All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//November
12 11, 2011

Argentinosaurus model from Collecta

By | November 12th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|6 Comments

Argentinosaurus huinculensis – Dinosaur Model out Spring 2012

For dinosaur fans and model collectors with a huge appetite for dinosaurs they can shortly get their hands on a dinosaur that had the biggest appetite of all.  Collecta are releasing a model of the huge Late Cretaceous Titanosaur known as Argentinosaurus (A. huinculensis).  In 1988, a sheep farmer stumbled upon what he thought at the time was a petrified (fossilised) tree trunk on his Patagonian farm (southern Argentina).  A team of palaeontologists from the Carmen Funes Municipal Museum came to look at the huge object, this was no fossilised tree, but the 1.5 metre long tibia (shin bone) of a huge dinosaur.

After an extensive investigation a number of enormous dinosaur bones were unearthed, including a vertebra (backbone) so large that it was almost as tall as a man.  The fragmentary fossils were not much – broken ribs, the sacrum, the single tibia and the backbone, however, this was enough to permit scientists to formally name and describe what is currently known as the largest dinosaur of them all – Argentinosaurus.

The Argentinosaurus Model due out in the Spring (Collecta Dinosaurs)

A model of the biggest dinosaur known to science.

The pose is very interesting, the animal is depicted with having much larger front limbs than hind limbs a sort of Brachiosaurid/Giraffatitan stance.  The colouration is intriguing, most Sauropods are depicted in an elephant grey colour scheme.  The patterns on the skin would have helped to break up the animal’s outline as it moved with others in a herd, perhaps an adaptation to help prevent individuals being singled out by marauding Mapusaurs and to help protect Argentinosaurus from attacks by Giganotosaurus.  Looks like the Collecta Argentinosaurus is going to be a fascinating model.

11 11, 2011

Dead as a Triceratops

By | November 11th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|5 Comments

New line of Dead Dinosaur Models to be Introduced (Dead Triceratops Dinosaur Model)

It is the gory meat-eaters that continue to top Everything Dinosaur’s polls and surveys when it comes to peoples favourite prehistoric animal.  Children love it when we talk about how fierce meat-eating dinosaurs may have hunted and now a new model has been introduced to the Collecta range of dinosaurs that depicts the result of a large Theropod attack on a Triceratops.

The Triceratops Carcase Model

Triceratops – well passed its sell by date.

The picture shows the corpse of a Triceratops which is due out in the Collecta range in 2012.  A gory model that we think will be a big hit with model makers and dinosaur fans generally.  We are about to conduct a series of presentations at a major museum (this weekend), and one of the topics we will focus on is what we think we know about how Tyrannosaurids fed on such animals as Triceratops.  In future, we could perhaps use the model to help illustrate our talks.

This model will be available in a few months, to see Everything Dinosaur’s current range of dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls

11 11, 2011

First Picture of Utahceratops Dinosaur Model from Collecta

By | November 11th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|3 Comments

Utahceratops takes to the Stage

The “weird and wonderful” world of Ceratopsians got just a little more bizarre with the naming and formal description of the new Ceratopsian – Utahceratops just a couple of years ago.  Easily distinguished by the horns and neck frills, Ceratpsids have been favourite dinosaur of model makers and collectors for years.  The Ceratopsids were one of the most successful of all the Dinosauria, it is good to see Collecta introduce a replica of a recently discovered member of this dinosaur family – Utahceratops.

Utahceratops – Model from Collecta (Collecta Dinosaurs)

Utahceratops model due out in 2012

10 11, 2011

Planet Dinosaur – Cast of Characters Spinosaurus

By | November 10th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Lifting the Lid of Spinosaurus

One of the most popular dinosaurs is the Spinosaurus, its popularity has had a resurgence since it recently appeared in episode one, (Lost World) of the recent television series “Planet Dinosaur”.  Staff at Everything Dinosaur regularly conduct a survey to find the most popular prehistoric animals in the opinion of our customers and young dinosaur fans we visit in schools.  We suspect Spinosaurus and a number of other dinosaurs featured in the recent programmes are going to be high on the list.

