All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
14 08, 2018

A Beautiful Dimetrodon Model

By | August 14th, 2018|General Teaching|Comments Off on A Beautiful Dimetrodon Model

A Stunning 1:20 Scale Dimetrodon Model

Our thanks to prehistoric animal model fan, Elizabeth, who sent us in this wonderful replica of a Dimetrodon, a reptile that lived many millions of years before the dinosaurs evolved but is often mistaken for a dinosaur.

A Beautiful 1/20th Scale Replica of a Dimetrodon

A Dimetrodon diorama model.

A beautiful diorama featuring a 1:20 scale replica of the bizarre prehistoric animal Dimetrodon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dimetrodon is not a Dinosaur

Dimetrodon, sometimes referred to as a “sail-backed reptile”, is often included in dinosaur model sets.  However, Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur.  This reptile was a synapsid, a member of a group of reptiles that has a single opening (fenestra) just behind the eye socket in the skull.  Dinosaurs, along with lizards, crocodiles, Aves (birds) and marine reptiles such as the Plesiosauria, were diapsids.  Diapsids have two holes on each side of the skull.  Mammals are also synapsids, so Dimetrodon was ironically more closely related to mammals like us than to the Dinosauria, although the term “mammal-like” reptile that is often applied to this ancient reptile is very misleading and not accurate.

Dimetrodon Lived During the Permian Geological Period, Long Before the First Dinosaurs

A Model of Dimetrodon

The CollectA Dimetrodon figure made into a customised diorama.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our thanks to Elizabeth for sending in to us some photographs of her fabulous Dimetrodon diorama.

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

11 08, 2018

Ever Increasing Atmospheric CO2 Could Take Mankind Back 56 Million Years

By | August 11th, 2018|Main Page|0 Comments

Scientists Warn That Rising CO2 Levels Could Take the UK Back to the Palaeogene

New research, published in the academic journal “Nature Geoscience”, suggests that unless our species is able to mitigate the current level of carbon dioxide emissions, Western Europe and New Zealand could experience a climate not seen in those parts of the world since the Palaeogene geological period.  The study, led by scientists from Bristol University, warns that Western Europe and New Zealand could revert to the tropical “greenhouse” climate of the early Palaeogene which persisted from 56 to 48 million years ago.

The heat wave that much of the UK has experienced this summer could become the norm for Western Europe, putting a huge burden on agriculture and public services.  A “hot house” Earth could lead to more extinctions and fundamentally change parts of the world, making human habitation very challenging.

Tropical Jungles and Rainforest

The early Palaeogene is a period of great interest to climate change scientists as carbon dioxide levels (around 1,000 ppmv) are similar to those predicted by climate change models for the end of this century.

Typical Tropical Vegetation of the Palaeogene Period

Typical vegetation of the Palaeogene.

A “Greenhouse World”, typical vegetation of the Palaeogene.

Picture Credit: Bristol University

Lead author of the research, Dr David Naafs (School of Earth Sciences, Bristol University) commented:

“We know that the early Palaeogene was characterised by a greenhouse climate with elevated carbon dioxide levels.  Most of the existing estimates of temperatures from this period are from the ocean, not the land, what this study attempts to answer is exactly how warm it got on land during this period.”

Estimating Terrestrial Land Temperatures 50 Million Years in the Past

The research team used molecular fossils of microorganisms preserved in ancient peat (lignite), to assess the land temperature some 50 million-years ago.  The scientists demonstrated that annual land temperatures in Western Europe as well as New Zealand were actually higher than previously thought, between 23 and 29 °Celsius, this is currently 10 to 15 °C higher than current average temperatures in these parts of the world.

These results suggest that temperatures similar to those of the current heat wave that is influencing western Europe and other regions would become the new normal by the end of this century, if CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to increase.

Co-author of the report, Professor Rich Pancost (Director of the University of Bristol Cabot Institute), added:

“Our work adds to the evidence for a very hot climate under potential end-of-century carbon dioxide levels.  Importantly, we also study how the Earth system responded to that warmth.  For example, this and other hot time periods were associated with evidence for arid conditions and extreme rainfall events.”

London Approximately 50 Million in the Past – A Tropical Environment

London some 50 million years ago.

London clay formation (Palaeogene).  Tropical London some 50 million- years-ago.

