All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
31 01, 2015

Colourful Dinosaur Display in a Reception Classroom

By | January 31st, 2015|Early Years Foundation Reception, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Colourful Dinosaur Display in a Reception Classroom

St Michael and St John’s Primary School Pupils Learn About Dinosaurs

Children in the Reception class at St Michael and St John’s  Primary have been learning all about dinosaurs this term and our dinosaur expert was most impressed with evidence of applied learning.  Some of the children had brought in their dinosaur books to show our expert who was at the school to conduct a dinosaur workshop with the class.  The children were keen to point out their favourite dinosaurs which included Stegosaurus and Triceratops.

The classroom walls had been decorated with lots of work from the term topic, including dinosaur pictures helping the children to get to grips with addition and subtraction.  The eager, young dinosaur fans had even been designing their own dinosaurs and they had carefully considered what this might entail by preparing questions about their intended dinosaur design on post-it notes.

The Children Had Thought Carefully About their Dinosaur Designs

Reception class explore issues like habitat, diet and colour for their dinosaurs.

Reception class explore issues like habitat, diet and colour for their dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The topic had certainly helped the children develop confidence with their reading and writing skills.  Year 3 who had been studying rocks and fossils also had a fossil workshop with Everything Dinosaur on the same morning.  Some of the children had even brought in fossils to show the session leader.  In this workshop, the focus was on how fossils form, what sort of rocks contain fossils and what fossils can tell scientists about animals that lived long ago.

31 01, 2015

Strange Hominin Fossils From China – A New Species?

By | January 31st, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Hominin Fossils from Northern China Could be a New Species

A new study of fossilised teeth and jaw fragments found in a cave back in 1976, suggests the possibility of an unknown species of human living in northern China between 120,000 and 60,000 years ago.  A paper published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology concludes that the teeth have similarities with Homo neanderthalensis and the much older hominid species H. erectus.

The research was carried out by a team of scientists from Beijing’s Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in conjunction with anthropologists from the National Research Centre on Human Evolution (Burgos, Spain).  The fossils represent the remains of four individuals and the teeth do not resemble those of modern humans.  Instead, they possess a range of primitive and more derived features, this could indicate a new species, yet to be described or possibly a hybrid hominid, a result of interbreeding between two already described species.  The fossils were found in a cave close to the village of  Xujiayao, Yanggao County in Northern China.  The site is approximately 120 miles west of Beijing.

María Martinón-Torres (National Research Centre on Human Evolution), explained that the research team examined the size and shape of the tooth crowns and their associated root system, the groves, cusps and crests.  These features were then compared to over five thousand fossil teeth representing nearly all the known hominin species.  The features of teeth are diagnostic when it comes to determining species and phylogenetic relationships.

The Xujiayao Fossil Teeth Compared to a Modern Human

The Xujiayao cave teeth (left) are compared to a modern human (right).

The Xujiayao cave teeth (left) are compared to a modern human (right).

Picture Credit: Dr. Martinón-Torres with additional annotation from Everything Dinosaur

Dr. Martinón-Torres, a specialist in ancient hominin dentition stated:

“Teeth are like landscapes in miniature.  Each of those slopes, grooves and valleys define a pattern or combination of features that can be distinctive of a population.”

Although a number of palaeoanthropologists have challenged the team’s results and all agree that more fossil material from ancient Asian hominins is required so that a more complete picture can be built up, this study does raise the possibility that there may have been an as yet, unknown species of human living in northern China as recently as sixty thousand years ago.

Given the size of Asia and its relative remoteness thanks to foreboding geological features such as the Ural mountains and the Himalayas, it is not surprising that isolated pockets of early hominins could have evolved distinct characteristics.  Or indeed, given the harsh environment and tough lives of these ancient humans it is not entirely surprising that interbreeding did occur between closely related species that overlapped territories.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur predict that more hominin fossils will be found in Asia that further complicate the relationships between the various recognised species.

