All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//December
15 12, 2017

Updating Dromaeosaurids

By | December 15th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Updating Dromaeosaurid Illustrations

Time to update and re-evaluate some of the scale drawings and details within Everything Dinosaur’s range of fact sheets.  The UK-based company has produced hundreds of dinosaur and prehistoric animal data sheets and from time to time, the information and illustrations needs to be updated.  Over the next few weeks our team members will be concentrating on changing some of the information associated with our Theropod fact sheets, specifically those associated with Maniraptorans.

Updating Dromaeosaurid Illustrations

A feathered "raptor" drawing.

An illustration of Deinonychus (D. antirrhopus)

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a picture of Deinonychus, as we prepare to update our fact sheet on this large “raptor”.

Maniraptoran Dinosaurs Defined

The Maniraptora is a clade of Theropod dinosaurs consisting of those Coelurosaurian dinosaurs that are closely related to birds (Aves).  It includes the birds and the non-avian dinosaurs that were more closely related to them than to ornithomimids specifically, the type species Ornithomimus velox.  The Theropod dinosaurs that are more closely related to birds are classified into a sub-clade Eumaniraptora.  The Eumaniraptora (it means the “true maniraptorans”), consists of all the types of dinosaur more closely related to birds than to the Oviraptorosaurs.  The term Eumaniraptora is often replaced by the term Paraves, although palaeontologists do differ in their views as to the exact composition of Eumaniraptora and Paraves.  Essentially, a dinosaur such as the sickle-toed-clawed Deinonychus (illustrated above), as a member of the Dromaeosauridae family, along with the troodontids and the true birds (Avialae), are components of this sub-clade.

14 12, 2017

A Blood-sucking Story – Dinosaur Parasites

By | December 14th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaur Parasites Preserved in 99-million-year-old Amber

Fossilised ticks discovered trapped and preserved in amber show that these parasites sucked the blood of feathered dinosaurs almost 100 million years ago, according to a new article published in the scientific journal “Nature Communications”.  The amber nodule containing the blood-sucking ticks provides the first direct evidence to support the idea that feathered dinosaurs, just like birds today, had to endure blood-sucking parasites.  As a result of this research, a new species of tick has been named “Dracula’s terrible tick” – Deinocroton draculi.

Modern ticks pass diseases onto their host, this discovery provides evidence that as well as having to deal with parasites, it is likely these ticks and their feeding resulted in the transmission of disease from the invertebrate to their dinosaur host.

The Discovery of Blood-sucking Ticks in Association with Dinosaur Feathers

Fossil evidence of dinosaur parasites.

Evidence of ticks feeding on dinosaur blood preserved in amber.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

The image above shows the hard tick identified as Cornupalpatum burmanicum entangled in a pennaceous feather.  Photograph (a) shows an image of the amber nodule, scale bar 5 mm, the area in the white box is highlighted in (b) allowing the tick that was entangled in the barbs of the feather to be clearly seen (scale bar 1 mm).

Photograph (c) shows a close-up view of the tick’s capitulum (feeding apparatus), the teeth are highlighted by a black arrow (scale bar 0.1 mm).  Picture (d) shows a view of a barb on the feather, scale bar 0.2 mm, whilst the line drawing (e) shows a dorsal view of the tick and the entangled legs.  Photograph (f) shows a close-up view of the hooklets associated with the barb on the feather, the tick became ensnared in these hooklets and trapped, scale bar 0.2 mm.

Fossils of parasites are extremely rare, especially those found with direct evidence which suggests their host.  However, preserved inside a piece of Burmite (amber from Myanmar), which was formed around 100 million-years-ago, researchers found the perfectly preserved remains of a tick tangled up in a feather along with the remains of other ticks, providing a valuable insight into the lives of feathered dinosaurs.

Jurassic Park Scenario?

Although the tick may contain dinosaur blood, the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of the amber (after all, amber is preserved tree resin and this resin is produced by certain types of trees to protect them from infection), all attempts to identify organic remains such as dinosaur DNA from amber have proved unsuccessful.

Lead author of the study,  Enrique Peñalver from the Spanish Geological Survey (IGME), explained the significance of the fossil find:

“Ticks are infamous blood-sucking, parasitic organisms, having a tremendous impact on the health of humans, livestock, pets, and even wildlife, but until now clear evidence of their role in deep time has been lacking.”

