All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
12 09, 2017

Europe’s Newest Brachiosaur

By | September 12th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Soriatitan golmayensis of the Lower Cretaceous of Spain

Say hello to Europe’s newest member of the Brachiosauridae family – Soriatitan golmayensis, a Sauropod estimated to have been longer than a badminton court!  This new species of herbivorous dinosaur has been described in a scientific paper published in the journal “Cretaceous Research”.  The fossil material, consisting of a single tooth, elements from the hips, limb bones including a partial femur and fragmentary tail bones were excavated over several years from the turn of the Century.  The study of the fossil material finally culminating in the establishment of a new species of brachiosaurid.  The genus name means “Soria Titan”, a reference to Soria Province in central Spain where the fossils come from.  The species name honours the Lower Cretaceous Golmayo Formation (upper Hauterivian-lower Barremian), from which the fossil material was extracted.

An Illustration of the Newly Described Early Cretaceous Sauropod Soriatitan golmayensis

Soriatitan golmayensis illustrated.

An illustration of the brachiosaurid Soriatitan golmayensis.

Picture Credit: Fundación Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis

Approximately Fourteen Metres Long

With less than 15% of the skeleton to work with, the researchers, which included lead author of the paper, Rafael Royo-Torres (Fundación Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis/Museo Aragonés de Paleontología, Spain), were able to identify this dinosaur as a Brachiosaur by comparing the bones to better-known species.  To estimate the size, the scientists scaled up the dinosaur based on the dimensions of the 1.25-metre-long humerus (upper arm bone).  When this bone was compared to the humeri of other brachiosaurids the team concluded that their specimen represented a fourteen-metre-long individual.

The Size of Soriatitan Was Calculated Using the Humerus

Fossil humerus (Soriatitan golmayensis).

The humerus from Soriatitan which was used to estimate the animal’s size.

Picture Credit: Fundación Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis

The Brachiosauridae Family

Brachiosaurs probably originated in the late Middle Jurassic and survived the break-up of Pangaea before finally becoming extinct in the Early Cretaceous.  Fossils of these long-necked, heavy-limbed plant-eaters are known from North America, Africa, Europe and southern England.  The Brachiosauridae is one of the three groups that make up the larger clade the Titanosauriformes.  The research team estimate that Soriatitan roamed the Iberian Peninsula some 132 million years ago.  Although, other fragmentary fossils notably those of Pelorosaurus conybeari from the Grinstead Clay Formation (West Sussex, England), have been tentatively assigned to the Brachiosauridae, the discovery of Soriatitan is extremely significant.  Dinosaurs such as the similar sized P. conybeari have been found in slightly older strata (Valangian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous), Soriatitan provides evidence that brachiosaurids persisted in the Early Cretaceous of Europe for longer than previously thought.

Palaeontologist Rafael Royo-Torres explained:

“Until now it was believed that brachiosaurids had become extinct in Europe around 130 million years ago, the discovery of Soriatitan changes our perception of the European Early Cretaceous biota.”

The Break-up of Pangaea

The single, spoon-shaped tooth is typical of a brachiosaurid.  This tooth and the shape of a number of bones such as the presence of middle caudal neural spines helped the researchers to assign this dinosaur to the Brachiosauridae family.  In addition, the team deduced that Soriatitan may have been closely related to Abydosaurus Cedarosaurus and Venenosaurus, which are all known from Lower Cretaceous-aged strata from Utah (United States).   The presence of Early Cretaceous brachiosaurids in both North America and Europe, give support to the hypothesis of a connection between the tectonic plates of these continents at some point during the Early Cretaceous.  A land connection between Europe and North America must have been present to enable closely related dinosaurs to be found in both Spain and the western United States.

Views of the Single Tooth of Soriatitan golmayensis

Soriatitan fossil tooth.

Views of the single tooth of Soriatitan from the Lower Cretaceous of Spain.

Picture Credit: Fundación Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis

The discovery of Soriatitan, may help palaeontologists to better understand the evolution of the Titanosauriformes in Europe.  Rafael Royo-Torres was part of the research team that described the non-brachiosaurid Titanosauriform Tastavinsaurus sanzi recovered from a dig site in Peñarroya de Tastavins (Teruel) at the base of the marine Xert Formation in 2008.  It is one of the most complete and best-preserved Sauropod dinosaur skeletons from the European Early Cretaceous.  Tastavinsaurus roamed Spain some 125 million years ago.  The discovery of Soriatitan may help fill the evolutionary gap between Late Jurassic Brachiosaurs and the European Titanosaurs of the Early Cretaceous.

Rafael Royo-Torres Photographed Next to the Partial Femur (Thigh Bone)

The femur (thigh bone) of Soriatitan golmayensis

Palaeontologist Rafael Royo , lead author of the scientific paper examines a Soriatitan golmayensis femur.

