All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
21 10, 2017

Steppe Mammoth Model on Display at Museum

By | October 21st, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|3 Comments

Eofauna Steppe Mammoth Helps Out with Museum Display

Scale models of prehistoric animals are not just appreciated by collectors, they can also help to educate and inform.  Here is a wonderful example of a museum quality replica being used in a museum exhibition to help illustrate evolution.  Everything Dinosaur was contacted by Dr Jan Fischer of the Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP, Dr Fischer wanted a Eofauna Steppe Mammoth model for a display case illustrating the evolutionary development of elephants.  Not a problem, as soon as stock of this 1:40 scale Mammuthus trogontherii model had arrived at our warehouse, one of our dedicated team members reserved a replica for the museum and emailed Dr Fischer.  One purchase later and the usual customary swift delivery from Everything Dinosaur and Dr Fischer could add the Steppe Mammoth model to his display showcasing the diversity of Proboscideans and how their teeth show adaptations to different diets.

The Eofauna Steppe Mammoth on Display Next to a Steppe Mammoth Molar

Eofauna Steppe Mammoth on display in a museum.

Eofauna Steppe Mammoth used in a museum display.

Picture Credit: Dr Jan Fischer/Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP

Toothy Tales Illustrated by Prehistoric Animal Models

The Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP is located at the Lichtenberg castle (Burg Lichtenberg), near the picturesque town of  Thallichtenberg in Rhineland-Palatinate, south-western Germany.  It is the largest natural history museum in Rhineland-Palatinate and at the present time, it is hosting a special exhibition all about prehistoric elephants “Mammoths – Icons of the Ice Age”.

The Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP Exhibition Poster

Poster for a Mammoth exhibition.

Mammoth exhibition poster.  “Mammoths Icons of the Ice Age”.

Picture Credit: Dr Jan Fischer/Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP

Running until the 22nd April 2018, this exhibition “Mammoths – Icons of the Ice Age” includes a life-size replica of a Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), as well as lots of fossils and other artefacts that highlight the evolutionary history of this branch of the elephant family.

A Life-size Model of Woolly Mammoth at the Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP

Woolly Mammoth on display.

Life-size model of a Woolly Mammoth on display.

Picture Credit: Dr Jan Fischer/Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP

Amongst the numerous exhibits and helpful information boards look out for the replica of a frozen Mammoth calf from Siberia.

Showcasing the Evolution of the Proboscideans

Prehistoric elephant models in a museum display.

Prehistoric animal models are used in a museum display.

Picture Credit: Dr Jan Fischer/Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP

For further information about the “Mammoths – Icons of the Ice Age”Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP (German)

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The molars give information on the diets of the various prehistoric and extant elephants in the display case and the scale models provide an excellent illustration of what the prehistoric animal actually looked like.  The Eofauna Scientific Research Steppe Mammoth model has been created from three-dimensional scans of fossil material, so it is fitting that this very accurate prehistoric elephant model is being used in a museum display.”

To view the Eofauna Scientific Research Mammoth available at Everything Dinosaur: The Eofauna Steppe Mammoth model

The Beautiful Display Case Highlight Proboscidean Evolution

A beautiful display showcasing Proboscidean evolution.

Proboscidean evolution on display.  The Eofauna Scientific Research Steppe Mammoth model is second from the right.

Picture Credit: Dr Jan Fischer/Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP

Our congratulations to Dr Fischer and everyone involved in the setting up of this most informative and carefully laid out museum exhibit.

20 10, 2017

New Type of Dinosaur Egg Described from Eastern China

By | October 20th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Umbellaoolithus xiuningensis “Eggciting” Fossil Egg Discovery

Chinese scientists have announced that a new type of fossilised dinosaur egg has been found.  A single nest, discovered in 2011, contains the remains of at least nine dinosaur eggs.  Their unique shape and surface structure makes them distinguishable from all other known dinosaur eggs, this has led to the establishment of a new oospecies.  An oospecies is the equivalent to a species in taxonomy, the “double o” in front of the taxonomic rank indicates that the term is being used to classify fossil eggs.  Several dinosaur oogenera and oospecies are known, but since this fossil nest and its contents does not resemble anything found before, a new oospecies has been erected.