Remarkable Amber from Myanmar

Over the last few years, a number of remarkable fossil discoveries have been made as scientists study amber nodules from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).  For example, in December 2016, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a partial dinosaur tail preserved in amber, whilst in June 2017, this blog site reported upon the discovery of the remains of a baby prehistoric bird that also became entombed in amber.

Dinosaur tail found in Burmite: The Tale of a Dinosaur Tail

Baby Bird (Enantiornithine bird) preserved in amber: Watch the Birdie! Enantiornithine Bird Preserved in Amber

The amber was formed in the early part of the Cenomanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  Northern Burma was covered in a temperate forest during this phase of the Cretaceous, tree resin trapped all kinds of creatures and plant material providing palaeontologists with a fascinating insight into the flora and fauna of a Cretaceous ecosystem.  The researchers identified five different ticks, one is grasping the dinosaur feather and has been identified as an example of Cornupalpatum burmanicum, a tick belonging to the Ixodidae family.  It was a “hard” tick, it had a tough shield (scutum) on its back which protected the Arthropod from predators.  The others including one engorged with blood have been assigned to the new species Deinocroton draculi.

Illustrations of Two of the Ticks (Male and Female D. draculi)

Illustrations of male and female Cretaceous Ticks (D. draculi)

Deinocroton draculi – male (top) with a blood engorged female (bottom).

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

Co-author of the study, Dr Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente (Oxford University Museum of Natural History) commented:

“The fossil record tells us that feathers like the one we have studied were already present on a wide range of Theropod dinosaurs, a group which included ground-running forms without flying ability, as well as bird-like dinosaurs capable of powered flight.  So, although we can’t be sure what kind of dinosaur the tick was feeding on, the Cretaceous age of the Burmese amber confirms
that the feather certainly did not belong to a modern bird, as these appeared much later in Theropod evolution according to current fossil and molecular evidence”.

Engorged with Blood

The tick that has recently fed shows an eight-fold increase in body volume.  This suggests that D. draculi fed quickly.  It will not be possible to analyse the blood as this tick was only partially immersed in the sticky tree resin and during the fossilisation process the body contents were altered by mineral deposition.  Indirect evidence of a probable dinosaur host is provided in the form of hair-like structures (setae) from the larvae of skin beetles (dermestids), found attached to the other two Deinocroton ticks preserved together.  Dermestids feed in nests, on debris such as shed feathers, skin and hair from the nest’s residents.  As no mammal hairs have yet to be found in Burmite (or indeed any Cretaceous amber), the presence of skin beetle setae on the two Deinocroton draculi specimens suggests that the ticks’ host was a feathered dinosaur.

A Three-dimensional Model of the Newly Described Cretaceous Tick (Deinocroton draculi)

Deinocroton draculi image.

A three-dimensional model of the newly described blood-sucking tick Deinocroton draculi.

Picture Credit: Oscar Sanisidro (University of Kansas)

Another author of the scientific paper, Dr David Grimaldi (American Museum of Natural History, New York) explained:

“The simultaneous entrapment of two external parasites – the ticks – is extraordinary, and can be best explained if they had a nest-inhabiting ecology as some modern ticks do, living in the host’s nest or in their own nest nearby.”

The discovery of these ticks provides indirect and direct evidence that ticks have been parasitising and sucking the blood from dinosaurs within the evolutionary lineage leading to extant Aves for almost 100 million-years.

The scientific paper: “Ticks Parasitised Feathered Dinosaurs as Revealed by Cretaceous Amber Assemblages” by Enrique Peñalver, Antonio Arillo, Xavier Delclòs, David Peris, David A. Grimaldi, Scott R. Anderson, Paul C. Nascimbene & Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente published in the journal “Nature Communications”.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in the compilation of this article.

13 12, 2017

The First Triassic Plesiosaur

By | December 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Oldest Plesiosaur in Town – Rhaeticosaurus mertensi

Following the end-Permian mass extinction event, the world’s ecosystems took several million years to recover.  In marine environments, just as on land, the mass extinction event led to devastating losses, it has been estimated that 57% of marine families died out.  However, as the Triassic progressed, a number of terrestrial reptiles adapted to marine habitats and new, diverse ecosystems evolved.  It had long been suspected that the Plesiosauria (the long-necked Plesiosaurs and the big-headed Pliosaurs), the most diverse and longest-lived of all the extinct marine reptile groups, had their origins in the Triassic, but the fossil evidence for basal Plesiosaurs was somewhat lacking.  However, the discovery of a partially articulated fossil in a clay pit, close to the village of Bonenburg in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), has helped to plug a gap in the fossil record.

