All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//September
13 09, 2016

Everything Dinosaur Visits Howes Primary School

By | September 13th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaurs “Get Sent to Coventry”

Tuesday was “dinosaur day” for the Key Stage 1 children at Howes Primary school with a visit from Everything Dinosaur to help support the term topic for Year 1 and Year 2 children.  This friendly and very welcoming school is located in Coventry (East Midlands), however, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, Coventry felt more like Copacabana beach as noon temperatures touched thirty degrees Celsius.  Noel, the helpful Site Manager, had the forethought to open the windows in the spacious hall where we were working and despite the heat, the children learned that just like stones, most fossils feel cold when you first touch them.

The Children in Year 1 Gave our Dinosaur Expert some Wonderful Dinosaur Drawings

A horned dinosaur drawn by a child in Year 1.

A dinosaur drawing from Year 1.

Picture Credit: Howes Primary School (Year 1)

The children in Year 2 were joined by some of the budding palaeontologists from the Hearing Impaired Unit.  All the children enjoyed handling the various fossils and learning about the super power of a giant armoured dinosaur.

A Pink Long-Necked Dinosaur

A very pink dinosaur by Year 1.

A pink long-necked dinosaur drawing.

Picture Credit: Howes Primary School (Year 1)

The Year 1 and Year 2 teachers asked us to help them by providing information about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.  A number of the children demonstrated considerable pre-knowledge regarding dinosaurs and the extension resources we brought with us should support the teaching team and their scheme of work.  On returning to the office, our team member who visited the school, prepared a couple of extra exercises aimed at supporting this section of the curriculum.  These resources and materials were emailed over to the teacher.  They also recommended a set of dinosaur skulls that featured omnivores, carnivores and herbivores along with other prehistoric animal themed teaching resources to help support learning.

A Set of Dinosaur Skulls – Helpful for Omnivore, Carnivore and Herbivore Sorting Games

Dinosaur fossil skull models, ideal for school.

A set of eleven dinosaur fossil skulls.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The dinosaur skulls and other useful Key Stage 1 teaching resources can be found here: Dinosaur models including sets of dinosaur skulls

After our busy morning exploring dinosaurs, the Year 1 teacher presented us with a selection of  colourful dinosaur drawings that her class had created.  We shall pin up these pictures onto our warehouse wall, they will cheer us up as we study fossils.

Colourful Prehistoric Animal Drawings from Year 1 at Howes Primary School (Coventry)

Year 1 draw colourful dinosaurs.

Wonderful dinosaur and fossil drawings from a Year 1 pupil.

Picture Credit: Howes Primary School (Year 1)

Our thanks to all the children in Year 1 and Year 2 at Howes Primary, we really appreciate the beautiful prehistoric animal drawings that you created and we are sure, that, thanks to the dedicated teaching team, all the children are really going to enjoy their dinosaur themed autumn term topic.

12 09, 2016

Rebor 1:18 Scale Velociraptor “Winston” Breaks Record

By | September 12th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Product Reviews|1 Comment

Rebor 1:18 Scale Velociraptor Replica (Winston) A Fast Seller

The Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor replica, “Winston” has sold out quicker than any other model in the Rebor model range.  However, not to worry, more of these fantastic replicas are on the way and they should be in stock at Everything Dinosaur next week.  The Rebor Velociraptor figure was called “Winston” in honour of the special effects wizard Stan Winston, who was instrumental in articulating and bringing to life the Velociraptors in the first three “Jurassic Park” films.  It seems that these Rebor Velociraptors were as speedy as their on screen counterparts, they have sold out rapidly.

A Speedy Dinosaur Seller – The Rebor Velociraptor “Winston”

The Rebor Winston replica.

The Rebor Winston Velociraptor dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This beautifully detailed model stands around eight centimetres high at the head and is a generous fifteen centimetres long.  It has proved to be extremely popular with dinosaur fans and model collectors who have raved about its articulated arms and the stunning detail in that poseable lower jaw.

To express interest in having a Rebor Velociraptor 1:18 scale replica reserved for you, simply email Everything Dinosaur and one of our team members will personally email you when the new stock comes in.

Contact Everything Dinosaur about Rebor replicas: Email Everything Dinosaur

There’s no obligation and no need to for any payment, this is just one of the ways in which we try and support our customers.

