All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//July
31 07, 2018

Having Fun at The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven)

By | July 31st, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Having Fun at The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven)

Last weekend, Everything Dinosaur team members visited The Beacon Museum in Whitehaven, Cumbria to take part in “Dino Fest”, a series of events that had been organised by the enthusiastic museum staff to celebrate all things dinosaur.  This family-friendly museum has a temporary exhibition entitled “Brick Dinos”, it is a great attraction to help inspire little minds over the summer.

Child’s Play – A Masiakasaurus Made from Bricks

"Brick Dinos" - Masiakasaurus.

“Brick Dinos” a life-size replica of the Theropod Masiakasaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

On the first floor of The Beacon Museum, we spotted a life-size Masiakasaurus replica.  Masiakasaurus was a predator, but what it ate is a bit of a mystery.  Its fossils come from northern Madagascar and it roamed the island (Madagascar split from eastern Africa during the Cretaceous), around 70 million years ago.  This animal’s teeth are unique amongst all known dinosaurs.  The teeth at the front of the jaws point forwards .  The teeth in the anterior portion of the lower jaw stick out almost horizontally.  The teeth are conical and very pointy.  It has been suggested that this dinosaur specialised in catching and eating fish, whilst some palaeontologists have proposed that it was an insectivore.

Dinosaur and Fossil Workshops

Everything Dinosaur was invited to deliver a special workshop for the Quantum Leap club members on the Friday afternoon and over the weekend, we provided two 2-hour workshops and a series of fossil hunting events.  We invited visitors to have a go at casting their own museum quality fossil replicas.  We were most impressed with the results with some excellent casts of dinosaur bones, teeth and claws produced by the eager, young prehistoric animal fans.

A Collection of Fossil Casts

Completed fossil casts.

Some of the completed fossil casts produced by visitors to The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven), who participated in Everything Dinosaur’s workshops.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Participants had the opportunity to cast an Edmontosaurus toe bone, a tooth from a tyrannosaurid (Daspletosaurus), as well as a Velociraptor toe claw and a hand claw from an Ornithomimus.  The Megalodon teeth we brought with us to cast, also proved popular.  To conclude our sessions, we invited guests to try to find their own fossils.  We have collected quite a lot of small fossils on our various adventures and team members were happy to help the young dinosaur fans spot sharks teeth, brachiopods, ammonites, turtle shell, crocodile scutes and small pieces of fossilised bone in our fossil trays.

“Eggcited” to Have Taken Part in the Weekend Dino Fest Activities

Dinosaur eggs.

Dinosaur eggs – part of the “Brick Dinos” exhibition on at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven (Cumbria).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For further information about this exhibition at The Beacon Museum and to see what else this wonderful museum offers: The Beacon Museum at Whitehaven

30 07, 2018

Everything Dinosaur Reaches 5,000 “Likes” on Facebook

By | July 30th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|2 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Reaches 5,000 “Likes” on Facebook

Everything Dinosaur has reached the landmark of achieving 5,000 “likes” on the company’s Facebook page.  The Facebook page (@EverythingDinosaur), provides information on new model releases, updates on fossil discoveries and publishes lots of pictures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  It was back in June 2015, that the Facebook page passed 2,000 “likes”, then on November 4th 2017, we published a press release about our 4,000th “like” and now, nine months later we have reached the milestone of 5,000 Facebook “likes”.

5,000 Facebook “Likes” for Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has reached the milestone of 5,000 likes on Facebook.

Everything Dinosaur reaches the milestone of 5,000 likes on Facebook.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers, dinosaur enthusiasts and collectors of prehistoric animal figures who have taken the trouble to visit our Facebook page and to give Everything Dinosaur’s page a “like”.  We really do appreciate this and, every single one of our “likes” is genuine.  All have come from organic growth and not a single “like” has come from any form of paid for promotion or advertising.  We all feel very humble and honoured.”

Visit Everything Dinosaur on Facebook

The “like” button on the Facebook social media platform enables users to easily interact with Everything Dinosaur team members.  The page provides status updates, photos, links and comments.  Gaining genuine and legitimate “likes” on Facebook gives an organisation credibility and provides reassurance to other Facebook visitors.   This helps to build up a community around the company or brand and helps to reinforce customer loyalty.

 

We believe customer service is the key to getting "likes".

“Like” our Facebook page.

Celebrating 5,000 “Likes” on Facebook

5,000 "likes" on Facebook.

Everything Dinosaur has achieved 5,000 “likes” on the Facebook platform.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Once again, a very big thank you to everyone who has “liked” Everything Dinosaur.

