of vertebral pegs called zygapophyses.  These helped stiffen the back bone and allowed early Tetrapods to carry their bodies off the ground.  Front and rear zygapophyses can still be found in human vertebrae today – another legacy from our fishy origins.

20 01, 2008

Best Selling Prehistoric Animals of 2007/8

By | January 20th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

The Most Popular Prehistoric Animals – Everything Dinosaur Survey Results

The fierce carnivore Tyrannosaurus rex is children’s favourite dinosaur, although Stegosaurus is catching up according to a survey published by the team at Everything Dinosaur, the specialist educational toy company.

Using information gathered from dinosaur drawing workshops with schoolchildren, as well as product sales and viewings from the company’s website Everything Dinosaur Website, a top ten list of popular prehistoric animals has been compiled. Not surprisingly, the ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex tops the chart but the gentle plant eater Stegosaurus has replaced Velociraptor in the number two position.

Prehistoric Mammals are well represented in the list with the Sabre Tooth cat and the Woolly Mammoth continuing to be popular.  With the appearance of a Sabre Tooth cat (Smilodon) in next weeks Primeval programme on ITV1 (Saturday 26th January), the Sabre Tooth is expected to be boosted further in popularity.

The Top Ten Best Selling/Most Popular Prehistoric Animals

1. Tyrannosaurus rex

2. Stegosaurus

3. Velociraptor

4. Triceratops

5. Pteranodon

6. Sabre Tooth Cat

7. Woolly Mammoth

8. Diplodocus

9. Spinosaurus

10. Giganotosaurus

Survey Source: Everything Dinosaur 2007

19 01, 2008

Dinosaur Colours and Camouflage

By | January 19th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

The Bright and Colourful Mesozoic

In the past, many scientists thought that dinosaurs were uniformly grey and drab, perhaps influenced by the relatively plain colouration of large land animals today such as elephants, rhinos and hippopotamuses (although hippos can turn a fetching shade of pink under the African sun).  Today’s experts believe that the dinosaur world may have been a surprisingly colourful place.

Dinosaurs were around for a long time before the first flowering plants appeared (the angiosperms), their world was dominated by greens and browns and although the few entirely herbivorous reptiles left today such as Iguanas generally tend to be green and brown in colour, many scientists believe that dinosaurs were brightly coloured.  Palaeontologists have cited a number of reasons why many dinosaurs could have been colourful with many skin pigment variations.

Firstly, those fossils that have traces of of skin tissue associated with them indicate that many dinosaurs were covered in scaly skin with some pebble like nodules.  These scales could possibly have contained pigment cells which would have provided many dinosaurs with an assortment of colours, perhaps even allowing them to change colour to express emotions or to provide extra camouflage like many lizards today.

The recently discovered and beautifully preserved “mummified” Hadrosaur from Dakota has actual fossilised skin.  Close examination of the this indicates that this animal may have had stripes along its tail, a suggestion put forward by Dr Phil  Manning of Manchester University who helped study this remarkably well preserved specimen.

To read more about this discovery:

Dinosaur Mummy unlocks Duck-Billed Dinosaur Secrets

Another reason why dinosaurs may have been brightly coloured is that if they are closely related to birds, then if feathered birds are colourful, why not feathered dinosaurs?  As well as providing insulation; protofeathers could have been used in display, they could indicate which animals were reproductively mature.  Scientists believe that dinosaurs could see in colour (crocodiles and birds can, so why not their close relatives dinosaurs)?

Many herbivorous dinosaurs lived in herds.  The Duck-Billed dinosaurs such as Parasaurolophus could have been stripped in order to make it difficult for a predator to pick out an individual – in the same way that zebras use colours today.

Also, with animals living in herds there would need to be some way for these creatures to communicate with each other, perhaps colourful crests and patches were used to indicate social status and social order within such herds.

The latest model Parasaurolophus from Bullyland demonstrates this principle.  Scientists believe that the crest of this dinosaur may have varied between males and females.  The males may have had the bigger crests, some of which exceeded 1.8 metres long.  Juvenile Parasaurolophus have little or no crest, perhaps the crest grew as the animals reached maturity.  If this is the case then a large crest would perhaps indicate social dominance and status within the herd.  This would have been emphasised if the crest was a different colour from the rest of the animal, a bright colour for instance, like orange.  This is why the new Bullyland model has been depicted with an orange coloured crest.

