All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
10 11, 2010

Everything Dinosaur Website Permits a Little Bit of Creativity

By | November 10th, 2010|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Christmas Greetings!

The newly upgraded and improved Everything Dinosaur website permits the team members to express a little bit of creativity as they have the opportunity to put up their own visuals and images of dinosaurs.

The home page of the website contains a number of special slots or “skins” which permit the addition of new visuals, which Everything Dinosaur team members can develop and add.  For the dinosaur experts and teachers in the company this has meant that they have had to learn some new skills, but they have the chance to customise images and pictures and post up their own original content.

The company invests in a lot of photography, and Everything Dinosaur has built up an extensive library of images, pictures, artwork and drawings related to dinosaurs and dinosaur toys and models, so it is time for team members to indulge in a little creativity.

Christmas Greetings – An Image Produced by Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture shows a couple of the Ice Age soft toys from Everything Dinosaur, displayed against a seasonal background, one of a number of new images the company has planned for their home page.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We are giving everybody in the company the opportunity to take part, lots of ideas and designs have been suggested, the trick is that whoever thinks of an idea has to work out how to create the image and then get it posted up online”.

More used to using a brush to dust away sand grains from an outcropping fossil, no doubt the staff will soon get used to the new paint shop skills and brush strokes required to customise their own artwork related to dinosaur models and images.

Visit Everything Dinosaur: Everything Dinosaur Website

9 11, 2010

Tyrannosaurus rex Game – A Classic Dinosaur Game

By | November 9th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|96 Comments

Being Chased by Tyrannosaurus rex

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be chased by a hungry, ferocious T. rex?  If you think you can shepherd your herd of dinosaurs to safety and avoid becoming part of a Tyrannosaurus rex dinner, then this board game called simply “Tyrannosaurus rex“; might be the thing for you.  From two to four players, the object of the game is to take your dinosaur charges from the bone dry desert to the safety of their lush jungle home.

Each player starts with four different types of herbivorous dinosaurs, the aim is to race your pieces around the bright and colourful playing board, but watch out!  There’s a hungry T. rex about – aiming to catch as many of your dinosaurs as he can.  This dice based game has proved popular on test with our families, we ourselves have played it in the office, there is a bit of skill and strategy required to make it to home safely.  It is certainly a very innovative dinosaur themed board game.

Tyrannosaurus rex – Board Game

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view more details: Dino Board Games & Puzzles

This game is suitable for dinosaur fans from 5 years and upwards, it is easy to play and the rules are quite simple.  We played a slight variant swapping the dinosaur shaped counters supplied with the game with some mini dinosaur models, we also added one or two rules of our own, for example, we gave every player four models of the same type of dinosaur, rather than four different ones, as in the conventional game.  For each dinosaur species we made a special rule, for example the Ornithomimids (speedy Ostrich-like dinosaurs) had a weighted dice throw as they could have run more quickly than the other dinosaurs represented in the board game.  For the armoured dinosaurs we gave them extra protection so they could resist more effectively a T. rex attack.  For the Pachycephalosaurs, (boneheads) represented in the board game, we gave them a little more protection, but not as much as the armoured dinosaurs, and a touch more speed, but not as much as the Ostrich-like dinosaurs.  We enjoyed experimenting with the game to see what other versions we could come up with.

8 11, 2010

Huge Prehistoric Bison Skull Unearthed in Colorado

By | November 8th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Giant Bison Fossil Discovered at Ice Age Dig Site

A team of scientists from the Denver Museum of Science and Nature have announced the discovery of the almost perfectly preserved skull of an extinct species of giant Bison at a dig site nearly 100 miles west of Denver (Colorado).  This discovery is just the latest in a series of important finds made at this location.  The sediments represent the remains of an ancient lake, and the team of American researchers and field workers are collecting a treasure trove of important fossils consisting of a range of prehistoric mammal mega fauna.

Dr. Ian Miller, a curator of palaeontology and the Chairperson of the Earth Science Dept. at the Denver museum, spotted a bison horn core, as it was being uncovered by an excavator.  The horn was so large, that Dr. Miller initially thought that it was the tusk of a Mammoth or Mastodon, as a number of fossils of these prehistoric elephants had already been found at the site in the previous month.

After more of the matrix was carefully removed, a second horn corn was found.  This led the fieldworkers to the spot where the skull was located.  The span of the horns is approaching nearly two metres across, making this prehistoric beastie nearly twice the size of extant bison today.

