All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//February
18 02, 2010

New Species of Sauropod as a Result of Excavation in Thailand

By | February 18th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Species of Late Jurassic Sauropod Unearthed in Thailand

The lush and extremely scenic south-east Asian country of Thailand may not be the first place that springs to mind when it comes to the discovery of Late Jurassic dinosaur fossils but ongoing excavations in the north-east of the country are revealing a surprising number of new dinosaur discoveries.

A team of scientists have announced that they have uncovered a new species of Sauropod (long-necked dinosaur), from a dig site in Kalasin province in the north-east of the country.  A number of recent dinosaur discoveries have been made in Thailand as more of the geology of this country is studied and explored.

Recently, we reported on the discovery of a Cretaceous Allosaurid, also from the north-east of the country, although from sediments some fifty million years younger than those from which the Sauropod bones were found.

To read more about the Allosaur from Thailand: Allosaurus fossils discovered in Thailand

French palaeontologist Dr. Eric Buffetaut and colleague Dr. Haiyan Tong have worked on a number of dig sites in this part of the country and they are confident that the fossilised bones recovered so far represent a new species of late Jurassic Sauropod.

Fossilised bones found at the site include a 1.5 metre long hipbone, a 1.2 metre long humerus, plus vertebrae and parts of the ribs.  The size and scale of the fossilised bones have led the researchers to believe that despite only having a fraction of the entire skeleton to work with this is a new, giant plant-eater.

Formal description and scientific study will have to wait until more fossils are discovered but the French-Thai team in previous papers published on Sauropod fossils from Thailand have suggested that many of their finds will prove to be close relatives found in rock formations of the same age in parts of China.  During the Late Jurassic, Thailand and China were biogeoraphically close, linked by land and with a similar climate and environment.

17 02, 2010

Dinosaur Demise leads to our Fat Feathered Friends

By | February 17th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Dinosaur Extinction Event led to Evolution of Flightless Birds

An abundance of food in conjunction with relatively few, large ground-dwelling predators led some types of bird to give up flying and take to a wholly terrestrial, flightless existence according to a team of Australian researchers.

In a new study into the origins of flightless birds such as Emus, Rheas, Moas and Ostriches led by Dr Matthew Phillips, an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University Research School of Biology, it seems that these birds became flightless independently and did not share a flightless common ancestor.  Surprisingly, the researchers, after examining the mitochondrial genome sequences of the now-extinct giant Moa birds of New Zealand; have suggested that these colossal  creatures are most closely related to small flying birds native to South America.

The team used assessments of the mitochondrial DNA of extant and extinct flightless birds, their study concluded that the ancestors of the African Ostrich, Australasian Emu plus the Cassowary, South American Rheas and New Zealand Moa became flightless independently, in close association with the extinction of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.

Commenting on the results from this new study, Dr. Phillips stated:

“Many of the world’s largest flightless birds, known as Ratites, were thought to have shared a common flightless ancestor.  We followed up on recent uncertainty surrounding this assumption.”

He went onto add:

“Our study suggests that the flighted ancestors of Ratites appear to have been ground-feeding birds that ran well.  So the extinction of the Dinosaurs likely lifted predation pressures that had previously selected for flight and its necessary constraint, small size.  Lifting of this pressure and more abundant foraging opportunities would then have selected for larger size and consequent loss of flight.”

The demise of the Dinosaurs, particularly the Theropod predators, ironically those Dinosaurs believed to be most closely related to birds, permitted the diversity of Aves, leading to the development of a number of flightless bird types.

When Sir Richard Owen, the founder of the Natural History Museum in London and the scientist credited with first coining the phrase “Dinosauria”, was photographed next to the giant bones of a Moa bird from New Zealand, he was not aware that the Dinosaur’s demise may have led to existence of such creatures.

