All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//August
13 08, 2010

Mosasaurs – A Sharks Tale!

By | August 13th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

New Study Indicates Mosasaurs had Shark-like Tails

Mosasaurs were a group of very large and powerful sea-living lizards.  They grew to lengths in excess of 14 metres and their fossils have been found in Cretaceous strata worldwide.  The chalk deposits formed by the tiny calcareous exoskeletons of countless planktonic micro-organisms are a particularly striking feature of the geology of Europe, take the white cliffs of Dover, for example.  These geological features were formed during the later stages of the Cretaceous period.  People have quarried this soft rock for thousands of years, at first in search of flints for tool making and latterly the chalk has been worked so as to produce lime and other materials for chemical processes.

Occasionally, the chalk deposits reveal a spectacular fossil of a Mosasaur, a member of the lizard family that adapted to a marine existence.  Some types of Mosasaur evolved into the apex predators of the Late Cretaceous, replacing the Ichthyosaurs and Pliosaurs at the top of the food chain.  Although not dinosaurs, but marine lizards (Order Squamata), these impressive beasts became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous, they were the only group of lizards to die out at the same time as the dinosaurs.  One of the most impressive Mosasaur specimens was discovered in a chalk mine at St Pieter’s Mount near to the southern Dutch town of Maastricht in 1770.  The discovery caused a scientific sensation around Europe and the animal dubbed the “Beast of Maastricht” was examined by a number of leading scientists of the day.  Debate raged as to whether these fossils represented a whale or a crocodile.  The creature scientifically named Mosasaurus hoffmani is actually more closely related to a modern Monitor lizard.

A Model of a Mosasaur (Tylosaurus)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the model (Tylosaurus) and dinosaur toys: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Toy Dinosaurs

With many specimens and something like twenty separate genera it was thought that the Mosasaurs were relatively well understood.  However, new research published in the online scientific journal PloS One by two Canadian scientists suggests that there is a sting in the tale of the Mosasaurs.

The traditional view of a Mosasaur is a long, sleek animal with a broadened out, but ultimately tapering tail.  The tail was responsible for the propulsion of these animals.  The limbs had become flippers and the limbs particularly the back legs had become smaller.  They were probably used to help these lizards steer and manoeuvre in the water.  It was thought that the tails moved in a side-to-side motion, a little like the swimming motion as seen in a monitor lizard today.  However, two Canadian scientists, studying one of the best preserved Mosasaur skeletons of all have deduced that the Mosasaurs may have had fan-like tails reminiscent of sharks or indeed Ichthyosaurs.

Is it time for the Mosasaurs to have a makeover?

University of Alberta scientists Michael Caldwell and Takuya Konishi, in association with collaborators in Sweden and in the United States are in the process of overturning decades of conventional wisdom about the shape of Mosasaur tails and their swimming style.  The researchers have pinned a shark-like tail on these marine lizards, perhaps changing our views about these huge predators forever.

Writing in the U.S. based publication of the Public Library of Science the scientists have concluded that at least one species of Mosasaur (Platecarpus), on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County had a fluke on the end of its tail.

Fossils of the genus Platecarpus have been found on both sides of the Atlantic ocean.  Although quite small (approximately 7 metres in length), it was slightly bigger than a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and it probably hunted in a similar manner.  Its long, slender jaws were lined with sharp teeth and it was a ferocious predator.  However, a long-standing theory about Mosasaurs, or sea-dragons as they are sometimes called postulates that they had tapered tails that moved with eel-like undulations and propelled them forward, with the flippers acting as rudders to help steer.

In contrast, the scientific team led by Caldwell and Konishi have concluded that the shape and orientation of the lizard’s back bones indicate that these creatures had a crescent-shaped tail fin, unlikely to be preserved in fossil form.  This would have given this marine reptiles a powerful swimming thrust similar to that of a Great White Shark or even an Ichthyosaur.  The team studied a number of Mosasaur specimens from around the world, including a beautifully preserved specimen of Platecarpus from the Los Angeles County Museum.

