All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//June
21 06, 2014

Mercuriceratops gemini – New Horned Dinosaur from North America

By | June 21st, 2014|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|2 Comments

Mercuriceratops gemini – Incredible Diversity of Late Cretaceous Ceratopsians

Researchers have described a new genus of Ceratopsian, based on fossils excavated from Montana (western United States) and Alberta (Canada).  The dinosaur has been named Mercuriceratops (M. gemini) and when fully grown, this heavy weight herbivore, would have weighed as much as an Asian elephant and measured around six metres in length.  Mercuriceratops lived around seventy-seven million years ago (mid Campanian faunal stage) and the formal, scientific paper describing this new genus has been published in the journal Naturwissenschaften (the science of nature).

Mercuriceratops (pronounced Murr-cure-ree-sera-tops), means “Mercury horned face”, this Chasmosaurine has been named after the wing-like protrusions on the side of its neck frill.  The “wings” are formed from the squamosal skull bones which are hatchet shaped and stick out from the side in a much more prominent manner than in any other known species of Ceratopsian.  In addition, the the back of the squamosal is modified to form a narrow bar that would have supported the side of a very robust parietal skull bone.  These unusually shaped squamosals reminded the research team of the wings on the helmet of the Roman god Mercury.

An Illustration of Mercuriceratops gemini

"winged" squamosal bones on Mercuriceratops.

“winged” squamosal bones on Mercuriceratops.

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault

Related to Chasmosaurines such as Pentaceratops and Triceratops, the research team have proposed that this dinosaur too, had two long brow horns and a shorter nose horn, just like the later Chasmosaurine dinosaurs Pentaceratops and Triceratops.  Two large horns over the eyes (brow horns) is very typical of the Chasmosaurinae.

Models of the Chasmosaurine Dinosaurs Pentaceratops (left) Triceratops (right)

Pentaceratops model is on the left.

Pentaceratops model is on the left.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above show models of typical Chasmosaurine dinosaurs, note the large horns over the eyes.  The models are from the Schleich World of History Model series.

To view Schleich’s range of prehistoric animal models: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models

The trivial or specific name – “gemini” refers to the almost identical fossil specimens that were found and led to the description of this new genus of horned dinosaur.  One fossilised squamosal bone comes from Upper Cretaceous strata of north, central Montana, the second comes from rocks found in the famous Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation of Alberta.  Mercuriceratops represents the oldest Chasmosaurine dinosaur known from Canada and the first pre-Maastrichtian Ceratopsian to have been found in both the USA and Canada.

A Picture Showing the Two Squamosal Bones (right side of the skull)

Bizarrely shaped squamosal bones.

Bizarrely shaped squamosal bones.

Picture Credit: Naturwissenschaften 

Commenting on the unusual shape of the squamosal bones, lead author of the scientific paper Dr. Michael Ryan (Curator of Vertebrate palaeontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History), stated:

“Mercuriceratops took a unique evolutionary path that shaped the large frill on the back of its skull into protruding wings like the decorative fins on classic 1950’s cars.  It definitively would have stood out from the herd during the Late Cretaceous.  Horned dinosaurs in North America used their elaborate skull ornamentation to identify each other and to attract mates, not just for protection from predators.  The wing-like protrusions on the sides of its frill may have offered male Mercuriceratops a competitive advantage in attracting mates.”

Recently, palaeontologists have begun to piece together a picture of the North American fauna in the Late Cretaceous.  The fauna of Laramidia (the long, narrow strip of land that made up the western shores of the Western Interior Seaway), was extremely varied.  This newly named dinosaur genus reinforces the biogeographical differences between the northern and southern faunal provinces of the Campanian of North America.  Having said that, this dinosaur must have been quite wide ranging with something like 380 kilometres between the two fossil finds.

Co-author of the Naturwissenschaften paper, Dr. David Evans (Royal Ontario Museum), explained:

“The butterfly-shaped frill, or neck shield, of Mercuriceratops is unlike anything we have seen before.  Mercuriceratops shows that evolution gave rise to much greater variation in horned dinosaur headgear than we had previously suspected.”

The new dinosaur is described from skull fragments from two individuals collected from the Judith River Formation of Montana and the Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta.  The Montana specimen was originally collected on private land and acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum.  The Dinosaur Provincial Park specimen was collected by Susan Owen-Kagen, a preparator in Professor Philip Currie’s lab at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Ryan added:

“Susan showed me her specimen during one of my trips to Alberta.  I instantly recognized it as being from the same type of dinosaur that the Royal Ontario Museum had from Montana.”

