All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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20 11, 2015

New from CollectA for 2016 (Part 3)

By | November 20th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Two New CollectA Prehistoric Animal Models for 2016

In the third of a series of articles written by Everything Dinosaur team members, we can discuss the latest news about CollectA’s plans for prehistoric animal models which will be introduced in 2016.  There will be a further two additions to the CollectA Deluxe range of scale models next year.  Firstly, there is going to be a 1:40 scale model of the Late Jurassic carnivore called Torvosaurus.  Fossils of Torvosaurus have been found in Portugal and the western United States, currently two species have been named.  The Portuguese species (Torvosaurus gurneyi), is regarded by many scientists as the largest land carnivore known from Europe, it was certainly an impressive beast and it is great to see CollectA add a 1:40 scale model of this dinosaur to their Deluxe range.

To read an article by Everything Dinosaur about the discovery of Torvosaurus gurneyiThe Largest Meat-Eating Dinosaur Known from Europe?

New for 2016 a CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Scale Torvosaurus Dinosaur Model

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Both the original fossils from Colorado and the recently named second species (T. gurneyi) have been found in strata associated with a number of other types of Theropod dinosaur.  Dinosaurs such as Allosaurs and Ceratosaurs.  It has been suggested that these large, carnivorous dinosaurs were able to co-exist as they did not directly compete with each other for food.  Torvosaurus for instance, had strong forelimbs perhaps these played a role in its preferred hunting strategy.  The co-existence of several different types of meat-eating dinosaur has been cited by many academics as an example of “niche partitioning” amongst Theropods.

Explaining his reasoning for opting for a Torvosaurus model, designer Anthony Beeson explained:

“I chose the Theropod Torvosaurus gurneyi from Portugal as it is European and, at the moment, the largest land predator known from that part of the world.   I have always been keen on making Europe’s dinosaurs better known, most people generally know more about North American species.  The European Torvosaurus differs from the American species (Torvosaurus tanneri) mostly in its dentition.  It is named after the James Gurney, the splendid palaeoartist who created the Dinotopia books.”

The CollectA Deluxe Torvosaurus has an articulated lower jaw and the model measures twenty-four centimetres in length and the head stands some twelve and a half centimetres high.  It was scheduled for production and release in the spring of 2016, but the latest information received by Everything Dinosaur suggests that it will be available around the middle of next year.

A Model of a Member of the Elasmosauridae

Joining the  Pliosaur and the Rhomaleosaurus in the CollectA Deluxe range next year is this super 1:40 scale Thalassomedon replica.  Thalassomedon swam in the Late Cretaceous seas of Colorado around 95 million years ago (the American species of Torvosaurus comes from strata that was laid down in what is now Colorado, however, the Theropod lived some 55 million years before, this elasmosaurid evolved).  Like its more famous close relative Elasmosaurus, Thalassomedon had an enormous neck.  The neck contained more than sixty cervical vertebrae and this long, but quite inflexible neck made up over half of the animal’s entire body length.

New from CollectA in 2016 a 1:40 Scale Replica of Thalassomedon

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur mid 2016.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model measures thirty centimetres in length and when measured from the top of that deep body, the model is just over three and a half centimetres high.  It is splendid to see another marine reptile added to the CollectA Deluxe model range and it is great to see Thalassomedon rather than a model of an Elasmosaurus, after all the Elasmosauridae is made up of a surprising number of Cretaceous, long-necked Plesiosaur genera.  Expect this model to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur by mid 2016.  The model is one of the very first large scale production replicas to show evidence of a tail fluke that at least some species of Plesiosaur may have possessed.  The name Thalassomedon is from the Greek, it means “sea lord”.

Talented designer Anthony Beeson, gave us his reasons for choosing to create a Thalassomedon model.

“The marine reptile Thalassomedon (sea lord), is another favourite of mine, and not only for the animal itself.  As a somewhat singular and quirky aside, I have to admit that its name is special to me as I have always loved that Greek word “Thalassa” since, as a child, reading about the March of the Ten Thousand and of Xenophon’s army crying out joyously “Thalassa! Thalassa!”  The sea! the sea! after sighting the Black Sea at the end of their perilous march”.*

To view the current CollectA range of Deluxe models available at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Models

To view the remainder of the CollectA Prehistoric Life range: CollectA Prehistoric Life Not to Scale Models

A number of other websites and other media sources might be announcing the addition of two mini prehistoric animal model sets to the CollectA range today.  For Everything Dinosaur, these two sets of mini prehistoric animal models, with each box set containing ten very well crafted replicas, have been in stock for a while now.

The CollectA Mini Prehistoric Animal Box Set 1 (A1101)

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

 The CollectA Mini Prehistoric Animal Box Set 2 (A1102)

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view these model sets and other dinosaur box sets and collections available from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Model Box Sets

*Xenophon was a Greek historian, writer and soldier who chronicled the conflicts that occurred in the late 5th and early 4th Centuries B.C.

