All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
21 01, 2011

Dancing with Dinosaurs

By | January 21st, 2011|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 1’s Interpretation of a Mass Extinction

Yesterday, one of the team members at Everything Dinosaur was at a school, working with teachers and teaching assistants to deliver a dinosaur workshop and to conduct some outreach activities centred around the topic for the term – dinosaurs.

The students were all very keen and had lots and lots of questions, which were answered with our usual enthusiastic gusto.  At the end of a busy day, the children from Year 1 (aged 5-6) put on a dancing display as they interpreted how they thought the dinosaurs met their demise.  We moved to the hall, and in time to the music, the children at first pretended to be different types of dinosaurs, four-legged herbivores, giant long-necks and ferocious predators.  As the music grew louder (indicating the imminent arrival of an extraterrestrial body such as an asteroid), the “dinosaurs” became scarred and started running around in a panic.  At the crescendo of the music, the asteroid hit the Earth and all the children fell down and stayed very still, indicating the demise of the Dinosauria.

It was a very creative piece of music and movement, helping the young students to burn off some energy after they had been sitting down making dinosaur eggs, and digging for dinosaurs in the sand pit.

The teaching staff had considered how to appeal to different learning styles and to use differentiation in their teaching delivery.  The topic had been very well planned with lots of engagement for all the young students and it was a pleasure to have been a part of it.

I’m sure the children will really enjoy the rest of this term’s topic, after all, teaching about dinosaurs in school is fun.

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s school workshops: Teaching About Dinosaurs in School

20 01, 2011

Review of Prehistoric Times (Winter 2011)

By | January 20th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

Review of Prehistoric Times (Issue 96)

Our copy of Prehistoric Times arrived yesterday, a chance for us to catch up on all things related to prehistoric animal models and palaeontology, plus it reminded us to forward on to the editor some new pictures of the Papo “Dinosaures” releases for 2011.

The front cover of the latest edition of Prehistoric Times features the bizarre, gigantic South American extinct rodent Josephoartigasia as painted by James Gurney.   Described as a cross between a “pig and a rhinoceros”, the author and illustrator of the Dinotopia series comments in a brief article, how he went about creating this artwork.  In another section, James outlines how he went about creating a prehistoric scene showing Titanoboa (the largest snake known to science) constricting a large crocodile.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Winter 2011)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

There is a special feature on those cursorial Ornithomimosaurs with lots of artwork and illustrations submitted by readers and it is great to see an extensive and highly informative article on that often over looked group of animals the prehistoric giraffes (no pun intended, as if you could literally overlook a giraffe).

A very handy, double page spread written by the excellent Steve Brusatte of the American Museum of Natural History/Columbia University which highlights some of the most important palaeontological news stories of the last year, plus an informative report on the exhibits to be found at the Field Museum (Chicago) can be found in this edition.

Wonderful to read the article about dinosaur colouring books and how they have changed over the last twenty-five years and we were excited to see that there is going to be a re-issue of that amazing Tyrannosaurus rex 1:13 scale model produced originally by Aurora models back in the 1970s.  One of our team members has this kit somewhere, perhaps we should rebuild it, complete with its glow in the dark teeth and set it up in our boardroom.

Once again, a jam-packed edition and a credit to all the writers and illustrators concerned.

To visit Prehistoric Times website: Prehistoric Times

19 01, 2011

The Dinosaur Called “Sarah”

By | January 19th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|1 Comment

The Basal Sauropodomorph – Sarahsaurus

The other day, we were asked by a young dinosaur fan, that if she found a dinosaur could she name it “Sarahsaurus” after herself.  An interesting question, whereas there are certain rules that have to be followed when considering scientific nomenclature, technically there is nothing to stop a person describing an organism that is new to science in a way that commemorates them in some way.

However, in the case of this young girl and her ambition of being able to name a dinosaur after herself, the name Sarahsaurus has already been taken.  In the autumn of 2010, there was a paper published that described a basal Sauropodomorph from North America, this animal had already been assigned the genus name Sarahsaurus (Sarahsaurus aurifontanalis).