Sir Richard Owen with the Leg Bones from an Extinct Moa

Picture Credit: The Natural History Museum

The finding of independent origins of flightlessness also solves a mystery of how these flightless birds dispersed across the world over marine barriers, their ancestors simply flew across them.

Dr. Phillips stated that previous research had indicated that Ratite birds were thought to be relics from the super-continent Gondwanaland, which consisted of South America, Australia, India, Africa, New Zealand and Antarctica, all elements of the southern hemisphere.  This new study suggests that separate Ratites evolved too recently to have had a common ancestor on Gondwanaland before the super-continent broke up. The study also reveals that today’s flightless birds may have had their origins in the northern hemisphere.

Dr. Phillips said:

“Not only have we shown that the separate Ratite lineages evolved too recently to have been on Gondwana before its continents drifted apart, but from our analyses we infer that at least Ostriches, and possibly Ratites as a whole, have their origins in the northern continents.”

The New Zealand Moa – Largest Bird in the Fossil Record

Picture Credit: Frans Lanting/National Geographic Stock

The research paper is published in the scientific journal “Sytematic Biology”, certainly there is something very intimidating when up close to birds like Ostriches as they tower over your head.  They have quizzical jerky movements and when they fix you with a stare it is quite frightening.  However, if you want to see evidence of how closely related birds are to Dinosaurs simply take a look at their feet.  The feet are very reminiscent of the feet of a Theropod Dinosaur and they are very reptilian in appearance.

16 02, 2010

Fossil Fun for all the Family with the BGS and Rockwatch

By | February 16th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

British Geological Survey and Rockwatch Fossil Fun Event

With the annual National Science week rapidly approaching (from 12th to 21st March), team members at Everything Dinosaur are busy preparing for all the activities they have planned.  This years theme is “Earth” and ties into the International Year of Biodiversity and there are lots of events planned around the country.

For example, the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Rockwatch (the club for young fossil fans and junior geologists) is holding a special family fossil fun day on Saturday March 20th.

The BGS and Rockwatch Family Fossil Day

Picture Credit: BGS

Numbers are limited for this fun day out, so best to book early to avoid disappointment.  The event is taking place at the BGS premises at Keyworth, Nottingham on Saturday 20th and the event opens at 10am.

To book visit: www.bgs.ac.uk or write to Katie Tietjen at the address at the bottom of the advert.

Here is your chance to peep into prehistory with the BGS fossil collection, see how earthquakes happen and to pan for gold.  Entry is free and young children must be accompanied by an adult (after all, why should the kids have all the fun), best to book early to avoid missing out.

15 02, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year – The Year of the Tiger

By | February 15th, 2010|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

The Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger

The Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the lunar spring year started yesterday (February 14th).  As the Chinese traditional calendar is influenced by both the Gregorian calendar and the lunar cycle, the new year can start anytime between late January and mid February.  However, yesterday with the new moon cycle we moved from the Chinese year of the Ox into the new year of the Tiger (Geng Yin).

This is the biggest holiday in the Chinese calendar involving families getting together, parades the exchange of gifts and of course lots of noisy and spectacular fireworks.  Naturally, our interest in Chinese calendars has more to do with production schedules in factories these days but as it is the year of the Tiger it is an opportune moment to remind ourselves that the commonly used term for a Smilodon – Sabre-Tooth Tiger is not accurate.

Sabre-Tooth cats are not  closely related to modern Tigers, although they are members of the cat family (Felidae).  Sabre-Toothed cats are members of a sub-family of cats called the Machairondontinae and the Smilodon genus had four species, although there is conjecture whether Smilodon californicus made famous by the fossil finds at La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, is a true species or a sub-species of Smilodon fatalis.

To view a Sabre Tooth cat model and dinosaurs: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

To view our cuddly soft toy Sabre-Tooth Cat and Dinosaur soft toys: Dinosaur Stuffed Animals and Soft Toys

Named by the German paleontologist Plieninger in 1846, the moniker of Sabre-Tooth Tiger seems to have become associated with Smilodon through films and television documentaries.  We still use the “Tiger” term ourselves from time to time, to help customers find what they are looking for on our website: Everything Dinosaur Homepage , however, this term is not scientifically correct.

