All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/2011
14 12, 2011

Juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex on the Loose in a Local Museum

By | December 14th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur videos|0 Comments

T. rex Rampages through Museum

Recently team members from Everything Dinosaur worked at a museum that was holding a special dinosaur activities evening.   We spent our time digging for real fossils with the young, enthusiastic visitors, meanwhile, on the floor below us a young Tyrannosaurus rex, went on the rampage.  The juvenile T. rex was created by those clever people at Erth Visual and Physical, or was it?

Cryptozoologists beware, is this video evidence of Tyrannosaur on the loose..

A Juvenile T. rex on the Loose at a Local Museum

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The T. rex certainly made quite an impression amongst the young dinosaur fans.

13 12, 2011

Remember the Alamosaurus – North America’s Biggest Dinosaur

By | December 13th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Palaeontological articles|9 Comments

Alamosaurus Rivals Largest Titanosaurs after Recent Fossil Discovery

For a long time, this Late Cretaceous Titanosaur called Alamosaurus sanjuanensis was the only known representative of the Titanosaur group in North America.  Recent discoveries have revealed that other types of long-necked dinosaur may have migrated north from South America towards the end of the Age of Reptiles.  At an estimated twenty-one metres in length, scientists already knew that this particular dinosaur was a giant, but they had suggested that it was relatively lightly built and when compared to the leviathans of the Titanosaur group such as Andesaurus, Antarctosaurus, Paralititan and Argentinosaurus it remained only a “middle-weight” amongst some super-heavy-weight dinosaurs.

However, the discovery of some more fossilised bones ascribed to A. sanjuanensis may lead scientists to re-think their estimates for the size of this particular beastie, putting the Alamosaurus up there with some of the biggest land animals of all time.

New research from Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies and the State Museum of Pennsylvania has unveiled enormous bones from North America’s biggest dinosaur.  Trust the Americans to find a dinosaur potentially as big as some of the gigantic Sauropods known from South America.

In a paper published in the scientific journal –  “Acta Palaeontologica Polonica”, Montana State University researcher Denver W. Fowler and co-author Robert M. Sullivan from Harrisburg, Pa., describe two enormous vertebrae and a femur (thigh bone) that the team collected in New Mexico during expeditions that ran sporadically from 2003 to 2006.

The fossilised bones have been assigned to the  species  A. sanjuanensis a dinosaur that shared the Late Cretaceous habitat of the south-western United States with the formidable predator T. rex.

An Illustration of a Typical Giant Sauropod

Is the USA the Number one spot for giant dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Commenting on the new fossil bones, Fowler stated:

“Alamosaurus has been known for some time; its remains were first described in 1922 from the Naashoibito beds of New Mexico.  Since then, more bones have been discovered in New Mexico, Utah, some really nice material from Texas, and Mexico, including a few partial skeletons.”

The size and scale of the newly discovered specimens indicates that Alamosaurus may have to be put up there with some of the dinosaur super-heavy-weights, perhaps rivalling the South American giants for the title of the largest land-living animal known to science.

Montana State University researcher Dr. Holly Woodward, had shown in an earlier study that the femur thought to have come from an adult was still growing.  Previous height and weight estimates based on the femur and the vertebrae are going to have to be revised and scaled upwards.

Just how big?  That is the question, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Ontogeny in Dinosauria is not a precise science.  Dinosaurs for example, may have been subject to indeterminant growth, that is they kept growing throughout their lives.  The longer a Sauropod lived the bigger it got – this makes determining maximum size for such creatures rather difficult.”

Fowler, postulated:

“Over the past 20 years, Argentinian and Brazilian palaeontologists have been unearthing bigger and bigger dinosaurs, putting the rest of the world in the shade.  However, our new finds not only show that Alamosaurus is newly recognised as the biggest dinosaur from North America, but also that it was right up there with the biggest South American species: the US is back in the fight for the No.1 spot.”

