All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//June
21 06, 2010

“Big Man” Walking at what point did Hominids Walk Like We Do?

By | June 21st, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

New Ethiopian Discovery sheds Light on Bipedalism in Ancient Hominids

The authors of a paper appearing in the scientific publication “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, claim that a 3.58 million-year-old partial skeleton of an ancient human may help resolve the puzzle over just how bipedal were Australopithecus afarensis.

The new skeleton nicknamed “big man” by the research team comes from the Rift Valley in the central Afar of Ethiopia, about 200 miles north-east of Addis Ababa.  Discovered in 2005 by a team member, Alemayehu Asfaw, the bones were situated near the Mille River, a long day’s walk north of Hadar where the famous 3.2 million-year-old fossil skeleton A. afarensis known as “Lucy” was found.  “Big man” or “Kadanuumuu” in the local dialect, is estimated to be nearly 2 metres tall, much taller than Lucy and the limb bones and pelvis are helping scientists to understand how this ancient hominid walked and moved about.

Commenting on the find, Owen Lovejoy, a palaeoanthropologist at Kent State University (Ohio) stated:

“This new skeleton shows a fully running and walking biped, with most of the adaptations we have.”

Lead author of the study, Yohannes Haile-Selassie from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (Cleveland, Ohio) added:

“What we see in the new skeleton’s pelvis is what we see in modern humans.”

The Fossilised Skeleton of “Big Man” Helping to Explain the Origins of Human Locomotion

Picture Credit: Haile- Selassie et al

Lucy’s small frame caused some disagreement over earlier interpretations of bipedality, Owen Lovejoy contends, but “big man’s” size and adult age allow clearer comparisons with other hominid types.

The new find supports conclusions drawn last year about the even earlier bipedality of another Ethiopian hominid, Ardipithecus ramidus, which at a minimum of 4.4 million-years-old is the oldest hominid found so far.  A. ramidus wasn’t fully modern, however; it retained ape-like arms and feet, which Australopithecus afarensis specimens don’t have.

To read an article on the discovery of A. ramidus: Oldest Known Human-like Ape Unveiled

But the new skeleton doesn’t answer all the questions about when hominids began walking upright.  Palaeoanthropologists and other scientists who have studied the fossil evidence have concluded that although this new skeleton suggests that A. afarensis were “adept and committed bipeds, they were not identical and biomechanically equivalent to people”.

Interestingly, studies of the shoulder blade (scapula), the oldest hominid shoulder blade known to date, indicate that the muscle structure was very similar to what we see in our own species.  This suggests that for A. afarensis their arboreal heritage from their ape-like ancestors was already very distant.

20 06, 2010

Sneak Preview of Prehistoric Times (Summer 2010)

By | June 20th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

Sneak Preview of Next Edition of Prehistoric Times (edition 94)

On Friday, we received an email from our good friend Mike Fredericks (editor of Prehistoric Times), in the email was a sneak preview of the next edition of this magazine for dinosaur fans, palaeoartists and model collectors.

Prehistoric Times, is the magazine for dinosaur enthusiasts and it is packed full of news stories, features, artwork and information about the latest developments in palaeontology as well as lots and lots of information about prehistoric animal models.

Sneak Preview of Prehistoric Times (Issue 94)

Prehistoric Times (issue 94)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

As well as featuring cool prehistoric animals such as the amazing Therizinosaurs (Scythe lizards), the giant shark Megalodon and Pterosaurs it is going to be fun to read all about the Dryptosaurus project – a campaign to publicise and eventually lead to a mounted exhibit of the USA’s second oldest dinosaur (in terms of date described).

To visit the Prehistoric Times website: Prehistoric Times

20 06, 2010

Prehistoric Times (Issue 94)

By | June 20th, 2010|Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

Prehistoric Times Cover (Issue 94)

The artwork on the latest edition of the magazine known as Prehistoric Times is really impressive.  It features a Tyrannosaur and a time machine – what more could dinosaur fans want!

