All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//March
15 03, 2016

Fossil Study Suggests how Tyrannosaurs Got Big

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

Timurlengia – Important Addition to the Tyrannosaur Family Tree

Timurlengia, or to give the newest member of the Tyrannosaur family tree its full, binomial scientific name Timurlengia euotica (pronounced Tee-mur-leng-gear-ah oo-ot-tick-ah) has been introduced to the world.  Lots of media coverage for this, the latest member of the Tyrannosaur super-family, the Tyrannosauroidea and in this article, rather than go over old ground, we shall instead focus on some of the more significant aspects of this particular piece of fascinating research.

Timurlengia Roaming a Late Cretaceous Flood Plain

The tyrannosaurid Timurlengia wandering its flood plain home.

The tyrannosaurid Timurlengia wandering its flood plain home.

Picture Credit: Todd Marshall

The illustration of Timurlengia above, depicts this Tyrannosaur as a light and agile animal, weight estimates vary (170 to 250 kilogrammes), but note also that this dinosaur has been given a shaggy coat.  There is evidence to suggest that at least some tyrannosaurids may have been feathered, these days, depicting a feathery Theropod is becoming the norm.  Soaring overhead are two Pterosaurs, the species is Azhdarcho longicollis and those white objects in the background that can be seen just below and just above the long tail of Timurlengia are primitive birds.  Uzbekistan might not spring to mind when asked to name a famous fossil-rich part of the world that represents life in the Late Cretaceous, but strata in the Kyzyl Kum Desert represent one of the few places in the world where an insight into life on our planet some ninety million years ago can be obtained.

The Significance of the Bissekty Formation

The fossil material, representing less than five percent of the entire skeleton, comes from exposed strata dating from the early Late Cretaceous.  These rocks are part of the Bissekty Formation of the Kyzyl Kum Desert (Uzbekistan).  The Formation dates from 90 to 85 million years ago, a number of vertebrate fossils including many different types of dinosaur have been found in these rocks.  The sediments indicate a low-lying coastal environment that was crossed by a number of large and highly braided river channels.  The Timurlengia fossil material is believed to date from approximately 90 million years ago (Turonian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).

The Fossil Material T. euotica

Timurlengia fossils.

Timurlengia fossils.

Picture Credit: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The picture above shows the amount of fossil material collected, crucially the pieces of jaw and the isolated teeth are typical of a tyrannosaurid.  Described as being “the size of a horse”, Timurlengia is very typical in terms of its build and its size with regards to Late Jurassic and Early/Middle to early Late Cretaceous tyrannosaurids.  However, what has puzzled palaeontologists is this, throughout the majority of the long lineage of the Tyrannosaurs these animals probably filled secondary predatory niches in food chains.  Despite their wide geographical distribution, it was only towards the end of the Cretaceous that these types of Theropod dinosaur started to evolve into the myriad of apex predators we know today.  Could Timurlengia provide evidence to support how and why the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex, became so huge and dominant?

Filling a Twenty Million Year Gap

Significantly, the rocks that contained the Timurlengia fossils have been dated to, what might have been a key point in tyrannosaurid evolution.  These fossils come from a time just about ten million years or so before the Tyrannosaurs began to evolve great size.  Tyrannosaurus rex, that most famous of all dinosaurs, was something like thirty times heavier for example, studying the Timurlengia fossils could provide clues as to why after tens of millions of years of being relatively small, did these particular meat-eaters become super-sized.

 The Authors of the Scientific Paper Plotted the Position of Timurlengia in the Tyrannosaur Family Tree

Timurlengia placed into context with other tyrannosaurids.

Timurlengia placed into context with other tyrannosaurids.

Picture Credit: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The picture above shows a Tyrannosaur family tree, the position of Timurlengia euotica is outlined in red.  This dinosaur’s phylogenetic relationship with earlier and the later much larger tyrannosaurids is outlined, along with the location of fossil discoveries and a geological time scale.

