All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//September
10 09, 2013

In Praise of Local Geology Societies and Groups

By | September 10th, 2013|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Geology|0 Comments

The Essex Rock and Mineral Society- Recognising the Contribution of Local Societies

When lecturing in schools, universities and other educational establishments the point is often made by team members at Everything Dinosaur, that geology and palaeontology are subjects not just for professional scientists and academics.  Many important discoveries and valued contributions to science have been made by people who would never dream of describing themselves as scientists.  Their enthusiasm, patience and dedication leads to exciting finds and fresh insight, we are very lucky in the United Kingdom to have a large number of local societies consisting of volunteers and enthusiasts who devote a significant part of what spare time they have to their passion for geology and fossils.

One such society is the Essex Rock and Mineral Society (ERMS) and Bob, a long standing member of this group, was in contact with Everything Dinosaur a few days ago, taking the time and trouble to update us on the Society’s activities and plans.  The ERMS was formed in 1967 and boasts members from all over Essex, Kent and London, the Society even has a member based in Canada.  Bob a former police officer, recalls how he first became involved with the ERMS when on duty late one night in 1987.

“Whilst serving at Harold Hill police station, I was working a ‘late’ shift one day when I encountered some people loading a car with boxes at the rear of a community hall which appeared to be shut.  This was not to my liking and upon investigation I became aware that it was members of the Essex Rock and Mineral Society packing away material after holding one of their monthly meetings.  As a result of that contact, an invitation was extended to attend one of their meetings so I attended their next meeting and consequently became a member of the society.”

The Society now meets once a month, on the evening of the 2nd Tuesday of each month.  A pre-determined lecture programme is prepared and speakers are invited from all kinds of institutions to provide a talk (with plenty of time for questions no doubt), on a geology related subject.  For example, the June meeting focused on the exploration of Mars by the Curiosity Rover with the speaker, one of the editors from the magazine formerly known as the “Sky at Night”, providing a highly entertaining and illuminating presentation summarising the current research that is taking place on the red planet.  Fossil collectors have the chance to bring in their latest fossil finds and get friendly advice and support, the Society even organises a number of field trips each year.

Essex may not be the first place people think of when it comes to the location of important fossil discoveries, but the geology of this county is fascinating.  Much of the county has “drift” deposits those moraines and riverine deposits left by glaciers or by river channels.  Underlying these surface deposits are older geological features with the oldest exposures dating from the Late Cretaceous.  These chalk deposits are a testament to the time when much of the United Kingdom and Europe was covered by a shallow, tropical sea.  Areas of coastal cliff in Essex are viewed as being some of the most significant in terms of climatology studies.  For instance, the cliffs at Walton-on-the-Naze are internationally recognised for providing data on global cooling, evidence set in the rocks of the beginning of an Ice Age.  Visitors to these cliffs, can see for themselves how the fossil shells preserved in the layers of strata change the higher up the cliffs you go.  Warm water species are replaced by cold water species – signs of global cooling.

It may sound rather odd to the casual observer, but as Everything Dinosaur team members will testify ,when surrounded by numerous dinosaur fossils being mapped on a Canadian dig site, the conversation often reverts to the sites of important palaeontological interest back home in the UK and places like Walton-on-the Naze and the extensive shark teeth beds of Herne Bay are discussed, we can see the look of envy in the eyes of our colleagues.

Shark Teeth Can be Collected in Huge Numbers from Parts of Britain’s South-East Coast

A successful fossil hunt.

A successful fossil hunt.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

One of the highlights for the ERMS is their annual “Rock, Mineral and Fossil Show” which is held at the North Romford Community Centre (Essex).  This “very sociable show” is open to the public, it takes place in February and gives local enthusiasts and professional dealers one of the first opportunities of the year to showcase their discoveries made over the autumn and winter months.  Lots of displays and other items with a geology theme – minerals, rocks, crystals and of course loads of fossils to see.

Many of the fossils on display at the annual show will be specimens from the famous “London Clay”.  This geological feature consists largely of mud and silts deposited into tropical, estuarine environments during the Palaeogene.  London Clay exposures can be found throughout Essex and many important vertebrate and plant fossils have been found.  Fossils of fish, crocodiles, sea snakes, primitive mammals, turtles and a large number of fossilised seeds and other plant material has enabled scientists to build up an detailed picture of life in the Essex area around 55 million years ago.

