All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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11 10, 2018

Smallest Diplodocid Skull Shedding Light on the Family Life of Diplodocus

By | October 11th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Baby Diplodocid Skull Could Provide Fresh Insight into the Life of Diplodocus

A team of international researchers writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, have described a partial skull of a diplodocid dinosaur.  The skull, measuring just 24 centimetres long, is the smallest diplodocid skull described to date and it is helping to provide information on how long-necked dinosaurs changed as they grew.  The fossil (CMC VP14128), was collected back in 2010 from south, central Montana (Mother’s Day Quarry). The site contains the fossilised remains of at least sixteen immature diplodocids, that may have perished having been caught up in a turbulent mudflow.  The skull, which consists of four large segments plus additional fragments, reveals that the heads of diplodocid dinosaurs changed as they got older and suggests that immature individuals fed on different types of vegetation (dietary partitioning relative to age).  Groups of young animals may have stayed together in a creche, living apart from the adults, even occupying a different habitat.

The Fossilised Skull of a Young Diplodocid Hints at Dietary Partitioning

Dietary partitioning amongst diplodocids.

A newly published study of a small long-necked dinosaur skull suggests dietary partitioning within diplodocids.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

“Andrew” the Diplodocus

The specimen (CMC VP14128), also includes a rudimentary bone that links the skull to the cervical column (the proatlas) and four neck bones from the front part of the neck, closest to the skull.  The fossil material has been assigned to the diplodocid species Diplodocus carnegii and the skull was nicknamed “Andrew” in honour of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist, who did much to support the nascent science of palaeontology in the United States.  The species D. carnegii is named after him in recognition of his financial support for expeditions to excavate fossils from the Morrison Formation.

The Immature Diplodocid Compared to an Adult and Andrew Carnegie (1.6 m tall) with Skull Views and Accompanying Line Drawings

Immature diplodcid skull.

The juvenile diplodocid with Andrew Carnegie and an adult Diplodocus for scale. Along with right and left lateral views of the skull and line drawings.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The picture above shows a skeletal reconstruction of “Andrew” compared to Andrew Carnegie and an adult D. carnegii (A), the bones in the skeleton in white represent the fossil material (CMC VP14128).  Right lateral view of the skull (B), with an accompanying line drawing and (C), a left lateral view of the skull with a line drawing.  The four segments of the skull are numbered in the line drawings and the scale bar in (B) and (C) is ten centimetres.

Differences in the Shape of the Head of Young and Fully Grown Dinosaurs

Although the skull fossil has been crushed, the researchers, which included lead author Cary Woodruff (University of Toronto) and Glenn Storrs (Cincinnati Museum Centre), conclude that the juvenile, which was perhaps around 5 years of age and 5 metres long when it died, had a much narrower snout compared to the broad, wide snout of an adult.  In addition, “Andrew” possessed thirteen teeth on each side of its lower jaw, some of which had spatulate, spoon-like edges to slice through tough vegetation.  In contrast, fully-grown Diplodocus lower jaws had eleven teeth on each side and these were much more peg-like and were probably used to “comb” food in to the mouth.  This indicates that juveniles had different skull morphologies and dentition when compared to older, more mature animals and suggests resource partitioning between juveniles and adults.  In short, juvenile Diplodocus probably fed on different plants compared to the grown-ups.

An Adult Diplodocus had a Differently Shaped Head and Snout Compared to a Juvenile

Adult Diplodocus compared to a juvenile.

Adult animals had broader snouts whilst the juveniles and much narrower snouts with more teeth which were shaped differently.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

This research is consistent with the theory that immature diplodocids adopted a different feeding strategy, grazing on a greater variety of plants, whilst the adults were predominantly ground-level browsers.

To read an article from 2010 that hypothesised that baby dinosaurs had different skull morphologies and facial features when compared to adults: Juvenile Diplodocus Skull Study Suggests Baby Dinosaurs Had Different Shaped Skulls Compared to the Adults

Commenting on the significance of this research, lead author Cary Woodruff, stated”

“Because they have [Diplodocus juveniles] got these different tooth types, it’s kind of like of a Swiss army knife in their mouth, right?  They can pick and eat every plant they want to.  They had free rein at the salad bar.”

Young Diplodocids Living in Woodland Habitats

The skull and tooth morphology of Diplodocus suggests that these animals transitioned through distinct feeding roles over their lifespan and vindicates the dramatised life story of a Diplodocus in the ground-breaking BBC television documentary series “Walking with Dinosaurs”.  In episode two “Time of the Titans”, the story of a Diplodocus from hatching to reaching adulthood was told and juveniles were depicted as living in groups within the forests, only joining the adults on the open plains when they were much larger, too large for most predators to tackle.  The different skull shapes and dentition suggest that juvenile diplodocids lived in more forested environments than the adults that (restricted and protected by their size), were most likely browsing in more open habitats.