29 07, 2018

Gharial Evolution – A Fishy Business

By | July 29th, 2018|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Convergent Evolution Thoracosaurs and Gharials

Crocodylians are a very ancient group of reptiles, sometimes these animals are referred to as living dinosaurs, that’s a mistake, they may be Archosaurs, the same as the Dinosauria, but they represent a different branch of the “ruling reptiles” clade.  However, just as with the dinosaurs, the ancient lineage of the crocodylians is full of intriguing taxonomic mysteries.  Back in 2017, Everything Dinosaur reported upon a new scientific paper that fundamentally re-wrote the dinosaur family tree, in recent weeks, a new scientific study has thrown light on the evolution of the gharials, specialist fish-eating crocodylians.  This new research into the gharials may not result in such a seismic shift that we saw with the 2017 dinosaur family tree, but it does help to explain an inconsistency that has puzzled palaeontologists for decades.

A Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

A Gharial.

An extant Gharial, note the long thin jaw lined with conical teeth, ideal for catching fish.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Thoracosaur Mystery

Late Cretaceous, long-snouted, fish-eating crocodiles known as Thoracosaurs had been thought to be closely related to modern-day gharials (Gavialis lineage).  However, fossils of these crocodylians are found in Upper Cretaceous/Lower Palaeocene strata, but analysis of the genome of the modern Indian gharial suggests that these crocodiles only evolved some forty million years ago.  In a new study, led by Flinders University (South Australia), it is concluded that the Thoracosaurus is not closely related to the Gavialidae, it just happens to look very similar and to share the same adaptations for life as a piscivore.

A Life Reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Crocodylian Thoracosaurus

Thoracosaurus life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the fish-eating Thoracosaurus.

Picture Credit: Jacob Baardse

The Four-metre-long Thoracosaurus

Two species of Thoracosaurus have been described, one from North America with a second species known from Europe.  This freshwater crocodile could have grown to a length of four metres or more.  Writing in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology”, a team of international scientists propose that the uncanny resemblance between the modern gharial and the ancient Thoracosaurus is due to convergent evolution, the process whereby two unrelated organisms end up looking similar as they adapt to similar environments and ecological niches.

The study shows that the prehistoric Thoracosaurs, that were around at the same time as the last of the dinosaurs, were not closely related to modern gharials at all.  They represent a separate and distinct group of reptiles that adopted a similar fish-eating habit, evolving long, narrow jaws with needle-like teeth, anatomical traits they share with gharials.  Therefore, as borne out by the DNA of modern-day gharials, members of the Gavialidae are relatively newcomers when it comes to crocodylian evolutionary history.  Gharials did not exist in the Mesozoic.

The Fossilised Skull and Upper Jaw of Thoracosaurus (Cast)

The skull of Thoracosaurus.

A cast of the fossilised skull and upper jaw of Thoracosaurus.

Picture Credit: Michael Lee (Flinders University and South Australia Museum

Confusion Over the Indian Gharial and the False Gharial

The False gharial of south-east Asia (Tomistoma schlegelii), has a similar long snout to the Indian gharial, however, as it is broader at the base it was thought that this species was not closely related to the true gharial.  However, genomic studies have revealed that it is the sister taxon and consequently, very closely related to Gavialis gangeticus. Many biologists now classify this species as a member of the Gavialidae.

Lead author of the study, Professor Michael Lee (Flinders University), commented:

“The DNA of living gharials indicates they are a young group, which evolved well after the dinosaurs, but then why are there gharial-like fossils older than T. rex?  Either the DNA evidence is wrong, or we’ve misinterpreted these ancient Thoracosaurs.  Our work suggests we have got the fossils wrong, after being misled by convergent evolution.”

The scientific paper:
“Tip Dating and Homoplasy: Reconciling the Shallow Molecular Divergences of Modern Gharials with their Long Fossil Record” by MSY Lee and AM Yates and published in Proceedings: Biological Sciences:

Everything Dinosaur’s article on the reassessment of the Dinosauria: Root and Branch Reform for the Dinosaur Family Tree

28 07, 2018

Archaeologists Battle Tides to Save Ancient Handprints

By | July 28th, 2018|Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Archaeologists in Race Against Time to Save Ancient Handprints

A team of archaeologists are in a race against time to save ancient handprints on the Island of Rousay.  The archaeologists are battling against the tide to complete the documentation and excavation of the remains of a Pictish copper smith’s workshop located on an Iron Age settlement on Rousay.  The site, an important archaeological focus on the Orkney Islands, has revealed a sooty imprint of what is believed to be the smith’s hands and knees.  The archaeologists could have uncovered evidence of a person’s everyday activity, which could potentially be 1500 years old.

