All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
21 08, 2018

Dinosaur Footprints Discovered on the Scottish Mainland

By | August 21st, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Dinosaur Footprints Discovered Near Inverness

The Isle of Skye might be famous for its dinosaur footprints, but it had been thought that dinosaur trace fossils such as trackways were absent from the Scottish mainland.  However, Dr Neil Clark (Vice President of the Geological Society of Glasgow and Curator of Palaeontology at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow University), has published a report on the first evidence of dinosaur tracks to have been found on the Scottish mainland.  Dr Clark and his colleagues are trying to raise funds so that they can continue to map and study this evidence of Scottish dinosaurs.

One of the Sauropod Tracks from the Scottish Mainland

Footprint of a Middle Jurassic Sauropod.

Sauropod footprint from the Scottish mainland.

Picture Credit: Dr Neil Clark

Sauropod and Theropod Tracks Dating from the Middle Jurassic

The footprints, preserved in sandstone represent three-toed Theropod dinosaurs and the larger prints were very probably made by long-necked herbivores (Sauropods).  The exact location of the trace fossils has not been reported, a precaution in order to protect these extremely important fossils from any would-be fossil hunters, keen to remove a footprint.

Commenting on the significance of this discovery, Dr Clark stated:

“The footprints are the first evidence of dinosaurs found on the Scottish mainland.  All the other discoveries are from the Hebrides Basin and in particular the Isle of Skye.”

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2015 article about the discovery of Sauropod trackways on the Isle of Skye: Isle of Skye Sauropods and their Water World

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article from April 2018 reporting on more dinosaur tracks discovered on the Isle of Skye: The Isle of Skye Steps into the Jurassic Spotlight

Rare Evidence of Middle Jurassic Dinosaur Biota

Fossils of dinosaurs dating from the Middle Jurassic are exceptionally rare.  Very few parts of the world have rocks exposed dating from this period in Earth’s history, so any new information about prehistoric animals from this period is extremely important.

A Record of Theropods from the Scottish Mainland

Theropod tracks from the Scottish mainland.

Theropod tracks with an accompanying line drawing.

Picture Credit: Dr Neil Clark

Dr Clark added:

“The interesting thing about the discovery is that these are the first from the Moray Basin to the east of Scotland and help to build a clearer picture of dinosaurs living here during the Middle Jurassic.  Middle Jurassic dinosaurs are scarce worldwide and Scotland is one of the top few localities despite the poor exposure of rocks of that age.”

As these fossils are from a completely new part of Scotland for dinosaurs they will add significantly to our understanding of dinosaurs of that age in Britain.

Crowdfunding to Map the Locality

Dr Clark has set up a crowdfunding page in order to undertake a project to map the prints using a drone and to take measurements of the effects of erosion on the footprints by stormy seas.  The Scottish mainland tracks are approximately the same age as the trackways identified from the Isle of Skye – around 170 million years old.

The appeal target is £5,000 GBP, which is required to cover travel, materials and accommodation costs as well as the expenditure on the drone.  In addition to Neil, the researchers include members of Edinburgh University’s School of Geosciences and students.

To visit the Crowdfunding page for the project: Just Giving Page – Scottish Dinosaurs

20 08, 2018

Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis

By | August 20th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis

Whilst on a recent visit to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, a team member from Everything Dinosaur took the opportunity to admire a replica skull of the North American member of the Pachycephalosauridae – Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis.

A Replica Skull of the Late Cretaceous Dinosaur Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis

A replica skull of Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis.

Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis replica skull.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Very Tactile Experience

This exhibit permits visitors to feel a replica skull of a Pachycephalosaurus.  It is great to see such sensory engagement in a museum.  Feeling the skull of such a strange dinosaur is quite a tactile experience.  The first fossils assigned to this genus were found in Montana eighty years ago.  Although the picture that accompanies the replica skull shows a Pachycephalosaurus charging with its head down, the amazing ornamentation, all those bumps, horns and that extraordinary skull remain a mystery.  The exact function and purpose of the skull is still debated.  Although the dome of bone that sits on top of the head is very thick, research suggests that the cranium would not have stood up to the force of any impacts all that well.

Visitors to the museum can see the large orbit (eye-socket) and the sizeable nostrils.  Studies have shown that Pachycephalosaurs probably had excellent eyesight and a good sense of smell.

19 08, 2018

A Special Newsletter Dedicated to Rebor

By | August 19th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Lots of Rebor Models Back in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

So many Rebor replicas have come back into stock at Everything Dinosaur, that we dedicated an entire customer newsletter to this popular brand of prehistoric animal figures.  Recently arrived at our warehouse is a “pack” of “raptors”, the Rebor 1/18th scale figures “Winston”, “Pete” and “Alex Delarge” have arrived.  There are enough Velociraptor figures in stock to keep even the most ardent Jurassic Park fan happy.  Also, just in, the new Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor figure.

