All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
21 01, 2018

Everything Dinosaur January Newsletter

By | January 21st, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

New Models and the Return of PNSO Figures

Everything Dinosaur’s latest newsletter features a variety of new additions to the UK-based company’s product portfolio, plus the return of some old and exceedingly difficult to obtain favourites.  A shipment of PNSO figures has recently arrived and these take pride of place at the top of the January newsletter with the Chinese stegosaurid Chungkingosaurus taking centre stage.

The Everything Dinosaur Newsletter Features the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Chungkingosaurus Figure

PNSO Chungkingosaurus features in Everything Dinosaur mailshot.

PNSO Age of Dinosaur figures feature in the latest Everything Dinosaur mailshot.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This beautifully crafted dinosaur model measures a whopping fifty-two centimetres long and the magnificent head is nearly twenty centimetres off the ground.  This is not the biggest model in the range, the Sauropod replica (Huanghetitan), stands thirty-nine centimetres high and is nearly seventy centimetres long.  The future of the PNSO product line remains in serious doubt and a number of figures have already gone out of production.  Fortunately, Everything Dinosaur has been able to secure some stocks.

To view the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs range available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs

Schleich and Safari Ltd Figures

A cornucopia of prehistoric animal figures is featured in the middle section of the Everything Dinosaur January Newsletter.  Safari Ltd have introduced thirteen new models into the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range for 2018, but just for good measure, Everything Dinosaur has added the Przewalski’s horse replica as well.  After all, models of this relic from the last Ice Age are few and far between and the Safari Ltd “Winner’s Circle” figure is a particularly good example.

To view the range of Wild Safari Prehistoric World models available from Everything Dinosaur: Safari Ltd, Wild Safari Prehistoric World

New for 2018 Prehistoric Animal Figures (Schleich and Safari Ltd)

Prehistoric animal models (new for 2018).

New Wild Safari Prehistoric World and Schleich figures (2018).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The first of the Schleich 2018 prehistoric animal figures are also featured in this section of our newsletter.  Just like the models opposite them, they have all been beautifully painted and prices at Everything Dinosaur start at just £5.99 plus P&P.   The Schleich Psittacosaurus, Dinogorgon and the lithe Tawa are already proving to be very popular with dinosaur fans and model collectors.

To view the new for 2018 Schleich figures including the very latest models: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models

Elephants and the Most Peculiar Proboscis of All Time (Tullimonstrum)

Animals with a proboscis are also featured in our latest newsletter.  One of these is familiar, the other, is one of the most bizarre animals known to science.  As well as bringing in the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs range, Everything Dinosaur has also been able to stock a small number of the PNSO Family Zoo figures, including the White Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus and the amazing African Elephant figure (illustrated below).  PNSO stands for the Peking Natural Sciences Organisation and their brief is not limited to extinct creatures, they have produced some wonderful models of animals living today.  However, just like the figures themselves, the animals the models represent are also rare.

The PNSO Family Zoo African Elephant Figure and the Paleo-Creatures Tullimonstrum

Featured replicas in the January 2018 mailshot.

Paleo-creatures Tullimonstrum and the PNSO Family Zoo African Elephant model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the PNSO Family Zoo range of models including the magnificent African Elephant available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Family Zoo

The Paleo-Creatures Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum)

January’s newsletter also featured an update on the Paleo-Creatures Tully Monster figure.  Some more of these hand-crafted replicas have arrived back in stock, replicas of one of the most unusual animals to have ever existed on planet Earth.  Known from one location, the Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois, this marine creature looks like an alien with its long proboscis ending in a mouth and eyes on horizontally positioned stalks, even the taphonomy of this Lagerstätte is poorly understood.  Scientists debate whether T. gregarium was a vertebrate or an invertebrate, the taxonomic classification of this little creature that lived in around 300 million years ago, remains controversial.

To request a subscription to Everything Dinosaur’s regular newsletter, simply drop us an email: Email Everything Dinosaur

20 01, 2018

School Prepares for Dinosaur Workshops

By | January 20th, 2018|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Hanging Heaton Primary Prepares for Dinosaur Term Topic

Pupils and staff at Hanging Heaton CE (VC) Junior and Infant School (near Dewsbury, West Yorkshire), have been busy preparing their classrooms for the start of the special Spring Term topic – dinosaurs.  Children in class 1 and class 2, comprising the Reception and Key Stage 1 cohorts at the school, will be learning all about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals for the rest of this term.  To help kick-start the topic, Everything Dinosaur was invited into the school to provide a provocation in the form of a dinosaur workshop to help enthuse the children.

Class 1 (Reception and Year 1) Have Prepared a Palaeontology Lab Display

The FS2/Year 1 class have a palaeontology lab.

The FS2/Year 1 class have a palaeontology laboratory.

