All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
21 12, 2015

The Swimming Speed of Plesiosaurs

By | December 21st, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|1 Comment

Computer Simulations, Penguins, Plesiosaurs and Underwater Flight

Recently, Everything Dinosaur published an article on a fascinating piece of research published in the academic journal “PLOS Computational Biology” which focused on how plesiosaurs propelled themselves through the water.  The paper had been written by researchers at the School of Interactive Computing, (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) with the collaboration of Dr. Adam Smith (Nottingham Natural History Museum, Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire).  A three-dimensional model of a plesiosaur based on the Early Jurassic Meyerasaurus was used to examine how this marine reptile might have swam.  The computer simulations implied a forelimb dominated approach with the hind-limbs having a likely role not in active locomotion but in manoeuvring and stability.

Recently Published Paper Tackles How Plesiosaurs Moved in Water

Superbly preserved Plesiosaurus fossil

Superbly preserved Plesiosaurus fossil

Picture Credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum/Sabrowski/CP

In essence, these extinct reptiles may have “flown” through the water in the same way that extant penguins and turtles do today.

One point team members at Everything Dinosaur picked up on was the velocities recorded during computer simulations of different limb configurations and different ranges of movement within the joints.  The speeds seemed remarkably low to us, especially when one considers how robust some of the limb bones of plesiosaurs seem to be.  A few weeks ago, team members were allowed to view some fossil bones from a plesiosaur that had been excavated over a series of dives off the coast of Dorset.  The humerus (upper arm bone) in particular was most impressive and it obviously came from a large and powerful swimmer.

Swimming Speeds Recorded in the 3-D Study

Rear flippers don't seem to contribute much to velocity.

Rear flippers don’t seem to contribute much to velocity.

Picture Credit: Liu at el/PLOS Computational Biology

The bar graph above shows the speed of the best motions that were found by the optimisation for each of the joint ranges (narrow, medium, wide).  They do not correspond to the maximum swimming speed likely to be achieved by a plesiosaur, although previous studies involving the plesiosaur genus used as the basis for the three-dimensional model (Meyerasaurus), suggested a swimming speed of around 0.4 metres/second.

Dr. Smith Provides Clarification

We expressed our surprise with regards to the velocity cited in this research and emailed Adam Smith asking him to clarify the readings obtained.  Dr. Smith email swiftly back explaining:

“The speeds we reported are not estimates of maximum swimming speeds.  We used speed only as a way to compare efficiency of simulations using all limbs versus simulations using just one pair of limbs (using identical joint ranges).  Comparison between simulations under *different* joint ranges are meaningless because all the simulations have the same beat frequency.  This is why the simulations with wider ranges are faster – the limbs move further in the same amount of time.”

The focus of this particular piece of research, the utilisation of state-of-the-art computer modelling to examine the locomotion of a Plesiosaur whose fossilised remains come from Lower Jurassic strata located in Germany, was on the range of motion of the limbs, calculating the maximum speed of the animal did not come within the parameters of the research brief.

Dr. Smith added:

“If we put more energy into the simulations [by increasing the frequency of the limb beats] then they would certainly move more rapidly.  However, we wanted to ensure that our swimming motions were biologically possible, so we made sure the beat frequency was quite conservative.”

The plesiosaur clade (Plesiosauria) consists of a very wide variety of prehistoric creatures ranging in size from around 1.5 metres in length to more than 15 metres long.  Swimming speeds are likely to have varied amongst species with different swimming abilities being consistent with different forms of feeding and hunting strategies.  To determine the maximum velocity of these creatures would involve calculating the muscle mass of a number of different sized individuals and looking at the influence on forward speed of different speeds of limb movement within a framework of what was biologically possible.  In addition, the metabolism of the animal would have to be considered.

Dr. Smith explained that estimating the maximum velocity of a plesiosaur was beyond the scope of this project but he teased:

“Maybe a future research project!”

Perhaps, we will have the answer one day to the theoretical question, how close to the beach would you have to be to allow you to escape before a large predatory marine reptile caught up with you?

How Much of a Head Start Would You Have Needed?

Under attack

Under attack, you probably could not swim quickly enough to get away.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

To read the recent article which highlighted the research into the locomotion of plesiosaurs: Computer Simulations, Penguins, Plesiosaurs and Underwater Flight

20 12, 2015

Scottish Shark Fossil Honoured

By | December 20th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Plaque and Cairn for the “Bearsden Shark”

It might not quite match the celebrity status of the Loch Ness Monster, but a metre long prehistoric shark which once swam in a shallow sea that covered much of Scotland, has been honoured by having a cairn and a plaque erected on the site where its fossils were found back in 1981.  The shark named Akmonistion zangerli is represented by one of the most complete cartilaginous fish fossils known from the Carboniferous, it is a member of the Stethacanthidae family of ancient sharks nick-named “the ironing board sharks” due to the shape of the male sharks dorsal fin.  The shark is known locally as the “Bearsden shark” as the fossils come from Manse Burn close to the town of Bearsden which is located just to the north-west of the city of Glasgow.

The Beautiful “Bearsden Shark” Fossil

Now housed in the collection of the Huntarian Museum (Scotland)

Now housed in the collection of the Hunterian Museum (Scotland)

Picture Credit: The Hunterian Museum

The picture above shows the fossilised remains of Akmonistion zangerli.  The broad head is to the left of the picture and the bizarrely shaped dorsal fin can be clearly made out.  The black shales from which this fossil was extracted represent sediments laid down at the bottom of an ancient sea.   A lack of current and a very poor level of oxygen at the bottom of the sea permitted the excellent preservation of the cartilage that made up the skeleton of this prehistoric fish.  Dr. Neil Clark who was present at the unveiling of the plaque to commemorate this important discovery, carried out his PhD on the fossil, he stated:

“This is the best preserved fossil shark of its time in the world.  It was a very special discovery because in most fossils it is only the hard shelly, or bony, structures that are preserved while the soft tissues generally rot away.  From the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, its fragile cartilage skeleton is almost intact after 330 million years locked in the black shales of Bearsden.  Even the partly digested remains of its last fish supper lie undisturbed still within the bowels.”

