All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//October
31 10, 2017

Pterosaur Terrors for Halloween

By | October 31st, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Gigantic Pterosaur from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia

An international team of scientists writing in the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology” have described the fragmentary neck bones of a gigantic Pterosaur which might turn out to be one of the largest flying reptiles known to science.  It seems apt on “All Hallows’ Eve” to write about a creature, that if it was still around today, would be the stuff of nightmares.  The researchers, which include scientists from Tokyo University, Ohio University, the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, estimate that the reptile could have had a wingspan in excess of 11 metres, perhaps even bigger.

An Azhdarchid Pterosaur – The Stuff of Nightmares

A group of azhdarchid Pterosaurs hunting.

Some azhdarchid Pterosaurs were as tall as a giraffe.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

Fragmentary Fossil Evidence

The fragmentary fossils were found in 2006, during a field expedition to the western Gobi Desert to explore a fossil-rich series of sediments known as Gurilin Tsav.  Field team member and co-author of the scientific paper, Buuvei Mainbayar (Mongolian Academy of Sciences) found the first piece of a cervical vertebrae and showed it colleague Takanobu Tsuihiji (Tokyo University), who is the lead author of the paper.  More pieces of neck bone were found, but such was their fragmentary nature that it has taken more than a decade to complete an identification and publish data.

The bones have been assigned to an azhdarchid Pterosaur.  The deposits around Gurilin Tsav date from the Upper Campanian to the Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  These fossils represent the first azhdarchid fossils to have been found in the Nemegt Formation, in fact these are the first reported Pterosaur remains from this famous Formation.  A comparison between these fossilised neck bones and those of other, slightly better-known members of the Late Cretaceous Pterosaur family known as the Azhdarchidae, indicate that the fossil material represents a “giant amongst giants”.   One of the neck bones measures nearly 20 centimetres in diameter, this is nearly four times as wide as the equivalent bone found in the huge azhdarchid Pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Jordan (Arambourgiania).

It is not known whether this, as yet unnamed Pterosaur had an exceptionally, thick, strong neck or whether the rest of its skeleton was much bigger than the likes of Hatzegopteryx or Quetzalcoatlus, hopefully, more fossils will be found.  This discovery provides further evidence that the Azhdarchidae were widely distributed across North America, Europe and Asia around 70 million years ago – not surprising really as these aerial giants would have been capable of flying incredibly long distances.

A Scale Drawing of the Giant Azhdarchid Pterosaur from Transylvania Hatzetgopteryx thambema

Hatzegopteryx illustrated.

Hatzegopteryx – giant Pterosaur from southern Europe.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper: “Gigantic Pterosaurian remains from the Upper Cretaceous of Mongolia” by Tsuihiji, T., B. Andres, P. M. O’Connor, M. Watabe, K. Tsogtbaatar, and B. Mainbayar published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

30 10, 2017

Rebor “Pete” Velociraptor Reviewed

By | October 30th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Review of the Rebor Velociraptor Model “Pete”

Rebor has produced a lot of “raptor” models, the latest off the production line is the beautiful, 1:18 scale running Velociraptor figure called “Pete”.  This new dinosaur model joins “Spring-heeled Jack”, “Alex Delarge” and “Winston” in the portfolio of scale models of adult Velociraptors.  There are almost enough Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor figures to make up your own personal pack!

The Rebor Velociraptor “Pete” Model

The Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor replica "Pete".

Rebor running Velociraptor replica “Pete”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor Replicas – “Pete”

Rebor has opted to produce a range of classical Velociraptorinae sub-family members and they are all shown in dynamic poses. After the leaping “raptors” comes this depiction of a running dinosaur and this is a beautifully crafted model.  The right hind limb is raised off the ground and the moveable arms are tucked (yes, we know that anatomically the hand is not in the right position), but this does not detract from the overall look of the figure.  The paintwork is superb, with subtle hues blended into the grey motif and we like the effect of the intermittent white bands that can be seen, particularly towards the distal end of that long, stiff tail.

To view the range of Rebor replicas available from Everything Dinosaur including the Rebor Velociraptor model “Pete”: Rebor Models and Figures

A View of the Cursorial (Running) Raptor Velociraptor “Pete”

The Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor replica "Pete".

Rebor running Velociraptor replica “Pete”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An Articulated Lower Jaw

Like many of the Rebor replica range, this figure has an articulated lower jaw.  When the jaw is opened, the fine detail in the mouth can be viewed.  It is great to see how the individual teeth have been painted, all credit to the artists at Rebor and the tongue of this dinosaur can be seen too.  It has always surprised us to see the number of dinosaur models in running poses depicted with their mouths open.  If dinosaurs are anything like modern animals, particularly their nearest living relatives – the birds, then they did not open their mouths very much, especially when running along.  However, the articulated jaw on this model enables dinosaur fans to pose their Velociraptor either “mouth closed” or “mouth open”.

Great Detail on the Skull and the Jaws

The Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor replica "Pete".

Rebor running Velociraptor replica “Pete”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Vertical Pupils

The eye of “Pete” has a vertical slit for a pupil.  This pupil shape can be seen in the other 1:18 scale Velociraptor models, but in the Velociraptor hatchlings blind box series, some of the hatchlings are depicted with rounded pupils.  Cats, crocodilians, vipers and foxes have vertical slits for pupils too, a study published in 2015 shed light (no pun intended) on why certain types of predator have these slits.  It has all to do with the preferred mode of hunting.  Vertical-slit pupils are most common amongst animals that are either nocturnal or active in low light levels and hunt by ambushing their prey.  A paper published in academic journal “Science Advances” (2015) concluded that the vertical slit provides the sharpest image in low light helping a predator to judge the distance accurately between them and their target prey.