Picture Credit: Hanging Heaton CE (VC) Junior and Infant School/Everything Dinosaur

Tidy and Spacious Classrooms

Our dinosaur expert had the opportunity to see the classrooms prior to starting the morning of dinosaur and fossil themed workshops.  The classrooms were tidy and spacious and the dedicated teachers, with the support of the learning support assistants had prepared a number of display boards to showcase the children’s work as they study dinosaurs.  The children in the mixed class of Reception and Year 1 are going to have a palaeontology laboratory in the corner of their classroom.  Perhaps, some of the extension activities we proposed, such as creating a prehistoric animal might end up being put up on the display board.

Class 2 (A Mixed Year 1 and Year 2 Class) Ready for the Dinosaurs Term Topic

A Key Stage 1 term topic display board - Dinosaurs!

Year 1/2 classroom ready for the dinosaurs term topic.

Picture Credit: Hanging Heaton CE (VC) Junior and Infant School/Everything Dinosaur

For further information about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools and to request a quotation: Contact Everything Dinosaur, Request a Quotation

Questions about Dinosaurs

The children demonstrated some amazing pre-knowledge, confidently talking about the largest dinosaurs and explaining the differences between meat-eaters and plant-eaters.  They also asked lots of questions about different types of prehistoric animals.  One little boy (George), wanted to know what sort of dinosaurs hunted Styracosaurus.  Our dinosaur expert was able to explain that when Styracosaurus (a horned dinosaur), roamed North America in the Late Cretaceous, there were several types of Tyrannosaur and other predators that might have considered this very spiky reptile as dinner.

A Drawing of the Horned Dinosaur Styracosaurus (S.albertensis)

Styracosaurus illustrated.

A drawing of the horned dinosaur Styracosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Additional Resources and Activities

Prior to the two workshops, our dinosaur expert had a short meeting with the teaching lead for the term topic to ensure that learning objectives would be incorporated into the sessions.  In addition, the Everything Dinosaur team member was able to provide a number of additional teaching resources to support the school’s scheme of work, including a dinosaur footprint measuring exercise, a motor skills test linked to writing for the Reception children and a dinosaur themed geography exercise to help the Key Stage 1 children learn about the continents.

We look forward to seeing pictures of the classroom display boards filled up with examples of the children’s dinosaur and fossil themed learning.

19 01, 2018

Safari 2018 Collectors Booklet in Stock

By | January 19th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Stocks the New for 2018 Safari Ltd Booklet

Everything Dinosaur stocks a range of collector booklets and recently the new for 2018 Safari Ltd collectors booklet has arrived.  This handy guide enables dinosaur model fans to see the full range of the prehistoric animal models that are currently produced by Safari Ltd, the majority of which are within the “Wild Safari Prehistoric World” portfolio.

Available from Everything Dinosaur

Safari Ltd collectors booklet (2018)

Safari Ltd 2018 booklet.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The 2018 Safari Ltd collectors booklet is now available from Everything Dinosaur.  This handy guide to the Safari model range including the “Wild Safari Prehistoric World” series can be requested from us, or simply when placing an order, add a booklet to your shopping cart, it is free, only the subsidised postage to pay if it is ordered separately.

To view the prehistoric animal figures and dinosaur models from Safari Ltd at Everything Dinosaur: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models

New for 2018 Prehistoric Animals

Safari Ltd have something like 850 figures and sets within their huge range.  This year, they have added a whopping fourteen new sculpts of prehistoric animals for dinosaur and model fans to collect.  This total does include the Przewalski’s horse figure and the beautiful model of the Permian predator Dimetrodon (sail-backed reptile).

Lots of New Models Added to the Range in 2018

New from Safari Ltd (2018).

New figures from Safari Ltd for 2018 (prehistoric animals).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Replacing the Carnegie Collectables Series

With the retirement of the Carnegie  Collectables series of scale models, Safari Ltd have set about replacing some of these figures with new models, hence the introduction of a new Triceratops and Ankylosaurus, for example.  It is great to see such a wide range of new for 2018 model introductions.  The new figures (illustrated above), include both prehistoric mammals as well as dinosaurs and a substantial temporal range is represented.   All credit to Safari Ltd for making models of some lesser known dinosaurs such as Malawisaurus (M. dixeyi).  This Sauropod heralds from the Sitwe Valley region of northern Malawi and it was first described ninety years ago by the English-born, South African palaeontologist Sidney Henry Haughton.

The New for 2018 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Malawisaurus Dinosaur Model

Malawisaurus dinosaur model.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Malawisaurus dinosaur model from Safari Ltd.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Personal Favourite

We received an email from a collector last week that asked which of the new Safari Ltd models was our personal favourite?  It is quite hard to pick a single figure from such an excellent range, however, after a discussion, we agreed that the Macrauchenia replica with its beautiful colour scheme and attention to detail was probably our current favourite.  Which of these new models from Safari Ltd is your favourite?