An Illustration Showing the New Interpretation of Mosasaurs

Mosasaurus with a “sharks tail”

Picture Credit: Stephanie Abramowicz (The Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

Like other groups of sea creatures that evolved to maximise their swimming speed and efficiency, the researchers state in the journal article, Mosasaurs radically modified their tails, stiffened their backbones, and reduced their rear limbs to meet the demands of marine life.

If this new theory becomes accepted doctrine, then the Mosasaur reconstructions in museums and illustrations in books will have to be changed.

Co-author of the paper, Luis Chiappe, Director of the Los Angeles Museum’s Dinosaur Institute stated in a summary:

“This fossils show evolution in action, how a successful design was developed time after time by different groups of organisms adapting to life in similar environments.  It highlights once again the potential for new discoveries to challenge well-established interpretations about dinosaurs and other animals that lived with them.”

For palaeontologists this may be a case of “deja vu”, as when the fossils of the first Ichthyosaurs were discovered, it was thought that they too, had long tapering tails.  It was only when superbly well preserved fossils of Ichthyosaurs were discovered in the fine grained sediments at Holzmaden in Germany that scientists got to view the outline of the body shape of an Ichthyosaur and they discovered that they had dorsal fins and a forked tail which was supported by tail bones in the lower section only.

Fossils of the Ichthyosaur Stenopterygius

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows two Ichthyosaur fossils from the Jurassic strata of Holzmaden (Germany).  The first image shows the famous fossil of a Stenopterygius with its young babies preserved inside it, proving that Ichthyosaurs were viviparous (gave birth to live young).  Note the bent tail section, Victorian scientists noticed that a number of Ichthyosaur fossils showed this but they thought that this was coincidental.  It was not until specimens like the one shown above were found that an outline of the animal could be traced.  The bones at the end of the tail grew downwards to support the forked tail’s bottom half.

It is very likely that if Mosasaurs had fish-like tails they did not swim with an undulating up and down motion like whales (as shown in the illustration).  It is most likely that these animals swam in an sideways movement, moving their bodies and their tails from side to side like crocodiles, lizards and snakes.

12 08, 2010

Our Newest Recruit

By | August 12th, 2010|Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Dragonfly Rescuers – Our Newest Recruit

Today we have had a series of heavy showers.  This is to be expected as it is Summer in Britain (allegedly) and we have a hosepipe ban.  The rain has been so heavy that it knocked a recently emerged dragonfly back into the office pond.  We could not watch it drown, so one of the Everything Dinosaur team members ventured out into the rain to rescue it.

The lucky dragonfly was placed on one of the sponges we use for wiping down fossil casts and carefully put on one of the workshop windowsills.  It was our intention to help this little creature dry off, otherwise it would not have survived.  Looking a bit like a model aeroplane, the insect quickly stretched out its wings to dry.

Our Newest Recruit – The Rescued Dragonfly

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It seemed at home, and did not mind us coming and going as we went about our work although we did try to keep quiet in case we disturbed it too much.  After about an hour we crept in and opened a window close by to the resting insect.  With luck, we thought, when the dragonfly felt ready it would climb up the window and fly off.

Sure enough, after a little preening and cleaning the lucky dragonfly went on its way.

11 08, 2010

Darwin and Morphology – The Shape of Living Things

By | August 11th, 2010|Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Darwinism and the Shape of Living Things

A definition of life used by scientists is anything that may be subject to the laws of Darwinism such as natural selection.  For example, it could be argued that living things grow, however, so do stalactites and stalagmites and these items cannot be perceived as living creatures.  The works of Darwin are a fascinating source of information, they also provide an insight into the thinking and understanding of science during the Victorian era.  There are so many interesting passages in the “Origin of Species” for instance, one of our favourites and most thought provoking is a lesser known section to be found towards the back of the first few print runs.

In a chapter entitled “Classification” Darwin discusses how there is a form of order in the natural world.  He observes that members of the same Class independent of their habits of life, resemble each other in the general plan of their organisation.  Darwin refers to this as “Morphology”.

He postulates on why so many animals have appendages such as limbs that although designed for very different purposes all have the same or virtually the same bones making them up.

Darwin comments:

“What can be more curious than that the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of a horse, the paddle of a porpoise and the wing of a bat, should all be constructed on the same pattern and should include the same bones, in the same relative positions?”

