All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
/2014
15 12, 2014

Everything Dinosaur and On Line Shopping

By | December 15th, 2014|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Preparation and Careful Planning – Key to Keeping Customers Happy

With all the adverse publicity that some on line retailers and courier companies have been receiving lately, we thought it appropriate to add our comments to the on-going debate.  One of the biggest concerns on line shoppers have at this time of year is whether or not their parcel is going to arrive in time.  After all, nobody wants to let their loved ones down.  We at Everything Dinosaur, have tried to follow the story as it develops.  The huge spike in on line sales generated by the “Black Friday” concept, which was then immediately followed by “Cyber Monday”, the growth in the amount of parcels that have to be handled by couriers and the postal network and so on.  To be perfectly honest, we have not followed this story as closely as we should have perhaps, our excuse for this is simple.  Our priority at this time of year, is to pack and despatch customer’s orders as quickly as we can.  We have been busy focusing on the needs of our customers, getting emails out to customers to assure them that we have received their order, preparing and checking orders and then despatching parcels.

For us, this is the same priority that we have every day.  The Christmas period is no exception.  We sell dinosaurs and prehistoric animals and a great deal of our business is all about ensuring that birthday gifts arrive when they are supposed to, that mums and dads (and grandparents for that matter), organising a dinosaur themed birthday party or some other prehistoric animal themed event are not put under any unnecessary stress as they prepare for it.  This is what we do and we have organised ourselves to ensure that customers come first and that we have enough resources in place, not just in the weeks before Christmas but throughout the year to ensure that we offer a very proficient service.

Many on line retailers have complained that “unprecedented demand” has led to delays.  Courier companies such as Yodel have had to stop collections as it struggles to reduce the backlog of orders.

In a statement sent to clients of Yodel, the company’s executive chairman, Dick Stead said that “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” had exceeded all analysts’ expectations and in many cases orders for UK retailers were double the previous record level set last year.  That may be all very well, and we sincerely hope that companies like Yodel can resolve their problems, but what we find perplexing, is that it is the retailers themselves who have caused the spike with all the hyperbole surrounding their so called “Black Friday” special offers.

Putting Together Plans to Help our Customers

For us, retail is simple, we offer great value all year round.  We try to price our goods and services as competitively as we can and we began planning for Christmas sales back in the summer.  It just seems common sense to anticipate high demand in the run up to Christmas and to put together a plan to ensure that the increased volume of orders can be handled.

As a team we took some simple, practical steps:

  • All non essential meetings with suppliers, contractors and other support teams were postponed from November onwards.  Things could be handled over the phone or via email, but face to face meetings taking us away from the “coal face” were suspended.
  • We initiated a plan for Saturday collections, so that orders did not pile up over the weekends which could have led to delays on Monday and Tuesday the following week.
  • We all work long hours anyway, but we increased the time available for managing customer emails, handling enquiries, responding to queries so that there was more time available each day to deal with the increased flow.
  • Packing of parcels became a seven-day operation with preparing and checking of parcels taking place each day.  In this way, we could ensure that no backlog was built up and that we could handle increased volumes.
  • Less important areas of the business were temporarily suspended so that more time and resources could be dedicated to managing orders.
  • We had been in touch with Royal Mail and our couriers to ensure that they were aware of our needs in plenty of time and that we had enough materials available such as mail bags, labels, posting ties, parcel trays and so forth to cope with the likely higher volumes.
  • Steps were taken to ensure personnel are available to handle the increased number of phone calls that were likely to occur over the run up to Christmas.

It is hard work, but over the years we have seen our business grow and in order to continue to flourish, we have to make sure that our customers get the support that they deserve.  We ask ourselves a very simple question “If we were the customer, how would we like to be treated?”

Of course, there are things that you can do if you are purchasing on line  to help ensure that your parcels arrive on time.