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times

Prehistoric Times

 

 Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Mike Fredericks

Inside the magazine there are features on Pterosaurs, famous artists, the latest dinosaur fossil discoveries and prehistoric animal model news.

19 06, 2010

1:15 Scale Dinosaur Model to celebrate Sue’s 10th Anniversary

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

Collecta Scale Model of Tyrannosaurus rex

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex specimen going on display  (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, United States), the team members at Everything Dinosaur have brought in a limited stock of the huge 1:15 scale model of T. rex from Collecta.

The Collecta Scale Model of Tyrannosaurus rex

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This superbly detailed model of T. rex is based on the very latest scientific interpretation of this big carnivore.  The model measures over 87 centimetres in length and comes with its own carry-case and presentation stand.

To view the Collecta T. rex model and other dinosaur toys: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

This model is so big that special shipping arrangements have to be put in place when we send this item out for use in educational events and teaching programmes, it really is a lovely model and an excellent centre piece for an enthusiast’s collection.  The model is approximately the size of a T. rex hatchling but represents a fully grown mature adult.  This model is part of a special series of large models called Collecta deluxe dinosaurs (Collecta dinosaurs).

To enquire about this particular model and for further information: Email Everything Dinosaur

18 06, 2010

Northern Alberta Centrosaurine Bone-bed – World’s Biggest Dinosaur Graveyard

By | June 18th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|2 Comments

Ceratopsian Bone-bed in Northern Alberta – The World’s Biggest Dinosaur Graveyard

The Canadian province of Alberta is renowned for its superb Late Cretaceous vertebrate fossils, however scientists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Drumheller, Alberta), are about to publish a paper on what has been described as the greatest concentration of dinosaur fossils (a bone-bed) found to date anywhere in the world.

This discovery may help palaeontologists to unlock the secret of why Alberta has proved to be such a good place to find dinosaur fossils.  Everything Dinosaur team members have been lucky enough to have been involved in a number of fossil digs in Alberta, mainly working on Ornithischian dinosaurs such as Ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs) and Hadrosaurine, Hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs).

The bone-bed covers some 2.3 square kilometres and is believed to contain the jumbled up and dis-articulated remains of many thousands of individual dinosaurs.  The dinosaur graveyard that this bone-bed represents is that of a Centrosaurus (horned dinosaur).  A bone-bed refers to a layer of strata that is saturated with fossils, usually the result of a single, catastrophic event that enveloped an entire herd or group of dinosaurs, normally over a very short period.  We speculate that the dinosaur remains found in this huge bone-bed are that of Centrosaurus apertus, as this dinosaur is arguably the best known from areas such as the Dinosaur Provincial Park.  Enormous numbers of fossils of this particular herbivorous dinosaur are known from eastern Saskatchewan as well as individual and exceptional fossil finds such as a single, beautifully preserved skull found in the Oldman Formation of southern Alberta.  The fossil evidence gives this 6 metre long dinosaur a geographic range of at least 40,000 kilometres, meaning that this dinosaur roamed over an area at least twice the size of Wales.

The most spectacular and numerous fossils of Centrosaurus spp. have been found in bone-beds along the South Saskatchewan river, near Hilda (Alberta).  It seems that this 2.3 kilometre square location is the biggest found to date in that area.  What makes it so special is the sheer size and scale of the discovery.  A report on the site, due to be published shortly will provide supporting evidence to indicate that this is the biggest concentration of dinosaur fossils found to date.

It would have to substantial, as there are numerous contenders around for the biggest dinosaur graveyard known to science.  For example, the Swiss have a claim on this title, with their extensive Plateosaur bone-beds.

To read an article on the Swiss discovery: Huge Plateosaurus Bone-bed Unearthed in Switzerland

David Eberth, a senior researcher with the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology commented that the site was “really ugly looking”, the bone-bed is exposed in outcrops along the South Saskatchewan river.