Known from a single specimen, excavated from Lower Jurassic strata in Arizona (Kayenta Formation), this dinosaur is believed to an ancestor of the Diplodocids and Macronaria that thrived in the Late Jurassic.  Measuring approximately 4 metres in length, Sarahsaurus was much smaller than later Sauropods and the fossil represents one of the most ancient (190 million years old) and most primitive long-necked dinosaur fossils discovered to date in North America.

An Illustration of Sarahsaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The diagram shows a man next to the Sarahsaurus sketch to give scale.  Sarahsaurus had strong hands with claws and powerful forearms.  Scientists have suggested that this dinosaur, although preferring a quadrupedal stance, could rear onto its hind legs if required.  Perhaps the hands and claws were used to break open termite nests.  By the early Jurassic, termites living in large, social colonies were becoming widespread and Sarahsaurus may have been an omnivore, supplementing its diet of plants with termites and other small animals.

Sarahsaurus was named to honour a patron and supporter of the university that led the excavation (Sarah Butler).  So for our young dinosaur fan, she will have to think up another name to use, should she be lucky enough to discover an organism that proves to be new to science.

18 01, 2011

New Prehistoric Animal Models from Papo of France

By | January 18th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

New Model Introductions from Papo in 2011

The pictures of the new prehistoric animal models to be released from Papo of France have been made available to Everything Dinosaur.  The models, two Cretaceous herbivores and a new model of a Smilodon (Sabre-toothed cat) are due to shipped across to us in the early Spring.

The two new dinosaurs are Styracosaurus and Ankylosaurus.  It is very appropriate to have a new horned dinosaur added to the Papo Dinosaurs range, after a Pachyrhinosaurus was added last year.  There have been a number of papers published on Ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs) and a few months ago the excellent “New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs”, came out, a volume that provides details on some of the latest research on these large-bodied, quadrupeds.

The Styracosaurus from Papo of France

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model is very bright and colourful, a distinct contrast to other Ceratopsian models.   The skin texture is very carefully done, although the position of some of the epoccipitals, particularly the pair projecting forwards from the neck shield could be debated.  We recommend the Papo Styracosaurus dinosaur model.

Interestingly, the model has a row of small spines running the length of the body down to the tip of the short tail.  We are not aware of such a feature being preserved in the fossil record, however, we have to confess that we are a little rusty on this particular genus of Centrosaurine.

The other new dinosaur model this year from Papo is an Ankylosaurus.  This replica is again, very well made and this plant-eating dinosaur is depicted in a threatening stance.  The tail club is held high as if to see off the attentions of a patrolling Tyrannosaurid.  Like all Papo figures in their prehistoric animal model range, the painting and attention to detail is excellent.  Once again, we recommend the Papo Ankylosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Ankylosaurus

The Papo Ankylosaurus Model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Papo dinosaur models and figures and other dinosaur toys: Dinosaur Toys for Girls and Boys – Dinosaur Models and Toys

The third new model in the “Dinosaures” range is a replica of a Smilodon (Sabre-toothed cat).  This model works well with the excellent cave men figures that are already in the Papo series and given the retirements of prehistoric mammal models from other manufacturers it is pleasing to see at least one “furry” introduced,

The Papo Smilodon Figure

Papo Smilodon from Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In total, Papo have introduced something like 80 new models and figures, it is very pleasing to see so many new introductions.  The range Papo market as “Dinosaures” now contains nineteen models.  We remain puzzled as why the entire series is named after dinosaurs as more than a third of the replicas are not actually dinosaurs at all.

17 01, 2011

Mistake in Naming of Flying Reptile

By | January 17th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Ms Hubbard’s Contribution to the Discovery of Pterosaur Acknowledged

Science can be defined as the search for truth, and sometimes, despite the very best of intentions the truth can become blurred.  Take for example the announcement recently of the new Pterosaur find from British Columbia – Gwawinapterus beardi

Last week we reported on the discovery of new genus of flying reptile that had been discovered in Canada, this new flying reptile, dating from the Late Cretaceous had ferocious teeth located at the front of its jaws, these teeth superficially resembled those of a piranha.