How to Help an On Line Retailer

  • When placing an order, do check that you have provided the correct delivery address and where appropriate the correct postcode.
  • Provide an email address so that you can be contacted, check that the email address is correct so that speedy communication between you and the retailer can be established.
  • Think about delivery, can the parcel be left with a neighbour or in a safe place if you are out?  Everything Dinosaur provides a message box during the check out process which enables customers to provide additional information.
  • If you have concerns about a delivery or if you simply want advice, telephone the company or send an email.  How efficiently the email or phone call is handled can often provide you with information about the supplier.
  • When purchasing clothing or other items that require size measurements, do check that you are ordering the right size in the first place, if items have to be re-sent this could lead to parcels arriving later than originally planned.
  • Look at and review the last recommended posting dates as published by Royal Mail and other parcel handling companies.  Everything Dinosaur publishes this information on this blog and elsewhere on its social media platforms – to view the Royal Mail information: Last Recommended Posting Dates for Christmas 2014
  • Choose the appropriate postal option, for example, opt for First Class over Second Class post as you get nearer towards Christmas.
  • Last but not least – try to order early for Christmas don’t be like some retailers, get organised early and this will make a big difference, much less worry for one thing.

Of course at Everything Dinosaur, we can only do some much, once a parcel has been despatched we are reliant upon the mail network and couriers to do their bit.  Parcels do get delayed from time to time.  Parcels do go astray, however, our customers can at least be assured that we have done everything we can to pack and despatch their order as quickly as possible.

Whilst writing this post, I was asked to stop for a few minutes so that I could check over some orders with a colleague, happy to do so.  The priority is to pack and despatch.  In addition, I was called to the telephone to help a caller place an order for a Woolly Mammoth soft toy for her daughter – all sorted.  The incoming emails have been checked every few minutes and a “bounce back” from a customer was responded to.  We emailed this morning to confirm safe receipt of a telephone order, but the email did not work.  However, one swift telephone call to the customer later, all is sorted, correct email address provided, delivery address checked and the parcel is already prepared for packing.

On Its Way – Woolly Mammoth Ordered and Ready for Despatch

A Woolly Mammoth on its way to an Everything Dinosaur customer.

A Woolly Mammoth on its way to an Everything Dinosaur customer.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our team will be in the office right up to Christmas day, it is our intention to keep up with the orders and to ensure that all our customers have a Happy Christmas… at least in terms of their dealings with Everything Dinosaur.

14 12, 2014

“Heads Up” for Papo Tyrannosaurus rex Models

By | December 14th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Dinosaur Fan Suggests How to Display Papo Dinosaur Models

At Everything Dinosaur we are always eager to hear from fellow dinosaur fans and model collectors and one email received from a prehistoric animal model enthusiast really got us thinking.  Alex, is a fan of the Papo prehistoric animal model series and has his Papo dinosaurs out on display.  He suggested using the fossil skull replicas made by Safari Ltd to help set off his collection by placing a skull next to the Papo figure so that viewers can see a model of the skull and the “fleshed out” version of the animal adjacent to each other. What  a good idea!

Mixing and Matching Manufacturer’s Models

Adding a model skull to a dinosaur model collection.

Adding a model skull to a dinosaur model collection.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 There may be differences between the Papo T. rex dinosaur and the Safari Ltd T. rex skull as pictured above, but if you think about it, most museums have dinosaur fossils on display with images of the actual animals as envisaged by palaeontologists, surrounding the gallery, so that visitors can get an appreciation of how the animal may have looked.  The Safari Ltd dinosaur skull set consists of eleven different skulls.  Lots of schools and other educational establishments have contacted us and acquired these models, as they do make great teaching aids.  We even supply an identification chart with orders so that our customers can see at a glance which dinosaur skull is which.

Everything Dinosaur’s Identification Key to the Safari Ltd Dinosaur Skulls

Finely crafted models of dinosaur skulls.

Finely crafted models of dinosaur skulls.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 The Safari models are very well made and can be used in the way that Alex has suggested, that’s a super idea and thank you for sharing it.

To view the Papo range of prehistoric animals: Papo Dinosaurs etc.

To view the range of prehistoric animals including the skull set from Safari Ltd: Carnegie Collectibles and Wild Safari Dinos Models etc.