19 11, 2015

The Overlooked Halticosaurus (Liliensternus)

By | November 19th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Liliensternus liliensterni – Late Triassic Predator

Roaming the lowlands and flood plains of what was to become western Europe some 210 million years ago was the lithe and agile predatory dinosaur Liliensternus (Liliensternus liliensterni).  Measuring some six metres in length and weighing more than two and half times that of a male African lion (Panthera leo), this was a formidable dinosaur, very probably the apex predator in the region.

A Scale Drawing of the Dinosaur (Liliensternus liliensterni)

Liliensternus Dinosaur Drawing

Liliensternus Dinosaur Drawing

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This Late Triassic Theropod was named and described by the German palaeontologist Friedrich von Huene in 1934.  However, he had originally named this dinosaur Halticosaurus liliensterni.  The genus name translates as “nimble lizard”, as von Huene wanted to draw attention to the long, legs and relatively lightweight body.  Liliensternus was imagined as a speedy, agile hunter.  The trivial name honours the German scientist Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern who over his lifetime built up a vast collection of Triassic aged fossils from Europe.

Relatively few models of Liliensternus have been produced but CollectA have a good quality one within their not to scale “Prehistoric Life” series.  The long tail and those powerful legs really give the impression of an agile dinosaur.

The CollectA Liliensternus Model

The CollectA Liliensternus dinosaur model.

The CollectA Liliensternus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the CollectA “prehistoric life” model collection available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models and Replicas

The “Rühle collection” was amassed over Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern’s lifetime, where the huge collection of Mesozoic fossils could be housed became an issue between East and West Germany, part of the fall out that occurred with the division of Germany after the World War II.  Finally, the matter was resolved amicably and the majority of the specimens are now part of the vertebrate fossil collection of the Berlin Museum of Natural History.  Scientists from all over the world have found the collection an invaluable resource as it provides one of the most comprehensive collections of Middle to Late Triassic vertebrate fossils known in the world.  Although, not a professional palaeontologist (Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern was a military surgeon by training), it is fitting that this amateurs contribution to our understanding of the fauna and flora of Triassic Europe has been acknowledged by the naming of a dinosaur.  In fact, when one considers Halticosaurus liliensterni as well as Liliensternus liliensterni it is a very rare honour indeed to have the same dinosaur named after you twice!

18 11, 2015

Jack Horner Announces Retirement (Well Almost)

By | November 18th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures|0 Comments

Jack Horner Calls it a Day

Jack Horner, one of the world’s most famous palaeontologists, has announced his retirement from the post of Curator of Palaeontology at the Museum of the Rockies after thirty-three years in the post.  John “Jack” Horner, the Regents Professor of Palaeontology at Montana State University has enjoyed a sparkling career having been thrust into the scientific limelight with the discovery of Maiasaura (M. peeblesorum) and the implications on dinosaur nesting behaviour and how dinosaurs raised their young which subsequently arose.

The Very Influential Jack Horner

Palaeontologist John "Jack" Horner.

Palaeontologist John “Jack” Horner.

Picture Credit: Montana State University

The scientist who advised on the Jurassic Park franchise and is credited with being the inspiration behind the character Dr. Alan Grant (at least in part), will not be hanging up his geological hammer just yet.  Although he is retiring from some of his commitments, he has lots of other projects which are going to keep him busy well into his seventies.

Commenting on the announcement of his retirement, the Professor stated:

“I can assure you that I’ll not be slowing down any time soon.  I will be pursuing a number of projects, including helping another museum amass a large dinosaur collection and finishing a couple more books.  I also have a very exciting project that I’m not yet ready to announce.”

Jack Horner’s official retirement date is June 30th 2016, just shortly after his seventieth birthday.  Montana State University intends to hold a special public event on the campus to celebrate the Professor’s contribution to vertebrate palaeontology.

Shelley McKamey, (Executive Director of the Museum of the Rockies) stated:

“Jack and his team of staff and graduate students have amassed the largest collection of dinosaur fossils from the United States.  He opened the science of palaeontology to the general public and sparked the imagination of countless aspiring palaeontologists.”

Professor Horner, has championed the theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, he has also courted controversy in his rich and varied career, playing a pivotal role in the Tyrannosaurus rex “scavenger versus hunter” debate.

The discovery of “Good Mother Lizard” – Maiasaura, in the late 1970’s brought about a complete revision of theories relating to dinosaurs and their parenting strategies.  Jack Horner and his colleagues demonstrated that some dinosaurs provided extensive parental care (Maiasaura young were altricial – incapable of feeding themselves).

Maiasaura – Described by Jack Horner and Robert Makela in 1979

"Good Mother Lizard"

“Good Mother Lizard”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Long-time collaborator and University of California, Berkley professor Kevin Padian, wrote:

“It is difficult to imagine someone who, rising from such considerable obstacles, has achieved so much, given back so much to the profession, stimulated so much new investigation and supported so many younger colleagues and students.”

The search to replace John “Jack” Horner has started in earnest, however, finding a replacement with the same charisma and with the same high regard in this field of scientific endeavour is going to prove difficult.