Model collectors and fans of the Safari Ltd product range can peruse at their leisure all the new additions as well as viewing their favourites in the pocket-sized 2018 Safari Ltd collectors booklet.

18 01, 2018

Praising Papo Pachyrhinosaurus

By | January 18th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

In Praise of the Papo Pachyrhinosaurus Dinosaur Model

It was sad to hear that the excellent Papo Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model was being retired by the French model and figure manufacturer.  This horned dinosaur replica is now out of production and dinosaur fans and collectors will find the Pachyrhinosaurus more and more difficult to find in the future.  Fortunately, Everything Dinosaur was able to acquire some of the models from the last ever production run and this beautifully sculpted model of a Late Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaur is still available from the UK-based dinosaur company.  Everything Dinosaur were able to assist a dinosaur model collector to choose a Papo Pachyrhinosaurus to add to their model collection.

We were asked to take some pictures for a discerning Papo collector so that they could select a replica for us to send to them.  Not a problem, one of our team members was happy to personally select a couple of models and to email some photographs so the collector could choose which Pachyrhinosaurus they wanted.

A Pair of Picturesque Papo Pachyrhinosaurus Models

Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model (Papo).

Papo Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To assist the model collector with their choice, each of the images was labelled so that the two models could be distinguished from each other.  In the picture above, it looks like the two dinosaurs are about to challenge each other to a fight.  Scientists believe that horned dinosaurs may have used their huge neck frills and horns to display to one another, they may also have indulged in shoving and butting matches, to win mates or perhaps to decide social hierarchy within the herd.

A Close-up View of the Beautiful Head and Neck Frill of the Papo Pachyrhinosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model was retired in 2017.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Wonderfully Detailed Dinosaur Model

The Papo Pachyrhinosaurus is a wonderfully detailed dinosaur model, the picture above shows a close-up view of the neck frill and the skull.  These really are beautiful and very detailed models.

To view the range of Papo prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

The Model Collector Chose Pachyrhinosaurus Number 1

Papo Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model.

A Papo horned dinosaur model (Pachyrhinosaurus).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It was a difficult decision, but in the end the dinosaur model collector decided on model number 1.  This has been set aside and is ready to go out with some other prehistoric animal figures that the collector had ordered.  Good job the collector was able to get themselves a Papo Pachyrhinosaurus to add to their collection, after all, this figure is rapidly becoming rare and, just like Pachyrhinosaurus, this model is soon going to be extinct.

17 01, 2018

More PNSO Prehistoric Animals Coming into Stock

By | January 17th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

PNSO Shipment Expected at Everything Dinosaur

Staff at Everything Dinosaur are expecting a shipment of PNSO prehistoric animal models to arrive very soon at the company’s warehouse.  These rare and difficult to obtain replicas and figures will soon be back in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  The shipment will include PNSO Age of Dinosaurs models such as Shantungosaurus, Megalodon and Huanghetitan.   In addition, the company is expecting to receive a number of large PNSO Family Zoo figures including the spectacular African Elephant replica and the White Rhinoceros figure.

Rare PNSO Models Coming Back into Stock at Everything Dinosaur

PNSO Triceratops box art.

PNSO box art- Triceratops.  Coming into stock at Everything Dinosaur

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read a review of the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops: A Review of the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Triceratops Model

Collectable, Rare Models

Many of the models are huge, such as the enormous Basilosaurus prehistoric whale figure, look out also for dinosaurs such as Mandschurosaurus, Euhelopus and the massive Chungkingosaurus coming back into stock.  For the PNSO Family Zoo range, we are delighted to welcome back the PNSO Family Zoo White Rhinoceros model.

PNSO Family Zoo Chungkingosaurus is Coming Back into Stock at Everything Dinosaur

PNSO Chungkingosaurus dinosaur replica.

PNSO Chungkingosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the PNSO Chungkingosaurus replica, which measures fifty-two centimetres long and the head stands nearly twenty centimetres off the ground.

The PNSO Family Zoo White Rhinoceros Figure

PNSO Family Zoo White Rhinoceros.

The PNSO White Rhinoceros model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the current range of PNSO dinosaur and prehistoric animal figures: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Figures

The PNSO Family Zoo range of models consists of twenty animal models, representing living animals, including creatures as diverse as lions, crocodiles, pigs, goats, horses and cheetahs.  Each model is beautifully, hand-painted and supplied in its own blister pack.

To view the range of PNSO family zoo figures currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Family Zoo Models

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus Figure

 

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus replica.

The PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Basilosaurus model.

