All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
11 01, 2009

Bring Ice Age Mammals Back to Life

By | January 11th, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|1 Comment

Ice Age Mammals Set from Everything Dinosaur

Following on from the recent article published in January’s edition of the “New Scientist” magazine which highlighted a list of extinct or endangered animals that could ultimately be resurrected using genetics, it is worth making a point about whether bringing back long extinct animals might not be such a good idea.

To read the previous article: Prehistoric Animal Resurrection

It might be possible to bring back from the dead exotic creatures such as the Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Rhino and the Sabre-Toothed Cat, but just how practical this would be is open for debate.  Re-introducing these prehistoric mammals back into the wild would have serious implications for the fauna and flora of our modern world.  Indeed, this is assuming that suitable habitats could be found, imagine going for a walk knowing that Sabre Tooth Cats have been seen recently in the area – not a very comforting thought.

Enough controversy has been generated in the United Kingdom over the intended plans to widen the re-introduction of Beavers into Scotland.  There have been a number of schemes in the UK in which, animals that once roamed freely have been re-introduced, Wild Boar into the New Forest for example.  Some Wild Boar have been deliberately introduced; whilst others are escapees from the farming industry.  Perhaps the most controversial schemes at the moment are those that concern the re-introduction of Wolves into parts of Scotland to help control the native population of Red Deer.  If people get concerned over the possible implications of Wolves being re-introduced into areas they once roamed, it is unlikely that the introduction of Sabre-Toothed Cats and Woolly Rhinos would go unnoticed.

It seems that if the technology does develop (and most scientists think it will), these newly re-created species would be restricted to safari parks and zoos.  Perhaps it is best to leave the fossil record well alone.

On a different note, we discovered that all the animals featured in the Everything Dinosaur, Ice Age Mammals set were listed in the top fifty prehistoric animals that could be resurrected.  The set features a Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Rhino, a Sabre Toothed Cat, Megatherium and Glyptodon – the car sized ancient armadillo-like creatures.  The Glyptodonts were not strictly Ice Age animals.  They evolved in South America and when this island continent was joined with the rest of the Americas (falling sea levels), they successfully migrated and became established in the southern USA.  The last of the Glyptodonts died out approximately 10,000 years ago, but their modern relatives the armadillos continue to thrive and are spreading ever northwards.  Armadillos are extending their habitat further into North America, as these animals adapt to the colder winters at higher latitudes – an example of an animal adapting to a new environment to exploit new opportunities.  The fossils of Glyptodonts were studied by Charles Darwin and Glyptodon was named and described officially by Sir Richard Owen in 1839, just two years before he coined the word “Dinosauria”.

The Ice Age Mammal Set from Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Prehistoric Mammal set and dinosaurs: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

Glyptodon has been added to this set as it did go extinct at approximately the same geological time as the other prehistoric animals featured.  It tends to be found in model sets featuring prehistoric animals, they certainly were bizarre creatures and Glyptodon models make an excellent edition to any collection of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models.

10 01, 2009

Prehistoric Animal Resurrection – Extinct Species on the Way Back

By | January 10th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Scientists Publish List of Top 50 Extinct Species that could be Brought Back to Life

Once upon a time, when a species died out becoming extinct that was that, but now advances in genetics and a greater understanding of DNA could enable scientists to resurrect recently extinct species.

A list of fifty currently extinct or severely endangered species that may once again walk the Earth or at least have an ensured survival has been published in this month’s edition of the “New Scientist” magazine.  An apt start to the year, what with events planned to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, whose theory on natural selection helped shaped our understanding of how life evolves.

The list includes some Ice Age giants such as the Woolly Mammoth, Sabre-Toothed Cat and Coelodonta, the Woolly Rhinoceros, plus Megaloceros (Irish Elk) and the Neanderthal, the last of whom died out some 28,000 years ago.

Animals that have gone extinct in more recent times are also included, such as the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus).  The last Thylacine (another name for this marsupial), died in 1936.  The article also commented on the possibility of bringing back the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a giant ground-dwelling bird related to pigeons that has become a symbol for extinction “as dead as a Dodo”.