Wishing you all a happy and lucky Chinese new year.

14 02, 2010

David Attenborough Life Stories

By | February 14th, 2010|Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Radio Reviews|0 Comments

David Attenborough Life Stories

A little present was waiting for us at the Everything Dinosaur offices this morning.  The complete set of David Attenborough’s radio 4 series “Life Stories”.  We had been able to listen to a number of these short, ten-minute monologues written and presented by Sir David Attenborough when they were first featured on radio 4 and subsequently repeated on radio 7.  Now we have all twenty on a set of CDs (running time over 3 hours).

Sir David Attenborough recounts some of the amazing things that he has witnessed in his fifty years of broadcasting.  He examines twenty natural wonders that he has encountered on his many years of travelling and documenting the incredible creatures and plants on our planet.  He covers a huge range of topics from the Coelacanth and Trilobites from North Africa, to birds nest soup and the use of eyebrows in human communication.

This is a fascinating listen and Sir David’s enthusiasm and knowledge really comes through in what was an excellently produced radio series.

13 02, 2010

Start of the Winter Olympics – Ice Age Scene

By | February 13th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Woolly Mammoths in the Tundra

Today marks the start of the first full day of sporting action at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games being held in Vancouver, Canada.  With all the skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey and such like being shown on the television over the next two weeks we thought we would post up a picture of an Ice Age scene.

The picture below was created by designers at the German model manufacturer Schleich to promote their prehistoric animal model ranges. It is sad to report that a number of models from this range have been retired this year.  The Cave Bear and Giant Ground Sloth (Megatherium) are no longer available.  However, the Mammoths and Smilodon are still in production and this scene is part of a longer montage which also depicted a Sabre Tooth Cat.

Prehistoric Mammals (Woolly Mammoths) from Schleich

Picture Credit: Schleich/Everything Dinosaur

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

The scene shows two adult Mammoths and a youngster in the snow with a background of high snow-capped mountains.

12 02, 2010

Everything Dinosaur Brings in New Papo Models

By | February 12th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Brings in New Papo Models

Everything Dinosaur, the UK based dinosaur company run by parents, teachers and real dinosaur experts is to bring in Papo models for the first time.  Announcing the addition of Papo prehistoric animal models to their already extensive model range, a spokesperson for the company commented on how they had admired the Papo models for a long time and that they were delighted to be able to stock them.

Papo, the France based model and figure manufacturer have been making specialist figures for more than a quarter of a century.  They specialise in producing highly detailed, historical figures, animals and characters from films.  The dinosaur range, or as the French would say “Dinosaures” includes four new models, a Plesiosaurus, Oviraptor, Pachyrhinosaurus and a new Velociraptor colouration.  Everything Dinosaur will be stocking all these products, although the Plesiosaurus will not be available until late Spring.

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

As well as the dinosaur figures, Papo produces a pair of finely detailed Stone Age people models, one with a stone hand axe, the other with a flint spear.

The Prehistoric Figures from Papo

Picture Credit: Papo/Everything Dinosaur

It is fitting for a French company to have two superb caveman models to add to their collection of dinosaur models, as France is famous for early modern human settlements and remains as well as many Neanderthal artefacts and fossilised bones.  Papo dinosaur models are highly collectible and very carefully painted.  These dinosaur and prehistoric animal figures are highly regarded by dinosaur fans of all ages.

11 02, 2010

DNA Offers Clues to Appearance of 4,000 Year Old Man

By | February 11th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Scientist use DNA from Hair to Produce Image of Neolithic Man

A team of scientists and researchers have decoded the DNA found in preserved human hair from a Stone Age man that lived in Western Greenland and have used this data to produce an image of his facial features.

