All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
22 06, 2016

JurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor “Sentry”

By | June 22nd, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

A Review of the Rebor Compsognathus “Sentry” by JurassicCollectables

Those clever people at JurassicCollectables have just published a video unboxing and review of the Rebor Compsognathus model “Sentry”.  In this informative five minute video, the Compsognathus replica and the accompanying dragonfly model (Protolindenia) are reviewed in turn and then a number of other Rebor replicas are featured demonstrating how many of the Rebor models can be customised to make intriguing dioramas.

Jurassic Collectables Reviews the 1:6 Scale Rebor Compsognathus “Sentry”

Video credit: JurassicCollectables

JurassicCollectables have produced video reviews of a number of prehistoric animal models that Rebor have made, to see these videos and to subscribe to their excellent YouTube channel: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Rebor “Sentry” Compsognathus 1:6 Scale Replica

The narrator compares this 1:6 scale replica of this Jurassic dinosaur to the compsognathids that were depicted in the second of the Jurassic Park movies “The Lost World”, which came out in 1997 and was the second highest grossing movie that year behind Titanic.  In the film, the small but agile compsognathids are social animals that live in a flock and they attack a young girl before gaining even more notoriety by fatally attacking one of the InGen team members Dieter Stark, played by Peter Stormare.  It seems that in the “Lost World” even tiny dinosaurs can be extremely dangerous when they are hungry.

One of the Compsognathus Dinosaurs from the Film “The Lost World”

A young girl encounters Compsognathus

One of the compsognathid dinosaurs from “The Lost World” film (1997).

Picture Credit: Universal Pictures

The compsognathids from the film have certainly inspired the model makers at Rebor.  Their compsognathids “Sentry” and the four model set “Bad Company” due to be reviewed by JurassicCollectables shortly, are very similar to those seen in the movie.  In the video review, the narrator points out several similarities and there is much to be admired about this Rebor 1:6 scale replica.

To view the complete range of Rebor replicas including the new “Sentry” and “Bad Company” Compsognathus figures: Rebor Replicas and Figures

One of the Compsognathus 1:6 Scale Replicas from Rebor

Rebor 1:6 scale Compsognathus model

One of the amazing Compsognathus models from Rebor available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We have been most impressed with the Compsognathus models made by Rebor.  It is rare to see such fine detail in a dinosaur model and they really are exquisite.  The video review from JurassicCollectables permits viewers to get a good close up view of a potential purchase, to view the model before deciding to buy.  It is great to see the dragonfly component also sharing the limelight, this is a wonderful model and it demonstrates the care and attention to detail that Rebor have instilled into their production process.”

JurassicCollectables show a number of ways in which components from “Sentry” can be combined with other replicas in the Rebor range.  Elements from “Sentry” are shown with “Melon”, the baby Stegosaurus in the Scout series as well as with the Dimorphodon pair (Punch and Judy) and the base from the “Savage” Ceratosaurus 1:35 scale model.

Both the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel and the Rebor replicas are highly recommended.

21 06, 2016

Class 1 and Class 2 Explore Dinosaurs

By | June 21st, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

A Return Visit to Thorpe Hesley Primary School

A busy morning for Everything Dinosaur, as one of their team members made a return visit to Thorpe Hesley Primary (Rotherham, south Yorkshire), to work with the two classes of Year 1 children who have been spending the summer term learning all about dinosaurs.  This is a topic that the children in previous years have covered, one of the classrooms had a wonderful paper mâché Triceratops on display.

A Large Model of a Triceratops on Display in the Classroom

A big dinosaur model made by Year 1 children.

A Triceratops on display.

Picture Credit: Thorpe Hesley Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

In the tidy and well appointed classrooms, the enthusiastic teaching team had been preparing a range of very creative activities for the budding palaeontologists to try on their special dinosaur day.  Our workshops aimed to reinforce learning as well as to introduce different types of dinosaurs to the children.  Could they remember all the dinosaur facts?

Handling Fossils

The children in Class 1 and Class 2 (Key Stage 1), had the opportunity to handle fossils and their super quick reactions ensured that both classes won some dinosaur stickers.  We look forward to seeing how the pupils got on with the “design a dinosaur challenge” that we set them, can they label all the body parts including the skull?  We noted that an area of one classroom had been set aside so that a special dinosaur museum could be created, we think this would be a great place to exhibit some of the children’s prehistoric animal themed work.