This flightless bird was wiped out in its only habitat, the island of Mauritius within 100 years of it first being discovered, but it too could be resurrected with mankind’s improved understanding of genetics.

The article stated that two main criteria were required to enable the scientists to resurrect an extinct species.  Firstly, DNA of the species had to be recovered, in the case of the Dodo this would be relatively easy as mummified specimens and other preserved parts of the birds have been kept in museum collections.  For example, a museum in Oxford, England, has a stuffed Dodo on display with also bones, remains of an eye, head and fragments of skin.  It is from this preserved DNA that a cloning process can be started.

Secondly, a suitable host would be required to act as a surrogate mother and partial DNA donor to help complete the process.  In the case of the Woolly Mammoth, the frozen carcases that are occasionally washed out of the melting permafrost in northern Russia can provide the DNA. An Indian Elephant would act as a surrogate mother, as this extant species is relatively closely related to the great extinct Mammoths.

In effect,to revive a long-dead species scientists would have to recover enough DNA from a well-preserved specimen and find a suitable surrogate species similar to that of the extinct animal in which to grow the new baby from an embryo.  DNA is capable of being preserved for many thousands of years, such as in dry caves (possible source of Megatherium or Giant Ground Sloth DNA), as well as from frozen carcases, the likely source of Mammoth and Woolly Rhino genetic material.

In June of last year, Everything Dinosaur published an article on the recovery of Mastodon DNA (an ancient elephant) in a fossil tooth 130,000 years old.

To read the full article: DNA Breakthrough in the Tooth of an Extinct Elephant

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany have been at the forefront of genetic research and as well as studying the genome of ancient elephants their work has also involved studies of Neanderthals.  As they work on the genetic profile of Neanderthals, the researchers have made some remarkable discoveries.  For instance, genetic analysis may indicate that many Neanderthals had red hair.  Evidence of the insight that an understanding of the genetic profile can bring.

We humans, seem to be fascinated by our Neanderthal relatives, perhaps the last other human species to co-exist with modern man, certainly in Europe anyway.  There is a Neanderthal forensic modelling kit available from Everything Dinosaur, based on real Neanderthal fossils found in France.  This particular item from our Everything Dinosaur shop has proved very popular with people from aged 8 to 80 telling us about their own Neanderthal that the kit has helped them bring back to life.

The Neanderthal Skull Modelling Kit From Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the kit: Dinosaur Crafts for Kids

To read more about the Max Planck Institute’s study on Neanderthals: The Neanderthals were Redheads

Last November, scientists reported that they had created a partial genetic profile of a Woolly Mammoth, a vital step in the cloning process, although the day when Mammoths could be seen again by humans was still some way off.

It is not only extinct species that can benefit from developments in genetics.  It has been estimated that half of the world’s big mammal species are under threat so creatures such as the Gorilla can have their DNA stored to help scientists bring back these animals should they go extinct in a few years.  Although, the cloning techniques are not that advanced to resurrect an extinct species at present, as our technology develops scientist predict that it will be possible.  DNA of endangered species that is preserved today, can then be used in the resurrection process.  In the case of the Gorilla, the surrogate mother would most likely be a Chimpanzee.

Such ambitious goals, identifying a top fifty candidate species for bringing back to life remain out of our reach but with developments in technology, such processes will be possible in the future.

Sadly, bringing dinosaurs back to life, such as those depicted in the Jurassic Park trilogy remains a very distant hope.  For animals that have been extinct for millions years, there is little chance of recovering usable DNA.  Our science would have to develop a great deal more, even if this was to become a remote possibility – but it is best not to rule anything out at this stage.  After all, it is barely 150 years since Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and only a little over 100 years ago that the work of Gregor Mendel, regarded as the “father of modern genetics” began to be appreciated.

Who knows where science will take us, commenting on the New Scientist article, geneticist Svante Paabo, from the Max Planck Institute stated:

“It’s hard to say that something will never ever be possible, but it would require technologies so far removed from what we currently have that I cannot imagine how it would be done.”

However, with the rapid progress being made in the field of genetic research it is intriguing to imagine what the possibilities might be.