Picture Credit: Fundación Conjunto Paleontológico de Teruel-Dinópolis

11 09, 2017

500 Million-Year-Old Trace Fossils Shed Light on Animal Evolution

By | September 11th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Tracing the Traces of Early Animal Life

Darwin was aware of the problem, Huxley and Owen had considered it too.  The American Charles Walcott, in 1909*, literally stumbled across evidence to support the idea of a bizarre array of early animal forms, but the fossil evidence that helps to pinpoint and then map the evolution of the Kingdom Animalia in deep geological time, is scarce to say the very least.  How and when did the first animals evolve?  What type of creatures were they?  These are the questions that taxed the minds of some of the greatest scientists in history, now, thanks to some new research published today, the way we think about how all animals evolved on Earth might just change.

Scientists have discovered microscopic traces of animal life more than half-a-billion years old.  The international team, including scientists from Manchester University, have identified trace fossils left by some of the first ever organisms capable of active movement.

Plotting the Evidence of Ancient Burrowing Creatures

The first animals (trace fossils).

Evidence of the first animals (burrows and borings).

Picture Credit: Manchester University

The picture above might look like a Jackson Pollock, but the image shows a computer generated, three-dimensional model of the trace fossils found by the scientists.  Trace fossils preserve evidence of the activity of organisms.  They are often the only evidence palaeontologists have for extinct animals whose bodies lacked any hard parts.  No physical remains of the microscopic worms that made these burrows have been found, but the researchers suggest that they were made by a type of nematoid-like worm, an animal with bilateral symmetry, making these organisms more closely related to Chordates (animals with notochords and spinal columns), than creatures like jellyfish and corals.

The fossils were discovered in sediment in the Corumbá region of western Brazil, close to the border with Bolivia.  The burrows are extremely small.  They measure from less than fifty to six hundred micrometres or microns (μm) in diameter.  That means the tiny creatures that made them were similar in size to a human hair, which can range from forty to three hundred microns wide.  One micrometre is just one thousandth of a millimetre.

The Research Team Carefully Mapped the Intricate Burrows in the Ancient Sediment

Ancient roundworm trace fossils.

Trace fossils indicate the first animals capable of independent movement.

Picture Credit: Manchester University

Commenting on the significance of this research, Dr Russell Garwood (University of Manchester School of Earth and Environmental Sciences), stated:

“This is an especially exciting find due to the age of the rocks, these fossils are found in rock layers which actually pre-date the oldest fossils of complex animals – at least that is what all current fossil records would suggest.”

The Ediacaran-Cambrian Transition

The fossils found date back to a geological and evolutionary period known as the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition.  This was when the Ediacaran Period, which spanned 94 million years from the end of the Cryogenian Period, 635 million years ago, moved into the Cambrian Period around 541 million years ago.  To put that into context, dinosaurs lived between 235 and 66 million years ago in the Mesozoic Era and our human species (H.sapiens), may have been present on this planet for around 250,000 years or so.

Dr Garwood explained:

“The evolutionary events during the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition are unparalleled in Earth history.  That’s because current fossil records suggest that many animal groups alive today appeared in a really short time interval.”

The scientists suggest these burrows were created by “nematoid-like organisms”, similar to a modern-day roundworm, that used an undulating locomotion to move through the sediment, leaving these trace fossils behind.  This is important because current DNA studies, known as “molecular clocks”, which are used to estimate how long ago a group animals originated, suggests the first animals appeared before these trace fossils.  The research paper published in the academic journal “Nature Ecology and Evolution”, demonstrates that these trace fossils pre-date similar animals known from the fossil record.

Luke Parry, the lead author of the paper (Bristol University) stated:

“Our new fossils show that complex animals with muscle control were around approximately 550 million years ago, and they may have been overlooked previously because they are so tiny.  The fossils that we describe were made by quite complex animals that we call bilaterians.  These are all animals that are more closely related to humans, rather than to simple creatures like jellyfish.  Most fossils of bilaterian animals are younger, first appearing in the Cambrian period.”

*It was the American Charles Walcott who discovered the Burgess Shale deposits of British Columbia, that first provided palaeontologists with a window into the radiation and diversity of the Animalia during the Middle Cambrian.  The unique taphonomy of these shales permitted the preservation of a multitude of marine invertebrates including thousands of specimens of soft-bodied creatures.

Mapping the Extensive Network of Trails

Ancient trace fossils.

The different colours mark different burrows.

To find such tiny fossils the team used X-ray microtomography, a special technique that uses X-rays to create a virtual, three-dimensional model of something without destroying the original object.

Paper Reference – ‘Ichnological evidence for meiofaunal bilaterians from the terminal Ediacaran and earliest Cambrian of Brazil ‘ is being published in Nature Ecology & Evolution – DOI 10.1038/s41559-017-0301-9

Further Reading:

Cambrian worm discovery: It was a Worm’s World Back in the Cambrian

A potential transitional fossil between worms and Arthropoda: Transitional “Cactus-like” Fossil Between a Worm and an Arthropod

10 09, 2017

A Review of the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops Model

By | September 10th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases, Product Reviews|0 Comments

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops Model Reviewed

Everything Dinosaur has recently added the PNSO range of prehistoric animals and the PNSO “Family Zoo” replicas to its already extensive range of figures.  This series is not that well-known outside of China, but these models are rapidly gaining favour with serious collectors.  Take for example, the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops figure, one of the large dinosaur models within this particular range.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops Model

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops model.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows this excellent horned dinosaur replica.  We have placed the model on its box and put a geology ruler next to it so that readers can easily see the size of this figure.  It measures thirty-seven centimetres from the tip of the brow horn to the end of the tail, making this one of the largest models of “three-horned face” available from a mainstream manufacturer.  The box artwork is superb and the information leaflet found inside the box, folds out to create a poster of the front cover Triceratops artwork.

