All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//June
21 06, 2009

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Prepare for a Busy Summer

By | June 21st, 2009|Educational Activities, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Reveals Plans for Summer 2009

The summer school term may nearly be over in the UK, but once Everything Dinosaur’s teaching commitments have been completed it will be time to focus on the events and other activities the company has planned for the rest of the summer.   The forthcoming school holidays will permit staff to review lesson plans and schemes of work that have been delivered as part of the company’s dinosaur workshops programme.  In addition, there has been time set aside to add new dinosaur themed teaching programmes aimed especially at Foundation Stage classes, Reception and Key Stage one.  This will help to strengthen the firm’s portfolio of dinosaur themed visits to schools.

Everything Dinosaur team members will also be working on a number of outreach programmes involving dinosaur talks, fossil digs and other activities helping to support museums and other educational bodies.

It is certainly going to be a busy summer for Everything Dinosaur.

A spokes person for the UK based dinosaur toy company commented:

“We have plans to expand our lesson plans for use when working with children in age groups from four to six.  Our team members have lots of ideas about how to undertake  teaching about dinosaurs in schools and we can’t wait for the start of next term.”

20 06, 2009

New Radiocarbon Dating Information Changes Mammoth Extinction

By | June 20th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Mammoths around in Great Britain much Longer than Previously Thought

A trip to the beautiful county of Shropshire 14,000 years ago may well have resembled a visit to a safari park as amongst the exotic wildlife around at the time, herds of Woolly Mammoths could still be seen.  This is the conclusion of a group of scientists that have recalculated the age of several Mammoth fossils found in the Shropshire.  It seems that herds of these iconic Ice Age mammals were wandering around the English countryside, thousands of years after they were thought to have gone extinct.

In research published in the scientific publication “Geological Journal”, researchers from the Natural History Museum in London have re-examined data on five Woolly Mammoth fossils found at Condover, Shropshire in 1986.  Improvements in the technology of radiocarbon dating has enabled the scientists to reassess the age of these fossils and their work indicates that these animals died 14,000 years ago, 7,000 years later than previously thought.

Condover, is a small village in the centre of Shropshire, the area is well-known to geologists as there are a number of small fault lines in the region and earthquakes in the vicinity are not unknown.  The last substantial quake occurred in 1990.  There are a number of sandstone and gravel quarries around the village and it was in one of these gravel pits that the remains of one adult and four juvenile mammoths were discovered in 1986.  The skeletons were well preserved and articulated and the site remains one of the best locations known for fossil Mammoths in the UK.  There is a model of the Condover Woolly Mammoth on display at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in the nearby town of Craven Arms.  Members of Everything Dinosaur have been to Shropshire on many occasions, normally to visit sites such as Ludlow and the Mortimer forest to explore the excellent Silurian aged rock formations and hunt for Trilobite fossils.

However, developments in dating techniques has enabled a team of scientists from the Natural History Museum to reassess the age of the Mammoth remains.  The new dates point to climate change as the reason for this elephant’s decline rather than hunting by early humans and Neanderthals.

Commenting on the new data, Professor Adrian Lister (Natural History Museum) stated:

“Mammoths are conventionally believed to have become extinct in north-western Europe about 21,000 years ago during the main ice advance, known as the Last Glacial Maximum”.

However, more sophisticated radiocarbon dating techniques used on bones, plus a new study of the micro fossils, plant and insect fossils found at the site indicate that these large herbivores persisted longer in the United Kingdom than previously thought.

Professor Lister went on to add:

“Our new radiocarbon dating of the Condover mammoths changes that, by showing that Mammoths returned to Britain and survived until around 14,000 years ago”.

The Condover Mammoth fossils are the last known record of Mammoths living in the north-west of Europe, their demise seems linked with climate change rather than the pressure of hunting from human settlers.  The advance of the ice sheets from the north, led to a change in the habitat, the open grassy plains, (known as Mammoth steppe, due to these large creature’s influence on the ecosystem), gave way to much more conifer forest and scrub.  This habitat was not suitable for a large herbivore that grazed on grasses and sedges.

Professor Lister added:

“The new dates of the Mammoths’ last appearance correlate very closely in time to climate changes when the open grassy habitat of the Ice Age was taken over by advancing forests, which provides a likely explanation for their disappearance.

 There were humans around during the time of the Condover mammoths, but no evidence of significant mammoth hunting”.

