All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
10 11, 2015

CollectA Spinosaurus Models

By | November 10th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

CollectA Spinosaurus Models (2015)

There is a saying that good things come in threes, a bit like the manual unguals (claws) on a Spinosaurus and thanks to CollectA, dinosaur fans have now got three new models of this super-sized predator to savour.  Everything Dinosaur have just taken in stock of the CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Spinosaurus and the two smaller Spinosaurus models, one showing the quadruped pose and one depicting this north African dinosaur swimming.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Spinosaurus Replica

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: CollectA

We note there has been some debate as to the scale of this replica.  This is a little difficult to estimate, given that all three Spinosaurus models are based on the 2014 interpretation published by Ibrahim et al.  The new interpretation caused a lot of controversy and discussion in academic circles, particularly over scaling in relation to the hind limbs and so forth, but the authors still depicted Spinosaurus in excess of sixteen metres long.  If we take the curve of the tail into account and measure the CollectA Deluxe replica from nose to tail it is an impressive 38 centimetres long, perhaps a fraction longer.  So if we compare this replica to the scale used by Ibrahim and colleagues, we do get an approximate 1:40 scale for this beastie.

To view the CollectA Deluxe Spinosaurus at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Animal Models

 A Pair of Spinosaurus Models (CollectA Swimming and CollectA Walking Spinosaurus Dinosaurs)

CollectA Spinosaurus available from Everything Dinosaur.

CollectA Spinosaurus available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Just like their bigger counterpart, the two smaller models (both around 23 centimetres in length or so), are very well made.  Lots of detail has been added and it is really pleasing to see those cranial crests given prominence.  You can really imagine that these two little chaps had the dense bones as proposed in the September 2014 paper*, indicative that here was a Theropod with several adaptations to an aquatic lifestyle.  Of particular note are the very crocodilian tails of these two models, the base of each tail is broad and deep, providing propulsion through the water just like an extant crocodile today.

The CollectA Swimming Spinosaurus Dinosaur Model

The CollectA swimming Spinosaurus dinosaur model.

The CollectA swimming Spinosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper certainly attracted a great deal of attention when it first was published, twelve months on, the debate continues, only recently another review of spinosaurid material from North Africa was published.  This review challenged many of the earlier findings, it even added an extra dimension with the inclusion of further studies related to the vertebrae assigned to Sigilmassasaurus, these Kem Kem fossils (Morocco), really have muddied the waters even further when it comes to a reassessment of all things spinosaurid.

To view the not to scale Spinosaurus models from CollectA: CollectA Dinosaurs

The “Spinosaurus Re-boot” as it has been termed, is going to rumble on, in the meantime, we can enjoy these new dinosaur models.

The full title of the September 2014 paper is “Semi-aquatic Adaptations in a Giant Predatory Dinosaur”, it was published in the journal “Science”.

List of authors: Nizar Ibrahim, Paul C. Sereno, Cristiano Dal Sasso, Simone Maganuco, Matteo Fabbri, David M. Martill, Samir Zouhri, Nathan Myhrvold and Dawid A. Iurino

Getting Along “Swimmingly” – A Pair of CollectA Spinosaurus Models

A pair of CollectA Spinosaurus dinosaur models.

A pair of CollectA Spinosaurus dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

9 11, 2015

CollectA Spinosaurus Models in Stock at Everything Dinosaur (Tomorrow)

By | November 9th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

CollectA Spinosaurus are on their Way!

The eagerly awaited Spinosaurus replicas including the 1:40 scale Deluxe Spinosaurus with an articulated lower jaw are their way to Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse.  These eagerly awaited dinosaur models are the last of the 2015 CollectA production to reach us and when the stock arrives and is checked over we shall commence the operation to let everyone who contacted us and wanted to reserve one that these beautiful replicas have arrived.