A View of the Other Side of the PNSO Age of Dinosaur Triceratops Replica

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Triceratops Model Scale

Although, PNSO does not publish a scale for their models, our dinosaur experts have estimated that this Triceratops (T. horridus) is in approximately in 1:24 scale.  It makes a spectacular display piece and there is a lot of detail to admire on the replica, most notably the intriguing skin texture, the folds of skin that indicate movement and that wonderfully painted skull and neck frill.

A Close View of the Head of the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops Model

A close view of the head of the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops model.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs model series which is available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Model Collection

The splashes of orange on the head contrast with the greyish body.  Palaeontologists tend to agree that colour was very important to dinosaurs and it makes sense for Triceratops to have a bright head and neck frill, this would have helped make the head and the large frill more eye-catching when it came to visual displays to intimidate rivals and to deter attack from predatory Tyrannosaurs.

The PNSO Triceratops Replica (Anterior View)

A view from the front of the impressive PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The head is slightly lowered on the PNSO replica, it’s as if the animal is displaying or perhaps it is getting ready to lunge with its dangerous brow horns.

Fantastic Box Artwork (PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops Figure)

Beautiful PNSO Age of Dinosaurs box art.

The PNSO Triceratops box art.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All in all, this is a highly collectable Triceratops figure and we look forward to seeing how this model series develops.

PNSO have also introduced a range of extant animal models under the umbrella brand of “Family Zoo”.  At the moment, three large models of living animals are included within this series.  There is a Hippopotamus, an African Elephant and a gorgeous White Rhinoceros model.  So, if ancient horned animals are not quite your thing, then why not grab a replica of the highly endangered African White Rhinoceros, a living example of a horned giant, a magnificent creature, that sadly, like the Triceratops some sixty-six million years beforehand, is now facing extinction.

The Beautiful PNSO Family Zoo White Rhinoceros Model

PNSO Family Zoo White Rhinoceros.

The PNSO White Rhinoceros model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the PNSO “Family Zoo” models: PNSO Family Zoo Animal Models

9 09, 2017

Has Human Evolution Tripped Us Up?

By | September 9th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

5.7 Million-year-old Hominin Footprints on Crete

The chance discovery of hominin fossilised footprints on the Mediterranean island of Crete, has challenged the accepted theory of human evolution.  The footprints, which have been dated to around 5.7 million years ago, were formed when all other hominins known to science were restricted to Africa and they had much more ape-like feet.  If the series of tracks prove to be accurately dated, then this challenges the idea that hominins (those species more closely related to us than they are to a chimpanzee), evolved in Africa.  Has someone just rocked the “cradle of humanity”?

A Photograph of the Tracks (Ancient Hominin Footprints)

Hominin fossil footprints from Crete.

Fossilised hominin footprints from Crete.

Picture Credit: Andrzej Boczarowski

The Out of Africa Theory

With the discovery of the Laetoli footprints in Tanzania in the mid 1970’s (believed to have been made by a small group of Australopithecus afarensis), which were formed some 3.7 million years ago, our species (H. sapiens) and our direct ancestors were thought to have originated in Africa.  These footprints, show very human-like feet with a distinctive shape, a big toe and a human gait.   The gait of these early humans was “heel-strike” (the heel of the foot hits first) followed by “toe-off” (the toes push off at the end of the stride), the same way that modern humans walk.  Early hominins were thought to have remained isolated in Africa before dispersing to Europe and Asia, hundreds of thousands of years after they first evolved.  The discovery of approximately 5.7 million-year-old human-like footprints from Crete, published online this week by an international team of researchers, including scientists from Uppsala University (Sweden), overturns this rather simple picture and suggests a more complicated evolutionary path for our ancestors.

A Close View of One of the Footprints (right foot)

Fossilised hominin footprint from Crete

A fossilised hominin footprint from Trachilos (western Crete). The right footprint is estimated to be 5.7 million-years-old.

Picture Credit: Andrzej Boczarowski

The picture above shows a close-up of one of the footprints, the big toe can be clearly seen.  Our feet have a very distinctive shape.  We have five short toes without claws, the hallux (big toe), is much larger than the other toes and our foot has a long sole.  The feet of the great apes, are very different.  They resemble a human hand with a thumb-like hallux that sticks out to the side.  The Laetoli footprints, ascribed to A. afarensis, are quite similar to those of modern humans except that the heel is narrower and the sole lacks a proper arch.  The 4.4 million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus from Ethiopia, the oldest hominin known from reasonably complete fossils, has an ape-like foot.   The researchers who described Ardipithecus argued that it is a direct ancestor of later hominins, implying that a human-like foot evolved later.