Key to Tyrannosaur Fossil Locations

Red = Asia (including Uzbekistan)

Blue = Western North America (Laramidia)

Yellow = Eastern North America (Appalachia)

Pink = Europe

Studying the Braincase – Obtaining Information About Tyrannosaur Senses

The fossils used in the study were collected by Dr. Hans Dieter Sues (Chair, Department of Palaeobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution ) and his colleague Alexander Averianov from the Russian Academy of Sciences over a ten year period. It was when the partial braincase was identified and analysed using a CT scanner that the link between this Tyrannosaur and its more illustrious and later relatives became established.  The detailed CT scans revealed that although Timurlengia was not that big, about the size of other Cretaceous tyrannosaurids, it did possess a highly sophisticated brain and its inner ear was very reminiscent to the features of the inner ear found in Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaur giants.    This suggests that Timurlengia had very sharp senses including great hearing, particularly at low frequencies, could this have give this predator a competitive advantage?

The Partial Braincase (top) and the CT Scan Evidence (bottom)

The braincase of Timurlengia and data from the CT scan showing brain and inner ear shape.

The braincase of Timurlengia and data from the CT scan showing brain and inner ear shape.

Picture Credit: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The partial braincase was actually discovered back in 2004, but it has remained unexamined and in storage at the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences until palaeontologist Steve Brusatte (Edinburgh University) was given the chance to study the fossil.  He realised the importance of this specimen, the CT scans showed that Timurlengia had long inner ear canals, ideal for hearing a range of sounds especially low frequency noises and this research has led to the subsequent paper being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The picture above shows three views of the partial braincase of Timurlengia euotica (posterior view, ventral view and right lateral view).  The bottom row of images are composite pictures from the various CT scans.  The brain is stained dark blue, the inner ear is pink, nerves highlighted in yellow and major blood vessels are coloured red.  This study suggests that the Tyrannosauroids apparently developed huge size rapidly during the latest Cretaceous, and their success in the top predator role may have been enabled by their brain and keen senses that first evolved at smaller body size.

Dr Sues commented:

“This fossil shows that Tyrannosaurs developed their advanced head first.  Timurlengia’s skull, though much smaller than that of T. rex, shows a sophisticated brain that would have led to keen eyesight, smell and hearing.”

The genus name honours the Asian warlord Timur (also known as Tamerlane), the trivial name means “well-eared” a direct reference to this dinosaur’s hearing capabilities.

Not the Entire Story

Having very well developed senses would have greatly assisted the tyrannosaurids, but this in itself does not explain how these Theropods rose to dominance towards the end of the Mesozoic.  There were, in all likelihood, a number of other factors involved.  For example, bigger predatory dinosaurs would have had to have gone into decline and probably become extinct to permit the tyrannosaurids to exploit the vacuum left in the food chain.  The reason for the decline of other predators remains unclear.  As far as we aware, despite the abundance of vertebrate fossil material associated with the Bissekty Formation, no very large Theropod fossils have been found to date.  If there was an apex predator or predators sharing this environment, then the identity of these dinosaurs remains unknown.  World-wide many of the apex dinosaur predators known to have existed around 100 to 90 million years ago are representatives of the Carcharodontosauridae.  This family of Theropods, which includes such iconic giants such as Acrocanthosaurus (United States), Sauroniops (Morocco) and Carcharodontosaurus (North Africa), did decline and did eventually become extinct, but studies have shown that these predators too, also possessed sophisticated senses.  Perhaps the evolution of different types of prey triggered this “changing of the guard”, this in turn, could have been influenced by the rise of the Angiosperms (flowering plants).

Tyrannosaurs may be iconic dinosaurs but there is much about their long history that we still do not understand.  Timurlengia along with future fossil finds will help to shed more light on this palaeontological puzzle.

A Close up View of a Tooth Assigned to Timurlengia

View of the left and right side of Timurlengia tooth.

View of the left and right side of a Timurlengia tooth.

Picture Credit: James Di Loreto, Smithsonian Institution

Last month, Everything Dinosaur reported on a new study into the Tyrannosaur family tree by Steve Brusatte and colleagues.  This was a re-assessment of an earlier piece of research (2010), the phylogeny of tyrannosaurids being updated as a result of recent fossil finds.

To read this article: An Update on the Evolution of Tyrannosaurs

14 03, 2016

Safari Ltd Models (Unboxing Video)

By | March 14th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Matthew the Dinosaur King – Unboxing Video

It is always a pleasure to receive feedback from our many thousands of customers.  A number of dinosaur fans even have their own dedicated websites that review purchases made from Everything Dinosaur.  Take for example, Matthew the Dinosaur King’s YouTube channel, a site dedicated to reviewing his ever-growing prehistoric animal model collection and to dinosaurs in general.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur try their best to keep up with all the amazing video reviews that our customers post up.  There is never enough time to watch all the videos, or indeed, to read all the blog articles written about the various models bought,  however, from time to time there is a slot in our busy schedules and we get the chance to view and to comment.

