All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
10 09, 2009

Apatosaurus Model from Schleich of Germany

By | September 10th, 2009|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

New Apatosaurus Model (Schleich Saurus)

The new Apatosaurus replica model from Schleich of Germany is an update on an earlier Diplodocid model produced by this German model company.  These large, 1:40 scale Schleich Apatosaurus models show subtle differences, reflecting the increased knowledge scientists have with regards to the Apatosaurus genus.  For example, the previous model (Schleich Saurus model 16409), had the tail dragging along the ground.  In the updated version, the tail is held aloft, stretching out behind the animal.  The neck of the newest model is more muscular and the head a better representation of known Diplodocid skull material.

Interestingly, the new model (Schleich Saurus model number 16462) is slightly larger than its predecessor, being more than 2 cm longer and nearly 3 cm taller when the height of the head is measured.  The dimensions have changed despite being designed to be in the same scale.

An Illustration Showing the Old and New Schleich Saurus Apatosaurus Models

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The older Saurus model is on the left of the picture, whilst on the right the latest interpretation of an Apatosaurus is depicted.  It is interesting to note that with the newest model, the colouring has reverted back to an elephant-grey colour scheme, again a reflection upon current scientific thinking.  The paint work on both models is very good, but subtle changes such as the darker nails on the feet of the latest Schleich replica adds a degree of authenticity to the latest model.

To view the new Apatosaurus from Schleich: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

9 09, 2009

Aussie Dinosaur in the Nude

By | September 9th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Muttaburrasaurus Skeleton used in Nude Calendar

It seems that after a group of WI ladies in Britain decided to raise money for charity by posing for a slightly risqué calendar a few years ago, the idea of a bit of local nudity in aid of a good cause has caught on.  Even a dinosaur, a Muttaburrasaurus to be precise, has got in on the act.

The locals in the tiny town of Muttaburra in Queensland (Australia), decided to produce their own nude calendar featuring the town residents.  This is a project developed by Muttaburra’s Community Development Association (CDA) with the aim of raising money for an ambulance defibrillator and for the local school.

Muttaburra is famous for the Muttaburrasaurus dinosaur that was discovered in the area.  It is the most complete fossilised dinosaur found in Australia.  Muttaburrasaurus was an Iguanodontid with an estimated length of 7 metres or more, it lived during the early Cretaceous.

Kerry Robinson, secretary of the CDA says that she had no problems persuading people to take their clothes off for the calendar and some interesting props were used, including the Muttaburrasaurus.

Ms Robinson commented:

“The man who found the dinosaur posed at the dinosaur with his wife.”

Dinosaurs and fossils generally do get used in some fascinating projects, and this was for a good cause.  At least the dinosaur is unlikely to complain as this particular type of Ornithopod has been extinct for something like 100 million years.

8 09, 2009

Evidence of Homo sapiens using fibres to weave Clothes and Rope

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

Cave in Georgia Reveals Evidence of Prehistoric Flax Fibres

An analysis of clay layers by scientists in a cave in Georgia revealed evidence of microscopic fibres of wild flax, signs of our ancestors use of flax to make clothing and ropes.

A team of archaeologists have published research in the scientific journal “Science” indicating that 34,000 years ago our ancestors were using wild flax to make clothing and to weave rope and string.   A team funded by the United States found the flax fibres by chance as they microscopically studied clay sediments in the cave.  The fibres are the earliest known, the humans inhabiting the cave probably turned the fibres into linen and thread.  Warm clothing would have helped our ancestors cope with the cold environment and the ability to make rope and string would have added their ability to tie packs and break camp helping them to be more mobile in their quest for food.

The researchers claim that these ancient fibres, some of which have been twisted, indicating that they were being used to make ropes or string, would have increased the survival chances of these ancient people.