Picture Credit: BBC/John Barber

The research team will now turn their attentions to geographical areas in lower-latitudes to see just how hot terrestrial environments got in Palaeogene.  One of the questions the team wish to answer was summed by Dr Naafs, who said:

“Did the tropics, for example, become ecological dead zones because temperatures in excess of 40 °C were too high for most form of life to survive?  Some climate models suggest this, but we currently lack critical data.  Our results hint at the possibility that the tropics, like the mid-latitudes, were hotter than present, but more work is needed to quantify temperatures from these regions.”

The scientific paper: “High Temperatures in the Terrestrial Mid-latitudes During the Early Palaeogene” by B. D. A. Naafs, M. Rohrssen, G. N. Inglis, O. Lähteenoja, S. J. Feakins, M. E. Collinson, E. M. Kennedy, P. K. Singh, M. P. Singh, D. J. Lunt and R. D. Pancost published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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

10 08, 2018

The Really Dangerous Predator of Hell Creek

By | August 10th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|1 Comment

Acheroraptor temertyorum – Most Dangerous Critter of Hell Creek

If you could travel back in time and visit western North America 66 million years ago, you might find yourself within the territory of a Tyrannosaurus rex.  Not a very safe place to be you might think, you would probably be right, but the Hell Creek fauna contained another Theropod dinosaur, one that was perhaps, more dangerous to a human visitor than a T. rex or for that matter the other apex predator known from the Hell Creek Formation – Dakotaraptor steini.

Named and scientifically described in 2013, the real man-eater of Hell Creek might have been Acheroraptor (A. temertyorum), at around three metres long and weighing as much as a German Shepherd dog, a pack of these ferocious hunters would probably have made short work of any human visitor to the Late Cretaceous who was unfortunate to encounter them.

A Scale Drawing of the Velociraptorine Dromaeosaurid Acheroraptor temertyorum

Acheroraptor temertyorum scale drawing.

A scale drawing of Acheroraptor.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Underworld Plunderer”

Named after the River of Pain “Acheron” in the underworld from Greek myth, Acheroraptor was one of the very last of the non-avian Theropod dinosaurs and it probably played a secondary predator role in the Hell Creek ecosystem.  There were larger predators, the five-and-a-half-metre-long Dakotaraptor for example, that like Acheroraptor was one of the very last dromaeosaurids to evolve.  However, packs of Dakotaraptors and the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex may not have considered a single person much of meal and may not have expanded a lot of energy in trying to catch them.  To a pack of Acheroraptors, a human would have made a very satisfactory lunch, best to avoid Acheroraptor if you can.

To read more about the discovery of Dakotaraptor steiniDakotaraptor – A Giant Raptor

Some of the Typical Dinosaurian Fauna of the Hell Creek Formation (Maastrichtian Faunal Stage of the Late Cretaceous)

Dinosaurs of the Hell Creek Formation.

Typical dinosaurs of the Hell Creek Formation.   Although there were larger predators, to a person visiting Montana 66 million years ago, meeting a pack of Acheroraptors would have been extremely dangerous.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Part of the Vertebrate Fossil Collection at the Royal Ontario Museum

The specific or trivial name “temertyorum” was selected to honour James and Louise Temerty in recognition for their outstanding support and contribution to the Royal Ontario Museum, which houses the jaw fragments that led to the scientific description of this dinosaur back in 2013.  Acheroraptor probably lived in packs and may have had a role similar to extant hyenas or jackals in present-day ecosystems.  Palaeontologists had suspected that dromaeosaurids roamed Montana in very last years of the Cretaceous, numerous teeth with their diagnostic wide ridges (denticles) had been discovered, but the lack of fossilised bones prevented scientists from assigning a genus.

The Holotype Fossil Maxilla and Lower Jaw (Dentary) of Acheroraptor

The fossilised jawbones of Acheroraptor.

The jaws of Acheroraptor.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

Acheroraptor More Closely Related to Asian Dromaeosaurids

Palaeontologists have concluded that Acheroraptor was more closely related to Asian dromaeosaurids such as Velociraptor (V. mongoliensis), than it was to other North American dromaeosaurids.  Assigned to the Velociraptorinae subfamily of the Dromaeosauridae, the relatively long-snouted Acheroraptor provides supporting evidence to suggest the presence of a Late Cretaceous land bridge between Asia and North America.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“There is a considerable amount of evidence that supports the idea of the existence of a Cretaceous Beringian land bridge linking North America and Asia.  This land bridge may not have been permanent but appeared at times when sea levels fell, permitting a faunal exchange between dinosaur-based ecosystems.  The ancestors of Acheroraptor temertyorum probably migrated into North America.”