Back in 2012, Everything Dinosaur reported on a study of human fossil remains found in south China that could represent a new species of hominin.  These ancient humans were nicknamed the “Red Deer People” and they lived much more recently than the Xujiayao hominins.  The research was carried out by scientists from the University of New South Wales and one of the researchers involved in this earlier study, Darren Curnoe, supports the idea of the Xujiayao fossils being a separate species.  He stated that although the sample was small, the unique characteristics of the teeth did suggest that a new species had been found.

The Associate Professor commented:

“It strongly suggests the presence of a previously unrecognised species.  There’s little doubt in my mind that these teeth stand out as something unique.”

To read more about the research into China’s “Red Deer People”:  Stone Age Remains from Southern China Might Represent Entirely New Human Species

Most palaeoanthropologists accept that from the Middle to the early Late Pleistocene Epoch, a time interval that spans from about 340,000 years ago to 90,000 years ago, Neanderthals occupied Europe and western Asia.  Anatomically modern humans were present in Africa, but the paucity of fossil material prevents scientists from describing the hominin populations of most of Asia.  Furthermore, the evolutionary interaction between eastern populations of hominins and those from Europe and Africa remains poorly understood.  The Xujiayao teeth sample expands the variability for early Late Pleistocene hominin fossils and also suggest that a primitive early human lineage may have survived into the Late Pleistocene in northern China.

30 01, 2015

Dinosaurs Helping Reception

By | January 30th, 2015|Educational Activities, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaurs Help Reception with Vocabulary and Maths

Children in Reception class at St Michael and St John’s R.C. school have been learning all about dinosaurs this term.  With the enthusiastic help of teachers Mrs Collinge, Mrs Clarkson and teaching assistants Mrs Venguedasalon and Mrs Lambert the budding young palaeontologists have been designing their very own dinosaurs and creating lots of very colourful artwork.  The children have been exploring some of the vocabulary associated with prehistoric animals, there was plenty of evidence of meat-eaters, plant-eaters and other terms related to animals, habitats and food chains.

Imaginative, Creative Dinosaurs on Display

Colourful dinosaurs including a "Spikeosaurus".

Colourful dinosaurs including a “Spikeosaurus”.

Picture Credit: St Michael and St John’s R.C. School/Everything Dinosaur

The children had designed their own dinosaur and a number of very imaginative creations were on show, surrounding a large, red “Spikosaurus” with its green spotted tail.  Reception class has thought hard about the sort of questions they would like answers to as they explored dinosaurs and part of the children’s display featured post-it notes with questions the children had written.

Questions All About Dinosaurs

All about dinosaurs.

All about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: St Michael and St John’s R.C. School/Everything Dinosaur

Care had been taken with the use of capital letters and full stops and it was clear that phonics sounds had helped the pupils to write their questions down as they considered how to design their very own dinosaur.  There were many examples around the classroom demonstrating how literacy aims had been woven into the prehistoric animal themed teaching activities.  Numeracy and confidence with numbers had also been carefully considered as part of the scheme of work.  Part of classroom had been dedicated to a dinosaur themed addition and subtraction area, with pictures of Triceratops, Apatosaurus and other dinosaurs being used to help the children familiarise themselves with terms associated with adding and taking away.

Dinosaurs Explore Numeracy

Subtracting dinosaurs

Subtracting dinosaurs

Picture Credit: St Michael and St John’s R.C. School/Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur had visited the school in support of the term topic, conducting a morning of activities with Reception and Class Three.  Both classrooms were covered in examples of the children’s work. Class Three had compiled an impressive timeline which explained key developments in the history of human civilisation.  Our visit helped to reinforce learning as these Lower Key Stage 2 children explored rocks and fossils.  One little boy in Class Three even brought in a lovely fossil of a fish and some of the Reception children showed us their dinosaur books.

We had a great time helping the children learn about life in the past and how fossils form, the school is certainly a vibrant, dynamic learning environment.

