All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
3 09, 2016

A Set of Model Dinosaur Skulls for School

By | September 3rd, 2016|General Teaching|Comments Off on A Set of Model Dinosaur Skulls for School

Model Dinosaur Skulls for Use in Classrooms

The enthusiastic teaching team at Everything Dinosaur have been busy advising teachers and teaching assistants as they prepare for the start of the academic year.  Many schools are undertaking a term topic on dinosaurs this autumn and Everything Dinosaur has a wide range of dinosaur themed teaching resources available, all designed to meet the learning needs of children as well as the objectives of the teaching team.

Whether it’s the creative curriculum and “footprints in the past”, the “Jurassic forest” or “the land before time” dinosaurs as a term topic lends itself to all sorts of creative and imaginative teaching ideas that can support literacy, numeracy as well as introducing the concept of working scientifically.

A Set of Model Dinosaur Fossil Skulls

A dinosaur model skull set.

A set of eleven model dinosaur fossil skulls.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the skull model set and other prehistoric animal themed models from Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur Models for Use in School including Fossil Dinosaur Skull Models

Herbivore, Omnivore or Carnivore?

The set of eleven dinosaur fossil skull models can be used for sorting games and/or identifying (from the skull, jaws and teeth), the diet of the dinosaur.  Ask the class to see if they can name the particular dinosaur that the skull model represents, the set features a mix of well-known and lesser known dinosaurs so this is a great way to differentiate,  Fortunately, for customers of Everything Dinosaur, we supply a handy key to help the teaching team work out which dinosaur skull is which.

Everything Dinosaur Supplies a Handy Identification Guide with Each Set of Model Fossil Skulls

A set of dinosaur skull models.

A handy dinosaur fossil skull identification chart.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Lesson Plan Idea

A teacher could split the class up into eleven groups.  Each group of children could be given their own dinosaur skull to research, can they produce a science poster all about their dinosaur?  Can the children create a fact sheet all about their particular dinosaur?  Once the children have studied their dinosaur skull model and prepared some facts and information about it, you could challenge each group to make a short presentation to the rest of the class about the dinosaur.  Typical things for them to find out include:

  • When did it live?
  • What is the dinosaurs name?
  • Where did it live?
  • What did it eat?
  • How big was it?
  • What does its name mean?

At Everything Dinosaur we are mindful of the need to stretch teaching resources, the models can be used over and over again and they can play a role in helping older children learn about adaptation, evolution and natural selection too.

Available from Everything Dinosaur in a Handy Bulk Bag

A pack of dinosaur skull models (48 models).

A pack of 48 dinosaur skull models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

3 09, 2016

The Importance of Allkaruen

By | September 3rd, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

The Significance of the Pterosaur Allkaruen

A few days ago, Everything Dinosaur featured an article on this blog about a newly described Early Jurassic Pterosaur named Allkaruen koi.  We were subsequently emailed by one young dinosaur fan asking us to explain the significance of this fossil discovery.

Time to Get Excited About Pterosaurs – Learning Lots about Flying Reptiles

Ikrandraco Pterosaur fossil

White bar shows scale.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports/Xiaolin Wang et al

The photograph above shows the fossilised remains of Ikrandraco avatar, a new species of Pterosaur described in 2014.

To read our recent article on the discovery of a new Pterosaur (A. koi) from Patagonia (Argentina): New Long-Tailed Pterosaur from Patagonia

Pterosaur Fossils are Exceedingly Rare

Fossils of flying reptiles are exceedingly rare, of the 130 or so genera described to date, most are known from only a few fragmentary fossils, mere scraps of bone and teeth.  The light, delicate, pneumatic bones of Pterosaurs rarely survive the ravages of time and the fossilisation process.  Most corpses, don’t even get buried, the chances are the carcase would have been scavenged long before it settled on a lake bed or the bottom of a shallow sea.  Therefore, the naming of a new flying reptile species is, in itself, a significant event.  For Allkaruen koi, even more so, as the rocks in southern Argentina where the fossilised bones were found indicate that this flying reptile lived around 180 million years ago.

A Beautiful Braincase

The new Pterosaur genus has been erected after careful study of the skeletal elements including an almost perfect, three-dimensionally preserved braincase.  Most Pterosaur fossils are crushed, distorted or compacted but not in this case, one of just a handful of very well-preserved flying reptile braincases known in the fossil record.  The braincase of Allkaruen shows a unique combination of characteristics of both the Rhamphorhynchoids (non-monofenestratan breviquartossans) and the Pterodactyloidea – let’s explain what this means.

The Pterosauria – the Order of reptiles that includes all these flying reptiles can be split into to distinct and very different groups.

  1. Formerly referred to as the Rhamphorhynchoids (as the very well known Rhamphorhynchidae family is included in this group), but now known to include a number of other Pterosaur families that evolved in the Triassic and the Jurassic, characterised by long-tails and a lengthy fifth digit.
  2. The Pterodactyloidea essentially the vast majority of known Pterosaurs, a Jurassic/Cretaceous radiation of flying reptiles with thin bone walls, relatively long metacarpals and much shorter tails.

So, in short, the researchers have a braincase from an Early Jurassic Pterosaur that shows features of both groups, the basal group and the later, short-tailed, long toed, thin bone walled Pterodactyloidea.  By studying the braincase of Allkaruen the palaeontologists can learn more about how the Pterodactyloidea evolved.  They can see how the brains of flying reptiles changed over time.

A Phylogenetic Assessment of Allkaruen Compared to Rhamphorhynchus and the Later Pterosaur Anhanguera

The phylogenetic position of Allkaruen.

Where within the Pterosauria Order does Allkaruen fit in?

Picture Credit: PeerJ

The researchers compared the changing shape and structure of Pterosaur brains, comparing Allkaruen with the brain anatomy of Rhamphorhynchus (representing the basal group), with the brain anatomy of a later Cretaceous Pterosaur Anhanguera, a representative of the short-tailed Pterodactyloidea.  Allkaruen could be described as a sort of “halfway house” between these two groups, a snapshot in Pterosaur evolution permitting scientists to gain “insights into the origin of the Pterodactyloid neurocranium and improve our understanding of the tempo and mode of Pterosaur evolution.”

The scientists mapped the various elements of the brain by comparing the braincases of these three Pterosaurs, from this information they could plot the evolution of the inner ear, essentially the balance organ, vital if you are going to spend a long time in the air.  The brain volume of Allkaruen is much bigger than that of Rhamphorhynchus and from this it can be inferred that Allkaruen was a more advanced animal capable of better co-ordinated flight and faster reactions than the Rhamphorhynchidae.  The cerebellum (show in yellow in the three brain diagrams included in the picture above), is much larger in Allkaruen than it is in Rhamphorhynchus.  The cerebellum in vertebrates is found towards the back of the brain it coordinates and regulates muscular activity.  A bigger cerebellum is another indicator that Allkaruen was a better flyer than the more basal Pterosaurs.  This and other evidence is helping palaeontologists to understand more about how the Pterosaurs evolved.

That’s why this fossil discovery is so important.

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