All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
12 01, 2013

Three Dimensional Printing Proving Beneficial to Palaeontologists

By | January 12th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Producing Three-Dimensional Fossils Using Resin

Palaeontology may still be very much a case of using your eyes to spot fossils and such fossil prospecting is always going to be an important part of this Earth science but more and more technology is being employed to give palaeontologists an insight into the fossil specimens that they find.  The advent of affordable three-dimensional printers that can produce an object from scanned images is helping scientists to produce copies of the fossils they discover and allowing them to share their discoveries with other museums without having to go to the expense of using conventional casting techniques.

Palaeontologists working at the museum of Natural History in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), have invested in a portable CT scanner to help them determine what fossil material may be contained in an individual block of stone that they excavate.  Even locating fossils, has become much easier with ground penetrating radar providing field teams with information about the orientation of any fossil specimen in the ground.  The images this radar can produce thus guides the excavation team and helps with the safe removal of any matrix material, after all, one careless blow with a geological hammer could damage a precious and rare fossil beyond repair.

Once the location and position of a fossil has been calculated, circular saws can cut out a section of rock, the block, which may represent Cretaceous sediments from the famous Santana Formation of eastern Brazil is then subjected to a further aspect of 21st Century technology – three-dimensional CT scans.  Portable CT scans (computerised tomography), permit the block to be penetrated by powerful X-rays which can be analysed by computer to produce information about what fossils are present in the individual block.  This work is usually carried out in the safety and relative comfort of the museum’s preparation lab.

This data from the 3-D scan can be analysed by one of the new three-dimensional printers and within hours a replica of the object can be printed out using resin.  The scientists can have their own fossil replica to help them study the delicate structures of any fossil that they find.

The combination of CT scans and three-dimensional printers is helping to change the study of ancient animals.  Already the Brazilian team have used this combination of technologies to gain a better understanding of a fossilised snake and a crocodile skull dating from the Late Cretaceous.

Examining the Structures of a Crocodile Skull in Three Dimensions

New Technology meets Cretaceous Crocodile

Picture Credit: Sergio Azevedo

Commenting on the use of these new techniques, Sergio Azevedo of the Natural History Museum of Rio de Janeiro stated:

“We are developing several research lines in palaeontology using CT and surface 3-D scanning.  These include the nervous system and biomechanics of crocodiles, dinosaurs and other vertebrate fossils.”

This is a non-destructive technique and with prices of three-dimensional printers likely to come down over the next twelve months or so, more museums, universities and even schools can gain access to this technology.  The 21st Century is seeing a cross-over of technology from different scientific disciplines providing palaeontologists with the opportunity to create accurate, highly detailed replicas of the fossils they discover.

11 01, 2013

Working with Early Years Foundation Stage Children (Fascination with Dinosaurs)

By | January 11th, 2013|Educational Activities, Teaching|0 Comments

A Creative Approach to Literacy and Numeracy Using Dinosaurs

Teachers can often find it quite challenging to settle children down in a reception class after spending time in nursery and yet it is important to help children make the transition towards more cognitive and structured learning.  Children move into reception from nursery schooling from around the age of four and nursery schools within the country operate a curriculum based around what is termed the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  This statutory framework sets out the standards that young children are to reach and provides the guidelines to help teaching professionals ensure that children learn and develop in healthy, stimulating and safe environments.

At the heart of the Early Years Foundation Stage is the need to develop the broad range of personal and group skills a  young child will need as they grow up and enter more formal education.  This framework helps to provide an appropriate foundation for the child’s academic career.  It has been subject to a number of revisions, the three key areas of a child’s communication and language development in conjunction with their physical well-being and their personal, social and emotional development have become even more central to the core aims of this Government initiative and this, surprisingly is where dinosaurs can help.

Children from around 36 months can begin to gain an appreciation of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.  It is surprising what they can pick up from the many television documentaries, films and books dedicated to dinosaurs that these children are exposed to.  Many young children can obsess on dinosaurs and it is surprising how quickly they can learn the long, often complicated names of dinosaurs such as Tyrannnosaurus rex and Triceratops.

If children have a natural affinity for all things Dinosauria, then this fascination can be used to help them develop improved literacy and numeracy skills.  For example, when helping children to form sentences and the meaning of words,  a picture of a dinosaur with a speech bubble can help the child to consider what the dinosaur might be thinking or even saying.  The child can be encouraged to explore feelings and emotions using the dinosaur as an exemplar.