The Trachilos Tracks

The newly described tracks from Trachilos in western Crete bear a close resemblance to a human footprint.  The big toe has similar morphology and there seems to be a distinct “ball” on the sole, which is absent in primates.  The sole of the foot is proportionately shorter than in the Laetoli prints, but it has the same general form.  The prints do look as if they were made by a hominin.

The Foot of a Great Ape (Note the Position of the Big Toe)

A photograph of the foot of an ape.

The foot of an ape.

Approximately fifty tracks were made when bipeds walked across a sandy area and although many large apes are known from the Late Miocene of Europe, no hominin was thought to have migrated into Europe for millions of years after the tracks were made.

Professor Per Ahlberg (Uppsala University), the lead author of the study commented:

“What makes this controversial is the age and location of the prints.”

At approximately 5.7 million years, they are younger than the oldest known fossil hominin, Sahelanthropus from Chad, and contemporary with Orrorin (O. tugenensis), from Kenya, but more than a million years older than Ardipithecus ramidus with its ape-like feet.

This fossil find throws into question the hypothesis that Ardipithecus is a direct ancestor of later hominins.  In addition, until this year, all fossil hominins older than 1.8 million years (the age of early Homo fossils from Georgia), came from Africa, leading most researchers to conclude that this was where the group evolved.  However, the Trachilos footprints are securely dated using a combination of foraminifera (marine micro-fossils) from over and underlying bedding planes, plus the fact that they lie just below a very distinctive sedimentary rock formed when the Mediterranean Sea temporarily evaporated around 5.6 million years ago.  Coincidentally, earlier this year, another group of researchers, led by Professor Madelaine Böhme of the University of Tübingen, (Germany), writing in the Journal PLOS One, reinterpreted the fragmentary 7.2 million-year-old primate Graecopithecus freybergi from Greece and Bulgaria as a hominin.

Professor Ahlberg added:

“This discovery challenges the established narrative of early human evolution head-on and is likely to generate a lot of debate.  Whether the human origins research community will accept fossil footprints as conclusive evidence of the presence of hominins in the Miocene of Crete remains to be seen.”

The eastern Mediterranean in the Late Miocene consisted of extensive, arid grasslands, the Sahara Desert did not exist and Crete was still part of the Greek mainland.  Early hominins could have ranged along this habitat moving from Africa to south-eastern Europe, with one group leaving their footprints on the shores of the Mediterranean that would one-day form part of the island of Crete.

The scientific paper: Possible Hominin Footprints from the Late Miocene (c. 5.7 Ma) of Crete?   Gierlinski, G. D. et al. 2017. published in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of an Uppsala University press release in the compilation of this article.

8 09, 2017

How to Set Up an Account at Everything Dinosaur

By | September 8th, 2017|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

How to Set Up an Account at Everything Dinosaur

With the launch of Everything Dinosaur’s updated website this year, lots of new customer friendly features have been added.  Creating an account is very easy and intuitive, but we do appreciate the way opening accounts has changed, so here is a helpful guide to setting up an account with Everything Dinosaur.

How to Open an Account with Everything Dinosaur

Step by step guide to opening an account with Everything Dinosaur

How to open an account with Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

You Don’t Need an Account to Make a Purchase (Check-out as a Guest)

The first point to make is that you don’t need to open an account/create your own personal space on our website to make a purchase.  Visitors to our site can check-out as a guest, there is no need to open an account, simply put the items you want into your shopping cart, go to the check-out page and then proceed through the check-out process.  You will get offered the opportunity to open an account, but this is not compulsory, just simply proceed without ticking the “create an account” box.

How to Open an Account

  1. Add the items you would like to purchase to your shopping cart.
  2. Proceed to the check-out page.
  3. Enter billing address and/or delivery address (if delivery address is different from the billing address).
  4. Just below the billing address, you will see a “check box” entitled Create an Account? – we have circled the check box in red in the picture below.

Tick the “Create an Account” Box Under the Billing Address

Opening an account at Everything Dinosaur.

Tick the box (circled) to start the account set up process at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

5. Tick the box by clicking on it, you will be asked to create a password, once this is done, just proceed through the check-out process.

You Will Be Asked to Create a Password for Your Account

Opening an account with Everything Dinosaur

Tick the box to create an account, then make up a password.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Simple and Straight Forward Account Opening Process

That’s it, that’s all there is to it.  You can create your own account on our website and it takes just a few seconds.  Our customers and account holders can be assured that at Everything Dinosaur we take their on-line safety extremely seriously and our website has HTTPS status.  This means that all communications between your browser and our website are encrypted.  This is just one of the numerous safety measures that we employ to keep you and your data safe when shopping/visiting Everything Dinosaur’s websites.