Everything Dinosaur is grateful to Montana State University for the compilation of this article.

17 11, 2015

Mysterious Token Linked to Mary Anning

By | November 17th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Could Metal Disc Found on a Lyme Regis Beach Once Have Belonged to Mary Anning?

A small, round metal disc about the size of a ten pence piece has been identified as having once been the property of Dorset’s most famous resident Mary Anning.  The object may have lain buried for more than two hundred years on a Lyme Regis beach very close to where Mary found fossils of marine reptiles and Pterosaurs.

A Picture of Mary Anning (left) and the Small, Metal Disc

Did this once belong to Mary Anning?

Did this once belong to Mary Anning?

Picture Credit: Lyme Regis Museum with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The discovery was made by sixty-nine year old Phil Goodwin, a key metal detectorist who has explored the beaches surrounding the Dorset town on numerous occasions turning up such exotic finds as musket balls, old coins and a bayonet that dates from the time of Napoleon.  Experts at the Lyme Regis Museum, which is situated on the site of Mary’s home close to the sea-front at Lyme Regis, have identified it as a metal disc probably given to Mary by her cabinet maker father.

On one side of the disc the words “Lyme Regis” and “Age XI” – eleven can be clearly made out.  On the reverse, Mary’s name is stamped into the disc, along with the date 1810 in Roman numerals.

Mary Anning Disc “Mary Anning 1810”

Stamped on the disc are the words "Mary Anning and the year 1810 marked in Roman numerals.

Stamped on the disc are the words “Mary Anning and the year 1810 marked in Roman numerals.

Picture Credit: Lyme Regis Museum with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Speaking about his serendipitous find, Mr Goodwin stated:

“I had been there about an hour or so picking up Victorian coins and musket balls when I saw something different.  It didn’t look like a coin so I rubbed it between my fingers to clean it up and read what it said.  I saw the name and date, but it didn’t mean much to me at first.  Then I showed it to a friend who said it could have belonged to the famous fossil hunter Mary Anning.  Imagine, what are the chances of that?”

Did This Disc Really Belong to Mary Anning?

The disc could have been stamped out by Mary’s father, perhaps as a birthday gift as Mary reached eleven.  He would certainly have possessed the tools and the skills required to complete this fiddly task.  However, the disc looks in remarkable condition and as we at Everything Dinosaur can testify, the tides regularly scour the beach and if the disc had lain on the beach for more than two hundred years, then surely it would have been washed away.

Mr Goodwin and those who believe that the retired antiques dealer really has unearthed an object that once belonged to Mary Anning, explain the disc’s condition and its presence on the beach as Mary could have dropped the disc on the cliff above the beach during one of her many fossil hunting trips.  Alternatively, it could have been thrown out and ended up in the local rubbish dump.  A Victorian rubbish dump is slowly being exposed in the area of the Church cliffs to the east of the town and the frequent rock falls often deposit Victorian bottles and other debris onto the shoreline.

David Tucker Proudly Displays the Metal Disc

David Tucker, the Director of Lyme Regis Museum with the Anning token.

David Tucker, the Director of Lyme Regis Museum with the Anning token.

Picture Credit: Maisie Hill

The disc has been put on display at the Lyme Regis museum, the picture above shows the Museum’s director David Tucker proudly showing off, what might be a link to arguably,  the most famous female fossil collector in the world.

Historians and archivists consulted by the Lyme Regis museum are convinced this disc was once a gift given to Mary Anning.  The disc is very similar to the metal circles used by Georgian craftsmen to attach handles to drawers and other pieces of furniture.

Richard Anning

Mary’s father Richard, passed away in November 1810, six months after his daughter’s eleventh birthday.  He had been in poor health for some time.  It is quite a romantic thought to consider that this small disc was a token of affection presented to Mary by Richard, who knew that he did not have long to live and that he, her father would not see another birthday for his daughter.

Commenting on the discovery, David Tucker stated:

“He [Richard Anning] had a long term illness and she was his only surviving daughter, he would have had the tools around the house.  If he knew he wasn’t going to live long, it just seems like the kind of thing a dad would do.  We’ve discounted the idea it could have been made later as a souvenir once she became well known, as it’s rather basic and crude.”

Sadly, Richard Anning would never know of his daughter’s fame.  Mary Anning spent most of her time exploring the beaches and cliffs of Lyme Regis and nearby Charmouth.  She and her brother had a remarkable record of important fossil finds.  Mary and Joseph (her brother), found the fossilised remains of an Ichthyosaurus, the first to be scientifically studied and described.  Mary also discovered a wonderfully well-preserved Plesiosaurus specimen and in 1828 the UK’s first example of a Pterosaur.

Recently a New Species of Ichthyosaurus was Named In Honour of Mary Anning

A new species of Ichthyosaurus.

A new species of Ichthyosaurus.

