All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
21 01, 2012

Picking “Tulips” from the Burgess Shale

By | January 21st, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Canadian Scientists Provide Insight into Bizarre New Filter Feeding Animal 

The Burgess Shale (British Columbia, Canada) is regarded as one of the world’s most important fossil locations.  This UNESCO World Heritage site, discovered over one hundred years ago has yielded thousands of Middle Cambrian marine fossils.  The beautifully preserved specimens have provided scientists with a fascinating glimpse into an marine ecosystem that existed approximately 505 million years ago.

Although, these highly fossiliferous shales have been known about since 1909, they are still capable of providing surprises and this week, a team of Canadian researchers have published a paper on a strange, filter feeding animal, that resembled a tulip.

The strata which contains the remains of these “Tulip beds” was first explored more than twenty-five years ago and more than 1,000 actual fossil specimens are known but these strange creatures, a bizarre type of invertebrate that is difficult to place in taxonomic phyla has just been formally named and described.  The newest member of the Burgess Shale ecosystem is to be known as Siphusauctum gregarium.  The formal scientific name describes the filtering feeding mechanism with which this animal obtained nutrients as well as recognising the gregarious nature of this bizarre Cambrian beastie.  The name means (gregarious, large cup).  Although, not living in a colonial structure such as a sponge colony or a coral, these animals did congregate together, perhaps exploiting a particularly rich feeding area.  One slab of shale contains the remains of at least sixty-five individual animals.  It seems that the group (or should we refer to them as a “field”) was wiped out when that area of the seabed suffered some catastrophic event and was covered in a sudden deposit of sediment.

The fossils indicate that these creatures reached lengths in excess of 20 centimetres and a paper analysing these has been published online in the scientific journal “The Public Library of Science”.

Strange Filter Feeder of the Middle Cambrian – S. gregarium

Bizarre filter feeder of the Middle Cambrian

Picture Credit: M. Collins/Royal Ontario Museum/University of Toronto/PLoS One

The organism seems to be adapted to a benthic existence (living on the sea floor).  There is a single hold-fast structure which would have been partially submerged in the mud helping the organism to remain in one place.  A long stem, with an an internal tube, surrounded by a sheath supports the feeding mechanism and the gut above the sea floor.  This new type of stalked filter feeder had its gut, anus, other organs including a simple, straight digestive tract housed in an egg-shaped structure that was perched on top of the stalk.  This bulbous structure (known as a calyx)  resembles the head of a tulip flower.  A flexible sheath covers the calyx, there are six small, circular openings at the base of this structure and a central orifice at the top (believed to be the anus), surrounded by other smaller openings.  The creature seems to have a six-fold radial symmetry with each of its six segments having cilia (fine hair-like appendages), surrounding a body cavity that contained the stomach and other organs.

The paper’s lead author Lorna O’Brien, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, postulates that S. gregarium was a filter feeder, with water passing through the openings and the fine hair-like appendages could “comb out” food particles.  These creatures probably were able to actively pump water through themselves rather than passively waiting for food to drift through their various openings.  Like many other strange creatures from the Burgess Shale, scientists are unsure what animals alive to day are the descendants of these creatures, or whether S. gregarium represents an evolution of a life-form that simply left no modern descendants – a sort of evolutionary experiment that failed to work.

Student Lorna stated:

“Most interesting is that this feeding system appears to be unique among animals.  Recent advances have linked many bizarre Burgess Shale animals as primitive members of many animal groups that are found today but Siphusauctum defies this trend.  We do not know where it fits in relation to other organisms.”

How these strange creatures relate to modern phyla remains unclear, Lorna and her PhD supervisor, Jean-Bernard Caron (Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), suggest that another bizarre fossilised creature Dinomischus – a stalked Cambrian filter feeder may have a similar role in the ecosystem, but S. gregarium seems to have lived at much greater depths and formed an much larger proportion of the fauna. Dinomischus spp  seem to be solitary, but S. gregarium formed large beds.  Nearly all the specimens known are compressed and fragmented, just one specimen has been found so far that was compressed vertically to reveal the six-fold radial symmetry.  It is likely that these animals were soft-bodied, but their relationship to earlier fauna, such as the Ediacaran fauna also is unclear.