The actual fossil is on display at the Hunterian Museum (Glasgow University), but a small community group, aided by funding, including a generous donation by the company Tarmac has campaigned for the fossil find to be marked in some way at Manse Burn.  Earlier this week, a cairn and  a plaque commemorating the importance of this discovery was unveiled.

The “Bearsden Shark” is Honoured

Honouring a 330 million year old shark fossil from Scotland.

Honouring a 330 million year old shark fossil from Scotland.

Picture Credit: The Kirkintilloch Herald

The photograph shows (L to R) Amanda Stewart (Chairwoman of the Baljaffray Residents Association who started the campaign, Nan Lawless, Dr Neil Clark (Curator of Palaeontology at the Hunterian Museum), Andrew Kent, Neil Buchanan, Stephen Cowan, Debbie Macrae and Provost for East Dunbartonshire Una Walker.

Provost Una Walker said:

“It is a source of great pride that such a significant scientific discovery was made in our area and it is thanks to the hard work of the local residents that the site is now properly marked.”

Although formally named Akmonistion zangerli back in 2001, the shark is still affectionately called the “Bearsden Shark” by locals.  The site itself has received special protection as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

A Model of a Typical Member of the Stethacanthidae Shark Family

Part of the Safari Ltd "Prehistoric Shark Toob)

Part of the Safari Ltd “Prehistoric Shark Toob)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a model of a typical Stethacanthidae shark like Akmonistion zangerli, it is one of the excellent shark models in the prehistoric shark toob made by Safari Ltd.

To view the range of Safari Ltd prehistoric animal models including the prehistoric shark toob: Safari Ltd Prehistoric Animal Models.

19 12, 2015

Saturday and Still Working

By | December 19th, 2015|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Preparing and Packing Orders for Everything Dinosaur Customers

It has been dubbed “stressful Saturday” the last Saturday before Christmas Day.  Lots of shoppers racing around in a desperate rush to get the presents bought.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur do understand that at this time of year Christmas shopping can be a stressful experience.  In the mail order world for example, not only is there the stress in looking for the ideal gift on line but in addition, there is the worry as to whether or not the present is going to be packed and despatched so that it can be delivered in time for the big day.

We Don’t Want Present Buying to be a Nasty Experience!

Plans already in place to help out with Christmas orders.

Plans already in place to help out with Christmas orders.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For several weeks now Everything Dinosaur has been implementing a number of seasonal policies to help our customers at this time of year.  Naturally, we still email customers in person to let them know that their order has been received, but in addition, the extra shifts put in has meant that we have kept on top of the orders and that parcels and packages have been despatched promptly.  All orders placed prior to 3.30pm on Friday, for example, were despatched late that afternoon (around 4.30pm), these parcels are already on their way.

Today, Saturday, we have team members in the office manning the phones, taking calls from customers looking for reassurance about delivery dates, getting telephone orders sorted and so on.  All the orders received up to 10.15am on our website were sent out with the Saturday morning 11am collection.  These parcels too, are in the mail network by now.

Last Recommended Posting Dates (UK)

We always advise people to post early, this is the best policy in our view, but here are the last recommended posting dates from Royal Mail and our main courier service company (Interlink):

  • Today, Saturday 19th December for second class parcels
  • Monday 21st December for first class parcels
  • Wednesday 23rd December for Royal Mail Special Delivery*

With couriers, Everything Dinosaur subsidises carrier charges and the last day for the majority of UK deliveries using courier despatch is Wednesday 23rd December (orders placed before 12 noon) for delivery next day, in time for Christmas, but please note, not all parts of the UK are covered by a next day delivery service and at this time of year, courier networks experience very high levels of demand and not all next day deliveries can be guaranteed.  We advise that customers email Everything Dinosaur so that we can provide individual assistance or alternatively, the Interlink website provides information on their services.

Contact Everything Dinosaur:

If you have a query about Christmas deliveries, or indeed any aspect of Everything Dinosaur’s delivery service please feel free to contact us: Email Everything Dinosaur

To view the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur’s Website

Team members will be working hard and doing all they can to help customers avoid difficulties when it comes to organising dinosaur themed Christmas gifts.

* Everything Dinosaur can arrange for Royal Mail special delivery of parcels, these services are available if UK customers should require them.  Simply email Everything Dinosaur or telephone the office (main switchboard number can be found at the bottom of Everything Dinosaur’s website) and we will do our best to help you.

18 12, 2015

Computer Simulations, Penguins, Plesiosaurs and Underwater Flight

By | December 18th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|2 Comments

Plesiosaurs “Flew” Through the Water Like Penguins

Plesiosaurs roamed the seas for much of the Mesozoic.  The fossil record demonstrates that this group of long-necked, round-bodied marine reptiles were highly successful, with a global distribution and a geological record of some 135 million years or so.  However, ever since Mary Anning discovered the “sea dragon”, plesiosaur fossil at Lyme Regis in 1823, scientists have puzzled over how these animals actually moved through the water.  A team of scientists including Dr. Adam Smith (Nottingham Natural History Museum, Wollaton Hall), have used computer modelling to recreate plesiosaur locomotion.  It turns out that these extinct creatures most likely used their two front flippers to effectively “fly” through the water, much in the same way as penguins and turtles do today.

Scientists Use a Computer Simulation to Unravel the “Flight” of a Plesiosaur

The most effective swimming motion for the plesiosaur is flapping the two front flippers in an underwater flight motion

The most effective swimming motion for the plesiosaur is flapping the two front flippers in an underwater flight motion

Picture Credit: Liu et al. 

The Plesiosaurians

Plesiosaurs are part of the Sauropterygia, taxonomically a Superorder which was defined by Richard Owen in 1860 and encompasses a diverse range of marine reptiles such as the nothosaurs, the Pistosauroidea and the Plesiosauria.  Although the Sauropterygia consist of a myriad of marine reptiles with many different bauplans (body plans), they are united by having a modified pectoral girdle designed to provide support for the powerful strokes of the front flippers.  It seems that in some of the Plesiosauria at least, this modified pectoral girdle and other anatomical adaptations permitted these animals to swim primarily with the forelimbs, using an unmodified flight stroke to “fly” through the water.