The Fossilised Remains of the World’s Oldest Plesiosaur

Rhaeticosaurus fossil (A) with line drawing below (B).

Rhaeticosaurus fossil (A) with line drawing (B).

Picture Credit: Georg Oleschinski

The fossil discovery marks the first Plesiosaur specimen to be recovered from Triassic-aged rocks.  It is the oldest Plesiosaur to be found to date, the only one which dates from the Triassic Period.

Intriguingly, a study of cross-sections of some of the larger fossilised bones in the 2.37-metre-long skeleton, support previous research that suggests these marine reptiles grew rapidly and were (most likely), warm-blooded.  The new species has been named Rhaeticosaurus mertensi, (ree-ti-co-sore-us mur-ten-see), the genus name comes from the last faunal stage of the Triassic (the Rhaetian), the trivial name honours  private collector Michael Mertens, who made the initial fossil discovery.

201 Million-Year-Old Fossil

Michael Mertens discovered the specimen in 2013, some of the neck bones had been lost but the majority of the skeleton was in situ.  The resulting excavation, study and publication in the academic journal “Science Advances”, is a credit to the parties involved, namely Herr Mertens, the natural heritage protection agency, the Münster museum, and scientists from various institutes including Bonn University, the Osaka Museum of Natural History, the University of Tokyo and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, amongst others.

Co-author of the Scientific Paper Tanja Wintrich with the Fossil Finder Michael Mertens

Rhaeticosaurus fossil discovery.

PhD student Tanja Wintrich with Michael Mertens show where the fossil was found.

Picture Credit: Professor Martin Sander (University of Bonn)

The Long-lived and Diverse Plesiosauria

In a press release from Bonn University, Plesiosaurs are described as especially effective swimmers.  They evolved a unique, four-limbed propulsion using broad flippers, in essence, “flying underwater”.

One of the authors of the scientific paper Professor Martin Sander explained:

“Instead of laboriously pushing the water out of the way with their paddles, Plesiosaurs were gliding elegantly along with limbs modified to underwater wings.  Their small head was placed on a long, streamlined neck.  The stout body contained strong muscles keeping those wings in motion.  Compared to the other marine reptiles, the tail was short because it was only used for steering.  This evolutionary design was very successful, but curiously it did not evolve again after the extinction of the Plesiosaurs.”

An Illustration of a Typical Long-necked Plesiosaur

Plesiosaurus.

An illustration of a Plesiosaurus.

Bone Histology Suggests Rapid Growth and Potential Endothermy

The Triassic Plesiosaur already has the typical long-necked Plesiosaur bauplan and it was, like most of its descendants, a pelagic piscivore (an active swimmer, hunting fish).  Analysis of the bone structure indicates that the specimen represents a juvenile, one that was growing rapidly.  Thin cross-sections of fossil bone were compared to Jurassic and Cretaceous specimens and the team’s findings support the hypothesis that to grow this quickly, these reptiles needed to be warm-blooded.

Professor Sander stated:

“Plesiosaurs apparently grew extremely fast before reaching maturity.  Since Plesiosaurs spread quickly all over the world, they must have been able to regulate their body temperature to be able to invade cooler parts of the ocean.”

The Hind Leg Bones of Rhaeticosaurus mertensi

Hind leg bones of Rhaeticosaurus.

Left femur (f), tibia (ti) and fibula (fi). The proximal femur is a cast because the original was sectioned for histology (scale bar = 1 cm).

Picture Credit: Science Advances

In the photograph (above), the part of the femur (f) is a cast as this bone was cross-sectioned as part of the bone study.

Filling a Gap in the Fossil Record

The evolution of the Plesiosauria is poorly understood.  They are probably descended from a group of long-necked, marine reptiles known as Pistosaurs, fossils of which are associated with Middle to Late Triassic deposits.  An example of a Pistosaur is Bobosaurus (B. forojuliensis) from the Rio del Lago Formation of Italy (Carnian faunal stage of the Triassic).  However, Bobosaurus lived some thirty million years before Rhaeticosaurus evolved.  This German fossil discovery helps to fill in a little of the temporal gap in the fossil record of this successful lineage.  Rhaeticosaurus has been assigned to a basal position within the Pliosauridae family and its discovery reveals that the diversification of the Plesiosauria was a Triassic event and a number of genera survived the end Triassic extinction into the Jurassic.  The researchers conclude that the bone histology of this Late Triassic marine reptile suggests that the evolution of fast growth and an elevated metabolic rate were adaptations to an active, pelagic life-style foraging in open water.