The research team led by Morten Rasmussen of the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, analysed hair buried in the snow in Greenland.  The remarkable state of preservation enabled the scientists to map the genome and establish certain characteristics of this individual who lived 4,000 years ago.

The hair, from a male has enabled the researchers to produce an image of this human from ancient history – he is known as Saqqaq man, the name given to the Paleo-Eskimo culture and people whose remains and artefacts have been found in this region.  He has been nicknamed “Inuk” by the research team.

Say Hello to Saqqaq Man

Picture Credit: Nuka Godfredsen

The scientists believe that Saqqaq man had dark brown eyes, dark brown hair, wide teeth and dry earwax, similar to Mongoloid features seen in many Asian communities today.  The hair was found amongst other small items of debris and it has been speculated that the discovery site was the place that our Stone Age man decided to get his hair cut.  The swatch of hair was so thick when it was first discovered it was labelled as hair from a bear and not investigated any further.

This discovery also sheds new light on the settlement of North America by showing there was a hitherto unsuspected migration of people across the continent, from Siberia to Greenland, some 5,500 years ago.

This Stone Age Greenlander and his genome has helped to establish that he was related to the Chukchis, people who live at the easternmost tip of Siberia.  Saqqaq man’s ancestors split apart from Chukchis some 5,500 years ago, according to genetic calculations, implying that the Saqqaq people’s ancestors must have travelled across the northern edges of North America until they reached Greenland.

No traces of the Saqqaq people have been found to date in North America, during this time, the very end of the Neolithic, there was no land bridge between Siberia and Alaska, but the Saqqaq people may have crossed into the Americas travelling over the winter sea ice.

The Saqqaq man’s genome is so complete that the Danish researchers have been able to reconstruct his probable appearance and susceptibility to disease from the genetic information in his genome. They conclude that he would have had brown eyes because of variations, at four positions along his DNA, that are associated with brown eye colour in East Asians.

He has the East Asian version of a gene known as EDAR, which endows people with hair that is thicker than that of most Europeans and Africans. Another gene suggests that he would have had dry earwax, as do Asians and Native Americans, not the wet earwax of other ethnic groups.  Ironically, since this person has been recreated using strands of hair, one element of the genome recovered hints that this man may have been prone to baldness in later life.

10 02, 2010

Dinosaurs on the Run from Dinosaur City (Thousands of Chinese Tracks)

By | February 10th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Evidence of Dinosaur Trackways from China – Thousands of Prints

China’s eastern Shandong province, has provided a number of spectacular dinosaur fossils since formal scientific exploration and study began in the area in the late 1960’s. Most of the dinosaur discoveries have been centred around the city of Zhucheng.  Over the years a number of Cretaceous dinosaurs, many of them entirely new genera have been discovered.  However, official Chinese media has reported the discovery of not just body fossils (bones etc.), but a series of dinosaur trackways, (trace fossils), over 3,000 dinosaur prints in total.

Body fossils such as dinosaur bones, can be transported a long way from the area in which the animal lived and died.  For example, a dinosaur that died inland could be washed into a river as the result of a flash flood and the carcase carried out to sea, where eventually it sank.  This could result in the preservation and fossilisation of a land living animal in marine deposits, as in the case of the Dorset (England), Scelidosaurus.  Trace fossils on the other hand, preserve evidence of the activity of animals, their tracks, trails, burrows all being preserved as part of the fossil record.  Most trace fossils are direct, in situ evidence of the behaviour and the environment of the animal at the time the trace was made.  The 3,000 prints provide evidence of the time and the place where the dinosaurs roamed.

It is not the volume of prints that is most amazing, although this an exceptional number and represents a hugely significant find in itself, but the fact that at least six genera are represented by the tracks and that all the dinosaurs seemed to heading in the same direction.  Could all the plant-eaters have been running away from the Theropods (meat-eaters that left their tracks to)?  Or could this be evidence of a dinosaur migration?