The Bullyland Model Parasaurolophus (Orange Crest)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model depicts a male Parasaurolophus with a distinctive and large head crest.

A Picture of a scale Model – Parasaurolophus

A Crested Lambeosaurine Hadrosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the model: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

The orange strips may have helped camouflage this animal as it moved through woodland (helping to break up it’s body outline).  Stripped animals moving in a herd are also given a degree of protection as the colour scheme can prevent a predator from selecting an individual to attack.

There are a number of interpretations available regarding the colouration of dinosaurs.  Fossils can reveal a great deal of detail about these ancient creatures but they rarely include any signs of the skin.  The softer body parts usually rot away before preservation and things like colouration do not normally fossilise.  This means that scientists can speculate as to the actual colour of dinosaurs and as a result many variants have been put forward.

The Parasaurolophus from German model makers Schleich is depicted with a very different colouration.  In this model, a leopard like spotted coat is favoured.  Palaeontologists using evidence from Alberta believe that this animal may have favoured woodland environments.  Spots as well as stripes would have made good camouflage.  Hence in this instance, Parasaurolophus is depicted as having a spotted coat.

Another View of the Parasaurolophus Model from Schleich

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Schleich Parasaurolophus: Dinosaur Models for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Toys

The speculation is likely to continue, what is almost for certain is that the grey, drab models of yesteryear will continue to be replaced by more colourful ones.  Could be this reflects the latest scientific research, or perhaps it is more to do with appealing to collectors and dinosaur fans.

18 01, 2008

Models of the Dinosaur Parasaurolophus

By | January 18th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Parasaurolophus Dinosaur Model

The other day, team members at Everything Dinosaur met an enthusiastic, young dinosaur fan who informed us that her favourite dinosaur was the duck-billed dinosaur known as Parasaurolophus.  Not only was this particular member of the Ornithischia her absolute favourite, but she then went onto show us her favourite dinosaur model, this too happened to be a Parasaurolophus.

Parasaurolophus Dinosaur Model

Parasaurolophus model.

Parasaurolophus model – click image to view models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We enquired why this particular replica deserved special merit and she confidently told us that this dinosaur had a long crest on its head that was brightly coloured and that it could run on its hind legs to get away from the meat-eating dinosaurs who lived nearby.  We could not argue with her assessment.

17 01, 2008

Giant Fossil Rodent Discovered In Uruguay

By | January 17th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

“Mighty Mouse”or Perhaps more Accurately “Mighty Guinea Pig”

Hidden away in a dark corner of the storage vaults of the Natural History and Anthropology museum in Uruguay, lay the huge skull of a prehistoric mammal that scientists claim belonged to a rodent the size of a bull.

The fossil, consisting of the upper portions of a skull, was discovered 20 years ago in the River Plate estuary by a Uruguayan fossil collector.  It was donated to the museum by lay in storage until museum curator Andres Rinderknecht and researcher Ernesto Blanco decided to study it.

Their findings have just been published in the proceedings of the British Royal Society B: Biological Sciences and estimates for this animal give it an approximate length of 3 metres and perhaps a body weight close to 1,000 kilos.  Such estimates have to be treated with a degree of caution, as it can be difficult to determine body size from only partial remains, particularly if there are few extant genera to make a direct comparison with.

Large animals tend to have disproportionately smaller heads when compared to the body masses of more diminutive creatures so the estimates for this new animal – named Jospehoartigasia monesi are based on scientific deduction.  If other fossils of an adult can be found such as limb bones then perhaps a more accurate assessment can be made.

The Fossil Skull of Jospehoartigasia

Picture Credit: Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

The picture depicts the rodent skull compared with a typical rodent of today. The parts modelled in grey provide a reconstruction of the entire skull, as can be seen the lower jaw and the incisors are missing.

The fossil has been dated to the Pliocene and is estimated to be around 4 million years old.  The skull is typical of that of a rodent but the animal was of an exceptional size.  Perhaps wandering the grassy plains of South America eating roots, fruit and leaves and sharing the plains with Sloths and Glyptodonts whilst trying to avoid the predatory “Terror Birds” such as Phorusrhacus.