Articulated Cervical Vertebrae (C) and Elements from the Left Front Limb (D)

Neck bones (c) and forearm, hand bones of Rhaeticosaurus.

Cervical vertebrae (C) and the left radius (ra), a phalanx (ph) and a (cr) carpal element (D).

Picture Credit: Science Advances

The new specimen corroborates the hypothesis that the open ocean life of Plesiosaurians facilitated their survival of the end-Triassic extinction.

The scientific paper: “A Triassic Plesiosaurian Skeleton and Bone Histology Inform on Evolution of a Unique Body Plan” by Tanja Wintrich, Shoji Hayashi, Alexandra Houssaye, Yasuhisa Nakajima and P. Martin Sander published in the journal “Science Advances”.

12 12, 2017

Dinosaur Drawing and Letter

By | December 12th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaur Drawing and Thank You Letter

Our thanks to Dionne in Year 5 who sent Everything Dinosaur a lovely thank you letter accompanied by a dinosaur drawing after we visited her school recently.  Dionne wrote to say that “today was extraordinary” and she really enjoyed holding all the fossils.

Drawing and Thank You Letter Received by Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur letter and drawing.

Dinosaur letter and drawing sent in by Dionne in Year 5.

Picture Credit: Dionne (Year 5)

Dinosaur Workshop in School

Everything Dinosaur had been invited into Dionne’s school to work with the class of Year 5 children for a morning delivering a dinosaur workshop in school.  One of a number of extension activities that arose over the course of the morning was to have the children write thank you letters to us.  We duly received an amazing bundle of letters from the children, lots of them had dinosaur drawings too.

Our thanks to all the children who sent letters into our offices, we have enjoyed reading them and we have even posted up some of the pictures on the wall of our warehouse.

11 12, 2017

Looking at the World’s Oldest Eye

By | December 11th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Insight into Evolution of the Compound Eye

A team of international scientists including researchers from Cologne University, Estonia and the University of Edinburgh have been looking into the evolution of the first eyes by studying the remarkably well-preserved remains of an eye from a trilobite that lived in the sea more than half a billion years ago.  The trilobite to which it belongs (Schmidtiellus reetae), comes from a fossiliferous zone where the first complete, large organisms appear in the fossil record.  As a consequence of this, it is probably the oldest record of an ophthalmic system likely to be discovered.

Unlike modern compound eyes, the eye of this trilobite had no lens.  The fossil is estimated to be around 530 million years old.

The Trilobite Fossil Providing an Insight into the Evolution of Eyesight

Schmidtiellus reetae fossil.

Schmidtiellus reetae fossil showing details of the eyes.

Picture Credit: G. Baranov (University of Cologne)

Schmidtiellus reetae – Fossil from Estonia

The research team, which included Dr Brigitte Schoenemann (University of Cologne) and her colleagues Helje Pärnaste (Tallinn, Estonia) and Euan Clarkson (Edinburgh University), examined the specimen (S. reetae) and examined the cellular structure of the compound eye.  This remarkable fossil shows how the eye was constructed and from this the team could infer what level of vision the Arthropod had.  As well as looking at similarities with extant Arthropods, the researchers were keen to see how the trilobite eye differed in structure and complexity.  The results show that modern compound eyes work in ways strikingly similar to those of half a billion years ago.  They are very conservative in their structure – and quite successfully so.

Dr Schoenemann commented:

“The principle of the modern compound eye most likely goes back to before the times of our first fossil records.  Half a billion years ago, it was in the early stage of its development, and with our work we have succeeded in uncovering the first visible steps of this extremely successful visual principle”.

Trilobite from Estonia

The fossil comes from Lower Cambrian sediments located in Estonia.  The bedding planes at this location reveal some of the very first fossils of complex animals with an exoskeleton.  The right eye of the trilobite is slightly abraded, allowing for a view into its interior.  It is a typical compound eye consisting of approximately 100 sub-units placed relatively far apart compared to modern forms of compound eyes.  The authors were able to show that each of these sub-units (ommatidia) consists of about eight sensory cells, just like modern compound eyes, grouped around a central rhabdom, a light-guiding receptive structure.  The rhabdom contains the visual pigments and conveys the brightness of the surrounding environment to the animal’s central nervous system.

