All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
21 01, 2016

Quarry Site Might Reveal Evidence of Cretaceous Mass Extinction

By | January 21st, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Potential to Map End Cretaceous Extinction Event in New Jersey Quarry

The eastern part of the United States might be regarded as something of a “poor relation” to the western side of the country when it comes to dinosaur bones.  True, eastern USA dinosaur fossils are much rarer than from locations such as Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Montana in the west, but the State of New Jersey might just have one very special “Lagerstätte”, that tops those vertebrate fossil bearing rocks known elsewhere in America.  A disused quarry located close to the township of Mantua might provide palaeontologists with unique insights into the End Cretaceous mass extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs.

New Jersey Quarry Might Provide Fresh Insight into Cretaceous Mass Extinction Event

Excavating invertebrate fossils in the quarry.

Excavating invertebrate fossils in the quarry.

Picture Credit: Rowan University

Around sixty-five million years ago, this site was at the bottom of a shallow sea, close to the landmass known as Appalachia.  In one layer of rock, about fourteen metres below the level of today’s land surface, scientists have found a treasure trove of marine fossils.  Professor Kenneth J. Lacovara, a professor of palaeontology and geology at the nearby Rowan University describes this particular bed as a “mass death assemblage”.  Could all these animals have perished as a result of a single catastrophic event, such as an extraterrestrial impact event?

If this is the case, then this quarry, which sits behind a shopping mall, could be the only site in the world where animal remains can be found that date from the End Cretaceous mass extinction event.  Fossils are found in a number of rock layers in the quarry, but a vast assemblage is confined and concentrated to one bed in the strata.  The rocks have been dated to around 65 million to 66 million years old, but further radiometric and biostratigraphic analysis is required before the link with the mass extinction event can be given more validity.  If a connection is established, then this location could provide an unparalleled window into a pivotal moment in the history of life on Earth.

Elevated amounts of the rare Earth element iridium found in close proximity to the richest fossil bearing layer, indicate that these animals lived at a time extremely close to what is believed to have been an asteroid impact, one that played a major role in the extinction of about 75% of all terrestrial species.

Last year, Rowan University entered into an agreement to purchase the sixty-five acre site.  The University intends to turn the quarry into a world-class educational resource.  A number of open days have already been organised and it has been estimated that some 8,000 local people have already taken part in fossil digs.

An Aerial View of the Mantua Quarry Site

A window into the End Cretaceous extinction event.

A window into the End Cretaceous extinction event.

Picture Credit: Rowan University

Fossils found include a vast array of marine invertebrates, animals like Brachiopods, Bivalves and Molluscs.  In addition, shark teeth are relatively common and fossils from ancient crocodiles and turtles have also been discovered.  Occasionally, the fossilised remains of a Mosasaur (marine reptile) are found.  Bones and other remains from once living organisms such as teeth and shells can pile up as underwater currents relocate them on the seabed, concentrating them into one area, perhaps where the current dies away.  However, at this location, one bed reveals skeletons of larger animals have remained relatively intact.  This suggests that these animals all died at approximately the same time and then settled gently on the sea bottom.  Initial dating assessments, puts this fossil layer tantalisingly close to the extraterrestrial impact event that took place in the Yucatan peninsula (Mexico).

Now that the future of this rather special site has been secured, scientists hope to undertake a much more extensive study of the palaeogeography of the area and to establish this location’s potentially unique relationship to the extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs as well as the Pterosauria and most of the marine reptiles.

20 01, 2016

A Sneaky Peek of the Schleich Dunkleosteus

By | January 20th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

Schleich Dunkleosteus –   A Sneaky Peek

Team members at Everything Dinosaur got the chance to get up close to a number of the new for 2016 Schleich prehistoric animal models the other day.  Feedback from our customers, those had already viewed the pictures on this blog in previous articles, has been positive, but we were asked to confirm whether or not the Schleich Dunkleosteus had an articulated jaw or not.  Just by chance we shot a short piece of video, showing the articulated jaw of the Dunkleosteus.  We do our best to respond to all the questions and queries we get regarding new model introductions, so without any further delay, here is a short ten second video which showcases the new Schleich Dunkleosteus and confirms that this Placoderm replica does indeed have an articulated lower jaw.