Chief curator at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature, Dr. Kirk Johnson, stated:

“I’m trying to think of a cooler fossil that I’ve seen in my life.  This is the iconic fossil recovered thus far in this excavation.”

The Huge Prehistoric Bison Skull at the Dig Site

Picture Credit: Denver Museum of Science and Nature

The horns of this particular species of prehistoric Bison, extend straight out from the head, before curving at the tips, reminiscent of African Water Buffalo.  Fossils of similar sized giant Bison have been found elsewhere in the western United States, in strata ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 years of age.  This suggests that the ancient lake deposits that the scientists are exploring may actually represent sediments laid down much further back in history.  The research team, exploring the deposit had suggested that the fossils found up to date, had been no more than 15,000 years old.  Dr. Johnson commented that if much older fossils were found than previously thought this would make the location, close to Snowmass Village – very significant.

A second Bison skeleton was also discovered over the weekend, this may be juvenile of the same species.  It and the larger specimen have been taken back to the museum, where they can be properly cleaned, subjected to radiocarbon dating to determine their exact age and have a DNA sample taken.

Museum staff and volunteers are racing against time to get the majority of the dig site explored before the worst of the Colorado winter sets in.  So far fossils of ancient deer, Mastodons, Mammoths and the remains of Giant Ground Sloth have been discovered.  The site, now a reservoir but once part of a glacial lake is being renovated and expanded, it was as this work got underway that the first of the prehistoric mammal fossils were found.

7 11, 2010

New Website – New Functions

By | November 7th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s Website Offers Customers More Choice

The new Everything Dinosaur website, with its upgrades is providing customers with an easier and simpler on line shopping experience.

The recently upgraded Everything Dinosaur website – Everything Dinosaur contains many more features, each designed to help make on line shopping easier and more convenient.  With advancements to the “Wish list” function, plus easier sharing of information via RSS feeds and emails, visitors to the website can share information amongst their friends and relatives.

The new home page layout has already won a number of admirers, but the work for the Everything Dinosaur developers does not stop there.  They are about to role out a number seasonal themed banners giving the website a much more polished appearance.

Countdown to Christmas Home Page Banner

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows one of the prototypes for the new seasonal and special offer banners that Everything Dinosaur can now display on their website’s home page.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur will be using various products and other company images to show their products and services in a variety of new ways.  Watch out for a few prehistoric scenes from Everything Dinosaur.

6 11, 2010

Hoard of Palaeogene Amber from Indian Coalmine

By | November 6th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Prehistoric Creatures Preserved in 52 million year old Amber

The remains of hundreds of ancient arthropods have been discovered in a hoard of amber preserved in sediments discovered in a coalmine located in western India.  Researchers have been able to identify over 700 insects, mites and spiders, many of which are remarkably well preserved.  The fossils will help scientists to determine the extent to which Indian fauna and flora was influenced by the sub-continent’s gradual drift away from Africa towards Asia throughout the Mesozoic under the influence of plate tectonics.

Amber is a sticky, scented resin produced by certain types of trees since Jurassic times as protection against disease and to help seal wounds in the bark.  Occasionally, insects and other small creatures can become trapped in the resin and fossilised when it hardens into amber.

Everything Dinosaur has written extensively on fossil discoveries associated with organic remains preserved in amber, last year for example, we reported on the discovery of elements of a Jurassic spider’s web preserved in fossil amber.

To read more about this discovery: World’s Oldest Cobweb Preserved in Amber

The international team of researchers excavated something approaching 150 kilogrammes of the light, brown, coloured amber pieces from the coalmine located in Gujarat Province (India).  This is one of the largest finds of amber ever recorded from Asia.  The animals, pollen grains and other items trapped inside the amber are helping to provide scientists with an insight into the Indian eco-system at around the time that the Indian subcontinent collided with Asia to form the Himalayas.

A spokesperson for the research team, palaeontologist Jes Rust, based at Bonn University (Germany) stated that the remarkably well preserved fossils consisted of ancient bees, termites, gnats, flies and ants – in total more than 700 arthropods.

Examples of some of the Fossil Finds

Picture Credit: University of Bonn/David Grimaldi/American Museum of Natural History

Dr. Rust commented:

“They [the organisms] are so well preserved.  It is like having the complete dinosaur, not just the bones.  You can see all the surface details on their bodies and wings.  It’s fantastic.”

