All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
21 05, 2012

Scientists Announce New Dromaeosaur Discoveries from Utah

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

New Lower Cretaceous Theropods Announced

A team of palaeontologists and researchers have announced the discovery of a number new meat-eating dinosaurs that roamed the Early Cretaceous in what was to become Utah’s Arches National Park.  The three new dinosaurs, include a new raptor (Dromaeosaur) that has been scientifically described as a basal Dromaeosaur, perhaps an ancestor of Utahraptor, the largest Dromaeosaur discovered so far.  This new raptor has been formally named Yurgovuchia doellingi.  Scientists have speculated that there may be as many six new species of dinosaur described from this rich fossil bed, which is part of the Cedar Mountain Formation.

State palaeontologist for Utah’s Geological Survey, Jim Kirkland stated:

“All we are finding are new species.  I think there are places where what we are seeing is evolving populations.”

The State of Utah in western North America (United States), is one of the best locations to find Mesozoic-aged vertebrate fossils in the Americas.  The state has already got a number of unique dinosaur genera associated with it.  The three new Dromaeosaurid specimens, including the newly named Y. doellingi are associated with the Yellow Cat Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation.  Specifically, Y. doellingi and one other specimen are associated with the earlier strata, known as the Lower Yellow Cat, whilst a beautifully preserved fossilised Dromaeosaur tail, which also may represent a new genus or raptor is associated with the Upper Yellow Cat.

The fossil site, described as “one of the richest in the entire United States”, is helping palaeontologists to piece together the diverse dinosaur fauna that inhabited this part of the world during the Early Cretaceous.

A Scale Drawing of Yurgovuchia doellingi showing Fossil Bones Found

Lion-sized Dromaeosaur from the Early Cretaceous

Picture Credit: PLoS One

The new dinosaur is believed to be an ancestral relative of the much larger Utahraptor, based on similarities in pieces of fossilized vertebrae recovered.  In both species, the bundles of rods that jut out from the vertebrae to form the raptor’s tail are shortened, the State geologist commented.  Although only fragmentary remains have been found so far, the bones are sufficiently different from other Dromaeosaurs to be described as a new genus.  The cat in the drawing gives a scale for Y. doellingi.  This dinosaur was about the size of a mountain lion, and it would have been a formidable predator, especially if it was a pack hunter.

The new dinosaur’s name was based on the Ute Indian word for coyote, “yurgovuch,” and for the location where it was found, itself named after Utah palaeontologist Helmut Doelling, whose geological mapping of the Arches region in this part of Utah led to the discovery of this extensive bone bed.

A Model of the Largest Dromaeosaur Known to Science – Utahraptor

Speedy, dinosaur hunters

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view models of dinosaurs: Dinosaur Models for Boys and Girls

Dromaeosaurs were light, agile predators with a raised second toe on each foot that had a large , sickle-like claw, described as a “killing claw”.

Field workers first came across the fossils that make up the Yurgovuchia doellingi specimen back in 2005 when exploring the fossil bone bed.

A scientific paper which describes this new Utah discovery, a collaboration between Utah Geological Survey palaeontologists and Dromaeosaurid expert Phil Senter of the University of North Carolina, was published this week in the scientific journal known as the Public Library of Science (PLoS One).

The two other sets of fossilised bones attributed to Dromaeosaurs are most probably from new species as well.  One of the fossils is that of a broken but distinctive skeleton of a raptor’s tail.  Scientists used ultra violet light to scan the fossil matrix in the laboratory so that the bone material could be picked out more clearly.

The Fossilised Dinosaur Tail (Fossil Material and UV Scan)

UV light highlights dinosaur tail fossil.

Picture Credit: PLoS One

Both the fossilised tail and the other Dromaeosaur material needs more study and the Utah Geological Survey plans additional excavation work.

Palaeontologists and field workers had also identified the partial remains of a Sauropod dinosaur (long-necked dinosaur) at the same location.  This too, may represent a new species, providing scientists with an intriguing insight into the fauna of the Early Cretaceous.

21 05, 2012

Tyrannosaurid Skeleton Sold at Auction Despite Controversy

By | May 21st, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Tarbosaurus bataar sold for £630,000 Despite Restraining Order

The Tyrannosaurid skeleton, representing a animal known as Tarbosaurus bataar (also known as Tyrannosaurus bataar) has been sold at an auction in New York despite the best efforts of Mongolian officials to prevent the sale.  The mounted skeleton, representing a nearly complete, sub-adult specimen was sold for the sum of $1,o52,500 USD, a little more than the pre-auction estimate.  The identity of the purchaser is not being publicised but it is believed to be a private individual.