If you have a query about account opening, or if you wish to contact a member of our team, just email us: Email Everything Dinosaur

For dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed toys, models, games and clothing visit: Everything Dinosaur’s Website

7 09, 2017

Threatened Species Day 2017

By | September 7th, 2017|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Threatened Species Day 2017

Remembering the Thylacine

Today, September 7th is “National Threatened Species Day” in Australia.  On this day, in 1936, the last known Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) died in Beaumaris Zoo, Tasmania.  Thus, the largest marsupial predator of recent times became extinct.  The Tasmanian Tiger, sometimes referred to as the Tasmanian Wolf or to be more correct, the Thylacine was once widespread throughout much of Australia and particularly numerous on Tasmania.  However, with the arrival of European settlers the demise of this predator was accelerated and within a few decades the population was in terminal decline.

The Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus)

A Thylacine.

A Thylacine in captivity (1935), a picture of the last Thylacine known to science.

Picture Credit: David Fleay

Australia’s Unique Flora and Fauna

National Threatened Species Day encourages Australians to reflect on the unique nature of the country’s flora and fauna and to consider how best to conserve it.  As the day is commemorated, it also highlights the amazing work that is being done by conservationists, researchers, volunteers and volunteers.  It has been estimated that Australia is home to more than half a million animal and plant species, a large number of which are unique to the continent.  Scientists estimate that over the last two hundred years, more than one hundred unique plant and animal species have become extinct and that includes the Thylacine.

Koala – Unique to Australia but Vulnerable to Extinction

A Koala (unique to Australia).

The Koala a symbol of Australia’s unique wildlife is also threatened.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Iconic animals, such as the Koala, sometimes called the Koala Bear (even though it is only very distantly related to bears, is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  Habitat destruction and the loss of Eucalyptus trees along with severe drought has significantly reduced this arboreal herbivores numbers.

Hope for the Thylacine?

There have been numerous claimed sightings of Thylacines.  Prompted by some plausible eye-witness accounts, researchers from James Cook University have set up camera traps in a remote part of northern Queensland in an attempt to capture footage of Thylacines.  Everything Dinosaur featured the plans to hunt for Thylacines in a blog article published in the spring: Hunting for Tasmanian Tigers.  Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, rained on the researcher’s parade somewhat when they calculated the probability of the Thylacine having survived at being about 1 in 1.6 trillion.

Extension Ideas

  • Have the class list animals and then look up their conservation status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
  • Split the children into groups and have them research the story of various extinct animals – animals such as the Dodo, Thylacine, Moa, Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk.
  • With the collaboration of the “Forest School” organiser, what practical steps can the school take to set up their own wildlife conservation area.


7 09, 2017

National Thylacine Day

By | September 7th, 2017|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

National Thylacine Day

Today, marks the 81st anniversary of the death of the last known Thylacine.  The animal, nick-named Benjamin, died this day (7th September 1936), at Beaumaris Zoo (Hobart, Tasmania).  The Thylacine (sometimes referred to as the Tasmanian Tiger, probably due to its prominent stripes), was the largest carnivorous marsupial of the Holocene Epoch.  It was the last member of the once diverse and numerous Thylacinidae family, which once ranged over Australia and New Guinea.

Over the last few years, Everything Dinosaur has been able to add a couple of Thylacine models to its extensive range of prehistoric and extinct animal replicas.  In 2016, CollectA added a female Thylacine model to its hugely popular CollectA Prehistoric Life model range.  The model can be clearly identified as a female because of the very obvious pouch.  The CollectA Thylacine model measures a fraction under twelve centimetres in length and the model’s head is some five centimetres off the ground.

The CollectA Thylacine Model

The CollectA Thylacine replica.

The CollectA Thylacine model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The distended pouch suggests that this particular Thylacine is carrying young.  This impressive, hand-painted model has received excellent reviews.  For example, a recent 5-star FEEFO review stated that this CollectA model was:

“Very high-quality product.”

Thylacinus cynocephalus

Aboriginal rock art records Thylacines and numerous fossil sites are known from Western Australia.  The Tasmanian Tiger ranged extensively over Australia and Tasmania, a mummified carcass was discovered in the famous Nullarbor Cave in 1969 by a field team from the Western Australian Museum.

Mojo Fun also has a Thylacine replica in its model range (Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Animals), this replica is approximately the same size as the CollectA model and just like the CollectA replica, it is hand-painted.  Everything Dinosaur added this model range to its portfolio as part of plans to expand the company’s extensive model range.

The Mojo Fun Thylacine Model

The Mojo Fun Thylacine.

The Mojo Fun Thylacine model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Mojo Fun Thylacine has also received excellent reviews from collectors, such as this 5-star FEEFO rating – “Well-made model, exactly as presented on your web site.”

Quality Thylacine Models

Such is the quality of these two figures, that we have supplied numerous scientists, academics and museum staff with these models.

To view the range of prehistoric and extinct animal replicas available from Everything Dinosaur: The Models Available from Everything Dinosaur

September 7th is “National Threatened Species Day” in Australia.  This day is dedicated to acknowledging the efforts of those hard-working conservationists who strive to protect Australia’s flora and fauna.  It is also a day for remembering the Thylacine, our species Homo sapiens, was responsible for the extinction of this beautiful and little understood predator.

