All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//April
20 04, 2010

Hard-Headed Dinosaur from Texas – New Genus of Pachycephalosaur

By | April 20th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Texacephale langstoni – New Genus of Pachycephalosaur Announced

The scene, the Late Cretaceous of the southern United States around 75 million years ago, a large herd of Ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs) are migrating across a flood plain.  These huge herbivores kick up dust clouds as they lumber along and hidden in the dust the casual observer can get a glimpse of a small, bipedal dinosaur that darts in and out of the herd, stopping occasionally to pick at some flowers with its delicate beak, whilst all the time keeping a careful look out for predators.

This is the picture that emerges following the discovery of the skull cap of a new genus of Pachycephalosaur (bone-headed dinosaur) by a palaeontologist on a working holiday in the Big Bend area of Texas.

The Pachycephalosaurids were among the very last of the dinosaurs to evolve and flourish.  Earlier forms of these bone-headed Ornithopods were no bigger than cats, but by the end of the Cretaceous some species have been estimated to have reached lengths in excess of 8 metres.  Little is known about these bizarre, bipedal herbivores with their huge, thick skulls, many of which were covered in ornamental lumps and bumps.  Few articulated fossils are known, however, the thick skull material has a relatively high preservation potential and a number of genera have been described based on skull remains.

Ironically, much of what we do know about these Late Cretaceous dinosaurs comes from excellent fossil material found in Alberta, Canada, close to where the Royal Tyrrell Museum is situated and it was a scientist from that museum on a working holiday in Texas that found evidence of a dog-sized Pachycephalosaur amongst a bone bed of Ceratopsian dinosaurs.

Darren Tanke of the Royal Tyrrell Museum spotted an unusual rock amongst the bone bed debris whilst on a busman’s holiday to the Big Bend excavation site.  A second skull cap or dome was found at the site later.  The skull bones represent a new genus of small, Pachycephalosaur, it has been formerly named and described – Texacephale langstoni.

Scientists have long puzzled over why these animals had such thick skulls, for example, Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, one of the largest genera had a skull that was over 20 cm thick.  The thick skull was not there to protect a large brain, the brains of these particular dinosaurs are no bigger than other Ornithopods.  It has been suggested that the reinforced skulls helped these animals in butting contests to sort out social status and rank amongst the herd.  Some scientists believe that these animals head-butted each other like rams during the mating season, whilst others suggest that flank-butting and pushing matches may have been the order of the day.

Texacephale Squares up to a Rival

Picture Credit: Nicholas Longrich/Yale University

Commenting on his discovery Darren Tanke stated:

“Whilst I was wandering around the horned dinosaur bone bed, I happened to look down and there was this odd-shaped rock sitting on the ground.  I just instinctively picked it up and when I turned it over I could see the impression of a brain-case on the underside.”

The Thick Skull of a Texacephale Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Nicholas Longrich/Yale University

The diagram above shows two views of the skull cap or dome.  The top picture shows the skull as viewed from above (dorsal view), the picture below is a view from the side (lateral view).  The skull has been described as “peach sized” indicating an animal about 1 metre long.

This discovery will help researchers to understand more about the fauna of the Big Bend region of Texas during the Late Cretaceous, to date many of the dinosaur fossils found in this area tend to be very poorly preserved.  The robust skull bones of Pachycephalosaurs as they are so thick, can survive the preservation process quite well and resist weathering once they are exposed on the surface.  A paper on the new genus of Pachycephalosaur has been published in the April edition of the scientific journal “Cretaceous Research”.  The lead author is Nicholas Longrich of Yale University.

An Illustration of a Pachycephalosaur

Enter the “Boneheads”

Picture  Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view a model of a small Pachycephalosaur and other dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

In addition, the discovery of this Pachycephalosaur fossil seems to support a theory put forward by many North American scientists that the dinosaur fauna of Canada and the northern USA was very different from those dinosaurs found in Late Cretaceous southern USA.  Fossil evidence shows that there was a sort of ethnicity amongst dinosaurs, with northern genera distinct from their southern neighbours.

Commentating on this, lead author of the research paper Nicholas Longrich said:

“Instead of roaming across the North American continent, we see pockets of different dinosaurs that are pretty isolated from each other.  Every time we get good fossils from Texas, they end up looking very different from those to the north.”

The Yale University based research team hope to uncover more unique dinosaur fossils at the Big Bend site, hopefully more fossils from Texas will shed light on the ethnicity of dinosaurs.

19 04, 2010

Volcanic Dust Cloud – How is it Affecting Everything Dinosaur?