The Rebor Velociraptor Figure “Winston” is Back in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The Rebor Velociraptor "Winston"

Celebrating the return of “Winston” the original 1:18 scale “Raptor” figure from Rebor.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor 1:18 Scale Velociraptor Figures

The Velociraptor figure called “Winston” was the first 1:18 scale Velociraptor model to be produced by Rebor, it is great to see this favourite back in stock.  In addition, our latest Rebor shipment contained two other, previously stocked Rebor “raptor” figures, namely, “Pete” and “Alex Delarge”.  The original Velociraptor figure “Winston” was named in honour of Stan Winston, the American film and television special effects creator who worked on the first three films in the Jurassic Park film franchise.

“Alex Delarge” and “Pete” are members of a violent gang (the droogs), in Anthony Burgess’s novel of 1962 “A Clockwork Orange”, which was later made into a film directed by Stanley Kubrick.

The Leaping Velociraptor Figure – Alex Delarge is in Stock

Rebor Alex Delarge is back in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Rebor Alex Delarge returns to stock.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Bigger Theropods/Smaller Theropods

Joining the “Raptors” in Everything Dinosaur’s website is the “Cerberus Clan”, three scale models of the larger dromaeosaurid Deinonychus (D. antirrhopus).  In addition and sharing the billing with the Rebor “Cerberus Clan” is another Velociraptor figure that is back in stock, the popular Velociraptor “Pete”.

The Rebor Deinonychus Figures “Cerberus Clan” and the Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor “Pete” Back in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

"Pete" and "Cerberus Clan" from Rebor.

Rebor “Pete” and the “Cerberus Clan” in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Rebor prehistoric animal figures in stock at Everything Dinosaur, including all the 1:18 scale “raptors”: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Models

Rebor Carnotaurus “Crimson King” and the Newly Arrived “Sweeney”

As well as the various dromaeosaurids that have arrived, more stocks of the popular 1:35 scale Carnotaurus figure (C. sastrei) have become available too.  Saving the last to the last, Everything Dinosaur has received stocks of the Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor model, the last “raptor “for the time being to be introduced by Rebor.

The Rebor “Crimson King” Carnotaurus Replica

Rebor Carnotaurus dinosaur model.

Rebor “Crimson King” Carnotaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor “Sweeney” the Latest 1:18 Scale Velociraptor Figure

Rebor Velociraptor "Sweeney".

“Sweeney” a 1/18th scale Velociraptor figure by Rebor.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, who had helped unpack all the Rebor replicas at the company’s warehouse stated:

“It is great to see more stocks of Rebor models coming into our warehouse. Collectors are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting Rebor Velociraptors, there are just so many high quality figures to choose from.  Furthermore, joining the Velociraptors is the Cerberus Clan and the Rebor Carnotaurus figure known as the Crimson King.”

Look out for more updates and information from Everything Dinosaur.  Rebor are planning to introduce some new models before Christmas and as always, Everything Dinosaur team members will be doing their very best to make sure that dinosaur model fans and prehistoric animal figure collectors are kept informed and up to date.

Subscribing to Everything Dinosaur’s Newsletter

Subscribing to the Everything Dinosaur newsletter is very simple and it’s free!  The Everything Dinosaur newsletter provides lots of updates and information on new model releases, company production updates and figure retirements.  We post out these emails from time to time, helping to keep our dedicated and enthusiastic customers informed.

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

18 08, 2018

Safari Ltd Models Help With Scientific Research

By | August 18th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Cambrian Toob Models Help Scientists

Safari Ltd introduced into their range of prehistoric animal models a tube (toob) of Cambrian lifeforms, a set of eight figures that represent different types of creature that existed more than 500 million years ago.  This skilfully crafted and well-designed range of replicas has proved to be extremely useful for researchers as they study the enigmatic animals that existed during the Cambrian and the preceding geological age, the Ediacaran.

Sometimes it can be challenging for scientists to illustrate their fossil finds.  Many fossil specimens can be difficult to make out to the untrained eye and a model of the animal placed in close proximity to the fossil, can help to demonstrate what sort of creature the fossil represents.  A few days ago, Everything Dinosaur supplied a Safari Ltd Cambrian Toob to a researcher at Bristol University who wanted to use one of the models in this set for just such a purpose – to illustrate the ancient Cambrian arthropod Sidneyia.

The Cambrian Fossils Next to a Model of Sidneyia

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Cambrian Toob models used to illustrate fossils.

Fossil arthropods preserved in a 520 million-year-old rock with a model of one of the creatures – Sidneyia.