The sale of the fossil material has attracted a great deal of controversy, as the specimen is believed to have been collected in the Gobi desert (Mongolia), a part of the world where the export and sale of such fossil material has been illegal for fifty years or so.  A restraining order was organised through a Texas court, but despite protests from the judge concerned the auction went ahead.

The auction took place on Sunday, despite the protests from the Mongolian president.  Elbegdorj Tsakhia stated that the skeleton, unearthed in the Gobi Desert, came from Mongolia and that exporting fossils found in the country is illegal.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur signed a petition to try to prevent the sale, but it looks like the specimen sale will now go ahead.  Legal advisers for the auction house – Heritage Auctions, based in New York, stated that the sale did not break any U.S. laws, but the lawyers will not confirm the sale until it has been approved by a U.S. court and the matter regarding the restraining order is dealt with.

A Typical Tyrannosaur Skeleton

Controversial Tyrannosaur auction

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We always feel a sense of loss when we see such fossil material auctioned off.  Most public bodies are not able to compete with wealthy, private individuals and the sale of such rare fossils deprives the public from viewing these specimens as well as preventing scientists from being able to study them in most cases.”

The sale of this particular meat-eating dinosaur is controversial because doubts have been raised as to how this specimen could have left Mongolia when such activities have been banned for the best part of half a century.   The auction house will make about 15% commission on the sale, and the seller will of course pocket the balance remaining. With a sale value in excess of £630,000, there are large sums of money involved.

20 05, 2012

A Review of the Wild Safari Dinos Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

By | May 20th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

“High-Spined Lizard” Gets a Makeover

Newly introduced into the eclectic Wild Safari Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life model series is this new interpretation of the Early Cretaceous, super-predator Acrocanthosaurus.  Safari had introduced many years ago now, a model of this American dinosaur as part of their Carnegie Collectibles range, but this replica was retired about twelve months ago.  This new, not-to-scale Acrocanthosaurus is an updated version, reflecting the latest scientific interpretation of this formidable carnivore.

Acrocanthosaurus, means “High-spined Lizard”.  This dinosaur was named after the tall neural spines that ran along the animal’s backbone, the function of these spines, some of which measure nearly three times the height of the vertebrae from which they project, is not known although some palaeontologists have suggested that these spines supported a fleshy hump that allowed this reptile to store fat to enable it to get through seasons when food resources would have been scarce.  This Wild Safari Dinos Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model is certainly an excellent replica.

Being able to store food would have been an effective strategy for such a large predator, especially since some scientists who have studied dinosaur tracks found in Texas have proposed that this dinosaur may have lived and hunted in packs.  Such a group of Acrocanthosaurs, perhaps half a dozen individuals would have needed substantial quantities of meat to keep themselves fit (assuming that these animals were warm-blooded).

Known from just a handful of fossil specimens, representing four individuals, scientists have been unable to establish just how big this dinosaur (Acrocanthosaurus atokensis) was, but conservative estimates have given this animal’s length at around twelve metres, a hip height in excess of four metres and a body weight of around two tonnes.

An Illustration of Acrocanthosaurus (based on earlier Safari Ltd Replica

“High-Spined Lizard” gets a Makeover

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The new model made by Safari Ltd, measures around twenty-two centimetres in length, with a head-height in excess of nine centimetres.  Painted a light, brown colour for the most part, this model has a white underneath and a contrasting black band running from the top of the snout, across the back for the skull and down the backbone to the tip of the long tail.  This replica has been posed with the tail extended out behind it, a change from the earlier Safari Ltd model of this dinosaur that had the end of the tail touching the ground.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s Safari Ltd model collection: Carnegie Dinosaur Toys

The long, slightly narrow jaws and the broad muzzle of this meat-eating dinosaur are re-created in detail on this model.  The head shows lots of care and attention to detail with the painting.  The majority of the head is an off-white colour which contrasts well against the black band that runs along the top of the skull.

The Wild Safari Dinosaurs Acrocanthosaurus

Interesting colour scheme for a Predatory Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The different colours on the head, reflect current scientific thinking that visual signals were very important to the Dinosauria.  Such a striking appearance may have come about as the animals matured and became the dominant members of their pack.  This replica with its deep, broad chest and strong forelimbs, each ending in three-clawed fingers depicts Acrocanthosaurus as a powerful, active hunter.  No doubt this new interpretation will proved popular with dinosaur model collectors.