29 01, 2015

Prehistoric Times Magazine Reviewed (Issue 112)

By | January 29th, 2015|Magazine Reviews, Main Page, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

Winter 2015 Prehistoric Times Magazine Reviewed

Having had the chance to read the latest edition of the dinosaur model collectors magazine “Prehistoric Times”, it is time to write a quick review of issue 112 (winter 2015).  Once again the magazine is jam-packed with articles, information and features that is going to make dinosaur fans forget about waiting for new “Jurassic World” trailers, well, for a while at least anyway.  Ukrainian artist Sergey Krasovskiy is interviewed by Mike Fredericks and the article showcases some of Sergey’s amazing illustrations.  We learn that at the moment Sergey is currently working on a number of “English language projects” and given the problems in his home country at the moment we wish him well with his endeavours.

Prehistoric Times (Winter 2015)

A pair of battling Tyrannotitans are featured on the front cover.

A pair of battling Tyrannotitans are featured on the front cover.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

The front cover of the latest edition of Prehistoric Times features a pair of squabbling Tyrannotitans.  This watercolour was painted by Sergey Krasovskiy who is featured in an interview inside.  The face biting behaviour as depicted in the picture is supported by pathology found on the skulls and jaws of several Theropod genera.

One of the featured prehistoric animals in this edition is Apatosaurus.  Such was the influx of artwork submitted by readers that more images will be included in the 2015 summer issue.  Phil Hore provides a commentary about how our perceptions of this iconic Sauropod have changed over the years and the talented Tracey Lee Ford adds to the debate by presenting his thoughts on the Aptatosaurus versus Brontosaurus debate in his excellent “How to Draw Dinosaurs” feature.  Phil also guides us through in his own words a “quick history” of Liopleurodon.  Once again, this well written piece contains lots of reader submitted artwork, including an illustration by Mr Krasovskiy which shows a Liopleurodon grubbing about on the seabed in search of stones to be swallowed as ballast/gastroliths for this nektonic predator.

Allen A. Debus takes us back down memory lane as he recalls the many life-size models made in the 1960’s.  Steve Brusatte, (University of Edinburgh), does well to shoe-horn a review of major palaeontology news stories of last year into three pages, yes we know the word “palaeontology” is spelt in the American fashion, but Steve is an American after all and “PT” as fans call it is an American magazine.  Everything Dinosaur has covered the stories in a little more depth on this blog, but Steve’s contribution to this issue provides an excellent summary of major discoveries and research findings.  Amongst the news stories, product updates and book reviews, the editor Mike Fredericks has dedicated a double page spread to miscellaneous artwork sent in.  This really does show the breadth and depth of talent out there with stunning images from the likes of Davide Bonadonna, John Sibbick and Nathan E. Rogers.

Long-time dinosaur model collector (and geologist), Mike Howgate delivers an interesting article that delves into the advent of promotional prehistoric animal models.  Entitled “Mesozoic Musings”, we look forward to hearing more from this talented individual who spends his time between dinosaur model collecting and his other extensive interests which include giving guiding walking tours of the City of London.

To learn more about the magazine “Prehistoric Times” and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times

From digital dinosaurs to dinosaur displays and drawings, the latest issue of “Prehistoric Times”, just like the Tyrannotitans on the front cover,  has a great deal to get your teeth into!

29 01, 2015

Creative, Imaginative Dinosaur Play with Reception

By | January 29th, 2015|Early Years Foundation Reception|Comments Off on Creative, Imaginative Dinosaur Play with Reception

Reception Class Build a Dinosaur Habitat

The Reception class at Hambleton C of E Primary had a dinosaur day inspired by a visit to their school by Everything Dinosaur.  Whilst our team member was working with Key Stage 1 classes in the morning, the Reception class children built a habitat for their dinosaur toys and they proudly showed off the school’s very own “Jurassic Park” to our dinosaur expert.  Using various resources from the classroom, the children had built a mountain for the dinosaurs to live on, including a cave where they could shelter.  A river flowed passed and our expert was reliable informed that dinosaurs like most animals, needed water to drink and this is where they could quench their thirsts.

Reception Class Build a Prehistoric Playground for Dinosaurs

Learning through creative, imaginative play.

Learning through creative, imaginative play.