Picture Credit: Bristol University/Everything Dinosaur

Ancient Fossils from the Far North of Greenland

The slab of rock (above) comes from northern Greenland, it contains a preserved impression of the Cambrian arthropod known as Sidneyia.  At around six centimetres in length, the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Sidneyia replica provides a useful scale.  The scientist explained to Everything Dinosaur that the rock comes from a locality called  Sirius Passet and it was collected on a recent expedition to this remote part of the world during the summer.  The fossil site was discovered in 1984 by a field team from the Geological Survey of Greenland.  Several thousand specimens have been collected over the years, the Sirius Passet locality is a Cambrian Lagerstätte, a very fossil rich area that preserves marine fauna from the, as yet, not formally defined “Stage 3” of the Cambrian geological period.  The Sirius Passet biota is often compared to the biota associated with the Burgess Shale deposits of British Columbia, but the Greenland rocks are at least ten million years older and therefore more comparable in age to the Maotianshan shales from Chengjiang, from Yunnan Province in south-western China.

The Safari Ltd Cambrian Toob Models

Cambrian Toob (Safari Ltd)

Examples of the Cambrian biota.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Safari Ltd Cambrian Toob Contents

The eight colourful figures in the Safari Ltd Cambrian Toob represent a variety of different marine organisms, including the nektonic predator Anomalocaris, Vauxia (a sponge) and the bizarre worm-like creature Ottoia.  Several arthropods are featured too, including Sanctacaris, Sidneyia, Naraoia and a Trilobite (Tricrepicephalus).

Sidneyia from the Safari Ltd Cambrian Toob

Sideyia details.

Details about the Cambrian arthropod Sidneyia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Believed to have been a predator feeding on molluscs and other hard-shelled creatures, Sidneyia probably scuttled along the sea floor (benthic).  It was named after Sidney Walcott, the eldest son of Charles Walcott, the American scientist who discovered the Burgess Shale deposits in 1909.  The scientist who requested the Safari Ltd Cambrian Toob wrote to say that the rock slab contains three arthropods, a well-preserved Sidneyia, a well-preserved, undescribed arthropod that they were working on and another indeterminate arthropod.

To view the Safari Ltd Cambrian Toob and the other figures in this range: Safari Ltd: Wild Safari Prehistoric World

17 08, 2018

Desmostylian Discourse

By | August 17th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

“Dinosaur” Bone Identified as Desmostylian

A fossil bone, a partial femur, found in the 1950’s and originally regarded as “dinosaur” bone has been reassessed and confirmed as coming from a bizarre marine mammal, a member of the Desmostylia Order, a group of mysterious animals that looked like a cross between a sea-going hippopotamus and a sealion with hooves.  Writing in the open access journal of the Royal Society (Royal Society Open Science), the research team were able to track down the fossil site using the original hand-written note kept with the fossil in combination with interviews of relatives of construction workers who were involved in the original fossil find.

Views of the Fossil Femur – The “Dinosaur” Bone

Views of the fossil thigh bone - Desmostylia.

Views of the Desmostylia femur with a taxonomic illustration in the form of a line drawing.

Picture Credit: Kumiko Matsui et al./Royal Society

The picture above shows the fossil femur (top) with an accompanying line drawing (bottom).    Cranial view (A), interior view (B), caudal view (C) with an exterior view (D).  Note the scale bar is ten centimetres.

Scientists Turn into Detectives

Yuri Kimura, the Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the National Museum of Nature and Science (Tokyo) and one of the co-authors of the scientific paper, found an old wooden box when exploring the archives of the University of Tsukuba last year.  The box contained the proximal end of a right femur.  The scientist then set about identifying the location of the fossil find.  Yuri and the other collaborators on this project, a combination of anatomical assessment, taphonomy and detective work, learned that the fossil was discovered during construction of a debris flow barrier and that it was recognised as a “dinosaur” bone among the locals and displayed in a village hall until the town experienced a fire disaster in 1954. During the research, one of the interviewees confirmed that the bone had been described as coming from a member of the Desmostylia, but if it had been examined by a scientist/palaeontologist, it had not been reported or the find officially documented.

A Skeletal Drawing of Paleoparadoxia (Desmostylia) Showing the Anatomical Position of the Bone

Paleoparadoxia skeleton showing the location of the fossil bone.

A skeleton of Paleoparadoxia showing the location of the fossil bone (in red).

Picture Credit: Kumiko Matsui et al./Royal Society

Paleoparadoxia (Desmostylia)

Comparisons undertaken with other fossil specimens, led the research team to conclude that the right femur was from the Paleoparadoxia genus, a member of the Desmostylia, an extinct Order believed to be distantly related to Sea Cows.