For Philip Currie, the Dinosaur Provincial Park specimen confirmed the the Montana fossil was a true and accurate representation of the dinosaur’s squamosal.   In many instances, fossilised bones can become distorted and crushed as a result of the fossilisation process.  The altered morphology can lead to a great deal of confusion when it comes to identifying characteristics.  Pathology such as disease or damage to the bone that occurred when the animal was alive could also have led to the strange shape of the squamosal, however, with two squamosals from the right side of the skull being virtually identical there is a very strong probability that these fossils represent a new Chasmosaurine with a unique neck crest shape.

As the eminent Canadian palaeontologist Philip Currie noted:

“The two fossils – squamosal bones from the side of the frill, have all the features you would expect, just presented in a unique shape.”

A Picture of the Dig Site (Dinosaur Provincial Park – Alberta)

The red arrow in the picture highlights the Mercuriceratops layer.

The red arrow in the picture highlights the Mercuriceratops layer.

Picture Credit:  Professor Phil Currie (University of Alberta)

Dr. Mark Loewen (Natural History Museum of Utah), another co-author of the paper added:

“This discovery of a previously unknown species in relatively well-studied rocks underscores that we still have many more new species of dinosaurs to left to find.”

The wing-like flanges would have made a striking visual image, especially if the head and neck of these dinosaurs were brightly coloured.  The horns too, although, undoubtedly used for defence and intra-specific combat would also have played a role in signalling amongst members of the herd.

The Ceratopsians are spilt into two distinct groups, the Chasmosaurinae which were characterised by having long neck frills and in most cases short nasal horns but large brow horns.  The second group are known as the Centrosaurines, or the short-frilled Ceratopsians.  This does not mean that the frills on this group were small, most of the Centrosaurines had frills that were heavily augmented with spikes and horns.  These dinosaurs tended to have short brow horns but with larger nose horns as a general rule.  Both types of Ceratopsian were very common in North America during the Late Cretaceous and a number of different genera have been identified.

The Frill Size and Ornamentation of Mercuriceratops Compared to a Typcial Centrosaurine and Chasmosaurine

Centrosaurus (left) and Chasmosaurus (right)

Centrosaurus (left) and Chasmosaurus (right)

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault

 Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the press room at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the compiling of this article.

20 06, 2014

Achievosaurs – Helping Foundation Stage Children

By | June 20th, 2014|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Learning  Skills with Dinosaurs – Achievosaurs

Team members at Everything Dinosaur, with their teaching and educational backgrounds have helped teachers and teaching assistants to develop all sorts of innovative learning materials for use in schools at the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  For example, a large number of schools rely on Everything Dinosaur to supply the soft toys used in the Achievosaurs learning concept.  However, as manufacturers change product lines so some of the soft toys used in the original scheme of work are no longer available.  Not to worry, as Everything Dinosaur specialises in dinosaur toys, the company has a huge range of inexpensive, soft toy dinosaurs to help teachers in the classroom.

Some of the Original Prehistoric Animal Soft Toys Used in the Achievosaurs Teaching Concept

Some of the original "Achievosaurs".

Some of the original “Achievosaurs”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Children in Foundation Stage or Early Years education can gain important life lessons by being introduced to key learning skills at a young age.  Many schools include a drive to develop learning skills with students as part of a co-ordinated plan to improve life-long learning.  Essentially, the Achievosaurs, or as they are sometimes called “the Achieveosaurs”, with the extra “e”, aims to teach children about positive ways in which they can improve their ability to learn.  Qualities such as being persistent and not giving up too easily, being prepared to ask questions and to share thoughts and ideas.  The children are rewarded by being able to look after a dinosaur soft toy which epitomises the learning skill that they have just demonstrated.

Many schools adopt the Achievosaurs concept across all their classes in EYFS through to Key Stage 1, it often ties in with a term topic covered by the children in Year 1 and 2 which enables them to study dinosaurs and fossils.

Some of the key learning skills covered by the dinosaur soft toys in the Achievosaurs teaching concept:

  • ASKARAPTOR – I can use my imagination and ask interesting questions (based on a “raptor” dinosaur such as Velociraptor or Utahraptor regarded as some of the more intelligent and agile of all the dinosaurs)
  • SOLVEOSAURUS REX – I can solve problems and improve (based on T. rex the most famous dinosaur of all)
  • TRYCERATOPS – I try new things, don’t give up and work really hard (based on Triceratops, a very well known horned dinosaur with three horns)
  • STICKASAURUS  – I stick at tasks and persevere (based on Stegosaurus a popular, plant eating dinosaur with plates on its back)
  • THINKODOCUS – I think carefully about what I learn (based on the big, plant-eating dinosaur called Diplodocus)
  • SHAREOSAURUS – I share my ideas and can work well with others (based on the Spinosaurus)

These important skills can help prepare young minds for learning later on in life.  Teaching teams can come up with their on variants and new additions, however, the trouble is, finding soft toys that represent the likes of Diplodocus, Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex.  This is where are experts at Everything Dinosaur can help, they not only can advise about educational matters but guide teachers through our extensive range of prehistoric animal soft toys.