13 12, 2014

The Weird and Wonderful Cambrian

By | December 13th, 2014|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Famous Figures|0 Comments

Ancient Balloon Shaped Animal Sheds Light on Cambrian Fauna

A bizarre creature that resembled a “spiky balloon”, part of an amazing marine biota that thrived some 520 million years ago, has been named in honour of  a Leicester scientist who died earlier this year.  The finely-grained, fossiliferous beds around Chengjiang (southern China), are believed to rival the famous Burgess Shale beds of British Columbia, for the rocks in this part of the world were once the muds and silts that collected at the bottom of an ancient Cambrian sea.  Preserved within the layers of rock, over half a billion years old, are the remains of strange creatures that thrived at around the time of the very first animals with a notochord, the ancestor of today’s vertebrates, were evolving.

One such creature, which has a fossil described as being like “a crushed bird’s nest” has been named Nidelric pugio in honour of the late Professor Richard Aldridge, an internationally renowned palaeontologist and keen bird watcher.  He was a prominent member of the University of Leicester’s Department of Geology.  Fragmentary specimens of this creature had been found before, but this specimen preserves the majority of the animal and even though the fossil is distorted,  it has been identified as a type of chancellorid, a group of animals that have no direct descendants alive today.

Professor Aldridge was regarded as a world leader in the research into the Cambrian fossils found in the Chengjiang locality.  This prickly specimen measures around nine centimetres in total length and is just one of an incredible number of beautifully preserved creatures that hint at a rich and diverse marine ecosystem, a record of which  has been preserved as fossils.

The Bizarre Nidelric pugio – Like Nothing on Earth Today

An ancient pin cushion N. pugio

An ancient pin cushion N. pugio

Picture Credit: Leicester University

The name of the fossil is derived from the Latin “Nidus”, meaning bird’s nest  or a resemblance to such a structure and “adelric”, the Old English name “Aedelic”, which itself means “noble ruler”, the source for the surname Aldridge.

A Close Up of the Spikes that Surround this Animal

Ancient defences?

Ancient defences?

Picture Credit: Leicester University

One of the reasons stated for the “Cambrian explosion”, a rapid radiation and diversification of creatures during the latter stages of the Cambrian, is that food chains began to be established, whereby passive grazing and feeding as a result of serendipitous circumstances were replaced with predator/prey interactions.  The spikes that surrounded N. pugio, which measured just a few millimetres high, most likely had a defensive purpose.

The strata has permitted the preservation of these creatures in such perfect detail that even traces of their rudimentary nervous systems can be identified, as well as legs, guts, eyes and even that most advance element of the central nervous system – the brain.

To read more about this remarkable research: Ancient Arthropod Brain and Nervous System Studied

Professor Aldridge, passed away in February of this year.  He had a distinguished career in palaeontology and was regarded as an expert on Conodonts and early marine invertebrates.  He became a professor at Leicester University in 1996 and served as Head of the Department of Geology from 1998 to 2004.  He held he prestigious title of the F.W. Bennett Professorship at the University from 2002 until his retirement from the University three years ago.

Cambrian Creature Named in Honour of Professor Aldridge

Honoured for his contribution to palaeontology.

Honoured for his contribution to palaeontology.

Picture Credit: Leicester University

12 12, 2014

Was Mapusaurus bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex?

By | December 12th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products|3 Comments

Question from a Young Dinosaur Fan – Was Mapusaurus bigger than T. rex?

One of the many emails received this week was from a young dinosaur fan who asked the question was Mapusaurus from South America bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex?

The first fossilised remains of the dinosaur we now know as Mapusaurus (Mapusaurus roseae) were discovered in 1997, however, not in Africa where many giant meat-eating dinosaurs roamed, but in central Argentina (South America).  This dinosaur lived some thirty million years before Tyrannosaurus rex evolved.  A number of these dinosaurs were found together, this suggests that they lived in a pack and they may have specialised in attacking the huge Titanosaurs that shared their environment with them.  The biggest Mapusaurus specimen is approaching T. rex size at around twelve metres in length and perhaps weighing as much as six tonnes.  This makes it only just smaller than the largest T. rex specimen known.