A Very Quick Peek at the New for 2016 Schleich Dunkleosteus Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This model is due to be introduced in the summer of 2016.  It is scheduled to become available at around the same time as the Herrerasaurus and the Baraparasaurus models.  For information on these two Schleich releases and for exclusive photographs, including more shots of that fantastic Dunkleosteus, check out this earlier article: New Schleich Dinosaurs* for 2016

Dunkleosteus from the Deadly Devonian

Reaching lengths of up to ten metres, Dunkleosteus (D. terrelli) was one of the largest vertebrates around during the Late Devonian.  Part of the highly successful Placoderm group, these armoured fish dominated marine and freshwater environments, having first evolved sometime in the Silurian.  This bizarre looking fish, with its huge jaw plates that acted like shears, was formally named and described in 1873 by Dr. John Newberry.  The genus name is in honour of the famous American palaeontologist Dr. David Dunkle of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

A Scale Drawing of the Giant Dunkleosteus

Fearsome marine predator of the Late Devonian.

Fearsome marine predator of the Late Devonian.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of large Schleich prehistoric animal models supplied by Everything Dinosaur: Schleich World of History Prehistoric Animal Models

The fearsome reputation of this prehistoric fish was firmly secured in the minds of fans of ancient life when the Devonian was rated number five in the BBC television documentary “The Seven Deadliest Seas”.  Adventurer Nigel Marvin came face to face with this leviathan in the programme.  He used a spherical diving cage to protect himself from those powerful cutting plates.

Of all the new Schleich releases scheduled for this year, the Schleich Dunkleosteus certainly seems to have captured people’s imaginations.

We hope readers like our sneaky peek of the Schleich Dunkleosteus.

19 01, 2016

Wales Gets a New Dinosaur – Dracoraptor

By | January 19th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

The Dragon Thief of Wales – Dracoraptor hanigani

The beautifully preserved meat-eating dinosaur fossil found at Lavernock Point (south Wales) has been formally named and described.  Say hello to Dracoraptor hanigani, a two metre long predator whose fossilised remains were found by brothers Rob and Nick Hanigan.  Reporting in the open access on line journal “PLOS One”, the fossilised material very probably represents the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur found to date in the British Isles.

Dracoraptor hanigani – An Agile Little Hunter

On display the fossils with a skeleton reconstruction.

On display the fossils with a skeleton reconstruction.

Picture Credit: National Museum of Wales

To read more about this exciting fossil find: Welsh Dinosaurs – New Early Jurassic Theropod from South Wales

The genus name means “dragon thief”, in honour of one of the national symbols of Wales, the species name honours the two fossil-hunting brothers who found it.  This little hunter may only be distantly related to the “raptors”, but it does represent a significant fossil find, as dinosaurs are particularly rare in Lower Jurassic rocks.  Dracoraptor, lived on an island archipelago, some 201.3 million years ago, plus or minus 200,000 years, the preserved bones and teeth (some 40% of the skeleton), have been so precisely dated in geological terms thanks to biostratigraphic dating of the strata.  The rock layers can be divided up into distinct zones (biozones) based on the characteristic fossils that layer contains.  The dinosaur’s remains were found between two well-documented zonal layers.  It was found above a conodont* zone (Chirodella verecunda), associated with the very end of the Triassic and below an ammonite zone Psiloceras planorbis, which is associated with the first faunal stage (Hettangian) of the Jurassic.

*Conodonts are an extinct group of tiny, jawless, marine animals that had mouths filled with several pairs of tooth-bars.  They are believed to be related to early, jawless fish and probably superficially resembled eels.  Their distinctive teeth, often found in abundance, provide very useful “markers” in rocks, helping palaeontologists to date the relative ages of different rock layers.  Conodonts became extinct at the end of the Triassic.

Helping to Understand the Early Diversity of the Dinosauria

The fossil, collected from a cliff fall at Lavernock Point, has had a charmed life.  Firstly, the fossil was found in marine sediments, apparently, the carcase of this little dinosaur was washed out to sea and settled on the sea floor.  Sea urchins crawled over it and most likely fed on the rotting flesh, some of these sea urchins have been preserved in the surrounding rock matrix.  Currents did not disturb the bones, which explains why the specimen is so complete.  In addition, if Rob and Nick Hanigan had not chanced upon the specimen, the fossils would have been washed out to sea and lost forever in just a few days.

Furthermore, Everything Dinosaur reported on the serendipitous discovery of more of the specimen, by third year palaeontology student Sam Davies, who coincidently is tutored by one of the authors of the PLOS One paper, Dr. David Martill (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth).

To read more about Sam’s lucky find: Lucky Find Puts Welsh Dinosaur on a Firm Footing

Views of One of the Teeth Associated with the Specimen (Presumed to be from the Upper Jaw)

This dinosaur probably ate insects and other small animals.