Some of the Best Preserved Fossils of Siphusauctum gregarium

Tip-toe Through the “Tulips”

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum/University of Toronto/PLoS One

The Burgess Shale (and the Chengjiang – another important Cambrian fossil site, in Yunnan, China), provide an amazing insight into the diversity of life in the oceans around 500 million years ago.  Who knows what other bizarre fossils lie awaiting discovery and study in these extensive fossil beds.

20 01, 2012

Which was the smallest Horned Dinosaur?

By | January 20th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans|1 Comment

Not all Horned Dinosaurs were Huge

Ask a child what their favourite plant-eating dinosaur is and the likes of the horned dinosaur Triceratops will be high on their list.  Horned dinosaurs, creatures such as Triceratops, Styracosaurus and Chasmosaurus are perennial favourites with young dinosaur fans.

This dinosaur clade, were one of the last groups of dinosaurs to flourish, rapidly diversifying into a myriad of different types and surviving right up to the end of the age of dinosaurs (end of the Cretaceous geological period).  Triceratops with its two large brow horns and its third, smaller horn sitting further forward on its enormous skull is easily recognised by budding young palaeontologists.  Part of the popularity of this particular group of dinosaurs might be that they are very easy to recognise and most of the dinosaur’s names are not too difficult to pronounce.  In terms of model and replica ranges, dinosaur model manufacturers often include at least one or two representatives of this family within their model ranges.

Another plus, for the Ceratopsida, is that many of the largest and most striking lived in the United States alongside the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex.  No child’s dinosaur collection is complete without a Triceratops or Torosaurus to battle it out with the “King of the Tyrant Lizards”.

For palaeontologists there is still a great deal to learn about this type of dinosaur, otherwise known as the Ceratopsians.   There are very many gaps in our knowledge concerning these Ornithischian (bird-hipped), vegetarians some of which grew to the size of a school bus.  Scientists in the 20th Century concluded that these dinosaurs originated in Asia and then migrated over to North America during the Late Cretaceous when there was a land bridge between these two continents (the Bering Land Bridge).  However, recent fossil discoveries has provided scientists with evidence of Ceratopsida in places that palaeontologists did not expect them to be found.

Small Ceratopsids have been associated with the Hateg Formation (southern Europe – Romania), plus there have been fragmentary fossils found in Belgium and some fossilised teeth, remarkably similar to the teeth from a horned dinosaur discovered in Sweden.  Based on this evidence, it seems that horned dinosaurs may have migrated into Europe from Asia as well as into North America.  The geographical spread and the diversification of these dinosaurs is more complicated than previously thought.

One of the questions, that our experts get asked during their school visits to teach about dinosaurs, is which horned dinosaurs were the smallest?  This is a tricky question as ironically, more is known about the very largest Ceratopsians such as Triceratops and Styracosaurus than the very small ones.

The fossils of the smallest horned dinosaurs have been found to date in China and Mongolia.  The fossils indicate creatures of around one to two metres in length.  Competing for the title of the smallest horned dinosaur known to date are the likes of  Liaceratops which is believed to have been about fifty centimetres long,  Archaeoceratops one metre long, with Helioceratops also a contender at just over a metre in length.  As these horned dinosaurs are all small and found in rocks older than their North American relatives it is thought that the horned dinosaur group originated in China.

One of the smallest and most bizarre horned dinosaurs discovered to date is Koreaceratops – called as its fossils (a single specimen) were found in South Korea.  This dinosaur, which stood perhaps one metre tall, had a broad, deep tail and it has been suggested that this particular Ceratopsian was adapted to live in water – a sort of pygmy, prehistoric hippopotamus.

A Scale Drawing of the Swimming Ceratopsian – Koreaceratops

One of the smallest and most bizarre horned dinosaurs

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Certainly, Koreaceratops if it was a horned dinosaur that lived in water, would be a contender for being the smallest horned dinosaur known to date and also one of the most bizarre.

19 01, 2012

Ancient Permian Predator from Brazil

By | January 19th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|1 Comment

Fierce Brazilian Predator that Roamed Long Before the Dinosaurs

Long before the dinosaurs evolved, terrestrial habitats were dominated by different kinds of reptiles, some of which were fearsome hunters, larger than most of the land carnivores found today.  A team of South American scientists have published a paper on one such formidable creature – an animal with huge canine teeth like a modern day tiger, but weighing twice as much as the biggest “big cats” around.