To read Everything Dinosaur’s recent article about Alaskan trace fossils providing evidence of a mixing of dinosaur faunas from Asia and North America: Did Alaskan Therizinosaurs and Hadrosaurs Live Together?

Beasts of the Mesozoic 1/6th Scale Acheroraptor temertyorum

There are lots of models of the Hell Creek Formation biota available, countless T. rex and Triceratops figures for instance, but it was the clever and talented David Silva of Creative Beast Studio who created a 1/6th scale replica of Acheroraptor within the amazing “Beasts of the Mesozoic” model range.

The “Beasts of the Mesozoic” Acheroraptor temertyorum Figure

Beasts of the Mesozoic Acheroraptor temertyorum figure.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Acheroraptor model.

To view the beautiful Acheroraptor model and the rest of the figures in the “Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor” range: Beasts of the Mesozoic “Raptors”

9 08, 2018

Mojo Fun Dinosaurs, CollectA and Rebor

By | August 9th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s Latest Newsletter

Subscribers to Everything Dinosaur’s newsletter received their latest bulletin earlier this month.  August started with a roar, as the four new for 2018 Mojo Fun dinosaurs have arrived at our warehouse.  Choose from a blue Baryonyx, a delightful Diplodocus, a model of the deadly Deinonychus or a giant (it measures around 35 cm long), Giganotosaurus.  All four models are very colourful and show lots of amazing detail, they are a quartet of super new additions to the Mojo Fun range (Prehistoric and Extinct).

The Four New for 2018 Mojo Fun Dinosaurs are in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

New Mojo Fun dinosaur models are in stock.

New for 2018 Mojo Fun Dinosaur Models are in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur customers who had requested a model be reserved for them have already been contacted by team members.  It’s all part of our customer service.

To view the range of Mojo Fun models available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Animals

The CollectA Roaring T. rex and the Return of “Savage”

Before we had the opportunity to finish unloading all the new Mojo Fun models, the CollectA roaring, feathered Tyrannosaurus rex arrived.  This is the latest feathered dinosaur to be made by CollectA and it has replaced the original 1:40 scale model that came out in 2015.  CollectA were unsure about the future of their first, large, 1:40 scale feathered T. rex replica, but after three years in production, the company decided that it would replace its first figure with a new dinosaur replica, this time, depicting T. rex vocalising.

To view the CollectA Deluxe range of models: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life

Great news for fans of the Rebor replicas, the popular Ceratosaurus (C. dentisulcatus) model is back in stock!  There are more than thirty figures in the Rebor range currently, with more models to be announced before the end of the year.  Newsletter readers will be amongst the first to find out about availability and release dates for the new Rebor figures.

Newsletter Readers were Amongst the First to Find Out About New Models and Items Back in Stock

The CollectA roaring, feathered T. rex and the Rebor "Savage" Ceratosaurus.

The CollectA roaring T. rex model is in stock along with the welcome return of the Rebor Centrosaurus replica (Savage).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

5,000 Facebook “Likes” and the Return of “Sentry”

Our Facebook page has passed the landmark of 5,000 “likes”, we are well on our way to 5,100, but we took this opportunity to thank our customers and followers on social media for their support.  We are all truly humbled by all the “likes” that we have received.  We do our best to follow up every comment, enquiry and question that we receive on our Facebook pages, we tend to post up several times a day on social media.

In addition, our latest newsletter announced the arrival of new stocks of the Rebor “Sentry” Compsognathus figure.  This is a beautifully detailed 1/6th scale model of the little Theropod Compsognathus (C. longipes).  It is a very elegant model of “elegant jaw”.

Celebrating 5,000 “likes” on Facebook and “Sentry” Returns

Celebrating 5,000 Facebook likes and the return of the Rebor "Sentry" figure.

Celebrating 5,000 Facebook “likes” and the return of the Rebor Compsognathus figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Rebor range of figures including “Savage” and “Sentry”: Rebor Replicas and Figures

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8 08, 2018

Did Alaskan Therizinosaurs and Hadrosaurs Live Together?

By | August 8th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Scientists Describe Therizinosaur and Hadrosaur Tracks from Alaska

A team of international scientists have published a report on a series of dinosaur trackways found in Upper Cretaceous rocks located in Denali National Park, Alaska.  The tracks show the presence of duck-billed dinosaurs (Hadrosaurs) and bizarre herbivorous Theropods (Therizinosaurs), in the same location at potentially the same time.  If this is the case, then it could be speculated that these very different dinosaurs benefited from an association, just as some animals today congregate together for mutual benefit.

