All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
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”

11 01, 2016

Giant Cretaceous Marine Crocodile from Tunisia

By | January 11th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Prehistoric Crocodile – Machimosaurus rex

A team of international scientists including researchers from the University of Bologna (Italy), the University of Alberta (Canada) and the Office National Des Mines, Service Patrimoine Géologique (Tunis, Tunisia), have announced the discovery of the fossilised bones of a huge prehistoric marine crocodile, the largest member of the Teleosauridae (marine crocodyliforms), described to date.  The ancient crocodile provides proof that these types of marine reptile did not become extinct at the end of the Jurassic.

An Illustration of the Super-sized Marine Crocodile (Machimosaurus rex)

Probably preyed on turtles.

Probably preyed on turtles.

Picture Credit: Davide Bonadonna

The fossil material which includes a nearly complete skull plus post cranial elements such as ribs, cervical and dorsal vertebrae plus one bone from the forelimbs, comes from Lower Cretaceous rocks of Tataouine (southern Tunisia).  The giant crocodile, named Machimosaurus rex was probably an ambush predator of the lagoonal environments on the shores of the Tethys Ocean.  It lived approximately 130 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous (Barremian faunal stage of the Cretaceous).

A Scale Drawing of M. rex Showing the Fossil Material Found

A scale drawing showing known fossil material and close up of the skull (dorsal view).

A scale drawing showing known fossil material and close up of the skull (dorsal view).

Picture Credit: Marco Auditore

At an estimated ten metres in length, and perhaps weighing more than three tonnes, not only is this the largest marine crocodile known to science, but it is also the largest crocodylomorph known from the Barremian faunal stage.  There are larger crocodiles known from the fossil record, Deinosuchus of North America and Sarcosuchus from Africa for example, but these animals lived later in the Mesozoic.  Machimosaurus rex with its skull measuring 160 centimetres in length, was certainly bigger than any extant crocodile.  The relatively short snout and the shape of the teeth (blunt and bullet shaped), suggest that this big “croc”, like many other members of the Machimosaurus genus, specialised in hunting turtles, but it may also have ambushed unwary dinosaurs and other animals should they have got too close to the water’s edge.

Field Team Members Pose with the Skull in Situ

The field team pose with the fossilised skull.

The field team pose with the fossilised skull.

Picture Credit: Federico Fanti

A Skull Bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex

The Machimosaurus genus contains a number of species, most of which were named and described in the 19th Century.  Their fossils are widespread with specimens having been recorded from Switzerland, France, Germany and England, although the Tunisian specimen is the only one known from Cretaceous strata.

University of Alberta PhD student Tetsuto Miyashita, a co-author of the scientific paper that was published this week in the journal “Cretaceous Research” stated:

“These teeth weren’t for cutting or piercing flesh.  They were built for crushing bones.”

Hence the speculation that along with other Machimosaurs, this crocodile specialised in hunting and eating turtles.

This part of Tunisia remains relatively unexplored and fieldwork was difficult as the region is politically unstable.  However, the scientists hope to be able to return to the area in the near future to look for more post cranial material and to search for evidence of other vertebrates that shared this crocodile’s watery habitat.

Commenting on the significance of the discovery, lead author, palaeontologist Dr. Federico Fanti (University of Bologna) said:

“The fossils indicate that M. rex belonged to a group of crocodiles that inhabited the sea and coastal areas around the end of the Jurassic Period, but the species is not directly related to modern-day crocodiles.”

Surviving Into the Cretaceous

It had been thought that the teleosaurids had died out at the end of the Jurassic, but the discovery of Machimosaurus rex refutes this hypothesis.  It seems likely that the paucity of the fossil record for these types of crocodiles from Gondwana may have skewed the data to suggest that these marine crocodiles became extinct at the end of the Jurassic.  Although, local extinction events may have occurred, it seems likely that more fossils of crocodylomorphs that get assigned to the Machimosaurus genus will be found in Cretaceous-aged rocks.

