All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//March
6 03, 2016

A Remarkable Window into the Mesozoic

By | March 6th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Major Jurassic and Early Cretaceous Fossil Site Announced

A team of scientists have announced the discovery of an enormous area of fossil-rich land in the highlands of southern Patagonia (Argentina), the site, which has yet to be fully explored, may extend for some sixty thousand square kilometres and as such, this location may prove to be the greatest single concentration of fossils (Lagerstätten) yet found anywhere in the world.  Lead author of the research paper published in the on line, bi-monthly, scientific journal “Ameghiniana”, Juan Garcia Massini, concludes that this huge site could provide an unprecedented amount of fossil material and provide an unparalleled view of life on Earth between 160 million and 140 million years ago.

The discovery was made back in 2012, but it has taken nearly four years for the Argentinian research team to map and plot the area and to gain an appreciation of the astonishing array of organisms preserved.

A Map of the Southern Highlands of Patagonia Showing the Hot Spring Fossil Locations

The hot spring deposits identified to date are shown in red.

The hot spring deposits identified to date are shown in red.

Picture Credit: Regional Centre for Scientific Research and Technology Transfer

For Juan Garcia Massini (Regional Centre for Scientific Research and Technology Transfer, known s CRILAR), the site is truly remarkable, he stated:

“No other place in the world contains the same amount of diversity of Jurassic fossils.”

Volcanic Hot Springs Preserve Fossils in Exquisite Detail

This region of southern Argentina was once very geologically active.  There were volcanoes and hot springs, resembling the sort of springs found in Yosemite National Park (in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California), from time to time these hot springs went into overdrive and large amounts of silica-rich, hot water erupted, covering the land.  This petrified the local fauna and flora that was not mobile enough to get out of the way.  The organisms were preserved in situ and almost instantaneously trapped as fossils.  This led to an amazing degree of preservation.  Plant remains, fungi, nematodes, insects and other Arthropods have been preserved, providing scientists with a unique window into life in the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous.

Dr. Massini explained:

“You can see the landscape as it appeared in the Jurassic—how thermal waters, lakes and streams as well as plants and other parts of the ecosystem were distributed.”

The Fossilised Compound Eye of an Insect

A beautifully preserved compound eye from an insect.

A beautifully preserved compound eye from an insect.

Picture Credit: Regional Centre for Scientific Research and Technology Transfer

The exquisite fossilised eye was found in an area of the Patagonian Highlands called La Bajada, just one of several areas identified so far to have particularly high concentrations of fossils.  By slicing the silicate rocks and polishing the exposed surface, very small fossils of the micro fauna and flora can be observed.

The area has been slowly eroded exposing the highly fossiliferous layers, providing the scientists with an almost pristine “in situ” Jurassic and Early Cretaceous landscape to study.

A Piece from a Conifer and a Nematode Worm

The remains of a sprig of a conifer (left) and a nemotode worm (right)

The remains of a sprig of a conifer (left) and a nematode worm (right)

Picture Credit: Regional Centre for Scientific Research and Technology Transfer

A large number of fossils are remarkably well preserved, the speed of petrification may have caused this, with the scientists suggesting that significant areas may have been covered by the hot springs in less than a day, preserving the area as a time capsule providing a unique window into life in the Mesozoic.

Dr. Massini added:

“You can see how fungi, cyanobacteria and worms moved when they were alive.”

The slow erosion of the layers of rock that covered the sites in the Deseado Massif mountain range has contributed to the phenomenal level of preservation.  The region has been compared to the famous Rhynie Chert sedimentary deposits of eastern Scotland, named after the nearby village of Rhynie (Aberdeenshire).  This site preserves the flora and fauna of a Devonian ecosystem that was also preserved due to the influx of hot springs inundated with silica.    These fossils are much older, dating from approximately 410 million years ago (Pragian faunal stage of the Early Devonian).  The Rhynie Lagerstätten preserves evidence of some of the very first terrestrial inhabitants, including the first land plants.

The silica-rich sediments are referred to as cherts and when sliced very thinly and studied under powerful microscopes they reveal their fossil content.  The preparation, cutting and polishing of the material will take time, the field team expect to be working on the Deseado Massif for decades as they gradually build up an extremely detailed and unique picture of life in the Mesozoic.