Named Pampaphoneus biccai this new genus of ancient reptile is believed to be the earliest, large predator discovered to date in South America.  The name means “Bicca’s Pampas Killer”, honouring the land owner (José Bicca), as the fossils were found on his farm.  Described as a Dinocephalian Therapsid, a group of Late Permian to Triassic reptile-like synapsids that include the ancestors of mammals, this animal was probably the top predator in the region in the Late Permian.

Pampaphoneus biccai – Vicious Permian Predator

The “Pampas Killer” on the Hunt

Picture Credit: Voltaire Neto/Wits

Known from just a single skull, the fossils were first unearthed back in 2008, but the scientific paper which has been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was delayed as it took many hundreds of hours to carefully piece the skull together from the many fragments that had been found at the fossil site.

The discovery will help scientists to understand how this type of Therapsid reptile diversified towards the end of the Permian period – Guadalupian/Lopingian epochs (265-260 million years ago), as they gradually replaced the Pelycosaurs (animals such as the sail-backed reptile Dimetrodon), as the dominant large vertebrates on land.

To discover exposed sediments on the extensive grasslands of Brazil, the scientists employed images from Google Earth to assist them in their search.  Satellite images helped the team identify potential fossil sites which were not covered by vegetation, thus permitting the rock layers to be explored more easily.  This is not the first time that satellite technology has been employed to search for fossils in this way, many dinosaur fossils have been found using this technique.  With much of the Earth’s surface comprehensively mapped, scientists are able to pin point with great accuracy potential fossil yielding dig sites.  In the past, such locations were often discovered by painstakingly walking over an area or relying on reports of unusual finds from locals.

The restored skull measures over 35 centimetres in length.  It indicates that with its over-sized canines and other saw-like teeth this predator had a powerful bite.  Using more complete fossil specimens found in the Karoo Basin region of South Africa, the Brazilian palaeontologists have been able to build up a picture of what this four-footed predator looked like.   They estimate that it would have been over 3 metres in length, weighing in excess of 300 kilograms.  This makes it larger and heavier than the largest species of “big cat” predator found today.  Consider the prospect of a Komodo Dragon with the power and strength of a Siberian Tiger, and you are beginning to get an impression of what “Pampas Killer” would have been like.

The Restored Skull of Pampaphoneus biccai

Fierce Permian Predator

Picture Credit: Dr. Juan Cisneros

The Brazilian scientists worked with other palaeontologists and experts from Turkey and South Africa as they studied the skull bones and began to piece them together.  South Africa, the region known as the Karoo Basin, is a particularly rich source of Late Permian reptile fossils.  During the Late Permian, most of the land masses were squeezed together to form a single super-sized continent known as Pangea.  The southernmost portion of Pangea consisted of South America, Africa, India, Antarctica and Australia.  Studies of fossil plants found in these regions indicate that Pampaphoneus biccai lived in a relatively cool, forested climate.  This suggests that during the Late Permian, Brazil was actually much closer to the South Pole than it is today.

Scientists hope to use the fossil evidence from South America to help build up a picture of Therapsid diversification and migration during the Late Permian.  P. biccai may have been a very formidable predator, but this type of reptile was doomed to extinction just a few million years later.  Changing sea levels, an asteroid/comet impact and extensive flood basalt eruptions in what was to become Siberia led to the perhaps the most devastating mass extinction event identified to date in the fossil record.  Ninety-five percent of all types of life on Earth became extinct at the end of the Permian.  The Therapsid group of reptiles were severely affected.  Some twenty-one families of Therapsids (63 percent) died out.

18 01, 2012

Darwin’s Lost Fossils – A Cabinet of Curiosities

By | January 18th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

Dusty Cabinet Provides Insight into the Formative Years of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, was an English naturalist who significantly influenced modern scientific thinking when he published his theory concerning natural selection in 1859.  As a young man, Darwin travelled on the HMS Beagle as the resident naturalist and companion to the ship’s captain.  The five year voyage impressed upon the young Darwin a sense of the natural world’s beauty and subtlety.  He began to pose searching questions about the complex relationships between organisms, the Earth’s structure and anthropology that led him to question the accepted doctrine regarding the origins of life.