A number of examples of morphology in the natural world are given by Darwin, he asks why the sepals, petals, stamens and pistils in any individual flower, though fitted for such varying purposes should all be constructed along the same design and basic pattern?  He argues that this is evidence that organisms have inherited these traits from the ancestors and these characteristics have been passed down (ultimately modified in most cases) the line of descent.

A visit to a museum can provide ample evidence of the point that Darwin is trying to make.  In the human skeleton there is but one bone in each limb connecting the arm or leg to the trunk of the body (humerus or femur).  We then have two bones connecting the lower portion of each limb to the hand or foot.  This pattern of bones is repeated in a huge range of vertebrate creatures from primitive amphibians, to modern predators such as lions, from enormous Brachiosaurs to a tiny mouse.

Although Darwin was not the first scientist to make this point he presents this information and evidence for natural selection and inheritance in a very articulate way – helping to spread the interest in science and scientific issues amongst Victorian society.

10 08, 2010

Invercargill Resident Charged over Dinosaur Egg Theft

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

Museum Security Camera Footage Leads to Arrest

A fifty-two year-old Invercargill resident has been formerly charged with the theft of a dinosaur egg from a New Zealand museum’s gift shop.  The rare fossil was stolen from the Otago Museum last Tuesday, but returned undamaged after it was left in a supermarket shopping bag at the Dunedin Central Police Station two days later.

To read more about the theft: Stolen Dinosaur Egg Returned to Museum

The fossilised egg, valued at more than £1,000 GBP has been returned to the museum’s curators.  Police investigating the crime were able to identify the culprit using security camera footage from the gift shop, coupled with footage from the police station’s own camera network.

Realising the game was up, the alleged thief turned himself in to Invercargill police yesterday.  The man is likely to be charged with the museum theft along with shoplifting offences.  He will appear at the Invercargill District Court at the end of the week, where his case will be heard.

Although thefts of this nature are relatively rare, with the increasing prices being paid for dinosaur and other prehistoric animal fossils by private collectors, museum exhibits and expensive gift shop items are becoming increasingly attractive to would be thieves.

9 08, 2010

Taking Gallimimus for a Walk

By | August 9th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Meeting a Dinosaur on Sunday Morning

Strange what you come across in the course of carrying out your duties for Everything Dinosaur.  Take  yesterday for example, some of us had been invited to a museum in Worcestershire to participate in a “Dinosaur Day”.  We had provided lots of technical information and such like before hand and on the day itself we came down with various fossils and replica casts of dinosaur fossils to show the visitors.

The day was a great success with over 1,100 people attending and we were bombarded with questions about dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.

Taking Gallimimus for a Walk

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Whilst awaiting the first of our visitors on the day, we came across Gavin Howard the Director of Avalon Studios Group and the man behind the amazing dinosaur and other prehistoric animals models seen at the Dinosaurs Unleashed event.  He and his team had kindly supplied the museum with some Ornithomimids and a Deinonychus model to help support the dinosaur day.

It was quite surreal to see a Gallimimus going for a walk on a Sunday morning, as the finely detailed model was rolled into place.  Gallimimus was a large Ornithomimid dinosaur that lived in Mongolia during the Late Cretaceous.  One of the largest “Ostrich-like dinosaurs”, Gallimimus reached lengths of approximately 6 metres and it was a powerful runner, although its arms and hands were proportionately much smaller than other members of the Ornithomimosauria – as can be seen in the excellent model next to Gavin.

Look out for further updates on the Everything Dinosaur blog.

8 08, 2010

Happy Birthday Henry Fairfield Osborn

By | August 8th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Henry Fairfield Osborn –  Born this day in 1857

Today, the eighth of August, marks the anniversary of the birthday of Henry Fairfield Osborn, American palaeontologist, geologist and researcher into eugenics.  In a distinguished scientific career, Osborn did much to promote the public’s awareness of Earth sciences and his influence on how museums display specimens can still be seen today.  As President of the American Museum of Natural History (New York), he helped that institute to amass one of the finest fossil collections in the world.  Perhaps Osborn is most remembered for his naming and describing of Tyrannosaurus rex, a dinosaur so nearly called Dynamosaurus, only the order of precedence in the original paper prevented T. rex as we know it today being called by this different and less imaginative name.

