All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//November
10 11, 2013

Alberta – Dinosaur Hotspot

By | November 10th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

Second Major Dinosaur Fossil from Alberta in a Month

Residents of Leduc, a town approximately eighty miles north of Drumheller (Alberta) and just about ten miles to the south of the Province’s capital Edmonton, have found themselves very much on the palaeontological map of Canada with the discovery of duck-billed dinosaur fossils.  Construction workers from a company called Degner Construction, who were digging a trench as part of the ground works for a new housing development, uncovered the dinosaur remains, believed to be Hypacrosaurus.  Experts from Drumheller’s Royal Tyrrell Museum were despatched to confirm the discovery.  This is the second major dinosaur fossil find in about a month from Alberta, as in October, Everything Dinosaur reported the discovery of the tail of another duck-billed dinosaur (Hadrosaur), on that occasion by a team of construction workers building a pipeline.

To read more about the October discovery: Pipeline Workers Find Dinosaur Fossils

The fossils, some of which are articulated, are lying approximately six metres below the surface, a preliminary examination has revealed the presence of caudal vertebrae (tail bones) and part of the pelvic girdle.

Heather Klimchuk, the Minister of Alberta Culture commented:

“This tremendous find will give us an event greater insight into the dinosaurs that lived in central Alberta.  Alberta’s ability to be successful in preserving and protecting valuable palaeontological resources depends on the co-operation of industry as well as the general public.  Degner Construction is to be commended for recognising and taking the right steps to alert the Royal Tyrrell Museum.”

With the Museum staff supervising, the construction crew were able to use a large excavator to carefully remove topsoil and some of the overlying rock.  Then with great care, the block of sediment containing the fossil remains was removed and transported back to Drumheller for study.

The Tail Bones of the Dinosaur are Exposed

The geology hammer provides a scale

Picture Credit: 

Leduc’s Deputy Mayor, David Mackenzie stated:

“Leduc will now be acknowledged in the natural history of Alberta in a significant way and we’re pleased future generations of Albertans can benefit from this exciting discovery.”

There is nothing like a major dinosaur fossil discovery to put a place firmly on the map.  Many of the Province’s construction projects will be closed down shortly with the onset of the harsh Canadian winter.  However, 2013 has proved to be a great year for the Royal Tyrrell Museum with a number of significant dinosaur fossil finds, perhaps more this year than in other year of the Museum’s twenty-eight years existence.

Once the fossils have been properly cleaned and prepared, it is likely that some elements of the Leduc find will be able to go on show in the Museum’s Ornithischian galleries.

 

9 11, 2013

Fisherman Claims to Have Spotted a Crocodile in a Hampshire Lake

By | November 9th, 2013|Animal News Stories|0 Comments

Crocodilian Alert in Hampshire

There may be plenty of rumours of “Big Cats” lurking around some of the more remote parts of the British countryside, but a crocodile in a Hampshire lake is a new twist on all those strange sightings of wild animals.  However, for one fisherman, he may well have encountered a two foot crocodile, one that was lurking in the water and ready to snatch fish from the line as the quarry was reeled in.  Alan Pragnell, an experienced angler, was fishing from the banks of a lake near to Ringwood (Hampshire, southern England), when he had the strange encounter.  It may sound like a “fishy tale”, but we at Everything Dinosaur are aware that there are very probably a number of illegally kept exotic pets such as crocodiles in the UK and Alan could well be right.

Alan hooked a small roach, a freshwater fish that is common in England.  He was reeling in his catch when the mystery animal grabbed hold of the fish.  When the fish was let go, the animal was sitting right in front of him, claims Mr. Pragnell

In an interview, Alan stated:

“It was quite clear enough.  It was a matter of inches away, just lying there.  It was a crocodile”.

Another species of fish, the Pike, sometimes called the Northern Pike (Esox lucius), is known to take fish in this manner, but Alan is convinced what he saw was no Pike.

Alan added:

“It was about two foot long.  I was looking at it in disbelief.  It had four legs and a tail.  It was there for about ten seconds and then sunk down into the depths.  I know pike. I know what I saw.”

Although Mr Pragnell survived the encounter, his catch was left “shredded” describing the poor fish as having several deep parallel slashes.  The incident took place in the summer and the local angling association, the Ringwood District and Anglers Association has been informed.

There are many folk who might regard this as a bit of a “fisherman’s tale”, however, despite the derision that Alan has attracted, there may well be something in what he is saying.

Alan explained:

“I am as sure as sure is.  I’m 64 I have been fishing since I was six.  What would be the point in lying?  I reckon someone had it as a pet and just chucked it over the fence when it got too big.”

Such incidents although sounding bizarre to us, are becoming increasingly common in some parts of the world.  In the Northern Territory of Australia, Saltwater Crocodiles do frequently take fish off angler’s lines.  These animals are also responsible for a number of attacks on local fisherman each year, sadly some of these attacks are fatal.

