All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//July
13 07, 2012

Dinosaur Day at Grange Moor Primary

By | July 13th, 2012|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Teaching|0 Comments

Rounding of a Dinosaur Themed Term Topic in Style

Last week team members at Everything Dinosaur were in Yorkshire (England) working with the enthusiastic young dinosaur fans at Grange Moor Primary.  For Mrs Fenton’s class this was an opportunity to round off their term topic on dinosaurs with a visit from one of our dinosaur experts.

As a special treat, the children were allowed to come to school dressed as a dinosaur if they wanted to.  They made quite a colourful display with their dinosaur masks and costumes.  Some clever mums even made paper mache dinosaur hats, these were very impressive and they looked great in the classroom with all the dinosaur themed art and project work that the pupils had been creating.

Enthusiastic Dinosaur Fan

Picture Credit: Grange Moor Primary

The children had certainly enjoyed their term topic.  There were lots of examples of their school-work on display, including some colourful dinosaurs that had been created using painted, paper plates to make the bodies.  The teachers and teaching assistants had taken great care to include a vast array of different types of lesson, all aimed at stimulating and enthusing the class.

Dinosaur Day – Class Photograph

Roaring like a Dinosaur!

Picture Credit: Grange Moor Primary School

All the young dinosaur fans enjoyed themselves and we were asked lots of questions (which we did our best to answer), we even met one young pupil who had decided to become a palaeontologist when he was older – good for him!

12 07, 2012

Vandals In Alberta Damage Duck-Billed Dinosaur Skeleton

By | July 12th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Hadrosaur Skeleton Badly Damaged in Attack by Vandals

Over the last six months or so officials in Canada have reported a number of deliberate acts of vandalism carried out against dinosaur fossils being excavated in the province of Alberta.  In this latest attack, the fossilised remains of a Late Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaur were smashed by a person or persons unknown.

The remains of large dinosaurs often take months to extract out of the ground, indeed as great care is needed to protect the fossilised remains and preserve scientific data, some excavations can take years.  This means that many sites once identified may be left after only a partial excavation.  Field workers would deliberately bury bones, having taken precautions to preserve them so that the site can be re-visited at a later date and a more thorough investigation carried out.

This is exactly what happened when Dr. Philip Bell and his colleagues of the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative came across the partially exposed remains of an eight metre long Hadrosaur.  The site was mapped on June 15th and there were several days of excavation, then Dr. Bell and his team had to return to their other projects so the scientists carefully covered the site so that they could return a few weeks later and continue their work.  To Dr. Bell’s dismay, when he returned to the site, near Grande Prairie (north-western Alberta), he discovered that  much of the site had been attacked by vandals and many of the fossil bones smashed.

A Typical Hadrosaur Skeleton in a Canadian Museum

After much careful fieldwork and preparation a fossil skeleton is ready for display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The palaeontologists are concerned that the Hadrosaur specimen may have been irreparably damaged.  This is just one of a number of acts of vandalism against dinosaurs that have been reported in the Canadian press this year.

Commenting on the demise of his duck-billed dinosaur, Dr. Bell stated:

“This was destined to become a major exhibit in the new museum [new dinosaur museum, located north of the Canadian town of Wembley].  Of course, now it’s really compromised.  It’s not really a skeleton any more.  It’s more of a jumble of bones… Maybe there’s a few things that are still complete in there, but as far as the exhibit was concerned, that’s no longer feasible.”

Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare.  Each new discovery helps palaeontologists to learn more about these prehistoric creatures, Dr. Bell went on to add:

“Each bone is irreplaceable.  We still know very little about the dinosaurs that existed up here [northern Alberta], so every skeleton is crucial.”

Most of the bones were still in situ, so the site had not been raided by souvenir hunters or illegal collectors keen to sell specimens outside of the law.  The fossil remains seem to have been broken deliberately in a wanton act of violence.