Professor of Archaeology at Harvard University, Ofer Bar-Yosef and co-leader of the research team stated:

“We know that this is wild flax that grew in the vicinity of the cave and was exploited intensively or extensively by modern humans.  This was a critical invention for early humans.  They might have used this fibre to create parts of clothing, ropes, or baskets for items that were mainly used for domestic activities”.

Some of the tiny, microscopic fibres, show evidence of being dyed, these were perhaps part of clothing that has long since rotted away.  Once the fibres had been discovered the soil samples that contained them were dated using radio carbon techniques.  This study was undertaken by the Palaeobiology department of the National Museum of Georgia.  The fibre samples pre-date the previously earliest known fibres found by 6,000 years.  Prior to this new discovery, the oldest fibres known were recovered from a site in the Czech Republic, from an analysis of the remains of clay objects found inside a cave.

The American backed team have been exploring the cave system at the site in Georgia for more than 10 years returning for a few weeks each year so that they can build up a comprehensive database on the lives and habits of our ancestors.  The team hope to return to the caves next year in a bid to find evidence of even older fibres in the clay sediments.

7 09, 2009

Explaining Away Brontosaurus

By | September 7th, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Explaining about Brontosaurus

Yesterday and another trade fair as our buyer goes round selecting items that can go into our testing programme for launch in 2010.  Lots of new things to see and discuss with those manufacturers that we work with and some new companies to talk to as well.

One of the common problems that we encounter when we work with a new firm is that if they have a long-necked dinosaur based product in their range, it inevitably gets called a “Brontosaurus”.   Our experts patiently explain the problem with this particular dinosaur genus, it simply does not exist anymore.  It is no longer valid.  This animal is now known as Apatosaurus.

The famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh described and named Apatosaurus in 1877 from fossils found near the town of Morrison in Colorado, USA. Two years later, bones of what was thought to be another dinosaur were found at a quarry at Como Bluff, Wyoming.  This animal was described and named as Brontosaurus “Thunder Lizard” by Marsh.  As more skeletons were found, scientists realised that these two dinosaurs were actually the same genus, and since Apatosaurus was described first, the name Brontosaurus had to be disregarded.  However, in 1905 when the world’s first long-necked dinosaur skeleton went on display at the American Museum of Natural History it was wrongly labelled as Brontosaurus.  Thanks to this and many Hollywood films, the name Brontosaurus seems to have stuck in people’s imaginations and for many years “Thunder Lizard” was one of the best-known dinosaurs.  The name change was officially ratified in 1974, it seems that manufacturing has yet to catch up.

Our dinosaur experts do their best to explain the difficulties we have with the “Thunder Lizard” name.  Ironically, a number of new genera and species of Sauropod have been recently discovered.  Although the Ornithopods such as the Hadrosaurs and Iguanodontids were probably more numerous, it seems that these long-necked dinosaurs were far more common in the Cretaceous than previously thought.

6 09, 2009

New Schleich Dinosaur Models Available

By | September 6th, 2009|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

New Schleich Saurus Models Launched

Schleich of Germany have been opting to upgrade and re-model some of the existing prehistoric animals in their Saurus model range rather than focus on new introductions.  Recently, the company introduced a new version of Spinosaurus and Allosaurus, this years focus has been placed more on the herbivores however, with 2009 seeing the launch of the new Saichania (armoured dinosaur) and a new version of Apatosaurus.

Joining these two dinosaurs is a new model of Quetzalcoatlus the huge Pterosaur from the late Cretaceous.  We are aware of new introductions being planned for 2010 but for the moment, we are happy to see new and improved models of some old favourites being added to the Schleich dinosaur models range.

The new Schleich Dinosaur Models (scale models)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Schleich dinosaur toys including the new models: Dinosaur Toys and Dinosaur Models

5 09, 2009

Tyrannosaurus rex under the Hammer

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

Tyrannosaurus rex – A Mounted Skeleton up for Auction

Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animal fossils used to be associated with just one type of hammer, a geological hammer, one of the many types of tools palaeontologists use to help extract these precious items from their matrix (the surrounding rock).  However, dinosaurs and other very special fossils are also becoming associated with another type of hammer – the auctioneers gavel.