However, the teeth, jaws and skull of Mapusaurus was very different.  Mapusaurus had a long, narrow, lighter skull, that was not as powerful as the Tyrannosaurus rex skull.  It had more teeth in the jaw, but each tooth was thinner and more narrow than typical T. rex teeth.  The teeth were probably sharper but it did not have anywhere as near a powerful bite.  Mapusaurus was probably a faster runner and more agile than T. rex.

A Model of the South American Dinosaur Mapusaurus (M. roseae)

Rose's Earth Reptile - Mapusaurus

Rose’s Earth Reptile – Mapusaurus

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above is the model of the carnivorous dinosaur Mapusaurus, one of Everything Dinosaur’s toys and dinosaur models.

11 12, 2014

Time to Focus on an Edmonton Bonebed

By | December 11th, 2014|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

The Danek Edmontosaurus Bonebed – Learning About Dinosaur Communities

Vertebrate bonebeds are fascinating places to explore and one particular dinosaur dominated fossil site is under scrutiny as the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences produces a special edition all about the Danek Edmontosaurus bonebed.  The exact location of this highly fossiliferous site is kept under wraps, for fear of vandalism and theft but this extensive jumble of prehistoric animal remains is providing palaeontologists with a tremendous insight into dinosaur behaviour, ontogeny and anatomy.  The site, part of the urban area of Edmonton, is called the Danek Edmontosaurus bonebed, as it was discovered by amateur fossil collector Danek Mozdzenski (March 31st 1989) and the vast majority of the fossil material has been attributed to the species Edmontosaurus regalis.  Bonebeds are known from a number of locations within the Province of Alberta, ironically during the early years of dinosaur fossil collecting in this part of Canada, many of them were ignored by palaeontologists as they strove to find, identify and extract much more complete articulated specimens for study and for museum collections.

Initial excavations at the site by the Royal Tyrrell Museum from 1989 to 1991 led to the collection of eighty specimens, including one partially articulated skeleton.  The site was reopened by the University of Alberta Laboratory for Vertebrate Palaeontology back in 2006, so far another eight hundred fossils have been catalogued.

The site, which dates from the end of the Cretaceous is stratigraphically contentious, its age has been debated (Campanian to Maastrichtian faunal stages).  Radiometric dating of microscopic zircons deposited, most likely as a result of volcanic activity and found just below the main bone bearing layer indicate the site may represent a sequence in geological time perhaps as long as 100,000 years.  Large groups of dinosaurs may have migrated along a huge river valley.  From time to time, catastrophic events would overtake the dinosaurs leading to mass mortalities.  Amongst the Edmontosaurus bones, scientists have found evidence of horned dinosaurs, Ornithomimids, evidence of tyrannosaurids (Albertosaurus) as well as smaller predators such as Troodon and Sauronitholestes.

An Illustration of Edmontosaurus regalis

Edmontosaurus a member of the Hadrosaurine group of duck-billed dinosaurs.

Edmontosaurus a member of the Hadrosaurine group of duck-billed dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Danek Edmontosaurus bonebed provides an excellent location for palaeontology students to practice their field craft skills.  Due to the amount of fossil material preserved, the exceptional state of preservation and the volume of associated material the Danek Edmontosaurus bonebed lends itself to a wide range of research projects.

Students and Supervisors Working at the Danek Edmontosaurus Bonebed

The site is ideal for field work.

The site is ideal for field work.

Picture Credit: Victoria Arbour

In addition to the extensive dinosaur remains found, the sediments that make up the bonebed are rich in organic matter.  This organic matter can be studied to help reconstruct the palaeoenvironment of this part of Canada during the Late Cretaceous.  Pieces of amber (fossilised tree resin) found at the site indicate that the river valley area was surrounded by extensive conifer forests – rich feeding grounds for the highly efficient feeders – the Edmontosaurs.

The site will continue to play an important role in helping to teach and train the next generation of palaeontologists and field technicians.