By | April 19th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Icelandic Dust Cloud – Update on Airmail Services

The volcanic ash cloud has caused travel chaos for many people in the United Kingdom and Europe over the last few days.  There have also been concerns expressed regarding the lack of flights and how this may affect certain businesses.   The disruption has been unprecedented and the closure of air space has left many thousands of people stranded and a lot of air freight stuck, unable to be moved.

We have kept in touch with those carriers and couriers that ship Everything Dinosaur orders overseas.  One of our concerns has been the effect of the closure of airports on the transportation of airmail orders and other products being shipped abroad.

Delays may be inevitable as the movement of goods by air continues to be severely disrupted.  For example, in our discussions with Royal Mail they have suggested that flights may not resume again until Thursday (April 22nd) and there is a considerable backlog of mail and parcels to clear.

We do everything we can to turn around orders quickly.  For example, we packed orders on Saturday morning to ensure delays were minimised and that parcels could be sent out Monday to at least enter the postal or courier system.  Hopefully, the volcanic eruptions will diminish or at least the ash cloud will disperse and normal air freight service will be resumed.

Please be patient, we have tried our best to get orders sent out as quickly as we could, but there will be inevitable delays with airmail and other airfreight deliveries.

18 04, 2010

Utah Palaeontologists Discover Articulated Theropod

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

Utah Palaeontologists Uncover the Bones of a Large Meat-Eating Dinosaur

The discovery of the articulated skeleton of a large meat-eating dinosaur has been announced by a team of scientists in Utah (western United States).  The fossilised bones, including much of the backbone have been preserved in articulation, that is, joined together just as they would have been when this large, Theropod dinosaur roamed the late Jurassic of America.

The find was made in November but the announcement was delayed until this week as plans were being finalised to begin further excavation work.  The dig site is located east of the small town of Castle Dale in Emery County, Utah, the area is well-known for its late Jurassic dinosaur discoveries.

A spokesperson for the College of Eastern Utah’s Prehistoric Museum, stated that at least 20 articulated vertebrae had been found.  It is likely that the bones are from an Allosaurus (A. fragilis?), the best-known Theropod from the Morrison Formation.  Articulated cervical (neck) and dorsal (back) vertebrae are present, perhaps further excavation work will reveal skull material.  The fossilised bones of as yet, an unnamed plant-eating dinosaur have also been found in close proximity.

Allosaurus is typical of a large Theropod.  Walking on its massive hind legs, its light skull was balanced on a “S-shaped” neck, this large carnivore has been nick-named “the lion of the Jurassic”.  Allosaurus grew to around 12 metres long, making it one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs of the Western United States.

A Scale Drawing of Allosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view a scale model of Allosaurus and other dinosaur toys: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

The excavation was put on hold during the winter but will resume in earnest next month, with public viewing scheduled from May 4th until May 8th.  For many years, Allosaurus was thought to be the largest meat-eating dinosaur from the prolific Cleveland-Lloyd quarry and its surrounding areas.  However, a few fragmentary bones of another larger animal were excavated in the 1930s but not properly studied until sixty years later.  American palaeontologist Don Chure and his colleagues found the bones to be very similar to those of an Allosaurus but there were subtle differences in the caudal vertebrae (tail bones) and the shape of the neck bones (cervical vertebrae).  The team concluded that they had discovered a new genus of large Theropod and named the creature Saurophaganax, Saurophaganax maximus (the name means “the greatest reptile eater”).  Estimates of the size of this animal, put it around one metre longer than the largest specimen of Allosaurus discovered to date.  However, there is debate as to whether this does represent a new genus, or just a particularly large example of an Allosaurus.

17 04, 2010

The 1,000th Blog Article

By | April 17th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

The 1,000th Web Log Article on the Everything Dinosaur Blog

On Sunday May 27th 2007, the first blog article was published on the Everything Dinosaur web log.  Today, April 17th is the date when we publish our 1,000th article.  We have tried to write a piece or post a photograph every single day since that day at the end of May nearly three years ago.  Each team member at Everything Dinosaur can submit articles and we post up information on a range of topics, everything from updates on the latest research, developments in the world of palaeontology and geology to information on what we are doing and what our plans are for Everything Dinosaur.

We have covered new discoveries, followed the progress of research teams working in the field, provided information to young dinosaur fans, answered questions that have been submitted and posted up what we hope are informative articles.

Our thanks to all those team members who have contributed, and to all those readers who have submitted comments.

Here’s to blog article 2,000 which we estimate will be written sometime in the middle of January 2013.