This study provides an excellent example of historical and scientific information being extracted from long-forgotten and uncatalogued specimens so long as the original information is retained with the specimens.

A Life Reconstruction of Paleoparadoxia

Paleoparadoxia - life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the bizarre Miocene mammal Paleoparadoxia.

Picture Credit: Kumiko Matsui et al./Royal Society

16 08, 2018

Rebor “Sweeney” Arrives at Everything Dinosaur

By | August 16th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

The Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor Model Arrives

The latest Rebor replica figure, a 1/18th scale model of a running Velociraptor, nicknamed “Sweeney” has arrived at Everything Dinosaur.  This figure joins the range of Velociraptor figures offered including “Pete”, Spring-heeled Jack”, “Winston” and “Alex Delarge”.

The Latest Rebor “Raptor” The Velociraptor Called “Sweeney”

Rebor Velociraptor "Sweeney"

The Rebor Velociraptor figure “Sweeney”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Striped Dromaeosaurid

This 1:18 scale replica of a running Velociraptor has an articulated lower jaw and articulated forelimbs.  The model’s colouration has been inspired by the extant tiger and with its stripes it is a very striking and colourful scale model.  The name “Sweeney” comes from “Sweeney Todd”, a very unsavoury fictional character from Victorian literature, a barber by trade who has a side-line in making pies out of the customers he kills with his cut-throat razor.  The sharp, sickle-shaped killing claw on the second toe of each foot of Velociraptor makes a suitable analogy for “Sweeney Todd’s” razor, however, whether this claw could be used to slash prey is debated.  Many palaeontologists believe that the enlarged toe claw that was held off the ground, could have helped to pin prey down, but it was not used as a slashing weapon, although the tip would have been quite sharp.

A Close View of the Enlarged Second Toe Claw of Velociraptor

The second toe claw of Velociraptor.

As Velociraptor ran the second toe claw was held off the ground.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture (above), shows a close-up view of the feet of the running Velociraptor “Sweeney”.  Note the fine detail on the model and the way in which the second toe of each foot is held off the ground as the dinosaur ran.  This would have helped to keep the sickle-toe claw sharp.

The spectacular Rebor Velociraptor figure measures approximately twenty-two and a half centimetres in length. The head height (when perched on its sand texture base), is around eleven centimetres and the base itself, reminiscent of the sandy, desert environment in which Velociraptor mongoliensis lived, measures nine centimetres by four centimetres.

To view the Rebor Velociraptor figure and the rest of the Rebor range of prehistoric animal models: Rebor Replicas/Rebor Prehistoric Animal Figures

Create Your Own “Raptor” Pack

The Rebor range now contains a total of seven models of fully-grown Velociraptors in 1:18 scale.  “Sweeney” joins “Alex Delarge”, “Winston”, “Gunn”, “Rose”, “Pete” and “Spring-heeled Jack”, collectors have the opportunity to create their own “Raptor” pack, their very own magnificent seven!

Flocking This Way!  The Rebor New for 2018 Velociraptor Figure “Sweeney”

The stripey Velociraptor figure called "Sweeney" by Rebor.

The Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is wonderful to see another dromaeosaurid figure added to the exciting range of models manufactured by Rebor.  “Sweeney” is the last of the Velociraptor figures to be made for the foreseeable future, these 1:18 scale figures have proved extremely popular with discerning model collectors and we expect that “Sweeney” will soon become a firm favourite too.”

The Beautiful Rebor Velociraptor Figure “Sweeney”

The 1:18 scale Rebor Velociraptor figure "Sweeney".

The Rebor range is certainly something to get your teeth into.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor and Everything Dinosaur will be announcing more additions to the Rebor range shortly, some of which will not be dinosaurs.  Check out this blog site and Everything Dinosaur on social media for more information.

15 08, 2018

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Eofauna Straight-Tusked Elephant

By | August 15th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Video Review of the Eofauna Straight-Tusked Elephant

Those talented and clever people at JurassicCollectables have produced a video review of the second figure in the range of prehistoric animal figures made by  Eofauna Scientific Research.  The video provides viewers with an up-close and detailed examination of the superb Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant replica (Palaeoloxodon antiquus).  A prehistoric animal model inspired by the scientific study of fossil remains.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Eofauna Scientific Research Straight-Tusked Elephant

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Palaeoloxodon antiquus (Old Slanting Tooth)

This prehistoric elephant has a long history of research and scientific study.  It was first thought to be closely related to the extant Asian elephant (genus Elephas) and was initially named Elephas antiquus.  Subsequent studies in the 19th and 20th centuries refined this large herbivore’s taxonomic position and in 1924, the Japanese palaeontologist Hikoshichiro Matsumoto erected the genus Palaeoloxodon when examining elephant fossils found in his native Japan.  Several species of Palaeoloxodon have been described, with the species in the video review, P. antiquus, associated with warm temperate forest and scrubland habitats of Europe that existed during the Pleistocene inter-glacial phases.