To view the range of prehistoric animal soft toys: Soft Toy Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

In addition, when Everything Dinosaur supplies prehistoric animal soft toys, a fact sheet on the particular dinosaur represented by the plush is included.

A Download is Available from Everything Dinosaur on the Achievosaurs

Helping to encourage learning skills.

Helping to encourage learning skills.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With the advice and support of Everything Dinosaur’s trained specialists, teachers can utilise a child’s fascination with prehistoric animals to help reinforce important lessons.  Enthusing and motivating children to learn by utilising dinosaur soft toys in school.

A spokes person for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“With all the workshops and teaching activities that we deliver in schools, it was only natural that teachers and learning support providers came to us to help develop innovative ways of getting important messages about learning across to children.”

To read more about Everything Dinosaur’s school workshops: Everything Dinosaur School Visits

19 06, 2014

Papo Mini Dinosaurs Model Set Reviewed

By | June 19th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Review of the Papo Mini Dinosaurs Tub

Papo, the France based figure and replica manufacturer, have for some time marketed a series of smaller models sold in tubs which mirror animals already included in the company’s larger model collections.  In 2014, Papo have added a tub of mini dinosaur models to their portfolio and this is a review of that model set.

The tub of dinosaurs contains six figures, three herbivores and three carnivores.  Namely, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus with the meat-eaters being Velociraptor, Spinosaurus and T. rex.  It is not surprising that Papo have chosen these particular dinosaurs, firstly Papo already makes large models of these six members of the Dinosauria and secondly, in Everything Dinosaur’s annual prehistoric animal survey, all six dinosaurs regularly feature in the top ten.

To view the list of top ten prehistoric animals for 2013: Top Ten List

 The Papo Mini Dinosaurs Model Tub

A dinosaur model set that contains six figures.

A dinosaur model set that contains six figures.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The three Theropods, that is the Velociraptor, the Tyrannosaurus rex and the Spinosaurus have been posed with their tails resting on the ground, what is termed a tripodal stance.  Although tail drag marks have been preserved in the fossil record, it is very likely that these sorts of dinosaur held their tails out behind them.  We think the stance is purely to help stabilise the models to make them easier to stand up, especially if being played with on a carpet for example.

We don’t think any of the models will win any awards for anatomical accuracy, they have been designed very much with the young dinosaur fan in mind and not the serious model collector but they are appealing and quite quirky and for anyone collecting the Papo prehistoric animal model range, they are a worthwhile addition.

The Papo Mini Dinosaurs Model Set

A dinosaur model set which features six prehistoric animals.

A dinosaur model set which features six prehistoric animals.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although not to scale, there are a couple of points worth making.  For example, the Velociraptor figure works well when used in any dioramas featuring the larger Papo dinosaur models.

In addition, something that young dinosaur fans will approve of, is the fact that the Spinosaurus replica is larger than the T. rex model in this series.  This reflects what is seen in the fossil record with Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus) regarded by many palaeontologists as the largest land carnivore of all time.

The Papo Mini Dinosaurs Tyrannosaurus rex and Spinosaurus Compared

Spinosaurus is just a little bigger than the T. rex figure.

Spinosaurus is just a little bigger than the T. rex figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The models measure in size from the diminutive Velociraptor which measures around 5 centimetres long to the Brachiosaurus which stands nearly 9 centimetres tall and is around 10 centimetres in length, the skin textures have been very well crafted and they are an ideal dinosaur model gift set for children from 3 years and upwards

Papo prehistoric animal models tend to have a characteristic look about them and we at Everything Dinosaur have long suspected that the design team at Papo have been heavily influenced by the look of the prehistoric animals featured in the Jurassic Park movie franchise. The colour of the Spinosaurus  model reminded us of the Spinosaurus seen in Jurassic Park 3 and the look of the T.rex model brought to mind the final scene in the first Jurassic Park film when the T. rex knocks the Jurassic Park banner to the ground.

One thing about these small models, is that they can always be used to represent babies when shown next to the larger models in the Papo model range.

The Baby Stegosaurus (Mini Dinosaurs) and the Papo Stegosaurus Dinosaur Model

An adult and baby Stegosaurus perhaps?

