All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//March
21 03, 2012

New Croc on the Block

By | March 21st, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Dorset Crocodile Discovery is Named in Honour of Rudyard Kipling

The fossilised remains of a prehistoric crocodile, unearthed in 2009 on the Dorset coast, has been named in honour of Rudyard Kipling, the author of the Jungle Book and the Just So stories.  Amongst Rudyard Kipling’s many interests he was an enthusiastic supporter of Earth sciences so in recognition of his support, this new species of prehistoric crocodile has been named after him.

To read about the discovery of the crocodile: Ancient Crocodile Fossils Discovered on the Jurassic Coast

The specimen has been dated to the Early Cretaceous (130 million years ago – Barremian faunal stage), a time when southern England was a lush, tropical, low-lying dinosaur paradise with animals such as Iguanodon and Hypsilophodon roaming the shorelines of a shallow sea.

Originally, thought to be an example of a Goniopholis crassidens, a prehistoric crocodile species named and described by Sir Richard Owen, a more detailed analysis has enabled scientists to declare this specimen as a new species and give it a unique scientific name.

The analysis and study of the beautifully preserved fossil specimen of this broad-snouted crocodile was carried out by scientists at Bristol University.

 The Prepared Skull of G. kiplini

Lower Cretaceous predator G. kiplini

Picture Credit:24hourmuseum.co.uk

The fossil skull was discovered by Richard Edmonds of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site team, whilst inspecting a rock fall at Swanage.  With the help of local fossil hunters Steve Etches and Chris Moore (all pictured), the skull material was removed from the beach area so that it could be properly prepared and excavated.

Mr Edmonds commented:

“Despite more than 200 years of collecting, specimens new to science continue to be found on this eroding coastline.  The fossil record is far from complete although the chance of a creature like this being fossilised is slim”.

He went onto add:

“People will still be making new discoveries 200 years from now.”

This crocodile, believed to be a distant ancestor of modern crocodilians, lived alongside dinosaurs and it shared its estuarine environment with a number of other crocodile species as well as turtles and fish.

The skull has been donated to the Dorset County Museum by Swanage Town Council and Dorset County Council.  It is now on display alongside the larger Pliosaur (marine reptile) skull, that was also discovered recently.

Professor Mike Benton (Bristol University) commented:

“This stunning specimen shows there’s plenty of life in the Dorset Jurassic coast.  These must be some of the most heavily collected rocks in the world and yet it is wonderful to see a new species coming out.”

The naming of this new species of prehistoric crocodile coincides with the first publicity material being released for the sixth Fossil Festival at Lyme Regis, which is to take place in early May.

20 03, 2012

Early Hominids Walked Upright so They Could Carry More Food

By | March 20th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Anglo/Japanese Scientific Team Conclude that Carrying More Food Improved Survival

For our ape-like ancestors being able to use your  hands to grab extra food and run away may have had an important evolutionary influence in early hominids adoption of an upright stance and bipedal walking habit.  That is one of the conclusions made by a joint British/Japanese research team who have been studying the behaviour of extant apes.

The anthropologists carried out their research studying the complex social behaviours of perhaps our closest living relative – the chimpanzee.  The research team found that these apes, very adept at and more comfortable walking on all fours than walking upright, would adopt a bipedal stance when they needed to monopolise scarce food resources by grabbing more in a single attempt when facing stiff competition from other social group members.

New Theory on the Advent of Bipedalism

Scientists postulate new theory on bipedalism

The researchers from Cambridge University (England) and Kyoto University in Japan, concluded that the benefits of being selfish and grabbing as much as you could with both hands would lead to certain individuals getting more than others.  Over a long period of time, natural selection could have favoured those apes that had a better sense of balance and could adopt a bipedal pose to swipe as much food as they could.  This suggest that early hominids could have evolved bipedalism in response to gaining an advantage when competing for scarce food resources – leading to our ancestors becoming permanent bipeds with their hands freed from the role of locomotion for evermore.