As “Pete” has vertical slits for pupils, just like his 1:18 scale Velociraptor counterparts in the Rebor range, it can be inferred that Rebor consider Velociraptor to be an ambush predator.

The Rebor Velociraptor Model “Pete”

Rebor replica "Pete"

The Rebor replica “Pete” Velociraptor model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture (above), the vertical slit pupil in this Rebor replica can be viewed.

Measurements

Our model measures just over 22.5 centimetres long (nose to tail) and on the sand coloured base the model stands approximately 11 centimetres high.  The base itself is 9 cm long by 4 cm wide.  Al in all, this is a super Velociraptor replica in the “classical” mould, we look forward to the arrival of the next Rebor Velociraptor in this series – Sweeney Todd.

29 10, 2017

Prehistoric Times (Autumn 2017) Reviewed

By | October 29th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

A Review of Issue 123 of Prehistoric Times

Time to get our teeth into Prehistoric Times issue 123 (autumn 2017).  Once again, this quarterly magazine is jam-packed with prehistoric animal fossil news, interviews, reader art, updates on dinosaur models and top-quality articles.  The front cover of the latest edition, features beautiful artwork created by the world-famous palaeoartist and dinosaur aficionado Mark Hallett and inside, there is a comprehensive overview of the Titanosauria produced by Mark in collaboration with renowned palaeontologist Mathew J. Wedel.

The artwork on the front cover depicts a young Rapetosaurus being attacked by a bask* of crocodilians (Majungasuchus).  Mark has imaginatively captured a moment in the Early Cretaceous of Madagascar and eagle-eyed readers will spot the juvenile Majungasuchus, just slightly obscured by the cover text.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Magazine (Issue Autumn/Fall 2017)

Prehistoric Times issue autumn 2017.

Prehistoric Times issue 123 (autumn 2017).

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times

What is a bask*?  Well, we learned the other day from a reptile expert (herpetologist), that the collective noun for crocodilians is a bask.

Prehistoric Times is the magazine for dinosaur model fans and collectors, published four times a year, it is a wonderful addition to any prehistoric animal fan’s bookshelf and taking out a subscription would make a terrific Christmas present.

For more information on Prehistoric Times magazine and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

The Azhdarchidae and the Ceratosaurus Genus

The featured prehistoric animals in this issue are the enigmatic and spectacular azhdarchids, plus the Late Jurassic superstar Ceratosaurus.  Lots of amazing reader artwork has been submitted (note to self, we must ask Mike Fredericks (editor), whether there is a collective noun for reader submitted art).  Our favourite flying reptile illustrations include Quetzalcoatlus by Eivind Bovor and Sergey Krasovskiy’s fantastic Zhejiangopterus along with the montage from Julio Garza.  When it comes to Ceratosaurus, it is brilliant to see the work of our chum Luis Rey, included amongst the submitted pictures.  The artwork created by Bob Nicholls as part of the Natural History Museum’s Stegosaurus “Sophie” exhibit is also shown.  The Ceratosaurus in Bob’s beautiful image has just received a hefty whack from a thagomizer.  Look out for an image of Bob himself in the article by Allen A. Debus that concludes his look at how palaeo-images have advanced as new scientific breakthroughs occur.  Allen examines the work of Bob Nicholls on Psittacosaurus countershading, the fossil material lucky members of Everything Dinosaur got the chance to view in Germany, but we have yet to see Bob’s Psittacosaurus up close, described by many as “the most accurate dinosaur model ever made”.

A Typical Member of the Azhdarchidae – Hatzegopteryx

Hatzegopteryx drawing.

Huge Pterosaur – Hatzegopteryx drawing.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur / Mike Fredericks

More Burian – This Time Pelycosaurs

John Lavas continues his exploration of the artwork of the influential  Zdeněk Burian, an artist and palaeo illustrator from Czechoslovakia.  This time, the author focuses on Burian’s interpretation of the Pelycosaurs – plenty of sail-backs on display and wonderful illustrations of Permian landscapes.  Look out for the second part of the autobiography of palaeoartist John Gurche, in this concluding part, John talks about his work on early hominins and this article is beautifully illustrated with numerous images.  Issue 123, also features the second and final part of Tracy Lee Ford’s most illuminating feature on Ceratopsian pathology, there are certainly plenty of bruised and battered Centrosaurines included in this well-written piece.

Eofauna Steppe Mammoth

Page 34 of 62 showcases the spectacular Eofauna Steppe Mammoth model, a replica that Everything Dinosaur has had a role in bringing this stunning figure to a wider audience.  Mike Fredericks summarises the model’s development very nicely.

The Eofauna Steppe Mammoth Makes its Debut in Issue 123

The Eofauna Scientific research 1:40 scale Steppe Mammoth model.

The Eofauna Scientific research Steppe Mammoth model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth for sale at Everything Dinosaur: Eofauna Scientific Research Models

Watch out for a balanced article on the role of commercial fossil hunters by Zach Fitzner and a fun piece penned by Robert Telleria that continues his examination of dinosaurs in recorded music – Led Zeppelin covers and all.