Although Woolly Mammoths are seen as “classical” animals of the Ice Age and they were well adapted to cold climates, they were not limited to cold environments.  Types of Mammoths lived throughout the northern hemisphere during the Pleistocene.  Contrary to popular belief, Mammoths did not live in habitats dominated by ice and snow but rather on the cold grasslands (steppe) beyond the reach of the ice sheets.  Mammoths were well adapted to cold conditions, with small ears (to reduce heat loss), thick set bodies, and two types of body hair to help keep them warm.  The outer layer of hair, was thick with long guard hairs, over a metre in length in some cases.  This hair was coarse and up to six times thicker than human hair.  The under-layer of hair was dense, softer and shorter with individual hairs much thinner than the outer hair covering.  This helped trap air which added to the insulation properties of this inner layer of body hair.

Many types of Mammoth had thick skin and a layer of body fat up to 10cm thick, again providing excellent protection from the cold.

An Illustration of a Woolly Mammoth

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Evidence from frozen Mammoth corpses from Siberia indicate that the hair colouring of Mammoths varied from reddish orange to a dark brown.  The Natural History Museum Woolly Mammoth model is depicted as a reddish brown coloured animal whereas other Mammoth models such as the new baby Mammoth model from Procon/Collecta is depicted with the more “traditional” dark brown colouration.

Woolly Mammoth Model Comparisons

Comparing Mammoths

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows the adult Woolly Mammoth model as created by the Natural History Museum in London, the colouration is distinctly reddish with darker hair on the crown of the head and along the back and part way down the flank (inset).  The model of the baby Mammoth from the Procon/Collecta prehistoric animal model series, is depicted with a dark brown colouration all over.  Note also the different interpretations of nail colour between the two replicas.

To view the Natural History Museum Model (part of a set) and dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models

19 06, 2009

Dinosaur Encounter – Bournemouth International Centre (BIC)

By | June 19th, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Dinosaur Encounter Exhibition in Bournemouth Summer 2009

Travel back in time to the Mesozoic and come face to face with giant dinosaurs, that is just one of the many Summer attractions being offered this season at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC), Bournemouth, Dorset.  Just a fossilised dinosaur bone’s throw from the Jurassic coast, come face to face with Tyrannosaurus rex and other famous dinosaurs with the Natural History Museum’s Dinosaur Encounter Exhibition.

Are you brave enough to meet the huge armoured Ankylosaurus with a 50 kilogramme club on the end of its tail ready to take a swing at you?  Or do you fancy yourself standing beneath the gaping jaws of a T. rex?  All this and more awaits the brave dinosaur hunters who venture into the BIC this Summer.

Dinosaurs continue to fascinate and amaze, in fact on average a new dinosaur species is named and described every six weeks, dare you enter their world and come face to face with these giant prehistoric creatures.  The BIC in association with the Natural History Museum and aided by team members at Everything Dinosaur are bringing the Jurassic and Cretaceous world’s to life with fossil encounters, activities, interactive exhibits, replicas and of course the dinosaurs themselves, many of which are animated (they move), thanks to the those clever robotic engineers at Kokoro.

Dinosaurs at the Seaside – Bournemouth

Picture Credit: BIC

Palaeontologists have put forward a theory that dinosaurs like Triceratops may have lived in coastal environments, so at least one huge dinosaur is going to feel at home on the south coast this Summer.

The Dinosaur Encounter Exhibition runs from Saturday July 11th until Friday 28th August, 160 million years of dinosaur evolution crammed into seven weeks, that’s not bad going!  The Solent hall at the BIC has never had such fearsome and awesome visitors and with the event opening at 10am each day (final entry 5pm), there has never been a better chance to get up close to dinosaurs and learn a little about these amazing creatures.

BIC ticket hot-line (UK) 0844 576 3000 (family concessions available).

For further details, log onto the Bournemouth International Centre’s website Dinosaur Encounter Exhibition

Travel back in time this Summer and come and see the dinosaurs, this exhibition is going to be a “roaring success”!

18 06, 2009

New Giant Parrot-Like Species of Dinosaur Discovered (New Species of Psittacosaurus)

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

New Species of Psittacosaurus Named and Described

Psittacosaurus may not be as well known as later Ceratopsians such as Triceratops (horned dinosaurs), but for this genus of dinosaur it has an important place in palaeontology, simply because it is the most species diverse of all the known dinosaur genera.

Now a new species of Psittacosaurus or “parrot lizard” has been named and described – Psittacosaurus gobiensis, making this, in our estimation the ninth type of Psittacosaur to be named and described to date.  Once regarded as an Ornithopod, Psittacosaurs are now believed to be a transitional form between Ornithopoda and the Ceratopsians, fossils of these particular dinosaurs are associated with Asia, most famously the Gobi desert region.  Although small by dinosaur standards, with the largest species a little over 2 metres long, the numerous fossils found to date have provided scientists with a wealth of data on the evolution and behaviour of these Cretaceous animals.