This particular bone-bed was actually discovered over ten years ago, however, an official report on the discovery is going to be published later this month.  Scientists are hopeful that this location will shed some light on why Alberta has been blessed with a bountiful supply of dinosaur fossils.

David Eberth stated:

“We’ve always been puzzled by that.  We’ve always enjoyed it, but it’s always been a puzzle.  This discovery is helping us understand why that is.”

This bone-bed preserves the remains of thousands of individual Centrosaurs that died simultaneously, it has helped researchers to develop a working theory why Alberta is such a “hot spot” for dinosaur fossils.  In the Campanian faunal stage of the late Cretaceous (approximately 76-74 million years ago), Alberta was a lush tropical coastal area and the Hilda bone-bed provides evidence that this region was occasionally subjected to violent and catastrophic tropical storms that led to the drowning of many thousands of large animals.  Centrosaurus herds would have been caught up in these storms and drowned in the subsequent flooding.

Centrosaurus was a short-frilled Ceratopsian with a single large nose horn.  It was named and described by the eminent Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe in 1904.  The name means “pointed lizard” a reference to its single large horn, in contrast to the larger and much more famous three-horned distant relative Triceratops.

A Comparison of Triceratops and Centrosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows the single horned Centrosaurus on the right with a Triceratops on the left.  Triceratops (T. horridus) was actually larger than C. apertus with some estimates for Triceratops spp. at over 9 metres in length.

To view a dinosaur model set that contains Centrosaurus: Dinosaur Gifts & Presents

Geological analysis of the bone-bed sediments suggest that when the tropical storms hit the relatively low lying coastal area of what was to become Alberta, sea levels would rise by 4-5 metres and extensive flooding would result.  As the flood waters rose and continued their movement inland, the slow-witted horned dinosaurs would have probably have been unaware of the danger until it was too late.  The flat, featureless landscape would have given them no higher ground to escape to and at over 6 metres long, these heavy animals were hardly built to be able to nip up the nearest tall Araucaria.

David Eberth, imagined a scene where as the flood waters overtook a herd of Ceratosaurs: “they would have trod water for a while, like cattle would do, but they would have tired very quickly and drowned.”

The corpses would have then piled up as the water receded, providing a feast for any crocodiles or Theropod dinosaurs that had escaped the flood.  Reflecting on the death of so many magnificent creatures, David Eberth, admitted to feeling a little sad, but at least this new bone-bed evidence helps explain why Alberta has so many vertebrate fossils.

He went on to comment:

“Alberta just doesn’t seem to be able to stop showing us new dinosaurs and new information about dinosaurs.  What this bone-bed is telling us is that there’s scats more work that needs to be done here.”

The vice-president of the Alberta Palaeontological Society, Harold Whittaker expressed his excitement about the Hilda bone-bed:

“That’s a great find, that’s a huge bone-bed.  I look forward to going down there and getting a look at it.”

17 06, 2010

The Whole Tooth and Nothing But The Tooth

By | June 17th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|2 Comments

Ancient Mammal Tooth Marks in Prehistoric Animal Bones

Scientists have identified the tiny and faint scratch marks made by the teeth of ancient, primitive mammals as they gnawed on the remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  In a paper published in the scientific journal “Paleontology”, the researchers from Yale University and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History report on the mammalian tooth marks left on the bones of several fossil bones, including the bones of dinosaurs.

Whilst studying the fossil collections at the University of Alberta Laboratory for Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Drumheller, Alberta, Canada), Nicholas Longrich of Yale University and Michael J. Ryan of the Cleveland Museum discovered several of the bones showed signs of tooth marks.  Additional bones that seemed to have been gnawed upon were found during fieldwork in Alberta.  All the bones studied date from 75 million years ago (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).

