All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//July
12 07, 2015

Everything Dinosaur to Prepare More Fact Sheets

By | July 12th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Four More Prehistoric Animal Fact Sheets to Write

As Everything Dinosaur prepares for the imminent arrival of the next set of 2015 prehistoric animal models from CollectA, team members have the task of writing fact sheets to accompany these new model introductions.  For every named prehistoric animal item that we sell, whether it is a soft toy, a jigsaw puzzle or a dinosaur themed pair of socks we always send out a fact sheet on the animals featured.  The next four fact sheets to be prepared feature the Pterosaur Guidraco (a member of the enigmatic Ornithocheiridae from China), the fearsome “War Pig” Daeodon, an Ichthyosaur – Temnodontosaurus and last but not least a Moropus.

The Moropus genus is represented by a number of species.  They are members of the Chalicothere group of extinct, hoofed mammals distantly related to horses, tapirs and rhinos.  Unlike most of their modern relatives, the Chalicotheres were slow moving animals.  Their large hands were twisted inwards at right angles and this meant that they walked on their knuckles, hence the popular name for the Chalicotheres – “knuckle walkers”.  However, the large body mass of Moropus suggests that this “knuckle walker” may not have walked on its knuckles like its relatives, this can be seen in the angle and orientation of the left arm in the drawing below.

An Illustration of Moropus Prepared for the Everything Dinosaur Fact Sheet

An illustration of Moropus.

An illustration of Moropus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With its sideburns and flowing mane this prehistoric mammal illustration reminds of a number of rock stars from the 1970’s.  We have nicknamed our Moropus prototype model “Noddy” after Noddy Holder, the lead singer of the very successful rock band Slade.

With four fact sheets on the new CollectA models to prepare, it has been pointed out to us that none of these four fact sheets are going to feature dinosaurs.  We are going to be a little bit out our comfort zone. However, we have some very useful reference sources, for example we have some excellent notes within our database on the original work by Othniel Charles Marsh, the American palaeontologist  who named this genus back in 1877.  The genus name means “Sloth or Slow Foot”), whatever the form of locomotion, Moropus was probably a very slow moving animal, one that relied on its sheer bulk and muscle to keep out of harm’s way.

To view the range of CollectA models currently available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Animal Models

These four new fact sheets will be ready by the end of the month so that they can be sent out with the first orders of the newly arrived CollectA replicas.

New for 2015 An Array of Prehistoric Animal Models from CollectA

A wide variety of prehistoric animal models.

A wide variety of prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture above, the Moropus replica can be seen on the right and what a magnificent figure it is.  The large claws on the front feet can clearly be seen.  Scientists debate what the claws could have been used for, anatomical studies have revealed that the phalanges (finger bones) were quite flexible so the claws could be raised slightly and held off the ground as it walked.  The claws could have been used to dig up plant roots and tubers as well as acting as a deterrent to any would-be attacker, a “Bear Dog” (Amphicyonidae), for example.  After all, with 1,000 kilogrammes of muscle behind it, Moropus could pack quite a punch!

11 07, 2015

Wendiceratops pinhornensis from southern Alberta

By | July 11th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

North America’s Newest Centrosaurine is Also One of its Oldest

The Royal Ontario Museum (Canada) put on exhibit this week the horned dinosaur Wendiceratops (W. pinhornensis) and what a splendid new addition this exhibit is.  There has been lots of media coverage regarding this dinosaur, but we at Everything Dinosaur wanted to clarify three points that had been made in a number of publications, this is not a newly discovered Ceratopsian, the bone bed containing the fossils of these one tonne dinosaurs was found way back in 2010.  It has taken over five years to prepare the bones, study them and then to publish a scientific paper on this new dinosaur.

An Illustration of Wendiceratops pinhornensis

An early, very ornate Centrosaurine.

An early, very ornate Centrosaurine.

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault

Not Closely Related to Triceratops

Secondly, this horned dinosaur that roamed southern Alberta approximately 79 million years ago (78.7 to 79.0 million, according to radiometric dating from nearby Kennedy Coulee Ecological Reserve which is believed to be of the same geological age), was not that closely related to Triceratops.  Mention a new type of horned dinosaur and Triceratops comes trotting out as a comparison.  We think this is because, since Triceratops is one of the best known of all the dinosaurs, journalists use “Trike” as a sort of “dinosaur clothes horse” upon which the story can be hung.  True, the horn configuration between Wendiceratops and Triceratops is very similar, both have large brow horns and a smaller nose horn, but in reality Wendiceratops and Triceratops are separated by at least ten million years and they are members of two different sub-families of the Ceratopsidae.

  • Wendiceratops is a member of the Centrosaurines
  • Triceratops belongs to the Chasmosaurine group

 On Display at the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada) a Cast of Wendiceratops

A reconstruction of the dinosaur's skeleton.