Dr. Fanti added:

“Therefore, this discovery sheds new light on the hypothesised mass extinction event at the end of the Jurassic, a biological crisis currently much less understood than the famous extinction at the end of the Cretaceous that wiped out the dinosaurs.” 

A Picture of Machimosaurus spp. Cranial Material

Typical skull material assigned to the Machimosaurus genus and line drawing (below).

Typical skull material assigned to the Machimosaurus genus and line drawing (below).

Picture Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Palaeontology can Sometimes be a Dangerous Business

This part of Tunisia remains politically unstable and field work has been hampered, but members of the research team are hopeful that they will be able to return to complete their survey of the area.  Sadly, barely a week after the field team left Tunis then ISIL inspired terrorists attacked the Bardo National Museum in Tunis (18th March 2015), killing more than twenty people and injuring a further forty-two.

Reflecting on the current troubles in that part of the Arab world, Tetsuto Miyashita said:

“Sometimes we are reminded that our endeavour to unlock the ancient mysteries is only possible through peace, freedom and sheer goodwill of people.  We were touched by the kindness and hospitality of Tunisians when we were there.  Nothing could make me happier than us working together again to get to that big monster.”

10 01, 2016

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

By | January 10th, 2016|General Teaching, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

Book to Help Advise Teachers about Palaeontology Careers

Many teachers are keen to encourage their pupils to consider a career in the sciences, however, knowing where to turn when it comes to finding sensible advice can be a bit of a challenge even for the most dedicated member of the teaching team.  Many students develop an interest in the Earth sciences and there are a lot of exciting career paths to explore.  Help is at hand for any member of the teaching team who gets asked about working as a palaeontologist in the form of this excellent book written by Dr. David Penney (Manchester University).

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist

Practical advice and guidance.

Practical advice and guidance.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In this well-crafted publication, Dr. Penney explains his own circuitous route into the profession and outlines the various different types of roles palaeontologists have.  The first two chapters provide a definition of palaeontology and explain why palaeontology has so much relevance today.  The rest of the book is dedicated to providing an overview of the various careers available to students and to enthusiasts who have a fascination for fossils.

For further information and to order a copy visit: Siri Scientific Press

Topics covered include the roles palaeontologists perform in museums, universities and conservation projects, as well as examining jobs related to the science in the media, the fossil trade and within the arts.  For teachers and members of the careers profession aiming to provide guidance to students who wish to explore working in palaeontology, this book is a must have and it is highly recommended by Everything Dinosaur team members.

Commenting on how helpful the book is, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“This publication provides an insider’s view on the exciting and diverse career opportunities available to students who want to develop their interest in palaeontology into a full-time occupation.  It really is required reading for any teacher or educationalist wishing to assist aspiring palaeontologists.”

10 01, 2016

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

By | January 10th, 2016|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Practical Career Advice for Fossil Fans

One of the most frequently asked questions sent into us is how do you go about getting a job as a palaeontologist?  We provide what information and support we can to budding fossil experts (and their mums and dads), but thankfully, assistance is at hand with the publication of this helpful and most informative guide on how to develop a career in palaeontology.  Author Dr. David Penney, dissects his more than twenty years of experience in this scientific field and provides an overview of the type of career paths, those who have a love of fossils and all things prehistoric might want to consider.

So You Want to be a Palaeontologist?

Practical advice and guidance.

Practical advice and guidance.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Always put a scale on your photographs!  The book is full of tips and advice on how to stand out from other potential job applicants, whether it is as a professional fossil dealer or a scientific illustrator (palaeoartist).

This well written publication defines palaeontology before setting out the various roles and activities that palaeontologists undertake.  Dr. David Penney, expertly guides the reader through the wide variety of career options that the science now offers.  He covers the work of palaeontologists in museum related roles as well as providing a comprehensive overview of more academic focused avenues, whether as a researcher, a lecturer or a field technician.