Commenting on the importance of the special edition of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, dedicated to the Danek Edmontosaurus bonebed, Professor Phil Currie (University of Alberta) exclaimed:

“This collection of papers represents a significant contribution to our understanding of the dinosaurs that lived in prehistoric Edmonton.”

10 12, 2014

The Earliest Horned Dinosaur in North America?

By | December 10th, 2014|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Aquilops americanus – The Implications

When it comes to the horned dinosaurs of North America, there has been a lot of focus in the last few years on mapping the extraordinary diversity of Ceratopsians that once roamed the landmass known as Laramidia.   There has been much debate over the ethnicity of the Dinosauria, as suggested by the myriad of fossil finds and indeed the debate has been reignited recently with the publication of the research undertaken by the UK’s Dr. Nick Longrich and the “northern Pentaceratops” – Pentaceratops aquilonius.  Let’s face it, ever since the publication of “New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs”, there seems to have been an addition to the Late Cretaceous Ceratopsidae every couple of months or so.  For instance, Mojoceratops, Kosmoceratops, Utahceratops, Nasutoceratops, Xenoceratops and so forth.

To read about the recent research of Dr. Nick Longrich: Finding a New Species of Horned Dinosaur in a Canadian Museum.

However, many scientists have been turning their attention to another part of the horned dinosaur’s family tree.  These researchers have been trying to piece together (literally), the fossil evidence that hints at the presence of basal, more primitive members of this great group of Ornithischians much earlier in the Cretaceous of North America.  The search for the Neoceratopsian dinosaurs, may not garner quite the same publicity as work on their Campanian and Maastrichtian cousins such as Styracosaurus and Triceratops, but this dedicated team are helping scientists to understand how these dinosaurs evolved and migrated out of their Asian ancestral home.

That is why the paper published this week in the academic journal PLOS One is so important.  This paper describes the partial skull and lower jaw of a horned dinosaur, the fossils represent the earliest evidence of Neoceratopsian dinosaurs recorded in North America.  Say hello to Aquilops americanus, about the size of a King Charles spaniel that roamed southern Montana somewhere between 109 and 104 million years ago.

 A Tiny Skull that is Making a Big Difference

Skull fossil that can sit in the palm of your hand.

Skull fossil that can sit in the palm of your hand.

Picture Credit: Reuters

Prior to this fossil discovery, the Neoceratopsian dinosaurs of North America were represented by isolated teeth and skull fragments, collected from places as far apart as Utah and Maryland, the Cedar Mountain Formation and the Arundel Formation respectively.  The paucity of the fossil record was severely hampering the work of scientists as they tried to understand the pattern of migrations between Asia and North America.  During the Cretaceous, Asia and North America were joined, they shared a land bridge between them, most likely there were many occasions when fluctuating sea levels and geological activity permitted a land bridge to be formed.  It seems that the horned dinosaurs evolved in Asia but migrated via what is now the Bering Straits over to Canada and the United States.  Aquilops seems closely related to Early Cretaceous horned dinosaurs known from Asia such as Liaoceratops and Auroraceratops, it has been speculated that there were at least intermittent connections between these two continents throughout the Late Early Cretaceous, likely followed by a long period of geographic isolation that permitted a number of new genera to evolve before a final reconnection towards the end of the Mesozoic.

The skull measures just 8.4cm in length, it is likely that Aquilops americanus (the name means “American eagle face”), was an unobtrusive herbivore, selectively grazing young shoots and leaves from the protection of the undergrowth.  It may even have been nocturnal or perhaps it may have lived in a burrow.

Line Drawing of the Skull and a Reconstruction of the Dinosaur

Skull sketches top and middle with an artist's impression underneath.

Skull sketches top and middle with an artist’s impression underneath.

Picture Credit: PLOS One, life restoration by Brian Engh

 The line drawings of the skull have been based on better known Neoceratopsian specimens from Asia.  Note the large orbit (eye-socket), this has led to speculation that this little dinosaur may have lived in low light conditions or might possibly have been nocturnal.