20 05, 2012

A Review of the Collecta Dolichorhynchops Model

By | May 20th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|2 Comments

“Long Snout Face” Reviewed

The design team at Collecta have created a number of dinosaur models over the years, they have been keen to show the diversity of the Dinosauria.  However, they deserve praise for also introducing a number of marine reptile models into the Collecta series model range.  The not-to-scale model of the marine reptile known as Dolichorhynchops is one of their latest additions to their already extensive prehistoric animal model range.

Dolichorhynchops was not a dinosaur but a marine reptile.  A short-necked Plesiosaur from the Late Cretaceous of North America which scientists believe ate fish and may have grown to lengths in excess of five metres long.  The first, nearly complete specimen of Dolichorhnychops was found by George Sternberg, the teenage son of the famous American palaeontologist Charles Sternberg.  The fossils were found in Kansas, USA, which during the late Cretaceous formed part of a wide, shallow sea that divided North America in half.  This sea is known as the Western Interior Seaway.  Two species of Dolichorhynchops (pronounced Dol-ee-koh-rin-kops) are known, this model may represent the species called D. osborni is the larger with an estimated maximum length of 5 metres.  Dolichorhynchops was formally named and described by the American palaeontologist Samuel Wendell Williston in 1902.

The model from Collecta is an intriguing representation of the known fossil material.  The replica has a large head, with long, narrow jaws lined with sharp teeth.  The tip of the jaws are slightly kinked and the teeth a little larger, forming a rostrum effect.  Scientists believe that the teeth at the front of the jaws were bigger as they helped this agile swimmer snap up fish as they swam nearby.

The Collecta Dolichorhynchops Marine Reptile Model

“Long Snout Face” – Dolichorhynchops

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model has big eyes, (helping it to spot its prey), and nostrils that are positioned correctly towards the rear of the long jaws.  The four, roughly equal-sized flippers are stiff and would have provided this marine reptile with its propulsion.  The tail is stumpy and narrows to a point.  It is good to see that the design team have given this reptile a long, flexible neck – ideal for swishing side-to-side through a shoal of fish.

To view the Collecta model range: Procon Dinosaurs/Collecta Dinosaurs

The model measures approximately twelve centimetres in length, making it about 1:40 scale.  It is nicely painted with a dark brown back and head, merging into a lighter, sandy coloured underbelly and flank.

There are not many models of this Late Cretaceous marine reptile available, it is pleasing to see that Collecta have added a model of a Dolichorhynchops marine reptile to their dinosaur model range.

19 05, 2012

New Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model from Schleich

By | May 19th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

New “Arm Lizard” Model from Schleich

As well as a model of the Apatosaurus, a second Sauropod has been included in the new Schleich “World of History” prehistoric animal model range – a replica of the huge dinosaur known as Brachiosaurus.  Brachiosaurus was named in 1903 by the palaeontologist Elmer Riggs, the name means “arm lizard” as the fore-limbs of this Late Jurassic dinosaur were longer than its hind-limbs.  Brachiosaurus was one of the largest dinosaurs, scientists have estimated that this dinosaur could have weighed up to fifty tonnes in weight and measured more than twenty-three metres in length.  The new “World of History” Brachiosaurus model from Schleich, the German based figure manufacture measures approximately thirty centimetres in length.  This suggests that this particular replica is about 1:75 scale.   If this is the case, then this Brachiosaurus works well with the Apatosaurus model in this series as this model too, is approximately 1:75 scale.

Early images of this new dinosaur model, released by Schleich suggested that the colouration would be a combination of dark and light brown stripes, but with the finished models the colour scheme has been toned down.  There is still evidence of stripes running down from the long neck to the tip of the stubby tail but they are muted.

The Brachiosaurus “World of History” Dinosaur Model

“Arm Lizard” replica from Schleich

Palaeontologists have speculated as to where on the relatively small head of Brachiosaurs the nostrils were located.  The model makers at Schleich have located the nostrils at the top of the head, this is in keeping with current scientific thinking.  This is an excellent feature of the new Brachiosaurus dinosaur model from Schleich.