To read an article about an Australia fisherman’s encounter with a Saltwater crocodile: Aussie angler catches crocodile

With no further sightings or evidence, the local angling association has closed the case.  Mr Peter Hutchinson, the club’s Vice President stated:

“Nothing’s been seen since and I’m sure that if was a crocodile it would have died during the winter because it was so cold.”

Well, Mr Hutchinson, I would not be too sure if I were you.  However, we agree about the sensible precaution of keeping the lake a secret, after all, nobody wants to attract would be crocodile hunters to the location.

Everything Dinosaur team members have reported on numerous occasions incidents where “pet” crocodilians have been abandoned by their owners.  In December 2011, we wrote a short article about a caiman being left outside an exotic pet shop in the West Midlands.

To read more about this story: Crocodiles Victims of the Economic Downturn

It is very likely that there are a number of crocodiles, caimans, and alligators being kept illegally as pets in the UK.  These animals are smuggled into the country and sold in a shady underworld of exotic pet sales.  Depending on the species, crocodiles can grow very quickly and soon become exceptionally dangerous.  A two foot specimen may not be a man-eater, but it would still be capable of inflicting a very nasty bite and capable of taking a finger off.  There may be something in what Mr Pragnell says, terrapins have been spotted in and around a number of British lakes and ponds.  These animals are not native to our shores, but they have either escaped captivity or most likely have been released by thoughtless owners who no longer wanted to look after them any more.

Could There Be a Crocodile Lurking in a Hampshire Lake?

Crocodiles do not make good pets

As for any crocodile not surviving the winter, this is no guarantee, the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) which is found in the south-eastern United States can tolerate freezing temperatures, at least for a short while.  All crocodiles are cold-blooded and if there was a particularly cold, prolonged British water it is likely that a large number of exotic reptile pets that had been released into the wild would die. However, if the winter was quite mild, the crocodile may well enter a period of dormancy, not feeding until the warmer weather.  A crocodile could survive into the spring under such conditions.

This weekend there was a report from the UAE of another illegally obtained baby Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) being sold via a pet dealer in the local market.  The salesman claimed that as well as crocodiles, monkeys, chimpanzees and poisonous snakes even tiger cubs could be obtained – if the price was right!  We at Everything Dinosaur urge members of the public never to purchase any so-called exotic pets, not least without taking proper advice and checking to see if the sale would be legal in the UK.

8 11, 2013

Thank You Note After School Visit From Everything Dinosaur

By | November 8th, 2013|Educational Activities, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaur Workshops in Schools

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are busy working with lots of schools this term, helping pupils to learn about dinosaurs and fossils.  Over the last few days, staff have been travelling all over the country delivering dinosaur themed workshops in support of national curriculum teaching aims and objectives.  The pace has been quite hectic but all the nice comments from the teachers, LTAs, and children make the hard work really worthwhile.  For example, after working with children from Nessfield Primary, the students sent thank you letters and all of them were greatly appreciated.  This is also a fantastic way to get the children to develop their creative writing skills, use of punctuation and of course, to test their recall.

Teacher Appreciates the Work of Everything Dinosaur

Thanks from Teacher

Picture Credit: Nessfield Primary

The teacher included this personal note in with the children’s letters, it was addressed to Mike one of our teachers/dinosaur experts who led the dinosaur workshop.  Seems like the visit was a big success with the children still referring to contribution to the topic that the visit from Everything Dinosaur made.

Glad to be of service.

7 11, 2013

Remembering the Contribution of Alfred Russel Wallace

By | November 7th, 2013|Famous Figures|0 Comments

Alfred Russel  Wallace 8th January 1823 to 7th November 1913

Today marks the centenary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace, one of the most influential academics of the 19th Century, a man who may be largely forgotten by the general public today, but his contribution to our understanding of the natural world was immense.  It was Wallace who jointly published ideas on natural selection and the origin of species with Charles Darwin.  At that fateful meeting of the Linnean Society on July 1st 1858, neither Darwin or Wallace were actually present.  Their ideas were summarised and proposed by close friends of Darwin, Charles Lyell (later to be known as “Darwin’s bulldog” due to his fervent support of Darwinism) and Joseph Hooker.  Wallace was in south-east Asia at the time and was unaware of the presentation, or indeed what happened after publication of the Society’s papers in August.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article marking the 150th anniversary of the July 1st 1858 Linnean Society Meeting”: An Important Date in the History of Earth Sciences

It was whilst on yet another expedition, (he spent much of his middle years overseas), this time exploring the geography and natural history of Indonesia, that Wallace came to the same conclusions about speciation and how organisms change over time as Darwin.  From his detailed studies and meticulous observations Wallace was aware of variations in populations of organisms.  He also knew that many more progeny are produced, far more than are needed to sustain populations, but most do not survive long enough to reproduce themselves.