All Three 2015 CollectA Spinosaurus Dinosaur Models

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Joining the 1:4 scale Supreme Guidraco Pterosaur figure and the wonderful Feathered T. rex (also in 1:40 scale like the Deluxe Spinosaurus), will be the three new versions of Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus), which represent one of the very latest interpretations, of what is believed to be, the largest meat-eating dinosaur known to science.

The CollectA 1:40 Scale Deluxe Spinosaurus

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

A Carnivorous Dinosaur at Home in the Water and on Land

These three, hand-painted models are based on the re-examination of the Spinosauridae fossil material that was published last year (Ibrahim et al).  In what was a dramatic report, a team of scientists including Paul Sereno, Nizar Ibrahim, Cristiano Dal Sasso, Simone Maganuco, Matteo Fabbri plus others esteemed academics including the UK’s David Martill re-examined all the known Spinosaurus fossil material from North Africa and concluded that Spinosaurus was adapted to a life as an aquatic animal.  Put simply, it was a dinosaur that looked like a dragon and decided to live like a crocodile.

The paper, entitled “Semi-aquatic Adaptations in a Giant Predatory Dinosaur”, was published on September 26th 2014, so CollectA have been remarkably quick off the mark to produce this trio of replicas.

To read more about the original Spinosaurus research: Spinosaurus – Four Legs Better than Two

 The Swimming Dinosaur (Popular CollectA Model Range)

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

In essence, the 2014 study depicted Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus) as a semi-aquatic hunter, more at home in water than in a terrestrial environment.  Although descended from entirely terrestrial ancestors, Spinosaurus had evolved into a supreme specialist, an obligate quadruped of a Theropod that was very much a creature of the large rivers and deep lakes of its ancient Cretaceous habitat.  In recognition of this research, CollectA created a total of three new Spinosaurus models, a swimming one (pictured above), the Deluxe 1:40 scale replica mentioned earlier and a walking Spinosaurus (see below).

A Walking Spinosaurus Dinosaur Model (CollectA)

A Spinosaurus going for a stroll.

A Spinosaurus going for a stroll.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

To see Everything Dinosaur’s existing range of Deluxe CollectA models: CollectA Scale and Deluxe Models

To view Everything Dinosaur’s existing range of CollectA not to scale models: CollectA Prehistoric Animals

A spokesperson for the UK based company stated:

“It is great to see these three fascinating depictions of Spinosaurus.  CollectA are to be praised for the quick turnaround from the published paper to making this a production model and also for taking on the challenge of depicting this iconic dinosaur in this way, bringing a whole new dimension when it comes to dinosaur model collecting.”

8 11, 2015

“Fanged Eels” and “Fire Frogs” of the Permian

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

“Fanged Eels” and “Fire Frogs” of the Permian

An international team of scientists led by researchers from the Field Museum of Chicago (USA) and the Natural History Museum (London), have unearthed an large number of vertebrate fossils that provide an insight into the fauna that existed in a huge, lowland swamp that covered a part of the southern portion of the ancient super-continent Pangaea.  The fossils are extremely significant as most of what palaeontologists know about life on Earth some 278 million years ago comes from fossils found in North America and Europe.  Vertebrate fossils from South America dating from the Artinskian faunal stage of the Early Permian are extremely rare.

Amongst the significant fossil finds, the scientists writing in the journal “Nature Communications” describe fanged eel-like amphibians, hunters with huge mouths that resemble giant salamanders and a reptile which was previously unknown from South America.

A Bizarre Watery World Dominated by Amphibians

Evidence of the fauna of Brazil some 278 million years ago has been unearthed.

Evidence of the fauna of Brazil some 278 million years ago has been unearthed.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

The large lakes and swamps were home to an ancient ecosystem that was like nothing around today.  Amphibians dominated this watery world and these newly described fossils from the Parnaiba Basin of north-eastern Brazil provide a detailed record of the fauna that was present in the southern part of Pangaea close to the tropics.

