All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//April
22 04, 2012

The Bird with a “Toothy Grin” that lived Alongside Tyranosaurus rex

By | April 22nd, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|2 Comments

Scientists Identify a New Species of Late Cretaceous Bird

An international team of Russian, American and Canadian scientists have published details of their work on the fossilised toe bone of a toothed bird that hunted in fresh water, declaring it a new species.  Named Brodavis americanus, this Late Cretaceous fish-eater swam in rivers and probably watched herds of horned dinosaurs and maybe even Tyrannosaurus rex coming down to the river bank in order to drink.

The fossilised fragments of bone that enabled the scientists to name a new species of prehistoric bird were found in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan (Frenchman Formation), a series of sedimentary deposits that date from the very end of the Cretaceous period (Maastrichtian faunal stage).  This is just one species that has been assigned to a newly named family of primitive birds known as the Brodavidae.  In total, four species, part of one genus have been ascribed to this ancient, bird family.  Other fossils of this type of bird have been found in South Dakota (United States) and in Upper Cretaceous rock formations in Mongolia.

Brodavidae Fused Metatarsal Fossil Bones

Toe Bones Point towards New Bird Species

 

The evolution of Late Cretaceous birds is now much better understand, thanks mainly to new fossil discoveries over the last twenty years or so, in conjunction with detailed study of existing, known fossil material held in museum collections.  The Brodavidae family have been classified as belonging to the Order Hesperornithiforms, primitive birds that are now extinct.  Everything Dinosaur, team members are not entirely sure, but we think one of the characteristics of later forms of primitive birds is that the elongated foot bones called the metatarsals became fused to form a structure known as the tarsometatarsus.  These bones were not fused in earlier Cretaceous bird species such as those found in the Liaoning Province of China which date from the Early Cretaceous.  The picture above shows the fused metatarsal toe bones, the discovery providing evidence that the fossils represent a new family of primitive Cretaceous birds.

 An Illustration of a Primitive Bird (Brodavidae)

The bird with a “toothy” grin

 

The species referred to as Brodavis americanus was described by Larry Martin of Kansas University (USA), the late Evgeny Kurochkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Tim Tokaryk of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.  Whilst a number of Hesperornithiform birds were flightless, living in coastal areas and hunting fish underwater.  This particular species is associated with inland, freshwater environments.  The scientists have speculated that the lack of pachyostosis in the fossil bones (thickening of bones to make them denser to counteract buoyancy in water), might mean that unlike other Hesperornithiforms such as Hesperonis from the Western Interior Seaway, Brodavis americanus may have retained the power of flight.

On this “Earth Day”, so lovely to hear about a number of new species added to the fossil record, helping to improve our understanding of the evolution of modern birds.

21 04, 2012

New T. rex T-shirt for Children Available

By | April 21st, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|2 Comments

Black T. rex T-shirt for Kids available from Everything Dinosaur

Newly evolved, an exciting Tyrannosaurus rex inspired T-shirt for young palaeontologists from two to nine years of age.  Made from 100% cotton, this high quality, black T-shirt had a colourful T. rex transfer on the front.  Are you brave enough to put a T. rex on your chest?

In Everything Dinosaur’s annual prehistoric animal survey, Tyrannosaurus rex comes out as the most popular with girls and boys, so we know that  a T-shirt with their favourite dinosaur on it is going to make them roar with excitement.  T. rex has been known about for more than one hundred years but the “Tyrant Lizard King” is still a huge favourite with young dinosaur fans.

Tyrannosaurus rex T-shirt Available from Everything Dinosaur

T. rex T-shirt is going to be a “roaring” success!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This new T-shirt, featuring a blue transfer of a roaring T. rex showing a mouthful of sharp teeth is part of a range of children’s T-shirts offered by the company – all inspired by dinosaurs.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s clothing range: Dinosaur T-shirts

A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We are delighted to have a new dinosaur inspired T-shirt to add to our range.  These new T-shirts have arrived in time for the Summer, let’s hope the weather improves”.