Picture Credit:  Dean Lomax and Judy Massare

To read about this new Ichthyosaur discovery: New Ichthyosaurus Species Honours Mary Anning

The beaches of Lyme Regis attract thousands of fossil hunters every year, although visitors do have to be mindful of tide times and the risk of rock falls from the dangerous cliffs.  One of the best ways to follow in Mary’s footsteps is to take a guided fossil walk, for details of such walks: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

16 11, 2015

CollectA Mini Dinosaurs Box Sets Reviewed

By | November 16th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

CollectA Mini Dinosaur Box Sets Reviewed

Dinosaur enthusiasts and collectors of prehistoric animal replicas have been presented with a bit of a dilemma from CollectA.  In addition to the company’s highly regarded “Deluxe” series and the “Prehistoric Life” range of not to scale prehistoric animal models, CollectA have added two sets of miniature models and very splendid they are too.  The dilemma does not concern collecting them but how best to showcase what are very carefully crafted replicas in their own right.  For example, these little dinosaur models et al could be used in plenty of dioramas, or perhaps each box set could be split up so that the various models can be displayed with their counterparts from the not to scale range and the mainly 1:40 scale “Deluxe” models.

New from CollectA Two Sets of Prehistoric Animal Models

A1101 - one of two new prehistoric animal box sets from CollectA.

A1101 – one of two new prehistoric animal box sets from CollectA.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Both sets of mini prehistoric animal models are marketed as “dinosaur box sets”.  True, the majority of the models in each set represent a dinosaur, but there are marine reptiles and Pterosaurs featured too.  Each box set is packed into a clear plastic presentation case and the models inside have been placed in little compartments (two by two), separated by a strip of plastic.  This arrangement prevents the models from falling to the bottom of the box as the packaging has been designed to be presented on a carousel using hang tags and such like.  For model collectors, the big benefit here is that the models are separated and therefore any shaking or rough handling of the box itself will not cause the models to rub against each other and damage any of that lovely paintwork.

A1101 and A1102

Labelled by CollectA as A1101 and A1102, we at Everything Dinosaur prefer the more simple nomenclature of “box set 1” and “box set 2” and we recommend both sets to collectors and to dinosaur fans.

A1101 or Box Set 1 Contents

Prehistoric animal models from CollectA

Prehistoric animal models from CollectA

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Many of the models resemble their counterparts in larger, existing CollectA model ranges, for example in box set 1, there is a splendid model of a feathered T. rex which would make an ideal accompaniment to the bigger, feathered Tyrannosaurus rex replicas that have recently been introduced by the company.  The same can be said for the Baryonyx and the Mosasaurus that are also included in this box set, but this is not always the case, read on…

CollectA Box Set Two (A1102)

A1102 a box set of prehistoric animal models.

A1102 a box set of prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the CollectA box set two (A1102), yes, it contains a model of a Liopleurodon and a Brachiosaurus which are very similar to other, larger CollectA models, but this set does include a Giganotosaurus replica (front row, left) as well as an Apatosaurus model (back row, right).  CollectA has not produced a model of “giant southern lizard” or indeed Apatosaurus before.  This has led to speculation that the company intends to introduce larger scale models of these two dinosaurs in 2016.  We, at Everything Dinosaur can assure readers that this is not the case, there are no plans (as far as we know), for CollectA to introduce a Giganotosaurus or an Apatosaurus next year.  If they did, they would have to go some way to beat the marvellous detail depicted in this set of prehistoric animals, they really are very good.

To see the range of dinosaur box sets available at Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Models and Box Sets

The Contents of A1101 (Box Set 1)

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Ten super prehistoric animal models in the set.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Contents of A1102 (Box Set 2)

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

A set of ten beautiful prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

15 11, 2015

Tracing the Family Tree of the Brachylophosaurini

By | November 15th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Dinosaur Species from Montana – Probrachylophosaurus

The Hadrosaurs, commonly referred to as the “duck-billed” dinosaurs were a highly successful group of Cretaceous ornithischian dinosaurs that dominated the mega fauna of most of Asia, North America and Europe towards the end of the Mesozoic.  Many different types of genera are known and there is a general consensus amongst palaeontologists in terms of the taxonomic relationships between most species.  However, even though these large herbivores were abundant and the fossil record of these animals as collected from famous formations such as Hell Creek, Dinosaur Provincial Park (North America), and the Jingangkou Formation of eastern China, is quite detailed when compared to other types of dinosaur, there is still a lot we don’t know about these animals.

The “Super Duck” Probrachylophosaurus

Talented artist John Conway was commissioned to produce this illustration for the press release.

Talented artist John Conway was commissioned to produce this illustration for the press release.

Picture Credit: John Conway

The publication of a paper announcing the discovery of a new “duck-billed” dinosaur, nick-named “super duck”, in the prestigious journal PLOS One, sheds new light on how one particular group of these prehistoric animals evolved over time.  The new dinosaur has been named Probrachylophosaurus bergei, it translates as “before short-crested lizard” in reference to the fact that this new genus was found in strata that was laid down earlier than the very closely related Brachylophosaurus canadensis.  Indeed, in the paper written by Professor Elizabeth Freeman Fowler (Montana State University) in collaboration with her mentor and fellow Montana State University palaeontologist Jack Horner, the authors outline the anatomical similarities between these two members of the Brachylophosaurini clade that suggest that Probrachylophosaurus was ancestral to the later Brachylophosaurus.  This newly named dinosaur could be regarded as a “missing link” neatly fitting in between a much older type of “duck-billed” dinosaur (Acristavus) and Brachylophosaurus.  In addition, when all three skulls of these related dinosaurs are studied, they reveal an evolutionary link towards the development of evermore elaborate crests as display structures.