A reconstruction of the dinosaur’s skeleton.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

A reconstructed skeleton of the dinosaur called Wendiceratops pinhornensis is pictured above, the fossils in the type locality represent at least four individuals, three adults and a juvenile.  This dinosaur has been described from approximately 220 bones that were found in a single bone bed.  The scientific paper that has been published reaffirms the very high diversity of North American Ceratopsians and this supports the theory that around 80 million years ago there was a rapid evolutionary radiation of the Ceratopsidae.  Although a large and prominent, (although somewhat flattened) nose horn has been inferred, the nasal bone is only represented by fragmentary specimens and the actual shape of the nose horn is not known.  Wendiceratops can claim to provide the earliest evidence of a tall nose horn being found in the Ceratopsians.  Not only does this Centrosaurine tell scientists that by 79 million years ago, horned dinosaurs existed with large, nose horns, the research reveals that a large, cone-shaped nose horn evolved in this group at least twice in the evolutionary history of the Ceratopsidae.

Those Necks and Horns

It used to be thought that horn and neck frill configuration was a good methodology when it came to tell Centrosaurine and Chasmosaurine dinosaurs apart.  Back in the old days (pre-2000), when a lot fewer species of North American horned dinosaur had been described, a number of writers classified these types of dinosaurs based on the size, orientation and morphology of those nose horns and their accompanying neck frill.  For example, in general it was thought that Centrosaurine dinosaurs such as (Brachyceratops, Einiosaurus, Xenoceratops and Centrosaurus) had short frills (relatively), combined with a large nose horn and much smaller horns over the eyes.  In contrast, the Chasmosaurine dinosaurs such as Pentaceratops, Triceratops and Torosaurus had much more elongated neck frills, a small nose horn and much larger brow horns.  With the spate of recent discoveries these ideas have proved to be too simplified, Ceratopsidae classification has got a lot more complicated as new genera have been described.

A case in point is the recently described (June 2015) Regaliceratops, a member of the Chasmosaurine group but with characteristics of a Centrosaurine.

To read more about the research into Regaliceratops: A Right Royal Rumble

A Skeletal Drawing of Wendiceratops (W. pinhornensis)

The bones marked in blue have been found to date.

The bones marked in blue have been found to date.

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault

Last but not Least that Trivial Name

The third point we wanted to clear up was the specific or trivial name “pinhornensis”.   The species name has nothing to do with the shape, size or orientation of any horn, it refers to the Pinhorn Provincial Grazing Reserve in southern Alberta, where the bone bed is located.

The genus name honours the remarkable Wendy Sloboda, who discovered the type locality back in 2010.

Wendy has a Dinosaur Named After Her

Naming a new dinosaur after Wendy.

Naming a new dinosaur after Wendy.

Picture Credit: Michael J. Ryan (one of the authors of the scientific paper published in the journal PLOS One)

Today we pay tribute to all those field workers, scientists and technicians that have helped prepare the Royal Ontario Museum exhibit, special mention to all those that helped remove the enormous rock overburden that permitted the bone bed to be fully explored.  Along with the fossilised remains of a Ceratopsian, the scientists found two tyrannosaurid teeth (genera not known), along with other reptilian remains, notably turtles and crocodilian.

10 07, 2015

Nosing Around a Coloborhynchus Rostrum

By | July 10th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|2 Comments

Pterosaur Rostrum Discovered on the Isle of Wight

Thanks to sharp-eyed, local fossil collector Will Thurbin, a fragment of bone from an Early Cretaceous Pterosaur has established that a another member of the Ornithocheiridae flew over the skies of what was to become the Isle of Wight.  Whilst searching for fossils along Chilton Chine beach on the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight, Mr Thurbin spotted a strange looking, well worn pebble that when examined more closely showed traces of eroded teeth.  Unsure of what the object was, he brought the specimen to the Dinosaur Isle museum on the island so that the experts there could examine it.  After consulting Dr. Dave Martill (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth), an expert in vertebrate fossils from the Isle of Wight, the find was identified as the tip of the rostrum the upper jaw of a Pterosaur genus known as Coloborhynchus.

To give readers an idea of which part of the animal the fossil belongs, we have taken the excellent model of Guidraco made by CollectA, another ornithocheirid, but this time from China and used this replica to show you where the rostrum is located.

The tip of the upper jaw.

The tip of the upper jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although very worn, the fossil still retained enough detail to provide the scientists with the opportunity to identify the family (Ornithocheiridae) and the Pterosaur genus.  The specimen, which is just a few centimetres long has gone on display at the Dinosaur Isle Museum.