The spokesperson went onto add that the company planned to introduce more clothing lines in the next few weeks, including some more dinosaur themed T-shirts.

20 04, 2012

World’s Largest Dinosaur Eggs – The Facts are Scrambled

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

Chechnya’s Giant Dinosaur Egg Discovery – Doubts Raised

Earlier this week we were sent some pictures taken by a team of scientists who were examining what was thought by a number of observers to be the fossilised remains of dinosaur eggs.  Construction workers undertaking the building of a new road were blasting their way through a hillside near the Chechen border with Georgia when the discovery of more than forty, strange, spherical objects embedded in the hillside was made.  The strange objects, ranging in size from a few centimetres across to a whopping 1.02 metres were described as being dinosaur eggs and their discovery led to a “scramble” amongst scientists to learn more.

The Chechnya region has suffered in the past twenty years or so as separatist movements fought with Russia in a bid to form an independent state.  The war torn region has had millions of pounds of state aid poured into it in a bid to improve the living conditions for the local population, the road building project was one such regional development measure, however, the planners did not “eggspect” to have a dinosaur egg hunt on their hands.

The Strange “Dinosaur Eggs” Discovered in the Hillside

Strange Objects Embedded in the Rock

Picture Credit: RIA Novosti/Said Tsarnaev

Keen to take advantage of the find, a number of local businessmen have expressed an interest in developing guided tours to the remote hillside to view the “dinosaur eggs”.  The discovery has certainly attracted the attention of the local population with many of the curious venturing up the hillside to take a closer look at the objects.

Commenting on the strange phenomena a senior geologist at the Chechen State University stated:

“We’ve found about forty eggs so far, the exact number has not been established and there could be many more under the ground.”

Some scientists are claiming that the eggs were laid by a huge long-necked dinosaur known as a Sauropod, the largest, land living animals known to science.   A number of samples and specimens have been sent to palaeontologists based in the city of Yessentuki in southern Russia’s Stavropol Region for a more thorough examination.

A Close up of the Strange Geological Phenonmenon

Evidence of a Dinosaur’s Nest?

Picture Credit: RIA Novosti/Said Tsarnaev

Other scientists have cast doubt about whether these are dinosaur eggs.  Chechyna is located in the south-eastern corner of Europe and the geology of the area is extremely complicated.  The northern Caucasus mountain range runs throughout this region, the result of extensive tectonic activity between the Eurasian and the Arabian plates.  The scientists claim that the strata within which the eggs were found dates to around sixty million years ago.  The  dinosaurs are believed to have died out many millions of years before.  The extensive seismic and volcanic activity may have led to a considerable amount of re-distribution and re-deposition but palaeontologists and geologists are sceptical whether such “fossils” such as massive eggs would have survived these physical processes.

Although once underwater, part of the massive Tethys Ocean, the region has been mountainous for much of the Cretaceous, leading scientists to question how such large animals such as Sauropods, (Titanosaurs) could have roamed a mountainous region and laid eggs on the sides of steep slopes.

The size of the objects have also led scientists to question the validity of the claim.  Contrary to popular believe, dinosaur eggs were not enormous, in fact given the size of some of the adults that laid the eggs, dinosaur eggs were not disproportionately any bigger than the eggs of many birds.  Egg size is limited by a number of factors.  It is not merely due to the ability of an egg to pass through the oviduct of the adult attempting to lay, but also if the eggs of the largest dinosaurs were more than one metre in diameter, their weight would mean that the egg shell would have to be very thick.  The thickened egg shell would interrupt gaseous exchange and any dinosaur attempting to hatch would have had an extremely difficult job.

Some of the largest dinosaur eggs known, do come from Europe, but not the Caucasus mountains, they were found in France.  A number of football-sized eggs were discovered in France in the 19th Century.  They are believed to have been laid by a Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage) Titanosaur known as Hypselosaurus.

To read more about Hypselosaurus and to see a picture of the dinosaur eggs that some scientists ascribe to this genus: The Big Eggs of a Dinosaur

However, the largest of the French eggs, some thirty centimetres in diameter are dwarfed by the strange eggs of Chechyna.  The objects are simply too big to be regarded as eggs.

