All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
21 01, 2009

Running around the Trade Shows

By | January 21st, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Trade shows, Exhibitions our Diaries are Full

No sooner have we begun to recover from Christmas then we seem to be pitched back into feverish commercial activity once more.  As a company we are always looking to add more products to our range and it seems from the moment we start back after the Christmas break we are back into the swing of sourcing new products and checking on the feedback from various products we have had on trial.

We value the input from our customers and we get lots of feedback and product suggestions, these are taken up and we then split the work load with each member of staff taking responsibility for product trials and acquisitions.

It is really hard work but worth it if we can uncover new dinosaur or prehistoric animal themed toys, games or merchandise.  Unfortunately, the volatile oil price has had an impact on our production plans.  A little reported effect of the high oil price in the Summer of 2008, is that there is a shortage of dinosaur inflatables.  Oil is used in the production of a number of plastics and as a result inflatable dinosaur products are a casualty as manufacturers reign in their product lines.

Good job we were able to get hold of a batch of inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex, otherwise there would have been a lot of disappointed children this Summer at the beach.  Despite having very full diaries, we were able to secure the supply of a limited range of dinosaur inflatables, let us hope that we can find more as we visit trade fairs, do field testing and such like.

Inflatable Tyrannosaurus from Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This particular Tyrannosaurus rex inflatable stands a little over 84 cms high, in reality that is about the size of a real Tyrannosaurus toe bone (metatarsal), but he looks the business and is already proving to be popular.

To view the dinosaur products: Everything Dinosaur

No doubt we will be adding many more products to our range over the next few weeks, we are certainly compiling lots of items for testing and reviewing samples and so on.  Our regular Friday afternoon meetings, such as the one we have booked today are going to get longer and longer.

Still, it seems to be all in a days work and we will continue to use our contacts and resources to try to find new and exciting dinosaur themed games, toys and other items.  For example, today some of us are going to a furniture and furnishings trade fair to see what we can discover.

20 01, 2009

Review of Winter Edition of Prehistoric Times

By | January 20th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Review of Prehistoric Times (winter edition #88)

The fast running, double crested, Theropod Dilophosaurus features on the front cover of the new edition of Prehistoric Times.  Prehistoric Times is the magazine for dinosaur model fans and prehistoric animal merchandise collectors.  Once again this edition is packed full of fascinating features.  As well as artwork and an update on the latest developments with the Dilophosaur genus, news on the largest T. rex fossil ever discovered and a special feature on the biggest developments in palaeontology over the last twelve months there is a special section on the fantastic palaeoartist Fabio Pastori.

The Dilophosaurus article is particularly in depth with a comprehensive review of the latest theories and an update on new discoveries.  As well as Dilophosaurus it is pleasing to note that “Elivisaurus”, otherwise known as Cryolophosaurus, an Antarctic dinosaur, gets a mention.

To see a model of Dilophosaurus: Dinosaur Toys for Boys – Dinosaur Models

To view a model of Cryolophosaurus: Dinosaur Toys and Dinosaur Models

Great to see a special section dedicated to that deadly Placoderm Dunkleosteus, with lots of drawings and artwork sent in by enthusiasts to illustrate the piece.

The Winter Edition of Prehistoric Times

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks (editor)

A particular mention should be made of the excellent article by Anthony Beeson entitled “Scelidosaurus in Science Art and Toys”.  It is wonderful to see an article on this particular Ornithopod, one that is synonymous with Britain.

Click on the text link below to visit Prehistoric Times home page:

  Prehistoric Times Magazine

Everything Dinosaur even gets a mention in this edition – how’s that for being famous!

Prehistoric Times really is a super read and is jam packed with the latest dinosaur toys and dinosaur model developments.


19 01, 2009

Just how big was Brachiosaurus?

By | January 19th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|2 Comments

How big was Brachiosaurus?

Our team members are frequently asked questions by young dinosaur fans.  One of the Everything Dinosaur members of staff was asked the other day: “how big is Brachiosaurus and why when I look this dinosaur up in two books, different size estimates are given”?

Scientists have only the fossil bones of Brachiosaurus to study, since no one has ever seen a living Brachiosaur the size ranges given for this huge Sauropod do vary.  Indeed, there is considerable variation in the fossil bones of those Brachiosaurs found in Africa to those found in North America.  So much so, that some palaeontologists have stated that the fossils from Africa may represent a completely different animal they have named Giraffatitan.