Using a Dinosaur to Help a Child Explore Emotions

Exploring Emotions and helping to Construct Sentences

Illustration Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The same dinosaur picture can help a nursery school child with their numeracy skills.  Counting games can be devised such as counting the number of legs the dinosaur might have or the horns on its head for instance.  Dinosaur models make great counters for use in many numeracy based exercises, they are tactile and easy to handle and the games can be developed with the children encouraged to sort their dinosaurs into different groups based on simple criteria such as sorting by size, by colour and by which ones might be meat-eaters and which ones the herbivores.

An early fascination with dinosaurs and prehistoric animals can help a creative teacher to devise imaginative learning games thus helping their young charges to learn whilst having fun in a supportive environment.

10 01, 2013

Dinosaurs not Stampeding but Swimming

By | January 10th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|4 Comments

New Study into the Lark Quarry Dinosaur Footprints

The Lark Quarry located near the town of Winton in Queensland (Australia) is the site of one of the most important collection of dinosaur tracks discovered to date.  When these tracks were first studied by Dr. Tony Thulborn and his colleague Mary Wade and their work published in 1984, the footprints caused a sensation as the various trackways were interpreted as herd of smaller Ornithopod dinosaurs in the company of some Coelurosaurs stampeding after they were cornered by a lumbering giant Theropod dinosaur.

Ichnologists (scientists who study trace fossils, especially footprints), assigned the name Wintonopus to the small, Ornithopods, Skartopus to the larger Coelurosaurs and the eleven prints believed to describe the large, predatory Theropod attempting the ambush were assigned to Tyrannosauropus.  However, a new paper published in the academic publication “The Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology” interprets the tracks in a very different way.  Lead author, Queensland palaeontologist Anthony Romilio presents evidence to suggest that these footprints are not evidence of a dinosaur ambush with a resulting stampede but the tracks made by dinosaurs as they forded a river.  Instead of “Walking with Dinosaurs”, this new research suggests a scenario of “Swimming or even Wading with Dinosaurs”!

Tri-dactyl Prints at the Lark Quarry Site (Queensland)

Evidence for swimming dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: Dr. Steve Salisbury

The footprints are believed to date from around 95 million years ago approximately (Albian to Cenomanian faunal stages), the strata that the footprints were discovered in does represent fluvial deposits (river sediments), however, this new interpretation proposes that the tracks were made by dinosaurs whilst in the water and not on the river bank.   Walking along a river bed, especially one where the water may have been no more than forty centimetres deep would have made sense if the banks were heavily vegetated, progress through dense scrub and forests would have been much slower if the dinosaurs had chosen a land route.

The Queensland palaeontologist stated:

“Many of the tracks are nothing more than elongated grooves, and probably formed when the claws of swimming dinosaurs scratched the river bottom.  Some of the more unusual tracks include ‘tippy-toe’ traces – this is where fully buoyed dinosaurs made deep, near vertical scratch marks with their toes as they propelled themselves through the water.”

The smaller dinosaurs, those referred to as Wintonopus may have swum, whilst the larger dinosaurs were able to wade across the water.

Swimming Ornithopods at the Lark Quarry Site

Dinosaurs going for a dip!

Picture Credit: Anthony Romilio

In the paper, the scientist argues that it is difficult to see how the tracks could have been made by an animal walking or running on land, even one panicked by a ambush from a predator.  If the tracks had been made on land the impressions made would have been much flatter.

Fossilised footprints of a swimming dinosaur have been found in the past.  There is a very important single dinosaur trackway discovered in Spain that seems to show a tri-dactyl, Theropod dinosaur touching the bottom of a lake occasionally as it swam across it.  The sediments preserve the claw marks and impressions made by the dinosaur at it touched the lake bed and pushed itself off again to continue its journey.

To read an article on the Spanish discovery: Swimming Dinosaurs

The Lark Quarry site represents one of the most important sets of dinosaur footprints known to science.  More than 3,000 individual prints have been identified so far.  A number of the tracks, including the “dinosaur stampede/river crossing site” are on public display.

Using three-dimensional footprint mapping techniques, the University of Queensland scientist has already provided a number of new insights into the dinosaur tracks of Lark Quarry.  In 2010, Anthony Romilio published a scientific paper that suggested that the footprints assigned to the meat-eater Tyrannosauropus were actually made by a large, herbivorous Ornithopod, a dinosaur similar to Muttaburrasaurus for example.