9 01, 2009

Fossil Sites in Running to be Nominated as Natural Wonders

By | January 9th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaur Provincial Park and Flaming Cliffs up for “Seven Natural Wonders” Status

The Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation, one of the richest dinosaur fossil sites in the world is in the line up of contenders to be named one of the world’s top natural wonders.  However, amongst the competition for this prestigious accolade is the Flaming Cliffs site of Mongolia, the location of the discovery of many Asian dinosaurs, including the first fossilised dinosaur eggs and nests.

The on line competition which permits the public to vote for their favourite natural wonder is being run by the New 7 Wonders Foundation.  This is a Swiss based, not-for-profit organisation, founded by Bernard Weber,  Swiss-born Canadian film maker and adventurer.

The list of nominees consists of 261 locations from around the world, split into categories like “mountain”, “river” and “rock formation”.  The United Kingdom is represented by a number of entries, Loch Ness in Scotland is joined by the Calf of Man (in the island category), and a nature reserve in the Channel Islands.

The list of nominations also includes natural wonders such as Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and Mount Fuji.

Commenting on the inclusion of the Dinosaur Provincial Park, Brad Tucker, visitor services co-ordinator for the park said:

“This is a wonderful thing. We want to encourage all Canadians to go online and vote for us”.

Acknowledging how stiff the competition was he added:

“We’re up against some stiff competition. We’re amazingly honoured to go to the next step.”

Once the votes have been counted and assessed a short-list of 77 entries will be created.  For Dinosaur Provincial Park, this moonscape of amazing rock formations, already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just making the initial 261 locations is a real honour.

A View of Part of the Dinosaur Provincial Park

Picture Credit: The Dinosaur Research Institute (Indiana University Press)

“It’s absolutely unique on a global scale,” said David Eberth, a senior research scientist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the world-renowned museum where many of the dinosaurs and other fossils from the Dinosaur Park are displayed.

In July, voting will close on the short-list and then a panel of experts will decide the top seven.  The announcement will be made sometime in 2011.

To view the nominations and to vote for the seven natural wonders of the world (hopefully a fossil site such as Dinosaur Provincial Park or Flaming Cliffs), you have to visit the official website for the competition.

8 01, 2009

Duck-billed Dinosaur goes under the Hammer

By | January 8th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Fancy your own Edmontosaurus?

A geological hammer is perhaps the tool you would normally associate with fossils, but over recent years, another sort of hammer, the auctioneer’s, has become more prominent in the world of palaeontology.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada a collection of forty-five prehistoric fossils including dinosaur fossils will go up for auction.  Despite the global recession and the difficult economic times, some of the lots are expected to attract eye-watering bids.  After all, they stopped making dinosaur fossils, approximately 65 million years ago.

For Maynards, the auctioneers, this is the first time that they have held such an auction, and they are unable to put an estimate on how much money the sale of all 45 lots would bring.  However, one of the stars of the auction, a mounted, nearly complete skeleton of an Edmontosaurus (Hadrosaurine), is estimated to reach up to $1/2 million CDN.

A Scale Drawing of a Edmontosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Edmontosaurus was a large, duck-billed dinosaur of the late Cretaceous.  Fossils have been found in Canada and the western United States, it was named after the Canadian city of Edmonton, where many of this dinosaur’s fossils were first discovered.  It is estimated to have reached lengths in excess of 13 metres (auction specimen is 8.3 metres long), and may have weighed around 4 tonnes.  Thanks to the auction in Vancouver, you too can be the owner of an Edmontosaurus fossil skeleton – that is of course, if you have $500,000 CDN to spare.

With a price tag like that, it puts some of the dinosaur models and toys that we sell into the shade.  Still at least dinosaur models are a little easier to handle and store, for the Edmontosaurus specimen, an area at least 10 metres long will be required to display it properly.

The collection had been in Japan, now it is being sold off and amongst the lots are dinosaur eggs and a near complete skull of a Triceratops.  Maynards in Tokyo purchased the collection and arranged transport to British Columbia.  Whilst the lots were being prepared, the collection was put on display at a local science museum.  The exhibition was entitled “Fossils, Fins and Fangs: Dinosaurs and Other Ancient Life”.