5 03, 2016

Lizards Preserved in Amber

By | March 5th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Lizards in Amber – A Window into a “Lost World”

Whilst much attention is focused on the Dinosauria when it comes to the fauna and flora of the Mesozoic, many scientists are busy piecing together the evolutionary relationships of a number of smaller reptiles, those creatures such as lizards that shared the world of the dinosaurs but so very little fossil evidence to indicate their existence has been preserved.  Thanks to a new study of amber from Myanmar (Burma), undertaken by researchers based in the United States and Germany, a glimpse into a “lost world” has been permitted.

Mid Cretaceous Amber Preserves the Lizard Remains

Affording a rare insight into small creatures of the Cretaceous.

Affording a rare insight into small creatures of the Cretaceous.

Picture Credit: Science Advances

The picture above shows some of the beautifully preserved lizard fossils in the Burmese amber (known as burmite). The fossil collection has been collated, some from American museums, many other pieces from private collections and they provide a record of the fauna and flora of a sub-tropical forest some 99 million years ago.

Key

(A) Lizard (body cavity empty, epidermis translucent)

(B) Lizard (epidermis translucent, hind leg preserved with bones)

(C) Lizard (intact specimen, with some tissue preserved)

(D) Lizard (skin and scales with some internal organs and bones)

(E)  Stem Gekkota (ancestral to modern Geckos, hind legs, pelvic area and tail base preserved

(F) Stem Gekkota (manus including bones and impressions of toe pads)

(G) Stem Gekkota (skull material and spine with disarticulated limb and pelvic bones)

(H) Agamidae (left hind leg, including epidermis)

(I) Agamidae (translucent epidermis, pelvic with elements of the left limb and pes)

(J) Lacertoidea (skeletal elements preserved as internal casts and integument)

(K) Stem Chamaeleonidae (ancestral Chameleon with most of the skeleton preserved

Scale bar 1 cm for all photographs except (F) which has a scale bar of 0.1 mm and (I) with a scale bar of 1 mm.

Writing in the open access journal “Science Advances” the scientists from Sam Houston State University (Texas), the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Florida Museum of Natural History along with researchers from the California Academy of Sciences and the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (Munich, Germany), have shed fresh light on the evolution and radiation of the Squamata.  Ancestral forms of the Chameleon and Gecko families have been identified along with other lizard specimens that relate to the agamids.

Commenting on the study, one of the researchers, Dr. Edward Stanley (Florida Museum of Natural History) stated:

“The fossilised amber provides a view into a lost world, revealing that the tropics of the Mid-Cretaceous contained a diverse lizard fauna.”

Oldest Lizard Assemblage Preserved in Amber

It is rare for such small creatures to be preserved as fossils.  The specimens represent the oldest lizard assemblage preserved in amber known.  In all, the twelve fossils preserve fine details of soft tissue and bone, allowing the scientists to gain a better understanding of how unique adaptations such as the sucker-like feet of the Gecko evolved.  The fossil material was all collected from northern Myanmar (Kachin Province) and zircon crystals recovered from sediments in the Burmese amber outcrops that have been radiometrically dated indicate an age of around 99 million years.  This places the age of the amber very close to the boundary between the Early and the Late Cretaceous (Albian-Cenomanian stage boundary).

Such is the degree of preservation that the scientists were able to obtain a great deal of information from the amber nodules.

Professor Juan Daza (Sam Houston State University) explained:

“We can pretty much see how the animals looked when they were alive.  They [the fossils] provide a really nice snapshot of the past.  To me it is like going back in time and doing a lizard collecting trip when we can see what these animals looked like.”

CT Scans and High Resolution Images Reveal Remarkable Detail

Exquisite detail.

Exquisite detail.

Picture Credit: Science Advances

 

The amber (fossilised tree resin), provides a fascinating insight into some of the smaller organisms that lived alongside the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous.  Fungi, plant remains including pollen and fern spores plus many different types of invertebrate remains have been identified from burmite.

For example, last year Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a remarkably well preserved Cretaceous cockroach found in amber from northern Myanmar.

To read about this discovery: Cretaceous Cockroach – Deadly Nocturnal Predator

The detailed preservation of the lizard fossils permits scientists to identify characteristics helping to define and reassess the phylogenetic relationships between different groups.  It has also given the researchers a surprise.  The highly sophisticated projectile tongue, a characteristic of Chameleons has been identified in one of the specimens (K).  The lizard in question, has been assigned to a basal position in the Chameleon family, the presence of the highly modified tongue suggests that this anatomical feature evolved very early on in these lizards, whereas, the absence in the fossil of those modified tree-grasping fused toes, indicates that the fused toes evolved much later.

