All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//December
11 12, 2018

Prehistoric Cave Art Reveals an Understanding of Astronomy

By | December 11th, 2018|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Cave Paintings Indicate a Link with Complex Astronomical Measurements

Scientists have decoded some ancient (Palaeolithic and Neolithic), cave art and found consistent links which indicate that Stone Age people had an advanced knowledge of astronomy.  The artworks located across Europe (Spain, France and Germany, with some younger artworks studied from Turkey), are not simply depictions of animals and hunting, the wild animals that have been painted onto cave walls represent star constellations and are used to represent dates and catastrophic events such as meteor strikes.

The Famous Lascaux Shaft Cave Painting (France)

The Lascaux Shaft Cave Painting

The cave painting shows a wounded bison with its entrails hanging outside his body standing over a prone man with a bird mask.  Once thought to depict a hunting accident and also linked to shamanism, scientists now think such symbolism relates to understanding movements of celestial bodies.

Picture Credit: Alistair Coombs

This research, published in the latest edition of the quarterly “Athens Journal of History”, suggests that perhaps as far back as 40,000 years ago, humans kept track of time using knowledge of how the position of the stars slowly changes over thousands of years.  The study conducted by scientists from Edinburgh University and the University of Kent, hints at the possibility that ancient peoples understood an effect caused by the gradual shift of the Earth’s rotational axis.  Discovery of this phenomenon, called precession of the equinoxes, was previously thought to have occurred much more recently (credited to the Ancient Greek civilisation).

Like Signs of the Zodiac

In western, occidental science, constellations are represented by symbols such as animals, for example, The Great Bear, Pegasus, Aries and Leo.  It seems this idea has roots far back into our ancestry.  The researchers estimate that Stone Age people could define the date of an astronomical event according to this celestial calendar to within 250 years or thereabouts.  The findings indicate that the astronomical insights of ancient people were far greater than previously believed.  One practical application of this knowledge would have been seen in navigation.  Knowledge of the movements of the stars in the night sky would have aided navigation across open water out of sight of land.  This new study may have implications for how we perceive human migration in prehistory.

Studying Palaeolithic and Neolithic Art

The scientists discovered all the ancient sites they studied across Europe and into Turkey used the same method of date-keeping based on sophisticated astronomy, even though the art was separated in time by tens of thousands of years.  The oldest art in the research project was the Lion-Man sculpture from the Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave, in southern Germany.  This sculpture is believed to have been created around 38,000 B.C.  The most recent artworks incorporated into this research come from Neolithic sites in southern Turkey which are dated to around 9,000 years ago.  Researchers clarified earlier findings from a study of stone carvings at one of these sites – Gobekli Tepe in (Turkey), which is interpreted as a memorial to a devastating comet strike around 13,000 years ago.  The extra-terrestrial impact event is believed to have caused a mini Ice Age in the northern hemisphere (the Younger Dryas period).

Löwenmensch Figurine or Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave (Germany)

The Lion-man sculpture of Hohlenstein-Stadel.

Löwenmensch figurine or Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel cave complex.  Carved from Mammoth ivory, the figure probably took several hundred hours to make.

The scientists also decoded what is probably one of the most famous ancient cave paintings, the Lascaux Shaft Scene in France.  The artwork, which features a dying man and several animals (see above), may commemorate another comet strike around 17,200 years ago.  The team confirmed their findings by comparing the age of many examples of cave art, known from chemically dating the paints used, with the positions of stars in ancient times as predicted by sophisticated software.

Dr Martin Sweatman (School of Engineering at Edinburgh University), stated:

“Early cave art shows that people had advanced knowledge of the night sky within the last Ice Age.  Intellectually, they were hardly any different to us today.  These findings support a theory of multiple comet impacts over the course of human development and will probably revolutionise how prehistoric populations are seen.”

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

10 12, 2018

Please Order Early for Christmas

By | December 10th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Please Order Early for Christmas

There are only eleven more shopping days to Christmas, but with Christmas falling on a Tuesday this year, this means that there will be little movement in the international and domestic mail network from the 22nd December onwards.  Customers are advised to order early to avoid any potential disappointment on the big day.

Confirmation of the Last Recommended Posting Dates for Christmas Delivery

Last posting dates for Christmas.

Last recommended posting dates for Christmas (Royal Mail) in 2018.