The Right Eye of Schmidtiellus reetae from the Study

A view of the trilobite eye.

A lateral view of the right eye of the trilobite.

Picture Credit: G. Baranov (University of Cologne)

Dr Schoenemann explained:

“In contrast to the modern compound eyes of bees, dragonflies, and many crabs, this very old compound eye does not have a lens.  This is likely due to the fact that these rather soft-shelled Arthropods lacked the necessary layer in their shell responsible for lens formation.”

What Could the Trilobite See?

The physical features of the central rhabdom ensures that each element of the compound eye has a limited field of vision and that the animal’s overall visual impression already has the mosaic-like character of a modern compound eye.  The precision of such an eye can be determined by the number of its elements, just like the number of pixels determines the precision and detail within a computer image.  The eye was capable of detecting movement and it could roughly discern the distribution of light in its environment to help it avoid obstacles in its path.

The University of Cologne biologist and her team were also able to show that only a few million years after Schmidtiellus lived, new and improved compound eyes with higher resolution developed in another trilobite from the Baltic region called Holmia kjerulfi.  The performance of this species’ eyes even approximated to that seen in modern dragonflies.  A physical analysis of the compound eyes of both trilobites showed that the organism inhabited bright waters, most likely coastal shelf regions.

Looking at the evolution of the Arthropod brain: Arthropod Brain and Nervous System Studied

10 12, 2017

Packing All the Christmas Post

By | December 10th, 2017|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Working All Weekend To Help Our Customers

At Everything Dinosaur, we know how stressful it can be in the run up to Christmas, but with just over two weeks to go to the big day, when it comes to parcels, our dedicated team are keeping right on top of things.  Staff have been busy packing orders all weekend so that all orders placed on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday can be despatched as quickly as possible.  All orders placed over this period will go out on Monday.

Hot tea and warm mince pies have kept us going and we shall be working seven days a week now as the build up to Christmas continues.

Royal Mail service updates that we receive state that normal weekend deliveries and collections of mail should be made in all parts of the UK and we are not anticipating any problems with collections from our warehouse next week despite the inclement weather.  For our international customers, it is worth noting the last recommended posting dates for parcels to be sent overseas, we have listed this information in the table below.

Last Recommended Posting Dates for Christmas 2017

Last posting dates for Christmas.

Last recommended posting dates for Christmas (Royal Mail).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur and Royal Mail

The table (above) has been compiled using Royal Mail data.

Please note, Wednesday 13th December is the last recommended posting date for parcels heading for Germany, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic.  Thursday 14th December is the last recommended posting dates for the USA, Canada, Finland and Sweden, whilst next Friday (15th), is the last recommended posting dates for much of the rest of Europe.

Helpful Suggestions from Everything Dinosaur

Here are some helpful hints and tips to ensure you get your season’s greetings delivered on time:

1).  Post items as early as possible, this gives parcels the best chance of reaching their destination in time for the big day.

2).  Remember to check that delivery address (house number, business name, postcode/zip code) as you progress through the check out.

3).  Before pressing the “submit order” button, to send an order to Everything Dinosaur, check the delivery address one more time, remember the phrase “check the address to save you stress”.

4).  You can always nominate a neighbour’s address where the parcel can be delivered to if you are likely to be out when the parcel is delivered.  There is a message box available for every order, so you have the opportunity to add helpful information about delivery or where the parcel can be left if you are out.

5).  A different delivery address, other than your home address can be specified during our check out process.  Perhaps the parcel could be sent to your work, a relative, a friend etc.

Our dedicated team are on hand to handle telephone and email enquiries, at this time of year, Everything Dinosaur is doing all it can to ensure its customers have a happy Christmas.

For additional help and advice over Christmas deliveries, simply email Everything Dinosaur: Contact Everything Dinosaur

9 12, 2017

Mojo Fun New Dinosaur Models for 2018

By | December 9th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Mojo Fun New Dinosaur Models for 2018

Some exciting new additions to the Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” range are announced by Everything Dinosaur today.  There will be four, new, colourful dinosaur models added to the range in 2018.  Of the four models, there is one representing a Jurassic dinosaur, the other three are models of dinosaurs associated with the Cretaceous.  One of the new dinosaur replicas in this skilfully crafted range is a herbivore, the other three are hypercarnivores.  The four models are Diplodocus, Giganotosaurus, Baryonyx and Deinonychus.