An adult and baby Stegosaurus perhaps?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is an excellent dinosaur model play set, one that is a welcome addition to the Papo prehistoric animal series.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Papo prehistoric animal models: Papo Prehistoric Animals and Dinosaurs

18 06, 2014

Prehistoric Times Next Issue out Soon

By | June 18th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

Prehistoric Times Issue 110

The next issue of Prehistoric Times, the quarterly magazine for dinosaur fans and model enthusiasts is out shortly.  Mike Fredericks (editor) sent team members a sneak preview of the magazine’s front cover.

Prehistoric Times (Summer 2014)

Next issue out soon.

Next issue out soon.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

How time flies, it does not seem that long since we were celebrating issue 100.  The dinosaur featured on the front cover is “giant southern lizard” – Giganotosaurus (Giganotosaurus carolini).  This is a wonderful sculpture by the highly talented Galileo Hernandez of Mexico.  An interview with the artist is included in this edition.  We are also expecting a review of the new book written by Julius Csotonyi and Steve White entitled “The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi”, can’t wait for the magazine to arrive at the Everything Dinosaur offices.

To visit the Prehistoric Times website: Visit Prehistoric Times

Once team members have received their copy and read it a review will be posted up on our blog.

17 06, 2014

Twenty Years of Cryolophosaurus

By | June 17th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

“Frozen Crested Lizard” Named in 1994

It was twenty years ago that the curious Theropod dinosaur known as Cryolophosaurus was formally named and described.  Back in 1994, when the academic paper detailing the research into the partial skeleton of a large, meat-eating dinosaur whose fossils had been found in rocks some 4,000 metres above sea level in the Transantarctic mountains, was published, it caused a sensation in scientific circles.  Cryolophosaurus is still the largest known, carnivorous dinosaur to have been found in rocks that date from the Sinemurian faunal stage of the Early Jurassic.  Although, twenty years have passed, palaeontologists have still got a lot to learn about this enigmatic dinosaur.

Although the name Cryolophosaurus means “frozen crested lizard”, this is a misnomer, for some 195 million years ago, Antarctica was a very different place from the frozen wilderness of today.  During the Early Jurassic, the land that we call Antarctica was six hundred miles further north and it formed the most southerly portion of a giant land mass called Gondwanaland.  Coal seams and fossils of plant material indicate that much of the land close to the sea was heavily forested with primitive conifers, cycads and ferns dominating the flora.  The presence of a large Theropod (Cryolophosaurus), indicates that there was a rich and diverse ecosystem capable of supporting, for at least part of year, large meat-eating dinosaurs.

A Model of the Theropod Dinosaur Cryolophosaurus

Fossils found in the Beardmore Glacier region (Transantarctic mountains).

Fossils found in the Beardmore Glacier region (Transantarctic mountains).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Safari Ltd

A team of American scientists (Transantarctic Vertebrate Palaeontology Project), including Dr. William Roy Hammer of the Geology faculty at Augustana College (Illinois), explored layers of siltstone deposits in the Beardmore Glacier region during the southern hemisphere summer of 1990/91.  The team excavated over one hundred fossilised bones.  The jumble of bones represented evidence of Pterosaurs, primitive mammals, a small, as yet undescribed Theropod dinosaur, as well as the partial skeleton of a giant meat-eater.  The expedition had to contend with altitude sickness, extreme weather and having to work and camp out on very hazardous forty degree rocky slopes.  In addition, the matrix surrounding the fossil was so hard that no preparation work could be carried out in the field, all the rock material had to be transported to America for further study and analysis.  It took another three years of intensive preparation and hard work but the scientific description of Cryolophosaurus was published on May 6th 1994.

The fossils come from the Hanson Formation (formerly known as the Upper Falla Formation). The first Cryolophosaurus fossils were discovered by expedition member and Ohio State geologist David Elliot.  The species name honours the discoverer.

A Close up of the Strange Crest on Cryolophosaurus

The "Elvis" crest.

The “Elvis” crest.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Safari Ltd

The fossils ascribed to Cryolophosaurus consisted of bones the make up the back portion of the skull, two fragments of the upper jaw, neck vertebrae, ribs, dorsal vertebrae, elements from the limbs including two thigh bones and partial material representing lower limb bones, tail vertebrae, part of the hips and several tail bones along with nine teeth.  Cryolophosaurus was nick-named “Elvisaurus” after the strange, backward pointing crest of bone that was found on the top of the skull.  Although the skull remains were crushed and distorted, the scientists were able to determine that along with small horns over the eyes, this dinosaur had a thin crest that ran across the top of its head.