To view an article on the Brachiosaurus/Giraffatitan debate: Brachiosaurus and Giraffatitan article

Brachiosaurus was named and described from two partial skeletons from the famous Morrison Formation in the western United States.  It was formerly named by the American palaeontologist Elmer Riggs in 1903.  Although, it is one of the best known of all the Sauropods, its fossils are actually very rare, much rarer than its relative (another Macronarian Sauropod), Camarasaurus.  The Macronarian Sauropods are those long-necked dinosaurs with box-like skulls.  The holes in the skull representing the nasal passages are much bigger than the hole in the skull where the eye was located.

Brachiosaurus – A Gigantic Sauropod

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture illustrates a new interpretation of Brachiosaurus introduced last year by the German model makers Schleich.  The Brachiosaurus is featured in their “Schleich Saurus” range.  Brachiosaurus means “arm lizard”  as the forelimbs were longer than the back limbs, giving this dinosaur a giraffe-like appearance.  About half the height of Brachiosaurus is due to the neck, although there is debate whether the specimen displayed in the Humboldt museum (Berlin) is actually a Brachiosaurus (see article above), the head height of this mounted skeleton is around 13 metres.

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

The reason for the different sizes given in books could be because one book was published earlier than the other.  This would mean that the editor and writers would not have known about latest size estimates given for this dinosaur.  Different sizes could also be due to the fact that the researchers compiling the book chose to use different cited authors and palaeontologists so they published findings from different sets of data.

The statistics for weight, length and height for this creature are open to interpretation.  However, most scientists estimate that Brachiosaurus (Brachiosaurus altithorax) as an adult animal would have ranged in size from 17 – 22 metres in length, would have stood approximately 13 metres tall and weighed perhaps as much as 70 tonnes.

Fossil bones of an even bigger animal called Ultrasauros may actually turn out to be just a very big specimen of a Brachiosaurus so the dimensions and measurements given here will most likely end up being reviewed as more fossils are discovered and more research carried out.

18 01, 2009

New Dinosaur Species named after Indian Scientist

By | January 18th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

New Type of Ankylosaur named after Indian Scientist

Having a species named after you is a real honour for any scientist.  Such an accolade is usually bestowed upon you by your peers and fellow researchers.  Having a dinosaur species named after you is a particular honour, this is just what has happened to Indian scientist V. S. Ramachandran who permitted a fossil skull in his possession be studied.

A previously unknown species of Ankylosaur (an armoured dinosaur), discovered in early Cretaceous strata in the Gobi desert has been studied and named in Ramachandran’s honour by two American palaeontologists Clifford and Clark Miles.  The skull is perhaps the most important element of the skeleton to examine, it often permits scientists to identify a new species based on the skull morphology alone.

The Ankylosaur skull had been purchased by V. S. Ramachandran from a Japanese fossil collector and put on display at the Victor Valley Museum in California.  The American team (based at the Western Palaeontological Laboratories in Utah), were granted permission to study the skull and from the skulls triangular appearance and distinctive nasal (a bone at the front of the skull), they determined that this specimen represented a new genus of Ankylosaur.

This new dinosaur has been named Minotaurasaurus ramachandrani.  The name means in Latin “Ramachandrans Man-Bull Reptile” a reference to the skull with its extended nasal and flared naris that reminded the researchers of the skull of a bull.  Borrowing from Greek legend it seemed apt to name this particular armoured dinosaur after the Minotaur of Greek mythology.

The American team’s research paper has just been published in the Indian research periodical “Current Science”.

An Illustration of a Typical Ankylosaur (Ankylosaurus)


Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Ankylosaurs were armoured plated, herbivorous quadrupeds, often referred to as “living tanks”.  The fossils of these animals are most closely associated with the Cretaceous and this group can be split into two distinctive sub-orders, the true Ankylosaurs characterised by their broad bodies and club-like tails and the Nodosaurids, which are regarded by some scientists as being more primitive, and lacking (in most cases), a tail-club.

Models of a number of Ankylosaurs have been produced, animals such as Edmontonia (Nodosaur) and Saichania (Ankylosaur) have been created.  By far the best known dinosaur of this type, commonly referred to as shield-bearers, is the Ankylosaurus.  Ankylosaurus was one of the largest and one of the last to evolve, living right at the end of the Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage).  It is often depicted defending itself against a Tyrannosaurus rex, with which this dinosaur shared its North American habitat.