For further information on this excellent magazine and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

28 10, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus

By | October 28th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus Video Review

Thanks to Everything Dinosaur, those clever people at JurassicCollectables have been able to get a close look at the Papo juvenile Spinosaurus, a figure that is currently paired with the excellent Papo Ceratosaurus in a special edition box set.  A video review of this figure, plus information about the box set has been posted up on the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel and this is a great way for dinosaur fans and collectors to get a really good view of this new Papo dinosaur replica.

The JurassicCollectables Video Review of the New for 2017 Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus Dinosaur Model

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Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

The Papo model range continues to grow and team members at Everything Dinosaur already know what is likely to be introduced next year, however, the fate of the young Spinosaurus model featured in this video remains uncertain and the only way to get one at the moment is via this special edition box set.

A New Studio Layout from JurassicCollectables

In a departure from the usual green studio layout, JurassicCollectables have opted to use the white-out effect of a photography booth.  The focus is therefore, very much on the figure and the detail can be highlighted more easily.  Once again, we praise the camera work and the clear narration, in what is quite a lengthy video, it runs for just over 13 minutes.  However, the slightly longer format permits the narrator to provide more information on the model, enables a comparison to be made with other Papo Spinosaurus figures and permits “off-colour Alan” to make his customary guest appearance.

The Papo Special Edition Box Set (Juvenile Spinosaurus and the Papo Ceratosaurus)

Papo juvenile Spinosaurus and the Papo Ceratosaurus special edition gift box.

The Papo juvenile Spinosaurus and the Papo Ceratosaurus gift box.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the entire Papo dinosaur and prehistoric animal model range, including the recently announced model retirements (Pachyrhinosaurus, the baby brown Tyrannosaurus rex and the baby Woolly Mammoth), as well as the special edition Papo dinosaur gift box: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models.

Subtle Colours Identify the Figure as a Young Animal

Papo have taken care to give their juvenile Spinosaurus, hints of the more strident colours found in the large, adult Spinosaurus figure.  The narrator in the video points out the subtle colours found on the sail-like structure of this dinosaur.  In the adult Papo Spinosaurus, these colours are more prominent.  The use of colour in this way enables Papo to distinguish between a fully grown adult dinosaur and this, a figure of a juvenile.  The smudges of yellow paint, found along the back and down the tail help to reinforce the idea that this dinosaur has not quite reached maturity yet and has not attained its full adult colouration.

The Papo Juvenile Spinosaurus is Compared with the Adult Spinosaurus (Papo)

Comparing Papo Spinosaurs.

Comparing the Papo adult Spinosaurus with the Papo juvenile Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

Comparing Papo Spinosaurs

JurassicCollectables have to be congratulated for including the large Spinosaurus model from Papo in this video review of the juvenile Spinosaurus.  The narrator picks up on the significance of the chosen paint scheme and also contrasts this 2017 figure with the Spinosaurus model from the mini dinosaurs tub also made by Papo.  The use of the white background allows for some really close-up detailed shots of the various replicas.  For example, the very fine teeth are commented upon and the great range of scales depicted on the juvenile are discussed.

It is a pity that we could not see more of the Ceratosaurus model, which also features in this special edition box set.  However, JurassicCollectables has already produced a comprehensive overview of this figure, which can be viewed here: JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Ceratosaurus

A Very Well Balanced and Stable Model

The dynamic pose of the juvenile dinosaur is discussed, the narrator commenting on the stability of the figure, comments are also made about the bony ornamentation seen above the eyes and the detail found inside the jaw (the jaw is articulated and in the video, the gape of the dinosaur is demonstrated).

The Video is Notable for its Clear Narration and Close-up Views of the Replicas

Papo Spinosaurs reviewed.

JurassicCollectables reviews the Papo juvenile Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel has amassed over 57,000 subscribers and features some 700 dinosaur and prehistoric animal inspired videos.

Everything Dinosaur recommends dinosaur and model fans to visit JurassicCollectables on YouTube and to subscribe: JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Our thanks once again to JurassicCollectables for producing such a well-made and informative video.

27 10, 2017

Sinosauropteryx Sported a “Bandit Mask”

By | October 27th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaur Had Bandit Mask-like Stripe Across Its Eyes

Researchers from Bristol University have revealed how a small, feathered, compsognathid dinosaur used its colour patterning, including a bandit mask-like stripe across its eyes, to avoid being detected by its predators and prey.  This research has also allowed the authors of the scientific paper, published this week in “Current Biology”, to infer the sort of habitat that this little dinosaur might have lived in.

Once thought of being part of the fauna of the forest, it seems that Sinosauropteryx (S. prima), might have favoured more open environments.

An Illustration of Sinosauropteryx (S. prima) Hunting in an Open Environment

An illustration of Sinosauropteryx prima.

An illustration of Sinosauropteryx with its countershading and “bandit mask”.

Picture Credit: Bob Nicholls

In the image created by Bob Nicholls (above), Sinosauropteryx is shown in an open habitat and it has just captured a lizard (Dalinghosaurus).

Multiple Types of Camouflage

Analysis of the preserved melanosomes enabled the team to reconstruct the likely colour patterning of this one-metre-long dinosaur.  The scientists conclude that Sinosauropteryx had multiple types of camouflage which helped it keep hidden from its prey as well as assisting in the avoidance of detection by much larger Theropods and other predators.  The authors of the paper include corresponding author Jakob Vinther, Innes C. Cuthill, Fiann Smithwick from Bristol University as well as palaeoartist Bob Nicholls.