There have been many theories postulated as to why a bipedal stance was adopted by our ancestors, those apes that would lead to the emergence of the hominids and eventually our own species H. sapiens.  Studies of Bonobo chimps (Pan paniscus), long-legged, slightly smaller members of the Pan genus of chimpanzee, found in central Africa, led to some scientists concluding that our ancestors became adept at walking upright when they inhabited ancient swamps and regularly had to wade through water.  Most palaeontologists believe that Africa became much drier and the forests gradually became grasslands during the time of the first hominids.  This dry climate and the loss of an arboreal habitat may have driven certain types of apes onto the savannahs and being able to stand tall to look out for danger could well have been a stimulus for a bipedal evolution.

There have been a number of recent papers on ancient African hominids, one of the most exciting discoveries was made in southern Africa, the finding of one of the earliest known specimens of the “human family tree”.

To read more about this discovery: New Fossils May Help Redefine Human Ancestry

Anthropologists studying chimpanzees found that the great apes, who usually walk on all fours, walk upright and free their hands for carrying when they need to monopolise hard-to-find resources by swiping more at a single attempt in the face of fierce competition.

The team from the University of Cambridge and Kyoto University in Japan believe the benefit of “first come, first served” and getting a bigger share of scarce food supplies could, over a long period of time, have led some of our earliest “hominin” ancestors to evolve into “bipedal” primates walking on two legs permanently instead of four.

Professor William McGrew, from Cambridge’s department of archaeology and anthropology, said: “Bipedality as the key human adaptation may be an evolutionary product of this strategy persisting over time. Ultimately, it set our ancestors on a separate evolutionary path.”

Scientists believe that man’s ancestors changed how they moved at a time of climate upheaval which reduced the forested areas in which they lived and forced them out into the open more. But a lack of fossils means there is division over what specific factor it was that led to the development of walking on two feet.

The research by the team led by PhD student Susana Carvalho and Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests our earliest hominid ancestors may have lived in shifting environmental conditions in which certain resources were not always easy to come by.

Chimpanzees are one of several ape species able to walk on two legs for short periods of time.

The scientists conducted two studies of chimpanzees in Bossou Forest in Guinea, west Africa, finding that when supplies of highly prized coula nuts were scarce, the chimps were more likely to walk on two feet in an attempt to carry off more in a single trip.

They also found that when the chimpanzees went “crop raiding”, 35% of their activity involved some sort of bipedal movement, and “once again, this behaviour appeared to be linked to a clear attempt to carry as much as possible in one go”.

By studying the behaviour of chimpanzees, they believe that over time, intense bursts of bipedal activity in early hominins may have led to anatomical changes that in turn became the subject of natural selection where competition for food or other resources was strong.

Commenting on the research, Professor William McGrew (Cambridge University’s department of Archaeology and Anthropology) stated:

“Bipedality as the key human adaptation may be an evolutionary product of this strategy persisting over time. Ultimately, it set our ancestors on a separate evolutionary path.”

Walking on your hind legs in a grassland environment makes sense for a number of reasons.  For example, with the brain held slightly higher off the ground when compared to a four-footed form of locomotion it is effectively cooled by being that much further away from the ground.  Hands can be freed up to allow the carrying of food and even simple tools.  A lack of hominid fossils means that there is a lot of debate over what specific factor(s) led to the development of a human-like habit of walking on your back legs.

The work of PhD student Susana Carvalho and Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa, has been published in the scientific  journal “Current Biology”.  Their work suggests our earliest hominid ancestors may have lived in shifting environmental conditions in which certain resources were not always easy to come by.  Using the observed behaviour of extant apes, such as chimpanzees in the wild, the team postulate that the ability to grab as much as you can could have been a stimulus for bipedalism in our ancestors.  Chimps are just one of several great apes that can walk on their hind legs for a short period, although the position of their hind legs  relative to their pelvic girdle prevents them from walking very efficiently – they tend to swagger using their arms to help balance themselves, whilst human locomotion is a much more bio-mechanically efficient affair.