Not Just Dinosaurs – Prehistoric Mammals and Sharks Too

Although the range is entitled “PNSO Age of Dinosaurs”, there are also two extinct animals featured which are not dinosaurs, in fact both these animals evolved long after the non-avian dinosaurs became extinct.  Firstly, there is the amazing Basilosaurus replica, a model of a prehistoric whale that is coming into stock.  Joining the PNSO Basilosaurus will be the ultra-rare and very difficult to obtain PNSO Megalodon model, which is now out of production.  The future of the entire PNSO model and replica range is in doubt, whether or not Everything Dinosaur will be able to get any more figures is debatable, so we urge all collectors and model fans to grab these when they arrive.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The PNSO models  have been very difficult to obtain and we know that the whole future of the product line is in doubt.  The Megalodon model is already out of production but we are bringing the very last of these figures with our next shipment.  Everything Dinosaur remains committed to helping dinosaur fans and collectors with their prehistoric animal and figure collections.”

16 01, 2018

A New Fast Running Ornithopod from Down Under

By | January 16th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Diluvicursor pickeringi – Turkey to Rhea-sized Herbivore from the Early Cretaceous

Analysis of the fossilised remains of a little Ornithopod have led to the establishment of a new species of dinosaur, one that roamed the Australian-Antarctic rift valley approximately 113 million years ago.  Described from an almost complete tail and a partial right hind limb including foot bones, the dinosaur has been named Diluvicursor pickeringi (pronounced di-loovy-cursor pickering-i).  The species name honours David Pickering, (formerly Museums Victoria’s Vertebrate Palaeontology Collections Manager), a scientist who played a key role in the study of Early Cretaceous vertebrate fossils from the Otway and Gippsland Basins of the Australian State of Victoria.  David sadly passed away following complications after a serious car accident whilst the fossil material was being prepared and studied.

An Illustration of a Pair of Diluvicursor pickeringi Feeding Near a Fast-flowing River

Diluvicursor pickeringi illustrated.

A pair of Diluvicursor dinosaurs feeding next to a fast running river in the Antarctica/Australia rift valley 113 million years ago.

Picture Credit: P. Trusler

A Fossil Discovery in 2005

The fossils of this dinosaur described as being about the size of a turkey or a rhea (estimated maximum total body length, including tail at around 2.3 metres), were found on five slabs of rock that form part of a deposit representing a log jam event created in a high-energy (fast-flowing) river.  Writing in the academic journal “Peer J”, the authors of the scientific paper state that this newly described herbivorous dinosaur will help to shed new light on the phylogenetic relationships and the diversity of Ornithopoda of the southern hemisphere.

Dr Matt Herne (University of Queensland) and the corresponding author for the paper explained the significance of the fossils, which were excavated from a sea platform near Cape Otway.

He stated:

“Diluvicursor shows for the first time that there were at least two distinct body-types among closely related Ornithopods , small, two-legged plant-eating dinosaurs in this part of Australia.  One called Leaellynasaura was lightly built with an extraordinarily long tail, while the other, Diluvicursor, was more solidly built, with a far shorter tail.”

The Holotype Fossil Material of Diluvicursor pickeringi

The holotype of Diluvicursor and a schematic drawing

The five blocks (B1 to B5) of the holotype fossil of Diluvicursor (NMV P221080) note scale bar 10 cm. A schematic diagram of the fossil material is shown below (scale bar 10 cm).

Picture Credit: Peer J

A Fast Running Dinosaur

Analysis of the leg bones suggest that Diluvicursor was a fast running dinosaur.  The corpse of this dinosaur, representing a juvenile animal, came to rest mixed up with other debris deposited by a fast-flowing river.  The genus name reflects these two conclusions, Diluvicursor translates as “flood runner”.

The Proposed Body Shape of Diluvicursor with the Known Fossil Bones in Skeletal Position

Diluvicursor illustration showing known bones (scale bar = 10 cm).

Diluvicursor schematic restoration in left lateral view, showing preserved bones (light shading) and incomplete caudal vertebrae (outlined).

Picture Credit: Peer J

Volunteer prospector George Caspar discovered the fossil material in 2005 whilst exploring a coastal shore platform which forms part of the Eumeralla Formation of south-eastern Australia.   It is likely the carcass became trapped and buried along with flood-transported tree stumps, logs and branches in deep scours at the base of what was once a powerful river.

Dr Herne added:

“The Diluvicursor skeleton was discovered in 2005, but it’s taken this long to fully understand the geology of the area where it was found, and also Diluvicursor’s relationships.  Much of the fossil vertebrate material from this site has yet to be described, so we hope to discover further dinosaur species, specimens and other exciting animals there.”

An Injured Foot

A close examination of the right foot of the Diluvicursor specimen suggest that this dinosaur may have injured its foot some time before it perished.  Some of the bones are not aligned correctly and although this could be as a result of taphonomy, preserved roughened bone surfaces, suggest some form of trauma or disease.  The scientists conclude that the affected joint in the foot could have been immobilised.  The researchers are hopeful that further examination including a scan of the foot using synchrotron radiation X-rays will produce more data.