Although dinosaur fossils can fetch high prices if sold at auction, it is illegal to poach or even damage any fossil material in Canada.  Such transgressions can be punished by hefty fines of up to $40,000 CDN or even twelve months imprisonment.

Despite the best efforts of the authorities, the incident of the damaged Hadrosaur is not the only recent fossil crime that has been reported from Canada.  A number of such attacks have been recorded this year.  In Pipestone Creek Park (Alberta), near to where the Hadrosaur remains had been located, a substantial bone bed containing the fossilised remains of a number of dinosaurs was damaged in May.  There have also been a number of dinosaur fossil thefts reported from dig sites and museums over the last few months or so.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in an official statement said that they were investigating the incidents, but as yet do not have any suspects.

Let us hope that the individuals are soon caught and this indiscriminate damage to Canada’s fossil heritage is soon stopped.

11 07, 2012

A Review of the Wild Safari Dinos Vagaceratops Dinosaur Model

By | July 11th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Product Reviews|0 Comments

“Wandering Horned Face” Put into the Spotlight

Concluding our reviews of the four new model introductions into the Wild Safari Dinosaur range (Safari Ltd), team members at Everything Dinosaur have put together this short video about Vagaceratops.  It is always a great pleasure to see a more unusual member of the Ceratopsian clade get introduced into a mainstream model range.  This Vagaceratops from Safari Ltd shows lots of detail and it has been very carefully painted.

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Review of the Vagaceratops Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The re-assignment of, what was once thought to be Chamosaurus spp. fossil material has had important implications for palaeontologists as they try to build up a more complete picture of the dinosaur fauna living in both the northern and southern parts of the Cretaceous landmass known as Laramidia (western USA and Canada).

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Safari Ltd prehistoric animal models including Wild Safari Dinos: Safari Ltd Dinosaurs/Carnegie Dinosaurs

This is a super, not-to-scale model of Vagaceratops, a horned dinosaur that was only formally scientifically described just two years ago.

10 07, 2012

Everything Dinosaur School Visit a “Roaring Success”

By | July 10th, 2012|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Mayfield Primary School and their Young Palaeontologists

A very pleasant morning was spent recently in the company of the budding palaeontologists and young dinosaur fans at Mayfield Primary School (Oldham).   Dinosaurs had been the topic for the term for the reception class and the pupils has been busy “boning up” on prehistoric animals as well as demonstrating their developing writing and creative skills.

Exploring  dinosaurs can provide teaching staff with an effective scheme of work to help young children manage the transition from a nursery environment to reception as well as helping to reaffirm science objectives as laid out in the national curriculum when moving onto Key Stage 1.

Dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in general seem to capture the imagination of many children and using dinosaur themed lessons can help children grasp important learning outcomes.   For the teachers and teaching assistants,  a dinosaur topic can be a lot of fun to deliver and in our experience there is always a dinosaur expert on hand in the class to help out if required.  The pupils had prepared a set of challenging questions which were fielded at a special assembly to kick off Everything Dinosaur’s visit.  With a new dinosaur discovery every twenty days or so, there is always something new to talk about and the children’s enthusiasm for this subject area was very apparent.

The List of Assembly Questions

The questions compiled by pupils at Mayfield Primary.

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

Compiling a set of questions prior to a visit is always a useful exercise and enables pupils to feel involved with any school visit right from the start of the teaching session.

Certainly, the teaching team at Mayfield Primary had incorporated a wide range of activities within their scheme of work.  There are a number of reliable suppliers of workbook materials and other resources all aimed at enabling differentiation and catering for mixed age classes.  We, at Everything Dinosaur do our bit to help too, providing resources for all ranges and abilities that can be easily downloaded and photocopied – it’s all in a day’s work.

To help encourage imaginative, creative writing, dinosaur faces with speech bubbles can be used.  Pupils readily write short stories about “their” dinosaur and at reception age this method can help with the development of writing skills and the ability to write phonetically.