Table Credit: Royal Mail

Recommended Last Posting Dates

The table above has been put together using information from Royal Mail.  Whilst staff at Everything Dinosaur do all they can to send out goods promptly and to provide accurate information on posting dates, it is certainly worthwhile checking with Royal Mail and other national carriers to obtain the latest postal information and updates.  Please note, the dates highlighted in the table above, are the last recommended dates for posting.  It is always sensible to send out gifts as early as possible in order to avoid disappointment.  Postal services get very busy in the run up to Christmas, posting early is always prudent and rest assured, our staff will be on hand to help customers with any queries or questions that they might have.

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Working Hard to Ensure a Rapid Despatch of Parcels

Team members working hard to despatch parcels.

Everything Dinosaur working hard to manage Christmas deliveries.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Working Hard to Ensure a Rapid Turnaround and Despatch of Orders

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been working all weekend to ensure that orders placed for Christmas delivery get packed and sent out as rapidly as possible.  Extra collections have been organised to cope with the large volume of orders the UK-based company receives at this time of year.  Orders placed before 2.30pm each afternoon will normally be despatched by 5.30pm the same afternoon (5.30pm is the last scheduled collection of the day).

Everything Dinosaur personnel have also been organising a special collection service to make sure that any last minute gifts get sent on their way as quickly as possible.  Royal Mail have stated the last recommended posting dates for UK parcels (see table above), however, if you are waiting for a gift to arrive, it is worth remembering that there are a number of areas in the UK where extra deliveries are taking place and Royal Mail has also organised Sunday deliveries in many parts of the country, especially in cities.

Please Check Your Delivery Address and Remember the Postcode

There are lots of things that customers can do to help ensure that parcels are delivered promptly.  For example, prior to finally hitting the “submit” button, it would be very sensible just to check the zip/post code and to ensure that the house name or house number has been included in the delivery address information.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Team workers are doing all they can to despatch parcels as quickly as possible, please help us to help you by ensuring that delivery addresses are correct and please place orders as early as possible.  Placing orders early can make a huge difference at this time of year.”

If you have a query about Christmas deliveries, or indeed any aspect of Everything Dinosaur’s delivery service please email: Email Everything Dinosaur

To view Everything Dinosaur’s website: Visit Everything Dinosaur’s Website

9 12, 2018

“A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast”

By | December 9th, 2018|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Press Releases|0 Comments

“A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast” – Book Review

At a conference in a rather chilly Helsinki held seventeen years ago this week, delegates of the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), confirmed that World Heritage Site status would be conferred upon a 95-mile stretch of the coastline of southern England covering the east Devon and Dorset coast.

In the minutes of the conference, the reason for this award was recorded:

“The Dorset and East Devon Coast provides an almost continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning the Mesozoic Era, documenting approximately 185 million years of Earth history.  It also includes a range of internationally important fossil localities – vertebrate and invertebrate, marine and terrestrial – which have produced well-preserved and diverse evidence of life during Mesozoic times.”

However, this description does not convey the true majesty of this location, nor does it provide a sense of awe that this part of the British Isles inspires in so many people.  Neither does it do justice to the simple pleasure of finding a fossil, gazing at it and realising that you are the first living creature in 180 million years to set eyes upon the petrified remains of what was once another inhabitant of our planet.

Then a book is published, a book that provides a sense of the stunning natural landscape, a book that transports the reader back in time, a book that conveys the sense of excitement and achievement associated with fossil collecting – “A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast” – does all this and more.

The Front Cover of “A Guide To Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast”

"A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast" published by Siri Scientific Press

A beautifully illustrated guide to fossil hunting on the West Dorset coast.  RRP of £18.95 – highly recommended.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

Conveying a Sense of Beauty, Conveying a Sense of Wonder

Authors Craig Chivers and Steve Snowball focus on one part of the “Jurassic Coast”, that beautiful coastline that runs east from Lyme Regis to the foreboding cliffs of Burton Bradstock.  First the scene is set.  There is a brief description of the geological setting and an outline of the contribution to science of arguably Dorset’s most famous former resident, Mary Anning, and then the reader is taken in Mary’s footsteps through a series of guided walks travelling eastwards along the coast and forwards in time to explore the geology and remarkable fossil heritage of this unique sequence of sedimentary strata.

The Book is Filled with Stunning Photographs of Fossil Discoveries

Prepared specimen of Becheiceras gallicum.

A Lower Jurassic ammonite (Becheiceras gallicum) from the Green Ammonite Member (Seatown, Dorset).