Here is an unboxing video from Matthew.  In this short video (it is just under five minutes long), Matthew discusses his recent purchase of the new for 2016 Safari Ltd dinosaur models and the re-issue of the prehistoric animals – the Megatherium and the baby Woolly Mammoth.  He has produced a number of individual video reviews of these replicas and we are looking forward to viewing them.

Everything Dinosaur Unboxing Video (Number 14)

Video Credit: Matthew the Dinosaur King

To subscribe to Matthew’s YouTube channel: View Matthew’s Videos and Subscribe

All the models in this Everything Dinosaur unboxing video come from the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range (Safari Ltd).

Matthew provides lots of helpful information to the viewer.  Videos such as this unboxing video can help inform potential customers who are uncertain whether to buy a particular model.  The close up shots of each replica really gives the viewer the opportunity to get a good look at each figure.  In addition, Matthew adds lots of helpful details about the prehistoric animals he reviews, explaining where the fossils were found and what sort of habitat the creature might have lived in.  His videos are most informative and we are always pleased to see how our models (and our packaging) is appreciated by customers.

To view the Wild Safari Prehistoric World model series available from Everything Dinosaur: Wild Safari Prehistoric World models

Thanks for your comments about our “awesome website” Matthew, this is much appreciated.

13 03, 2016

Megaloceros Fossil Exhibit

By | March 13th, 2016|Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Megaloceros (Irish Elk)

One of the best exhibits in the walkway between the galleries at the National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh), is this magnificent Megaloceros fossil skeleton.  The name of this extinct member of the deer family (Cervidae), means “great horn” and although antlers are not technically horns, it is not hard to see why this Ice Age herbivore got its moniker.  The fossils were found in the Isle of Man and we think this was one of the first if not the very first specimens to be scientifically studied.  Although a number of species have now been assigned to the Megaloceros genus, this is the largest of the species M. giganteus.

The Magnificent Megaloceros on Display at the Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh)

A Megaloceros skeleton on display.

A Megaloceros skeleton on display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The impressive antlers grew each year and a large pair could measure more than three and a half metres wide.  The weight of the antlers was considerable putting tremendous pressure on those cervical bones and the muscles in the neck.  It has been estimated that a pair of antlers could weigh as much as forty kilogrammes.  That is heavier than the young girl in the pink coat in the picture.  Although also known as the “Irish Elk”, Megaloceros was not restricted to Ireland.  It had a very wide distribution, fossils having been found all over northern Europe and Asia.  Fossils of Megaloceros have even been found in China.  It was also not very closely related to the extant Elk, but more closely related to modern Fallow Deer.  Standing more than two metres high at the shoulders, it is one of the largest members of the Cervidae family known.  Note the elongated skull, the strong neck and the strong legs.   Sadly, this magnificent beast became extinct at the end of the last Ice Age, however, a dwarf species is believed to have survived on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia until about 5,000 B.C.

It is always a pleasure to find a Megaloceros exhibit on display so prominently in a museum.

12 03, 2016

Oldest Pine Fossils Reveal Link with Firestorms

By | March 12th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Oldest Pine Tree Fossils Described

A pine tree is such a familiar object that it hardly deserves a second glance.  Walking in the park, driving into work, many people will pass these ubiquitous trees without giving them a thought.  Pine trees are also found in gardens, if you are mowing the lawn this weekend, stop for a moment and nod your head towards your pine as these types of tree originated at least 140 million years ago.  In addition, pine trees that dominate much of the northern hemisphere today might owe their success, if not their very existence to a fiery past.

Pine Trees Once Overlooked Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs once roamed Surrey (England).

Pine trees part of the faunal landscape of the Cretaceous.

Picture Credit: Natural History Museum (London)

The pine trees (Pinaceae) are a very diverse conifer genus these days, there are something like 115 species known today.  They are renowned for their ability to retain water thanks to their tough needles and their adaptations that help them withstand forest fires.  They contain highly flammable deadwood that burns very easily.  Conifers produce terpenes, which are highly combustible organic compounds, it is these compounds that make pine trees so inflammable.  They also produce cones that will only germinate in many cases after being scorched by fire.  A new generation of pine trees can then emerge, using the nutrient rich ash left by a forest fire to sustain them and without much competition from other plants as these would have been destroyed by the conflagration.