From these insightful starting points, Wallace concluded that if an environment changes or some other pressures are imposed on any given population, then those individuals who happen to possess characteristics that make them better suited to coping with the changes, are likely to survive and reproduce, thus passing on their characteristics to their offspring.  Such characteristics would therefore become increasingly common in any given population and this was the mechanism that brought about new species, this was the driving force behind what we now know as evolution.

Unbeknown to Wallace, Darwin had independently come to same conclusions and whilst Darwin and Darwinism is very well known, Alfred Russel Wallace remains relatively obscure.

Time to help change this, today on the 100th anniversary of the great man’s death, a statue is to be unveiled by Sir David Attenborough at the Natural History Museum which honours Wallace and his scientific contribution.  The Wallace100 was set up to promote the legacy of one of Victorian society’s most influential and important scientists and we at Everything Dinosaur, are paying tribute to the man in our own small way.

The Wallace 100 Logo

Commemorating the Life of a Great Scientist

Picture Credit: George Beccaloni (Natural History Museum – London)

One of the reasons cited for Darwin wanting to publish on the “Origin of Species” was correspondence that he received from Wallace outlining the same thoughts and ideas that Darwin had.  Darwin’s travels on  the “Beagle” as a naturalist and companion to Fitzroy, the ship’s captain, had led to him theorising along the same lines as Wallace, but Darwin had not published yet.  It seems sad that Wallace has been largely forgotten.  His contribution to science was not simply restricted to devising a mechanism for evolutionary change.  During his lifetime he discovered and described thousands of new species, championed scientific theory, published dozens and dozens of books, mapped large parts of the globe that had not been explored, worked tirelessly to spread and explain new scientific ideas and described the geographical distribution of animals and plants on a continental scale.

The Natural History Museum in London houses a large part of Wallace’s specimens, collected and carefully catalogued on his many travels.  He collected over 100,000 insect specimens whilst in south-east Asia, many of these specimens were entirely new to science.  The butterfly on the Wallace100 logo celebrates his fascination with these creatures.  The logo represents Wallace’s Golden Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera croesus), it is just one of 130 species and sub-species of south-east Asian butterflies which Wallace named.  Ironically, Wallace caught the first male specimen of this gorgeous gold-coloured butterfly in 1859 whilst on the Indonesian Island of Becan, the same year that Darwin published his book “On the Origin of Species”.

A Portrait of the Elderly Alfred Wallace

Marking the centenary of his death.

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum – London

The picture above is of Wallace’s memorial portrait which was presented to the Natural History Museum by the Wallace Memorial Committee and unveiled by Sir Charles S Sherrington, President of the Royal Society in 1923.  Soon Alfred Russel Wallace is to have a statue on display to the public at the Darwin Centre.

On the 100th anniversary of Wallace’s death, Sir David Attenborough will be unveiling a bronze statue to commemorate Wallace and his achievements, as Sir David himself remarks, Wallace was:

“the most admirable character in the history of science.”

On the centenary of his passing, there will be many others, far better qualified than us to mark this event, however, Everything Dinosaur wanted to take this opportunity to take a moment to remember Alfred Russel Wallace – explorer, geographer, map maker, architect, intellectual, naturalist, visionary, scientist, a man deserving of greater recognition in the wider community.

Here’s to you sir!

6 11, 2013

The “King of Gore” – Newly Discovered Tyrannosaur Described

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

Lythronax argestes – New Species of Tyrannosaurid from Southern Utah

An amazing new species of Tyrannosaurid has been put on display at the Natural History Museum of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah).  Fossils of this fearsome predator have been excavated from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.  Elements of the skull, jaws and part of the hip indicate an animal approximately eight metres in length.  The fossils come from the middle member of the Wahweap Formation and have been dated to approximately 80 million years ago (Middle Campanian faunal stage).

This new member of the Tyrannosaurid family has been named Lythronax argestes, the creatures’ wide and powerful skull indicate that it was a formidable predator, the genus name means “King of Gore” and the species name is taken from the Greek Homeric wind that blows from the south-west, a reference to the location of the fossil find within North America.  The geographical location of this fossil find, has helped palaeontologists to propose a new theory regarding the evolutionary diversification of the Tyrannosaurids of the Late Cretaceous.  It seems the origins of the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex and Tarbosaurus bataar may be somewhat more provincial than previously thought.

An analysis of the skull of L. argestes indicates that this particular Tyrannosaur most likely comes from branch of the Tyrannosauridae that includes T. rex.  The snout is short, but stout with the posterior part of the skull quite wide.  The orientation and relative position of the orbits suggest powerful stereoscopic vision.  Until, this dinosaur was described, palaeontologists had thought that this wide-skulled form of Tyrannosaurid only evolved during the very last few million years of the Dinosauria (Maastrichtian faunal stage).  Unfortunately, fossilised remains of the forelimbs have not been found to date, so scientists can only speculate on the forelimb proportions and the ratio of upper arm bones to lower arm bones and the digits.  The only limb material excavated from the site so far represent elements from the lower left leg.