For further information and to purchase an advance copy of this wonderful book: Visit Siri Scientific Press

Illustrated with some lovely colour plates, including some insightful behind the scenes photographs, the main section of the book is dedicated to exploring the various and very diverse jobs that someone with an interest in fossils might want to consider.  There is helpful advice on obtaining qualifications, as well as some words of encouragement for those of us who spend our time blogging about palaeontology and fossil discoveries.

If you are searching for a book which outlines a history of fossil research, then look elsewhere, but if you really want a practical and sensible walk through of the career possibilities linked to this fascinating aspect of science, then “So you want to be a palaeontologist?” is a must have for your book shelf.

The book is not aimed at younger readers, but it has been written for a very broad audience.  Students, hobby fossil collectors, writers, artists and those interested in a career in science education would do well to get hold of a copy.  Everything Dinosaur recommends this publication in particular to mums, dads, grandparents and guardians of primary school children who are expressing an interest in science and palaeontology.

For advance copies of “So you want to be a palaeontologist?”: Siri Scientific Press Website

Commenting on the book a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“This is a must have for anyone seriously contemplating working in palaeontology.  It also makes a great gift for anyone who is considering aspiring to be amongst the next generation of palaeontologists, or indeed for the enthusiastic fossil collector who would like to become more involved with this fascinating area of science.”

9 01, 2016

Dinosaur Hunt at Primary School

By | January 9th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 1 Goes on a Dinosaur Hunt at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School

It was a busy morning for Year 1 pupils at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary (Brighouse, West Yorkshire), as they explored dinosaurs and fossils as part of their term topic “Dinosaur hunt”.  The classroom already had plenty of examples of dinosaur themed writing as the children had written to the experts at Everything Dinosaur inviting a team member to visit to help them learn all about prehistoric animals and life in the past.

Plenty of Examples of Hand-writing on Display

Writing about dinosaurs.

Writing about dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Meeting up with Miss Vogel, the Year 1 class teacher, before the start of the morning of activities, a member of Everything Dinosaur’s teaching team was able to provide advice on a range of extension ideas, all aimed at supporting the learning needs of the class.  The first part of the session was located in the spacious hall, providing plenty of opportunities to introduce some physical exercises to help reinforce learning.  The second session was based in the classroom and it was focused on a prehistoric animal measuring activity, a chance for the children to practice using measuring cubes and rulers and to compare the size of dinosaur’s feet to the size of their own hands.

A Dinosaur Themed Display Wall

A dinosaur and fossil themed display wall.

A dinosaur and fossil themed display wall.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Under the enthusiastic guidance of Miss Vogel, the children had drawn some fossil ammonites and some of these had been placed on the display wall.  The children got to see some real ammonite fossils including a giant one, that Mrs Midgley (teaching assistant), helped the children explore.    The workshop encouraged a multitude of tactile activities including lots of fossil handling as well as exploring how some dinosaurs ate plants and how the brain of an Ankylosaurus compares in size to our own.

As part of the term topic, the teaching team intend to turn a corner of the classroom into a dinosaur museum so that the children’s work can be displayed.  The dinosaur expert from Everything Dinosaur provided advice on how best to do this and how to incorporate discovery learning projects that involve encouraging more hand-writing and links into building an understanding of the geography of the UK.

The Teaching Team Plan to Build a Small Dinosaur Museum 

A dinosaur museum under construction.

A dinosaur museum under construction.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The children were very excited by the dinosaur workshop and they were keen to show how much about dinosaurs they had already learned.  Mrs Midgley helped one little boy create a super dinosaur skeleton out of straws.  Well done Mrs Midgley, we love the way in which you created the dinosaur’s eye.  This is just the sort of hands-on, kinaesthetic activity that can really help younger, less confident learners.

Mrs Midgley and Her “Straw-o-saurus”

A dinosaur made from straws.

A dinosaur made from straws.