Lots of Dinosaur Habitats on Show in the Classrooms

Year 1 children explore dinosaur habitats.

Exploring dinosaur habitats.

Picture Credit: Thorpe Hesley Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Herbivores and Carnivores

We looked at herbivores and carnivores and explored how many Year 1 children could fit inside the tummy of a really big dinosaur.  In addition, the extra resources our dinosaur expert provided should help the children gain confidence with numbers as a couple of the extension exercises involve measuring and counting.  We even spotted some dinosaurs in the play area used by the Nursery.  Our dinosaur expert felt quite at home with all the dinosaurs and prehistoric animal themed displays at the school.

Spotting Dinosaurs in the Nursery Play Area

Three dinosaurs in a triangle shape.

A triangle shape filled with dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Thorpe Hesley Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

That is a lovely group of plant-eating dinosaurs, can the children name them?

Sadly, all too soon our time was up and it was lunch.  The children had lots of questions and we did not have time to answer them all, so with the permission of the teaching team we challenged the children to write us a thank you letter and if they did, they could include a question if they wanted.  We made a “pinkie palaeontologist” promise to read them all.  As the summer term progresses, soon it will be time for sports day, we sported some equipment close by to the well-stocked resources cupboard and we wondered could the children be using dinosaur eggs for the egg and spoon race?

Could the Children Use Dinosaur Eggs for the Egg and Spoon Race?

Preparing for the dinosaur egg and spoon race

Dinosaur eggs for the egg and spoon race?

Picture Credit: Thorpe Hesley Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Glad we were able to help the children explore prehistoric animals with a dinosaur themed workshop.

20 06, 2016

Very Big Dinosaurs Bring Very Big Problems

By | June 20th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio Expansion Plans

The Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio (Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio), located in the city of Trelew in the Chubut Province of Patagonia (Argentina), has announced plans to expand.  Expansion is needed as this regional museum is going to be home to the world’s largest dinosaur, a Titanosaur whose fossilised remains featured in the BBC/National Geographic documentary “Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur” which aired in January this year.

The museum was founded in 1990 and to begin with it operated with just three employees and a relatively small collection, however, after a number of important fossil discoveries in the area, the museum’s catalogue has increased substantially.  The 2011 discovery of the fossilised remains of seven giant, herbivorous dinosaurs at a location nick-named the “graveyard of giants”, really helped to put the city of Trelew and its museum on the map and in a press release, communications and marketing director Florencia Gigena explained that the cohort of scientists would increase to sixty-five by 2020.

Filming the Fossil Dig for the Documentary Programme

The giant Titanosaur dig site.

Filming the documentary “Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur”.

Picture Credit: Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio

A Giant Hall for a Giant Dinosaur

The museum intends to greatly enlarge its current exhibition space and to build an adjoining university campus that will accommodate up to twenty students.  This will help with preparation work and provide a ready source of willing volunteers for field work as well as giving the students the opportunity to work in close association with a commercial museum.  In addition, a giant hall will be constructed to house the Titanosaur exhibit.  The American Museum of Natural History (New York), already has an enormous replica of the largest Titanosaur from the fossil quarry.  This exhibit measures thirty-seven metres in length.  It is so large that part of the head and neck of the American mount sticks out of the main gallery.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio

Sir David Attenborough prepares for the next take.

Behind the scenes during the Titanosaur filming.

Picture Credit: Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio

The picture above shows, presenter Sir David Attenborough and the film crew preparing to film the giant 2.4 metre long thigh bone (femur) of the giant Titanosaur.  With so many Titanosaur fossil bones to study, (over two hundred), the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio had to expand, the existing facilities were simply not large enough to house the fossils of a dinosaur that could have weighed as much as a dozen African elephants.

To read more about the Titanosaur fossil discovery: Biggest Dinosaur of All – A New South American Contender!

To learn more about the Titanosaur documentary: Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur

Giant Titanosaur Needs a Name

The giant Titanosaur has yet to be formally described and no genus name has been erected yet.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained that a scientific paper on this remarkable fossil find was likely to be published soon and that the name of this new dinosaur would probably reflect the local area in which the fossils were found.  As part of the company’s outreach work in schools, Everything Dinosaur sets a challenge to school children to try and work out a name for this massive, plant-eating Cretaceous reptile.