Picture Credit: Hambleton C of E Primary/Everything Dinosaur

When it came to the biggest and heaviest dinosaurs climbing up to the top, the children had carefully thought about what could be done to assist them.   As a result, a dinosaur friendly ramp was constructed.  Our expert was told several facts about dinosaurs and the budding young palaeontologists were keen to point out the large lake they had drawn so that the dinosaurs could go for a swim.  This was a great activity, combining creative, imaginative play with elements of the national curriculum involving shapes, vocabulary and animals living today and animals from the past.

This was a wonderful demonstration of kinesthetic learning, the use of a learning style that involves children undertaking a physical activity and “doing” rather than “listening”.

To request more information about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Contact Everything Dinosaur

28 01, 2015

Dinosaurs – Science Topic

By | January 28th, 2015|Educational Activities, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 1 and Reception Enjoy Learning About Dinosaurs

Children at Hambleton C of E Primary School had an exciting day learning all about dinosaurs and fossils as one of our dinosaur experts visited their school.  Year 1 have been studying dinosaurs for their science topic this term and the budding young palaeontologists had prepared a list of questions.  Answers were provided during the dinosaur workshop.  Questions asked included how did the dinosaurs become extinct?  What colour were dinosaurs?  Which was the biggest dinosaur of all?

Year 1 Had Prepared Questions all About Dinosaurs

Preparing questions about dinosaurs.

Preparing questions about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Hambleton C of E Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The children wanted to know all about Tyrannosaurus rex, Finlay asked how long did T. rex live for?  That’s an excellent question and one that was that not answered during the morning of dinosaur and fossil themed activities.  Like most animals, few Tyrannosaurs made it into adulthood.  Predation, disease, parasites, starvation and injuries would have all placed a heavy toll on a given population of these meat-eating, Theropods.  However, if a T. rex did survive into adulthood, then we estimate that it might have lived for some thirty years or so.  Calculating just how long a Tyrannosaurus rex lived is quite a tricky task, however, a number of studies have been published looking into the growth rates and potential life spans of the Dinosauria.

Here is a link to an article we published a few years ago that compared the growth rates of Tyrannosaurs and their potential prey (duck-billed dinosaurs): Duck-Billed Dinosaurs Grew Up Fast to Avoid Being Eaten

We certainly had some amazing questions from the Year 1 children.

Reception Has a Dinosaur Day

The enthusiastic prehistoric animal fans in Reception class had a dinosaur day to coincide with Everything Dinosaur’s visit.  Mrs Parkin and Mrs Bingham had prepared lots of themed activities and some of the children had brought in dinosaur toys from home. Whilst the Reception class waited for a “dinosaur egg” to hatch they set about building their very own prehistoric playground for the dinosaurs.  Our expert was shown where the dinosaurs could hide in the cave and where the river was so that the dinosaurs could have a drink and go for a swim if they wanted to.  It was great to see such imaginative, creative play.  The children were certainly engaged with the topic.

Reception Class Build a Playground for their Dinosaurs

A habitat for dinosaurs.

A habitat for dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Hambleton C of E Primary/Everything Dinosaur

We explored some of the vocabulary associated with animals and what they ate.  In addition, whilst building the dinosaur habitat, the children were learning about the resources that living things require to keep them alive.  One of the favourite parts of the dinosaur workshop was when the children got the chance to engage in role play, reproducing behaviours and pretending to be huge, herbivores.

27 01, 2015

A New Predatory Archosaur from the Middle Triassic of Southern Tanzania

By | January 27th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Nundasuchus songeaensis: New Triassic Archosaur Discovered in Tanzania

In the aftermath of the End Permian extinction event those terrestrial vertebrates that had managed to cling on found themselves with a host of newly opened up ecological niches to exploit.  Many vertebrates rapidly diversified and new lineages evolved to fill those gaps in the ecosystem vacated by genera and families that had died out.  The Archosaurs were typical and a myriad of new forms of these reptiles evolved as the Early Triassic gave way to the Middle Triassic.  Scientists led by researchers at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia, United States) have published a paper on a newly described genus of large, predatory Archosaur that may have been one of the apex predators around some 245 million years ago.  Say hello to Nundasuchus songeaensis, a fearsome, ancient ancestor of today’s crocodiles and birds.