Migration events are common in extant species.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur have witnessed such astonishing events in the natural world as the immense Gnu migration in Kenya, as huge herds of these grazers migrate in search of fresh pasture.  Reindeer in the northern hemisphere migrate enormous distances, following the Reindeer are the predators (Wolves) ready to pick off the weak and vulnerable animals that get left behind.

The dinosaur footprints include those of large meat-eaters, a spokesperson for the Chinese excavation team speculated that they could be Tyrannosaurs, as these types of large, carnivorous dinosaur are known from similarly aged rocks in the region.

Taking a Walk around “Dinosaur City”

Picture Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Zhucheng has been nicknamed “Dinosaur City” as more than 30 excavations have taken place in and around the city to date.  In 2008, the largest single dinosaur fossil location in the world was discovered in the area, with something in excess of 7,000 individual dinosaur fossil bones at this one locality.  The picture shows a Chinese researcher carefully walking over part of the fossiliferous site, in the foreground a number of bones are exposed, each marked with a white identity tag.

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have been working to map the trackway site, the first study of the trackways took over three months to complete.  The prints vary in size from ten to eighty centimetres in length, further work will be undertaken to ascertain the speed of travel and to assess why all these animals moved in the same direction.  It is expected that the site will yield a number of new exciting discoveries and provide palaeontologists with a rare opportunity to study interrelationships between different elements of the environment’s mega fauna.

Zhucheng the “Dinosaur City” even has a dinosaur genus named after it, Zhuchengosaurus (Z. maximus), an enormous Late Cretaceous Hadrosaurine (duck-billed dinosaur).  This colossal animal, is the largest known Ornithopod in the fossil record.  Although, the only reconstructed skeleton is a composite mount (made up of parts from several individuals), the mounted dinosaur has a length of 16.6 metres and a height of 9.1 metres, although the posture that this duck-billed dinosaur has been displayed in (very upright and bipedal) has been questioned.  The small forelimbs, reminiscent of Mantellisaurus indicate that Zhuchengosaurus was very probably a facultative biped.

9 02, 2010

The Lizard from Edmonton – Edmontosaurus

By | February 9th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

The Lizard from Edmonton – Edmontosaurus

A few days ago, team members at Everything Dinosaur received an email from a young dinosaur fan, asking how Edmontosaurus got its name.  This Ornithopod, a member of the Hadrosauridae family, (duck-billed dinosaur), was named and described by the Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe in 1917.  Lambe was responsible for the study of a number of North American dinosaurs that were discovered in the early years of the 20th Century.  Fossils of this particular dinosaur genus have been found in Alberta (Canada) and the United States (Montana and Wyoming).

Edmontosaurus was one of the last of the duck-billed dinosaurs, living at the very end of the Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago) – Maastrichtian faunal stage.

An Illustration of Edmontosaurus (Edmontosaurus regalis)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Edmontosaurus is known from many fossilised skeletons.  It must have been one of the most abundant of the large, herbivorous dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous and a number of species have been ascribed to this genus.  These large animals that could grow to lengths of 13 metres and weigh as much as 4 tonnes, were the prey of the large Tyrannosaurs.  A number of fossilised skeletons show signs of attacks from predators, including one specimen with a chunk bitten out of its tail.  This flat-headed Hadrosaur was not named after the Canadian city of Edmonton, although fossils assoiciated with this genus are known from Edmonton and its suburbs.  Edmontosaurus was named after the “Edmonton” Formation, the rock unit in which it was first found.  The “Edmonton” Formation has subsequently been elevated to “Group” status by geologists and consists of four geological formations namely, (oldest first) Horseshoe Canyon, Whitemud, Battle and the Scollard Formation which contains evidence to make the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary.  Edmontosaurus fossils (E. regalis) are associated with the Horseshoe Canyon Formation.

Load More Posts