Commenting on the discoveries, one of the authors of the report, Chicago Field Museum scientist Ken Angielczyk stated:

“Almost all of our knowledge about land animals from this time, comes from a handful of regions in North America and western Europe, which were located near the equator.  Now we finally have information about what kinds of animals were present in areas farther to the south, and their similarities and differences to the animals living near the equator.”

For example, the lizard-like creature named Captorhinus aguti was previously known from fossils found in  the south-western United States, this research extends this animals faunal range by a considerable margin.

The Early Reptile Captorhinus aguti

A resident of Brazil - Captorhinus.

A resident of Brazil – Captorhinus.

Picture Credit: Field Museum (Chicago)

This reptile reached lengths of around half a metre, it had batteries of crushing teeth and it has been suggested that this Eureptile was probably herbivorous.

Fanged Eel-Like Amphibians

The fanged amphibian is a new species, it has been named Timonya annae.  Measuring up to forty centimetres in length, this amphibian has been described as a cross between a freshwater eel and a Mexican salamander.  Although capable of moving around on land, it was very much at home in the water where it hunted small fish, other amphibians and invertebrates.

A Close up of the Newly Described Permian Amphibian Timonya annae

A fanged amphibian from the Early Permian.

A fanged amphibian from the Early Permian.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

Lurking in the background of the picture above is a large, predatory amphibian, a member of the Rhinesuchidae family.  As far as we at Everything Dinosaur are aware, the genera or  species has not been identified within the scientific paper.  It would have been one of the top aquatic predators in the lake system perhaps reaching lengths in excess of 1.2 metres.

The Beautifully Preserved Skull of Timonya annae

A close up of the Timonya skull.

A close up of the Timonya skull.

Picture Credit: Juan Cisneros

 Fire Frogs

The other new species of amphibian has been named Procuhy nazarienis (pronounced pro-coo-ee naz-ar-ee-en-sis), the name means “fire frog” in the native Timbira language of this part of Brazil.  It was closely related to T. annae and the name was inspired by the Pedra de Fogo Formation (Rock of Fire), where the fossils were found.  The strata in the Lower Pedra de Fogo Formation (the stratigraphic zone that contains the fossils), is well known as it contains flints which were used to make fires.  The term “frog” is also misleading, these amphibians were not closely related to extant frogs or indeed to that branch of the Amphibia that gave rise to the frog lineage.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the contribution of the Field Museum in the compilation of this article.

7 11, 2015

TetZooCon 2015 and Everything Dinosaur

By | November 7th, 2015|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

TetZooCon 2015 and Everything Dinosaur

It’s full steam ahead with just a few days to go to the second annual TetZooCon, a convention dedicated to Tetrapod Zoology and what an amazing day it’s going to be.  The London Wetland Centre is the venue and on Saturday 14th November, the great and the good in the TetZoo-verse will descend on Barnes, London SW13 to enjoy a variety of speakers covering subjects as diverse as Pterosaurs to Pygmy Elephants?  Keeping to the all things beginning with “P” theme, renowned palaeoartists Mark Witton, Bob Nicholls (he of the famous Nigersaurus eye-lashes illustration, ask him about this whilst you are there) and John Conway will be holding a special palaeoart workshop.  If you have ever wondered how artists are able to create such stunning illustrations of long, extinct creatures now’s your chance to find out.

Countdown to TetZooCon 2015

Click on the logo to visit the Paypal booking service.

Click on the logo for more information!

Image Credit: Darren Naish

Organised by Darren Naish, vertebrate palaeontologist, acclaimed science writer and all round good guy, and the super talented John Conway, Saturday’s event provides an amazing opportunity to meet top academics and to learn all about the comings and goings in terms of some of the latest thinking regarding the astonishing creatures that share our planet, plus of course, lots of information on those animals that have dropped out of the gene pool.  Animals such as the Ichthyosaurs which will be covered in a talk given by the University of Southampton’s Jessica Lawrence-Wujek.  So if “fish lizards” are your thing, head down to the London Wetland Centre on the 14th.