Throughout that long evolutionary history of the plesiosaurs,  a unique body plan with two pairs of large, wing-like flippers was maintained, but just how these animals propelled themselves through the water has remained a controversial subject.   In this new study, published in the open access publication “PLOS Computational Biology” the researchers adopted a novel approach using a digital, three-dimensional, articulated computer model to simulate the actions of this type of marine reptile swimming.  A large number of simulations were conducted to test the efficiency of various swimming methods and the team concluded that within the biologically possible range of limb motion, the simulated plesiosaur moved primarily with its forelimbs using an unmodified underwater flight stroke, in essence, the same locomotion method found in extant penguins and turtles.

Plesiosaurs “Flew” in the Water Like Penguins

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

An Illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

Surprisingly, the computer model demonstrated that the rear flippers flapping added little to the forward speed of the plesiosaur studied.  Instead, the back flippers of plesiosaurs were probably used for steering and stability, a sort of underwater version of rear wheel steer and front wheel drive.

The researchers involved in the study were Shiqiu Liu, Yuting Gu, Jie Tan, C. Karen Liu and Greg Turk from the School of Interactive Computing, (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia) along with palaeontologist Dr. Adam Smith (Nottingham Natural History Museum, Wollaton Hall).

Commenting on the study, Dr. Smith stated:

“Plesiosaur swimming has remained a mystery for almost 200 years, so it was exciting to see the plesiosaur come alive on the computer screen.  Our results show that the front limbs provide the powerhouse for plesiosaur propulsion while the hind limbs are more passive”.

A Bar Chart Comparing the Forward Speeds Achieved in the Simulation

Rear flippers don't seem to contribute much to velocity.

Rear flippers don’t seem to contribute much to velocity.

Chart Credit: Liu at el/PLOS Computational Biology

In the table above the velocity of a typical plesiosaur was calculated over a series of joint ranges (wide, medium and narrow).  Measurements were taken when forelimb-only flapping, hind-limb-only flapping and both pairs of limbs together were flapped.  Note that the forward speed in the forelimb-only tests are superior or broadly equivalent to the velocity achieved when both pairs of limbs moved together.  When hind-limb-only optimisations were tested the speed was greatly reduced.

Interestingly, these swimming speeds are relatively slow given the length of time these creatures had to evolve.  Elite human athletes can swim at around two metres per second for short periods.  Although plesiosaurs are likely to be much more agile in water than a person, the velocity recorded in the computer simulation is much lower than we, at Everything Dinosaur would have expected.  Most fish would have easily been able to swim faster, perhaps, as most palaeontologists predict, that long neck holds the key to the hunting strategy of the plesiosaurs.

The species used as the template for the computer model was Meyerasaurus victor, known from the Lower Jurassic of Germany.  This small (3.5 metre long), plesiosaur is known from an almost complete articulated skeleton which is on display at the Natural History Museum of Stuttgart (Germany).  Meyerasaurus had a typical body plan amongst the Plesiosauria, with a moderately long neck, so it was considered to be an ideal candidate to represent the clade.

The research team  hopes to modify their computer programme to assess how the rear flippers helped in the manoeuvrability of these marine reptiles.  Just how agile were plesiosaurs in water?  The computer model can also be used to better understand the swimming motion of other prehistoric animals such as the short-necked plesiosaurs – the pliosaurs.

To read a recently published article about a Surrey pliosaur specimen that links Dorking to Kansas: Pliosaur Skull Links Dorking to Kansas

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the press release from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr. Adam Smith in the production of this article.

17 12, 2015

Pliosaur Skull Links Dorking to Kansas

By | December 17th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Pliosaur Skull Links Dorking to Kansas

For much of the later stages of the Cretaceous, the area that is now known as the British Isles lay underwater.   Bad news if you are searching for evidence of terrestrial dinosaurs, however, the limestones and chalk deposits associated with southern England can still yield some exciting surprises for vertebrate palaeontologists.  Take for example, the research of Dr. Roger Benson (University of Oxford, Dept. of Earth Sciences), who has been examining the fragmentary remains of pliosaurs associated with the lithostratigraphic unit of strata known as the Chalk Group.  Dr. Benson’s analysis of a pliosaur specimen housed in the collection of the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre reveals that the fossils may have been misidentified, by none other than Sir Richard Owen, the anatomist who is credited with the naming of the Order Dinosauria.

An Illustration from the Original 1858 Monograph by Richard Owen

One of the original lithographs from Owen's 1858 paper.

One of the original lithographs from Owen’s 1858 paper.

Picture Credit: The Pterosaur Database/Dr. R Benson (Supplement (No. III) to the Monograph on the Fossil Reptilia of the Cretaceous Formations: 1858)

The illustration above shows some of the skull fossils and teeth described by Richard Owen as the pliosaur Polyptychodon interruptus.  The smaller illustrations to be found in the lower portion of the picture depict various pterosaur fossils.

What are Pliosaurs?

Pliosaurs, or those animals that make up the Pliosauridae clade, are an extinct group of marine reptiles, that along with the long-necked Plesiosaurs make up the Order Plesiosauria.  Pliosaurs tend have short necks and large, broad skulls.  They have a worldwide fossil distribution and they first appeared during the Early Jurassic with many of these reptiles evolving into giants that specialised in hunting other marine vertebrates like today’s killer whales.  Famous prehistoric animals such as Liopleurodon and the Australian Kronosaurus are examples of pliosaurs.

An Illustration of a Typical Pliosaur (Pliosaurus brachydeirus)

A scale drawing of a Pliosaurus.

A scale drawing of a pliosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Having dominated marine environments for the best part of a 100 million years, with many forms becoming apex predators, towards the early Late Cretaceous remains of these reptiles disappear from the fossil record.  Around ninety million years or so ago, these sea monsters died out.  Why the Pliosaurs became extinct remains a mystery.  It is important for palaeontologists to gain as much information as they can from existing fossil specimens.  Perhaps, thanks to the careful research of Dr. Benson and the presence of many fine fossil collections held in regional museums, one day scientists may have a more complete understanding of how these great reptiles evolved and radiated out into so many forms dominating a number of marine palaeoenvironments.  Scientists might even be able to provide information on why these leviathans went into decline and died out.