The Pathology on the Right Foot of the Diluvicursor Specimen

Diluvicursor pathology of the right foot.

A close up view of the second toe. Dotted line in B indicates rugose bone on the proximal margin of pedal digit IV-1. Dashed arrows in A–B indicate areas of osteophytosis (bone spurs around the damaged joint).

Picture Credit: Peer J

There are plans to display the post cranial fossil material at Melbourne Museum and the aim is to build up a much more complete picture of the palaeoenvironment of this part of Gondwana during the Albian faunal stage of the Cretaceous.  Other scientists involved in this study include Dr Steven Salisbury, PhD student Jay Nair and Dr Vera Weisbecker (University of Queensland), along with colleagues from Monash University.

The scientific paper: “A New Small-bodied Ornithopod (Dinosauria, Ornithischia) from a Deep, High-energy Early Cretaceous River of the Australian–Antarctic Rift System” by Matthew C. Herne​, Alan M. Tait, Vera Weisbecker, Michael Hall, Jay P. Nair, Michael Cleeland and Steven W. Salisbury published in Peer J.

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

15 01, 2018

Rainbow Feathered Jurassic Dinosaur

By | January 15th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Caihong juji – A Very Flashy Dinosaur

A team of scientists, writing in the journal “Nature Communications”, have described a new species of feathered dinosaur from Jurassic-aged rocks in China.  The dinosaur has been named Caihong juji, which means “rainbow with the big crest” in Mandarin.  This duck-sized dinosaur sported a bony crest on the top of its snout and its neck feathers may have been iridescent, as brightly coloured as feathers seen on humming birds today.

An Illustration of the Newly Described Feathered Dinosaur Caihong juji

Caihong juji illustrated.

An illustration of the Jurassic feathered dinosaur Caihong juji.

Picture Credit: Velizar Simeonovski

Bird-like Dinosaur

Caihong has been assigned a basal position in the Deinonychosauria, a clade of Theropod dinosaurs that includes the dromaeosaurids and the troodontids and it roamed the forests of northern China some 161 million years ago (Oxfordian faunal stage of the Jurassic).  Although it was very bird-like, it was very different from its contemporary Anchiornis (A. huxleyi), as it lacked the bird-like triangular skull, however, it did possess proportionately long forearms.  C. juji had a long, narrow skull, superficially similar to the skulls of the much later Velociraptorinae.

The Fossilised Skull of the Newly Described Basal Deinonychosaur Caihong juji

Skull of the newly described Caihong juji (left lateral view).

The skull of the newly described Caihong juji.  White scale bar = 1 cm.

Picture Credit: Hu et al 

A Shaggy Ruff of Rainbow Feathers

Lead author of the study, Professor Dongyu Hu (Shenyang Normal University), in collaboration with scientists from the University of Ghent, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Geosciences (Beijing), subjected the fossil specimen to scanning electron microscope analysis to characterise 2,460 structures associated with the feathers.  Cross-sectional focused ion beam imaging revealed the presence of melanosomes, which are responsible for pigmentation and colouration.  When these fossil structures were compared to extant birds, the scientists were able to determine that Caihong had a shaggy ruff of iridescent, brightly-coloured feathers.

Platelet-like Nanostructures Indicate Iridescent Feathers (Caihong juji)

Nanostructures in Caihong juji compared to melanosomes in living birds.

Comparing melanosomes found in the fossil material to extant Aves.  All scale bars = 1,000 nm.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications/Chao P.C.

The scanning electron microscope images above show platelet-like nanostructures on the fossilised feathers of C. juji (a-d).  These structures are then compared with melanosomes found in living birds, (e) Anna’s humming bird (Calypte anna), (f) a white tailed starfrontlet (Coeligena phalerata), a black-tailed trainbearer (Lesbia victoriae) and a moustached treeswift (Hemiprocne mystacea), picture (h).

Commenting on the significance of the discovery, Professor Julia Clarke (University of Texas at Austin) stated:

“Iridescent colouration is well known to be linked to sexual selection and signalling and we report its earliest evidence in dinosaurs.  The dinosaur may have a cute nickname in English, Rainbow, but it has serious scientific implications.”

A Combination of Ancient and More Modern Features

The fossil material, consisting of a slab and its counter slab was discovered by a farmer in 2014 at Gangou, Qinglong, (northern Hebei Province).  The rocks in this area are associated with the Tiaojishan Formation and exposures are also found in the neighbouring province of Liaoning.  Numerous feathered Theropods have been found in the compressed volcanic ash layers and other sedimentary rocks associated with this region of northern China.  Caihong possessed a bony crest, a feature associated with earlier Theropods from the Triassic and the Early Jurassic, the crest may have played a role in display or perhaps helping to distinguish males from females.  The bony crest could have evolved as a result of sexual selection pressure.  This ancient Theropod feature contrasts with the identification of feathers with iridescence, this is the first time that such a feature has been identified in a non-avian dinosaur.