The anthropologists observed the behaviour of chimpanzees in the Bossou Forest of Guinea (West Africa).  They discovered that when the chimps encountered highly prized food such as coula nuts, the animals were more likely to walk on their hind legs so that they could carry off more of their precious booty in a single trip.

They also found that when the chimpanzees went “crop raiding”, taking food from the fields of the local farmers, more than a third of their activity involved some sort of bipedal movement.  The researchers concluded that just like a burglar breaking into a house, the chimps wanted to get the theft over as quickly as possible and grab as much as they could before beating a hasty retreat.

As the scientists concluded:

“Once again, this behaviour appeared to be linked to a clear attempt to carry as much as possible in one go”.

The study of an extant ape, has led this joint Anglo/Japanese team to conclude that intense bursts of bipedalism in our ancient ancestors may have led to the evolution of anatomical adaptations that led to a more efficient and effective upright stance.  Becoming a biped so that you can use your hands to grab as much food as possible may have been the evolutionary spark that lit the touch-paper that over millions of years led to the emergence of our own branch of the hominid family tree.

To read another article on the evolution of bipedalism in early hominids, an article written about some of the fossil evidence in support of an upright walking stance in A. afarensis: Early Hominid Walking Tall.

19 03, 2012

Mapusaurus Makes Its Mark

By | March 19th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|4 Comments

Collecta Mapusaurus Dinosaur Model

Originally thought to be a new discovery of G. carolini fossil remains, Mapusaurus (M. roseae) has struggled to get out from under the shadow of its larger, Theropod cousin, however, a Mapusaurus model has been added to the Collecta model range  and this large Carcharodontosaurid can take its place alongside other meat-eater replicas.

Members of a joint Argentinian/Canadian scientific expedition discovered the remains of a gigantic meat-eating dinosaur in exposed rocks forming part of the Huincul Formation of central Argentina in 1997.  Subsequent excavations over the next four years uncovered the remains of at least seven Theropod dinosaurs, representing fully grown individuals as well as immature specimens.  The excitement over the discovery and naming of the giant, carnivorous dinosaur Giganotosaurus which had been found in the same part of Argentina just a few years before, had hardly died down when these new fossils were found.  Initially, thought to be fossils of Giganotosaurus, a rigorous and thorough analysis of the skull material confirmed that this was a new meat-eating dinosaur discovery.  Mapusaurus  roseae was formally named and described by Rodolfo Coria and Phil Currie in 2006.

It is very exciting to see such a recently named and described dinosaur being featured in a model range.  However, given the extensive fossil material ascribed to this species, much more than most large Theropods it is no surprise.  Mapusaurus was certainly an impressive animal, perhaps getting on for forty feet in length and weighing in at a hefty five/six tonnes, this dinosaur was an apex predator capable of bringing down the largest prey – even the mighty Argentinosaurus if enough of these meat-eaters attacked the same animal.

A Picture of the New Collecta Mapusaurus Model (Collecta dinosaurs)

Rose’s Earth Reptile – Mapusaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The long, narrow snout of Mapusaurus (pronounced “mah-pus-sore-us”), distinguishes this meat-eating dinosaur from other super predators such as the later Abelisaurids and Tyrannosaurs.

Measuring an impressive twenty-five centimetres in length and with a head held seven centimetres of the ground, this is one of the larger not-to-scale models currently offered by Collecta.   The model is painted a light green with darker stripes running from the backbone down the flanks and the hind limbs.  There is a splash of contrasting red on the snout and highlighting the two small crests that are placed directly over the eyes.  This dinosaur is posed with its mouth open and the small, fine teeth have been painted in well.  This model has been given a thick, muscular neck, not the typical “S” shaped neck of an Allosaurid model. This feature when combined with the thick and heavy tail, tends to make the model look rather stiff.