To read our review of episode one of “Planet Dinosaur”: Lost World (episode one) Reviewed

We have been running a series of seminars providing members of the public with an insight into just how much (or how little), we actually know about this Albian/Cenomanian Theropod.  A sort of “lifting the lid” on Spinosaurus, or should that be “looking behind the sail”.

A Snapshot of the Spinosaurus

Smile Spino. please!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Spinosaurus dinosaur models and other dinosaur replicas available from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls

Spinosaurus is certainly a spectacular looking meat-eating dinosaur that has laid claim to being one of the biggest carnivores yet described.  Spinosaurus had a “sail” that stuck out of its back.  It was made up from spike-shaped spines of bone that stuck up from the backbone, which in life were joined together by a layer of skin.  Spinosaurus lived near the equator in a very hot environment.  The sail may have been used to help regulate the animal’s body temperature.  From the fragmentary remains so far discovered, scientists have examined the backbone of Spinosaurus and found it to be quite flexible.  Perhaps it was able to flex its back and spread out the sail like an enormous fan.  The sail may have been brightly coloured to attract a mate or to intimidate rivals.  Another dinosaur, Ouranosaurus, a herbivore that shared this habitat may also have had a large sail on its back.

We await to see the results of our annual dinosaur and prehistoric animal survey.

9 11, 2011

Hypsilophodonts – Flocking this Way

By | November 9th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

Collecta to include Dinosaur Groups in their Model Range

One of the problems associated with making models of small, bipedal dinosaurs is how to make the end product stable.  Certain types of dinosaurs are notoriously difficult to sculpt and cast as they have small legs.  Coelurosaurs and small Ornithopods are typical of the more difficult types of dinosaurs to make models of.  No one wants to make a model of a dinosaur that does not stand up.  Over the years we have advised on a number of methods and techniques to help overcome this difficulty.  For example, some animals are given slightly over-sized feet, or they are given a base upon which to stand.

Collecta have opted for a slightly different approach which allows them to depict what would be difficult to make dinosaurs such as Hypsilophodonts, and to put them into natural looking models – they have grouped them into flocks.

The first two groups depicted in this way will by Hypsilophodon and Koreaceratops (horned dinosaur).  The models are set onto a sturdy plastic base, this overcomes any inherent difficulties in getting the dinosaur to stand up due to its anatomy.

The Hypsilophodont Family Group (Collecta Dinosaurs)

A Flock of Hypsilophodonts

 

Picture Credit: Collecta/Everything Dinosaur

The Hypsilophodon group is about 1.50 inches high to the top of the new fern growth.  The figures themselves are around an inch in height for the adults but much smaller for the immature individuals.  At this size this group of dinosaurs will work well with other not-to-scale models in the Collecta series.

So for all those Hypsilophodon fans, the wait is nearly over…

8 11, 2011

Young Palaeontologists Make Their Mark at School

By | November 8th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities|0 Comments

Staveley Primary School’s Young Dinosaur Fans

Pupils at Staveley Community Primary and Nursery School (North Yorkshire) got the chance to get up close to Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops this week, when one of our team members came to visit Class 2 (year 1/reception) as part of the school’s teaching topic on dinosaurs.  After a morning of dinosaur themed activities and looking at fossils, helped by Mrs Lilley and Miss Richardson, the class was given the opportunity by their teacher Mrs Moss to design their very own dinosaur.

We were very kindly sent some examples of the children’s work and what an amazing mixture of prehistoric animals the pupils created.  Daniel sent us a drawing of his fearsome “Spikeosaurus”,  Anna did a drawing of “Spottyosaurus” both dinosaurs were aptly named as we don’t think we have ever seen such a spiky dinosaur as Daniel’s, or indeed one as spotty as the one in Anna’s picture.  Reuben created his own version of Microraptor giving us “blooasaurus” a big crest of blue feathers and a pair of very large wings, whilst William drew a “Belly-a-saurus” explaining that this particular bright red beastie was so called as it had a very big belly.  Finlay who along with Alex and Finlay2 had helped to cast a Velociraptor claw for the school’s dinosaur museum, provided us with a bright yellow “Finlayosaurus”, a sort of five-legged, daffodil coloured Stegosaurus-like creature, certainly one of the most colourful dinosaur drawings we have received in a long while.