His observations and meticulous notes provided Darwin with the materials needed to develop a new theory that species evolved by a process of  natural selection.  Any materials, notes and specimens collected by Darwin on his epic journey are extremely precious.  To discover an entire cabinet of prepared fossil specimens collected by the great man himself and a number of Darwin’s peers is truly remarkable.  For one young research student, an examination of an old cabinet stored in a “gloomy corner” of the British Geological Survey, has provided an astonishing insight into the formative years of one of the most important scientists of the 19th Century.

Howard Falcon-Lang, a palaeontologist at Royal Holloway (University of London), discovered a total of 314 prepared slides stored in an old wooden cabinet.  The slides represent fossil specimens, many of which were collected by Darwin during his voyage on the Beagle.

One of the Fossilised Slides and Darwin’s Label

A slide from the newly re-discovered Collection

Picture Credit: British Geological Survey

This slide shows a piece of fossil wood that was collected from the Island of Chiloe, Chile in 1834, probably by Darwin himself.   Darwin’s label can also be seen.  The specimen dates from approximately 40 million years ago (Palaeogene Period).

The slides were discovered at the British Geological Survey’s storage site, located at Keyworth, Nottinghamshire (England).  The British Geological Survey is home to more than three million fossils collected over the 180 years or so since the organisation was founded.  Usually the specimens are catalogued with great care and precision, however, this collection, compiled by the Victorian botanist Joseph Hooker, a close friend of Darwin, was not catalogued correctly and had lain forgotten in a dark, and dusty corner.  Hooker had been given the job of sorting out this part of the collection when he worked for the British Geological Survey in 1846.  Unfortunately, before he could complete the task, he was offered the chance to join an exhibition to the Himalayas, so he simply stored all the slides in a cabinet.

The slides are of fossil wood and fungi.  The slides were made by cutting very thin sections through the fossils and then polishing them so that they can become almost transparent, revealing their internal structure.  This was one of only a few techniques known to the Victorian scientists for looking at the internal structure of fossils.  In those days, X-ray machines, CAT scans and the like had not been invented, so the only way that the internal structure of a piece of petrified wood could be studied was by cutting slices off the actual fossil material.

The highly polished specimens were then placed between two sheets of glass so they could be studied under a microscope.  These fascinating specimens provide an insight into the study of fossils in the 19th Century.  The cabinet contains material collected by Darwin, Hooker and a number of other notable scientists including William Nicol, a pioneer in the study of the internal structure of rocks.

Using a torch to illuminate the contents of the dark cabinet, the first slide that Dr. Falcon-Long picked up had the label “C. Darwin Esq.”

Dr. Falcon-Long commented:

It took me a while just to convince myself that it was Darwin’s signature.”

He added:

“It was quite an important and overlooked specimen.  There are 100 million-year-old fossil trees from the latter age of the dinosaurs.  It’s real Jules Verne stuff, and scientists are only now starting to study it and understand its scientific importance.”

The cabinet was moved to the British Geological Survey’s offices in Charing Cross (London) in 1851.  It was transferred to the Geological Museum (South Kensington – London) in 1935 before being moved to the Nottinghamshire site.  However, in all that time, as far as anybody knows, the cabinet was never opened.

Dr John Ludden, of the Geological Survey, said:

‘This is quite a remarkable discovery.  It makes one wonder what else might be hiding in our collections.”

Who knows what else may lie, awaiting discovery amongst the vast number of specimens stored at the British Geological Survey’s various locations.

17 01, 2012

Oriental Ornithopods – Enter the Dragons

By | January 17th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|1 Comment

New Species of Plant-Eating Dinosaur From China

The Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon, is rapidly approaching and true to form a new dinosaur species is discovered in China.  This part of Asia could lay claim to being the most prolific location on the planet for new dinosaur discoveries at the moment.  Over the last twenty or so years, more new types of dinosaur have been discovered and named than in the proceeding two hundred years.  This new dinosaur, described as a member of the Ornithopoda (bird-hipped dinosaurs – Ornithischians) adds greatly to the current knowledge of this type of Chinese dinosaur, as up until now only a handful of Chinese Ornithopods have been scientifically described.

The dinosaur jointly researched by a team of Chinese and Japanese scientists has been named Yueosaurus tiantaiensis.  A paper detailing the  research work has been published in the scientific journal “Cretaceous Research”.

