All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//October
11 10, 2011

Tyrannosaurus rex Attacks

By | October 11th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos|0 Comments

The Last Thing an Ornithomimid Ever Saw

The supreme Late Cretaceous ambush predator strikes again, the sudden lunge into the flock of foraging Ornithomimids causes panic amongst these fleet footed dinosaurs and one poor unfortunate victim is engulfed in the powerful jaws of the on rushing T. rex

Tonight we have been playing around in Photoshop CS5 getting some practice in for a refresher course tomorrow.  Had a go at using filters and layers to put on some effects such as radial blur into some photographs of dinosaur models.

Tyrannosaurus rex Attack!

The Last Thing an Ornithomimid Ever Saw

Picture Credit: Alan Whitehouse/Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur’s grateful thanks to Alan Whitehouse for his excellent model photographs.  Using a combination of layers and radial effects in CS5 we have manipulated the photo to animate the replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex (Collecta dinosaur model) to give the impression of the on rush of those huge and powerful jaws.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur model range: Dinosaur Models

As relative novices at using Photoshop CS5 we are quite proud of this effort.

10 10, 2011

Planet Dinosaur – Cast of Characters Hatzegopteryx

By | October 10th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Hatzegopteryx thambema – Huge Pterosaur

In two of the six episodes of the ground breaking television series “Walking with Dinosaurs”, the central characters were not dinosaurs at all.  In episode three of this 1999 series, “The Cruel Sea” it was the marine reptiles that took centre stage.  In a later episode, the central character was a huge flying reptile called Ornithocheirus.  “Planet Dinosaur” mimics this by having segments of programmes dedicated to marine reptiles (Pliosaurs), as in Predator X and to the enormous Azhdarchid Pterosaur Hatzegopteryx.

Just like its predecessor, in “Planet Dinosaur” the marine reptile sequences were featured before the Pterosaur segments but for many viewers the sight of a Pterosaur stalking dinosaurs like some giant, prehistoric Marabou stork is probably going to be more memorable.

And so to the Late Cretaceous and to an island archipelago in what would eventually become eastern Europe Europe (Transylvania/Romania) a place called Hateg, a place dominated by dinosaurs in miniature.  Animals who find themselves cut off on an island over many,many generations often become much smaller than their mainland counterparts.  As food resources are short, animals often adapt over time becoming much smaller.  The smaller an organism is; the less food it requires and this might be a successful survival strategy for an animal living in a place where food is limited.

However, not all the prehistoric creatures on Hateg were small, Hatzegopteryx as a Pterosaur could fly between islands and this huge creature may well have been one of the top predators in the area.

Hatzegopteryx was not a member of the Dinosauria, but a Pterosaur (flying reptile), closely related to the dinosaurs but a distinct group.  The fragmentary fossils indicate that this flying reptile was closely related to another giant Azhdarchid Pterosaur from the end of the Cretaceous – Quetzalcoatlus.  Indeed, some scientists have proposed that Hatzegopteryx may well turn out to be another species of Quetzalcoatlus. Estimates for the wingspan of this creature do vary.  It is only known from fragmentary remains but comparisons with other Azhdarchid specimens indicate a wingspan perhaps around 12 metres plus.  The skull of this giant was perhaps as much as three metres long, it being mostly comprised of a narrow, elongated, tooth-less beak.

An Illustration of Hatzegopteryx thambema

Huge Pterosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Interestingly, if you read the book that accompanies the BBC television programmes, the weight given for this flying reptile in the fact file compiled for it is and amazing 2.4 to 2.6 tonnes.  This is completely wrong, although perhaps as tall as a giraffe this Pterosaur weighed only about 250 kilogrammes.  Ironcially, in the text which is included with a close up picture of the Pterosaur in the book, the weight estimate is given at around the 250 kilogramme mark.