The study, funded in large part by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Science Foundation, was led by Dr. Mark Loewen, research associate at the Natural History Museum of Utah, and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah.   Additional collaborative authors who worked on this analysis which also covered fossils of another slightly later Tyrannosaur called Teratophoneus curriei,  include Dr. Randall Irmis (Natural History Museum of Utah and Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah), Dr. Joseph Sertich (Denver Museum of Nature and Science).  Also involved were Dr. Philip Currie (University of Alberta), and Dr. Scott Sampson (Denver Museum of Nature & Science).

Reconstructing the Skeletons of Two of Utah’s Tyrannosaurs

Picture Credit: PLoS One

T. curriei is known from more complete fossil material which includes elements from the skull, upper jaw, vertebrae and the hip girdle.  This dinosaur was officially named and described in 2011.  It was an agile, cursorial predator, perhaps approaching six metres in length.  The genus name translates as “monstrous murderer”, the species name honours Philip Currie.  Teratophoneus curriei is known from Upper Campanian aged strata (Kaiparowits Formation), of southern Utah, it is a later Tyrannosaur, having lived approximately 76 million years ago.  Both types of Tyrannosaur lived on the huge, isolated landmass that comprises today’s western parts of North America.  This landmass is known as Laramidia.

For much of the Cretaceous, North America was split into several landmasses, by the formation of the Western Interior Seaway.  Recent studies of the Dinosaurian palaeo-communities that made up the fauna of Laramidia suggest that this part of the world was a hot bed for dinosaur evolution, with many regions supporting their own distinct dinosaur genera.  Different parts of Laramidia had similar types of Ornithischian dinosaur but there were differences at the genera level.  A lot of debate has taken place over the last couple of years as to why this arrangement of speciation may have come about.

North America During the Late Cretaceous

North America 75 million years ago and 65 million years ago

Picture Credit: Dr. Ron Blakey of Colorado Plateau Geosystems, Inc

To read an article that looks at the distribution of horned dinosaurs on Laramidia: A Surge in Mountain Building May Have Caused Laramidia’s Unique Dinosaur Faunas

The work of this research team also indicates that the branch of the Tyrannosaurids that led to the evolution of Tyrannosaurus rex most likely evolved in relative isolation on the southern portions of Laramidia.   Just like with the Ornithischian dinosaurs, where plant-eating dinosaurs from the southern part of Laramidia differed from those species found in the northernmost areas, the Tyrannosaurids show a similar pattern.  Lythronax argestes and its relatives from southern Laramidia are more closely related to each other than the long-snouted Tyrannosaurs known from the northern areas of the landmass.

Dr. Joseph Sertich, (Denver Museum of Nature and Science), a co-author of the scientific paper that has just been published in the online, academic journal PLoS One, explained:

“Lythronax may demonstrate that Tyrannosaurs followed a pattern similar to what we see in other dinosaurs from this age, with different species living in the north and south at the same time.”

In contrast to the research undertaken into the distribution of Ornithischian genera, the researchers suggest that mountain building may not have formed the physical barrier that led to the relative isolation of Tyrannosaurs that encouraged such speciation and the evolution into a number of different Late Cretaceous forms.  For them, rising sea levels may provide the answer.
Dr. Randall Irmis, another co-author of this fascinating study, pointed out that by examining  the evolutionary relationships, geologic age, and geographic distribution of Tyrannosaurid dinosaurs on Laramidia a link can be proposed between Tyrannosaurid diversification and the incursion of the Western Interior Seaway.  Large parts of Laramidia would have been flooded, leaving isolated islands of dinosaurs, allowing different species of dinosaurs to evolve separated from other groups.  A similar example can be taken from the Galapagos Islands of the Pacific, where different species of animal have evolved from a shared, common ancestor, after many thousands of years of separation.
Sea Level Change and the Timing of the Diversification of the Tyrannosauridae

Rising sea Levels seems to coincide with a burst of Tyrannosaur evolution,

Picture Credit: PLoS One
As the Seaway retreated, exposing more land, these differences in the local faunas could have been exacerbated by climatic variations, differences in prey components and the flora.  This hypothesis helps to explain
why the iconic Late Cretaceous dinosaurs of western North America are so different from those of the same age on other continents.  Tyrannosaurs may have originated in Asia, but it seems that the most famous of them all, Tyrannosaurus rex has its roots in the “good ole southern USA”.
5 11, 2013

Collecta Reveal Pictures of 2014 Prehistoric Life Model Releases

By | November 5th, 2013|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|2 Comments

First of the 2014 Confirmed Releases from Collecta

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been admiring the pictures of the 2014 model releases by Collecta.  The manufacturer intends to release photographs of their “new for 2014” model ranges over the next few weeks or so and Everything Dinosaur will be posting up the pics on its social media pages as well as on this blog site.  The first of Collecta’s “Prehistoric Life” range photos include the finalised version of the south-east Asian Spinosaurid Ichthyovenator, the Quetzalcoatlus with prey model, the dead Stegosaurus plus the 1:40 scale model of the fearsome Carcharodontosaurus.

