All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
13 05, 2018

Travel Back in Time at the Portsmouth Guildhall

By | May 13th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Showcasing the Palaeoart of Dr Mark Witton

Tomorrow, sees the opening day of a special exhibition at the Portsmouth Guildhall (Hampshire, southern England) highlighting the artwork of world-renowned palaeoartist Dr Mark Witton.  “A Natural History of Deep Time”, takes visitors on a journey through the evolution of life on Earth through the medium of the artwork and illustrations of the Portsmouth University researcher and freelance palaeoartist.

The Late Jurassic Pterosaur Sordes pilosus Searching for a Meal

Sordes pilosus illustrated.

Eyeing up a potential meal?  The Pterosaur Sordes pilosus eyes up a snail.  Artwork by Mark Witton.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

A Free Art Exhibition

The art exhibition runs from Monday 14th May until Thursday June 28th and visitors to the Portsmouth Guildhall will be able to view bizarre marine communities of the Cambrian, the first land plants and animals plus lots of dinosaurs and flying reptiles, as well as the species that have helped shape the modern world.  The gallery will include some of the most significant, spectacular and unusual species known from the fossil record.  Dr Witton is perhaps most famous for his research on the Pterosauria – the extinct flying reptiles, cousins of the dinosaurs that shared their extinction fate at the end of the Cretaceous.  He specialises in producing scientifically credible restorations of long perished, ancient environments in amazing detail.  His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications and Dr Witton is delivering a sold-out lecture next week at the same venue entitled “The Science of Recreating Prehistoric Animals”.

An Example of the Detailed Illustrations of Dr Mark Witton (Purbeck Lagoon 145 mya)

Purbeck (Dorset) 145 million years ago.

Purbeck Lagoon 145 mya as darkness falls Durlstodon (top left) looks on whilst two Durlstotherium scurry through the undergrowth. In the centre a Durlstotherium has been caught by Nuthetes destructor.  A detailed illustration by Dr Mark Witton.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

A Natural History of Deep Time celebrates billions of years of evolution and this free exhibition of palaeoart is open from May 14th through to June 28th:

Opening times:
Monday to Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday: 10am – 2pm
Sunday: Closed

12 05, 2018

Saurornitholestes from Appalachia?

By | May 12th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Saurornitholestes from the South-eastern United States

Whilst in the course of writing the fact sheets for all the new dromaeosaurid models that are due to arrive when the “Beasts of the Mesozoic” stock comes in, team members have come across some fascinating information relating to Saurornitholestes langstoni.  This member of the Dromaeosauridae, which was similar to Velociraptor, was originally described in 1978 from fossil material found in southern Alberta.   Dromaeosaurids such as Saurornitholestes, or at least related species, may have roamed the south-east of the United States as well as the western USA and Canada.

A Single Tooth from Alabama (Saurornitholestine dromaeosaurids)

Dromaeosaurid tooth from Alabama.

The isolated dromaeosaurid teeth with very different sized denticles (anterior and posterior).

Picture Credit: David R. Schwimmer

Isolated Dromaeosaurid Dinosaur Teeth

Isolated teeth have been found in North and South Carolina and assigned to the Saurornitholestes genus, or at least described as having come from Saurornitholestine dromaeosaurids.  The picture above shows a tooth assigned to  Saurornitholestes langstoni that was found in Greene County (Alabama), from exposures representing the Upper Cretaceous (Mooreville Formation).  The tooth measures about 4.6 mm long and it shows the distinctive serrations (denticles) associated with the Saurornitholestes genus.  The denticles on the posterior (back) edge of the teeth are much more prominent and larger than those denticles found on the anterior (front) edge of the tooth.  This extreme disparity is regarded as a unique feature of Saurornitholestine dromaeosaurids.

During the Late Cretaceous, North America was split into two landmasses by the Western Interior Seaway.  To the west was Laramidia and to the east, the far larger landmass of Appalachia, although much more is known about the Cretaceous biota of Laramidia.

A far larger tooth, one that measures more than 20 mm in length was found in North Carolina.  This tooth also showed the characteristic disparity in denticle size between the anterior and posterior carinae (the sharp edges of the teeth).  This fossil find suggests that dromaeosaurids of different sizes roamed Appalachia during the Late Cretaceous.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Saurornitholestes langstoni Figure

Beasts of the Mesozoic Saurornitholestes langstoni.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Saurornitholestes langstoni “raptor” figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

When it comes to the Saurornitholestes genus in particular, these types of characteristic teeth are known from numerous sites across North America and from rock formations that vary in age by millions of years.  Either Saurornitholestes langstoni and Saurornitholestes sullivani, the two species currently assigned to this genus, were geographically and temporally widespread, or there are a lot more dromaeosaurid species, including quite large ones, if the North Carolina tooth is anything to go by, awaiting discovery.