The short arms are well depicted and collectors will be pleased to see that the three-fingered hands with their claws have been skilfully moulded by the design team.  Running along the spine there is a small, spiky crest that helps to give this dinosaur model a fearsome appearance.

Model collectors and dinosaur fans will appreciate the work that has gone into creating this replica.  Perhaps a Carcharodontosaurus is on the cards for next year.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur models currently in stock: Dinosaur Replicas and Models

18 03, 2012

Mother’s Day – Maiasaura and Marsh

By | March 18th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Famous Figures|0 Comments

Remembering “Good Mother Lizard” and Charles Othniel Marsh (1831 -1899)

Today is “Mother’s Day” a day celebrating mums around the world, otherwise known as “Mothering Sunday” not every country recognises this day as a special day for mums.  For example, in Australia, “Mothers Day” is celebrated sometime in May we think, but it gives us an excuse to write about one of our favourite Ornithopods – Maiasaura.  Today also marks the anniversary of the death of one of the most influential palaeontologists of the 19th Century – Charles Othniel Marsh.

Maiasaura was a large, flat-headed duck-billed dinosaur that lived in North America.  It is a member of the Ornithopoda.  The first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in the badlands of  Montana thirty-four years ago by a team of American scientists led by palaeontologist Jack Horner.  The site the team uncovered consisted of a number of dinosaur nests, eggs, baby Maiasaura, adults and juveniles.  The location was renamed “Egg Mountain” and represents the fossilised remains of a Maiasaura nesting site.  More than two-hundred individual specimens have been excavated, providing scientists with evidence of the nesting behaviour of dinosaurs.  Maiasaura was formally named and described by Jack Horner and Robert Makela.  The name means “Good Mother Lizard” and in contrast with most of the Dinosauria, it takes the female form of the Latin term for lizard – saura.

An Illustration of a Maiasaura and her Nest

“Good Mother Lizard”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Careful study of the fossils found on “Egg Mountain” led to some intriguing insights into Ornithopod nesting behaviour.  For example, many of the baby Maiasaura were clearly too large to be newly hatched, but they were evidently still living in the nest.  The conclusion made was that these dinosaurs stayed in the nest whilst the parents or a parent looked after them, bringing them food.  Some scientists have postulated that Maiasaura were strongly social creatures, living in large herds.

Charles Othniel. Marsh, no doubt would have been fascinated by the fossils of Maisaura.  This pioneer of palaeontology passed away on March 18th 1899.  This American palaeontologist; who organised and led many expeditions to the newly opened up western United States; named and described at least twenty-five dinosaur genera, famous dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus and Allosaurus as well as a huge number of other prehistoric animals.

Appointed professor of palaeontology at Yale University in 1860, he persuaded his uncle George Peabody to establish the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale and he helped build up an extensive fossil collection.

Remembering Charles Othniel Marsh (1831 – 1899)

Remembering the American Palaeontologist

Picture Credit: Wikipedia

So on Mothers Day we remember “Good Mother Lizard” and one of the founding fathers of the modern science of palaeontology.

17 03, 2012

Creative Dinosaur Birthday Cake

By | March 17th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Wonderful Dinosaur Birthday Cake for a Special Young Palaeontologist

At Everything Dinosaur we are in awe of Mrs Babar, who created a wonderful birthday cake for a special, young dinosaur fan who was celebrating a fourth birthday.  We are constantly amazed at how clever and creative our customers are when it comes to making cakes, biscuits and other goodies.  Mrs Babar contacted us to ask advice about how to decorate her creation, our team members were happy to provide what advice they could, after all, everyone of us has had a go at making biscuits and cakes from the recipes that we have written and posted up on the Everything Dinosaur website.  Some of our efforts we thought were good, but Mrs Babar’s Mesozoic masterpiece really takes the biscuit.