The team discovered tooth marks on a femur bone (thigh bone) from a Champsosaurus, a crocodile-like, aquatic reptile that grew up to 1.5 metres long, the rib of a dinosaur, most likely a herbivorous Hadrosaurid or Ceratopsid; the femur of another large dinosaur that was likely another Ornithischian and a lower jaw bone from a small marsupial.

The researchers believe the marks were made by mammals because they were created by opposing pairs of teeth—a trait seen only in mammals from that time.  They think they were most likely made by Multituberculates, an extinct order of archaic mammals that resemble rodents and had paired upper and lower incisors.  Several of the bones display multiple, overlapping bites made along the curve of the bone, revealing a pattern similar to the way people eat corn on the cob.

Ancient Mammalian Tooth Marks in Fossilised Bone

Picture Credit: Nicholas Longrich (Yale University)

The picture above shows parallel groves cut into the rib bone of a dinosaur, evidence of a mammal gnawing on bones preserved for 75 million years.

The Multituberculates are a mammalian subclass that first appeared in the Middle Jurassic and went extinct in the Eocene.  These mammals were relatively abundant in the northern hemisphere during the Late Cretaceous, probably herbivorous; many scientists believe that these creatures were mainly nocturnal.  Many Multituberculates resembled rodents although they were not closely related to modern placental mammals.

A Diagram Showing a Typical Multituberculate Skull

Tooth Marks

Picture Credit: Nicholas Longrich (Yale University)

The diagram shows the typical skull of a Multituberculate mammal, showing that the tell-tale tooth marks found in the bone were probably made by the incisors as the grawed on the bone, not to strip meat but perhaps to gain important minerals and vitamins.  It was these unobtrusive animals that were to outlast the dinosaurs, as the Multituberculates survived into the Cenozoic.

Commenting on the tooth marks, the team conclude that the animals that left evidence of gnawed bones in the mega faunal fossil record of Alberta were probably no bigger than a squirrel.

Nicholas Longrich stated:

“The bones were kind of a nutritional supplement for these animals.”

He went onto add that there were probably a lot more fossils in museum collections and awating discovery that would show this behavioural evidence of primitive mammals.

“The marks stood out for me because I remember seeing the gnaw marks on the antlers of a deer my father brought home when I was young,  So when I saw it in the fossils, it was something I paid attention to.”

But he points out that the Late Cretaceous creatures that chewed on these bones were not nearly as adept at gnawing as today’s rodents, which developed that ability long after dinosaurs went extinct.

16 06, 2010

Deinonychus versus Tenontosaurus

By | June 16th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Predator/Prey Relationships in the Fossil Record

The problem with movies, dvds and television documentaries is that in many cases the scientific evidence is often embellished to some extent to make things more interesting and exciting for viewers.  There is a degree of “poetic licence” employed in some cases to make an interesting story a little more dramatic, sometimes facts can be re-interpreted to permit an exciting scene to be shot.  This is all well and good, but often people can get the wrong impression about an animal or about the interactions and relationships between fauna and flora, especially if the subjects are extinct as there are no animals or plants like them around today to observe and study.

This is very often the case when it comes to the Dinosauria and team members at Everything Dinosaur are working on a new teaching programme to challenge some of our assumptions about dinosaurs.  Take for example, the speculation surrounding the predator/prey relationship between the herbivorous Tenontosaurus (T. tillettorum) and the fierce meat-eater Deinonychus (D. antirrhopus).

An Illustration of Tenontosaurus and Deinonychus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Something like 20% of all the fossils of the primitive Iguanodont Tenontosaurus have been found in association with fossils of the Dromaeosaur Deinonychus.  Scientists have speculated that this is evidence of a predator/prey interaction preserved in the fossil record of North America from approximately 110 million years ago.  Interpreting this evidence is going to form the basis of a new lesson plan aimed at Year 6 and Year 7 school children as part of Everything Dinosaur’s work on key stage 3 science teaching materials.  This session is being piloted next week, the Deinonychus/Tenontosaurus interaction will form part of the teaching before moving onto to discuss what we really know about the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex from the fossil evidence.