Fiann (School of Earth Sciences) stated:

“Far from all being the lumbering prehistoric grey beasts of past children’s books, at least some dinosaurs showed sophisticated colour patterns to hide from and confuse predators, just like today’s animals.”

Sinosauropteryx Fossil Specimen and Accompanying Line Drawing Showing Shading

Sinosauropteryx fossil material.

Sinosauropteryx fossil material and line drawing (scale bar = 5 cm).

Picture Credit: Bristol University

He went onto add:

“Vision was likely very important in dinosaurs, just like today’s birds, and so it is not surprising that they evolved elaborate colour patterns.”

Mapping Melanosomes and Comparative Anatomy

The study involved plotting how the dark pigmented feathers were distributed across the dinosaur’s body and then this pattern was compared to the patterns seen in extant animals and from this the optimum habitat to best maximise the camouflage was inferred.  Similar countershading patterns are found in many living animals and birds today.  The “bandit mask”, the dark stripe around the eye, is found in badgers, raccoons, red pandas and in birds such as the shrike.

In animals such as raccoons and badgers, the “bandit mask” acts as a warning, it advertises the fact that these animals are aggressive with teeth and claws that could cause considerable damage if another animal attacked them.  The research team discount this reason for Sinosauropteryx’s “Lone Ranger mask”, as an Everything Dinosaur team member calls it, Sinosauropteryx probably relied on its speed to avoid predation, it did not have very big teeth or strong claws required to back up such a visual statement.  The more likely reason for the bandit mask might be that it helped reduce glare from light reflected on feathers around the eye, just like in some modern birds.

Many sports stars such as American footballers and cricketers apply black greasepaint underneath their eyes.  It is believed to lessen the effect of the glare from direct sunlight or from stadium lights.  It helps them to see better, the “bandit mask” of Sinosauropteryx may have helped it to see better in bright sunlight.   This idea supports the view that Sinosauropteryx was a creature of open, brightly lit habitats.

An Illustration of Sinosauropteryx Sporting its “Bandit Mask”

Sinosauropteryx countershading.

Schematic illustration based on the distribution of pigmented plumage in two specimens highlighting the level of the countershading transition from a dark back to light underbelly, scale bar represents 10 cm.

Picture Credit: Bristol University

Lead author, Dr Jakob Vinther, commented:

“Dinosaurs might be weird in our eyes, but their colour patterns very much resemble modern counterparts.  They had excellent vision, were fierce predators and would have evolved camouflage patterns like we see in living mammals and birds.”

A Dark Back and Light Underside – Countershading in the Dinosauria

The small dinosaur also showed a ‘counter-shaded’ pattern with a dark back and light belly; a pattern used by many modern animals to make the body look flatter and less three-dimensional.  This helps to prevent animals standing out from their background, making them harder to see, assisting in the avoidance of detection by would-be predators and potential prey.

Previous work on modern animals, carried out by one of the authors, Bristol’s Professor Innes Cuthill, has shown that the precise pattern of countershading relates to the specific environments in which animals live.  Animals living in open habitats, such as grasslands and plains, often have a countershaded pattern that goes from dark to light sharply and high on the side of the body, while those living in more closed habitats, arboreal habitats like forests, usually show a more gradual change in the colouration from a dark back to a lighter underside.

This idea was applied to Sinosauropteryx, and allowed for the reconstruction of its habitat 130 million years ago.  As part of the Jehol Biota, Sinosauropteryx was believed to have lived in a forested environment, but the countershading on Sinosauropteryx went from dark to light high on the body, suggesting that it would be more likely to live in open habitats with minimal vegetation.

Predicting the Countershading Pattern and Inferring the Habitat

Sinosauropteryx countershading study.

3-D models of the abdomen countershading predicted following an assessment of pigmentation from two fossil specimens. (NIGP 127586 and NIGP 127587).

Picture Credit: Bristol University

The Differing Pattern of Predicted Self-Shadowing in Sinosauropteryx

The picture above shows three-dimensional models of the abdomen of two fossil specimens of Sinosauropteryx involved in the study (NIGP 127586 and NIGP 127587).  These fossils were imaged under different lighting conditions. “Model” represents the original photographs taken of the models to show how the self-shadows are cast across each, with and without synthetic fur added to mimic the impact of a coat of feathers.  “Prediction” shows how a gradient of pigment dorsoventrally (from the back down the flank to the underbelly), would be expected to perfectly counterbalance the illumination gradient caused by self-shadowing.

(A and B) = direct sunlight at an altitude of around 30° on smooth and “feathered” models.

(C and D) = direct sunlight at an altitude of 90° on smooth and “feathered” models.

(E and F) = diffuse lighting under 100% cloud cover (which equates to a closed environment, such as a forest) on smooth and “feathered” models.

The ventral position and sharpness of the predicted countershading transition can be seen to be higher and sharper under overhead direct lighting, indicative of an open environment (C and D), whereas under diffuse lighting, representing a closed habitat, the transition is lower and more gradual (E and F).

In countershaded animals the top surface (back) is darker and the lower surface (underside) is lighter.  This helps to even out the effect of shadowing caused by sunlight, so countershaded animals appear less three-dimensional, helping the animal to avoid detection by predators and to assist it in sneaking up on its prey.  Crucially, lighting conditions vary depending on the environment. Animals living in open areas with lots of light, such as grasslands, tend to have a sharp dark to light transition high up on the body, whereas in contrast, animals living in areas with less direct sunlight, such as wooded areas, tend to have more gradual transitions positioned lower down.  This means that the research team could infer the likely habitat of Sinosauropteryx based on the pattern of its countershading.