Size estimates vary for Palaeoloxodon antiquus, however, bulls could have had shoulder heights in excess of 4.5 metres and weighed in excess of sixteen tonnes.  It is great to see the various models used by JurassicCollectables in this video review, viewers can really appreciate the size of this figure.  Our thanks as always to “off-colour” Alan for his contribution.

Available from Everything Dinosaur – the Eofauna Scientific Research Straight-Tusked Elephant Replica

Straight-tusked elephant model.

Eofauna Scientific Research Straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Eofauna Straight-Tusked Elephant Video Review

JurassicCollectables outlines how the model was produced.  This stunning 1:35 scale replica is based on actual fossil specimens that were studied by Eofauna Scientific Research team members.  This is a scientifically accurate model and in the JurassicCollectables video review, the narrator gives viewers a guided tour of the figure and provides a close-up examination of this detailed model.  The beautiful skin texture is marvelled at and the narrator even picks out the carefully sculpted veining to be found on those large ears.

Everything Dinosaur’s Illustration of Palaeoloxodon antiquus (Straight-Tusked Elephant)

Straight-tusked elephant illustration.

A drawing of a Straight-tusked elephant, commissioned by Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Sales Helping to Fund Scientific Research

Eofauna Scientific Research is a non-profit organisation and revenues from sales of this figure are invested back into scientific research and the dissemination of knowledge about extinct animals.  It this wasn’t reason enough to add this splendid, 1/35th scale model to your collection, it has already attracted numerous 5-star Feefo reviews on Everything Dinosaur’s website, for example:

Doug wrote to say: “Top quality model.  Anatomical detail totally convincing.  Detail in skin texture & features outstanding.  Perfect posture, not too aggressive.”

Anthony added: “Magnificent replica.  The sculpting and paint job was of the highest quality.  Great pose.  It was a good learning experience to find out that elephants once lived in Europe.  This is the second Eofauna replica I’ve purchased, and I look forward to seeing what they offer next year.”

To purchase the Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant model and their first figure the excellent Eofauna Steppe Mammoth replica: Eofauna Scientific Research Models

In the Video, the Eofauna Straight-Tusked Elephant is Compared in Size with the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth Figure

Comparing Eofauna models.

The Eofauna Steppe Mammoth (left) compared to the Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant (right).

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

JurassicCollectables have developed an amazing YouTube channel packed full of prehistoric animal model reviews and other entertaining and informative videos.  They have just achieved 74, 000 subscribers, that’s an astonishing achievement, our congratulations to the JurassicCollectables team.

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

14 08, 2018

Toothy, Pterosaur Terror from the Saints and Sinners Quarry

By | August 14th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|2 Comments

Caelestiventus hanseni – Rare Pterosaur Fossil Sheds Light on Triassic Pterosaur Diversity

A team of scientists have published a paper in the journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution”, detailing the discovery of a new type of Triassic pterosaur.  The exquisitely preserved fossils, including skull and jaw material excavated from strata laid down at a desert oasis that existed around 210 million years ago, has got vertebrate palaeontologists in a flap.  Firstly, only around thirty fossils of Triassic pterosaurs are known, most of these from only fragmentary remains and secondly, as this flying reptile fossil is associated with a desert environment, it suggests that by the Late Triassic the Pterosauria were very specious and had already adapted to a variety of different habitats.  If all this wasn’t enough to get scientists excited, the exceptional state of preservation has revealed anatomical features previously obscured in other early pterosaurs and shows that this new flying reptile from Utah, was closely related to Dimorphodon macronyx which is known from Lower Jurassic rocks from Dorset (southern England).

The flying reptile was large, very large for a Triassic Pterosaur, it had an estimated wingspan of 1.5 metres.  It has been named Caelestiventus hanseni (pronounced Sel-less-tees-vent-us han-son-eye).

A Life Restoration of the Newly Described Late Triassic Pterosaur Caelestiventus hanseni

Caelestiventus hanseni illustration.

Caelestiventus hanseni illustration. Study of the fossil bones suggests the presence of a throat pouch.

