All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//February
8 02, 2013

New Species of European Pterosaur Named

By | February 8th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|2 Comments

New Late Cretaceous Pterosaur – Eurazhdarcho langendorfensis

An international team of scientists have named and described a new species of Late Cretaceous flying reptile which had a wingspan approximately the same as a Wandering Albatross, but unlike the extant Albatross, this Pterosaur lived inland.

Researchers from the University of Southampton (England), in association with the Transylvanian Museum Society in Romania and the Museau Nacional in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), have identified a new species of Azhdarchid Pterosaur with a wingspan of around three metres.  The fossils were found in Romania (Sebeş-Glod – Transylvanian Basin of north-western, central Romania), they have been dated to approximately sixty-eight million years ago (Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).

Scientists were able to excavate a number of associated cervical vertebrae (neck bones) plus elements from the long digit that acted as a support for the Pterosaur’s wing.  The strata of the Sebeş-Glod region have provided palaeontologists with a wealth of vertebrate fossils including crocodilians, turtles, lizards plus a number of primitive mammals.  Some of these small creatures may well have been the prey of this new flying reptile species which has been named as Eurazhdarcho langendorfensis, the genus name comes from a combination of Europe and the Azhdarchid Pterosaur group.  The specific name relates to Langendorf, the name of the town of Lancrǎm in the native dialect of the ethnic German minority population of Romania.

A Diagram showing the Fossil Bones Found of Eurazhdarcho langendorfensis

Eurazhdarcho Pterosaur diagram showing fossil finds.

Eurazhdarcho Pterosaur diagram showing fossil finds.

Illustration Credit: Mark Witton (University of Southampton)

Although the bones have been heavily eroded and show signs of having been scavenged by crocodiles and further damaged by insect activity after burial, the fossils represent one of the most complete Azhdarchid Pterosaurs found in Europe to date.

Analysis of the finger bones that supported the long wing indicate that this flying reptile could fold its wings up and walk on all fours.  It has been speculated that these inland Pterosaurs may not have been fish-eaters like coastal Pterosaurs but they may have stalked prey rather like extant Marabou Storks.  The absence of any skull material prevents the research team from being able to gain a more complete understanding of the diet of these animals, however, it is very likely that E. langendorfensis had a large, toothless beak.

Dr. Darren Naish (University of Southampton), one of the research team members responsible for the study which has been published in the academic journal Public Library of Science (PloS One) commented:

“With a three-metre wingspan, Eurazhdarcho would have been large, but not gigantic.  This is true of many of the animals so far discovered in Romania; they were often unusually small compared to their relatives elsewhere.”

During the Late Cretaceous, much of this part of southern Europe was covered by a warm, shallow sea.  There were a number of small islands, an archipelago or island chain and the strata in Transylvania formed one such island.  The dinosaur fauna seemed to have adapted to the limited resources on these islands and many species show a degree of dwarfism, including the tiny, pony-sized Titanosaur known as Magyarosaurus.  As Pterosaurs could fly, they were not effectively marooned on the small islands and some Azhdarchid fossils discovered in the late 1990s indicate that some species were giants with wingspans in excess of ten metres.

The discovery of this new genus of Pterosaur, much smaller than the giants such as Hatzegopteryx thambema, suggest that as with other Azhdarchid Pterosaur discoveries elsewhere in the world, large Pterosaurs co-existed with smaller species sharing the same environment.  This suggests that even on these poorly resourced island chains, different types of Pterosaur were hunting different types of prey in the same region at the same time, indicating that the food chain in this part of the world during the Late Cretaceous was more complicated than previously thought.

A Scale Drawing of the Giant Hateg Pterosaur H. thambema

Hatzegopteryx - giant Pterosaur from southern Europe.

Hatzegopteryx - giant Pterosaur from southern Europe.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Senior Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Southampton, Dr. Gareth Dyke reflected on the potential feeding habits of these types of flying reptiles.

He stated:

“Experts have argued for years over the lifestyle and behaviour of Azhdarchids.  It has been suggested that they grabbed prey from the water while in flight, that they patrolled wetlands and hunted in a heron or stork-like fashion, or that they were like gigantic sandpipers, hunting by pushing their long bills into mud.”

The research team are hopeful that more Pterosaur remains will be found in the Transylvanian Basin, including skull material which might yield further evidence regarding the dietary behaviour of the Late Cretaceous reptiles.

7 02, 2013

Lyme Regis to Have Fossil Festival in 2013

By | February 7th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|0 Comments

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival – the “Curious Coast” Goes Ahead

It has been announced that the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival is to go ahead and the event is scheduled for the 3rd to the 5th of May.  Local fossil collectors, schools and scientists are already preparing for the weekend of hectic fossil themed activities and we are sure that the event will be a big success.

This years Festival is entitled the “Curious Coast” and after all the recent flooding, landslides and mudslips that have occurred, the Festival will give geologists the opportunity to help members of the public understand a little more about the geology of this part of the Jurassic coast.