The Isle of Wight Coloborhynchus Pterosaur Fossil

posterior view for Isle of Wight fossil.

posterior view for Isle of Wight fossil.

Picture Credit: Isle of Wight Council

The fossil may not look much, but this fossil fragment, the tip from the upper jaw (rostrum), represents the world’s oldest example of the Coloborhynchus genus.  It pre-dates earlier Coloborhynchus fossils by around ten million years.  In all likelihood it is a new species, but that’s the trouble with the Pterosauria, lots of species have been named from just fragments of fossil material.  This tends to “muddy the waters somewhat” when it comes to Pterosauria taxonomy, let’s look into this in a bit more detail.

The Problem with those “English Pterosaurs”

Coloborhynchus belongs to a very enigmatic family of Pterosaurs, the Ornithocheiridae.  The fossil record for the ornithocheirids is a bit of a “curates egg”, that is to say, that the fossil record is good in parts.  Thanks to beautifully preserved specimens from China and South America, this family is amongst the best known of all the flying reptiles, but it has only been in the last twenty-five years or so that these specimens have come to light.  Before that much of what we knew (or thought we knew) about these widespread Cretaceous Pterosaurs came from the study of extremely fragmentary specimens found in southern England.  These very poorly preserved fossils probably would not get a lot of attention these days, but back in the latter part of the 19th Century these remains were studied by some of the most eminent scientists around at the time.  The likes of Sir Richard Owen and Harry Govier Seeley examined and described these specimens, as a result, a range of different genera were erected, most of them now regarded as nomen dubium.  Much of these fossil were excavated from the Cambridge Greensand of southern England, marine deposits laid down in the Cretaceous, with most of the material dating from around 105 to 115 million years ago.

The fossils are preserved in three-dimensions, just like the Isle of Wight Coloborhynchus specimen but they are the remains of Pterosaurs that died far out to sea.  The corpses were scavenged, the bones once they had sunk to the bottom of the sea became encrusted with shelled animals such as barnacles and they were drilled into by marine worms.  These bones were eventually buried only to be exposed again by violent storms and finally buried as part of the fossil record several million years after the flying reptile had actually died.  As a result, these fossils are extremely difficult to interpret, let alone assign to a new species.

Coloborhynchus clavirostris Holotype Fossil Material (Hastings Group)

Rostrum from the Hastings Group (West Sussex)

Rostrum from the Hastings Group (West Sussex)

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum

The picture above shows one of the Pterosaur fossils from the 19th Century.  This is the holotype for C. clavirostris, (A) = anterior view (view from the front), with (B) a line drawing of the same view.  The fossil is viewed from the side, a left lateral view (C) with a corresponding line drawing (D).  Numbers and arrows indicated teeth sockets (alveoli) and individual teeth.

Scale bar = 1cm.

When the Isle of Wight fossil is compared to the holotype fossil material (both seen in anterior view), these two specimens look very similar, but it was the position, orientation of the alveoli (teeth sockets) that aided identification.

The Isle of Wight Fossil Material with Teeth Sockets Labelled (anterior view)

Teeth sockets can clearly be seen, it was the orientation, shape and position of the teeth sockets that led to the Coloborhynchus identification.

Teeth sockets can clearly be seen, it was the orientation, shape and position of the teeth sockets that led to the Coloborhynchus identification.

Picture Credit: Isle of Wight Council with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

It is very likely that these toothy Pterosaurs were mainly fish-eaters and they lived on the coast, or at least in estuarine environments.  The paper detailing this 2014 discovery has just been published in the Proceedings of the Geologists Association.

Intriguingly, in 2014, two fragmentary pieces of Pterosaur rostrum were found on the Isle of Wight.  They were found at different locations and they are shaped differently.  The second fossil, donated by Mr Glyn Watson (Nottinghamshire), is currently being researched in order to identify the Pterosaur family.  This too, is likely to be a new species, although whether a species can be assigned from the rostrum alone has yet to be determined.

An Illustration of Coloborhynchus

An illustration of the Pterosaur called Colobrhynchus (C. clavirostris)

An illustration of the Pterosaur called Colobohynchus (C. clavirostris)

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

 Coloborhynchus was certainly a sizeable Pterosaur, although not the biggest member of the Ornithocheiridae.  Size estimates are difficult to calculate based on fragmentary material, but a maximum wingspan between four and six metres has been cited by a number of authors.

9 07, 2015

Win, Win, Win with Everything Dinosaur!

By | July 9th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Press Releases|1 Comment

Win a 1:4 Scale CollectA Guidraco Pterosaur Model (Competition is now Closed)

WIN! WIN! WIN! with Everything Dinosaur!  Or should we change our name to Everything Pterosaur as we are giving away a brand new, super-duper 1:4 scale replica of the Pterosaur called Guidraco.