Picture Credit: Michael Skrepnick

From Saints and Sinners Quarry (Utah)

The fossils come from a vertebrate bone bed located in the Saints and Sinners Quarry, within sandstone deposits in north-eastern Utah.  Numerous vertebrate fossils have been associated with this locality including Crocodylomorphs and Theropod dinosaur material.  The bones come from silty, fine-grained sandstones laid down in near-shore waters of an oasis, that was surrounded by arid desert.  More than 18,000 individual bones representing a total of nine Tetrapod taxa (including two Theropod dinosaurs), have been found.  The flying reptile bones described in the scientific paper are the only ones known from this deposit and Caelestiventus hanseni is the first Triassic pterosaur from the western hemisphere from outside Greenland.  Whether this flying reptile was a resident of the oasis is unclear, but it is possible that this individual was an occasional visitor, to what would have been, an isolated oasis surrounded by extensive dune fields.

One of the Delicate Skull and Jaw Fossils Held by Professor Brooks Britt (Brigham Young University)

Holding fossils of Caelestiventus hanseni.

Professor Brooks Britt (Brigham Young University) holds one of the pterosaur fossils (jaw and skull fossils). His finger is pointing to roughly where the eye socket would have been.

Picture Credit: Brigham Young University

The picture above, shows a prepared piece of the fossilised skull of C. hanseni (maxilla and other elements from the jaws and skull), the specimen is held by Professor Brooks Britt of Brigham Young University and the lead author of the scientific paper.  It is not possible to remove the delicate, three-dimensional fossils from the matrix, the fossils would collapse under their own weight, but CT scans in conjunction with computer modelling enabled the production of precise plastic replicas of the fossil pieces, that gave the researchers the opportunity to reconstruct the skull.

Related to Dimorphodon (D. macronyx)

The beautiful state of preservation enabled the research team to gain fresh insights into the morphology of skull and jaws of Late Triassic pterosaurs.  The reconstructed brain case reveals that those parts of the brain responsible for processing vision were particularly well-developed, reinforcing the theory that flying reptiles had very keen eyesight.

A phylogenetic analysis undertaken by the researchers reveals that Caelestiventus is a sister taxon of Dimorphodon macronyx, which is known from Lower Jurassic rocks from Dorset.

A Three-Dimensionally Printed Skull of Caelestiventus hanseni

Line drawings and three dimensional model.

C. hanseni model skull and line drawing comparisons between C. hanseni and D. macronyx.

Picture Credit: Brigham Young University with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The use of CT scans and computer software to digitally remove the fossils from their matrix without damaging them has enabled the scientists to produce extremely accurate three-dimensional images of the specimen, these data files can then be shared with other vertebrate specialists across the world.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The scans permitted the production of finely detailed and extremely accurate three-dimensional models of the individual bones.  When these were fitted together this gave the scientists the opportunity to study the entire skull and to share this information very easily with other palaeontologists.  The use of technology is now helping scientists to gain much easier access to important fossil finds.”

The Geographical Significance of Caelestiventus hanseni

Not only is Caelestiventus hanseni the first record of a Triassic pterosaur from North America, the discovery suggests that by the Late Triassic, flying reptiles were not only quite large but also that they may have already adapted to a wide variety of habitats.  Similarly aged fossils from Greenland and Europe indicate pterosaurs living in forested areas and coastal environments on the super- continent of Pangaea.  This fossil discovery demonstrates that early pterosaurs were geographically widely distributed and ecologically diverse, even living in harsh desert environments.  C. hanseni is the only record of a desert-dwelling, non-pterodactyloid pterosaur and predates all known desert living pterosaurs by more than sixty-five million years.

The Geographical Significance of the Utah Pterosaur Fossil Discovery

The geographical location of the pterosaur find.

The location of the Triassic pterosaur find from Utah plotted against a map of Pangaea during the Late Triassic and other pterosaur fossil discoveries from Triassic strata.

Picture Credit: Brigham Young University

The picture above shows (top left), the location of Utah in the United States and (insert), the geological formations associated with north-western Utah.  The world map shows the location of Triassic pterosaur fossil discoveries superimposed on an illustration of Pangaea with a colour key to indicate different habitats.  Caelestiventus is the first Triassic pterosaur identified from a desert environment.

The genus name is from the Latin for “heavenly wind”, in recognition of the volant capabilities of this reptile.  The trivial name honours geologist Robin L. Hanson of the Bureau of Land Management, who has played a crucial role in the excavation of the Saints and Sinners Quarry material.

Photographs Showing Some of the Fossil Material Associated with the Caelestiventus Genus

Caelestiventus hanseni fossil material.

Views of the Pterosaur fossil material – Caelestiventus hanseni.