A Model of an Ankylosaur (Ankylosaurus)

An Armoured Dinosaur Replica

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

The model clearly shows the broad skull, armour and tail-club of a typical Ankylosaurid dinosaur.  In this new species, the skull is approximately 30 cms long and using comparisons from more complete fossil skeletons the scientists have estimated that this particular example of Minotaurasaurus was probably not fully grown.  It is estimated that this particular animal was over 4 metres in length.  There may be larger specimens out in the Gobi desert awaiting discovery.

The teeth of Minotaurasaurus are typically robust for an Ankylosaur.  They are leaf-shaped with  a highly developed coronate surface to maximise chewing and the grinding of plant matter.  Each tooth has a series of vertical striations or ridges that divide the grinding surface into 8 separate cusps.

Once this research has been validated by subject to peer review V. S. Ramachandran can join an elite band of Indian citizens who have had a prehistoric animal named after them.  He is unlikely to be the last Indian scientist recognised in this way, India is slowly but surely giving up its ancient secrets and many new species of dinosaur will come to light in the future.

17 01, 2009

Megalodon Makes its Mark

By | January 17th, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|6 Comments

Megalodon Giant Shark soft Toy available from Everything Dinosaur

As part of the new “Sea Monsters” range from Everything Dinosaur, we are delighted to introduce Megalodon, a giant, cuddly shark soft toy.  Megalodon is the largest, fiercest most amazing predatory shark known from the fossil record.  Its mouth was so big that it could swallow a modern Great White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) whole.

The new Megalodon Soft Toy from Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the shark soft toys and other prehistoric animals: Dinosaur Stuffed Animals

Megalodon is certainly very popular with young children.  This large prehistoric fish (length estimated to be 15-16 metres), has appeared in a number of television documentaries and many museums display the huge triangular teeth, some of which are bigger than a man’s hand.

Fossils of Megalodon (mostly teeth), have been found all over the world, in Europe, the Americas, southern Asia and Australia.  It seems to have had a very wide range, living in most of the warm ocean areas of the Miocene and Pliocene epochs.

The Megalodon soft toy from Everything Dinosaur doesn’t bite but it does have a specially shaped tail to help youngsters carry it.  We call this our special “shark grip tail”, a feature loved by the young children that we tested this shark soft toy with.  The Megalodon soft toy measures 48 cm in length, so it is approximately at 1cm = 1 foot scale to the real animal.

It is covered in soft, blue and white, sponge washable material, (a colouration approved by our experts who think that Megalodon may have actually been coloured like this).  Megalodon is believed to have been an ambush killer, adopting a hunting strategy similar to the Great Whites of today.  A white underbelly and dark blue top would make excellent camouflage for a surface water hunter.

The real give away are the 5 clearly marked gill slits on each side of the Megalodon soft toy.  Modern shark species like Megalodon have 5 gill slits.  See for yourself, find other pictures of Megalodon in books or watch TV documentaries about it and you will be able to count them yourself.

A beautifully made Megalodon soft toy, suitable for children from 3 years plus.  A bit of a novelty we know, making a soft toy to represent a fearsome creature such as a Megalodon but there is a lack of Megalodon soft toys (we think this is the first in the world), and young palaeontologists seem to be fascinated by the big fierce predators, so we went out and got a giant soft toy shark sorted for them.

To view the Megalodon shark soft toy: Dinosaur Soft Toys

16 01, 2009

Let’s Hear it for Archaeopteryx

By | January 16th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|2 Comments

New Study Indicates that Archaeopteryx had Hearing Ability similar to an Emu’s

A new study conducted by scientists at the Natural History Museum in London, has provided further insight and improved understanding of the hearing ability of the world’s oldest known bird – Archaeopteryx.  This ancient, crow-sized creature with teeth in its jaws (modern birds don’t have teeth in their beaks) and claws on its wings, but covered in feathers and capable of flight is the oldest known bird.  The ten or so specimens found (all of which have been recovered from deposits in Bavaria, Germany), are regarded as some of the most important fossil discoveries ever made.