A spokesperson for the auction was unable to estimate how much all the pieces would make in total, but added there had been a lot of interest from both private and public collectors.

He stated: “This is the first dinosaur collection we’ve ever handled so I have no idea what it’s worth.  But we’ve heard from collectors from Texas and the UK, as well as locally.”

Hopefully, some of the pieces will be purchased by museums and other public bodies so that the public can still view them and that scientists will get the chance to study them.

7 01, 2009

Jurassic Scene Prepared for Dinosaur Workshops

By | January 7th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Helping Young School Children to Learn about Prehistoric Food Chains

All finished, Everything Dinosaur has completed a project where they have put together a series of prehistoric scenes depicting a typical environment and the typical flora (plants) to be found in the Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous geological periods.  The project has taken some time to complete as we wanted to get this concept right so that we could deploy these prehistoric animal themed teaching guides when discussing food chains and food webs with Key Stage one and Key Stage two children.

Jurassic Scene (Just add Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals)

Just add dinosaurs!

Just add dinosaurs!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

When Everything Dinosaur team members visit schools to teach about dinosaurs and fossils, we always dove-tail our teaching into key aspects of the national curriculum with a special focus on science, literacy and maths.  By producing these prehistoric backgrounds we can discuss food chains and food webs helping young children to understand environments of the past.  The teaching team can then utilise this knowledge and reinforce the learning by discussing food chains and food webs seen today.  With so many children loving dinosaurs, then using dinosaurs to help teach about food webs is a really good idea and we are sure our new scenes will help the children learn more about fundamental aspects of science encompassed within the UK’s national curriculum.

To learn more about the dinosaur workshops offered by Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Workshops in School

6 01, 2009

Salting the Roads – A trip back over 240 million years

By | January 6th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Rock Salt used to Grit Roads – Dating from before the Dinosaurs

In Britain the weather can be extremely unpredictable.  Last August for example, allegedly part of the British summer, was recorded as one of the dullest months since weather records were instigated, it was very cloudy and there were few sunny days.  In Cheshire, we had snow last year in April, but February turned out to be one of the sunniest and warmest on record.  No wonder we Brits are obsessed with the weather.

At the moment we are enduring a bit of a cold snap.  Admittedly, our night time temperatures of -6 Celsius are nothing to complain about when we compare notes with friends and associates in Canada and other parts of the world.  There are far colder places than the North-west of England, but after such a mild winter last year, this has still come as a bit of a shock to us.  Gloves are very much the order of the day when we are in the warehouse packing the various dinosaur toys and gifts for customers and we do seem to be drinking more coffee.  We have even had to grit the yard to prevent it becoming frozen and slippy.  Many of the local roads are being gritted nightly by the council, in fact many hundreds of tonnes are being spread on roads and pavements to prevent accidents.

The grit that is being applied to many of the UK’s roads was probably mined in Cheshire, although Cheshire does not have the monopoly on providing grit or rock salt, there are also extensive mine workings in Cleveland in the North-east of the country as well as in Country Antrim in Northern Ireland.  The grit is so called as it comprises of rock salt plus sand and other impurities as the rock salt was deposited in association with sands which formed sandstone.

The grit that is spread on our roads that originates from Cheshire mines is approximately 245 million years old.  It dates from before the time of the dinosaurs.  The salt deposits were laid down during the late Permian and early Triassic when rising sea levels led to the encroachment of seawater forming large areas of shallow sea and salt marshes.  At this time in the Earth’s history, the land that was to become the UK and Europe made up part of a huge land mass called Laurentia, a spur of the super-continent of Pangea.  Britain was much nearer the equator and the shallow seas were surrounded by deserts (hence the sandstone deposits that dominate Cheshire’s geology).

Slowly much of the area covered with sea was evaporated and huge areas of salt lakes and evaporites (minerals deposited from the evaporation of water) were formed.  Some were eroded away as they remained on the surface, but other deposits were buried and these rock salt deposits are the source of the grit we use on our roads.  Rock salt mining also occurs in Poland and Germany, so you can get an idea of the extent of the shallow seas that formed during this time.