The Stone Preserves Evidence of Human Activity (Carbon Smudges)

Carbon smudges of the hand of a Pictish Smith

Black smudges of a person’s hand can be made out on the stone.

Picture Credit: Bradford University

Dr Stephen Dockrill, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Bradford commented:

“Analysis of crucible fragments and the floor deposits demonstrated that a copper smith worked in the building.  The analysis of the floor enables us to say with confidence where the smith worked, next to a hearth and two stone anvils.  The biggest surprise came when we lifted the larger stone anvil and cleaned it; we could see carbon imprints of the smith’s knees and hands.”

An Amazing and Extremely Exciting Scottish Discovery

Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, Dr Julie Bond (University of Bradford), outlined the significance of this chance discovery stating:

“This is an extremely exciting find and we are doing all we can to gather as much information on the site before it is destroyed by the sea.  A handprint is so personal and individual that you can almost feel the presence of the copper smith and imagine what it must have been like working in there all those years ago.”

The dig site consists of the remains of a small, cellular building dating to a period between the 6th and 9th Century AD.  It was semi-subterranean.  The building was entered via steps and a curved corridor, which would have minimised the amount of light entering the smithy, permitting the smith to assess the temperature of the hot metal based on its colouration in the fire.  A door would have separated the workshop from the corridor.  Many of the stone fittings, the pivot stone, door jamb and bar hole, for example, remained intact.  The centre was dominated by the hearth, with a set upright stone on the doorward side protecting the hearth fire from drafts.  Scientific analysis at Bradford University should reveal what was on the smith’s hands to produce the prints and explore the reasons for their remarkable preservation.

Everything Dinosaur team members might be well-versed in mapping and recording trace fossils, but this insight into the life and daily work of a person on the Island of Rousay is quite remarkable.  A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Let’s hope that the archaeologists can win the race against the tide and the elements and preserve this amazing discovery for the benefit of science.”

The Remains of the Pictish Workshop

Remains of the Pictish workshop on Rousay.

The Pictish workshop dig site on the Island of Rousay.

Picture Credit: Bradford University

Working in Collaboration with the City University of New York

The Pictish smithy is part of an excavation project directed by Dr Julie Bond and Dr Stephen Dockrill.  The site is being excavated by staff and students from the University of Bradford in collaboration with the City University of New York.  The building is part of a substantial Iron Age settlement which is being rapidly destroyed by the sea.  It is expected that with the onset of autumn, the damage to the site from wind and waves will be increased.  Work this year has centred on the Pictish workshop and a Neolithic Chambered Cairn which is also being eroded.

The project is funded by the Swandro Orkney Coastal Archaeology Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, National Lottery, University of Bradford, Orkney Islands Council, Rousay Development Trust and the Orkney Archaeological Society.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from the University of Bradford in the compilation of this article.

27 07, 2018

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Compsognathus Model

By | July 27th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

The Papo Compsognathus Dinosaur Model Reviewed

The dedicated and enthusiastic production team at JurassicCollectables have made a video review of the new for 2018 Papo Compsognathus dinosaur model.  At Everything Dinosaur, the Compsognathus (along with the Papo Quetzalcoatlus), represent the last of this year’s models to be introduced.  It was certainly worth the wait, especially if you like to collect prehistoric animal figures that are reminiscent of the dinosaurs seen in the “Jurassic Park/Jurassic World” film franchises.  Papo have done a splendid job producing a replica of “elegant jaw”, which at one time, was regarded as the smallest dinosaur known to science.

In the short video review, it lasts a little over ten minutes, the JurassicCollectables narrator reviews this new Theropod model and compares and contrasts this figure with the increasingly rare Rebor Sentry Compsognathus.  Also featured is the classic Papo green standing Tyrannosaurus rex replica, an iconic Papo figure, now sadly out of production.

JurassicCollectables – Papo Compsognathus Dinosaur Model Video Review

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

JurassicCollectables have produced video reviews of every single prehistoric animal and dinosaur replica that Papo have produced, to see these videos and to subscribe to their fantastic YouTube channel: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube

The Papo Compsognathus Dinosaur Model

Papo Compsognathus model.