The amber itself is helping scientists to understand more about the flora in India during this part of the Palaeogene.  Tests on the fossilised resin indicate that it comes from a type of hardwood tree, that today make up nearly 80% of lowland forest canopies in south-east Asia.  The amber and the fossilised wood found in the same rock strata suggests that India must have been extensively forested at the time the amber was formed.

Reporting in the American based, scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, the researchers describe the creatures preserved and theorise on the changes undertaken in Indian flora and fauna as the sub-continent drifted towards Asia under the influence of plate tectonics.

As the Indian plate moved towards the Asian plate,  a chain of islands may have formed.  These would have permitted the interchange and mixing of different floras and faunas as the islands acted as stepping stones for organisms between the two landmasses.

Dr. Rust stated:

“We think that, before the final collision between India and Asia, some sort of island arc was established.  Our findings suggest that the mixing of fauna was already so strong, that it was already happening for several million years.”

Once species from India had crossed into Asia, they could have spread further, eventually reaching Australia.  The team has so far recorded 100 different arthropod species.  They are hopeful that the amber will reveal more, some of which are likely to be close relatives of arthropods that live in Africa and Madagascar as the Indian sub-continent was once attached to these areas of land, for much of the Palaeozoic and into the Mesozoic forming the super-continent Gondwanaland.

5 11, 2010

Looking Forward to “First Life”

By | November 5th, 2010|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

David Attenborough’s Documentary “First Life” on Television this Evening

We have been discussing the new television documentary series produced by the BBC – “First Life” all week.  Tonight at 9pm (GMT) we get the chance to see the first of the two-hour documentaries that make up this programme.

Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, “First Life” completes the series of television documentaries made by the BBC recording life on Earth, the first of which entitled “Life on Earth” we think was shown in 1979.

This new series, explores how life on the planet began and takes viewers through the first few billion years of the history of our planet, known as the Cyrptozoic (hidden life) and into the eon known as the Phanerozoic (visible life), which covers the last 550 million years or so.  The stars of these two programmes are the amazing fossils but there is extensive use of CGI so viewers can look into life in a shallow Cambrian sea.  Some of the bizarre creatures featured have never been animated before.  This gave scientists an opportunity to see how their fossilised charges would have moved, swam or crawled.

Tonight’s opening episode starts with the first signs of life on our planet and provides an account of how the first single-celled micro-organisms kick-started life as we know it.  In the office at Everything Dinosaur, we are having a competition to see how high up the BBC ratings chart the programme will go, we all have drawn a number from a sweep-stake which corresponds to the ranking the programme will get in terms of viewer numbers in that particular week.  I have the number four, so I think I am in with a good chance of winning – not sure what the prize is, but we all can’t wait to watch tonight.

4 11, 2010

The Twenty Best Blogs for Primatologists

By | November 4th, 2010|Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

The Twenty Best Web Logs for Primatologists

For those of you wishing to follow in the footsteps of Dian Fossey or Jane Goodall and to study our nearest living relatives – the apes and monkeys, here is a heads up on the top blogs to be found on the subject of all things primatology, as provided by the E-advisor blog.

This particular article states that one of the fascinating things about primatology — the study of primates, for those who’ve forgotten their suffixes — is that it can be applied to so many professional fields, from biology and zoology to more far-reaching areas like anthropology and psychology.  Studying these animals means examining our close relatives and learning what makes them, us, and the world itself tick.  The article highlights a number of college courses in the field that cover everything from animal behaviour to the languages of apes, and from the study of habitats to the exploration of human-primate interaction.  The blogs rounded up by the article team, perhaps the collective noun should be a “troop” of blogs given the nature of their specialism, are among the best in the field, especially for students looking to get a better understanding of all primatology has to offer.

As the article writers at E-advisor say, the blogs provide insights and updates on research, plus monkey pictures!

To view the top twenty list: Best Blogs for Primatologists

3 11, 2010

High Oxygen Levels Spawn Super-sized Dragonflies

By | November 3rd, 2010|Main Page, Palaeontological articles|1 Comment

Meganeura – Here we Come!

Dragonflies with wingspans as big as hawks may not be every-body’s cup of tea, but a team of researchers from Arizona State University in a study focused on calculating the past oxygen concentrations in the atmosphere have set out to create some super-sized bugs.

