All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//July
11 07, 2008

“Locavores” – Eating only Locally Sourced Food

By | July 11th, 2008|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

“Locavores” – Eating only Locally Sourced Food

During one of our tea breaks yesterday, in between packing orders, reviewing new products, talking with suppliers and all the other things we do to run the business, the topic of new words in the English language came up.  Language like organisms, adapts and evolves, new words are coming into being whilst other words lapse out of common usage and towards the lexicographers equivalent of extinction.  The fundamentals of Darwinism can be applied to the language we speak.  One new word we have come across is “locavore” , a word none of us would have recognised six months ago, but now it is appearing in newspaper articles, magazines and has even been used in conversations down our town’s single street.  A locavore is someone who sources all they eat within their local area, preferring to fore-go items such as bananas for seasonal fruit and vegetables purchased from nearby growers.

Like many new words and phrases entering the English language, this word has its origins in another country, we think this term is an Americanism.  An article in the Times on the subject mentioned that the American novelist Barbara Kingsolver spent a year living as a locavore, sourcing all her food from her own small holding.  For those of us without their own farm, being able to obtain everything in your diet from local growers and suppliers sounds like a daunting task, especially when this is compared to the convenience of a trip to the local supermarket.

Many small retailers are being forced out of business as the big supermarket chains dominate our shopping.  Within our own small town, we have two supermarkets at the moment, plus a Tesco high street store.  Tescos intend to open another supermarket in town, they are currently holding a consultation programme over this proposed new venture.  I hope the two butchers we have in the high street, the only local purveyors of food left are able to withstand this onslaught.  Tescos for example have a 30% share in UK grocery spending and made a profit of £2.5 billion – that’s almost as much as the oil companies are making.  Not a bad little business if you are earning £79 per second!

As a reformed shopper myself, it would be a shame if local businesses were forced to close due to competition from the supermarket giants.  I used to do all my shopping at supermarkets, it was convenient and everything I needed was under one roof.  The threat of global warming and the issue of a”carbon footprint” were not so prominent in the public’s conscience.  Supermarkets are often thought to be cheaper as well as more convenient.  As I wander round the aisles, armed with my carefully thought out shopping list I inevitably succumb to the numerous offers that are available, the “buy one get one free” or the “special offer syndrome” as I call it.  This results in my shopping trolley becoming filled with items that when I set out to do my shopping I had no intention of buying.  The supermarkets are very clever with their marketing and sales promotions, I do seem to be seduced by all these special offers and often end up spending more that I intended.

However, over the last few months there has been a conscious effort on my part to try to cut down on my supermarket spending.  The only thing we purchase from Tescos on a regular basis is milk.  One of the team members pops out twice a week to the Tescos in the high street to purchase the milk, essential for our tea breaks.  Meat is brought from one of the high street butchers and once a week I travel to a nearby town to purchase my vegetables and fruit (a visit to a greengrocer, one of the very few still around).  Next door to the greengrocer is a fish shop, whilst I accept that the fish has hardly been sourced locally I have begun to enjoy perusing the display, I have learned what certain species of fish look like, in the past, fish was purchased in the supermarket, pre-filleted and presented in a vacuum packed plastic container.  I can now distinguish a mackerel from a sardine, a feat beyond me a few months ago, but a new skill hardly likely to impress my colleagues at work.  However, I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to eyeball the fish that I am about to choose for my Sunday supper.  As a Cornish, line caught mackerel lies on the fish counter awaiting the attentions of the fishmonger who will fillet it for me, I get a sense of appreciation as to where my food comes from and what it means.

Interestingly, the concept of supermarkets being generally cheaper and better value for money compared to a local shop was debunked not long after I started to take more care over my shopping.  It was the chicken breasts that did it for me, in the past I would purchase two chicken breasts from a supermarket (usually Sainsburys), popping a cellophane wrapped packet into my shopping trolley as I passed the meat counter without giving it a second thought.  Now I have discovered that chicken breasts come in slightly different sizes and not only that, but a single, plump, succulent chicken portion sourced from my local high street butcher, is ample for my needs.  One butcher’s portion is the equivalent of two supermarket chicken breasts, so it is not really that expensive and it has the added benefit of tasting better.