The Finalised Model of Ichthyovenator

The first mainstream model available of this bizarre dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These new models are going to delight serious collectors and young dinosaur fans in equal measure.  The dead Stegosaurus model, the second “deceased” dinosaur figure produced by Collecta after the successful introduction of their dead Triceratops in 2012 will prove to be very useful for model makers as they create Late Jurassic scenes.

Dead Stegosaurus Model due out in 2014

Attacked by an Allosaurus?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Stegosaurus figure has been slightly changed from the prototype, the pose is different and the plates on the back of the animal have a different hue.  It should prove a boon to model makers.

In addition to the popular Hatzegopteryx figure made by Collecta, 2014 will see the introduction of a second Azhdarchid figure with a Quetzalcoatlus with prey figure.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur asked Facebook fans to consider what sort of prey this huge Late Cretaceous Pterosaur might have captured.  There were some super suggestions, fish, a young T. rex, a mammal, even another Pterosaur, but the unfortunate victim is a baby Alamosaurus (Titanosaur).  This model has already had rave reviews just on the images alone.  We can’t wait to see the figures, they should be with us early next year.

Quetzalcoatlus with Prey Figure from Collecta

Wonderful depiction of a Pterosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s current range of Collecta Prehistoric Life models: Collecta Dinosaur Models

The last of the pictures released for now, show the finalised version of the 1:40 scale Deluxe Carcharodontosaurus dinosaur model.  The head has been re-positioned and the colouration tweaked to make this large predator look particularly formidable.  It is great to see a large model of this dinosaur introduced by a mainstream model manufacturer.

1:40 Scale Deluxe Carcharodontosaurus Due out in 2014

Fearsome Predator

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Looks like there will be lots to look forward to in 2014.

4 11, 2013

A Helping Hand for Deinocheirus

By | November 4th, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans|0 Comments

Fifty Year Dinosaur Mystery Finally Solved

As the dust settles after the annual Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology meeting, time to reflect on the huge amount of new information on the Dinosauria that the Los Angeles gathering presented.  Time also to re-write our notes and update the fact sheet on that most enigmatic member of the Dinosauria – Deinocheirus.  Thanks to an international team of scientists, including Professor Phil Currie (University of Alberta), the quarry, where the original fossils of this bizarre dinosaur were found, has been re-explored and we now know a lot more about Deinocheirus mirificus “Peculiar Terrible Hands”.

Members of the Korea-Mongolia International Dinosaur Project re-opened the quarry site where the original holotpye material, those huge forelimbs, had been discovered by a joint Polish/Mongolian expedition back in the summer of 1965. In addition, partial skeletons of two other specimens were located close by to where the original fossil material had been found,  The fragments of fossil bone plus remains of gastralia (belly ribs) collected from the first quarry in conjunction with the fossils excavated from the two new sites has enabled scientists to piece together what Deinocheirus actually looked at – fans of bizarre-looking dinosaurs won’t be disappointed.

A Model of Deinocheirus based on the Holotype Material

Scientists speculate that Deinocheirus was covered in simple feathers.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Since the first fossils were discovered and the naming of Deinocheirus back in 1970, there have been numerous theories put forward as to what this dinosaur’s bones actually represented.  This is a great excuse to get out all our old files related to “Terrible Hands”, to thumb through long forgotten text books and various dinosaur encyclopaedia looking back at some of the ideas that have been proposed.  The 1965 expedition recovered both forelimbs with the exception of the claws of the three-fingered right hand, the complete shoulder-girdle plus fragments of ribs, gastralia, and elements from the backbone.  The Nemegt Formation of Mongolia had never yielded a set of strange fossil bones such as this, although reports of such fossil finds from this area had been circulating for some time.

Over the next few years, the leader of the expedition, the remarkable Professor Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska, the first woman to be appointed to the executive committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences, had her photograph taken on numerous occasions standing next to the Deinocheirus holotype exhibit.  The Professor now in her late eighties, would pose next to forelimbs providing a scale for the colossal arm bones.  We wonder what she makes of the Deinocheirus developments.