The muscular neck is not held vertically in what is often called the “swan neck” position, but the neck and the head is angled forward, making this model a little less tall than it would be if the head was held vertically aloft. Even so the head is over twenty centimetres off the ground.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur models: Dinosaur Models

The sturdy legs give the model plenty of support and the impression of heavy animal has been created by the designers.  The skin texture is roughened and highly detailed, looking a little similar to the skin seen on large, land animals today such as the African elephant.   The tail is relatively stumpy and short but the model is well proportioned and provides an accurate impression of what this giant reptile may have looked like based on the fossil evidence.

The new Brachiosaurus model from Schleich is robust and well-made, it will help young dinosaur fans learn through creative play as well as being popular with model collectors.

18 05, 2012

Tyrannosaurid Up for Auction

By | May 18th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|3 Comments

Fossil Skeleton of Cretaceous Predator Likely to Fetch 1 Million USD at Auction

The trend for important scientific specimens to go under the hammer continues with the auction of a nearly complete Tyrannosaur (T. bataar) in New York.   The eight metre long, fully mounted specimen of this Late Cretaceous terror is likely to sell for more than one million USD at auction.  This may be a far cry from the huge sums paid in the mid 1990s prior to the global downturn, but it still puts such a specimen beyond the reach of most public institutions with their restricted budgets.

The specimen represents a seventy-five percent complete skeleton of a Tarbosaurus (T. bataar), closely related to the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex.  Whilst T. rex stomped across western North America, Tarbosaurus was the apex predator in eastern Asia – Mongolia.

The first fossils of this meat-eating dinosaur, consisting of skull material and some back-bones were unearthed by a joint Soviet/Mongolian scientific expedition to the Gobi desert in 1946, but it was not until 1955 that this dinosaur was formally named and described.  The eminent Russian palaeontologist Evgeny Aleksandrovich Maleev noted how similar these fossils were to Tyrannosaurus rex from North America and accordingly he named this new dinosaur Tyrannosaurus bataar.  However, in the mid 1960’s a review of Tyrannosaur skull material and body fossils from Mongolia and China was undertaken and in the light of this new study the name Tarbosaurus bataar was established.  The exact taxonomic relationship between these two prehistoric animals is hotly debated, but team members at Everything Dinosaur note that in official press releases and auction notices the lot is described as Tyrannosaurus bataar.  We suspect this is a bid to raise the potential price for this particular fossil specimen.  After all, T. rex is likely to sell much better than the lesser known Tarbosaurus bataar.

The auction is scheduled for Sunday May 20th and it will be held at the New York auction company, Heritage Auctions.

The Mounted Tarbosaurus Skeleton under the Hammer

Dinosaur under the Hammer

Picture Credit:Heritage Auctions

There have been a number of high profile dinosaur and other prehistoric animal auctions held over the last few years.  The price of dinosaur fossils have rocketed as wealthy individuals, even some film stars have become involved, keen to purchase their very own piece of palaeontology.  However, not all the auction lots get snapped up faster than a T. rex biting into a Triceratops.

Back in 2009, a large, nearly complete of an adult Tyrannosaurus rex went under the hammer.  The mounted skeleton, nicknamed “Samson” at first could not find a buyer, but eventually the story ended happily when this particular predator was purchased by a public body and the skeleton is now on permanent public display.

To read more about “Samson”: T. rex Specimen up for Auction

The Tarbosaurus, once the property of a private collector based in the UK, is certainly a fine specimen and it has been mounted in what we at Everything Dinosaur call an “active mount”, with the carnivore posed in a realistic running position.

David Herskowitz, Heritage Auction’s Director of Natural History wrote in a statement:

“This beautiful Tyrannosaurus skeleton is one of the most complete, most spectacular specimens that we’ve ever seen.  They’re incredibly rare to come across in any condition, let alone one as pristine as this.”

The exhibit measures nearly 8 metres long and represents a sub-adult specimen.  Palaeontologists believe that this Late Cretaceous carnivore could have reached lengths in excess of 12 metres.  The specimen is believed to have come from the Gobi desert region, although the exact location and provenance of the fossil material is not known.  The British collector began assembling the fossils, before shipping them to the United States for final preparation and mounting.

The auction house has expressed a wish to have the specimen retained for scientific study and public display.  However, with a sale such as this, it is just as likely that the exhibit will end up in the collection of a private individual with no desire to allow public or scientific access.

The Auction House Director commented:

“We’re hoping it’s going to be a museum to give this specimen a proper home.”

