All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
6 05, 2015

Dinosaurs and More Dinosaurs in 2015

By | May 6th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

“Dinosaur Britain” Documentary Commissioned by ITV

By now it could not possibly have escaped your notice that “Jurassic World”, the fourth in the “Jurassic Park” movie franchise opens next month (June 12th).  Another teaser trailer has just been put out and the film is certainly one of the most eagerly awaited cinema events of this year.  However, you don’t have to visit Isla Nublar to view dinosaurs, travel back in time and “dear old blighty” was home to a huge range of prehistoric animals including three types of Tyrannosaurs*.

The very first scientific descriptions of dinosaurs in the early to mid 19th Century were all based upon fossil discoveries made in the UK.  To mark the United Kingdom’s contribution to this sub-division of vertebrate palaeontology, ITV has commissioned the production company Maverick Television to transport Britain back to the Mesozoic to depict how this part of the world was once home to a myriad of prehistoric animals.

“Dinosaur Britain” A New Television Documentary

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Different dinosaurs and approximate locations.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 Over one hundred different species of dinosaur have been identified so far from fossils found in the British Isles.  This includes those three Tyrannosaurs as mentioned above* [Eotyrannus lengi (Isle of Wight), Proceratosaurus bradleyi (Gloucestershire) and Juratyrant langhami (Dorset)].  Back in 2014, Everything Dinosaur reported on the first formal survey of British dinosaurs undertaken by a group of scientists, which included the very talented Darren Naish, a vertebrate palaeontologist from the University of Portsmouth.  In August of last year, we reviewed the excellent “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”.  This book provided a comprehensive guide to the different types of Dinosauria that once roamed around Britain.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura: “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” Reviewed

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

Picture Credit:  Siri Scientific Press

For further information on this fantastic book and to order a copy: Siri Scientific Press

Britain = Dinosaur Island

Not entirely accurate as for much of the Mesozoic, this part of the world was underwater and when dry land did occur in the past, it formed part of a much larger continental landmass, but that’s not the point, for the last eight thousand years or so, Britain has been an island and there is a wealth of dinosaur and other prehistoric animal fossils to be found in the British Isles, so much so, that it has inspired the commissioning of a new two-part television documentary series.

ITV has commissioned Maverick Television (creators of programmes such as “Embarrassing Bodies” and television make-over shows such as “How to Look Good Naked”), to make two, one-hour long documentaries examining the types of different dinosaur that existed in the British Isles.  Everything Dinosaur understands that the working title for this series is “Dinosaur Britain” and CGI techniques will be used to place ancient creatures in modern-day settings.  So if you fancy seeing an Iguanodont wandering around Kent or a Megalosaurus taking a stroll through the centre of Oxford then this new television series might just float your boat!

Director of Factual Output for ITV, Richard Klein has ordered the programmes which will attempt to educate viewers not only on the types of dinosaur that once existed in the UK, but also to provide information about the habitats and ecosystems of the UK during the Age of the Dinosaurs.  Dinosaur fans can expect lots of hunting and fighting sequences too.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“Britain has a rich fossil heritage, of which the Dinosauria makes up only a small part.  However, with more than one hundred different dinosaurs identified from fossils found in the British Isles, documentary makers have a huge cast list to choose from.  Giants like Pelorosaurus and Brachiosaurs to fearsome predators like Becklespinax and Megalosaurus, which was the first dinosaur to be scientifically named and described.”

At the time of writing we are not sure when these programmes will be shown, but one thing is for sure, with all the hyperbole surrounding “Jurassic World”, we can expect dinosaurs to have a much bigger media footprint (even bigger than usual), over the next couple of years.

5 05, 2015

Great Work from Great Wood Primary School

By | May 5th, 2015|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 2 Learn All About Dinosaurs in the Great Outdoors

It was certainly an interesting morning when Everything Dinosaur visited the two classes of Year 2 at Great Wood Primary School (Morecambe).  The children had just started learning all about prehistoric animals as part of their term topic “Jurassic Forest”.  One of our fossil experts visited the school as part of the planned scheme of work to help inspire and enthuse children and teachers alike.  Unfortunately, the fire alarm sounded part way through the first session and the whole school had to be evacuated.