A Photograph of Professor Kielan-Jaworowska and the Deinocheirus Forelimbs

Fearsome arms of Deinocheirus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur 

Many of the researchers involved in the initial study of the fossil material thought that Deinocheirus was an enormous predator.  The arms being many times the size of the largest meat-eating dinosaur known from the Nemegt Formation (Tarbosaurus bataar).  This interpretation soon fell out of favour, but Tarbosaurus was destined to play a role later on in the Deinocheirus story.  The idea that these were the arms and claws of a carnivore began to lose support, the claws, although over twenty-five centimetres long were not as curved as seen in large Allosaurids, or in the Tyrannosauridae.  Perhaps, these were the claws of an enormous bipedal herbivore.  Other theories put forward over the years included ideas about Deinocheirus being a member of the Segnosaurs (Therizinosaurs), after all, the fossils of a gigantic Therizinosaur (T. cheloniformis) had been found in Mongolia.  Then there was the hypothesis that the limb bones of this dinosaur were roughly equal sized and that these were the forelimbs of an arboreal dinosaur, one that climbed trees, perhaps the Dinosaurian equivalent of a great ape.  More recently, the suggestion that the fossils represented some super-sized member of the Ornithomimids began to hold sway.  The holotype fossil material was similar to that seen in the fast-running Ornithomimid group, although they would represent an animal at least twice the size of the largest known member of the Ornithomimosauria.

At the time, the 1965 expedition team thought that much of the skeleton of the first specimen had been eroded away.  However, an extensive re-examination of the original dig site yielded a lot more fragmentary material, even some skeletal elements were recovered from the spoil heaps of the 1965 excavations.  These fossils provided clues as to what might have happened to the remainder of the carcase.  Tell-tale bite marks on some of the fossil bones indicate that a Tyrannosaur, most likely a large Tarbosaurus bataar and dined on this dinosaur, it seems that the Polish/Mongolian scientists had been lucky to find the fossilised bones of the bits the Tyrannosaur did not fancy.  Although the researchers cannot be certain, the bite marks indicate that they were made post-mortem.  The grooves and scratches recorded in the fossil bones were most likely made by a Tarbosaurus that scavenged the carcase of an already dead Deinocheirus.

A Drawing of the Likely Deinocheirus Eater – T. bataar

Dining on a Deinocheirus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The two new specimens of Deinocheirus were discovered in 2006 and 2009 respectively.  One of the specimens represents a sub-adult, (the 2006 discovery), the second specimen are the remains of an individual that was probably bigger than the holotype.  The larger dinosaur’s fossils were found at Bugin Tsav, the upper arm bone is nearly six centimetres longer than the humerus of the original specimen.  Those claims of Deinocheirus being up to twelve metres in length are not too far fetched after all.  This new material when examined alongside the Deinocheirus fossils discovered in the mid 1960s has allowed scientists to piece together a picture of this Late Cretaceous dinosaur.  Over 1100 small stones (gastroliths) were recovered from the body cavity of the Bugin Tsav Deinocheirus.  These stones, some of which are over 8 centimetres long indicate that Deinocheirus was indeed a herbivore.  Lacking teeth like most of the Ornithomimids, these stones very probably helped to grind up and digest tough plant fibres.  Deinocheirus was also very tall, it was one of the tallest members of the Theropoda known with the largest specimen, indicating a head height of around sixteen feet, that’s tall enough to look over your average British lamp post!

The heavy duty pelvis and the sturdy hind limbs make Deinocheirus the “plodder” when it comes to the Ornithomimosauria, it was not an exceptionally fast runner.  However, with its strong arms and sheer size it would have made a formidable opponent should any predator attempt to tackle it.  When compared to large Therizinosaurs, the ribs of Deinocheirus suggest that it was somewhat more narrow bodied.  Perhaps it had less of a pot belly when compared to T. cheloniformis for example.

The most intriguing finding from this new study of the available Deinocheirus material is that this dinosaur had a hump!  Tall neural spines on the vertebrae associated with the hip area very probably supported a fleshy hump or possibly a sail-like structure.  Everything Dinosaur team members are not aware of any such structures being reported when it comes to other Ornithomimids.  However, tall neural spines are known from other members of the Dinosauria, most notably Ouranosaurus and the  Spinosaurids.  The purpose of this hump or sail in the likes of Deinocheirus remains open to speculation, but team members have raised the possibility that this was a fat reserve store for this herbivore, a similar structure to that found in extant camels today.

Everything Dinosaur’s Amended Drawing of Deinocheirus (D. mirificus)

Adding a hump to a dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With this new evidence in mind, we are going to have to amend the fact sheet that we produce on Deinocheirus.  Palaeontology is a science that is constantly revising and re-visiting known data so our fact sheets are reviewed frequently and updated.

Humps and bumps on dinosaurs are not new, however, this is an exciting development for a member of the Coelurosauria  of which the Ornithomimosauria form but a small part.  We have had to amend our scale drawing of Deinocheirus giving it a pronounced hump over its pelvic area.  Our interpretation may be a little conservative when compared to others, but for now it is reward enough for us to know that a fifty year old puzzle has been solved.