We have got another super, prehistoric animal giveaway.  CollectA have already brought out some amazing dinosaur models in 2015, all new additions to their excellent “Prehistoric Life” range that we at Everything Dinosaur are so proud to support.  To celebrate this and the fact Everything Dinosaur will officially be ten years old on August 1st we are holding a special competition, your chance to win a superb 1:4 scale replica of a flying reptile.  CollectA have extended their “Supreme” range of large scale models and the new for 2015 Guidraco with its moveable lower jaw is splendid and it makes a fitting prize in our special ten year anniversary competition.

Celebrate Everything Dinosaur’s Tenth Birthday 
Win this 1:4 scale model!

Win this 1:4 scale model!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur 

Our tenth anniversary prize giveaway is this fantastic Guidraco with an articulated jaw.  The replica measures more than twenty-five centimetres tall and more than twenty-six centimetres long.  Its colouration is based on a modern puffin and our replica needs a name.

Please note, this competition is now closed.

To enter Everything Dinosaur’s competition, all you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, share, then comment on the picture (either here or on Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page)  including a suggestion for a name for this fabulous Pterosaur.

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

For example, if you think our Guidraco should be called “Graham”, then comment on our Facebook page or here in the comments section in our blog!

We will draw the lucky winner at random and the name caption competition closes on Friday, July 31st.  Good luck!

Just visit Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page, give our page a “like” and then leave a comment on the picture showing the Guidraco model.  What flying reptile names can you come up with?

“Like” Everything Dinosaur’s Page on Facebook

Like our Page (please).

Like our Page (please).

 

Super CollectA Guidraco Replica to Win Thanks to Everything Dinosaur
Just like our Facebook page to enter.

Just like our Facebook page to enter.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur 

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of CollectA prehistoric animals: CollectA Dinosaurs and Other Replicas

To see the full range of CollectA scale prehistoric animal replicas: CollectA Scale Prehistoric Animals

Terms and Conditions of the Everything Dinosaur Tenth Anniversary 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 tenth anniversary competition runs until midnight on Friday 31st July 2015.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing.

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Please note, this competition is now closed.

8 07, 2015

Karoo Rocks Provides Fresh Insight into Extinction Event

By | July 8th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Shedding Light on an Extinction Event from 260 Million Years Ago

One global extinction event may have affected both terrestrial and marine biotas at the same time, some 260 million years ago.  With all the news recently of our planet entering a sixth mass extinction, studies into previous extinction events can help scientists to model and predict the impact of future events on environments and the species that live within them.

An international team led by researchers from the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) at the University of the Witwatersrand, (Johannesburg), has obtained an age from rocks of the Great Karoo that shed light on the timing of a mass extinction event that occurred around 260 million years ago.  The Great Karoo refers to a enormous sequence of rocks often cited as the “Karoo Supergroup”, which consists of mostly non marine sandstones and shales that represent a vast tract of geological time, from the Carboniferous through to the Jurassic.  This research focused on exploring fossils from the Beaufort unit, a sequence of rocks that were laid down in South Africa from the Mid Permian through to the Early Triassic.  These rocks provide a record of the plants, invertebrates and vertebrates that thrived in the semi-arid conditions found in southern Africa during the Permian and Triassic.  In particular, they provide evidence of the wide variety of terrestrial vertebrates that lived at this time, the forerunners of today’s reptiles and mammals.

The mass extinction event of 260 million years ago led to the disappearance of a diverse group of early mammal-like reptiles called dinocephalians, which were the largest land-living animals of the time.  Dinocephalians, were large bodied and evolved into a variety of forms including carnivores and herbivores.  They were synapsids and as such, ancestral to modern mammals.

The research project was led by Dr. Michael Day, (postdoctoral fellow at Wits University), the findings have been published today in the Royal Society’s biological journal, “Proceedings of the Royal Society B.”  The paper is entitled:  “When and how did the terrestrial Mid-Permian mass extinction occur?  Evidence from the tetrapod record of the Karoo Basin, South Africa.”

The Karoo is very rich in fossils of terrestrial animals from the Permian and Triassic geological periods, which makes it one of the few places to study extinction events on land during this time.  As a result, South Africa’s Karoo region provides not only a historical record of biological change over a period of Earth’s history but also a means to test theories of evolutionary processes over long stretches of time.  By collecting fossils in the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape Provinces the team was able to show that around 74–80% of species became extinct along with the dinocephalians in a geologically short period of time.

Dr Michael Day with Some of the Fossils Used in the Study (Cranial Material)

Dr. Michael Day and some of the fossils used in the study.

Dr. Michael Day and some of the fossils used in the study.