The New for 2018 Diplodocus Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Diplodocus model (2018).

Mojo Fun Diplodocus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Diplodocus

Mojo Fun already has a Brachiosaurus within its model portfolio, their second Sauropod is Diplodocus, the only Jurassic representative of the four new models and the plant-eater.  The colour scheme chosen is certainly striking with a verdant green, contrasting with the subtle yellow of the underside of the neck and the belly.  The company has chosen to give their Diplodocus a classic “swan-neck” posture, perhaps a nod towards famous palaeoartists such as Zdeněk Burian and Charles Knight, whereas, the row of prominent osteoderms running from back of the head down to the tail reflect some of the latest scientific thinking concerning this diplodocid.

Mojo Fun New for 2018 Baryonyx

Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

The Mojo Fun 2018 Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Continuing the trend for striking colour schemes, this is a spectacular model of “heavy claw”, the first fossils of which were discovered in a Surrey clay pit in 1983.  Baryonyx may have specialised in catching fish, a huge 31-centimetre-long claw on the first finger of each hand may have helped this dinosaur to hook its prey out of the water.  The vibrant blue colour scheme contrasts nicely with the muted, warmer tones of the underside, a nice example of the concept of counter shading.

A Close-View of the Head of the Mojo Fun New for 2018 Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

A close-up view of the new for 2018 Mojo Fun Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This brilliant blue, Baryonyx is going to prove popular amongst dinosaur fans, especially when you consider what turned up in the recent “Jurassic World 2” trailer.

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model (2018).

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus

The next carnivorous dinosaur is Giganotosaurus.  It is great to see Mojo Fun increasing the variety of Theropod dinosaurs within the “Prehistoric & Extinct” range.  A model of one of the largest, if not the largest, meat-eating dinosaur known to science.  At around 35 centimetres in length, this is a very substantial figure, around ten centimetres longer than the hunting Tyrannosaur models introduced by this company in 2017.

The Head of the New for 2018 Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus

The head of the Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

A close view of the Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Deinonychus

With the aforementioned movie “Jurassic World” movie coming to cinemas from June 7th next year, it seems fitting that the last of the new for 2018 models from Mojo Fun should be a “raptor”.  In addition, to the company’s Velociraptors, the larger Deinonychus is being added to the range and at a whopping 32 centimetres long, it is the biggest dromaeosaurid model made to date by Mojo Fun.

The New for 2018 Mojo Fun Deinonychus Dinosaur Model

The Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model.

The Mojo Fun 2018 Deinonychus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Complete with a feathery coat, ulna feathers and a crest on the end of its long, stiff tail, this is a fascinating replica of “terrible claw”.  It’s another meat-eater and a dinosaur of the Cretaceous, just like Baryonyx and Giganotosaurus.

A Close-up View of the Head of the Mojo Fun Deinonychus

Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model (2018).

A close view of the head of the new for 2018 Mojo Fun Deinonychus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows a close-up view of the head of the new Deinonychus, the feathery integument can clearly be seen as well as the excellent detail on the snout and jaws.

Model Measurements and Availability

  • Mojo Fun Diplodocus length 27 cm, height of the head 13 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Baryonyx length 27 cm, height of the head 10 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Giganotosaurus length 35 cm, height approx. 12 cm.
  • Mojo Fun Deinonychus length 32 cm, height (raised tail) 14.5 cm.

All four of these new dinosaur models are expected to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in the early part of next year, perhaps as early as January 2018.

To view the current range of Mojo Fun “Prehistoric & Extinct” models available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric & Extinct

Look out for further updates from Everything Dinosaur on the Mojo Fun model range, including details of model colour changes.

8 12, 2017

The Remarkable and Diverse Maniraptora (Halszkaraptor)

By | December 8th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates|1 Comment

Raptor That Took to Water (Halszkaraptor escuilliei)

A fossil that had been removed illegally from Mongolia has revealed a remarkable twist in the evolution of Theropod dinosaurs.  It seems that during the Late Cretaceous, one little meat-eating Maniraptoran evolved a long, swan-like neck and flippers for forelimbs and took to the water.  It may have even waddled around like a duck.  This latest discovery, written up in the journal “Nature”, demonstrates the remarkable diversity within Maniraptoran dinosaurs.  Several different kinds of “raptor-like” dinosaurs evolved adapting to different ecological niches, palaeontologists have known about dwarf forms and giants, meat-eaters adapting to herbivory and the evolution of powered flight within the Maniraptoran lineage.  This newly described dinosaur adds to this diversity and helps to demonstrate the flexibility of the Theropoda bauplan.  As well as the cursorial forms (fast runners), here is one little Maniraptoran showing adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle.