Essex During the Palaeogene

Tropical Essex during the Palaeogene

Picture Credit: John Barber

Organisations such as the ERMS provide a valuable contribution to science.  Society members can and have made significant contributions to the professional world in geology.   In the 1990’s three ERMS  members, including ex police officer Bob,  found previously unknown species of fossil crabs which were thus new to science.  The specimens have been described and named and are now all in official museum collections.

For Bob and his associates, the ERMS has provided an enormous sense of community, life-long friendships forged as a result of a common interest in geology and studying ancient life.

Bob puts it very succinctly:

“This society provides ordinary people with an opportunity to experience an aspect of natural history that is frequently overlooked by the general media.  My membership has been a most pleasurable experience in my life that has given me opportunities to see and do things that I would have never considered otherwise.  The subject itself and the friendships I have made in this society have given me a desire to experience the natural history of our planet in greater depth than would otherwise have been possible .”

We have taking time out of our busy schedules to pay tribute to the vast number of enthusiasts, fossil collectors and amateur geologists who help make the sciences of palaeontology and geology what they are today.  The Essex Rock and Mineral Society is a typical example and we wish everyone involved with this splendid institution the very best for the future and we look forward to hearing more about their work and their fossil discoveries.

To learn more about the Essex Rock and Mineral Society, (actual website address: www.erms.org), visit their website: The Essex Rock and Mineral Society

9 09, 2013

Everything Dinosaur Reviews the Wild Safari Dinos Gryposaurus Dinosaur Model

By | September 9th, 2013|Everything Dinosaur videos, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Video Review of Gryposaurus

“Hook-nosed lizard”, for that is what the genus name of Gryposaurus means, has had a video review created.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur try to research, write and shoot a video for all the new model releases by manufacturers such as Safari Ltd.  With a number of new models for 2013, the team have been kept busy, but we have finished our review of the Wild Safari Dinos Gryposaurus dinosaur model.  We still refer to this Late Cretaceous dinosaur as a Hadrosaur, although to avoid confusion with the duck-billed dinosaur genus of Hadrosaurus we know that we should refer to the group of duck-bills that includes Gryposaurus as the Saurolophinae, but we suppose old habits die hard.

In this short (six minute) video review we discuss the replica, its colouration and the details on the figure that show that the design team as Safari Ltd have really studied the known fossil material carefully.

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Review of Gryposaurus

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It really is a great model and we love the colouration, a sort of dusky blue that works really well.  This dinosaur has also got blue eyes, an eye colour not usually found when it comes to replicas of the Dinosauria.

To see Everything Dinosaur’s range of prehistoric animal models made by Safari Ltd: Safari Ltd Prehistoric Animal Models

8 09, 2013

Promoting Fossil Finds – Pocket Sized Dinosaur Dig Sets

By | September 8th, 2013|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Fossil Finds Ever Popular and Great for Schools

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been busy fulfilling orders for schools and other educational institutions as the autumn term gets under way.  A popular item with teachers and young dinosaur fans is the Fossil Find dig kit.  Young palaeontologists can excavate a prehistoric animal skeleton out of a gypsum block using the digging tools provided in the kit.  These tools, consisting of a small brush and a wooden pick are identical to the tools used by real palaeontologists when they are excavating material that surrounds fossil bone.  Once the pieces of skeleton have been excavated then they can be assembled to form a skeleton of a dinosaur. 

Photoshop is Used to Build to Build a Fossil Finds Banner

Everything Dinosaur creates a banner to promote Fossil Finds.

Everything Dinosaur creates a banner to promote Fossil Finds.

 Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture above, a flock of Velociraptor skeletons are confronting a T. rex skeleton, with the T. rex taking shelter behind a pile of rubble that has been excavated.

There are several different dinosaurs to collect in this series, hours of fun for any budding palaeontologist.  Assemble the pieces and construct your own dinosaur skeleton model you can even build your own mini dinosaur museum.