This fossil may well represent the largest rodent known to date, although the rodent Phoberomys pattersoni from the Miocene of Brazil and Venezuela may also have been around the same size but perhaps with a longer tail.

An Artist’s Impression of Jospehoartigasia monesi

Super-sized Rodent

Picture Credit: Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

The picture above shows Jospehoartigasia (A) compared to the largest rodent today, the semi-aquatic South American Capybara (B), which ranges over much of the continent today.  It is not known whether Jospehoartigasia was amphibious, but the fossil was found in an area rich in ancient waterways so this large rodent could have spent some time in the water, safe from land predators, grazing in peace on the lush vegetation.  The jaws may have been relatively weak for such a large animal, this may support the theory that these ancient rodents fed on soft water plants.

This new fossil find has been classified into the Dinomyidae family, effectively close relatives to Guinea Pigs and Capybaras as well as the extinct Phoberomys.

It certainly was a big animal, not the sort of rodent that you would expect to catch with a conventional mouse-trap, more of a “mighty Guinea Pig” rather than  “Mighty Mouse”!

16 01, 2008

Colour Variations on Dinosaur Models – Dilophosaurus

By | January 16th, 2008|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|1 Comment

New Dilophosaurus Scale Model –  a Bright Red Crested Dinosaur

An important decision that has to be taken by every prehistoric animal model manufacturer is what colour to paint their models.  Unfortunately, palaeontologists can offer only limited advice in terms of colouration, as generally colour is not preserved in the fossil record.  This problem was illustrated when Bullyland of Germany wanted to refresh their Dilophosaurus model, which is part of the prehistoric animal scale model series.

Dilophosaurus was a relatively large carnivorous dinosaur that lived in the western United States at the beginning of the Jurassic period (approximately 200-190 million years ago).  The early Jurassic fossil record is quite poor and little is known about the Earth’s flora and fauna at this particular time, so the discovery of a six metre, meat-eating dinosaur was extremely significant.

The first fossils of Dilophosaurus were discovered during a fossil hunting expedition to Arizona sponsored by the University of California in 1942.  Three individual and partial skeletons were found, although two of them were very poorly preserved and crucially no skull material was found.  The American palaeontologist Dr. Sam Welles was able to name and describe this new dinosaur in 1954 (it took many years for the fossils to be stabilised and prepared for further study).  Due to the poor state of the fossils, Dr Welles misidentified this dinosaur as a type of Megalosaur (a Jurassic predator known mainly from Europe).  The fossil record of carnivorous dinosaurs from the lower to middle Jurassic is so poor that a lot of finds end up being wrongly classified.  Indeed, genus Megalosaurus has got a bit of a reputation for being a dumping ground for dinosaur meat-eater miscellany.

To read more about this topic : Megalosaurus – A Dinosaur Waste Basket

Another article about Megalosaurs: Megalosaur Miscellany

In 1964, Dr Welles led another palaeontological expedition to the site and was fortunate to find another specimen, this time with the skull virtually intact.  Noting the double crests on the ridge of the snout, Dr Welles renamed this animal Dilophosaurus (means double crested lizard) and completed his description.

The Dilophosaurus Skull from the 1964 Expedition

Picture Credit: University of California

The picture shows the Dilophosaurus skull that enabled Dr Welles to classify this animal as a separate genus and to give this animal the name “double crested lizard”.  The right side of the skull is shown with the snout facing to the right of the screen.  The red arrow at the top is pointing to the distinctive crest, whilst the lower arrow indicates the relatively loose attachment of the premaxilla to the maxilla and the resulting distinctive kink in the upper jaw of this dinosaur.

The two, thin and bony semi-circular crests on the head were too fragile to be used as weapons.  Perhaps they were different between males and females and indicated sexual dimorphism.  Or perhaps they were brightly coloured and used by males in displays to win females.  From the size of the orbit in the skull (the large hole in the middle of the skull), it can be deduced that eyesight was an important sense for this dinosaur.  Studies have shown that dinosaurs may have had good colour vision so colour may have been very important to these particular dinosaurs, perhaps to display social status in the group or dominance over rivals.

These factors where considered when the artists and sculptors came to redesign the colour palette on their Dilophosaurus.  They chose a bright red colour scheme perhaps reflecting the importance of colour in the lives of this aggressive carnivore.