For further information and to book: TetZooCon 2015

The event starts at 9am and Everything Dinosaur are proud to be associated with this wonderful day out.  Look out for some super prehistoric animal models that we have donated for the quiz that will round off the fun filled and very informative day.

Look out for our Logo at TetZooCon 2015

Proud to sponsor Tetzoocon 2015.

Proud to sponsor TetZooCon 2015.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Tea and coffee are provided, and lunch can be purchased at the nearby Water’s Edge Cafe.  TetZooCon promises to be the best thing to hit this part of London since the Ice Age!

Commenting on the event, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“Events like TetZooCon provide those with a general interest in science with a marvellous opportunity to converse with leading scientists, artists and science writers.  Sadly, these opportunities, are few and far between and it is great to see such a convention taking place.  We wish the organisers and everyone attending the very best and we look forward to hearing more about this exciting event.”

Everything Dinosaur Slides Between Speakers at the Conference

All ready for the 14th November.

All ready for the 14th November.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We note that the day is to be concluded with a visit to a local hostelry, a trip to the Red Lion Pub!  Fantastic planning Darren et al, choosing an inn with a Tetrapod connection.   Sounds like it is going to be a great day!

6 11, 2015

First Pictures of New CollectA 2016 Models

By | November 6th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Mercuriceratops, T. rex Prey, Hunting T. rex and Metriacanthosaurus

The first pictures of some of the new for 2016 models made by our chums at CollectA have been released.  Everything Dinosaur has been given an exclusive first look, so without further ado, here are the first four.

Metriacanthosaurus – M. parkeri

"Parker's moderately spined lizard"

“Parker’s moderately spined lizard”

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

First up, Metriacanthosaurus, an eight metre long monster that once roamed southern England.  Known from fragmentary fossils, excavated from an exposed Upper Jurassic horizon near the town of Weymouth (Dorset, England), this dinosaur may have been the apex predator of that part of the world around 156-157 million years ago.  Where Metriacanthosaurus is placed in the Theropoda remains hotly debated.  Once classified as a Megalosaur, more recent research has placed this formidable hunter in the Sinoraptoridae.  It is a beautiful model and it’s great to see another “English” Theropod added to the impressive CollectA “Prehistoric Life” model range.  Metriacanthosaurus measures an imposing 17 cm in length.

T. rex the Hunter!

A hunting T. rex.

A hunting T. rex.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

You wait ages for a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex model and then two* turn up within a few months.  The second new for 2016 model is a depiction of a hunting T. rex and what a skilfully created replica it is.  The hunting T. rex measures 24 cm long and Anthony Beeson, the clever designer behind this range explained:

“Tyrannosaurus rex hunting is designed with a less evolved plumage when compared to the 2015 CollectA Deluxe Feathered T. rex model so that it may be interpreted by the collector as either an immature male or as a female.  The latter in order to show sexual dimorphism.”

Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the creation of this, the very latest depiction of the “Tyrant Lizard King”.

Tyrannosaurus Prey – T. rex Corpse

T. rex Corpse

T. rex Corpse

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

Not every hunt was successful, even for Tyrannosaurus rex.  Like Metriacanthosaurus that lived some ninety million years earlier, T. rex may have been an apex predator, but sometimes it did not get everything its own way.  At 31 cm long, this is an impressively sized model which shows lots of detail, the gory demise of a Tyrannosaur possibly as a result of an encounter with a bigger member of its own species or maybe after a battle with a pack of the recently described giant, Hell Creek Formation dromaeosaurid Dakotaraptor (D. steini).

Explaining how he decided on the pathology for his model, designer Anthony Beeson stated:

“I designed Tyrannosaurus as prey in order to show that however fearsome a carnivore may appear, it is likely to end up in the food chain eventually.  It also shows that Tyrannosaurus faced death at the hands of its own species especially during mating and the body shows damage caused by another Tyrannosaurus based on bite marks identified in the same areas on other fossils.” 

It is fantastic to see a T. rex corpse introduced by CollectA, Everything Dinosaur are “dead” certain that this will prove to be a very popular model!