In the “Planet Dinosaur” sequence a group of these Pterosaurs are seen stalking a herd of Magyarosaurs, one spies an infant and plucks the helpless individual from the ground with its enormous beak before swallowing it whole.   This is perhaps the first time this sort of behaviour theorised for a flying reptile has been shown in such a way to a large television audience

9 10, 2011

Planet Dinosaur – Cast of Characters (Camptosaurus)

By | October 9th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Camptosaurus – Very Successful Late Jurassic Ornithopod

It is always a pleasure to see members of the Ornithopoda on television documentaries about dinosaurs. For example, a Camptosaurus was featured in episode 4 of the BBC television series “Planet Dinosaur”. Often it is the meat-eating monsters such as Allosaurus that hog the limelight but from a vertebrate palaeontology point of view it is the herbivores that are much more interesting – simply because there is very often, much more fossil material to study.

A number of Camptosaurus specimens are known from the Upper Jurassic aged strata of the Morrison Formation, indeed there have been a number of species of Camptosaurus described, including one species from fossils found in England (although this may be a basal Iguanodontid).

Many specimens have been discovered ranging from fully grown adults to juveniles and even a twenty-five centimetre fossilised embryo. The hind-limbs were much longer than the fore-limbs enabling this dinosaur to take up a bipedal stance and run if required, although small weight bearing hooves on the middle fingers indicate that this dinosaur also walked on all fours. Camptosaurus was officially named and described by the famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1885. So glad it made an appearance in episode 4 of “Planet Dinosaur” alongside its more famous contemporaries such as Stegosaurus and Allosaurus.

8 10, 2011

From Tucows to WordPress – Everything Dinosaur’s Blog Moves Home

By | October 8th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s Blog Moves to a New Home

Even old fossils like the team members at Everything Dinosaur have to move with the times.  The Everything Dinosaur web log has been functioning since late May 2007, to date, something like sixteen hundred articles and pictures have been published.  However, our hosting site has had to move house as Tucows announced that they would no longer be supporting the web log software we were using from early 2012.

So our blog has upped cyber sticks and moved to wordpress.  We have been assured that our geological tools will still be able to hammer out articles, news stories and other information related to the Dinosauria.  This is good news, as we have a big queue of dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed articles waiting to go up.  The team members at Everything Dinosaur have been assured that even though our brains are about the size of a Compsognathus cerebrum on a good day, we will readily adapt to this new environment.  We shall see, it may take a few days to get our blog site looking tickety boo, but with a bit of luck and practice we will get there soon.

7 10, 2011

A Review of the Carnotaurus Model (Safari Ltd)

By | October 7th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos|0 Comments

Carnegie Collectibles Carnotaurus Model Under the Spotlight

As always, it is a pleasure to see a new addition to the Carnegie Collectibles dinosaur model range (made by Safari Ltd).  As fans of Abelisaurids the introduction of a new 1:30 scale replica of Carnotaurus, a giant Cretaceous predator was most welcome.  With some time in the boardroom booked, we set up our mini studio, grabbed the company’s handy cam and set to work. 

Here is the review of the Carnotaurus model:

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of the Carnotaurus Model (Safari Ltd

Video credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this video we discuss the skin texture of the model compared to the existing fossil material and reflect on the accuracy of the replica compared to the fossil evidence – enjoy.

6 10, 2011

Winning Dinosaur Party Food Ideas

By | October 6th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Winning Dinosaur Party Food Ideas for Your Little Monsters

We have received a number of requests to provide advice on how to organise the food for a dinosaur themed birthday party or some such similar event.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur wrote an article on this very subject, one of a number of articles put together to take the stress out of dinosaur party planning.

Winning Dinosaur Party Food Ideas: Winning Dinosaur Party Food

To help parents and guardians deal with the stress of planning the food for excited youngsters keen for a dinosaur themed birthday party, we put our heads together and come up with a number of innovative (and cheap) solutions.  It was posted on the Ezines website – hope this helps.