However, it was a sunny day, so undaunted, we were able to continue by moving everything outside.  With the minimum of fuss, the pupils in Mrs Parkin’s class settled themselves down in the playground  and we were able to deliver a second workshop.   Everything Dinosaur’s “Dinosaur Mike” challenged the two classes (2T with Mrs Todd and 2P with Mrs Parkin), to send in thank you letters as part of an agreed extension activity to help encourage the children with their composition and sure enough, at the end of last week, we received a large envelope which contained letters and some very colourful dinosaur drawings.

 A Wonderful Set of Letters Sent in by Year 2

Letters and drawings sent in by children at Great Wood Primary.

Letters and drawings sent in by children at Great Wood Primary.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Great Wood Primary School

Writing a thank you letter to Everything Dinosaur is a good way for the teaching team to check learning following a recount activity.  This composition exercise helps young learners practice sentence sequencing, planning their writing, as well as spelling and the layout and format of a letter.  The children can also read their letters out aloud as part of a further teaching activity within the class.

Examples of Thank You Letters Received by Everything Dinosaur

Super examples of letter writing from the children.

Super examples of letter writing from the children.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Great Wood Primary School

Thank you Eva and Zak for your lovely letters.

Some children had taken the opportunity to draw pictures of fossils and prehistoric animals on the back of their thank you letters.  We were impressed with the drawings and we shall pin some of these up onto our warehouse notice board.

Year Two Sent in some Colourful Drawings

Can you spot the Ammonites?

Can you spot the Ammonites?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Super writing from Izzy and Mae with two lovely drawings too.

So Many Letters for Us to Read!

An example of one of the letters we received, thank you Dylan.

An example of one of the letters we received, thank you Dylan.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Mike commented:

“Once it was realised that the fire alarm going off was due to building work being undertaken around the school, the teaching team and administration staff at Great Wood Primary soon got all the children organised.  After the fire drill procedures had been carried out, we were able to continue the dinosaur themed workshop outside.  Fortunately, it was sunny and not too cold.  We were able to adjust our lesson plan and continue working.  We do appreciate that, just like the teachers, we sometimes have to be very flexible.”

Nina’s Very Bright and Cheerful Thank You Letter

We were sent lots of very colourful letters.

We were sent lots of very colourful letters.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Nina asked “How long did the dinosaurs last?”  The first dinosaurs evolved perhaps as early as 240 million years ago, the last of the Dinosauria died out 65 million years ago.  That’s a really good question, well done Nina.

Our thanks to 2T and 2P for sending us some wonderful examples of writing.

4 05, 2015

“How to Clone a Mammoth” – Key Stage 3/4

By | May 4th, 2015|Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on “How to Clone a Mammoth” – Key Stage 3/4

Helpful Book on Genetic Engineering for Teachers

With the changes being rolled out in the new curriculum for England, many teachers have contacted Everything Dinosaur for help and advice when it comes to teaching students about natural selection, the work of Darwin,  and genetics.  Cell biology, inheritance and an understanding of genetics are key components of both Key Stage 3 and 4 in the science component of the new curriculum.  A new book written by Associate Professor Beth Shapiro (University of California, Santa Cruz), helps to set out the current state of play in terms of genetic engineering to bring back characteristics of long dead animals including the Woolly Mammoth.

“How to Clone a Mammoth” by Beth Shapiro

Helpful reading for science teachers.

Helpful reading for science teachers.

Picture Credit: Princeton Press

The book explains how organisms have been manipulated for hundreds of years via selective breeding.  This ties in with important elements of the biology component of both Key Stage 3 and 4.  Beth Shapiro, avoids the overuse of technical language and sets out in easy to understand terms the pros and cons associated with the manipulation of genetic material.  The author uses plenty of examples to illustrate her arguments.  “How to Clone a Mammoth” takes a thorough and balanced approach to this subject area and examines the science behind genome sequencing and the potential consequences for “de-extinction”.