Yuri Gubin from the Moscow Museum of Palaeontology has cast doubt about the authenticity of the find, he stated:

The boundary between the shell and inner structure are clearly seen on the dinosaur eggs.  I haven’t mentioned it on the discovery of the Chechen specialists, I think it’s a kind of sphere-like rocks.  You can’t imagine how many such “eggs” were brought to our museum by Moscow residents”.

“Cracks” in the Giant Dinosaur Egg Theory

“Cracks” in the Giant Dinosaur Eggs Theory

Picture Credit: RIA Novosti/Said Tsarnaev with arrows by Everything Dinosaur

The photograph above shows a close up of some of the giant “dinosaur eggs”, however if you look closely a number of interesting points, challenging the validity of the dinosaur egg theory can be made.  Firstly one of the arrows points to an exposed area that shows the internal structure of the so-called egg.  Although it is difficult to see all the detail clearly, the  internal structure is not typical of what would be expected inside a fossilised egg, for example there is no evidence of a fossilised embryo.  The shape of the object is very nearly round, most dinosaur eggs are not that spherical in shape.  In addition, one of the arrows points at another object which seems to have been squeezed between two of the “eggs”.  The shape of the object arrowed could have been due to physical processes that occurred during fossilisation but it is more likely that these strange structures may be caused by gaseous intrusions into the layers of sedimentary rock as they were being formed.  These would create bubble-like structures and it is probably natural, geological process that has formed the unusual pattern seen in this particular rock strata.  It is unlikely that this is evidence of a giant dinosaur’s nest.

Whilst it remains very likely that these egg-shaped objects are the result of natural , geological processes this has not dampened the enthusiasm or excitement of the locals, who have flocked to the area to take videos and photos of Chechnya’s very own dinosaur discovery.

19 04, 2012

Scientists “Lay” Claim to New Dinosaur Extinction Theory

By | April 19th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Egg-Laying Dinosaurs Doomed Whilst Mammals Live-Birth Reproduction Strategy Triumphed

A team of scientists based in Switzerland have used computer models comparing how dinosaurs grew from a hatchling into an adult with the growth rate of mammals to suggest that the dependence on egg-laying was a factor in the demise of the Dinosauria.  They have added a new twist to the dinosaur extinction theory.

Given the physical limitations imposed on the size of hatchlings, dictated by the physical limits of the eggs they hatch from, many dinosaur species had to grow from babies just a few tens of centimetres long into thirty metre and forty tonne giants.  Small, baby dinosaurs having to grow quickly could not compete against mammals that gave birth to much better developed mammalian offspring who could benefit from being suckled by their mothers.

The dinosaurs became extinct approximately sixty-five million years ago, the exact reasons for the extinction of the Dinosauria along with about seventy percent of all terrestrial life at the end of the Cretaceous are still debated, however, within a few million years, life on Earth had recovered and the mammals were rapidly diversifying to fill many of the niches in the ecosystem that were once occupied by dinosaurs.  A team of researchers from the University of Zurich (Switzerland), have used a complex, mathematical model to plot how mammals with their different strategy over reproduction may have gained the ascendancy over those type of dinosaur that survived until the very end of the Mesozoic.

Did the Dinosauria’s Reliance on Eggs Lead to their Demise?

Did a reliance on Egg-Laying Lead to the Extinction of the Dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In press releases concerning this new research, detailed in the scientific journal “Biology Letters”, it has been suggested that the mammals won a sort of evolutionary victory over the egg-laying dinosaurs but this does very probably, over simplify the complex environmental factors that were influencing evolution at this crucial time in our own species’s history.  Had the dinosaurs not died out, it is unlikely that there would be the diversity of mammal types around today and it could be argued that the primates, including our own species – Homo sapiens may not have evolved at all.