Picture Credit: St Joseph’s Catholic Primary/Everything Dinosaur

Just like a real scientist, Mrs Midgley even put her name on her work.  The children were challenged to have a go at comparing dinosaur footprints and recording information in the same way that palaeontologists do.  All in all, it was a fun and fact filled morning.

8 01, 2016

Dance of the Dinosaurs

By | January 8th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

A Dinosaur Goes a Wooing?

The link between the Dinosauria and birds is well established.  However, to what extent can we view the behaviour of our feathered friends today and infer behaviours in the long extinct dinosaurs?  Thanks to some new research published this week in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, palaeontologists may have  gained an insight into the courtship and mating behaviours of theropod dinosaurs.

The research team, which included scientists from South Korea, China, Poland as well as the United States, conclude that trace fossils consisting of gouges and scrapes preserved in sandstone strata that is estimated to be around 100 million years old, preserve evidence of dinosaurs engaging in courtship and mating behaviours similar to extant birds.  The scrapes, gouges and scratches, some of which cover an area the size of a bathtub, have been interpreted as being similar to “nest scrape display” as seen in modern Aves.

Dinosaurs Displaying and Undertaking Ritualised Courtship Displays

An artist imagines the Cretaceous Courtship Scene

An artist imagines the Cretaceous courtship scene.

Picture Credit: (Lida Xing and Yujiang Han / University of Colorado, Denver)

The study was led by Professor Martin Lockley (University of Colorado) a highly respected specialist in dinosaur tracks and footprints (ichnologist).  The team interpret the trace fossils as evidence of courtship behaviour in theropod dinosaurs as the dinosaurs demonstrated their ability to make suitable mates by excavating pseudo nests.  Various trace fossil sites were studied and mapped, most of which are associated with the Upper Cretaceous deposits of the Dakota sandstone and mudstone formation of western Colorado.

Professor Lockley explained:

“These are the first sites with evidence of dinosaur mating display rituals ever discovered, and the first physical evidence of courtship behaviour.  These huge scrape displays fill in a missing gap in our understanding of dinosaur behaviour.”

Scientists Provide a Sense of Scale to the Scrape Marks

Martin Lockley (right) and Ken Cart pose beside large Theropod dinosaur scrapes in western Colorado.

Martin Lockley (right) and  co-author Ken Cart pose beside large theropod dinosaur scrapes in western Colorado.

Picture Credit: University of Colorado

Could They Be Signs of Digging for Water or Food?

In their review of the trace fossil evidence, the scientists dismiss the idea that the marks could have been made by meat-eating theropod dinosaurs looking for food.  Back in 2010, Everything Dinosaur reported on a remarkable trace fossil found in Utah which suggested that a deinonychosaurid dinosaur had been digging out a potential prey animal from its burrow.  However, no evidence of burrows or other signs of prey were found in association with the scrapes.

To read about the evidence of a dinosaur potentially digging mammals out of their burrow: Trace Fossils Suggest a Dinosaur Digging for its Supper

As for whether the marks represent dinosaurs digging for water, after all much of the Dakota sandstone and mudstone was laid down in association with rivers and streams, the researchers conclude that this is unlikely.  Whilst elephants and other terrestrial vertebrates do dig into dried up river beds to find water, the authors conclude that these marks are not “scratch digging” as any attempt to dig to the level of the water table would produce a pooling of water which would have washed away any scrape marks made in the sediment.

A Map of One of the Study Sites (Club Gulch – Western Colorado)

Map of Club Gulch site (a) prepared in Photoshop CS5 by MGL, with natural colour photogrammetic image (b) at same scale by RTM and LGB. Coloured image (inset in a) shows three large scrapes, together covering 5 m. Digging traces are classified as paired (bilobed) or single, with or without scratch marks and adjacent sand aprons.