We shall have to wait and see, but with an auction price likely to be in excess of $1 million USD, it is very probable  that this fossil collection will prove to be beyond the budget of most public institutions.

This article represents a personal landmark for Everything Dinosaur. It is the 1800th article published on our web log, roll on number 2,000.

17 05, 2012

A Review of the Collecta Neanderthal Models

By | May 17th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Product Reviews|3 Comments

Impressive Neanderthal Models (Man and Woman)

Collectors of dinosaur models and prehistoric animal figures have the opportunity to add two new Neanderthal models to their figure collections, as Collecta have introduced a model of a Neanderthal man and to accompany him, a model of a Neanderthal woman.

The Neanderthals, named after the first closely studied fossils found in the Neander Valley (Germany) are an extinct group of hominids (Homo neanderthalensis) who evolved around 200,000 years ago.  Palaeoanthropologists believe that the Neanderthals shared a common ancestor with our own species – H. heidelbergensis.  They originated in the eastern Mediterranean and spread into Europe and western Asia, before finally becoming extinct around 28,000 years ago.

Neanderthals were short, stocky and heavily muscled.  Evidence of the heavy musculature appears in the extremely large muscle attachment scars on the fossil bones and the bowing of some of the limb bones.  Neanderthals were tough, used to hard physical work and suffered many injuries.  These injuries have been preserved on their fossilised bones.  Neanderthals were on average, shorter than modern humans, with males around 1.7 metres tall and females slightly shorter still.  Their stocky bodies were ideal for preserving body heat and this may have been an adaptation to living in cold climates.

The pair of Neanderthals are very well painted.  It is interesting to note that both the male and the female have blue eyes.  Studies of the recently mapped Neanderthal genome suggest that indeed, these humans did have blue eyes, or certainly a significant proportion of the population carried the gene sequence that would lead to blue eye colour.

The New Neanderthal Models from Collecta

Accurate representations of this human species

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The sturdy female model stands seven centimetres tall, the robust male (Collecta Neanderthal Man), around one centimetre taller.  It is clear that the designers and sculptors at Collecta have taken great care to study the fossil record of this human species as both models show remarkable detail.  For example, scientists know that Neanderthals had a stronger grip than our own species.  Studies of the pathology (injuries associated with fossil bones of Neanderthals), suggest that these people hunted game at close quarters, using spears that were thicker shafted than those of modern humans and that were designed for thrusting.  The Neanderthal male is carrying a thick shafted spear, demonstrating the sort of weapons associated with this species.

To view prehistoric animal models including the Neanderthals available as part of the Collecta series from Everything Dinosaur: Collecta Models

The strong looking female (Collecta Neanderthal Woman) is carrying a hefty club and the skull of an antelope, perhaps an important symbol in Neanderthal culture.  Both models have necklaces made of animal teeth.  For many years, Neanderthals were depicted as slow, lumbering stupid ape-men, but recent discoveries have suggested that they made jewellery and even created musical instruments.

The models are a welcome addition to the Collecta model series and they do depict Neanderthals in a way that is backed up by scientific evidence.

16 05, 2012

Westbury Pliosaur – 8-metre Long Beast with Arthritis

By | May 16th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Evidence of Arthritis in Pliosaur’s Lower Jaw

A team of researchers studying the fossilised jawbones of a huge Jurassic marine predator have found evidence that the monster (believed to be an elderly female), suffered from arthritis in its lower jaw.

A new study by scientists based at the University of Bristol (England) and published in the scientific journal “Palaeontology” has found evidence of a degenerative condition similar to human arthritis in the jaw of a Pliosaur, a huge predator that lived 150 million years ago.

The two-metre lower jaw, with some of its twenty centimetre-long  teeth still in-situ, shows signs of an arthritic condition, such pathology is extremely rare in fossilised marine reptiles from the mid-Mesozoic.   The Pliosaur remains, were found in Westbury, Wiltshire and is now part of the vertebrate fossil collection kept at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

Pliosaurs, otherwise known as short-necked Plesiosaurs; are believed to have evolved from the Triassic Nothosaurs.  These marine reptiles had long, narrow jaws, two pairs of broad flippers and some of these creatures evolved into the largest known predators in the fossil record.  Lengths in excess of fifteen metres have been suggested for some genera.  The Westbury monster was more than eight metres long and was top of the food chain in the warm, shallow tropical sea that this leviathan patrolled.  However, as this animal grew older it suffered from a painful lower jaw showing signs of deterioration that is similar to arthritis in our own species.