16 04, 2010

A Day of Blue, Quiet Skies – Thanks to a Volcano

By | April 16th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

No Aircraft Flying over the United Kingdom

It is unprecedented, none of us can remember a day like it, for the majority of yesterday and for the most part of today there will be no aircraft flying over the United Kingdom.  Whilst we deeply sympathise with those many thousands of passengers who have been stranded and delayed because of this interruption, it is fascinating to think that one relatively minor volcanic event many thousands of miles away can cause such chaos.

The grounding of all aircraft because of the threat of volcanic ash and dust has never affected this country in this way before, as far as any of us at Everything Dinosaur can recall.  For many people and companies this ash cloud is causing huge problems as journeys are cancelled or delayed and deliveries prevented.  A volcano is essentially a landscape feature where magma (molten rock) is erupted.  The volcano causing all these air traffic problems is Mt. Eyjafjallajökull, and the eruption dramatic though it is, is relatively small when compared to other recent volcanic activity.

As the ash cloud contains minute particles of silica, any plane flying into it might incur engine damage, this has resulted in most of the airports in northern Europe being closed.

Dr Andrew Bell, from the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, says

“In both a global and an Icelandic context, this is a relatively minor eruption, involving only small amounts of magma.”

The eruptions may continue for some time, this could lead to further delays and problems with air travel.  However, for us based in Cheshire, the only affect so far was the delay in those parcels and orders sent out by airmail.  At times we can count up to ten aircraft and aircraft vapour trails in the sky, yesterday and this morning there were none to be seen.

Not a Plane or Vapour Trail to be Seen

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This event reminds us all that we live on a volcanically active and seismically active planet, even sites a long way from tectonic plate boundaries are affected and one day a super-volcano event will occur and when that happens; delays in air travel would not be the biggest problem we would have to face.  However, one consequence of the Icelandic eruption is that when we look up at the sky we cannot see any planes or vapour trails.  It may be inappropriate to say this and we do sympathise with all those people who have been affected but for the first time in our lives we were able to gaze up at the sky and take in a view that we will probably never have the opportunity to see again.

15 04, 2010

Next Issue of Prehistoric Times is on its Way

By | April 15th, 2010|Main Page, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

Issue 93 of Prehistoric Times is on its Way

The next issue of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur enthusiasts and model collectors is on its way to us from America.  The editor, Mike Fredericks sent an email to Everything Dinosaur to let us know that our copy is winging its way to us by Airmail service (not withstanding too many interruptions from Icelandic volcanoes).

The Cover of Prehistoric Times Magazine

PT93

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

To visit the Prehistoric Times website: Prehistoric Times Magazine

The magazine is published four times a year.  Each full colour magazine includes reviews of the latest news in palaeontology and dinosaurs, along with artwork from some of the finest palaeoartists in the world.  The magazine contains information and updates, you just would not find anywhere else.

14 04, 2010

New Papo Dinosaur Models from Everything Dinosaur

By | April 14th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

New Papo Models Available from Everything Dinosaur

As Everything Dinosaur continues to expand, we are delighted to announce that we have strengthened our relationship with Papo of France and we have received more stocks from their Dinosaur model range.  Formed in 1983, Papo as a company has undergone a number of management changes over the years, but the quality of the prehistoric animal figures is in no doubt.  Recent introductions such as the Allosaurus and Spinosaurs have won acclaim from professional palaeontologists and collectors alike.  Whilst other model manufacturers may be reducing their product lines, it seems that Papo are prepared to invest in new models which means they will bring out more Papo dinosaurs.

Some of the Papo Prehistoric Animal Models

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To visit the Papo model pages and other dinosaur models: Dinosaur Models and Toys for Kids – Dinosaur Models

The picture aboves shows the Cretaceous herbivores Parasaurolophus and Pachyrhinosaurus (a new model for 2010) plus the Jurassic Stegosaurus, just part of the range of prehistoric animal models from Papo of France, or as the French say “dinosaures” which is a little inappropriate as the range includes a Pteranodon (Pterosaur not a dinosaur) and highly detailed models of cavemen.

13 04, 2010

Countdown to our 1,000th Article

By | April 13th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Countdown to Article 1,000 on the Everything Dinosaur Blog

Since the start of this web log back in May 2007, we at Everything Dinosaur have tried to post an article everyday.  This has not always been easy, what with our workload and our busy jobs, however, we are approaching the landmark of 1,000 on line articles, which we think for a company made up of parents, teachers and dinosaur enthusiasts is quite an achievement.