 The Recovered Fossil Material Superimposed on a Reconstruction of the Reptile

Scale bar = 0.5 metres.

Scale bar = 0.5 metres.

Picture Credit: Sterling Nesbitt

The fossil material was discovered in 2007, during a field expedition to explore the fossiliferous Manda Beds exposed in southern and south-western Tanzania.  Sterling Nesbitt, was at the time a graduate student, he is now an Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences at Virginia Tech.  The highly fragmentary fossils had been eroding out of a small hillock and although most parts of the skeleton are represented (excluding cranial material), it has taken more than a 1,000 painstaking hours to restore and study the fossilised remains.

A Photograph of Some of the Fossils Collected by the  Team

About 10% of the entire skeleton is represented by the fossil material.

About 10% of the entire skeleton is represented by the fossil material.

Picture Credit: Robert Smith

The animal was clearly a predator and it would have been about the size of fully grown female American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), although unlike today’s modern crocodiles, the limb bones were held underneath the body and they did not spread out in a sprawling posture as seen in extent Crocodilians.  Nundasuchus (pronounced Noon-dah-suk-kus), would have been capable of more efficient locomotion, it probably hunted the ancestors of those other very well-known Archosaurs – the Dinosauria.

The researchers are unsure as to where this new genus sits in the Archosauriform family tree.  The skeleton shows anatomical traits found in the branch of the Archosaurs that led to the dinosaurs and birds, but it had bony armour (osteoderms) on its back like a crocodile.

Commenting on the significance of this discovery, Assistant Professor Nesbitt stated:

“There’s such a huge gap in our understanding around the time when the the common ancestor of birds and crocodilians was alive,  there isn’t a lot out there in the fossil record from that part of the reptile family tree.  This helps us fill in some gaps in the reptile family tree, but we’re still studying it and figuring out the implications.”

The name is derived from local Swahili “Nunda” for predator and the Greek for crocodile “Suchus”, the genus name therefore translates as “predator crocodile”.  The trivial name comes from the town of Songea, as this settlement is close to where the fossils were found.  Despite the fragmentary nature of the fossil material, Nundasuchus songeaensis represents one of the more complete early Middle Triassic (Anisian faunal stage), Archosaurs from southern Pangea and is part of a previously unrecognised early and diverse Archosauriform assemblage.

Sterling Nesbitt, who formerly held a post at Texas University, has been involved in a number of studies into the evolutionary development of African Triassic fauna.  Back in 2010, Everything Dinosaur reported on another research project in Tanzania involving Assistant Professor Nesbitt.  Fossils found indicated that the Dinosauria may have evolved earlier than previously thought.

To read this article: Pushing Back the Evolution of the First Dinosaurs by Ten Million Years

26 01, 2015

Class 2 Learn about Global Dinosaurs

By | January 26th, 2015|Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Class 2 Learn about Global Dinosaurs

Key Stage One Children Learn All About Life in the Past

Children in Class 2 have been learning all about dinosaurs, prehistoric animals and life in the past.  Dinosaur fossils have even been found in Antarctica, a fact that the children in Miss Butterfield’s class now know as they made world maps and plotted where certain types of dinosaur lived.  Stegosaurus fossils have been found in the western United States, whilst the speedy Velociraptor lived in Russia, China and Mongolia.  As well has helping the children to learn about the continents and the countries of the world, the dinosaur term topic has been used to help the children explore the properties of different materials.

The classroom was filled with lots of wonderful models, posters and sculptures featuring dinosaurs.  The Year two children had been challenged to think carefully about the right media and what art materials should be used as they created and designed prehistoric animal figures and replicas.

Some Very Colourful Artwork on Display

Different media used to make models of dinosaurs.

Different media used to make models of dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Class 2/Everything Dinosaur

The children had even made a “life-size” replica of the fearsome, meat-eating dinosaur Velociraptor (V. mongoliensis) and our fossil expert who visited the school to conduct a dinosaur themed workshop, was informed that Velociraptor was actually quite a small dinosaur about one metre tall and around two metres in length.