I am not going to eulogise over the concept of becoming a locavore, I can’t see myself agreeing to the premise of never eating a banana again, but I have begun to see their point.  However, this type of behaviour is not new to our species, H. sapiens has been a locavore for the vast majority of its existence.  Our ancestors, sourced all their dietary requirements from local sources.  Granted if you lived to 30 years of age in the Mesolithic you were considered ancient and the average cave woman had a 35 inch waist, they had no choice but to do this.  When reviewing scientific papers on human settlements, the carefully excavated and documented rubbish dumps of our ancestors reveal that they were true devotees to the locavore concept.  In essence, they had little option, but we seem to have survived and flourished as species long before the notion of the out-of-town hypermarket came into being.

Having had the opportunity to go to Africa, it is interesting to compare shopping at the local market with the visit to the giant, gleaming supermarket.  One thing that struck me was the constant chatter between the shoppers and the shoppers and the stall holders.  People talked about food, shopping was a social event, there was the hustle and bustle of selecting produce against a background of constant chattering and noise.  Although more time consuming, this was fun!  Contrast my African experiences with a shopping trip to a supermarket, I wander round the gondolas and aisles oblivious to the other shoppers.  There can be hundreds of people shopping at the same time as you, but there is almost a deathly hush surrounding the whole experience, nobody talks.

Our Ancestors as “Locavores”

A Prehistoric Scene

Picture Credit: Befordshire.gov.uk

The origins of our own species remain unclear, we are believed to have first evolved around 190,000 years ago (although some scientists argue that we have been around for longer than this).  Our ancestors ability to adapt coupled with their tool making skills and mobility made them into highly efficient hunter/gatherers.  A sedentary lifestyle has only recently been adopted by our kind and even then for the vast majority of our existence in settlements we have grown our own food and supplemented it from other local sources.

If we take Western Europe as a model for the behaviour of our entire species, we have only begun to source food from beyond our local environment over the last 500 years or so.  The supermarket is a very new idea when compared to the history of our species, with the first supermarket type stores opening in the UK in the early 20th Century.  We have calculated that the human race as lived as “locavores” for 99.76% of our history and  for just 0.05% of our existence living with the concept of the supermarket.

So if you are at a dinner party and someone begins to comment on how they have adopted this new idea of being a locavore, you can point out that in essence we are merely returning to our roots.  Roots like the carrots purchased from my local greengrocer, covered in soil and in all sorts of shapes and sizes just like carrots are supposed to be.

10 07, 2008

Dinosaur Dig Sites in Need of Protection

By | July 10th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Calls for State Legislation to Protect Fossils in British Columbia

British Columbia is proving to be a bit of a “hot spot” for dinosaur fossils at the moment.  This is partly due to the continuing efforts of commercial companies to discover new sources of fossil fuels and minerals as well as the efforts of local amateur palaeontologists.

Although this particular part of Canada is often overshadowed by their neighbours in Alberta with all the wonders of the Dinosaur Park Formation, the vastness of British Columbia probably hides a huge amount of new palaeontological data, just waiting to be found.

To read an article about a recent dinosaur discovery in B.C. Potential New Dinosaur Species from British Columbia

The state has currently got one major dinosaur dig taking place in the north-east of the province.  The exact location is being kept a closely guarded secret, but hopes are high for finding plenty of museum quality dinosaur fossils, already some teeth and bones have been excavated and a number of different dinosaur species are represented at the site.

However, the palaeontology team are concerned about protecting the site from the attentions of amateurs and those intent on vandalising the rare and precious artefacts.

Local palaeontologist Lisa Buckley summed up the situation explaining:
“B.C is the only province in Canada that doesn’t have some sort of protective legislation, managing the protection and curation, and conservation and preservation of it’s natural history resources.”

