All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//September
30 09, 2018

Everything Dinosaur Supports TetZooCon 2018

By | September 30th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Supports TetZooCon 2018

The countdown to the annual TetZooCon has well and truly started, there is just under a week to go until the prestigious London conference dedicated to living and extinct Tetrapods.  TetZooCon opens on Saturday 6th October and for the first time, the amazing number of speakers, presenters and activities means that the fifth incarnation of this event has been extended over two days.  A whole weekend dedicated to the “TetZooniverse”!

Everything Dinosaur is honoured to be involved in this annual gathering and we have dispatched some rather special prehistoric animal models and figures that can be used as prizes for the super-tricky (but still fun), quiz that is a staple of this wonderful event.

Just Under One Week Until TetZooCon 2018

The Tetrapod Zoology Conference 2018.

The promotional banner for TetZooCon 2018.

Picture Credit: Darren Naish/John Conway

Talks, Presentations, Palaeoart Workshops, Book Signings and So Much More

Our congratulations to conference organisers Darren Naish and John Conway who have put together a varied and fascinating group of speakers and other Tetrapod themed events for what will, no doubt, be an extremely enjoyable and informative weekend.  Visitors to The Venue, Malet Street, London next weekend will be able to spot Everything Dinosaur’s slides that have been prepared for use in between the talks and various presentations.

Everything Dinosaur Supports TetZooCon 2018

One of Everything Dinosaur's slides prepared for TetZooCon 2018.

Everything Dinosaur has prepared slides for TetZooCon 2018.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The slides will showcase the breadth and the range of prehistoric animal figures and models that Everything Dinosaur now stocks.  Our prehistoric animal inventory is nearly as eclectic and diverse as the incredible range of presenters that have been invited to speak at this year’s TetZooCon.  Highlights of the event include a talk from herpetologist Mark O’Shea, Jennifer Jackson on the origins of baleen whales, Katrina van Grouw on the influence of Homo sapiens on the fate of Earth’s biota and Fiona Taylor providing a composer’s perspective on music used in wildlife documentaries.

We hope that Bristol University’s Steve Zhang, another speaker at this illustrious gathering, will spot the Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) figure that we have donated as a quiz prize.  After all, Steven will be one of the first speakers TetZooCon 2018, with a short presentation highlighting the rise and fall of the Straight-tusked elephant.

The Slideshow Will Highlight the Huge Range of Prehistoric Animal Figures Stocked By Everything Dinosaur

Slides for TetZooCon 2018

The Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant features on the Everything Dinosaur TetZooCon slideshow.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The 2018 TetZooCon has a Very Special Banner

Since the very first TetZooCon in 2014, a promotional banner has been created by Darren featuring some of the enormous number of illustrations that the vertebrate palaeontologist and science writer has compiled for his textbook detailing the evolutionary history of the vertebrates.  This year’s banner is a little different, it includes artwork produced by delegates at last year’s conference, helping to encapsulate the inclusive and participative elements of this unique event.  If you attended TetZooCon and contributed to the pair of giant panels produced during the palaeoart workshop, then your own illustration may have been used to help create the 2018 TetZooCon promotional banner.

Beasts of the Mesozoic Will Feature at TetZooCon 2018

Beasts of the Mesozoic slide prepared for prestigious scientific conference.

Beasts of the Mesozoic features on the 2018 TetZooCon slideshow.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“TetZooCon is now in its fifth year and it is going from strength to strength.  Our congratulations to Darren and John for putting on this not-for-profit event, it is a wonderful example of scientific outreach, bringing together a cornucopia of talented artists, illustrators and scientists all helping to inform and educate.  Special wishes to Beth Windle, who once again will be bringing a Tetrapod inspired cake along to this prestigious event.”

Eagle-eyed attendees will spot something rather special on the slide presentation that we have prepared especially for TetZooCon 2018.  Everything Dinosaur will soon be sending out an important news release about yet another exciting development at the company.  A new range of prehistoric animal figures is being added to Everything Dinosaur’s already impressive portfolio and delegates at TetZooCon 2018 will be amongst the first to find out about this.

More news about TetZooCon and the developments at Everything Dinosaur coming soon….

29 09, 2018

New Giant Dinosaur From South Africa Described

By | September 29th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Ledumahadi mafube – Giant Plant-eater from the Early Jurassic

A new species of giant sauropodiform from the Early Jurassic of South Africa has been named and described. The dinosaur has been named Ledumahadi mafube and is estimated to have weighed around twelve tonnes and stood about four metres high at the hips. L. mafube may have been the largest animal alive on Earth between 200 and 195 million years ago.  Over the course of the Jurassic, gigantic Sauropod genera evolved, famous giants such as Brontosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus.  Writing in the journal “Current Biology”, the international research team led by Professor Jonah Choiniere (Witwatersrand University), concluded that Ledumahadi shows that quadrupedal sauropodomorphs which lacked the columnar limbs of the later Sauropods could still attain, massive Sauropod-like body sizes.  This challenges one of the assumptions held in palaeontology, that the evolution of column-like legs was a prerequisite that enabled the long-necked, lizard-hipped dinosaurs to grow so big.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Sauropodiform Ledumahadi mafube

Ledumahadi mafube illustrated.