The salt works as a freezing point suppressant, forming a brine on the road surface that prevents water turning to ice.  This helps to prevent roads becoming icy and dangerous.  In recent years, additives have been included to improve the adhesion of the rock salt on roads and pavements, but in essence when you drive over a salted road or walk along a salted pavement you are travelling over evidence of Britain’s geological history.

Much of the rock salt in Cheshire is just 50 metres below the ground, it forms a natural barrier for ground water and I am told that on quiet nights in parts of the Cheshire countryside which overlay the salt mines, you can hear the distant rumble of underground explosions as the mine workers blast the rock salt away.

5 01, 2009

Ancient Human Remains go on Display

By | January 5th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Ancient Hominid Fossils go on display in South Africa

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays many of us visit relatives and spend time with the family.  Perhaps you may have had relatives come and stay with you over the festive season.  However, if you want to visit some very ancient ancestors then head down to South Africa, as some very rare ancient hominid remains have just been put on display.

Southern and eastern Africa is believed to be the cradle of mankind, the part of the world where our species H. sapiens evolved.  At Maropeng, north of Johannesburg a new exhibition has opened with a number of ancient hominid and ape fossils on display.  Most of these items are normally kept under lock and key in museum vaults but this new exhibition is permitting the public to see some of these prehistoric relics for the first time – a kind of window onto the evolution of humans and our own species.  This area is famous for its hominid fossils, it is regarded as one of the most important sites for palaeontological research into early human origins.

Amongst the exhibits are fossilised animal bones that show signs of being butchered by ancient human hands, plus the burned remains of animals, some of the first fossil evidence of humans using fire in a controlled way.

One of the fossils on display is the nearly complete skull of a Paranthropus.  This particular skull dates from around 1.8 million years ago , the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch, a time when a number of ape and hominid species co-existed in Africa.  Scientists believe that it was around 1.8 million years ago that the ancestors of modern humans such as H. habilis split away from the ape/primate evolutionary path and began to develop the characteristics that would lead ultimately to our evolution.

The skull of Paranthropus  is very ape-like in appearance with heavy brow ridges, wide cheekbones (to accommodate a strong set of teeth for a largely vegetarian diet) and a sloping cranium.

This particular specimen stood about 1.1 metres to 1.2m tall, about the size of a 10 year old child.  The skull is quite small when compared to a modern human.  The brain size has been estimated to be approximately 530 cubic centimetres, less than half that of our own species and tests on the fossil indicate that this little ape-like creature probably only lived until about twenty years of age.   It was certainly a harsh environment, there were many predators including sabre-toothed cats and other hominid species such as H. ergaster competing for food.

This particular species went extinct about one million years ago, but its discovery in the 1930s was a vital step in the understanding of human evolution.

The more human-like Homo ergaster, was perhaps the first human species to develop stone tools,  although Paranthropus may have used bone and horn implements.  A change in climate to more arid conditions led to the extinction of Paranthropus, it seems they were not able to survive the climate change – perhaps a lesson there for modern humans.

“Being a vegetarian will make you extinct,” joked Christine Steininger, a palaeoanthropologist.

“Paranthropus used a very niche part of the environment whereas early Homo was very much more general,” said Lindsay Marshall, curator of the Maropeng exhibition centre. “Early Homo could accommodate and survive across a much broader environment.”

It is our ancestor’s inherent adaptability that may have helped them survive and to give rise to the human species.  Being a generalist rather than a specialist could account for the survival of our ancestors.

As an evolutionary dead end, Paranthropus is more of a cousin to modern man than a direct ancestor, but its existence is proof that the pattern which finally led to the emergence of Homo sapiens is far more complicated than a simple straight line.

One of the Display Cases at the Exhibition

Picture Credit: Naashon Zalik (National)

The display case shows the Paranthropus skull in the foreground

“What makes Paranthropus so special is they were co-existing with Homo ergaster but would ultimately die out,” Ms Marshall commented.  “We are dealing with an evolutionary tree, branches that are sprouting off, species that eventually died out.”