* There are now three feathered Tyrannosaurus rex replicas thanks to CollectA.

The Chasmosaurine Mercuriceratops

Wonderful horned dinosaur replica.

Wonderful horned dinosaur replica.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

Continuing the trend (or should that now be called a tradition), for producing excellent horned dinosaur models, is a replica of the Chasmosaurine Mercuriceratops and it’s another beauty.  This carefully painted Ceratopsian measures an impressive 16.5 cm long and it is a beautiful rendition of a distant relative to Triceratops and Torosaurus.  CollectA have by far and away the most extensive line up of horned dinosaur models, this new for 2016 addition is going to prove to be a big hit with fans of horned dinosaurs.

More news about CollectA will be posted up by Everything Dinosaur in the near future.  All these models will be available from Everything Dinosaur in the Spring of 2016.  Looks like it is going to be a great year for CollectA!

To view the existing range of CollectA prehistoric animals: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models

To view the Deluxe CollectA range: CollectA Deluxe Scale Models

*Oops four feathered T. rex models from CollectA we forgot about the juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex replica.

5 11, 2015

Warrington’s Wonderful Dinosaurs

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

A Morning with Year 1 and Reception (Winwick CE Primary)

October was a very busy month for the dinosaur experts at Everything Dinosaur with lots of school visits to squeeze in amongst all the other prehistoric animal projects that we were involved with.  On a Wednesday, towards the end of the month we delivered a dinosaur workshop to Reception and Year 1 pupils at Winwick CE Primary School (Warrington, Cheshire) and what a fun and fact filled morning it was.  The emphasis was on exploring dinosaurs and fossils so that the term topic could link into key areas of the national curriculum related to numeracy and literacy.  Lots of extension ideas and activities followed on from our visit, for example, we set the Year 1 children one of our special “pinkie palaeontologist challenges” – could they compose a thank you letter to Everything Dinosaur?

A Set of Wonderful Dinosaur Thank You Letters from Year 1

Year 1 write thank you letters.

Year 1 write thank you letters.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Sure enough, we received an envelope from the school, sent into us by the class teacher (Mrs Common) and inside we found a lovely set of thank you letters from the children.  Our dinosaur expert had asked the children to make sure they got their words onto the lines correctly, that they used capital letters and full stops.  In addition,  we wanted to see some wonderful spelling.

Amelia Says Thank You to Everything Dinosaur

Amelia says thank you.

Amelia says thank you.

Picture Credit: Winwick CE Primary School and Everything Dinosaur

What super writing Amelia, well done you!

Year One Class Send in Thank You Letters After Dinosaur Workshop

A thank you letter from Ethan.  Well done!

A thank you letter from Ethan. Well done!

Picture Credit: Winwick CE Primary School and Everything Dinosaur

We enjoyed reading through the letters and we loved looking at the wonderful prehistoric animals that the children had drawn, especially the Ammonites!

To discover more about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Dinosaurs for Schools

Commenting on the busy morning, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We had a fantastic time working with the children.  Special thanks to Mrs Dudley, Mrs Hansley, Miss Abu and Mr Bate for their help and assistance on the day.  A big Iguanodon thumbs up to Mrs Cameron who even offered us some toast at break-time.”

It sounds like Everything Dinosaur were very well looked after at the school.  Dinosaurs as a term topic provides so many opportunities for children to gain confidence with their writing, develop their vocabularies and to practice simple addition and subtraction.  A big thank you to all the children who sent in letters to us, this is greatly appreciated.

4 11, 2015

Dakotaraptor Compared to Utahraptor

By | November 4th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Dakotaraptor Compared to Utahraptor

The vast majority of the dromaeosaurids known were actually rather small when compared to other types of Theropod dinosaur.  As a group, these active dinosaurs were geographically widespread with fossil specimens found in Asia, both North and South America and even England (Nuthetes destructor).  All species described to date were predatory and they certainly seemed to have been amongst the most adaptable of all the Theropoda.  Over the last few years our view of these feathered terrors has changed.  They are no longer confined to the role of swift cursorial (running) hunters, scientists have proposed that many members of the Dromaeosauridae were excellent climbers (scansorial), tree dwellers (arboreal) and that a number of them were volant (capable of powered flight or gliding).