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press (fossil found and prepared by Lizzie Hingley)

A Reference for All Collectors and Fossil Enthusiasts

Drawing on their detailed knowledge of fossil collecting, Craig and Steve describe what to look for and where to find an array of fossil specimens along this part of the “Jurassic Coast”.  The landscape is vividly portrayed and the book provides a handy, rucksack-sized reference for fossil collectors, whether seasoned professionals or first time visitors to Dorset.  We commend the authors for including copious amounts of helpful information on responsible fossil collecting and for publishing in full the West Dorset Fossil Collecting Code.

Breath-taking Views of the Natural Beauty of the Coastline

Fossil hunting around Seatown.

Golden Cap – excursions around Seatown.  Majestic views of the “Jurassic Coast”.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

Recreating Ancient Environments

Talented palaeoartist Andreas Kurpisz provides readers with digital reconstructions of ancient environments and brings to life the fossil specimens, showing them as living creatures interacting with other prehistoric animals in a series of Jurassic landscapes and seascapes.  These reconstructions help to document the changing environments that are now preserved within the imposing cliffs of this remarkable part of the British coastline.

Crinoids (Sea Lilies) from the West Dorset Coast

Crinoids from the "Jurassic Coast".

The book contains stunning photographs of fossils from the “Jurassic Coast”.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

Spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur, Mike Walley commented:

“This guide manages to capture the beauty and the fascination of this part of the “Jurassic Coast”.  It is a “must have” for all fossil collectors and if ever the delegates at that UNESCO conference needed to reaffirm their decision to grant this stunning part of the British coastline World Heritage Site status, this book provides ample evidence to justify their original decision.”

For further information and to order this exquisite guide book: Order “A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast”

8 12, 2018

Animantarx Fact Sheet

By | December 8th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Geology, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Preparing a Fact Sheet for the Schleich Animantarx Model

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been busy preparing for the arrival of the first batch of new for 2019 Schleich prehistoric animal figures.  In this first set of models from the German-based manufacturer, there is a replica of the armoured dinosaur called Animantarx (Animantarx ramaljonesi), a fact sheet providing information about this nodosaurid is being compiled, so that customers of Everything Dinosaur can learn about this enigmatic member of the Thyreophora (shield-bearers).

New for 2019 the Schleich Animantarx Dinosaur Model

The new for 2019 Schleich Animantarx dinosaur model.

The Schleich Animantarx dinosaur model (new for 2019).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Using Ankylosaurs for Biostratigraphical Dating of the Cedar Mountain Formation

The disarticulated and fragmentary fossils representing a single, individual animal were described in 1999 (Carpenter, Kirkland, Burge and Bird) and Animantarx is one of numerous Ankylosaurs known from the Cedar Mountain Formation of the western United States.  The Cedar Mountain Formation has the highest concentration of ankylosaurid species of any Lower Cretaceous formation, it is hoped that further field work will help palaeontologists to build up a better picture of their evolution and subsequent radiation.

The list of armoured dinosaurs is quite long for example:

  • Sauropelta – Poison Strip Sandstone
  • Cedarpelta – Mussentuchit Member
  • Animantarx – Mussentuchit Member
  • Peloroplites – Mussentuchit Member
  • Gastonia – Yellow Cat Member

It has been suggested that given the numbers of armoured dinosaurs present in the strata, ankylosaurids can be used to help with relative dating of rock layers (biostratigraphy).

A Scale Drawing of Animantarx

Animantarx Scale Drawing.

A scale drawing of the armoured dinosaur from Utah – Animantarx ramaljonesi.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Distinct Cretaceous Dinosaur Faunas

Recent research has identified three distinct dinosaur-based faunas represented by the vertebrate fossils from the Cedar Mountain Formation.  Ankylosaurs are the most common dinosaur of the upper part of the Yellowcat Member and Poison Strip Sandstone of the Cedar Mountain Formation but are rare in other members.  This scarcity may be due to insufficient collecting in the middle and upper parts of the Cedar Mountain.  Nevertheless, Ankylosaur dinosaurs indicate a three-fold division of the Cedar Mountain dinosaur faunas.  Intriguingly, Animantarx is known from the youngest member of the Cedar Mountain Formation (Mussentuchit Member).  These rocks hold a mixture of Early and Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils – tyrannosaurids, ceratopsids, iguanodonts, ankylosaurids etc.  The strata might document a migration event whereby Asian dinosaurs moved into North America via an Alaskan land bridge.  This migration may have contributed to the extinction of several types of endemic North American members of the Dinosauria.