11 05, 2018

A New New Zealand Pigeon from the Miocene

By | May 11th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

The Zealandian Dove Related to the Dodo

Scientists from the Canterbury Museum (New Zealand), in collaboration with colleagues from the University of New South Wales, Flinders University and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, have described a new species of prehistoric pigeon that flapped around South Island during the Miocene Epoch, some 16-19 million years ago.  The new species has been named the Zealandian Dove (Deliaphaps zealandiensis) and it may have been related to the extinct, giant, flightless pigeon of Mauritius – the Dodo.

Part of the Dodo Collection from the Canterbury Museum 

Canterbury Museum Dodo exhibit.

Casts of the Oxford Museum Dodo specimen which is part of the Canterbury Museum collection.

Picture Credit: Canterbury Museum

New Zealand only has two species of native pigeons, the aptly named New Zealand pigeon, otherwise called the Kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) and the closely-related Chatham Island pigeon, or Parea (Hemiphaga chathamensis).

The fossils were found at a dig site near St Bathans (Central Otago, South Island) and although fragmentary in nature, consisting of a few wing bones and part of the pectoral girdle, the researchers are confident that this material represents a new species of prehistoric pigeon and have published their paper in the “Paleontología Y Evolución de las Aves”.

The Zealandian Dove

Deliaphaps zealandiensis has been named after the landmass called Zealandia.  This large area of land is also referred to as the New Zealand continent or Tasmantis.  It consists of a mass of continental crust that sank after breaking away from Australia 60–85 million years ago, having begun to separate from Antarctica and the rest of the Gondwana supercontinent.  Most of Zealandia is submerged, but it rises above water in places, including the populated areas of New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk and the Lord Howe Island group.

The fossil material has been slowly gathered over sixteen years and one of the wing bones is similar to the wing bones of members of a group (the Raphinae), that includes the Tooth-billed pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris) or Manumea which is native to the island of Samoa.  The Raphinae also includes the Crowned pigeons of New Guinea (Goura genus) and the spectacular Nicobar pigeon of south-east Asia (Caloenas nicobarica), believed to be the closest living relative of the enigmatic Dodo.

The Newly Described Zealandian Dove is Probably Closely Related to the Nicobar Pigeon

The Nicobar pigeon.

The Nicobar pigeon, the closest living relative to the Dodo. It may also be related to the newly described Zealandian Dove from the Miocene.

Picture Credit: Canterbury Museum

Co-author of the scientific paper and University of New South Wales scientist, Professor Sue Hand stated:

“Fossils recovered from the St Bathans site now number in the thousands and together document a time of great biodiversity in New Zealand’s history.  For many of New Zealand’s very distinctive bird lineages, such as moa and kiwi, the St Bathans fossils provide their oldest and sometimes first deep time records.  Discovery of the Zealandian Dove and its evident links to the dodo are fascinating additions to the unfolding picture of New Zealand’s prehistoric menagerie.”

Lead author of the research, Dr Vanesa De Pietri (Canterbury Museum), added:

“Based on the St Bathans fossils, we think that the Zealandian Dove is part of this Indo-Pacific group.  It is probably most similar to the Nicobar Pigeon and is therefore a close relative (or at least a cousin) of the famous dodo.  The Zealandian Dove is the first record of this group found in the southern part of the nearly submerged land mass known as Zealandia.”

Second Pigeon from St Bathans (Miocene Deposits)

The Zealandian Dove is only the second pigeon found at the St Bathans fossil site.  The delicate and fragile bones of birds are not strong candidates to endure the fossilisation process.  The first pigeon to be named from fossils discovered at this location was the St Bathans pigeon (Rupephaps taketake), which was described from a single coracoid bone recovered from these ancient lake deposits.  It is believed to be related to the extant, native New Zealand pigeons.

The Oxford Museum Dodo Material

Oxford Museum Dodo.

The Oxford Museum Dodo material.

Picture Credit: Oxford Museum

Commenting on the recent pigeon fossil discoveries, Dr Paul Scofield of Canterbury Museum said:

“We have now also found a leg bone that we can attribute to this species [St Bathans pigeon].  As a result, we can now confirm that the St Bathans pigeon is also closely related to Indonesian and Melanesian mountain pigeons.  It was an early offshoot within that particular group.”

Dr Trevor Worthy of Flinders University (South Australia) added:

“Some 19 to 16 million years ago, the diversity of endemic pigeons in New Zealand included at least two distinct co-existing lineages in the southern part of Zealandia taking advantage of the more diverse fruiting trees then available.  Pigeon fossils are rare in the St Bathans fauna and are outnumbered by about thirty to one by parrots, which perhaps reflects the relative abundance of these tree-dwelling birds in the St Bathans fauna.  Many small parrots form large flocks, whereas pigeons typically live in only small groups, so perhaps these traits typified the early Miocene parrots and pigeons in Zealandia.”