A life reconstruction of Ledumahadi mafube.

Picture Credit: Viktor Radermacher (Witwatersrand University)

The illustration shows the twelve tonne South African giant Ledumahadi mafube with its bent, semi-erect forelimbs.  It is observed by a much smaller Early Jurassic dinosaur, the Ornithischian Heterodontosaurus tucki.

“Giant Thunderclap at Dawn”

The fossil material consists of disarticulated post-cranial material discovered at Beginsel farm, approximately fifteen miles southeast of the town of Clarens in Free State Province, close to the border of South Africa and Lesotho.  The fossils were found in mudstone from the upper Elliot Formation representing terrestrial sediments laid down between 200 and 195 million years ago (Hettangian to Sinemurian faunal stages of the Early Jurassic).

The Fossilised Remains of Ledumahadi mafube and Location Maps

Fossils and location map of Ledumahadi mafube (South Africa).

Skeletal drawing the fossils of Ledumahadi mafube along with maps showing the fossil discovery location (UEF – upper Elliot Formation, whilst LEF – lower Elliot Formation).

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University

The dinosaur’s name, pronounced Le-dew-ma-har-dee maf-fu-be is from the local Sesotho dialect of the region.  It translates as “giant thunderclap at dawn”, reflecting the size of the animal and the stratigraphically early position of this taxon.

Commenting on the significance of the name, Professor Choiniere stated:

“The name reflects the great size of the animal as well as the fact that its lineage appeared at the origins of Sauropod dinosaurs.   It honours both the recent and ancient heritage of southern Africa.”

Fossil Bones Photographed at the Quarry Site

Giant dinosaur bones from South Africa

Bones from the front limbs (hands) – Ledumahadi mafube, the penknife provides a handy scale.

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University

An Adult Dinosaur Around Fourteen Years Old When it Died

An analysis of the growth lines of the limb bones indicate that the specimen was fully grown when it died and that this dinosaur was approximately fourteen years old when it met its demise.  The research team compared the limb measurements of the front and hind limbs of Ledumahadi with other dinosaurs and extant Tetrapods and they concluded that this dinosaur, had very robust limbs and was a quadruped, which weighed around twelve tonnes.  The plant-eating Ledumahadi was a giant amongst the Early Jurassic Dinosauria, it is the largest animal known so far from Early Jurassic sediments more than 195 million years old.  When Ledumahadi roamed it may have been the largest animal on Earth at the time.

Professor Choiniere and the Distal Portion of the Right Femur of Ledumahadi

Professor Jonah Choiniere describes the new Early Jurassic dinosaur Ledumahadi mafube.

Professor Jonah Choiniere with the distal portion of the femur of Ledumahadi.

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University

A Different Stance and Posture Compared to Later Sauropods

The scientists, which included Roger Benson from Oxford University, conclude that L. mafube had a different posture than later Sauropods.  It did not have the column-like limbs of dinosaurs like Brontosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus, its forelimbs would have been more crouched and partially flexed.  The research team postulate that this posture was an evolutionary experiment with gigantism within the lizard-hipped reptiles.

Lead author of the paper, Dr Blair McPhee (Witwatersrand University), explained:

“The first thing that struck me about this animal is the incredible robustness of the limb bones.  It was of similar size to the gigantic Sauropod dinosaurs, but whereas the arms and legs of those animals are typically quite slender, Ledumahadi’s are incredibly thick.  To me this indicated that the path towards gigantism in sauropodomorphs was far from straightforward and that the way that these animals solved the usual problems of life, such as eating and moving, was much more dynamic within the group than previously thought.”

Professor Choiniere Compares A Giant Toe Claw Bone (Pedal Ungual) with His Hand

The toe claw (ungual) of Ledumahadi mafube.

Professor Jonah Choiniere holding a pedal ungual (toe claw bone) from Ledumahadi mafube.

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University

A Transitional Form of Long-necked Dinosaur

Analysis of the bones and comparative studies with other Sauropods and extant Tetrapods, led the scientists to conclude that the internal structure of the bones of Ledumahadi displayed traits associated with basal sauropodomorphs and more derived members of this group.  L. mafube probably represents a transitional stage between the sauropodomorphs and the later true Sauropoda.

Limb Bone Study Has Helped Plot the Evolutionary Change from Bipedalism to a Quadrupedal Stance

How did a quadrupedal stance in Sauropods evolve?

Plotting the evolutionary change from bipedalism to a quadrupedal stance in the Sauropoda.

Picture Credit: Witwatersrand University

The picture above depicts silhouettes scaled in height to the cube root of mass estimate of the taxon.  The colour of the silhouettes represents the inferred posture; red is bipedal, and black equals quadrupedal.   The purple line marks the Triassic/Jurassic boundary.