4 03, 2016

Year 1 and Dinosaurs

By | March 4th, 2016|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Year 1 and Dinosaurs

Mobberley Primary School and Dinosaurs

It was a big day today for the children in Key Stage 1 at Mobberley C.E. Primary!  Not only was the entire school celebrating World Book Day but Year 1 had a special morning of dinosaur themed teaching activities to help kick-start their term topic all about prehistoric animals.  The workshop we delivered was designed to link into the scheme of work that had been put together by the class teacher with the help and support of the teaching assistants.  Learning all about dinosaurs and animals that lived in the past provides plenty of opportunities for both fiction and non-fiction writing and the eager, young palaeontologists from Year 1 demonstrated lots of amazing pre-knowledge.  Rufus was able to identify Ankylosaurus and Zack explained how Ammonites used gas to help them float around in the sea.  The girls got in on the fun too.  They learned a “super fact” all about T. rex that made their day.

Digging for Dinosaurs in the Classroom

Year 1 children explore dinosaurs.

Year 1 children explore dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Mobberley C. E. Primary School

 We provided some extension ideas to help support confidence with numbers and challenged Miss Dalton to learn the Mary Anning tongue twister that we emailed across.  There was even a special “dinosaur dig” area in the classroom (thanks for telling us about this fantastic teaching resource Mrs CardenDoorey).  Using paintbrushes, the children could have a go at brushing away the sand to find the dinosaur skeleton.  We wonder what it might be a herbivore, a carnivore or even an omnivore?

Miss Stephenson, (dressed as Mary Poppins for World Book Day), was asked to identify a special object.  It was a good job her class had some super listening skills, so that they could help her with this task.  Even Mary Poppins would have struggled with some of the names of dinosaurs, they can be very long and difficult to say, but not as long or as difficult as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye, but our dinosaur expert did set the children some “pinkie palaeontologist challenges” such as could they draw a dinosaur and label its body parts, including the dinosaur’s skull?

4 03, 2016

Partial Femur Hints at Large Abelisaurid

By | March 4th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Massive Abelisaurid from Morocco

A partial femur (thigh bone) found in Morocco has provided palaeontologists with yet more evidence of the amazing diversity of Theropod dinosaurs that flourished in North Africa during the Middle Cretaceous.  The fossil, measuring around 33 centimetres in length has been identified as coming from a large abelisaurid.  Based on thigh bone comparisons with better known Abelisauridae, dinosaurs such as Carnotaurus and Ekrixinatosaurus (both from the Late Cretaceous of Argentina), scientists have estimated that this meat-eating dinosaur measured around nine metres in length and may have weighed as much as two tonnes.

The Partial Femur of the New Dinosaur

Various view of a abelisaurid dinosaur femur from Morocco.

Various view of a abelisaurid dinosaur femur from Morocco.

Picture Credit: PeerJ.com

The picture above shows various views of the partial dinosaur thigh bone.

Key

(A) a proximal view, that portion of the femur that would articulate with the hip region.

(B) an anterior view, the view of the front side of the bone.

(C) a medial view.

(D) a posterior view, a view of the rear side of the bone.

(E) the lateral view.

(F) a distal view, the part of the thigh bone that would be furthest away from the trunk of the animal, that part of the bone closest to the lower leg bones.  Please note, the scale is different for picture (F).

The scale bar (white bar) is five centimetres.  Abbreviations gt, greater trochanter; iMie, insertion for the Musculus iliofemoralis externus (a muscle and subsequent muscle scar); fn, femoral neck; s, shallow sulcus.

The fossil is part of the collection at the Geological Museum in Palermo (Italy) and a paper on the femur has just been published in the on line, open access journal (PeerJ).  The scientific paper has been co-authored by PhD student Andrea Cau of Bologna University and fellow PhD student Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza (Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London).

An Illustration of a Typical Abelisaurid Theropod Dinosaur

A scale drawing of a typical abelisaur (Rugops)

A scale drawing of a typical abelisaur (Rugops primus)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Stromer’s Riddle”

The fossil is from the Kem Kem Formation of Morocco, that part of the deposit that has been dated to the Cenomanian faunal stage or the Cretaceous (Cenomanian faunal stage around  100 million to 93.5 million years ago approximately).  The beginning of the Cenomanian marks the start of the Late Cretaceous as defined by the International Commission on Stratigraphy.  The scientific paper concludes that the abelisaurids had indeed reached their largest body size by the “Middle Cretaceous” and that Abelisaurs did co-exist with a number of other gigantic Theropods in Africa during this time.