Creative Writing with Dinosaurs

Dinosaur themed stories great for helping with sentence construction.

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

When working with very young children, such as those in nursery, fossils and their physical properties can help children to make simple comparisons and identify associations between objects.  When working with nursery children dinosaurs can help to reinforce a child’s knowledge and understanding of the world around them.  Extension activities can be used to help encourage language and listening skills.

For the reception aged children, the teaching team at Mayfield Primary had developed challenging and varied topic exploration tasks, everything from measuring a dinosaur footprint to recreating a model of a lost world in miniature in a corner of the classroom.   Such activities cater for a wide range of learning styles.  At Everything Dinosaur, we have an extensive library of dinosaur tracks and we have used these prints in a number of measuring exercises, we have helped many teachers create their very own dinosaur track-ways.  For the pupils at Mayfield they were given the opportunity of making cheesy dinosaur feet, another “hands-on” activity that enabled aspects of the Dinosauria to be explored.

Pupils Making Cheesy Dinosaur Feet

Making Dinosaur themed Snacks

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

It was certainly a very full itinerary that the teaching staff had compiled and we were happy to assist by reinforcing some of the learning objectives and providing some expert knowledge to help check understanding and summarise some of the key learning outcomes.  Whether it was model making, role playing, naming their very own dinosaur or helping to build Mayfield’s dinosaur exhibition the children seemed to really enjoy learning about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

Dinosaur Explorers

Children getting to grips with Dinosaurs

Picture Credit: Mayfield/Everything Dinosaur

We suspect a few grown-ups got to learn a thing or two when the children went home each day and explained what they had been doing.  With over 1,200 different dinosaur genera identified to date there is certainly a great deal of scope within this subject area.

Who knows, some of the enthusiastic dinosaur fans at the school may go onto study science and perhaps make their very own contribution to the field of palaeontology in the future.

Our thanks to all the teaching staff who helped make Everything Dinosaur so very welcome during our recent visit and a special thank you to Mrs Ellidge for compiling the photographs and examples of the pupil’s work .

9 07, 2012

Dangerous Rivers, Hazardous Cliffs at Lyme Regis

By | July 9th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Palaeontological articles|1 Comment

Torrential Rain Causes Flooding Threat and Makes Cliffs Dangerous

Heavy rainfall has led to a number of swollen rivers and subsequent flooding in many parts of the UK.  For the Dorset town of Lyme Regis, famous for its beaches and the fossils that can be found along the shore, the recent rain could make the cliffs even more unstable.  There have already been a number of rockfalls, particularly on Monmouth Beach.  A video shot by our chum Brandon Lennon of the river Lym in spate gives an impression as to just how much rain has fallen in the area over recent days.

River Lym (Lyme Regis) Dangerously High

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

Brandon very kindly sent us some pictures of landslides and rock falls that occurred on the beaches of Lyme Regis and we wrote a short article about the dangers of fossil hunting in the area in the present conditions.

To read this article warning of the dangers: Bad Weather at Lyme Regis leads to Dangerous Cliffs

Brandon reports that the torrential rain led to another substantial land slip on Monmouth Beach on Saturday.

Frequent Rock Falls at Lyme Regis

Dangerous Conditions for Beachcombers

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

We have put an arrow on the picture so that the person in the photograph can be seen.  This gives an idea of the scale of the rock fall.

The current weather is making fossil collecting on the beaches around Lyme Regis very hazardous.  At Everything Dinosaur we would urge visitors to keep away from the cliffs and perhaps the best way to enjoy a fossil hunting trip is to take advantage of a guided tour with a professional fossil collector who knows the tides and the beaches in the area very well.

Brandon Lennon provides guided fossil hunting walks, to read more about this activity: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

Parts of the UK have already experienced the wettest June on record, July looks to be continuing the trend with the weather forecast for much of the country indicating that further periods of prolonged downpours are to be expected.