Out-competed by the Columnar-limbed Sauropods

Ledumahadi may have been the biggest animal on Earth during the very Early Jurassic, but the fossil record indicates that this large dinosaur body-plan with flexed limbs and a more crouched posture was not to last.  Co-existing with Ledumahadi were primitive Sauropods such as Vulcanodon (V. karibaensis), which although smaller had column-like limbs.  Within a few million years, only the columnar-limbed Sauropods remained as the only surviving lineage.  The reasons for this faunal turnover are unclear, but it might reflect that Ledumahadi might have had to expend more energy moving about with its flexed limbs that were not held directly under the body.  The more energy efficient posture of the straight-legged Sauropods with their column-like legs may have provided a competitive edge, driving dinosaurs like Ledumahadi to extinction.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about a recently described long-necked, Early Jurassic sauropodiform from China that is also helping palaeontologists to better understand Sauropod evolution:  Yizhousaurus Helping to Give Sauropod Evolution a Head Start

The scientific paper: “A Giant Dinosaur from the Earliest Jurassic of South Africa and the Transition to Quadrupedality in Early Sauropodomorphs” by Blair W. McPhee, Roger B.J. Benson, Jennifer Botha-Brink, Emese M. Bordy & Jonah N. Choiniere published in the journal “Current Biology”.

28 09, 2018

Everything Dinosaur on Instagram

By | September 28th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur on Instagram

Everything Dinosaur has created an Instagram account so that team members can post up photographs and images related to the company and share some of the amazing pictures and illustrations sent into our offices by our customers.  Instagram is a social media platform created to help share photos and videos and Instagram is now owned by Facebook.

Everything Dinosaur is Now on Instagram

Everything Dinosaur on Instagram.

Everything Dinosaur has opened an Instagram account.

Picture Credit: Instagram/Everything Dinosaur

@everythingdinosaur1

Everything Dinosaur’s Instagram username for our site is entitled @everythingdinosaur1 and we will be posting up various images and videos and looking up all our thousands of Facebook chums.  In addition, team members are looking forward to liking and commenting on all the amazing dinosaur and prehistoric animal images that have already been posted up onto the platform.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We had been planning to get ourselves on the Instagram platform for quite a while, however, our work commitments, teaching and other projects kept getting in the way.  Just before we run into our Christmas sales period and the teaching programme becomes very congested, we thought that this month was a good time to launch our presence on this social media networking site.”

Blogs, Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram

The UK-based dinosaur and prehistoric animal company has already built up a substantial presence on social media, with Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube and Facebook accounts.  Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page has built up over 5,000 “likes” and thousands of followers since it was initiated.  The company’s blog site remains one of the most comprehensive web logs dedicated to palaeontology, fossils, dinosaurs as well as prehistoric animals and figures.  The blog was set up over eleven years ago and now boasts in excess of 4,000 separate articles (a total of 4,231 articles including this one).

Team Members at Everything Dinosaur Are Looking Forward to Posting on Instagram (@everythingdinosaur1)

Looking forward to posting up some T-rific dinosaur images on Instagram.

Everything Dinosaur on Instagram @everythingdinosaur1.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Shortly, Everything Dinosaur staff will be inviting friends and Facebook followers to link with the company’s Instagram page.  It will be exciting to post up information about all our adventures on this interactive, social networking and sharing platform.

27 09, 2018

Dinosaur Model Fan Sends In Pictures

By | September 27th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Pictures Sent in by a Dinosaur Model Fan

It never ceases to amaze us how clever and creative Everything Dinosaur’s customers are.  We get lots of photographs sent into our offices by collectors and fans of prehistoric animal models showcasing their collections and dinosaur themed dioramas.  Take for example, these pictures sent into us by Luke, after he recently received the rare Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex figure from us.

Posing Against a Backdrop of Prehistoric Scenery the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex Figure (Smoke Green Colour Scheme)

Smoke green Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex figure.

Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex (smoke green).

Picture Credit: Luke

Dinosaur Dioramas

Lots of collectors like to build their own prehistoric scenes and the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex looks very much at home against a background of tropical vegetation.  The smoke green colour variant looks quite well camouflaged against this backdrop.  Luke must have quite a sizeable model and figure collection as he included a couple of pictures of this rare Tyrannosaurus rex figure being displayed next to other dinosaurs from his collection.

Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex Confronts a Papo Triceratops

T. rex attacks a Triceratops.

Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex attacks a Papo Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Luke

The Papo Running T. rex Challenges the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex Figure

Papo Running T. rex and the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex.

Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box confronts a Papo Running T. rex.

Picture Credit: Luke

The Papo figure (left) is the colour variant version of the Running Tyrannosaurus rex figure, that was introduced in 2016.  In the photograph sent into Everything Dinosaur’s offices by Luke, it is compared to the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex figure (left).  The pair of models are quite well-matched, although with ten articulated joints the Kaiyodo figure has many more areas of articulation than the Papo model.  The Papo Tyrannosaurus rex has only one area of movement – an articulated lower jaw.