A Drawing of a Marine Reptile – Liopleurodon ferox?

Apex Predator of the Jurassic

 

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

University of Bristol scientist, Dr Judyth Sassoon, became fascinated by the specimen when she saw it in the museum’s collections and studied it for her MSc research project.  During her studies, she noticed that it had the signs of a degenerative condition similar to human arthritis, that had eroded its left jaw joint, displacing the lower jaw to one side.   The condition may have been painful, but evidently this marine reptile lived with a crooked jaw for many years, as indicated by marks on the lower jaw bone where the teeth from the upper jaw impacted with the lower jaw as the creature bit down.  Modern day crocodiles and alligators can suffer from similar conditions, their elongated jaws can also be damaged as these creatures hunt, however these reptiles can survive for many years so long as they are able to catch prey.

There are several signs on the skeleton to suggest that the animal could have been an old female who had developed the condition as part of the aging process.  The Pliosaur’s large size, and the fused skull bones, suggest maturity.  It is identified, very tentatively, as possibly female because its skull crest is quite low, some scientists believe that male Pliosaurs had larger, more pronounced crests on their heads, but spotting the girl Pliosaurs amongst the boy Pliosaurs is still a topic that is hotly debated amongst palaeontologists.

Commenting on the pathology, Dr. Sassoon stated:

“In the same way that aging humans develop arthritic hips, this old lady developed an arthritic jaw, and survived with her disability for some time.  But an unhealed fracture on the jaw indicates that at some time the jaw weakened and eventually broke.  With a broken jaw, the Pliosaur would not have been able to feed and that final accident probably led to her demise.”

Professor Mike Benton, a collaborator on the project, added:

“You can see these kinds of deformities in living animals, such as crocodiles or sperm whales and these animals can survive for years as long as they are still able to feed.  But it must be painful.  Remember that the fictional whale, Moby Dick from Herman Melville’s novel, was supposed to have had a crooked jaw!”

The Westbury Pliosaur (Lower Jaw with teeth fragments)

Painful Pliosaur Jaws

 

Picture Credit: Bristol University

The picture above shows the Pliosaur jaws, with Dr. Judyth Sassoon.  The jawbone deformity can be seen on the left lower jaw in the area opposite the Doctor’s wrist.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that they had seen similar bone deformities in the fossils of many dinosaurs, for example the toe bones of a Hadrosaur from Upper Cretaceous deposits of Alberta (Canada) that showed signs of a painful joint condition, however, they were not aware of any other example of this sort of pathology being found in the fossils of a Jurassic marine reptile.

The spokesperson went onto speculate how the condition may have arisen in the Pliosaur in the first place:

Pliosaurs are believed to have been ambush predators, using their huge paddles to propel themselves at their intended victims at great speed, before grasping their unfortunate prey with their immensely strong jaws.  Enormous forces would have been involved and it is possible that the lower jaw may have been damaged at some time in the creature’s life which enabled the arthritic condition to take hold.”

The Pliosaur from Westbury is an amazing example of how the study of disease (palaeopathologies) in fossil animals can help us to reconstruct an extinct animal’s life history and behaviour and to show that even a Jurassic killer could succumb to the diseases of old age.

Everything Dinosaur would like to thank Bristol University for the information contained in this article.

15 05, 2012

Saltwater Crocodile with a Taste for “Oddities”

By | May 15th, 2012|Animal News Stories|1 Comment

Rangers Shoot Troublesome Saltwater Crocodile

Rangers in the Northern Territory (Australia), have shot and killed an eleven foot plus Saltwater crocodile (C. porosus) with a taste for dogs and all sorts of “oddities” including a nappy, a football and clothing.  The crocodile was attacking a dog at a beach near the small community of Galiwinku on Elcho island when rangers intervened and shot the animal dead.  The dog although mauled survived the attack.

Elcho island is approximately 350 miles east of the city of Darwin.  There are a number of very large Saltwater crocodiles in the area, attacks on people are not unknown and a number of crocodiles have been culled in the Northern Territories in the last few months.  It is standard procedure to examine the stomach contents of crocodiles that have been culled, the stomach acids of a crocodile are capable of dissolving bone, but stomach content analysis as part of a general autopsy, can provide the authorities with valuable information which might help to explain why a crocodile might become a “nuisance” animal.  For example, if the stomach contains quantities of plant material as well as no natural prey remains it could indicate an underlying health problem that prevented the crocodile from being able to hunt its typical food of fish, although in reality a “Saltie” would attack almost anything that moves.