To view an article about our work with schools and this giant Titanosaur: Biggest Dinosaur Needs a Name

Everything Dinosaur staff have been lucky enough to visit the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio, it is a splendid regional museum and it houses more than giant titanosaurid fossils.  For example, the museum sets out to tell the story of life on Earth and as well as a very diverse collection of dinosaur fossils from Patagonia, the museum is also home to a range of Palaeozoic specimens including ancient insects.  The Cenozoic is well represented too, with a number of excellent examples of Pleistocene mammals on display.

Everything Dinosaur is delighted to hear of the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio expansion and we wish this wonderful museum every success.

19 06, 2016

Did Dinosaurs Make Good Fathers?

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

Doting Dinosaur Dads?

Today, Sunday 19th June, is Father’s Day in the United Kingdom, a day to celebrate dads and fatherhood.  This led team members at Everything Dinosaur to discuss whether there was any evidence to suggest that male dinosaurs made good parents.  We suspect fishing trips and long walks down by the river were not part of being a father for the Dinosauria (although one could excuse us the thought that some baryonchids, as fish-eaters, might have indulged in this), but is there any evidence in the fossil record to support the hypothesis that males helped raise their young?  Has palaeontology shed some light on whether or not male dinosaurs assisted in raising a family?  Surprisingly, a number of research papers have been published that explore the evidence to see if male dinosaurs were doting dads.

Did Dinosaurs Make Good Dads?

Dinosaur Nest Found in Patagonia

Did dinosaur males play an active role in looking after the nest?

Picture Credit: Gabriel Lio

Modern Birds Can Provide a Clue

By looking at the parental behaviours of modern birds, scientists can perhaps get an insight into the parental behaviours of members of the Dinosauria.  For example, in extant birds (neornithes), the male parent sits on the nest and incubates the eggs in around 90% of species.  Scientists from Montana State University examined the fossilised bones of three different types of Cretaceous Theropod dinosaurs, fossils of which had been found in association with nests of their own kind.  The dinosaurs in question, the troodontid Troodon formosus along with two oviraptorids Oviraptor philoceratops and Citipati osmolskae showed no evidence of medullary bone in the fossils.  In order to produce eggshells, females need a source of phosphorous and calcium.  These minerals are sourced from their own bones.  Specialised tissue is formed inside the bones during female ovulation.  This bone (called medullary bone), provides the minerals for the eggshells.  Once egg laying has finished then this tissue is reabsorbed but it leaves clearly identifiable cavities in the bone for some time.  If these cavities are detected in fossil bone, then this is a strong indication that the bones you are studying are from a girl.

Medullary Bone Identified in a Tyrannosaurus rex

Medullary bone identified in Tyrannosaurus rex femur.

Medullary bone identified in Tyrannosaurus rex femur.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The Montana State University team looked at the Theropod dinosaur bones in a bid to find the tell-tale medullary cavities, they found none and concluded that the fossil bones associated with the dinosaur nests were probably male.  It could be assumed that close association with the nest and eggs indicated some role in the brooding process, parental behaviour from a daddy dinosaur.

Commenting on the conclusions drawn from this 2008 study, one of the researchers Dr. David Varricchio explained:

“Paternal care in both troodontids and oviraptorids indicates that this care system evolved before the emergence of birds and represents birds’ ancestral condition”.

Difficult to Infer Behaviour from the Fossil Record

A number of scientists have challenged the conclusions drawn from this research.  It is difficult to infer behaviour from, what is a highly fragmentary fossil record.  For example, other papers have assessed the size of dinosaur egg clutches and compared them to living birds to see if further clues about parental responsibilities amongst the dinosaurs could be inferred.  How dependent hatchlings were from birth is also a factor to be considered.  A study from the University of Lincoln undertaken in 2013, suggested that most Theropods exhibited precociality (hatchlings are born relatively mature and exhibit a high degree of independence from their parents).

To read more about the University of Lincoln research: Doting dinosaur dads might not be the case

18 06, 2016

Were the Very First Snakes Marine Animals?

By | June 18th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Research on Ancestral Snake Suggests Marine Origins

Scientists from the University of Alberta (Canada), in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Toronto Mississauga, as well as with researchers from a number of academic institutions in Australia, have published a new paper on the primordial fossil snake Tetrapodophis (Tetrapodophis amplectus).  This twenty centimetre long, Lower Cretaceous snake from Brazil has attracted much controversy, but when described last year, it was thought that this animal was a burrower.  However, in this new study published in the journal “Cretaceous Research”, an aquatic lifestyle is proposed.  This suggests that snakes evolved their limbless, eel-like bodies for swimming not for burrowing.