Known from just a single, well-preserved but incomplete specimen Y. tiantaiensis is believed to have been less than a metre tall, and little more than 1.5 metres long.  It has been described as a basal Ornithopod.  The fossils of these type of dinosaurs have been found on all continents but fossil specimens from China are rare.  These animals possessed beaks, were probably mainly vegetarian but some species may have eaten insects and small vertebrates.  They had hind legs longer than their front legs, and were probably facultative bipeds, (running on hind legs usually, but moving around on all fours if required).  Most basal Ornithopods were gracile and small although their descendants were to become the most widespread and common large plant-eating dinosaurs by the Late Cretaceous.

An Illustration of a Typical Basal Ornithopod

Fast running, new species of Chinese Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The original fossil material was found in 1998 when construction workers uncovered the remains of this small dinosaur during a road building project in Tiantai county,  in the eastern province of Zhejiang.  The location where this prehistoric herbivore’s remains were found was the inspiration behind the specific name of this dinosaur.  The fossils were intensively studied at the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History and it was from this analysis that the joint Sino/Japanese team were able to ascribe the remains to an entirely new species.

Yueosaurus Tiantaiensis lived during the Cretaceous geological period.  The fossils associated with this dinosaur were removed from strata approximately 100 million years old (Albian faunal stage).  The full name of this new dinosaur, one of half a dozen new species described from Zhejiang province in the last twelve months; means “Tiantai Yue Dinosaur” in Chinese, as it was discovered in the present-day Tiantai county and the region used to be the territory of the ancient state of Yue.  So the name reflects both modern and ancient China.

The new species represents the southernmost basal Ornithopod dinosaur discovered to date on the continent of Asia.  It is surprising how few of this type of dinosaur is known from China, especially given the extensive fossil record of animals such as the related Hypsilophodontids from North America and Europe.  It could be that small Ornithopods are rare in Asia when compared to the northern hemisphere for example, or there could be a bias in the fossil record with these small dinosaurs, perhaps being under-represented in the fossil record.

The closest living analogs to dinosaurs such as  Y. tiantaiensis are wallabies, deer and small antelope.  Fossilised burrows found in North America and what would have been the polar regions of Australia suggest that some types of small Ornithopods may have lived underground.

16 01, 2012

A Review of Deposits Magazine (issue 28)

By | January 16th, 2012|Magazine Reviews|0 Comments

Deposits Magazine- the International Rock and Fossil Magazine

As subscribers to this magazine we thought it high time that we wrote a brief review on this quarterly bulletin which concerns itself with all things related to geology, palaeontology and fossil collecting.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been readers for some time but as yet we have not put anything down in print with regards to this particular publication.  However, with the threat to the foreshore at Bracklesham Bay (West Sussex) we could effectively “kill two birds with one stone” as it were, combining a review with a bit of publicity concerning the campaign to save the Bracklesham Bay site as a location for family fossil hunts.

First the review of Deposits.  This is a full colour glossy, fifty-two page high quality Earth science magazine.  It is aimed at both beginners, enthusiasts and professionals.  The magazine has gained a strong reputation worldwide, for its superb quality of articles in topical areas.   Certainly, each issue does cover a great deal of ground (no pun intended).  Take for example issue 28 (Autumn 2011) which ever since its arrival before Christmas, it has been in residence in our board room available for all the staff to read.  In this particular edition, topics covered include an insight into the working day of a North Sea wellsite geologist, Palaeozoic fossils to be found in the southern Alps of Austria, Ammonites from New Guinea and the last part of a highly informative overview of the geology of Barbados.

The Front Cover of Deposits Magazine

Issue 28 – Deposits Magazine

Picture Credit: UKGE

One of the great benefits of this magazine, is that it is written for the general reader.  Technical areas of geology are discussed using terms and concepts that everyone including casual fossil collectors can understand.  Scientific papers are summarised in such a way that much of the technical language is removed thus permitting all readers to learn about new discoveries and such like.  We at Everything Dinosaur, try to do the same for aspects of vertebrate palaeontology within this humble web log, so we greatly appreciated the efforts of the editorial team behind this excellent publication.

An example of this would be the article on the fossils of the Carpathian Basin (a substantial and highly fossiliferous region of eastern Europe covering Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and portions of Austria).  The authors of what will be a series of articles about the Carpathian Basin (Gareth Dyke and Istvan Fozy), have provided a well-written and hugely enjoyable article and we look forward to reading more about this fascinating area of eastern Europe in future issues of the magazine.