A Visit to Skull Island

Luke dropped a line to Everything Dinosaur stating:

“Hi guys.  Just wanted to put finger to keyboard to say a massive thank you for the Kaiyodo Sofubi smoke green T. rex which I have just received.  The model itself is absolutely superb and I have sent some pics.  Also, to say thank you I’m also sent a little recreation of an iconic scene from a certain classic 1930’s movie.  Once again I cannot thank you guys enough and look forward to ordering from you again.  Kindest regards.”

The movie Luke is referring to is the famous film “King Kong” that was released in 1933 and stars Fray Wray, Bruce Cabot and of course, a stop motion giant ape that was animated by Willis O’Brien.  Skull Island, Kong’s home has also a number of dinosaurs in residence, including fearsome meat-eaters.  In one classic scene, Kong battles a dinosaur.

Recreating a Classic Scene from “King Kong” (1933)

King Kong fights the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex.

Kong fights the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex.

Picture Credit: Luke

Two Articulated Models from Luke’s Collection Battle

Kong fighting the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex (smoke green colour).

King Kong versus the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex (smoke green).

Picture Credit: Luke

Striking the Final Blow

Kong model battles the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex figure.

King Kong fights the Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex.

Picture Credit: Luke

Our thanks to Luke for taking the time and trouble to send to us these fabulous photographs and we really appreciate the careful way in which he has arranged these shots.  We spotted the Safari Ltd Prehistoric World tree fern and a base from the Rebor Ceratosaurus replica “Savage” that had also been incorporated into the diorama.  The Kaiyodo Sofubi Toy Box T. rex is fantastic piece of dinosaur figure design and with all its points of articulation collectors can create all sorts of action poses.  Thanks Luke for sharing these wonderful pictures.

For further information on the Kaiyodo articulated T. rex figures: Kaiyodo Prehistoric Animal Figures

26 09, 2018

Bird Evolution Very Complicated

By | September 26th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Jinguofortis perplexus – A Mosaic of Dinosaur and Bird Features

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Scientists have described a new species of ancient, Early Cretaceous bird with a mosaic of dinosaur and bird characteristics.  The bird, which has been named Jinguofortis perplexuslived approximately 127 million years ago and it will help palaeontologists to learn more about bird development and the evolution of powered flight in the avian dinosaurs.

An Illustration of the Newly Described Early Cretaceous Bird Jinguofortis perplexus

Jingoufortis perplexus illustrated.

Jinguofortis a newly described Early Cretaceous bird with a mosaic of avian and reptilian traits.

Picture Credit: PNAS (Chung-Tat Cheung)

The pigeon-sized bird does not have a long bony tail, a characteristic inherited from dinosaurs that is found in the first birds such as Archaeopteryx.  Instead, the tail is much reduced and ends with a compound bone, a pygostyle, possessed by modern birds today.  Jinguofortis perplexus represents a transitional form, after birds had lost their dinosaurian tails but before they had evolved a fan of flight feathers on their shortened, compressed tails.

Honouring the Contribution of Female Scientists

The fossil specimen comes from the Debeigou Formation of north-eastern China and the genus name “Jinguofortis” derives from the Mandarin word for female warrior “jinguo” and the Latin word “fortis” meaning brave and strong.  The name honours the contribution made to palaeontology by female scientists around the world.  The species or trivial name “perplexus” is from the Latin and reflects the puzzling mix of anatomical traits.  Jinguofortis has been assigned to a basal member of the clade of short-tailed birds (Pygostylia).

The Slab and Counter Slab of the Fossil Bird Jinguofortis perplexus

Jingoufortis perplexus fossil material.

The fossilised remains of the Early Cretaceous bird Jinguofortis perplexus.

Picture Credit: PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science)

Avian and Dinosaurian Characteristics

Writing in the academic journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA)”, the researchers Wang Min, Thomas Stidham and Zhou Zhonghe (Chinese Academy of Sciences), describe a unique combination of anatomical traits, including a jaw with small teeth like Jinguofortis’s Theropod dinosaur relatives as well as a short bony tail ending in a pygostyle.  Gizzard stones associated with the well-preserved, but rather flattened fossil, indicate that Jinguofortis may have fed on seeds and other plant material.  Jinguofortis also possessed a third finger with only two bones, unlike other early birds.

Fused Shoulder Bones

Close examination of the slab and counter slab revealed that the shoulder girdle of Jinguofortis was fused into a single bone, the scapulocoracoid, a feature associated with the non-avian dinosaurs.  Modern birds usually have two bones the scapula and the coracoid that provide greater flexibility in the shoulder, ideal for flapping, powered flight.  The fossil’s shoulder joint also gives clues about its flight capacity.  In flying (volant) birds, the shoulder, which experiences high stress during flight, is a tight joint between the two unfused bones (scapula and the coracoid).  In contrast, Jinguofortis perplexus with its fused bones suggests that it flew in a different way compared to modern birds.

Changes in the Coracoid and Scapula (Shoulder Girdle) in Vertebrates

Evolution of the shoulder girdle with a focus on the Avialae.

Changes in the evolution of the shoulder girdle (vertebrates) and the development of the shoulder within Avialae.