A team of scientists from the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway (University of London), have found the oldest fossil evidence of pine trees.  The discovery was due to serendipity almost as much as hard work and dedicated research.  Dr.  Howard Falcon-Lang discovered the fossils preserved as charcoal in a rock layer dated to the Valanginian faunal stage of the Cretaceous, approximately 133 to 140 million years ago.  The tiny fragments of pine tree suggest that conifers co-evolved with fire at a time when atmospheric oxygen levels were much higher than today, making forest fires much more likely and intense.

A False Colour Image of a Pine Tree Fragment Preserved as Charcoal

Fossilised pine tree fragment preserved as charcoal.

Fossilised pine tree fragment preserved as charcoal.

Picture Credit: Royal Holloway, University of London.

Commenting on the significance of the fossil find, Dr. Falcon-Lang stated:

“Pines are well adapted to fire today.  The fossils show that wildfires raged through the earliest pine forests and probably shaped the evolution of this important tree.  Modern pines store flammable resin-rich deadwood on the tree making them prone to lethal fires.  However, they also produce huge numbers of cones that will only germinate after a fire, ensuring a new cohort of trees is seeded after the fire has passed by.”

A paper detailing the research has been published in the journal of the Geological Society of America.  The fossils had been gathered several years ago and lay unexamined in a cupboard.  It was only when the rock samples were subjected to acidification to digest the matrix material that the tiny fragments of tell-tale pine tree were revealed.  Although each specimen is only a few millimetres in length they have been interpreted as being the remains of an evergreen two-needle pine.

The research is published in the journal Geological Society of America.

11 03, 2016

Fossil Reptile Discovery “Extraordinary”!

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

New Reptile Species “Just before the Dinosaurs”

The academic journal “Scientific Reports” published today contains a paper detailing the discovery of a remarkably well preserved fossil reptile, one that existed not long after the End Permian mass extinction event.  The fossil, an amazing and nearly complete skull described by the scientists as “extraordinary” plus some cervical vertebrae (neck bones) provides an important link between primitive reptiles and the Archosauriforms that gave rise to modern crocodiles, the Pterosauria, Aves and of course the dinosaurs.

The 1.5 metre long reptile, probably filled an ecological niche similar to today’s smaller crocodile species.  Ambushing smaller vertebrates as they came down to the water’s edge to drink.  It may also have hunted amphibians and fish in the shallows.  Named Teyujagua paradoxa the fossil material comes from the Sanga do Cabral Formation located in the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul in the far south of the country.

The Skull of Teyujagua paradoxa

Scale bar = 5 centimetres.

Scale bar = 5 centimetres.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The picture above shows three views of the “extraordinary” skull right lateral view (top), dorsal view (middle) and left lateral view (bottom).  Scale bar equals five centimetres.

The fossil material was discovered early last year by a field team from the Paleobiology Laboratory of the Universidade Federal do Pampa (Brazil), the genus name means “fierce lizard” in the local dialect of the  Guarani, a name inspired by a mythological and magical beast called Teyú Yaguá.  The species name “paradoxa”, from the Greek for paradox or unexpected, denotes the fact that the fossils show an unusual combination of primitive and more advanced, derived characteristics.

An Illustration of Skull of “Fierce Lizard” Teyujagua paradoxa

Teyujagua skull drawing (right lateral view).

Teyujagua skull drawing (right lateral view).

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The teeth particularly those of the maxilla are large, serrated and curved, the teeth of a carnivore.  The large orbit (eye socket) and the position of the nostrils suggest that this animal could lie in wait for prey under water with only its nostrils above the surface of the water, a typical predatory strategy adopted by many crocodiles today.  The authors of the report state that this fossil find is significant as Teyujagua lived just after the Permian-Triassic extinction event, a mass extinction event that wiped out 90% of all terrestrial vertebrates.  Teyujagua provides new insights into how ecosystems on land recovered and developed following this extinction.  After the extinction, terrestrial ecosystems were sparsely populated, providing opportunities for some groups of survivors to expand in number and diversity.  Archosauriforms and their close kin like Teyujagua became the dominant animals in terrestrial habitats, eventually giving rise to the Dinosauria.