Although comparison of the new Alamosaurus bones with the South American species gave the researchers an idea of size, giant specimens of Sauropods like Alamosaurus and Argentinosaurus are only known from very fragmentary remains offering only a tantalising glimpse of what a complete Alamosaurus might look like.

 Posing Next to a Reconstruction of a Single Alamosaurus Neck Vertebra

Just how big was Alamosaurus?

Picture Credit: Denver Fowler

The picture shows Nate Carroll, left, and Liz Freedman, a doctoral student in Jack Horner’s palaeontology laboratory, pose with the complete reconstruction of the neck vertebra of an Alamosaurus. Carroll, an Montana State University student majoring in Earth Sciences, made the sculpture.  Behind it is a Sauropod model being attacked by a pair of Dromaeosaurs in Montana States University’s Museum of the Rockies.

Fowler continued:

“We’d love to find more complete material.  Fortunately, Alamosaurus bones are quite common in the Naashoibito of New Mexico, so we have a good chance of going back and finding more, but in order to dig up one of the world’s biggest dinosaurs you need one of the world’s biggest dinosaur digging teams and large digging equipment.”

With the title of the “World’s Largest Dinosaur” up for grabs perhaps some new sponsors will be happy to come forward to assist the scientists with their research – the race just might be on.

Which is the Biggest Dinosaur Known to Science?

Which country has the biggest Dinosaur?

Picture Credit: Montana State University/Denver Fowler

Large Titanosaur specimens are not the only fossils the scientists have found as they explore the Alamosaurus beds.  For example, the team unearthed a broken Tyrannosaurus tooth, perhaps belonging to a T. rex that broke a tooth when feeding on the Alamosaurus carcase.

The Tyrannosaur Tooth found in Association with Titanosaur Material

Did T. rex scavenge the carcase of Alamosaurus?

Picture Credit: Montana State University

The discovery of the broken tooth indicates that large Tyrannosaurs (potentially T. rex) co-existed with large Titanosaurs.  They shared the same ecosystem.  Some scientists have suggested that in the north of its range T. rex specialised in hunting Hadrosaurs and Ceratopsians whilst in the south they were mainly predators of Titanosaurs such as Alamosaurus.

The Alamosaurus discovery goes beyond just “size” bragging-rights, and may have important implications for other dinosaurs.  Recent discoveries by American palaeontologist Jack Horner’s and his paleo lab at the Museum of the Rockies have highlighted the importance of understanding growth and ontogeny in interpreting dinosaur evolution.

Fowler concluded by stating:

“Increasingly, we’re finding that very large or small individuals often look very different, and are often described as different species.  Our findings show that Alamosaurus was originally described based on immature material, and this is a problem as characteristics that define a species are typically only fully gained at adult size.  This means that we might be misinterpreting the relationships of Alamosaurus and possibly other Sauropod dinosaurs too.”

12 12, 2011

Lyme Regis Fossil Expert Shows Off Plesiosaur Discovery

By | December 12th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

190 Million-Year-Old Plesiosaurus Slowly Being Revealed

Monmouth beach, just west of the small Dorset town of Lyme Regis is slowly but surely giving up the fossilised remains of a marine reptile that once swam in a warm, shallow sea.  The fossils are that of a Plesiosaurus; a long-necked reptile, a member of a group of animals that had their origins in the Late Triassic and survived right up to the end of the Age of Reptiles, around 65 million years ago.

The fossils were found by Brandon Lennon, local Lyme Regis professional fossil collector with over twenty years fossil hunting experience.  Articulated Plesiosaur remains are very rare, even in the fossil rich strata to be found in the Lyme Bay area.

Brandon with some of the Plesiosaur Remains

Brandon with his Plesiosaur Fossils

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

The bones look like cervical vertebrae with a fragment of rib (black, pencil-like object at the top of the larger block in Brandon’s left hand.  The first Plesiosaur fossil discovered and brought to the attention of scientists was found by Mary Anning, so Brandon is in good company.