Museums and wealthy private individuals will be bidding for their very own T. rex exhibit as a fully mounted museum specimen goes under the hammer in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The fossil is being put up for sale by the private owner and the auctioneers, Bonhams & Butterfields hope that this particular lot will sell for over $6 million USD.

The 170 bones were discovered nearly twenty years ago in South Dakota, and represent more than half the skeleton of a 13 metre long adult Tyrannosaurus.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur are unsure as to which specimen is being sold but we suspect it is the “Z-rex” discovered and excavated between 1987 and 1992 which as far as we knew was in the hands of a private collector based in Kansas.  According to our records about 40% of the skeleton had been recovered including most importantly of all, skull material.

To read an article about an earlier T. rex sale: What to get the person who has everything?

A number of other important dinosaur fossils and prehistoric animal exhibits have been sold at auction in the last few years, although the economic downturn has affected the prices paid for such items.

To read about the auction of a Triceratops: Going, going, gone Triceratops finds a Buyer

The most famous Tyrannosaurus rex, the fossilised skeleton of the dinosaur called “Sue” was sold by Sotheby’s for $8.36 million USD on October 27th 1997.  The auctioneers are hoping that this specimen will fetch a similar amount.

The Tyrannosaurus has been nicknamed “Samson”, indicating that it was a male but to the best of our knowledge no scientific paper confirming the possibility of this being a male has been published.  The auctioneers claim that this is a female, but we have not seen evidence to substantiate this claim.  Also, this animal has never been put on public display.  The auction is to take place on October 3rd and the specimen will be available for viewing.  It has already been mounted on a metal framework so in theory it could go straight into the display collection for a major museum.

How Most People View A Tyrannosaurus rex Exhibit

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The T. rex in the picture is the gallery exhibit at the Manchester Museum it is the cast of “Stan”, the T. rex discovered in 1992 (museum specimen code STAN-BHI3033), also found in South Dakota.  The cast cost £100,000 GBP to purchase.

Tom Lindgren, a natural history specialist for Bonhams & Butterfields, commented: “Samson is the third most complete T. rex skeleton ever discovered, and one of only 42 specimens discovered in the last 100 years with more than 10% of the bones”.

Calling the T. rex fossil the “pinnacle of palaeontology” Lindgren expects a lot of interest in this particular auction.

He went onto add:

“Most of the major museums in the world have casts of T. rexes,” as opposed to the real thing.  Bidding on this T. rex is not going to be a gamble, it’s going to be the opportunity of a lifetime to whoever gets it”.

The T. rex is one of forty or so museum quality specimens going in the auction, other exhibits include a Hadrosaur and a prehistoric shark.  Mr Lindgren commented that he hoped the specimens would go to public institutions so that they could be studied and eventually put on public display.  We certainly echo his words, it would be a terrible shame for any of these rare and precious items to end up in the hands of a wealthy private collector and the opportunity to see them and study them lost.

Lindgren said most of the dinosaur’s bones have been stored in a warehouse and have never been on exhibit privately or publicly. He would not say how much its current owner invested in it, but said it is more than the $6 million to $8 million he estimates it will sell for.  Along with the mounted skeleton there are several elements from the original dig site that have not yet been fully prepared, so more of the fossil bones could eventually be cleaned and available for study.

Let’s hope that the exhibits all find nice homes in public institutions.

4 09, 2009

Hunting Nessie in the Clouds

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

Loch Ness Monster Sighting up in the Air

Another early morning for team members at Everything Dinosaur.  One of our staff had a very early start, going off for a series of meetings to help plan for 2010 and such like.  However, not wanting this person to feel lonely in the warehouse when they clocked in this morning, I was there to make the tea and check what we needed to get done today.