To read about the research into the Tyrannosauropus tracks: Lark Quarry Dinosaur Tracks Re-assessed

Commenting on the newly published research and reflecting on the earlier work suggesting that the large dinosaur tracks were not made by a predator, Anthony stated that taken all together, the research suggested that the Lark Quarry sediments did not portray a dinosaur stampede.

9 01, 2013

Why is the Collecta Irritator Black?

By | January 9th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

A Black Coloured Model of Irritator –  A Possible Explanation

The Collecta Irritator model, part of the company’s not to scale,  prehistoric animal model range is coloured black.  This is an intriguing colour choice for a dinosaur model, most dinosaur models from Collecta have been painted various shades of green or brown but black is not a colour often associated with such items, especially when it is hoped that these replicas would appeal to young dinosaur fans and model collectors.  Could the plumage of an extant bird, found in Africa have influenced the design team?

The Collecta Irritator Dinosaur Model

Was the Black Heron the inspiration behind the colour choice?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fossils of this dinosaur are associated with the Santana Formation of eastern Brazil, the skull showed a number of anatomical features associated with Spinosaurs and so Irritator was described as a member of the Spinosaurids.  It is likely that this dinosaur, that may have reached lengths in excess of eight metres, was primarily a fish eater.  Irritator was formally described in 1996 (Irritator challengeri).

But why did Collecta choose to give their Irritator dinosaur model a predominately black colour?  The explanation put forward could have something to do with this dinosaur feeding mainly on fish.  After all, the fossils ascribed to this genus of Theropod dinosaur were found in brackish/marine deposits so it can be inferred that this large predator spent a lot of its time near bodies of water.  This would tie in with the theory that this dinosaur was a hunter of fish.

When the skull material is examined it can be seen that the position of the nostrils are towards the top of the head and not at the very tip of the snout.  The nostrils are not placed as far back on the skull as the nostrils of Spinosaurus (Spinosaurus aegyptiacus), but their position still suggests that Irritator could hold the tips of its jaws underwater and still breathe.  This evidence along with many conical teeth associated with the Santana sediments suggest that Irritator was indeed a piscivore.

The Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca), is a member of the heron family, it can be found in Africa, south of the Sudan and it is very common.  It often can be seen feeding in the shallows of lakes, ponds and even in rice fields, where it catches fish and amphibians.  As the name of this bird suggests, its plumage is black and one of its feeding techniques is to pull its wings forward to cast a shadow over the water.  Fish are attracted to this shade and therefore come within reach of the sharp bill and are thus easier for the heron to catch.  This feeding behaviour seen in Black Herons is often referred to as “Canopy Feeding”.

If Irritator had been black, or certainly dark coloured its outline above the water could have been more difficult for fish in the water to spot, especially against the backdrop of a densely vegetated bank.  Perhaps Irritator held its arms out in front of its jaws producing an area of shade that potential prey may have been tempted to swim into.  A black colouration, particularly across the top of the back of the animal would have enabled this creature to absorb heat from the sun very efficiently, little being reflected back off a light coloured more reflective surface.  This may have helped this animal keep warm whilst standing in relatively cool water.

It is interesting to speculate on the choice of colour to the Collecta Irritator dinosaur model.   In truth, there is no evidence to help scientists to establish what colour the dinosaur known as Irritator actually was.

8 01, 2013

Changes to the Collecta Model Range in 2013

By | January 8th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

T. rex with Prey Gets a Base

One of the difficulties faced when making accurate models of dinosaurs that walked on just their hind legs (bipedal stance), is to get the replica to balance so that it stands up without support.  As the Dinosauria had a mostly digitigrade (walking on their digits) stance, compared to the plantigrade stance of the likes of bears, mice and humans this is a difficult task, even for the most accomplished model maker.  It is surprising to think, that just like a garden bird, dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex walked on their toes, no other part of the foot playing a role in weight-bearing in conjunction with the ground as this fearsome Theropod moved around.

In the past, when bipedal dinosaurs were often depicted with their tails dragging on the ground behind them, the position and size of the feet of any figure did not matter so much.  The tail could act as an additional support for the model, what is termed a “tripodal” stance.  Ironically, although most palaeontologists agree that the majority of the Dinosauria held their tails clear of the ground, there is some evidence to suggest that some dinosaur could at least use their tails to form a tripodal stance.  The animals concerned are quadrupeds, dinosaurs such as the Stegosaurs.  Some of these armoured dinosaurs had more cervical vertebrae (neck bones) than many long-necked Sauropods.  It has been suggested that dinosaurs such as Miragaia and Dacentrurus (both European Stegosaurs) could have reared up onto their back legs and rested on their tails whilst stretching up into trees to feed on the understorey of leaves.