Three hundred million years ago, during the Carboniferous geological period, tropical swamps were patrolled by a variety of flying insects, the largest known was the huge dragonfly Meganeura, with a wingspan approaching 75 centimetres in diameter.  Whilst down on the ground, huge Arthropods, some of them more than two metres long scuttled through the undergrowth.  Not the sort of place you would want to visit if you have a disliking of creepy crawlies.

Biologists and Palaeobiologists have been working on an extensive project to assess oxygen concentrations on the effect of insect growth.  The team have managed to produce super-sized dragonflies, ones which are 15% bigger than normal by raising the insects in chambers that imitate Earth’s high oxygen concentrations during the Carboniferous.

A Dragonfly Moulting into its Adult Stage

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The research, presented to the annual conference of the Geological Society of America, meeting in Denver, Colorado provides support for the theory that super-sized ancient invertebrates and high atmospheric oxygen levels were not coincidental.  The study may also help scientists to gain an insight into more recent oxygen levels on our planet, as there is conflicting data on atmospheric oxygen concentrations from the late Mesozoic and into the Cenozoic.

Lead author, palaeobiologist John VandenBrooks of Arizona State University said:

“No one has been successful growing dragonflies under controlled laboratory conditions before, at least to my knowledge.  This has allowed us to ask the question – how have oxygen levels through time influenced the evolution of insects?”

The fossil record has preserved a spectacular record of giant insects and Arthropods from the Carboniferous.  During this period in Earth’s history oxygen levels were up to 50% higher than they are today, with oxygen making up something like 31% of the atmosphere, compared to today’s more modest 21%.

To read an article about the discovery of an amazing insect fossil in the United States: Spectacular insect fossil discovered in America

In our own studies with locusts, the rate of breathing changes depending on the amount of oxygen an insect is exposed to.  If you place a locust in a sealed chamber and increase the concentration of oxygen in the air, the rhythmic movement of the abdomen slows down.  It is the beating of the abdomen that helps draw air and that all important oxygen into the creature’s body via its tracheal breathing tubes.  If the concentration of oxygen is decreased the animal has to “breath harder” and the beating of the abdomen increases.  How insects and Arthropods were able to grow to huge sizes during the Carboniferous may be due to a number of factors, but the concentration of oxygen levels would have had a strong influence as this new research shows.

VandenBrooks and his team raised a number of “living fossils”, creatures such as different beetles, cockroaches and dragonflies in three habitats, each with different oxygen concentrations.  One habitat had oxygen concentrations at Carboniferous levels, the second had conditions of just 12% oxygen, (the lowest oxygen level since complex life appeared on Earth during the Cambrian).  The final habitat mimicked modern atmospheric conditions with an oxygen level of 21%.

The team discovered that dragonflies and beetles grew faster, as well as bigger, in a high-oxygen environment, while cockroaches grew slower and remained the same size. All but two species in the study grew smaller than normal at the lower concentration of oxygen.

A study of invertebrate fossils preserved in amber (fossilised tree resin) could help to correlate the data, providing a basis to help determine oxygen levels in the Earth’s atmosphere in the Cenozoic.  If measurements of the breathing tubes of these creatures preserved in Baltic amber dating from fifty million years ago, could be taken then this data and the American research could be combined to help map ancient oxygen levels.

Postdoctoral research fellow, VandenBrooks added:

“We started out with insect physiology to understand the fossil record better, in light of data from modern species.  Then we realised we might have a biological tool to estimate ancient oxygen levels – a proxy – using that physiology in specimens trapped in amber.”

Looking after the dragonflies was never going to be easy, especially since they spend the vast majority of their lives as water-loving nymphs.  The team had to hand feed their charges with worms, crustaceans and as they got bigger, larger prey such as guppy fish.  When adult dragonflies emerge, to spend the last part of the lives as swift fliers, whizzing around in a bid to find a mate, they begin breathing through a network of tracheal air tubes.

For almost six months, 225 nymphs, (75 per controlled habitat) had to be hand fed, as VandenBrooks admits:

“It wasn’t quick, but it paid off.”

After the dragonflies and the other creatures changed into their adult forms, the researchers measured their breathing-tube volumes.  They discovered that high oxygen concentrations lowered tracheal volume, while low oxygen concentrations boosted it. VandenBrooks commented that tracheal volume may be tied to prehistoric dragonfly body size:

“As you become a larger insect, more of your body is taken up by tracheal tubes.  Eventually, you reach a limit as to how big you can be.”