Evidence of Climate Change

The reduction in the number of species found in New Zealand is probably a result of climate change which affected the types of trees on the islands.  Scientists know that between approximately 14.2 and 13.8 million years ago, a period of dramatic global climatic cooling took place.  Prior to the global cooling, New Zealand enjoyed a subtropical climate which led to a very diverse and rich fauna and flora with many kinds of fruit-bearing trees that would have provided food for the pigeons.  The loss of the floral diversity as a result of climate change would have had a big impact on the fruit and seed-eating birds and this could be a reason for the reduction in pigeon species.

10 05, 2018

Rebor Ankylosaurus “War Pig”

By | May 10th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Rebor Ankylosaurus “War Pig”

The Rebor Ankylosaurus model “War Pig” is coming into stock at Everything Dinosaur.  Available in three colour variations – Plain, Woodland and Mountain, this 1:35 scale model of Ankylosaurus magniventris is the latest addition to the Rebor scale model range.  This beautifully designed armoured dinosaur figure is due to arrive in about four weeks, team members at Everything Dinosaur expect to have stocks in their warehouse by early June.

The Rebor 1:35 Scale “War Pig” Ankylosaurus magniventris

The Rebor Ankylosaurus dinosaur model "Mountain" colour variant.

The Rebor Ankylosaurus dinosaur model “Mountain” colour variant.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Ankylosaurus – Mountain, Plain and Woodland

Ankylosaurus magniventris is regarded as the largest of the Ankylosauridae and although it has had a family of armoured dinosaurs named after it, palaeontologists now think that this Late Cretaceous armoured giant was not typical of the Ankylosaur family.  Ankylosaurus is known from only fragmentary remains found in the USA and Canada and its tail club was more rounded in shape when compared to other closely related Ankylosaurs, an anatomical feature picked up on by the designers at Rebor.  The tail bones (caudal vertebrae), are distinct with “u” shaped neural spines, a feature unique to A. magniventris, hence the relatively broad, wide tail on the Rebor figure.

The Rebor Ankylosaurus “War Pig” Plain

Rebor Ankylosaurus dinosaur model.

Rebor Ankylosaurus “War Pig” Plain.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Why Three Different Versions?

Intriguingly, despite Ankylosaurus being very well-known by the public and a veteran of numerous dinosaur films, palaeontologists regard it as ecologically rare in ancient Late Cretaceous palaeoenvironments.  Compared to the coeval nodosaurid Edmontonia, A. magniventris fossils are much less frequently found, this and differences in the shape of the jaw indicate that these two armoured dinosaurs may have inhabited different habitats and specialised in eating different types of vegetation.  Edmontonia fossils are associated with lowland, fluvial deposits, and the paucity of Ankylosaurus fossil material suggests that this dinosaur was a very infrequent visitor to the floodplains, so where did Ankylosaurus live?

The truth is we don’t know, hence the reason for three different colour variants of Ankylosaurus being introduced by Rebor.  Ankylosaurus may have inhabited upland areas, hence the “mountain” version.  It could have been at home in forested areas, hence the stunning “woodland” model, or equally, it could have been an animal of the open plains, hence the amazing “plain”.

Three Beautiful Versions of Ankylosaurus – Where Do You Think It Lived?

Rebor has made three different versions of Ankylosaurus.

The three different Rebor models “mountain”, “plain” and “woodland”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s current range of Rebor replicas: Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

Articulated Armoured Dinosaurs

The models have articulated lower jaws, the heads can be rotated and the tails have a metal rod inserted in them that allows the awesome tail club to be put into different positions.  As with all the Rebor replicas, these 1:35 scale figures have been beautifully painted and all three are fantastic additions to the Rebor range.  The models measure 29.5 cm in length and when this is scaled up it puts the Ankylosaurus replicas into the ball park size range stated by the recent (2017) scientific paper.

The Rebor “War Pig” Ankylosaurus – “Woodland”

Rebor Ankylosaurus dinosaur model "woodland".

Rebor Ankylosaurus “woodland”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Due to be in Stock in Four Weeks

These beautiful figures are due to be in stock in four weeks’ time, they can be reserved by dropping Everything Dinosaur an email: Email Everything Dinosaur to Reserve Your Rebor Ankylosaurus

We are looking forward to welcoming this trio of Thyreophorans into our warehouse.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the 2017 paper that described Ankylosaurus as an atypical Ankylosaur: Ankylosaurus Not Your Typical Ankylosaur

9 05, 2018

A Weather Forecast from the Cambrian

By | May 9th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Tiny Fossils Provide Clues to Earth’s Climate 500 Million Years Ago

A joint team of scientists from France and the UK, have plotted the temperature of our planet’s oceans over half a billion years ago using a combination of fossil data and computer-based climate models.  Think of it as a sort of weather forecast from the Cambrian.  This newly published research suggests that the first hard-bodied animals diversified in warms seas, heated by a greenhouse world.  The team’s findings help to expand our knowledge of the environment at the time of the Cambrian explosion, a period in Earth’s history that saw a huge increase in the number and type of marine animal forms.