Picture Credit: Wits University

The new date was obtained by high precision analysis of the relative abundance of uranium and lead in small zircon crystals from a volcanic ash layer close to this extinction horizon in the Karoo.  This provides a means of linking the South African fossil record with the fossil record in the rest of the world.  In particular, it helps correlate the Karoo with the global marine record, which also records an extinction event around 260 million years ago.

Dr. Day explained:

“A Mid-Permian extinction event on land has been known for some time but was suspected to have occurred earlier than those in the marine realm.  The new date suggests that one event may have affected marine and terrestrial environments at the same time, which could mean its impact was greater than we thought.”

The Mid-Permian extinction occurred near the end of what geologists call the Guadalupian epoch that extended from 272.3 to around 259.1 million years ago.  It pre-dated the massive and much more famous end-Permian mass extinction event by 8 million years.

Mid Permian Terrestrial Extinction Plotted Against Proposed Marine Extinction Dates

Table examining the impact of the Mid Permian extinction event on terrestrial fauna.

Table examining the impact of the Mid Permian extinction event on terrestrial fauna.

Table Credit: Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The table shows that in this new study of Karoo fauna, the demise of the Dinocephalia can be clearly mapped to a marine extinction event (marked by the yellow star).  The marine extinction event has been identified through a study in the change of marine fossils deposited in strata from China (Wuchiapingian age, which has been dated to around 260 million years ago).  The scientists have therefore concluded that one global event may have affected both marine and terrestrial environments simultaneously.  The impact of this event was greater than previously thought.

Dr. Day added:

“The South African Karoo rocks host the richest record of Middle Permian land-living vertebrate animals.  This dataset, the culmination of 30 years of fossil collecting and diligent stratigraphic recording of the information, for the first time provides robust fossil and radioisotopic data to support the occurrence of this extinction event on land.”

Jahandar Ramezani (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), was responsible for dating the stratigraphic sequences using the zircon uranium to lead degradation study (CA-TIMS method).  Dr. Ramezani, of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology commented:

“The exact age of the marine extinctions remains uncertain, but this new date from terrestrial deposits of the Karoo, supported by palaeontological evidence, represents an important step towards a better understanding of the Mid-Permian extinction and its effect on terrestrial faunas.”

7 07, 2015

Super-duper Dinosaur Cooper

By | July 7th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

“Cooper” Australia’s Biggest Dinosaur Awaits Scientific Description

The largest dinosaur discovered to date in Australia is set to go on public display for the first time with the opening of the Eromanga Natural History Museum (Eromanga, south-western Queensland).  The fossilised bones, part of a treasure trove of Cretaceous dinosaur fossils, were found back in 2007, but it has taken years of careful, painstaking research to reveal details of this enormous plant-eating dinosaur, a creature that exceeded thirty metres in length.  The huge dinosaur, a Titanosaur which has been nicknamed “Cooper” will go on display when the museum opens in a few months time.

An Illustration of the Giant Titanosaur

Australia's giants.

Australia’s giants.

Picture Credit: ABC News/David McSween

This part of Queensland has been suffering from severe drought, it is hoped that the dinosaur themed museum will bring in much needed tourist revenue to the town.  At the moment a number of dig sites in Queensland are being excavated, this is the “digging season” Down Under, the slightly cooler weather permits such excavations to take place as scientists and local volunteers strive to uncover Australia’s rich dinosaur fossil heritage.

To read more about current excavations in the Queensland area: Annual Queensland Dig Yields Dinosaur Fossils

Everything Dinosaur team members did predict that 2015 was going to be an important year for dinosaur discoveries in this part of the world, in fact, we made it one of our New Year predictions, to read more about our predictions for breaking news stories in 2015:

Everything Dinosaur’s 2015 predictions: Our 2015 Palaeontology Predictions

Commenting on the importance of regional museums, Dr. Scott Hocknull (Queensland Museum) stated:

“The opportunity for this small town to actually become a point of real national pride, there’s a great opportunity that we can’t miss.”

Titanosaurs are Sauropods.  The Titanosauria consists of about four dozen genera and they seem to have replaced the diplodocids and the brachiosaurids that thrived during the Late Jurassic.  Titanosaur fossils have been found on all the continents, including Antarctica, but they seem to have been most successful and diverse in the southern hemisphere.  Some Titanosaurs are amongst the largest terrestrial vertebrates known.  Dr. Hocknull and his colleagues are currently working on the scientific paper which will describe and formally name “Cooper”.  This Australian dinosaur, whose fossils were found on a remote sheep station, will be amongst the largest Titanosaurs so far described.  Bodyweight estimates suggest that “Cooper” weighed about as much as ninety Merino rams, that’s around 40,000 kilogrammes (a lot of sheep)!

A Scale Drawing Illustration of Australia’ Biggest Dinosaur Known to Date (2015)

Scale drawing of "Cooper".