The Papo Compsognathus figure has an articulated jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Finely Detailed Model with an Elegant Articulated Jaw

The finely detailed model has an articulated lower jaw.  The JurassicCollectables reviewer highlights the jaw and discusses the painting of this feature.  Papo have produced another excellent figure with an articulated jaw, it is quite a skilled job to be able to produce such a small, articulated component.  It is also apt, as Compsognathus means “elegant jaw”, in recognition of this small dinosaur’s elegant, narrow snout and small jaw bones.

To see the range of Papo prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur (including the Papo Compsognathus): Papo Prehistoric Animals

In the JurassicCollectables Video the Papo Compsognathus is Compared with the Rebor Compsognathus (Sentry)

The Papo and Rebor Compsognathus models.

In the JurassicCollectables video, the Papo Compsognathus model is compared to the Rebor Compsognathus.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The picture above shows one of the studio shots from the video showing the new for 2018  Papo Compsognathus (background) being compared to the Rebor Compsognathus figure (foreground).   In this well put together video review,  JurassicCollectables comment extensively about these dinosaur models.

The narrator comments:

“Love the use of colour!  The jaw opens really wide which is perfect, it is more of a 1/6th scale figure.  The sculpt is incredible.

Look out also for a cameo appearance by “off-colour Alan”, the Papo Compsognathus replica is one dinosaur model that Alan can look straight in the eye.  Our thanks to the team at JurassicCollectables for posting up this super video review.

26 07, 2018

Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures Back in Stock

By | July 26th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures Back in Stock

Great news for dinosaur fans and model collectors.  Another shipment of the excellent Beasts of the Mesozoic 1/6th scale “Raptor” figures has arrived at the Everything Dinosaur warehouse.  This exciting range consists of 24 collectable figures, all members of the Eumaniraptora clade (or if you prefer the Paraves).  Put simply, the models represent dromaeosaurids, troodontids and given the current debate about Balaur bondoc, a flightless bird.

A New Shipment of Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures Has Arrived at Everything Dinosaur

Beasts of the Mesozoic Deluxe 1:6 scale "Raptors".

The Deluxe Raptors in the Beasts of the Mesozoic range available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Beasts of the Mesozoic range: Beasts of the Mesozoic Models

Build-A-Raptor Kits

Everything Dinosaur has extended their interest in this range by adding the two Build-A-Raptor kits.  Make your very own customised and unique dinosaur with this unpainted set of “Raptor” parts.  The Beasts of the Mesozoic Build-A-Raptor sets have lots of interchangeable parts so you can design and build your own unique prehistoric animal.  So adaptable are the components that the parts in set A (Velociraptor) are interchangeable with the parts in the Build-A-Raptor set B (Atrociraptor).

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Build-A-Raptor Kits Have Been Added to Everything Dinosaur’s Range

Beasts of the Mesozoic Build-A-Raptor Sets

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Build-A-Raptor Sets (Velociraptor and Atrociraptor).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fact Sheets Sent Out with Every Figure

As part of Everything Dinosaur’s commitment to helping collectors and dinosaur fans learn more about prehistoric animals, we have researched and written a fact sheet on all the creatures featured in this range.  Each fact sheet contains a scale drawing and explains a little more about the dinosaur (or in the case of Balaur bondoc, flightless bird), that this skilfully made replica depicts.  Our fact sheets provide an A to Z guide on the dromaeosaurids and their relatives, or if you will,  Acheroraptor through to Zhenyuanlong suni!

Customers Receive a Fact Sheet with Every Purchase

Fact sheets prepared for the Beasts of the Mesozoic range of models.

A collection of Beasts of the Mesozoic fact sheets created by Everything Dinosaur.  A fact sheet is sent out with every Beasts of the Mesozoic figure purchased.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Which One is Your Favourite?

With so many figures in this wonderful range to choose from, it is hard to decide which replica is our favourite.  For example, there is the magnificent Tsaagan mangas, an articulated, poseable replica of a fearsome dromaeosaurid, that was a contemporary of Velociraptor (V. mongoliensis is also included in the Beasts of the Mesozoic range).

The Two-metre-long Fearsome Tsaagan mangas

Beasts of the Mesozoic Tsaagan mangas.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Deluxe “Raptor” Tsaagan mangas.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Or perhaps a figure of a European prehistoric animal is more your preference?  Maybe your favourite is the enigmatic and mysterious Balaur bondoc from the Hatag Formation of Romania.

Is it a Bird or is it a Dinosaur?  Beasts of the Mesozoic Balaur bondoc

Beasts of the Mesozoic Balaur bondoc.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Balaur bondoc replica.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Which Beasts of the Mesozoic 1/6th scale figure is your favourite?