Three-dimensional models of the dinosaur’s body were made in a bid to determine in which environment the countershading pattern seen on Sinosauropteryx would be most effective.  The models were photographed in varying light conditions and the shadowing observed, the team then compared these results to the actual countershading pattern detected in the fossils.  They determined that the countershading transition for Sinosauropteryx was abrupt and it occurred high up on the flank, the best position to minimise the effect of shadows cast by direct sunlight.  It could therefore be inferred that Sinosauropteryx was best suited to an open environment.

This study provides a new insight into the lives and behaviour of members of the Dinosauria helping to reconstruct the long-lost habitats in which they lived.

Co-author of the study, Professor Innes Cuthill, a behavioural ecologist commented:

“We’ve shown before that countershading can act as effective camouflage against living predators.  It’s exciting that we can now use the colours of extinct animals to predict the sort of environment they lived in.”

Fiann Smithwick added:

“By reconstructing the colour of these long-extinct dinosaurs, we have gained a better understanding of not only how they behaved and possible predator-prey dynamics, but also the environments in which they lived.  This highlights how palaeocolour reconstructions can tell us things not possible from looking at just the bones of these animals.”

The Diversity of Feathered Theropods in the Early Cretaceous of China – Sinosauropteryx in a Forest?

Feathered Theropod diversity (Early Cretaceous)

The diversity of feathered Theropods in northern China during the Early Cretaceous, but this research suggests Sinosauropteryx does not belong in a forested environment.

Picture Credit: Jan Slovak

The picture above depicts a scene from the Lower Cretaceous of northern China around 130 to 125 million years ago.  A pair of Sinosauropteryx (right) chase a small mammal, it had been thought that the Liaoning (Liaoning biota), habitat consisted of temperate forests and large lakes, however, this new study contends that parts of the habitat may have been more open.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the University of Bristol in the compilation of this article.

26 10, 2017

What Big Teeth You Have! Matheronodon provincialis

By | October 26th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Ornithopod Dinosaur Described with Scissor-like Teeth

French and Belgian scientists have described a new species of plant-eating dinosaur which had scissor-like teeth, just the sort of dentition required to help it tackle tough, woody plants.  The dinosaur has been named Matheronodon provincialis and assigned to the Rhabdodontidae family, Ornithopods and part of the substantial and diverse Iguanodontia clade, think of M. provincialis being distantly related to Iguanodon, Muttaburrasaurus and Mantellisaurus.

An Illustration of the Skull and Jaws of Matheronodon provincialis

Matheronodon provincialis skull and jaws.

Matheronodon provincialis illustrated.

Picture Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Sciences (Lukas Panzarin)

Fossil Jawbone and Teeth

Field teams have been exploring the Upper Cretaceous sediments of Velaux-La Bastide Neuve, which lies to the north-west of the French city of Marseille for more than twenty-five years.  This location has yielded numerous vertebrate fossils including dinosaurs, Pterosauria, crocodilians and turtles.  The rocks in this region are estimated to be around 70 million years old (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).  Field work carried out in 2009 and 2012 by the Royal Belgian Institute of Sciences found several scrappy and fragmentary Ornithopod fossils including a right maxilla (upper jawbone) from a herbivore, estimated to have grown to around five metres in length.  The teeth in the jaw are oversized and few in number, especially when compared to the dental batteries associated with Hadrosaurs.  In addition, the jaw is robust and indicates that Matheronodon had a powerful bite.

Writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, the authors, which include Pascal Godefroit (Directorate Earth and History of Life, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences), state that Matheronodon is characterised by the large teeth found in the upper and lower jaws, as well as the drastic reduction in the number of maxillary teeth (just four per generation).

The Holotype Fossil Material for Matheronodon provincialis (Right Maxilla)

Matheronodon fossil material (holotype).

The right upper jawbone (maxilla) of Matheronodon.

Picture Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Sciences (Scientific Reports)

The picture above shows various views of the holotype fossil material, the right maxilla (MMS/VBN-02-102), (a) dorsal view, (b) lateral view, (c) medial view and (d) ventral view, with accompanying line drawings.  Picture (e) is a close-up of the ventral view of the jaw showing the enlarged teeth.  The researchers estimate that some of the individual teeth in the front portion of the maxilla were up to 6 cm long and 5 cm wide.

Honouring Philippe Matheron

The genus name honours the French 19th Century palaeontologist Philippe Matheron, who named and described Rhabdodon (R. priscus), the dinosaur which lent its name to the Rhabdodontidae family.  Lead author of the paper Pascal Godefroit commented:

“The denture of this group [rhabdodontids] had evolved in a different direction than that of their contemporaries, the Hadrosaurs or duck-billed dinosaurs.  Hadrosaurs had sophisticated dental “batteries” formed by little teeth with which they could crush conifers.  Matheronodon and the other Rhabdodontidae probably ate leaves of palm trees, which were abundant in Europe at that time.  They had to cut rather than crush the fibre-rich leaves, before they could swallow them.”