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s work with schools including Dinosaur Workshops: Dinosaur Workshop

15 06, 2010

Ancient Mammal Hair Discovered in 100 Million-Year-Old Amber

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

Mammalian Hair Fragments found in Cretaceous Amber

Scientists from France have reported the discovery of preserved mammal hair in a piece of amber that dates from the Mid Cretaceous period.  These two tiny fragments of hair are the oldest three-dimensional mammalian hair known.  Hopefully, the mammalian hair will provide more data on the evolution of mammals than other fossil remains, the amber (fossilised tree resin), has preserved the hair in three dimensions and scientists are confident that they can obtain more information from this sort of fossil than from conventional body fossils that tend to be two-dimensional.

The pair of tiny hairs, found alongside a fly pupa in amber were discovered in a quarry in southwest France.  The hair is remarkably similar to hair found on modern, extant mammals.  The scientists state that this evidence suggests that the shape and structure of that most mammalian of characteristics – hair, has remained unchanged over a vast period of time.  Mammalian hair’s primary function is to help insulate these endothermic (warm-blooded) animals. Since the first types of mammals to evolve were mouse-like creatures, evolving an effective form of insulation would have been very important to them, especially since they probably filled a nocturnal niche in the Mesozoic.

D. Romain Vullo of the University of Rennes (France) who made the hair discovery stated:

“We have 2-D hair imprints as early as the Middle Jurassic, however, carbonised hair provides much less information about the structure than a 3-D hair preserved in amber.”

A Highly Magnified Picture of the Ancient Mammal Hair

Picture Credit: R. Vullo

The picture shows a close up of the mammalian hair, a strand can be viewed in the centre of the picture, it is lying in a horizontal position, the circular texture can be made out.

Dr. Vullo went on to add:

“Our specimens are the oldest known hair specimens in which we can observe the circular structure”.

Dr. Vullo and Professor Didier Neraudeau identified the two hairs, they had been initially found by colleague Dr. Vincent Girard as he examined the amber for traces of micro-fossils.

The piece of amber was found in the Font-de-Benon quarry at Archingeay-Les Nouillers in Charente-Maritime (southwest France).  The details of the French team’s discovery are reported in the scientific journal “Naturwissenschaften”.

The largest of the hair fragments is 2.4mm long, it measures 32 to 48 micrometres wide, whilst the second is just 0.6mm long and 49 to 78 micrometres wide.  In comparison, a strand of human hair is about 100 micrometres wide.

It is not known from which animal the hair samples are from, however, fossil teeth from a small marsupial mammal,  Arcantiodelphys have been found in slightly earlier strata in a zone above the layer in which the amber nodule was found.

The identity of the animal that shed the hair is not known.  It is difficult to assign a genus or even a mammalian family to the hair sample.

Three theories have been put forward to explain how the hair got stuck in the tree resin in the first place.  Firstly, tree resin could have swamped part of a little mammal’s corpse.  This ideas is supported by the presence of the fly pupa found alongside the mammal hairs, as a fly may have laid its eggs into the carcase of the dead animal.

Secondly, the hair may have been lost by a living animal which brushed past the sticky resin, perhaps by a tree-living (arboreal) species.  Thirdly, the hair could have been lost by a mammal that came to feed on insects trapped in the resin, which later fossilised into amber.

It is unlikely that the scientists will ever find evidence to support one of these theories, or indeed to explain the presence of the hair trapped in the tree resin.  However, the beautifully preserved hair will permit the team to learn a little more about the mammalian fauna that scurried about under the noses of the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous.

The evidence suggests that mammalian hair once it evolved has changed very little over millions of years, this is an example of “evolutionary stasis”.