The Dorking Pliosaur Specimen

During the early part of the 19th Century a number of fossils of marine reptiles were collected by amateur geologists and naturalists.  One such collection, which had been the amassed by the first Baron Ashcombe was donated to the Dorking Museum in 1948 by the first Baron’s grandson.  Amongst the specimens donated was the relatively complete skull of a pliosaur which had been discovered sometime in the 1850’s.  The first Baron Ashcombe had used his influence to invite none other than Richard Owen to examine the fossil collection.  Richard Owen, who was later to help found the Natural History Museum (London), described this skull as an example of the pliosaur Polyptychodon interruptus (Po-lip-tie-ko-don in-terr-rupt-us), the name means ” broken apart fin shaped tooth”.

When Dr. Benson visited the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre to inspect the skull material, he noted a number of similarities between this fossil specimen and the fossils of another pliosaur, known from North America.  In addition, Dr. Benson’s study revealed that most other fossils of Polyptychodon species come from rocks that are much older than the ones found in the chalk pits in this part of Surrey (southern England).  This casts doubt over the original conclusions drawn by the celebrated anatomist Richard Owen.  It seems that the Dorking specimen may represent a type of pliosaur whose fossils are associated with Kansas.

A Fragment of the Lower Jaw

Individual tooth sockets (alveoli) can be made out along the jawbone.

Individual tooth sockets (alveoli) can be made out along the jawbone.

Picture Credit: Dr. Roger Benson (Oxford University)

Affinities with Brachauchenius

Although Owen thought the Dorking specimen belonged to Polyptychodon the shape of the skull (morphology) suggests to Dr. Benson that this specimen may actual be another type of pliosaur altogether.  Dr. Benson concludes that the Dorking specimen shares many similarities with a pliosaur known as Brachauchenius (Brak-ow-ken-ee-us) whose fossils are mainly associated with the Western Interior Seaway of the early Late Cretaceous that covered most of the land that is now known as the United States.  According to Dr. Benson’s research, most other specimens assigned to the Polyptychodon genus are around 115 million years old (Aptian age of the Cretaceous), but the Dorking fossil material comes from much younger strata, rocks that date from around 90-95 million years ago (Cenomanian to Turonian age).  This indicates that the pliosaur fossils within the collection of the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre represents one of the last of the pliosaurs.

Part of the Lower Jaw Bone

Lateral view of part of the Pliosaur lower jaw.

A view of part of the pliosaur lower jaw.

Picture Credit: Dr. Roger Benson (Oxford University)

Our knowledge of the Pliosauridae has improved enormously since the time of Richard Owen, as has our knowledge of stratigraphy.  These collections, many of which are housed in small regional museums can still have a very significant role in research, for example, in this instance, helping to build up a better picture of an ancient marine fauna.

The Museum’s Chairman, Nigel Arch, commenting on Dr. Benson’s visit stated that it was:

“a good example of the value of our collections and the fact that we can always learn more.  It is wonderful to think that the study of this specimen, found locally and collected by a local person, is still contributing to scientific knowledge today.” 

A Pliosaur Tooth of P. interruptus

Compare Dr. Benson's photograph to the Pliosaur tooth depicted in Owen's monograph.

Compare Dr. Benson’s photograph to the pliosaur tooth depicted in Owen’s monograph.

Picture Credit: Dr. Roger Benson (Oxford University)

Dr. Benson put his research into context, explaining:

“Pliosaurs were giant marine reptiles that could swim across oceans, specimens like the Dorking pliosaur show that this is true because similar fossils are also found in America”.   

The Importance of Regional Museums

Regional museums such as the the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre house many fine specimens assisting in the preservation of an amazing geological and fossil record.  Research using some of the specimens from within these collections can help to shed light on the diversity and distribution of pliosaur genera.  Who knows, perhaps locked away in some cabinet, part of the prized fossil collection of another regional museum may lay the fossilised bones of another mislabelled specimen, one that could provide clues as to the why the Pliosauridae became extinct.

16 12, 2015

New from Papo 2016

By | December 16th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

New Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals from Papo (2016)

Everything Dinosaur has received permission from Papo to reveal the official images of the new for 2016 dinosaurs and prehistoric animal models which are being added to the company’s “Dinosaures” range.  Leaked images from the forthcoming Papo catalogue have been circulating on line via various forums and such like, but our team members felt it appropriate to respect Papo’s wishes and to only show pictures of the new replicas when they had received permission to do so.

Papo Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Papo Baryonyx dinosaur model - available early 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Papo Baryonyx dinosaur model – available early 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Papo and Everything Dinosaur 

Marking the thirtieth anniversary of the naming and scientific description of this amazing dinosaur, Papo will be introducing a Baryonyx figure in early 2016.  This is the second member of the Spinosauridae the company has made, if it proves to be as popular as their iconic Spinosaurus replica then the designers will be chuffed.  The pose is very dramatic and highly stylised, what we have come to expect from the French model maker.  The lower jaw will be articulated and we appreciate the addition of a nasal crest, not all Baryonyx figures have this feature.  The model is somewhat robust looking and the tail is positioned on the ground to provide support.  We suspect this tripodal stance can be explained by the difficulties in producing a free standing replica of Baryonyx in what may have been a more life-like, realistic pose with the tail lifted well above the ground and the head much lower, almost at the same height as the tip of the tail.

This model is going to be one of the first available from Papo, Everything Dinosaur expects stocks to arrive at their warehouse in quarter one.

 The Feathered Velociraptor from Papo

Available soon from Everything Dinosaur.

Available soon from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Papo and Everything Dinosaur

In contrast to the Papo Baryonyx with its more traditional stance, Papo have produced their first feathered, non-avian dinosaur model*.  The details look amazing and we can’t wait to see the model “in the flesh” as it were, customers of Everything Dinosaur won’t have to wait too long, this model will be in stock during quarter one of next year.

* We classify the recently introduced Papo Archaeopteryx figure in the clade Avialae, a transitional fossil on the road to the true birds (Aves).

Note how in this figure the tail is held aloft, the model is balanced on its two toes of the right hind foot with a bit of support from that fleshy pad at the base of the foot.  The left leg is depicted as if it is just about to be lifted up, the third toe claw is touching the ground.  Additional support and stability is provided by the digits of the left limb we suspect, but a better idea of the stability of this sculpt will come when we can see and handle the first samples.  We think that the Papo designers will have made sure that their feathered Velociraptor is quite stable.