The Zurich based scientists looked at how the two sorts of animals (mammals and dinosaurs) grew, they studied the ontogenic properties of typical dinosaurs and mammals that were alive around sixty-five million years ago.  As dinosaurs hatched, they would have had to compete for food with other dinosaurs as well as mammals, whilst the offspring of mammals had their mother’s milk to sustain them.  In addition, dinosaurs had to grow very quickly, for example a baby Titanosaur (long-necked dinosaur), may have had to put on more than one kilogramme of body weight a day – a rate of weight gain not seen in the much smaller mammal genera around at the time.

As baby dinosaurs grew, the young animals would have had to compete in several size categories for food, including adults of other animal groups.  This, the scientists claim put the Dinosauria at a distinct advantage and this may help explain why they died out but the majority of mammals did not.

Those niches in the food chain for small and medium-sized animals were already “occupied”, with the intense competition for depleted food reserves after an extraterrestrial impact, volcanism and climate change leaving no room for the dinosaurs.

Being relatively small, as in the case of the Mammalia at the end of the Cretaceous may have been key to their survival, the fossil record suggests that immediately after the extinction event there were very few terrestrial animals larger than a Labrador dog (around 25 kilogrammes).  Some mammals also lived in burrows and bred very rapidly, these factors too could have assisted in the Order’s ultimate survival.

A Fossilised Dinosaur Nest showing Eggs

Dinosaur Eggs – New Extinction Theory gets Laid Down

Picture Credit: Associated Press/Everything Dinosaur

The Swiss team claim that smaller mammals were able to cope with the post-extinction environment much more effectively than their egg-laying competitors and this led them to evolve and diversify very rapidly in the Cenozoic, rapidly occupying all the niches once held by the dinosaurs.

The team aimed to answer the question using their mathematical model as to why the Dinosauria died out yet the Mammalia survived?  Could adult body mass, and an egg-laying reproduction strategy hold the answer?

Contrary to popular belief, compared to their eventual adult size, many dinosaurs hatched from comparatively small eggs.  The largest dinosaur eggs known in the fossil record are believed to have been laid by Titanosaurs (long-necked dinosaurs), these eggs are roughly football-sized and from a hatchling, perhaps less than one metre long and weighing a few kilogrammes, these animals would grow to become a forty metre long, forty thousand kilogramme adult animal.

The discovery of some bizarre, egg-shaped structures by construction workers in Chechyna has recently been featured in a number of media outlets.  The egg-shaped objects, some more than a metre in circumference were believed by some observers and academics to be the fossilised remains of a dinosaur nesting site.  However, palaeontologists have cast doubt over the authenticity of these claims as the structures are simply “too big” to be dinosaur eggs.

To read more about this story: World’s Largest Dinosaur Eggs – The Facts are Scrambled

The size of an animal that can hatch from an egg is governed by a number of factors.  Firstly, the egg shell has to be thin enough to allow gaseous exchange between the external environment and the embryo inside the egg.  The egg shell has to be thin enough to allow a baby to hatch, to break out of the egg.  If dinosaur eggs were much bigger, then the egg shell surrounding them would have to be much thicker to support the weight of the liquid and the embryo inside.  The egg shell would have to be many times thicker to accommodate this extra weight and therefore, too thick for a baby to break out of.  If the egg shell remained thin as egg size increased then a great many eggs would never hatch as the eggs would crack and split long before the embryo had developed enough to be able to hatch.  Egg size is also limited by the ability of the female to store eggs, to divert enough calcium to permit the formation of egg shell in her body and to allow the passing of eggs via the oviduct so they can be physically laid.

The scientists compared the growth rate of the largest land mammal today, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) to that of a typical Late Cretaceous Titanosaur, the largest type of dinosaur around at the very end of the age of reptiles.  The Swiss team suggested that a Titanosaur hatchling was 2,500 times lighter than an adult Titanosaur, whilst the African elephant calf was only twenty-two times lighter than its mother.