There have been several credible sightings in recent years, and prompted by some plausible eye-witness accounts, scientists from James Cook University have set up camera traps in a remote part of northern Queensland in a bid to capture irrefutable evidence that this enigmatic marsupial still exists.  Everything Dinosaur featured the plans to hunt for Thylacines in a blog article published in the spring: Hunting for Tasmanian Tigers.  The idea that a handful of “Tigers” might be still in the outback, is a very intriguing idea, however, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, put together a mathematical model to assess the probability of the Thylacine still existing.  Having assessed all the sightings and other evidence, the most optimistic view is that the Thylacine might have persisted to around 1950 but the chances of finding a Thylacine alive today are extremely remote.  How remote?  About 1 in 1.6 trillion according to the mathematicians.

6 09, 2017

Evidence for Communal Roosting in Oviraptorids

By | September 6th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Communal Roosting in the Dinosauria

Attendees at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology (SVP) in Calgary (Alberta, Canada), were treated to a presentation outlining the discovery of a trio of young oviraptorid dinosaurs that may have been preserved sleeping as a group.  This might provide the first evidence of communal roosting, a practice seen in many extant animals today, where members of the same species sleep together for mutual protection and to help keep themselves warm.  Communal roosting is seen in many species of birds, notable examples being starlings and rooks.  Communal roosting is also known amongst primates, bats and butterflies.

Although, it is easy to misinterpret fossils of this nature, oviraptorids, members of the Maniraptora clade of dinosaurs which are closely related to Aves (birds), are believed to have been social animals and a spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur stated that behaviour of this nature is within the “realms of expectation for these dinosaurs”.

The Fossilised Remains of Three Oviraptorid Dinosaurs – Is this Evidence of Communal Roosting?

Block containing three oviraptorid fossils.

The three oviraptorid fossil skeletons within the single block.

Picture Credit: Gregory F. Funston

The picture above shows the plaster-jacketed block containing the three individuals and a line drawing showing the location of each skeleton and the layout of the bones.  Greg Funston (University of Alberta), who led the fossil study explained that the three sleeping dinosaurs were probably relatives, perhaps from the same brood.  The fossil material first came to the attention of academics when Mongolian customs officials seized the specimen at an airport in 2006.  The stone block was being illegally smuggled out of the country, sadly, there is a thriving black market in illicit fossils from Mongolia and China, despite the very best attempts of the authorities to stop this trade.

Identifying the source of such illegally acquired fossils is always tricky, but a geochemical analysis of the surrounding matrix by scientists from the University of Bologna (Italy), led by Federico Fanti, suggested that the fossil came from the Bugiin Tsav area of the Gobi Desert (Upper Cretaceous sediments associated with the Nemegt Formation – Maastrichtian faunal stage).  Dr Fanti has also presented his findings at the SVP.

Sleeping Oviraptorids

Oviraptorids were extremely bird-like, feathered dinosaurs, with short skulls, beaks and deep lower jaws which were largely edentulous (lacking teeth).  Several genera have been named and these dinosaurs lived in the northern hemisphere during the Late Cretaceous.  Most of these dinosaurs were relatively small, around two-three metres in length (Gigantoraptor being an exception) and they were particularly abundant in Asia.  Fossils of their nests have been found, along with adults incubating eggs.  Most palaeontologists believe that these dinosaurs were social animals with similar behaviours to those seen in extant birds.  The diet of oviraptorids is uncertain, these bipeds could have been mainly herbivorous, but omnivory and durophagy (eating hard-shelled items like nuts, seeds and molluscs) is not ruled out.

An Oviraptor Exhibit at a Museum (Frankfurt Natural History Museum)

An Oivraptor fossil with nest.

An Oviraptor dinosaur sitting on her nest.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The three individuals are from the same species, which is new to science, these oviraptorids have yet to be formally named.  Like several other oviraptorids, a prominent, domed skull crest has been identified.  These types of dinosaurs seem to have been highly successful, the vertebrate biota of some Upper Cretaceous deposits of China are dominated by oviraptorids, for a case in point: Not Another Ganzhou Oviraptorid

Juveniles Huddling Together

Two of the dinosaurs have been preserved crouched down on their stomachs, these two specimens, which are more complete than the third, have their necks curled back towards their bodies, whilst their arms cradle their heads, this is very reminiscent of a sleeping posture adopted by many types of living bird.  The fossilised remains of allegedly sleeping dinosaurs have been found before, perhaps most notably Mei long from the Liaoning Formation of north-eastern China.  M. long was named in 2004 after a spectacular fossil showing a head tucked under an arm and a tail curled round the body was discovered.  This little troodontid was either resting or sleeping when it was smothered by a layer of volcanic ash.

An Illustration of the “Sleeping Dragon” Mei long

Mei long illustration.

Mei long – sleeping dragon.