He went on to add:

“The more oxygen that is available, the smaller that system needs to be and the bigger you can grow.”

Dragonflies in the modern habitat with 21% oxygen levels grew normally, with wingspans of about 3.5 inches, while the hyperoxic chamber spawned dragonflies with 15 percent larger bodies and 4-inch wingspans.  Beetles also grew proportionally larger but, conversely, cockroaches did not increase in size when exposed to the rich oxygen levels. Instead, they remained the same size and developed more slowly.

VandenBrooks stated:

“We are not sure why this happened.”

However, cockroach tracheal volume still decreased along with most of the other creatures studied.

“We might be able to correlate this modern tracheal data with tracheal volumes we measure in amber fossils to find out what oxygen concentrations were during some contentious periods in history.”

He also commented that oxygen levels around 300 million years ago are better known than from 120 to 65 million years ago, a period with “conflicting and poorly resolved” oxygen models.

There is conflicting data on oxygen concentration levels in the period of Earth’s history extending from the Early Cretaceous through to the Eocene. Some scientists state that oxygen levels were generally higher than they are today, whilst other researchers have put forward data to indicate lower concentrations.  The work of the Arizona State University’s team could help to determine which of these theories is closest to the truth.

As VandenBrooks says:

“We need a good proxy to estimate historic conditions.  Amber fossils are promising if we can more tightly correlate breathing-tube volume to oxygen.  I would like to take a more in-depth look at the fossil record and expand forward to the present and backward to the past to see if amber is a viable proxy.”

The researchers want to repeat their experiments, to see if changing oxygen levels has an effect on invertebrate’s behaviour.  In particular how changes in atmospheric oxygen concentrations affect dragonflies.

VandenBrooks concluded by saying:

We want to know how it affects their metabolism.  How does it affect their ability to perform?  Their speed?  Their efficiency?  I’d love to know these things.”

This research is certainly helping to add more information to the debate as to ancient concentrations of oxygen, and to the rise of the super-sized insects and other invertebrates of approximately 300 million years ago.  At Everything Dinosaur, we think that oxygen levels are certainly a factor but there are one or two other points to consider.

Firstly, take the Carboniferous fliers for example.  These were the first creatures to be able to exploit this medium.  A lack of competition could have aided in their evolution to giant forms.  Also, it is worth remembering that the higher concentrations of oxygen in the atmosphere during the Carboniferous as opposed to higher levels of nitrogen we see today, would have made the air denser, and thus easier to fly in, allowing insect muscles to work more efficiently.  This could have helped in the evolution of larger flying members of the Insecta.

During the Carboniferous, land based vertebrates were not as diverse, or as numerous as today.  The largest vertebrates were amphibians, slow moving animals with a very sprawling gait.  The first reptiles had evolved but these creatures for most of the Carboniferous were small, many were less than 30 centimetres in length.  The Arthropoda and the Insecta could be said to have ruled the Earth at this time in our history, the lack of vertebrate predators could have helped stimulate the evolution of large forms of invertebrates.

2 11, 2010

BBC to Make 3-D Dinosaur Movie

By | November 2nd, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|2 Comments

Walking with Three Dimensional Dinosaurs

The BBC is to co-produce its first ever 3-D movie and they have looked at their ground breaking “Walking with Dinosaurs” series for inspiration.

When “Walking with Dinosaurs” was first aired more than ten years ago, it set new standards in computer graphics, robotics and animatronics.  The subsequent worldwide sales of this programme and the spin-off series netted the corporation vast sums of money.  This new movie project, estimated to cost something in the order of £40 million will combine live action with new computer technology – LIDAR (light, detection and ranging).

The use of LIDAR is particularly appropriate, a case of art imitating life for a number of palaeontologists as a form of LIDAR technology has been used by scientists to detect fossils laying buried underneath sediment, helping field workers to decide where best to dig.

A spokesperson for the project stated that the use of 3-D cameras will create: “never before seen levels of invisibility between live action and CGI worlds.”

This news will please those clever people behind the “Walking with” live show, perhaps another world tour will be required.

The film is the first of three new big screen ventures to be co-produced by BBC Earth – the global natural history brand for BBC Worldwide – and Indian giant Reliance Big Entertainment.  The dinosaur film will be co-directed by Pierre De Lespinois, of 3-D studio Evergreen Films, and BBC Earth’s Neil Nightingale.