The Colour Variant of the Papo Running Tyrannosaurus rex

The Papo colour variant T. rex model

The Papo colour variant T. rex model

Picture Credit: Papo and Everything Dinosaur

Also coming out quarter 1, is this fantastic colour variant of the Papo Running T. rex.  It really is a most striking model and we look forward to picturing this replica next to the popular Papo green Running Tyrannosaurus rex that was launched back in 2012.  No prizes for guessing the size of this model, it should measure around thirty-three centimetres in length.

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Papo replicas and figures: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

Papo’s Plans for the Rest of 2016 – Prehistoric Crocodiles and “Charlie”

Papo Kaprosuchus Model (Quarter 2 – 2016)

A spectacular Papo Kaprosuchus.

A spectacular Papo Kaprosuchus.

Picture Credit: Papo and Everything Dinosaur

The pick of the bunch (and it was a tough choice), is this wonderful Kaprosuchus replica.  The model of “boar croc” will be available sometime in quarter 2.  Known from a beautifully preserved skull that measures more than half a metre in length, palaeontologists have suggested that this ancient Crocodylian, unlike its modern relatives, spent most of its life on land.  It was a “cursorial crocodile” a predator that simply did not lie in wait ready to ambush, Kaprosuchus would have chased after you.  It’s a frightening thought, but over rough terrain this six metre long giant would have been able to run faster than most people.

A Papo Velociraptor Colour Variant – Green (Charlie)

The Papo green Velociraptor figure.

The Papo green Velociraptor figure.

Picture Credit: Papo and Everything Dinosaur

The fifth new model being added to the Papo range next year is this colour variant of the company’s existing Velociraptor (55021).  It is a very attractive colour scheme and it contrasts nicely with the feathered Velociraptor figure that will be introduced a few months earlier (expect the Velociraptor green colour variant to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in quarter 2).  Fans of the summer blockbuster “Jurassic World” will remember the four Velociraptors that, the film’s hero Owen Grady, partially trained – he’s the alpha!  There’s Blue, Delta, Echo and the youngest pack member Charlie.  Collectors and fans of Papo have already nick-named this the latest edition to the Papo “raptor” pack – Charlie.  Charlie will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur and when it arrives this means that there will be forty replicas in the Papo “Dinosaures” series.

Retirements and New Paint Schemes

The official word from Papo is that there are no retirements scheduled.  This is great news, but collectors and dinosaur fans beware, with the introduction of a green colour variant of the Velociraptor figure, the slate grey  Velociraptor replica may become increasingly rare.  The slate grey version itself (55021), represents a makeover of the original Velociraptor figure, which was one of the first replicas the company introduced, this original Velociraptor figure is a very sought after figure.  We could see a similar fate befalling the slate grey colour scheme dinosaur.

At Everything Dinosaur we predict that a number of Papo figures will have new paint schemes next year.  The Papo Stegosaurus model (55007) was given a fresh look this year and we suspect that other figures in the Papo range will also get a bit of a makeover.

The five new figures represents a considerable increase in Papo’s prehistoric animal model output, in each of the last two years, Papo has added just three models to their range.  We look forward to welcoming these new for 2016 Papo prehistoric animals into our warehouse.

15 12, 2015

New Sail-Backed Dinosaur from Early Cretaceous Spain

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

Morelladon beltrani – A Spanish Sail-Backed Dinosaur

A team of Spanish scientists have published details of a new genus of plant-eating dinosaur which roamed the Iberian Peninsula about 125 million years ago (Early Cretaceous).  The dinosaur named Morelladon beltrani is believed to have been closely related to Iguanodon and the discovery helps to reinforce the belief held by many palaeontologists that the Ornithopoda were extremely diverse in Europe during this part of the Cretaceous.  The dorsal vertebrae have large, extended neural spines a feature seen in other Early Cretaceous Ornithopods, dinosaurs such as Ouranosaurus from Niger.  These spines may have supported a hump or perhaps a sail-like structure, the purpose of which remains open to debate.

An Illustration of Morelladon beltrani

An illustration of Morelladon.

An illustration of Morelladon.

Picture Credit: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)

This new species of dinosaur has been named from the fossilised remains of a single animal, preserved bones consist of dorsal vertebrae, the sacrum, partial ribs, the pelvic girdle, isolated teeth from the lower jaw and the right tibia.  However, despite a lack of cranial material, the team of scientists from the Spanish equivalent of the Open University (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) and the Autonomous University of Madrid (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), identified eight unique anatomical features (autapomorphic features) that enabled a new genus to be established.

Elongated Neural Spines

One of the unique anatomical features identified were the very elongated and tall neural spines of the dorsal vertebrae.  Such features are known in other plant-eating dinosaurs, such as the Ouranosaurus (Ouranosaurus nigeriensis) from the Early Cretaceous of Africa and although Morelladon is related to Ouranosaurus, a phylogenetic analysis carried out by the Spanish team suggests that this new Spanish dinosaur is more closely related to other western European dinosaur taxa.  Dinosaurs such as Iguanodon (I. bernissartensis) from Belgium and Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis (from England).

The Extended Neural Spines of the Dorsal Vertebrae

A photograph of the fossil material and accompanying line drawing.

A photograph of the fossil material and accompanying line drawing.

Picture Credit: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)/PLOS One

The fossils come from a dig site within a quarry about five miles south-west of the city of Morella (Castellón Province), on the eastern coast of Spain.  The specimen was excavated from a red clay bed dated to the Upper Barremian age (125 million years ago), part of the Arcillas de Morella Formation.  The dinosaur’s name means “Morella tooth”, after the location of the fossil find and in keeping with the naming of Iguanodon, which itself means “iguana tooth”.  The trivial name honours quarry owner, Víctor Beltrán who has been prominent in the excavation and research of a number of Cretaceous vertebrates from this part of Spain.

The Fused Sacral Vertebrae of the Specimen (Sacrum)

The sacrum (fused vertebrae over the hips) of Morelladon.

The sacrum (fused vertebrae over the hips) of Morelladon.

Picture Credit: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)/PLOS One

Measuring up to six metres long and standing around 2.5 metres high at the hips, this new genus supports the hypothesis that the Iberian Peninsula in the Early Cretaceous was home to a large number of different types of Iguanodon-like herbivorous dinosaurs.

Why the Tall Neural Spines?