Caihong juji Fossil Material

Caihong juji holotype.

The crushed and flattened remains of Caihong juji (holotype specimen). The bones are coloured brown, whilst the feather impressions are black.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

Asymmetrical Feathers

Caihong is also the earliest known dinosaur to have had asymmetrical feathers, similar in shape and structure to those feathers found on the wings of modern birds that help to control flight.  However, unlike extant birds, Caihong’s asymmetrical feathers were on its tail, not its short forelimbs, a discovery that suggests that early birds may have used their tails to help steer or to assist with lift.

Co-author of the research, Xing Xu (Chinese Academy of Sciences) explained:

“The tail feathers are asymmetrical but wing feathers are not, a bizarre feature previously unknown among dinosaurs including birds.  This suggests that controlling [flight] might have first evolved with tail feathers during some kind of aerial locomotion.”

Professor Clarke added:

“This combination of traits is unusual.  It has a rather Velociraptor-looking low and long skull with this fully feathered, shaggy kind of plumage and a big fan tail.  It is really cool… or maybe creepy looking depending on your perspective.”

An examination of the tail feathers associated with the 40 centimetre-long Caihong specimen suggests that the tail feathers would have provided a larger surface area than the famous Archaeopteryx, a Theropod capable of powered flight, that lived a few million years later.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained, that although Caihong could have been arboreal and it may have hopped from branch to branch, it was probably not volant (capable of powered flight).

Evidence of Mosaic Evolution

The combination of ancient and more modern anatomical traits in this basal Deinonychosaur is an example of mosaic evolution, whereby, several different traits evolve independently.  The team hope to continue their research in a bid to understand how Caihong juji fits into the story of the evolution of flight in the Dinosauria.

The scientific paper: “A Bony-crested Jurassic Dinosaur with Evidence of Iridescent Plumage Highlights Complexity in Early Paravian Evolution” by Dongyu Hu, Julia A. Clarke, Chad M. Eliason, Rui Qiu, Quanguo Li, Matthew D. Shawkey, Cuilin Zhao, Liliana D’Alba, Jinkai Jiang and Xing Xu published in the journal “Nature Communications.”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the University of Texas at Austin in the compilation of this article.

14 01, 2018

JurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor “Gunn”

By | January 14th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Review of the 1:18 Scale Rebor “Raptor” Called “Gunn” by JurassicCollectables

Those talented people at JurassicCollectables have produced another Rebor “Raptor” review.  Following on from their very informative video review of the female Velociraptor “Rose”, JurassicCollectables has focused their attention on Rose’s partner, the formidable “Gunn”, a 1:18 scale replica representing a male in the Velociraptor pairing.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor 1:18 Scale Figure “Gunn”

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Wonderful Painting and Amazing Detail

The narrator comments that the Rebor Velociraptor models, especially “Gunn” are very reminiscent of the Velociraptors depicted in the Jurassic Park III film, which came out in 2001.  The pose reminded the video presenter of the pouncing Velociraptor scene in which a pack of these dinosaurs try to grab a person who is hanging from a tree branch.  In the video, the beautiful paint scheme is discussed, and the narrator comments on the multiple washes and subtle tones that have been used to colour this replica.  Whilst the Rebor “Gunn” is being reviewed, viewers are given the chance to see “Gunn” and “Rose” together and what an attractive pair they make.

The JurassicCollectables presenter states that these two Velociraptors “compliment each other really well”.  He states that they are “gorgeous looking Raptors”.

Red Feet – Is that Blood?

During this most informative and helpful video review, the narrator demonstrates that the underside of the feet of “Gunn” are coloured a reddish hue.  Rebor certainly make top quality replicas and the attention to detail is amazing.  When the model is turned upside down the underside of the feet with their intriguing colouration and fine texture are revealed.   The commentator implies that the colouration could have come about as the dinosaur has been standing in the blood and gore from a recent pack kill.  At Everything Dinosaur, we are unable to offer an explanation ourselves, but it does give us the opportunity to show the underside of the model revealing the exquisite detail.

The Colouration of the Feet and Beautiful Skin Texture of the Velociraptor Figure “Gunn”

The underside of the Rebor Velociraptor "Gunn".

The underside of the feet and the beautiful skin texture of Rebor “Gunn”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor Replicas and Jurassic Park III

The JurassicCollectables video review lasts a little over twelve minutes and it is great to see both Rebor “Gunn” and “Rose” shown together.  In addition, the video also compares the earlier Rebor “Winston” with their latest figure “Gunn”.  The narrator makes an excellent point about these Rebor figures working well with the classic “Jurassic Park” models.