For an article published in 2012 on Diplodocus feeding strategies: Diplodocus Feeding Frenzy – A Biter or a Comber?

Lead Author of the Study Cary Woodruff Holds the Skull of a Juvenile Diplodocid

Holding the skull of a juvenile diplodocid.

Cary Woodruff (University of Toronto), holding the skull of a juvenile diplodocid.

Picture Credit: John P Wilson

The scientific paper: “The Smallest Diplodocid Skull Reveals Cranial Ontogeny and Growth-Related Dietary Changes in the Largest Dinosaurs” by D. Cary Woodruff, Thomas D. Carr, Glenn W. Storrs, Katja Waskow, John B. Scannella, Klara K. Nordén and John P. Wilson published in Scientific Reports.

10 10, 2018

CollectA Collector’s Booklet 2018

By | October 10th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|2 Comments

CollectA Collector’s Booklet 2018

The CollectA 2018 booklet has arrived and is available from Everything Dinosaur.  At Everything Dinosaur, we appreciate that model collectors like to collect catalogues and booklets too, so we always do our best to ensure that we have stocks of the latest booklets and catalogues available.  The CollectA collector’s 2018 booklet runs to an impressive 230 pages and contains details of all the models and figures available within the various CollectA ranges.

The 2018 CollectA Booklet

CollectA catalogue 2018.

The CollectA collector’s booklet for 2018.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dunkleosteus on the Front Cover

The 1:20 scale CollectA Dunkleosteus model is featured on the front cover.  This figure measures around twenty-eight centimetres in length and that pronounced hump at the back of the head is approximately six centimetres high.  This model of the giant Devonian predator was introduced earlier this year and it has received a lot of praise from academics, researchers and museum curators.

To read our article that discusses the care and attention to detail that has gone into the CollectA Dunkleosteus model: In Praise of the CollectA Deluxe Dunkleosteus

The CollectA Deluxe 1:20 scale Dunkleosteus Model

A close-up view of the anterior portion of the CollectA 1:20 scale Dunkleosteus model.

A close view of the anterior portion of the CollectA 1:20 scale Dunkleosteus model.  Note the fine details on the figure and the use of a gloss coating to give this marine fish an authentic “wet” look as if this animal has just been pulled from the water.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The CollectA Booklet is Free from Everything Dinosaur

All the catalogues, that Everything Dinosaur stocks, including the CollectA 2018 booklet, are available for free from the UK-based company, there is just a subsidised postage cost to pay.

A spokesperson for the company commented:

“We recognise that dinosaur model fans like to collect various catalogues too so we do our best to bring in stocks of the various catalogues and send them out to discerning collectors and model fans.”

Everything Dinosaur will soon be making the first of a series of announcements providing details of new for 2019 CollectA models.

To view the range of CollectA Deluxe prehistoric animal figures and to pick up the CollectA 2018 booklet: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life

9 10, 2018

“Powerful Terror Ruler” – Dynamoterror dynastes

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

“Powerful Terror Ruler” – Dynamoterror dynastes

A new species of North American Tyrannosaur has been scientifically named.  The newly described “tyrant lizard” joins a plethora of tyrannosaurids known from the Late Cretaceous of Laramidia, but Dynamoterror dynastes stands out from the majority of these fearsome Theropods for some very important reasons.  Firstly, it is quite geologically old for a Late Cretaceous large-bodied Tyrannosaur, its discovery has implications for our understanding of Tyrannosaur evolution.  In addition, its the frontal bones that help make this dinosaur stand out and besides, its scientific name, which means “powerful terror ruler”, is a nod in the direction of the most famous dinosaur of all – Tyrannosaurus rex.

A Life Reconstruction of Dynamoterror dynastes Attacking the Recently Described Invictarx zephyri

The newly described Tyrannosaur Dynamoterror attacks Invictarx

Dynamoterror ambushes the armoured dinosaur Invictarx zephyri.