25 07, 2018

Dino Fest at The Beacon Whitehaven

By | July 25th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Dino Fest at The Beacon Whitehaven

The countdown has started, there are less than 48-hours to go before our first dinosaur and fossil workshop at The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven, Cumbria).  Staff at Everything Dinosaur have been preparing all the fossils and sorting out a vehicle so that it can be loaded up with all the fossils and other goodies which we will need this weekend as Everything Dinosaur delivers dinosaur and fossil workshops.  The plan is that visitors to Dino Fest at The Beacon will be able to help our team members hunt for fossils including real dinosaur bones!

Dino Fest from Friday 27th July until Sunday 29th July

Dino Fest at The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven)

Dino Fest at The Beacon Museum July 2018.

Picture Credit: The Beacon Museum/Natalie Burns

Be a Dinosaur Detective

Join team members from Friday afternoon and throughout the weekend and take part in fossil casting, fossil handling and get the chance to find your very own fossils of prehistoric animals.  What you find you can keep, so, why not start your very own fossil collection.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We will be delivering a total of three workshops, starting Friday afternoon.  We plan to conduct some fossil casting of specimens from our collection, including T. rex teeth and Velociraptor claws and then we can look at dinosaur skulls and of course, being shark week, we will have to include some prehistoric sharks too.”

When not providing workshops, the team members from Everything Dinosaur will be laying out fossil trays and inviting visitors to The Beacon Museum to search for ancient crocodile armour, Silurian coral, fossilised wood, sharks teeth, brachiopods, ammonites and other evidence of ancient life Everything Dinosaur has collected on their travels around the world.  As you would expect from a company called “Everything Dinosaur”, there will be some dinosaur fossils to find as well.

Dinosaur and Fossil Themed Workshops at The Beacon Whitehaven

Everything Dinosaur and fossil workshops.

Everything Dinosaur at the Beacon Museum 27th July to 29th July.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Late Cretaceous Dinosaurs

An Everything Dinosaur spokesperson explained that as fossils erode out of the ground, they are acted upon by natural forces causing the material to weather.  If people did not go out hunting for fossils, then much of the fossil record would simply be eroded away and lost forever.

“Imagine a 66 million-year-old Triceratops leg bone, exposed by erosion in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana.  It might be from an animal that lived in the Late Cretaceous but just a few years of freeze/thaw and weathering and the bone would simply crumble away.  By conducting fossil workshops and helping to explain how to tell fossils from rock, we might one day help someone discover their very own prehistoric animal, after all, around 100 different dinosaurs are known from fossils found in the British Isles.”

For further information and to book: Dino Fest at The Beacon Museum

24 07, 2018

Lingwulong New Dinosaur Discovery from Northern China

By | July 24th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Lingwulong shenqi – The Dinosaur That’s Not Supposed to be There

Dinosaurs, so often regarded in the past as epitomising animals that were too slow and stupid to survive, are demonstrating that they were one of the most successful groups of terrestrial vertebrates to have evolved.  A newly described, long-necked dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of northern China suggests that Sauropods dispersed and diversified much earlier than palaeontologists had previously thought.  The new dinosaur has been named Lingwulong shenqi and it is the earliest known diplodocoid.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Lingwulong shenqi

Lingwulong shenqi illustrated.

A life reconstruction of Lingwulong shenqi, the earliest known diplodocoid.

Picture Credit: Zhang Zongda

Subgroups of Sauropods with Restricted Geographical Ranges

Although the Sauropods dominated terrestrial faunas for much of the Mesozoic and their fossils are globally distributed, scientists had been aware that several subgroups demonstrated restricted geographical ranges.  For example, the Sauropod superfamily Diplodocoidea, which is part of a huge clade of long-necked dinosaurs called the Neosauropoda, was believed to have never existed in eastern Asia.  This permitted a unique range of long-necked dinosaurs to evolve and thrive in this part of the world, the Mamenchisauridae.  In essence, the isolation of eastern Asia permitted to evolution of the region’s very own endemic range of dinosaurs.

The Neosauropoda consists of two distinct groups of Sauropod, firstly there is the Diplodocoidea, this includes some of the most famous dinosaurs of all, animals such as Brontosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus and Amargasaurus.  The second type of Sauropod within the Neosauropoda are the Macronaria, which consists of equally famous dinosaurs such as Brachiosaurus and Camarasaurus.  It had been thought that once eastern Asia became isolated, the Neosauropods were unable to spread to this part of the world.