My intention was to finish the review of the new Bullyland Pachycephalosaurus model that has just been introduced.  We are writing an article for an ezine website and I wanted to complete this today so that I would not have to worry about it over the weekend.

To view the new Pachycephalosaurus model and other dinosaurs: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models

However, whilst outside the front of the warehouse, in the early morning light we noticed a strange and bizarre looking cloud formation in the sky.  The wind was quite strong, and the cloud was breaking up as it sped on by but we remarked how it resembled the classic image of the Loch Ness Monster.  Nessie, as rumour has it is believed to be a large, hump-backed creature, a resident of that famous Scottish loch.  Many sightings, photographs and even moving images of strange goings on at Loch Ness have been taken over the years and some observers think they saw a marine reptile, a Plesiosaur.

Spotting Nessie in the Clouds

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our picture shows a strange cloud formation, a head facing to the left followed by two distinct humps, a sort of camel shaped cloud in the sky.  This formation reminded us of the pictures and illustrations of Nessie the famous Loch Ness Monster.  We are very sceptical regarding the existence of a large animal unknown to science living in such a body of water, however, there are a number of large lakes around the world associated with monsters and other stories.  Much as we would love someone to discover a Plesiosaur or indeed any type of marine reptile (Pliosaur, Mosasaur, Ichthyosaur we really are not fussy), it is highly unlikely there is a Mesozoic monster swimming around Loch Ness.

However, we can dream and the discovery of the Coelacanth plus the Megamouth shark are examples of some of the surprises Mother Nature can come up with.  One of the explanations given by scientists for people mistaking upturned boats, or logs floating in the water for prehistoric monsters is that with all the images and drawings of Nessie that have been seen, people “superimpose” the animal’s image onto everyday objects seen at unusual angles or at distance on the water.  If observers are aware that the Loch Ness Monster has a long neck and humps along its body, then this is what they conveniently see when looking at strange objects.  This phenomenon has been tested on numerous occasions, I remember reading a report about a bus load of tourists who were visiting Loch Ness and subjected to a trick, whereby at a given signal a plank of wood was raised from the lake bed and quickly sunk again.  The surprised tourists were then asked to draw and describe what they saw.  This inanimate object, a bare piece of timber suddenly sprouted humps and had a pair of eyes, plus a definite mouth as described by the puzzled onlookers.

Still, the Loch Ness Monster is great for tourists.  Despite all logical argument that disassociates this particular stretch of water with any connection with extinct marine reptiles, I am happy to admit, that if told to row across this forbidding Loch in a small boat I would be a little scared.

Guess we will have to stick to spotting Plesiosaurs in the sky.

Ironically, I was in the warehouse early to complete the article on the Bullyland Pachycephalosaurus, this German company does produce a model of Plesiosaur in their Museum Line range.  They have a model of an Elasmosaurus, a late Cretaceous Plesiosaur.

The Elasmosaurus Model from Bullyland of Germany

Elasmosaurus model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Bullyland Museum Line Elasmosaurus and dinosaurs: Dinosaur Models for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Toys

3 09, 2009

Why Girls are Afraid of Spiders – It’s in their Genes

By | September 3rd, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|2 Comments

Research Indicates that Females are Genetically Programmed to Fear Spiders

An article published in the New Scientist magazine has caused a bit of stir and certainly divided our office as we weigh up the implications of its conclusions.   A team of psychologists from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, carried out a study amongst children under a year old to test any built-in emotions and responses they may have had to pictures of Arachnids.

The researchers have concluded that females associate spiders with fear more than males of a similar age, the boys seemed to react with a considerable degree of indifference.

Dr. David Rakison and his team tested ten girls and ten boys, all aged 11-months showing them pictures of spiders to see how they would respond.  Dr. Rakison showed the study group images of a spider next to a frightened cartoon face and a spider next to happy cartoon face.

