All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//February
8 02, 2011

Fact Sheets, Fact Sheets and more Fact Sheets

By | February 8th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

New Prehistoric Animal Models means New Fact Sheets

The next few days are going to be busy for the dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur.  For every named prehistoric animal we supply; we research, write and produce a fact sheet on that creature.  Our library of fact sheets is already quite extensive, everything from Trilobites to Pterodactyls, unfortunately, with new model releases imminent our team are having to add to our free prehistoric animal fact sheet collection.

Over the next few days, fact sheets on several prehistoric animals will have to be completed – Kelenken (Terror Bird), Jobaria (Sauropod), Camptosaurus and Majungatholus to name just a handful of the animals that require their own data sheet.

Each fact sheet provides information on fossil finds, research into the genera or individual species and a scale drawing so the size of the creature can be seen.    There is something like 120 fact sheets on our database at the moment, with another dozen or so to add once they have been checked and approved by our specialists.

7 02, 2011

Ancestor of Bugs Bunny goes on Display

By | February 7th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Oldest Fossil Lagomorph on Display to Commemorate Year of the Rabbit

On Thursday, 3rd February to mark the Chinese New Year, we put up an article about prehistoric rabbits, just a snippet in recognition that according to the Chinese astrological calender, this was the start of the year of the rabbit.

At the time we professed that none of the Everything Dinosaur team members knew anything about rabbits and their ancestors in the fossil record.

To view this article: Rabbits and the Chinese New Year

We did not think it would be long before a Chinese museum or research institute put a fossilised Lagomorph on display to mark the year of the rabbit, and sure enough, shortly afterwards, we were told of a Eocene Epoch rabbit skull going on display last week, to mark this special occasion in the Chinese New Year.

The fossil is a beautifully skull and jaws of a prehistoric rabbit dating from approximately 54 million years ago.  It is on display at the Palaeozoological Museum of China in Beijing.

The Ancient Rabbit Skull on Display

Picture Credit: China Today

The fossil was discovered three years ago in the Eren Basin region.  It represented a new species of Lagomorph, the oldest known in the fossil record.  It was formally named and described as Dawsonlagus antiquus.  The Chinese exhibition celebrates the rabbit in China’s culture and traces the origins and evolution of the rabbit family.  So if you want to see the earliest known ancestor of Bugs Bunny hop over to Beijing.

6 02, 2011

Plans for Fossil Festival Well Underway

By | February 6th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival 29th April to 1st May

The fossil festival located at Lyme Regis (Lyme Regis and Charmouth) is just over ten weeks away and plans for the events and activities are well in hand.  The event is scheduled to take place over the first Bank Holiday weekend in late April and early May, fingers crossed for some fine weather to help the fossil hunters.

The programme of events starts Friday 29th April and runs through the weekend to Sunday evening.  There will be a chance to meet fossil experts, get involved in dinosaur sized artwork, dig for ammonites, shop at the fossil fair, participate in street theatre, construct a giant dinosaur jigsaw and to go fossil hunting on the Jurassic coast with an expert guide.

This year, we are delighted to hear that our chum, Brandon Lennon has been invited to lead a fossil festival guided walk along the Dorset shoreline.  Brandon is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced fossil experts in the area, and a walk with him exploring the Jurassic sediments is one thing not to be missed.

Come rain or shine, Brandon will be at Festival information booth at 8.45am sharp on the morning of the 29th ready to lead those fortunate people lucky enough to be able to sign up for this activity.  We know that part of the Jurassic coast extremely well and for an informed walking tour of the beach area, Brandon is just the sort of person needed to take you back to the time of Ichthyosaurs, long-necked Plesiosaurs and the beautiful ammonites and belemnites.

We would advise dressing for the weather, rain gear – if it is going to be wet and be sure to wear sensible shoes as walkers will be venturing over wet sand and rocks as they travel back in time.