The Fossilised Dinosaur Eggs were Found in Upper Cretaceous Strata

Dinosaur egg fossils.

Dinosaur egg fossils (Umbellaoolithus xiuningensis).

Picture Credit: L. Feng/Chinese Science Bulletin

The photograph (above) shows the clutch of eggs, they have been numbered for reference purposes. Numbers 1-5 are the most complete, 6 is a fragment of eggshell resting on egg number 5, whilst egg numbers 7 through to 9 represent the preserved outline of eggs.  The new species Umbellaoolithus xiuningensis was named after Xiuning county in Anhui Province (eastern China), where the egg fossil discovery was made.

From the Upper Cretaceous Huizhou Formation

The oval eggs are arranged along the long axis of all the eggs parallel to each other and not at the same horizontal level within the clutch, this nest arrangement, if an accurate depiction of the actual eggs after laying and not resulting from taphonomy, is very different from the elongated pairs, regular arrangement and radial orientation seen in other fossilised dinosaur nests (examples being the oogenera Macroelongatoolithidae and Elongatoolithidae).

Elongated Pairs Arranged Along the Outside of the Nest

Oviraptoridae Nest

A typical Theropod nest (Oviraptoridae)

Picture Credit: Cincinnati Museum Centre

With an average diameter of just under fourteen centimetres (13.86 cm), it is not known what type of dinosaur laid the eggs.  The discovery was reported in an article in the Chinese Science Bulletin by Dr Huang Jiandong, from the Anhui Geological Museum and Wang Qiang, a deputy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

19 10, 2017

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth

By | October 19th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Video Review of the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth

Those clever people at JurassicCollectables have produced a video review of the debut model in a new range from Eofauna Scientific Research.  The video provides viewers with an up-close and detailed view of the superb Eofauna Steppe Mammoth replica.  A model created from 3-D scans of Mammoth fossil material.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Eofauna Scientific Research Steppe Mammoth

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Mammuthus trogontherii

First described in 1885, the Steppe Mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii), is thought to be one of the largest Mammoth species to have ever lived.  Body mass estimates vary but some palaeontologists calculate that males of this species, which was a member of the Elephantidae family, could have weighed around fourteen tonnes, that’s heavier than seven Aston Martin DB9 sports cars.  The narrator does not use this snippet of information, (it came up during an Everything Dinosaur product meeting about this new replica), but there is certainly of plenty of amazing information provided in this short (5:19) video review.

Available from Everything Dinosaur – the Eofauna Scientific Research Steppe Mammoth Replica

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

The Eofauna Scientific research Steppe Mammoth model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Steppe Mammoth Video Review

JurassicCollectables outline how the model was produced.  This beautiful 1:40 scale replica is based on an almost complete Steppe Mammoth skeleton from northern China that was studied by Eofauna Scientific Research team members.  The skeletal measurements were then scaled up to the largest individual specimen found to date, a more fragmentary specimen from Mosbach, in the north of Baden-Württemberg, (Germany).  The wonderfully detailed skull, shown in all its glory in this well-crafted video review, is based on a skull from Novosibirsk, Russia.  A three-dimensional prototype was moulded and then printed out, muscles and skin were added, using extant elephants as the template.  This is a scientifically accurate model and in the JurassicCollectables video review, the viewer is given plenty of opportunity to explore this model and to marvel at the scientific detail.

Everything Dinosaur’s Illustration of a Steppe Mammoth

Steppe Mammoth illustration.

An illustration of a Steppe Mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Sales Help Fund Scientific Research

The narrator comments that Eofauna Scientific Research is a non-profit organisation and that all revenues from sales of this figure are ploughed back into scientific study and the dissemination of knowledge.  All the more reason to snap up this tusked-wonder and add it to your model collection.

To purchase the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth replica: Eofauna Scientific Research Models

In the video, the Steppe Mammoth model is compared to a Papo Velociraptor and it is great to see JurassicCollectables regular “off-colour Alan” having a cameo appearance.  The narrator provides some measurement details too, for a more complete assessment of the dimensions of the Eofauna figure, check out Everything Dinosaur’s earlier Steppe Mammoth article: Eofauna Steppe Mammoth scale and dimensions

JurassicCollectables have developed a brilliant YouTube channel packed full of prehistoric animal model reviews and other entertaining and informative videos.  They have just achieved 56, 000 subscribers, that’s an amazing achievement, our congratulations to the JurassicCollectables team.