When Charles Darwin published his book “The Origin of Species”, one of the criticisms of his theory of natural selection put forward at the time, was that the fossil record showed few signs of intermediary forms as one species evolved into another over time.  The realisation that a fossil “dino-bird” had been discovered occurred in 1861 when an almost complete fossil of Archaeopteryx was unearthed at Solnhofen in Germany.  The very fine-grained lithographic limestone had preserved the specimen in exquisite detail and permitted scientists to study closely the mix of reptilian and bird features.  This was the proof the evolutionists had wanted – Archaeopteryx was an intermediate form between the reptiles and true birds.

To read more about the discovery of Archaeopteryx and its impact on the theory of evolution: The Link Between Dinosaurs and Birds

Now a new study using the fossils of Archaeopteryx has concluded that this ancient creature’s hearing may have been more like a primitive bird’s than that of a reptile.  Using the more complete fossils such as the “London specimen” purchased by Sir Richard Owen for what was to become the London Natural History Museum; for the princely sum of £600, the team have been able to construct models of the inner ear.  From this research, they have concluded that the structure of the inner ear resembles that of an emu and it is possible to deduce that the hearing ability of an emu may reflect the hearing capability of its long dead ancestor.

The research team examined whether the length of the cochlear duct, which lies in the inner ear and is part of the cochlea, could be used to calculate the hearing ability in a group of modern birds and reptiles such as the primitive emu, an owl, turtles and alligators.  Modern bird species such as owls and emus are known to have longer cochlear ducts than living reptiles.

A Fossil of an Archaeopteryx “Ancient Wing”

Picture Credit: Stanford University

Indeed, the study’s results confirmed that animals with a long cochlear duct were more likely to have better hearing and vocal ability.  And for both mammals and birds, a long cochlear duct is also an indicator of vocal communication, living in groups and even habitat choice.  The research which has been published in the journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Society, could lead to further analysis into the social and herding behaviour of dinosaurs and other extinct animals.  There is a correlation between the ability of higher animal’s to communicate and their ability live in social groups or herd structures.

Commenting on the published research, Dr Paul Barret of the Natural History Museum stated:

“In modern living reptiles and birds, we found that the length of the bony canal containing the sensory tissue of the inner ear is strongly related to their hearing ability”.

By examining and comparing the length of the cochlear duct, the team were then able to make predictions on the capabilities of extinct organisms such as Archaeopteryx lithographica (the full scientific name for Archaeopteryx).

Palaeontologist Dr. Barrett added:

We were then able to use these results to predict how extinct birds and reptiles may have heard, and found that Archaeopteryx had an average hearing range of approximately 2,000 Hz”.

Ears are an amazing sensory organ that enables organisms to hear what is going on around them.  The bones in the ear were originally believed to have been in the upper part of the pectoral fins of fish.  As these animals ventured onto land, they had to evolve a whole range of new senses to help them to adapt to their new environment.  Over millions of years, a sense of hearing evolved.  These sense organs help organisms to pick up sound waves and vibrations.  Sound vibrations can travel through air, water and the ground.  The number of vibrations that are produced per second by a sound is called the frequency, and this varies for each sound produced.  Low pitched sounds have a low frequency, whilst high pitched sounds have more vibrations per second and thus a higher frequency.

The unit used to measure sound vibrations is the hertz, one hertz is equal to one vibration per second.  The range of human hearing varies depending on the person and their age.  The older we get the less sensitive we are to sounds.  As a rough estimate, human hearing range can be up to 20,000 hertz so our hearing range would have been 10x bigger than the hearing range of Archaeopteryx as stated in the new British research.

According to this study, the hearing range of Archaeopteryx would have been very limited, comparable to the range of hearing seen in extant animals (animals that are around today), like the Australian emu.

Using powerful computed tomography (CT) imaging, Dr Barrett and his team were able to accurately reconstruct the inner ear anatomy of a variety of intact bird and reptile specimens.  Such scanning technology can be used to “look” deep inside a fossil, helping the researchers to create models of the internal structure of the skull of Archaeopteryx.

A number of research teams have been working on the fossils of Archaeopteryx recently, trying to unravel the secrets of bird evolution.  For example, a team of American researchers have been using other scanning and imaging technology to try to understand more about the anatomy of this relic from the Jurassic.