To view the range of Fossil Find kits available from Everything Dinosaur: Fossil Finds and Dinosaur Themed Excavation Kits

7 09, 2013

Oil Companies Help Uncover “Treasure Trove” of Fossils

By | September 7th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|1 Comment

Geologists Help Uncover Large Number of South American Fossils 

As geologists explore rock formations in search of fossil fuels then body and trace fossils are sometimes found as a consequence of their efforts.  With the world’s high demand for hydrocarbons, more and more parts of our planet are having their geology mapped and charted, such work occasionally leads to a major fossil discovery.  Scientists from the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (Venezuela), have been showing off a vast collection of more than 12,000 specimens that have been unearthed as a result of oil exploration.  Recently, the Institute announced that a new palaeontology laboratory was going to be set up to permit the researchers to study the substantial fossil finds, specimens dating from the Late Pleistocene and Pliocene epochs in the main, but amongst the extensive collection there are some much older specimens, examples of early Tetrapods from strata that dates back over 360 million years.

As the scientists showcased their amazing fossil collection to the media, including cranial material from a car-sized Glyptodont, a strong smell of petrol fills the air.  This is a consequence of excavating fossils from tar pits.  An aroma any scientist who has had the opportunity to work at the famous La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles (California) would be familiar with.  Other impressive fossils include a 25,000 year old femur (thigh bone) from a Mastodon.  However, despite this wealth of fossil material, the palaeontologists are still looking for undisputed evidence of the presence of one, rather special species in Late Pleistocene aged strata – us.

A Skull of a Glyptodont – Part of an Extensive Fossil Collection

Car-sized relative of modern armadillos.

Car-sized relative of modern armadillos.

Picture Credit: Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research

Commenting on the research, palaeontologist Ascania Rincon (Head of the Institute’s Laboratory of Palaeontology), stated that stone tools had been found indicating the presence of humans.

The palaeontologist said:

“We are close.  You have to keep exploring the area.  We have already found spearheads.  What’s lacking is reliable indication that man hunted the megafauna that we are finding.”

Although no human fossils have been found to date in the Venezuelan deposits, the tar-stained bones of a woman have been found at La Brea, so why not in the Venezuela tar pits too.  The scientific team are confident that they will find fossilised bones of early human settlers, such fossil evidence would help map the spread of our species through the Americas, from Alaska in the north, through what was to become Canada and the United States down to South America.

Most of the fossils on display come from deposits to the north of the Orinoco River.  The crocodiles that can be found in that region, would be dwarfed by the extinct species that have been unearthed by the geologists.  Some of the fossil crocodilian bones hint at creatures more than ten metres in length, far bigger than any extant crocodile today.  Around eight million years ago, the Orinoco was formed, followed a few million years later by the Isthmus of Panama which formed a land bridge between the continents of North and South America.  Some of the specimens that have been recovered hint at a bizarre fauna.  For example, a featherless bird, that superficially resembles an iguana lizard, a three metre tall member of the Pelican family and giant ground sloths.  The pride of the collection is fossil material from a species of sabre-toothed cat known as Homotherium venezuelensis, it took the scientists four years of hard preparation work before they could positively identify the fossils that they had as member of the Machairodontinae group of cats.  This was a significant discovery, as although the Homotherium genus was very widespread, these were the first Homotherium fossils to be positively identified from South America.

A Typical Member of the Machairodontinae Group of Cats

Important South American fossil discovery.

Important South American fossil discovery.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture below shows the skull of a Homotherium specimen discovered as geologists prospected for oil reserves.

The Skull of an Ancient Sabre-Toothed Predator

Important fossil finds.

Important fossil finds.

Picture Credit: Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research

Commenting on the painstaking work undertaken by the team Ascania Rincon stated:

“Imagine a puzzle of more than five thousand pieces and you have just two hundred pieces that you are trying to interpret and draw a conclusion that might contribute something to science”.

Fossils Unearthed from Potential Venezuelan Oil Fields on Display

An extensive collection of fossil finds.

An extensive collection of fossil finds.

Picture Credit: Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research

The team have also hinted that fossils of something really unusual have been found, but they were reluctant to reveal more during the interviews with the press.  Although, lacking some of the resources of better funded institutes, the dedication and enthusiasm of the research team has led to some important discoveries regarding the  Miocene, Pliocene and Early Pleistocene fauna of this part of South America.  Surveys to find oil have provided an insight into ancient ecosystems, serving as a reminder to our species how transient these ecosystems can be.