The number of different types of meat-eating dinosaur all living together in Africa during this part of the Cretaceous has posed a puzzle for palaeontologists.  The puzzle is named after Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach, the German palaeontologist who first brought North African dinosaurs to prominence.  Spinosaurids, members of the Ceratosauria clade (Deltadromeus), Carcharodontosauridae dinosaurs and abelisaurids all seem to have been present in this part of the world.  The researchers examine this phenomenon and using comparisons with Theropod lineages from South America, they deduce that these large super-predators probably did not overlap, with a number occupying different niches in the food chain, or living in different habitats.  Niche partitioning did very probably occur, however, studies of the skulls and teeth between abelisaurids and the carcharodontosaurids such as the mighty Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis indicates that these types of dinosaurs did probably compete directly for resources.

Further fossil finds and more research will need to be undertaken before a better understanding of the interactions between these Theropods can be achieved.

3 03, 2016

JurassicCollectables Review Dimetrodon

By | March 3rd, 2016|Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Schleich Dimetrodon under the Spotlight

Those clever people at JurassicCollectables have produced a video review of the new for 2016 Dimetrodon replica by Schleich.  Under the brand umbrella “First Giants”, Schleich have introduced two models so far this year, the blue-coloured Dilophosaurus was recently reviewed and now the second of the replicas in this series, the Dimetrodon has been scrutinised.

The Review of the Dimetrodon Model (Schleich) by JurassicCollectables

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

In this brief video (it is a little over six minutes in length), a tour of the model is provided with commentary on the fantastic detail, especially those saggy skin folds and scales that makes this pelycosaur look so reptilian.  Quite a remarkable feat of model making by the design team at Schleich, they really do seem to have captured the essence of this bygone predator.  Particular attention is given to the paint job of the head and jaws (the lower jaw is articulated, like a number of other Schleich models).  The palate is well painted and shows some nice touches and those heterodont teeth are carefully weathered to give the model a touch of realism.  After all, depicting Dimetrodon with uniform teeth, just wouldn’t do.

Dimetrodon – “Two Form Tooth”

This Permian predator was not closely related to the dinosaurs and birds.  It is often described as a “mammal-like reptile”, or, to be more technically accurate a “stem mammal” or a “non-mammalian synapsid”.  These reptiles were part of the evolutionary lineage that gave rise to modern mammals and that includes us.  The Dimetrodon genus was named by the famous American palaeontologist Edward Drinker Cope and a number of species are now known, they all had different sized and different shaped teeth in their jaws.

A Close Up of the Jaws of the Schleich Dimetrodon

The jaws of the Schleich Dimetrodon.

The jaws of the Schleich Dimetrodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Schleich have taken care to ensure that different sized teeth are depicted in the jaws (incisors and caniniforms at the front of the jaws), with smaller teeth towards the back of the mouth.  The notch located in the upper jaw in front of the premaxilla, typical of this family (Sphenacodontidae), can be clearly seen in the model.

To view more prehistoric animal reviews on the YouTube channel and to subscribe to JurassicCollectables: JurassicCollectables YouTube Channel

“First Giants”

Although included in a range entitled “First Giants”, it is worth remembering that there were many large terrestrial vertebrates prior to the evolution of Dimetrodon, indeed, amongst the dozen of so species of Dimetrodon named, a number were relatively small, and most certainly, not all of them were apex predators.  However, having made this point, it is great to see a video review of this famous sail-backed reptile.  The narrator draws comparisons between this Schleich model and the Dimetrodon replica introduced by Papo back in 2013.  Everything Dinosaur produced their own video review of the Papo Dimetrodon, to view the video: Papo Dimetrodon Reviewed by Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Schleich Dimetrodon and other prehistoric animals in the Schleich model range: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Replicas

2 03, 2016

Everything Dinosaur Newsletter March 1st

By | March 2nd, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

E-news from Everything Dinosaur

The latest e-news was sent out by Everything Dinosaur to its customer database and subscriber lists yesterday.  Call them “updates”, “shouts”, “bulletins” or whatever, we intend to send out a newsletter to our fans, customers and subscribers ever fourteen days.  So much is going on inside the company these days, a more frequent mailing might be more appropriate, but for the time being we will limit our mail shots to one every two weeks.   After all, we always respond to customer requests, emails and letters, so we are always doing our best to keep everyone up to date with developments.