This is the first fossil evidence to support the idea that some kinds of dinosaurs roosted together (communal roosting).  Bone histology indicates that these animals were juveniles and roughly the same age when they died, it has been speculated that this fossil represents a “teenage gang” of sub-adult dinosaurs that died in their sleep.  If the layout of the fossils reflects their true posture and the bone position has not been affected by the fossilisation process, then the position of the three dinosaurs implies they were touching each other.  The researchers think the youngsters were probably huddling for warmth.  That suggests that the animals had tried to maintain a constant body temperature, or perhaps they were frightened and huddling together for protection and comfort.  David Varricchio (Associate Professor at Montana State University), has commented that he wondered whether these dinosaurs were resting or taking shelter from harsh weather rather than sleeping.  Funston argues that modern animals that roost together don’t usually make direct contact except for warmth.  Animals that died in events such as floods are preserved in very different positions from that of the oviraptorid trio, making it unlikely that the young dinosaurs were awake when they met their demise.

An Illustration of Roosting Oviraptorids

Communal roosting in oviraptorids.

Roosting oviraptorids.

Picture Credit: Mike Skrepnick

Difficult to Interpret

The three dinosaurs do seem to have perished together, their body positions indicate that the carcasses were unlikely to have been transported far before accumulating and forming this assemblage, but interpreting the fossil is difficult.  Other researchers have expressed reservations about the communal resting hypothesis.  For example, biologist John Grady (Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania), has stated that the dinosaurs may have huddled together to hide or merely because the location was “a great place to sleep.” 

However, this fossil material is interpreted, it adds to the growing body of evidence that many types of dinosaurs, including Maniraptorans were highly social creatures and capable of exhibiting quite complex behaviours.

For a 2013 article that looks at evidence for oviraptorid courtship displays: Dinosaurs Shaking Tail Feathers and Strutting

Canadian dinosaur helps to prove dinosaurs were show-offs: Fossil Discovery Reinforces Idea of Dinosaurs Displaying

5 09, 2017

The End of the Road for Troodon formosus

By | September 5th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|1 Comment

Troodon formosus – No Longer Valid

One of the first ever dinosaurs named from North America has officially bitten the dust in taxonomic terms as the troodontid Troodon formosus is no longer a valid genus.  This fast-running, bird-like dinosaur was first named and described in 1856 by the American palaeontologist Joseph Leidy and right from the very beginning there were problems over its description and classification.  Troodon (T. formosus), a dinosaur whose name provided the inspiration behind the erection of an entire dinosaur family, the Troodontidae (part of the Deinonychosauria clade), was described on the basis of the discovery of a fossilised tooth.  The teeth of these types of dinosaurs are recurved and have large serrations, unlike any dinosaur teeth found previously and so Leidy erected a new genus – Troodon (the name means “wounding tooth”).  This staple of dinosaur books and academic literature for the best part of 160 years had been established on fairly shaky ground to begin with.  Now thanks to some new research from University of Alberta graduate student Aaron van der Reest, T. formosus has been replaced by two taxa, one new one Latenivenatrix mcmasterae and one resurrected one.  As a result of this new study, which has led to the reclassification of North American troodontid fossil material, the species Stenonychosaurus inequalis, first described by Sternberg in 1932 and previously regarded as a junior synonym of Troodon has come back into favour.

An Illustration of the Bird-like, Sickle-toe Clawed Troodon (T. formosus)

Troodon illustrated.

An illustration of the feathered dinosaur Troodon.  A staple of dinosaur books, but Troodon is no longer valid.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Hips Brought Everything to a Head

In the early summer of 2014, van der Reest discovered an intact troodontid pelvis in Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation of southern Alberta.  This led to him conducting an in-depth analysis of previously collected troodontid fossils, including skull bones.  His research concluded that the Dinosaur Provincial Park fossil record held two genera of troodontid and not one.  For most of the 19th and 20th Centuries troodontid fossils from North America tended to be assigned to T. formosus.  Based on this, Troodon ranged from Mexico in the south to Montana and beyond Alberta in the north and existed as a species through some fifteen million years.  A contradiction indeed, when the rapid dinosaur faunal turnover of Laramidia in the Late Cretaceous is considered.

The shape of the pelvic bones, particularly the pubis led to the erection of the new species – Latenivenatrix.  It comes from the upper Dinosaur Park Formation (Late Campanian) and following the student’s reassessment of troodontid fossil material from strata representing the youngest layers of the Dinosaur Park Formation, other fossil elements including partial skulls have been assigned to this species.  Latenivenatrix (the name means “hiding hunter”), a reference to the muddle and confusion surrounding North American troodontids, was a relative giant amongst its kind.

Aaron van der Reest explained:

“This new species is the largest of the troodontids ever found anywhere in the world, standing nearly two metres at the head and close to 3.5 metres long.  It’s about fifty per cent larger than any other troodontids previously known, making it one of the largest Deinonychosaurs (raptor-like dinosaurs) we currently recognise.”

An Illustration of the Late Cretaceous Troodontid Latenivenatrix mcmasterae

Latenivenatrix illustrated.