Map of Club Gulch site (a) prepared in Photoshop CS5 by MGL, with natural colour photogrammetic image (b) at same scale by RTM and LGB. Coloured image (inset in a) shows three large scrapes, together covering 5 m. Digging traces are classified as paired (bilobed) or single, with or without scratch marks and adjacent sand aprons.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The display arenas, also referred to as “leks” were found in two National Conservation Areas (Dominguez-Escalante and Gunnison Gorge) on property permitted by the Bureau of Land Management near Delta, Colorado.  The biggest site had approximately sixty preserved scrapes, located in a single bed of sandstone covering an area of 750 square metres.  The scientists also studied potential dinosaur mating/courtship fossil sites at the Dinosaur Ridge, a National Natural Landmark, just west of the city of Denver.

It is assumed that the males competed with each other to impress the females.  The females, choosing the most impressive male performers as their consorts.  Similar mating selection behaviours are common in tetrapods alive today, however, until now scientists could only speculate about dinosaur mating behaviour although in theropods at least, it had been assumed it might be similar to that of their modern avian relatives.

Dinosaurs Strutting Their Stuff

The discovery of a number of feathered varieties including oviraptorids with ornate tail feathers has led a number of palaeontologists to speculate that some theropod dinosaurs performed elaborate displays in order to win a mate or to gain status amongst the flock.  Research from the University of Alberta (Canada), proposed that some dinosaurs had compressed tail vertebrae that formed a pygostyle, as seen in many extant birds.  This structure would have enabled the dinosaurs to shake their tail feathers.

To read an article that provides more detail on this research: Dinosaurs Shaking Their Tails

Commenting on this new study, Professor Lockley stated:

“The scrape evidence has significant implications.  This is physical evidence of pre-historic foreplay that is very similar to birds today.  Modern birds using scrape ceremony courtship usually do so near their final nesting sites.  So, the fossil scrape evidence offers a tantalising clue that dinosaurs in ‘heat’ may have gathered here millions of years ago to breed and then to nest nearby.”

A Line Drawing with Key of One of the Trace Fossil Sites Studied

The coloured image shows three large scrapes.

The coloured image shows three large scrapes.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

7 01, 2016

Congratulations to Safari Ltd and CollectA

By | January 7th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Spinosaurus and Sauropelta Model Dinosaurs Win Accolade

Readers of Prehistoric Times Magazine have voted the recently introduced new versions of Spinosaurus made by CollectA and the Wild Safari Dinos Sauropelta armoured dinosaur replica from Safari Ltd as joint winners in the best toy dinosaur model of 2015 category.  Everything Dinosaur team members would like to extend their congratulations to both CollectA and Safari Ltd for winning this award.

The CollectA Spinosaurus Models Are Winners

CollectA Spinosaurus available from Everything Dinosaur.

CollectA Spinosaurus available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the not to scale Walking Spinosaurus (on the left) and the Swimming Spinosaurus (on the right), these dinosaur models are based on the September 2014 reassessment of the fossil material associated with Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.  When the scientific paper was first published it attracted a great deal of debate amongst palaeontologists.  The absence of more substantive fossil material prevents the debate over the posture and stance of Spinosaurus from being resolved.

The CollectA 1:40 Spinosaurus Deluxe

Leading the way in interpreting dinosaur fossils.

Leading the way in interpreting dinosaur fossils.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The photograph above shows the Deluxe Spinosaurus as a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur said when the models were first introduced:

“CollectA have become a very innovative model manufacturer and their efforts in these new reinterpretations of Spinosaurus are to be applauded.”

To view the CollectA 1:40 Deluxe Spinosaurus and other scale models of prehistoric animals made by CollectA: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Animals

To view the CollectA not to scale prehistoric animals: CollectA Dinosaurs

Sharing the award with the three Spinosaurus models is the excellent Wild Safari Dinos Sauropelta.  The armoured Sauropelta is a wonderful model, we are delighted to see that the work in sculpting “shield lizard” has been recognised.