Some of the Dinosaur Drawings Created by Class 2

Some of the amazing dinosaur pictures from Class 2

Picture Credit: Staveley Primary School

The girls in the office were particularly keen on Joe’s “Chocolate-oh-saurus”, combining two of their favourite things – chocolate and dinosaurs.  Team members also liked Max’s two-headed, long-necked dinosaur, what a monster, but perhaps the scariest looking of all was the drawing created by Maxine – were not sure how to pronounce the name of her ferocious looking prehistoric animal, we think it is something like “Mon-tee-tee-ex-tre-rex”.

The children and their teachers have created their own dinosaur museum to exhibit their work and fossils that the children have found on their holidays.  All part of the term topic involving teaching about dinosaurs and fossils in schools.

The Dinosaur Museum Created by the Class

The pupil’s very own dinosaur museum.

Picture Credit: Staveley Primary School

The museum contains lots of amazing objects that the pupils have collected, including the cast of the Velociraptor killing claw and the data sheet that Everything Dinosaur provided them with during the visit.  This fossil was cast by three volunteers from the class.

The Dinosaur Museum is Full of Fascinating Exhibits

Lots of fossils that the pupils have found

Picture Credit: Staveley Primary School

We have pinned up all the illustrations onto our notice board in the warehouse, they make us smile when we walk past them.  Our thanks to all the budding palaeontologists who helped with the experiments on the day and to those pupils who drew the dinosaur pictures for us.

7 11, 2011

Oviraptorids – Show Offs of the Late Cretaceous

By | November 7th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Palaeontological articles|1 Comment

New Paper Suggests Oviraptorids could Display their Tail Feathers to Attract a Mate

That bizarre group of Theropods, the Oviraptorids may have had a trick up their tail when it came to winning a mate or deterring a rival.  They might have been able to “flash” the feathered plumes at the end of their relatively short tails in a display reminiscent of a modern-day bird.

That is the conclusion of Scott Persons, PhD student at the University of Alberta (Canada), who presented his paper on this research at the Society for Vertebrate Palaeontology’s annual meeting, ironically being held in Las Vegas which has plenty of “show girls” flashing feather boas and who knows what else in the many theatres.

Oviraptorids were very bird-like dinosaurs, with such features as a beak, shoulders strengthened by collarbone and a number of general anatomical characteristics that they share with the Aves (birds).  It has even been suggested by some palaeontologists that these Theropods do not belong in the Dinosauria, instead, they should be re-classified as members of the bird clade.  Fossils of these animals are known from Upper Cretaceous strata of the northern hemisphere, most were less than three metres long, but one genus Gigantoraptor may have been the largest feathered creature that has ever lived.   Gigantoraptor may have weighed close to 1.5 tonnes and measured 8 metres in length.

An Illustration of a Typical Oviraptorid

Note the Tail Plume

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Scientists have evidence to suggest that many types of Oviraptor had a plume of feathers, similar to the fan of a Spanish flamenco dancer, attached to the end of their tails.  Scott, in his research paper suggests that this fan of feathers, in conjunction with a very flexible tail may have served as a display device, perhaps to settle disputes or to attract a rival.  A flash of brightly coloured tail feathers could have acted as a highly visible warning signal to other members of the flock or even have put off a predator as it attacked.

For Scott, the Oviraptorid tail intrigued him.  Many of these animals had tails with a particularly dense arrangement of bones, as if the caudal vertebrae (tail bones) had been compressed.  As a number of fossil finds showed this arrangement, distortion by the fossilisation process could be ruled out.   The tails had evolved this way.

Scott commented:

“The tail of an Oviraptor by comparison to the tail of most other dinosaurs is pretty darn short.  But it’s not short in that it’s missing a whole bunch of vertebrae, it’s short in that the individual vertebra within the tail themselves are sort of squashed together.  So they’re densely packed.”