Picture Credit: Brian Engh

The Geological Age – Early Campanian

The fossil bones, representing a single, individual animal were collected in 2012.  They herald from San Juan County, New Mexico, specifically the upper part of the Allison Member of the Menefee Formation.  Although fragmentary, the fossil material consists of asociated bones including left and right frontals (bones from the top of the skull over the eye socket), a right metacarpal (bone from the hand), four broken pieces from the backbone, pieces of rib, a portion of the right ilium and some toe bones, plus several unidenfiable slithers of bone.  It might not sound like much, but this is the first associated tyrannosaurid skeleton reported from the Menefee Formation.  Isolated teeth had been found in this locality before suggesting the presence of tyrannosaurids, but Dynamoterror dynastes is the first to be named and described.  It was probably the dominant predator in the lush, tropical, coastal swamps that covered this part of the southern United States some 80 million years ago.

During the Late Cretaceous, North America was essentially split into two by a wide seaway, the Western Interior Seaway.  To the east lay Appalachia and Tyrannosaurs are known from here, but not many, only two genera have been named to date – Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis and Dryptosaurus aquilunguis and both of these are only known from a single, partial, associated skeleton.  In the Upper Cretaceous strata to the west that formed the landmass called Laramidia, lots of Tyrannosaurs have been named and described.  However, the tyrannosaurid record for Laramidia is restricted to a period from about 77 million years ago to the K-Pg extinction event some 66 million years ago.  Dynamoterror comes from rocks which are around 3 million years older.  It provides the first fossil record of a Laramidian tyrannosaurid from the Early Campanian of 80 million years ago and, as a result, will help palaeontologists to better understand tyrannosaurid evolution.

The Cool Thing About Frontals

Less than one percent of the skeleton may have been found (field teams were despatched in 2013 and again this year to try and find more remains but without luck), but when it comes to describing a new genus, it is often quality that triumphs over quantity.  The frontal bones, their shape, the groves that they possess and other features including how they knit together with other skull bones, can prove extremely helpful when it comes to identifying a new dinosaur species.  The researchers which included Dr Andrew McDonald (Curator, of the Western Science Centre, California), identified some unique characteristics in the frontal bones, hence the establishment of a new genus.

Photographs and Computer-generated Three-dimensional Models of the Left and Right Frontals of D. dynastes

The frontal bones of Dynamoterror dynastes.

Photographs and three-dimensional, computer-generated models of the right frontal (A, B) and the left frontal (C, D) of Dynamoterror dynastes (rostal view – viewed from the front of the brain).  Scale bar = 5  centimetres.

Picture Credit: PeerJ/Western Science Centre

A Large Bodied Tyrannnosaur

The researchers cannot be certain whether their fossil discovery represents a fully grown animal or a sub-adult.  However, when the frontal bones of D. dynastes were compared to those of Tyrannosaurus rex, the scientists concluded that Dynamoterror was at least nine metres long.  The armoured dinosaur that features in the illustration (above), Invictarx, was also named and described by Dr McDonald, along with Mr Doug Wolfe (Zuni Dinosaur Institute for Geosciences) who worked together on this Tyrannosaur.  It is likely that more dinosaurs will be described based on fossil discoveries from within the Menefee Formation.  Alton C. Dooley Jr also collaborated in the study of Dynamoterror.

To read about the discovery of the nodosaurid Invictarx: A New Nodosaur from New Mexico

Size Comparison of Selected Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaurs

Comparing the size of selected Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaurs.

Size comparison between selected Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

What’s in a Name?

This new taxon provides further, significant insight into the morphology and diversity of tyrannosaurids from the Early Campanian of Laramidia and it’s name is pretty cool too.  The genus name is taken from the Greek word “dynamis” which means “power” and the Latin word “terror”.  The trivial or specific name, is from the Latin word “dynastes” meaning “ruler”.  Hence, the binomial scientific name Dynamoterror dynastes translates to “powerful terrror ruler”, however, the scientific paper also states that this epithet honours the name “Dynamosaurus imperiosus“, from Henry Fairfield Osborn, the American palaeontologist who referred to fossil material later assigned to Tyrannosaurus rex as Dynamosaurus imperiosus in scientific papers published in the early years of the 20th Century.

The Reconstructed Frontal Complex of Dynamoterror dynastes

Life restoration of the frontals of Dynamoterror dynastes.

The reconstructed frontals of D. dynastes.

Picture Credit: PeerJ/Western Science Centre

In the picture above, the left and right frontals have been articulated together to show how they would sit at the top of the skull, in (A) rostral; (B) caudal; (C) right lateral; (D) dorsal; and (E) ventral views.   The illustration (F), shows a view of the reconstructed skull in dorsal view.  Individual bone elements of the skull are colour-coded to show how the top of the skull knitted together: frontals (grey); fused nasals (violet); prefrontals (yellow); lacrimals (red); postorbitals (blue); and parietal (green).  The scale bars represent 5 centimetres and the missing skull bones have been based on the related tyrannosaurid Teratophoneus curriei, a geologically younger Tyrannosaur from the Upper Campanian of southern Utah (Kaiparowits Formation).  T. curriei roamed Laramidia around 76 million years ago, some 4 million years after Dynamoterror dynastes.