Dromaeosaurids like Changyuraptor Seemed to have Filled a Variety of Ecological Niches

"Four winged" terror

“Four winged” terror

Picture Credit:  S. Abramowicz

The illustration above depicts the dromaeosaurid Changyuraptor yangi from Liaoning Province (China), it was very probably capable of flight.

Giant Raptors – Gigantism in the Dromaeosauridae

Over the dromaeosaurids long evolutionary history, gigantic forms did evolve and we suspect that Cretaceous-aged strata still hold the undiscovered remains of a number of super-sized dromaeosaurids.  With the naming and describing of Dakotaraptor (D. steini), the Hell Creek Formation can now boast a gigantic sized raptor amongst its faunal members.  At around five and a half metres in length Dakotaraptor was a sizeable beast, but for the moment, the dinosaur called Utahraptor (U. ostrummaysorum) which roamed what was to become the State of Utah more than fifty million years before Dakotaraptor evolved, is regarded as the largest.

Direct comparisons are difficult, the two individuals that represent Dakotaraptor (a gracile form and a more robust specimen) are known from only fragmentary remains, limb bones, vertebrae including caudal vertebrae, for example.  The holotype of Utahraptor is also fragmentary, consisting of some cranial material, a tibia and caudal vertebrae.  Some further fossil material assigned to Utahraptor has come to light since Utahraptor ostrummaysorum was formally named and described, but even so, direct comparisons between these two North American giants is difficult.

Comparing Claws

Ironically, there is one part of these two dinosaurs that we can compare and contrast.  The famous sickle-toe killing claw, what is termed the pedal ungual II.

The Sickle-Toe Claws of Utahraptor and Dakotaraptor Compared

Comparing those "killer claws".

Comparing those “killer claws”.

Picture Credit: Robert DePalma with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

In the photograph above, a cast of the second toe claw of Utahraptor (left) is compared to that of Dakotaraptor (right).  The claws are very similar in size, although the degree of curvature is different.  In addition, Dakotaraptor had a more pronounced flexor tubercle (the ringed area in the photograph).  This would suggest that the second toe claw of Dakotaraptor was highly mobile dorsoventrally (it could be moved up and down really well).  This might indicate that Dakotaraptor, already nick-named D-raptor, was more capable of slashing with its second toe and with some considerable force too.

When the proposed femur to tibia bone ratios are compared between Utahraptor and Dakotaraptor, it can be seen that D. steini had body proportions very similar to the much smaller dromaeosaurids such as Dromaeosaurus.  Utahraptor’s hind legs seem to have been more robust and as a result Utahraptor may have been a heavier animal, but in a sprint Dakotaraptor probably had the edge.  Both dinosaurs could very probably outrun even the most talented athlete.

The presence of this new predator expands the record of Theropod diversity in Late Cretaceous Laramidia, adding a new dimension to the ecology and food chains that likely occurred in North America towards the end of the Mesozoic.

Why Dakotaraptor steini?

The genus name translates as “robber or thief from Dakota”, whereas the trivial name honours American palaeontologist Walter W. Stein.

3 11, 2015

Dakotaraptor a Giant Raptor

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

Dakotaraptor steini and Niche Partitioning

An international research team which included scientists from the University of Kansas, Pete Larson (Black Hills Institute of Geological Research) and Bob Bakker (Houston Museum of Science and Nature) , have finally solved a hundred year mystery with the describing of a very large dromaeosaurid from fluvial deposits that form part of the famous Hell Creek Formation exposed in South Dakota.  Teeth, very typical of a dromaeosaurid, had been found in the Late Maastrichtian deposits indicating the presence of a very large “raptor”, however, no bones to link to the teeth were known.  However, a paper published in “Paleontological Contributions” describes Dakotaraptor (D. steini) and a new super-sized Dromaeosaur has been introduced to the world.