Their absence had been explained by the break-up of the super-continent Pangaea.  A seaway was formed cutting off and isolating this part of Asia during the Jurassic.  In the case of the Diplodocoidea, these types of long-necked dinosaur evolved and dispersed but they never reached northern China.  By the time sea levels had changed and land connections were once again formed linking northern China to other land masses in the Early Cretaceous, the diplodocoids were in decline and their numbers and geographic range had been greatly reduced since their Late Jurassic heyday.

The discovery of Lingwulong shenqi changes all this.  Diplodocoids were present in eastern Asia, so they must have evolved and diversified into this region earlier than previously thought, or land bridges may have existed linking this part of Asia to the rest of Pangaea for longer.

Mapping the Distribution of the Diplodocoidea

Mapping Diplodocoidea distribution.

An epicontinental sea formed during the Jurassic which isolated northern Asia from Europe. This restricted the spread of certain types of dinosaur. Diplodocoid dinosaurs had already evolved and spread before northern Asia was cut off.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Co-author of the open access paper published in “Nature Communications”, Dr Philip Mannion (Imperial College London), explained the significance of this dinosaur discovery:

“Not only is it [Lingwulong] the oldest member [of the Diplodocoidea], but it’s the first ever from Asia.  For a long time it was thought that Neosauropods didn’t get into Asia during the Jurassic.  This suggests that firstly [Neosauropods] got in before any kind of barrier came up, but increasingly the geological evidence suggests maybe this barrier was quite ephemeral”

The Formation of the Russian Platform Sea and the Turgai Sea

Tectonic forces led to the formation of an epicontinental seaway during the Middle to Late Jurassic and this isolated northern Asia from the rest of Pangaea.  The fossils of Lingwulong come from the Yanan Formation in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of China, the strata are estimated to be around 175 to 168 million years old (late Toarcian to Bajocian faunal stages).  The discovery of Lingwulong indicates that many advanced kinds of Sauropod originated at least 15 million years earlier than previously realised.  The Diplodocoidea achieved a global distribution whilst Pangaea was still a single, coherent landmass.

A Reconstruction of the Skeleton of L. shenqi and Examples of Some of the Fossil Bones

Skeleton reconstruction and some fossil bones of Lingwulong.

A skeletal reconstruction of Lingwulong shenqi and examples of fossil bones.  In the skeleton drawing, the bones in white represent fossils associated with this taxon.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

“Lingwu’s Amazing Dragon”

The dinosaur has been named after Lingwu, the region in which the fossils were found and the Mandarin Chinese “long” which means dragon.  The trivial name – shenqi, comes from the Mandarin for “amazing”, reflecting the unexpected discovery of this type of dinosaur in the Middle Jurassic of China.  Excavations originally commenced in 2005 led to the discovery of between 7 and 10 individuals, including two specimens with associated skull material.  The fossils represent a range of animal sizes, representing juveniles as well as adults.  With so much fossil material to study, the researchers were able to assign this new genus to a specific place within the broad Superfamily of the Diplodocoidea.  They conclude that Lingwulong is a basal member of the Dicraeosauridae.

The Dicraeosauridae includes species such as Suuwassea from the Late Jurassic of Montana, Brachytrachelopan from the Late Jurassic of Argentina and Amargasaurus from the Early Cretaceous of Argentina.

The Position of Lingwulong shenqi Within the Neosauropoda

The taxonomic position of Lingwulong.

Plotting the taxonomic position of Lingwulong within the Diplodocoidea.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

The Bigger Picture

The idea that the eastern parts of Asia were cut off from other landmasses during the Jurassic has been put forward to explain the substantial differences between the Jurassic (and sometimes Early Cretaceous), terrestrial biotas between this part of the world and the rest of Pangaea.  It is likely that a seaway formed to the west of the Ural Mountains (the Russian Platform Sea), this seaway in conjunction with an ingress of water from the north (the Turgai Sea), isolated the land to the northeast.

This isolation has been used to explain the evolution of a number of new types of prehistoric animal  in eastern Asia, such as:

  • Mamenchisaurid Sauropods
  • Oviraptorosaurs
  • Therizinosaurs
  • Marginocephalians

In addition, this sea barrier has been used to explain the absence of many groups that were present elsewhere in Pangaea during the Jurassic, such as:

  • Diplodocoid Sauropods (now debunked by Lingwulong)
  • Early Titanosauriform Sauropods
  • Dromaeosaurids
  • Nodosaurids
  • The lineage leading to the Iguanodontian Ornithopods

The scientific paper: “A New Middle Jurassic Diplodocoid Suggests an Earlier Dispersal and Diversification of Sauropod Dinosaurs” by Xing Xu, Paul Upchurch, Philip D. Mannion, Paul M. Barrett, Omar R. Regalado-Fernandez, Jinyou Mo, Jinfu Ma and Hongan Liu, published in Nature Communications.