When asked about the value of the team’s work, a spokes person for the Institute replied:

“Palaeontology is fun. It seems that it has no use, but it has economic implications.  With a fossil record, we can determine the age of an oil field.”

6 09, 2013

Everything Dinosaur Receives Its 1,000 Customer Comment/Review on Its Website

By | September 6th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Celebrating 1,000 Customer Comments and Reviews

Everything Dinosaur has had its 1,000th customer review/product feedback posted on the company’s website.  We want to say a big thank you to all our customers who have provided Everything Dinosaur with feedback in this way.

Celebrating 1,000 Customer Comments/Reviews On Line

1,000 customer comments on the web site.

1,000 customer comments on the web site.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We are very proud of this achievement, we do read every feedback comment that we receive and this information along with other measurements of customer service such the large amount of repeat and regular custom we have helps us to keep working hard to find even more dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed products to put into our shop.  Product reviews get passed onto manufacturers and design teams, who are also grateful for such feedback.

To get a flavour of the feedback and comments we have received we chose six at random.

Number 16: From Rose, which refers to “Spino” our dinosaur dressing up hat and simply says: “Excellent service and good quality products, he was delighted with the dinosaur hat.”

Number 147:  Sent in by Ellen and commenting on the Cuddlekins Triceratops Soft Toy – “You are great.  Smiling faces all round, great products and great service.”

Number 492: Written by Mary and commenting on our Dinosaur School Kit – “Excellent service and delivery.”

Number 343: Posted up by Emma on the web page of  our Ultimate Dinosaur Sticker Book, the comment says: “Very friendly staff and helpful customer service.”

Number 842: Provided by Louise, and comments on our service as well as the Itsy Bitsy Soft Toy Triceratops: “Good, speedy service, good choice of gifts for dinosaur mad boys.”

Number 1,000: Put on our website by Tapejara no less and commenting on the Papo Pteranodon figure:

“5/5 – the colour scheme looks great, it seems distinctively inspired by the Jurassic Park /// (3) pteranodon, although I could be wrong.  The pose is most intricate, a fairly neutral pose, especially compared with other Papo figures, makes for great playability.  The crest and wings seem well proportioned, correct number of digits, etc.   I give it a five out of five, for visual effect, accuracy, and playability.”

Once again, our thanks to everyone who has taken the time and trouble to put a review/comment on our website.

5 09, 2013

Update on Everything Dinosaur’s Progress (Pinterest, Facebook, Ezines etc.)

By | September 5th, 2013|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Checking on Our Progress after Nine Months

Six months ago, we looked at the progress team members at Everything Dinosaur had made towards the targets set at the start of the year regarding the company’s social media activities.  At the start of 2013, we set out a number of predictions as to what we thought was going to happen over the next twelve months or so.  As well as trying to predict news stories about fossil discoveries and dinosaurs, our team members set out some targets for themselves to see how things develop on the various social media platforms.

Specifically, we set ourselves the following challenges at the beginning of the 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

All to be completed by the end of this year, so nine months in, how are we doing?

  • Six hundred and fifty Ezine Articles approved and published

Ezine articles published is currently standing at 550, we have slowed down our submission rate after being advised by our technical assistants who know about organic listings and search like.  With the changes made to some indexing on the major search engines we have reduced our article submission rate.  It is unlikely that we will reach the 650 article target set, but we can be excused for this, after all, we are only following the advice of experts.

  • One Thousand Facebook likes on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook Page

Everything Dinosaur continues to publish lots of pictures, links, illustrations and other material on the company’s Facebook page.   We are always keen to hear from our customers, we respond to every question and reply to messages,  we even publish some of the pictures sent into us by very young dinosaur fans.  To date we have 625 “likes” which is quite a healthy level and we are grateful to everyone who has contributed.

If you want to give Everything Dinosaur a “like” to help us towards our target of 1,000 likes by the end of the year just click the Facebook logo:

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page

We are delighted to hear from fellow fossil collectors, teachers and all round dinosaur enthusiasts, we really appreciate your input.

  • Ezine Challenge completed 365 articles approved and published since February 25th 2012

It was hard work but we were able to achieve our target of writing 365 articles in exactly 365 days.  This challenge was set back on February 25th 2012 and we completed it with about a month to spare.