In recent years some remarkable fossils associated with this genus have been discovered.  For example, remains of a group of baby Psittacosaurs were found together, perhaps evidence of herding or flocking behaviour.

To read more about this discovery: Dinosaur Nursery Unearthed in China

Feathered Theropods are known from the fossil record, but another fossil specimen of a Psittacosaurus from Liaoning (China) indicates that these Ornithischians may have had feathers too, at least according to a Chinese scientific paper published recently in the journal Nature.

To read about feathered Psittacosaurs: Feathered Ornithopods upset the Scientific Apple Cart

An Illustration of a Feathered Psittacosaurus

Picture Credit: Nature

Psittacosaurus was named “parrot lizard” after its parrot-like beak, this little dinosaur was a low browser, perhaps adapted to feeding on the fruits and nuts of Angiosperms (flowering plants).  It had long hind legs and was capable of adopting a bipedal stance if required and some fossils indicate that it had long, quills running down its back and along its tail (as illustrated above).  Psittacosaurs are associated with the early to middle Cretaceous, P. gobiensis for example, has been dated to approximately 112 million years ago (Aptian faunal stage).

In a paper on this new type of dinosaur, P. gobiensis, this one metre long dinosaur, may have had a diet dominated by nuts and seeds and this specimen is associated with gastroliths (stomach stones) which may reinforce the high fibre diet theory.  The paper on this dinosaur has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

The P. gobiensis Skull Specimen compared to a Macaw

Comparing skulls

Picture Credit: Mike Hettwer

The picture shows the skull of P. gobiensis compared to a the skull of a modern parrot (Macaw).  Analysis of the skull of this new Psittacosaur indicates that this animal chewed its food in a similar way to parrots.

Professor Paul Sereno, from the University of Chicago commented:

“These and other features, along with the presence of numerous large stomach stones, suggest that Psittacosaurs may have had a high-fibre, nut eating diet”.

The short snout, just a third of the skull length was different to most dinosaurs, giving the skull its parrot-esque profile.

Professor Sereno went on to add:

“Psittacosaurs are all relatively small in body size, ranging from one to two metres in body length.  Their geographic range is limited to central Asia, and their temporal range may be as narrow as 10-20 million years in the mid Cretaceous”.

The head is rather square looking in profile, which along with the heavy beak makes the skull resemble a parrot’s .  There are no teeth in the front of the jaw but robust teeth further to the back of the jaws are blunt and designed for chopping and crushing.

17 06, 2009

Dinosaur Wall Murals – Ideas for a Dinosaur Themed Bedroom

By | June 17th, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|5 Comments

A Dinosaur Wall Mural

Just completed our testing programme and added to our product range, this wonderful and very colourful dinosaur mural.  Turn a child’s bedroom wall or part of a classroom into your own dinosaur theme park with this 3-D computer generated image of the world of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.

Dinosaur Wall Mural

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This wall mural is made up of 12 strips which can be assembled and stuck to the wall of a child’s bedroom or a school room to make your very own dinosaur “dino-rama”.  Although such a scene is entirely a fabrication of the designer, we love the way that all sorts of prehistoric animals from the Mesozoic have been put into the mural together.

Clearly this reconstruction is not accurate, firstly the animals featured are separated by millions of years of evolution and many of the genera depicted lived on different continents.  However, this picture and many reconstructions of prehistoric life seen in dinosaur books are merely representations of life and not actual depictions of genuine prehistoric environments.  Another reason why such busy-looking panoramas are not the equivalent of typical snapshots of a habitat is perhaps not so obvious as the other two reasons mentioned above.  In reality, it is most unlikely that so many different individuals of different species of large animals would be in the same area at exactly the same time.  If you talk to any wildlife photographer or speak with anyone involved in wildlife illustrations, artwork or even nature themed television programmes, they will tell you how unrepresentative such pictures are.  However, this is not the point; the mural nicely depicts a whole host of prehistoric animals in relatively accurate and natural poses.

The mural represents a sort of “pictorial palaeontological garden” and we are confident it will delight many dinosaur fans and enthusiasts.