Scale drawing of “Cooper”.

Picture Credit: Dr. Scott Hocknull

Several other dinosaur specimens have been found in and around the Eromanga basin area since this location was first identified as a “hot spot” for southern hemisphere Cretaceous dinosaurs back in 2004.    Soon after the first large dinosaur fossils were found, plans were put forward to build a local dinosaur museum (Eromanga Natural History Museum), after ten years and a great deal of fund raising from the locals, the museum is nearly ready to open its doors.

The Enormous Pelvis of “Cooper” will be on Display

Giant Aussie dinosaur bones.

Giant Aussie dinosaur bones.

Picture Credit: ABC News/Josh Bavas

“Cooper” may not hold the title of “Australia’s biggest dinosaur” for long.  Over the last few years a number of titanosaurid specimens have been discovered, the majority have been given nicknames such as “Zac”, “Tom”, “George” and “Sid”.   “George,” may be bigger still, but it too has yet to be formally described.

The Giant Femur (Thigh Bone) of “Cooper”

Giant limb bone of Australian Titanosaur.

Giant limb bone of Australian Titanosaur.

Picture Credit: ABC News/Josh Bavas

The 1.9 metre long femur (thigh bone) can be seen in the foreground.  Like the pelvis pictured earlier, it is still partially in its protective plaster jacket.  The distal end (articulating with the lower leg bones, is towards the left of the photograph).  The picture is not too clear but the second femur might be just behind.

Palaeontologists think that both Cooper and Sid (Titanosaurs) became trapped in mud and subsequently died.  The fossils also show evidence of trampling from other Titanosaurs.  As the bones lay on the ground, other Titanosaurs walked over them.  This is not the first time that such incidents have been preserved in the fossil record.  In addition, field workers found a preserved tree branch stuck in the femur, the bones of these dinosaurs were so massive that they formed “log jams” in rivers trapping other material and debris.

Dr. Hocknull explained that cutting edge technology such as photogrammetry to make three-dimensional models coupled with CT scans are changing the way palaeontologists work.

He stated:

“All this is completely revolutionising the way we even do our science.  Instead of just taking a happy snap of the actual bone we can recreate the bone in three-dimensions and that gives us more data than we can ever poke a stick at.”

Everything Dinosaur team members would not advise poking sticks at dinosaur bones, no matter how big the fossils might be.  However, we look forward to the grand opening of the Eromanga Natural History Museum as well as learning more about Australia’s ancient and most impressive mega-fauna.

6 07, 2015

Teaching Year 4 About Mary Anning

By | July 6th, 2015|Educational Activities, Famous Figures, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 4 Learn All About Mary Anning

When Everything Dinosaur team members attended the Blackpool Celebrating Science Conference last week, they helped organise a competition for the young scientists from the schools that attended.  As well as running a fossil hunting activity and conducting four dinosaur workshops over the course of the conference, team members also provided the school children attending with information on Mary Anning.  By name dropping scientists, the children could make up a list of famous contributors to scientific endeavour.  A prize was awarded to the school which created the longest list.

Naturally, with a fossil hunting activity as part of our dinosaur workshop, Mary Anning was an easy choice for ourselves.

Posting Up Information on Mary Anning

Helping Year 4 to learn all about scientists.

Helping Year 4 to learn all about scientists.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 The picture above is of the poster we put up on our fossil hunting workshop stand.  We put it in a prominent place so that all the children could easily spot it as they hunted for fossils on our artificial beach.  During the dinosaur workshop, which we especially created for this event, we made sure to mention the competition and Mary Anning so that the children could be encouraged to take part.

The dinosaur workshop that we had prepared for this conference involved looking at real dinosaur fossil bones, exploring how our bodies compare to those of dinosaurs and looking at some of the very latest research.  Teachers were also invited to break a few bones, nothing to worry about though, just a clever experiment that we thought up that helped the children learn what our bones (amphibian bones, reptile, bird and mammal bones) are composed of.  Collagen was indeed the word of the day and helped to link our dinosaur workshop together as well as tying it into important aspects of the Key Stage 2 science curriculum.

To contact Everything Dinosaur about dinosaur workshops in school: Contact Everything Dinosaur About School Visits

5 07, 2015

“Jurassic World” and the Velociraptor Called “Blue”

By | July 5th, 2015|Movie Reviews and Movie News|0 Comments

 Papo Velociraptor Model Turns “Blue”

With the release of “Jurassic World” last month, a whole new generation of young dinosaur fans were introduced to prehistoric beasties such as Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex and Apatosaurus.  Whilst chatting with fans of the film over the last few weeks we have discovered that one of the favourite dinosaurs from the whole movie is the Velociraptor known as “Blue”.  We don’t want to spoil the plot for those of you who have not seen it yet, but the pack of Velociraptors does play a pivotal role in the film and “Blue” the beta animal in the pack is a bit of a heroine (all the prehistoric animals in the film are female).