To view the Safari Ltd range of dinosaur models including the Cryolophosaurus: Safari Carnegie Dinosaur Models

The Skull Bones from the Specimen Described in 1994

strange "quiff-like" crest.

strange “quiff-like” crest.

A number of crests in meat-eating dinosaurs are known, but these crests usually run from the tip of the snout towards the back of the skull.  The crest of Cryolophosaurus runs across the top of the head.  Palaeontologists have suggested that this crest was too thin and delicate to be used in any form of combat.  It probably was brightly coloured and used as a signalling device amongst these dinosaurs, perhaps in a display to attract a mate.  In the Carnegie Collection dinosaur model (pictured in this article), the crest was painted blue in support of the theory that this crest was used for visual communication.  Some more fossils attributed to the Cryolophosaurus specimen were found during an expedition ten years ago, more recently, (2013) a new dig site was located on the Beardmore Glacier and fossils from a second Cryolophosaurus specimen are currently being cleaned and prepared for study.

Intriguingly the first Cryolophosaurus studied, (the 1994 holotype specimen), was a juvenile.  This dinosaur had not reached maturity when it died.  As a fully grown adult the crest may have looked very different, so scientists remain uncertain as to true shape and purpose of this unusual crest.

It is likely that the series of expeditions to Antarctica (Transantarctic Vertebrae Palaeontology Project) will identify a number of Early Jurassic dinosaurs and perhaps more will be learned about the mysterious Cryolophosaurus.

To read an article related to the discovery of a Prosauropod from Antarctica: Long-necked Dinosaurs of the Antarctic

Scientists don’t know what the crest may have been used for, the size of this dinosaur is uncertain and perhaps most exciting of all, much of the geology of the interior of Antarctica remains to be fully explored.  At the beginning of 2014, Everything Dinosaur team members put forward a series of predictions about what might happen over the next twelve months in palaeontology.  One of our predictions is that more vertebrate fossils from the polar regions would be announced – this is a safe bet!

16 06, 2014

Prehistoric Kingdom – Exciting Prehistoric Theme Park in Development

By | June 16th, 2014|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|1 Comment

Prehistoric Theme Park Management Simulation – “Prehistoric Kingdom”

For anyone with a hankering to construct their own prehistoric theme park, then it seems you are not alone, as a team of dedicated dinosaur fans are busy creating a park management simulation game that will enable you to build the dino park of your dreams!

Based on an island, (a sensible precaution considering what can happen when dinosaurs get hungry), the concept of the game is simple, develop, maintain and sustain your very own prehistoric park.

One of the Images that Highlight the Approach to the Theme Park Island

Fantastic graphics!

Fantastic graphics!

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Kingdom

The dedicated and highly talented team behind plans to develop this not for profit simulation game have been busy sorting out which dinosaurs are going to be included in the game matrix.  Expect some non-Dinosaurian animals too, we heard mention of a Sabre-Tooth Cat as well as Pterosaurs and marine reptiles.  Looks like budding dinosaur theme park managers are going to have their work cut out dealing with such an extensive inventory of once extinct creatures.

Max Wood (Public Relations Manager at Prehistoric Kingdom), explains:

“Prehistoric Kingdom is a Indie developed project looking to make its stamp on the Tycoon genre with its free build system and endless customisation options.  If you dream it you should be able to build it.  Over the past couple of weeks the project has taken several steps in the right direction towards a successful kick starter campaign.  Those advances would include polishing of the tech demo island , finalising a creature roster and getting fan feedback on numerous discussions.  Everyone on the development team is excited to also announce that we have begun creation of a official Prehistoric Kingdom trailer highlighting future announcements and ideas.”

The game design and programming team working in conjunction with the animators have been building a number of different prehistoric habitats for the park’s animals to explore.  Different types of creature are going to require different environments, but all the locations are going to need security, park managers will need to think carefully about how the security of the park is going to be developed (lesson for John Hammond, the CEO and creator of Jurassic Park, here we think).

Development of a Variety of Environments within Prehistoric Kingdom

A peaceful scene in the prehistoric kingdom.

A peaceful scene in the prehistoric kingdom.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Kingdom

Max went on to add:

“This is a exciting time for everyone and anyone that follows the project as updates come in around the clock.  The future of Prehistoric Tycoons is closer then you think!”

One of the trial habitats currently in development is a relatively open, wooded area with access to a large lake.  Conifers dominate the tree population with the under storey consisting of tree ferns such as cycads.  This environment provides plenty of grazing and browsing opportunities, perhaps this could be a good location to site the Sauropoda, along with Stegosaurs.