Brandon Lennon sent us a hand-written note which outlined some of the plans for this years festivities, a sort of hand-written press release.  No doubt Brandon and his team will be in the thick of the action, providing expert advice, showcasing some of their fossil discoveries and conducting fossil walks out onto the beaches at Lyme Regis and towards Charmouth.

Being Informed about the 2013 Fossil Festival

A hand-written press release from Brandon.

A hand-written press release from Brandon.

Picture Credit: Brandon Lennon/Everything Dinosaur

The very wet Summer and the Autumn storms will have exposed a number of exciting fossil finds and we are sure that a number of new discoveries will be on display over the weekend.

As Brandon stated:

“Hello from windswept Lyme Regis!  There will be a fossil festival this year 2013 !  So lots of fossil collectors are preparing their winter finds for displaying at this years show!”

We look forward to hearing more about this years event and Brandon’s plans.  To read about going on an organised fossil hunting trip in the Lyme Regis area: Fossil Walks with Brandon Lennon

A View of the Lyme Regis Coast (towards Charmouth)

A view of Lyme Regis (looking eastwards).

A view of Lyme Regis (looking eastwards).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

6 02, 2013

Google Doodle Honours Mary Leakey

By | February 6th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Famous Figures|0 Comments

Mary Leakey Has Google Doodle

The Google Doodle for February 6th honours Mary Leakey, an English palaeoanthropologist who with her husband Louis Leakey made important fossil discoveries helping to piece together the evolution of hominids.  Together, this husband and wife team proved that the cradle of human evolution was centred around eastern Africa and that the human family tree was much older than had been previously thought.

Google Commemorates what would have been Mary Leakey’s 100th Birthday

100th anniversary of the birth of Mary Leakey.

100th anniversary of the birth of Mary Leakey.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Google

The image marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mary Leakey.  It is always gratifying to see such organisations honour the contribution made by scientists and we at Everything Dinosaur, keen to promote the role of women in science are delighted to see Mary honoured in this way.  The picture shows Mary working on hominid footprints (trace fossils) with her faithful dalmation dogs which she often had as company on her excavations.  These trace fossils, we suspect are the famous Laetoli footprints.  These hominid footprints (two adults and a juvenile) were discovered in 1978 by Mary Leakey.

In 1959, Mary discovered a 1.7 million year old fossil hominid, a type of Australopithecine.  Mary along with her husband Louis (Mary was Louis’s second wife), discovered fossils of Homo habilis and went on to help re-write the evolutionary story of our own species.

The Leakey family are still very much involved in early hominid fossils.  Mary died in 1998, but Richard Leakey her son, and Richard’s wife Dr. Meave Leakey have made important discoveries in their own right and have helped to support the development of a number of scientific research projects in eastern Africa.

To read an article on the continuing work of the Leakey family: More Discoveries from Lake Turkana

It is important that the contribution of scientists such as Mary Leakey are honoured.  Mary was a pioneer in Africa, a woman working alongside her male colleagues to help increase our understanding of the evolution of hominids and their radiation out from east Africa across the rest of the continent.  It is thanks in part to the work of the Leakey family that we today have a much better understanding of the evolution and development of our own species.  Mary’s work in places such as the famous Olduvai Gorge region of Tanzania provided inspiration for other women who wished to pursue an academic career in the sciences.  Fossils found by Mary and her husband have formed the basis of a number of extensive research programmes with the aim of plotting and clarifying the evolutionary path that led to the eventual evolution of our own hominid species – Homo sapiens.

Happy anniversary Mary!

5 02, 2013

A Review of the Papo Woolly Rhino Model

By | February 5th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Papo’s Woolly Rhino Prehistoric Animal Model Reviewed

The introduction of a Woolly Rhino model into the Papo model range has given team members at Everything Dinosaur the chance to make a short review of this new figure.  In this brief video (four minutes and four seconds long), we discuss this model and explain the shape of the anterior (nose) horn, as well as providing further information on the Coelodonta.

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of the Papo Woolly Rhino Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is an excellent model of a Woolly Rhino and one that works really well with the Papo Woolly Mammoths and the cavemen that are already in the Papo model range.  We estimate this Woolly Rhinoceros model (Coelodonta antiquitatis) is made in approximately 1:25 scale.

To view the range of Papo models, including the Woolly Rhino replica  available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Prehistoric Animals

There have certainly been some exciting additions to the Papo model range over the last few years.

4 02, 2013

A Funny Place to Find an Iguanodon

By | February 4th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|2 Comments

Meeting an Iguanodontid in Birmingham

After the news story which we featured last year regarding the discovery of an Iguanodontid fossil found in a Sunderland garden, I suppose we should be used to having elements of the Ornithopoda turning up in unusual places.  However, team members at Everything Dinosaur were still a little surprised to come across a life-size model of the head of an Iguanodon (we suspect I. bernissartensis), whilst visiting a trade show in the West Midlands.

Iguanodon Makes an Impression at Trade Show

Scale model of an Iguanodon.