Commenting on the study, one of the authors of the scientific paper Dr. Andrew Farke (Raymond M. Alf Museum of Palaeontology, California) stated:

“This was a small plant-eater and we know from its hooked beak that it was pretty selective, nipping off whatever vegetation was around.”

 An Illustration of Aquilops americanus

Earliest horned dinosaur known from North America.

Earliest horned dinosaur known from North America.

Picture Credit: Brian Engh/Raymond M. Alf Museum of Palaeontology

One of the mysteries with the Ceratopsian dinosaurs is when did the Asian migrations occur, and where there any significant migrations of North American fauna into Asia?  Before this discovery, the oldest known horned dinosaur from North America was Zuniceratops, which roamed New Mexico and Arizona some 90 million years ago.

Dr. Farke added:

“Aquilops lived nearly twenty million years before the next oldest horned dinosaur named [and described] from North America.  Even so, we were surprised that it was more closely related to Asian animals than those from North America.”

The discovery of these fossils, does support the theory that these type of bird-hipped dinosaurs did evolve in Asia and that they spread into North America, most likely via a northern latitude route, however, as the authors of this scientific paper say themselves, more field studies and more fossils will be needed before anyone can state anything else with a degree of certainty.

9 12, 2014

Last Recommended Posting Dates (Airmail to Canada and Poland)

By | December 9th, 2014|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Tuesday 9th Last Recommended Posting Dates (Airmail to Canada and Poland

Christmas orders are in full swing at Everything Dinosaur and our team members are busy preparing, packing and despatching customer orders as fast as they can.  Today, Tuesday 9th December, is the last recommended posting date (Royal Mail) for airmail parcels, now called International Standard to be sent to Poland and Canada.  Orders placed after today, for delivery into Poland or Canada may not arrive in time for Christmas.

Last Recommended Posting Dates Christmas 2014 (Royal Mail)

Helpful table about Christmas posting dates.

Helpful table about Christmas posting dates.

Table Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Royal Mail

Parcel services are expected to be stretched as once again, on line retail sales are likely to set new records.  Everything Dinosaur is doing all it can to ensure parcels are packed and sent out as quickly as possible.  Although we would ask all customers to purchase as early as possible to avoid any potential disappointment as a result of a parcel not arriving in time for the big day.

A spokesperson for the company stated:

“We are doing all we can to ensure a rapid despatch of orders for our customers.  We have implemented Saturday morning packing and Saturday collections to speed up deliveries and our team members are working extra long hours to ensure we are on top of orders.”

The many Christmas cards received have been put up in the warehouse to keep everyone happy and cheerful at this very busy time of year.  Not quite got round to putting tinsel on the T. rex yet though.

8 12, 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs – Birth of a Dinosaur Footprint

By | December 8th, 2014|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Getting Under the Skin of a Dinosaur’s Foot

The footprints of prehistoric animals preserved as fossils can provide scientists with a wealth of information.  However, in a research project involving Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island) and the Royal Veterinary College, steps have been taken (no pun intended), to get a much more complete understanding of how ancient creatures walked.  It’s question of applying a number of highly technical research methods to step into the footsteps of a dinosaur, this research certainly adds a whole new meaning to “Walking with Dinosaurs”.

Providing a Deeper Understanding About Fossil Footprints

Sauropod footprint, the hand provides scale.

Sauropod footprint, the hand provides scale.

Picture Credit: AFP Photo/Igor Sasin

Dr. Peter Falkingham, a Research Fellow at the Royal Veterinary College (London) and co-author, Professor Stephen Gatesy (Brown University), attempted to map the displacement and complex re-organisation of sediment that takes place when a footprint is formed.  Put simply, imagine you are walking on the beach, across wet sand.  As you proceed across the sediment you will create footprints, these are visible impressions left in the surface layer, however, as your bodyweight moves across the sand, it will have an impact on the sand particles that surround and are underneath the area that you have just walked over.  In a unique experiment, the scientists have been able to create visual images of the re-organisation of particles involved in footprint formation.  This research can help ichnologists (the term used to describe a specialist in studying trace fossils), interpret dinosaur footprints, thus in turn providing palaeontologists with a better understanding of prehistoric animal locomotion.