Osborn helped popularise the concept of adaptive radiation, that primitive organisms might evolve into several species by spreading over a large area and adapting to different and diverse ecological niches.  Although some of his work on eugenics would today be viewed as highly controversial, Osborn did much to help the concept of natural history museums to develop.  He published a number of notable papers and doctrines, including several on the evolution of Proboscidea (animals with trunks, such as the elephants).

He died in 1935 but remains on the most important figures in the history of American palaeontology.

Many happy returns Henry.

7 08, 2010

Ancient African Crocodile that thought it was a Mammal

By | August 7th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Paper Published on Crocodile with Mammal-like Teeth

Scientists writing in the journal “Nature” have reported on their research into a strange and bizarre cat-sized crocodile that filled a particular niche in the dinosaur dominated Cretaceous ecosystem.  The teeth of this particular reptile are similar to those seen in mammals and indicate that this little animal could bite and chew its food – a behaviour not seen in extant Crocodilians.

Palaeontologists unearthed an almost complete specimen in 2008, since then a number of other fossils of this 100-million-year-old creature have been found at a dig site in southwestern Tanzania.  No bigger than a domestic cat, this agile reptile scampered around the undergrowth chasing insects and small mammals whilst trying to avoid the attention of larger carnivorous dinosaurs that it shared its flood plain environment with.

Researcher Patrick O’Connor of Ohio University commented on the crocodile’s most striking feature, its teeth stating:

“If someone were just to describe those teeth, the shapes and how they interact with one another or work together, most people would read that as a very mammalian-like dental series.”

The scientist went on to discuss the latest discovery, an intact skull, complete with sharp incisors at the front of the jaws – ideal for tearing meat and interlocking upper and lower molars at the back of the jaw that were used for grinding, just like the teeth in the back of our own jaws.

The crocodile has been formally described and named Pakasuchus kapilimai.  The name means “Cat Crocodile”, from Paka the word for cat in the Swahili language and Suchus coming from the Greek word for crocodile.  A CT scan of this long-limbed terrestrial animal revealed that the molar-like teeth in the top and bottom jaws met very accurately when the animal bit down.  The creature would have eaten with a chewing action, mobile jaws in Reptilia are almost unknown (until now).

An Illustration of Pakasuchus kapilimai

Picture Credit: Mark Witton (University of Portsmouth)

The teeth of modern crocodiles are relatively simple in contrast to Pakasuchus kapilimai.  All the extant species of Crocodilian have sharp, pointed conical teeth, the teeth (known as the dentition), may vary in size and angle but they are all virtually the same shape, with the same function to grab and hold onto prey.  Modern crocodiles cannot chew their food, they twist their bodies (known as a crocodile roll) and tear of chunks of flesh from their victims, these pieces are then swallowed whole.

Paul Filmer, Programme Director of Geology and Palaeobiology at the U.S. National Science Foundation, which co-funded the expedition with the National Geographic Society commented:

“The Crocodilians with which you and I are familiar have a very characteristic smile, as it were.  The teeth or the dentition that they have is mainly a row of conical teeth which may vary a little bit in size and angle, but they’re pretty much all the same and they basically serve that function which is to grab and tear.”

Scientists say modern crocodiles did not evolve from the prehistoric crocodile-like creature that was a species of ancient reptiles called Notosuchians Crocodyliform that died out around the same time that other land-dwelling dinosaurs became extinct.

Paleontologists say Notosuchians are characterised by a variety of different tooth structures and patterns.

Researcher Patrick O’Connor says the 100-million-year-old reptiles, which flourished across a southern landmass the predated the African continent, probably filled a unique ecological niche.

“Maybe there was a certain place in the ecology or in the environment where these animals lived that allowed them to experiment with the shape of the teeth.  And as evolution works, if that was a successful experiment, then a group could go on and have a very long history.”

The Crocodilians have evolved into a myriad of forms over their long evolutionary history to read an article about unusual crocodile-like animals: Five “Oddball” Crocodiles from the Mesozoic

6 08, 2010

Is the Triceratops genus Threatened?