Wonderful Dinosaur Themed Birthday Cake

Cretaceous and Creative Cakes

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Samina Babar

Creating a birthday cake can be a daunting task, but we would encourage people to have a go, we have even surprised ourselves with our kitchen capabilities and we have devised one or two recipes under the intriguing  titles of “Trilobite Treats” and “Dinosaur Nests” but we take our hard-hats off to Samina for this beautiful birthday cake.  Of course, there are always professionals like Samina on hand to help make your special event really memorable.

Mrs Babar, contacted Everything Dinosaur requesting some advice on the prehistoric animal models that we sell as cake toppers.  Our knowledgeable staff were able to provide information regarding the size of the models and to respond to her request for dinosaurs that would work well with her chosen colour scheme for the icing.

Of course, we had to cater for the demands of the 4-year-old as well, we had to choose dinosaur models that the young palaeontologist would recognise, we emailed Mrs Babar with the following:

As promised, myself and my colleagues have gone into the warehouse and found you five dinosaur models as you requested;

Dinosaurs Selected for You 

T. rex – sandy coloured

Stegosaurus – green with red/brown plates

Ankylosaurus – green and light blue

Spinosaurus – orange

Iguanodon – pink/purple”

Team members do try to help where they can and selecting dinosaurs for a birthday cake is all in a day’s work for our dinosaur experts and teachers.

Birthday Cake with Dinosaurs Around a Watering Hole

Dinosaurs around a Watering Hole

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Samina Babar

Samina used different coloured icing to create her own dinosaur themed scene.  The five prehistoric animals have gathered around a watering hole, the addition of the models and a few plastic trees makes a super dinosaur birthday cake design and if we overlook the mix of Jurassic/Cretaceous creatures for a moment and consider how animals behave today, it is very likely that dinosaurs did congregate around sources of water, especially in dry seasons.  Water would have attracted herbivores and with a large amount of prey in the area, the predatory dinosaurs would have followed.  Indeed, team members have observed lions attacking zebra as they congregate around a watering hole to get a drink.  Perhaps, Tyrannosaurs also attacked horned dinosaurs as they gathered to quench their thirsts.

There is even a special term used by palaeontologists to describe the churned up sediments that are preserved in the geological record that indicate an area has been trampled by dinosaurs.  These areas occur most frequently in strata that suggest that water was nearby – the term used to describe the churning up of ground due to the activity of dinosaurs is “dinoturbation”.

Lovely, icing and a very thoughtful design, it is always a pleasure to see how Everything Dinosaur’s products are used by our customers.  We get a lot of information sent into us about how well our dinosaur party items were received by young dinosaur fans attending a dinosaur party.

Mrs Babar runs her own cake design and cake making business: Cakes by Samina B.

Based in the UK, Samina creates breathtakingly beautiful cakes whether they are required for weddings, events or even birthday cakes for a dinosaur mad 4 year-old.  Once again we congratulate Mrs Babar on her creative use of dinosaur models.

16 03, 2012

Papo Brown T. rex Standing Figure Now Available

By | March 16th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|6 Comments

New Papo Re-painted T. rex (Brown Version)

The Brown coloured variant of the Papo standing T. rex figure is now available from Everything Dinosaur.  This re-painted figure will replace the green Tyrannosaurus rex model produced by Papo.  Papo had proposed doing what they term a “running change” – selling out of the green version before introducing the new brown model T. rex.  At Everything Dinosaur, our close working relationship with Papo has enabled us to be amongst the first in this part of the world to offer this re-painted model.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Papo models: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Papo “Brown” T. rex Dinosaur Model

Papo Brown T. rex Model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model has the same articulated jaws as the original green version that it will eventually replace.  A straw poll taken amongst Everything Dinosaur team members this evening suggests that this brown version looks more ferocious!

16 03, 2012

A Review of the Collecta Dead Triceratops Model

By | March 16th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Product Reviews|2 Comments

Collecta Provide Realistic Model of a Dead Triceratops

Triceratops may be one of the best known dinosaurs.  Certainly, it is true that no dinosaur enthusiast’s model collection can be said to be complete without one or two horned dinosaurs, but Collecta have broken the mould (no pun intended) with the introduction of a new Triceratops replica but one that represents a dead dinosaur, a corpse that is being scavenged by a meat-eater.