8 07, 2012

Everything Dinosaur Website – Receives its 700th Customer Review

By | July 8th, 2012|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Review Number 700 on Everything Dinosaur’s Website

Customer feedback and testimonials are very important to us at Everything Dinosaur, no matter how busy we are we all make time to read the customer comments, letters and feedback forms that we receive.  Sunday morning can be a good time to catch up with correspondence and today we have noted that the Everything Dinosaur website has had its 700th customer comment posted up.

As a mail order company, such feedback is very important to us and we are always keen to hear from our customers with their comments about our service and the products that we sell.  Our 700th customer comment concerned a Triceratops soft toy and the feedback stated:

“The soft toy Triceratops is lovely.  I would definitely buy more from this range.  I also liked the personal despatch email I received and the speed of delivery. I would use your website again and recommend it to others.  Items are good quality and excellent value for money.

We all try our best and at Everything Dinosaur it is very much a team effort.  We are all happy to help where we can and it is nice to know that our efforts to source top quality dinosaur soft toys are appreciated.  It was back on May 4th of this year that we posted up an article about our 600th customer review going online.  In a little over two months we have had a further one hundred customer comments.   At this rate we could well have 1,000 customer reviews and comments about our dinosaur toys and dinosaur models published on the Everything Dinosaur website by Christmas – that would be some achievement and we are grateful for all the kind words we receive with regards to our products and Everything Dinosaur’s customer service.

7 07, 2012

A Review of the Carnegie Collectibles Brachiosaurus

By | July 7th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

New Brachiosaurus Scale Model by Safari Ltd Reviewed

The only new addition to the Carnegie scale model dinosaur collectibles range in 2012 is a 1:50 scale model of the huge herbivore Brachiosaurus.  This striking replica has been much anticipated by dinosaur model collectors and it does not disappoint.  As well as depicting Brachiosaurus as a much more colourful dinosaur, this model also reveals the latest scientific thinking with regard to how this huge dinosaur held its neck.

2012 Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model (Safari Ltd)

Carnegie scale model Brachiosaurus Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

There has been a lot of debate recently amongst palaeontologists as to the exact taxonomic classification of the Brachiosaurids.  Fossils collected by a German led exhibition to the Tendaguru Formation in what was then German East Africa (now Tanzania) in the early 20th Century; led to the establishment of the Brachiosaurus genus.  However, the species ascribed to these fossil remains (at least thirty-four individual Sauropod dinosaurs have been excavated from the Tendaguru Formation), the species originally described as Brachiosaurus brancai, has been re-named as Giraffatitan brancai.  Scientists have identified a number of anatomical differences between the East African remains and those ascribed to the Brachiosaurus genus that have been excavated from the United States and so a re-assessment of the Brachiosaur fossil material has taken place leading to the establishment of a new genus – the Giraffatitans.

Although Brachiosaurus may be one of the best known of all the dinosaurs, fossils of this huge reptile are extremely rare. What fossil material that has been found in America, for example, is extremely fragmentary and scientists still debate how big this animal was.  Some palaeontologists have estimated that the largest individuals could have weighed in excess of fifty tonnes, but a recent study by the University of Manchester lowered this estimate to around twenty-five tonnes.

Against this backdrop, the designers at Safari Ltd have introduced a scale model of an American Brachiosaur.  We suspect that this is a model of Brachiosaurus altithorax, one of the better known members of the Brachiosaur genus, whose fossils have been found in the western United States.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Carnegie Collectibles: Carnegie scale model Dinosaur collectibles

It is a very striking model.  Most Brachiosaurus dinosaur models are coloured a dull brown or elephantine grey, but not this new replica from Safari Ltd.   Their Brachiosaurus is painted with patches of light and dark green with a band of bright red colouration running from the top of the head down the back to the base of the tail.