A Wonderful Velociraptor Model (Rebor Velociraptor “Winston”)

Rebor Velociraptor "Winston"

Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor model

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor and Dromaeosaurids

Rebor have slowly and steadily built up an exciting portfolio of prehistoric animal models over the last two years or so.  The company has produced a number of spectacular dromaeosaurid figures – the “raptors”.  Soon there will be a set of Deinonychus models available to go along with the existing Utahraptor and Velociraptor replicas.  The set of three Deinonychus models the “Cerberus Clan” will be on sale from Everything Dinosaur in November, we will post up more details about these 1:35 scale dinosaurs in due course.

In the meantime, Everything Dinosaur is interested in your feedback regarding the Rebor Velociraptor “Winston”, if you want to leave a comment about our service or indeed a review of the model itself, this is very easy to do, simply click the link to the Velociraptor product page below, and when on the page, click the orange coloured link “add your review”.

To review the Rebor “Winston” 1:18 scale Velociraptor model: Click here to add your review

We look forward to receiving feedback.

To see the full range of Rebor models available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

11 09, 2016

JurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor “Winston and Stan” Velociraptors

By | September 11th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Rebor “Winston and Stan” Velociraptors Reviewed

Those talented people at JurassicCollectables have produced another super video review of a Rebor replica, this time the limited edition, bronze-effect “Winston and Stan” model is in the spotlight.  Just 1,000 of these models have been made, also known as the “father and son” Velociraptor model set and what a fantastic item this is for dinosaur fans and model collectors.  Rebor have produced a number of dromaeosaurid replicas to date, this is the second limited edition “raptor” after the “Lock, Stock and Barrel” hatching Velociraptors that were introduced in 2015.

In this short video review (it lasts a little over six minutes), the narrator talks through the detailing on these bronze-effect models and compares them to the colour version of the 1:18 scale Velociraptor “Winston”, that we at Everything Dinosaur and JurassicCollectables reviewed last month.

The Review of “Winston and Stan” Velociraptors by Jurassic Collectables

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Videos such as this one by JurassicCollectables gives would-be purchasers the opportunity to get a really good look at a model before deciding to buy.  The close up shots really show the excellent attention to detail on these two figures, the models certainly do have a metallic look to them and they compliment the coloured version of the Rebor Velociraptor extremely well.

To see the video review of the colour version of the Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor figure “Winston”: JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor Velociraptor “Winston”

The Limited Edition Rebor Velociraptor Models in Bronze-effect Finish (Father and Son)

Limited edition Rebor Velociraptors "Winston and Stan".

The Rebor replicas “Winston and Stan”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Swapping Model Bases – Mixing and Matching

The narrator swaps the bases over between the Rebor coloured Velociraptor version “Winston” and the bronze-effect counterpart.  This is an interesting idea and when the coloured model is put on the metallic effect base, the effect is that it looks like the dinosaur is running over volcanic ash.  Being able to mix and match Rebor replicas to create individual, unique dioramas is one of the great attractions of the Rebor model range.  We congratulate the narrator for pointing out this aspect of the Rebor product offering.

JurassicCollectables have a fantastic YouTube channel brim full of dinosaur model reviews and other very informative videos.

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

 To view the range of Rebor replicas including the wonderful, limited edition Velociraptor models “Winston and Stan” (whilst stocks last), click the link below:

The Rebor range of prehistoric animal models: The Rebor Range of Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

We at Everything Dinosaur, look forward to viewing more well-crafted videos from JurassicCollectables in the future.

10 09, 2016

Emily’s Fossils

By | September 10th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 3 at Yarnfield Primary Learning About “Footprints in the Past”

Yesterday, was another busy day with a visit to the vibrant Yarnfield Primary School to work with the three classes of Year 3 children as they began their term topic entitled “Footprints in the Past”.  The teaching team had developed an exciting and challenging scheme of work utilising a term topic all about dinosaurs and fossils to help 3Red, 3Yellow and 3Green classes study life in the past.  One of the spacious and well-organised classrooms had been designated to the member of the Everything Dinosaur teaching team to conduct the workshops,  he noted that a number of special areas had been allocated on the walls of the classroom on which the children could display their work.  There was even a large area dedicated to science related elements of the curriculum.