 One of the Trial Habitats with Abundant Plant Food Resources

An example of an environment ideal for "niche partitioning".

An example of an environment ideal for “niche partitioning”.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Kingdom

A number of scientists have been exploring dinosaur dominated ecosystems, such as that preserved in the famous Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation (Alberta, Canada).  We know that a number of large, herbivorous dinosaurs happily co-existed and it is very likely that each type of dinosaur specialised in feeding on certain types of plants.  Armoured dinosaurs were probably grazers, whilst Ceratopsians, the horned dinosaurs, were probably low browsers of bushes, cycads and trees.  Hadrosaurs, as facultative bipeds, were probably specialised high browsers, content to feed on the branches of trees that other herbivores could not reach.  This concept of different feeding specialisations within a habitat is called “niche partitioning”.

With Prehistoric Kingdom, gamers will have the chance to create their own combinations of fauna and flora.

Prehistoric Kingdom Logo

Click the logo image to visit the Prehistoric Kingdom website.

Click the logo image to visit the Prehistoric Kingdom website.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Kingdom

The concept for this simulation can be described as – a land lost by time, an island long forgotten with potential untapped.  There are no limits, no boundaries, just pure creativity.  Build the theme park of your dreams with creatures ranging across several geological periods.

Expect Jurassic Theropods to Feature

How will you keep the carnivores contained?

How will you keep the carnivores contained?

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Kingdom

To visit Prehistoric Kingdom’s website: Prehistoric Kingdom

A spokes person from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is an impressive project being developed by a highly talented team.  To keep the prehistoric kingdom a success, participants are going to have to consider a variety of management as well as animal welfare issues.  We welcome such activities as games such as this help to inform and educate as well as to entertain.”

15 06, 2014

Dinosaur Summer Party Fun

By | June 15th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Giant Inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex

Get into the summer party mood with this super-sized, inflatable T. rex from Everything Dinosaur.  This inflatable dinosaur stands an impressive 1.83 metres (six feet) tall when inflated and is bound to make young dinosaur fans roar with excitement.

Six Foot Tall Inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex

Just add air for lots of dinosaur fun.

Just add air for lots of dinosaur fun.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This giant dinosaur inflatable can be blown up by a foot pump, a hand pump or good, old fashioned, lung power.  On test, our friendly dinosaur enthusiasts were able to blow it up in about five minutes or so.  This makes a super addition to a dinosaur party, or indeed for use in schools when Reception/Foundation stage children are learning all about dinosaurs.  It was pointed out to us, that this inflatable is actually taller than every member of the Everything Dinosaur team.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of dinosaur themed party products: Party and Birthday Party Supplies

It certainly is an impressive dinosaur.  Palaeontologists have calculated the growth rate of dinosaurs and they too, just like us, had growth spurts.  Tyrannosaurus rex babies probably grew very quickly in their first few years, after all, small dinosaurs could have ended up as lunch for bigger dinosaurs.  From hatching, Tyrannosaurus rex probably reached a length of around two metres within the first year of its life, still, it had a long way to go to reach the 13-14 metre giant that some Tyrannosaur fossils indicate.

Inflatable T. rex from Everything Dinosaur

Six foot high inflatable T. rex

Six foot high inflatable T. rex

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With the debate regarding whether or not dinosaurs were warm-blooded (endothermic) or cold-blooded (ectothermic) or indeed somewhere in between (mesothermic) likely to continue for a very long time, at least young dinosaur fans can relax on the beach with a giant inflatable dinosaur to keep them company.

14 06, 2014

Goldilocks and Dinosaurs (Warm-blooded/Cold-blooded Debate)

By | June 14th, 2014|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Warm-blooded or Cold-blooded Dinosaurs?

In the fairy tale Goldilocks and the three bears our heroine comes across three bowls of porridge in the bear’s house.  One bowl is too cold, another too hot, but the third is just right at a temperature somewhere in between. Thanks to an exhaustive study undertaken by a team of American researchers, palaeontologists can apply the “Goldilocks analogy” to the study of dinosaur metabolism.  In a paper, published in the academic journal “Science”, the authors suggest that the Dinosauria took a “middle of the road” approach when it comes to body temperature.  This new research suggests that dinosaurs were not cold-blooded like crocodiles, nor were they warm-blooded like us, but they were mesothermic, somewhere in-between.

Were the Dinosaurs Warm-blooded or Cold-blooded or Somewhere In-Between?

Warm or Cold-blooded dinosaurs?