Such a large animal, (scientists estimate that this species of Brachiosaurus was at least twenty-three metres long when fully grown), would have had little need for camouflage.  When fully grown adult animals probably had no natural enemies, they would have been too large for predatory dinosaurs to attack.  Although size-able land creatures today such as elephants, tend to be grey in colour, there is no reason to suggest that large animals that lived in the past had to be the same colour.  The colour scheme chosen by the design team at Safari contrasts with many of the other Sauropod models currently available.

The model measures nearly fifty centimetres long, making it one of the largest replicas that Safari Ltd have ever made, it is truly an impressive piece.  Interestingly, this Brachiosaurus replica is not posed with the typical “swan-like” neck.   The neck of this dinosaur model is held at a much lower angle in relation to the rest of the body.  Some palaeontologists have questioned whether the necks of these enormous dinosaurs were held so high.  Although, the neck was probably more flexible than a giraffe’s (Brachiosaurs had at least twelve bones in their necks compared to just seven in a giraffe), it is not known at what angle the head and neck were held.  A more modern interpretation of this dinosaur, based on analysis of cervical vertebrae and the shoulder bones suggests that the head was carried much more forward of the body.  In this stance, some of the issues raised concerning how Brachiosaurs were able to pump blood up to the heads several metres above their hearts are negated.

A Close Up of the Head showing Detail

New Neck Position for Brachiosaurus Replica

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is a fascinating model, a more modern interpretation of a famous dinosaur and one that will impress dinosaur model collectors for its sheer size, the choice of markings and the new position of the neck.

6 07, 2012

Bad Weather Making Fossil Collecting at Lyme Regis Hazardous

By | July 6th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Rock Falls on Monmouth Beach

The heavy rainfall that has occurred along the south coast of England over the last few weeks has led to dangerous conditions for fossil collectors as they search along the beaches of Lyme Regis on England’s “Jurassic Coast”.  The cliffs at Lyme Regis are inherently unstable and rock falls are an ever present hazard for beachcombers as they search for ammonites and belemnites.  However, with the dreadful summer weather set to continue the cliffs are becoming saturated and rock falls and slides are more likely to occur.

A Recent Rock Fall on Monmouth Beach

Unstable Cliffs Pose a Threat to Beachcombers

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

Local fossil expert Brandon Lennon reports that there have been several small rock falls in the Lyme Regis area over the last few days.  Brandon, who leads fossil collecting walks at Lyme Regis, commented that the cliffs at Monmouth beach were particularly unstable at the moment and yesterday (July 5th), there was a substantial rock fall with a number of sizeable boulders hurtling down onto the beach.

Brandon stated:

“The beach areas are particularly dangerous at the moment and I am concerned for the safety of visitors who come to Lyme Regis to explore this part of the Jurassic coast.  The bad weather has made the cliffs very unstable and I have already observed one large landslide that resulted in many tonnes of boulders and debris smashing onto Monmouth beach.”

The last major landslide in the area took place in May 2008, with over one hundred yards of cliff face collapsing.  Fortunately, this rock fall took place late in the evening at high tide so there were no casualties, but with thousands of would-be fossil hunters likely to hit the beaches at Lyme Regis with the onset of the Summer holidays, conditions exist for there to be a very serious incident.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Whilst looking for fossils along the beaches of Lyme Regis can be tremendous fun, on no account should visitors stand directly under the cliffs and day trippers would be well advised to heed the warning signs and take advice from local experts who know all too well the hazards in the area”.

A Large Rock Fall on Monmouth Beach

Dangerous Cliffs at Lyme Regis

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon

One of the best ways to enjoy this part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is to take advantage of a guided fossil walk where a professional fossil collector takes parties of visitors out to explore the beaches.  The guide can supervise the fossil hunting and take participants to less dangerous areas whilst still guaranteeing some exciting fossil finds.