An Artist’s Reconstruction of Teyujagua

A 250 million-year-old reptile.

A 250 million-year-old reptile.

Picture Credit: Voltaire Neto

Dr Felipe Pinheiro, from Universidade Federal do Pampa, São Gabriel, Rio Grande do Sul and the corresponding author for the scientific paper stated:

‘The discovery of Teyujagua was really exciting.  Ever since we saw that beautiful skull for the first time in the field, still mostly covered by rock, we knew we had something extraordinary in our hands.  Back in the lab, after slowly exposing the bones, the fossil exceeded our expectations.  It had a combination of features never seen before, indicating the unique position of Teyujagua in the evolutionary tree of an important group of vertebrates.’

Although, it is difficult to precisely date the Sanga do Cabral Formation, the fossils have been dated based on faunal comparisons with the Karoo Basin deposits of South Africa.  The scientists infer that Teyujagua dates from the Induan to the early Olenekian faunal stage of the Early Triassic (around 251-249 million years ago).  Along with the skull and cervical vertebrae of T. paradoxa, the field team excavated fossil material associated with the parareptile Procolophon trigoniceps along with Temnospondyl amphibians and a number of as yet unidentified Tetrapod bones.

Dr Richard Butler, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who also co-authored the scientific paper commented:

‘Teyujagua is a really important discovery because it helps us understand the origins of a group of vertebrates called Archosauriforms.  Archosauriforms are spectacularly diverse and include everything from hummingbirds and crocodiles to giant dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex and Brachiosaurus.  Teyujagua fills an evolutionary gap between Achosauriforms and more primitive reptiles and helps us understand how the Archosauriform skull first evolved.”

The Teyujagua quarry is still being excavated and the researchers are confident that they will find more Teyujagua fossil material along with some more, and perhaps equally “extraordinary” Tetrapods.

10 03, 2016

How to Tell a Girl T. rex from a Boy T. rex

By | March 10th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Chemical Analysis to Identify Medullary Bone in the Dinosauria

Chemical analysis to help identify medullary bone preserved in the femur of a Tyrannosaurus rex from the Museum of the Rockies may help scientists to probe deeper into the evolutionary relationship between living Archosaurs (birds and crocodiles) and their extinct near relatives the Dinosauria.  Using a chemical test to identify the tell-tale traces of keratan sulphate (a long-chain, complex molecule), a component unique to medullary bone, scientists may be able to shed more light on the evolution of egg laying in extant Aves (birds) as well as having the handy side-effect of being able to tell the girl dinosaurs from the boys.

An Illustration of a Gravid Tyrannosaurus rex

An illustration of a gravid T. rex.  Medullary bone chemical analysis provides new data on egg laying evolution.

An illustration of a gravid T. rex. Medullary bone chemical analysis provides new data on egg laying evolution.

Picture Credit: Mark Hallett

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have confirmed the presence of medullary bone in the thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex from Montana.  Amongst the scientists who authored a paper on this study, is Dr. Mary Schweitzer (Department of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University), who has caused much scientific controversy over her research into the possibility of recovering organic remains from long extinct creatures.

For example, last December Everything Dinosaur reported on a remarkable piece of research that provided evidence of the preservation of blood vessels within the fossilised bones of a duck-billed dinosaur.  To read about this fascinating study: Duck-billed Dinosaur Blood

The Importance of Medullary Bone

Medullary bone is laid down within the bones of female birds immediate prior to or during the egg laying period.  Medullary bone has been detected in virtually all extant bird species (with the possible exception of some Passarines).  The bone is produced quickly and provides a mobile source of calcium for the building of egg shells.  The easy to identify bone (it has a very different internal structure compared to other bone types and tends to be less dense), has a high preservation potential within the fossil record due to the high levels of the mineral calcium within the bone tissue.  Medullary bone has not been detected in those other near dinosaur relatives the Crocodilians.  This suggests that the ability build up a reserve of calcium for egg-laying and to rapidly reabsorb the minerals once the reproductive need had been met, evolved in the Avemetatarsalia, one of two clades into which all Archosaurs are classified.  The Avemetatarsalia include modern birds and dinosaurs, the other Archosaur clade (Crurotarsi) includes the Crocodilians, it can be suggested that in the Crurotarsi medullary bone did not evolve.