If visiting Lyme Regis with the intention of hunting for fossils we can recommend Brandon, who regularly takes members of the public on fossil hunting expeditions.  To read more about Brandon’s work and to book a fossil walk: Lyme Regis Fossil Hunting Trips

 Professional Fossil Hunter Brandon commented:

“The bones of a Plesiosaur have been washing out of a mud slip at one particular spot.  Big seas are revealing more of this potentially whole specimen all of the time.”

Just like the Plesiosaur discovered by Mary Anning almost 200 years ago, this new specimen could represent an entirely new species.  Brandon, went onto add that the only trouble was that it may take another two decades for the whole creature to be exposed.

He stated:

“Every big tide that occurs in Lyme Bay, leads to us visiting this location to see if more fossil containing rocks have been revealed.”

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is potentially a very exciting discovery, although we would advise members of the public to take care when looking for fossils themselves in Lyme Bay.  The cliffs are extremely dangerous and mud slips/rockfalls can take place at any time and we would only advise looking for fossils at low tide”.

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

11 12, 2011

Mapusaurus Enters the Fray

By | December 11th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

Collecta Mapusaurus – First Pictures

In the late 1990s a number of remarkable Theropod fossil discoveries were made in Argentina.  Giganotosaurus is perhaps the best known of these, but it is most certainly not the only apex predator known from the Cretaceous strata of this part of the world – time for Mapusaurus to enter the fray.

Mapusaurus (Mapusaurus roseae) was a giant Theropod dinosaur, whose fossilised bones were first discovered in the Huincul Formation in the Rio Negro and Neuquen provinces of Argentina in 1997.  Over the next few years, the expedition returned to the area on several occasions to continue the dig.  At least the bodies of seven individuals (possibly as many as nine), were excavated, ranging from sub-adult specimens that were approximately six metres in length, to gigantic adults that rivalled T. rex in terms of size.  The specific name for this species – roseae is derived from the rose coloured strata from which this animal was excavated and Rose Letwin the sponsor of several of the expeditions to the site.

Mapusaurus is one of the relatively new dinosaur discoveries now featured in a model range.  This not to scale model of this member of the Allosaur family, depicts Mapusaurus as a hunter with a bright, very visible and distinctive head.  This gaudy colour could have helped this dinosaur with intraspecific displays, perhaps to settle disputes amongst pack members.

The First Pictures of the Collecta Mapusaurus Model (Collecta Dinosaurs)

Fierce South American Predator

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Collecta

Red-headed dinosaurs, are not an uncommon sight amongst large Theropod replicas.  For instance, after Bakker proposed that T. rex may have had a bright red head a number of sculpts of this Tyrannosaur with a scarlet head appeared.  We look forward to seeing more pictures of this model, it is always a pleasure to see a replica or a new meat-eating dinosaur enter the market.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur expect this model to be available from them in April/May of 2012.

The genus name does not come from the fact that the dinosaur dig site was difficult to locate on a map.  Mapusaurus is the term used for Earth by the indigenous Mapuche tribe of that part of Argentina where the fossils were first found.

10 12, 2011

Neanderthal Figures from Collecta

By | December 10th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|1 Comment

Our Closest Relative the Neanderthal

At at time when most prehistoric animal model ranges are being reduced it is always pleasing to see a manufacturer come up with a new addition to an Ice Age/Prehistoric animal model series.  In 2012, Collecta are launching two Neanderthal models, a male and a female, (Collecta Neanderthal man and the Collecta Neanderthal woman), replicas that represent the closest species known to our own – Homo sapiens.

Our First Look at the Neanderthal Models

Say hello to our next of kin

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Collecta

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that they were pleased to see ancient hominid species introduced into a major model range adding:

“The Neanderthal has always had a bad press, for example, the human remains from the Neanderthal valley, from which this type of human is named, was thought to be the skeleton of a Russian Cossack.  The prominent brow ridge was explained away by Victorian scientists as being due to that particular individual frowning a lot.  The Neanderthals were an extremely successful, adaptable species not the ape-like, thugs as often depicted in the popular media.”