The scientific paper: “A New Tyrannosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico” by Andrew T. McDonald, Douglas G. Wolfe and Alton C. Dooley published in PeerJ

8 10, 2018

Baby Mammoth Lyuba Not Visiting the UK

By | October 8th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Baby Mammoth Lyuba Not Visiting the UK

Everything Dinosaur has received a number of enquiries asking whether the beautifully preserved baby Woolly Mammoth known as Lyuba will be visiting the UK in 2019.  As far as we know, there are no plans for any museum in the United Kingdom to exhibit this amazing specimen next year.

Lyuba Not Coming to the UK Anytime Soon

The baby Woolly Mammoth known as Lyuba.

The 40,000-year-old baby mammoth Lyuba.

Picture Credit: Uppa Photoshot (Daily Telegraph News)

Drowned in a Muddy Pool 40,000 Years Ago

The almost perfectly preserved frozen carcass of a four-week-old, female Woolly Mammoth calf was discovered in the Yamal-Nenets region of Siberia eleven years ago.  The baby Mammoth was named Lyuba, after the wife of the reindeer herder who found her.  The specimen is part of the Shemanovskiy Museum and Exhibition Centre collection in Salekhard (Russia), but in death she has travelled far further than she did in her short life.  Lyuba was part of a special exhibition focusing on Mammoths and Mastodons that toured the world back starting in 2010/11 “Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age”.  The last stop on that extensive tour was London, where Lyuba was exhibited at the Natural History Museum in 2014.

Extensive precautions have to be taken to protect this remarkable specimen, described by many palaeontologists as the “best preserved baby Woolly Mammoth ever found”.  In addition, back in 2009, this exhibit was insured for a “Mammoth” 1.1 million euros prior to the world tour.  Such high insurance costs act as a disincentive to all but the largest museums when it comes to funding an exhibition of this sort.  As far as team members at Everything Dinosaur are aware, there are no plans to exhibit Lyuba in the UK anytime in the near future.

7 10, 2018

Baking Triassic Treats

By | October 7th, 2018|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaurs Inspire Baking

The children in Year 2 (Owls and Hedgehogs classes), at Spire Nursery and Infant School (Derbyshire), have been learning all about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals this term.  A team member from Everything Dinosaur visited the school last week to conduct some workshops with the children as part of a challenging, diverse and exciting scheme of work that had been devised by the dedicated teaching team.

Over the last few weeks the children have shared lots of amazing information about dinosaurs and set out what aspects of the lives of dinosaurs that they would like to explore.  The eager, young palaeontologists have been learning about when dinosaurs lived, where they lived and what they ate.  As part of an exploration of food and dinosaur body shapes the children in Year 2 made some super dinosaur themed cakes and biscuits.

Trays of Dinosaur Inspired Tasty Cakes and Biscuits

Dinosaur treats made by Year 2 children.

Dinosaur chocolate nests and biscuits.  A couple of trays of “Triassic treats”.

Picture Credit: Spire Nursery and Infant School

Developing Creativity

Taking part in a baking activity permits the children to practice their measuring and motor skills as well as introducing the idea of following a set of instructions to achieve a desired outcome.  Decorating the various dinosaur themed treats certainly brought out the children’s creative flair.

Young Elliott was Very Proud of the Dinosaur Biscuit that he had Made

A dinosaur shaped biscuit made by Year 2.

A dinosaur themed biscuit.

Picture Credit: Spire Nursery and Infant School

Herbivores, Carnivores and Omnivores

Over the course of the term topic the children have been learning about simple food webs and what animal’s need to keep them safe and well.  During our workshops with the classes our dinosaur expert checked learning by testing the children’s knowledge about herbivores, carnivores and omnivores.  One of the role-play areas in a classroom had been turned into a “dinosaur dig site”, permitting the children the opportunity to search for dinosaur bones, allowing the children to experience what it is like to be a real palaeontologist.

After the Everything Dinosaur workshops in the morning, the children were going to have an afternoon of science, creating simple experiments to study the way in which some dinosaurs fed.  We hope that the additional resources, experiment ideas and lesson plans we provided helps to support, what is already a diverse and challenging scheme of work.