To read more about an aspect of evolutionary stasis: Pelicans have had their pouches for 30 million years

14 06, 2010

New Collecta Dinosaur Model Range Available from Everything Dinosaur

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

New Collecta Dinosaur Models Available from Everything Dinosaur

Have you ever fancied a model of a Chasmosaurus or a Cetiosaurus?  Perhaps Ornithopods are more to your liking, even bizarre and feathered ones like Psittacosaurus.  Everything Dinosaur are pleased to announce that the new range of Collecta models including the Collecta Chasmosaurus and the Collecta Cetiosaurus  have arrived in stock.

The Chasmosaurus Model (Collecta Dinosaurs)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Those clever teachers and dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur have arranged to ship into the UK an exclusive range of hand-painted, high quality prehistoric animal models from the Collecta range.  These new models include Lambeosaurus, Eotyrannus, Muttaburrasaurus and Tenontosaurus.  Many of the models represent dinosaurs that are simply not found in other model collections.  As always, each model is supplied with its own prehistoric animal fact sheet researched and written by the experts at Everything Dinosaur and with the addition of these models there is now over sixty different Collecta dinosaur models sold by Everything Dinosaur.

Cetiosaurus (Whale Lizard) Collecta Dinosaurs Model

Collecta Cetiosaurus (early Sauropod)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These finely detailed models are bound to be very popular, especially since they are virtually unobtainable within the United Kingdom, but thanks to Everything Dinosaur models of dinosaurs such as Corythosaurus, Gigantoraptor and the armoured dinosaur Wuerhosaurus are available to UK dinosaur fans.

To view the Collecta model range and other dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Girls – Dinosaur Models

13 06, 2010

Is Tarbosaurus really a T. rex?

By | June 13th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Is the Asian Tarbosaurus really a Tyrannosaurus rex?

Whilst working with some school children on one of our dinosaur related lesson plans one of the Everything Dinosaur team members was asked about Tarbosaurus and whether this Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaur was really a Tyrannosaurus rex.

This is certainly an interesting question and one that continues to cause debate, after all, when the eminent Russian palaeontologist Evgeny Maleev formerly named and described this dinosaur in 1955, the name he chose was Tyrannosaurus bataar.  It was only after the original holotype material was reviewed and related to skull material from other Tyrannosaurids found in Mongolia and China did the genus name get revised to Tarbosaurus.

A Scale Drawing of Tarbosaurus (T. bataar)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The difficulties arose because the joint Mongolian and Soviet expeditions to explore the Nemegt Formation of the Gobi desert which took place in the late 1940’s and 1950’s discovered several large Theropod skeletons, including some skull material.  A number of genera were subsequently named and described, including Tarbosaurus.  In the revision of the work, which took place in the 1960’s skull material from what was thought to represent smaller Tyrannosaurids was ascribed to the genus Tyrannosaurus bataar as they were now considered to represent juvenile and immature species of this genus.  The skull morphologies and dentition of these skull fossils were considered as a single body of fossil evidence was enough for the Tarbosaurus genus to be created.  Tarbosaurus bataar remains the only valid genus and most palaeontologists think that although Tarbosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex are closely related they are distinct genera.

Ironically, more recent studies have shown that Tarbosaurus may possess more primitive Tyrannosaur characteristics and may be more closely related to another Mongolian Tyrannosaur Alioramus (A. remotus).  If this is the case then this may well lend support to the hypothesis that large Tyrannosaurids evolved in Asia and migrated into North America.

Surprisingly, scientists have quite a lot of fossil specimens of both Tarbosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex to study (about thirty specimens of each).  This is a remarkably high figure when one considers the limited amount of fossil material known from other large apex predators of the Sub-Order Theropoda.  Tarbosaurus differed from T. rex in a number of ways, the skull was less deep and the snout narrower.  The bone configuration of the skull designed to lesson the shock of biting was different in these two large meat-eaters.  These points and other morphological differences have led most palaeontologists to conclude that these two animals do belong in different genera.

To view a model of Tyrannosaurus rex, Tarbosaurus and other dinosaurs: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

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