In Alberta, for example it is illegal to remove fossils or other items from dig sites without the appropriate authority, in the USA, the Bureau of Land Management helps protect excavations.  In British Columbia there is no such legal protection, hence the need to keep the current dig site under wraps.  The palaeontologists involved with the dig, have commented that although amateurs find most of the fossils that lead to site excavations, at a palaeontology dig, even the best intentioned amateur could potentially destroy the rare resources.

Richard McCrae, the lead palaeontologist at the excavation shares his fear for the site’s stability: “We might find after we finish with this site, after we shut it down, we might find a few weeks later when we come check on it that someone has been here and has been digging it up.  And that would be too bad.”

The scientists are urging the state to create laws that will protect such sites of special scientific interest.  Ideally, the legislation would involve the granting of permits to excavate and credential checks on applicants.  They say it’s the only way to ensure that fossils found are properly preserved.

Work is being done in the province to develop a framework that will seek protection for fossils and other natural resources.  An announcement is expected in the next few weeks.  But McCrae doesn’t believe it will be enough.

“Until there is actual legislation in place, I don’t see anything else being an improvement to the current situation.”

Whilst the work of amateurs in helping to locate new sites is very important and their contribution to the advancement of science is recognised, legislation may be required to protect such excavations.  With the high prices rare fossils are fetching on the open market, it may be time to invest in some long-term planning and legal support to help protect British Columbia’s natural fossil resources.

9 07, 2008

Colour Coded Dinosaurs

By | July 9th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Clue to the Colour of Dinosaurs

We have got used to seeing dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals depicted in glorious technicolour on our television screens, in cinemas and books, but scientists actually know very little about the colouration and markings of dinosaurs and other ancient animals.  Illustrations of dinosaurs for example, are created using a basis of conjecture, supposition and comparisons with living organisms.  Most Sauropods (the long-necked dinosaurs), are often depicted in dull battleship grey, or browns similar to the colour of elephants, but we have no real evidence to support this.  The assumption has almost always been when you are a 30 metre, 15 Tonne Diplodocus there would be little point in having camouflaged colouration, you would simply be too big to hide.

However, a paper published in the scientific journal “Biology Letters”, by a group of American researchers, sheds light on the colouration of long extinct creatures that one day may help palaeontologists understand the colours of dinosaurs.

A team of palaeobiologists and other researchers at Yale University have been studying the colour hues of 100 million year old fossilised bird feathers and their findings may permit scientists to interpret other fossil structures and to build up a colour image of long, dead animals.  If the team’s interpretations are correct; then those dinosaurs that have been preserved with a covering of down or feathers could be studied and their markings and colouration deduced.

The colour of dinosaurs has long been debated, we at Everything Dinosaur run exercises in schools where we get the students to interpret fossil evidence about the size and shape of dinosaurs and the environment in which they lived.  From this work we get them to draw the dinosaur and colour it in.  A sort of dinosaur detective story, where the guesswork of 8 year-olds can be regarded as almost as scientifically valid as the pronouncements of the most meritorious professor.

The was some excitement when an analysis of fossilised skin from the tail area of Dakota, the superbly preserved Edmontosaurus mummy (the subject of a recent TV documentary), indicated that the animal might have had coloured bands running down its tail.  Such well preserved dinosaur fossils are extremely rare and any actual colouration can only be speculated at this stage as colours will have been altered and affected by the fossilisation process.

To read more about the amazing Dinosaur Mummy Dakota: Dinosaur Mummy unlocks Duck-Billed Dinosaur Secrets

To read the latest update on Dakota: Update on “Dakota” the recently discovered Hadrosaurine Mummy

The Yale University team analysed fossil feathers from Brazil and Denmark and carried out comparisons with the feathers of modern birds (Neornithines).  Their findings indicate that some fossilised bird feathers preserve microscopic components that when analysed and interpreted can reveal feather colouration.

The fossil feathers had stripes, these could easily be seen but it had been thought that these markings were the result of bacterial processes or geological effects during the period of preservation and fossilisation.