For dinosaur model enthusiasts the extra security of a base for their model is often welcomed.  To improve the stability of the Collecta T. rex with prey model, the designers at Collecta have added an unobtrusive base to this replica.

Tyrannosaurus rex Gets Grounded

The "prey" is an unfortunate Struthiomimus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 The base permits the animal to be depicted in a much more active pose.  A Tyrannosaur that had just grabbed an Ornithomimid (Struthiomimus) would probably want to get away from the scene of the attack in order to prevent its meal being stolen by a larger Tyrannosaurus that could “sniff out” the opportunity for a free meal.  Such behaviour is seem amongst members of the Carnivora today.  The addition of a base broadens the range of poses that a model can be put in, helping to depict an anatomically accurate replica of a long extinct carnivore.

7 01, 2013

Dinosaurs Shaking Their Tail Feathers – Strutting and Displaying Dinosaurs

By | January 7th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

New Study Suggests that Oviraptorids Were Show-Offs with their Tail Feathers

Over the last thirty years or so, palaeontologists have built up a large amount of data to suggest that at least some types of dinosaur were feathered.  These feathers performed different functions, for example, some dinosaurs sported coats of fine, downy feathers that would have helped to keep these animals insulated and warm.  Other types of feather arrangement, particularly longer feathers may have had a display function.

A new research paper, published by a scientist based at the University of Alberta (Canada), has suggested that at least one type of dinosaur, the bird-like Oviraptors had a pygostyle structure, compressed tail vertebrae that was sheathed in muscle.  This anatomical arrangement, commonly seen in modern birds would have allowed this Oviraptorid to shake its tail and use any feathers on the end of it as a visual display device, perhaps to attract a mate or to intimidate a rival or even a predatory dinosaur.

Oviraptors are a group of Theropod dinosaurs, distantly related to the likes of Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor that are known from Upper Cretaceous strata of the northern hemisphere.  These dinosaurs were bipedal with small heads, as a result of their short, compact skulls.  They had beaks like birds and a collarbone to strengthen the shoulders as seen in extant birds today.

Shaking Their Tails – Oviraptorids (Ingenia spp.) Displaying

Dinosaur Courtship?

Picture Credit: Sydney Mohr, University of Alberta

For University of Alberta scientist Scott Persons, the opportunity to study some very fine and near-complete fossil specimens of Oviraptors that had been found in Mongolia gave him the chance to theorise on the structures of these dinosaur’s long tails.  He suggests that the tail could have ended in a fan of feathers that could have been extended and “flashed” just like a male peacocks.  He refers to these dinosaurs as being natural flirts able to flaunt their colourful feathers in extravagant displays.  They may have been able to shake their tails quite vigorously if this new research is correct.

The traditional view of cold-blooded, slow-witted, lumbering giants is gradually being replaced by a picture of very active animals with high-metabolic rates and complex social behaviours.  Using extant reptiles such as lizards and crocodiles as metaphors for the Dinosauria (Terrible Lizards), does not stack up to scientific scrutiny.

The Canadian-based scientist examined the fossils of a number of Oviraptor specimens that had been found in Mongolia.  He realised that all the dinosaurs in his study would have had long, nimble tails with attachments for strong muscles so that they could be moved back and forth.  The last caudal vertebrae of the tail (tail bones), may have been fused together to form a pygostyle, an anatomical feature seen in just one other type of animal – modern birds.  Birds more advanced than the likes of Archaeopteryx (A. lithographica), have their last five tail bones very much reduced and fused into a plate of bone, this is the pygostyle.  It seems very early on in bird evolution the long tail associated with Theropod dinosaurs began to be shortened and reduced, an adaptation permitting these flying creatures to lose weight from their skeletons and to make movements in flight easier.  The pygostyle in the Oviraptors served as a support structure and anchor point for fans of tail-feathers that could have been used for display purposes.

Although no impressions of fossilised feathers are associated with the specimens Persons studied, he concludes that since feather impressions have been associated with other, earlier fossil specimens of Oviraptorids, they were most likely present, just not preserved during the fossilisation process.