Whilst in one of the classrooms, our dinosaur expert was able to see some of the excellent dinosaur themed work completed by the children.  The classes had been finding out lots of information about dinosaurs from a variety of sources to help them create their own non-fiction book.  Lots of dinosaur books were on display, the Year 2 pupils had been exploring different texts, all with a prehistoric animal theme.

Shapes and Numeracy

There is a big focus on helping the children gain confidence with numbers.  The children have been studying simple addition and subtraction problems, our dinosaur footprint measuring exercise that we provided should help support this area of the curriculum nicely.  The enthusiastic teaching team have been using dinosaurs to help children appreciate and learn about different shapes.  On the wall outside the Year 2 classrooms, examples of dinosaurs made from different shaped pieces of felt were on display.

Learning About Different Shapes Using Dinosaurs

Exploring shapes to make a felt dinosaur

A felt dinosaur.  The children were challenged to use different shaped pieces of felt to build a dinosaur.  This is a great way to help develop an understanding of basic geometry.

Picture Credit: Spire Nursery and Infant School

6 10, 2018

The Bolder the Male Bird the Faster They Find a Partner

By | October 6th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

The Bolder the Male Bird – the Harder and Faster they Fall for a Mate

Those avian dinosaurs (birds), in parks and gardens are living out complex lives under our noses and some of their behaviours are just beginning to become better understood.  New research into the humble Great Tit (Parus major), for example, a very common visitor to gardens all over the British Isles, has revealed that bold male birds focus on forming strong relationships with their future breeding partners while shy male birds play the field.

Scientists Study the Complex Breeding Strategies of Parus major

Parus major - a common garden visitor.

The complex breeding and mating selection in male Great Tits has been revealed.

Picture Credit: Getty Images

This insight into the mate selection and breeding behaviour of this garden visitor has come about following an Oxford University Department of Biology study.  The scientists found that the individual personalities of male Great Tits influence how they bond with their future breeding partner.

Bold Birds and Shy Birds Adopt Different Strategies

Writing in the academic journal “Nature Ecology and Evolution”, the study suggests that more dominant, bolder, more proactive males select their future breeding partners faster and in addition, put more effort into their relationship with their potential mate before the breeding season commences.  In contrast, less dominant, shy males are not as devoted to forming a strong pair bond, they choose to spend more time flocking with other females.

Commenting on how this research can highlight individual differences in behaviour which shapes the formation of crucial social relationships in the wild, lead author of the research Dr Josh Firth, stated:

“Finding a mating partner is of upmost importance to these birds, just as it is for many species across the animal kingdom.  We wanted to ask why individuals of the same species differ so much in how much effort they put into forming these relationships.”

Radio Frequency Identification Tags Used to Track the Bird’s Movements

The study was conducted in the Oxford University’s Wytham Woods.  The personalities of hundreds of individual Parus major was assessed and then radio-frequency identification tags were used to plot the bird’s movements and how they interacted with the local population over several breeding seasons.

Dr Firth added:

“We show that personality plays an important role explaining the differences in pair-bonding tactics; proactive males dedicate more time to their chosen future partner, even long before mating begins, while the less proactive males take the alternative option of sampling lots of different females right up until the breeding season actually starts.”

There is More to Common Garden Birds Than Meets the Eye

Parus major - Great Tit

A beautiful garden visitor.

Picture Credit: BBC

Which Breeding Strategy is Best?

The scientists conclude that there probably is no “best personality” or most effective strategy to adopt, when it comes to partner selection.  This may explain why natural selection has resulted in different breeding strategies within this species.  It could well be the case that being bold and proactive is better for finding a good partner in some social situations, while more reserved strategies prove to be the winning formula in other circumstances.

It might be difficult to infer such courtship and breeding behaviours on those extinct relatives of today’s modern birds – the Dinosauria.  However, the more scientists learn about individual behavioural differences in a species and how they can shape social relationships, then the case for suggesting complex breeding and socialising strategies amongst the Dinosauria becomes more compelling.

Inferring Complex Social Behaviours in Extinct Theropods

Beibeilong nesting scene.

A breeding pair of Beibeilong dinosaurs and their nest of giant dinosaur eggs.  Can studies of extant Aves provide clues to the social and breeding behaviours of the closely related Theropod dinosaurs?

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

The scientific paper: “Personality Shapes Pair Bonding in a Wild Bird Social System” by Josh A. Firth, Ella F. Cole, Christos C. Ioannou, John L. Quinn, Lucy M. Aplin, Antica Culina, Keith McMahon and Ben C. Sheldon and published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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

5 10, 2018

The World’s Largest Bird Ever!