A Velociraptor Sculpture in the Classroom

On guard in the classroom.

On guard in the classroom.

Picture Credit: Class 2/Everything Dinosaur

26 01, 2015

Class Two Study Dinosaurs

By | January 26th, 2015|Educational Activities, Teaching|0 Comments

Learning All About Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals with Class Two

A very busy morning with the Year 2 class at St Malachy’s R.C. Primary who have been studying dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.  The children had been learning all about when the dinosaurs lived, where they lived and how they became extinct.  Miss Butterfield and Mrs Parker had been teaching the children all about continents and countries and a most impressive map had been created which showed where in the world some dinosaurs lived.

Mapping the Dinosaurs

Where did dinosaurs live?

Where did dinosaurs live?

Picture Credit: Class 2

Can you spot a spelling mistake?  We wonder if any of the children have spotted the mistake, we think this is the teacher’s very clever way of encouraging the children to be observant.

As part of the ICT element of the curriculum for the spring term, the children had been making some dinosaur posters and learning how to copy and paste material from the internet.  Some lovely examples of posters were on display on the classroom wall and outside in the corridor.  They certainly brightened up the corridor.  Our dinosaur expert set the class some challenges, one of which was to come up with some science posters based on the information provided.  In addition, the children demonstrated their use of adjectives and we had some wonderful examples, especially when it came to describing the fossil teeth.

To cater for the design/technology (DT) and art elements of the curriculum, teacher Miss Butterfield, aided by Mrs Parker (teaching assistant) had been helping the children to design and create different prehistoric animal models, including a super sculpture of a fearsome Velociraptor.

A Wonderful Sculpture of a Velociraptor

On guard in the classroom.

On guard in the classroom.

Picture Credit: Class 2

The children had to think carefully about which materials to choose and they had been challenged to use different media to create their prehistoric animal pictures.  We saw some lovely examples of artwork including a dinosaur called “Spike-0-saurus”, a very spiky dinosaur, hence his name.

Making Dinosaur Models and Artwork Using Different Resources

Lots of colourful prehistoric animals on display.

Lots of colourful prehistoric animals on display.

Picture Credit: Class 2

So many different types of dinosaur model had been made that some had even been put on display outside in the corridor.  It made our dinosaur expert feel very happy as he passed lots of models of Stegosaurs on his way to the classroom.  The children compared parts of their bodies to the bodies of dinosaurs, some of the bones and casts that the children saw helped them to appreciate just how big some dinosaurs were.   It looks like Class 2 are having fun learning all about palaeontologists and life in the past.

25 01, 2015

Quick Video Preview of New 2015 Papo Models

By | January 25th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos|0 Comments

Papo Young Apatosaurus and the Papo Tupuxuara Models

Here is a quick video that showcases two of the new for 2015 prehistoric animal models from Papo.  The video features the Young Apatosaurus replica, (dimensions confirmed as being 37cm long, 13cm high) and the excellent Pterosaur figure – a Tupuxuara.  In this short, (43 second video), we also compare these two models to the enormous Papo Brachiosaurus dinosaur model that was introduced in the autumn of 2012.  The Tupuxuara Pterosaur may be small but it is beautifully painted and the crest detail is superb.

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Preview of the Young Apatosaurus and the Tupuxuara Models (Papo)

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Papo models: Papo Prehistoric Animal Replicas and Models

The Papo Brachiosaurus measures a whopping 40cm in length, the head is some 32cm high.  We used this model to provide a scale to compare the two new additions to the Papo range.  The Young Apatosaurus, in our view, represents a sub-adult, think of this replica as representing a teenage dinosaur.

Both the Papo Tupuxuara and the Papo Young Apatosaurus models are expected to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur early March, although they could arrive a little earlier.  Check out this web log and Everything Dinosaur’s social media pages for updates.

The Papo Tupuxuara Pterosaur Model

Watch out, a Pterosaur is coming this way.

Watch out, a Pterosaur is coming this way.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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