There have been a number of theories put forward to explain the presence of elongated neural spines in some types of dinosaur.  For example, one of the most famous of all the meat-eating dinosaurs – Spinosaurus had neural spines which supported a structure its back, often referred to as a “sail” that must have been more than two metres high.  The neural spines of Morelladon hint at a much smaller feature, around half a metre tall.  It has been proposed that since this dinosaur lived in a delta subject to distinct seasons the spines could have supported a fleshy hump where food reserves and fat could be stored to help the animal through leaner times.  Extant North American buffalo (Bison bison) have dorsal spines that support such structures.  The spines could also have supported a sail-like structure, perhaps this had a role in communication within the herd, or display.

Commenting on another potential purpose for the structure, Dr. Fernando Escaso (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) stated:

“The “sail” could have helped in heat exchange [thermoregulation] by releasing excess body heat into the environment as do the ears of the modern-day elephants.”

An effective heat exchanger would have been useful for such a large-bodied animal.  Everything Dinosaur team members suspect that oxygen isotope analysis from the many different types of teeth found in eastern Spain in Early Cretaceous rocks, would provide palaeontologists with a lot of information about the palaeoclimate.  For instance, some researchers claim that there was an annual average temperature range of thirty-six degrees with temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius being recorded with annual lows of around 4 degrees C.

What are Styracosternan Dinosaurs?

Other media sources have cited the comment that Morelladon represents a new member of the styracosternan sub-group of the clade Iguanodontia.  What does this mean?  In the mid 1980’s it had become clear to many palaeontologists that the division of the Ornithopoda into large bodied forms such as Iguanodon and Dollodon and smaller forms such as Hypsilophodon was over simplistic.  A number of academics proposed new classifications of these bird-hipped dinosaurs, for example Paul Sereno (1986) proposed a new clade within the Ornithopoda called the Ankylopollexia “stiff thumbs”.  This clade included the Camptosaurs, Iguanodonts, Ouranosaurus and the hadrosaurids “duck-billed dinosaurs”.  This clade was further divided by Sereno et al (1986) into the Styracosterna, which included all the Ankylopollexia members with the exception of the camptosaurids (Camptosauridae family).

  1. Ankylopollexia = a clade of the iguanodontian dinosaurs
  2. Styracosterna = a clade of the iguanodontian dinosaurs the same as Ankylopollexia but with the camptosaurids excluded.

Therefore, the Styracosterna dinosaurs can be divided as a sub-group of the Iguanodontia clade that contains all the “duck-billed dinosaurs” and all the dinosaurs more closely related to them than to the Camptosauridae.

Phylogenetic relationships of Morelladon beltrani within the Iguanodontia Clade

Phylogenetic relationships of Morelladon beltrani with the Styracosterna.

Phylogenetic relationships of Morelladon beltrani with the Styracosterna.

Picture Credit: PLOS One with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The diagram above shows how the Styracosterna fit into the clade Iguanodontia.   Phylogenetic analysis places Morelladon beltrani firmly in the with the styracosternan dinosaurs but more closely related to Western European iguanodonts such as Iguanodon bernissartensis and Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis than to other Iberian styracosternans such as Delapparentia turolensis and Proa valdearinnoensis.

14 12, 2015

Another Potential Leptoceratopsid from China

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

Ischioceratops zhuchengensis – Potentially a New Leptoceratopsid

A team of international scientists including researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (Beijing), the Chicago Field Museum and the Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum, (Zhucheng, Shandong Province, China) have published a paper on the fossilised bones of a Late Cretaceous leptoceratopsid, one that although scientifically named may turn out to be further material that ends up assigned to Zhuchengceratops.  This new dinosaur has been named Ischioceratops zhuchengensis but as the fossils were found at about the same stratigraphic level as the holotype material assigned to Zhuchengceratops, Ischioceratops may end up as a junior synonym of Zhuchengceratops inexpectus.  Let’s explain.

The Holotype Material of Ischioceratops zhuchengensis 

Left lateral view (A), line drawing (B) and skeletal placement (C)

Left lateral view (A), line drawing (B) and skeletal placement (C)

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The picture above shows the fossil material used to describe and name this new genus of the family Leptoceratopsidae.  The fossils found include the right femur (thigh bone), plus the lower leg bones from the right hind limb (tibia and fibula), along with the anterior portion of the tail (articulated tail bones), a complete sacrum, both halves of the pelvis and a number of ossified tendons.  Although a only a portion of the skeleton representing a single individual has been found, and it is from the animals backside, not to put too fine a point on it, the morphology of the bones, especially those bow shaped ischia have enabled scientists to firstly, confidently assign these fossils to the Leptoceratopsidae family and secondly to erect a new genus for this Chinese dinosaur.

A Dorsal (Top Down) View of the Fossil Material

A top down view of the fossil material with the left ischium ringed in the photograph and highlighted in the line drawing.

A top down view of the fossil material with the left ischium ringed in the photograph and highlighted in the line drawing.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The picture above shows the unique shape of the ischia (a pair of bones that make up part of the pelvic girdle.  The bone is curved sharply towards the proximial end of the bone (part of the bone closest to the animal’s trunk).  In the photograph above the left ischium in the photograph has been ringed and in the line drawing opposite the same bone has been highlighted. Although there has been some distortion and displacement as part of the fossilisation process the research team are confident that is the shape of the actual bone and therefore they have erected a new genus.

Naturally, with such a unique autapomorphy (distinctive anatomical feature) associated with the ischia, it is only appropriate to name this new dinosaur after this feature.  Hence the name Ischioceratops zhuchengensis (this means ischium horn-face from Zhucheng), the trivial name honours the fossil find location, the city of Zhucheng, in the south-east of Shandong Province.

Assigning the Fossils to a New Genus based on the Ischia

Ossified tendons indicate a member of the Ornithischia and the shape of the actual bones suggests that this animal was an example of a leptoceratopsid. Those never-seen-before ischia have resulted in the erection of a new genus.  No other dinosaur known* has a pelvic bone quite shaped like these two, therefore the research team felt confident that a new dinosaur could be added to the fold.

Left Side Views of Other Ornithischian Dinosaurs Compared to Ischioceratops

Not line drawings are not to scale.

Not line drawings are not to scale.