The Oviraptor study is for the University of Alberta student’s Master’s thesis.  He examined the tail structure of an Oviraptorid known as Khaan mckennai.  At least three specimens of this four foot long dinosaur are known, all found in the Ukhaa Tolgod region of Mongolia.  Persons noted that the tail had many vertebrae squashed together, forming a compact yet flexible structure.  Bony spines running along the tail would have provided anchor points for the attachment of large muscles.  In addition, other Oviraptorid specimens showed a fused tail bone structure, the pygostyle, one example of a member of the Oviraptorid group with a pygostyle is the dinosaur known as Similicaudipteryx yixianensis.

Describing his academic work, Persons went onto state:

“You stick a feather fan on the end of a highly dextrous and muscular tail and you’ve got what I think is a tail built for flaunting, that could shake a tail feather side to side, raise it up, strike a pose.  Probably to an extent that’s greater than a modern-day peacock or a turkey.”

Tail bones are easily lost when an animal dies, so the evidence for pygostyles in all Oviraptor-like dinosaurs is simply not available for scientists to study but this research raises the intriguing possibility that back in the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia there was a bunch of dinosaur show-offs, displaying and signalling to each other.  The implications of this study are that, it may be possible to identify males and females of a species if the tail bones are found.  The logic behind this idea, goes something like this; in modern birds, a number of species go through elaborate courtship displays in order to win and keep a mate.  Males of many species, Birds of Paradise, Peacocks, Black Grouse for example, possess elaborate tail fans that they use in visual courtship displays.  The caudal vertebrae (tail bones) may therefore be slightly different between males and females of the same species as these bones had to support muscles and tendons to allow the tail fans to be displayed.  Tail bones could help palaeontologists to work out which dinosaurs were boys and which were the girls.

A number of model makers have depicted Oviraptors with tail fans, an example of this is the Oviraptor from Safari Ltd, a model that was introduced a few years ago now, replacing an older version of this Asian dinosaur.

The Oviraptor Model from Safari Ltd

Part of the Carnegie Collectibles Range from Safari Ltd

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Oviraptor model is part of the company’s Carnegie Collectibles range of scale models.

The study concludes that there were sophisticated and specialised feather appendages in other dinosaur clades not just the ones that evolved into Aves (birds).

6 01, 2013

Hunting for a Tarbosaurus – in the United Kingdom

By | January 6th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

U.S. Authorities Set Out to Track Down Tarbosaurus Fossils

It may seem like a plot from Primeval or Jurassic Park but American customs officials are on the hunt for a missing dinosaur in the aftermath of a guilty plea from a Florida based, commercial fossil dealer.  Last week, Floridian Eric Prokopi pleaded guilty to falsifying importation documents and making misleading statements concerning the contents of crates of fossils imported into the United States.

The trail of the Tarbosaurus fossils began when an eight metre long, mounted specimen was offered for sale at Heritage Auctions in New York last May.  The exhibit fetched over $1 million USD when sold, but the lot was seized by U.S. officials as the fossils were alleged to have been illegally shipped out of Mongolia, the only place in the world where Tarbosaurus fossils have been found (Nemegt Formation).  It has been illegal for such artefacts to be shipped out of Mongolia for more than fifty years.

Tarbosaurus (Tarbosaurus bataar), was an apex predator of the Late Cretaceous.  Closely related to the more famous Tyrannosaurus rex, this dinosaur is sometimes called Tyrannosaurus bataar, indeed this is how the lot was described when first put up for auction in New York.

An Illustration of a Tarbosaurus Dinosaur

Fossils hopefully being repatriated back to Mongolia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Last week, Eric Prokopi the seller of the Tarbosaurus fossil pleaded guilty to a number of charges referring to making false claims concerning the import of fossil material into the United States.  He is due to be sentenced in April and such charges can lead to up to seventeen years in prison however, in a plea bargain Mr Prokopi is helping the American authorities with the recovery of other fossils that may have been illegally imported into the United States.

Court papers reveal that one Tarbosaurus specimen, part of a set of six of these dinosaur fossils is still not accounted for, it is believed to be somewhere in Britain.  The other five specimens were in Mr Prokopi’s possession and these have been seized by U.S. officials, however, the Tarbosaurus which, according to the court documents may be in the United Kingdom, remains unaccounted for.  Sources have revealed that the plea agreement refers to “one nearly complete Tyrannosaurus bataar specimen purchased from a Mongolian individual and located in Great Britain.”