Dakotaraptor – A Fearsome Predator

Dakotaraptor steini

Dakotaraptor steini

Picture Credit: Emily Willoughby

At an estimated five and half metres in length, this new meat-eating dinosaur, known from fragmentary remains representing two individuals fills a niche within the food web of the fauna represented by the vertebrate fossils associated with the famous Hell Creek Formation.  A number of small Theropods are known as well as the super-sized Tyrannosaurs such as T. rex.  Dakotaraptor represents a sort of “halfway house” when it comes to the carnivores associated with Hell Creek.  Its limbs and body are very similar to the smaller dromaeosaurids known from this part of the world, dinosaurs such as Dromaeosaurus, (the first dromaeosaurid ever described), Saurornitholestes, and the recently named Acheroraptor but proportionately much larger.  Dakotaraptor was one “raptor” that actually did grow to be as big as the “Velociraptors” featured in the Jurassic Park franchise.

Commenting on the size and scale of Dakotaraptor, co-author of the publication and Kansas University palaeontologist, David Burnham said:

“This new predatory dinosaur also fills the body size gap between smaller Theropods and large Tyrannosaurs that lived at this time.”

The fossils were found in 2005, lead author of the research, Robert DePalma, (curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History) led the field expedition to Harding County (South Dakota) where the specimens were located.  At the time, he was a graduate student studying under former Kansas University professor and curator Larry Martin, who sadly passed away in 2014.

He explained:

“This Cretaceous period raptor would have been lightly built and probably just as agile as the vicious smaller Theropods such as Velociraptor.”

In addition to being roughly the size of the iconic “Raptors” from Jurassic Park, there are two very exciting skeletal features preserved in Dakotaraptor.  The paper describes a massive dromaeosaur sickle claw on the middle toe.  It measures 16 cm from top to bottom and 24 cm along the outer curve.  This was an impressively large raptorial claw, even for an animal this size.  The ulna, a bone in the forearm, bares 15 large and distinct quill knobs, or ulnar papillae, which are reinforced attachment points on the wings of birds and other dinosaurs where the large, pennaceous feathers attach.  This makes Dakotaraptor the largest known dinosaur with confirmed wings.

Reconstructed Dakotaraptor Wing and Proposed Plumage

The "wings" of Dakotaraptor.

The “wings” of Dakotaraptor.

Picture Credit: Robert DePalma

Dakotaraptor may not have competed directly with adult Tyrannosaurs.  Perhaps it adopted a different hunting strategy or specialised in attacking a different sort of prey.  By doing this it would have avoided direct competition between it and other large predatory dinosaurs. This is an example of niche partitioning.

When asked by Everything Dinosaur about this particular aspect of the research, Robert DePalma explained:

“Niche partitioning is a given, Dakotaraptor had to occupy a distinct ecological niche.  If it coexisted with the other large predators, had the same herbivores available to them, and did not out compete each other to extinction, then there had to be different strategies going on.”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of Kansas University and Robert DePalma in the compilation of this article.

2 11, 2015

Why Would a Dinosaur Not Make a Good Pet?

By | November 2nd, 2015|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 2 at Bishop King CE Primary School Study Dinosaurs

As part of the extension activities suggested by Dinosaur Mike of Everything Dinosaur during his visit to Bishop King CE Primary School (Lincoln, England), to work with Key Stage 1, the children in Year 2 were challenged to have a go at designing their very own dinosaur.  Having met Tyler and explained that in the past a huge marine reptile roamed the seas of what was to become the United States of America, one of the company’s “pinkie palaeontologist challenges” was set.  Could the pupils come up with their very own prehistoric animal?

A Wonderful Oliversaurus from Oliver

Oliver designs a dinosaur.