The second co-production will be a £15 million docu-feature called Africa 3D. It will be filmed alongside the BBC’s forthcoming major TV series of the same name.  A third programme, entitled “Life” a follow up to the BBC series about the animal kingdom will be available in 2011.

Marcus Arthur, BBC Worldwide’s managing director of global brands, said:

“By partnering with Reliance Big Entertainment, we have the opportunity to realise a long-held ambition of making BBC Earth 3D feature films.”

Looks like we at Everything Dinosaur, will have to invest in some snazzy red and green glasses.

1 11, 2010

Running With Baby Dinosaurs

By | November 1st, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Baby Sauropod Trackways Discovered in the Western United States

A set of dinosaur trackways dating from the Late Jurassic have been identified as having been made by baby Sauropods, (long-necked dinosaurs).  The footprints suggest that these are the trace fossils of the youngest Sauropods known to science and they are providing scientists with an insight into dinosaur family life from approximately 145 million years ago.

Dinosaur trackways are exceptionally rare.  These trace fossils can tell palaeontologists a lot about the behaviour of the animals that created them, unlike body fossils such as bones, which can be transported many miles before deposition, when you look at a footprint in the field, you are looking where a dinosaur actually walked, or in this instance ran!

An Illustration of a Typical Late Jurassic Sauropod

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur team members reported on a similar discovery, back in 2008, when a series of baby Sauropod trackways were unearthed from Lower Cretaceous sediments in South Korea.

To read more about this story: Baby Sauropod Trackways Discovered in South Korea

The baby Sauropod footprints were discovered several years ago, in foothills to the west of Denver (Colorado).  The prints were found in strata that forms part of the famous Morrison Formation, a series of fossil rich, Upper Jurassic sediments that cover a substantial portion of the American Mid-west.
Matthew Mossbrucker, the Director of the Morrison Natural History Museum, discovered the prints and information about them was presented to the members of the Geology Society of America, who were holding their annual convention in Denver.  Although the trackways were discovered more than five years ago, these trackways are part of a backlog of new discoveries made by the Morrison Natural History Museum staff.
Commenting on the footprints, Dr. Robert T Bakker of the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences stated:
“The latest discovery is a tribute to Director Matt Mossbrucker and his crew of sharp-eyed volunteers. Never before has science given us such an intimate glimpse of baby Brontosaurs – a window into Jurassic Family Values.”
One of the Sauropod Prints (coin used for scale)

Baby long-necked dinosaur footprint

Picture Credit: Morrison Museum of Natural History (MNHM)/Matthew T. Mossbrucker
We think these tracks are the smallest Sauropod footprints ever found.  They could be from a dwarf species, but most likely since they were found in association with the prints from adults, these are baby dinosaurs.  The prints represent trackways made by the youngest Sauropods discovered to date.  In the picture above, the back of the foot is at the bottom and the five toe marks left by this little dinosaur can clearly be seen.
Each print is only a few inches across, less than a coffee mug in diameter.  This suggests that it was infant Sauropods that made them, measurements taken from the trackway indicate that they were perhaps no bigger than a small dog.
Whilst one dinosaur left a trackway that indicates moving at a slow walking pace, another infant left a trackway that runs parallel to adult Sauropod tracks.  This association is helping to provide valuable information on the behaviour of Sauropod adults and young.  Although this is supposition, the fossil evidence could be interpreted as a baby dinosaur following its mother, indicating a form of bonding between an adult and young.
Part of one of the trackways reveals a remarkable aspect of young Sauropod behaviour, making these tracks unique.  Matthew Mossbrucker explained:
“The distance between each step is two-times wider than what we observe in walking tracks indicating that the animal was at a low speed run.  I am not aware of any running Sauropod tracks anywhere.”
What is more remarkable, is that this trackway suggests that the little dinosaur may have  reared up onto its hind legs.  The running trackway shows only the rear foot prints, the front foot prints may have been obliterated as the dinosaur’s hind feet landed in the space formerly occupied by its front feet as it ran.  This would provide scientists with fascinating data on the dinosaur’s gait as it increased speed.  However, it also raises the intriguing possibility that the absence of front feet prints in the running part of the trackway could be explained in another way.  Could the baby Sauropod have run on its hind legs, just like its ancient ancestors, when the need arose – a sort of facultative bipedalism, that was lost as the animal got older and heavier?
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