The hunt is on to see if the Tarbosaurus fossils can be found and U.S. Customs will be interested in trying to understand more about how these rare Asian dinosaur fossils came to be shipped into America in the first place.  They are keen to trace the movements of the fossils from Asia into America via the United Kingdom.  The Mongolian government is believed to be keen to unite all the known Tarbosaurus fossil material together to make an exhibit at their own dinosaur museum in Mongolia.  A request from the Mongolian government has been sent to London asking for assistance in the return of such artefacts should they be located in the Britain.

The Tarbosaurus Mounted Skeleton Offered for Sale in New York

The skeleton offered for sale at an auction in New York.

The hunt for the fossil, follows a lengthy investigation into a global trade in dinosaur bones ranging from a New York auction to southern England’s Jurassic coast.  Legal documents seen by a national newspaper suggest that a consignment of fossils was sent from the UK to Mr Prokopi in Florida.  It seems that the guilty plea may not be the end of this investigation,  American officials are keen to understand more about the logistics behind the movement of such fossils around the world.

To read about the seizure of the Tarbosaurus auction material: Seizing a Tyrannosaur

In June 2010, the London International Art Fair had a strange item up for sale amongst the fine art and ceramics, it was the prepared skull of a Tarbosaurus.  It has been reported that this item was on sale for £125,000.  The skull came from a Dorset coast fossil dealer, British newspapers have enquired about this specimens’s whereabouts.

Scotland Yard have confirmed that its art and antiques unit had been contacted by the U.S. Department of Justice but insisted it was not currently investigating the case.

A spokeswoman commented:

“At this time no request for assistance has been made and there is no Metropolitan Police Service investigation.”

Investigations into alleged dinosaur fossil smuggling are likely to  continue with the Mongolian government seeking to have repatriated any Tarbosaurus fossil material that is found.

It is suspected that there is a substantial black market for fossil material, especially dinosaur fossils with very high prices, sometimes in excess of £500,000 being paid for rare specimens.  Fossils are smuggled out of countries and offered for sale via a network of dealers to wealthy private individuals.  Hopefully, the stiff sentence likely to be handed down to Mr Prokopi and the on-going investigation into fossil shipments from Mongolia will help deter others from such activities.

5 01, 2013

Mini Dinosaurs Apatosaurus Dinosaur Book Reviewed

By | January 5th, 2013|Book Reviews, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews, Teaching|0 Comments

Lift the Book Flap and Find an Apatosaurus 

Finding a book that is tactile, just the right size for small hands to hold and helps young children with their reading can be a challenge, but the Mini Dinosaurs – Apatosaurus book fits the bill nicely.  In addition, there is a surprising amount of factual information about the dinosaur known as Apatosaurus within this little hardback book.

Assisting children with their reading skills is an important task.  It can help young children prepare for more formal schooling when they enter the education system and even very young children can soon learn to recognise the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that these letters form, all part of helping to teach reading using phonetics and other cognitive processes.  Starting them off early can help a child to develop a lifelong appreciation of books and the enjoyment of reading.

The Mini Dinosaurs Apatosaurus Dinosaur Book

Mini Dinosaurs Apatosaurus explains about the Dinosaur name change.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Choosing appropriate reading matter is important.  A book about a dinosaur, one that is designed with young readers in mind, is especially helpful, many children at around three years of age are beginning to show an interest in dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.  Reading about dinosaurs will help to engage the child and will help them to develop through their own imaginative, creative play.

The Mini Dinosaurs Apatosaurus book is a tough, hardback so it is ideal for use with young children from three years of age.  Both the front and back covers are laminated and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, very helpful of the book designers to do this as this avoids damage to the book by sticky fingers.  On the front of the book is a bright green Apatosaurus and the book cover explains that this dinosaur was formerly called Brontosaurus.

Why a change in a dinosaur’s name?  The explanation is simple, a dinosaur was named from some fossil bones found in the state of Colorado in the late 1870s.  This dinosaur was called Apatosaurus (the name means “deceptive lizard”).  Brontosaurus was named from fossils found in the same part of the United States a couple of years later.  However, a subsequent re-examination of the fossils led scientists to conclude that their discoveries did not represent two different genera, but just one.  Since Apatosaurus was named first, under the laws laid down for the scientific naming of organisms the Apatosaurus name took precedence.  The book therefore tells a story about Apatosaurus, the dinosaur that was formerly known as Brontosaurus.