Everything Dinosaur team members are hoping to get more pictures soon.  The jewellery on the figures is noted.  For many years palaeoanthropologists believed that Neanderthals did not make such items, whereas, our ancestors made intricate and delicate jewellery  out of shells, bone and other items.  Excavations from eastern Europe and the Middle East have shown that Neanderthals too were capable of making such objects and they had a very sophisticated culture.

9 12, 2011

Kosmoceratops – Amazing Horned Dinosaur

By | December 9th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|3 Comments

Collecta Kosmosceratops Dinosaur Model

If 2010/11 were the years of amazing Ceratopsian discoveries then 2012 looks like it is going to be year for amazing Ceratopsian replicas and models with a number of new sculpts becoming available. Joining the likes of Chasmosaurus, Styracosaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus and Torosaurus are a couple of new additions from Collecta.  We featured the Utahceratops a few weeks ago, but now we have our first pictures of the amazing, North American, Kosmoceratops – and what a beautiful model it appears to be.

Kosmoceratops Model

Late Cretaceous Ceratopsian – Kosmoceratops

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Collecta (Collecta dinosaurs)

Everything Dinosaur is organising shipment of this model at the moment and it should be available in late January/February next year.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s existing model range including Pachyrhinosaurus, Styracosaurus, Triceratops and other replicas of horned dinosaurs: Dinosaur Models for Boys and Girls

To read about the discovery of this dinosaur and of another model coming out next year (Utahceratops), article on Ceratopsian discoveries more information here: Two New Genera of Ceratopsian Announced

8 12, 2011

A Reminder about Christmas Posting Dates

By | December 8th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Friday 9th of December an Important Date for Overseas Customers

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, the UK based dinosaur company staffed by parents, teachers and real dinosaur experts are busy packing and dispatching all the Christmas orders.  The staff do all they can to ensure packages and gifts are sent out as quickly as they can, however, to avoid disappointment at Christmas it is worthwhile adhering to the international last recommended posting dates as provided by Royal Mail.

Tomorrow, for example, is the last recommended posting date for parcels from the UK to the United States, Eastern Europe and Canada being sent by Airmail service, to get there in time for Christmas day.  We urge all our customers to take note of these important last recommended posting dates.  Naturally, some parcels, if posted after these dates may still arrive in time but to avoid the worry of having a parcel delivered late it is better to adhere to the guidelines.

The Table of Last Recommended Posting Dates (Christmas 2011)

Post early to avoid disappointment

Table Credit: Everything Dinosaur (compiled from Royal Mail data)

Post as early as possible is the best advice our team members can give customers.  These dates apply to all parcels and goods sent overseas or by inland mail (UK), by abiding by them senders of such parcels can have a much better chance of getting their gift to the recipient in time for the big day.

7 12, 2011

Dolichorhynchops – Monster from the Western Interior Seaway

By | December 7th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Replica Dolichorhynchops from Collecta

With the mysterious decline in Ichthyosaur numbers towards the end of the Cretaceous, a new type of marine reptile evolved to take their place as a predator of fish, squid and octopi in the shallow sea that covered much of  North America.  This sea is known as the Western Interior Seaway and at its greatest extent is effectively split the United States into two.  Fossils of Dolichorhynchops have been found at a number of locations, but the most famous fossils and the holotype material come from Kansas.

This short-necked Plesiosaur is represented by a new model (Collecta) which will be available next year.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that although there had been one or two delays at the factory, the “Dollies” as they are affectionately called are going to be shipped into the Everything Dinosaur warehouse probably in February.

The Dolichorhynchops Model (Collecta Prehistoric Animal Models)

Introducing “Long Snout Face”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Collecta

It is an interesting pose, scientists remain unsure as to whether this stiff-limbed, Plesiosaur could haul itself onto land like modern turtles.  Or did this animal, which could grow to over five metres long spend its entire life in the water?