Cutting Palm Leaves – Playing the Role of the Ceratopsians

Matheronodon might have specialised in eating tough plant matter, plants such as Sabalites and Pandanites sp. which were abundant in the area during the Late Cretaceous.  The teeth and jaws are described as “operating like self-sharpening serrated scissors”, the teeth have ridged surfaces but are covered with a thickened enamel layer on one side, as the jaw moves up and down, the side of the tooth with the thicker enamel resists wear more effectively than the dentine as it is exposed.  As a result, the movement of the jaws as the animal chews, keeps the teeth sharp.

A Fossilised Palm Frond (Sabalites sp.) Green River Formation

Sabalites fossil palm.

A fossilised palm frond (Sabalites sp.) from the Green River Formation, Wyoming.

Picture Credit: Bonhams

Horned dinosaurs (Ceratopsians) are relatively abundant in similarly aged deposits from North America, in contrast, rhabdodontids have not be found.  The researchers suggest that in Europe dinosaurs like Matheronodon filled the niche occupied by the horned dinosaurs, as, although there have been accounts of Ceratopsian fossil discoveries in Europe, these fossils are very rare, indicating that horned dinosaurs only made up a tiny proportion of the total dinosaur biota.  Ceratopsians and rhabdodontids probably competed for the same food resources, specialising in the consumption of tough, woody material such as palm leaves, an example of which from the Eocene Epoch (Sabalites sp.), is shown above.

The scientific paper: “Extreme Tooth Enlargement in a New Late Cretaceous rhabdodontid Dinosaur from Southern France” by Pascal Godefroit, Géraldine Garcia, Bernard Gomez, Koen Stein, Aude Cincotta, Ulysse Lefèvre and Xavier Valentin, published in the on-line, open access journal “Scientific Reports.”

25 10, 2017

The First Ichthyosaur from India

By | October 25th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

India Has Its First Ichthyosaur

What has Dorset and New Delhi got in common?  What’s the connection between Charmouth and Gujarat State?  It seems that marine reptiles are the link, with the discovery of India’s first Ichthyosaur fossil.  Granted, the Indian Ichthyosaur is younger than the Ichthyosaur material related with Lyme Regis and Charmouth but just as palaeontologists from the Dorset Museum have excavated Ichthyosaur fossils, so have their counterparts from Delhi University.  Intriguingly, these may be the first Ichthyosaur fossils to have been found in Gujarat State, but they won’t be the last, there are very probably lots more Ichthyosaur (and Plesiosaur) fossils awaiting discovery in India’s most westerly State.

A Field Photograph Showing the Fossil Material and Accompanying Line Drawing

Indian Ichthyosaur fossil with line drawing.

A photograph showing the Ichthyosaur fossil as it is exposed, with line drawing (below).

Picture Credit:  Dr Guntupalli V.R. Prasad (University of Delhi)

Member of the Ophthalmosauridae

Writing in journal PLOS One, the researchers conclude that the partial 3.6-metre-long fossil represents the remains of an Ichthyosaur that measured between 5 and 5.5 metres in length.  The specimen was discovered in the greenish-yellow shales of the Katrol Formation exposed at a site just south of the village of Lodai in the Kachchh district of Gujarat.  The presence of ammonites and belemnites (important zonal fossils), suggest that the Ichthyosaur lived some 152 million years ago in the Kimmeridgian (there’s that Dorset connection again), faunal zone of the Late Jurassic.  The broken tips of the teeth, could have resulted from taphonomy but they might suggest that this marine reptile had a duraphagous diet, crunching the shells of ammonites.  This new Ichthyosaur species has yet to be formally named but it has been assigned to the Ophthalmosauridae, a family of Ichthyosaurs that were widespread in the Late Jurassic.

Wear on the Teeth and Broken Teeth Suggest a Diet of Hard-shelled Creatures Such as Ammonites

Views of two fossil teeth from the Indian Ichthyosaur.

Views of two teeth from the Indian Ichthyosaur (scale bar = 1 cm).

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Commenting on the discovery, lead author, Dr Guntupalli V. R. Prasad (University of Delhi) stated:

“This is a remarkable discovery not only because it is the first Jurassic Ichthyosaur record from India, but also it throws light on the evolution and diversity of Ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region of the former Gondwanaland and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic.”

The research team conclude that the widespread occurrence of ophthalmosaurids in the Upper Jurassic deposits of western Tethys, Madagascar, South America and India indicate possible faunal exchanges between the western Tethys and Gondwanan continents through a southern seaway.

A Photograph and Line Drawing of the Left Forefin

Indian Ichthyosaur (left forefin).

The left forefin and accompanying line drawing of the Indian Ichthyosaur.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

24 10, 2017

The Biosignature of an Ichthyosaur

By | October 24th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|1 Comment

Future Marine Biologists Could Study Ichthyosaur Biology

Over the last two decades or so, a number of remarkable discoveries concerning soft tissue preservation within the fossil record have been made.  Work pioneered by the remarkable Professor Mary Schweitzer (North Carolina State University), has led to evidence of dinosaur blood and traces of molecular biomarkers that represent preserved proteins such as collagen.  It may seem extraordinary, that such delicate evidence of organic remains can be preserved over huge amounts of time, but there is a growing body of data that indicates that such soft tissue preservation might be more common than previously thought.  Under exceptional preservational circumstances soft tissue remnants could persist at the molecular level.  A team of scientists led by researchers from Curtin University (Western Australia), have found red blood cells, collagen, white blood cells, platelet-like structures and cholesterol from the back-bone of an Early Jurassic Ichthyosaur.

