All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
18 04, 2017

The Tactile Qualities of the Schleich Brachiosaurus

By | April 18th, 2017|Early Years Foundation Reception|Comments Off on The Tactile Qualities of the Schleich Brachiosaurus

In Praise of the Schleich Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

It’s big and chunky and great for creative, imaginative play.  Furthermore, the new for 2017 Schleich Brachiosaurus has some beautifully created, giant scales on its body, neck and limbs which make this dinosaur model ideal for exploring the texture of different materials with Foundation Stage children.

The Schleich Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

Brachiosaurus dinosaur model (Schleich).

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Recognising the Differences and Similarities Between Materials

Dinosaur models and toys fascinate young boys and girls alike and team members at Everything Dinosaur use various dinosaur models and replicas in their outreach work with children, particularly those children in Foundation Stages one and two or lower Key Stage one.  The tactile quality of the Schleich Brachiosaurus is a particular favourite as the children feel the model’s rough scales and smooth skin.  We also use the model to help children learn and remember the names for different parts of the body.

Great to Touch – Exploring Properties of Materials

The tactile qualities of the Schleich Brachosaurus model.

A view showing the back and neck of the Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The dinosaur model is accurate enough to keep budding palaeontologists happy in the classroom and some of the very youngest children who have participated in our dinosaur themed workshops, enjoy feeling the different textures on the dinosaur model.  The Schleich Brachiosaurus is very well crafted and the scales really stand out, this makes it a very effective item to use in sensory play.  The figure measures around thirty-five centimetres in length and it has a “chunky” feel to it but it can be handled easily by even young children with poor motor skills and hand to eye co-ordination.

A Close-Up View of the Finely Detailed Scales on the Schleich Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model

The big scales on the Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

The tactile Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The contrasting surfaces of the hand-painted, plastic figure prove useful when exploring the properties of materials and the feel of different textures.  As it is a dinosaur, there is no problem maintaining focus and attention.

To view the Schleich Brachiosaurus and other Schleich prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Schleich Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Classroom Dinosaur

As an extension exercise we encourage the teaching team to go on a food hunt for their plant-eating dinosaur.  Taking children out into the playground or into the school vegetable patch to pick daisies and grass so that the classroom dinosaur can have a good feed.  In addition, we have written simple lesson plan exercises, extensions of creative play in which the children think about which materials would make a good bed for a dinosaur to sleep on.  Once again, this is a great way to introduce basic adjectives such as “rough” or “smooth”, “hard” or “soft”.

At Home in the Classroom (Schleich Brachiosaurus)

A dinosaur in the classroom.

In the classroom – a dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Schleich Brachiosaurus dinosaur model with its superb textured skin makes it ideal for sensory play in the classroom or nursery.

18 04, 2017

New Species of Arowana Fish from the Eocene of China

By | April 18th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Origins of the Dragon Fish (Scleropages)

Scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP) have published details of the discovery of beautifully preserved fish fossils from China that have helped map the origins of one of the most valuable and sought after aquarium fishes in the world.  Scleropages formosus, the Asian Arowana, otherwise known as the Dragon Fish from south-eastern Asia, quite rare in the wild these days, but it is highly regarded amongst freshwater aquarium owners, who can splash out thousands of dollars to acquire particularly colourful specimens.

In a scientific paper published in the journal “Vertebrata PalAsiatica”, Dr Zhang Jiangyong (IVPP) in collaboration with Dr Mark Wilson (University of Alberta), report on the discovery of a new species of osteoglossid fish from the Early Eocene Xiwanpu Formation in Hunan and the Yangxi Formation in Hubei, (China).  The prehistoric fish is remarkable similar to the extant species and it has been named Scleropages sinensis (the name translates as “hard scaled leaves from China”, a reference to the robust tough body scales that characterises these fish).

The Holotype Fossil Material of Scleropages sinensis

The holotype fossil material of S. sinensis.

Holotype of Scleropages sinensis.

Picture Credit: Zhang Jiangyong (IVPP)

The picture above shows the beautifully preserved holotype specimen of S. sinensis.  The fins are labelled (df) = dorsal fin, (cf) = caudal fin, (af) = anal fin, (pf and pec f) = pectoral fins, scale bar 1 centimetre.

This is the first time a nearly complete body fossil of this genus has been described.  Previously, the fossil record only consisted of individual scales, otoliths (calcified structures from the inner ear) and isolated fragmentary bones.  The discovery of Scleropages sinensis dates the divergence of Scleropages from the closely related Osteoglossum to at least as far back as the Early Eocene.  The fish fossils represent a number of different ontogenetic (growth stages). The largest specimens are 17.5 centimetres in length, the smallest under 8 centimetres long.

Fossil Scleropages are known from the Maastrichtian of India, the Maastrichtian/Late Palaeocene of Africa, the Palaeocene of Europe, the Eocene of Sumatra, and the Oligocene of Australia.   All of these earlier records are scales, otoliths and isolated bone fragments. Therefore, these newly described Chinese fossils are the first skeletons of fossil Scleropages ever unearthed in the world.

Views of the Scleropages Fossil Material

Views of Scleropages sinensis fossil material.

Scleropages sinensis fossil material (various views).

Picture Credit: Zhang Jiangyong (IVPP)

Dr Zhang stated:

“This new fish resembles Scleropages in skull bones, caudal skeleton, the shape and position of fins, and reticulate scales.  Therefore, it must belong to the genus.”

The extant species of Scleropages inhabits lakes, swamps and flooded forests as well as slowly meandering rivers. It is a carnivorous fish preying on insects, worms, small amphibians, other fish, small mammals and even birds.  The fish is renowned for its jumping, the researchers propose that Scleropages sinensis may have filled a similar niche in the Eocene ecosystem, but being smaller it probably had a more restricted diet than its extant relative.  Analysis of the fossil material suggests that sexual dimorphism may have existed in S. sinensis.

Comparing the Extinct Species with Living Species

Living species of Scleropages compared to the fossil material.

Comparison between Scleropages sinensis (A) and the living species S. formosus (B), S. leichardti.

Picture Credit: Zhang Jiangyong (IVPP)

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