As dinosaurs also laid eggs, then if medullary bone-like material is preserved in the fossil record then it can be deduced that those bone fossils that contain physical evidence of this specialised bone must represent females.

Chemical Analysis Supports Earlier Findings

Back in 2005, Dr. Schweitzer published a paper describing the research into medullary bone found in a 68 million year old partial T. rex femur (MOR 1125).  However, her findings were not entirely accepted by the majority of the scientific community.

Dr. Schweitzer explained:

“All the evidence we had at the time pointed to this tissue being medullary bone, but there are some bone diseases that occur in birds, like osteopetrosis, that can mimic the appearance of medullary bone under the microscope. So to be sure we needed to do chemical analysis of the tissue.”

If the physical evidence could be backed up by further testing to identify without doubt medullary bone then that would be a great step forward.  These researchers have taken up this challenge and using monoclonal antibodies they have identified a chemical signature that relates to the presence of keratan sulphate within the fossil material.   It had been previously thought that none of the original chemistry of dinosaur bone would survive millions of years.  However, comparative tests using known medullary tissue from ostriches and chickens confirmed their analysis.  The team conclude that the tissue from the femur of a Tyrannosaurus rex is indeed medullary bone.

CT Scan Images of Femur (MOR 1125) Showing Differences Between Medullary (MB) and Cortical Bone (CB)

Medullary bone identified in Tyrannosaurus rex femur.

Medullary bone identified in Tyrannosaurus rex femur.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The picture above shows various CT scans of the femur bone from the study.  Medullary bone is identified as MB, the denser cortical bone (CB) is also shown.  A-D are volumetric readings, whilst E-G show cross sections.  In pictures A and B, the high density cortical bone is rendered transparent to show the lower density medullary bone material.  Picture E shows the density as a spectrum from high density (black) to low density (white).  The bone fragment is (C, D and G) colour mapped and (F) heat mapped.  Colour mapping key: (C, D, G)  medullary bone equals orange/red and cortical bone is beige/yellow.  Heat mapping key (F) highest density is red, lowest density blue.  The sample shown in A, C, E-G is shown in cross sectional view, whereas B and D are medial views.

Dr. Schweitzer added:

“This analysis allows us to determine the gender of this fossil, and gives us a window into the evolution of egg laying in modern birds.”

It might be very difficult to find further examples of medullary bone for this type of chemical analysis in the tyrannosaurid fossil record as the transitional nature of medullary bone means that animals would only possess this type of bone within their bodies for very short periods.  However, Everything Dinosaur has reported on the finding of physical evidence to support gender identification in the Dinosauria before.

For example, in 2011 Everything Dinosaur reported on a study led by British scientists using the fossilised bones of a Stegosaur (Kentrosaurus) to establish dinosaur genders.

To read more about this research: Telling the Girl Dinosaurs from the Boys

The femur was already broken when the team from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences set about their study and most palaeontologists would not want to cut open or demineralise fossils to search for rare medullary bone, however, the ability to conduct CT scans to examine internal fossil structures would greatly improve the chances of success without having to damage the fossil material.

This new chemical detection method may help to split the girl dinosaurs from the boys.

9 03, 2016

Rebor 1:6 Scale Hatchling Velociraptors

By | March 9th, 2016|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

Rebor 1:6 Scale Velociraptor Hatchlings

The latest offering from Rebor has arrived in our warehouse and for the time being Everything Dinosaur team members are in danger of being overwhelmed by a pack of baby Velociraptors.  Rebor has added a set of nine, beautifully painted, 1:6 scale hatching Velociraptors to their blossoming product portfolio.  All of the dinosaur figures have different paint schemes and fans of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World franchise will, no doubt, be able to match a number of the figures to the various Velociraptor incarnations seen in movies.

In Stock at Everything Dinosaur the Rebor 1:6 Scale Hatchling Velociraptors

The Rebor Hatching Velociraptor set.

The Rebor Hatching Velociraptor set.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We are not too sure what the collective noun for a group of Velociraptors is, perhaps a “savage of Velociraptors” might be appropriate.  Whatever the term, Rebor have taken care to produce nine differently hand-painted models.  Not only is the skin colouration different, but there is some variation in the eye colouration and in addition, some hand-painted replicas have a vertical slit for a pupil, whilst others have a rounded pupil.