Many papers have been written on the Cretaceous mass extinction event.  Egg-laying animals may have been more vulnerable to climate change and this could have been a factor in the demise of the Dinosauria.  However, Monotreme mammals (mammals that lay eggs and give birth to very underdeveloped young), did survive the extinction event.  Birds too, survived and they all lay eggs (classified technically as avian dinosaurs).   Body size and the amount of resources needed to sustain a viable breeding population may be a more significant factor in the lottery of life that occurs during an extinction event.  The scientific paper does not help to explain how the Pterosaurs or the marine reptiles died out.  Some marine reptiles were viviparous, able to give birth to live young, yet these animals too, went the way of the dinosaurs.

The dinosaurs reliance on an egg-laying reproduction strategy may well have played a role in their eventual demise, but during the Late Cretaceous extinction event all sorts of terrestrial animals became extinct – reptiles, mammals, amphibians and birds.   Thanks to a few types of mammals surviving into the Cenozoic we have the great diversity of mammals seen today.  Within ten million years or so, the main groups of modern mammals had evolved including those prosimians that were to lead eventually to our own species.

18 04, 2012

Everything Dinosaur Rolls Out Their New Website Homepage

By | April 18th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s New Website Goes Live

Last night at exactly 7.50pm BST the new homepage design of Everything Dinosaur’s website went live.  After extensive testing the newly designed website with its improved layout was rolled out and already team members are reporting that a number of favourable comments about the new design have been received from site visitors and customers keen to purchase dinosaur toys.

Everything Dinosaur’s New Website Layout

An Evolving Website

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Working with those clever design people at Space 48, the website permits easier navigation through the company’s range of products – a good thing when there are hundreds and hundreds of dinosaur themed products in stock.  Customers can see on the front page the new arrivals and what are the best sellers, plus the innovative headline banners permit team members to mark special events and offers.  The company has plans to roll out banners to commemorate the arrival of new scale models, plus the birthdays of notable scientists, the European football championships and of course, the London Olympics.

A spokes person for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We were keen to respond to the feedback and comments that had been received as we strive to continually improve.  We wanted to respond to the suggestions and ideas and visitors to the site can now see that, thanks to the input from our customers the Everything Dinosaur has been improved.”

The new web page layout is just one of a number of developments the enthusiastic team at Everything Dinosaur have in mind over the next few months, with the roll out of more product videos, increased social media activity and a number of public engagements teaching about dinosaurs.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s website: Dinosaur Toys and Games

The spokesperson went on to add:

“We remain committed to the very high levels of service our customers have come to expect from us and we are all looking forward to getting involved in more dinosaur themed projects this year than ever before”.

It seems that websites also have to evolve to survive and thanks to the enthusiastic staff at Everything Dinosaur, backed by the expertise of the design professionals at Space 48 it looks like here’s one website that is not going to become extinct.

17 04, 2012

Prehistoric Times Spring 2012 Reviewed

By | April 17th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

Review of Issue 101 of Prehistoric Times

Prehistoric Times, the dinosaur fan and model collector’s must have magazine starts its next one hundred issues with an edition that balances the latest dinosaur replica news, fossil finds and discoveries with some thoughtful retrospectives on the inspirational artwork of Charles R Knight, a countdown of the top ten dinosaur cinema battles of all time and a wonderful insight into the attempts of fans of the original King Kong film to recreate a lost scene from the movie.

The front cover, shows part of the stunning painting of Tyrannosaurus rex in a stand off against Triceratops. The artwork was created by Charles R Knight and the full mural can be seen in the Field Museum, Chicago, we think.  Charles R Knight was one of the most important and influential illustrators of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in the latter part of the 19th and the first part of the 20th Centuries.  Prehistoric Times pays tribute to his ground-breaking artistic endeavours and features an interview with Richard Milner author of a new book highlighting the great man’s contribution.

Prehistoric Times Front Cover – Issue 101

Charles R. Knight’s Work is Celebrated in the latest edition of PT.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks/Everything Dinosaur

Amongst all the usual inclusions, letters from dinosaur fans and collectors, updates on new replicas plus some brief reports on the latest fossil discoveries there is the second part of the excellent “Tree Climbing Theropods” article written by Tracy Lee Ford. In this thoughtful piece, the author asks if some dinosaurs could perch, how did they get into the trees in the first place?  In addition, there is a detailed feature on one of our favourite Lambeosaurine Hadrosaurus – Corythosaurus and a special section featuring that bizarre, toothed sea-bird Hesperornis.