To read more about this Pterosaur: New Pterosaur announced with “Piranha-like” Teeth

Information on this discovery was published in the scientific journal the “Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences” and a number of articles relating to this new Pterosaur were subsequently circulated.  However, we at Everything Dinosaur, had already picked up an inaccuracy in the discovery as it was reported by many news sources.

Graham Beard,  the curator of the palaeontological collection at the Qualicum Beach Museum and a keen fossil collector himself, was accredited with the discovery of the concretion which contained the skull material and partial jaws that led to the naming of this new genus of flying reptile.  The animal’s specific name honours him.

Unfortunately, Graham Beard did not actually find the fossil,  he was on the beach that day, but the finder of the fossil was Sharon Hubbard, a local artist who also is a passionate fossil collector.

Sharon showed her find, having cracked open the stone nodule which contained the fossil, to Graham.  Mr. Beard took the fossil away and it was eventually sent to the University of Alberta, where it resided for many years under the identifier VIPM1513 until it ended up being reviewed and studied by Victoria Arbour.

Unfortunately, the new species has been named after Mr. Beard, who had been credited with its discovery by some sources.  However, Graham did not find the fossil, Sharon Hubbard did.  We at Everything Dinosaur, were aware of this and in our article on the new Pterosaur published on January 11th we were keen to point out that Graham Beard was not the finder of the fossil.

Commenting about the confusion regarding the discovery, Victoria Arbour stated that:

“the academics feel very badly.”

Occasionally, errors of this nature do occur, especially when a considerable period of time lapses between a fossil’s discovery and its scientific study.  A happy ending could be provided if the scientific name were to be altered to reflect Ms. Hubbard’s contribution.

However, this is easier said then done.  Under the conventions of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, renaming an already described species is extremely difficult and in this instance it is likely that the new Pterosaur will remain as G. beardi.

Sharon, who was the first member of our species to hold the fossil specimen in her hands, had thought it could be called Hornbyensis humbardii, in recognition of her find.

Although not rewarded with the honour of lending her name to the new Pterosaur, she has the consolation of having found a very significant fossil.  She continues to search the beach area where she found the specimen, perhaps she will be lucky again and find something else that is unique to science.

Commenting on her fossil hunting, Ms. Hubbard said:

“I tend to find the unusual, I’ve done it over and over again.  Palaeontology is only 150 years old, by finding new stuff, your’e just about an explorer.”

We wish Sharon every success with her fossil collecting, and perhaps in the light of this naming discrepancy, we can do our bit by putting up this article.  Who knows, perhaps Sharon will find another unique specimen that will become the holotype for a new species and this one will have her name.

Addendum

Subsequent research published in 2012 identified the remains as having come from a saurodontid fish.

16 01, 2011

The Size of Velociraptor

By | January 16th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|1 Comment

Velociraptor was not Really That Big

Thank you for the question we received yesterday via email.  We get a lot of questions sent to us via email, letters and through school correspondence.  Given the fact that we were asked about how big Velociraptor actually was, we thought it time to clarify the size of this dinosaur and to rectify the mistakes made in the “Jurassic Park” films.

Velociraptor (V. mongoliensis) was a member of the Dromaeosauridae family.  Fast and nimble, this dinosaur was depicted in the Jurassic Park films as being around six feet tall.  In reality, an analysis of the fossil record suggests that most Dromaeosaurs were much smaller than this, of course there are exceptions, but based on the fossil evidence V. mongoliensis was about 1.8 metres long (mostly tail), and stood about one metre tall.

Velociraptor was about as tall as a six year old child, this is how we explain the size of this dinosaur to primary school children, it gives them a very good base for a reference.

A Scale Drawing of Velociraptor (V. mongoliensis)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The weight of an adult Velociraptor has been estimated to be around 12-15 kilogrammes, about as heavy as a large turkey.  Note that in the drawing above, the Velociraptor is depicted as being covered in feathers.  Most scientists now think that Velociraptor was probably covered in fine, primitive feathers to help insulate these active little animals, although no Velociraptor fossils have yet been found with feather impressions preserved.