The team’s report, the basis of the New Scientist article, concludes that the girls examined the picture containing the happy face for longer than the picture of the scared face.  However, the boys in the test group looked at both images for an equal amount of time.  The researchers have concluded that the girls found the happy face associated with the spider puzzling as they were expecting to see a spider associated with a frightened expression.

Although the subject group is very small (a sample of 20 children), the psychologists have proposed that their results show that girls have a genetic predisposition to fear and loathe spiders in contrast with the boys who remain indifferent.

Writing in the scientific journal – Evolution and Human Behaviour, Dr. Rakison stated:

“The experiments show that female 11-month-olds – but not males of the same age – learn the relation between a negative facial expression and fear-relevant stimuli such as snakes and spiders”.

A number of explanations have been put forward to explain these results.  For example, could the difference in attitude towards creepy-crawlies be explained by the roles adopted by our ancestors.  Females were gatherers, working in groups with the children present to gather food, whilst the males were out hunting, with the chance that few children and other vulnerable tribe members would be involved with such an activity.

Women had to be wary of such creatures, whereas men used more risky behaviour in order to ensure a successful hunt.  Having seen some pretty impressive invertebrates on our travels, creatures such as giant millipedes, tarantulas and orb spiders, the boys in the office remain divided whether they are any braver than the girls.  However, with the Autumn weather now descending upon us (what Summer?), we do agree that when it comes to rescuing wolf spiders it is the guys who usually have to step in.

Personally, spiders don’t bother me too much, having had a few big ones creep over me in various parts of the world, they can be a little frightening, but I always think that the spider is more likely to be far more afraid of me than I am of it.  Still it is nice to act all chivalrous and brave and protect the fairer sex from the little beasties.

Snakes on the other hand…

2 09, 2009

African and American Brachiosaurs had a Chinese Cousin

By | September 2nd, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Brachiosaurus had a Chinese Cousin

Brachiosaurus is one of the most popular of all the long-necked Sauropods.  Most children have at least one “arm lizard” in their dinosaur collection, however, the Brachiosaurs and the genus which was named and described formerly over one hundred years ago are still very capable of springing a surprise or two.  For example, a type of Brachiosaurus has been discovered in China, the first dinosaur of this type ever to be discovered in that country.

In a paper published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology, the Chinese researchers describe the fossilised remains of a member of the Brachiosauridae family.  The fossils were found in the Yujingzi Basin in north-western Gansu Province, in strata dated to the mid Cretaceous, approximately 100 million years ago.  The Chinese team comment on the notion that many palaeontologists believe that the Sauropods went into relative decline during the Cretaceous, after their heyday in the Jurassic with the Ornithopods becoming more diverse and numerous.  However, a number of new Sauropod species have been discovered in Cretaceous sediments, so perhaps this particular type of dinosaur was more common in the Cretaceous than previously thought.

The animal has been named Qiaowanlong kangxii (we think the name is pronounced something like chi-oh-wan-long kang-zee), it was relatively small for a Brachiosaur with an estimated length of 12 metres, standing 3 metres tall and weighing perhaps as much as a bull African elephant.  The name refers to the Qing Dynasty emperor called Kangxi but also includes the Chinese for “bridge”, “bend in a stream” and “dragon” references to the fossil site and a dream the emperor is supposed to have had.

The fossils were discovered in 2007 and consist of some articulated cervical vertebrae (neck bones) plus elements of the right pelvic girdle.  The fossils have been associated with the late Brachiosaurid Sauroposeidon (Sauroposeidon proteles) whose fossils are known from Oklahoma in the USA.

An Illustration of a Typical  Brachiosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Two of the main researchers, Hai-Lu You of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing and Da-Qing Li of Gansu Provincial Bureau of Geo-exploration and Mineral Development have identified the fossil remains  as a new genus and species of this group of “arm lizards”.