Model collectors can now have a dead Triceratops to use when creating their own prehistoric scenes, the model itself is very cleverly designed, on the reverse, the side that is placed downwards, there are no signs of injury to the beast.  However, on the other side, the side that faces upwards there are deep wounds and cuts present indications that this herbivore was attacked by a large predatory dinosaur, the implication being that it is a Tyrannosaurus rex.

The Collecta Dino Prey – Dead Triceratops

A dinner for a T. rex?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model measures eighteen centimetres long approximately and it is beautifully painted.  The neck shield is black with white patches and the body is mostly light brown, with a slightly lighter underside.  Running along the spine there is a darker band and over the rump the model makers have added a small crest of bristles.  Recent research has suggested that some of these Ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs) had bristles running down their backs, a characteristic seen in more primitive, basal forms of this dinosaur clade – the psittacosaurs for example.

Now for the gory bits, the evidence of predation, the way in which the model gives the impression that this poor Triceratops has been attacked by a Tyrannosaurus rex.  Firstly on the right side of the neck frill there is a red coloured “U” shape.  The model makers have tried to give the impression that this is the bite mark of a tyrannosaur.  The fossil record provides evidence that T. rex did indeed attack the frill of Triceratops.  Whether or not these bite marks are the result of a predator attacking its prey, or whether they are evidence of feeding on a carcase is still debated by palaeontologists.  Our Triceratops corpse has more wounds along the jaw and the throat.  If this Triceratops had been attacked by a T. rex, then it could be speculated that the throat bites were the fatal bites.  Lovely detail on the model, even the pink tongue is lolling to the side of the mouth.

There is a large bite mark at the base of the tail, this could have been inflicted during the attack or it could be evidence of post-mortem feeding.  The body cavity has been partially opened with the ribs and part of the digestive tract visible.  In reality, many carnivores today, target the soft stomach area of their prey as this permits access to the highly nutritious organs such as the liver and provides the carnivore with an opportunity to open up the carcase permitting the consumption of as much meat as possible in a short time.

The Inspiration behind the new Triceratops Model

The Inspiration behind the Collecta Dino Prey – Dead Triceratops?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

There are also deep wounds to be seen on the top of the thigh, perhaps where a T. rex raked its prey as it was down with its strong hind legs, each foot armed with three powerful, forward facing claws.

This is certainly a thoughtfully crafted replica, one that will allow dinosaur scenes to have a sense of extra realism.  Model makers can now pose a Tyrannosaurus rex model standing over its Triceratops kill.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s model range: Models of Dinosaurs

15 03, 2012

Stone Age Remains from South China may be Entirely New Human Species

By | March 15th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Who were the Red Deer People?

A paper published in the online scientific journal PLoS One (public library of science) details the discovery and analysis of ancient human remains which may provide evidence that south-western China was once populated by an ancient species of hominids, a species that is entirely new to science.

An international team of researchers including scientists from the University of New South Wales (Australia) have been analysing the fragmentary fossil remains of ancient humans, their studies show that these humans have a mix of both modern and ancient traits.  They could be the last vestiges of a hominid that survived to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition or perhaps evidence that our own species interbreed with more ancient hominids on arrival in Asia.  Dating work including analysis of charcoal deposits left by the cave people as they cooked their food suggest that the fossils are between 14,300 and 11,500 years old – very recent in terms of the geological record.

Team co-leader Darren Curnoe, of the University of New South Wales, commented that the physical appearance of these extinct people was unique, like nothing seen in the Asian hominid record to date.

He stated:

”They look very different to all modern humans, whether alive today or in Africa 150,000 years ago.”