Nonetheless, the ancient Paranthropus fossil provides some tantalising glimpses into hominid evolution.  It exhibits several significant human characteristics.  Merely from the curved surface of one of its metatarsal bones, Bernard Zipfel, the curator of collections at the University of the Witwatersrand and also a palaeoanthropologist, can deduce that it walked on two legs, albeit not as efficiently as modern humans.

“Walking upright is one of the primary evolutionary occurrences towards us as humans today,” he said.  “Once we got up on to our hind legs we were able to free up our hands to do more with them and then that developed the brain”.

East Africa is generally regarded as where the first hominid species evolved, thanks to the world-renowned discoveries of Richard Leakey and examples such as Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis.  It has been estimated that as many as five different species of Australopithcines co-existed in Africa around 2 million years ago.

But specialists in South Africa are keen to stress their own region’s vital role, and the geographical rivalry between the eastern and southern part of the continent is an extra element in the academic debate on the intricacies of human evolution.  From the limited fossil data available it does seem that hominids evolved in Africa and our own species can trace its origins to this continent.  Some of the earliest fossils of our own species have been found in South Africa.

4 01, 2009

That’s the Wonder of Woolies

By | January 4th, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Closure of Local Woolworths Store – Provides Company with Racking

It was a sad day on Saturday as our local Woolworths store opened its doors to shoppers for the last time.  The company had announced that it would have to go into administration if no buyer for the business could be found.  This announcement was made before Christmas, sadly, no buyer came forward and Woolworths, such a famous name on the British high street is going out of business.  This reflects the current state of retail as a result of the credit crunch and the economic downturn in our country.  We are going to be officially in a recession by the end of this month (January), however, this is really an arbitrary term, a recession is defined as two quarters in a row when there is negative growth in the economy.  How this definition came about reflects politics, an American Presidential administration had to find a way of describing the state of the U.S. economy and an economist came up with the term, to help them avoid stating that the USA was facing a slow down.  No matter what the definition, I think most people in the UK are feeling the pinch.

Anyway, as Woolworth’s last trading day dawned, the front of the shop was crowded with bargain hunters, but for us we had an appointment at the back of the shop as Everything Dinosaur was interested in acquiring some of the warehouse racking.  Our local shop was opened in 1926 (we think), the town has grown up around it and the building had poor access for loading and unloading as a result.  The warehouse and storage area was above the shop floor and could be accessed by stairs or by two goods lifts.  Stepping into the back of the shop was a bit like going back in time.  As palaeontologists we are comfortable with the concept of “Deep Time”, ancient geological processes and time spans over millions of years, but going into the Woolworth’s warehouse transported us back to the 1930s.  Some of the storage bays seemed to have their original wooden shelving.  These fine, sturdy structures had served the company well.  Occasionally, we found etched into them the name of a former employee and the dates of their tenure.  It kind of brought home to us, that this was a part of Britain’s retail heritage and we were there on the day that it disappeared.

The great big wooden beams that supported the roof and the dark, brooding, empty storage bays gave the warehouse a depressing appearance.  It was also somewhat chaotic as the last of the stock was brought down to be sold at giveaway prices as this once mighty trading establishment finally crumpled.

For Everything Dinosaur, we had gone into the shop to look at the metal racking bays, as with all fixtures and fitting for sale by the administrators, this gave us an opportunity to purchase some more shelving for our own warehouse.  We examined the bays and chose which bits we wanted and then assisted by a couple of Woolies staff we completed the paperwork and became the owners of a little piece of retailing history.

One of the things to note about sales of distressed stock or a closing down sale is not to procrastinate too long.  Decide if you are serious and then make your purchase, the magnificent staff don’t want to have to deal with time-wasters, especially on a day like Saturday – for some their last day at work for Woolworths after a service stretching back 20 years or more.

It is also important to return quickly to collect your purchases, especially with things like warehouse racking.  We knew it would get very busy and that everyone would be after the best bits, so we planned to view the racking in the morning and then if having made a purchase; to return that afternoon to dismantle it and take it away.

We chose a number of metal racking bays, and true to our word made our purchase quickly and then returned within 2 hours to dismantle and remove them.  We felt quite sad as we carefully took apart our newly acquired shelving in readiness for transporting to our little warehouse.  By the time we had finished, we were dusty and the warehouse had taken on a eerie perspective as it was slowly gutted.