In the future, marine biologists could study the biology of a long extinct marine reptile…

Study Finds Soft Tissue Preservation in an Early Jurassic Marine Reptile

Picture Credit: Curtin University

Carbonate Concretion Gives Up Its Secrets

The researchers, led by organic geochemist John Curtin, analysed a dorsal vertebra from a 182.7 million-year-old Ichthyosaur fossil from the world-famous Posidonienschiefer (Posidonia Oil Shales), of south-western Germany.  Although vertebrate remains tend to be disarticulated, a lack of oxygen on the sea bed (anoxic conditions) at this location led to exceptional preservation conditions, there were few organisms present to decompose organic remains. These conditions, in conjunction with rapid burial in the sediment has permitted remarkable fossil preservation to take place. Ichthyosaur carcasses have been preserved with soft tissue outlines intact, showing dorsal fins and tails, ink sacs and body outlines of belemnites such as Passaloteuthis sp. have also been preserved, allowing palaeontologists to vastly improve their understanding of the biology of these marine creatures.  The high organic material content of the sediments permitted the formation of numerous carbonate concretions, these concretions isolate fossil material contained therein and can promote exceptional preservation of fragile tissues and biomolecules.

Ichthyosaur Fossils

Stenopterygius Ichthyosaur fossil.

Important Ichthyosaur fossil showing evidence of a tail.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Stenopterygius Vertebra Studied

A single vertebra (back-bone) from a genus of Ichthyosaur known as Stenopterygius was subjected to a range of microanalytical techniques, including scanning electron microscopy and microscopic calcite deposit removal at the molecular level using focused applications of acetic acid.  Entombed inside the concretion, the internal structure of the vertebra, the spongy, trabecular bone, revealed biosignatures that represent the remnants of cholesterol, blood cells as well as straw-like structures that suggest the preservation of collagen fibres.

Scanning Electron Microscopy Reveals Collagen Fibres

Soft tissue preservation in Ichthyosaur back-bone

Early Jurassic Stenopterygius vertebra reveals soft tissue preservation. (collagen fibres).

Picture Credit: Curtin University/Scientific Reports

Co-author of the research paper, published this week in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, Distinguished Professor Kliti Grice (Curtin University), explained:

“A carbonate concretion encapsulated the Early Jurassic period vertebra, forming a tight seal that helped protect its tissue and cellular remains from full decomposition.”

Compact and Trabecular Bone Studied

As well as the spongy, trabecular bone, the research team also examined the compact, cortical bone.  Isotopic analysis of the cholesterol biomolecules is consistent with the view that Ichthyosaurs dined on cephalopods and fish.  Helping to reaffirm studies of coprolites and stomach cavity contents as to where in the marine food web these reptiles were situated.

Red Blood Cell Structures Identified in the Fossil Material

Red blood cells in Ichthyosaur fossil bone.

Red blood cell-like structures identified in fossil bone (Ichthyosaur).

Picture Credit: Curtin University/Scientific Reports

The Size of Red Blood Cells – Adaptations to Low Oxygen Levels

The doughnut shaped objects in the photograph (above), were identified as red blood cells.  These cells were assessed to be up to five times smaller than those seen in extant animals.  This finding led the researchers to propose the small size of these blood cell structures was related to the Ichthyosaur’s evolutionary adaptation to environmental conditions – the lower oxygen levels associated with much of the Mesozoic.

Chloe Plet, a PhD student at Curtin University and a co-author of the scientific study stated:

“Ichthyosaurs evolved during a time when atmospheric oxygen levels were continuously low over a period of 70 million years.  We propose that small red blood cells were favourably produced by the species to provide efficient oxygen transport and diffusion.  For example, modern-day mammals living at elevated altitudes with lower oxygen levels make small and abundant red blood cells.”

Similarly sized red blood cells have been reported from dinosaurs (fossil material from the Upper Cretaceous), dinosaurs too, would have had to adapt to low atmospheric oxygen levels.

The team conclude that the extraordinary preservation conditions associated with carbonate concretions could play a significant role in helping scientists to investigate the palaeobiology of long extinct species.  Perhaps, one day in the future marine biologists will be able to study the biology of Ichthyosaurs.

The scientific paper: “Palaeobiology of Red and White Blood Cell-like Structures, Collagen and Cholesterol in an Ichthyosaur Bone” by Chloé Plet, Kliti Grice, Anais Pagès, Michael Verrall, Marco J. L. Coolen, Wolfgang Ruebsam, William D. A. Rickard & Lorenz Schwark published by “Scientific Reports”.

23 10, 2017

Dinosaur Dressing Up Costumes for Halloween

By | October 23rd, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|1 Comment

Dinosaur Dressing Up Costumes for Halloween

It’s that spooky time of year again!  The nights are drawing in and Halloween is rapidly approaching.  For mums, dads, grandparents, guardians and grown-ups in general, “All Hallows Eve” can be a bit traumatic when it comes to searching out suitable costumes for the kids.  However, for young dinosaur fans, we at Everything Dinosaur have it covered as we have in stock a range of dinosaur dressing up costumes, which are ideal of Halloween.

Dinosaur Dressing Up Costumes for Halloween

Dinosaur costumes.