Skeletal evidence and the results of DNA analysis indicate that our species evolved in Africa before migrating and populating every continent.  It is thought that modern humans migrated into Asia across the Arabian peninsula something like 60,000 years ago.  Evidence from early H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis  sites is open to a number of interpretations as the archaeological record suggests a complex migration pattern with groups of modern humans and Neanderthals moving in and out of the region in response to changing climate.  The Tibetan plateau may have acted as a natural barrier permitting an ancient hominid species that may have migrated through the Indian sub-continent and eventually present in south-west China to remain excluded from the incursions of more modern species.

Pleistocene aged human fossils are rare in East Asia.  Finds are very scarce but a number of discoveries in south-western China are helping to document the history of human migration into that part of the continent.  This international team, studied a partial skull which was carefully extracted from a block of sediment collected in 1979 from the Longlin Cave (Guangxi Province).  Although the fossil had been found nearly 35 years ago, it had not been properly studied.  This specimen was compared to other human remains found at a cave known as the “Red Deer Cave” due to the number of fossil deer  bones found (Maludong, Yunnan Province), mostly fragmentary specimens but as yet undescribed human bones.  The bones found at these different locations suggest that they represent a single population, one type of people with a mixture of ancient and modern anatomical characteristics.

The Partial Human Skull (Longlin Cave)

The flattened facial features can be clearly made out

Picture Credit: PLoS One

The prehistoric people had short, flat faces with ancient features reminiscent of H. heidelbergensis such as thick skull bones  and big teeth but brains with modern-looking frontal lobes.  Known as the “Red Deer People” due to their apparent reliance on an extinct species of deer for food, these humans are the youngest people in terms of geological age, found to date that do not resemble our own human species.

The research team have put forward two possible explanations for the existence of this unknown human species in this region.  Firstly, they could be modern humans (H. sapiens) that migrated out of Africa very early and reached China independently of other human migrations out of Africa.  Once in China these people did not contribute genetically to people living in East Asia today.

Secondly, the fossil material could represent an unknown species of hominid, deer hunting, venison eating people who lived at a time when our own species was adopting a more sedentary existence rather than the hunter/gatherer way of life, with the development of agriculture.

Although cautious, Professor Curnoe favours the new human species theory, he stated:

”While finely balanced, I think the evidence is slightly weighted towards the Red Deer Cave people representing a new evolutionary line.”

The find follows the discoveries of two new human species in Asia, dubbed “the Hobbit”, (H. floresiensis) due to their small size and the Denisovans, in the last decade or so.  The Indonesian island of Flores was home to a diminutive species of hominid up until approximately 13,000 years ago.

To read more about the Denisovans: X-woman Competing with Modern Humans and Neanderthals

The discovery team, co-led by Professor Curnoe and Professor Ji Xueping, of Yunnan University in Kunming, includes researchers from five Australian and six Chinese institutions.  This work is invaluable in helping archaeologists and palaeontologists to piece together the human family tree.

14 03, 2012

A Review of the Collecta Utahceratops

By | March 14th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Collecta Utahceratops in Review

Horned dinosaur models are a bit like buses, you wait ages for one to come along and then several arrive altogether.  This is certainly the way with Collecta and the new Collecta Utahceratops.  Hot on the heels of the Kosmoceratops model release comes this new replica of a Ceratopsian.  It is apt that these two dinosaurs should be reviewed in close proximity as both these dinosaurs were found in the same rock strata – Kaiparowits Formation in Utah (United States) and they co-existed all those years ago in the Late Cretaceous.

Utahceratops, (yet another dinosaur named after the state of Utah), that’s at least two that we can recall, the other being Utahraptor, was bigger than Kosmoceratops.  Scientists estimate that this horned dinosaur was around seven metres long when fully grown and it would have weighed as much as an Indian elephant.  This dinosaur is known from at least six individual specimens, including two partial skulls which when combined provide palaeontologists with an almost complete skull to study.  Like its contemporary, Kosmoceratops, this dinosaur was named and described in 201o.