Tracing the Timeline Showing Evolutionary Transition in the Brachylophosaurini

Mapping the evolutionary transitions that led to more elaborate crest development.

Mapping the evolutionary transitions that led to more elaborate crest development.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The diagram above shows the relative positions of fossil finds of dinosaurs that are grouped into the Brachylophosaur clade (Brachylophosaurini).  Acristavus gagslarsoni, from the lower portion of the Two Medicine Formation of western Montana lived around 81 million years ago.  It had no nasal crest.  Brachylophosaurus canadensis is known from Canada, the Oldman Formation of the Belly River Group, these fossils date to around 78 million years ago.  B. canadensis had a flattened, almost paddle-shaped nasal crest which projected backwards over the skull roof.  The very well known and more recent Maiasaura peeblesorum is also a member of the Brachylophosaurini.  The fossils of Maiasaura are associated with the upper portions of the Two Medicine Formation of western Montana and it had quite a substantial bump on its snout, a much larger more striking crest.

Commenting on the significance of Probrachylophosaurus, Professor Freedman Fowler stated:

“The crest of Probrachylophosaurus is small and triangular and would have only poked up a little bit on the top of the head, above the eyes.  Probrachylophosaurus is therefore exciting because its age – 79 million years ago – is between Acristavus and Brachylophosaurus, so we would predict that its skull and the crest would be intermediate between these species.  And it is.  It is a perfect example of evolution within a single lineage of dinosaurs over millions of years.”

Skull Comparisons between Probrachylophosaurus and the Later Brachylophosaurus

Skull comparisons between Hadrosaurs.

Skull comparisons between Hadrosaurs.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The picture above compares  some of the known cranial material from P. bergei with a crest of the later Brachylophosaurus canadensis (left lateral and dorsal views).  The green arrow indicates the extension to the naris and other bone changes that led to the evolution of a more prominent and pronounced crest in Brachylophosaurus.

Professor Freedman Fowler with the Probrachylophosaurus Illustration and Cranial Fossil Casts

Professor Freedman with an illustration, and casts of the skull material.

Professor Freedman with an illustration, and casts of the skull material.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

This newest member of the “duck-billed” dinosaurs was nick-named “super duck” after it emerged although not fully grown, this dinosaur would have measured close to ten metres in length.  Body mass estimates suggest an adult weight in excess of five tonnes.  The fossils, including substantial post-cranial material were discovered in 2007, near to the town of Rudyard in north central Montana.  The species name honours Sam Berge one of the landowners who allowed access to the site to excavate the exposed fossils.

A nearby dig site revealed a fragmentary juvenile of the transitional Probrachylophosaurus, which suggests that successive generations of the Brachylophosaurus lineage grew larger crests by changing the timing or pace of crest development during growth into adulthood.  This change in the timing or rate of development is called heterochrony, a process which is being increasingly recognised as a major driving force in evolution.

Explaining the importance of heterochrony and how fossils of juvenile dinosaurs can assist scientists in piecing together evidence regarding change in populations, the professor said:

“Heterochrony is key to understanding how evolution actually occurs in these dinosaurs, but to study heterochrony we need large collections of dinosaurs with multiple growth stages, and a really precise time framework for the rock formations that we collect them from.”

The well-documented and accurately dated Campanian-Maastrichtian faunal stages as mapped out in the exposed Upper Cretaceous strata of North America provide palaeontologists with an opportunity to map heterochroneous relationships between animals of different ages but of the same species.  These in turn can permit the analysis of how these changes influenced the macro-evolution of the entire lineage.

An Illustration of the Closely Related (But Later) Brachylophosaurus

Brachylophosaurus illustrated.

Brachylophosaurus illustrated.

Picture Credit: Houston Museum of Natural Science

14 11, 2015

Celebrating South African Dinosaurs

By | November 14th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Poster Celebrates  South African Dinosaurs

Earlier this week, scientists from the Evolutionary Studies Institute of Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg) put on display the fragmentary fossils of a huge dinosaur which roamed South Africa.  The fossils date from the Early Jurassic and represent an plant-eating dinosaur, a Sauropod that measured perhaps in excess of sixteen metres.  There have been a number of remarkable fossil finds over the last two years or so in South Africa.  These discoveries have helped to shed new light onto the fauna and flora of the Late Triassic and the Early Jurassic geological periods.  The announcement of the latest dinosaur discovery the “Highland Giant” coincided with the celebration of UNESCO’s World Science Day for Peace and Development.  A special poster has been commissioned to celebrate South African dinosaurs and other prehistoric life.  This poster was designed by artist and poet Maggie Newman.