Visit the YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables here: JurassicCollectables, Everything Dinosaur recommends that dinosaur model fans subscribe to the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel.

18 10, 2017

Mojo Fun Dinosaur Backpack Playscape with 5 Dinosaur Models

By | October 18th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Mojo Fun Dinosaur Backpack Playscape with 5 Dinosaur Models

Everything Dinosaur has just added a new product to its on-line shop.  The Mojo Fun dinosaur backpack playscape with five dinosaur models.  Mojo Fun models are designed for creative, imaginative play and the range includes lots of popular prehistoric animals.  Everything Dinosaur is exclusively offering the Mojo Fun backpack with 5 dinosaurs to start off, or add to your dinosaur model collection.

An Exclusive Offer from Everything Dinosaur – The Mojo Fun Dinosaur Backpack Playscape with Five Dinosaurs

Mojo Fun dinosaurs and backpack.

Mojo Dinosaur Backpack with 5 Dinosaur Models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Fantastic Dinosaur Playset for Christmas

Formed in late 2009, Mojo Fun has set about creating a range of prehistoric animal models that are fun, fun to collect and fun to play with.  The backpack folds out to make a large, colourful playset and we have included some dinosaur models with the backpack in a special offer as we start up the run towards Christmas.  Dinosaur fans can expect to find a variety of meat-eaters supplied with the backpack, all of the dinosaur models will be different and we intend to include a Tyrannosaurus rex model with every set we sell.

The Quality Backpack is Ideal for Storing the Dinosaur Models

Mojo backpack playscape.

The Mojo backpack playscape.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Creative, Imaginative Play from Everything Dinosaur

Complete with back straps and a carry handle, this dinosaur backpack folds out to create a colourful prehistoric playscape for the five dinosaur models that are included.  The playscape extends to nearly sixty centimetres long, this practical backpack makes an ideal storage space for dinosaur toys, what a super idea!   A Mojo Fun dinosaur backpack that provides a playset for prehistoric animals, we even include five dinosaurs for your young palaeontologist to play with.

This combined dinosaur backpack/playscape with five dinosaur models is available nowhere else.  This is a great gift for young palaeontologists and eager dinosaur fans.  The price is £36.99 plus post and packing and this offer is available nowhere else, this represents a saving of over 20% if you were to buy the backpack and models separately.

To view the complete range of Mojo Fun prehistoric animals available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Models

Everything Dinosaur stocks a wide range of Mojo Fun figures and models, these can be purchased on-line, including this super Mojo Fun dinosaur backpack/playscape complete with five dinosaurs.  Young dinosaur enthusiasts can carry their very own “Jurassic Park” around with them, making creative, imaginative play available anytime and anywhere.

17 10, 2017

Iron Oxide and Iron Deposits

By | October 17th, 2017|Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Banded Iron Formation

Whilst in Frankfurt a few days ago, a team member from Everything Dinosaur took the opportunity to photograph some of the amazing outdoor exhibits on display opposite the Senckenberg Naturmuseum (Frankfurt Natural History Museum).  Amongst the stunning replicas of prehistoric plants and of course, the iconic, life-size model of Tyrannosaurus rex, our staff member spotted a beautiful example of a banded iron formation.

Not Too Difficult to Spot – A Huge Monolith (Banded Iron Formation)

Banded Iron Formation

An example of a banded iron formation.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Record of a Changing Atmosphere on Planet Earth

Formed in marine environments at least 2.5 billion years ago, these deposits provide information about when the atmosphere of our planet and its oceans became oxygenated.  Iron oxide is not soluble, therefore the iron must have been transported in a non-oxidised form.  This could only have happened if there was almost no oxygen in the atmosphere or the oceans.

A Closer View of the Iron Banded Formation Showing the Deposition

A banded iron deposit close-up.