  • Three Hundred Thousand Video Views on our Youtube Channel

We have put up over sixty videos to date, most of them reviews of new model releases and  we have already far exceeded the original target of 300,000 video reviews.  Back in March when we looked at our progress it was suggested we should have a target of 500,000 video reviews by the end of 2013, this target may well be reached by the end of this month, so perhaps a target of 600,00 should be set.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s channel on Youtube: Everything Dinosaur’s Youtube Channel

  • Everything Dinosaur to join Pinterest and to have 1,000 Picture Pins

We joined Pinterest back in January, we have really enjoyed seeing and re-pinning all the amazing fossil pictures and dinosaur themed illustrations on Pinterest.  Here too, we have started to pin up more examples from our customers, we are grateful for all the correspondence that we receive and yes, we do read them all.  So far, we have pinned up over like 1125 pictures and images.  We have already passed the thousand pins target set at the beginning of the year, it was muted that a target of two thousand should be set, but with the Christmas sales period approaching we can’t see us getting near this particular target, still, we can only try our best.

To visit our Pinterest pages, simply click on the Pin It logo below:

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur's Pinterest pages.

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur's Pinterest pages.

Just as always, we remain dedicated to our customers and enthusiastic about our social media work.   Let’s see how close or how far over the targets the team members at Everything Dinosaur can be by the end of the year.

4 09, 2013

Oldest Known Terrestrial Animal from Gondwanaland – A Sting in the Tail

By | September 4th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

350 Million Year Old Scorpion from South Africa

A tourist to the south eastern tip of what was to become the continent of Africa 350 million years ago would have had to watch where they were treading as scorpions were lurking amongst the primitive plants.  We know this because Dr. Robert Gess from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of Witswatersrand (Johannesburg), has discovered the fossilised exoskeleton of one such creature.  This unique specimen, a new species named Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis represents the oldest known terrestrial animal from the super-continent of Gondwana discovered to date.  Fossils of terrestrial animals are known from the super-continent of Laurasia, but this is a first for the ancient landmass that dominated the southern hemisphere during the Late Devonian and into the Carboniferous.

A Photograph showing the Scorpion’s Pincers (Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis)

Coin provides scale

Coin provides scale

Picture Credit: University of Witwatersrand

Commenting on his fossil find, Dr. Gess stated that early life arose in the sea and that colonisation of the land took place much later on in the history of life on Earth.  This process is believed to have begun back in the Silurian geological period, approximately 420 million years ago, although some palaeobotanists have suggested that microscopic spores preserved in Ordovician strata indicate that plant life was established on land even earlier.  Once plants had become established on land in significant numbers, then detritus and plant eating invertebrates followed, animals such as primitive arthropods.  By the Late Silurian, around 415 million years ago, terrestrial food chains were much more complex with apex predators such as mites, scorpions and early spiders feeding on the herbivorous invertebrates.  By the Late Devonian, some 365 million years ago, the first vertebrates (Tetrapods) had ventured out onto land.

Some palaeontologists believe that the first vertebrates were established on land some 390 million years ago, click the link below to read an article published by Everything Dinosaur in 2010, that provides details of a remarkable fossilised trackway studied by Polish scientists: Tetrapods Venture onto Land Thirty-Five Million Years Earlier

Fossils found in Palaeozoic strata that represent the land mass of Laurasia, a super-continent the straddled much of the northern hemisphere in the Devonian, suggest that this landmass was inhabited by a diverse and abundant group of invertebrates.  Laurasia and Gondwana were separated by an ocean over a thousand miles across at its widest extent.  Evidence of the earliest colonisation of land animals has until now come only from the northern hemisphere continent of Laurasia (land that was to form North America, parts of Europe and Asia), and there has been no evidence that Gondwana was inhabited by land living invertebrate animals at that time, however, the discovery of this southern hemisphere scorpion suggests that Gondwana too, had its fair share of creepy crawlies.

The discovery of an invertebrate predator leads to the assumption that there were other invertebrates present that this creature would have fed upon.  This new species has been named Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis.