5 10, 2011

Planet Dinosaur – Episode Four “Fight For Life”

By | October 5th, 2011|Main Page, TV Reviews|2 Comments

A Review of Planet Dinosaur – Episode 4 “Fight for Life”

Having bemoaned the absence of any Triassic dinosaurs in this excellent television series, it was a pleasure to see the warm, shallow seas of the Jurassic featured in this episode of “Planet Dinosaur”.  The focus on this particular programme was the predator/prey relationship, a rich hunting ground for the production team given the amount of fossil evidence that can be interpreted to show such affinities.  The fossil record and the various pathologies of body fossils, coupled with an examination of the natural world today and predator/prey relationships provides plenty of material.  The marine predator featured was the huge Pliosaur “predator X”, with its rosette of 30 centimetre long teeth.  The prey was the Plesiosaur – Kimmerosaurus langhami, one of our favourite Plesiosaurs, anything named after the Kimmeridgian faunal stage is fine by us.  This part of the programmes showed these long-necked beasts, ploughing through soft mud in search of shell fish, worms and other food items.  The fossil evidence for this behaviour comes from a cliff face in Switzerland which has a number of long, weird grooves preserved in the rock, which was once sediment at the bottom of a shallow, tropical sea.  Scientists believe these grooves were dug out by Plesiosaurs as they swam along with their snouts in the sediment searching for food.  They could also have been created as these marine reptiles searched for stones to swallow to act as ballast and as gastroliths to help them grind up food.  We noted that Dr. Adam Smith (Plesiosaur expert) was named in the credits.

The terrestrial part of the programme took viewers to the Morrison Formation of the western United States.  It discussed the relationship between Allosaurus and two prey genera – Camptosaurus and Stegosaurus.  The programme postulated that Camptosaurs and Stegosaurs lived together for mutual benefit.  The Camptosaurs with their bipedal stance acting as look outs for the heavily armoured Stegosaurs.  Such relationships are seen in nature today, for example, in Africa our team members have observed Ostriches and Zebra feeding together.  The Zebras rely on the Ostrich with their heads held high and superb eyesight to spot danger.  Whether or not Camptosaurs and Stegosaurs actually sought out each other for mutual protection is a little speculative, but certainly feasible, if difficult to prove given the fossil record.  Allosaurus fragilis was the hunter, an interesting interpretation, especially the colouration and the crests above the eyes – they reminded us of sun-shades, these would have been useful especially if this predator was most active at dawn or dusk, with the sun low in the sky, just like many predators today. Surprisingly, Saurophaganax got a look in, S. maximus a very large Allosaurid which was first studied in the 1930s.  We thought that this Theropod had been re-classified as just a very big A. fragilis, but no, there it was in all its glory, bullying the Allosaurus out of its kill, its twelve metre-length making it about 15% bigger than the other Theropod.

Interestingly, Saurophaganax is not featured or even mentioned in the book that accompanies this BBC television series.

To read a brief article on Utah’s Theropods: Articulated Theropod Fossil found (Morrison Formation)

4 10, 2011

Natural History Museum is Getting the Bird

By | October 4th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities|0 Comments

“London” Specimen of Archaeopteryx is the Type Specimen

Perhaps one of the most famous fossils ever found, the beautifully preserved and almost complete fossil of Archaeopteryx that was discovered in 1861 and later purchased by Sir Richard Owen for what was to become the Natural History Museum (London) has been declared the type specimen.  Experts at the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) have ruled that this fossil, known as the “London” specimen after Sir Richard bought it for £700,  has been declared the official representative of the Archaeopteryx species (A. lithographica).

Archaeopteryx, this tantalising mixture of bird and reptile was named and described by the German palaeontologist Hermann von Meyer in 1861.  The first fossil evidence of Archaeopteryx that came to the attention of science was a single, fossilised feather that had been preserved in the fine-grained limestone deposits at  Solhofen (Germany).

A Scale Drawing of Archaeopteryx

A Scale Drawing of Archaeopteryx (Everything Dinosaur)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur 

Please note, yes we know we have the name spelt wrong in the title above the drawing and our Archaeopteryx does remind us of a duck because of its “bill”, but we did what we could to give the artist a steer on the drawing – whether he listened to us, that’s a different matter.

The “London” specimen was found just two years after Charles Darwin had published his ground-breaking theory on natural selection, and here was a transitional fossil showing a mix of bird and reptilian features – adding weight to Darwin’s conclusions.  The ICZN has ended five years of debate and discussion and now ruled that the “London” specimen should be the type specimen for this species – the specimen that scientists use to provide a scientific description of the characteristics of a species, a sort of blueprint to which all other Archaeopteryx fossils found have to be compared with.