The individual layers can be clearly seen in this banded iron deposit.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a close-up view of the banded layers.  Each layer is quite thin and these patterns are usually formed by alternating bands of iron-rich material (usually magnetite) and silica (chert).  During the Archean Eon, the primitive Earth had little free oxygen.  Rocks rich in iron were weathered at the surface and this iron remained largely unchanged as there was no free oxygen to combine with it and create iron oxide (rust).  The iron ions entered the sea in an unaltered chemical state.  They formed the band of iron-rich material seen in some of the layers. However, primitive cyanobacteria (blue/green algae), were beginning to become more abundant in surface waters.  As algae populations grew, there was a subsequent increase in photosynthesis.  Oxygen is a bi-product of photosynthesis and this free oxygen began to combine with the iron ions in the water to form magnetite (Fe3O4), iron oxide.  As more and more algae photosynthesised so the amount of oxygen available to combine with the iron increased, until a point was reached whereby the O2 production of the biomass in the marine ecosystem exceeded the amount of iron that was available to combine with.  The oxygen was left in the ocean and this gas rose to toxic levels decimating the cyanobacteria.  The algae population collapsed and led to the accumulation of a sedimentary layer on the seabed low in iron (the chert).  Over time, something like 800,000 years, algal blooms and peaks and troughs of oxygen production via photosynthesis led to the banded formations seen today in rocks dating from the Archean.

16 10, 2017

“Rediscovering T. rex” Television Documentary

By | October 16th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

T. rex to Appear in a New Television Documentary

Everything Dinosaur has received the first preview picture for the television documentary that attempts to bust a few myths when it comes to the most iconic of the Dinosauria – Tyrannosaurus rex.  The one-hour documentary is a joint production between Talesmith and the leading North American producer, Cineflix Productions.  The programme, which is to be presented by naturalist Chris Packham, has been jointly commissioned by the BBC, France TV and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).  The working title is “Rediscovering T. rex“.

“Rediscovering T. rex” – A New Television Documentary

Naturalist Chris Packham and a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Chris Packham next to “Tristan” at the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin).

Picture Credit: BBC/Talesmith/Cineflix/Gordon Welters

Lifting the Lid on Tyrannosaurus rex

The television programme, which is believed to be scheduled in the UK for the Christmas period, aims to “lift the lid” on the most famous of all the meat-eating dinosaurs.  The programme makers state that Chris Packham will look at the fossil evidence and examine ground-breaking research to piece together the anatomy and potential behaviour of the most infamous predator to have ever walked the Earth.

Life-long dinosaur fan Chris, will embark on a globe-trotting journey to discover the truth behind centuries of inaccuracy and misrepresentation fuelled by misconceptions and gaps in our scientific understanding, gaps, which have often been exacerbated when Tyrannosaurus rex is featured in the media.  It seems that films like “Jurassic Park” and “One Million Years B.C.” have done T. rex a great disservice.

Viewers can expect to see the most accurate three-dimensional CGI depiction of Tyrannosaurus rex made to date (that’s what the programme makers promise).

Alongside the presenter, the other “star” of the show is the beautifully preserved T. rex fossil specimen from The Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin), known as “Tristan Otto”.  These fossilised bones, representing a single, sub-adult animal, consist of some 170 individual bones, making “Tristan Otto” one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever found.  Originating from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana and discovered in 2010, it took over four years to excavate the bones and prepare them for mounting in the museum.  Incidentally, this dinosaur is privately owned, the name “Tristan Otto” comes from the sons of the two owners and it is the largest original T. rex skeleton on display in Europe.

To read an earlier article by Everything Dinosaur on the forthcoming television documentary: New T. rex Documentary Coming to the BBC

15 10, 2017

Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

By | October 15th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Education and Life-long Learning at the Frankfurter Buchmesse

Everything Dinosaur team members found lots of inspiring ideas at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair.  This huge event, showcasing the world of publishing, attracted some 286,000 visitors over the course of the five days that it was held.  Exhibitors from over one hundred countries took part, it was a good job the event organisers had taken so much care and attention over the site layout, despite there being so much to see and do, congestion in the halls was kept to a minimum.

Visitors Attending the 2017 Frankfurter Buchmesse

Visitors to the trade fair.