Dr. Gess stated:

“For the first time we know for certain that not just scorpions, but whatever they were preying on were already present in the Devonian.  We now know that by the end the Devonian period Gondwana also, like Laurasia, had a complex terrestrial ecosystem, comprising invertebrates and plants which had all the elements to sustain terrestrial vertebrate life that emerged around this time or slightly later.”

The fossil fragments were found in black carbonaceous shale which represents a marine lagoon and an estuarine environment.  The fossiliferous material is from the Witpoort Formation (Witteberg Group) at a location known as Waterloo Farm, near Grahamstown, South Africa.  Other organic material identified includes traces of algae, terrestrial plants, small fish, a sea scorpion (Eurypterid) and a number of molluscs.  All the fossil material ascribed to G. emzantsiensis consists of two-dimensional compressions in which all the original organic material has been replaced by secondary metamorphic mica.  The mica has largely been altered to chlorite during the uplifting of the strata.  The Witpoort Formation strata at the Waterloo Farm location were laid down towards the end of the Devonian (Famennian faunal stage), approximately 360 million years ago.

A Close up of the Preserved Pincers

The fossil shows a pincer of the terrestrial scorpion.

The fossil shows a pincer of the terrestrial scorpion.

Picture Credit: University of Witwatersrand
The fossil material represents the first discovery of a Palaeozoic scorpion from Gondwana.  In the scientific paper, published in the academic journal “African Invertebrate”, the researchers note that this fossil find is extremely unusual as it comes from rocks deposited at a far higher latitude (much closer to the South Pole), than that at which extant or fossil scorpions are known to have occurred.  The authors suggest that this discovery may suggest that the climate in the southern hemisphere during the Late Devonian was much more uniform than it is today.  Temperatures at high latitudes may have been much higher than they are today.
Gondwanascorpio emzantsiensis Possessed a Powerful Sting
Scorpion had a powerful sting.
Picture Credit: University of Witwatersrand
The scientists report that the presence of this scorpion from Gondwana, one that is similar to already described Laurasian taxa is consistent with the growing body of evidence that suggests globally comparable terrestrial ecosystems by the end of the Devonian.  Gondwanascorpio, as the oldest terrestrial animal from Gondwana and its fossil material along with progymnosperm plant material (Archaeopteris) that has also been described from fossils found at Waterloo Farm, suggests that marine marginal ecosystems may have been very similar across the world during the Late Devonian.  It has been speculated that this uniformity may have been a consequence of the increasing proximity of Laurasia to Gondwana as the deep ocean that once separated these super-continents began to close up.
The Location of the Waterloo Farm Site Mapped onto a Late Devonian Map of Gondwana
Map showing the location of the Waterloo fossil site.
Picture Credit: University of Witwatersrand
The map above shows a reconstruction of the super-continent of Gondwana with the South Pole represented by a large black star.  The Waterloo Farm location is marked by the symbol “WF”.  The map shows the position of landmasses towards the end of the Devonian/early Carboniferous.  The Waterloo Farm deposits are coastal and close to the South Pole.
3 09, 2013

Safari Ltd Announce New Prehistoric Animal Models for 2014

By | September 3rd, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products|11 Comments

Four New Additions to the Wild Safari Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life Range for 2014

The first images of the four new models to be included in the Wild Safari Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life Range (Safari Ltd) have been received by Everything Dinosaur and our team members are very excited about these new additions.  Three of the 2014 releases are dinosaurs Suchomimus, Monolophosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus respectively.  The fourth model will get fans of the Elasmobranchii twitching their forked tails in anticipation as it is a replica of a Carcharodon megalodon, a giant, predatory shark that probably fed on whales.

New for 2014 – Pachyrhinosaurus

Horned dinosaur from Safari Ltd new for 2014.

Horned dinosaur from Safari Ltd new for 2014.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

Safari Ltd have added a new Ceratopsian model to their Wild Safari Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life range each year for the last few  years.  Vagaceratops was added in 2012, this year we had the excellent Diabloceratops replica and in 2014 a Pachyrhinosaurus is being added to this model series.  Having seen the model, we at Everything Dinosaur think that his is a replica of Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis.  This model is bound to prove popular as a Pachyrhinosaur (P. canadensis) is the star of the forthcoming “Walking with Dinosaurs in 3-D” movie, due for release in December.  The Pachyrhinosaurus model measures just over 17 centimetres in length.