Warm or Cold-blooded dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

The debate as to whether dinosaurs were cold-blooded (ectothermic) or warm-blooded (endothermic) has gone on for many decades.  The first scientists and academics to study dinosaur fossils concluded that these reptiles must have been cold-blooded, like extant reptiles today.  Cold-blooded is a very misleading term, the blood of dinosaurs and other ectotherms would not have been cold, this term refers to the fact that organisms which are cold-blooded have no internal mechanism for regulating the temperature of their bodies.  They rely on external sources of heat to warm them up and to make them active.  For example, lizards and snakes bask in the sun to become warm.  When these creatures get too hot, they seek shade.  These ectotherms are capable of bursts of energy, a freshwater crocodile from Australia can easily outrun a person over rough terrain for a short distance, but such strenuous activity is often followed by long periods of rest and recovery.

Warm-blooded organisms, the endotherms, are able to regulate their own body temperature.  They can be active whatever the external temperature.  The food consumed by mammals and birds enables them to generate heat internally, this means that these sorts of animals are generally much more active than today’s reptiles and amphibians.  Endotherms pay a high price for such an ability.  Their metabolisms are much higher so they need much more food than an equivalent sized ectotherm.

Predator to Prey Ratios in Previous Studies Suggest Dinosaurs were Endotherms

Predator to Prey ratios can help determine metabolic rates.

Predator to Prey ratios can help determine metabolic rates.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A number of research projects have attempted to estimate the ratio of predator species to potential prey preserved in the fossil record.  The hypothesis being that if there were a large number of potential prey animals compared to predators this might indicate that those primary and secondary predators may have needed large amounts of food to sustain them.  This led to the conclusion that dinosaurs (at least most Theropods), were warm-blooded.

New research conducted by University of New Mexico graduate student John Grady in collaboration with colleagues from the Sante Fe Institute and the University of Arizona took a different approach.  They assessed the growth rates of extinct and living animals in a bid to provide further insight into the dinosaur warm-blooded or cold-blooded debate.    Growth rings were examined in the bones of 381 different animals including 21 different dinosaurs.  The idea being that fast growth rates indicates a high metabolism which in turn suggests endothermy.

The database that plotted animal growth rates (ontogeny) and energy use was developed by Grady.  He and his colleagues demonstrated that animals that grew quicker required more energy and had higher body temperatures.  A benefit of using animals alive today is that such measurements can be taken.  When it comes to the dinosaurs, the research team relied on estimated growth rates from palaeontologists who had studied the growth rings identified in fossilised dinosaur bone cut into cross section and examined under a microscope.

Using Dinosaur Bones to Assess Growth Rates

Studying dinosaur bones in cross-section to identify growth rings.

Studying dinosaur bones in cross-section to identify growth rings.

Picture Credit: Meike Köhler

Once all the data was plotted, the scientists were able to calculate the rate of dinosaur metabolisms.  They concluded that based on this data, dinosaurs were an intermediate form between modern endothermic mammals and ectothermic reptiles.

Commenting on the results, Grady stated:

“Most dinosaurs were probably mesothermic.  A thermally intermediate strategy that only a few species – such as the the egg laying Echidna [marsupial] or Great White sharks use today.”

Dinosaurs Found to be Intermediate between Ectotherms and Endotherms

Quantitative analysis suggests the Dinosauria were mesotherms.

Quantitative analysis suggests the Dinosauria were mesotherms.

Picture Credit: University of New Mexico/Science

The simplified diagram above plots the growth rates and projected metabolisms for typical dinosaurs such as Tenontosaurus (Ornithopod), a typical tyrannosaurid (Theropod) and Apatosaurus (Sauropod) against a number of living vertebrates.  Warm-blooded animals are highlighted in red, whilst cold-blooded animals are blue.  The dinosaurs (in black), seem to have a growth rate that falls in between the cold-blooded reptiles and amphibians and the warm-blooded mammals.  The growth rate of dinosaurs seems matched to living mesotherms such as the Tuna, the Leatherback turtle or the Echidna.

This new study has certainly opened up a new avenue of debate.  Intriguingly, the team also looked at the growth rates of feathered dinosaurs and primitive birds, they found that both ancient birds and feathered dinosaurs probably grew more slowly than their modern descendants.  The team proposed that Archaeopteryx, a primitive bird from the Late Jurassic (A. lithographica) took two years to reach maturity, some birds living today which are the same size, the Red-tailed Hawk for example, can reach maturity in six weeks.  The team concluded, that whilst dinosaurs did not grow as fast as modern birds or mammals, they did grow significantly quicker than extant reptiles.

Student Grady, went on to add:

“This higher energy use probably increased speed and performance.  Mesothermic dinosaurs were likely faster predators or better able to flee from danger than the large reptiles found earlier in during the Mesozoic.”