Celebrating the  Prehistoric Life of South Africa

The prehistoric life of South Africa.

The prehistoric life of South Africa.

Picture Credit: The Evolutionary Studies Institute (Witwatersrand University)

The beautiful and very detailed poster depicts South Africa some 200 million years ago (Hettangian faunal stage of the Early Jurassic), a time when the continents were formed into a super-sized landmass that was beginning to split apart.  Dinosaurs were becoming the dominant terrestrial fauna but they shared the land with a wide range of other bizarre reptiles as well as some synapsids that were from the branch of the Tetrapoda that would lead to modern mammals.

Poster Key

This poster shows a scene in South Africa between 200 and 183 million years ago.  At the time the continents were splitting apart and there were many volcanic eruptions (1).  The climate was drying and there were sand dunes (2), tree ferns (3), yellowood (4), monkey puzzle (5) and ginkgo trees (6) formed patches of forest.  Early dinosaurs like this egg-laying Massospondylus (7) are shown fending off a hungry Coelophysis (8).  Heterodontosaurus (9) was different from other dinosaurs because it had incisor, canine and molar type teeth for cutting, biting and grinding up their plant food.  The name Heterodontosaurus means “different types of teeth” and this interesting small animal may have had quills like a porcupine.  In the scene, three Heterodontosaurus are fleeing a kill made by a crested dinosaur called Dracovenator (10), a relative of Dilophosaurus.  The Dracovenator is being threatened by a Ceratosaur (11).  The herbivorous Aardonyx dinosaurs (12) in the background are foraging peacefully.  Dinosaurs were not the only animals alive at this time.  Megazostrodon (13) was a small insect eating animal closely related to the earliest mammals.  Tritylodon (14) was a mammal ancestor with teeth like a dassie (Rock Hyrax – Procavia capensis).  The animal that looks like a lizard (15) is a small armoured land-dwelling crocodile called Protosuchus.

The original fossils of the dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals depicted in the poster are on display at institutions and museums around South Africa.

Dr. Jonah Choiniere (senior researcher at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Witwatersrand University) stated:

“We think that this poster will show young learners…. ‘yes, South Africa does have dinosaurs’.  We hope that it will get them excited about studying the science behind South Africa’s incredible palaeosciences heritage.”

The poster is available for free and upon request to all visitors to the Origins Centre while stocks last and it will also be distributed to science centres, museums and visiting schools in the country.

To read an article all about the latest addition to the dinosaur dominated fauna of South Africa: South Africa’s “Highland Giant”

Everything Dinosaur would like to take this opportunity to thank those institutions involved with the commissioning of the poster, helping to inform and to educate people about life in the past.

13 11, 2015

New from CollectA for 2016 (Part 2)

By | November 13th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

Beishanlong, Lythronax, Struthiomimus New for 2016

You wait ages for an Ornithomimosauria clade model to come along and then, thanks to CollectA, two arrive!  These models are part of the exciting 2016 introductions, along with a replica of the “King of Gore” Lythronax (L. argestes), a ferocious tyrannosaurid, fossils of which come from Utah.

1:4o Scale Deluxe Beishanlong (B. grandis)

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in 2016.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Fossils of this giant, member of the “bird mimic” clade come from Gansu Province (China), it was a contemporary of the feathered tyrannosaur Xiongguanlong, (X. baimoensis), a replica of which was introduced by CollectA earlier this year.  Beishanlong was one of the largest of the Ornithomimosauria known, although the best preserved specimen represents an immature animal, the fragmentary fossilised bones when compared to more complete specimens suggest that this dinosaur grew to a length in excess of eight metres.  Skull material is absent from the fossil record, so CollectA have based their replica on more complete ornithomimids.  It certainly is a most impressive figure.

Anthony Beeson, the designer behind the CollectA range of prehistoric animal models explained:

“Beishanlong, was an “ostrich mimic” and a Chinese dinosaur.  It was amongst the largest of the ostrich mimics and is important as being an earlier relative of Deinocheirus.  The CollectA model is based on a skeleton that I admired at Hong Kong’s Science Museum during my last visit.”

Beishanlong is going to be one of the new additions to the Deluxe scale model range made by CollectA.  It will be available from Everything Dinosaur in the spring of 2016, or thereabouts.  As it stands an impressive 23 centimetres tall it is going to tower over the smaller CollectA Xiongguanlong replica.   This is quite apt, as Beishanlong would have towered over Xiongguanlong when they shared the same Asian habitat some 120 million years ago.

To read an article published in 2009 but the discovery of Xiongguanlong and Beishanlong: Giant Ornithomimid and New Tyrannosaur from Gansu Province

Lythronax – “The King of Gore”

Available from Everything Dinosaur around the middle of 2016.