Picture Credit: Wang Min (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

The picture above plots the main changes in the shoulder joint of vertebrates from fish through to Tetrapods such as amphibians, reptiles and mammals.  The second part of the diagram maps the evolution of the shoulder joint from the Dromaeosauridae (the raptors), through to avian dinosaurs (birds) and shows that Jinguofortis sits between the earlier Confuciusornithiformes and the later Sapeornithiformes and is basal to the Pygostylia.  The diagram provides a temporal reference and also illustrates the evolution of the bird hand with its much reduced digits from dinosaurian ancestors with their grasping hands.

Measurement of the fossil’s wing size and estimation of its body mass show that the extinct species had a wing shape and wing loading (wing area divided by body mass) similar to living birds that need a lot of manoeuvrability.  Jinguofortis lived in a dense forest.  Its body plan would have assisted it to dodge and weave through the branches and dense foliage as it flew.

Jinguofortis perplexus with its mosaic of bird and dinosaur characteristics suggests that the evolution of modern birds was more complex than previously thought.

25 09, 2018

CollectA Brontosaurus in Stock

By | September 25th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

CollectA Brontosaurus in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The long-awaited and eagerly anticipated CollectA Brontosaurus model has arrived at our warehouse and it is now in stock.  The last of the 2018 prehistoric animal models to be introduced by CollectA, a replica of one of the most iconic of all the dinosaurs, “thunder lizard”, is available to purchase and team members have been busy contacting those Everything Dinosaur customers who wanted to reserve one of these Sauropods.

The CollectA Brontosaurus Model is in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

CollectA Brontosaurus replica.

The CollectA Brontosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Bully for Brontosaurus”

The name “Brontosaurus” might be very well known, but scientifically this particular genus of Late Jurassic, long-necked dinosaur has had a rather chequered history.  The genus name Brontosaurus was erected by the famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, however, the fossilised bones he ascribed to this new genus came from the same quarry where the dinosaur called Apatosaurus had been discovered two years earlier.  Brontosaurus became controversial, as it was very similar to Apatosaurus and from the same geological sequence and locality.  It was thought that Brontosaurus fossils were actually the same as those of Apatosaurus and therefore, since Apatosaurus was named first, Apatosaurus should take precedence.  The name Brontosaurus was relegated to a junior synonym of Apatosaurus.  The decision to finally and formally drop Brontosaurus from the scientific literature was taken back in 1970.

The Brontosaurus Model with Two CollectA Mantellisaurus Models

CollectA Mantellisaurus models and a CollectA Brontosaurus.

The CollectA Brontosaurus and two CollectA Mantellisaurus models.

Picture Credit: CollectA/Everything Dinosaur

In 2015, a scientific paper was published following a comprehensive review of the Apatosaurinae sub-family, one of the most thorough examinations of fossil material ever undertaken.  Following this review, the genus name Brontosaurus was resurrected, it having been established that the fossilised bones ascribed to the Brontosaurus genus were sufficiently different from those of Apatosaurus to warrant their own genus.

To read our 2015 article that explains the resurrection of the Brontosaurus genus in more detail: The Return of Brontosaurus

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is wonderful to have a Brontosaurus figure added to the CollectA model range, dinosaur fans and model collectors can now add a replica of one of the most iconic and famous of all the dinosaurs to their collections.  We were delighted to welcome “thunder lizard” into our product portfolio.”

The CollectA Brontosaurus Model

The CollectA Brontosaurus measures a fraction under 31 centimetres in length, so it is quite a sizeable dinosaur model.  The head height is around 10.5 centimetres.  Whilst this range from CollectA does not have an official scale, if the replica represents Brontosaurus excelsus (this translates as noble thunder lizard), then this new piece from CollectA represents a dinosaur that could grow to around 22 metres long.  Therefore, the scale of this model is approximately 1:72 or thereabouts.

The design team at CollectA have given the Brontosaurus dermal spines.  Many Sauropods are known to have had dermal spines and osteoderms, but how they were arranged remains a mystery.  The CollectA Brontosaurus has a central row of spines running from the neck down to the base of the tail and two further rows running parallel to each other down the rest of the tail.  This is the first time that such an arrangement of spines have been placed on a figure like this.

A View of the Dermal Spines on the CollectA Brontosaurus Model

The dermal spines highlighted on the CollectA Brontosaurus dinosaur model.

The CollectA Brontosaurus with its rows of dermal spines.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the CollectA Brontosaurus and the rest of the prehistoric animals in the CollectA range: CollectA Prehistoric Life

24 09, 2018

New Marine Reptile Fossil Display at Museum

By | September 24th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Oxford University Museum of Natural History – Out of the Deep

Oxford University Museum of Natural History has welcomed two new residents, a pair of Jurassic marine reptiles that are the focus of a novel, tactile and interactive exhibit entitled “Out of the Deep”.  The fossilised remains of the two marine reptiles highlight the importance of the British Isles when it comes to studying apex predators of Mesozoic marine environments.  Both fossils were found in Britain and these new additions to the impressive Oxford University Museum collection, represent the largest permanent display to be added to the Museum’s central gallery in decades.

Two Marine Reptile Specimens on Display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Two marine reptile fossils on display.