286,000 visitors attended the 2017 Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Relaxed and Friendly Atmosphere

The spacious walk ways between the stands and exhibition areas, gave Everything Dinosaur team members the opportunity to peruse several displays and to get to grips with some of the latest teaching innovations.  Having heeded the advice of the event organisers, our pull along cabin cases were left in the hotel, this enabled us to pass through the numerous security checks quite quickly.  This was appreciated, as once again, there were so many stands and sectors on our “to do” list.

One of the sectors visited, was the area of the show dedicated to education – the “Hot Spot Education” zone.  It was easy to find and well sign-posted.  Once there, team members were able to look at the latest whiteboard technology and other classroom based interactive teaching hardware.

A Visit to the “Hot Spot Education” Area was a Highlight of the Exhibition

A section dedicated to the educational sector.

The “Education Hot Spot” area.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Hot Spot Education”

Lots of innovative teaching technologies were on display, alongside more traditional teaching methods all aimed at inspiring teachers and pupils alike.  It was pleasing to see a number of exhibitors tackling the special education needs market and Everything Dinosaur staff enjoyed trying out some of the kinaesthetic themed teaching materials as well as the digital technologies such as the VR (virtual reality) goggles.  The “Hot Spot Education” zone provided lots of inspiring ideas and insights, particularly when it came to the latest trends in learning aids.

“Professional and Scientific Information Hot Spot”

Located in the same hall as the education zone, the “professional and scientific information hot spot” catered for the needs of academics and librarians.  There were lots of specialist texts to peruse and an astounding number of academic publications to review, on just about every subject that we could think of.  These areas were certainly very vibrant and we enjoyed examining a number of new publications, particularly those orientated towards the English national curriculum and the concept of working scientifically.  During our, all too brief visit, we even found several books on prehistoric animals.  We just couldn’t help ourselves, we had to sit down in one of the many handy seating areas and indulge in our passion for reading about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric life.

A Dinosaur Book on Display

Dinosaur Books at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

A dinosaur book spotted at the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

14 10, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Prepares for TetZooCon 2017

By | October 14th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Slides Prepared for TetZooCon 2017

Not long to go now until the fourth, annual Tetrapod zoology conference (TetZooCon), opens its doors.  The conference is on Saturday, October 21st and once again the organisers have put on an amazing and varied agenda.  Everything Dinosaur is proud to be associated with this fantastic event and team members are busy finishing off the slides to be played in between the presentations, seminars, palaeoart activities and conference speaker slots.

Everything Dinosaur Prepares Slides for Use at TetZooCon 2017

TetZooCon 2017 Everything Dinosaur slides.

TetZooCon slide 3 from Everything Dinosaur (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

What is TetZooCon?

TetZooCon, is an annual meeting themed around the contents and remit of the world-famous blog “Tetrapod Zoology”, currently in its twelfth year, the blog having started at around the same time as Everything Dinosaur’s blog began.  Written by vertebrate palaeontologist and author Darren Naish, “Tetrapod Zoology” covers topics as diverse as turtle evolution, the life and times of Secretary Birds (Sagittarius serpentarius), fossil discoveries, animals of myth and legend as well as model collecting.  TetZooCon provides an opportunity for fans of cryptozoology, palaeontology, zoology and evolutionary history to indulge in their passion.  Co-organiser, talented artist John Conway, has used his considerable influence to bring together some of the great and the good in scientific illustration and a number of palaeoart workshops and book signings have been organised as part of the day of activities.  You might even be able to snap up a few signed prints too.

Everything Dinosaur Stocks a Lot of Models

TetZooCon 2017 Everything Dinosaur slides.

TetZooCon slide 2 from Everything Dinosaur (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Bigger and Better Than Ever

The fourth annual TetZooCon promises to be bigger and better than ever.  Over 120 people are expected to attend this event, held at the prestigious central London venue appropriately called “The Venue”, located on Malet Street, WC1E.  Doors open at 9 am and the packed programme includes talks on the history of zoos, marine reptiles of the Mesozoic, an update on Thylacine research and an insight into the latest developments in the fascinating world of cryptozoology.

For further information about this year’s exciting TetZooCon: TetZooCon Tickets and Conference Information

Everything Dinosaur Highlighting the Company’s Range of Replicas

TetZooCon 2017 Everything Dinosaur slides.