This compression of tail bones would have made the tails very flexible, much more so than in other small Theropods such as the Dromaeosaurs, some of which were contemporaneous of the Oviraptorids.  A ruler is generally inflexible and stiff as it has no joints in it, whereas a chain made of many links is extremely flexible.  This principle can be applied to the caudal vertebrae of dinosaurs.

These bird-like dinosaurs also had tails that were much more muscular than those belonging to modern-day reptiles, he concludes.  Fossil impressions show they also boasted a fan of feathers at the end of their tails, attached to fused vertebrae similar to that found in the tails of today’s birds.  In modern birds the remnants of their ancestral reptile tail can still be seen in their skeleton – it is the pygostyle, a plate of bone that represents five-fused tail vertebrae, all that remains of their reptilian tail ancestry.

In the research paper, Scott proposes that:

“If you combine that [tail plume] with having a muscular, very flexible tail, what you have is a tail that could, potentially at least, have been used to flaunt, to wave that tail-feather fan.”

And just like modern-day birds, the dinosaurs may well have waved their tail fans to impress potential mates, or perhaps for a variety of other display purposes.  If this is the case then other members of the Dinosauria believed to have a tail plume may also have displayed in a similar manner – dinosaurs such as Protarchaeopteryx and Caudipteryx for example.

 A Model of Caudipteryx (C. zoui)

Was the tail plume combined with a short tail used for display?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

6 11, 2011

Build a Dinosaur Competition

By | November 6th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

World Museum Liverpool Challenges You to Build a Prehistoric Animal Model in Exciting Competition

Something for young, enthusiastic dinosaur fans – the opportunity to make a model of your favourite prehistoric animal (or an imagined one) and to take part in an exciting competition organised by World Museum Liverpool.

Calling all young palaeontologists and enthusiastic model makers, have you ever fancied building your own replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex?  How about a Stegosaurus sculpture or a clay Caudipteryx?  Well thanks to World Museum Liverpool, young people between the ages of 4-17 are being given the chance to create their own model monsters in the “Build a Dinosaur Competition”.

To celebrate the “Age of Dinosaurs” exhibition, which runs until April 15th 2012, the enthusiastic staff at the World Museum Liverpool are giving young people the chance to devise their very own dinosaur, flying reptile or to model a marine reptile.  Entries can be a representation of a prehistoric animal known from the fossil record or a creature conjured up from the imagination and all entries must be no more than 40 cm in any direction or weigh more than 5 kilograms, (sorry, no life–size Triceratops models allowed).

What Prehistoric Animal Model will you Create?

Dinosaur Models – which one will you make?

Picture Credit: Peter Rowe

The competition runs from 22nd October and entries can be received at the World Museum Liverpool up until 23rd January 2012.  Just make sure that each competition entry is accompanied with the contact details (name, age and contact details) of the builder(s).  Don’t forget to give your representation of a prehistoric beastie a name – just like a real scientist.  Complete competition rules and further details are available at the Liverpool World Museum Website.

Sculpt a Sauropod or Chisel out a Chinasaurus?

Clay models on a prehistoric scale

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With fantastic prizes up for grabs, plus the chance to have your creation put on display at the museum, it’s enough to make budding palaeontologists and young dinosaur fans roar with excitement.

For further information please contact World Museum Liverpool:

Please note this competition has now closed.

5 11, 2011

Sea Monsters – A Magnetic Prehistoric Adventure

By | November 5th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Create your own Cretaceous Marine Pictures

The Western Interior Seaway, that huge sea that covered most of the central parts of Canada and the United States during the Cretaceous comes back to life with this fun magnetic play set featuring prehistoric animals.  Eighty million years ago, US States such as Kansas were at the bottom of a tropical sea that teemed with ancient life.  Animals such as the fearsome fish Xiphactinus and Caproberyx were hunted by Ichthyosaurs (fish-lizards) and the huge, long-necked Elasmosaurid Styxosaurus.  These creatures in turn were preyed upon by the apex predators of the time, the Mosasaurs, giant reptiles such as the awesome Tylosaurus.  Now you can create your own prehistoric food chain with this fun magnetic sea monster play set.

