All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
26 01, 2017

Gigantosaurus – You Mean Giganotosaurus?

By | January 26th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|5 Comments

No Such Dinosaur As Gigantosaurus

This week, team members at Everything Dinosaur are in the middle of their dinosaur themed workshops planned for the first half of the Spring Term.  About fifteen workshops have been undertaken since Christmas and there are another fifteen or so to go before the half-term break.  On Friday, a member of the Everything Dinosaur teaching team will be visiting a school to work with two classes of Year 2 children who have been learning about dinosaurs.  The inspirational text is “Gigantosaurus” written by Jonny Duddle.  The class teacher has been using this fictional text to inspire English work by using imaginative descriptions to create characters and setting descriptions.  In addition, the Lower Key Stage children will be exploring rhyme through poetry.

However, there has not been a dinosaur named “Gigantosaurus”.

Children Being Inspired by a Dinosaur Book

Gigantosaurus.

No such dinosaur called “Gigantosaurus”.

 

Carefully Crafted Scheme of Work

The choice of dinosaur themed text is part of a carefully crafted scheme of work that explores a range of fiction and non-fiction texts over the course of the term topic.  Non-fiction texts are being used to help challenge the children to write non-chronological reports.  For those readers unfamiliar with the book “Gigantosaurus”, it is a simple tale based on the story of the boy who cried wolf.  All young dinosaurs are warned about the scary “Gigantosaurus”.   Young Bonehead volunteers to be the lookout whenever the group of dinosaur friends go into the jungle to play.  He alerts his friends on numerous occasions but “Gigantosaurus” is nowhere to be seen, this is the story of the “boy who cried wolf”.  Bonehead’s friends refuse to believe his warnings when the dinosaur called “Gigantosaurus” finally turns up.

Giganotosaurus carolinii or Gigantspinosaurus sichuanensis

Inspirational this fiction text might be, but most young palaeontologists will tell you that the closest real dinosaur name is Giganotosaurus (giant southern lizard), a meat-eating dinosaur and one of the largest terrestrial carnivores known to science.

A Model of the Giant Meat-eating Dinosaur Giganotosaurus (G. carolinii)

Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Ironically, Giganotosaurus (pronounced jy-ga-no-toe-sore-us), is a favourite amongst children, especially boys.  Being bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex makes Giganotosaurus carolinii very popular indeed.  It is not the only dinosaur with a similar sounding name. There is Stegosaur from China known as Gigantspinosaurus (G. sichuanensis).  The genus name means “giant spined lizard” and one glance at the illustration of this plant-eating dinosaur (below) will tell you why.

An Illustration of Gigantspinosaurus (G. sichuanensis)

A drawing of Gigantspinosaurus.

The very “spiky” Gigantspinosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As part of a series of extension activities planned for the children after our dinosaur workshop in the school, we have prepared a dinosaur “hokey cokey” song for the children, it will help them explore rhyme through a familiar song.  We will also be telling them all about Giganotosaurus.

26 01, 2017

Giant Prehistoric Otter Fossil From South-Western China

By | January 26th, 2017|Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on Giant Prehistoric Otter Fossil From South-Western China

Giant Prehistoric Otter – Siamogale melilutra

A team of international researchers, including scientists from Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, have described the fossilised skull, teeth and limbs of a giant prehistoric otter that roamed south-western China some 6.25 million years ago.  The fossil material, which includes a crushed, but quite well preserved skull, represents a new species in the sub-family Lutrinae (otters).  The prehistoric otter has been name Siamogale melilutra and it probably weighed six times heavier than the European otter.

An Illustration of the Giant Otter from the Late Miocene Epoch

Giant prehistoric otter (Siamogale).

Prehistoric otter probably weighed more than 50 kilogrammes.

Picture Credit: Mauricio Antón

Palaeontologists have suggested that this otter probably weighed in excess of fifty kilogrammes and it specialised on feeding on clams and freshwater mussels.  It lived during the Late Miocene Epoch, a time when south-western China was covered in a dense, lush forest.  Siamogale melilutra shared its home with tapirs, several species of ancient elephants and crocodiles.  It is related to another ancient otter species from Thailand.

Convergent Evolution

S. melilutra had a large, powerful jaw with enlarged, bunodont (rounded-cusped) teeth typical of many otter lineages.  The discovery of these fossils, far more complete than the fossils of other ancient otters, poses the question of whether these bunodont teeth were inherited by all otters from a common ancestor, or evolved independently in different otter genera over time because of the evolution of similar adaptations to thrive in similar environments, (convergent evolution).

Skull Size Comparison Between S. melilutra and the Living Giant South American Otter and the European Otter found in the British Isles

Comparing otter skull sizes.

Extinct otter skull size compared to extant otter species.

Picture Credit: The Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

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