The staff were extremely helpful and their demeanour on what for many was the last day in the only job they had ever known, was remarkable.  With their help, our team members were able to dismantle the racking (after giving it a good brushing down as it was very dusty), pack it up and get it down to the ground floor and out onto the loading bay area so that we could take it away.  We took care to label up each section of racking with stickers so that when it came to re-assemble them the construction would be made easier.

Once we had safely transported our shelves and racking to the Everything Dinosaur warehouse, the next job was to give it all a good clean (hot, soapy water to remove the grease).  We split into two groups, one group, were outside the warehouse washing down the heavy metal legs and cross-pieces that made up the rack frames.  The second group were given the task of wiping down all the shelves.  Since the shelf wipers insisted on using the sinks to do this job, they at least could be inside in the relative warmth.  For the rest of us, we were outside bravely wiping down the surfaces as the snow fell all around us.

With this job done, we then stored all the items, but by Sunday afternoon we had started to set up the new racking system.  Some bays were kept in the warehouse, but we did put up some shelving in the packing area.  It took about 4 hours to complete the job, but by the time we left, every shelf was complete and had already been filled with stock items.

The Woolies Warehouse Racking

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although, we are all sad to see the end of Woolworths, and we wish all the staff every success in their job hunting, at least some of the racking in our local branch is being put to good use.  If we look after it, the shelves will last for many years.  We can store our dinosaur toys and gifts on it.  It will also permit us to use the space in our warehouse better, and we know that Sue is already involved in a number of projects to bring new products into our range.

We would like to wish all the staff at Woolworths, the very best of luck with their job hunting.  We were very well looked after when we came to purchase the racking and the staff were most helpful, at what must have been a difficult time for them.  If any employer is looking to take on some hard-working, enthusiastic staff he or she would do well to look carefully at the Woolworths employees as a nicer and knowledgeable staff would be difficult to find.

3 01, 2009

Everything Dinosaur Predictions for 2009

By | January 3rd, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Predictions for the Year Ahead – 2009

With the New Year, it is often a good time to consider what changes, developments and news stories we might expect over the next twelve months.  For scientists involved with studying ancient life and attempting to piece together our knowledge of pre-history, 2009 will no doubt be filled with exciting discoveries and new developments.  The staff at Everything Dinosaur have compiled a list of predictions, attempting to predict what the next year will bring.  We have had our “thinking caps” on as we worked in the office over the holidays and we have put together a short list of what we think will be some of the news stories and events over the next 12 months or so.

This time is being regarded as a “golden age” for palaeontology.  New parts of the world are being explored and with the advancement of techniques such as electron microscopy and CAT scans we can gain much more information from the fossils already found.

Here in no particular order are our predictions for 2009:

* Walking with Dinosaurs Tour to be  UK Sell Out

The British leg of the stage show Walking with Dinosaurs kicks off in the late spring with the tour visiting a number of venues around the UK.  The huge animatronic dinosaurs are sure to be a big hit, with the clever use of robotics and CGI creating a unique experience – sort of putting the “historic” into “prehistoric”.

* Marine Reptile fossils to be found on England’s “Jurassic Coast”

After the landslide between Charmouth and Lyme Regis back in the late spring of 2008 a lot of debris was left scattered all over the beach.  Indeed, team members at Everything Dinosaur had helped with a beach clean up just a couple of days before the landslip.  However, some new strata was exposed and although not quite prime fossil hunting sediment, we predict that the landslip and winter storms will have led to the exposure of new fossil marine specimens.  Expect to hear about the finding of Ichthyosaur, or Plesiosaur remains from the “Jurassic Coast”.

* Darwin to make a Big Impact in 2009

2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, a lot of events are planned to commemorate the work of this scientist and thinker.  The author of the “Origin of Species”, will no doubt be hitting the headlines over the next twelve months or so.

* New Feathered Dinosaurs to be found in China

With so much work going on in China, it is very likely that many new fossils will come to light.  With expeditions working continually in Szechuan and Henan provinces a number of dinosaur discoveries can be expected.  However, we turn our attention to northern China and predict that a new, early Cretaceous feathered Theropod will be named and described in the coming year.