The Dilophosaurus Model from Bullyland

“Double Crested Lizard”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the scale model of Dilophosaurus: Dinosaur Toys for Girls – Dinosaur Models

The jaws of this dinosaur were quite light and delicate, with many sharp, but slender teeth.  Some scientists have suggested that the jaws were too light-weight to cope with struggling prey and that Dilophosaurus may have been a scavenger feeding on the kills of other predators.  This was taken into consideration when painting this new version of Dilophosaurus, living in a mainly green and brown world (Dilophosaurus evolved long before the first flowering plants), a red colouration would have made this animal stand out.  It could be seen from a long distance and being an aggressive red colour perhaps Dilophosaurus could have put up an impressive display.  This may have been enough to drive off a larger predator from a carcase.

Interestingly, the colour red has a very peculiar characteristic when seen on people or animals from a distance.  It becomes very difficult to determine individuals in a group and to estimate numbers.  Hence the British army’s adoption of red for their uniforms right up until the end of the 19th Century.  The “Red Coats” numbers could not be counted accurately by the enemy from a distance.  The strength of the British forces could not be estimated easily because of the colour of their jackets.  This factor was also considered when choosing the colour for the Dilophosaurus model.  If we assume that Dilophosaurus lived in packs (the close proximity of the fossils found indicate this), then a large predator could be confused and uncertain as to the number of Dilophosaurs approaching from a distance.  Rather than face an unknown number of Dilophosaurs, the carnivore may opt for the safer option of abandoning its kill, thus providing the brightly coloured Dilophosaurus with an easy meal.

The unusual double crests running along the snout of this dinosaur inspired artists to add Dilophosaurus to the poster on weird and wonderful dinosaurs.  Here too, they have given Dilophosaurus a bright and colourful appearance.

Weird and Wonderful Reptiles as Illustrated on the Weird and Wonderful Dinosaurs Poster

Another weird and wonderful dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the poster and books on dinosaurs: Dinosaur Books for Kids

15 01, 2008

Research shows that Dinosaurs May have Grown Quickly but Died Young

By | January 15th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

The Life of a Dinosaur – Short and likely to end Unpleasantly

Although many scientists now believe that dinosaurs are closely related to birds there has been considerable debate about the length of dinosaurs lives, how quickly they grew and when they reached an age when they could reproduce.

The finding, Werning said, suggests that dinosaurs were born precocious and suffered high adult mortality, making early reproductive maturity necessary for survival.   It seems that all those monster movies were right when the dinosaurs in the picture end up deceased, with the chances of few dinosaurs living into old age, having the ability to raise a family early makes evolutionary sense.

“This is an exciting finding, because age at reproductive maturity is related to so many things,” said the students’ adviser, Kevin Padian, who is a professor of integrative biology and a curator in UC Berkeley’s Museum of Palaeontology. “It also shows that you can’t use reptiles as a model for dinosaur growth, as many scientists still do.”

Unfortunately, dinosaurs are an exceptionally diverse group with huge titans such as Argentinosaurus and Brachiosaurus as well as very much smaller members of the group like Microraptor.  Such very different animals may well have exhibited contrasting growth rates and life spans.  It could be imagined that a small Theropod such as Microraptor may have led a short life, with a rapid growth rate to maturity, perhaps similar to the life styles and growth rates in garden birds.  Garden birds such as blackbirds and robins can grow from a hatch-ling into a fully fledged adult in under a year.

Animals such as the Sauropods may have lived for much longer and continued growing throughout their lives, although their growth rates would have decreased once they had reached full maturity.  It has been estimated that a Sauropod such as Brachiosaurus could have lived for as much as 150 years.

Pinpointing the age of reproductive maturity “opens up so many complementary avenues of dinosaur research,” Werning commented. “You can talk about dinosaur physiology, lifespan and reproductive strategies”.

The conclusion, reported the week of Jan. 14 in the on line early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes from an analysis of the only three dinosaur fossils that have been definitively identified as female. Thin slices of these dinosaurs’ fossil bones all show an internal structure similar to tissue found in living female birds – a layer of calcium-rich bone tissue called medullary bone that is deposited in the marrow cavity just before egg-laying as a resource for making eggshells.