Life in the Late Cambrian Period

Cambrian life.

Life in the Late Cambrian by Zdeněk Burian.

Picture Credit: Zdeněk Burian

Writing in the academic journal “Science Advances”, the scientists, led by researchers from the University of Leicester, used climate models and the chemical analysis of tiny, shelly fossils preserved in limestone from Shropshire (central England), to calculate the sea temperature during a time of rapid diversity of animal life in the Palaeozoic.  From around 540 to 510 million years ago, the fossil record shows a marked change, as during this period of Earth’s history, virtually all of the animal phyla (including the Chordata – our phylum) appeared.  The idea of a “Cambrian explosion” is a little misleading, the appearance of many new forms of complex animal life may have been gradual, but in terms of the fossil record, sites such as the famous Burgess Shale of British Columbia and Yunnan Province (southern China), have revealed extensive and varied marine ecosystems with large numbers of new types of animal being recorded in the strata.

Analysis of Some of the First Shelly Fossils

Scientists had thought that for much of the Cambrian, our planet was warmer that it is today with no polar ice caps present.  A study of tiny 1 mm long fossils of some of the first animals to produce a hard, shelly exoskeleton has confirmed this hypothesis.  Analysis of isotopes from the tiny shells in combination with the climate models show that at high latitudes (around 65 degrees south), sea temperatures were in excess of 20 degrees Celsius.  This might seem very warm, especially when you consider that this is an evaluation of sea temperatures at approximately 65 degrees south, today, travelling to that latitude would put you on the southernmost fringes of the Southern Ocean and close to Antarctica.  However, the data generated is similar to more recent, better understood, greenhouse climates such as that of the Late Cretaceous.

Reflected Light Microscopy – Brachiopod Fossils Used in the Study

Reflected light microscope images of Cambrian brachiopods.

Reflected light microscope images of some of the brachiopod fossils (phosphatic microfossils), used in this study.

Picture Credit: Leicester University

Co-author of the open access paper, PhD student Thomas Hearing (University of Leicester’s School of Geography, Geology and the Environment), explained:

“Because scientists cannot directly measure sea temperatures from half a billion years ago, they have to use proxy data, these are measurable quantities that respond in a predictable way to changing climate variables like temperature.  In this study, we used oxygen isotope ratios, which is a commonly used palaeothermometer.  We then used acid to extract fossils about 1 mm long from blocks of limestone from Shropshire, UK, dated to between 515 – 510 million years old.  Careful examination of these tiny fossils revealed that some of them have exceptionally well-preserved shell chemistry which has not changed since they grew on the Cambrian sea floor.” 

High Resolution Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Images of Brachiopod Fossils Used in the Study

SEM images of brachiopods.

Electron microscope images of some of the brachiopod fossils used in this study. Electron microscopy allows much higher resolution imaging of small structures than normal light microscopy.

Picture Credit: Leicester University

Dr Tom Harvey (University of Leicester) added:

“Many marine animals incorporate chemical traces of seawater into their shells as they grow.  That chemical signature is often lost over geological time, so it’s remarkable that we can identify it in such ancient fossils.” 

Analyses of the oxygen isotopes of these fossils suggested very warm temperatures for high latitude seas (~65 °S), probably between 20 °C to 25 °C.  To see if these were feasible sea temperatures, the researchers carried out climate model simulations for the Cambrian.  The climate model scenarios suggest that the Earth’s climate was in a “typical” greenhouse state, with temperatures similar to more recent and better understood greenhouse intervals known from the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic eras.  Ultimately, this study will help to expand our knowledge of the ecosystem that existed during the Cambrian.

The Highly Fossiliferous Comley Limestones (Shropshire, UK)

A thin section of highly fossiliferous rock of Cambrian age.

A thin section slice through the trilobite-rich Comley Limestones (Shropshire, UK).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The curves and white wavy lines in the photograph (above), are preserved exoskeletons of numerous trilobites.

Thomas Hearing concluded:

“We hope that this approach can be used by other researchers to build up a clearer picture of ancient climates where conventional climate proxy data are not available.”

The research was carried out as an international collaboration involving scientists from the University of Leicester (UK), British Geological Survey (BGS; UK), and CEREGE (France).

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

8 05, 2018

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

By | May 8th, 2018|Animal News Stories, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

Many happy returns to Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster, naturalist and someone who has done so much to help the public understand the wonders of the natural world.

Happy Birthday Sir Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough.

Still enthusing about the Natural World – happy birthday Sir David.

The Plastic Age

Throughout a broadcasting career that has spanned more than sixty years, Sir David has played a prominent role in highlighting the plight of the natural world.  In the recent, BBC television documentary series “Blue Planet II”, the damage caused by plastic pollutants in marine environments was emphasised and this has led to a number of plans and initiatives to reduce plastic use, especially items that are classed as “single use plastics”, such as plastic drinking straws.