23 07, 2018

Confusion over Dinosaur Colour – It’s an Inside Job

By | July 23rd, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Internal Sources of Preserved Melanin Throw Doubt on Dinosaur Colour

One of the most exciting discoveries in the last two decades or so when it comes to the Dinosauria, was the recognition that fossilised, microscopic structures containing melanin (called melanosomes), could provide an indication of colour.  The shape of the preserved melanosome when compared to the same type of structures found in living animals, gave scientists an insight into the potential colouration of long extinct creatures.  However, new research from a team of palaeontologists led by scientists from Bristol University and University College Cork (Ireland), has upset the colour scheme somewhat.  They have discovered new sources of the pigment melanin such as in the liver, lungs and spleen preserved in fossils, this means how palaeontologists reconstruct the dinosaurs and other extinct prehistoric animals is going to have to be revisited.

A Fossil Frog from the Miocene of Spain – Dark Areas in the Chest Cavity and Legs are Melanosomes

A frog fossil from Spain.

Scientists have detected new sources of melanin in fossil specimens.

Picture Credit: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, (Spain)

Study Published in “Nature Communications”

Writing in the academic journal “Nature Communications”,  the researchers looked at living and extinct amphibians.  It is known that extant vertebrates have melanosomes within internal tissues, the scientists demonstrated that these internal melanosomes have a high fossilisation potential and can vastly outnumber those from the skin.  This means that there could be a bias in fossils for preserved internal melanosomes thus “blurring” the picture when it comes to interpreting the colour of extinct animals.

Back to the Drawing Board?  Do we Really Know the Colour of Extinct Creatures?

New study throws assumptions about dinosaur colour into doubt.

A ginger dinosaur (Sinosauropteryx), the colour scheme is based on melanosome analysis.

Picture Credit: J. Robbins

Powerful microscopes in conjunction with the chemical analysis of body tissues demonstrated that internal melanosomes are abundant.  Lead author of the study, Dr Maria McNamara (University College Cork), stated:

“This means that these internal melanosomes could make up the majority of the melanosomes preserved in some fossils.”

However, all might not be lost as according to Dr McNamara, the shape and size of skin melanosomes are usually different from the melanosomes found in internal tissue.  If this is the case, it might permit palaeontologist to refine their melanosome assessments, differentiating between internal and skin melanosome types.  This could lead to more accurate depictions of extinct animals including dinosaurs.

Experiments with Decaying Frogs

Dr Paddy Orr (University College Dublin), along with Dr McNamara’s PhD student Valentina Rossi, also participated in the research, plotting the decay profiles of frogs in order to gain more information on how internal melanosomes can leak into other body parts during the fossilisation process.

Collaborator, Professor Mike Benton from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, commented:

“Understanding the origin of melanosomes is crucial in the new studies of colour in dinosaurs and other extinct beasts.”

Slab and Counter Slab Splitting Can Influence the Picture

How a fossil is found in a slab or concretion can also influence any analysis of melanosomes.  The researchers examined the distribution of soft tissues in the slab and counter slab of fossil amphibians.  If the plane of splitting passes through the middle of the soft tissues, non-integumentary melanosomes can be exposed at the surface, producing nearly identical distributions of soft tissues in the slab and counter slab.

Distribution of Soft Tissues in the Slab and Counter Slab

Amphibian fossils.

Amphibian fossils from Europe (slab and counter slab) showing nearly identical distribution of soft tissue between the two parts.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

The photographs (above), labelled a to f, show near identical distributions of soft tissues in the slab and counter slab components of a fossil.  However, if the fossil is split, not quite in the middle (not a medial split), then the slab and counter slab are likely to show different distributions of soft tissue components.  Internal melanosomes may still be exposed at the surface of the fossil.

Uneven Distribution of Soft Tissue Between Slab and Counter Slab

Chelotriton fossil salamander.