By | August 6th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Triceratops versus Torosaurus Debate – Does this mean the end of Trike?

With the publication of the controversial theory that Triceratops was not actually a distinct dinosaur genus but a younger version of Torosaurus, fears have been raised about the name Triceratops going the same way as Brontosaurus.  For many dinosaur fans, the thought of losing Triceratops from the scientific record of genera is a little hard to take.  The media has jumped onto this story and fuelled the flames and a number of articles have been published, many of them factually incorrect.

On the basis of the study carried out so far, it is unlikely that Triceratops, an iconic dinosaur and one of the most popular dinosaurs in our annual Everything Dinosaur survey will be erased.  Triceratops or “Trike” as it is sometimes known was a horned dinosaur (name means “three horned face”), that lived at the very end of the Age of Reptiles.  A member of the Chasmosaurinae, Triceratops has two species ascribed to the genus, but the trouble is, these dinosaurs as they grew changed and this has led to much confusion over the interpretation of the fossil material.

The skulls of Triceratops were massive and a number of fine specimens have been discovered.  Over the years since Triceratops was first described (1888), so many different skulls of Triceratops have been unearthed that at one time sixteen species had been ascribed to the genus.  Following extensive revision, most palaeontologists accept that there are just to species.  However, following work from a team of American palaeontologists and researchers a theory has been put forward that Triceratops fossils actually represent younger versions of another large, horned dinosaur – Torosaurus.

A Model of the Head of “Three Horned Face” (Triceratops)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

As these animals grew and matured so the shape of their distinctive skulls and crests changed.  The study of animal growth rates is called ontogeny, and given the paucity of the fossil record, interpretation of fossil material is exceptionally difficult.  In the scientific publication “The Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology” two palaeontologists John (Jack) Horner and John Scannella published their findings after undertaking an extensive analysis of the morphology of Triceratops and Torosaurus skulls.

To read more about this topic: The Extinction of Torosaurus – Second Time Around

However, dinosaur experts are trying to make it clear to the media that they are not in the business of removing Triceratops from the history of the Dinosauria.  It had been thought that Torosaurus was a very close relative of Triceratops but it did have generally a larger skull and longer neck crest with two distinctive holes in it, whilst Triceratop’s head crest was made of solid bone.  In the study by the American team it seems that as Triceratops got older so the neck crest got thinner and two holes (called fenestrae) began to appear.  The holes would have been covered in skin when the animal was alive and probably served as signalling device amongst herd members, with the fenestrae making the skull lighter.

Commenting on his work, Horner stated:

“When we examined it [Triceratops skull] and actually looked at how the bone grows, we could see that the frill starts out solid, and as it gets bigger and bigger it becomes thinner and thinner until there’s holes in the middle of it.”

The American scientists accept their theory may be controversial but they do want to make one important point.  Since in science it is the animal name first used that takes precedence, Triceratops is not in danger of becoming extinct for a second time.

“Triceratops was named before Torosaurus so it has precedence.  But a lot of people in the press didn’t know that so they thought this meant that Triceratops was going to go away, and it is not.”

Dr. Horner concluded

As curator of palaeontology at the Museum of the Rockies, Dr. Horner and his team have been responsible for the naming and describing of a number of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals – including the duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura, “Good Mother Lizard”.  This member of the Hadrosaurine is associated with an amazing fossil site in Montana (United States), the remains of a dinosaur nesting colony.

To view a model of Maiasaura and other dinosaur toys: Dinosaur Models for Girls and Boys – Dinosaurs

In comparison to Triceratops, very few Torosaurus fossils have been found.  This would make sense if Torosaurus actually represented elderly versions of Triceratops as only a small number of these herbivores would have made it to old age.  In addition, and perhaps most significantly, no fossils of juvenile Torosaurs have been found to date.  This fact adds credence to the theory of Triceratops being younger versions of Torosaurus as proposed by the two American scientists.