Naturally, there is a big focus on literacy and numeracy throughout the school.  Year 3 was no exception and prior to the workshops, our dinosaur expert talked through some extension ideas with the enthusiastic teaching team.  A dinosaur footprint measuring exercise certainly ticked all the right boxes when it came to supporting numeracy and the “dinosaur foot facts” writing activity was well received.

Emily had brought in a collection fossils that her father had found.  She had carefully wrapped them in tissue paper and stored them in a sturdy plastic box to keep them safe.  Could the children work out why you have to wear special, soft gloves when you handle some fossils?

A Picture of the Fossils Emily had Brought into School

Fossils brought into school.

Fossils brought into school by a Year 3 pupil.

Picture Credit: Yarnfield Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Our fossil expert was able to identify the fossils and explain that they came from a beach, the remains of the coiled shells of ammonites and other fossil fragments have been preserved in the rocks.

Can You Spot the Fossil?

An ammonite fossil.

A close up of the fossil (ammonite).

Picture Credit: Yarnfield Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

An idea might be for the children to set up their own dinosaur and fossil museum in the classroom so that they can display their work and exhibit some of their discoveries.  During the workshops, Year 3 learned about Mary Anning, a Georgian fossil collector, dealer and palaeontologist who was to become famous for her fossil discoveries from the cliffs at Lyme Regis (Dorset).  Mary’s discoveries include the first Ichthyosaur fossil to be scientifically described along with Plesiosaurs, ancient fish and the first flying reptile fossil to be found in England.  Although her finds made her quite well known and a number of leading scientists used Mary’s work and her knowledge to further their own careers, she never gained the public recognition her contribution to science merited.  Good luck to all the pupils who attempt the “sea shells” tongue twister inspired by Mary Anning  that we provided.

Mary Anning 1799 – 1847

Mary Anning

The most famous former resident of Lyme Regis

The picture above shows a portrait of May Anning and her dog Tray, that often accompanied Mary on her fossil finding trips.  Perhaps Emily’s fossils will inspire the children at Yarnfield Primary School to become famous fossil collectors just like Mary Anning.

9 09, 2016

A Saurophaganax for William

By | September 9th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|1 Comment

Favourite Dinosaur of Young Dinosaur Fan

Recently, team members at Everything Dinosaur met a young dinosaur fan called William.  William told us that his favourite dinosaur was Saurophaganax and that he loved watching the Saurophaganax clips on the BBC television programme “Planet Dinosaur”.

An Illustration of the Giant Theropod Dinosaur Saurophaganax

Fearsome predator of the Late Jurassic.

Fearsome predator of the Late Jurassic.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Saurophaganax is the biggest carnivorous dinosaur described from the Morrison Formation of the United States.  It is a contender for one of the largest Theropod dinosaurs known from Upper Jurassic strata and the fossils, although fragmentary, indicate an animal in excess of twelve metres in length.  Originally described as Saurophagus, the site where the first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered also yielded Stegosaur and Camptosaurus fossil material.  It has been suggested that these two bird-hipped dinosaurs were prey for the lizard-hipped Saurophaganax, hence the part of the television documentary programme in which a Saurophaganax lays claim to a Camptosaurus.

Nice to have met you William.

8 09, 2016

Spiny Plants, Ungulates and the Savannah Habitat

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

The Evolution of Spiny Plants Holds Key to the Establishment of the Savannah

The continent of Africa contains a wide diversity of habitats, dominating the south, central part of Africa are the grasslands, the extensive savannahs that are home to a great diversity of iconic animals.  A team of international scientists writing in the academic journal “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences United States”, have mapped the origins of the African savannah and concluded that the emergence of this ecosystem is, at least in part, down to the grazing habits of antelopes and their kin.

Ancient Bovids Influenced Habitat Formation in Africa

Rusingoryx illustrated

Honking to communicate in the hot savannah.

Picture Credit: Todd Marshall

The picture above shows an illustration of Rusingoryx atopocranion a wildebeest from the Pleistocene Epoch.  Grazing bovids and antelopes may have had a remarkable impact on the evolution of plant communities.