Picture Credit: PLOS One with modification and additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a number of line drawings of the left ischium of a number of well-known Ornithischian (bird-hipped), dinosaurs.  Although more closely related to the Ceratopsians listed (E to F) than to the other bird-hipped dinosaurs included in the diagram, the unique shape of the ischium of Ischioceratops can clearly be seen.  It is on this basis, that the dinosaur fossils, currently part of the collection of the Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum have led to the establishment of a new dinosaur genus.

The fossil material has been dated to the Late Cretaceous (72 million years ago to 66 million years ago approximately – Maastrichtian faunal stage) and based on the femur length of around 29 centimetres, in comparison to the femur length of the related Brachyceratops, Everything Dinosaur estimate that this plant-eating dinosaur was around 1.8 to 2 metres long.

The Fly in the Ointment – An Uneasy Feeling in our Hip Pocket

Unique morphology, so far so good for Ischioceratops, but there may be a problem to the establishment of this new dinosaur name.  The site where the fossils were found, known as the Kugou quarry has yielded a great quantity of vertebrate fossil bones, including other ceratopsids.  Back in 2010, another new leptoceratopsid dinosaur was named from the Kugou quarry location – Zhuchengceratops (Z. inexpectus).  These fossils were found at the same level in the strata as the newly named Ischioceratops.  Sadly, the fossil material ascribed to Zhuchengceratops (ribs, vertebrae, skull, jaw bone etc.) represent bones from the front of the animal.  Ischioceratops and Zhuchengceratops do not have any overlapping fossil bones to allow a direct comparison to be made.  Therefore, it is possible that the fossils found and described as a new genus could represent the back end of the already described Zhuchengceratops.

The authors of the scientific paper acknowledge this potential threat to their new dinosaur.  Hopefully, future fossil discoveries will settle the argument and we will know for sure whether Ischioceratops and Zhuchengceratops are two different, but closely related dinosaurs that co-existed or whether  Ischioceratops is a junior synonym of Zhuchengceratops.

What Does the Term “Junior Synonym” Mean?

A synonym is another name for an item, a synonym is a word that means exactly the same as another word in the same language.  It comes from the ancient Greek for “with word”.  When it comes to erecting new taxa, the first name used to describe the organism becomes the senior synonym and any other names coined afterwards are referred to as the junior synonyms.  In this instance, should further fossil discoveries prove that Ischioceratops and Zhuchengceratops are indeed the same dinosaur, then Zhuchengceratops (first coined in 2010) will become the senior synonym and Ischioceratops (2015) will become the junior synonym.

No other dinosaur known* – the bow shaped ischia could end up being assigned to Zhuchengceratops.   Ischioceratops and Zhuchengceratops could be conspecific (the same species).

To read a recently published article about the discovery of leptoceratopsid fossil material from the eastern United States: Leptoceratopsidae from Appalachia in the Spotlight

13 12, 2015

The Dinosauria Sprinted Out of the Blocks

By | December 13th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

New Study Suggests the Dinosaurs Evolved Quickly

An international team of researchers have accurately dated rock layers exposed in north-western Argentina deposited during the Triassic.  The subsequent geological timeline they have been able to construct suggests that the time elapsed between the emergence of early dinosaur relatives and the origin of the first dinosaurs is much shorter than previously believed.  In essence, the Dinosauria evolved much more quickly than previously thought.

North-western Argentina Around 235 Million Years Ago

Diverse fauna of north-western Argentina

Diverse fauna of north-western Argentina including ancestral dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Victor Leshyk

The Triassic A Time of Transition

The vertebrate fauna of the Triassic (approximately 251 million to 201 million years ago), changed dramatically.  Few of the fossil lineages found in Lower Triassic rock formations can be found in strata laid down later on.  The mass extinction event that marked the end of the Palaeozoic and the beginning of the Mesozoic led to a radical shift in the diversity, type and geographical distribution of back-boned land animals and arguably, the emergence of more modern-looking ecosystems.  To help unravel some of the mysteries surrounding this “faunal shift” and to more accurately date the appearance of the first dinosaurs, the scientists travelled to north-western Argentina (La Rioja Province) and set about dating different beds that make up the exposed sandstones and mudstones of the Chañares Formation.

The debate as to where and exactly when the first dinosaurs evolved is one of those topics that comes up frequently at symposiums and conventions.  The evidence suggests that the Dinosauria first appeared in the southern hemisphere and for a long time South America was thought to have been the place they originated from.  Research published in 2013 challenged this idea, proposing that Africa may have been home to the first dinosaurs, but exactly when did the dinosaurs as an Order of reptiles (Dinosauria) really take off?  At what point in geological time did the dinosaurs commence their journey to becoming the dominate terrestrial life forms of the Mesozoic?

To read an article regarding the possibility of dinosaurs having first evolved in Africa: Africa – The Cradle of the Dinosauria?

Problems Accurately Dating Deep Time

The sedimentary exposures of the Chañares Formation permit accurate stratigraphic dating because of a quirk of fate.  Back in the Triassic, this part of the world was a lush, tropical paradise, however, nearby volcanoes from time to time deposited vast amounts of ash in the area.  These ashes formed easily recognisable layers (called tuffs) and within these layers the scientists, which included researchers from the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Brasília (Brazil), along with American colleagues and collaborators from Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council, were able to identify microscopic crystals called zircons.  It is these zircon crystals that hold the key to accurate dating of geological deposits.

Zircon Crystals and Radiometric Dating of the Chañares Formation

The uniform decay of radioactive elements allows an accurate date of geological formations.

The uniform decay of radioactive elements allows an accurate date of geological formations.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The research team took samples from the various ash layers and noted their position within the sedimentary beds and the vertebrate fossils associated therein.  Zircon crystals were identified within the volcanic layers and these were radiometrically dated using the ratio of uranium decay to lead isotopes.  In this way, thanks to advances in mass spectrometry the team were able to determine an accurate age of the zircon and by inference the age of the fossil bearing sedimentary layers above and below the ash layers.  The technique has been used before, for example to date the lower portions of the Chinle Formation of the United States (U-PB ID-TIMS zircon geochronology dating method [uranium to lead]).

So what would have been bad luck for the fauna and flora around at the time, a devastating deposit of choking volcanic ash, has permitted palaeontologists to be able to date with considerable accuracy the deposition timeline of this part of the Chañares Formation.