“Blue” One of the “Raptors” from “Jurassic World

The "beta" animal in the Velociraptor pack.

The “beta” animal in the Velociraptor pack.

Picture Credit: Universal Studios

 Now we know there has been a lot of discussion about how the “raptors” have been portrayed in the franchise.  After all, they tend to be somewhat oversized (the Jurassic World website states that they are five metres long), they also lack feathers and most palaeontologists agree that the two species of Velociraptor so far described probably were covered in a coat of feathers.  If we put these points aside for the moment, then one of the next questions Everything Dinosaur team members get asked is, “can you recommend a dinosaur model that looks like the Velociraptors from the movie?”

The Papo Velociraptor with its articulated jaw and scaly skin was nominated as a suitable model for anyone wishing to recreate their very own “raptor pack”.

The Papo Velociraptor Dinosaur Model Gets Our Vote

The Papo Velociraptor model closely resembles the "Jurassic World" Velociraptors.

The Papo Velociraptor model closely resembles the “Jurassic World” Velociraptors.

Picture Credit: Universal Studios with additional material from Everything Dinosaur

It seems that other discerning dinosaur model fans are in agreement with us.  One of our Facebook chums Tong from Taiwan very kindly sent us a picture of a Papo Velociraptor that had received a customised paint job to make it look even more like “Blue” from the film.

Papo Velociraptor Dinosaur Model Turned into “Blue”

Customising a model dinosaur.

Customising a model dinosaur.

By Taiwan 小模王 “

Tong told us that he purchased this customised model and what a splendid job the artist has done.  The Papo Velociraptor skin tone really lends itself to having a bespoke paint job.  We have seen a number of re-painted Papo dinosaur models over the years and it is great to see one of the dinosaurs from “Jurassic World” created this way.

“Blue”  Even Has an Articulated Lower Jaw

A "blue" dinosaur.

A “blue” dinosaur.

By Taiwan 小模王 “

We always marvel at the skill of the artists who dedicate their time to creating iconic dinosaur figures and models.  The Velociraptors have appeared in all four of the “Jurassic Park” films and we suspect that they will also have a pivotal role to play in the sequel to “Jurassic World”.  Our thanks to Tong from Taiwan for helping us with this article.  The film “Jurassic World” has taken something like $1.3 billion USD in box office sales since its world-wide release on June 12th, it will very probably end up one of the top five highest grossing films of all time.  It will certainly be vying with the new “Star Wars” film due out later on this year for the most successful film of 2015.

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

4 07, 2015

New Oviraptorid from the Late Cretaceous of Southern China

By | July 4th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Huanansaurus ganzhouensis – Demonstrating the Diversity of the Oviraptorids

Some very peculiar things can turn up at railway stations, just ask anyone who works in a lost property office.  However, for one group of construction workers helping to build the new Ganzhou Railway Station in Jiangxi Province (southern China), they got rather a big surprise when they unearthed the partial remains of a new type of Theropod dinosaur.  The new dinosaur has been identified as a member of the Oviraptoridae family, an extremely bird-like group of dinosaurs, it has been named Huanansaurus ganzhouensis and it suggests that there were many different types of Oviraptorids living in the same environment but each type may have evolved a different feeding and foraging habit.

An Illustration of H. ganzhouensis (Male and Female)

A new feathered dinosaur from China.

A new feathered dinosaur from China.

Picture Credit: Chuang Zhao

Although no feather impressions have been found with the fossils, it is assumed that this lithe dinosaur was indeed feathered.  The illustrator has also assumed that the males had different colouration when compared to the females.  In this imagined scene, one of a breeding pair approaches the other which is sitting on a nest of eggs.  More than two hundred Oviraptorosaurian nests have been found in the Ganzhou area and this part of the world seems to have been a hot bed of Oviraptorid evolution with a total of five genera now known from the strata around the city of Ganzhou.

Size estimates vary, but based on skull measurements and comparisons with other Asian Oviraptors, Everything Dinosaur’s team members estimate that Huanansaurus would have measured around 1.5 metres long and stood over a metre tall, making this dinosaur about half the size of its closest relative Citipati (C. osmolskae), fossils of which come from the Gobi Desert (Djadokhta Formation), that lies some 1,800  miles to the north-east of Jiangxi Province.  It is analysis of the beautifully preserved skull material that has permitted the research team to conduct a phylogenetic analysis placing Huanansaurus close to the Citipati genus in the Oviraptoridae family.  Huanansaurus is distinct from the other four other types of Oviraptorid discovered to date from the Upper Cretaceous rocks (Nanxiong Formation),  located around Ganzhou city.