TetZooCon slide 1 from Everything Dinosaur (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur Supports TetZooCon

Everything Dinosaur has provided a range of wonderful, prehistoric animal themed goodies to help support this year’s event. These will be available as prizes at the end of conference quiz.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“TetZooCon is getting bigger and better each year!  Fans of palaeoart, palaeontology, biology and other related academic disciplines can feel a bit intimidated by the rarefied atmosphere of many scientific conferences, but not so with TetZooCon  This annual gathering brings together genuine enthusiasts with shared passions and as such, it is a unique event.  We congratulate the organisers for compiling such an amazing agenda and we compliment all those involved, helping to educate, inform and inspire the next generation of scientists.”

13 10, 2017

Ankylosaurus Not Your Typical Ankylosaur

By | October 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Ankylosaurus magniventris – Not Your Archetypal Ankylosaur

A newly-published study has provided fresh insights on Ankylosaurus.  This Ornithischian dinosaur, a contemporary of Tyrannosaurus rex in the Late Cretaceous of North America, is perhaps, one of the best-known of all the armoured dinosaurs in the minds of the public, however, this dinosaur star of stage and screen with such a high profile in the popular media, has actually a very fragmentary fossil record, when compared to its close relatives.  Palaeontologist and Ankylosauridae expert Victoria Arbour (Royal Ontario Museum), in collaboration with Jordan Mallon (Canadian Museum of Nature), writing in the Canadian open access science journal “Facets”, suggest that the dinosaur that gave its name to the family Ankylosauridae, is a very atypical member of this armoured dinosaur family.

A Model of an Ankylosaurus

An Ankylosaurus model.

 The armoured dinosaur – Ankylosaurus magniventris – not your typical armoured dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Examining Previously Unidentified Elements of the Holotype

Ankylosaurus (A. magniventris), is known from only a handful of fossil specimens excavated from Upper Cretaceous deposits in Montana, Wyoming, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  The researchers examined previously unidentified and not described fossil fragments associated with the holotype fossil AMNH 5895 (from Montana).  In addition, they revisited earlier research (Carpenter 2004), making further observations as to body mass, arrangement of the body armour, size of the tail club and the anatomy of Ankylosaurus.

Tail Club Comparison Anodontosaurus Compared to Ankylosaurus

Ankylosaur tail club comparisons.

Ankylosaur tail club comparisons (Anodontosaurus versus Ankylosaurus).

Picture Credit: “Facets Journal”

The picture above shows a comparison between the tail club of Anodontosaurus lambei, and the closely related Ankylosaurus magniventris (dorsal view).  The tail bones and club of Ankylosaurus are poorly known, although the specimen number AMNH 5214 includes a portion of the tail club and a well-preserved, bony knob.  The vertebrae that make up the handle are twice as wide as those corresponding vertebrae making up the handle on the Anodontosaurus club, but they are not longer.  The researchers suggest that the tail of Ankylosaurus may have been proportionately shorter than the tail of Anodontosaurus, or the tail may have had similar overall proportions but the Ankylosaurus tail club was smaller.  The handle vertebrae of Ankylosaurus are unique among ankylosaurids, with U-shaped neural spines in dorsal view compared with the V-shaped neural spines in Anodontosaurus, Euoplocephalus, Pinacosaurus, Talarurus, and most other ankylosaurids.  There may be an upward size limit for ankylosaurid clubs, the shape of the bony knobs (labelled “maj” and “min” for major and minor respectively in the diagram), are different between these two closely related genera, Ankylosaurus magniventris may have had an atypical tail club, one that was not representative of the Ankylosauridae.

One Large Skull Helping to Shape Our Understanding

The largest skull associated with Ankylosaurus is specimen CMN 8880.  It is huge and it was briefly described in 2004 (Carpenter), who regarded the dorsal surface as poorly preserved.  However, the skull was stored on its dorsal surface and it was not turned to permit a proper examination of what would have been the top of the dinosaur’s head.  In Arbour and Mallon’s new paper, they have had the chance to examine the dorsal surface of CMN 8880, which they found to be remarkably well-preserved.  As a result, the scientists have been able to compare and contrast the bony cranial morphology of the top of the skull and confirm that the arrangement of scales and scutes on the top of the skull was very different when compared to other North American ankylosaurids.