The Collecta Utahceratops Dinosaur Model (Collecta Dinosaurs)

Collecta Utahceratops dinosaur figure

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model measures a fraction over twelve centimetres in length and the first impression is of the use of muted colours in the painting of the replica.  It is noted that the actual model has a different finish than the original pre-release publicity photographs of the replica.  In the earlier photographs the pattern on the extensive neck frill of Utahceratops was highlighted and brighter colours were used for the paintwork.  The model has a more muted tone, and this makes it look more realistic.

The unusual facial horns are well depicted.  The two larger horns, placed over the eyes point out sideways as revealed by the fossil evidence.  A crest just below each horn and directly above the eye has been painted a contrasting red colour by the designers.  The rest of the model is painted a light, sandy brown colour with a darker pigment used to mark out patterns on the large neck frill.  Along the limbs and across the flanks the model makers have added one or two lighter stripes, a subtle use of colour on the replica dinosaur figure.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s model range: Dinosaur Models and Replicas

As with all Collecta figures the detail is exceptional and we loved the finishing touch of the slight kink to the very end of the dinosaur’s tail, as if it was about to swish it.  It is interesting to note that with the plethora of horned dinosaurs being added to the Collecta range, war gamers and other role game players have been keen to get hold of these replicas to add to their fantasy model collections.  It seems that these beautiful, many horned dinosaurs are proving popular additions to the models used by fantasy war game hobbyists.

It is always a pleasure to see a new horned dinosaur figure and this Utahceratops keeps up the high standards set by Collecta.

13 03, 2012

A Review of the Collecta Kosmoceratops Model

By | March 13th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

“Ornate Horned Dinosaur” Kosmoceratops gets Reviewed

With the discovery of so many new horned dinosaurs over the last three years or so, model manufacturers have had a job catching up.  However, with the introduction of the Collecta Kosmoceratops, it seems that dinosaur models are once again the focus of attention.

Kosmoceratops was formally named and described in 2010.  Its fossils have been found in Utah (United States), it shared its wooded, semi-arid environment with an even larger Ceratopsian known as Utahceratops.  Both these dinosaurs lived at the end of the Cretaceous period.  Although the neck shield and the skull is smaller when compared to later members of this group, such as the famous horned dinosaur Triceratops, Kosmoceratops had the most ornate and decorated known.  There were at least fifteen horns or horn-like structures adorning the skull and neck crest.  Scott Richardson, an amateur fossil hunter, helping to map the geology of Utah discovered the first fossils of this dinosaur in 2006.   Further discoveries followed including an almost complete skull, ribs, vertebrae and elements of the pelvic girdle.

The Collecta Kosmoceratops Dinosaur Model

A dinosaur that was a bit of a show off

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The large brow horns stick out to the side, an unusual feature for a horned dinosaur, most of these creatures had horns that faced forwards.  It is unknown what functions these horns and the elaborate frill performed, perhaps they were used in ritual combat with other members of the herd to for a display device.

The Collecta Kosmoceratops model measures a little over 12 centimetres in length.  It has been estimated that a fully grown Kosmoceratops would have exceeded 4.5 metres in length.  This gives an approximate scale to this model of 1:360.

The texture of the skin is quite rough, giving the impression of large body scales.  The frill is painted a dark green colour with the individual horns and bumps on the skull highlighted in a contrasting red hue.  The model makers have obviously sided with those scientists who believe that the ornate frill on Kosmoceratops was some sort of signalling device.  The majority of the model is painted in a green tint, with a lighter underside and generally becoming less dark towards the tail.  This Kosmoceratops replica has a quite stocky appearance, building on the scientific evidence from the fossilised pelvic bones and sturdy backbones that have been found.

This model shows lots of fine detail and it is bound to be popular amongst dinosaur fans and specialist model collectors who want to be kept up to date with the latest dinosaur discoveries.

To view the new Collecta model range: Dinosaur Models

 

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