The team behind “Blue Planet II”, including the narrator, Sir David, has helped raise awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution.   In the highly praised television series, there was one particularly distressing scene where a mother pilot whale was filmed holding her dead calf, which is believed to have died after consuming the mother’s milk which had been contaminated with toxic chemicals resulting from the breakdown of plastic in the marine environment.

Nonagenarian and Still Campaigning for the Natural World

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David raising awareness about the problems of plastic pollution.

Sir David Attenborough was born on this day in 1926, all the team members at Everything Dinosaur would like to take this opportunity to wish Sir David many happy returns.

Keep on campaigning sir.

7 05, 2018

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus Makeover

By | May 7th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

A Beautiful Kronosaurus Model Display

In 2017, the American-based, award-winning model manufacturer Safari Ltd introduced two marine reptiles into their “Wild Safari Prehistoric World” range of prehistoric animal figures.  The smaller of these two models, was the Plesiosuchus, (Plee-see-oh-sook-us), a detailed replica of a marine crocodile, a member of the Metriorhynchidae and as such, distantly related to today’s crocodiles.  The second of the marine reptiles, was a depiction of a giant predator, a Pliosaur, an animal that has, very fortunately, no modern descendants – Kronosaurus.  Talented model maker and designer Martin Garratt has customised the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus figure and produced a stunning display piece.

The Customised Kronosaurus Replica

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus on display.

A Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus model repainted by Martin Garratt of UMF Models.

Picture Credit: UMF Models (Martin Garratt)

The Marine Reptile Kronosaurus

Kronosaurus (Kroe-noe-sore-us), is best known from fossils discovered in Australia, although other remains assigned to this genus have been found in South America.  Estimated to have reached lengths in excess of nine metres, Kronosaurus was an apex predator of marine environments during the Early Cretaceous.  Its jaws were huge and although mistaken for an Ichthyosaur when first studied, it was correctly identified as a member of the Pliosauridae in 1924.  Safari Ltd introduced a large Kronosaurus figure into their scale model series “Carnegie Collectibles”, some years ago and when this range was retired, it was not long before a Kronosaurus model was added to the company’s Wild Safari Prehistoric World range.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus marine reptile model.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Kronosaurus Diorama

The beautifully detailed figures in the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range provide model makers and sculptors with plenty of scope when it comes to designing unique dioramas.  In Martin’s display piece, the Kronosaurus has been carefully attached to a rock which acts as a stand for the figure.  This permits the model to be depicted in a dramatic pose, as if this ferocious predator is swimming rapidly upwards to attack prey from underneath.  This predation strategy is observed in many pelagic marine predators today, such as the Great White Shark (C. carcharias).  Indeed, the countershading on the original Safari Ltd Kronosaurus and modified by Martin in his model, is typical of underwater ambush predators.  Martin has chosen a more muted colour scheme with dark bands, running across the back and down the flanks.  Note also, that he has added a stabilising, diamond-shaped tail rudder, a feature not preserved in the fossil record for a Pliosaur, as far as we at Everything Dinosaur are aware, but since the tail was mainly used for steering (the four, large flippers provided propulsion), the addition of this rudder makes anatomical sense.

A Skilfully Created Marine Reptile Diorama

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus model has been given a makeover.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus replica display.

Picture Credit: UMF Models (Martin Garratt)

To view the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus figure and the other models in this range: Safari Ltd/Wild Safari Prehistoric World

Amazing Detail

Martin’s diorama shows some amazing detail and we really admire those little flourishes such as the large sea shell at the base of the beautifully crafted rock and the evidence of sea weed.  The teeth have been recoloured to give them a more realistic and weathered look.  The underbelly is an off-white colour and blends seamlessly into the muted blues and subtle greys of the countershading.

A Close-up View of the Head Showing the Repainted Teeth

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus model display.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Kronosaurus model has been given a makeover.

Picture Credit: UMF Models (Martin Garratt)

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“The quality of the Safari Ltd prehistoric animal replicas gives model makers a head start when it comes to creating their own unique dioramas.  Martin has done a fantastic job on customising this Kronosaurus model to create a museum quality display.”

Our thanks to Martin and Marilyn of UMF models for sharing these pictures with us.

6 05, 2018

Dense Bones and Other Aquatic Adaptations in Spinosaurs

By | May 6th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|1 Comment

South American Giant Provides Further Information on Enigmatic Spinosaurs

A partial leg bone found in north-eastern Brazil has helped scientists to better understand the adaptations members of the Spinosauridae may have evolved to help them with their semi-aquatic lifestyles.  Furthermore, the fragmentary fossil, a large partial tibia from the Aptian-Albian Romualdo Formation, (Araripe Basin, north-eastern Brazil), when compared to other Spinosaur remains, indicates an individual dinosaur much larger than other South American spinosaurids.  This single fossil suggests a sub-adult animal around ten metres in length, far larger than the other South American spinosaurids from the Araripe Basin such as Irritator and Angaturama.