Identifying the Ash Layers for Sampling (Chañares Formation)

Co-author Adriana Mancuso (right) points to a volcanic ash layer (tuff) in the Chañares Formation that was sampled for radioisotopic dating.

Co-author Adriana Mancuso (National Scientific and  Technical Research Council) points to a volcanic ash layer (tuff) in the Chañares Formation that was sampled for radiometric dating.

Picture Credit: Randall Irmis (University of Utah)

What Does the Accurate Triassic Timeline Reveal?

It had been thought that the strata was around 226 to 228 million years old (early Late Triassic, the Carnian faunal stage).  However, this study indicates that these rocks were laid down much earlier in the Triassic, perhaps 5 to 10 million years earlier, making the rocks, effectively Middle Triassic in age (234 to 236 million years old, the Ladinian faunal stage).  Fossils of dinosaur precursors, known as dinosauromorphs, Archosaurs that are very closely related to the Dinosauria and the ancestors of the dinosaurs are found in these rocks.  The first dinosaur fossils date from around 230 million years ago approximately, perhaps even earlier.  This means that the true dinosaurs evolved from the dinosauromorphs much quicker than previously thought.  There was a much more rapid transition from a world with dinosauromorphs to a terrestrial ecosystem with dinosaurs in it.  In short, dinosaurs very quickly became established.

The Fossil Assemblage of the Chañares Formation (Schematic Diagram

Vertebrate fossils found include a range of Tetrapods including Dinosauropmorphs and Dicynodonts.

Vertebrate fossils found include a range of Tetrapods including Dinosauromorphs and Dicynodonts.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur (inset photograph Randall Irmis)

Commenting on the significance of this new study, which has just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), Randall Irmis stated:

“To discover that these early dinosaur relatives were geologically much younger than previously thought was totally unexpected.”

What Does This Mean for Other Middle Triassic Formations Elsewhere?

This shift in the date for these deposits that make up a portion of the Chañares Formation has serious implications for other fossil-bearing strata that were also believed to represent the Middle Triassic.  Similar types of vertebrate fossil are found in the Santa Maria Formation (southern Brazil) and in the Karoo Basin (South Africa), but none of these formations have been radiometrically dated.  These too, could be 5 to 10 million years older than previously thought.

Summarising the research a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“The geological dates for certain fossil assemblages may have to be reconsidered in the light of these findings.  The evolution and subsequent radiation of the Dinosauria has become somewhat concertinaed.  This research suggests a much more rapid evolution from dinosauromorphs to true dinosaurs than previously thought.”

Why Did the Dinosaurs Evolve Rapidly?

The first dinosaurs believed to have evolved were the Saurischian Theropods.  These Archosaurs were bipeds and their skeletons show that they had an advantage over many of the other predators (bipedal and quadrupedal) around at the time.  Firstly, the pelvic area has a fully open acetabulum (the rounded hole in the pelvis where the head of the femur fits).  This allows the hind legs to locate much more directly under the body, providing a more efficient locomotion.  Secondly, the femur itself has a ball-shaped head turned slightly inward to slot into the acetabulum.  This arrangement, also supports the hind legs located directly under the hips.  These anatomical features, (plus one or two others), evolved to permit these Theropods to develop stronger legs making them faster and more powerful than other Archosaurs.  These strong legs seem to have enabled the dinosaurs to “sprint out of the evolutionary blocks”, leading to their domination of terrestrial ecosystems for the best part of 160 million years or so.

12 12, 2015

Plesiosuchus and Doedicurus Models in Stock

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

New Additions to the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Range

It is quite rare for us to mention a Late Jurassic marine crocodile and an American Glyptodont in the same sentence, they do tend to make quite odd bedfellows, but as the first of the 2016 models from Safari Ltd are now in stock we can discuss Plesiosuchus and Doedicurus together.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Plesiosuchus Model

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

The marine crocodile we refer to is of course the Plesiosuchus (metriorhynchid), an animal very much at home in a marine environment.  The Glyptodont in question is the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Doedicurus, a re-issue of a model that was retired a couple of years ago.  It makes a welcome return to this ever expanding model range.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Doedicurus Model

Good old "pestle tail" is back.

Good old “pestle tail” is back.

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

Talk about contrasting prehistoric animals, the streamlined and smooth-skinned Plesiosuchus represents a reptile that swam in the shallow tropical seas that covered Europe a little over 150 million years ago.  Whereas, the scaly, armour plated Doedicurus, with its vicious medieval club tail, thrived on the open grasslands of southern North America and South America some 2 million years ago.  Indeed, fossil evidence (all those ossicles and scutes), suggests that this terrestrial herbivore may have survived in isolated pockets up to around 10,000 years ago.

The models do have a number of things in common.  For example, they both show lots of detail and each replica is hand-painted.  In addition, Everything Dinosaur will be supplying a fact sheet all about the prehistoric animal with every model we sell.

Getting to Grips with a Glyptodont

Everything Dinosaur's illustration is in the centre.

Everything Dinosaur’s illustration is in the centre.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view these two models and the rest of the Safari Ltd Prehistoric Animal model range: Safari Carnegie and Prehistoric World Models

Our team members research and write fact sheets for every named prehistoric animal model we sell.  This has become quite an undertaking and the company has built up a portfolio of several hundred data sheets.  The Doedicurus fact sheet was written about two years ago, but it has recently been updated.  The Plesiosuchus fact sheet was approved in November, and a number have already been printed off so that they can be sent out with those orders from customers who had reserved models with us.

The Plesiosuchus replica measures around seventeen centimetres in length, although this is a not to scale model, given that the largest genus of Plesiosuchus known to science reached a length of around seven metres, the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Plesiosuchus is roughly in 1:40 scale.  The Doedicurus model is smaller.  It measures a fraction under eleven centimetres long.  Given that the largest specimens of Doedicurus (D. clavicaudatus) are estimated to have been 3 metres long, this makes the model around the 1:27 scale size.

The Doedicurus makes a welcome return and it is joined by a marine crocodile model.  Marine crocodiles are rare sculpts from the mainstream factories and we are sure model collectors are going to be as delighted as we are.  Strange, that the first two, new for 2016 models released from Safari Ltd are not actually dinosaurs.

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