Sea Monsters – A Prehistoric Adventure

Re-create the Western Interior Seaway

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The two-sided magnetic play mat (two different prehistoric backgrounds) and ten prehistoric animal, magnetic stickers permit young palaeontologists to recreate their own marine adventures.

To view this set and other sea monster items available from Everything Dinosaur: Sea Monster & Marine Reptile Toys

4 11, 2011

Prehistoric Patagonian Squirrel-like Mammal with Sabre-Teeth

By | November 4th, 2011|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|1 Comment

Sabre-Toothed Squirrel – Fanged Beast of the Cretaceous Night

The Cretaceous strata of southern Argentina may be associated with some of the most spectacular dinosaur fossils ever found, huge monsters such as the fearsome Mapusaurus and the herbivorous Argentinosaurus but fossils found in Patagonia have shed light on a bizarre, primitive mammal that scurried around these leviathans and shared their home.

In a “truth is sometimes stranger than fiction”  moment, this little mammal superficially resembles “Scat” the buck-toothed, acorn chasing squirrel from the Ice Age films.  The animal has been formally named Cronopio dentiacutus.  It had extremely long teeth, a narrow snout and large eye sockets.  The large orbits in the skull (eye sockets), suggest that  it probably had a nocturnal habit or it lived in dense undergrowth, either of which would have been sensible strategies to employ as at a little over fifteen centimetres long it was about the size of a single Mapusaurus tooth.

Mesozoic “Scat” – Cronopio dentiacutus

Sabre-Toothed Mammal that lived amongst Dinosaurs

Picture Credit: Associated Press

The fossil was found in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro,  in a bed of sediment that also has produced a variety of much larger dinosaur bones.  The strata has been dated to around 93 million years ago (Cenomanian faunal stage).  The two partial skulls and jawbones bridge a sixty-million-year gap in the mammalian fossil record, according to the research paper’s authors – Sebastian Apesteguia, Leandro Gaetano and Guillermo Rougier, who describe their study in the latest edition of the scientific journal “Nature”.

Commenting on what has already been termed “a major palaeontological event”,  as this is the first mammal fossil found in Cretaceous aged rocks from the Cenomanian of South America, Christian de Muizon, (Paris Museum of Natural History) expressed excitement about the find.

De Muizon stated:

“It’s the first mammal from the late Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era ever found in South America.”

The scientists have classified this small creature as a member of a primitive group of mammals known as Dryolestoids.  These type of mammals are believed to be ancestral to placental mammals and marsupials.  As a group, their fossil record is extremely poor with the majority of Dryolestoids known from teeth and fragments of jawbone.  It is believed they had their evolutionary origins in the Mid Jurassic, surviving beyond the Mesozoic into the early Cenozoic in South America.

Cronopio dentiacutus  was named after a type of character in the books of Argentine author Julio Cortazar.

It is likely that the long teeth at the front of the jaws helped Cronopio dentiacutus catch fast moving insects, it may superficially resemble the nut loving squirrel from the Ice Age animated movies but it is probably more closely related to marsupials like opossums than rodents.

One of the researchers (Sebastian Apesteguia – researcher at Maimonides University in Buenos Aires) stated:

“During the age of the dinosaurs, no mammal was bigger than a mouse, and they could do what they wanted, but under ground or at night — out of sight of the dinosaurs.”

It is surprising that such a statement has been made.  The size of mammals during the Mesozoic is often mis-represented in this manner.  It is indeed true that mammals were very small, especially in relation to their reptilian contemporaries during the Mesozoic but some mammals were surprisingly big, especially towards the end of the Cretaceous.  The marsupial Didelphodon, fossils of which are associated with Upper Cretaceous strata of Montana (United States) indicate an animal over a metre long – the size of a Springer Spaniel.

Christian de Muizon added:

“Such discoveries of remarkably complete Mesozoic fossils always represent giant steps” in mammalian palaeontology.  In fact, one reasonably preserved Mesozoic mammalian skull in a critical stratigraphic and geographic position can be more relevant to our understanding of mammalian evolution and bio-geography than hundreds of isolated teeth — even if teeth are the most common (and sometimes the only) remains palaeontologists work with.”

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