Picture Credit: Brigham Young University

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2015 article that first broke the news of this Pterosaur fossil discovery: Fearsomely-fanged Triassic Pterosaur from Utah

13 08, 2018

Rare Silurian Fossil “Worm” from a Herefordshire Hotspot

By | August 13th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A New Species of Lobopodian from Herefordshire

A team of international researchers including scientists from the Oxford University Natural History Museum, Imperial College London, Manchester and Leicester Universities and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, have identified a new species of lobopodian, a bizarre segmented worm-like creature, in 430 million-year-old rocks in Herefordshire (England).  Digital technology has been utilised to reconstruct a three-dimensional model of this exceptional fossil, an ancient ancestor of the modern, enigmatic Velvet worm.

The Research Team Produced Three-dimensional Images of the Fossil Lobopodian

Thanahita distos - digital reconstruction.

Three-dimensional digital images of the fossil lobopodian from Herefordshire.

Picture Credit: University of Leicester

Soft-bodied, Worm-like Creatures with Legs

Lead author of the study, Derek Siveter, (Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences at Oxford University and Honorary Research Associate at Oxford University Museum of Natural History), commented:

“Lobopodians are extremely rare in the fossil record, except in the Cambrian Period.  Worm-like creatures with legs, they are an ancestral marine relative of modern-day velvet worms, or onychophorans – predators that live in vegetation, mainly in southern latitudes.”

The Velvet Worm (Peripatus Genus)

Velvet worm - Peripatus.

Peripatus a genus within the  Onychophora – creatures like this may have been the first to walk on land.

Picture Credit: BBC

The Evolution of the Arthropods

Palaeontologists have puzzled for decades over the evolution of groups of modern animals such as the Arthropoda, the largest phylum of animals which includes the trilobites, insects, crustaceans, spiders, scorpions, mites and so forth.  Studies of the exotic Ediacaran and Cambrian biota has helped scientists to better understand the evolutionary relationships between living groups of animals today and their ancient invertebrate ancestors, but many soft-bodied groups are severely underrepresented in the fossil record.  It is still extremely difficult to pin down which type of organism preserved within the remarkable Cambrian-aged Burgess Shale deposits for example, is an ancestor of modern groups of animals alive today.  This newly described fossil specimen, named Thanahita distos represents an example of a member of the Lobopodia, an extremely ancient group of invertebrates that might be a basal member of the Panarthropods – a clade that includes today’s Arthropods, as well as Velvet Worms (Onychophora) and the Water Bears (Tardigrades).

The Silurian-aged deposits in Herefordshire, consist of finely grained volcanic ash layers that settled on a seabed some 430 to 425 million years ago.  These sediments have preserved in exquisite detail many of the marine organisms that roamed across the sea floor.  Writing in the Royal Society Open Science journal, the researchers describe T. distos and note that it is the first lobopodian to be formally described from rocks from the Silurian and it is one of only eight known three-dimensionally preserved lobopodian or onychophoran fossil specimens known to science.

Professor Siveter explained how the team were able to build up a picture of the ancient sea creature:

“We have been able to digitally reconstruct the creature using a technique called physical-optical tomography.  This involves taking images of the fossil at a fraction of a millimetre apart, then “stitching” together the images to form a “virtual fossil” that can be investigated on screen.”

Herefordshire Lagerstätte

The Herefordshire Lagerstätte has provided scientists with numerous exceptionally preserved invertebrate fossils.   Everything Dinosaur has reported on several of these, very significant fossil discoveries on this blog, including one Herefordshire fossil which was named in honour of Sir David Attenborough:

Silurian Fossil Discovery Honours Sir David Attenborough

Professor Siveter outlined how delicate creatures like Thanahita distos became preserved, he stated:

“Thanahita distos and the other animals that became fossilised here likely lived 100 to 200 metres down, possibly below the depth to which much light penetrates.  We deduce this because we found no vestiges of photosynthetic algae, which are common in contemporaneous rocks laid down at shallower points on the seafloor to the east.  Some special circumstances allowed for their remarkable preservation.  The first was the immediate precipitation of clay minerals around the dead organisms, which decayed over time, leaving empty spaces behind.  The mineral calcite – a form of calcium carbonate – then filled these natural moulds, replicating the shape of the animals.  Almost at the same time, hard concretions began to form, being cemented by calcite.  Thanks to the early hardening of these Silurian time capsules in this way, the fossils were not squashed as the ash layer slowly compacted.”

Related to the Enigmatic Hallucigenia

A phylogenetic analysis undertaken by the researchers placed T. distos, together with all the described Hallucigenia species, in a sister-clade to crown-group the Panarthropods.  Its placement in a redefined Hallucigeniidae, an iconic Cambrian clade, indicates the survival of these types of creatures into Silurian times.

The Newly Described Thanahita distos is Placed Within the Enigmatic Hallucigeniidae

An illustration of Hallucigenia.

Scientists have classified the newly described T. distos as a relative of the bizarre Cambrian Hallucigenia from the Burgess Shale of British Columbia.