To read another article on Archaeopteryx research: Archaeopteryx goes for an X-ray

The development of CT, otherwise known as computed axial tomography CAT scans, has enabled scientists to gain more information from the relatively few articulated fossils of this ancient bird.  Dr Angela Milner, also of the Natural History Museum in London produced a related paper recently that analysed the ability of Archaeopteryx to balance and manoeuvre in flight.  Her team’s work concluded that Archaeopteryx would have been quite an accomplished flier.  Certainly, Archaeopteryx could fly and although it may have lacked the grace, speed and manoeuvrability of a modern bird such as swallow, flight did give it an evolutionary advantage and birds rapidly diversified and many new forms quickly evolved.  The development of the bird lineage is reflected in the amazing fossils found in the Liaoning province of northern China.  These deposits, some 30 million years younger than the strata in Germany in which Archaeopteryx is found, have a wide variety of bird and feathered dinosaur fossils.

It seems that although Archaeopteryx may not have had great hearing, the ability to fly was going to be a real evolutionary winner.  Perhaps the work of the British scientists could be extended and some analysis could be undertaken on a few of the  fossils from mid Cretaceous China.  In this way, researchers might be able to plot the development of the hearing sense in birds, or at least get a partial understanding of how this sense developed over time in our feathered friends.

15 01, 2009

Dinosaur Detectives Book (Front Cover)

By | January 15th, 2009|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos|1 Comment

Dinosaur Detectives Book

Dinosaur Detectives Book

Dinosaur Detectives

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Lots of great dinosaur books around at the moment aimed at young dinosaur fans.   There is certainly a wide range of fiction and factual books about prehistoric animals to explore.  The ones featured on the Everything Dinosaur website have all been approved by our teachers and dinosaur experts.  Dinosaur books are a great way to encourage young children with their reading and can help them learn more about dinosaurs and other extinct animals from the past.  The range of prehistoric animal themed books from Everything Dinosaur includes recommended reference books and specially selected dinosaur books for kids with super illustrations to help young palaeontologists study dinosaurs.

To view the range of dinosaur books available: Dinosaur Books for Children

14 01, 2009

Review of the Dinosaur Detectives Handbook

By | January 14th, 2009|Book Reviews, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Review of the Dinosaur Detectives Handbook

Every book and publication that is put into the Everything Dinosaur shop goes through a review process.  Our dinosaur experts will read it, one of our qualified teachers will assess its child friendliness and educational qualities and perhaps most importantly of all, it will be looked at by children from the age group that it is aimed at to gather their opinions.

The new Dinosaur Detectives Handbook has just gone through this extensive process and came out the other side with a big thumbs up!

This spiral bound, book, designed to look like the sort of field guide you would take on a nature walk is jam packed with facts and information on dinosaurs.  Fifty different dinosaurs are featured.  The book reminded us of the sort of invaluable note book that we use when we are mapping a palaeontological dig site.

The Dinosaur Detectives Handbook

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The book includes maps, stickers, fact files, scale drawings and lots of illustrations and for each dinosaur, readers can make their own notes, add  a picture and tick-off where they might have seen it – on television, in films, books or online.

Thanks to the dinosaur experts and researchers at Everything Dinosaur, most of the prehistoric animals featured in the book can be found on our web log or at Everything Dinosaur’s home web site (hint to all those dinosaur detectives).

To view Everything Dinosaur web site and books on dinosaurs: Dinosaur Books for Kids

All in all, the book represents extremely good value.  It is aimed at children aged 5 years and above and it really gets them into the subject.  There is even a handy glossary at the back to explain some of the more difficult words and we love the fact that a pronunciation guide for those long dinosaur names is provided.

A real winner!

13 01, 2009

Feathered Dinosaurs – Two Types of Feather are Better than One

By | January 13th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Chinese Dinosaur Fossil shows Evidence of Feathers – Two Different Types

Scientists have debated the origins of birds for many years and the most widely accepted theory is that they evolved from meat-eating dinosaurs.  The debate over the relationship between Aves (birds) and Theropod dinosaurs (meat-eaters) is actually quite old, the first discussion papers on this subject were published in Victorian times.  John Ostrom, the distinguished professor of vertebrate palaeontology at Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, published a number of papers analysing the evolution of flight.  For John Ostrom, the commonly held believe at the time, of a sluggish, overgrown reptile being the typical view of a dinosaur, simply did not reflect the evidence in the fossil record.  He was a driving force in the “Dinosaur Renaissance” of the early 1970s, depicting dinosaurs as perfectly adapted animals, active, agile and energetic.