Now for the plea for help.  The foreshore at Bracklesham Bay running to Selsey in West Sussex is under threat and could potentially be closed to fossil collectors.  The local district council intends to close the beach to families, visitors and fossil collectors to the east of the Bracklesham car park, as they want to designate this area as a kite surfing zone.

We know the Bracklesham Bay area very well, although it has been a few years since we visited this site whilst in the Chichester area.  It is a beautiful part of the world and a very popular location for fossil collectors as the foreshore has abundant fossils, bivalves, sharks teeth, teeth from rays, gastropods etc. all dating from the Palaeogene Period (50-45 million years ago).  The site has easy access and fossils can simply be picked up off the beach, it is a great location for families and many a  young fossil collector has started their collection and fired their enthusiasm for geology after a visit to this part of West Sussex.  Proposed changes to sea defences are already threatening the site, but if the Bracklesham Bay site is closed to fossil collectors this would be a great shame.

Whilst we accept that this location is also very popular with wind surfers and surfers, it remains one of the most family friendly fossil hunting locations in the whole of southern England and as such if this site or part of it were to be closed to families, then this would be extremely sad.

A Facebook campaign has been set up to try to lobby Chichester District Council and to influence any decisions taken over the future of Bracklesham Bay: Safeguarding Bracklesham Bay Campaign

It would be very helpful if readers could log onto this Facebook page and write a message of support etc.

15 01, 2012

The Juvenile Dracorex

By | January 15th, 2012|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Adding a Juvenile Dracorex Dinosaur to the Safari Ltd Picture

After having carefully modified the Safari Ltd picture that was sent to us so that it depicted a more accurate Late Cretaceous scene, we added for extra affect an image of a juvenile Dracorex.  It is likely that these members of the Pachycepahlosaurini (bone-headed dinosaurs) lived in small groups and younger members of the herd, sub-adults and juveniles probably stayed close to the adults for protection.  It is also highly probable that these young animals would also have looked different from the older, more mature herd members, so we set about creating an image of a juvenile Dracorex using the Safari Ltd image of the Wild Safari Dinos Dracorex replica as a template.

The Mum and Baby Dracorex 

Creating our Mum and Baby Dracorex Image

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

First of all we reduced an image of an adult Dracorex in size.  We could have “morphed” the body a little to give the juvenile a bigger head and larger eyes in proportion to the rest of its body, as seen in actual fossils of baby dinosaurs that have been discovered but for the time being we kept the body shape roughly the same shape as the adults.   We could use the Wild Safari Dinos Dracorex dinosaur model as our template.

Next, we toned down the orange colouration of the throat and the face, assuming that only adult, mature animals perhaps those old enough to breed or to exert some sort of social dominance over other herd members would develop such colourful markings.

The large crests, bumps and horns on the naris around the eyes and at the back of the head were removed, again the presumption was that such skull ornamentation was probably only present in older animals and these features would become more prominent as the youngsters grew.  The raised scutes, along the flanks and running down the back-line of the adult replica were also removed.

We placed the image of the juvenile in close proximity to the adult Dracorex image, so that a comparison between the two could be made (ontogenic differences) and also to give a sense of scale.  As stated earlier, juveniles probably stayed close to the older members of the herd for protection from predators.

So there you have it, Everything Dinosaur’s impression of a juvenile Dracorex, all we need now is more fossil material ascribed to this Pachycephalosaur genus so we can see how wildly inaccurate we were!

14 01, 2012

Adding a Juvenile Dracorex to the Safari Ltd Picture

By | January 14th, 2012|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

Working out what a Juvenile Dracorex Might Look Like

Yesterday, we published a couple of images of new models by Safari Ltd.  The 2012 product catalogue produced by this American company depicted a scene with one of their  new Wild Safari Dinos models – Dracorex very prominent.  We commented on this picture and changed the original Pterosaur image from a Rhamphorhynchus which lived during the Jurassic, replacing it with an image of the Carnegie Collectibles Quetzalcoatlus, which is more in keeping with the Late Cretaceous, the time when Dracorex lived.