A Very Well Deserved Award

Available from Everything Dinosaur in early 2015

Available from Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Sauropelta model and other prehistoric animal replicas from Safari Ltd at Everything Dinosaur: Wild Safari Dinos and Carnegie Collectibles

Given the amazing new prehistoric animals due out this year, it looks like the competition to win this prestigious accolade is going to be even tougher in 2016.

Everything Dinosaur congratulates both Safari Ltd and CollectA for their excellent work.

6 01, 2016

Everything Dinosaur’s Social Media Targets 2015 Reviewed

By | January 6th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

A Review of Everything Dinosaur’s Social Media Targets for 2015

Time for a quick update on Everything Dinosaur’s performance on social media over the last twelve months or so.  First, a big thank you to all our Twitter feed followers, Facebook fans, Pinterest pinners, Youtube channel subscribers we appreciate you all.

A Big Iguanodon “Thumbs Up” to All Everything Dinosaur’s Social Media Fans

Praise from a dinosaur!

Praise from a dinosaur!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

She who must be obeyed “Tyrannosaurus Sue” set targets for “likes” on Facebook, followers on Twitter, pins on Pinterest and such like for 2015.  Let’s take a look to see how we did.

  •  Everything Dinosaur’s School Website (Dinosaurs for Schools) – blog posts and the number of free downloads available

Since this website went live in August 2014, we have been able to help many hundreds of teachers and thousands of school children.  This website: Dinosaurs in Schools provides  free downloads, teaching resources, school lesson plans, activity ideas and so much more.  In 2014, we posted up sixty-seven articles on the teaching blog, featuring new dinosaur discoveries and about how to teach about fossils and prehistoric animals in school.  In 2015, we added a further ninety-three articles, not a bad effort considering it was a record year for dinosaur workshops and school visits.  However, our target was to add an extra 125 articles (total by the year end to be 192 school blog posts).

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s website for schools and those who tutor at home: Teaching About Dinosaurs in Schools

  1. In terms of blog articles posted up we achieved 74% of our intended target (93 articles posted against a target of 125)
  2. We set out to add a further 10 free downloads for teachers in 2015, we got 9 put up so that’s a 90% of target achieved as far as we are concerned.
  •  Facebook and Everything Dinosaur

Team members enjoy seeing all the dinosaur themed Facebook posts and we have had a busy year with our own Facebook exploits.  At the end of 2014 we had 1,581 Facebook likes and we set a target of 2,000 for 2015.  The Facebook “likes” target has been well and truly beaten with 1,000 new “likes” added to our page over the last twelve months.  A huge thank you to everyone who supported Everything Dinosaur on Facebook last year – we are genuinely humbled.   In 2014 we had about 175 friends on Facebook, at the end of 2015 we had 479 friends, that’s a very big increase.  We believe that Facebook “likes” have to be earned and not purchased, we shall continue to work hard to earn every appreciative “like” and every “friend” that we receive.

Targets:

  1. Increase “likes” to “2,000” by the end of 2015 – achieved we have over 2,580 “likes” in total
  2. Increase the number of friends we have on Facebook to 400 by the end of the year – achieved we have 479 friends
  3. Run at least three competitions and free giveaways to show our gratitude to our Facebook fans (just like we did last year) – achieved we gave away lots of super dinosaur themed prizes too.
We believe customer service is the key to getting "likes".

Target for 2015 was 2,000 earned “likes”.

Feel free to “like” our page by clicking on the Facebook logo – that would be brilliant!!

  • Twitter

By the end of 2015 Everything Dinosaur had “tweeted” some 3,440 times, the “tweet target” for 2015 was 3,200 so we have exceeded this target and in terms of the number of people following us we wanted to get over 500 followers, by December 31st we had 676 followers.  We are not following quite as many other Twitter feeds as we thought we would, but in this instance it is probably a case of quality not quantity.