This dinosaur probably ate insects and other small animals.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Explaining the significance of this fossil discovery, co-author of the paper Steven Vidovic (PhD Researcher at Portsmouth University), commented:

“It’s right at that point in the diversification of dinosaurs where so-called Theropod dinosaurs,  the meat-eating ones, became what are called Neotheropods.  It’s from this moment onwards that they go on to become all the forms we know, like T. rex, Velociraptor and even birds.”

Very Rare Fossil Find

Early Jurassic dinosaur fossils are extremely rare and this particular specimen, which may represent an immature adult, is very important as it provides data on the evolution of meat-eating dinosaurs so soon after the Triassic/Jurassic extinction event.  Dracoraptor hanigani is the first dinosaur to be described from the Jurassic of Wales.  It probably lived on a small island (part of St David’s Archipelago), or perhaps its corpse had been washed out sea from the nearby, larger land mass known as the Welsh Massif.  It is one of very few early Theropod remains found in Europe.

The Palaeogeography of the Early Jurassic (Europe – Hettangian)

Europe consisted of a series of islands 200 million years ago.

Europe consisted of a series of islands 200 million years ago.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The picture above show the palaeogeography of western Europe, approximately 200 million years ago.  Modern western Europe has been superimposed to provide a reference.  The numbers in the small, yellow circles record the location of other early Theropod or Neotheropod discoveries:

  1. Isle of Skye
  2. Barrow upon Soar (Leicestershire)
  3. Wilmcote (Warwickshire)
  4. Lavernock Point – the location of the Dracoraptor find
  5. Dorset
  6. Airel (France)
  7. Brouch (Luxembourg)

A cladistic analysis suggests that Dracoraptor was a basal Neotheropod and it may have been related to Tawa hallae and Daemonosaurus chauliodus ( both from the Ghost Ranch location, New Mexico, United States).  Everything Dinosaur has written about the discovery of both Tawa and Daemonosaurus, for further information on these fast-running little predators, see the links below.

To read more about Tawa: New Theropoda Dinosaur Discovery Sheds Light on Dinosaur Diversification

To read more about Daemonosaurus: Little Demon from the Dawn of the Dinosaurs

18 01, 2016

Kangaroos and Badgers Explore Dinosaurs

By | January 18th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Children at Broom Valley Community School Study Dinosaurs

The children in Foundation Stage 2 at Broom Valley Community School (South Yorkshire), have been getting to grips with prehistoric animals as they have been studying dinosaurs this term.  The two classes, Kangaroos and Badgers, had a visit from “Dino Mike” of Everything Dinosaur, he showed them real fossils which helped to explain just how big some dinosaurs could be.  With the help of the enthusiastic teaching team, the budding young palaeontologists have been taking part in lots of creative and fun activities all geared towards helping them develop confidence with numeracy and literacy.

Lots of Colourful Prehistoric Animals on Display to Inspire the Children

Plenty of prehistoric animals on display.

Plenty of prehistoric animals on display.

Picture Credit: Broom Valley Community Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

During the workshops, the class teachers Miss Priddle (Kangaroos) and Mrs Reilly (Badgers) were encouraged to take lots of photographs of the activities.  These pictures can then be used to assist the children with a recount/recall activity to support learning.  To help the children gain an understanding of what it is like to dig for dinosaur bones, a corner of one of the classrooms had been turned into a dinosaur dig site.  A member of the teaching team had made some salt dough dinosaur bones over the weekend and with the brushes and magnifying glasses at the ready, we are sure the children will have a super time excavating all the dinosaur bones.

Going on a Classroom Dinosaur Dig

A super hands on activity for FS2

A super hands on activity for FS2

Picture Credit: Broom Valley Community Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

It is great to see such imaginative ideas being used in school to help enthuse and engage children.

If you don’t have time to make the salt dough bones, dog owners might like to take a look at any dog biscuits they have around the house for their pet.  There are usually a number of bone shaped biscuits in the packet and these make excellent “dinosaur fossils” for children to dig up and explore.

Extension Ideas

As part of the visit, the team member from Everything Dinosaur provided a number of additional teaching resources and ideas to help support the term topic.  From an exercise comparing and measuring dinosaur footprints to information on a newly discovered dinosaur that is going to feature in a forthcoming BBC television documentary.  Naturally, we were also happy to send over some drawing materials for the children.  We challenged Badgers and Kangaroos to have a go at labelling the drawings.  Could they name the various parts of an Ankylosaurus or a Tyrannosaurus rex?  Could the young scientists think of suitable describing words to include on their drawings?  We certainly had plenty of describing words when we looked at the jaw bones of a Triceratops, the children came up with a most impressive list – gigantic, massive, huge, giant – well done Kangaroos and Badgers!