Named Halszkaraptor escuilliei, it may have been a forelimb-propelled, pursuit diver, hunting and catching fish in a similar way to living birds (to whom Halszkaraptor is distantly related), such as Auks and Penguins.

A Reconstruction of the Newly Described Halszkaraptor escuilliei

An illustration of Halszkaraptor escuilliei.

Artist’s reconstruction of Halszkaraptor escuilliei.

Picture Credit: Lukas Panzarin

Surprising Dinosaur from Southern Mongolia

The fossil, consisting of a single slab with a partially exposed, nearly complete and articulated skeleton, heralds from Ukhaa Tolgod in southern Mongolia.  The Upper Cretaceous sandstones (Campanian faunal stage), have been pillaged by fossil poachers for decades and Halszkaraptor was illegally excavated and circulated via the black market, passing through the hands of several private collectors.   In 2015, a French collector acquired the specimen and contacted the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the fossil was subsequently examined and studied in detail.  The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble was used to ensure that the bizarre fossil was not a forgery, that it was not a “chimera”, a combination of fossils that had been put together in order to fetch a better price when it was illegally sold.  The detailed X-ray phase-contrast synchrotron microtomography identified the specimen as genuine and provided palaeontologists with data on some of the bones that remained embedded in the matrix.

The research team concluded that this was a new type of dinosaur, one that would have been perfectly at home in the water.

The Holotype Fossil of H. escuilliei

Halszkaraptor escuilliei holotype.

Extremely well-preserved fossil of Halszkaraptor escuilliei from Mongolia, still partly embedded in rock.

Picture Credit: Thierry Hubin/Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Palaeontologist, Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“We always thought dinosaurs were terrestrial, but now it is very clear for the first time that there were also swimming dinosaurs.”

75 to 71 Million Years Old

The research team, which also included Phil Currie (University of Alberta), identified a number of anatomical characteristics in common with aquatic predators such as more teeth, including long, tube like teeth at the front of jaw which are typical of piscivores.  In addition, the scientists discovered a neurovascular mesh inside the dinosaur’s snout that resembles those found in modern crocodiles.  Halszkaraptor’s hands, with an elongated third finger, probably had flippers, with which it manoeuvred in the water like a penguin, using its long neck to grab prey in a surprise attack. Based on the hip structures, the palaeontologists think it walked upright like a duck.

Another co-author of the paper, Koen Stein (Free University Brussels, VUB) commented upon the 80-centimetres-long Theropod:

“Halszkaraptor is a great find.  It lived like a water bird, on land as well as in water.  Palaeontologists never expected dinosaurs to have explored this biotope.  The discovery shows how diverse dinosaurs were and how much there is still left to discover, even in long-studied regions like Mongolia.”

A Novel Clade Basal to the Dromaeosauridae

Halszkaraptor escuilliei is related to other enigmatic Late Cretaceous Maniraptorans from Mongolia.  However, it is so very different from its relatives, animals like the famous Velociraptor for example, that it has been placed in its own novel clade (Halszkaraptorinae), at the root of Dromaeosauridae.

The Skull of the Newly Described Maniraptoran – H. escuilliei

Halszkaraptor escuilliei skull (ESRF).

The skull of Halszkaraptor escuilliei (ESRF).

Picture Credit:  Thierry Hubin/Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences/ESRF (Grenoble)

Haven’t We Been Here Before?

The notion of a small, Theropod dinosaur becoming adapted to an aquatic life has been postulated previously.  Back in the 1970’s a second specimen of the Late Jurassic Theropod Compsognathus was described.  This specimen, from France, was much larger than the one originally used to describe the species Compsognathus longipes in the 19th Century.  The Compsognathus fossil material was associated with a tropical lagoon palaeoenvironment and it was proposed that this French Compsognathus represented a different species, one that was specifically adapted to an aquatic habitat.  It was named Compsognathus corallestris.  Although, very much at home on dry land, it was postulated that the three-fingered hand had become fused to make a paddle and that his one-metre-long dinosaur propelled itself through the water in much the same way as its Coelurosaurian descendant Halszkaraptor is believed to have done.