The ICZN is the body responsible for regulating the naming of all extinct and extant species.  They help to ensure that names are used universally and they settle disputes over naming and the classification of organisms.

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur could not help using a pun when asked to comment on this ruling, he stated:

“The specimen held at the Natural History Museum [London] is a fantastically well-preserved fossil and provides researchers with the opportunity to study this 147 million year old creature in great detail.  The Natural History Museum based scientists and other researchers have already produced some amazing information and data on the bird/dinosaur link as well as the evolution of birds.  Having it declared the type specimen is a real feather in their cap.”

However, for every scientist that applauds this decision there will be others who contest it.  A number of palaeontologists and taxonomists felt that a change in the type specimen was unjustified.  The previous type specimen – that single feather referred to earlier, is now thought to belong to another fossil bird species discovered at Solnhofen and it may not relate to A. lithographica at all.

A Model of Archaeopteryx

A Model of Archaeopteryx

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Commenting on the change, one that will see the debate amongst palaeontologists continue no doubt, Dr. Ellinor Michel, the Executive Secretary of the ICZN stated:

“Changing type specimens is not done lightly.  What makes a specimen ideal can change with new methods and new philosophies of taxonomy.  However, this case was seen as truly exceptional, as Archaeopteryx lithographica is our most iconic fossil bird.”

The importance of Archaeopteryx, not least in the way it has helped to substantiate the theory of natural selection, cannot be underestimated.  One essential point to make is that just because this fossil was the first feathered creature of its kind to come to the attention of western science, does not make Archaeopteryx the first bird.  Calling Archaeopteryx the first bird, is a mistake we offer hear people making when they comment on the Late Jurassic creature.   We at Everything Dinosaur, explain the situation like this:

Imagine you have a bag of 10,000 marbles, all of which are numbered in sequence from one to 10,000.   We can calculate the probability of a person putting their hand into the bag and picking out the ball marked number “one” on their first pick. Put simply, the probability is one in ten thousand of this happening.  Just because the Solnhofen specimens were the first “marbles” out of the bag does not make them the fossils of the first bird-like creatures ever to evolve.  A point driven home by a group of Chinese scientists recently when they reviewed a number of Jurassic Theropod specimens and postulated that Archaeopteryx may not be a bird at all but a cursorial feathered dinosaur.

To read more about this research: Is Archaeopteryx about to get Knocked off its Perch?

The decision by the ICZN does clear up a long-standing issue as to how the species was defined and it puts the “London” specimen at the very heart of research into the feathered creatures that once lived around a tropical lagoon in what was to become Germany.

3 10, 2011

New Species of Crocodile Discovered Down a Colombian Mine

By | October 3rd, 2011|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Palaeogene Crocodile Fossil Suggests Crocodiles Quick to Exploit Dinosaur Extinction

The fossilised remains of an ancient crocodile have been discovered by a team of American scientists whilst working underground exploiting a rich, fossiliferous seam in a Colombian coal mine.   This crocodile has been identified as a new species and at more than six metres long it was a sizeable reptile, one whose ancestors survived the Cretaceous mass extinction event and quickly adapted to exploit predatory niches once occupied by the Dinosauria.

The new species of crocodile was discovered by a team of University of Florida researchers, led by Jonathan Bloch Associate Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History assisted by Carlos Jaramillo, a palaeobotanist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

A Picture of Alex Hastings with the Fossils from the Crocodile Specimens

Assembling the fossil evidence for Acherontisuchus

Picture Credit: Kristen Grace/Florida Museum of Natural History

This crocodile Acherontisuchus guajiraensis is just one of a number of amazing fossil discoveries made by the research team as they explore the underground strata which represent sediments laid down in a tropical Amazon-like environment approximately sixty million years ago.  A species of super-thick shelled Chelonian had been described recently, the  reason for the strong carapace being revealed with the discovery of fossils of this fearsome crocodile.