A Challenge to Label a Dinosaur Drawing

Use dinosaurs to help children develop their vocabulary.

Use dinosaurs to help children develop their vocabulary.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

17 01, 2016

Name a Megaloceros Competition! WIN WIN WIN with Everything Dinosaur!

By | January 17th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Win a Super Megaloceros Soft Toy.  Go pink with Everything Dinosaur!

WIN! WIN! WIN! with Everything Dinosaur! Please note this competition has now closed.

Everything Dinosaur has another super, soft toy giveaway.  We have a big, bright and very cuddly soft toy which needs a home.  It is a reindeer and very sweet it is too, but our palaeontologists have been pretending that it is a baby Megaloceros – can you give it a new home?

Win a Very Pink Soft Toy Member of the Cervidae (Deer Family)

Deer little thing!

Deer little thing!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The deer family (Cervidae) go back a long way in the fossil record.  Whether it is a Megaloceros or a baby Reindeer, it certainly is very cute and one lucky person is going to win it, just give this bright pink little chap a name.

Win a Super Soft Toy in our Competition

All you have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, then comment on the pink deer picture including a suggestion for the name for this super and very sparkly soft toy.  It is certainly a “deer little thing”  but he/she needs a name!

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” our Facebook page and enter the competition!

We will draw the lucky winner at random and the name caption competition closes on Friday 12th February.  Good luck, we “deerly” hope you win!

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of super prehistoric animal soft toys: Prehistoric Animal Soft Toys

Terms and Conditions of Soft Toy Name Caption Competition

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

Only one entry per person

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

The Everything Dinosaur name a soft toy competition runs until Friday 12th February 2016.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur

Please note this competition has now closed.

16 01, 2016

New Schleich Dinosaurs* for 2016

By | January 16th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

New Schleich Prehistoric Animals for 2016 (Part 3)

Today, we conclude our short series, for the time being, previewing the exciting new prehistoric animal models coming out from Schleich this year.  The German company may be moving towards more gift sets and play sets as a rule, but Schleich still remain committed to making prehistoric animals that appeal to both the discerning collector and to children.  This, the last of our Schleich preview articles for the time being, showcases the talent of the design team and includes pictures of the Herrerasaurus, Dunkleosteus and the Baraparasaurus models on our blog site for the first time.

The Schleich Herrerasaurus Dinosaur Model

The Schleich Herrerasaurus Dinosaur Model

Available in the summer of 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Available in the summer of 2016 from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With its robust looking body and sturdy jaws, Schleich have interpreted Herrerasaurus as a bit of a “bruiser”.  Herrerasaurus was one of the first, really big carnivorous dinosaurs to evolve.  At around five metres long and with teeth in excess of four centimetres in length, this was the apex predator in the region now known as north-western Argentina, during the Late Triassic.  Speaking of jaws, yes, this model does have an articulated lower jaw and Everything Dinosaur expects this replica to be in its warehouse around late June/early July.

The Schleich Herrerasaurus measures around 22 centimetres long, and that long tail points some 10.5 centimetres into the air.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus

It is pleasing to see that Schleich are keen to add other prehistoric animals, not just dinosaurs, to their product portfolio.  Say hello to a super replica of Dunkleosteus, the Placoderm super-predator that would have made a meal of Herrerasaurus, had the Theropod dinosaur existed some 130 million years earlier and decided to go for a swim in the sea.  Dunkleosteus too, was an apex predator, one of the largest vertebrates to have ever existed by the time it became extinct towards the end of the Devonian.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus Replica

The Schleich Dunkleosteus model.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Measuring a substantial 21.5 centimetres long, this is a beautiful replica and we are most impressed with the way in which Schleich have interpreted that famous bony head.

The Schleich Dunkleosteus has an Articulated Jaw

Swimming into view in June/July 2016.

Swimming into view in June/July 2016.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Schleich prehistoric animal models: World of History Prehistoric Animal Models

Dunkleosteus Model by Schleich

The pen provides scale.

The pen provides scale.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Dunk”, as we have affectionately called this replica, will be available in the summer.

Schleich Baraparasaurus “Big Legged Lizard”

Dinosaurs from the Early Jurassic of India don’t often get a look in, so it is wonderful to see a Baraparasaurus replica introduced by Schleich.  Baraparasaurus may have been one of the largest of the Early Jurassic Sauropods and its phylogenetic affinities may still be debated, but it is great to see this giant from southern India, dating from around 190 million years ago, being added to the Schleich model range.  The name means “Big legged lizard” at around eighteen metres long, this was one of the giants of the (Sinemurian/Pliensbachian – possibly Toarcian) faunal stages.