For further information on Brandon’s Fossil Festival walk check out the Fossil Festival website or click: Fossil Festival Programme

At the link above, you will find further information on the special fossil walks being organised, including information on how to book for Brandon’s walk on the Friday morning.  The Fossil Festival website also contains details of all the other exciting events and activities that are going to be taking place over that weekend.

The 2011 Fossil Festival

Picture Credit: Fossil Festival

We wish all the organisers and volunteers the very best and hope that his year’s event will be bigger and better than ever.  Don’t tell Prince William that the Fossil Festival starts on the 29th of April, he may be tempted to cancel the wedding!

5 02, 2011

Dinosaurs Left Tracks Thanks to the “Goldilocks” Effect

By | February 5th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Manchester Researchers Reveal Secret to Dinosaur Tracks

A team of researchers based at Manchester University (England) have identified the ideal conditions needed for dinosaur tracks to be preserved as trace fossils.  Footprints and trackways are known as trace fossils.  These preserve evidence of the activity of animals, they have one major advantage over the other main type of fossil – body fossils, they are direct in situ evidence of the environment at the time and place the organism lived.  If you were to stand in the preserved, fossilised footprint of a dinosaur, you will literally be “walking with dinosaurs”.

University of Manchester researchers used computers to simulate prehistoric creatures making tracks in different types of mud.  This university has developed an extensive range of software programmes which have led to insights into dinosaur travel speed and locomotion.  The team found that soil conditions had to be perfect for different dinosaurs to leave fossil footprints behind.

Computers Used to Assess Dinosaur Trackways

Picture Credit: Manchester University

Dubbed the “Goldilocks effect”, scientists say it explains why tracks were left at some sites and not others.

Dr. Peter Falkingham, who led the research team stated:

“By using computer modelling, we were able to recreate the conditions involved when a 30-tonne animal makes a track.”

He went onto add:

“Now we can use this Goldilocks effect as a baseline for exploring more complicated factors such as the way dinosaurs moved their legs, or what happens to tracks when a mud is drying out.”

Dinosaurs were incredibly diverse over their 160 million year reign, ranging from leviathans that weighed upwards of fifty tonnes to tiny, bipeds such as Compsognathus from Germany and Microraptor from China.  However, different sites and different strata have yielded different tracks.

The Paluxy River site in Texas, USA – where one of the most famous sets of fossil prints was found – only reveals prints of larger dinosaurs.  Using computer modelling, the team simulated up to twenty different dinosaurs walking in different conditions.  What they found was that heavier dinosaurs only left lasting tracks in thick, shallow mud.

In deeper, softer mud, only lighter dinosaurs could leave prints while larger animals would become stuck and trapped in the soft mud they could die.

A Theropod Dinosaur Trackway (Southern England)

Picture Credit: Oxford

The findings also suggest that significant sites such as Paluxy River could have been host to a larger number of creatures than the tracks themselves show.  The fauna of an area was probably a lot more diverse than the footprint record reveals.

Dr. Falkingham commented:

“A skeleton is the remains of a dead animal; the footprints are the remains of a living animal, something made during life.  That’s what is absolutely fascinating for me about dinosaur footprints.”

4 02, 2011

Everything Dinosaur’s 300th Customer Feedback Published on Website

By | February 4th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Three Hundred Not Out – Customer Feedback

Three hundred not out and still counting.  The three hundredth customer comment has just been put up on the Everything Dinosaur website.  Mail order can often be a remote process, with online mail order companies having little or no interaction with their customers.  This scenario couldn’t be further from the truth with Everything Dinosaur, the UK based dinosaur company staffed by parents, teachers and real dinosaur experts.

Since April last year, as part of a substantial investment programme in the company’s website Everything Dinosaur customers of Everything Dinosaur have been able to put up comments and feedback about the products purchased and the service received.