Tying in with the magazine’s social media activities there is a run down of the top ten dinosaur movie fights of all time as suggested by readers and the third part of the story of Invicta dinosaurs researched and written by our own dear chum Anthony Beeson.

Packed with more things to excite a dinosaur than a palaeontologist’s rucksack after a visit to Lyme Regis at low tide, Prehistoric Times is an essential read.

To visit the Prehistoric Times website: Prehistoric Times

Worth a special mention is the fascinating but all too brief article on the dedicated work of a group of King Kong devotees who are busily re-creating one of the lost scenes that never made it from storyboard into the finished movie – the infamous “Spider Pit” scene.  After being tossed into a ravine by the giant ape, the terrified men who have survived the fall; battle with an astonishing array of fearsome monsters.   Having discussed the original 1933 film with colleagues, we think that the scene was never added to the final film as it was thought to be too shocking.  I’m sure the experts at KongisKing.net will be able to give us a steer.

Hopefully, we will be hearing more about the work of the King Kong fans in future editions and for the time being issue 101 of Prehistoric Times has more than enough contained within it to keep us going.

16 04, 2012

Paying Tribute to Sir David Attenborough

By | April 16th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Thank you Sir David

With new developments and improvements to the Everything Dinosaur website, team members have been able to put forward suggestions as to which new banners for the site’s homepage should be created.  Staff were unanimous in selecting a banner celebrating the forthcoming birthday of the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.  Sir David has been an inspiration to a whole generation of scientists, on May 8th he will be celebrating his eighty-sixth birthday and to mark this, Everything Dinosaur will post up a special banner commemorating this special day.

The staff at Everything Dinosaur approached Sir David’s production company to ask permission to do this and to access some images, within three days Everything Dinosaur had received a lovely reply from the man himself, enclosing a signed photograph.  Sir David always makes time for people and he is still an enthusiastic fossil collector and we know he loves hearing about and talking about dinosaurs.

 Sir David Attenborough

A gentleman and a scholar.

It is apt for Sir David to be photographed in front of a suitcase, he has travelled the world making natural history programmes and remains an inspiration to many scientists and broadcasters.  We have framed his signed picture and put it on show in the Everything Dinosaur boardroom, next to a few other items that we regard as important souvenirs and momentos from our adventures.

15 04, 2012

Giant Jurassic Dinosaur Discovered In China

By | April 15th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|1 Comment

China’s Biggest Ever Jurassic Dinosaur Discovered

The discovery of  partially articulated fossilised bones of the largest dinosaur specimen ever found in Jurassic aged sediments from China has been announced by a team of Chinese and German scientists.  The fossils represent a potentially new genus of long-necked, herbivorous dinosaur similar to the likes of Diplodocus and Apatosaurus, whose fossil remains have been found in Upper Jurassic deposits of the United States.

Although, far from complete and with much of the fossil material still embedded in its sandstone matrix, scientists have estimated that the bones belonged to a giant dinosaur; approximately thirty-five metres in length and weighing perhaps as much as six African elephants.   The fossils were found by a palaeontological expedition exploring Jurassic aged sediments in the remote Shanshan county in the northwestern region of Xinjiang Province, a part of the world that has recently provided Chinese scientists with a number of new dig sites for the excavation of dinosaur bones.

The Partially Exposed Vertebrae of the Sauropod

Articulated vertebrae eroding out of the cliff

Picture Credit: Asiannewsphoto

A spokesperson for the Chinese Research Society of Palaeontology commented that the fossils were found in strata that dates to around 165 million years ago, the Middle Jurassic, more specifically (Bajocian faunal stage).  A number of large Mid Jurassic, long-necked dinosaurs (called Sauropods) are known from China.  The most complete discoveries have been made in Sichuan Province (central China) and include dinosaurs such as the fifteen metre long Datousaurus and the smaller Shunosaurus, noted for its long tail with a club on the end.