The Schleich Baraparasaurus Dinosaur Model

A very colourful dinosaur model.

A very colourful dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Like many of the Sauropods, no skull material is associated with this genus, however, despite over 300 individual bones have been assigned, no bones from the feet have been found either.  The Schleich Baraparasaurus dinosaur model measures an impressive 32 centimetres long, it is the largest prehistoric animal model Schleich will be bringing out this year.  The head of the model stands around 14.5 centimetres high.

A Brightly Coloured Schleich Sauropod

An intriguing pose.

An intriguing pose.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

New Schleich Dinosaurs* – for simplicity we included the Dunkleosteus model in this article as it is due to be released at the same time as the Schleich Herrerasaurus and the Schleich Baraparasaurus

To view the smaller dinosaur and prehistoric animal models made by Schleich: Schleich Dinosaurs

 New Schleich Dinosaurs (Part 1): New Schleich Dinosaurs (part 1)

New Schleich Dinosaurs (Part 2): New Schleich Dinosaurs (part 2)

15 01, 2016

Canada has its First Dimetrodon

By | January 15th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Canada’s First Dimetrodon

A fossil found by a farmer digging a well on Prince Edward Island over 160 years ago has been finally identified by a student whilst studying for a PhD at the University of Toronto Mississauga.  The fossil, which consists of elements of the snout and upper jaw was once thought to have come from a meat-eating dinosaur, but a new analysis reveals that fearsome Dimetrodons once roamed Canada.  This is the first evidence that these giant, sail-backed reptiles from the Permian lived on the landmass that was to eventually form Canada.

Evidence of Dimetrodon in Canada

The curved teeth in the upper jaw can be clearly made out.

The curved teeth in the upper jaw can be clearly made out.

Picture Credit: (Carleton University/University of Toronto Mississauga)

The location of the fossil find remains a mystery, there may be more elements of this individual preserved, but the farmer did not provide a map of the location and what notes that have been attributed to this specimen make no mention of the actual spot where the discovery was made.  All we know is that the well was being dug near the French River (Prince Edward Island).  The specimen was acquired by the Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia, USA) and Joseph Leidy, one of the world’s most eminent palaeontologists, studied it and named it Bathygnathus borealis.  Leidy thought that the fossilised bones and teeth (fragments of the premaxilla, a partial maxilla and elements of the naris along with several teeth), resembled those of Theropod dinosaurs that had been found in England.  Professor Leidy had incorrectly identified this fossil material as a dinosaur, making it the first dinosaur known from Canada.

A review of the fossil in 1905, identified it as a probable mammal-like reptile, however, it was a paper published in the academic journal “The Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences”, late last year that finally cleared up the mystery identifying the animal as a member of the Dimetrodon genera.

Lead author of the paper, Kirstin Brink who worked on the fossil whilst at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and a specialist in examining the teeth of prehistoric animals, explained:

“It’s really exciting to discover that the detailed anatomy of the teeth has finally allowed us to identify precisely this important Canadian fossil.”

An Illustration of the Canadian Dimetrodon

An illustration of Dimetrodon borealis, the insert shows the location of the fossil on the animal.

An illustration of Dimetrodon borealis, the insert shows the location of the fossil on the animal.

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault

Dimetrodon – A New Species

Dimetrodon is perhaps one of the most famous of all the animals known from the Palaeozoic Era.  Several species of these sail-backed reptiles are known and their fossils have been found in the United States, Europe and now Canada.  The largest species, animals like D. grandis were the apex predators of terrestrial environments during the Late Permian, with some animals growing to around 3.5 metres in length.  Although not a dinosaur, Dimetrodon seems to have become forever linked with the Dinosauria.  For example, Dimetrodon models are often included in dinosaur model sets.

A Dimetrodon Model

Sail-back reptile with ferocious teeth.

Sail-back reptile with ferocious teeth.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Kirstin has specialised in studying the preserved teeth of prehistoric animals.  Using parsimonious relationship analysis (family trees) and high resolution imaging, the researchers were able to link the teeth to the Dimetrodon genus.  The teeth are “ziphodont”, that is, they are serrated along the cutting edge.  Dimetrodon is thought to be the first terrestrial vertebrate to possess such teeth.

Professor Robert Reisz (University of Toronto Mississauga), one of the author’s of the research paper published last year stated:

“These are blade-like teeth with tiny serrations along the front and back of the teeth, similar to a steak knife.  The roots of these teeth are very long, around double the length of the crowns.  This type of tooth is very effective for biting and ripping flesh from prey.”