By | October 5th, 2018|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Vorombe titan – The Biggest Bird That Ever Lived

Scientists writing in the open access journal “Royal Society Open Science” have undertaken the first taxonomic revision for a very long time of the enigmatic family of giant, flightless birds, the “Elephant Birds”, that once roamed Madagascar.  In the first detailed study into the Aepyornithidae for fifty years, the research team concluded that their taxonomy is in fact spread across three genera and at least four distinct species.  Emerging out of this revision is Vorombe titan (meaning ‘big bird’ in Malagasy and Greek), the largest avian described to date.  V. titan may have lived as recently as 1,000 years ago and although standing more than three metres high and tipping the scales at an estimated eight hundred kilograms, this giant was relatively harmless, feeding on fruit, nuts and leaves.

At Around 3 Metres Tall and Weighing 800 Kilograms Vorombe titan is the Biggest of the Aepyornithidae

Giant "Elephant Bird" - Vorombe titan illustrated.

A life reconstruction of the biggest of the “Elephant Birds” Vorombe titan.

Picture Credit: Jaime Chirinos

Researchers at the international conservation charity, the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology, have used complex statistical analysis to reorder the Aepyornithidae, discovering unexpected diversity in these Madagascan birds.

Complicated Taxonomy

The first scientific assessments of the “Elephant Birds” took place in the 1850’s and species and genera assignment was based on comparative analysis, measurements and observed differences between fossils and bone specimens.  It had previously been suggested that up to fifteen different species made up the Aepyornithidae, assigned to two genera (Aepyornis and Mullerornis).  The scientists in this new study, coupled comparative analysis techniques familiar to 19th Century anatomists with the latest multivariate cluster analysis and Bayesian statistical processes to re-examine these large-bodied ratites.

Using specimens from museums all over the world, the team identified three genera and at least four distinct species, as well as confirming that Vorombe titan is the biggest bird species known to science.

The first species to be described, Aepyornis maximus, had been considered to be the world’s largest avian.  However, in 1894, British scientist C.W. Andrews described an even larger species, Aepyornis titan, but this idea was controversial, the specimen ascribed to this new species – A. titan being thought by many scientists and academics to represent an unusually large example of A. maximus.

This new study establishes enough unique characteristics in the material associated with A. titan to conclude that it is, indeed, a separate species.  The size, morphology and robust nature of its bones are so different from all other members of the Aepyornithidae, that this specimen has been placed in its own genus and named Vorombe titan.

The Robust Femur of V. titan

Views of the very robust femur of Vorombe titan.

Views of the Vorombe titan, femur (specimen number NHMUK A439) Madagascar; part of syntype series.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

Lead author of the study, Dr James Hansford (Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology) explained:

“Elephant birds were the biggest of Madagascar’s megafauna and arguably one of the most important in the islands evolutionary history, even more so than lemurs.  This is because large-bodied animals have an enormous impact on the wider ecosystem they live in via controlling vegetation through eating plants, spreading biomass and dispersing seeds through defecation.  Madagascar is still suffering the effects of the extinction of these birds today.”

Helping to Understand the Evolution of a Unique Island Community

Co-author Professor Samuel Turvey (Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology), added:

“Without an accurate understanding of past species diversity, we can’t properly understand evolution or ecology in unique island systems such as Madagascar or reconstruct exactly what’s been lost since human arrival on these islands.  Knowing the history of biodiversity loss is essential to determine how to conserve today’s threatened species.”

This research links and clarifies the 19th Century research with the very latest machine learning and Bayesian clustering statistical techniques, helping to solve a taxonomic muddle.  With a better understanding of these extinct avian megafauna scientists will learn important lessons about the impact extinctions have on island communities.

The revelation that the biggest of these birds was forgotten by history is just one part of the remarkable story of the “Elephant Birds”.

The scientific paper: “Unexpected Diversity within the Extinct Elephant Birds (Aves: Aepyornithidae) and a New Identity for the World’s Largest Bird” by James P. Hansford, Samuel T. Turvey published by the Royal Society Open Science.

4 10, 2018

Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor Reviewed by JurassicCollectables

By | October 4th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

JurassicCollectables Reviews Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor Model

Those clever and talented people at JurassicCollectables have been reminiscing about the film “Jurassic Park” and in a homage to the second film in the franchise “The Lost World”, they have produced a video review of the Rebor 1/18th scale Velociraptor model “Sweeney”.  A dromaeosaurid figure that would have looked very much at home chasing visitors to Isla Sorna in the second instalment – “stay out of the long grass”, as Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) might say!