There are many millions of web logs, and we do appreciate the hard work that goes into writing them.  For our part, the Everything Dinosaur blog provides a free resource for dinosaur fans to learn more about palaeontology and to catch up with some of the latest news and discoveries.  Recently, we are asked by a research team at a UK based university to participate in a survey on the use of web logs.  The survey consisted of a number of closed-ended and open-ended questions covering our objectives, our aims for putting the web log together.   As we approach our 1,000th article, by our calculations; the 1,000 article landmark will be reached this weekend, perhaps we ought to reflect on the reasons for starting this blog.

The simple truth is that our team members enjoy reading about and writing about palaeontology.  These last few years have been described as a “Golden Age” for the science, what with new fossil finds, new theories and new techniques being employed to find out more about prehistory.  The blog has provided a forum permitting two-way communication and helped teachers with school projects as well as fired the imaginations of dinosaur fans.  We have let school children ask questions and have their answers published, we have put up drawings and comments from young dinosaur fans as well as feedback  from eminent academics.  With a new dinosaur species being named and described every few weeks on average, it seems that our web log will have plenty of material to keep us going.

12 04, 2010

Remembering Edward Drinker Cope (1840 – 1897)

By | April 12th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Edward Drinker Cope – Eminent American Palaeontologist

Today, April 12th marks the anniversary of the death of Edward Drinker Cope, who along with his rival Charles Othniel Marsh did so much to explore and study vertebrate fossils of the United States.  Although the techniques employed by both parties in the “bone wars” of the late 19th Century would certainly raise eyebrows today, there is no denying Cope’s dedication to the science of palaeontology.

As professor of comparative zoology and botany at Haverford College, Pennsylvania (USA), Cope led a number of expeditions to explore the fossil rich strata of the western United States.  It has been estimated that he and his team, discovered more than 1,000 species of extinct vertebrates – including dinosaurs.  Responsible for naming and describing iconic dinosaurs such as the Sauropod Camarasaurus and the Triassic Theropod Coelophysis, Cope has been honoured by having a dinosaur genus named after him.  Drinker nisti, a small Ornithopod dinosaur whose fossils have been found in Wyoming (USA) was a 2 metre long, herbivorous dinosaur of the late Jurassic  However, it seems that even naming dinosaurs after Cope brings him into direct conflict with his great rival Othniel Charles Marsh.  Drinker is known from a number of fragmentary remains and the partial skeletons of one adult and a juvenile.  It is very closely related to Othnielia (Othnielia rex), named in honour of Marsh.  In fact the differences between these two dinosaurs are so slight that it has been argued that Drinker is not a separate genus, but in fact a species of Othnielia.

Looks like the rivalry between Marsh and Cope will rumble on.  However, Cope’s contribution to science cannot be doubted.  He published more than 1,200 books and papers during his lifetime and contributed greatly to the understanding of vertebrate evolution.

11 04, 2010

Feathered Dinosaurs – Model Set from the AMNH

By | April 11th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

The Feathered Dinosaur Set from the AMNH (New York)

The set of feathered dinosaurs, designed by those clever palaeontologists and researchers at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York is back in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  This set of model dinosaurs consists of a number of Feathered dinosaurs.  Animals such as the ancestor of T. rex, the predatory Dilong from China, as well as smaller Theropods such as Microraptor and Caudipteryx.  There is even a brightly coloured, feathered Velociraptor, depicted in a pose as if it is about to pounce on some unsuspecting prey.  Accompanying the feathered dinosaurs in this set are a number of rare non-feathered dinosaur models, including a member of the Chasmosaurinae (Chasmosaurus).

The American Museum of Natural History Feathered Dinosaur Model Set

Feathered Dinosaur Models

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the model set and other dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

The set also includes a model of a primitive horned dinosaur Protoceratops.  This is very appropriate (putting a model of Protoceratops and Velociraptor together), especially when you consider that new evidence is about to be published suggesting that the carnivorous Velociraptor may have scavenged the carcases of the herbivorous Protoceratops.

To read more about this discovery: Evidence of Velociraptor Feeding Behaviour – Scavenging the carcase of a Protoceratops

Interestingly, a contemporary of both Protoceratops and Velociraptor is depicted in the set – Psittacosaurus.  Since the models making up this set (a tube as the Americans call them), were first cast; new evidence concerning Psittacosaurus has emerged.  Although this dinosaur is depicted as non-feathered in this particular model series, there is considerable fossil evidence to indicate that this small Ornithopod was covered in downy feathers, or at least it had long feather-like quills protruding from the tail.

To read more about the feathers on Psittacosaurus: The Evolution of Feathers – Bird-hipped Dinosaurs upset the Apple Cart

All in all, this set makes a welcome return to the Everything Dinosaur product range.  The models are very well painted and the set helps to encourage creative, imaginative play.

Load More Posts