What’s in a Name?

Long tooth roots and these ziphodont serrations are diagnostic of Dimetrodon, ironically, the renaming of this animal from Bathygnathus borealis to Dimetrodon borealis might spell trouble for all fans of this sail-backed reptile.  As Bathygnathus was named before the Dimetrodon genus was erected, then technically, under the strict guidelines of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) the name given first should take precedence.

In essence, all fossil material related to the Dimetrodon genus should be renamed as Bathygnathus (the name means “deep jaw from the north”).

Dr. Brink, now based at the University of British Columbia expressed her concern:

“What we’re hoping will happen is the priority will be reversed so we can keep Dimetrodon as a valid name, just because it’s so well known among the public and other scientists as well.”

Although the fossil material has not turned out to be a dinosaur, the naming of a new species of Dimetrodon, one that lived further north than any other species of Dimetrodon so far described, still makes this specimen a very remarkable fossil indeed.

14 01, 2016

Palaeontology Predictions for 2016

By | January 14th, 2016|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Palaeontology Predictions for 2016

At this time of year, our thoughts are very much on the year ahead, this is a rather unusual state of mind for Everything Dinosaur team members as we tend to spend most of our time thinking about the past.  Just for a bit of fun and as a challenge to ourselves, we thought it a good idea to try and predict what news stories, events, fossil discoveries and other dinosaur and prehistoric related articles would be featured on this blog site over the next twelve months.  A big thank you to all our Twitter and Facebook fans who have made some fantastic suggestions, so without further ado, here are our palaeontological predictions for 2016.

1)  Biggest Dinosaur of All to Get a Name

Following the discovery of an extensive bone-bed in Argentina that revealed the fossilised remains of eleven Titanosaurs, all of them a new species that potentially perished together, a scientific description and name will be published.  The biggest dinosaur so far described will get a name.  A life-size model of this “enor-mo-saurus” is going to be unveiled in the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) tomorrow.  This thirty-seven metre long replica is awesome!  The dinosaur main gallery is just not big enough to contain this, as yet unnamed leviathan.  The head and part of the neck sticks out into the restaurant area of the New York museum.  Our first prediction is that this dinosaur will have a formal scientific paper published about it this year.  Despite the remarkable Sir David Attenborough presenting the BBC television documentary all about this amazing fossil discovery, we can confidently predict that the name, whatever it turns out to be will not honour Sir David.

The Biggest Dinosaur Known to Science is Likely to Get a Name

That is a very big thigh bone!

That is a very big thigh bone!

Picture Credit: BBC

2)  Piecing Together the Human Family Tree

A number of universities and research institutes are currently studying genetic material recovered from fossil hominin remains.  For example, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany) are hoping to provide data on the DNA of a 400,000-year-old hominin whose fossils have been found in a cave in northern Spain.  We predict that next year, new papers will be published providing information on the link between our species Homo sapiens and our nearest relative Homo neanderthalensis and the hominin species that is believed to be the direct ancestor of both ourselves and the Neanderthals – Homo heidelbergensis.  More evidence regarding human migration out of Africa may be provided.  In addition, we expect to hear more about the inter-breeding between species.  As our understanding of ancient genomes improves it is very likely that this year further light will be shed on the “genetic cross-overs” between species.

Expect More Information on Human Ancestry

Research into the genetics of ancient hominids.

Research into the genetics of ancient hominids.

3)  Feathered Tyrants!

We expect feathered dinosaurs to once again feature prominently in the scientific literature.  It is likely that more feathered Theropod fossils will be reported from China.  In addition, further evidence might emerge of feathered dinosaur fossils from elsewhere in the world, notably Canada.  Specifically, we predict that research will be published on a member of the Tyrannosauridae family that provides more information on our “feathered tyrant friends”.

Everything Dinosaur Predicts More News on Feathered Tyrannosaurs

Available from Everything Dinosaur around the middle of 2016.

Expecting palaeontologists to get into a flap over feathered “tyrant lizards”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

4) Saltwater Crocodile Cull

An expanding Saltwater crocodile population combined with increasing population growth will lead to further problems with crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory of Australia.  Everything Dinosaur predicts that public pressure will continue to grow and the Australian authorities will introduce an official cull of these giant reptiles.  A temporary lifting of the ban on hunting could take place, permitting more trophy hunting with a number of crocodiles being shot, or there could be an official cull period, in which nests are destroyed in order to reduce the number of crocodiles within rivers and lakes which are close to population areas.