The other two new dinosaurs are both Theropods, but from very different parts of the Theropoda family tree.  Firstly, there is Monolophosaurus, a five-metre long carnivorous dinosaur named and described just twenty years ago.  This dinosaur dates from the Middle Jurassic of China (north-western China).  The name means “single crested lizard” and the picture of the model below shows why.

Wild Safari Dinos Monolophosaurus Model New for 2014

Middle Jurassic Theropod Dinosaur

Middle Jurassic Theropod Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

Monolophosaurus sported a strange crest that ran from just above its eye socket down to the tip of its nose.   A lot of palaeontologists have speculated what this crest might have been used for.  It could have had a role in visual communication, this perhaps explains why the model’s crest has been painted a vivid red colour.  Monolophosaurus is regarded as a basal member of the Tetanuran clade of Theropods (stiff tails), however, it remains uncertain as to where this dinosaur actually fits in terms of taxonomy.  However, Monolophosaurus should feel right at home in the Wild Safari Dinos range as it already includes another meat-eating dinosaur whose fossils have been found in in the same part of China – Guanlong.  In fact it has been speculated that the Tyrannosaurid known as Guanlong (G. wucaii), is actually a juvenile Monolophosaurus.

The Monolophosaurus model measures just over 19 centimetres in length.

In contrast, the taxonomy of the third dinosaur model to be introduced next year by Safari Ltd into this range is much better understood.  This is Suchomimus (S. tenerensis), a Spinosaur and a big one too, measuring nearly ten metres in length.  This predatory dinosaur lived at least fifty million years after Monolophosaurus.

New Spinosaurid on the Block – Suchomimus

Updating an earlier model.

Updating an earlier model.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

Known from a partial skull and several other fossils representing post cranial material, this dinosaur lived during the Cretaceous and it is known from the Upper Elrhaz Formation of Niger (Africa).  The replica measures just under 20 centimetres in length and its tail tip is about 10 centimetres off the ground.  This model updates an earlier interpretation of Suchomimus, the very crocodile-like replica of “crocodile mimic” that was introduced into the Wild Safari Dinos range a few years ago.

The fourth model to be added to the Wild Safari Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Life range is a replica of Carcharodon megalodon, more commonly (although technically incorrectly), referred to as Megalodon.  Measuring perhaps as much as sixteen metres in length, this member of the shark family was a formidable hunter, the largest shark apex predator known to science.  Although the model itself measures a more modest 18 centimetres in length.

New for 2014 – A Megalodon Model

C. megalodon replica available in 2014.

C. megalodon replica available in 2014.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“These hand-painted models represent exciting additions to this particular model range and Everything Dinosaur has already verbally committed to stocking these models in 2014”.

2 09, 2013

Isotope Study Suggests “Terror Bird” Gastornis was a Herbivore

By | September 2nd, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|4 Comments

New Evidence to Support Gastornis was a Herbivore

When the BBC decided to follow up their ground-breaking television series “Walking with Dinosaurs” by exploring the weird and wonderful animals that survived the Cretaceous mass extinction and went onto dominate life in the Cenozoic, they needed a spectacular animal to feature in the first episode of the new series.  Enter Gastornis, a giant, flightless bird that featured in the opening episode of  “Walking with Beasts”.  This near six foot tall giant bird was depicted as an apex predator stalking the steamy jungles of what was to become Germany.  In the publicity material to promote the six programmes, Gastornis with its huge, powerful beak featured prominently, here was a “terror bird” from a time when birds ate horses.  An attack by a female Gastornis on a Propalaeotherium (an ancient ancestor of modern horses), was vividly depicted.  However, over recent years a growing body of evidence has been presented which suggests this big bird does not deserve its ferocious reputation.

An Illustration of the Giant Bird Gastornis

Not so terrible after all?

Not so terrible after all?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Recently, Everything Dinosaur reported on research carried out by scientists at Western Washington University (United States).  The researchers had studied the footprints, believed to have been made by a Gastornis/Diatryma creature.  The absence of talons and the short stride length led them to conclude that this “terror bird” reputation may be undeserved.