  • Youtube

As we end this year our Youtube channel: Everything Dinosaur on Youtube has 105 videos posted up, this is a few less than we anticipated after we did not get all the videos made that we wanted to.   However, we are still really impressed with the number of channel views which now stands at over a million (thanks to everyone).  Subscriber numbers stand at 1,532, up from 1,200 in the previous year which is also very impressive for us, although we did have a 2015 target of 1,750 subscribers.  We are confident that if we post up more videos we will get more subscribers, especially if we maintain our focus on prehistoric animal model and replica reviews.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s Youtube Channel

Click on the banner to visit Everything Dinosaur's Youtube channel.

Click on the banner to visit Everything Dinosaur’s Youtube channel.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

  • Pinterest

Everything Dinosaur has “smart pins” and our entire product range is slowly and surely being added to our pinterest presence, along with new boards such as “Jurassic World” and Crystal Palace dinosaurs.  Here is how we fared against our 2015 targets.

  1. Target for 2015 8,500 pins – actual pins 10,200
  2. Target for 2015 1,050 followers – actual followers 1,300
  3. Target 600 following – actual number for the end of the year is 486 (like Twitter we suspect it is a question of quality not quantity).

To visit our Pinterest pages, simply click on the Pin It logo below:

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur's Pinterest pages.

Click to visit Everything Dinosaur’s Pinterest pages.

That’s about all for social media targets, Everything Dinosaur team members are confident that “she who must be obeyed”, Tyrannosaurus Sue will be setting some targets for 2016, but one other point to note is that our website: Everything Dinosaur had 1,398 customer reviews posted up on it by the end of last year (indeed, we have now reached 1,400).  A really big thank you to all our reviewers and everyone who has posted a comment up on our website.

The Everything Dinosaur Blog (This Site)

Since we began this blog back in May 2007, we have tried to post up an article every single day, aiming for a total of at least 365 articles and stories per year.  On May 23rd 2015 we posted up our 3,000th article, that’s quite a milestone!

In May Everything Dinosaur Celebrated the 3,000th Blog Article

Celebrating our 3,000th blog post.

Celebrating our 3,000th blog post.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We had calculated that by December 31st 2015 we would have 3,221 articles posted up, in fact, we ended the year on 3,225.  We are a long way off our 4,000th article, that should come some time in the first few months of 2018, however, we should comfortably pass the 3,500 landmark this year.

A Very Big Thank You from Everything Dinosaur

Thank you from Everything Dinosaur.

Thank you from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

5 01, 2016

Sneak Peak – Prehistoric Times Issue 116

By | January 5th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

Looking Forward to Prehistoric Times (Winter 2016)

A new year and we resolve to keep reading the excellent “Prehistoric Times” – the magazine for dinosaur fans, those who appreciate prehistoric animals and a must read for dinosaur model collectors.  Editor Mike Fredericks sent us over a picture of the front cover showing a wonderful Kentrosaurus, our copy will no doubt, soon be arriving at the Everything Dinosaur offices and there will be the usual squabbles as to who gets to read it first, honestly we behave like a pack of “raptors” over a kill when it comes to wanting to get our claws on the latest edition of this quarterly.

Coming to our Mailbox Very Soon – Prehistoric Times Issue 116

The front cover from Prehistoric Times (issue 116)

The front cover from Prehistoric Times (issue 116)

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

For further information on Prehistoric Times and how to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

The Kentrosaurus figure is posed against a background that looks very familiar to us.  Could that be the Stegosaurus/Allosaurus ravine first seen in the ground-breaking BBC documentary series “Walking with Dinosaurs” (episode two “Time of the Titans”)?

Expect to find more illustrations and information about this particularly spiky member of the Thyreophora inside, along with a feature about a feathered giant, not a Tyrannosaur on this occasion, the extinct creature in question was definitely a member of the Aves.

Mike Frederick tells us that there is quite a considerable British influence on issue 116.  Our chums Anthony Beeson and Mike Howgate have both contributed.  If you ever want an unconventional tour of London then Mike’s your man!

Make it your New Year’s resolution to subscribe.

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