To view the mural: Dinosaur Bedding and Bedroom Accessories

Putting aside the one or two inaccuracies, this dinosaur land mural is easy to put up and can cover a wall 10 feet wide by 8 feet tall (3.05 metres x 2.44 metres).  It can be easily trimmed (we found wallpaper scissors or robust kitchen scissors worked fine), so that it can fit any wall.  The special backing to the mural prevents any underlying wallpaper from being seen, so there is no need to strip off the existing wallpaper to fit this mural.  It requires adhesive to stick it to the wall, we found wallpaper paste worked well and as it was supplied in 12 strips it was very easy to handle and put up.

A Dinosaur Themed Bedroom

Dinosaur Themed Bedroom Mural

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

16 06, 2009

Welcome to our Office – We Wish

By | June 16th, 2009|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Welcome to our Office – We Wish

Lots of science weeks and school exercises at the moment, they are always fun (but hard work too).  We were invited to attend a “Dinosaur Day” at a school in the wonderful county of Cumbria yesterday.  Happy to meet all the young, enthusiastic and knowledgeable dinosaur fans, trouble was we had to get up at 4.30am to arrive in time to start the first session.

Long days and early starts are not too bad, especially this time of year with the light mornings.  We spent the day at the school, carrying out a range of activities for children aged 5 years to 11 years (KS1 and KS2).  By the end of the day we had covered a round trip of 298 miles, so we were very tired but some of the views of the Lake District that we had on our way to the school were awesome.

Not a Bad Place to Work – A View of the Lakes

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These early starts certainly have some compensations.  We stopped for a flask of coffee and sandwich and just relaxed for a while and enjoyed the view.  As well as being very beautiful and a favourite destination for walkers and bikers there is some amazing geology to see (and lots of fossils to collect), but that will be for another day, but we could not help ourselves when we saw a very inviting scree slope that we were very tempted to clamber up.

One thing for certain, we get the chance to visit some amazing places on behalf of our work for Everything Dinosaur.

15 06, 2009

Tadpoles – So far so Good

By | June 15th, 2009|Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Tadpoles in the Office Pond – So Far so Good

Pond watching during our breaks from working at Everything Dinosaur, is very much a favourite pastime of the staff.  It is pleasing to note that even though the pond was cleared out last Autumn, the removal of much of the pond weed and the disturbing of the bank side vegetation does not seem to have affected the wildlife at all.

The pond snails seem to be thriving, although we have counted more Ramshorn snails than Pond snails this year for the first time.  The invertebrate life seems to have flourished as well with the first of the Damsel flies emerging as winged adults over the last ten days or so.  They really are a joy to watch as they whirl and fly around the pond.  The tadpoles are much more visible than last year.  Despite having fewer places to hide they seem to be doing well also.  We have noted two distinct sizes of tadpole, although we know that they are from the same batch of frogspawn laid earlier this Spring.  The larger tadpoles are bigger overall and have proportionately larger heads.  We have speculated that some tadpoles may adopt a more predatory role in the pond compared to others and they are genetically predisposed to develop larger jaws as they attack and eat other pond animals.

We have read about this but we are not sure whether it is true, that in the Common frog (Rana temporaria), and perhaps in other genera, there is a tendency for some of the tadpoles to develop carnivorous habits and it is these animals that have the best chance of surviving and making it to the froglet stage.  Today, one of our colleagues reported they had seen one of these larger tadpoles with back legs, the first time that this has been observed.

Perhaps these larger, predatory tadpoles grow slightly faster on their protein rich diet and therefore complete the metamorphosis into frogs that much quicker.

14 06, 2009

Teaching Time Again

By | June 14th, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Time to go Teaching

Sunday morning and team members at Everything Dinosaur, are in the office sorting out teaching materials ready for another busy day carrying out dinosaur themed experiments and science themed course work with school children.  We have an early start tomorrow morning (5am), so it is even more important that we prepare all the teaching materials and resources today before we set off tomorrow for a trip to the Lake District and a school visit.

The school is holding a “Dino Day” and we are the guests of honour.  Well as a matter of fact, I think the pupils are rather looking forward to the fossil casting experiments and the work on the dinosaur trackway we have planned, than meeting up with one or two old fossils such as ourselves.  As qualified teachers with the backing and support of a number of Government led educational organisations, Everything Dinosaur gets involved in a lot of school work, supporting national curriculum activities at key stages 1, 2 and 3.  Having to contend with dinosaur fans at various ages from 4 years to 12 years can be a bit of a challenge in itself but with the innovative and enthusiastic approach from our staff we seem to manage this.

Tomorrow we are conducting a series of experiments, the morning session is dedicated to dinosaur digestion, linking in with school work associated with teeth and nutrition, with a sub-plot of food chains.  In the afternoon, we are turning “dinosaur detectives” and taking the slightly older children on a trip back in time to the early Jurassic to look at the evidence that a dinosaur trackway (trace fossil) can provide.