Tetrapodophis Fossil Material (left) Compared with the Marine Animal Illustration (right)

The fossil and an illustration of Tetrapodophis.

The exquisite fossil (left) and an illustration of Tetrapodophis as an aquatic animal (right).

Picture Credit: University of Alberta and illustration credit to Alessandro Palci and Michael Lee (Flinders University & South Australian Museum)

Controversial Fossil Find

The tiny snake fossil is preserved in articulation and it has small, but clearly defined limbs, indicating that Tetrapodophis was descended from lizards but was, most likely, a transitional form towards true snakes.  Dubbed the “Archaeopteryx of snakes”, after the famous Solnhofen fossils, the specimen has attracted a great deal of controversy ever since it was spotted by Dr. David Martill (University of Portsmouth), whilst taking a party of year three students on a tour of the world-renowned Bürgermeister-Müller-Museum (Solnhofen), to view the Upper Jurassic fossils including Archaeopteryx specimens.

To read about the discovery of Tetrapodophis: First Fossil Snake with Four Limbs Described

The Australian/Canadian team included Michael Lee and Alessandro Palci (Flinders University and South Australian Museum) along with Michael Caldwell (University of Alberta) and Robert Reisz (University of Toronto Mississauga), looked again at the body shape and four limbs of the primitive snake fossil, which probably originated from the Crato Formation of north-eastern Brazil.  They agreed with the earlier research, that the limbs were probably too small to be used for locomotion, but they have challenged the idea that Tetrapodophis was a worm-like burrower and that the first true snakes evolved underground.  This new study suggests that Tetrapodophis had the wrong body shape for digging, the tail is too long and the legs too delicate.  The scientists list a series of adaptations that suggest an aquatic animal, adaptations such as wrist and ankle elements made of cartilage rather than bone and poorly developed limb joints, anatomical features that suggest living in water where buoyancy would help to support the animal.  Similar adaptations are found in extant marine animals such as seals, sea snakes and sea turtles as well as within the fossil record of the Mosasauridae (members of the Order Squamata that were aquatic).

In addition, the researchers conclude that the hands and feet were surprisingly flipper-like, with a robust and thickened first digit strengthening the leading edge of the limb, like the leading edge of an aeroplane wing or the flipper of a turtle.

Tetrapodophis Fossil Material with a Focus on the Limbs

Tetrapodophis marine adaptations.

Close up of the limb fossils with the illustration that suggests adaptations for swimming.

Picture Credit: Alessandro Palci and Michael Lee (Flinders University & South Australian Museum with fossil material images supplied by Science Journal and additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the Flinders University & South Australian Museum illustration of T. amplectus as an aquatic animal.  The fossil bones represent the pes (foot) and the manus (hand), the limbs of the illustration have been enlarged to show that this new scientific paper suggests marine adaptations including limbs that were paddle-like.

Professor Caldwell (University of Alberta) explained:

“The specimen is of a very small animal, slim, slender, certainly not a burrowing animal, that shows clear features shared with non-snake aquatic lizards from the Upper Cretaceous.  Tetrapodophis might well be a member of a group closely related to snakes amongst lizards, but it is not a snake proper.”

Known only from this one specimen, Tetrapodophis remains controversial.  The fossil most probably represents a juvenile, ontogenic changes as the animal grew might cloud any interpretations of the fossil material.  In addition, ownership of the fossil is unclear, it had been loaned from a private collection for display in Germany, but it has been illegal to export such fossils from Brazil for many years, and the specimen may be repatriated to the Brazilian Government.  The current status of the fossil may hamper access, so that further research is restricted.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the University of Alberta in the compiling of this article, the scientific paper is:

“Aquatic adaptations in the four limbs of the snake-like reptile Tetrapodophis from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil”


17 06, 2016

New Scout Series Models by Rebor

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

Rebor “Breeze” and Rebor “Stan”

Newly arrived at the Everything Dinosaur warehouse are “Breeze” and “Stan”, two new dinosaur replicas in the Rebor Scout model series.  In one delivery we have doubled the Scout series range as there are now four baby dinosaur models to collect.

Available from Everything Dinosaur – The Rebor Utahraptor “Breeze”

The Rebor baby Utahraptor "Breeze"

The Rebor “Breeze” dinosaur model in the Scout series.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the United Kingdom, we have the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.  This phrase was brought to mind when we photographed “Breeze” the baby Utahraptor perched in the hand of one of our team members.  This beautifully painted, museum quality, 1:35 scale replica comes complete with a little rock for this baby dinosaur to sit on.  The Rebor baby Utahraptor might look quite cute but it will grow up to be a six and half metre long super-predator that might have weighed as much as a tonne!