The Striped Markings on a Fossilised Feather

Picture Credit: Yale University

The picture above is of a fossil feather found in Brazil, the stripped banding can clearly be distinguished.  Could the colour of feathered dinosaurs be deduced from this work?

Commenting on the markings, Jakob Vinther one of the research team members said:

“We are quite confident that they (the markings) aren’t bacteria”

The research team targeted electron beams onto a fossil bird feather to reveal strange, sausage shaped structures that are believed to be responsible for the colour of plumage.  The species of bird from which the fossil feather came from is not known, but similar microscopic structures have been found in modern feathers and their shape,composition and orientation create colours and patterns.  By analysing these little packets, scientists hope to be able to build up a picture of the colouration of extinct creatures.

These structures are termed melanosomes and their analysis could help palaeobiologists understand the colours of the feathers on fossil dinosaurs, plus the colour of mammalian fur.

“We might able to get a palette of colours that we could assign to the fossils,” Jakob Vinther added.

By testing fossilised dinosaur feathers (such as those associated with the Liaoning Province of northeastern China dating back to around 125 million years ago), for the presence of melanosomes scientists may be able to deduce the colour of these feathered dinosaurs.  The likes of Caudipteryx, Sinornithosaurus and Microraptor may be revealed in glorious technicolour.

As both birds and crocodiles have colour vision, scientists have long thought that dinosaurs as close relatives of these two extant groups would also have colour vision.  Being able to interpret the colouration of certain fossils will enable palaeontologists to build up a more accurate picture of what some of these animals looked like.  It will also provide evidence of sexual dimorphism in species, even help to identify males and females within a species.

Having an understanding of the colours and markings of an animal will also provide clues to the animal’s behaviour.  Gaudy colours may indicate the importance of displaying, perhaps for breeding, courtship or other social purposes, whereas, tones such as greens and browns would help these animals hide from predators.

How the melanosomes have survived the fossilisation process is not quite understood, most organic material, including DNA, decomposes quickly and does not survive the preservation process.  However, as our understanding of genetics improves and new techniques to analyse fossils are introduced we may be able to produce accurate illustrations of long extinct animals.

Future model makers depicting feathered dinosaurs, such as those produced in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History may be able to get close to the real colours and markings of the animals they are depicting.

Some of the Dinosaurs Featured in the Dinosaur Tube Set

Feathered Dinosaurs

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Feathered dinosaurs such as Dilong, Microraptor and Caudipteryx are included along with non-feathered dinosaurs (at least as far as we know), such as Protoceratops and a Sauropod.

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

The latest model from the Bullyland range of Germany, continues the trend to interpret many Theropod dinosaurs as feathered.  Although no fossils of Velociraptor mongoliensis have been found with evidence of feathers, a number of Dromaeosaurs are known to have been covered in simple down or proto-feathers so Velociraptor is often depicted in this way too.

The large orbits in the skull of Velociraptor indicate that its sense of vision was exceptionally important to it, with an ability to discern colour, perhaps these animals were quite brightly coloured.  Helpful for an animal living in a social group where hierarchy and status would have been important.

The Velociraptor from Bullyland

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

8 07, 2008

Dinosaurs in Space – Maiasaura

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The First Dinosaurs in Space – Maiasaura

Maiasaura was a large Hadrosaur (member of the Hadrosaurine group of duck-billed dinosaurs – distinguished by their lack of adornments and head crests).  It was discovered by the American palaeontologist John Horner in 1978 and officially named a year later.  The remains of this dinosaur have been found in western Montana, in the Late Cretaceous rocks of the Two Medicine Formation.  Few dinosaurs left traces behind providing clues as to how these animals lived and behaved, however, Maiasaura is a definite exception to this.  Over 200 individual skeletons have been unearthed to date, from hatch-lings right up to mature adults.  Jack Horner and his team discovered a Maiasaura nesting site that has yielded a great deal of information about how this type of dinosaur raised its young.