It is hoped that this research along with other dinosaur discoveries will help scientists to piece together the ancient environment of Laurasia during the mid Cretaceous, when sea levels were rising and the continents were beginning to break up.  Clearly however, Brachiosaurs, which are believed to have originated in Africa or North America were able to migrate across land bridges into Asia during this time.  Similar work is being carried out with scientists working in remote parts of Angola to determine what the fossils found in those deposits can tell us about the opening up of the Atlantic.

To read more about the work in Angola: Angola Starts to Give up Its Dinosaur Secrets

The Chinese Team Working on the Excavation

Digging up a Brachiosaurid

Picture Credit: Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences

The Chinese team are confident that more dinosaur specimens will be discovered in the area and that they will help provide data on the geographic distribution of different types of prehistoric animal.

1 09, 2009

Angola Starts to Share Its Fossil Secrets

By | September 1st, 2009|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Angola the Final Fossil Frontier

Many remote and previously inaccessible locations around the world are slowly but surely being explored by scientists such as geologists and palaeontologists.  Geologists are often looking for new reserves of fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil.  Palaeontologists are on the look out for fossils that can help them piece together the story of life on Earth.

One such area being opened up and explored by scientists is Angola, after 30 years of civil war, the country is now stable enough to permit expeditions by various museums to some of the more inaccessible and difficult parts of that country’s terrain.

Those scientists who have the opportunity to explore this huge country that borders the Atlantic ocean to the west are not leaving disappointed.  The Cretaceous geology is providing them with an insight into marine life and also an opportunity to study the diversification of fauna after Africa began to split from South America (the break up of Gondwanaland).

Louis Jacobs, of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, claims that this former Portuguese colony is “the final frontier for palaeontology”, he went on to state that in some parts of the country; “there are literally fossils sticking out of the rocks, it is like a museum in the ground”.

Such comments are intriguing many palaeontologists who are keen to learn more about the unique geology of this part of Africa and perhaps to assist with the discovery of new species of prehistoric animal.  A project to co-ordinate the exploration of some of the more remote parts of the country – “PaleoAngola” has run for several years.  One of this project’s biggest finds occurred in 2005, when five bones from the front left leg of a large Sauropod dinosaur were found sticking out of a cliff at Iembe, around 40 miles to the north of the country’s capital and major city, Luanda.

Angola may be more famously associated with diamond mining than dinosaurs, but scientists expect that future excavations will uncover more dinosaur fossil remains, many of them species that are new to science.  During much of the Cretaceous, this area was part of a warm, shallow sea.  It teemed with life and fossils of marine turtles, Plesiosaurs and Mosasaurs have all be found in Angola.  A genus of Mosasaur has even been named after the country (Angolasaurus).

Angola – Fossils just Awaiting Discovery

Picture Credit: AFP/Anne Schulp

According to Dr. Octavio Mateus, (New Lisbon University), the fossilised bones of these sea creatures and the Sauropod are just the beginning.

He went onto state:

“We believe there are more dinosaurs to be found, we just need the facilities and means to dig for them.  Angola is amazing for fossils.  Some of the places here are the best in the world in terms of fossil [remains], we keep finding new animals so it is always exciting to be here”.

Dr. Mateus and his colleagues are confident that fossils from Angola will help scientists to understand the processes that took place as the super-continent of Gondwanaland began to break up in the middle of the Mesozoic.  The Atlantic Ocean had first begun to open in the Jurassic period.  This process continued into the Cretaceous, indeed the Atlantic still continues to widen today, at about the same speed as your finger nails grow.  The newly formed Atlantic connected with the western part of the ancient Tethys Ocean, whilst at the same time the eastern end of the Tethys began to close.  During the Cretaceous, animals could still migrate across countries such as Angola and reach South America, later in the Cretaceous these land bridges were flooded and animals (also plants) were isolated from each other.

By studying the fossils and geology of Angola, scientists hope to find fossils that can help them plot and trace the emergence of the Atlantic Ocean and its impact on global flora and fauna.

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