3 11, 2013

Pliosaur Fossil Lurking in Garden Shed

By | November 3rd, 2013|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories|0 Comments

Suffolk Man Finds Out About Pliosaur Fossils at the Bottom of His Garden

It pays to keep a sharp look out when working in the garden, as you never know what might turn up when digging.  For example, a strange object discovered in 1997 when builders were digging a trench in the garden of Suffolk resident John Lambert, has turned out to be a fossilised bone from a giant, carnivorous marine reptile.  The village of Tuddenham St Martin, approximately two miles north-east of Ipswich (in the county of Suffolk, East Anglia, UK), may have had very little in common with the Jurassic coast until now and John remained  unaware of the significance of his discovery until he took it along to the Colchester and Ipswich Museum to have it examined some sixteen years after the unusually shaped object was found.

Mr Lambert, a retired banker, had thought his discovery might have been something very exciting, but he just never got round to getting the specimen checked over by a fossil expert,  that was, until last month.  The fossil is most probably a humerus (upper arm bone) from a large type of marine reptile known as a Pliosaur.  It is not possible to identify the genus from a single bone such as this, but one thing is for sure, it was a large animal for the bone measures 42 centimetres in length.

John Lambert with His Fossil Find

Discovered in a Suffolk garden.

Discovered in a Suffolk garden.

Pliosaurs, otherwise known as short-necked Plesiosaurs had large skulls and enormous jaws armed with long, triangular or conical teeth.  They propelled their streamlined bodies through the water using four paddle-like limbs.  Just how big some of these Pliosaurs could have been is open to speculation, although recent discoveries such as the Svalbard specimen, or the remains of the jaws and skull of Pliosaur found in Dorset indicate that some species could have grown to lengths easily in excess of fifteen metres.  These creatures had their heyday in the Jurassic, survived into the Cretaceous but become increasingly rare in the fossil record towards the end of the Mesozoic.

An Illustration of a Typical Jurassic Pliosaur

Apex Predator of the Jurassic

Apex Predator of the Jurassic

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The genus known as Liopleurodon (the name means “smooth-sided tooth”), is illustrated in the picture above.  It has the typically massive jaws and powerful flippers of this family of reptiles.  Some of the teeth in the lower jaw measured nearly twice the size of an adult T. rex tooth.  A number of scientists have estimated that these creatures may have had some of the strongest bites of any known vertebrate.

Ann Ainsworth, assistant curator of natural history at the Colchester and Ipswich Museum, commented that the fossil was in very good condition, however, she stated:

“Marine reptiles are not animals you would expect to find as fossils in Suffolk as the local rocks are not the right age.”

So the question is, how did the fossil end up buried in a Suffolk garden?

Ann has suggested that the fossil “could have been collected by someone else previously and left in the garden.”

This is very plausible, as fossils do turn up in some very strange places.  For instance, last year Everything Dinosaur wrote a short blog article about a Frenchman who discovered a dinosaur’s foot bone in his garden.  Back in 2011, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of an Iguanodontid dinosaur bone turning up in Sunderland (north-east England).

To read more about the Sunderland fossil find: Strange Place to Find a Dinosaur Bone

Another explanation put forward by the researchers at the museum and one that Everything Dinosaur team members happen to agree with, is that this fossil find is as a result of re-deposition.  Re-deposition occurs when strata which contains fossils is disturbed and the fossils end up being moved from the location where they were originally sited.  Much of East Anglia has deposits of glacial clays, the result of movements of ice sheets during the Quaternary.  In 1959, isolated fossils believed to have come from another Pliosaur were discovered in a ploughed field close to the village of Wrentham on the Suffolk coast.  Four years ago, a single dorsal vertebra was found at Theberton Airfield about twenty miles north-east of Tuddenham St Martin.

A spokes person from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is quite likely that this particular fossil originates from Lower Jurassic deposits which can be found elsewhere in England.  Lower Jurassic strata forms a narrow belt along the western margins of the Yorkshire Wolds continuing into Lincolnshire and into the Midlands.  One of our team members once spotted a Plesiosaur limb bone that had been exposed as a pond dried up.  It is quite likely that this fossil bone originated from this Jurassic aged strata.”

Speaking about his lucky fossil find, Mr Lambert exclaimed:

“It’s rather fun.  I’ve been here 29 years, we’ve got eight acres of ground, we are quite keen on the gardening side and I can honestly say we’ve found nothing whatsoever of any kind of value apart from rubbish, so it’s really fun to have found this.”

It is likely that the fossil will be donated to the Colchester and Ipswich Museum, it may not be part of the geology of Suffolk, but thanks most likely to glaciation and re-deposition, evidence of an apex Jurassic marine predator has been uncovered in a sleepy Suffolk village.

