All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
10 07, 2017

Schleich Introduces a New Dinosaur Model

By | July 10th, 2017|Early Years Foundation Reception|Comments Off on Schleich Introduces a New Dinosaur Model

The Schleich Acrocanthosaurus

The German figure and model manufacturer Schleich have introduced a new dinosaur model into their “The First Giants” model range and this dinosaur model is great for imaginative, creative play.  The Schleich Acrocanthosaurus (pronounced Ack-row-can-tho-sore-us), stands nearly fifteen centimetres high and it measures a fraction over twenty-five centimetres long, an ideal size for little hands.

The New for 2017 Schleich Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Schleich Acrocanthosaurus.

The Schleich Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Tactile Dinosaur Model

The skin texture of this dinosaur model is fantastic.  The rough scales are very tactile and the Schleich Acrocanthosaurus is great for sensory play.  We had a go at making some “dinosaur tracks” in sand, the large feet on this replica seemed particularly suited to this type of exploration themed activity.  Designed for children from three years and upwards this model of a big, meat-eating dinosaur certainly proved very popular with the younger dinosaur fans we met recently.

Playing in the Sand with an Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

A Schleich Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Making tracks in the sand with a Schleich Acrocanthosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Stable Dinosaur Model

The Schleich Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model stands up very well.  The feet have been made a little oversized to help young children and the sturdy tail rests on the ground, providing three areas of support for the replica.  The children had no problem handling this dinosaur and they encountered no issues at all with getting the model to stand up, even on the rough sand.  Many dinosaur models are created with the tail lifted off the ground.  This might be the correct anatomical position as far as a palaeontologist is concerned, but for very young children, this can cause problems as they struggle to get the dinosaur to stand up.  No such problems with the Schleich Acrocanthosaurus we are happy to report.  This is one robust and very child friendly dinosaur model!

Everything Dinosaur stocks a huge range of Schleich prehistoric animals, including the new for 2017 Schleich Acrocanthosaurus, to view this range: Schleich Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Schleich Acrocanthosaurus

Acrocanthosaurus was a carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period and its fossils have been found in the United States of America.  Although, not as widely known as the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, this dinosaur may have been nearly as big.  It was certainly a ferocious predator and palaeontologists have even found giant, three-toed footprints that they have assigned to this genus.  Although a predatory dinosaur, we note the attention to detail and care, for example, the teeth in the model are big, will resist tugs and pulls from budding young palaeontologists but these teeth are blunt, so they are unlikely to prick little fingers.

Dinosaur Models in the Sand

Schleich dinosaurs in the sand pit.

A flock of Schleich Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Children love playing with dinosaurs and the Schleich Acrocanthosaurus ticks all the boxes when it comes to finding a suitable, large dinosaur model to help encourage exploratory learning and creative, imaginative play.

10 07, 2017

Swiss Fossil Discovery Solves Triassic Reptile Mystery

By | July 10th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

The Marine Reptile That Wasn’t –  Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi

A team of scientists from Zurich University and the University of Oxford have resolved a scaly, fourteen-year mystery concerning a small reptile that lived some 241 million years ago in the Middle Triassic.  The little diapsid named Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi has had quite a chequered history, but thanks to a remarkable fossil find, palaeontologists have a much better idea of what this reptile looked and equally importantly where it lived.  This animal was very much at home on land and not a marine reptile as previously thought.

An Illustration of Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi

Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi.

Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi illustrated.

Picture Credit: Beat Scheffold, Palaeontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich

Fossil Discovery in 2003

Named from a single, disarticulated specimen found in marine strata on the Swiss-Italian border some fourteen years ago Eusaurosphargis was thought at first to be some form of fish, after all, the fossil was found in rocks formed from sediment laid down in a shallow lagoon.  Once the skeleton had been prepared, the fossil material was identified as a diapsid reptile and the taphonomy suggested that this was a reptile that lived in the sea.  Taphonomy is the study of the fossilisation process.  It concerns everything that happens to an organism from death until the time when, if serendipity permits, its fossil is discovered.  A new fossil find, this time from the Grisons Mountains (Graubünden canton of Switzerland), a much more complete and articulated specimen, has revealed the true nature of Eusaurosphargis, it was definitely a land-lubber and as such has a superficial similarity to the extant girdled lizards (Cordylidae) of southern Africa.

A Beautifully Well-Preserved Fossil Proves Eusaurosphargis was Terrestrial

Eusaurosphargis fossil.

The articulated fossil skeleton of Eusaurophargis.

Picture Credit: Torsten Scheyer, Palaeontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich

No Sign of Marine Adaptations

The Swiss specimen measures around twenty centimetres in length and as such, it represents a juvenile.  However, the skeleton shows a flange of osteoderms on the side of the body along with a number of bony scales on its back.  The sprawling limbs show no signs of adaptation for a swimming lifestyle and the tail is very short, so short, that in water it would not have provided much propulsion.  This fossil, excavated from the Prosanto Formation near Ducanfurgga at an altitude of 2,740 metres, strongly supports the idea that this was a terrestrial animal.

Writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, the Anglo-Swiss team of researchers led by Torsten Scheyer, a palaeontologist at the University of Zurich, and James Neenan from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History have concluded that the carcass was washed off a nearby island into the sea basin and became embedded in the finely layered marine sediments after death.

Convergent Evolution

Commenting on the superficial resemblance between the Triassic Eusaurosphargis and modern-day members of the Cordylidae family, Dr Scheyer explained:

“This is a case of convergent development as the extinct species is not closely related to today’s African lizards.”

The Site of the Fossil Discovery – in the Middle of a Mountain Range

Triassic reptile fossil site.

The location of the Eusaurosphargis fossil discovery.

Picture Credit:  Christian Obrist

The Irony of the Phylogeny of Eusaurosphargis dalsassoi

Based on this new, and much better-preserved fossil material, the research team were able to conduct a more detailed phylogenetic study of E. dalsassoi to establish where, in the extremely diverse Diapsida this little reptile should be nested.  The phylogenetic analysis indicates that its closest relatives were marine reptiles, animals such as Ichthyosaurs.  Eusaurosphargis may even be the sister taxon to Helveticosaurus, a Mid Triassic marine reptile, fossils of which, also come from Switzerland.

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