Scale model of an Iguanodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We met the charming Martin Simpson, a passionate fossil collector, who with his colleague, told us all about their amazing Ammonite and fossilised lobster collection.  Martin, lives on the Isle of Wight, this island off the south coast of England is often referred to as the “Dinosaur Isle”.  The Lower Cretaceous strata that is exposed on some parts of the island has yielded a number of important vertebrate fossil finds including a number of Dinosauria.  Known locally as the “Fossil Man”, Martin has been involved with a number of recent fossil discoveries and we discussed his work on a new genus of Pterosaur that had been discovered on the Isle of Wight.

Some of Martin’s collection is available for sale, so if you have fancied owning a part of the Cretaceous fauna, check out his website; appropriately called: Island Gems

Martin has promised us that he will pass onto us some more information about the Isle of Wight flying reptile discovery, no doubt we will get the chance to publish more details in this blog.

Always a pleasure to see such wonderful fossils and to talk with fellow enthusiasts.

To read about the Sunderland Iguanodontid: Strange Place to Find an Iguanodontid

3 02, 2013

Saying Hello to Safari Ltd

By | February 3rd, 2013|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|3 Comments

Team Members Catch up with Safari Ltd

Some of the Everything Dinosaur team members caught up with staff from Safari Ltd, the U.S. based figure and model manufacturer the other day.  We talked about the exciting new lines that Safari Ltd were introducing this year and even sneaked a picture of the new Carnegie Collectibles Concavenator dinosaur model.

The new Concavenator Dinosaur Model (Safari Ltd)

concavenator

Concavenator dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We met up with Laura and Tegg and discussed the addition of a Spanish Theropod dinosaur to the Carnegies Collectibles model collection.

Everything Dinosaur’s Sue with some of the Safari Team

safari_sue

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The new Safari products including the Gastornis (Terror Bird” replica will be in stock with Everything Dinosaur very soon.  It is just a question of “watching this space” and monitoring Everything Dinosaur’s website.

2 02, 2013

Papo Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model Reviewed

By | February 2nd, 2013|Everything Dinosaur videos, Product Reviews|6 Comments

A Review of the Papo Carnotaurus Dinosaur Model

We have created a brief review of the new Papo Carnotaurus dinosaur model.  In this short video (about 3 minutes and 45 seconds), we explain some of the science behind the Papo Carnotaurus replica.

A Review of the Papo Carnotaurus Dinosaur

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this video, we consider the scale size of this model, discuss the shape of the skull and the lower jaw as well as highlighting how the texture the skin reflects the fossil evidence.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s Papo model range: Papo Dinosaurs

1 02, 2013

Pupils Demonstrate their Dinosaur Knowledge

By | February 1st, 2013|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Teaching|0 Comments

Young Palaeontologists at Primary School

It is always a pleasure to visit schools meeting eager young dinosaur fans and to spend some time helping out when the term topic is dinosaurs.  Yesterday, for example, one of our team members got the chance to visit a school where the children in years 3 and 4, under the enthusiastic tutelage of their teachers, were learning all about prehistoric animals.  A number of walls in the classrooms were already decorated with some superb examples of dinosaur inspired artwork, along with a series of maps which showed which types of dinosaurs lived on different continents.  A number of children had carried out independent research and written up their findings combining appropriate sentence construction with a surprisingly astute knowledge of palaeontology.

Clearly the teaching staff supported by the teaching assistants had developed a very creative scheme of work for the delivery of this topic, we were happy to play a small part in what will be an exciting and rewarding topic for the pupils at the school.

Amongst a number of splendid examples of individual work we noticed a poster created by Asad featuring one of his favourite dinosaurs – Brachiosaurus.  Not only was the poster very carefully designed and laid out, the information that it contained demonstrated that this young palaeontologist had researched his chosen dinosaur in remarkable detail.

Asad’s Excellent Poster on Brachiosaurus

An informative research poster on Brachiosaurus created by Asad.

An informative research poster on Brachiosaurus created by Asad.

Picture Credit: Asad Khan

A very colourful poster it is too.  Not only did Asad use the name Brachiosaurus (genus name, often referred to as the generic name), he correctly identified that with the scientific classification of organisms, closely related genera (the plural of genus), are classified into families.    To have a child of around nine years of age using the term Brachiosauridae is very impressive indeed.  The teacher of the class awarded an “A” with five house points and Asad also received a “good work” sticker for his efforts.

Asad demonstrated his subject knowledge by very kindly talking through his poster with the Everything Dinosaur team member as some of the children prepared for lunch.  During our work with this particular class, we were able to update the school children on some of the latest research on members of the Brachiosaur family, introducing the idea of the establishment of a new genus of Brachiosaurid dinosaur – Giraffatitian (G. brancai) representing Brachiosaur specimens excavated from east Africa.

Lots of evidence of the year 3/4 pupils carrying out investigations, using drawings to communicate data,  assessing how animals in a habitat are suited to their environment, food chains, making comparisons, using data handling techniques – excellent academic work.

We managed to answer the questions that the children asked and no doubt both the pupils and the teaching team at the school will enjoy their “Working with Dinosaurs” for the rest of the term.

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