Helpful Reading for Key Stage 3/4 Science

Commenting on the book, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“At a little over 200 pages, this is essential reading for science teachers and technicians.  It tackles how the genome of any genetically modified organism would interact with the environment and outlines in simple terms the role that genetic engineering could have in the conservation of endangered ecosystems.”

To read a more comprehensive review of “How to Clone a Mammoth”: How to Clone a Mammoth – Book Review.

Importantly, as well as addressing the science behind the concept of the “de-extinction ” of a species, the author addresses the wider implications too.  The book educates the reader and provides valuable guidance to teachers who can use the points made to encourage a broader understanding of, not only the science, but of the ethical, social and moral consequences of this research.

Highly recommended!

For further information on “How to Clone a Mammoth” and to purchase this book: Princeton Press

4 05, 2015

Win with Everything Dinosaur – Competition Closes at 10pm on 7th May

By | May 4th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Vote for Your Favourite Soft Toy Dinosaur to Win?

Now there are less than five days to go until the UK general election and just five days left to enter Everything Dinosaur’s free to enter competition.  Choose your favourite soft toy dinosaur for Prime Minister #votedinosaur!  When the polls close on Thursday night, we will close our competition and then one lucky winner will be sent their very own dinosaur soft toy.  The winner of Everything Dinosaur’s “dinosaur election”

We have seven candidates, having tried to represent the leaders of the seven main political parties with a dinosaur soft toy.  Each soft toy dinosaur being in the colours of the respective political party.

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Vote Dinosaur! Which Political Dinosaur will you Vote For?

Vote Dinosaur! #votedinosaur

Vote Dinosaur! #votedinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In alphabetical order we have:

Ed – the red Spinosaurus, Dave – the blue Tyrannosaurus rex, Leanne – the green and red Spinosaurus hat (closest item we have that looks like a dragon), for the Party of Wales, Natalie – the green Stegosaurus, Nick – the yellow Velociraptor, Nicola – the Utahraptor and Nigel – the purple Triceratops.

The votes have been coming in thick and fast on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page, here is the current state of play.

The Voting So Far – State of the Dinosaur Parties

The voting is quite close.

The voting is quite close.

Table Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Bar Chart showing the State of the Dinosaur Parties

The current state of the parties.

The current state of the parties.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Vote Dinosaur for the Chance to Win a Dinosaur!

Voting is easy to do, just visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook (see logo/link below), like our page and comment under the picture of our seven dinosaur candidates telling us which dinosaur soft toy you want to see at Number Ten.  Competition will close when the polling booths close at 10pm on May 7th and we will announce the winner the next day.   A prize draw will be held and one lucky voter will receive the winning soft toy.

So to enter Everything Dinosaur’s competition, all you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then comment on the picture (either here or on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page)  voting for the dinosaur that you want to be the next Dinosaur Prime Minister.

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” Our Facebook Page and Enter Competition

For example, if you think that the green and red Spinosaurus called Leanne is your favourite, just comment “Leanne” either here or in the comments section on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page.

We will draw the lucky winner at random and our #VoteDinosaur competition closes at 10pm Thursday, May 7th.  Good luck to all our competition entrants.

Don’t forget to “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s Page on Facebook!

Like our Page (please).     Like our Facebook Page!

 

To view Everything Dinosaur’s huge range of soft toy dinosaurs: Dinosaur Soft Toys

Terms and Conditions of the Everything Dinosaur #VoteDinosaur Competition

Automated entries are not permitted and will be excluded from the draw.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Only one entry per person.

The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered.

The Everything Dinosaur #VoteDinosaur competition runs until 10pm on May 7th 2015.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing.

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur

It’s just for a bit of fun, but we thought we would give everyone the chance to vote for a real “political dinosaur” !

#Vote Dinosaur!

For a chance to win with Everything Dinosaur Toys and Games.

We apologise for not including all the political parties/candidates that are standing on the 7th of May, remember this is only just for a bit of fun!