In a study that plotted flora/faunal relationships on a continental scale, the researchers identified which mammal browsers are most closely associated with spiny communities of trees.  The team were able to show that over the last sixteen million years or so, plants from unrelated taxa developed spiny defences against being eaten a total of fifty-five times.  This pattern of convergent evolution suggests that the arrival and diversification of bovids in Africa changed the rules for persisting in woody communities.  Contrary to current understanding, this new data indicates that browsers predate fire by millions of years as agents driving the origin of the African savannah.

The study was conducted in an unorthodox manner.  The researchers, which included biologists from McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), started by observing fauna and flora relationships in Africa today and then working backwards in time to the middle of the Miocene Epoch.

An Arms Race Between Plants and Animals

Many browsers like gazelles, delicately pick leaves off branches full of wicked-looking spines that are several centimetres long.  The scientists were able to uncover what happened in the past by mapping the distribution and evolution of the spiny plants on which gazelles and their relatives like to feed today.

A Gerenuk Antelope Browsing

A Gerenuk Antelope Browsing

A Gerenuk Browsing on Trees.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Research team member, Jonathan Davies, (McGill University) commented:

“It’s been difficult to get a picture of how savannah ecosystems evolved because the conditions needed to preserve animal and plant fossils are very different from one another.  By working with the African Centre for DNA Bar-coding at the University of Johannesburg, we were able to sequence and compare DNA from nearly two thousand trees, and show that African plants only developed spines about fifteen million years ago. That was about the same time that a new type of mammal, antelope and their relatives, spread across the continent following the collision between the continental plates of Africa and Eurasia.”

Prior to this collision, the African continent had been dominated by the large, now extinct, ancestors of browsing elephants and hyrax.  These large herbivores would have bull-dozed trees and trampled vegetation, so spines were an ineffective defence against them according to the lead author of the study, Tristan Charles-Dominique (University of Cape Town).  However, antelopes and their relatives that arrived in Africa after the continental plate collision were highly efficient browsers, often using their delicate lips and prehensile tongue to remove leaves from branches.  It is likely that plants developed spines to defend themselves against these new plant “predators”.

Evolving a Spiny Defence Against Browsers

The study suggests a remarkable “arms race” between the trees and plant-eaters.  The arrival of new and efficient herbivores on the continent of Africa led to the evolution of more and more elaborate defences, including longer and longer spines.  One of the implications of this research is that the loss of large mammals like antelopes today, through human activities such as the bush meat trade, may have a substantial impact on the African landscape, with present day open savannahs being converted into thicket or brush.  Extensive forests may also make a comeback.

The Paper:  “Spiny Plants, Mammal Browsers and the Origin of the African Savannahs”.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the support of McGill University in the compilation of this article.

7 09, 2016

Remembering the Thylacine – Threatened Species Day

By | September 7th, 2016|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Teaching|1 Comment

Remembering the Thylacine

On this day, eighty years ago, the last known Thylacine died at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart.  It was on the 7th of September 1936, that staff at the Tasmanian zoo discovered “Benjamin”, as the animal was believed to have been named, dead.  Sadly, just two months earlier, the species Thylacinus cynocephalus had been granted protected status, after more than a hundred years of persecution.  Today, we live in what is regarded as more enlightened times, and September 7th in Australia is “National Threatened Species Day”, a day dedicated to honouring those people who work to protect Australia’s unique wildlife.  It is also a day for reflecting on how our own species has led to the demise of other species.  For example, the Thylacine was thought to attack and kill sheep and other domesticated animals and so it was hunted with bounties being paid for each “Tasmanian Tiger” killed.

The Last Known Thylacine circa 1935

A photograph of a Thylacine.

A picture of “Benjamin” the last known Thylacine to live in captivity.

Picture Credit: David Fleay

The Sad Tale of Benjamin – The Last Known Thylacine

Benjamin is believed to have been captured in the Florentine Valley area (south central Tasmania) in 1933 and brought to Beaumaris Zoo (Hobart).  Although once thought to be female, a more recent analysis confirmed that Benjamin was indeed, in all probability a male.  An inability to determine gender reflects the relative neglect the animal suffered in the zoo.  Indeed, the fact that the animal was even nick-named Benjamin has been challenged by a number of academics and authors.  The Tasmanian winter of 1936 was particularly severe and it seems that the last known Thylacine in captivity probably died of exposure after having been locked out of its sheltered sleeping quarters.  And so, the last Thylacine was dead.  Ironically, Beaumaris Zoo, for years dogged by financial difficulties, was to close shortly afterwards.  It was shut down by the Hobart City Council in the last week of November 1937.