His description of the Dromaeosaur Deinonychus (Deinonychus antirrhopus) is regarded as one of the landmark moments in the history of modern palaeontology.   Now thanks to the amazing fossil discoveries of Liaoning in China, palaeontologists have a number of fossil specimens of different feathered dinosaurs that imply an evolutionary link between small Theropods and birds.

An Illustration of Deinonychus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

However, a new report on a particular feathered dinosaur from China, about the same size as Deinonychus, suggests that some dinosaurs may have had a number of different feather types adorning their bodies.  Some feathers may have been to help insulate them and keep them warm (indicating active warm-blooded animals), whilst other feathers may have served as ornamentation to help them attract a mate and signal to others within their herd (or should that be flock)?

In a paper published on the primitive Therizinosaurid (sometimes known as a Segnosaur), Beipiaosaurus, it is stated that two distinct types of feather have been found on the animal’s remains one for insulation, the other type perhaps used to signal for a mate, some of the earliest evidence of this type of feather found in the dinosaur fossil record.

Beipiaosaurus was named after the city of Beipiao, a city in Liaoning province in northern China.  The first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in this area in 1996.  It was a very unusual looking dinosaur (we often think Therizinosaurs seem to be made up of a mixture of different animal parts):

Article on Therizinosaurs like Beipiaosaurus: Therizinosaurs – are they the strangest dinosaurs of all?

Beipiaosaurus was approximately 2-3 metres tall, heavily built and a plant-eater.  The fossils date from the mid Cretaceous (Aptian faunal stage), approximately 120 million years ago.  Beipiaosaurus had a relatively large head for a Therizinosaur (later animals such as Nothronychus had proportionately smaller heads), a long neck and a broad body.  The shin bones are longer than the thigh bones and this dinosaur had three-toed feet.  Scientists have identified fine, proto-feathers associated with fossils of this dinosaur, but the discovery of the elongated, broad, filamentous feathers has excited palaeontologists, who believed that such coverings existed but had rarely found traces of them.

It is believed that dinosaurs had these broad, showy feathers at some point in the past because more advanced forms have already been discovered on dinosaur remains.

The primitive feathers on Beipiaosaurus are similar to the earliest forms seen on ancient birds.  The fossil remains of Beipiaosaurus are approximately 25 million years younger than the fossils of Archaeopteryx, the earliest bird yet discovered.  There are similarities between the wider, filamentous feathers on Beipiaosaurus and those of Archaeopteryx.  If scientists are correct in assuming that birds evolved from Theropods then the discovery of similar feathers on Beipiaosaurus proves that dinosaurs did have feathers of this type and indeed there may be other fossils of dinosaurs dating from before Archaeopteryx which would also show this feather type. They are waiting to be discovered.

Interestingly, in the report published in the scientific journal “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” by the Chinese research team, their study of the Beipiaosaurus specimen reveals information on where on the animal the various feather types grew.  Feathers from the animal have been identified on the fossilised remains of half a skeleton, including the head, neck and part of the tail.  Those that were used for communication (the wide, filamentous feathers) grew most densely on the back of the neck and at the end of the creature’s tail.  Ideal locations for a signalling device.  We can imagine a flock of Therizinosaurs bobbing their heads at each other just as flamingos do.  Or perhaps they waived their tails to communicate or combined both head and tail movements in a sort of dinosaur semaphore.  The presence of such feathers will enable scientists to speculate on elements such as animal social interaction, hierarchy and herd behaviour, unfortunately, the hard evidence for this is rarely preserved in the fossil record.

An Artist’s Impression of the Therizinosaur Beipiaosaurus

Therizinosaur drawing – Beipiaosaurus

Picture Credit: Timesonline

In the illustration above, the artist has clearly depicted Beipiaosaurus with long, quilled feathers on the head, neck and tail.  Scientists are fairly confident that dinosaurs had colour vision and the feathers may have been brightly coloured to help them to be seen in the dark, forested environment where this dinosaur lived.  Commenting on the research work, professor Xing Xu, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing), stated:

“Feathers are diverse in morphology and function.  In Beipiaosaurus most filamentous feathers that are slender and short are probably for insulation and the specialised elongate, broad, filamentous feathers are probably for display.