The four other types of Oviraptorosaurs found in this area are:

  • Banji long (named and described in 2010)
  • Ganzhousaurus nankangensis (named and described in 2013)
  • Jiangxisaurus ganzhouensis (also named and described in 2013)
  • Nankangia jiangxiensis (named and described in that bumper year for southern Chinese Oviraptorosaurs, 2013)

 

A Line Drawing of the Skull and Cranial Material (HGM41HIII-0443)

Left side (lateral view) of the skull and jaws.

Left side (lateral view) of the skull and jaws.

Picture Credit: Journal Science with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Like most of the later Oviraptorosaurs, Huanansaurus lacked teeth, the shape and size of the skull along with the morphology of the jaws suggests that lots of different types of feathered Oviraptorid dinosaur were able to live in the same environment.  These little dinosaurs co-existed as they probably had different foraging and feeding strategies.  The prevalence of Oviraptorosaurs in southern China indicates that other parts of Asia may have had different types of Oviraptorid present within their biota, but these fossils may not have been found as yet.

The researchers involved in this study include scientists from Japan, South Korea, Uppsala University (Sweden), Henan Geological Museum and the Chinese Academy of Scientists.  The fossils are currently stored in the vertebrate fossil collection of the Henan Geological Museum.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“In simple terms, the jaw shapes and sizes are different in the Jiangxi Province Oviraptors.  Although these feathered dinosaurs all lived at the same time, the very late Late Cretaceous and they shared the same environment, they probably specialised in eating different types of food.  For example, the lower jaw tip of Banji long is very strongly curved downwards, whilst the same part of the jaw found in Nankangia jiangxiensis is not.  Both Jiangxisaurus and the newly described Huanansaurus come somewhere in between these two extremes.  It is likely that each type of dinosaur occupied a different ecological niche in the Late Cretaceous palaeoenvironment.”

What did Oviraptor-like dinosaurs eat?  That remains a bit of a mystery, we suspect that they were omnivorous with perhaps each animal adapted to eating different types of seed, fruit and nuts as well as catching and eating amphibian, small mammals and insects.

3 07, 2015

Celebrating Science with Blackpool School Children

By | July 3rd, 2015|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Blackpool Celebrating Science Conference 2015

Another busy day yesterday as team members at Everything Dinosaur took part in the Blackpool Celebrating Science Conference (BCSC2015).  Schools from all over the Blackpool area attended the event which was held at Unity Academy, with the conference taking place in the Academy’s spacious hall and the various science activities organised in nearby classrooms.  Everything Dinosaur was located in Mr Goldie’s classroom, we are grateful to Mr Goldie and his class for letting us use their room for the four dinosaur themed workshops we conducted with Year 4 and Year 5 pupils over the morning.

“Tyrannosaurus Sue” took charge of our conference stand and organised a fossil hunting activity for the children.  She had a very busy day with lots and lots of enthusiastic young palaeontologists exploring the fossil trays looking for ammonites, belemnites, brachiopods, petrified wood and coral.

Preparing the Everything Dinosaur Stand at the Start of the Conference

Getting the stand and fossil hunting activity for the conference.

Getting the stand and fossil hunting activity ready for the conference.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We posted up some pictures of the fossils the children could find, they were really impressed with the shark teeth and loved looking at their fossil discoveries with the large magnifying glasses we provided.   We also included lots of information about Mary Anning, as one of the competitions on the day for the children was to collect as many names of famous scientists as they could.

In the meantime, in the classroom we had been looking at animals with backbones and exploring the vertebrae of dinosaurs.  In the second part of the workshop, Everything Dinosaur explained some of the aspects relating to new research into the Dinosauria.  Our well received workshop involved “Jurassic World” and breaking some bones, the activities and experiments delighted teachers and children alike.   We were very busy with the workshops and did not have a lot of time to organise feedback from the eight schools we were scheduled to work with.  However, we did get two teachers to provide some feedback on the workshops that we delivered.  It seems we got 5 out of 5 stars for our workshop.  This feedback is extremely helpful as the short lesson we provided was one that we had developed especially for the conference.

Feedback from Teachers after the Everything Dinosaur Workshop

5 stars for Everything Dinosaur.

5 stars for Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

More Feedback from Everything Dinosaur’s Workshop

Everything Dinosaur gets rave reviews for workshop.

Everything Dinosaur gets rave reviews for workshop.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All to soon it was time to pack up, after all, we have to prepare for some more dinosaur themed workshops in schools.   Our thanks to Unity Academy for being such gracious hosts and for Cheryl Langley and Jane Walpole for organising the Blackpool Celebrating Science Conference.  We really appreciate the “tweeted” pictures of us as well.

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