In 1996, on the sixtieth anniversary of the death of the only Thylacine to have been given official protection, “National Threatened Species Day” was declared.  A time to reflect on the demise of the Thylacine and how similar fates await other species of flora and fauna unique to Australia unless action is taken to reverse their decline.

The CollectA Female Thylacine Model

Everything Dinosaur is proud to have added the beautiful CollectA female Thylacine model to its range of CollectA models.  The Thylacine, (Thylacinus cynocephalus), was the largest carnivorous marsupial to have lived in Australia in modern times and the last member of a once much more diverse group of marsupials.  The “Tasmanian Tiger” may be thought to be extinct, but is it?

The CollectA Thylacine Model

The CollectA Thylacine replica.

The CollectA Thylacine model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the CollectA “Tasmanian Tiger” model: The CollectA Thylacine Model

Is the Thylacine Extinct?

The main island that makes up the State of Tasmania is a fraction under 25,000 square miles in size, that’s around three times the size of Wales or about the size of the State of West Virginia in the USA.  There have been a number of reported sightings of “Tigers” both in Tasmania and on the Australian mainland.  Evidence for the existence of Thylacines is a little threadbare to say the least.  Blurred and very indistinct photographs, casts of footprints and some poor quality film footage, but nonetheless, there are a number of people, including academics who fervently believe that the Thylacine, although extremely endangered and very vulnerable, is still holding on.  Every now and then a new eyewitness account is published.

Let’s hope that the Thylacine still exists and that one day soon, September 7th will have even greater significance to the people of Australia.

6 09, 2016

Walking with Dinosaurs Down at the Beach

By | September 6th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Surprise Discovery of Dinosaur Tracks At Tourist Hot Spot

Fossilised footprints of a large Theropod dinosaur have been discovered at one of Australia’s most popular tourist beaches.  Broome’s Cable Beach is a very popular tourist area and hundreds of people visit this beautiful part of the Western Australian coast every day.  However, the pristine white sands hide a secret, it overlies a series of Cretaceous rock exposures where plant fossils and occasionally dinosaur footprints can be found.

One of the Three-Toed Dinosaur Prints Found at Cable Beach

Dinosaur footprint at Cable Beach (Western Australia).

One of the three-toed dinosaur tracks at Cable Beach.

Picture Credit: ABC Kimberley, Sophia O’Rourke

Ms Bindi Lee Porth was collecting shells at the beach last Sunday evening, when she literally stumbled across an amazing fossil find.  She noticed a strange shape in the rock and as she puts it herself:

“I just sort of brushed all the sand away and it’s revealed this beautiful, like a bird, foot.”

The Broome Coastline and Dinosaur Tracks

This part of the coast of Western Australia is renowned for its dinosaur tracks, that date from the Early Cretaceous (130 million years ago), a time when Australia was part of a much larger land mass (Gondwana) and it was nearer the South Pole.  Despite the high latitude, the climate was temperate to sub-tropical and many different kinds of dinosaurs roamed the land.

A Close Up of One of the Dinosaur Footprints

Dinosaur tracks found on beach.

A close up of one of the exposed dinosaur footprints.

Picture Credit: ABC Kimberley

Last year, Everything Dinosaur reported on efforts by University of Queensland researchers to map the extensive trackways using drones.

To read an article about this: Mapping the Dinosaur Heritage of Western Australia

The three-toed prints were exposed by the shifting sands, to have a set of tracks found so close to such a popular tourist location is quite a surprise and Ms Porth initially doubted what she had found, after all, casts of dinosaur footprints set in concrete have been created elsewhere along the coast in a bid to inform visitors about the ancient heritage of this part of Western Australia.  However, after having the trace fossils examined by Queensland University palaeontologist, Steve Salisbury, it was confirmed that these prints were genuine.

Dr. Salisbury commented:

“There have been tracks spotted in the Cable Beach area over the years, most of those are Sauropod tracks, but this is the first time we’ve become aware of there being another type of dinosaur track in that area.”