The professor and his colleagues from the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences who carried out the research, confirmed that although feathered, Beipiaosaurus could not fly.  It is believed that some dinosaurs from the Liaoning region were adapted to an arboreal existence and used feathers to help them glide from tree to tree, or perhaps even to flap a little, an example of powered flight.  One such dinosaur is Microraptor, a feathered dinosaur with a type of flight feather on its arms and legs.  This small, crow-sized animal could climb trees and probably lived in the forest canopy out of reach from the carnivorous dinosaurs that roamed below.

Microraptor is one of the dinosaurs illustrated in the Feathered Dinosaur Tube available from Everything Dinosaur.

To view the feathered dinosaur tube: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

The tube also contains models of other feathered dinosaurs from Asia, including Caudipteryx, Dilong and Velociraptor.

The Feathered Dinosaur Tube

Feathered Dinosaur “Toob”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In their report these Chinese scientists have concluded that the discovery of primitive feathers “strongly supports the hypothesis that feathers evolved and initially diversified in non-avian Theropods before the origin of birds and the evolution of flight”.

12 01, 2009

Collectors Pick up Prehistoric Bargains at Canadian Auction

By | January 12th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Economic Downturn Slashes Dinosaur Fossil Prices

With the global recession biting hard and the impact of an economic downturn, it seems that even dinosaurs are not immune to the harsh financial realities of 2009.  Fossil collectors were able to bag themselves some real bargains at an auction of prehistoric fossils and other relics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada last week.

The prices paid for rare dinosaur fossils at auction have soared over the last few years.  Wealthy individuals have been competing with each other to acquire the most impressive specimens, often taking them out of public hands into private collections thus denying these fossils the chance of being studied.

In 2007, we published a number of articles on fossil auctions and reported on the phenomenon of wealthy individuals bidding for dinosaur fossils; often paying extraordinarily high prices for a particular item.

To read an article on this: Celebrities bid up the Price of Fossils

Last year we reported on a number of fossil auctions, including the sale of a virtually complete Triceratops skeleton.  Although this lot was not sold at the initial auction it did eventually find a buyer.  An unnamed American collector paid over $940,000 USD for the 7.5 metre long specimen.  The fossil failed to find a buyer at the actual auction held at Christie’s.  During the actual auction, bidding for the 7.5 metre, 70% complete specimen reached 490,000 euros but fell short of the seller’s reserve price on the day.

However, the auction team decided to keep the telephone bidding lines open and to extend the deadline for receipt of offers for 14 days.  Within 48 hours the Triceratops had been sold.  The failure of the star lot to be sold at the time may have been an indicator of the more testing times ahead for sellers of prehistoric remains.

To read the articles concerning this auction: Triceratops for Sale

The concluding article: Going, going, gone – Triceratops Finds a Buyer

The fossils which made up the auction lots at the Vancouver sale were mostly of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals from North America.  Maynards, the auction house involved with the sale, had acquired them from a Japanese department store that had closed.

Despite the difficult economic conditions, nearly every lot was sold, but the prices fossils fetched were considerably lower than expectations.  For example, a nearly complete mounted skeleton of an Edmontosaurus was sold for $150,000 CDN, a lot of money but much less than a similar specimen would have fetched had it been sold a couple of years ago.

A virtually intact Triceratops skull was sold at the relatively bargain price of $70,000 CDN, less than 50% of its estimated value.

Do you have a head for a Bargain?  The Triceratops Skull

Picture Credit: Maynards Industries

The skull specimen looks like a Triceratops horridus (the skull is a key diagnostic feature when trying to identify species in a genera).  There are only two valid Triceratops species recognised by palaeontologists but differences in skull morphology and characteristics has led to extensive debate amongst scientists as to how many different species of Triceratops evolved.

With an auction price of $70,000 CDN this item is beyond the reach of most people but when this price is compared to the $940,000 USD paid last year for an almost complete mounted specimen it sounds like very good value to us.

The 2008 Triceratops Fossil that went to Auction

Picture Credit: AFP

Perhaps the impact of the world-wide recession will have some good news for museums.  If fossil prices continue to fall then they may be able to afford to purchase more items for study and public collections.  Falling prices may also act as a disincentive, preventing unscrupulous fossil hunters trying to cash in quickly on any finds that they make.

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