Plesiosauria fossils on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Picture Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

The Diversity of the Plesiosauria

The beautiful and nearly complete fossils are displayed in separate well-lit display cases and the fossils, along with the interactive elements and information boards in this exhibit, help to inform visitors about the two main body plans that evolved amongst the Plesiosauria.  One specimen is a short-necked plesiosaur, known as a pliosaur.  It was discovered by a former Museum curator in the 1990’s in Yarnton, Oxfordshire, just a few miles from the Museum.  The larger specimen is a long-necked plesiosaur, found in a quarry in Cambridgeshire in 2014 by the Oxford Clay Working Group, and donated to the Museum’s collections by the quarry’s owner Forterra.

The Exhibits Have Been Designed to Allow Easy Access to View the Specimens

Plesiosaur specimen at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

The long-necked plesiosaur fossil specimen.  The person in the photograph helps to demonstrate the impressive size of the marine reptile.

Picture Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Bringing a Middle Jurassic Tropical Sea to Life

The exhibit includes specially commissioned digital reconstructions that brings to life the marine biota that existed some 165 million years ago (Callovian faunal stage of the Middle Jurassic).  Visitors will be able to learn how the fossils were discovered and collected, how museum staff prepare and study specimens and gain an understanding about the life in an ancient, tropical sea that once covered much of the British Isles.

Visitors Will Be Able to Look an Extinct Plesiosaur in the Eye

The business end of a Jurassic plesiosaur.

The teeth of the plesiosaur were well adapted for catching fish.

Picture Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

“Oxbridge Marine Reptiles”

On display together for the first time, the Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire specimens highlight the UK’s exceptional fossil heritage and provide a glimpse of some of the life inhabiting the marine environment of the Jurassic period.  Detailed and scientifically accurate models have been installed alongside the fossil material to help visitors to appreciate what these ancient reptiles probably looked like when they patrolled the ancient, sunlit waters.

Marine Reptile Models Help Visitors to Appreciate What the Specimens Looked Like When They Lived Some 165 Million Years Ago

A pliosaur model forms part of the exhibit.

A beautiful replica of a pliosaur helps visitors to imagine the fossil specimen as a living animal.

Picture Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

The Long-necked Plesiosaur Replica on Display

Oxford University Museum of Natural History plesiosaur.

A replica of a long-necked plesiosaur swims into view.

Picture Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Director of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Professor Paul Smith commented:

“As the largest single new showcase to be installed in the museum for many years, the “Out of the Deep” display reinvigorates our central court and provides something new for our regular visitors.  After working on these two fantastic plesiosaur skeletons for many months, it’s hugely exciting to be able to display them together and in full for the first time since their discovery.”

Lots of Interactive and Tactile Learning Has Been Incorporated into the New Exhibit

Touching a replica of a pliosaur flipper.

Tactile displays help visitors to learn about marine reptiles.

Picture Credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The Oxford University Museum of Natural History houses a treasure trove of prehistoric animal fossils, many of which have been found in Oxfordshire.  It is great to see the addition of these two stunning marine reptiles with their beautifully preserved and near-complete fossil skulls.  Visitors to the Museum will still be able to marvel at the dinosaur fossils on display within the central gallery but they will gain an appreciation that the Jurassic Seas were the domain of other, equally spectacular extinct creatures.”

The project has been generously supported by grants from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, and WREN’s FCC Community Action Fund.

For further details about this exciting new exhibit and for the Museum opening times: The Oxford Museum of Natural History

23 09, 2018

Chemical Clues to the Earliest Animal Fossils

By | September 23rd, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Cholesterol Proves Dickinsonia was an Animal

A team of international scientists including researchers from the Australian National University (Canberra) and the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), have finally solved one of the great puzzles in palaeontology.  They have detected molecules of cholesterol in an ancient fossil to confirm that the bizarre Dickinsonia, part of the enigmatic Ediacaran biota, was an animal and therefore distantly related to all other animals including humans.

A Fossil of Dickinsonia – A Bizarre Disc-like Organism But What Exactly Was It?

Dickinsonia costata fossil.

The Ediacaran fossil Dickinsonia costata, specimen P40135 from the collections of the South Australia Museum

Picture Credit: Fr Alex Liu (Cambridge University)

The Enigmatic Ediacaran Biota

Before the Cambrian explosion and the evolution of hard-bodied organisms, there existed a strange biota formed of bizarre, soft-bodied organisms that did not show much affinity to Late Cambrian fossil groups and to any form of living organisms today.  Fossils appear in sedimentary rock dated between 570 to 541 million years ago and have been found in Australia, (the Ediacara Hills of South Australia, from which this period in Earth’s history is named) and notably in Namibia, England, China, Canada and Russia.  They were the first complex multi-cellular organisms to appear on Earth.  Although the Ediacaran biota immediately preceded the rapid appearance and diversification of animals in the Cambrian, where these strange organisms fit within the tree of life remained a mystery.  Some of these fossils appear segmented and show some bilateral symmetry, Dickinsonia for example, but most lack any obvious signs of a gut, a mouth, an anus or any appendages that might link them to the Animalia.