The Rebor Baby Utahraptor – “Breeze”

The Rebor baby Utahraptor replica shows typical anatomical traits of a baby.  The relatively large head, the big eye and the long limbs.  The grasping three-fingered hands are well presented and that killing claw, the sickle-like claw on the second toe, is clearly visible.  Baby Utahraptors were probably quite independent from their parents once they had hatched (precocial), they were probably quite mobile and capable of catching their own food, which would have consisted of small lizards, insects and other small animals.

The Rebor Utahraptor “Breeze”

Rebor "Breeze" Utahraptor baby.

REBOR 1:35 baby Utahraptor museum class replica nicknamed “Breeze”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Stan” the Velociraptor Dinosaur Model

Joining “Breeze” is another “raptor” replica, this time a model of a Velociraptor.  Rebor have added “Stan” a model of a baby Velociraptor to their Scout series range.

The Rebor “Stan” Velociraptor Dinosaur Model

"Stan" the baby Velociraptor dinosaur model by Rebor.

The Rebor “Stan” baby Velociraptor dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the baby Velociraptor “Stan” perched in a team member’s hand.  Note the black claws on the toes, in contrast to the greyish white claws of the baby Utahraptor – a nice touch from Rebor.  The baby Velociraptor certainly looks quite cute, with its large head and oversized limbs (indicating a concept called distal growth).  It might look cute, but when fully grown and part of a pack, this dinosaur would have been one best avoided.  The cute head will have a jaw lined with some eighty very sharp teeth and if this dinosaur did hunt in packs it would have been a very formidable hunter.

To view the full range of Rebor replicas available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

17 06, 2016

Happy Teachers, Happy Pupils

By | June 17th, 2016|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on Happy Teachers, Happy Pupils

Abercrombie Primary School – Supporting Science Teaching

An eventful week this week for Everything Dinosaur team members.  Our busy schedule included a trip to Abercrombie Primary in Chesterfield (Derbyshire) to take part in two days of science themed teaching in support of the English national curriculum.  Over the course of the eventful and exciting two days our dinosaur and fossil expert worked with the Key Stage 1 children (Year 2) and the whole of Key Stage 2 (Year 3, 4, 5 and Year 6).

During the Interactive Workshops the Children Explored Extinction

These colourful birds face extinction.

These colourful birds face extinction, or are they dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: The Press Association

The school is broadly average in size and is consistently rated as “Good” by Ofsted.  On the first day we worked with the younger pupils, the second day (the morning and part of the afternoon), was solely dedicated to Year 6.  During our time working with the upper Key Stage 2 children, we explored extinction, discussed whether life did originate on planet Earth, explored natural selection and adaptation, mapped prehistoric plants and proved that continents move.

Making the Woolly Mammoth De-Extinct!

The Everything Dinosaur fossil expert showed Year 6 some Woolly Mammoth fossils that had been found not too far away from the school.  Tens of thousands of years ago, the Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) roamed this part of Britain, we speculated on what roles the children might have had if they had lived during the Stone Age and they had taken part in a Woolly Mammoth hunt.

What Role Would You Have Played in a Woolly Mammoth Hunt?

Taking part in a Woolly Mammoth hunt.

Hunting a Woolly Mammoth.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our fossil expert then explained what research is being undertaken to resurrect this extinct elephant.  The Year 6 children debated whether or not bringing back the Woolly Mammoth and making it de-extinct was a good idea.  There seemed to be a consensus amongst the students that the Dodo should be brought back as well, however, the Year 6 pupils were disappointed to hear that Dodos, or as the Dutch sailors used to call it, the Doddaer, (Raphus cucullatus), was actually a giant, flightless pigeon.

Commenting on the work undertaken by Everything Dinosaur Mrs Bradly (one of the teachers) said:

“I missed you at the end of the day and I’m not in tomorrow so I am emailing to say thank you for the workshops today.  The feedback from staff and children have been really positive.”

Mrs Harris (teacher Year 4) stated:

“An excellent session, very engaging with excellent subject knowledge and super resources.  Repetition was used well to encourage the children to learn key vocabulary.  A great session – thank you!”