Doctor Salisbury with a Latex Cast of a Three-Toed Dinosaur Footprint

Taking a latex cast of a dinosaur footprint.

Dr. Steve Salisbury with a latex cast of an Australian dinosaur footprint.

Picture Credit: ABC News/Erin Parke

More Than One Type of Three-Toed Dinosaur

Dr. Salisbury’s trained eyes spotted something else unusual about the tridactyl prints.  Claws marks at the end of the toes can be clearly made out so these tracks were probably made by a meat-eater, but some of the tracks are subtly different, this suggests that more than one type of Theropod dinosaur is represented.  The Queensland University based scientist hopes to study the casts and in situ prints in order to determine more information about the dinosaurs that created them.

Using a simple hip to stride length formula, Dr. Salisbury has calculated that some of the prints were made by a dinosaur that had a hip height of around two metres.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that although it was not possible to give an accurate size estimate for a dinosaur based on these preliminary findings and more measurements would need to be taken, but as a rough approximation, you could be looking at a dinosaur around six metres in length.  A dinosaur that size would be about as big as Australovenator, a fearsome meat-eating dinosaur that lived some thirty million years or so after these tracks were made.

It may not be the biggest meat-eating dinosaur tracks ever found, the prints don’t represent the biggest Theropod known from Australia, but they do indicate that even in the most unlikely places, amazing fossils can be found.

To read an article that calls for more research to be done on the Western Australia dinosaur tracks: More Research Urgently Needed to Help Preserve and Protect Western Australia’s Trace Fossil Heritage

What Other Tracks Might Lie Under the Sand at Cable Beach?

A three-toed dinosaur footprint.

One of the dinosaur footprints from Cable Beach (WA)

Picture Credit: ABC Kimberley

5 09, 2016

Update on “Sibirosaurus”

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

General Media Picks Up Story of Giant Siberian Dinosaur

A  number of media outlets recently carried the story of the discovery of giant dinosaur fossil bones in Siberia.  There were lurid headlines such as “terrifying newly discovered dinosaur was the size of eight elephants” and claims that the Siberian fossils represented one of the largest animals ever to have walked on Earth.  Readers of this blog will note that we at Everything Dinosaur tend to try and avoid hyperbole and the dinosaur in question, most likely a new species of long-necked dinosaur (likely to be a Titanosauriform), had already featured in the weblog back in March 2015.  The dinosaur has been given the nickname Sibirosaurus, but it has yet to be formally scientifically described.  The Titanosauriforms are the largest single group of dinosaurs within the Macronaria, a clade of Sauropods united by their very large naris  (nasal openings) in their skulls, which in a number of genera are actually much larger than the eye socket (orbit).

Media Outlets Getting Excited by “Sibirosaurus”

Macronarian Titanosauriform dinosaurs.

An artist’s impression of a typical Macronarian dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Damir G. Martin

The fossils of this dinosaur have been slowly but surely extracted from a layer of extremely hard sandstone, located halfway up a cliff.  To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2015 article on the excavation work and to see pictures of the fossil dig site: Sibirosaurus Strides In

Work is Continuing on the Fossil Bone Preparation

Fossil preparation work in the laboratory.

A member of the lab team works on the fossil bones of a Macronarian dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Tomsk State University

The picture above shows one of the lab team members carefully removing the rock-hard matrix from a large bone (looks like a vertebra).   Claims in a number of newspapers that the dinosaur is a heavy as eight elephants (estimated weight up to fifty tonnes) and that these fossils represent one of the largest land animals known are a little premature, although it probably does represent a new species.  Dinosaur fossils have been found before in the sandstone rocks of the Kemerovo region of southern Siberia, but the fossils, in all probability do represent a species new to science.

A Piece of Dinosaur Fossil Bone at the Dig Site

A piece of dinosaur fossil bone.

A photograph of the Siberian dinosaur fossil bone at the dig site.

Picture Credit: Tomsk State University

The research is being conducted by Tomsk State University, St Petersburg State University and the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that a formal research paper on this new dinosaur taxon will, in all likelihood be published next year.

Work has already been completed on the sacrum and it is hoped that these fossils along with foot bones from a Titanosauriform found in 1995 and likely to belong to the same species, will go on public display.

Although Fragmentary it is Likely a New Species of Titanosauriform will be Erected

Fossils of a new Titanosaur from Siberia.