The Largest Skull of Ankylosaurus (Specimen Number CMN 8880)

Ankylosaurus cranial material.

Views of the largest Ankylosaurus skull found to date (CMN 8880).

Picture Credit: “Facets Journal”

The picture above shows the skull of CMN 8880, Ankylosaurus magniventris, in (A) dorsal, (B) ventral, (C) left lateral, and (D) right lateral views, note the scale bar equals ten centimetres.  The skull is well preserved on the dorsal and left lateral surfaces. The right lateral surface has caved inwards slightly, the researchers have measured the basal skull length as 671 millimetres, based on these measurements and other material reported in this scientific paper, the researchers were able to confirm that A. magniventris was much larger than other Late Cretaceous armoured dinosaurs.  The scientists reaffirmed the length of this dinosaur at around ten metres.

This review underscores the fact that although Ankylosaurus gave rise to the family name the Ankylosauridae, A. magniventris is far from typical of this family.  The teeth, the nares, the tail club and body size of Ankylosaurus tend to make it stand out from the other Laramidian Ankylosaurines.

Changing Views of Ankylosaurus magniventris

Changing views of Ankylosaurus (dorsal view).

Changing views of Ankylosaurus magniventris over the years.

Picture Credit: “Facets Journal”

In Competition with Edmontonia – Perhaps Not

It is thanks to this new study, that we have a better understanding of Ankylosaurus, it is not your typical Ankylosaur.  Intriguingly, the researchers postulate on the role of Ankylosaurus in the palaeoenvironment of Laramidia during the Late Cretaceous.  Fossils of this armoured dinosaur are very infrequently found and therefore it might have been ecologically rare, or just a very infrequent visitor to the coastal plain where fossilisation of corpses was much more likely than if these creatures habitually lived further inland away from rivers and large bodies of water.  The nodosaurid Edmontonia was contemporaneous with Ankylosaurus and the researchers comment on previous studies that have alluded to the fact that Edmontonia may have been ecologically separated from Ankylosaurus on the basis that Edmontonia seems to have been more abundant in coastal, lowland habitats.  It is likely that these animals did not compete directly with each other (different beak and tooth shapes – indicating niche partitioning).

Ecosystem Engineer Like a Modern Elephant – Unlikely

Ankylosaurus probably fed on low-growing vegetation, ferns, flowers and shrubs, with an estimated consumption of about 60 kilogrammes of vegetable matter per day, about the same as an elephant. It did not chew its food, food processing taking place in the enormous gut.

Modern elephants with their ability to knock down trees and strip bark, are regarded as ecosystem engineers, helping to shape the environment.  It is suggested that Ankylosaurus did not carry out this role, tree felling, bark stripping and environmental engineering was more likely to have been undertaken by the equally massive and much more ubiquitous hadrosaurids.

Although Ankylosaurines are typically categorised as herbivores, the unusual narial anatomy of Ankylosaurus could reflect a change in diet or feeding strategy relative to other Ankylosaurs and the researchers suggest this warrants further investigation.  The smaller, posteriorly set, and dorsally roofed external nares in Ankylosaurus could have evolved as these animals grubbed in the soil for nutritious grubs, earthworms, insects or plant tubers.  The broad muzzle and powerful front limbs would have made Ankylosaurus an accomplished digger.  So perhaps Ankylosaurus had a different lifestyle compared to other members of the Ankylosauridae, it may have foraged through leaf litter or turned over the soil, like a giant hog.

The scientific paper: “Unusual cranial and Postcranial Anatomy in the Archetypal Ankylosaur Ankylosaurus magniventris” by Victoria M. Arbour and Jordan C. Mallon, published in the Canadian open access journal “Facets”.

Link to the paper: Ankylosaurus Paper

12 10, 2017

Reaffirming Protoichthyosaurus as a Valid Genus

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

The Muddy Water Surrounding Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus Just Got a Little Clearer

A type of British Ichthyosaur, first identified nearly forty years ago, but then dismissed as a distinct genus, has been re-examined and found to be a new type of marine reptile after all.  British palaeontologist Dr Robert Appleby, in 1979, conducted a review of Ichthyosaur fossil material found around the UK and announced a news species which he named Protoichthyosaurus.  Two separate species were assigned to this genus P. prostaxalis and P. prosostealis.  Erecting this genus with its two component species proved controversial and a number of other scientists have dismissed this assessment, reassigning the fossil material to the Ichthyosaurus genus.