The book contains simple sentences laid out in a large, easy to follow font.  All the text is in black and bold to help young children follow the letters more easily.  This miniature dinosaur books poses questions for the child and the adult reader to explore, for instance, Why did Apatosaurus have a long neck?  Why did Apatosaurus have such thick legs?  If you lift up the clever flap on the picture of this dinosaur coinciding with the question page, the answer is revealed.  The answers are given in bold, easy to read text so that the child may read the answers.  For the grown-up, on the flap itself there is some helpful extra dinosaur information provided so that the adult can more fully explain the answer given.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal books: Dinosaur Books

By unfolding the card inserts to be found at the back of this little book, a picture of large, green, friendly-looking Apatosaurus can be created.  This is a cleverly designed little book about dinosaurs that will help young children with their reading skills as well as delighting them with the dinosaur information that it contains.  An excellent first dinosaur book for a very young, budding palaeontologist.

4 01, 2013

New World of History Schleich Dinosaur Models

By | January 4th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

Carnotaurus and Styracosaurus Pictures

Schleich will be adding two new dinosaur models to their “World of History” prehistoric animals model series this year.  There is going to be a Carnotaurus and a Styracosaurus added to this range.  The Carnotaurus looks extremely fearsome with its reddish colouring and spines running down its back and tail.  As a member of the Abelisaurs, this group of Theropod dinosaurs rivalled the Tyrannosaurs as the apex predators in the Late Cretaceous.

The New Schleich Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model

Ferocious Carnotaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model makers have really captured the shape of the skull with this model, Carnotaurus (Carnotaurus sastrei) had a deep skull, this suggests that this dinosaur may have had an acute sense of smell or perhaps Abelisaurs attacked prey in a particular way.  When fossils of this dinosaur are studied the powerful head and strong neck muscles seem to be at odds with the weakness of the lower jaw.

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the naming and describing of the horned dinosaur Styracosaurus and it is apt that Schleich have introduced a model of this Centrosaurine this year.  The Styracosaurus has a more colourful frill than the earlier Schleich Styracosaurus which was part of the Saurus range and retired around 2006.

New for 2013 a Styracosaurus Dinosaur Model

New frilled dinosaur model from Schleich.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The markings on the face of the frill could be regarded as face spots, perhaps these markings could have intimidated predators or helped to resolve disputes between members of the herd as individual animals displayed as part of  intra-specific competition.  The model looks quite chunky and robust reflecting many of the scientific interpretations of Styracosaurus albertensis.

It was Lawrence Lambe, the famous Canadian palaeontologist who first named and described Styracosaurus back in 1913.

3 01, 2013

Palaeontology Predictions for 2013

By | January 3rd, 2013|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Palaeontological articles, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s Palaeontology Predictions for the Coming Year

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the naming and describing of the genus Styracosaurus along with the small North American Ornithopod Thescelosaurus, but what are going to be the other notable events for dinosaur fans and fossil collectors in the next twelve months?  It is that time of the year when team members at Everything Dinosaur put their heads together and try to predict some of the news stories and fossil discoveries that are likely to take place in 2013.

Suggestions have been made, they have all been discussed and debated  and we have come up with a list of predictions regarding what we think is going to happen over the coming year.  For people more comfortable with studying the past than with predicting the future, it is worth noting that crystal ball gazing is hardly our strongest suit.  However, we have given it a go and collectively here are our attempts at second guessing what news stories will be covered on this site.

At the end of this year, we will look back and see how we have done.

1).  New Genus of Horned Dinosaur from North America

There have been a number of new genera erected over the last decade or so with Ceratopsians such as Xenoceratops, Kosmoceratops and Medusaceratops.  However, Everything Dinosaur team members have predicted that at least one new genus of Ceratopsian will be established after fossil discoveries in either the United States or Canada.

Xenoceratops Named in 2012 – What Ceratopsian will be Named this Year?

Predicting a new North American Ceratopsian genus in 2013.

Picture Credit: Mark Schultz

2).  Jurassic Park in 3-D Inspires a New Generation of Dinosaur Fans

2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the film “Jurassic Park” with its computer generated dinosaurs.  In April, the re-release of this epic, in a three-dimensional cinema format will take place.  We expect this film to be a big commercial success, going on to become the number one film in terms of screenings in the late spring (United Kingdom).  It will inspire a whole new generation of young dinosaur fans – expect team members to be answering endless questions regarding Velociraptor/Deinonychus all over again!

3).  Milestones for Everything Dinosaur – What are We Going to be Doing?