The Rebor 1:18 Scale Velociraptor Replica “Gunn”

Rebor Velociraptor "Gunn".

The Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor model “Gunn”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

JurassicCollectables has a fantastic YouTube channel.  It has lots and lots of brilliant dinosaur themed videos and product reviews and JurassicCollectables has just celebrated reaching the landmark of 60,000 subscribers.  Congratulations JurassicCollectables.  Visit JurassicCollectables on YouTube and subscribe: JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Great for Dinosaur Dioramas

Rebor has produced several Velociraptor models over the last eighteen months or so.  The video review shows both “Gunn” and “Rose” compared to “off colour Alan”, as well as highlighting the hatching Velociraptor blind box series made by Rebor.  The narrator explains that these models with their different, contrasting poses would be great for use in dinosaur dioramas.  Fortunately, the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel includes video reviews of all the Rebor “Raptors”, so viewers can see the full range of these Rebor figures.

Rebor “Gunn” Features in a Video Review by JurassicCollectables

The Rebor Velociraptor figure "Gunn".

The Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor model “Gunn”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To see the article we wrote about the JurassicCollectables video review of “Rose”: JurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor “Rose”

To view the range of Rebor replicas including “Gunn” and “Rose” available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Figures and Replicas

13 01, 2018

Downsizing DNA Brings Success to Flowering Plants

By | January 13th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Angiosperms Downsized Their Genomes

Recently, Everything Dinosaur published an article on the remarkable discovery of Lepidoptera wing scales in Upper Triassic/Early Jurassic drill cores from Germany.  This fossil evidence suggested that butterflies and moths were around some 200 million years ago.  This raised the question, what did the adult insects feed on?  Butterflies and moths are closely associated with feeding on the nectar produced by flowering plants (Angiosperms), this led to speculation that, as some scientists have already suggested, flowering plants evolved much earlier than previously thought.

A Water Lily in Flower (Angiosperm)

A water lily in flower.

From the time of the dinosaurs – a water lily, an Angiosperm (flowering plant).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Whenever the flowering plants (Angiosperms) evolved, they seem to have out-competed other types of plants such as Gymnosperms, Pteridosperms and the very ancient Lycopodiophyta, for example.  How did they do this?  After all, they are the most diverse of all the land plants with something like 300,000 species.  Scientists from San Francisco State University and Yale, writing in the academic journal PLoS – Biology, propose that a downsizing in the plant’s genome is the key to their success.

Thinking Smaller

Current thinking is that the Angiosperms, radiated and diversified very rapidly, becoming the dominant terrestrial vegetation by the Late Cretaceous.  Flowering plants took over the world, leading to the astonishing variety of plants we find today.  The scientists conclude that at a critical point in the evolution of the Angiosperms, they downsized their genomes.  Flowering plants reduced the amount of DNA held within the nucleus of each cell, this permitted these plants to make smaller cells and to build leaves with more sophisticated and complicated structures, of great assistance when it comes to improving the efficiency of photosynthesis, along with the use of energy and the management of each cell body.  This reduction in the genome, is likely to have given Angiosperms a competitive advantage over other types of plants.

Co-author of the study, Assistant Professor of Biology (San Francisco State University), Kevin Simonin explained:

“Flowering plants are the most important group of plants on Earth, and now we finally know why they’ve been so successful.”

The Rise of Flowers Puzzles Darwin

Prior to the evolution of the Angiosperms, terrestrial vegetation was dominated by ferns, horsetails, clubmosses, cycads and their relatives along with conifers.  Flowering plants took over and make up more than 90 percent of all the land plant species around today.  Even Charles Darwin was perplexed by the success of the Angiosperms and scientists ever since have been offering potential reasons for it, ranging from the influence of pollinators (such as those ancient butterflies and moths referred to earlier), to a reshuffling of genes.  What has been missing is an explanation of just how flowering plants became so successful in the first place.

Flowering Plants in the Cretaceous

Artwork illustrates new book on fossil insects.

A mayfly rests on a primitive flowering plant – a Cretaceous scene.

Picture Credit: Richard Bizley

Working in collaboration with Adam Roddy (Yale University), Assistant Professor Simonin, undertook a review of the current literature and demonstrated that flowering plants went through a dramatic genome downsizing as they evolved.  In comparison, the genomes of other plants, competing with flowers remain relatively unchanged.  Smaller genomes means the option to make smaller cells, with those smaller building blocks, the team showed, flowering plants can construct more complicated networks of veins to keep their cells hydrated and more pores (stomata) in their leaves to draw in the carbon dioxide they need to make food.  More stomata, permitted more efficient gaseous exchange, both oxygen and CO2.