To read more about this study: Not so Terrible Terror Bird

Much of the reputation of these Palaeocene and Eocene giant birds has been  implied after comparative studies with the Phorusrhacidae group of birds.  Scientists in Germany have added weight to the vegetarian Gastornis/Diatryma debate by presenting a new paper that suggests these birds were essentially herbivores.  Dr. Thomas Tuetkin from the University of Bonn (Germany) in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Galer, Dr. Meinoff Hellmund and Petra Held presented an analysis of bone isotopes from a Gastornis skeleton.  The paper was presented during a session of the Goldschmidt Conference held in Florence, Italy.

Dr. Tuetkin Pictured Next to a Model of Gastornis

Gastornis a vegetarian?

Gastornis a vegetarian?

Picture Credit: Dr. Tuetkin (Bonn University)

Commenting on the study, lead researcher Dr. Tuetkin stated:

“The terror bird was thought to have used its huge beak to grab and break the neck of its prey, which is supported by biomechanical modelling of its bite force.  It lived after the dinosaurs became extinct and at a time when mammals were at an early stage of evolution and relatively small; thus, the terror bird was thought to have been a top predator at that time on land.”

The research team examined the calcium isotope composition contained within the fossilised bones of a Gastornis specimen from a coal mine in the Geisel Valley region of central Germany.  The calcium isotope analysis permitted the team to learn what proportion of the bird’s diet was plant or animal based.  The Gastornis data was then compared to a number of extinct and extant species and the German based team were able to conclude that the calcium isotope composition was similar to that found in herbivorous mammals and dinosaurs.

A Drawing of the Skeleton of Gastornis/Diatryma

Scale bar = 1 metre

Scale bar = 1 metre

Picture Credit: Bonn University

Dr. Tuetkin added:

“Tooth enamel preserves original geochemical signatures much better than bone, but since Gastornis didn’t have any teeth, we’ve had to work with their bones to do our calcium isotope assay.  Because calcium is a major proportion of bone, around 40% by weight, its composition is unlikely to have been affected much by fossilisation.  However, we want to be absolutely confident in our findings by analysing known herbivores and carnivores using fossilised bone from the same site and the same time period.  This will give us an appropriate reference frame for the terror bird values.”

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been explaining the latest research regarding the likes of Gastornis to visitors at the Beacon Museum’s exhibition (Whitehaven).  The Beacon Museum is holding  an exhibition into life after the dinosaurs and on certain, special weekends, Everything Dinosaur team members have been invited along to answer questions and help the public to understand more about the amazing birds and mammals that evolved after the dinosaurs died out.  Everything Dinosaur will be making one more appearance at the Beacon Museum, catch up with the team on the weekend of 26th/27th October.

1 09, 2013

New Models from Safari Ltd for 2014

By | September 1st, 2013|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|1 Comment

Three New Dinosaurs for the Wild Safari Dinos Model Range

Everything Dinosaur team members can reveal that following a meeting with staff from Safari Ltd we can talk about some of the new model releases for 2014.  Safari Ltd are going to be adding around seventy or so new lines to their model range next year, not all of them dinosaurs or prehistoric animals of course but there are certainly going to be some excellent new additions to the company’s highly regarded prehistoric animal replicas portfolio.  Let’s focus on the not to scale Wild Safari Dinos model series for the time being.  First up there is a very detailed Pachyrhinosaurus model being added to this range.  In 2012, Safari Ltd added the horned dinosaur Vagaceratops, this year we have the much admired Diabloceratops and in 2014 Safari Ltd want to keep up the trend of adding a Ceratopsian by launching a model of “Thick Nosed Lizard”.

Next comes the Wild Safari Dinos Monolophosaurus, and it is a lovely interpretation of this Chinese Theropod.  The single crest on the snout is painted a muted red colour and there is lots of detail to admire in this replica.  A new version of the Spinosaurid Suchomimus completes the first of the new prehistoric animal models that Everything Dinosaur team members have been privy to.  The Suchomimus is depicted in a typical “dinosaur fishing pose” and the models we saw were painted a lovely, deep blue colour.

We will post up pictures and more details when we have permission to do so, but from what we have seen Safari Ltd are going to have some super new additions to their dinosaur models in 2014.  Everything Dinosaur has already committed to stocks and we are optimistic that these items will be on line in our web store in the spring.

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