5 08, 2010

Dinosaur Egg Returned to the Museum

By | August 5th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

A Fossilised Egg of a Hadrosaur (Duck-billed Dinosaur) Returned to Museum

A dinosaur egg stolen on Tuesday from Otago Museum (South Island, New Zealand) has been returned after the rare and delicate fossil was left at a local police station.  Whoever returned the egg, either the original thief or someone who was returning the stolen egg on the thief’s behalf, did not wait around for the police to interview them.

According to the New Zealand press association, the egg was stolen from the Otago museum in North Dunedin early on Tuesday.  It had been on display at the museum’s ground floor shop.  The Hadrosaur egg was left in a supermarket shopping bag at Dunedin central police station around 8am this morning, unfortunately the police counter was unattended at this time and there are no witnesses.  However, police will be scrutinising the security cameras to see if the person dropping off the egg can be identified.

A police spokesperson also commented that the alleged thief had been caught on the museum’s security camera system too.  It seems that this brazen larcenist walked up to the egg, looked round to see if anyone was watching and simply put it in his bag and walked out.

The egg originated from Upper Cretaceous deposits in the Henan province, China, and although not the most valuable item in the museum, such fossils are rare and highly prized by collectors.

An Illustration of a Typical Late Cretaceous Lambeosaurine

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows a typical late Cretaceous, crested, duck-billed dinosaur (Lambeosaurine).  The dinosaur featured is a Corythosaurus.

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

The police have returned the egg to the museum and intend to review the museum’s security camera footage as part of their ongoing investigation into this modern day Oviraptor (name means “egg thief”).

4 08, 2010

Famous AMNH Exhibit Gets a Makeover

By | August 4th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

American Museum of Natural History Barosaurus/Allosaurus Exhibit Gets Makeover

One of the most spectacular dinosaur exhibits at the world famous American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), is to undergo a makeover.  Dominating the front entrance of this museum dedicated to natural history, is a battle scene between a rearing Barosaurus and an Allosaurus.  The Barosaurus is defending a baby from the attentions of the fearsome Jurassic meat-eater.  Nineteen years after this exhibit was first erected on a platform in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, the centrepiece to the entrance of the museum will be separated into distinct display mounts.

The Spectacular Barosaurus and Allosaurus Display

Picture Credit: AMNH/Gothamist

The company responsible for separating these two duelling Jurassic dinosaurs is Research Casting International.  They will be getting to meet three old friends as it was Research Casting International who first erected the exhibit back in 1991.  The work is planned to take the next six weeks, and for much of this time the Barosaurus, the baby Barosaurus and the attacking Allosaurus will not be fully on display, but once the new exhibit is completed, visitors will be able to walk between the Sauropods and the Theropod for the first time in the museum’s history.

Walking between the mounted skeletons of such creatures will be a new thrill for the five million or so annual visitors.  The American Museum of Natural History will be the only museum in the world to offer such an experience.

The walkway will permit onlookers to gaze up at these leviathans and to get much closer than ever before to parts of the skeletons.

Mark Norell, chairman of the Palaeontology Division stated:

“We’re not a museum of a museum.  We’ve got to change once in a while.”

The decision to separate these two dinosaurs was taken last year, when damage was noticed on the existing display and with increasing concerns over visitor congestion at the front of the museum.

We at Everything Dinosaur have fond memories of our visits to the American Museum of Natural History it was always exciting to walk around these prehistoric monsters, the Barosaurus rearing up onto its hind legs and flailing its forelimbs as a threat gesture to the approaching Allosaurus.  The Barosaurus is the highest mounted skeleton in the world, taller than the recently reconstructed Humboldt Museum Brachiosaurus (Berlin) – we think?

Saying Hello to the Rearing Barosaurus

Barosaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This exhibit is based on the anatomical evidence preserved in the fossilised bones of some Sauropods that indicates that these huge animals could rear up onto their hind legs.  Using their tails to help balance them, animals like Barosaurus could reach branches higher up trees or defend themselves using their large front claw (one enlarged claw on each front foot), against attacks from predators.

This display is one of our all time favourites and it was seeing the amazed expressions of young people coming into the museum that inspired us to set up Everything Dinosaur.  We will be sad to see the original exhibit changed but the science of palaeontology is constantly evolving and changing so it seems very appropriate to change iconic displays such as this from time to time.

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