One of the 1:6 Scale Hatching Velociraptors by Rebor

A Velociraptor Hatchling by Rebor.

A Velociraptor Hatchling by Rebor.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the complete range or Rebor replicas including the new hatching Velociraptor figures: Rebor Replicas and Figures

Our chums at JurassicCollectables have produced a marvellous unboxing video which shows the models in all their glory.  In this short video review (around eight minutes in length), JurassicCollectables open a set of nine boxes in turn and provide a close up view of each replica.  At Everything Dinosaur, we have made the complete set of all nine figures available as a single purchase option, but collectors do have the opportunity to purchase models individually, should they wish to go down the mystery blind box purchase route.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The boxes are “blind”, this means that you can’t tell which Velociraptor model is inside until you actually open the box.  When sold individually, these Rebor 1:6 scale hatchling Velociraptors are a mystery blind box item.  We cannot guarantee which particular figure is in which box, we do appreciate that a number of model collectors do enjoy this aspect of collecting, never knowing quite which one of the set they are getting until the box is opened and all is revealed.”

The Unboxing Video Review by Jurassic Collectables

Video Credit: Jurassic Collectables

All of the models are depicted in the classic Velociraptor form, there are no feathers to be seen, just lots of careful attention to detail.  Each model comes with its own stand so that the hatching Velociraptor can be displayed.  We are confident these little figures will prove to be very popular and we look forward to receiving comments from customers as they go about identifying their brood.

Check out the YouTube channel of Jurassic Collectables here: JurassicCollectables on YouTube , don’t forget to subscribe to the JurassicCollectables channel.

8 03, 2016

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2016

By | March 8th, 2016|Educational Activities, Famous Figures, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

A Blue Plaque for Mary Douglas Leakey (1913 – 1996)

Today, is International Women’s Day (March 8th), a day for recognising the role of women in our culture and society.  Within the scientific community the struggle for equality still continues, although it has drastically improved since the time of Mary Anning, Marie Stopes et al.  However, only last year, a Nobel Laureate, Sir Tim Hunt caused a substantial row when speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul (South Korea) stating that girls in the laboratory, in his opinion caused trouble.

We at Everything Dinosaur, don’t wish to enter into that particular debate, whether or not biochemists should insist on gender-segregation in the laboratory, but instead, we choose today to nominate one distinguished London born scientist for a blue plaque.  Mary Douglas Leakey (1913 to 1996), made an enormous contribution to our understanding of human evolution.  Along with her husband Louis, Mary proved that the cradle of mankind was Africa and she made some very notable scientific discoveries including a beautifully preserved specimen of a Proconsul Miocene Ape during an expedition to Lake Victoria in 1948.  Her most famous fossil discovery, is perhaps the Laetoli hominin footprints that are believed to be around 3.6 million years old.  In addition, without her meticulous research a number of other hugely significant fossil finds would not have been made and she almost single-handedly documented and mapped out the sequence of stone tools found at the Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania.

The Remarkable Mary Leakey’s Centenary was Celebrated in a Google Doodle in 2013

Celebrating the role of women in science.

Celebrating the role of women in science.

Picture Credit: Google

The Leakey Foundation and other notable institutes continues the research began by Louis and Mary Leakey and with a recent press release from English Heritage stating that only 13% of all the blue plaques in London are dedicated to women, Everything Dinosaur has today contacted English Heritage to propose that Mary Leakey be honoured.

It is now twenty years since the death of Mary, before a person is considered for a blue plaque at least two decades must have elapsed before a proposal can be put forward.

On International Women’s Day it seems fitting to add our voice to those who have called for this remarkable woman to be honoured with the provision of a blue plaque.

8 03, 2016

Dragons and Dinosaurs at Oasis Academy

By | March 8th, 2016|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Dragons and Dinosaurs at Oasis Academy

Oasis Academy Short Heath (Dinosaurs and Dragons)

Two Year 1 classes at Oasis Academy Short Heath (West Midlands, England) were treated to a dinosaur workshop this week.  The workshops come hot on the heels of a week of studying Chinese dragons.  The whole school seems to have got involved and when the Everything Dinosaur expert arrived and began to set up in the spacious school hall, a lot of the dragons that had been made as part of a homework challenge were on display.  What a colourful collection too!