Dinosaurs, which also laid eggs, apparently stored calcium in similar structures prior to ovulation. In their new paper, Werning and Lee report that leg bones from the carnivorous Allosaurus and the plant eater Tenontosaurus both contained this structure, which means both creatures died shortly before laying eggs. The researchers concluded that these dinosaurs were both mere adolescents, because the Allosaurus was age 10 and the Tenontosaurus age eight at time of death, and prior studies have shown that these types of dinosaurs probably lived up to 30 years.

Werning and Lee also confirmed that a third bone, from a female Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) reported by Museum of the Rockies palaeontologist Mary H. Schweitzer in 2005, contained medullary tissue upon the dinosaur’s death at the age of 18. Werning noted that all three dinosaurs might have reached reproductive maturity much earlier.

“We were lucky to find these female fossils,” Werning said. “Medullary bone is only around for three to four weeks in females who are reproductively mature, so you’d have to cut up a lot of dinosaur bones to have a good chance of finding this.”

In the past 10 to 15 years, studies of dinosaur bones have revealed much about the growth strategy of dinosaurs because bone lays down rings much like tree rings. If, as with trees, each ring signifies one year, then dinosaurs grew rapidly after birth and continued to grow over several years until death. Despite the presumed close relationship between dinosaurs and reptiles, dinosaurs grew faster than living reptiles, and their bones had a bigger blood supply. Among living vertebrates, only birds and mammals exhibit such fast growth, perhaps this is another indication that dinosaurs were indeed warm-blooded like birds and mammals. Birds and small mammals grow quickly to maturity and then become reproductively mature, but large mammals reach maturity just before growth slows.

Attempts to determine when dinosaurs became able to reproduce, and thus whether they more closely resemble birds or mammals, have been difficult because there have been no clear signs of reproductive maturity in dinosaur skeletons.

Hence the excitement when Schweitzer discovered medullary bone in a T. rex femur. Though other palaeontologists have searched fruitlessly for similar signs in fossil bones, Werning and Lee found success by focusing on Tenontosaurus (a large Hypsilophodontid)and Allosaurus, a predator from the late Jurassic whose fossils are relatively common (well at least for a carnivorous dinosaur anyway).

Werning was able to obtain many fossil bone slices from the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Both a femur (thigh bone) and a tibia (shin bone) from the same fossilised Tenontosaurus showed medullary bone, while growth rings in its bones indicated the pregnant dinosaur was eight years old.

“These were prey dinosaurs, so they were probably taken out when really young and small or when old,” Werning said. “So, if you don’t reproduce early, you lose your chance.”

Lee, on the other hand, focused on Allosaurus fossils from the Cleveland-Lloyd quarry in Utah, where several thousand Allosaurus bones from at least 70 individuals have been discovered. A smaller and older version of T. rex, Allosaurus lived 155 to 145 million years ago in the late Jurassic period. Lee found one tibia with medullary bone from the University of Utah vertebrate palaeontology collection.

The two researchers are continuing to analyse thin slices of fossilised dinosaur bone in hopes of finding more skeletons with medullary bone.

The work was made possible by grants from the Geological Society of America, the Palaeontological Society and the University of Oklahoma Graduate Student Senate to Werning and by grants to Lee from the Jurassic Foundation and UC Berkeley’s Department of Integrative Biology.

This article has been reproduced from press release extracts from the University of California.

Dinosaur Growth Rates Demonstrated by Tenontosaurus

Ontogeny of Dinosaurs

CAPTION: Cross-sections through the fossilised tibia or shinbone of a 120 million-year-old female Tenontosaurus skeleton, showing growth rings and medullary bone laid down in the marrow cavity just prior to egg laying. This individual died at the age of eight, shortly before she would have laid her eggs.

Credit: Sarah Werning/UC Berkeley & Andrew Lee/Ohio University; fossil courtesy of the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

14 01, 2008

Dilophosaurus Dinosaur Model

By | January 14th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Dilophosaur Dinosaur Model

It is always a pleasure to see models of meat-eating dinosaurs introduced into what we at Everything Dinosaur call the ranges of  “mainstream model manufacturers”.  This replica of the Theropod dinosaur Dilophosaurus is no exception.  It is great to see “double crested lizard” as a dinosaur model, especially one that has been so finely painted.