A variety of techniques were used to create visual images of three-dimensional footprints.  Firstly, a guineafowl (Galliformes) was persuaded to walk across a bed of poppy seeds.  The poppy seeds and the way that they were moved would mimic the action of the substrate as if it were soft sand.   The virtual footprint was created by combining two X-ray videos with a digital skeletal model of the bird’s legs derived from CT scans and a three-dimensional motion analysis called X-ray Reconstruction and Moving Morphology (XROMM), which had been developed at Brown University.  This technology enabled the research team to reconstruct the motions of the bird’s foot in three dimensions, even when the toes are hidden from sight as they sink into the sediment.

Which Came First the Guineafowl or the Virtual Simulation of a Dinosaur Footprint?

Cutting edge research combined with a Guinea Fowl.

Cutting edge research combined with a guineafowl.

Picture Credit: Royal Veterinary College/Brown University

The picture above shows the hind limb bones of the guineafowl, projected in three dimensions along with the footprints formed.

Commenting on this ground-breaking research (literally), Dr. Falkingham stated:

“By observing how a footprint is formed, from the moment the foot hits the sediment until it leaves, we can directly associate motions with features left behind in the track.  We can then study a fossil track left by a dinosaur and say, OK, these features of the track are similar, but these are different, so what does that mean for the way the animal was walking?”

A powerful computer programme was used to analyse and interpret the data, so that a virtual footprint that had been generated could be observed as an impression at the surface and also below the surface of the substrate.  Being able to directly associate movements of the foot with features of the footprint, both on the surface and deeper into the sediment, opens up the possibility of more accurately reconstructing the way in which long extinct creatures moved.

The Simulated Footprint (Guineafowl Footprint)

The footprint mapped at 1cm below the surface layer.

The footprint mapped at 1cm below the surface layer.

Picture Credit: Royal Veterinary College/Brown University

Professor Gatesy added:

“Footprints are not just simple moulds of the bottom of the foot, so it’s important to understand how the dynamic interaction between a living animal and the substrate give rise to a track’s 3-D shape”.

The team’s findings, published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, could help palaeontologists better understand how dinosaurs walked and perhaps build up a picture of how dinosaur locomotion changed as the Dinosauria evolved. Moving forward, (again no pun intended), the advent of  XROMM technology could help researchers explore how early hominids adapted to a bipedal stance.

7 12, 2014

His and Her Trilobites

By | December 7th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Geology|0 Comments

Dorset Fossil Expert Sends Everything Dinosaur Trilobites

For Brandon Lennon, fossil expert and Ammonite polisher supreme, this time of year is very busy as he prepares for the public Lyme Regis fossil walks which start again on Saturday 14th February.  February 2015, may seem a long way off, but for someone who spends his time studying the extensive fossil beds on this part of Dorset coast, it is merely a blink in geological time away.  Over the winter months, Brandon will be examining tide tables, looking at where rock falls and mud slides occur and plotting the best walks for those members of the public lucky enough to join him on his fossil finding adventures.

Brandon Lennon – Looking Forward to More Fossil Collecting in 2015

Exciting Plesiosaur Fossil Discovery

Exciting Plesiosaur Fossil Discovery

The picture above shows Brandon, with some beautifully preserved vertebrae from a Plesiosaurus, a marine reptile, fossils of which can be found eroding out of the cliffs on some parts of the Dorset coast.  Next year, marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of the world’s first extensive geological map.  The map that plotted the geology of England, Wales and parts of Scotland was created by the surveyor William Smith, (1769-1839), nick-named “strata Smith”, as it was Smith who used knowledge about which types of fossils could be found in which types of rock to plot the depositional sequence of strata.

This map, with its catchy title “A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland*, is regarded by many scientists and cartographers as one of the most important and significant maps ever created, it has even been dubbed “the map that changed the world”.  The geology of the Dorset coast is included, it forms one of fifteen sections that when combined produce the geological map.  Brandon and his father (a retired geologist), would be able to recognise the underlying geology as identified by Smith all those years ago.  Being able to identify the best places to look when it comes to finding fossils is a key skill for a leader of guided fossil walks and Brandon has more than twenty years experience in the role.