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

3 05, 2015

Cretaceous Cockroach – A Deadly Night Time Predator

By | May 3rd, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Predatory Cockroach  Manipulator modificaputis – An Insect Chimera from the Cretaceous

Stalking the forest floor, most probably in the dead of night around 97 million years ago, was a little Cretaceous critter, a predatory cockroach that possessed a range of characteristics making it look like an insect chimera.  At around one centimetre in length, it was not going to break any records for size but with its triangular shaped head, elongated legs and mouthparts it would have been a formidable hunter of other nocturnal Arthropods.  The fossilised remains of this insect, a new species, were found in a piece of amber collected from a mine in Noije Bum, northern Myanmar (Burma).  It had a narrow body resembling that of an extant Crane fly, graceful wings and it grasped prey using its modified front legs that were covered in short, strong spines.  The insect has been named Manipulator modificaputis, placed in a new family of extinct cockroaches (the Manipulatoridae) and it represents the first cockroach family to be reported exclusively from Burmese amber.

A Fearsome Night Time Predator of the Late Cretaceous

Cockroach predator of the Cretaceous.

Cockroach predator of the Cretaceous.

Picture Credit: Peter Vršanský 

Peter Vršanský (Geological Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia), along with co-author Günter Bechly (The Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart), have produced a paper on this new discovery.  The paper has been published in the academic journal “Geologica Carpathica”.  Readers of this blog may recognise the Stuttgart Museum as being the institution that co-operates with the German figure manufacturer Bullyland to make their museum line prehistoric animal models.

To view the Bullyland range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models: Bullyland Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

A Close Up View of the Predatory Insect

Preserved in amber.  The delicate wings, long neck, large eyes and modified mouthparts can be clearly made out in this dorsal view (top down) of the specimen.

Preserved in amber. The delicate wings, long neck, large eyes and modified mouthparts can be clearly made out in this dorsal view (top down) of the specimen.

Picture Credit: Peter Vršanský 

During the Cretaceous there was an extensive radiation of the Insecta Order.  Many new families evolved to take advantage in fundamental changes in flora as the Angiosperms (flowering plants) evolved and became the dominant land plants.   During this geological period, several different types of predatory cockroach-like lineages evolved, but only one Order survives today – the Mantodea (the Mantises).  The scientists conclude that this insect was probably not a direct ancestor of the Praying Mantis, but that it probably represents a early side branch of the stem group that makes up the first of the Mantodea.

An Exquisite Line Drawing of the Fossil Material

Potentially an ancestor of the extant Praying Mantis.

Probably not an ancestor of the extant Praying Mantis.

Picture Credit: Peter Vršanský 

A further four specimens have been reported including an immature individual.  These specimens are just a few of the dozens of preserved insect remains that have been preserved in amber found in this part of Asia.  Dr. Vršanský commented that the Noije Bum area, of northern Myanmar is the most important site of dinosaur-age amber in the world.  Many amber pieces contain complete adult insects, this fossil evidence is providing scientists with extensive information about some of the smaller creatures that inhabited terrestrial, arboreal environments that were dominated by the Dinosauria.

The etymology of the name Manipulator modificaputis alludes to the extremely long extremities that this insect possessed. These were used to capture, hold and manipulate prey.  The large eyes which gave this little insect excellent vision would have helped it to spot predators, after all, it would have made a tasty snack for a small dinosaur on a night time patrol.

2 05, 2015

How to Clone a Mammoth (Book Review)

By | May 2nd, 2015|Book Reviews, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro – Book Review

There is a saying “may you live in interesting times”, thought by many to be an ancient Chinese proverb.  We may not be too sure as to the derivation of this phrase, but for a geneticist, the early years of the 21st Century are most certainly “interesting times”.  Our understanding of DNA, that double helix shaped set of building blocks for life itself has come on in leaps and bounds over the last two decades.  Our species is on the brink of some startling developments in genetics, one of which is the ability, through the manipulation of an organism’s genome, to bring back once extinct creatures, or at least to produce a population of closely related living things that have characteristics of organisms that existed in the past.

Evolutionary biologist and ecologist Beth Shapiro, neatly summarises the current research and sets out some of the hurdles – scientific, moral and ethical, that mankind will have to overcome if the likes of a Woolly Mammoth will ever roam the Earth again.  Her book “How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth”, published by Princeton Press sets out to explain how state-of-the-art science can lead to genetic modification, consequences of which, include the possibility of the return of the Passenger Pigeon to North America or the Mammoth to the tundra of Russia.