The research team are to be commended for undertaking such an extensive quantitative analysis.  Thanks to their research, scientists can have more confidence in the link between metabolic rate and how quickly animals grow.  However, the debate over the Dinosauria and how they lived as a result of the ability or inability to regulate their body temperatures is going to rumble on.

Professor Roger Seymour (University of Adelaide), disagrees with the general conclusions made by the American researchers.

He stated:

“They could find only eight species living today that are mesotherms.  Doesn’t that suggest that there’s an adaptive value in being either a good ectotherm or a good endotherm, but not in the middle?”

The Dinosauria evolved into a huge variety of forms from massive Sauropods to arboreal, Theropods, it is quite likely that with such a diverse group that one metabolic strategy “fits all” over simplifies the situation.  One of the issues very large dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus and Diplodocus had was not trying to keep warm, but trying to lose heat from their massive bulk.  Such herbivores had vast stomachs and very long intestinal tracts.  As plant material was broken down, it very probably fermented and gave off heat.  Since for much of the Mesozoic, the Earth was hotter than it is today, keeping cool could have been a major problem for a large dinosaur.

Everything Dinosaur has reported on a number of scientific papers published regarding this debate, to read an article detailing further research into the warm-blooded/cold-blooded controversy by another American team that used analysis of dinosaur teeth to conclude that these animals (some of them at least), might have been endotherms: Dinosaurs Ectotherms or Endotherms?

13 06, 2014

A Video Review of the Papo Mini Dinosaurs Set

By | June 13th, 2014|Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|1 Comment

Papo Mini Dinosaurs Tub Reviewed

New for 2014, this set of six dinosaur models in a handy plastic tub by Papo. The model set features Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, Spinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Velociraptor.  This tub of dinosaurs, for want of a better name, is part of a range of figures made by Papo of France which are available as play sets.  The models range in size from around five centimetres in length (the Velociraptor) to around ten centimetres long (the Brachiosaurus).

Here is Everything Dinosaur’s video review:

Papo Mini Dinosaurs Reviewed

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this short video (4.57) we look at the models in a little more detail and we suggest that some of the dinosaur figures can be used as baby dinosaurs when put together with the larger Papo dinosaur models.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Papo prehistoric animal models: Papo Dinosaurs

12 06, 2014

World Cup – Brazil Fantastic Geology

By | June 12th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

World Cup in Brazil Starts Today

Today, the twentieth FIFA World Cup is due to kick off in Brazil.  Heralded as a football festival, thirty-two teams will battle it out over the next month or so for bragging rights as to which country has the best football team in the world, of course there is the prize money too, something like $35 million USD for the winners.  As well as its football, Brazil is famed for its amazing fauna and flora, each year, football tournaments not withstanding, it attracts an ever increasing number of eco-tourists keen to explore the spectacular Amazon, the wetlands of the Pantanal or the Atlantic rainforest.

The geology of Brazil is also fascinating.  As one of the largest countries in the world by area, it is not surprising that virtually every major geological time period from the Phanerozoic is represented.  In the Everything Dinosaur blog, news stories and articles about Brazilian extinct and extant fauna  feature nearly fifty times.  Perhaps the most famous geological formation is the Santana Formation, which is found in the north-east of the country.  The Santana Formation dates from the Cretaceous, this Formation along with the older Crato Formation has provided a vast array of vertebrate fossils.  Fossils excavated from the Santana Formation show exquisite levels of preservation.  For example, stomach contents in fossil fish have been identified and both representatives of the Dinosauria and the Pterosauria have been found.   The fossil rich deposits are regarded as a Lagerstätte (an area with a huge amount of well-preserved fossil material).

To read an article about the discovery of a new genus of Pterosaur from Brazil: New Genus of Cretaceous Flying Reptile from Brazil

A number of huge spinosaurids are known from the Cretaceous-aged strata of Brazil.  There is the fearsome Irritator (I. challengeri).

A Model of the Brazilian Dinosaur Irritator

The dinosaur known as Irritator.

The dinosaur known as Irritator.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Reaching lengths in excess of eight metres, Irritator was a formidable Theropod, but it may not have been the largest Spinosaur to be classed as a “boy from Brazil”.  Back in 2011, team members at Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a fragment of jawbone found in Maranhao State that indicated the existence of a truly colossal Spinosaur.  This dinosaur was named Oxalaia quilombensis.

To read an article about this fossil discovery: Giant Spinosaur from Brazil

Best of luck to all the teams in the tournament, hope the fans enjoy themselves and perhaps in between the matches, a few of them might take the time to visit some of the museums in the country and to appreciate the rich geological heritage of Brazil.

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