It seems that Maiasaura looked after its babies (the name means “Good Mother Lizard”), very apt in this dinosaur’s case.  Fossils recovered from the nesting site, show that these animals made nest mounds out of mud, and may have covered any eggs laid with vegetation to keep them warm.  Hatch-lings that have been fossilised show teeth wear but their legs are not fully formed (undeveloped legs is  feature seen in the chicks of many birds).  This indicates that the babies were fed at the nest, as they were unable to forage for themselves.   It can be surmised from this data that the parents looked after the youngsters to a degree.  The nesting site seems to have been vast, with many thousands of animals at the site, this indicates that Maiasaura lived in large herds, or at least congregated at communal nesting sites.

Maiasaura’s other claim to fame is that this dinosaur was the first to be taken up into space.  A piece of fossilised bone from a baby Maiasaura along with a piece of Maiasaura eggshell was taken into space by astronaut Loren Acton on a NASA mission in 1985.  Not a bad record for Maiasaura, being totally unknown just 7 years earlier, and then the first dinosaur in space.  The second dinosaur to travel in space was the skull of a Coelophysis, (Triassic Theropod).  The skull was sent into space on the US space shuttle Endeavour on 22nd January 1998.  It travelled to the Mir space station, one of a number of trips made by space shuttles to the orbiting station in the Shuttle-Mir programme.

Dinosaurs were not the first representatives of the Class Reptilia to travel in space.  Tortoises were used in some of the research programmes as manned space flight was being developed.  The first tortoise in space was launched by the Soviet Union in September 1968, as part of the research programme monitoring the potential effect of long space flight on humans.  Tortoises were ideal “guinea pigs” for such experiments, due to their ability to survive hostile conditions and to live on little food and water, characteristics recognised by early explorers on Earth, who often sailed with tortoises and turtles on board ship to provide a source of fresh meat into the journey.  We have no record of what happened to this particular tortoise after the capsule in which it had travelled returned to Earth.

As far as we can tell no adult birds have been sent up into space.  Chicken embryos were sent up into space as part of an experiment kit to test the development of chicks in zero gravity by the Americans in 1989.  This particular experiment had been scheduled to take place three years earlier but it was lost when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch on January 28th 1986.  Other fertilised bird’s eggs have been sent into space on subsequent occasions, no birds as far as our research shows.  It would be fascinating to find out how birds cope with zero gravity.  Effectively, once in motion they would not need to flap their wings, perhaps they could use their wings to stabilise themselves as they were subjected to zero G.

This article has been written in honour of Patrick,  for being such a well behaved little boy, we know he likes Maiasaura so we thought it would be a good idea to write an article for him.

7 07, 2008

Outsmarted by Tadpoles – Frog Blog Update

By | July 7th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Clever Tadpoles – Keeping Hidden for all this Time

Cryptozoologists claim to have evidence for the existence of mythical creatures or for animals long thought to be extinct.  The word cryptozoologist comes from the Greek (translated it means hidden life).  There are many tales of dinosaurs in the darkest depths of the Congo, or apes as big as chimpanzees in the south American rain-forests.

The staff at Everything Dinosaur, tend to be a little sceptical of such claims but we have witnessed for ourselves how Mother Nature can play tricks, although very much on a smaller scale.

In the pond outside our offices we were delighted to discover back in March (16/03/08) that for the first time that anyone could remember frogs had spawned in it.  This was very exciting for our team members (we don’t get out very much), and anyway in the UK all amphibians and reptiles are protected species.

To read more about our frogspawn discovery:  Frog Blog part 1 – We have Frog Spawn in the Pond

It was then decided that we would take a photograph every seven days and write about the development of the tadpoles as a weekly blog feature.  Everything seemed to be going fine, the tadpoles developed quickly in their jelly and in a couple of weeks or so they hatched.  Then to our surprise the tadpoles disappeared.  By 8 weeks into the project we had to abandon the weekly web log feature, no tadpoles could be seen.  The last reported sighting we had was on April 29th when a single tadpole was spotted.