Dragons on Display at Oasis Academy Short Heath

We are not sure what the collective noun for dragons is.

We are not sure what the collective noun for dragons is.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

There were papier mâché dragons, dragons made from egg boxes, cereal packet dragons, sock dragons even some dragons that could be hung from the ceiling like a mobile.  What a clever group of parents and pupils to make such fantastic creatures.

An Amazing Array of Fantastic Dragons

Models of dragons on display at a school.

Models of dragons on display at a school.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Year 1 children will be studying dinosaurs for the rest of the Spring Term, we wonder whether they will be able to make some models of dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs and Dragons

Although dragon myths and legends are found in a number of cultures, they are principally associated with China.  Dinosaur fossils have been discovered weathering out of rocks for thousands of years and in the past, fossil bones found in China were taken to be the remains of long dead, winged, monsters – dragons.  “Dragon bones and teeth” were prized possessions thought magical with the ability to cure all manner of ills.  It is very likely that the dragon myth came about as a result of the discovery of dinosaur fossils.

Dinosaur Fossils Probably Inspired the Dragon Myth

The dragon myth was probably inspired by dinosaur bones.

The dragon myth was probably inspired by dinosaur bones.

As part of our work with the  Year 1 children we challenged the classes to have a go at designing their very own dinosaur.  We have been promised some pictures, which we are really looking forward to.  If the dragons are anything to go by, we are in for a treat.

7 03, 2016

The Dinosaur Connection with Dragons

By | March 7th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dragons and Dinosaurs

Whilst in the West Midlands visiting Oasis Academy Short Heath to deliver a pair of dinosaur workshops, Everything Dinosaur’s fossil expert was given the opportunity to view some amazing dragon models made by pupils and parents.  The children in Year 1 at the Academy are studying dinosaurs for the remainder of the Spring Term and as part of the exciting scheme of work that had been devised for them, Everything Dinosaur had been invited into the school to provide dinosaur workshops for each class.

An area of the large and well appointed school hall used by the Breakfast Club had been made available for Everything Dinosaur to use, but a good portion of the rest of it had been dedicated to displaying some amazing dragon models that parents and pupils had made as part of a week of learning all about these mythical creatures.

Dragon Models on Display at Oasis Academy Short Heath

Dragons on display.

Dragons on display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaurs and Dragons – The Connection

Legends and stories about dragons can be found in many cultures.  However, they are principally associated with China.  It is thought that the discovery of dinosaur bones and teeth gave rise to the dragon myth.  Fossils, including those of dinosaurs, have been weathering out of rocks for millions of years.  Parts of China have particularly rich fossil deposits and it is likely that the discovery of these strange and often immense objects were explained away as being the long dead remains of dragons – how close to the truth they were!

Dragon Myth Probably Inspired by Dinosaur Fossil Finds

The dragon myth was very probably inspired by the discovery of dinosaur fossils.

The dragon myth was very probably inspired by the discovery of dinosaur fossils.

The First Documented Fossil Find

The children in Year 1, learning all about dinosaurs and fossils might hear about the discoveries made by Mary Anning, or perhaps the work on dinosaurs carried out by Sir Richard Owen or Gideon Mantell.  However, the first record of a dinosaur fossil discovery dates back more than seventeen hundred years.  The first description of a probable dinosaur fossil bone discovery can be found in a book written around 300 AD by the Chinese scholar Chang Qu.  He describes the finding of “dragon bones” at Wucheng, in what is now Sichuan Province (south-western China).

Perhaps the First Written Record of a Dinosaur Fossil Discovery

The first written record of a dinosaur fossil discovery.

The first written record of a dinosaur fossil discovery.

Sichuan Province is now famous for its dinosaur discoveries and a number of dinosaur genera have been named from fossil discoveries Theropods, armoured dinosaurs and numerous Sauropods including perhaps the most famous of all the Sichuan Province dinosaurs Shunosaurus “Sichuan Province Lizard”.

A Model of Shunosaurus (Wild Safari Prehistoric World Shunosaurus)

Available from Everything Dinosaur - Shunosaurus.

Available from Everything Dinosaur – Shunosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the complete range of Wild Safari Prehistoric Animal models including the Shunosaurus replica: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Dinosaur Models

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