2 11, 2013

Dinosaurs Help Inspire Anti-Bullying Posters for Schools

By | November 2nd, 2013|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Provide Anti-Bullying Posters for Primary Schools

Week commencing November 18th is the official anti-bullying week in the United Kingdom.  A number of nationwide events and activities are planned to help raise awareness over the issues of bullying and the consequences of having been bullied and Everything Dinosaur team members have been doing their bit to help primary school teachers get the anti-bullying message across.  With all the dinosaur illustrations and other resources available, staff were challenged to create an anti-bullying poster for use in schools.  A number of designs were suggested and three have been prepared and made available as downloads that can be emailed to schools and other organisations to help support their anti-bullying strategy.

One of the Anti-Bullying Posters Created by Everything Dinosaur

Stop the Bullies!

Stop the Bullies!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Each of the posters can be printed onto an A4 sized (297mm x 210mm) piece of paper and the posters can be laminated so that they can become a permanent part of the anti-bullying message within any school.  As children seem fascinated with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, it seems sensible to utilise these long extinct creatures to help make bullies extinct too.

A spokes person from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is important to get the message across to school children that bullying is not to be tolerated.  We see the concerted efforts of teachers, teaching assistants and other support staff  with regards to anti-bullying strategies when we visit schools and we wanted to do our bit to help stop the bullies.”

To request an anti-bullying poster for your school, simply email the staff at Everything Dinosaur and they will ensure that a poster is emailed out.

Contact Everything Dinosaur: Email Everything Dinosaur

1 11, 2013

Everything Dinosaur Announces a Winner in Their Name a Dinosaur Competition

By | November 1st, 2013|Press Releases|0 Comments

Meet “Steve” the Spinosaurus

Last month, Everything Dinosaur held a competition on the company’s Facebook page to win one of the new, large dinosaur soft toys that have just arrived in stock for Christmas.  The new soft toy range is very colourful.  There are green Stegosaurs, a sky blue Tyrannosaurus rex and a super soft and very cuddly, red Spinosaurus.  Trouble was, we could not think of names for these prehistoric animal soft toys, so we held a competition to see if any of our Facebook fans could come up with a suitable moniker for our monsters.

With the competition for naming our Spinosaurus soft toy closed, we put all the entries into our special, highly sophisticated, random winner picking device (one of the hard hats used on fossil digs), the winning name was “Steve” and our congratulations go to Jo.

Some of the New Dinosaur Soft Toys from Everything Dinosaur

Bedtimes just got a whole lot more colourful.

Bedtimes just got a whole lot more colourful.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A big thank you to all those people who entered.  We had lots of really great suggestions for our Spinosaurus, we loved “Mr Bitey” (thanks Lou), as well as “Sam” and “Spencer” (thanks to Hannah and Lisa), plus Spielberg and Seth, (thank you Liz and Jenni).  We had far too many entries to give everyone a mention, but a big Iguanodon thumbs up to you all.

Some of our Facebook fans demonstrated quite a bit of dino knowledge with their competition entries.  For example, Clair Bage suggested “Stromer the Spinosaurus” after Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach, the German palaeontologist who was responsible for formally naming and describing Spinosaurus aegptiacus in 1915.  There were quite a few references to Egypt, this is where Stromer’s expedition first uncovered evidence of a giant, predatory dinosaur back in the early years of the 20th Century.  The location was the Bahariya Oasis, approximately 180 miles south-west of Cairo.  Although, Stromer is now credited with finding one of the largest land carnivores known to science, he initially thought his expeditions had been failures.  He had intended to find evidence of early hominins in support of his hypothesis that our ancestors originated in Africa (we think he was right), to Stromer’s frustration his travels in Egypt led to him exploring much older strata, much of it laid down in marine environments.  Not too useful if looking for early human fossils, but as a result of these expeditions, a number of new types of prehistoric animal, including several dinosaurs became known to science.

Looking out for “Steve” the Spinosaurus

Looking out for "Steve" the Spinosaurus.

Looking out for "Steve" the Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Competition entries that reflected the Egyptian theme included Andrew who came up with “Ramses”, Kim who proposed “Tutan” short for Tutankahmum and Joey who suggested “Pharaoh” – all very good names for a dinosaur whose Latin name means “Egyptian Spine Lizard”.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed soft toys: Soft Toy Dinosaurs

Special mentions also to Pat Walker for “Scarlet-o-saurus” and to Annie Taylor for coming up with “Theo” as Spinosaurids are members of the Theropoda group of dinosaurs.

If you have had a name mention, if you have enjoyed reading the article and if you are on Facebook, but haven’t yet done say, please look us up and give our Facebook Page a “like”

Like Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook Page

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page

Click the logo to visit our Facebook page

Visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook: For updates on Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals, check out our Facebook page

Big roar from all of us to everyone who entered.

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