In just over two hundred and ninety days since the new customer feedback module was put up on the site, three hundred customer comments have been posted up.  Commenting on the feedback a spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We are delighted to see such a positive reaction to our company and our efforts so pack and despatch orders on time.  It is so nice to be appreciated, and customer feedback including product reviews are extremely important to us.”

The customer feedback module is not the only method of receiving customer’s comments. Ever since the company first stated trading more than six years ago, they have included a freepost reply feedback form into all UK orders.  A third of all UK customers send in the feedback, and this information has helped the company with new product ideas and has played a major role in driving continuous customer service improvements.

Testimonials on websites placed online by customers play a very important role in helping new visitors to a website to assess the quality of the service they are likely to get from the company.  With an average of one new customer comment or review a day, there is certainly a great deal of unbiased information published online at Everything Dinosaur to help new visitors make an informed choice when it comes to purchasing dinosaur toys and dinosaur models.

3 02, 2011

Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rabbit

By | February 3rd, 2011|Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rabbit

Today, marks the start of the Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the Lunar New Year.  It will be commemorated with a fortnight of celebrations and activities.  There are events going on throughout the world to mark the start of the year of the rabbit.

Rabbits are members of the Order Lagomorpha and not rodents as is commonly supposed.  Although they may share a common ancestor with those mammals that are members of the Order Rodentia such as rats along with mice, beavers, voles and squirrels.  The rodents represent the largest group of extant mammals with something like 1,800 species worldwide with more yet to be scientifically named and formally studied.  The Lagomorphs which include Pikas and Hares are much less numerous with just eight different genera recognised.

We are not sure when Lagomorphs appear in the fossil record, but we would assume the first evidence would be found in Lower Tertiary rocks, most probably Palaeogene, certainly by the Miocene these creatures were common and widespread.  The Pikas, which resemble small, short-eared rabbits were particularly abundant in the Miocene but since about five million years ago their numbers have declined rapidly, being replaced by true rabbits.  Pikas are mainly restricted to mountain habitats in the northern hemisphere today.

According to Chinese astrology, people born in the year of the rabbit are conscientious, industrious and financially lucky.  Perhaps we ought to be conscientious and make an effort to study the origins of the Lagomorphs this year.

2 02, 2011

Everything Dinosaur gets it “Right on the Nose” – A Horned Nose That is

By | February 2nd, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s First Prediction for 2011 Proved Correct

Just for a bit of fun, whilst some of our team members were working over the Christmas and New Year period, we put our heads together and wrote a list of palaeontological predictions for 2011.  We came up with seven predictions of likely scenarios that we thought would take place in the following twelve months.

There were no prizes to be awarded, it was simply a case of debating amongst ourselves what might happen with Everything Dinosaur in particular and Earth sciences in general over the next year.

For the article that lists our predictions: Everything Dinosaur Predictions for 2011

It is pleasing to note that our first prediction, that a new genus of Ceratopsian would be announced, has already come true.  Yesterday, we wrote an article concerning the strange case of Titanoceratops; a new genus of horned dinosaur that had originally been ascribed to Pentaceratops sternbergi.  So just over a month gone and the first of our predictions has already come true.

Mind you, you don’t have to have a crystal ball to identify that with so much more research being directed at the Centrosaurines and Chasmosaurines at the moment, the announcement of a new genus was almost bound to happen.  Still, we can say that we got something right, we were on the nose as it were and a horned one at that.  Check out the Everything Dinosaur blog for further news and updates about our 2011 predictions.

1 02, 2011

Time of the Titans – Titanoceratops

By | February 1st, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

New Genus of Chasmosaurinae Discovered in a Scientific Paper

The probable ancestor of dinosaurs such as Triceratops and Torosaurus has been discovered after a careful study of misidentified Pentaceratops material.  It turns out that what was once thought to be a Pentaceratops represents a new genus of long-frilled, long horned Chasmosaurine and this dinosaur is likely to be named Titanoceratops.