Fossils of “Sibirosaurus” ready for cataloguing.

Picture Credit: Tomsk State University

4 09, 2016

3.7 Billion Year Old Microbial Structures?

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

A Rapid Emergence of Life on Earth?

When did life on Earth begin?  That is a very difficult question to answer, however, a team of scientists have published in the journal “Nature” this week suggesting that stromatolites (microbial colonies) existed in shallow marine environments as early as 3.7 billion years ago.  It’s all to do with waves and squiggles preserved in sedimentary strata from south-western Greenland.

Do These Wavy Lines and Structures Preserved in Ancient Sedimentary Rocks Indicate the Presence of Colonial Bacteria?

Are these wavy lines stromatolite fossils?

Evidence for ancient stromatolites?

Picture Credit: University of Wollongong

In the picture above the white scale bar represents 4 centimetres.

Although the paper is not without its controversy, if these waves and squiggles do turn out to be the ancient signatures left by mats of bacteria, then they would predate the previously oldest known fossils (from Australia) by some 200 million years or more.  Such claims are hotly contested, about as hot as the young Earth when the researchers (from a number of Australian institutions as well as from the UK), claim these stromatolites first existed.

The Isua Supercrustal Belt

The bleak, desolate uplands of south-western Greenland hold a secret.  The rocks here are the oldest surviving piece of the Earth’s surface.  As our planet continues to warm, so ice sheets shrink and slowly and surely, like the advance of geological time itself, new parts of our planet’s ancient crust are exposed.  This geological feature is called the Isua Supercrustal Belt (ISB).  Professor Martin van Kranendonk (University of New South Wales), specialises in the study of ancient life forms, dedicating his career to examining rocks for traces of Archean and Proterozoic life.  He and his colleagues hypothesise that the waves and cones seen in the ancient Greenland rocks are the traces of stromatolite stacks.

Researchers Exploring the ISB of Greenland

The Isua Supracrustal Belt of Greenland

The bleak and deserted part of south-western Greenland – on the hunt for ancient fossils.

Picture Credit: Picasa

Professor Kranendonk commented:

“We see the original unaltered sedimentary layers, and we can see how the stromatolite structures grow up through the sedimentary layering.  And we can see the characteristic dome and cone-shaped forms of modern stromatolites.”

If this is evidence of microbial colonies preserved in rocks some 3,700 million years old, then they predate by some 220 million years the previous most convincing and generally accepted evidence for the oldest life on Earth, the stromatolite fossils from the 3,480 million year old Dresser Formation of the Pilbara Craton, Australia.  These ancient rocks located in Western Australia are mostly volcanic in origin but the strata also preserves evidence of hydrothermal locations (hot springs), indicated by the presence of large quantities of the mineral barite.  These areas are associated with wrinkled structures, columns and cone shaped rocks, interpreted as evidence of stromatolite structures having existed within the hot springs and surrounding areas.

The ISB fossil material indicates the establishment of shallow marine carbonate production with biotic CO2 sequestration by 3,700 million years ago, close to the start of our planet’s sedimentary record.  If this is the case, then genetic molecular clock studies would push back the origin of life to before the Archaen Eon and into the Hadean Eon.  The Hadean Eon is the very oldest part of the Earth’s geological record.  It covers the period from our planet’s formation some 4.57 billion years ago to around 4 billion years ago (the start of the Archean Eon).  This suggests that life began on our planet when it was still being bombarded by extraterrestrial bodies, remnants from the formation of our solar system (the “Great Cometary Bombardment”).

Shark Bay Western Australia

Stromatolites can still be found today in various parts of the world (freshwater and marine environments).  For example, they can still be seen around the coast of Western Australia in a very saline body of water called Shark Bay.  The mushroom shaped structures found on the floor of the bay are the work of cyanobacterial communities.  Layers of mineral grains are glued together by the sticky, colonial bacteria.

Living Stromatolites (Shark Bay Western Australia)

Stromatolites at Shark Bay (Western Australia)

Stromatolite structures exposed at low tide (Shark Bay)

Picture Credit: sharkbay.org

To read an article from Everything Dinosaur published in 2010 about fossil evidence for the earliest animals found: Sponge-like Fossils May Be Earliest Animals

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