The jaws seemed to be lined with a lot of sharp, pointed teeth, just what is needed when you live on a diet of slippery marine creatures.  We are not sure whether Dolichorhynchops genera had this many teeth (perhaps as many as forty in the jaws) – we will have to “bone up” on this Late Cretaceous vertebrate.  Great to see this marine reptile model added to the Collecta dinosaurs series.

6 12, 2011

Killer Claws and Flapping Wings

By | December 6th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Dromaeosaurs with their Killer Claws Yield New Theory on the Origin of Flight

Scenes from the trilogy of Jurassic Park movies where large Dromaeosaurs allegedly Velociraptors, attack people with their sickle-like, second toe claws will have to be re-shot as new research from Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies provides a new angle on the use of those killer claws.

The research team have postulated that the use of the claws to hold prey rather than kill prey, led to these meat-eaters evolving a flapping motion with their arms to help keep them stable as they struggled with their victims.  This could have led to the evolution of powered flight.

In a paper published this month, in the on line scientific journal PLoS ONE (public library of science) researchers Denver W. Fowler, Elizabeth A. Freedman and John B. Scannella along with Robert E. Kambic (Brown University in Rhode Island) describe how comparing modern raptors helped develop a new behaviour model for Dromaeosaurs.

Lead author Fowler commented:

“This study is a real game-changer.  It completely overhauls our perception of these little predatory dinosaurs, changing the way we think about their ecology and evolution.”

The study focuses on Dromaeosaurids; a group of small predatory dinosaurs that include the famous Velociraptor and its larger relative, the man-sized Deinonychus.  The Jurassic Park movie “raptors” supposedly Velociraptors were far too large when depicted on the screen to represent the likes of Velociraptor mongoliensis.  Instead, the animals in the film were a better representation of Deinonychus antirrhopus.  Dromaeosaurids are closely related to birds, and are most famous for possessing an enlarged sickle-claw on digit two (inside toe) of the foot.  Previous researchers suggested that this claw was used to slash at prey, or help climb up their hides, to gain a purchase on large prey but the new study proposes a different type of behaviour.

Fowler said:

“Modern hawks and eagles possess a similar enlarged claw on their digit 2’s, something that hadn’t been noted before we published on it back in 2009.  We showed that the enlarged D-2 claws are used as anchors, latching into the prey, preventing their escape.  We interpret the sickle claw of Dromaeosaurids as having evolved to do the same thing -latching in, and holding on.”

As in modern birds of prey, precise use of the claw is related to relative prey size.

Fowler went onto add:

“This strategy is only really needed for prey that are about the same size as the predator; large enough that they might struggle and escape from the feet.  Smaller prey are just squeezed to death, but with large prey all the predator can do is hold on and stop it from escaping, then basically just eat it alive.  Dromaeosaurs lack any obvious adaptations for dispatching their victims, so just like hawks and eagles, they probably ate their prey alive too.”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, stated that watching carnivorous dinosaurs attacking and killing prey would have been a horrific experience, these predators probably started to eat their victims when the prey was still alive.  If this is stomach churning, then it has to placed in context, that cuddly labrador that shares many people’s homes is in fact descended from wolves which when attacking large animals do start to eat their fill before the animal has expired in many cases.

“Flapping First” Velociraptors may shed New Light on Origins of Flight

Getting into a Flap over Velociraptors

Other features of bird of prey feet gave the research team clues as to the functional anatomy of their ancient relatives, toe proportions of Dromaeosaurids seemed more suited for grasping than running, and the metatarsus (bones between the ankles and the toes) is more adapted for strength than speed.

Fowler stated:

“Unlike humans, most dinosaurs and birds only walk on their toes, so the metatarsus forms part of the leg itself.  A long metatarsus lets you take bigger strides to run faster; but in Dromaeosaurids, the metatarsus is very short, which is odd.”