This new study, published in the journal “Science”, identified biomarkers, specifically the fat, cholesterol in the fossilised remains of Dickinsonia.  This discovery confirms that at least one bizarre Ediacaran group, Dickinsonia and related taxa are members of the animal kingdom (Metazoa).

Finding Fossils Can Be Dangerous

Australian National University PhD student Ilya Bobrovskiy and his fellow collaborators in this research project, explored a remote area of exposed cliff on the White Sea coast of north-western Russia.  The field team were looking for strata laid down in the Ediacaran so that they could study any fossils preserved within the ancient rocks.  The sedimentary material they were interested in was exposed high up on a steep cliff face and ropes had to be used to get the field team down the cliff face so that they could dislodge sandstone boulders which fell to the beach below and then could be collected for further analysis.

Palaeontology Can Be a Dangerous Business – Dislodging Ancient Marine Sandstone Boulders From the Cliff Face

Extracting sandstone blocks from the cliff face.

Digging out huge blocks of sandstone to find Ediacaran fossils on the Russian White Sea coast.

Picture Credit: Australian National University

Dickinsonia – The Earliest Known Animal in the Geological Record

Some Dickinsonia fossils are a whopping 140 centimetres in length, indicating that these organisms were much bigger than most of the Ediacaran and later Cambrian biota, but where they fitted in the classification of life on Earth remained open to conjecture.  Previously, it had been suggested that these fossils represented giant, single-celled amoeba, lichens or dead-end evolutionary experiments that have no connection to other life forms.  The research team discovered a Dickinsonia fossil that was so well preserved that a molecular analysis revealed traces of tiny amounts of cholesterol, a type of fat that is only produced by animal life.  The scientists postulate that this is the conclusive evidence that confirms that Dickinsonia was an animal.

Cholesterol Found in Dickinsonia Proves it was an Animal

Dickinsonia fossil.

A beautifully preserved 558 million-year-old fossil of Dickinsonia, now classified as an animal (Metazoan).

Picture Credit: Australian National University

Co-author of the study, Associate Professor Jochen Brocks from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences commented:

“The fossil fat molecules that we’ve found prove that animals were large and abundant 558 million years ago, millions of years earlier than previously thought.  Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what Dickinsonia and other bizarre fossils of the Ediacaran biota were.  The fossil fat now confirms Dickinsonia as the oldest known animal fossil, solving a decades-old mystery that has been the Holy Grail of palaeontology.”

Preparing Fossil Specimens for Analysis

Searching for traces of organic materials such as fats in Dickinsonia.

Preparing a fossil specimen for the organic matter analysis.

Picture Credit: Australian National University

Molecular Analysis

Using extremely sensitive techniques to assess the chemical nature of fossil material has opened up whole new areas of study for palaeontologists.  Prior to the employment of such technologies as computerised tomography, synchrotron radiation light sources, biomarker analysis and four-dimensional scanning, palaeontologists were restricted to studying the shape and the form of fossils.  Today, palaeontologists can utilise these new methodologies, drawn from a variety of disciplines such as engineering and medicine to undertake complementary areas of study.

To read an article published in 2017 that postulated that Dickinsonia was a member of the Animal Kingdom and likely to be a Metazoan: Growth Analysis Suggests Dickinsonia was Definitely an Animal

22 09, 2018

Key Stage 1 and Dinosaurs

By | September 22nd, 2018|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Key Stage 1 Classes at Strawberry Fields Primary Study Dinosaurs

The children in the three Key Stage 1 classes at Strawberry Fields Primary are certainly enjoying their term topic all about dinosaurs, fossils and life in the past.  The dedicated teaching team have developed a challenging and varied term topic for the pupils.  The budding young palaeontologists in Year 1 (class 1MM), have been working out whether “a dinosaur would make a good pet”.  Some of the fierce meat-eating dinosaurs we talked about during our school visit, might not make ideal pets, but some of the smaller plant-eaters, (herbivores) might have been better suited.  The dinosaurs would certainly have been curious to visit the amazing dinosaur den that had been set up in the classroom, complete with a beautiful crepe paper volcano overlooking it.

A Model of a Volcano on Display in the Classroom

Year 1 model volcano.

A wonderful representation of a volcano on display in a Year 1 classroom.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Bright and Colourful Prehistoric Animal Displays

The children in the three Key Stage 1 classes (1MM, 1/2CE and 2MC), were keen to display their knowledge and explained confidently how the dinosaurs died out.  Prior to our workshops, we provided some additional resources and we emailed over to the school a lesson plan that we had devised that examined the question “why do asteroids always land in craters”?   This lesson plan and the other materials we provided were aimed at supporting the school’s scheme of work and to engage the children with the concept of “scientific working”.

Lots of Brightly Coloured Prehistoric Animals on Display Around the Spacious Classrooms

Key Stage 1 prehistoric animal window display.