The giant North American troodontid Latenivenatrix.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

Student van der Reest added:

“The hips we found could ultimately open the door for dozens of new species to be discovered.  Researchers with other specimens now have two new species [Latenivenatrix mcmasterae and Stenonychosaurus inequalis] for comparison, widening our ability to understand the troodontid family tree in North America.”

Confusion Amongst North American Troodontids

Troodontids are known from both Asia and North America, the most complete specimens come from Upper Jurassic Strata of China, Lower Cretaceous strata of China (western Liaoning Province) and the Cretaceous of Mongolia.  In contrast, troodontids from the western hemisphere, specifically Mexico, USA and Canada are very poorly known with a very fragmentary fossil record.   Previously unassigned fossils from the lower part of the Dinosaur Park Formation have now been assigned to the resurrected troodontid species Stenonychosaurus inequalis.

A Comparison of Maniraptoran Teeth

Maniraptora tooth morphology.

Note the large serrations on the troodontid teeth.  These serrations (denticles) were used to establish the genus Troodon (Leidy 1856).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Honouring Mum

For Aaron, being able to name a new dinosaur has been an especially emotional experience.  The species name for Latenivenatrix mcmasterae honours his late mother, Lynne (McMaster) van der Reest who did so much to encourage him to pursue a career in palaeontology.

Thanks to this new study, the story of troodontids in North America is a little clearer.  A distinct stratigraphic separation between Stenonychosaurus inequalis and the younger troodontid Latenivenatrix mcmasterae has been established.  A phylogenetic analysis indicates that Latenivenatrix is more closely related to Asian Troodonts than it is to Stenonychosaurus, this suggests that the replacement of Stenonychosaurus may have resulted from an earlier Asian migrant into North America.

For the time being Troodon formosus is no more.

The scientific paper: “Troodontids (Theropoda) from the Dinosaur Park Formation, Alberta, with a Description of a Unique New Taxon: Implications for Deinonychosaur Diversity in North America” by Aaron J. van der Reest and Philip J. Currie published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

4 09, 2017

PNSO Pictures Pushes Pinterest Beyond 14,000

By | September 4th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|1 Comment

Everything Dinosaur Has 14,000 Pins on Pinterest

With the setting up of a special Pinterest board dedicated to the excellent Age of Dinosaurs range from PNSO, Everything Dinosaur has smashed through the 14,000 pins benchmark on this social media platform.  Everything Dinosaur’s presence on Pinterest is dedicated to pictures of prehistoric animals and fossils as well as images of all the amazing dinosaur themed products in the company’s extensive portfolio.  With the introduction of the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs range in August (August 2017), a new Pinterest board was created to accommodate images of this model series and this, along with the addition of several new blog articles, pushed the total number of pins on the site beyond 14,000.

A Total of 37 Images on the PNSO Pinterest Board Posted Up by Everything Dinosaur

A selection of PNSO prehistoric animal models.

A selection of the PNSO prehistoric animal toys.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Sixty Pinterest Boards

The Pinterest pins are spread out over a total of sixty Pinterest Boards, covering subjects as diverse as human evolution, crocodiles/crocodilians and Pterosaurs.  The board entitled “Fossils”, which incorporates more than fifteen hundred pictures of various fossils from museum collections and excavation sites, rivals the fossil collection of a small regional museum in its diversity.  The board entitled “Dinosaurs for Schools” in conjunction with the board that highlights the articles posted up on our special teaching blog: Dinosaurs for Schools has a total of 874 pins posted.  These provide a valuable educational resource for teachers and teaching assistants.  There is even a board that provides images of fearsome “Terror Birds”, otherwise known as members of the Phorusrhacidae family, a group of large, flightless, carnivorous birds that were the apex predators in South America until the migration of members of the Carnivora into South America just a few million years ago.

Terror Birds (Phorusrhacids) Feature on Everything Dinosaur’s Pinterest Boards

A drawing of Kelenken

The Kelenken in all its glory (Terror Bird).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The image above depicting a Terror Bird is typical of the many prehistoric animal drawings that get sent into our offices.   Everything Dinosaur team members also post up pictures of the numerous dinosaur drawings we receive each week, so far, the Pinterest Board named “Dinosaur Drawings etc” has nearly 850 pins on it.

To view Everything Dinosaur on the Pinterest platform: Everything Dinosaur on Pinterest

A spokesperson for the UK-based dinosaur company stated:

“There are many stunning visuals associated with palaeontology.  Not only are there the amazing fossils to photograph and document, but many scientific papers these days are accompanied by life reconstructions of the animals the fossils represent.  It is great to be able to utilise a platform such as Pinterest where we can post up these images, not only illustrations from professional palaeoartists but also from schoolchildren as well.”

To view the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs model range at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs

Pins Providing Ideas for School Lessons and Educational Programmes are Popular

Pinterest pins help schools.

A pin on pronation helping to explain how our joints are different from the joints of dinosaurs.  A simple exercise using hands to help reinforce learning.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur


Load More Posts