Dinosaur dressing up costumes for Halloween.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the dinosaur dressing up costumes as well as dinosaur face masks: Dinosaur Dressing Up Costumes

Dinosaur Dressing Up

With costumes for 3 years to age 9 and with prices starting from just £7.50 plus postage, Everything Dinosaur can take the “fear” out of shopping for suitable Halloween fare.  When it comes to the Dinosauria, most dinosaur fans would happily tell you, usually in gory detail, that the meat-eaters were particularly nasty.  Certainly, the big Theropods would have been best avoided if they were around today, however, even the smaller dromaeosaurids (the “raptors”), especially if they were pack-hunters, would have been creatures that you would not have liked to meet on a dark and stormy night.

Even the Smaller Meat-eating Dinosaurs Would Have Been Quite Frightening

A fierce looking dromaeosaurid dinosaur.

Even small dromaeosaurids would have been dangerous dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fearsome Flying Pterosaurs – More Scary than Bats

Bats (Order Chiroptera), are associated with Halloween.  These are the only mammals that are capable of powered flight.  Of the 1,200 or so, species of bat described, ten-times the number of Pterosaur species described to date, the vast majority are either insectivores or fruit-eaters (frugivorous).  Bats tend to be small, even the largest of the “mega-bats”, the Sub-order Megachiroptera, (which means “big wing hand”), are quite small.  The biggest extant bats have wing-spans in excess of 1.5 metres, but they weigh little more than a large guinea pig and they are entirely harmless, happily feeding on fruit rather than flesh.  Pterosaurs with their leathery wings would have been much more frightening.  There were small Pterosaurs, but some of the Pterosauria, some members of the Azhdarchidae, for example, were monsters.  Some species stood taller than a giraffe and had beaks more than 2.5 metres long.  Some super-sized Pterosaur fossils even come from Transylvania!

Giant Pterosaurs – Most Likely Carnivores

Powerful necked Hatzegopteryx feeds on a dinosaur.

Transylvanian giant azhdarchid pterosaur Hatzegopteryx sp. preys on the rhabdodontid iguanodontian Zalmoxes.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

Dinosaur Costumes for Halloween

Take the stress out of Halloween, with a special dinosaur costume aimed at three-year-olds as well as a larger design for children aged from between four years to nine years, Everything Dinosaur has dressing up sorted.  Our fast delivery and speedy customer service are tailor-made to make shopping easy, convenient and hassle-free.

The Dinosaur Dressing Up Costume for Toddlers (Three Years)

Dinosaur dressing up.

Dinosaur costume for age 3.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We wish all our customers a happy and safe Halloween.

Dinosaur Dressing Up Costume

Dinosaur dressing up.

A dinosaur dressing up costume.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For dinosaur masks and other prehistoric animal themed dressing up items: Dinosaur Dressing Up and Costumes

22 10, 2017

Dinosaurs of Britain and Europe

By | October 22nd, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|1 Comment

Dinosaurs of Britain and Europe

Robert Townsend has sent us some more pictures of his prehistoric animal diorama.  This time, the focus is on the Mesozoic fauna of England and Europe.   Robert has constructed a large, prehistoric landscape and he has populated it with dinosaurs known from Europe and southern England.

The Rare Carnegie Collectibles Baryonyx Model is on the Prowl

The Carnegie Baryonyx dinosaur model.

The Carnegie Baryonyx model in a dinosaur diorama.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

The colouration of the Carnegie model certainly comes into its own in Robert’s skilfully made prehistoric scene.  This carnivorous dinosaur is very well camouflaged amongst the various model plants and trees.

A Classical Figure of an Iguanodont

Iguanodon classical model.

A classical Iguanodon model.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

A Classical Iguanodont Model

The picture above shows a wonderful model of an Iguanodont.  Much has changed within the Iguanodon genus since this particular model was cast.  For example, the type fossil material for I. bernissartensis is now a more complete specimen from Belgium, replacing the previous type material for Iguanodon, the fragmentary British fossil material.  Robert has carefully mixed older models with more recent replicas in his prehistoric animal diorama.

A Browsing Camptosaurus is Surprised by an Europasaurus

A CollectA Camptosaurus and a Bullyland Europasaurus dinosaur model.

A CollectA Camptosaurus is surprised by a Bullyland Europasaurus.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

The size of the prehistoric landscape provides Robert with plenty of opportunities to build in mini scenes.  For instance, in part of the diorama, a browsing Camptosaurus is surprised by the emergence of an Europasaurus.  This cleverly crafted photograph highlights the range of plant replicas used in the scene and the Europasaurus in the background provides a sense of perspective.

CollectA Deluxe Dinosaurs Do Battle

The CollectA Dacentrurus battles a CollectA Torvosaurus.

The CollectA Deluxe Torvosaurus faces a rearing CollectA Dacentrurus.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

The model maker has placed a CollectA Deluxe Torvosaurus, a model of the biggest carnivorous dinosaur known from Europe, close to a CollectA Dacentrurus.  The rearing pose of the Thyreophoran makes it look like that it is rearing up as the Torvosaurus approaches.  It is a nice touch to see the three-toed dinosaur footprints in the foreground.

Dinosaurs Fighting Over a Carcass

Battling over a carcass the Collecta Lourinhanosaurus versus the CollectA Metriacanthosaurus.

The CollectA Lourinhanosaurus tussles with the CollectA Metriacanthosaurus.

Picture Credit: R. Townsend

Having a model of dead Sauropod in the diorama provides plenty of scope for creating detailed prehistoric scenes.  On this occasion, the model maker has chosen to feature a squabble over the spoils between a CollectA Lourinhanosaurus and the CollectA Metriacanthosaurus.  Once again, the well-made and carefully selected vegetation makes an excellent backdrop.

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