This latest fossil discovery provides evidence of a much larger, Sauropod dinosaur, one that would rival the biggest Sauropods that have been found elsewhere in the world for the title of the largest dinosaur specimen known from the Mid Jurassic.

The scientists are confident that they will be able to excavate all the fossilised bones out of the sandstone ridge where they are buried, included a row of articulated vertebrae (back bones).  Close to these fossils, the field team discovered a single, broken tooth from a large meat-eating dinosaur.  It has been speculated that a meat-eating dinosaur may have fed on the carcase before it was buried.  The tooth is slightly re-curved and suggests that it came from an Allosaurid, a group of carnivorous dinosaurs that roamed the northern hemisphere for much of the Jurassic period.  The single tooth may have belonged to a dinosaur similar to the eight metre long predator Sinraptor, whose fossilised remains have been found in similar aged rocks in Sichuan Province.

A Picture of the Theropod Tooth found Nearby

Evidence of a scavenger on the carcase?

Picture Credit: Asiannewsphoto

The coin in the photograph provides an indication of the scale.

The expedition team is composed of experts from Jilin University, Shenyang Normal Universityand Xinjiang Geological Survey Institute with support from the Humboldt University (Berlin).  Over a six month period the expedition team mapped more than twenty fossil locations and recovered a wide variety of vertebrate fossils, providing scientists with a much better understanding of the climate in this part of the world during the Mid Jurassic.

An Artist’s Illustration of the Giant Jurassic Sauropod

China’s Largest Known Fossil Specimen from Jurassic Strata

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur from an original drawing by Mike Fredericks

The northwestern part of China, known as the Turpan Basin was once believed to be very arid, but the discovery of this giant herbivore along with fossils of other reptiles such as terrapins indicate that this low lying region had a number of large lakes within it during the Jurassic and the vegetation must have been very lush to permit such a large, herbivorous dinosaur to live there.  Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences are hoping that these new fossil finds will provide them with more information on the climatic conditions in this part of the world 165 million years ago.  It may help geologists to pinpoint new reserves of fossil fuels such as gas and oil.

Carefully Examining the Fossil Bearing Strata

Giant Dinosaur Fossil Eroding out of the rock face

Picture Credit: Asiannewsphoto

Once the bones have been completely excavated and prepared in a laboratory the palaeontologists will have a better idea as to whether this specimen represents a new species of herbivorous dinosaur.  The research team hope to find more evidence of the large Theropod that may have scavenged the carcase of this huge Jurassic monster.

14 04, 2012

A Review of the Collecta Kosmoceratops Dinosaur Model

By | April 14th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Collecta Kosmoceratops Dinosaur Model Reviewed

Over the last three years or so there have been a number of remarkable horned dinosaur discoveries, many which have been found in the United States.  Dinosaur model manufacturers are beginning to catch up with the palaeontologists, producing replicas of the newly discovered dinosaurs.  Collecta have recently added a number of  new horned dinosaur models to their product range, one of which is a new model of the recently discovered Ceratopsian known as Kosmoceratops.

The Collecta Kosmoceratops Dinosaur Model

A new horned dinosaur model from Collecta

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Kosmoceratops dinosaur model is painted mostly green and is a member of the Chasmosaurinae group of horned dinosaurs, although it is certainly not a typical member of the Chasmosaurinae.  Kosmoceratops (K. richardsoni) named after Scott Richardson, an amateur fossil collector who was helping to survey the area  when this dinosaur’s fossils were found, was formally named and described in 2010.  Fossils of this dinosaur have been found in the state of Utah (USA).  The discovery of Kosmoceratops  has helped scientists to establish two distinct Late Cretaceous dinosaur faunas on the landmass that formed part of western North America.