To learn more about the fossil walks provided by Brandon Lennon (particularly suitable for families): Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

5 07, 2012

New Carnegie Collectibles Brachiosaurus Model Now in Stock

By | July 5th, 2012|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Brachiosaurus (Safari Ltd) Dinosaur Model now Available

The 2012 Brachiosaurus replica made by Safari Ltd has arrived.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been busy unpacking their stock of this large model of an enormous Sauropod.  Our chums at Safari Ltd have informed us that this new replica is in approximately 1:50 scale, the model itself measures a cool 47cm long.  It makes an excellent addition to the Carnegie Collectibles dinosaurs.

Carnegie Collectibles Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

A Colourful Sauropod Replica – Brachiosaurus dinosaur model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Carnegie Collectibles Prehistoric Animal model range: Carnegie Dinosaurs

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History Dinosaurs is regarded as one of the finest mainstream collectible range of dinosaur replicas.  Each model is authenticated by the palaeontologists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pittsburgh, USA), for example, the pose of this new Brachiosaurus replica with its head at a lower angle in relation to the shoulders, contrasts strikingly with older sculpts.  Modern interpretations of Brachiosaurid fossil remains have tended to move away from the classic “swan-neck” posture.  The long, muscular tail now acts as a counter balance to the forward projecting neck, in what we at Everything Dinosaur call the “suspension bridge effect”.

This is certainly a big and colourful new Brachiosaurus model.

4 07, 2012

Theropod Eggs Correlate Directly with Modern Bird Eggs

By | July 4th, 2012|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Spanish Fossilised Eggs show Strong Link between Theropoda and Aves

Palaeontologists have been aware for some time, of the close anatomical links between certain members of the lizard-hipped dinosaurs known as the Theropoda and modern birds.  A great deal of evidence has been compiled to show that certain types of dinosaur such as the Dromaeosauridae, the raptors, were closely related to Aves (birds).  Scientists know for example, that many small, meat-eating Theropods such as members of the Dromaeosauridae, dinosaurs such as Microraptor and Sinornithosaurus were covered in feathers, but there are also striking similarities between the skeletons of birds and the fossilised bones of these types of dinosaur.

Some Types of Dinosaur were Feathered

Feathered Dinosaurs

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The link between dinosaurs and birds is not a new theory in palaeontology.  Granted, there have been a number of startling discoveries made of feathered dinosaurs, most notably in the Lower Cretaceous strata of Liaoning Province (northern China).  It was the likes of Thomas Henry Huxley who first proposed the dinosaur/bird link.

Thomas Henry Huxley was an English biologist and an ardent supporter of Darwinism.  When Sir Richard Owen purchased a nearly complete specimen of Archaeopteryx (A. lithographica) in the 1860s, Huxley used this fossil to support Darwin’s theory of natural selection and declared the Archaeopteryx specimen as a “transitional fossil” between reptiles and the evolution of birds.

However, one of the gaps in our knowledge regarding the relationship between certain members of the Dinosauria and the Order Aves, concerned the shape and composition of the eggs that these types of creatures laid.  A number of different shapes and sizes of dinosaur egg are known from the fossil record, but those fossil eggs ascribed to Theropods do not closely resemble the shape of a modern bird’s egg such as the type of egg that a chicken would lay.  Typically, a small-meat eating dinosaur might produce relatively elongated eggs, not the ovoid shape that we are used to when we see a bird’s egg.

The discovery of the remains of dinosaur eggs in north-eastern Spain may change all that, as these eggs do resemble those of a modern bird.

Nieves Lopez Martinez, a palaeontologist at the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain),with a doctorate in geology and biology, had been researching into the strange, ovoid and asymmetrical fossil eggs that had been found in the Montsec area of Lleida in north-eastern Spain.  Sadly, she passed away in December 2010.  Her work and that of her colleague Enric Vicens, a palaeontologist at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain), has just been published.  Their extensive research provides strong evidence linking Theropod dinosaurs to modern birds, as the eggs found in Spain are very similar in shape and composition to those of extant birds.