The Hadrosaur and Therizinosaur trackways represent the first report from North America of co-occurrence between these very different dinosaurs and the trace fossils support the idea that the dinosaur population in Alaska in the Late Cretaceous was similar in composition to that associated with Asia (Nemegt Formation).  Alaska could have been a “highway” linking the dinosaur faunas of Asia with the North American continent.

Did Therizinosaurs and Hadrosaurs Live Side by Side?

Hadrosaur and Therizinosaur Tracks Found Together

A series of Hadrosaur and Therizinosaur tracks have been discovered together in the Denali National Park of Alaska.

Picture Credit: Masato Hattori

It Started with a Single Footprint

The lower Cantwell Formation represents a series of sedimentary deposits laid down in a terrestrial environment and fossil pollen analysis suggests a Late Campanian to early Maastrichtian temporal setting (73-71 million years ago).  Numerous vertebrate and plant fossils are associated with this strata, vertebrates including fishes, pterosaurs and numerous dinosaurs.  Lead author of the paper, published in the journal “Scientific Reports”, Anthony Fiorillo, (Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, Texas), had previously described a single four-toed print found in the area back in 2012.  This track was identified as having been made by a Therizinosaur and was the first evidence found of these strange Theropods living at such high latitudes.

To read more about the 2012 fossil discovery: Potential Therizinosaur Track Discovered in Alaska

The discovery of a single fossil leaf, resembling that of a waterlily from the same site as the Therizinosaur and Hadrosaur trackways suggest the prints were made by dinosaurs as they crossed a shallow body of water away from the main river channels.  During the Late Cretaceous this part of North America was a vast wetland habitat.

A Photograph and Line Drawing of the Waterlily Fossil

Photograph (a) and line drawing (b) of nymphaceous leaf found in study area. This plant is indicative of standing water.

A fossil of a waterlily leaf found in Upper Cretaceous rocks of Alaska.  Photograph (a) and line drawing (b) of nymphaceous leaf found in study area.  This plant is indicative of a body of standing water.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

A More Detailed and Thorough Mapping of the Area

A field team returned to this location in 2013 and 2014 an mapped a series of dinosaur tracks, unearthing dozens more four-toed tracks that were identified as Therizinosaur prints.  The researchers were surprised to discover that the Therizinosaur tracks seem to co-occur with lots of tracks indicating herds of Hadrosaurs.

Commenting on the significance of these trace fossils, Dr Fiorillo stated:

“Hadrosaurs are very common and found all over Denali National Park.  Previously, they had not been found alongside Therizinosaurs in Denali.  In Mongolia, where Therizinosaurs are best known, though no footprints have been found in association, skeletons of Hadrosaurs and Therizinosaurs have been found to co-occur from a single rock unit so this was a highly unusual find in Alaska and it prompted my interest.”

A Photograph and Accompanying Diagram Showing Some of the Associated Trace Fossils

The co-occurrence of Therizinosaur and Hadrosaur tracks (Alaska).

A photograph of a large block within the study area showing the co-occurrence of Hadrosaur and Therizinosaur tracks.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The picture above (a) shows a large block of stone representing a single bedding plane with two distinctive trackways highlighted (note the geology hammer, closest to the uppermost yellow circle that provides scale).  Diagram (b) illustrates the two types of trackway found, yellow prints and circles indicate Therizinosaur, whilst blue prints and circles indicate trace fossils made by Hadrosaurs.

The scientists deduced that from the range of sizes of the Hadrosaur tracks (pes prints), these trace fossils represented groups of duck-billed dinosaurs of different ages, with younger animals associating with larger, fully-grown adults.

A Highway Linking North America to Alaska – A Dinosaur Driveway

The scientists state that this co-occurrence of Therizinosaurs and hadrosaurids at this single locality within the lower Cantwell Formation has not been documented elsewhere in North America.  This dinosaur co-occurrence is more characteristic of dinosaur biota associated with contemporaneous rocks found in central Asia.  The team speculate that the Alaska of the Late Cretaceous represented a gateway for faunal exchange between the two continental landmasses.  The existence of a Cretaceous Beringian land bridge prompted this mixing of faunas, which was encouraged as similar habitats were present within continental North America and Asia.

Co-author of the scientific paper, Dr Yoshitsugu Kobayashi (Hokkaido University Museum, Japan), reaffirmed the team’s conclusion stating:

“This study helps support the idea that Alaska was the gateway for dinosaurs as they migrated between Asia and North America.”