Our newsletters are being rolled out in response to increasing requests from customers and dinosaur fans in general to be kept informed regarding new models and other product developments at Everything Dinosaur.  The newsletter for March 1st featured information on the new for 2016 Safari Ltd dinosaur models, last minute support for grown-ups as they prepare for World Book Day, plus news of an exciting feathered dinosaur exhibition coming to the UK next year.

The March 1st “E-zine” from Everything Dinosaur

Keeping dinosaur and fossil fans up to date.

Keeping dinosaur and fossil fans up to date.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Feathered Dinosaurs, Notebooks and Glyptodonts

The newsletter also featured details about a super dinosaur notebook that has been added to our “back to school” range of products.  This is bound to get young dinosaur fans roaring with excitement.  It is great for school and it will, no doubt, encourage junior palaeontologists with their handwriting.  Details on the feathered dinosaur exhibition is provided along with news of prehistoric mammal model re-issues, (that Glyptodont, the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Doedicurus, for example).

It’s not just dinosaurs at Everything Dinosaur, we stock prehistoric mammals too: Prehistoric Mammals

Like all of Everything Dinosaur’s commercial activities, subscribers to our newsletter have to opt in to receive the information.   The customer database is very well maintained and team members dedicate quite a considerable portion of their time to ensuring the data provided by customers is secure and up to date.

If readers of this blog would like to subscribe, then you have to give us your permission, this can be done by contacting Everything Dinosaur by email: Contact Everything Dinosaur

If you send us an email requesting to be added to our e-news database, then we shall add you to our subscriber list.  It would be helpful if you provided us with your name and surname this will enable our team members to personalise the correspondence.

Everything Dinosaur and JurassicCollectables

Readers of our newsletter were also informed about Everything Dinosaur’s working relationship with the video makers JurassicCollectables.  A partnership which will provide  our customers and fans with access to the amazing JurassicCollectables video portfolio, via our own social media channels.

New for 2016 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models Take Centre Stage in the March 1st Newsletter

New dinosaur models for 2016.

New dinosaur models for 2016.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our next newsletter is due out in the middle of March and we are also planning our Easter edition (end March).

If blog readers would like to subscribe, then all you have to do is to drop us an email: Contact Everything Dinosaur

1 03, 2016

Wild Safari Prehistoric Mammals

By | March 1st, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Welcoming Back Old Friends (Prehistoric Mammal Models)

Those clever people at Safari Ltd have re-introduced a number of prehistoric mammal models into their Wild Safari Prehistoric World model range.  The models, had previously been retired but with the demise of the Carnegie Collectibles collection and the stopping of production of these scale models, Safari Ltd have decided to make available once again four mammals, namely: Amebelodon, the Giant Ground Sloth (Megatherium), the baby Woolly Mammoth and Doedicurus (a Glyptodont).

Welcoming Back Old Friends – Prehistoric Mammal Models 

Wild Safari Prehistoric World mammals.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World mammals.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The hand-painted Glyptodont arrived in stock at Everything Dinosaur around Christmas time, the Doedicurus model has now been joined in our warehouse by the other three re-introduced prehistoric mammal models.  Although the sculpts are the same, the paint work on the models is slightly different.  This is most notable on the Doedicurus and the Amebelodon figures.  The Doedicurus has a little more silver paint on the toes and dermal armour (osteoderms and scutes), than the earlier version of this South American giant which has been identified as an extinct member of the armadillo family.

To read a recent article from Everything Dinosaur that explains the research into Glyptodont ancestry: Doedicurus DNA Solves Puzzle Over Glyptodont Ancestry

Updating the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Amebelodon

The new version of the Amebelodon is quite a lot different from the original Wild Safari Prehistoric World Amebelodon replica.

Everything Dinosaur customer and keen prehistoric animal model collector Mr R. Chan, explained:

“There are two versions, the retired version and the 2016 version.  The retired one has painted toes and tail hair, a grey paint job and some weathering on the tusks.  The newer version, has a more brownish colouration and has no paint on the toes or tail hair.”

Our thanks to Mr Chan for providing such a helpful explanation.

The New for 2016 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Amebelodon Model

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Amebelodon (2016)

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Amebelodon (2016)

Picture Credit: Safari Ltd

To view Everything Dinosaur’s range of Wild Safari Prehistoric World models and the remaining stocks of the Carnegie Collectibles range of scale prehistoric animal models, click this link: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Carnegie Collectibles

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