Our two days working with the teachers and pupils at this primary school whizzed by, we even got the chance to see a partial lower jaw of a sheep that one of the children had found and the skull of a bird discovered whilst at Forest School.  It seems as we departed Derbyshire we left behind some happy teachers and happy pupils.

16 06, 2016

“Into the Cretaceous” Dinosaur Diorama

By | June 16th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

North American Cretaceous Dinosaurs

Prehistoric animal diorama creator Robert Townsend has sent into Everything Dinosaur another set of photographs of his prehistoric scenes.  These pictures represent North American dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous, a representation of the fauna that roamed the northern part of the United States and Canada up to around 100 million years ago or thereabouts, the Late Albian faunal stage of the Cretaceous.

Three Iguanodon Feed Close to the Armoured Dinosaur Sauropelta

Sauropelta and Iguanodon

Three Iguanodon models encounter a Sauropelta.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

During the Early Cretaceous terrestrial faunas began to change.  Over much of the world, the Sauropods began to be replaced by Ornithopods as the most dominant mega herbivores.  New types of Pterosaur evolved and within the carnivores, new kinds of huge meat-eating dinosaur began to evolve, dinosaurs that have been assigned to the Carcharodontosauridae.  Dinosaurs such as the Iguanodons and the Sauropelta in the photograph above, also had to be careful to watch out for “raptors” such as members of the Deinonychosauria clade, fearsome hunters like Deinonychus.

A Deinonychus Attacks an Armoured Dinosaur

A Deinonychus fighting Gastonia.

A Gastonia battles Deinonychus.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Battles between polacanthids such as Gastonia (G. burgei) and raptors could well have taken place as the fossils of this five metre long, armoured dinosaur have been found in the same quarry as fossils of the ferocious Utahraptor (U. ostrommaysorum), a dromaeosaurid that might have weighed more than a tonne!

Down by the river herbivorous dinosaurs had to run the risk of attack from crocodiles, distantly related to today’s modern crocodilians.

A Giant Crocodile Basks Whilst a Gastonia Warily Approaches

A giant crocodile encounters Gastonia.

A polacanthid (Gastonia) encounters a giant crocodile.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

The Gastonia model used in the diorama is one of the CollectA “Prehistoric Life” models, a diverse range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal replicas that does include a number of armoured dinosaurs including Polacanthus, Kentrosaurus, Minmi, Edmontonia, Wuerhosaurus and Miragaia as well as the more common models such as Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus.

To view the CollectA Prehistoric Life model series: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models

More Dinosaur Models Available

Diorama maker Robert admits that when he started making his prehistoric animal landscapes the range of dinosaur models available was quite limited and the Internet was very much in its infancy.  These days Robert and fellow model makers have a much wider choice of prehistoric animal replicas to choose from.  Some models, first made in the 1990’s have even made a comeback over the last two years or so.   Take for example the Acrocanthosaurus model pictured below.  This is a Battat Terra Acrocanthosaurus model that was first designed for the Boston Museum of Science.  A repainted, new version of this dinosaur was introduced just two years ago.

Acrocanthosaurus Feeds on the Carcase of a Sauropod

An Acrocanthosaurus feeding.

A dinosaur feeding.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Once again Robert has taken care to try and depict animals that lived in North America during the early part of the Cretaceous period.  The Acrocanthosaurus model can be seen in all its glory posed next to the plaque that accompanies Robert’s dinosaur diorama.

A Window into a Lost World

An Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

An Acrocanthosaurus poses by the diorama plaque.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

15 06, 2016

A Global Catastrophe Caused End Cretaceous Extinction

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

Study of Antarctic Fossils Provides Evidence for Rapid Extinction

The demise of the non-avian dinosaurs, their flying reptile cousins, many marine vertebrates and a whole host of other flora and fauna some 66 million years ago has been well documented.  However, debate still rages over the cause or the causes of this mass extinction event at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) boundary.  Was this extinction sudden and dramatic, caused by a catastrophic event such as an extraterrestrial impact or was it a gradual decline with many genera becoming extinct but over a longer period of time, perhaps as a result of global climate change?

A new study published recently in the journal “Nature Communications” suggests that the extinctions were rapid.  Analysis of sediment from Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula indicates that there was a rapid and severe decline in marine fauna, this study supports the hypothesis that rather than a slow, gradual decline the K-Pg boundary represents a very rapid mass extinction event.

A Dramatic Reduction in the Number and Variety of Fossils

Antarctic fossil study supports theory of rapid end Cretaceous extinction.