The eggs were excavated from two dig sites, located on either side of the Terradets pass.  The strata in this part of Spain represents sediments laid down at the very end of the Cretaceous (Campanian and Maastrichtian faunal stages).  A number of different types of dinosaur are known from this strata – Ornithopods, Theropods and Titanosaurs.  The geological record in this part of Spain is very important, as it is providing scientists with an insight into the flora and fauna that existed in Europe at the very end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

To read an article about “giant dinosaur eggs” being discovered: World’s Largest Dinosaur Eggs – The Facts are Scrambled

Although, the scientists cannot determine exactly what sort of dinosaur laid the eggs, they have postulated that they were produced by a Troodontid a type of dinosaur, closely related to birds.  Troodonts were small, agile, bipedal predators.  The egg fossils, which consist of many fragments plus some complete eggs have been given the scientific name of Sankofa pyrenaica.  The genus name relates to an ancient bird symbol which shows a bird looking over its back with an egg that has just dropped from its mouth.  The species name relates to the fact that the fossils were found in a part of the southern Pyrenees mountain chain.

Some of the Fossilised Dinosaur Eggs (S. pyrenaica)

Oval-shaped and asymmetrical like a chicken’s egg.

Approximately seventy million years ago, this part of Spain was a low-lying coastal zone with many shallow lagoons that were bordered by lush, dense forests.  A number of fossils of dinosaur eggs have been found in this area, it seems that a number of different types of dinosaur laid eggs on the raised beaches that made up this coastal zone, but most of the fossil eggs found to date are large, rounded Titanosaur eggs.  These eggs are very different, measuring just seven centimetres high and with a diameter of approximately four centimetres.  The eggshell is roughly the same thickness of that of a hen’s egg.  The scientists measured the fossilised eggshell and found it to be around 0.27 mm thick.

Sectional analysis of those eggs that had been preserved intact showed that at the wider end of the egg there was a substantial air pocket.  Such air pockets are found in modern bird eggs.  If you take a hen’s egg and place it in water, a fresh egg will sink but it will have a degree of buoyancy.  The buoyancy is provided by a small air space contained within the egg.  The pocket of air allows the organism inside the egg to breathe during the last phases of its development prior to hatching.

Such oval-shaped, asymmetrical eggs are extremely rare in the Cretaceous fossil record.  The Spanish researchers related the shape of their eggs to that of a Late Cretaceous bird whose fossils have been found in South America.  The research team postulated that this bird and their dinosaur both laid eggs that were intermediate between modern bird eggs and those eggs laid by extinct non-avian Theropods.

A microscopic analysis of the fossil eggshell of Sankofa pyrenaica did reveal significant differences in the shell structure when compared to that of a modern bird’s egg.   Bird and most reptile eggshell is composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate, the structure of the crystals and how they are organised in a bird’s egg differs from that seen in the internal structure of the eggshell ascribed to S. pyrnenaica.

The shape of an egg is dictated largely by the physiology of the organism that lays those eggs.  Asymmetry in bird eggs relates to the fact that birds only have one oviduct, they can only form one egg at a time as a result.  Most dinosaur nests show that eggs were laid in pairs, indicating that these animals had two oviducts.  Scientists believe that modern birds lost the second oviduct as an evolutionary response to the need to lighten their bodies so as to make powered flight more efficient.  The asymmetrical shape of the Spanish dinosaur eggs suggest that Sankofa pyrenaica also possessed just a single oviduct.

A Dromaeosaurid Dinosaur Nest (Eggs Laid in Pairs)

Eggs laid in twos

Picture Credit: Associated Press/Everything Dinosaur

This fossil evidence strongly supports the theory that certain clades of dinosaur were indeed very closely related to birds.  Parts of the Dinosauria and Aves are very closely phylogenetically related.

Extrapolating this evidence, the next time you eat a boiled egg you are technically eating the egg of a creature very closely related to a dinosaur – or given the location where these fossil eggs were found, would you prefer a Spanish omelette?

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