A South American Lagoon Around 115-110 Million Years Ago – A Spinosaurid Attacks a Pterosaur

Spinosaur attacks a Pterosaur.

An illustration of a South American Spinosaur attacking a Pterosaur.

Picture Credit: Julio Lacerda

Sail-back Dinosaur from the Heart of the Brazilian Outback

The Brazilian dinosaur fossil is providing another piece of the puzzle as palaeontologists strive to better understand the enigmatic spinosaurids.  The discovery of the fossil bone and its implications for Spinosaur research has been published in the academic journal “Cretaceous Research”.  The research was led by a team of Brazilian palaeontologists in collaboration with colleagues from Yale University, the University of Bonn and Trinity College (Dublin).

The partial tibia (lower leg bone) was found in Ceará, a state in the heart of the Brazilian outback.  Although only a fragment of bone, its size in relation to other spinosaurid fossils suggests a dinosaur measuring about ten metres in length, considerably bigger than other South American members of the Spinosauridae.

The Partial Tibia Bone (Various Views)

Views of the Spinosaur fossil material

Views and cross-sectional analysis of the Spinosaur partial tibia fossil (LVP-PV-0042).

Picture Credit: Cretaceous Research

Large Predators with an Aquatic Lifestyle

Over the last five years or so, there have been a number of papers published looking at how these large predators lived.  Many palaeontologists believe that these Theropods adopted a specialist lifestyle, becoming semi-aquatic and essentially piscivores.  Interest in these enigmatic dinosaurs has certainly been piqued in recent years, especially with the publication of a fascinating paper in 2014 that proposed that Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was a semi-aquatic, obligate quadruped.  The partial tibia has anatomical traits previously only observed in the north African S. aegyptiacus, traits such as a reduced fibular crest and dense bones (osteosclerotic bones).  These types of bones are characteristic of the limb bones of vertebrates that spend a lot of their time in water.  The leg bones of hippos, for example, exhibit this condition.  The partial tibia from north-eastern Brazil, supports the idea that spinosaurids were adapted to an aquatic environment, in addition, the Brazilian fossil is many millions of years older than those fossils associated with S. aegyptiacus, so, this suggests that high bone compactness was already present in Brazilian spinosaurids long before S. aegyptiacus evolved.

Cross-sectional Views of LPP-PV-0042 Indicating Bone Density and Growth Rate

Growth rate and density of Araripe Basin dinosaur bone.

An assessment of the bone density observed in LPP-PV-0042 along with histology of bone indicating growth rate.

Picture Credit: Cretaceous Research

Fossilised bone cells in detail, observed under the microscope.  Different growth pulses of the animal are represented by the red arrows.  Absence of certain characteristics in the bone tissue lead palaeontologists to conclude the spinosaurid was a sub-adult and still growing when it died.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the 2014 Spinosaurus paper: Spinosaurus – Four Legs are Better Than Two

“Heavy Bones” of Spinosaurs

The study was led by postgraduate student Tito Aureliano (Campinas State University, Unicamp, Brazil), along with researchers from the Federal University of Sao Carlos (Brazil).  The dense bones of the Brazilian Spinosaur would have helped the animal to dive and to move in water in a similar way to a hippopotamus.  The dense bones are analogous to the lead weights used by divers to counteract their own buoyancy.  This research suggests that osteosclerotic bones were present in the South American Spinosaurinae at least ten million years earlier than those associated with their north African cousins.  It is not known when osteosclerotic bones evolved in Spinosaurs, but this characteristic may have evolved relatively early in these types of dinosaurs.

Bone Density Comparisons

Spinosaur limb bones are much more dense than most other dinosaurs

Cross sections of vertebrate bones including many dinosaurs showing bone density versus pneumaticity within the Dinosauria.

Picture Credit: Cretaceous Research

Commenting on the significance of this study, Tito Aureliano stated:

“It may be possible that Brazilian Spinosaurs were the first to adopt this way of life.  Now we need to investigate an even older species.”

An Example of Convergent Evolution

Several types of not-closely related vertebrates have dense bones, reflecting an adaptation to an aquatic lifestyle.  Penguins, crocodiles and sealions along with hippos and spinosaurids have these types of bones, this is an example of convergent evolution.

Aline Ghilardi (Federal University of Sao Carlos) explained:

“It is interesting how this adaptation evolved multiple times in different groups of animals that adopted the same lifestyle.”

The spinosaurids evolved in a different direction when compared to most of the Theropoda.  Whilst most dinosaurs evolved ways to make the skeleton lighter, epitomised in the extreme pneumaticity observed in birds, the Spinosaurs developed a way to make their skeleton heavier.  This aided them when it came to occupying a very distinct and specialised niche amongst the Dinosauria.