To read more about this discovery: Fossil Turtle Had Super-Thick Shell to Defend Itself from Predators

Perhaps the most astonishing discovery made to date in the Cerrejón coal mine was the fossils of an enormous snake, the largest known in the fossil record.  The snake, a constrictor is estimated to have measured more than fifteen metres long and weighed as much as 1,200 kilogrammes.  The snake was named Titanoboa cerrejonensis it would have been an apex predator in the rain forest environment but from our research the paper’s published indicate that this snake was more closely related to Boas than to the Amazon’s largest snake – the Anaconda.

To read more about Titanoboa: Titanoboa – Super huge Snake of the Tertiary

The holotype specimen for this new species was actually collected  by Alex Hastings, a University of Florida PhD student in the department of geological sciences.  The coal mine is a particularly unpleasant place to work.  The coal seams can spontaneously combust and they give off a powerful and very unpalatable sulphurous odour.  This coupled with the extreme heat and humidity makes the excavation of fossils extremely difficult.

A. guaijraensis was a member of a crocodile family that were not direct ancestors of today’s crocodiles, gharials, caiman or alligators, but this discovery is important as it is helping scientists to build up a picture of ecosystems in the aftermath of the Cretaceous mass extinction event.  Judging by the size of this new crocodile species and Titanoboa it seems that sixty million years ago reptiles still ruled the world, at least in South America.

It seems that the Acherontisuchus genera survived the cataclysm that led to the Dinosaurs demise and interestingly, this fossil is the first evidence of a large crocodile member of this genera being associated with a freshwater habitat.  Previously, all fossil evidence of large crocodiles ascribed to the Acherontisuchus genera had been found in association with marine environments.  This suggests that crocodiles were quick to adapt to and exploit niches vacated by other animals that did not survive the mass extinction event.

An Illustration of Acherontisuchus guaijraensis

Colombia – sixty million years ago

Picture Credit: Florida Museum of Natural History

Commenting on this discovery, student Alex Hastings stated:

“One of the questions about this group was how were they able to survive – what advantages did they [Acherontisuchus genera] have?  What this new crocodile really contributes to is that it is the first evidence of a large-bodied member of this group being found in freshwater.  Before now, it was thought that only baby crocodiles would spend any appreciable amount of time in freshwater and that adults spent most of their time in a saltwater environment.”

The size estimates for this new species have been scaled up from the larger of two individual specimens discovered at the site.  Based on an analysis of the limited skull and jaw material, scientists have described this crocodile as having a long narrow snout, superficially resembling that of an extant gharial.  It seems from the shape of the jaws that this crocodile was primarily a piscivore (fish-eater).  The Cerrejón coal mine is proving to be a rich source of evidence about tropical Palaeogene environments just a few million years after the dinosaurs disappeared.  We suspect that more amazing fossils await discovery, perhaps another big crocodile, one that could even match the likes of Sarcosuchus imperator in terms of size.

2 10, 2011

A Review of the Miragaia (Stegosaur Model) – Safari Ltd

By | October 2nd, 2011|Everything Dinosaur videos|0 Comments

The Miragaia Stegosaur Model from Safari Ltd

It is always exciting when Safari Ltd introduces a new replica into their premier prehistoric animal model range – Carnegie Collectibles.  These scale models are authenticated by the palaeontologists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States).  We were delighted to hear that a new Stegosaur model was on its way a couple of years ago and within twelve months we had it confirmed that it was going to be a European Stegosaur – none other than the Portuguese Late Jurassic Stegosaur called Miragaia.

Naturally, when the model came out we were happy to write reviews and articles on this new replica, after all, any Stegosaur who had more cervical vertebrae than an Apatosaurus is a winner in our eyes.  We also turned our little boardroom into a film studio and shot a brief video about this introduction from Safari Ltd.  It is a pleasure to see a Carnegie Collectibles Miragaia dinosaur model added to the Carnegie Collectibles dinosaur model series.

A Scale Model of M. longicollum

“Long-neck from Miragaia”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this video, we comment on the colouration, discuss the actual fossil material ascribed to this species – Miragaia longicollum and provide a brief review.

A Review of the Carnegie Collectibles Miragaia Replica

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This five-minute long video is one of a series of videos we have produced reviewing various models and model sets that have recently been introduced by manufacturers such as Safari Ltd.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s extensive range of prehistoric animal models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys – Dinosaur Models

Hope you liked the video, as always feel free to comment.

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