15 01, 2011

Remembering January 1983 – The Discovery of Baryonyx

By | January 15th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|2 Comments

The Start of the Baryonyx Story – January 1983

It seems such a long time ago now, Baryonyx, a strange, fish-eating Theropod from the Barremian faunal stage of the Cretaceous (125 million years ago) first came to light in January 1983.

Baryonyx, a large, fish/meat-eater with its huge thumb claws and distinctive narrow jaws, lined with many more teeth than a T. rex.  With individuals growing to exceed lengths of over 10 metres this was a formidable beastie of the Early Cretaceous of Europe.

In January 1983, William Walker, an amateur fossil collector was exploring a clay pit in Surrey (southern England) when he discovered a huge fossil claw bone and other fossil material.  Helped by some friends, he was able to extract a number of fossils and after the Natural History Museum in London was contacted, a full scale excavation took place on the site.

Regarded as one of the most important Cretaceous dinosaur discoveries made in Europe over the last fifty years, almost 70% of an individual Baryonyx’s remains were removed from the clay pit.  So complete was this skeleton that the scientists and researchers were able to gain a great deal of information about the Spinosaurid family from this one specimen.

An Illustration of Baryonyx showing Scale Size (Collecta Baryonyx Dinosaur Model)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Baryonyx was formally named in 1986 (Charig and Milner).  The type specimen was named Baryonyx walkeri in honour of the amateur fossil hunter who had first made the discovery.

We have been involved in a number of projects to make Baryonyx models, to view a model range that includes Baryonyx and a number of other “British” prehistoric animals:

Collecta Dinosaurs and other dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

Although, other Baryonyx fossils are known, for example some material including teeth from the Isle of Wight, and other elements including skull material from Spain, the Baryonyx specimen from the Surrey clay pit, found twenty eight years ago, remains the only near complete skeleton known.  In fact, this specimen remains the most complete individual, large Theropod fossil ever found in western Europe.

14 01, 2011

New Fast and Speedy Triassic Dinosaur Announced

By | January 14th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Pint-sized but with a Nasty Bite – Eodromaeus from the Triassic of Argentina

It may have been small, but it was quick, agile and had a nasty bite, researchers have announced the discovery of a new genus of dinosaur from Argentina.  The dinosaur has been formally named and described – Eodromaeus murphi and it was a basal Theropod, an ancestor of ferocious dinosaurs such as Giganotosaurus, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex.

South America is regarded as the “cradle of dinosaur evolution”, with a number of primitive dinosaurs known from Argentina, in particular the mid Triassic strata of the Ischigualasto Formation in an area known as the Valley of the Moon.  This new Theropod, known from two specimens that were found in close proximity to each other, measured approximately 1.2 metres in length (mostly tail), it would have weighed around 5 kilogrammes.

The paper on this dinosaur has been published in the scientific journal “Science”.

An Illustration of Eodromaeus murphi

Picture Credit: Todd Marshall

The dinosaur’s name means “dawn runner” and it is one of a number of basal Theropods known from the Valley of the Moon area, other Theropods such as Herrerasaurus and Eoraptor, although dinosaurs were not the most common animals in the area, there were many different types of reptile and many of them were much, much bigger than the dinosaurs.

Commenting on the new dinosaur discovery, Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago, a palaeontologist who has worked extensively in Argentina stated:

“It was very cute, you would want it as a pet.  But it might be best as a guard dinosaur, to keep the dogs away.”

The fossilised bones of Eodromaeus have been dated to approximately 224 million years ago (late Carnian faunal stage).  Unlike Herrerasaurus, this dinosaur had hands that had three-clawed fingers.  It was very likely a fast runner and the narrow skull had some enlarged, sharply curved teeth at the front of the jaws.

Eodromaeus superficially resembles Eoraptor in size and anatomical structure, but scientists now believe that Eoraptor was an ancestor of the long-necked Sauropods.  The basal ancestry of the Sauropods remains unclear but recently, a discovery of a primitive quadruped from Argentina may have provided vital clues as to the evolution of the Sauropoda.