Oliver designs a dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Bishop King CE Primary School

The children took to their task with gusto.  We challenged the class to think carefully about their dinosaur, what colour would it be?  Would it have a long neck or a short neck, a big body or a little body?  We wanted to see lots of lovely labels including pointing out where the dinosaur’s skull was, a word we introduced to the classes during our fossil handling activities.

A Big Green Dinosaur with Navy Blue Spikes on His Back

A big green dinosaur.

A big green dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Bishop King CE Primary School

The term topic for the two classes of Year 2 children this autumn has a science focus.  The aim is to decide whether or not a dinosaur would make a good pet.  This subject area acts as an umbrella topic, linking in with exploration of food chains, habitats and life cycles as well as learning about different parts of the body.  This particular extension exercise dovetails nicely into art as well as supporting literacy, vocabulary development and handwriting skills.

Excellent Labelling Just Like a Scientist

A very colourful dinosaur design.

A very colourful dinosaur design.

Picture Credit: Bishop King CE Primary School

When it comes to providing posters for conferences detailing research, it is important to provide accurate, well annotated diagrams.  This is a useful skill within palaeontology and it seems from these examples here that the pupils at Bishop King CE Primary have started to hone their science skills at an early age.

Commenting on the drawings, that were very kindly sent into Everything Dinosaur by class teacher Miss Knapp, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“A new dinosaur is named and described approximately every three weeks.  By the time the children break up for Christmas it is very likely that a further two dinosaurs will have been formally named and described.  Dinosaurs were a very diverse group of reptiles, over the 165 million years in which dinosaurs existed they evolved into all sorts of forms, as well as the giants such as Diplodocus and Tyrannosaurus rex, some dinosaurs could fly, others lived in trees whilst some types of dinosaurs excavated burrows.”

Our congratulations to the children in Year 2, they have come up with some beautiful and very colourful dinosaurs and Everything Dinosaur team members were most impressed with all the clear labelling.  We hope our dinosaur workshop went some way to help the children to answer the question why would a dinosaur not make a good pet?

1 11, 2015

Dinosaur Books for Christmas

By | November 1st, 2015|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaurs of the British Isles – Dinosaur Book for Christmas

Having discussed a book dedicated to the fascinating story of a group of armoured dinosaurs, the Polacanthidae, yesterday, “British Polacanthid Dinosaurs”, published by Siri Scientific Press, our attention now turns to a book all about dinosaurs from the same publishers that would make an ideal Christmas gift for the general reader.

The remarkable polacanthids are covered along with some one hundred other species in the book “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”, written by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura.

Dinosaurs of the British Isles (Front Cover)

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

This beautifully illustrated publication provides a comprehensive audit of all the dinosaurs known from the British Isles.  It maps out (literally), where dinosaur fossil discoveries have been made and puts these fossil finds into context with regards to their importance in the history of studies related to the Dinosauria.  The information has been lovingly compiled and the authors summarise what is known about the history of every dinosaur species discovered up to its publication date (2014).  Within the 400 or so pages, there are hundreds of photographs of fossils, many of which are not on display to the general public.  These pictures are supported by easy to understand text, supplementary illustrations and highly detailed skeletal drawings.

To order a copy, visit: Siri Scientific Press

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of this book: A Review of “Dinosaurs of the British Isles”

“Dinosaurs of the British Isles” has received rave reviews being described as “fantastic” and as “a vitally important book for any UK dino enthusiast”.

The book is a truly unique account of British dinosaur discoveries and it will be of interest to the general reader as well as fans of dinosaurs and senior academics.  Dean has been busy this year, there was a two-part television documentary that aired in the late summer which provided more information on dinosaurs from Britain.  In addition, Dean has embarked on a very hectic public speaking tour.  Dean’s work is already inspiring this country’s future palaeontologists and if you want to help the next generation to grasp the significance of Britain when it comes to the Dinosauria, then “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” is a great way to start.

Highly recommended as a Christmas gift.

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