Dinosaur Detectives – Looking at Evidence and Interpretation

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This morning we intend sorting out what we need and in readiness for another 15 hour day.  Spending so long out of the office, we turn to the equipment we use on our fossil hunting expeditions, most importantly of all, the lunch boxes, and the thermos flask.  After all, we must be properly provisioned.

13 06, 2009

Dinosaur Museums Suffer in the US Recession

By | June 13th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|1 Comment

Dinosaur Museum in Wyoming Set to Close

It may be hard to believe as people queue to gain access to the Natural History Museum in London or wait excitedly to see the “Dinosaurs Live” stage tour, but not every museum or attraction associated with dinosaurs is doing well in the current recession.

The Natural History Museum in London has an hourly capacity of 10,000 visitors and in the Summer months, especially during the school holidays it regularly reaches this limit.  It can be so busy that sometimes visitors can not even get near the souvenir shop.  Nice to know that they can shop in comfort from their own home at Everything Dinosaur and still be assured that many of the items they buy from us help support the palaeontologists at the museum.

To visit our on-line shop:  Everything Dinosaur

However, not every dinosaur themed attraction is doing as well in the current difficult economic climate.  For example, the University of Wyoming Geological Museum, a museum based on the campus of Wyoming University is being forced to close down.  Budget  cuts of $18.3 million have been announced and the museum will be closed to visitors from the 1st of July.

Myron Allen the Wyoming University provost stated:

“It wasn’t a decision anyone wanted to make.  We didn’t like any of the least of the evils”.

Cuts in the annual University budget had to be made and unfortunately the axe has fallen on the museum with its many dinosaur fossils including a replica of “Big Al” a superbly preserved sub-adult Allosaurus (A. fragilis), a dinosaur which was the subject of a television documentary made by the BBC under the “Walking with Dinosaurs” franchise.

The “Big Al” Exhibit at the University Museum

Picture Credit: University of Wyoming

Wyoming is associated with a number of famous Mesozoic fossils, not just Allosaurs but also Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus and Camptosaurus to name but a few.  Of particular importance are those parts of the state with exposed elements of the Morrison Formation and areas such as Como Bluff.  A number of late Jurassic fossils are directly associated with this part of the USA.

Unfortunately, the Director of the Museum Brent Breithaupt and one part-time assistant will lose their jobs as a result of the closure.  The administration felt that cutting the $80,000 budget was the best action they could take to protect other areas of the University in these difficult economic times.

The fossils will remain in place but the visitor side of the operation will cease next month.  It is a shame to hear this news, we wish everyone affected by the decision whether an employee or a student studying courses at the University the very best of luck and here’s hoping that the museum will shortly be able to open again and put on public display its prehistoric animal fossils and exhibits.

A petition has been organised (thank you commentator), and we have signed it hoping that our viewpoint may in some small way help in saving this valuable teaching and educational resource.

To sign the petition to save the Dinosaur Museum In Wyoming visit the museum’s website.

12 06, 2009

Prehistoric Business Hopes Van will be a Roaring Success

By | June 12th, 2009|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur in the Local Paper

As a company run by parents, teachers and real dinosaur experts we tend to be regarded as quite unusual.  We certainly stand out amongst the other businesses in our area, a fact that has allowed Everything Dinosaur to gain a lot of publicity regarding our educational activities with schools and other organisations.

None of us would claim to be experts in the art of public relations, but PR does play an important part in our marketing communications mix.  Public Relations is concerned with the management of relationships between organisations and their stakeholders (publics), be they customers, financiers, suppliers and so on.

A typical example of PR for Everything Dinosaur is when we got our new van and wanted to put some signage on it to promote us.  Rather than opt for the more prosaic options, we ran a competition and the winning design incorporated the concept of the van being attacked by a dinosaur.  Certainly this design was very different from the run of the mill signage seen on other vehicles.

Our new “Dino-Van” was so eye-catching that the local paper sent a photographer round when the vehicle signage was unveiled.

The “Dino-Van” Article in the Local Paper

Picture and Story Credit: Middlewich Guardian

The picture shows one of our team members collecting the van keys from a member of the signage company that brought our concept of a van attacked by a dinosaur to life (Intent Signs).

The article states that Everything Dinosaur will be using the dino-design to inspire school children on science projects involving dinosaurs.

To quote the article:

“Even through a recession, innovative and hard-working local companies are bucking the current trend and being successful in these difficult times”.

Publicity is always useful, and although it takes a little time and effort to achieve the right results, we think it is very worthwhile.

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