5) Rio Olympics and a Brazilian Pterosaur

Friday, 5th August 2016 sees the start of the Rio Olympic Games.  The world’s media will be focused on Rio for what will be the first summer Olympic Games to be held in South America.  We predict that from a palaeontological perspective, Brazil will also catch the media’s attention.  A new species of Cretaceous Pterosaur will be announced following fossil finds from a geological formation in Brazil.  The discovery will not be made near Rio, but we predict Pterosaur headlines from the Santana Formation or somewhere similar from the north-east of the country.

6) Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

Talking of notable dates, May 8th 2016 will mark the 90th birthday of the famous naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.  He might not get the biggest dinosaur discovered to date named after him, but expect a number of accolades for this remarkable, passionate and enthusiastic supporter of science and the natural world.  We predict that as well as the accolades there will be a great deal of newspaper column inches used up in tribute to this Englishman who has been involved in nature documentaries and television for the best part of sixty years.

13 01, 2016

“Siva’s Beast” Goes on a Diet

By | January 13th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Sivatherium giganteum – Not Quite So Giganteum!

A re-assessment of an ancient prehistoric mammal that once roamed the foothills of the Himalayas, has led to the palaeontological shrink ray being employed once again.  The beast, an ancient giraffid named Sivatherium giganteum (pronounced See-vah-fear-ree-um jai-gant-tee-um) was once thought to be some form of missing link between elephants and giraffes, 19th Century scientists thought that it was about as big as an African elephant.  However, a digital reconstruction and re-examination of the fossilised bones of these herbivores has led to a new body mass estimate of around 1,250 kilogrammes (a range of 857 kg to 1,812 kg).

Sivatherium giganteum – Once Thought to be a Missing Link Between Elephants and Giraffes

Fossils found in Africa and Asia.

Fossils found in Africa and Asia.

Picture Credit: Science Photo Library

The first fossil specimen to be scientifically studied was found by Scottish geologist Hugh Falconer who accompanied the English engineer Proby Thomas Cautley on an expedition to map the terrain of the Sivalik Hills in the sub-Himalayas region of India.  A scientific paper naming and describing this animal was published in a journal called the “Philosophical Magazine Series” back in 1836.  Despite further fossil finds and the naming of a number of Sivatherium species (India and Africa), until now there had been no attempt at a complete skeletal reconstruction of the creature.

The bones that make up the skeleton were digitally mapped and then the animal was reconstructed.  The researchers, which included scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, were able to calculate a range of body masses for this impressive beast, although this new research (published in Biology Letters), suggests that the 19th Century study did over estimate the body mass by a considerable margin.

Commenting on the work of his predecessors, Christopher Basu (co-author of the new study) stated that the 19th Century team did a “beautiful job at describing it and taking measurements, although it turns out the body mass calculation was educated guesswork.”

As part of a wider investigation into the anatomy of modern giraffes, the three-dimensional computer model of S. giganteum provides a much more accurate estimate of body mass.  “Sivas Beast” had particularly robust bones and the body mass estimate provided by the earlier research was based on a volumetric measure.  However, assessment of the weight bearing capacity of the humerus (humeral circumference) and other measurements in this new study provides a more accurate reading.

Although, not quite on the scale of a modern African elephant, Sivatherium giganteum is one of the largest ruminants known to science.  Males may well have been slightly heavier than the average body weight given in this new research, they had very large horns and these spectacular appendages would have increased their overall body mass.

Skeletal Reconstruction of Sivatherium giganteum

scale bar = 1 metre.

scale bar = 1 metre.

Picture Credit: Royal Veterinary College/Biology Letters

In the picture above the skeletal reconstruction in green (top) shows Sivatherium modelled against modern Giraffa.  The outline in purple and the bones (also in purple) provide an outline of the minimum body proportions modelled onto the skeletal frame.

Commenting on the study, carried out in association with Liverpool John Moores University, PhD student Christopher Basu explained:

“As a palaeontologist, it is really important to understand the basic question – how big was this animal?  This was probably the largest giraffe relative to have ever existed, which makes it the largest ruminant that’s ever existed.  It’s a rare animal, it’s pushing the limits of its anatomy.”

With its short neck and robust body, S. giganteum may not look much like a modern giraffe, but surprisingly, this animal co-existed with modern giraffes in Africa.  Fossil evidence suggests that Sivatherium may have survived into the Holocene Epoch.  In addition, archaeologists have discovered a series of rock drawings dating from between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago at various locations in the Sahara region of North Africa that depict animals that resemble Sivatherium.  Although, it is difficult to say beyond doubt that these images resemble Sivatherium it is an intriguing and interesting thought.