The dissimilar distribution of soft tissues in part and counterpart demonstrates that the plane of splitting is not precisely medial within the soft tissues; non-integumentary melanosomes may still be exposed at the surface.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications

The picture (g), is the slab and counter slab of the prehistoric salamander Chelotriton from the Miocene of Spain.  The part of the fossil on the right shows more black staining, the remnants of soft tissues preserved in the fossil.  The plain of splitting of this fossil is not precisely medial, therefore leading to one side of the fossil showing greater staining than its counterpart.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This newly published research, rather than thwarting attempts to reconstruct dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, might actually lead to a refining of the illustration process, allowing palaeontologists and the palaeoartists that work closely with them to create more accurate reconstructions.”

22 07, 2018

Prehistoric Times Issue 126 Reviewed

By | July 22nd, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

A Review of Prehistoric Times (Summer 2018)

The latest issue of Prehistoric Times, the magazine for dinosaur fans and prehistoric model collectors has arrived at the Everything Dinosaur offices.  Issue 126 came with a little bit extra, one of the stamps on the carefully prepared envelope to ensure safe despatch from America and arrival in the UK, had a scratch and sniff element.  This edition of Prehistoric Times came with a hint of strawberries!

Our thanks to the sender for highlighting this feature for us, we probably would have missed it.

On the subject of features, issue 126 is crammed full of top-class articles and features.  The front cover depicts a painting of a Nothosaur by the influential Czech artist Zdeněk Burian.  John Lavas builds on his piece incorporated into issue 125 on Burian’s Ichthyosaurs, writing about Placodonts, Nothosaurs and primitive turtles.

The Front Cover of Issue 126 Features a Nothosaur

Prehistoric Times magazine (summer 2018)

Prehistoric Times magazine (issue 126).  The front cover features a Nothosaur.

Picture Credit: Prehistoric Times (Summer 2018)

Wendiceratops, Cynognathus and Dunkleosteus

This issue covers not two but three prehistoric animals.  Phil Hore treats us to a run down on Wendiceratops, a Centrosaurine named in 2015.  To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about the discovery of Wendiceratops: Wendiceratops pinhornensis from Southern Alberta, in addition Phil has penned a most informative article on Cynognathus, a bizarre Triassic critter that has been studied for more than 120 years, still there is lots more to learn about this therapsid.  Matt Bille describes that Devonian delight Dunkleosteus, so there are Placodonts and Placoderms in the summer 2018 edition.

Dunkleosteus terrelli – First King of the Ocean

The CollectA Dunkleosteus

The CollectA 1:20 scale Dunkleosteus replica which was introduced in 2018.  Dunkleosteus described by Matt Bille as the “first king of the ocean”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Look out for some amazing reader’s artwork that accompanies these articles.  Special mentions to Meg Berstein, Kevin Hedgpeth and Jake Walsh (Wendiceratops), Jorge Blanco, Giovanni De Benedictis and John Sibbick for their contributions to the Cynognathus piece.  The editor of Prehistoric Times magazine gets so many pictures from readers that an entire page (page 7), of this issue is allocated to showcasing some of the work that has been submitted.

An Interview with Palaeontologist Dr Thomas Carr

Expert on the Tyrannosauroidea, vertebrate palaeontologist Dr Thomas Carr discusses T. rex and makes the case for a new species of Daspletosaurus, as well as explaining the trend for reduced arms in Late Cretaceous Theropods in what is a most in-depth and interesting interview.  In Tracy Lee Ford’s excellent regular slot, Tyrannosaurus rex takes centre stage and the writer describes how to reconstruct the body of the most famous dinosaur of all from the tip of the snout down to the last caudal vertebra.

Dr Thomas Carr Discusses Daspletosaurus

Skull and jaws of D. horneri with line drawings.

Views of the skull and jaws of the holotype fossil material (D. horneri).

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about a new species of Daspletosaurus being announced: New Species of Daspletosaurus – D. horneri

Dino Gardens and Prehistoric Zoo

Editor Mike Fredericks discusses what’s new in the world of prehistoric animal and model collections as well as covering new book releases.  He has also found time in his very congested diary to write about the history of Ossineke’s Prehistoric Zoo, an early version of a dinosaur theme park that was the work of artist and dinosaur enthusiast Paul N. Domke.  The black and white photographs showing some of the models are exquisite, look carefully and you can read some of the original notes written on the photos.

Allen Debus writes about two influential dinosaur books, plus there is an update on new fossil discoveries, a step-by-step guide in Wendiceratops model building and a fascinating piece on the history of a single replica series written by Robert Telleria.

There is certainly a lot to commend this edition and Everything Dinosaur recommends that dinosaur fans and model collectors subscribe to this quarterly publication.

For further information about Prehistoric Times and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine

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