Fowler thinks that this indicates that Velociraptor and its kin were adapted for a strategy other than simply running after prey.

He continued:

“When we look at modern birds of prey, a relatively short metatarsus is one feature that gives the bird additional strength in its feet.  Velociraptor and Deinonychus also have a very short, stout metatarsus, suggesting that they had great strength but wouldn’t have been very fast runners.”

The ecological implications become especially interesting when Dromaeosaurids are contrasted with their closest relatives: a very similar group of small carnivorous dinosaurs called Troodontids.

“Troodontids and Dromaeosaurids started out looking very similar, but over about 60 million years they evolved in opposite directions, adapting to different niches.  Dromaeosaurids evolved towards stronger, slower feet; suggesting a stealthy ambush predatory strategy, adapted for relatively large prey.  By contrast, Troodontids evolved a longer metatarsus for speed and a more precise, but weaker grip, suggesting they were swift but probably took relatively smaller prey.”

The study also has implications for the next closest relatives of Troodontids and Dromaeosaurids the birds (Aves).   An important step in the origin of modern birds was the evolution of the perching foot.

Fowler said:

“A grasping foot is present in the closest relatives of birds, but also in the earliest birds like Archaeopteryx.  We suggest that this originally evolved for predation, but would also have been available for use in perching.  This is what we call ‘exaptation:’ a structure evolved originally for one purpose that can later be appropriated for a different use.”

The new study proposes that a similar mechanism may be responsible for the evolution of flight.

Fowler went onto state:

“When a modern hawk has latched its enlarged claws into its prey, it can no longer use the feet for stabilization and positioning.  Instead the predator flaps its wings so that the prey stays underneath its feet, where it can be pinned down by the predator’s body-weight.”

The researchers suggest that this “stability flapping” uses less energy than flight, making it an intermediate flapping behaviour that may be key to understanding how flight evolved.

The research team stated:

“The predator’s flapping just maintains its position, and does not need to be as powerful or vigorous as full flight would require.  Get on top, stay on top; it’s not trying to fly away.  We see fully formed wings in exquisitely preserved Dromaeosaurid fossils, and from biomechanical studies we can show that they were also able to perform a rudimentary flapping stroke.  Most researchers think that they weren’t powerful enough to fly; we propose that the less demanding stability flapping would be a viable use for such a wing, and this behaviour would be consistent with the unusual adaptations of the feet.”

Another group of researchers has proposed that understanding flapping behaviours is key to understanding the evolution of flight, a view with which Fowler agrees:

“If we look at modern birds, we see flapping being used for all sorts of behaviours outside of flight.  In our paper, we are formally proposing the ‘flapping first’ model: where flapping evolved for other behaviours first, and was only later exapted for flight by birds.”

The researchers believe their new ideas will open multiple new lines of investigation into dinosaur paleobiology, and the evolution of novel anatomical structures.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the press release from Montana State University which has been most helpful in compiling this article.

5 12, 2011

Knocking T. rex of its Perch

By | December 5th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Is Spinosaurus the Largest Land Carnivore Known to Science?

With renewed enthusiasm we have once again entered into the debate over the size of Cretaceous Theropods.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur put together a fun presentation for a regional museum in support of the BBC “Planet Dinosaur” touring exhibition where visitors could have a go at building their own Spinosaurus skeleton.  We set out to explain the fossil evidence and how it has been interpreted and got visitors to vote for which dinosaur (T. rex or Spinosaurus) would have won in a fight if these two Theropods ever met.

To view the results of our experiments: Museum Visitors Take Part in Dinosaur Study

Having reviewed the fossil evidence from Stromer to Russell and beyond our staff then compiled a brief article outlining what is currently known about North African Spinosaurs and this was published on the E-zine website.

To read this article: Has T. rex been Knocked off its Perch?

This informative article provides more information on Spinosaurus, this dinosaur’s discovery and updates readers on the Moroccan fossil finds.

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