South American Giants

South America might be famous for its huge Cretaceous plant-eating dinosaurs such as the titanosaurids Argentinosaurus, Patagotitan and Dreadnoughtus but the partial tibia bone hints at super-sized predators too.  An analysis of the fossilised cells showed that the studied dinosaur had not reached its maximum size by the time of its death and was still growing.  This indicates that these
dinosaurs could reach larger sizes than previously thought, the Araripe Basin Spinosaurinae could have been giants, which would make them the top predators of the Cretaceous coastal lagoons of Ceará.

South American Spinosaur Size Comparison

Spinosaur size comparison from the Araripe Basin.

Spinosaurid size comparison based on known fossil material.

Picture Credit: Cretaceous Research

The image (above), shows all the known spinosaurid fossils from the Araripe Basin.  The fossil used in this study is marked in pink (F).   Note, figure 1 shows the fossil bones not to scale but figure 2 provides a scale comparison between the Spinosaur specimens from the Araripe Basin.  The largest spinosaurid found to date (LPP-PV-0042), was the subject of the research paper.

Pterosaur Vertebrae from Ceará

The Ceará state has been synonymous with amazing Spinosaur fossil finds.  In 2004, researchers led by the famous French palaeontologist Eric Buffetaut, described a remarkable fossil find from this region, three articulated Pterosaur vertebrae (Ornithocheiridae) were found with the tooth of a spinosaurid embedded in one of the bones.  This fossil represents direct evidence that Spinosaurs included other prey items in their diets as well as fish.  The broken tooth also provides evidence that the light bones of Pterosaurs were much stronger than previously assumed.

A Food Chain of the Lagoonal Environment (Araripe Basin in the Early Cretaceous)

Araripe Basin (lagoon) food chain.

Proposed food chain showing LPP-PV-0042 as apex predator.  Pterosaurs were on the menu to.

Picture Credit: Cretaceous Research

Lots of questions about the Spinosauridae remain.  For example, whether these aquatic adaptations are related to the establishment of a large system of lagoons between South America and Africa caused by the opening of the Atlantic Ocean during this period in Earth’s history.  As with many whales today, was the adaptation of an aquatic lifestyle the trigger that enabled these Theropods to evolve into giants?

Our thanks to Tito Aureliano ((Campinas State University, Unicamp, Brazil) for their help in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Semi-aquatic Adaptations in a Spinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil” by Tito Aureliano, Aline M. Ghilardi, Pedro V. Buck, Matteo Fabbri, Adun Samathi, Rafael Delcourt, Marcelo A. Fernandes and Martin Sander published in the journal Cretaceous Research.

5 05, 2018

Rebor Chickenosaurus is in Stock

By | May 5th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Rebor Chickenosaurus Figure is in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The latest figure in the Rebor Oddities range has arrived and what a fascinating replica it is.  The Rebor Chickenosaurus represents a genetically modified dinosaur embryo, the beautifully crafted figure is presented in a clear, egg-shaped display piece complete with a light-up base.

The Latest Addition to the Rebor Oddities Range – Rebor Chickenosaurus Genetically Engineered Dinosaur Embryo

Rebor Chickenosaurus model.

The Rebor Chickenosaurus figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Genetically Engineered Dinosaur

Rebor has built a deserved reputation for developing innovative prehistoric animal figures and replicas and their Chickenosaurus is a welcome addition to the growing Rebor product portfolio.  The model itself, measures around nine centimetres long and when stood on its bespoke display base the figure stands about twelve centimetres high.  The detail on the embryo is amazing, it’s as if the shell of a dinosaur egg has been peeled away and you are able to observe the growing dinosaur baby.

A Fantastic Collectors’ Item – The Rebor Chickenosaurus Dinosaur Embryo

The Rebor Chickenosaurus figure.

At home amongst the curiosities, the Rebor Chickenosaurus dinosaur figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Rebor Chickenosaurus, which is currently available with a free Rebor Utahraptor replica (Wind Hunter) 3-D lenticular poster (whilst stocks last), simply visit the Rebor product section of Everything Dinosaur’s website: Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models.

Chickens are Dinosaurs

With most palaeontologists classifying the Dinosauria into two main groups, the avian dinosaurs (Aves – birds) and the non-avian dinosaurs, the extinct branch of the Dinosauria consisting of the likes of Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex, it is technically correct to refer birds such as chickens as dinosaurs.  This new Rebor figure celebrates the link between dinosaurs and birds and provides collectors with an opportunity to add something unusual and novel to their model collection.  The figure also pays homage to the “Jurassic Park/Jurassic World” movies and to the Michael Crichton novel that the first film, in this hugely successful franchise, was based upon.  Genetically engineered dinosaurs are certainly in vogue with movie goers, although scientists are a long way from actually being able to recreate a living, breathing dinosaur by manipulating avian genes.

To read an article from 2009, that outlines the use of chicken embryos in a study that involves manipulation of genes to awaken dormant dinosaur traits in birds: The “Dino-chicken Project”

A Baby Dinosaur in the Egg

The Rebor Chickenosaurus embryo figure.