Compsognathus corallestris is Featured in “The Evolution and Ecology of the Dinosaurs” Published in 1976

Compsognathus corallestris - an aquatic dinosaur>

Compsognathus corallestris illustrated.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Who knows?  Perhaps the discovery of Halszkaraptor might re-ignite the debate surrounding Compsognathus?  Dinosaurs could swim, but just how adapted to an aquatic environment some of these animals became is open once again to speculation.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the press team at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in the compilation of this article.

7 12, 2017

Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model Retired

By | December 7th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|1 Comment

Popular Papo Purple Acrocanthosaurus Out of Production

The purple coloured Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model that was introduced by Papo in the spring of 2017 is out of production and due to be retired.  The Papo Acrocanthosaurus was introduced alongside a green Ceratosaurus dinosaur figure just a few months ago, but the curtain has come down on one of the most popular Papo figures in recent years.

The Purple Coloured Papo Acrocanthosaurus is Out of Production

Papo Acrocanthosaurus.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus.  Retired from the Papo range.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus Model

Everything Dinosaur team members had been aware of this model’s pending introduction in the autumn of 2016.   Our blog posts and social media coverage gained a big audience and JurassicCollectables produced a video review of one of our Papo Acrocanthosaurus figures that has been looked at over 20,000 times in just seven months.  However, in just a blink in geological time, the first Papo Acrocanthosaurus has been officially declared extinct and no more purple coloured versions of this figure are being made.

One of the Early Papo Acrocanthosaurus Production Figures

A view of the Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Popular Amongst Collectors and Dinosaur Model Fans

This hand-painted Papo replica with an articulated lower jaw, has proved to be very popular amongst model collectors and dinosaur fans.  Since its addition to the Everything Dinosaur Papo range, this figure has attracted very favourable reviews.

For example, Alexus from America wrote:

“Beautifully sculpted figure!  Nice colors as well as magnificent detail!  Definitely one of their greatest looking figures.  You never cease to amaze.  Quick shipping as well. Only took less than 2 weeks to arrive!  Worth every penny I spent on it!  Fantastic job once again Papo on another outstanding figure!”

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus proved to be a big hit with the girls as well, with dinosaur fan Bryanne reflecting many of the comments and views received by Everything Dinosaur.

Briony said:

“Fantastic Theropod!!  Love the sculpt and paint detail and the pose is great my new favourite Papo dinosaur figure”.

The purple Acrocanthosaurus is being replaced by a new version of the model, with a different paint scheme.

The New for 2018 Papo Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Acrocanthosaurus (new colour scheme for 2018).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We have nicknamed this new replica “Tiger stripes”, for obvious reasons, availability has yet to be confirmed but Everything Dinosaur could have stocks of this replica as early as March 2018.

In the meantime, the purple Papo Acrocanthosaurus is going to get rarer and rarer.  However, Everything Dinosaur was aware of this model’s impending demise and has managed to pick up some extra cases prior to the production being stopped.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We know how disappointed model collectors will be when they hear the news that the purple Acrocanthosaurus model is heading for extinction.  Whilst we are most impressed with the new colour scheme, we hope that collectors will be able to pick up this model before they become available solely through auction sites at extremely inflated prices.”

Everything Dinosaur has stocks of the purple Acrocanthosaurus available, no price change as well.  The Papo range including the soon to be no longer available Acrocanthosaurus can be found here: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

6 12, 2017

Plesiosaur Picture

By | December 6th, 2017|General Teaching|Comments Off on Plesiosaur Picture

Plesiosaurus Picture

Our thanks to Kaya in Year 5 who sent us a lovely thank you letter with a picture of a Plesiosaurus.  Everything Dinosaur had recently visited Kaya’s school to spend a morning with the Year 5 children as the class was learning all about fossils and life in the past.

Thanks and Here is a Picture of a Plesiosaurus

Year 5 say thank you.

Kaya wrote to Everything Dinosaur to say thanks.

Picture Credit: Kaya (Year 5)

During the dinosaur workshop, we discussed the work of Mary Anning and we examined some of the fossils similar to those found by Mary on the beaches of Dorset.  Mary Anning famously discovered marine reptile fossils.  She did much to help Georgian and later, Victorian academics to understand the anatomy of these long extinct creatures.

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