Our on line presence continues to grow and as part of our predictions (also since personnel reviews, aims and objectives are top of the mind at the moment), we thought it sensible if we nailed our colours to the mast as it were in terms of waht we will be achieving as a result of our activities this year.

  • Six hundred and fifty Ezine articles approved and published
  • One Thousand Facebook likes on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook Page
  • Ezine Challenge completed 365 articles approved and published since February 25th 2012
  • 300,000 Video Views on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube Channel
  • Everything Dinosaur to join Pinterest with 1,000 re-pins

4).  New Zealand to Hit the Headlines with Prehistoric Animal Fossil Discovery

It is very likely that more dinosaur discoveries will be made in Australia.  However, what about in New Zealand?  To date, there have only been a handful of dinosaur and other Mesozoic reptiles fossil discoveries made in New Zealand.  This landmass was part of the super-continent of Gondwanaland but little of the sedimentary strata dating from the Age of Reptiles is exposed and dinosaur fossil finds in particular have been extremely rare.  What has been discovered has often been a single bone here, a single bone there so it is very difficult to tie down to a genus or even a family of the Dinosauria.  Rather than predict yet more “Aussie dinosaurs” we shall look out for news of a marine reptile or dinosaur discovery from their antipodean neighbours.

Perhaps a New Marine Reptile Genus from New Zealand

A Pliosaur fossil discovery in New Zealand?

Picture Credit: Russia News

5). Controlled Cull of Saltwater Crocodiles in the Northern Territory of Australia

Not wishing to overlook Australia completely, it is likely that there will be more fatal attacks on people by Saltwater crocodiles in 2013.  As the crocodile population continues to grow, crocodiles will move into areas of human population with the inevitable consequences of attacks by these large reptiles, the heaviest extant reptiles alive today.  Lobby groups have campaigned vigorously for a cull of these dangerous animals, even for the return of “sport” hunting.  Although, the authorities have resisted, a controlled cull of Saltwater crocodiles may be given the go ahead in the Northern Territory of Australia.  Certainly, with the threat of crocodile attacks now very real for some communities, it is likely that local people may take the law into their own hands and kill crocodiles illegally which are perceived to be a threat.

6). New Clothing Range introduced by Everything Dinosaur

Team members have been busy working on a number of new product ideas over the last few months.  Many of the projects that we have undertaken have been inspired by suggestions made by customers and 2013 should see a number of these ideas come to fruition.  One project concerns the design and manufacture of a new range of children’s and adult-sized clothing – all with a dinosaur theme of course.  Look out for a number of new product introductions from Everything Dinosaur in the next few months, including a new range of dinosaur inspired clothing from the company.

 One of the Prototypes from Everything Dinosaur (New Clothing Range)

Everything Dinosaur to introduce a new clothing range in 2013.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

7).  More Evidence of Endothermic Properties in the Dinosauria (Warm-blooded dinosaurs)

The use of ever more sophisticated and advanced technology in the study of fossil material will continue and this will result in some new and exciting insights into aspects of the Dinosauria.  We can expect more evidence to be detected of insulating feathers on a number of dinosaur genera and possibly chemical analysis of once organic compounds revealing more about the potential growth rates of prehistoric animals (ontogeny).  Such research, linking the need to be insulated, growth rates and a speedy metabolism will add greater weight to the theory that the majority of the Dinosauria were in fact warm-blooded like birds and mammals rather than cold-blooded like reptiles.  Cold-blooded reptiles rely on external sources of heat to warm them up so that they can become active, expect more insights into warm-blooded dinosaurs in the year ahead.

8).  The Arab Spring has Surprising Implications for Palaeontology

2012 will be remembered by many for the continuation of the “Arab Spring”, which resulted in a number of North African  countries seeing tremendous political changes.  Although, much of the region is experiencing turmoil, one small, surprising implication for the recent changes may be that scientists such as geologists and palaeontologists from North African centres of learning and research may be given the opportunity to explore areas that previously, had been closed to them.  With the peace settlement in Angola, after years of civil war, one of the outcomes was that as more of the country was explored geologically, a number of new prehistoric animal fossil discoveries were made.  A prediction for 2013 is that following the Arab Spring there will be an exciting new fossil find representing a new genus, made in a country like Libya, Egypt or Tunisia.  Perhaps, a fascinating new type of Arthropod or early Chordate being discovered in the Nubian sandstone deposits of Libya.

These are our predictions, they are just for fun but it will be interesting to see how near or how far off the mark we are when we come to review what we said at the end of the year.

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