Available from Everything Dinosaur around the middle of 2016.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Approximately, the size of Beishanlong but much heavier and decidedly more dangerous, Lythronax was a top predator of the Middle Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  The genus name translates as “the King of Gore”.  With its wide but short snout and robust jaws, this dinosaur would have been very formidable.  Many palaeontologists believe that this Theropod was a direct ancestor of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex.  CollectA are beginning to assemble quite a collection of Tyrannosaurs – Eotyrannus, Tarbosaurus, the feathered T. rex, Xiongguanlong and another close relative of Lythronax, Bistahieversor that roamed what was to become New Mexico around four million years or so after “the King of Gore” became extinct.

To read about the discovery of Lythronax: “The King of Gore” – New Tyrannosaur from Utah

Anthony commented:

“The early Tyrannosaur Lythronax from Utah was chosen really because of its importance in the evolutionary chain of that genus and also because I love the name!  One can never have too much gore in play as most boys know.  Like Tyrannosaurus , Lythronax had eyes pointing to the front giving it binocular vision and the ability to gauge depth.”

Some nice detail is shown in the photograph of the model, the shaggy, feathered coat, tufts of feathers on the top of the head and evidence of almost pennaceous feathers on the forelimbs.

The CollectA Lythronax replica measures around 18 centimetres long, the head height is a fraction over 8.5 centimetres.  It will be available from Everything Dinosaur around the middle of 2016.

The last of the latest batch of dinosaur model pictures to be released by CollectA is another feathered dinosaur.  Once upon a time, feathered dinosaur models were the exception, now thanks to the work of the likes of CollectA more and more feathered dinosaur replicas are being produced.

New for 2016 The CollectA Struthiomimus Model

New for 2016 a Struthiomimus dinosaur model.

New for 2016 a Struthiomimus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: CollectA

Named almost one hundred years ago (1917), this is the dinosaur that gave rise to the term “ostrich mimic”, as this is what the genus name Struthiomimus means.  It is great to see a replica of this fast-running Late Cretaceous resident of North America.  Once again, CollectA have to be applauded, as they have given their model, long pennaceous feathers on the forearm, this suggests that they have been keeping up to date with the latest ornithomimid studies, in particular some recently published papers on remarkably well-preserved Ornithomimus specimens.

There are not many models of the Ornithomimidae around, this is a very welcome addition.

Commenting on this, the second of the ornithomimids to be introduced next year, Anthony Beeson said:

“I have wanted to do a Struthiomimus model for a long time and also to produce more ornithomimids or ostrich mimics .  In the 1950’s Struthiomimus was well known to dinosaur enthusiasts, but since Jurassic Park, Gallimimus has eclipsed it in popular culture.  John Sibbick, the palaeoartist once bemoaned its passing to me.  It has not previously featured greatly in the toy record.  It was a very common ornithomimid dinosaur that was found in Late Cretaceous North America.”

The model is scheduled to come out at about the same time as the Lythronax replica (mid 2016), it measures 11 centimetres long, and that head stands some 6.5 centimetres off the ground.

So that’s the very latest information on new CollectA prehistoric animals for you, in summary, one Tyrannosaur, two members of the Ornithomimosauria clade, three feathered Theropods and top notch replicas they are too.

To view the current CollectA range of Deluxe models available at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Models

To view the remainder of the CollectA Prehistoric Life range: CollectA Prehistoric Life Not to Scale Models

Note

This article has been amended to ensure more accurate terms related to taxa and classification are used.

12 11, 2015

“The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild”

By | November 12th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

New Blog Covering Science Topics

A new open encyclopaedia project has started that covers the sciences.  This new web blog that everyone can contribute to, covers subjects as diverse as biology, botany, geology, mineralogy palaeontology, cryptozoology and speculative evolution.  There is even room for xenobiology (the manipulation of biological processes) and astrobiology (naturally evolved life in the universe) on this new site run by enthusiast Destin Bogart and his colleagues.

Providing a Platform for Informed Discussion

Main logo of The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild

Main logo of The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild

Picture Credit: Destin Bogart

The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild looks at the living world (real and imagined) and aims to provide a forum for like-minded individuals to express their views, publish articles and add to the discussion.  Findings and hypotheses most welcome!

A Wide Range of Topics Covered

For the uninitiated, Destin provides a handy, brief explanation of the topic areas the blog intends to cover.  Biology is the study of living things, botany is the study of plant life, whereas zoologists study animals.  Geology covers the Earth and its processes, mineralogy is the study of crystals and minerals and readers of the Everything Dinosaur blog should need no introduction to palaeontology.  At the Guild, the administrator wishes to encourage discussion on cryptids (unknown organisms), so cryptozoologists would concern themselves with beasts of myth or legend, the Yeti, or Scotland’s Loch Ness monster for example.

In Search of the Loch Ness Monster et al

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

Astrobiology, xenobiology, and speculative evolution allow enthusiasts to gain a better understanding the mechanisms of natural selection and evolution as well as providing an entertaining look into what could share this universe with the 8.2 million species or so to be found on our own planet.

Commenting on the inclusion of some of the more “obscure” disciplines within this blogsphere, one of the administrators stated:

“Astrobiology is the search for extraterrestrial life, xenobiology is the study of extraterrestrial organisms, and speculative evolution basically takes an event, or situation in which evolution could take a different path.  This blog will focus mainly on the solid sciences and will occasionally delve into these fictitious sciences to prove, disprove, and approve.”