A Fondness for Marshland?

A report from Asia has commented on the presence of both Therizinosaurs and hadrosaurids at the same location.  Fossils of both these types of dinosaur being found in the same strata, in a sequence of sediments that indicate the palaeoenvironment was very wet at the time, relative to the sequence of rocks deposited above and below the fossil layer.  The authors of this newly published study, suggest that Therizinosaurs and Hadrosaurs liked to live in wetter locations, such as marshland.

Did Therizinosaurs and Hadrosaurs Co-exist?

It is possible the tracks were made at different times and the these two different types of herbivorous dinosaur did not interact.  However, given the similarity of track preservation, the research team conclude that it is likely that these two taxa occupied the same environment at the same time, but why would two dinosaurs want to hang out together?

There are probably a number of reasons for this co-existence with one group of dinosaurs at least tolerating the presence of another megaherbivore, two possibilities are speculated upon within the scientific paper and summarised below:

  1. Not competing with each other for food – the teeth and jaws of hadrosaurids and Therizinosaurs are very different.  The two herbivores probably fed on different types of plant food and therefore they were not in direct competition with each other for food.
  2. Mutual protection/spotting predators – studies have suggested that Therizinosaurs had excellent hearing and a well-developed sense of smell, their long necks gave them an excellent field of view.  Although, an excellent sense of smell has been proposed for at least some duck-billed dinosaurs (Lambeosaurinae), re-evaluation of the nasal cavities of some Hadrosaurs has suggest that their sense of smell was not that remarkable.  It is tempting to consider the differences in sensory adaptations and capabilities in these taxa that might have served a role as a mutually beneficial predatory avoidance mechanism for the more inclusive herd.  Zebras and ostriches are often found feeding together, the sharp, colour vision of the ostrich compliments the zebra’s better developed sense of smell, helping to detect the approach of predators, thus benefiting all the grazing animals.

Examples of Mutual Association (Extinct and Extant)

Mutual association in herbivores.

Zebras and ostriches benefit from the presence of each other when it comes to sensing predators.  Perhaps, duck-billed dinosaurs and Therizinosaurs had a similar mutually beneficial relationship.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Although the scientists speculate on the reasons why these plant-eaters might have associated, they suggest it is more likely that Therizinosaurs and Hadrosaurs gathered together simply because they preferred the same habitat.

7 08, 2018

In Praise of the CollectA Deluxe 1:20 Scale Dunkleosteus

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

Praising the CollectA Deluxe 1:20 Scale Dunkleosteus Model

CollectA have stated that they intend to introduce more figures and replicas that represent animals from the Palaeozoic into their model range.  True to their word, 2018 has seen the introduction of a Dimetrodon along with an Estemmenosuchus, models of animals that lived during the Permian.  In addition, CollectA have added a 1:20 scale Dunkleosteus to their Deluxe range.

The Dunkleosteus figure has attracted a lot of praise from model collectors and from curators of vertebrate fossil collections around the world.

The CollectA Dunkleosteus Model Compared to a Museum Specimen

The CollectA 1:20 scale Dunkleosteus compared to a museum specimen.

A comparison between the new for 2018 CollectA 1;20 scale replica of Dunkleosteus and a museum specimen.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture (above), shows a close-up view of the anterior portion of the new for 2018 CollectA Dunkleosteus model (left).  The use of gloss on the figure gives this model an attractive wet-look, very appropriate for a Late Devonian marine predator.  To the right, is a photograph of a Dunkleosteus exhibit on display at the Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt in Germany.  The production team at CollectA have taken great care to depict the famous jaws and the bony head shield of this prehistoric fish accurately.

Dunkleosteus is a member of the Placodermi (plated skins), a Class of armoured fish, that was extremely varied, geographically widespread and specious.

Huge Skull Plates and Shears for Jaws

Although Dunkleosteus (D. terrelli), is regarded as an iconic animal in the fossil record, it is only known from its massive skull plates and shear-like jaws, although recently, some details were published on the discovery of a fragmentary piece of fossilised cartilage associated with supporting the tail (ceratotrichia).  The rest of the animal, its backbone, soft tissues, the shape of its fins and tail are not known.  In order to produce a 1:20 scale model, the designer at CollectA has had to make an educated guess about the body plan of Dunkleosteus.

Designer Anthony Beeson got inspiration from other Devonian Placoderms as well as using living fish when it came to devising the shape of the CollectA model.

The CollectA Deluxe Dunkleosteus Figure

CollectA Dunkleosteus.