To read the last frog blog entry:  Frog Blog (week 8) and then there were none

We were most upset at this turn of events.  Naturally, we expected some predation and we knew that most of our tadpoles would not make it to the froglet stage, but to have them disappear in just a few days was quite distressing.  That was that, or so we thought…

At last week’s team meeting preserving any future frog spawn was actually on our meeting agenda.  We are a fairly unconventional company at the best of times, but there must be very few businesses in the world who give up time to consider how best to protect any future tadpoles should any more frog spawn be laid in subsequent years.  A number of ideas were put forward, the one we agreed on was the proposal to utilise a more isolated and separate pond to create a sort of mini lagoon.  We could circulate water between the two sites using a small pump and to net this area off (to protect the tadpoles from bird attack).  Quite a convoluted plan, but we thought it would probably offer any future tadpoles the best protection.

However, this afternoon, to everyones surprise, a colleague reported seeing a large, well-developed tadpole in the pond.  He described the tadpole as having a large head but with no discernible limbs, he got a quick glimpse of it before it disappeared into a clump of algae.  Not that we wish to doubt our colleague, but no sign of any tadpoles had been seen over the previous 69 days.  What is more, the pond is approximately 8 feet by 5 feet wide and shallow enough to see the bottom.  It is hard to believe, but despite us all taking regular breaks and sitting by the pond (mainly to watch the frogs and to observe the water-boatmen), the tadpoles seem to have avoided detection.

We are going to start regular observations once again and a reward of first choice of biscuits for a week has been offered to the first member of staff who can produce proof that tadpoles still exist in the pond.  It seems that even, tiny ponds can hide one or two secrets and keep us on our toes, not surprising therefore that stories of bizarre monsters and living dinosaurs seep out of some of the remotest corners of our planet.

6 07, 2008

Exploring the Link between Sound and Pictures with Palaeolithic Cave Art

By | July 6th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

The Link between Cave Paintings and Sound

For most of us watching television will form part of our leisure activities today, indeed studies show that most people in the United Kingdom watch television for at least two hours a day.  Television, or to refer to it as broadcast media, so permitting the inclusion of Internet downloads and other audio visual media, informs us, educates and entertains.  Through the use of images in conjunction with sound we gain an impression of the world around us.  It seems our ancestors may have felt the same way.  Audio visual media so dominates our lives that it would be difficult to imagine a world without it.  A study by a French acoustics expert from the University of Paris has linked the sites of ancient paintings in caves to areas of significant sound resonance thus connecting these paintings with sounds.  The work by Iegor Reznikoff and his team indicate a strong link between the most acoustically resonant place in a cave, where sounds echo and reverberate the most with the placing of cave paintings on the nearby walls.

If the team’s findings are correct then it seems that our Stone Age ancestors also linked sounds with pictures to help them understand their world, just as we do today when we watch television.

For Iegor Reznikoff, studying the resonance of passageways and caverns where Stone Age people lived, provides an extra dimension to our perception and understanding of cave art.

Thousands of years later, scientists can study what remains of the paintings but they cannot listen to the stone-age music and sounds made by our ancestors who created the artworks.  We can only speculate on the significance of sound and music to these people, but bone flutes have been found in association with these sites and the location of the paintings indicate a relationship between the cave paintings and sound.

Is there a link between Cave Paintings and Acoustics?

Picture Credit: French Ministry of Culture

When the most-resonant spot was located in a very narrow passageway too difficult for painting, due to the lack of illumination from the primitive torch lights, red marks are often found, as if the resonance maximum had to be signified in some way. This correlation of paintings and music, Reznikoff states, provides “the best evidence for the ritualistic meanings of the paintings and of the use of the adorned caves.”

Over this weekend Iegor Reznikoff and his associates will be conducting a tour of a prehistoric cave to illustrate the relationship between sounds and the cave wall art.  The team have even suggested that humming into some of the alcoves and passageways produces sounds similar to the animals that are depicted on the walls.  Did these ancient hunter/gatherers feel inspired by these sounds to reproduce the animals themselves as cave art?