The Shot Crocodile in the Back of a Truck on its Way to Autopsy

The croc that ate nappies, footballs and shorts

Picture Credit: ABC News

The Saltwater crocodile’s instinct to lunge and mouth anything that comes within range of its powerful jaws might help explain the odd assortment of items that were found inside the stomach.  Amongst the bones of another dog, there was a football (deflated), a nappy and a small pair of shorts.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We had once come across a crocodile that had swallowed a plastic soldier.  The crocodile had eaten a bright yellow, plastic soldier, this came to light when the stomach contents of the animal was analysed.  A crocodile uses its mouth to sense items in its environment, their instinct is to attack first and deal with the consequences later.”

Local officials at Galiwinku said that this particular crocodile posed a threat to the local population, it had been terrorising pets in the area and the threat of an attack on a person was always present, so the crocodile had to be killed when it attacked again.  A few weeks ago, another Saltwater crocodile in another part of Australia was killed after it had reportedly eaten nine dogs.

All this news coincides with a new campaign aimed at attracting visitors to the country,with a renowned crocodile hunter being featured in a tourist promotion highlighting some of the colourful characters to be found in Australia.

Former crocodile catcher Greg “Hairy Dog” Harman is one of a number of Australians who will be fronting a campaign by the Western Australia Tourism board, promoting the natural beauty and sense of adventure of the Kimberley region (Western Australia).   Any resemblance to the fictional Mick “Crocodile” Dundee is purely coincidental, but we at Everything Dinosaur note the huge boost in Australian tourism that resulted when the films starring Paul Hogan were released back in the late 1980s.

Harman is a local guide and fishing expert specialising in catching Barramundi amongst the crocodiles that inhabit the Ord River.  In a press release about the appointment, Australia’s North West Tourism Chief Executive Glen Chidlow said Harman had many similarities to the character immortalised by Hogan in the blockbuster 1980s films.

Star of an Australian Tourist Campaign

Meet a real-life “Mick Dundee”

Picture Credit: Source Supplied

Glen commented:

“He’s one of the gruff characters of the Outback.  One of those rugged, larger than life characters who have spent the last 25 years showing the natural attractions of the Kimberley to people from around the world.”

Ironically, the Saltwater crocodiles in the Kimberley region, many of which grow to over 4 metres in length, are one of the main attractions for wildlife tourists in the area.  Let’s hope that the crocodiles behave themselves and don’t go after any pets, or people for that matter.  Whilst for the sake of the crocodiles, let us hope that the people can remember to take their rubbish home so that it does not end up in the stomach of one of these fearsome reptiles.

14 05, 2012

Unusual Requests sent to Everything Dinosaur

By | May 14th, 2012|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

How to Fly on a Pterosaur

At Everything Dinosaur we get lots of emails, letters and drawings from people with an interest in dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.  We do our best to respond to them all, helping where we can and supplying information and advice.  We get a number of what might be regarded as rather unusual requests, usually related to dinosaur toys and games for example, Susan from Virginia (United States), contacted us yesterday with a plea for help.

This is what she wrote :

“My husband and I are both geologists, so, when our daughter, Genny, was born, we had a friend/colleague do a cartoon of a Pterodactyl (instead of a stork) bringing the baby.  When Genny graduated from high school, he managed to paste her head on a later (more evolved, get it?!) version of a Pterosaur.  After many gray hairs on our part, she has just graduated from college.  She has no interest in becoming a geologist, though she’s become accustomed (or maybe inured) to my humour.  I would love to have her announcement card showing her riding the Quetzalcoatlus (she selected the image she liked).”

Having selected an image of an Azhdarchid Pterosaur – the Quetzalcoatlus that was one on display at the Everything Dinosaur on-line shop, Susan then had the problem of creating the image of her daughter riding the flying reptile.

Although our team members would be the first to admit that they are not experts at Photoshop CS5, but yesterday evening they had a go and produced the image below which they then emailed over to Virginia.

Flying A Pterosaur – Graduating to Success

Image Created for Susan

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 Congratulations to Genny for graduating and we wish Genny and her parents every success.  Now back to our dinosaur toys and games.

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