The name Titanoceratops (T.ouranos), as this Ceratopsian is likely to be called is technically nomen nudum – this means that a name has been given to an organism but it has yet to be formally described or to have a holotype assigned to it.  Ironically, for a horned dinosaur with a skull measuring over 2.4 metres in length and longer brow horns than Triceratops horridus it was found within the pages of a scientific journal publication.

An Illustration of Titanoceratops

Picture Credit: Nicholas Longrich/Yale University

The fossils of this dinosaur have been found in the upper Fruitland Formation of New Mexico, which dates from the Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  If they do represent the earliest member of the Triceratopsini, then this indicates that these type of dinosaurs evolved into much bigger animals far earlier than previously thought.  It was Yale University palaeontologist Nicholas Longrich who made the discovery, when he realised that fossil material described in a scientific paper and then only formally examined fifty years after the paper was first published, actually represented a new genus of horned dinosaur.  The re-assessment of the fossil bones including the all important skull material (found in 1941), will be clarified in a scientific paper due to be published in the journal “Cretaceous Research”.

For Nicholas, a post doctoral assistant based at the department of geology and geophysics at the University of Yale, describing new genera of Ceratopsians is becoming a bit of a habit.  Last year, the paper on Mojoceratops, another new horned dinosaur named by Dr. Longrich was published.

To read more about this “cool” dinosaur: Mojoceratops – what a cool name for a dinosaur

He made the discovery whilst searching through old scientific papers.  He found a description of a partial skeleton of a horned dinosaur found in 1941, that had not been formally studied until 1995, at which point it was identified as Pentaceratops sternbergi another type of Chasmosaurine dinosaur known from the Western United States.  The skeleton was reconstructed for a display exhibit at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, the frill far from complete in the original fossil specimen was remodelled to look like the frill of a Pentaceratops.  However, when Dr. Longrich examined the fossil material in detail, he began to realise that something did not quite add up.

Dr. Longrich commented:

“When I looked at the skeleton more closely, I realised it was just too different from the other known Pentaceratops specimens to be a member of the species.”

Although there is know variation in frill characteristics due to factors such as pathology and ontogeny, Dr. Longrich could not make the fossil evidence fit the typical features of a Pentaceratops.  The other difficulty that Nicholas had to contend with was the sheer size of the specimen.  Although, Pentaceratops is regarded as an animal with a huge neck shield, one of the largest known in the fossil record, the dinosaur itself grew to about six metres in length.  The size of the misidentified skull material now ascribed to Titanoceratops indicated a horned dinosaur closer to Triceratops and Torosaurus in size.

Projected Size Comparisons between Members of the Chasmosaurinae

Ceratopsian Sizes

Illustration credit: Nicholas Longrich/Yale University

The size of this Ceratopsian has led Dr. Nicholas to propose the name Titanoceratops “Titanic horned face”, a reference to this animal’s impressive size – something weighing as much as an adult African elephant.  The new genus seems to be ancestral to Triceratops, but with a more elongated and thinner frill with clear fenestrae plus a wider nose horn and longer brow horns.

Dr. Longrich believes that Titanoceratops was probably the ancestor of the later Torosaurus and Triceratops and that these two different types of dinosaur split several million years after Titanoceratops first evolved.  However, despite the extensive fossil material and copious amount of work, a controversial paper published last year cast doubts on the distinction between Torosaurus and Triceratops, claiming that fossil material actually represented one genus.  Evidence was presented to suggest that the Torosaurus material actually represented very old and mature individual members of the Triceratops genus.

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

Dr. Longrich, when asked about the ancestral relationship between this new dinosaur discovery and the Maastrichtian Chasmosaurines stated:

“This skeleton is exactly what you would expect their ancestor to look like.”

Hopefully, more fossil material will come to light from New Mexico that will permit scientists to explore further the relationship between different members of the long-frilled, horned dinosaur group.

The Skull Material Ascribed to Titanoceratops

Note the large frill fenestrae

Picture Credit: Nicholas Longrich/Yale University

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