Painted a striking green the Kosmoceratops is certainly an eye-catching replica.  This is highly appropriate as although the neck frill and the skull is much smaller than when compared to another recently discovered horned dinosaur from Utah, Utahceratops, this dinosaur had one of the most ornate and highly decorated skulls and neck frills known to science.  Palaeontologists have estimated that there were at least fifteen horns or horn-like structures adorning Kosmoceratops.  Each of these lumps and bumps is painted an attention-grabbing, bright red and the large brow horns project sideways,  just like the horns of Utahceratops.  Why the brow horns on these two Ceratopsians pointed out sideways remains a mystery.  They would not have been much use to repel a frontal attack from a large predator such as a Tyrannosaur, perhaps the brow horns were used in fights amongst herd members to establish herd  hierarchies.

Palaeontologists have suggested that the brow horns and their sideways projection is reminiscent of extant buffalo who use their horns in wrestling contests with fellow herd members.  Perhaps Kosmoceratops locked horns with rivals in a similar fashion to help settle disputes within the herd.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s extensive range of dinosaur models: Procon Dinosaurs and Collecta Dinosaur Models

Collecta have built a good reputation amongst dinosaur model collectors for the quality of their dinosaur replicas.  It is also interesting to note that this company is prepared to produce models of lesser known dinosaurs such as Kosmoceratops and this is to be welcomed by dinosaur model collectors and dinosaur enthusiasts.  It certainly is an interesting addition to the range of Collecta dinosaurs.

13 04, 2012

A Review of the Collecta Miragaia Dinosaur Model

By | April 13th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Product Reviews|0 Comments

The Collecta Miragaia Dinosaur Model Reviewed

Fossils of European Stegosaurs are very rare.  What fossil material that has been excavated provides evidence of a number of Stegosaur genera from the Jurassic, but most of the specimens are incomplete and highly fragmented.  Little is known about the evolution of  the Thyreophora (armoured dinosaurs) in Europe.  However, over the last few years a number of better preserved and more complete Stegosaur fossils have been discovered in western Portugal.  One of these recent fossil discoveries, that of a dinosaur that came to be known as Miragaia has inspired Collecta to make a replica of this armoured dinosaur.

In contrast to most other European Stegosaur remains, much of the front part of the skeleton of this Late Jurassic Stegosaur is known.  Paleontologists have excavated at least two specimens, one adult, one sub-adult from the same dig site in Upper Jurassic strata attributed to the Lourinhã Formation of western Portugal.  Elements of the skull have been discovered and from this scientists have been able to reconstruct this dinosaur.  Collecta, the dinosaur model makers, have used the scientific data to produce a colourful, not-to-scale dinosaur model of this Portuguese herbivore.

The New Collecta Miragaia Dinosaur Model

A European Stegosaur – Miragaia

Picture  Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Skull material includes the premaxilla, maxilla and the naris post elements that comprise the back of the skull.  Post cranial material comprises of shoulder bones, most of the front legs,  neck bones and a number of armoured plates.  Miragaia seems to have had a remarkably long neck for a Stegosaur.  It had an estimated fifteen cervical vertebrae (neck bones), more than long-necked Sauropods such as Diplodocus and Apatosaurus.

The Miragaia model from Collecta shows this long neck in fine detail. In fact the head and the neck make up about twenty-five percent of the length of the entire model.  Scientists have debated how flexible the neck of Miragaia was, ironically the plastic compound used to make this replica has left the model with a rather bendy neck, but this does not detract from the overall quality of the model.

The head is narrow and the front legs are smaller than the hind legs, a trait seen in most other Stegosaur genera. The model has been painted light brown, with a red flash on the throat pouch. The armour plating and the tail spikes are painted in a dark green colour, mimicking the colouration of the top of the spine and down to the tail.  The model has two shoulder spikes, these are large, more than two centimetres in length and painted bright red.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s model range,  including Miragaia: Dinosaur Models

The Miragaia dinosaur model has been given a rough skin texture, to give the impression that this dinosaur had large scales, with some dermal armour embedded along the flanks.  Scientists are not sure what the tail of this dinosaur was like.  There have been no fossils of the back-end of Miragaia found.  The model makers at Collecta have given their replica a row of spines running back from over the hips to the tip of the tail.

The model’s overall length is nineteen centimetres approximately and it is a welcome addition to the Collecta model range, one that will no doubt delight fans of Stegosaurs.

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