The team at the Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild will strive to publish only the most accurate and scientifically acceptable information and speculations. Over the time span of this project, readers will learn through videos, presentations, talk-seminars, and info-videos about the Earth, its composition, the life that lived and still lives on it and speculate on the future of our planet and other life carrying bodies in the universe.

The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild line up includes Brandon Ahrens, Sergio Treviso, Molly Essenburg, Destin Bogart and David Lichliter and this experienced team aims to bring to its readership the very latest developments in scientific literature, providing informed comment but retaining a light touch with a focus on entertaining as well as enlightening.

Publishing Plans

Plans include publishing new articles every week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), authors, academics and science writers are invited to contribute to what is described as an “experience-heavy project”.

Discussing the need to attract more high calibre writers, Destin Bogart explained:

“We are a small group and we need more members!  Scientists and scientifically minded people are invited to submit their contributions and we are also looking for candidates with a gift for narration, to provide the voice overs for our planned video series.”

To contact the organisers of the Guild: Contact the Guild

The team intend to base each article on a specific organism, examining how it lives, its biology and so forth.  Looking into the future (something we at Everything Dinosaur would expect astrobiologists to be very accomplished at), the Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild intend to create a series of encyclopaedias that contain all the articles published.  These encyclopaedias will, at first, probably be made available via a digital download and they will include a directory of the contributors (profiles, avatars and a short biography).

Aiming to Make a Big Impact

The end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Aiming to make a big impact.

The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild welcomes new scribes and anyone wishing to participate in this exciting project that has all ready established a Tumblr account as well as a blog and web platform.  Soon a dedicated YouTube channel will be added.

Explore The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild website: Website

Find The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild on Tumblr: Tumblr Account

The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild Blogsite: The Expeditioner’s Discovery Guild Blog

11 11, 2015

The “Highland Giant” of the Karoo Basin

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

Femur of Giant Dinosaur Put on Display

The fossilised bones of the largest dinosaur ever found in South Africa were put on display at the Witwatersrand University Origins Centre this week.  The fragmentary remains, including a colossal partial femur (thigh bone), represent a plant-eating dinosaur that once roamed the land that is now known as the Lesotho Highlands some 200 million years ago.  The size of this, as yet, unnamed dinosaur is certainly impressive.  At an estimated fourteen tonnes, it was twice as heavy as Tyrannosaurus rex, but its sheer bulk is of limited interest to palaeontologists.  What is much more significant is that this specimen indicates the presence of very large dinosaurs in this part of the world during the Early Jurassic (Hettangian stage), it extends the faunal mix that existed in this region of the super-continent Gondwana, just a few million years after the Triassic/Jurassic extinction event.

A Scale Drawing Comparing the South African Sauropod to Well-known Dinosaurs and a Human (with Dog)

Dipolodcus, T. rex and the

Dipolodocus, T. rex and Aardonyx celestae are compared

 

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University Origins Centre

The picture above also includes Aardonyx, a basal Sauropodomorph from South Africa.  Aardonyx has been described as a transitional form of lizard-hipped plant-eater, showing a trend in this part of the Dinosauria for heavier and heavier animals that eventually evolved into obligate quadrupeds.

To read an article about the discovery and naming of Aardonyx: South Africa’s Transitional Dinosaur Fossil

Nick-named The “Highland Giant”

Nick-named the “Highland Giant” the first fossils of this huge basal Sauropod were found during excavations under the Caledon River for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project some twenty years ago.  The bones were so bulky that they were stored in separate storage rooms.  It was only after the fossil specimens were relocated to new storage facilities that it was realised that the fossils represented the remains of a single, individual dinosaur.

Commenting on the fossil find, Dr. Jonah Choiniere, a senior researcher at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Witwatersrand University stated:

“This is the biggest dinosaur we have ever found.  We do not know what the species is, hopefully we will know in a year or so.  We are not sure if this is a new species.”

Dr. Jonah Choiniere with Some of the Fossil Material

Dr. Choiniere with the fossils of the  "Highland Giant"

Dr. Choiniere with the fossils of the “Highland Giant”.

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University Origins Centre

Other fossils collected in the same region have been associated with this giant Sauropod, the picture above shows Dr. Choiniere with some of the fossils, having a person in the picture provides a handy scale.  Recently, there have been a number of important dinosaur discoveries from South Africa.  For example, in August Everything Dinosaur reported on the naming of Pulanesaura (basal Sauropod) and in June, team members produced an article featuring Sefapanosaurus.

Pulanesaura article: Pulanesaura – A Case of “Four Legs Being Better than Two”

Sefapanosaurus article: New Sauropodomorph from South Africa

Fossils of the Early Jurassic Sauropod Have Come to Light Over Twenty Years

Fossils of the "Highland Giant" include claws and a vertebra.

Fossils of the “Highland Giant” include claws and a vertebra.

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University Origins Centre

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