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor Velociraptor Model “Sweeney”

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

An Unboxing and Video Review of the Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor

In this highly informative video review (it lasts a little over eight and a half minutes), the narrator unpacks the Velociraptor figure and then takes us on a tour of this beautifully crafted model.  It is great to see a focus placed on the packaging, the Rebor products have a very distinctive look about them and the packaging is excellent.  The narrator takes care to show the back of the box, as the Sweeney packaging features all the other Velociraptor figures that Rebor has made previously.  They make a wonderful collection.

The Reverse Side of the Packaging is Shown Revealing the Range of 1:18 Scale Velociraptor Replicas

Rebor Velociraptor "Sweeney" packaging.

The back of the Rebor Velociraptor “Sweeney” box.  Lots of different Velociraptor models to collect.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The commentator states that this figure has a colour scheme that is similar to the colouration of the Velociraptors seen in “The Lost World” and muses on the prospect of being able to depict a key scene from the film by building a long grass chase prehistoric diorama using the Rebor “Sweeney” figure as the centrepiece.

The Rebor 1:18 Scale Velociraptor Replica “Sweeney”

The stripey Velociraptor figure called "Sweeney" by Rebor.

The Rebor “Sweeney” Velociraptor figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Translucent Teeth

In the video, the viewer is treated to a close-up view of the articulated jaw and the inside of the mouth of this stunning figure.  The interior of the mouth has been given a high gloss so it has a realistic wet-look about it, even the tongue can be seen to glisten in the video.  The narrator comments on the paint job on the teeth.  He extols their translucent appearance and praises the sculpture for its attention to detail when it comes to depicting the business end of these speedy carnivores.

JurassicCollectables post up lots of amazing videos and content on their YouTube channel, Everything Dinosaur recommends that you subscribe.

To visit JurassicCollectables on YouTube: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables

The vertical slit pupil in the eye is also discussed, this is the sort of pupil shape seen in cats which are largely nocturnal.  Crocodilians have this pupil shape too, the inference is that Velociraptor was a hunter in low light or at night.  There is no scientific data to support this idea, but many small, cursorial predators today are nocturnal so why not Velociraptor?

The Wet-Looking and Glossy Mouth of the Rebor Velociraptor Figure “Sweeney”

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

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

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Muzzled Velociraptor

One of the highlights of this video review is the section which shows how carefully the Velociraptor figure has been wrapped.  It sits inside its foam packaging and even the jaw has been taped up to prevent it getting jarred or damaged in transit.  Such attention to detail helps to elevate the Rebor brand and the Velociraptors with their movie-going looks make great additions to any dinosaur model collection.

A Muzzled Velociraptor – Collectors and Dinosaur Model Fans Can See How Well Protected the Velociraptor Is

Unwrapping a Rebor Velociraptor "Sweeney".

A carefully wrapped and protected Velociraptor model.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

To view the entire range of Rebor prehistoric animals available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Prehistoric Animals and Dinosaurs

3 10, 2018

Prehistoric Sharks and Fish Fed on Pterosaurs

By | October 3rd, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Prehistoric Sharks and Fish Fed on Pterosaurs

A series of tell-tale bite marks discovered on the preserved forelimb (wing) of a species of pterosaur reveal that in the Late Cretaceous, prehistoric sharks and other types of fish fed on flying reptiles.  This remarkable discovery, not only helps palaeontologists to infer an aspect of shark and fish feeding behaviour, but the preserved striations have permitted researchers to identify the species of shark likely to have caused the bite marks and narrowed down the other fish culprit to the genus level.

Scientists Have Discovered a Pterosaur Bone that was Scavenged by a Shark

Shark attacks a pterosaur

A pterosaur attacked by a shark.  Although a shark attacking the pterosaur can’t be ruled out the researchers conclude that a carcass of flying reptile was probably scavenged by the fish.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton/Palaios

A single metacarpal bone, identified as coming from a Pteranodon (P. longiceps) discovered in Alabama exhibits serrated teeth marks on the surface of the bone and a second set of unserrated teeth marks unlike those of any contemporary shark species.  Writing in the academic journal “Palaios”, researchers from the New Jersey State Museum and the Geological Survey of Alabama report on the fossil bone from the Mooreville Chalk of Dallas County, Alabama.  The fossil is approximately 83 million years of age (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous), a time when this part of the United States was covered by a shallow, tropical sea (the Mississippi Embayment).