It is true that communities today living closer to nature such as the Masai of Kenya have a heightened sense of hearing than those of city dwellers.  Sight and sound are important senses in an environment when the need to become aware of approaching danger is a successful survival strategy.  The cave dwellers of the Upper Palaeolithic may have conducted rituals combining the images and the sounds, the study also claims that since sound travels further in darkness compared to the light cast by a flame, these ancient humans may have used sound as a form of echo location to explore caves.

Reznikoff will publish his paper at the Acoustical Society of America meeting in Paris.  The paper provides data on a study of caves using a trained vocalist.  The singer was sent through the caves testing different sounds and pitches in various locations.  Spots of maximum resonance, or places where the voice was most amplified and clear, were noted in each section and later laid over a map of the cave drawings. The vast majority of the paintings, up to 90 percent in some cases, were located directly at, or very near, the spots where the acoustics were the absolute best, they found.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to the interior of caves, either. Studies have been done at some outdoor Palaeolithic sites in France and Finland, and the sound-painting connection is also strong, Reznikoff said.

This new study comes at a time when scientists are expressing grave concerns over the preservation of prehistoric cave art.  Many sites are becoming damaged by modern day pollution and drastic steps are being taken to try to protect a number of caves, such as the famous cave at Lascaux in France.

To read an article about this: Famous Prehistoric Cave Paintings Under Threat

This article has been reproduced from an American Institute of Physics Article.

5 07, 2008

Achelousaurus – Strange Horned Dinosaur

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Achelousaurus – Bizarre Horned Dinosaur

Known from several partial skulls and a single fragmentary skeleton discovered in the upper layers of the Two Medicine Formation, Achelousaurus is a medium sized horned dinosaur related to Pachyrhinosaurus and Centrosaurus.  Named by the Canadian palaeontologist Scott Sampson in 1995, the species name “horneri” honours the American palaeontologist John “Jack” Horner who was born in Montana and has worked extensively on dinosaur fossils found in that American State.  The dinosaur, a member of the Centrosaurine group of horned dinosaurs is estimated to have reached lengths of around six metres and to have weighed around 3,000 kilogrammes.

A Drawing of Achelousaurus

Achelousaurus horneri

Achelousaurus horneri

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The genus name for this dinosaur comes from the river god Achelous from Greek mythology.  Achelous had one of his horns torn off by Hercules.  Several of the known skull fossils of this Late Cretaceous dinosaur have roughened processes in the same location on the skull where other Centrosaurine dinosaurs have horns, giving them the appearance of having lost horns.  In Greek myth, Achelous was believed to be a shape shifter, Achelousaurus has a number of anatomical traits that reflect other Centrosaurine dinosaurs and hence this may be another reason for the genus name.

Collecta have produced a wonderful, hand-painted replica of this horned dinosaur.  To view the range of Collecta dinosaur models available from Everything Dinosaur: Collecta Dinosaur Models

4 07, 2008

Stolen Fossils Returned to Buenos Aires

By | July 4th, 2008|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Stolen Fossils including Dinosaur Bones are Returned to Argentina

A very rare and special cargo was given VIP treatment including a military escort as it was unloaded at an Argentinian airport.  The consignment consisted of a collection of rare fossils and other items that had been smuggled out of Argentina some years before.  US Government officials were able to track down the haul and then return them to Buenos Aires.

To read more about the international investigation that led to the successful discovery of the stolen fossils:  Smuggled Fossils Returned to Argentina

The consignment, which weighs approximately 4 Tonnes was flown into Argentina by a specially commissioned military transport plane.  The rare and precious cargo was welcomed in Buenos Aires by senior Argentine military personnel, diplomats and the US Ambassador to Argentina.

The haul had originally been smuggled out of Argentina some years ago, it had been tracked down following an Interpol tip-off to a state mineral fair in Tucson, Arizona. The fossils were seized by US Government officials and more illegally obtained relics were found in warehousing nearby.

The smuggled items include dinosaur bones, eggs, petrified wood and invertebrate fossils, they had originally been shipped out of Argentina probably mixed up with other rocks and minerals destined for the USA.