The white strip represents the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary.

Picture Credit: Leeds University

Working on the remote Seymour Island in Antarctica, scientists from Leeds University along with researchers from the British Antarctic Survey, mapped and explored a series of highly fossiliferous marine sediments that date from approximately 69 million years ago through to around 65 million years ago.  James Witts, a PhD student in the School of Earth and Environment (Leeds University), lead author of the scientific paper, was instrumental in identifying the various fauna that the 6,000 fossils represented.  It was then a case of ensuring that the fossils were documented in the correct stratigraphic sequence and from this, the researchers were able to conclude that there was a sudden reduction in the number of species living in Antarctic waters some 66 million years ago.  Around two thirds of the species disappear from the fossil record, at a time that coincides with the dinosaur extinction (K-Pg boundary).

In the picture above the K-Pg boundary is represented by the white paper strip.  There is a band of rocks in which no fossils can be found and in younger sediments deposited later, only a handful of different species are represented

Student James commented:

“Our research essentially shows that one day everything was fine, the Antarctic had a thriving and diverse marine community and the next, it wasn’t.  Clearly, a very sudden and catastrophic event had occurred on Earth.  This is the strongest evidence from fossils that the main driver of this extinction event was the after-effects of a huge asteroid impact, rather than a slower decline caused by natural changes to the climate or by severe volcanism stressing global environments.”

A Rich and Diverse Maastrichtian Marine Ecosystem

This study is the first to conclude that the mass extinction that marked the end of the dinosaurs, pterosaurs and many other forms of life, was a truly global event and that it was just as sudden in high latitudes as it was in lower latitudes.  In short, the polar ecosystems were hammered too.

The fossils from the Late Maastrichtian strata that pre-date the extinction event indicate a rich and highly diverse marine food web populated by a huge array of molluscs such as gastropods, bivalves and cephalopods.  In turn, there were large numbers of different types of fish, the fish shared the shallow sea with a variety of marine reptiles including Mosasaurs.  Numerous soft bodied organisms such as sea slugs, anemones, starfish and jelly fish would also have been present but their remains are not frequently preserved as fossils.  One of the more peculiar molluscs known from the Upper Cretaceous rocks of Seymour Island is the giant ammonite Diplomoceras.  This invertebrate, related to modern day cuttlefish and squid had a shell that uncoiled to a large extent.  It resembled a two-metre long paper clip.  Although Diplomoceras fossils are found in rocks older than 66 million years, just like the rest of the ammonites, its fossils are absent in rocks laid down in the Palaeogene Epoch.

An Illustration of the Bizarre Ammonite Diplomoceras

Diplomoceras (ammonite) illustration.

The bizarre Late Cretaceous ammonite Diplomoceras.

Picture Credit: James McKay

Although the majority of ammonites had coiled shells, a number of families evolved in the Early Cretaceous with shells that were uncoiled to varying degrees.  In 2012, Everything Dinosaur wrote an article detailing research undertaken by scientists from the Natural History Museum of Vienna that provided an explanation for this adaptation.

To read more: Unravelling the Mystery of the Unravelling Ammonite

A Rich and Diverse Marine Fauna – Prior to the Extinction Event

Seymour Island Late Cretaceous fossils.

A rich and diverse marine fauna preserved in the strata of Seymour Island.

Picture Credit: Leeds University

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of Leeds University in the compilation of this article.  This blog post has also been constructed with reference to the academic paper: “Macrofossil evidence for a rapid and severe Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) mass extinction in Antarctica”, published in the journal Nature Communications in May 2016.

14 06, 2016

New Species of British Marine Reptile Surfaces

By | June 14th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Wahlisaurus massarae – A New Species of Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur

Manchester based palaeontologist Dean Lomax, has identified a new species of extinct marine reptile from a near complete fossil specimen discovered in an old Nottinghamshire quarry (East Midlands).  The fossil had been found many years ago and acquired by Leicester’s New Walk Museum back in 1951, however, the unusual deposition of the specimen, the carcase seems to have “nosedived” into the seabed prior to permineralisation, had prevented a new species of English marine reptile surfacing until now.

An Illustration of the Newest Member of the Ichthyosauria – Wahlisaurus massarae

New species of Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur announced.

New species of Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur announced.