A colourful long-necked prehistoric animal window display in Key Stage 1.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Three-dimensional Dinosaur Model

In the tidy and well-appointed classrooms, our dinosaur expert who visited the school spotted lots of excellent examples of the children’s work.  There was even a three-dimensional model of the head of a Triceratops looking down on the display boards in one of the classrooms.  These display boards were rapidly becoming filled with examples of the children’s non-chronological reports, questions that they had researched about dinosaurs, fact sheets and plenty of colourful prehistoric animal themed artwork.

The Head of a Triceratops Looks Down on the Class Display Boards

Triceratops head on display in a Key Stage 1 classroom.

A three-dimensional Triceratops head on display in the classroom.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our very best wishes to all the young palaeontologists in Key Stage 1 at Strawberry Fields Primary and also to the hard-working teaching team that had put together such an exciting and challenging term topic for the children.

21 09, 2018

Answering Questions About Dinosaurs – Part 2

By | September 21st, 2018|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Answering Questions About Dinosaurs – Part 2

Our thanks to the teaching team at Ewloe Green Primary in Wales, who sent us a list of questions that had been compiled by the Year 1 pupils as they studied their dinosaur themed term topic.  The enthusiastic, budding palaeontologists have been carrying out a lot of research into prehistoric animals as they prepare for our visit to deliver some dinosaur workshops at the school.  Quite a range of questions had been put together by the children, some of which we hope to address in our workshops with the classes.  The questions and our notes have already been incorporated into the lesson plans emailed to the school.  However, there are still one or two outstanding enquires, such as the question from Amelia who wanted to know why do some dinosaurs have four legs and some only two?

Why Do Some Dinosaurs Have Four Legs and Some Only Two?

The very first dinosaurs were not giants, they were small, fast-running carnivores that appeared more than 235 million years ago during the Triassic.  These dinosaurs were bipeds, this means that they ran around on their hind legs, they did not use their front limbs, their arms for walking around.  Humans are bipeds, we walk around on our back legs and use our arms and hands for other things.  Human babies learn to crawl and they move around on all fours, but they soon learn to walk upright.

One of the Very First Dinosaurs Nyasasaurus from Africa

Nyasasaurus image.

Nyasasaurus – believed to be one of the first dinosaurs.  It lived some 235 million years ago in the Triassic.  It was a fast-running dinosaur – a biped.

Picture Credit: M. Witton/NHM

Quadrupeds and Bipeds

From these small, meat-eating ancestors the dinosaurs quickly evolved into lots of different species of different shapes and sizes.  As some dinosaurs adapted to eating plants rather than meat, they began to develop bigger bodies to help them cope with digesting tough plant food.  As these plant-eating dinosaurs got bigger and heavier, they found it easier to move around on all fours, with all their limbs helping to support their weight.  All the very heaviest dinosaurs described so far, the long-necked dinosaurs like Apatosaurus, Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus, for example, moved around on four legs.  Animals that walk on all fours are called quadrupeds.

Around 1,200 Different Types of Dinosaur Have Been Described To Date

The great variety of dinosaurs.

So many different types of dinosaur.  Around 1,200 different types of dinosaur have been scientifically described.  Some dinosaurs walked on just their hind legs, some dinosaurs walked on all fours and some dinosaurs could amble around on all fours, but if they needed to run quickly, they could rear up onto their hind legs and run away, changing from being a quadruped to becoming a biped.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For Teacher

  • Challenge the class to sort dinosaur models into animals that walk on two legs and animals that walk on all fours.
  • Can the children research animals alive today and classify them into different groups based on how they move?

Why Do Some Dinosaurs Have Horns?

Sorcha wanted to know why do some dinosaurs have horns?  Lots of dinosaurs had horns, in fact there is a group of dinosaurs called the “horned dinosaurs” as most of these types had long horns on their faces or heads and all of them had frills of bone at the back of their skulls.  Famous horned dinosaurs include Triceratops, Protoceratops and the very spiky Styracosaurus (see picture above).

Scientists think that these horns helped dinosaurs to:

  1. Stay safe – the horns, spikes and frills of bone around their necks helped protect them from attacks from other dinosaurs.
  2. To signal to other dinosaurs in their herd – dinosaurs like Triceratops and Styracosaurus probably lived in large groups (herds), they could have used their big horns and frills to signal to the other group members.
  3. To find a mate – dinosaurs probably had colour vision, as good as ours.  They could see colours, just like we can and the horns and frills may have been brightly coloured and used in displays to help these dinosaurs to find a mate.  Many birds are brightly coloured and have large feathers which are not helpful when it comes to flying but are used to help these creatures display and show-off – a peacock for example.

Lots of Different Horned Dinosaurs – How Many Can You Count?

Different types of horned dinosaur.

Horned dinosaurs used their horns to help defend themselves from attack, to help signal to other herd members and to help them display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

For Teacher

  • Challenge the class to write a fact sheet all about the famous, three-horned dinosaur Triceratops.
  • Find pictures of horned dinosaurs, can the children group them into two types of horned dinosaur, one group with large nose horns and small horns over their eyes and a second group with small nose horns and large horns over their eyes?
  • What types of animals have horns today?  Can you make a list and work out what these animals use their horns for?
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