One of the Fossil Specimens from the 1979 Marine Reptile Study

Protoichthyosaurus fossil material.

One of the original skeletons of Protoichthyosaurus described by Robert Appleby in 1979.

Picture Credit: National Museum of Wales/Dean Lomax

A detailed study which involved making comparisons between Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus by Dean Lomax, (Manchester University), Rashmi Mistry (University of Reading) and Professor Judy Massare (State University of New York), published in the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology” has established Protoichthyosaurus as a separate genus once again.

The researchers found major differences in the number of bones in the front fin, or forefin, of both species.  The team posit that this fundamental difference in anatomy probably reflects the way both species used their forefins to manoeuvre whilst swimming.  Differences were also found in the skulls.

Scientists Studying the Fossil Material

A Protoichthyosaurus fossil is studied by palaeontologists.

Bill Wahl, Prof. Judy Massare, Dr David Large and Dean Lomax study the fossil.

Picture Credit: University of Nottingham

Fin Grabs Attention

During this research, another discovery about the fins was made, palaeontologist Dean Lomax explained:

“This unusual forefin structure was originally identified by Robert Appleby in 1979, but some of the historic specimens he examined had been ‘faked’, and this fakery had been missed until now.  In some instances, an isolated fin of an Ichthyosaurus had been added to a Protoichthyosaurus skeleton to make it appear more complete, which led to the genuine differences being missed.  This has been a major problem because it stopped science from progressing.  We also found some pathological fins, including Ichthyosaurus fins with pathologies that mimic the Protoichthyosaurus forefin structure”.

Dean and Judy teamed up with former undergraduate student Rashmi Mistry, who had been studying an unusual Ichthyosaur in the collections of the Cole Museum of Zoology, (University of Reading), as she prepared her undergraduate dissertation.

Rashmi added:

“Whilst doing my dissertation in 2016, I studied several Ichthyosaurs in the collections, including a very small skeleton.  It had an unusual forefin that matched Protoichthyosaurus, which I understood to be a widely unrecognised genus.  However, when I contacted Dean, he was very excited.  He told me that this little skeleton is the only known small juvenile Protoichthyosaurus.”

The Juvenile Protoichthyosaurus Specimen

Protoichthyosaurus (juvenile).

The juvenile Protoichthyosaurus fossil.

Picture Credit: University of Reading

More Than Twenty Specimens of Protoichthyosaurus Identified

As a result of this extensive study, more than twenty specimens of Protoichthyosaurus have been identified.  This is highly significant as each specimen (with a forefin) has the same structure.  The specimens all date from the early Jurassic geological period (200-190 million years ago) and they are geographically dispersed with specimens reported from Dorset, Somerset, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Glamorgan (Wales)

Links with the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

As part of his research, Dean examined a nearly complete skeleton which is part of the vertebrate collection at the museum of Nottingham.  This specimen turned out to be different from all the other known examples of Protoichthyosaurus (autapomorphies concerning the cranium and the shape of the humeri).  A new species of Protoichthyosaurus has been erected, it has been named  Protoichthyosaurus applebyi, in honour of Dr Appleby and in recognition of his work some forty years ago that established the Protoichthyosaurus genus in the first place.

The Protoichthyosaurus applebyi Specimen

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi fossil specimen.

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi fossil.

The fossil specimen is currently on display at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts centre, as part of the “Dinosaurs of China” exhibition.  If you want to catch this marine reptile and take in all the beautiful feathered dinosaurs in this exhibition, you had better hurry, “Dinosaurs of China” closes at the end of the month.

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Viewed the Specimen at the “Dinosaurs of China” Exhibition

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi

The Nottingham Ichthyosaur (P. applebyi).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper: “The Taxonomic Utility of Forefin Morphology in Lower Jurassic Ichthyosaurs: Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus” by Lomax, D. R., Massare, J. A. and Mistry, R.  Published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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