The Rebor Chickenosaurus figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As Large as a Swan’s Egg

Measuring a fraction under twelve centimetres when the figure is placed on its light-up base, the egg is roughly the size of a Mute swan’s egg and it makes a fascinating display piece.  We have heard of one customer of Everything Dinosaur who was going to use the figure as a centre piece for a table display for a lunchtime service.  We hope that eggs and chicken are on the menu.

A Centrepiece in Many Collections

A genetically engineered dinosaur - Rebor Chickenosaurus.

The Rebor Chickenosaurus dinosaur embryo model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is a novel dinosaur figure.  The “Oddities” range gives Rebor a licence to produce innovative and eye-catching figures, lots of manufacturers produce models of Theropod dinosaurs, but a figure of a Theropod dinosaur embryo with its own light-up base is a first, as far as we are aware.  Whilst model dioramas such as the Rebor King T. rex and the Rebor Fallen Queen depict death, this beautifully designed item depicts life.”

Special Promotional Offer

Everything Dinosaur will be providing an amazing three-dimensional lenticular poster of the Rebor Utahraptor replica (Wind Hunter) with every Chickenosaurus.  The lenticular poster will be sent out free with every purchase of the Rebor Chickenosaurus.  This special promotional offer will be available until stocks last.

The Rebor Utahraptor (Wind Hunter) 3-D Lenticular Poster

Rebor Utahraptor 3-D poster.

The Rebor Utahraptor Wind Hunter 3D lenticular poster.  Available whilst stocks last.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

4 05, 2018

Please Don’t Throw Rocks

By | May 4th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Please Don’t Vandalise our Dinosaur Tracks

Visitors to the Red Fleet State Park in Utah have been requested to refrain from throwing rocks into water as some of these rocks are actually the fossil footprints of dinosaurs from the Early Jurassic.  Tourists to the Park, which is located ten miles north of the small town of Vernal, off Highway 191 in north-eastern Utah, have been throwing lumps of sandstone into a reservoir and some of these pieces of rock contain the 200 million-year-old fossilised tracks of dinosaurs.

Examining a Dinosaur Footprint at Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur fossil footprint (Utah).

One of the three-toed dinosaur tracks at Red Fleet State Park (Utah).

Picture Credit: Utah State Parks

Commenting on this very unusual tourist problem, Park Manager Josh Hansen stated:

“While this problem is quite alarming, often times the people who are doing this have no idea they could be destroying millions of years of history.  Some of the tracks are very distinct to the layperson, but just as many are not.  That is why it is important to not disturb any rocks at the dinosaur trackway.”

Dilophosaurus Dinosaur Tracks

The Red Fleet State Park attracts tourists from far and wide.  It is a haven for bikers, walkers, campers and for outdoor sports enthusiasts and the area is famous for its dinosaur track sites.  However, the ancient trace fossils, making this attraction a real-life “Jurassic Park”, are being damaged and destroyed, either unwittingly or through deliberate vandalism.  The large, three-toed prints (tridactyl prints) represent carnivorous dinosaurs (Theropods), a number of these tracks have been attributed to the Early Jurassic species Dilophosaurus wetherilli.

Devan Chavez, a spokesman for the Utah Division of State Parks, who has corresponded with Everything Dinosaur, has stated that at least ten of the larger footprints left by dinosaurs, ranging from eight to forty-three centimetres in size, have been destroyed in the last six months alone.  Josh Hanson explained that by deteriorating the track site, people are taking away the experience from thousands of others.  Not only that, but this act also constitutes a crime.

One of the Three-toed Dinosaur Footprints at the Park

Dinosaur fossil footprint (Utah).

A three-toed dinosaur footprint (Red Fleet State Park, Utah).

Picture Credit: Utah State Parks

Utah has very strict laws in place to help preserve its precious prehistoric heritage.  Anyone caught vandalising these fossil sites can face very severe penalties, including hefty fines and even imprisonment.  Problems with damage to dinosaur fossils are not just limited to this single tourist attraction.  Everything Dinosaur has reported on a number of incidents of fossil theft and vandalism in the state of Utah.

To read about the damage to a dinosaur bone at the nearby Dinosaur National Monument (Utah):  Fossil Damaged at Dinosaur National Monument

The Park authorities were keen to stress that it is illegal to displace rocks that contain trace fossils and disturbing fossil sites would be regarded as an act of vandalism.

Helping to Educate Visitors

Park staff have taken steps to help raise awareness, the Park’s blog site has covered this issue and the number of signs around the Park alerting visitors to the problem have been increased.  Utah State Parks believes education can play a big part in stopping this kind of behaviour.  To help combat it, they have been asking everyone to spread the word.  Everything Dinosaur is happy to help where it can to publicise this problem and to play a role in helping to prevent further damage.

Visitors are requested not to throw any rocks in the dinosaur track area at Red Fleet State Park.  Please help the authorities keep the area preserved and beautiful for visitors both tomorrow and for generations to come.

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