The Reconstructed Skeleton of Sivatherium giganteum

Biggest ruminant known to science.

Biggest ruminant known to science.

Picture Credit: Royal Veterinary College/Biology Letters

To read an article about an ancient ruminant and its links to a Star Wars character: Xenokeryx and Giraffes – Something To Ruminate On

12 01, 2016

“Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur”!

By | January 12th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

BBC Announces Date for TV Programme About “World’s Biggest Dinosaur”

Exciting news for dinosaur fans of all ages.  The BBC has ended the embargo on a new documentary programme outlining the discovery and study of over two hundred giant dinosaur bones found in Argentina.  The fossils represent a new species of enormous long-necked dinosaur (Titanosaur) and when finally named and scientifically described, this could be the largest dinosaur known to science, surpassing the likes of Argentinosaurus (A. huinculensis) and Futalognkosaurus dukei, fossils of which also come from Argentina.

Sir David Attenborough Lies Alongside a Giant Femur (Thigh Bone)

Potentially the biggest terrestrial animal known to science.

Potentially the biggest terrestrial animal known to science.

Picture Credit: BBC

The picture above provides a sense of scale for the huge animal, Sir David Attenborough is lying next to right femur (thigh bone) which measures 2.4 metres long.  This is the largest thigh bone ever found from a terrestrial animal.  Femora circumference data suggests a body mass in excess of seventy tonnes.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s report on the discovery of the fossil bones: The Biggest Dinosaur of All! A New South American Contender

A Graveyard of Giants

The television programme will be shown on BBC1 at 6.30pm on Sunday, 24th January.  It tells the story of how the fossils (over 220 of them have been excavated and catalogued), were found and follows the scientific research from excavation, preparation and cleaning right up to the unveiling of a life-sized model of the new type of Titanosaur.  With such a large number of bones to examine, the scientists have been able to build up quite a detailed picture of this dinosaur.  The fossilised bones represent a total of seven individual dinosaurs, the largest of which was the one that the Canadian and Argentinian team of model makers based their reconstruction on.

To conclude the programme, Sir David will unveil the new reconstruction of this enormous herbivore.  The model measures 37 metres long, that’s almost the equivalent of tacking the playing surface of Wimbledon’s Centre Court onto the length of a basketball court.  For comparison, “Dippy” the Diplodocus replica housed at the Natural History Museum (London), is only 26 metres long.  The reconstruction of Argentinosaurus huinculensis, housed in the Museo Municipal Carmen Funes, Plaza Huincul (Neuquén Province, Argentina) is around 35 metres in length.

The Reconstruction of A. huinculensis (Museo Municipal Carmen Funes)

The largest dinosaur yet described.

The largest dinosaur yet described, but under threat.

Picture Credit: Museo Municipal Carmen Funes, Plaza Huincul

Recalling the problems associated with the excavation of such huge fossils, Dr Diego Pol, lead scientist heading up the research team based at the Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio, (Trelew, Argentina) stated:

“It was like a palaeontological crime scene, a unique thing that you don’t find anywhere else in the world with the potential of discovering all kinds of new facts about Titanosaurs.  According to our estimates this animal weighed 70 tonnes.  A comparison of the back bones shows that this animal was ten per cent larger than Argentinosaurus, the previous record holder.  So we have discovered the largest dinosaur ever known.”

The date when this animal roamed differs in the press release from that stated earlier when Everything Dinosaur first published details of the fossil discovery.  The BBC press release suggests that this giant dinosaur roamed around 101 million years ago, whilst our data suggests that it lived slightly later, around 95 million years ago (Cenomanian faunal stage of the Cretaceous).

The heart of this huge beast would have weighed something like 200 kilogrammes and with a circumference estimated at two metres it would have pumped ninety litres of blood round the body with one huge beat.  That’s more liquid than the average amount of water that people have a bath in.

“Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur” will broadcast on BBC1 on Sunday 24 January at 6.30pm.  It will be available on the BBC catch up services and we at Everything Dinosaur are eagerly looking forward to watching the programme.

Sir David Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur Thigh Bone

That is a very big thigh bone!

That is a very big thigh bone!

Picture Credit: BBC

Not the End of the Story

A formal scientific paper will be published shortly and this new dinosaur will be given a scientific name, it is likely to be a record breaker and regarded as the largest land living animal known to science.  However, readers of this blog know that Everything Dinosaur takes a keen interest in such matters, check out the link below that hints at the presence of even larger dinosaurs within the fossil record:

 One hundred tonne Titanosaurs?: Giant Fossil Titanosaur Tooth Hints at “Enormosaurus”

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