Touchdown! The Precious Cargo of Fossils is Unloaded

Picture Credit: BBC News

The US Ambassador in Buenos Aires, Earl Anthony Wayne, had taken a personal interest in the return of the artefacts to South America and he was at the airport to see the cargo arrive.

Commenting on the growing problem of illegal fossil sales the Ambassador said:

“There are probably more out there and we’ll keep looking for it”.

He congratulated the authorities on their success but stated that the international community should keep working to improve information-sharing about the black market for palaeontological relics.

This unusual cargo has been taken to the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural History Museum in Buenos Aires.  At this museum, the material will be sorted, classified and studied in more detail before being returned to the provinces in which they were found.

3 07, 2008

Collecta Triceratops – A Dinosaur with Attitude

By | July 3rd, 2008|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Collecta Not-to-Scale Triceratops Model Praised

One of the first dinosaur models introduced by Collecta was a not-to-scale replica of the famous horned dinosaur called Triceratops (T. horridus).  Part of a set of six prehistoric animal models, the Triceratops figure has proved very popular with dinosaur model collectors and fans, simply because it seems to have a real attitude about it.  The dinosaur is depicted with its huge head tipped forward and low in the classic “charging Triceratops pose” from the 1966 movie “One Million Years B.C.”.

The Collecta Triceratops Dinosaur Model

Collecta Triceratops dinosaur model.

Collecta Triceratops dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model gives the impression of a very heavy and strong dinosaur, one that even the most brave (or desperate) Tyrannosaur would not want to face.  The model is well painted in a blueish/grey colour and there is nice detailing around the huge neck frill and the on the skull. The beak on this huge herbivore has been very carefully depicted.

To view the Collecta prehistoric animal model range available from Everything Dinosaur: Collecta prehistoric animal models

2 07, 2008

Top Marks for Everything Dinosaur Team

By | July 2nd, 2008|Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Scores 100% in Open University Fossil Study

Palaeontology as a science is always moving forwards, a new dinosaur species is named and described approximately every 6-8 weeks for example, and new methods and techniques are being used all the time to help scientists discover more about existing fossil finds.

With this in mind, it was decided that some of the team members at Everything Dinosaur should take a quick refresher course in fossils or a related subject – but which course to choose as there are a number available.  Eventually it was agreed that some team members should sign up for a science short course with the Open University.  Team members had studied with the Open University before, the courses offered are of a high standard and the flexible study programme fitted in with the busy schedules of staff.

The particular course chosen was S193 – Fossils and the History of Life.  Drawing on expertise from within the Open University as well as from a number of other university Earth Science departments and British museums, the course would help team members refresh their memories over fossils and an overview of Life on Earth.

This course explains how organisms become fossilised, helps students to identify the common fossils they are likely to find in the UK, and shows them where they fit into the story of evolution. The course books also cover (in colour) spectacular fossils such as dinosaurs and other vertebrates; rare fossils that have soft parts preserved; human evolution; mass extinctions, and other key events in the evolution of life.

A set of replica fossils are provided on which students can learn to make and record observations on specimens. The course encourages people to think critically about reconstructions of prehistoric animals and plants, and the environments in which they lived.

As well as the course materials and course handbook, the study materials also included a hardback copy of the excellent book “Atlas of the Prehistoric World” and a DVD of a programme related to the subject.

There were two options that could be followed, a fast track option where the course had to be completed within 10 weeks or a longer format where the same work had to be covered but at a more leisurely pace.  The course was both enjoyable and helpful and, as with all good courses there was a formal assessment at the end.

Candidates were challenged throughout the course with questions set to test understanding and learning.  At the end of the course there was an on-line examination consisting of a set of tricky questions designed to test candidate’s knowledge.

It is pleasing to note that we received our results yesterday, team Everything Dinosaur scored 100% with all answers wholly correct and no partially correct answers.

So top marks to Everything Dinosaur, the course itself is not to a degree standard but it does provide a useful refresher and is an excellent course for people to study who have a passing interest in Earth Sciences.  Besides, other team members are studying Geology with the Open University, this exam result sets the standard for them to beat.

To learn more about the Open University and the courses they offer: The Open University Website

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