CollectA 1:20 scale Deluxe Dunkleosteus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The bony plates and jaws that have been preserved give scientists an impression of what the front of this fish looked like, but the remainder, more than two thirds of the entire animal is simply not known to science.  The CollectA model has been given a short, but broad dorsal fin.  Other better known and much smaller Placoderms had similarly shaped dorsal fins.  These fishes also possessed paired pelvic and pectoral fins, so the CollectA model has been provided with these as well.

The CollectA figure has been given a heterocercal tail.  Heterocercal tails are not symmetrical.  The vertebrae extend into the top lobe of the tail and this makes it longer than the lower or ventral lobe.  Heterocercal tails are known in members of the Placodermi and these types of tails are also found in many species of shark.  The CollectA Dunkleosteus tail has some nicks in both the top and ventral lobe, typical wear and tear as expected in the fins of an apex predator and from a fish that may have been subject to attack from members of its own species (intraspecific combat).

A View of the Heterocercal Tail of the CollectA Dunkleosteus Model

The tail of the CollectA Dunkleosteus.

The CollectA Dunkleosteus has been given a heterocercal tail.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Head Shield Covered in Skin

The huge bony plates that covered the anterior portion, of what many scientists have described as the world’s first vertebrate super-predator, are frequently described as armour.  The head was actually covered by a tough skin, as much as eight centimetres thick in some areas.  The headshield very probably did provide protection, but they also served as anchor points for the huge muscles needed to power the jaws of this prehistoric fish.

Recent research undertaken by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (Ohio), that houses an extensive collection of Placoderm fossils, indicates that Dunkleosteus had a very powerful bite, at least as powerful as that of top aquatic predators today such as alligators and sharks.

Commenting on the shape of the figure, including the raised area immediately behind the jaws, designer Anthony Beeson stated:

“The hump (which isn’t supposed to be anything of the sort), is simply the result of having the bony skull embedded in the body of the Dunkleosteus, rather than to just have it resting on the surface of the fish like a suit of armour as other firms have done.  If there is a resulting hump that is purely my take on how it may have appeared.  As the skull is the only thing preserved in the fossil record the rest of the animal is pure speculation as any artist or modeller has to do.  No one for instance is certain on how the tail may have looked.  One has to look at contemporary and modern species and also think what will make the model attractive both visually and touch-wise.  The skin ornamentations are not scutes, but I based them on the skin of the Devonian fossil fish Gemuendina and other skin decoration on those of large modern fishes such as the Wolf Fish.”

To view the CollectA Dunkleosteus and the other figures in the CollectA Deluxe model range: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life Models

6 08, 2018

A Successful Dinosaur and Fossil Workshop

By | August 6th, 2018|General Teaching|Comments Off on A Successful Dinosaur and Fossil Workshop

Dinosaur and Fossil Workshop Success

Recently, Everything Dinosaur team members were invited up to the beautiful Beacon Museum at Whitehaven, Cumbria, to participate in the Museum’s “Dino Fest”, a weekend of activities focusing on all things dinosaur.  The Beacon Museum is holding a dinosaur inspired exhibition for the summer months with lots of family friendly activities.  On the Friday afternoon, Everything Dinosaur hosted a special meeting of the Museum’s “Quantum Leap” club.  We looked at fossils including dinosaur bones and the children got the chance to find and take home their own fossils, including pieces of fossilised dinosaur bone.

Examples of Dinosaur Fossil Bones

Fossil dinosaur bones.

Examples of dinosaur fossil bone.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fossil Casting

During our work with the enthusiastic “Quantum Leap” club members we got the budding young scientists to have a go at casting their own museum quality replicas.  Over the course of the weekend, we held a number of dinosaur and fossil workshops and lots of fossils were found and some amazing casts were made.

A Cast of a Canadian Ammonite

Ammonite fossil cast.

A cast of a fossil ammonite from Canada.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Well done to Joe and Tom for making such a superb cast from one of our Late Cretaceous ammonite fossils from Canada.

Some of the Fossil Casts Produced by Visitors to The Beacon Museum

Fossil casting workshops.

Some of the results from our fossil casting workshops at The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In total, Everything Dinosaur held three two-hour long fossil workshops and numerous, shorter fossil hunting activities.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, who participated in the weekend of dinosaur-themed activities commented:

“It was great to meet all the eager and enthusiastic, young dinosaur fans at The Beacon Museum over the weekend.  We all had a great time hunting for fossils, helping to make fossil casts and answering all their questions about dinosaurs.”

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