How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth by Beth Shapiro

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

The science of de-extinction by Beth Shapiro.

Picture Credit: Princeton Press

Written in an informative but never patronising style, Beth an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, takes the reader on a journey beginning with the tricky subject of which species to consider for “de-extinction” and then how to go about finding a suitable specimen for the all important donation of genetic material.  Her frank and knowledgeable account of Pleistocene fossil hunting expeditions in the Yukon and on the Taimyr Peninsula in the far north of Russia provides a fresh perspective on the difficulties involved in hunting for long extinct Ice Age creatures and the potentially game-changing genetic treasure that they may contain.

For further information and to purchase this book visit: Princeton Press

“How to Clone a Mammoth” provides a comprehensive account of the current research and sets out the role that genetically modified organisms will play in conservation.  Beth has skilfully blended cutting edge science with an overview of the ramifications that resurrecting lost fauna might have for the restoration of declining ecosystems.  This book will be of interest to a very broad audience, from academics and students, to the general reader with a lay person’s curiosity for the ways in which genetic engineering is shaping life on Earth.

The Author Associate Professor Beth Shapiro

A well-written and comprehensive account.

A well-written and comprehensive account.

Picture Credit: Kris Krug

 This field of scientific endeavour is moving at a rapid pace.  Recently, an international team of scientists, including Dr Love Dalén, from the Swedish Museum of Natural History (Stockholm), successfully sequenced the Woolly Mammoth genome.  In a separate study, researchers have highlighted the alarming decline globally of large herbivores, that might lead to “empty landscapes”.  Associate Professor Shapiro argues that elephants which have been genetically modified so that they are able to tolerate cold conditions could well play a significant role in habitat and ecosystem preservation in the near future.  “How to Clone a Mammoth” may soon date as the science of “de-extinction” progresses, but it provides the reader with a road map for understanding the path that genetic research developments may take us down.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is a skilfully and conscientiously crafted book that explains the challenges and potential pit falls that lie ahead.  The author has done much to de-bunk the myths and misleading information that surrounds this topic and “How to Clone a Mammoth” provides the reader with a comprehensive account of the state of current research as well as tantalising glimpses with regards to what risks and potential rewards “de-extinction” might facilitate.”

Highly recommended.

For further information on “How to Clone a Mammoth” or to purchase a copy: Princeton Press

1 05, 2015

Dinosaur Day at Yew Tree Primary

By | May 1st, 2015|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Key Stage 1 Study Dinosaurs

A busy day yesterday working with Year 1 and Year 2 classes at Yew Tree Community Primary School in Tameside.  Arriving nice and early our dinosaur expert was able to have a chat to the teaching team to gain an appreciation of the learning objectives and to ensure that the dinosaur workshops dove-tailed into the overall scheme of work.  Like many primary schools, Yew Tree Community has experienced a big increase in pupil numbers in recent years and Key Stage 1 is made up of five classes, so in order to maximise the amount of teaching, the school hall was used for the day (apart when lunch was served and then it was a question of dinner with the dinosaurs).

The Children were Keen to Show the “Dinosaur Eggs” They had Discovered

Very colourful "dinosaur eggs".

Very colourful “dinosaur eggs”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The dedicated teaching team had developed an exciting range of activities, all part of the dinosaur term topic.  The photographs taken during the dinosaur workshops will certainly support the teaching work, with lots of recounting and recalling.  During the lunch break, Everything Dinosaur’s workshop leader saw some lovely examples of creative writing undertaken by Year 1, the children had certainly been inspired by the fossils.  After a busy day of teaching, it was straight back to the office to email over further materials and extension resources for use in a number of activities that we had planned with the teaching team during the course of the day.

With the first part of the Summer Term quite short, there is a lot to pack in so it was important to get the extension materials emailed over to the school as quickly as we could.

To contact Everything Dinosaur to learn more about our work in schools: Email Everything Dinosaur

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