* Everything Dinosaur to Reach 550 Products in the Range

Having just worked so hard to ensure all the Christmas orders for dinosaur toys and games had been despatched, we return to work to be told that Everything Dinosaur is going to be bigger and better than ever.  A number of projects are in progress at the moment, by the end of the year Everything Dinosaur will have increased its range of dinosaur models, dinosaur books, toys and all sorts of things.  Could 550 product lines be online by the end of 2009?

* New Species of Ceratopsian to be named and described in North America

Although it is difficult to imagine how American scientists are going to be able to compete against the likes of the Chinese, the Argentine and Korea when it comes to grabbing dinosaur headlines, the announcement of the discovery and description of a new species of horned dinosaur would put the palaeontological spotlight firmly on them.

* Further insight into Arboreal and Forest Environments with new Fossil Discoveries

The chances of a large animal becoming fossilised if they live in a forest or jungle habitat are extremely rare.  For a start, the acidic soil of these environments would slowly dissolve any bones so a carcase would have little chance of preservation even if it was buried quickly.  However, re-classifying existing museum collections and new expeditions to more remote parts of the world could perhaps yield more information on the ancient ecosystems of forest environments.  Who knows perhaps a dinosaur the specialised as a tree climber?

* Everything Dinosaur Web Log to exceed 100,000 page views per Month

The Everything Dinosaur web log or blog, has been going since May 2007, something like 540 articles on prehistoric animal discoveries, palaeontologists and all things dinosaur have been written so far.  Readership has grown steadily since the blog’s inception.  We try to inform, write in an appropriate style and to educate.  As a result of our continuing efforts we could break the 100,000 page views per month threshold sometime in the next few months.  Quite an achievement for these “dino buffs”.  We continue to commit a lot of our time to researching and writing articles, perhaps by the end of this year we could have something like 850 written up and published.

* Dinosaur Fossilised Nest Found

As far as scientists know, all dinosaurs were egg layers, indeed all dinosaurs were ground nesters, so we predict that more fossilised nests will come to light in 2009.  Such fossils are (like all dinosaur fossils), extremely rare, after all they stopped being made 65 million years ago.  However, somewhere in a sandstone strata we predict that more dinosaur fossil nests will be uncovered.

* More information on the “Ascent of Man”

Hominid fossils are very special indeed.  Scientists have very little evidence of our own ancestry, in fact, a colleague of mine recalls being told that if you gathered together all the human body fossils that had been formed in the last million years or so, they could all fit comfortably into a transit van.  Despite the lack of data from the fossil record, with the progress on the human and Neanderthal genome projects we expect to see a couple of the blanks in our own family tree beginning to be filled in.  After last years article on red-headed Neanderthals, we expect the DNA unravelling scientists who specialise in genetic engineering to come up with one or two other surprises about our own species.

So there you have it, the collective predictions from members of Everything Dinosaur.  Like most predictions and forecasts, statistically we are not more likely to be correct than if you got monkeys to pull ten suggestions written on separate pieces of paper out of a hat.

Forecasting is a tricky business, just ask any economist.  Not many saw the financial meltdown and the collapse of a considerable portion of the western banking system, if they did they certainly kept quiet about it.

2 01, 2009

Time To Crystal Ball Gaze

By | January 2nd, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Preparing Everything Dinosaur’s Predictions for the Year Ahead

Time to gather together all the suggestions made by Everything Dinosaur staff as to what they think will happen in the world of dinosaurs in 2009.  For most of us who spend our time studying the past, we must now concentrate on what we think is going to happen in the next twelve months, to undertake some crystal ball gazing as it were.  What new discoveries will be made in the Earth sciences field in 2009?  What new fossils will be excavated and where will they be found?  In addition, we will try to think ahead and predict what will happen to Everything Dinosaur over the next year or so.  For example, what new dinosaur toys and models will Everything Dinosaur be stocking?

Our predictions, a list of what we think is going to happen in palaeontology and the study of dinosaurs, will be published on this web log shortly.

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