Finer Genomes Make Finer Flowers

The researchers mapped the genome downsizing patterns they had identified and applied a phylogenetic assessment to their data.  They discovered that flowering plants began to downsize their genomes at around the time they were beginning to dominate terrestrial flora.  According to this study, having a greater variety of cellular building blocks apparently gave flowering plants an edge over conifers and other types of plant.  It is not only the flowering plants that have benefited, pollinators have also become more successful and much of the food that we consume and that we feed to domestic animals comes from Angiosperms.

The idea to investigate the size of the genome of flowering plants, came indirectly from one of Assistant Professor Simonin’s students.  During a lecture, the student enquired whether whales had big genomes?  Simonin began to think more about the size of cellular genetic material and its impact on plant physiology.

An Illustration of Prehistoric Flowers – Archaefructus

Archaefructus prehistoric flowers.

Prehistoric Flowers (Archaefructus).

Picture Credit: Associated Press

He explained:

“It sent me down this whole path of genome-size research.  It reinvented the research in my lab in many ways.”

On-going Research

Research is continuing in this field of botany.  San Francisco State University scientists in conjunction with colleagues from other academic bodies are currently exploring some groups of flowering plants that don’t seem to have reduced their genomes.  In certain environments, perhaps where photosynthesis is more difficult, there might not be a competitive advantage to be gained.  There might be no evolutionary pressure for plants to create smaller cells.  This new study, has shed some much needed light on a puzzle that Charles Darwin referred to as “an abominable mystery”

To read about the research into Late Triassic/Early Jurassic Lepidoptera: Ancient Butterflies Flutter By

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the San Francisco State University in the compilation of this article.

12 01, 2018

The Schleich Tawa Dinosaur Model is in Stock

By | January 12th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Stocks the Schleich Tawa Dinosaur Model

The new for 2018 Schleich Tawa dinosaur model has arrived and is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  The Schleich Tawa is one of three Theropod replicas introduced by the German-based figure manufacturer in 2018, but the only one that represents a hypercarnivore.  The other two Theropods are the Schleich Oviraptor and the new colour variant of the Schleich Therizinosaurus.

The Schleich Tawa (Tawa hallae) Model is the Only Hypercarnivore Theropod to be Added to Date (2018)

The Schleich Tawa hallae dinosaur model.

The new for 2018 Schleich Tawa dinosaur model (T. hallae).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Tawa hallae – A Triassic Hypercarnivore

A hypercarnivore is an animal that has a diet of more than 70% meat, the diet of Oviraptor and Therizinosaurus is not that well understood, but Oviraptor may well have been omnivorous and Therizinosaurus could have been a relatively sedentary browser.  However, Tawa, a Theropod that lived more than a hundred million years earlier, was most certainly carnivorous and perhaps a hunter of other dinosaurs such as Coelophysis.  The jaw may be slender, but it is lined with sharp and curved teeth, ideal for slicing through meat.  Tawa had strong grasping hands with each finger ending in a sharp claw, these hands were probably used to grasp and subdue small prey.

The Sharp Teeth and Grasping Hands of Tawa hallae

Schleich Tawa dinosaur model.

A close-view of the Schleich Tawa dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Ghost Ranch Location

This lithe dinosaur is known from the fossilised remains of several individuals recovered from sediments that make up part of the Petrified Forest Member of the famous Chinle Formation exposed at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.  All the fossils found to date represent immature individuals or juveniles which measure between two to three metres in length.  However, a single femur (thigh bone) found in association with the other remains provides tantalising evidence that these fast-running dinosaurs could grow much larger, perhaps more than four metres in length.  The Ghost Ranch location has provided palaeontologists with a fantastic insight into a Late Triassic palaeoenvironment, a time when the Dinosauria was beginning to dominate terrestrial environments, but they shared this seasonal world with other reptiles and mammal-like reptiles too.

Tawa hallae was named and scientifically described in 2009, to read an article about this dinosaur’s discovery: New Theropod Fossil Provides Evidence of Dinosaur Diversity

The Theropods of Ghost Ranch

Discovered by Edwin Colbert in 1947, the Coelophysis beds have produced more than 1,000 skeletons of Coelophysis, making this little Triassic Theropod one of the best known of all the Dinosauria.  In truth, the first evidence of dinosaur fossils from this location was recorded in 1885, but the native American people would have been aware of the strange bones eroding out of the ground for hundreds of years before western scientists.  The genus name for Tawa comes from the local Hopi people’s language.  It is their word for the Puebloan sun god.  It is fitting that a dinosaur from a part of New Mexico which would have been familiar to native peoples, has been given a name honouring the language and customs of these people.

To view the Schleich Tawa model and all the other figures in the Schleich prehistoric animal model range: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

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