For further information on Guided Fossil Walks in the Lyme Regis area: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

Brandon’s extensive interests are not confined to Jurassic aged sediments.  The other day, he kindly sent Everything Dinosaur a couple of Trilobite specimens to add to our Arthropod fossil collection.  Most vertebrate palaeontologists, when quizzed, will openly admit to having a passion for all things Trilobita.  These entirely marine relatives of crustaceans, insects and spiders, evolved during the Cambrian and survived right up to the End Permian mass extinction event.  Trilobites come in all shapes and sizes and the two specimens sent to us by Brandon are fine examples of the genus Calymene (the genus name means “beautiful crescent” and it is pronounced kal-im-minny).  These particular fossils probably come from Morocco and date from the Late Ordovician, making them approximately 270 million years older than the strata explored by Brandon and the groups he takes out on his fossil walks.

We have nick-named the Trilobites “Mike and Sue”.

Trilobite Fossils Sent to Everything Dinosaur by Brandon Lennon

"Mike and Sue" - the Trilobites.

“Mike and Sue” – the Trilobites.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read more about Brandon’s fossil hunting adventures including an article on Ammonite polishing: Fossil Experts Demonstrate Their Skills

*In Georgian times, in nascent scientific circles, there was a trend to give extremely long titles to publications.  It seems a case of don’t use one word when five words would do instead.  The full title of the 1815 geological survey map is:

“A  Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland, exhibiting the collieries and mines, the marshes and fen lands originally overflowed by the sea, and the varieties of soil according to the variations in the substrata, illustrated by the most descriptive names by W. Smith.”

6 12, 2014

Was there a Dinosaur Called Lufengosaurus?

By | December 6th, 2014|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Lufeng Lizard – “Lufengosaurus huenei”

An interesting question was sent in the other day by a young dinosaur fan.  He wanted to know whether there really was a dinosaur called Lufengosaurus and if it existed, what sort of dinosaur was it?  An intriguing question, so our team members set about providing an answer.

Lufengosaurus lived during the very Early Jurassic in south-western China.  Its fossils are associated with the Lufeng Formation (hence this dinosaur’s name).  It was named and described back in 1941, a time when western science had very limited access to Chinese scholars and their work.  This dinosaur remained very much off the radar for many museums and academics in the West.  A second species was erected a few years later, but it is now thought that the fossilised remains associated with this second species are actually older, larger individuals representing Lufengosaurus huenei so this second species may not be valid.  Lufengosaurus was named by the Chinese scientist Chung Chien Young (Yang Zhongjian).

An Illustration of Lufengosaurus

A scale drawing of Lufengosaurus.

A scale drawing of Lufengosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This dinosaur, one of the largest known from the Early Jurassic was a member of the lizard-hipped group (Saurischia).  More specifically it was a Sauropodomorph and closely related to Massospondylus which also lived in the Early Jurassic (South Africa).  In the mid 1980’s another species of Lufengosaurus was described, this time based on a specimen discovered in Tibet (Lufengosaurus changduensis) although this specimen has not been formally described and no holotype fossil material assigned so the species name currently has a nomen nudum status.

The hind limbs were longer than the front limbs so this dinosaur could have adopted a bipedal stance, although it probably spent most of its time ambling along on all fours. The neck is proportionally longer than in other Sauropodomoprhs and it had distinctive lumps and bumps on its cheek bones.  It was most likely entirely herbivorous, the jaw was lined with tightly packed teeth well suited to coping with a diet of tree leaves and ferns, although it possessed a disproportionately large thumb claw, which some scientists have suggested was used to attack and subdue smaller animals, suggesting that this dinosaur was an omnivore.  Other palaeontologists have disputed this idea, proposing that the claws and that large thumb claw in particular may have been used for defence or to help pull down branches so that it could feed more easily.

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