Dilophosaurus Dinosaur Model

Articulated Dilophosaurus model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

There have been a number of Dilophosaur models introduced in recent years.  Dilophosaurus (D. wetherilli), reached lengths of up to six metres and this dinosaur is regarded as a member of the Coelophysoidea, a distant ancestor of the might Tyrannosaurus rex.

To view the extensive range of dinosaur and other prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Models of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

13 01, 2008

Review of First Episode of Primeval (Series Two)

By | January 13th, 2008|Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

Review of the Start of Primeval Series Two

When Primeval first aired on UK television back in February 2007, it was billed as the independent networks attempt to lure away part of the Doctor Who audience and help ITV win back the key demographic of Saturday night family TV viewing.

Yesterday saw the first episode of series two, with ITV once again hoping that this programme would help attract something like the 7 million viewers each episode achieved during the first series.

The storyline although a little contrived, allows the CGI experts plenty of scope.  Unexplained phenomena are ripping holes in space and time permitting prehistoric creatures from the past and the Earth’s future to roam the UK.  A team of misfits (but very good looking misfits nonetheless), struggle to deal with these monsters before they are unleashed onto an unsuspecting public.

Headed by the intriguingly entitled evolutionary zoologist Professor Nick Cutter, the first episode in series two (one of seven programmes due to be shown on Saturday nights on ITV1),  kicks off with an encounter with some dinosaurs.

The first series had been criticised in some quarters because there were few dinosaurs shown.  There were Pterosaurs, mammal-like reptiles, Mosasaurs and even giant Arthropods but the dinosaurs were relatively scarce.  This is a little surprising as one of the collaborators on the series – Impossible Pictures; were responsible for the special effects in programmes like Prehistoric Park and Walking with Dinosaurs and one of the pretences for Primeval seems to be to use up the stock footage of prehistoric animals from these earlier programmes.  Dinosaur models may also have been used in some of the close up shots.  Not sure if ITV had a stock of Deinonychus dinosaur models available, but the “raptors” in this programme did seem to be roughly the size of Deinonychus.

Dinosaur fans did not have to wait long for their favourite monsters to show up in series two.  The opening episode is set in a shopping mall, one that is visited by a family of Dromaeosaurs unwittingly transported there by an anomaly presumably from the middle of the Cretaceous.  On first observing these carnivorous dinosaurs, Connor Temple (played by Andrew Lee Potts), calls them “raptors” a fairly generalised term popularised by the Jurassic Park films with the depiction of over-sized Velociraptors.  The CGI models are well created, nice to see the proto-feathers and modified scales on backs of these animals, although how quickly Dromaeosaurs could make progress on the shiny, slippery floors of a shopping mall is open to question.  Professor Cutter and his team have to be congratulated for making up the correct dose of anaesthetic to dart these creatures without any knowledge of dinosaur metabolism, perhaps they have been studying dinosaur models and they do well to stand their ground against a decidedly angry parent, hell-bent on trying to tear them to pieces.  They tend to fair better than the hapless security guards who quickly end up as dinosaur fodder.

It is not made clear what type of dinosaur the “raptors” actually represent, although reference to the makers notes on episode one indicate that these dinosaurs were based on Deinonychus (the name means terrible claw).  This dinosaur was named and described by the American scientist John Ostrom in 1969, although the fossils of this dinosaur had been known for the best part of forty years.  Ostrom caused controversy when he used Deinonychus as the basis for a theory that dinosaurs were much more bird-like and active.  At the time, the common held view was that these animals were cold-blooded and sluggish.  About a dozen specimens of Deinonychus are known, all of which come from the Western USA and date from approximately 100 million years ago.

A Model of Deinonychus

Ostrom inspired Deinonychus replica

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a 1:30 scale model of Deinonychus in a typically active pose.  The model is made by Bullyland of Germany and is one of their museum line of hand-painted prehistoric animals.

To view the model: Dinosaurs for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models and Toys

Expect more monsters to make an impression over the next few weeks including giant worms (episode two) and a Sabre Tooth cat which will be seen roaming around the English countryside the week following.  Perhaps this could be the “Beast of Bodmin Moor”?

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