Picture Credit: James McKay

Rare Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur Fossil Find

Award winning palaeontologist Dean Lomax, an Honorary Scientist at the University of Manchester, took the opportunity to examine the specimen whilst visiting the New Walk Museum, he noticed a number of anomalies such as the morphology (shape) of some of the fossil bones.  The location of the fossil find (Nottinghamshire) and the age of the strata from which the fossils were collected, led him to suspect that this specimen might represent a new species of marine reptile.

Dean commented:

“When I first saw this specimen, I knew it was unusual.  It displays features in the bones – especially in the coracoid (part of the pectoral girdle) – that I had not seen before in Jurassic Ichthyosaurs anywhere in the world.  The specimen had never been published, so this rather unusual individual had been awaiting detailed examination.”

The Nottinghamshire Ichthyosaur fossil consists of skull elements, pectoral bones, limbs, bones from the pelvis, ribs and vertebrae.   It dates from the earliest part of the Jurassic, some 200 million years ago, (the Hettangian faunal stage).  Only a handful of Ichthyosaur species are known from the very Early Jurassic.  Dean’s discovery is significant and it is helping scientists to map the radiation and diversity of the Ichthyosauria during the Early Jurassic.  It is also the first time a species of this geological age has been found outside the counties of Somerset and Dorset.

Adding to Our Knowledge of Early Jurassic Marine Reptiles

Publishing in the “Journal of Systematic Palaeontology”, this new species will contribute to our understanding of Ichthyosaur species diversity, and their geographical distribution after the End Triassic extinction phase.  Recently, Everything Dinosaur published an account of Sclerocormus parviceps, a basal Ichthyosauriform from eastern China whose fossils are some fifty million years older than those of Wahlisaurus.  Sclerocormus indicates that marine fauna recovered relatively quickly after the devastation of the End Permian mass extinction event.

To read more about the bizarre whip-tailed, “Black Sheep of the Ichthyosaur Family”: Sclerocormus parviceps– A Strange Ichthyosauriform from the Olenikian

Ichthyosaur Fossils Can be Found at Various Locations in the British Isles

A vertebrae fossil of Dearcmhara.

Most likely a dorsal vertebra from Dearcmhara (a Scottish Ichthyosaur).

Picture Credit: BBC News

Palaeontologist and curator at the New Walk Museum, Dr. Mark Evans stated:

“Parts of the skeleton had previously been on long-term loan to Ichthyosaur specialist and former museum curator Dr. Robert Appleby, and had only returned to the museum in 2004 after he sadly passed away.  He was clearly intrigued by the specimen, and although he worked on it for many years, he had identified it as a previously known species but never published his findings.”

Dean has named the new species Wahlisaurus massarae in honour of two palaeontologists (Professor Judy Massare and Bill Wahl), who have contributed significantly to the study of Ichthyosaurs, and who first introduced Dean to studying them.  It was Professor Massare who co-authored a scientific paper on a new species of marine reptile from the Lower Jurassic of West Dorset that led to a the naming of an Ichthyosaurus species in honour of the 19th Century fossil hunter Mary Anning.

To read an article about Ichthyosaurus anningaeNew Ichthyosaurus Species Honours Mary Anning

Commenting on how he was inspired over the choice of name for the Nottinghamshire specimen, Dean said:

“Both Judy and Bill have been tremendous mentors for me.  They have significantly contributed to palaeontology, especially the study of Ichthyosaurs, and I cannot think of a better way to remember them by naming this new Ichthyosaur in their honour.  Their names will be set in stone forever, pun intended!”

The First British Early Jurassic Since Excalibosaurus

W. massarae is the first new genus of Ichthyosaur from the British Early Jurassic to be described since Excalibosaurus (E. costini) in 1986.  Excalibosaurus is known from two specimens found at a beach locality in Somerset, “Excalibur lizard” is named after the animal’s elongated snout (rostrum), that reminded the researchers of the magical sword associated with Arthurian legend.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Hundreds of thousands of people will visit beaches around the United Kingdom over the next few weeks of summer, but very few will be aware of the rich Ichthyosaur fossil heritage that such locations have.  The United Kingdom remains one of the world’s most important sites for Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur discoveries and as the Nottinghamshire specimen proves, you don’t have to visit the seaside to find marine reptile fossils.”

This article has been compiled with reference to: “A new leptonectid Ichthyosaur from the Lower Jurassic (Hettangian) of Nottinghamshire, England, UK, and the taxonomic usefulness of the Ichthyosaurian coracoid”, by Dean Lomax, Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 2016, published by Taylor & Francis Group.

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