To read more about this discovery: The Mother of All Sauropods

As both genera were small, ran on two legs and lived around the same time, researchers believe that the common ancestor of all dinosaurs was also just about four feet in length and originated in South America.

Paul Sereno added:

“This gives us the earliest snapshot of dinosaurs.  They were just a couple of million years away from the ultimate ancestor.”

A Reconstruction of the Eodromaeus Skeleton

Eodromaeus skeleton

Picture Credit: Mike Hettwer

The long shin bones and large metatarsals indicate an agile, speedy runner.  The long tail would have helped this little dinosaur to balance and change direction quickly.  Although a carnivore, Eodromaeus was not top of the food chain, there were plenty of predatory mammal-like reptiles and carnivorous Rauisuchids that would have made short work of Eodromaeus had they been able to catch one.

13 01, 2011

Schleich Saurus Model Poster

By | January 13th, 2011|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Schleich Dinosaur Model Frieze

Those clever people at Schleich, the German based model and figure manufacturer have produced another illustration showing their beautiful scale model dinosaurs.  The range, marketed as the “Saurus” range consists of twelve, hand-painted prehistoric animal models including Allosaurus, Giganotosaurus and of course, T. rex representing the carnivores plus herbivores such as Brachiosaurus, Apatosaurus, Parasaurolophus and the armoured dinosaur Saichania.

The Schleich Saurus Dinosaur Frieze

Picture Credit: Schleich

The illustration shows herbivores from the range with the Pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus flying overhead.  Of course, such a scene could never have happened, not only did the animals depicted in the picture live millions of years apart, but many of them also lived in very different parts of the world.  For example, the Stegosaurus in the image lived in what was the western United States, whilst Saichania was native to Asia.

To view the Schleich Saurus models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls and Dinosaur Models

Still, all credit to the Schleich staff and their photo shop skills.

12 01, 2011

Heads Up or Should that Be Heads Down for Tyrannosaurs

By | January 12th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Tyrannosaur Head Position in Dinosaur Models

When working on bipedal dinosaur models, often the focus from a design point of view is achieving a stable prototype from which to work with. These Ornithodirans can be a little tricky when it comes to the Theropoda, their bipedal stance causes all sorts of problems, after all, a 6,000 kilogramme T. rex walking on its hind legs is impressive, and you want to make an accurate representation of the creature, so the stance and position of the hind feet are all important.

As digitigrades (walking on their toes as opposed to walking on their heels), Theropods such as T. rex are certainly a challenge, just producing a workable, realistic prototype.  Then with T. rex there is another dimension to consider – their massive skulls.

Such a heavy head, positioned at the front of the animal model, compounds the balance issue, especially when a considerable portion of the weight of the replica is located far away from the centre of gravity over the hips, and, as in the case of T. rex often the head is elevated and becomes the highest part of any model.

One way of resolving this issue, is to take a novel approach to the head position and depict the Tyrannosaur with a lowered head.  An example would be the Collecta 1:15 scale and 1:40 scale Tyrannosaurus rex replicas.

A Picture of the Collecta 1:40 Scale Model T. rex

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Collecta dinosaurs range: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

In this model, the head is depicted in lowered position, jaws agape.  The tail is elevated and becomes the highest part of the replica.  Balance is not just the only consideration though, this type of stance may reflect typical behaviour of large carnivores as they attempt to intimidate rivals and prey.

Having your main weapons perched some fifteen feet in the air is not much good when confronting a quadrupedal Ankylosaur.  One look at that powerful jaw lined with huge teeth may have been enough to stop a herbivore in its tracks.  Such intimidation may have been used before this carnivore attacked.

Many birds display by “head bobbing” and it is feasible that T. rexes displayed as well.  Visual cues would have played a role in any such behaviour, the dipping and bobbing of heads, perhaps to show the size of the mouth and the gaping jaws would have been an effective way of settling disputes over territory or mates.

So a pose in a model of a bipedal dinosaur may actually serve two purposes, firstly to stabilise the replica and secondly to depict suggested behaviour.  Sorting of “killing two birds with one stone” – looks like we are back to the Ornithodirans again.

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