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault

The professor added:

“Some lobopodians lie in a position on the tree of life which foreshadows that of the terrestrial velvet worms, while others are precursors of the arthropods: the “king crabs”, spiders, crustaceans and related forms.  Since its discovery, the Herefordshire Lagerstätte has yielded a diversity of arthropods that have contributed much to our understanding of the palaeobiology and early history of this very important invertebrate group.  The lobopodian Thanahita distos belongs to an extended, Panarthropod grouping.”

The discovery of the Herefordshire specimen and its subsequent phylogenetic analysis indicates that the lobopodian group, which is associated with Late Cambrian strata, persisted into the Silurian, thus demonstrating that these creatures survived for at least 100 million years.

A Fossil of Hallucigenia Specimen from the Late Cambrian Rocks of British Columbia

A Hallucigenia specimen (Burgess Shale).

A Hallucigenia specimen (Royal Ontario Museum) from the Late Cambrian deposits of British Columbia.  The red arrow is highlighting a droplet-like structure, once thought to represent the head but now regarded as probable gut contents.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum/Dr Jean Bernard Caron

The scientific paper: “A Three-dimensionally Preserved Lobopodian from the Herefordshire (Silurian) Lagerstätte, UK” by Derek J. Siveter, Derek E. G. Briggs, David J. Siveter, Mark D. Sutton and David Legg published by the Royal Society Open Science

12 08, 2018

In Praise of “Meg”

By | August 12th, 2018|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Movie Reviews and Movie News, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Megalodon Makes it to the Big Screen

This weekend sees the opening of the summer blockbuster “Meg”, a prehistoric shark-based action movie featuring Jason Statham and a twenty-five-metre-long representation of Carcharocles megalodon – Megalodon, an extinct species of prehistoric shark, so famous that it is just known by its specific or trivial name.  With the film likely to make in excess of £30 million in box office receipts on just its opening weekend in the USA, the movie, which incidentally is the most expensive shark film ever made (estimated budget of around $130 million USD), is likely to be a runaway box office success.  However, this iconic marine monster is well and truly extinct, it really is “safe to enter the water” to borrow a strapline from perhaps, the best-known and best-loved shark movie of them all, the 1975 “Jaws”.

Warner Bros and director Jon Turteltaub may have resurrected Megalodon, but most palaeontologists will confidently tell you that, what was probably the largest carnivorous shark to have existed, died out around 2.6 million years ago.

When those talented people as Safari Ltd introduced a “Megalodon” model back in 2014, Everything Dinosaur put together a short video introduction to the model.

Everything Dinosaur’s Video Review of the Wild Safari Dinos Megalodon Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We may have lacked the budget of the movie and unfortunately, we were unable to afford the services of Jason Statham, but our six minute video review set out to explain a little more about the science behind this prehistoric shark and to provide a guide to the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Megalodon model.

Carcharocles megalodon

Many marine biologists had believed that Carcharocles megalodon was closely related to the modern Great White Shark – Carcharodon carcharias (hence Everything Dinosaur’s original research into finding a suitable Megalodon model).  However, recent studies suggest that it was actually a member of another sub-branch of the Lamniformes Order and that Megalodon was a member of the Otodontidae family and not a member of the Lamnidae family as previously thought.  It may have had a similar lifestyle and habit to the Great White Shark and it was much bigger and heavier, but it was unlikely to have been around twenty-five metres in length, the size of Megalodon in the movie.

A Still from the Motion Picture “Meg”

Meglaodon from the movie "Meg".

A still from the 2018 summer blockbuster “Meg”.

Picture Credit: Warner Bros

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“If these giant, prehistoric sharks were still around today, then, as we suspect they were shallow water specialists living in the top two hundred metres of water, the upper portions of the epipelagic zone of the ocean, then they certainly would have been spotted by now.  The “Meg” is very much extinct and we are sure that the film will provide plenty of thrills and spills for cinema goers.  Perhaps, it will also raise awareness amongst its audience about the plight of many shark species today.  Over fishing, habitat loss and pollution are having a devastating effect on global shark populations.  It has been estimated that some 100 million sharks die each year, with luck this movie will raise awareness about shark species conservation.”

The Jaws of Megalodon

Megalodon jaws.

Reconstructed jaws of a Megalodon shark (human gives scale).

Picture Credit: Rex Features

Safari Ltd have produced an excellent replica of this prehistoric shark, to view the model and the rest of the amazing figures in the Wild Safari Dinos Prehistoric World collection: Safari Ltd. Wild Safari Prehistoric World

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Megalodon Figure 

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Megalodon model.

Fearsome C. megalodon

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

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