Squalicorax kaupi

The feeding marks associated with a shark species have been identified as Squalicorax kaupi, a lamniform shark, part of a dominant Mesozoic group, before being replaced by a more modern shark biota (Carcharhiniform sharks), as a result of the Cretaceous mass extinction event.

To read more about the marine biota turnover that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous: Modern Shark Diversity Strongly Influenced by the End Cretaceous Extinction Event

Sword-eel Fish Feeds on a Pterosaur

The researchers conclude that the other feeding traces on the Pterosaur metacarpal were made by a Sword-eel fish (saurodontid), such as Saurodon or Saurocephalus.  These bony fish were large predators, with some specimens measuring more than two metres in length.  They had long, powerful bodies and the lower jaw was elongated and larger than the upper jaw.  It is likely that these types of fish were active hunters usually feeding on smaller fish and squid.  However, in this instance, both the shark and the bony fish appear to have scavenged on the remains of a pterosaur.  The authors of the scientific paper, Dana J. Ehret (New Jersey State Museum) and T. Lynn Harrell Jr (Geological Survey of Alabama), hypothesise that the fossil bone represents a flying reptile that either fell into marine waters or washed out from nearshore areas and was then scavenged.

The Teeth in the Sword-eel Fish Jaw Match the Feeding Traces on the Fossil Bone

Feeding traces on the pterosaur bone match the teeth of a Sword-eel fish.

The teeth of a Sword-eel fish match the feeding traces found on a pterosaur metacarpal.

Picture Credit: Palaios

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Pterosaur fossil remains are extremely rare in the Late Cretaceous marine chalks of Alabama.  The few specimens that have been found are very fragmentary in nature.  To be able to infer feeding behaviour on the remains of a Pteranodon is quite remarkable.”

2 10, 2018

Eofauna Scientific Research – Model Mystery?

By | October 2nd, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Eofauna Scientific Research – Mystery Model?

So, the news is out, those super-talented people at Eofauna Scientific Research are going to be introducing another prehistoric animal model.  After two perfect proboscideans (Straight-tusked Elephant and their first model, a Steppe Mammoth), there is to be a third model added to this range, probably before Christmas.  However, this is no elephant!

Eofauna Scientific Research Teasing Model Fans and Collectors

Teasing about a new model.

A model-themed teaser from Eofauna Scientific Research.

Picture Credit: Eofauna Scientific Research/Everything Dinosaur

A Third Model Teaser

A little while back, representatives from Everything Dinosaur met up with those talented chaps from Eofauna Scientific Research and over the course of a very fruitful meeting, how best to introduce new prehistoric animal models was discussed.  Over a cup of coffee, we explained that one way of raising awareness about a new figure would be to post up some pictures such as a partial image or a silhouette.  Dinosaur fans and model collectors could then learn about a new model, without necessarily knowing exactly what the forthcoming introduction was going to be.  It’s a tease we know, but as we put forward the suggestion in the first place, please don’t blame Eofauna.  However, at least collectors can have a go at guessing what sort of prehistoric animal might be the next to be released.

The Current Range from Eofauna Scientific Research – A Perfect Pair of Proboscideans

Eofauna models (Steppe Mammoth and Straight-tusked elephant).

The Eofauna Straight-tusked Elephant and the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the models currently in the Eofauna range and available from Everything Dinosaur: Eofauna Scientific Research Models

Eofauna Scientific Research Models

Eofauna Scientific Research models are available to purchase from Everything Dinosaur.  With a third model being introduced shortly, I suppose we can formally call this series a range and what a range of realistic, hand-painted, museum quality replicas of prehistoric animals Eofauna has produced.  All named prehistoric animal replicas and models in the Eofauna Scientific Research models collection are supplied with their very own fact sheet so you can read all about dinosaurs, marine reptiles and other creatures from the past.  Everything Dinosaur fact sheet collectors, please don’t worry, there will be a fact sheet available for this third figure, just for the time being, we are not allowed to reveal what the model is.

Perhaps, if we provided a close-up view of those mystery feet, it might help.

Whose Feet are These?  A Close-up View of the Mystery Model’s Feet

Teasing about a new model

A model-themed teaser from Eofauna Scientific Research.  Can you guess the prehistoric animal?

Picture Credit: Eofauna Scientific Research/Everything Dinosaur

These prehistoric animal models and Eofauna dinosaurs are great to collect and ideal for helping to develop creative, imaginative play.  A wonderful collection of replicas including the Eofauna Scientific Research Steppe Mammoth and the Eofauna Scientific Research Straight-tusked Elephant, with another new model to come before Christmas.

But what is it?  We promise to reveal the answer and publish more information very soon…

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