We mentioned that it would be interesting to try and re-size an image of the Dracorex replica, alter the colouration slightly and then re-insert into the artwork so that a juvenile Pachycephalosaur could be included.  Using our limited photoshop skills, team members at Everything Dinosaur set about altering the picture so that a young dinosaur could be depicted.

The Safari Ltd Picture with a Juvenile Dracorex 

Adding a baby Pachycephalosaur to an Image

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd/Everything Dinosaur

As well as re-sizing the model and placing it in the foreground to emphasis the impression of a much smaller animal, we have toned down the bright throat colouration.  The assumption here is that only mature adult animals would have such striking colouration, an indication of their maturity and potential to breed.  The horns and other skull ornamentation have also been removed from the model that we have tried to depict as a young Dracorex.  It is very likely that such crest, bumps and horns were only present in fully grown individuals.  It is a testament to the quality of the models made by Safari Ltd that with a few simple touches, a juvenile dinosaur can be depicted and added to this picture showing the Wild Safari Dinos Dracorex dinosaur model.

13 01, 2012

Showing Off some of the New Safari Ltd Dinosaur Models

By | January 13th, 2012|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

A Flock of Dracorex Comes this Way

It is always interesting to see how manufacturers display their models in their catalogues. Not only is there a great deal of attention and care given to the design process, but the same attention is lavished on the models when it comes to displaying them in the company brochures.  Take for example the new additions to the Wild Safari Dinos range made by Safari Ltd.  There are four new replicas being introduced into this popular line this year, Acrocanthosaurus, Vagaceratops, Ceratosaurus and Dracorex, all these models are eagerly anticipated by Everything Dinosaur team members.  The colourful Dracorex model is shown in a skilfully crafted scene in the Safari Ltd product catalogue.  A flock of these Pachycephalosaurs (or should that be a herd), is shown crossing a river with a Pterosaur flying overhead.

The Safari Ltd Catalogue Image – Dracorex

A flock of Dracorex crossing a river

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

Scientists believe that dinosaurs such as Dracorex did live in groups and the scenary chosen by the designers at Safari Ltd is reminiscent of the sort of habitat in the Late Cretaceous where these bone-headed dinosaurs would have lived.  The only slight issue we would have with this artwork, is the depiction of a Rhamphorhynchus Pterosaur flying overhead.  The Rhamphorhynchus is a model in the Wild Safari Dinos replica range, it is a very beautiful item in its own right.  Unfortunately, this type of flying reptile is associated with marine deposits from the Mid and Upper Jurassic.  No Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaur ever flew over a group of Dracorex, this type of flying reptile was long extinct before the dinosaur known as Dracorex evolved.

We have altered the original image, and replaced the Rhamphorhynchus with a model of Quetzalcoatlus, a Pterosaur known from the Late Cretaceous, which is more in keeping with the geological time period associated with Pachycephalosaurs.

The Dracorex Image as Modified by Everything Dinosaur

Prehistoric Animals from the Late Cretaceous

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Safari Ltd

Perhaps with a little more time, and a little more skill we could scale down one of the images of the Dracorex, change the colouring slightly, losing the bright red throat patch and then insert into the picture a representation of a juvenile dinosaur following the adult animals in the herd.

12 01, 2012

Dimensions of the New Papo Brachiosaurus Model

By | January 12th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|1 Comment

Brachiosaurus Model Measurements from Papo of France

With the introduction of a new Brachiosaurus replica from Papo of France questions have been asked regarding the actual size of this model.  The Brachiosaurus is due to be released in June/July this year, it is the first Sauropod model to be made by Papo for their “Dinosaures” range.  This range includes models of small dinosaurs such as Oviraptor and Velociraptor as well as more sizeable ones such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops and T. rex.

The New Papo Brachiosaurus Model

Large size model of a Brachiosaurus (Papo Brachiosaurus)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Papo

The model measures 40cm in length, it stands 31.5cm tall and it is 11.5cm wide.  We estimate that this gives this particular model an approximate scale of 1:55 if the East African Brachiosaur material is regarded as representative.   Although there has been a great deal of scientific research carried out on Brachiosaur fossil material over the last few years (remembering the Giraffatitan/Brachiosaurus debate), species such as B. altithorax are estimated to be up to 22-25 metres in length.  Based on this data, this would give the new Papo model an approximate scale of 1:55, for example, one centimetre on the model equals 55 centimetres on the actual dinosaur.

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