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

7 12, 2018

Countdown to the Eofauna Giganotosaurus Model

By | December 7th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Countdown to the Eofauna Giganotosaurus Model

Not long to wait now before the arrival of the eagerly anticipated Eofauna Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.  These beautiful 1:35 scale models are due to arrive in January 2019.  Everything Dinosaur customers, who joined our priority reservation list, are guaranteed that they will be offered a figure (some people have reserved two), as soon as the stock arrives at our warehouse, we shall be emailing list members to let them know that we have set aside a personally selected figure and we will be dropping them a line to inform them that it is in stock.

The Eagerly Anticipated Eofauna Scientific Research Giganotosaurus Model is Scheduled to Arrive in January 2019

Eofauna Giganotosaurus dinosaur replica.

The Eofauna Scientific Research Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.  This fantastic figure is due to arrive in January 2019.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Museum Quality Replica of “Giant Southern Lizard”

This Eofauna PVC figure, the third that the company has made, is a superb, museum quality replica of the huge South American carnivore Giganotosaurus.  This fantastic figure has certainly got model collectors and dinosaur fans excited.  It is a wonderful 1:35 scale model of Giganotosaurus carolinii, regarded as one of the largest terrestrial hypercarnivores to have ever existed.

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus Model (2019)

Eofauna Scientific Research Giganotosaurus carolinii.

The 1:35 scale Eofauna Giganotosaurus dinosaur model has an articulated jaw.  It even comes supplied with its own fact card, as well as for Everything Dinosaur customers, a Giganotosaurus fact sheet.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It truly is a remarkable figure, the first dinosaur model in this series to be made by Eofauna Scientific Research.  Our customers who joined the priority reserve list are guaranteed to be offered a model, when the stock arrives, team members will personally select figures and email customers to let them know that the Giganotosaurus is now available.”

The Illustration of Giganotosaurus carolinii Prepared for the Everything Dinosaur Fact Sheet

Giganotosaurus scale drawing.

Everything Dinosaur’s commissioned scale drawing of Giganotosaurus carolinii.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the fantastic range of Eofauna Scientific Research scale models available from Everything Dinosaur: Eofauna Scientific Research Models

The Carcharodontosauridae

Giganotosaurus is a member of the Carcharodontosauridae family of Theropod dinosaurs.  This family was erected by the German palaeontologist Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach in 1931.  Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach was also responsible for naming and describing the famous African dinosaur Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus).  This family of dinosaurs is now nested within the clade Carnosauria and includes some of the largest predatory animals to have ever lived, giants such as Shaochilong from China, Neovenator from southern England as well as South American monsters such as Giganotosaurus, Tyrannotitan and Mapusaurus.

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model

Eofauna Giganotosaurus (1:35 scale replica).

The 1:35 scale Eofauna Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fans of dinosaur replicas have not long to wait now before the Eofauna Giganotosaurus 1:35 scale model is in stock.  Next year is going to be a landmark year for Eofauna Scientific Research with the introduction of their first figure representing a member of the Dinosauria.  These are exciting times for dinosaur fans and model collectors.

To enquire about reserving this model or any other model within Everything Dinosaur’s huge range: Email Everything Dinosaur

6 12, 2018

Stenopterygius Ichthyosaur Fossil Preserves Pliable Skin and Blubber

By | December 6th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Soft-tissue Evidence for Warm-blooded Ichthyosaurs

The fossilised remains of a beautifully-preserved Ichthyosaur fossil from the Lower Cretaceous of Germany has revealed that “fish lizards” had blubber just like many modern, mammalian marine animals.  In addition, the fossil is so well-preserved that some of the soft-tissue associated with the specimen have retained some of their original pliability.  The fossil is an example of Stenopterygius, (MH 432; Urweltmuseum Hauff, Holzmaden, Germany) and it demonstrates aspects of convergent evolution showing how Ichthyosaurs adapted to a marine environment in remarkably similar ways to what is seen in modern cetaceans.

Specimen Number MH 432 – The Partial Skeleton of a Stenopterygius Ichthyosaur with an Accompanying Line Drawing

Stenopterygius fossil with soft tissue preservation.

The fossilised remains of a Stenopterygius Ichthyosaur contains soft tissue preservation.  Fossil (top), with line drawing (bottom).  The fossil specimen is approximately 85 cm in length.

Picture Credit: Johan Lindgren

The marine reptile lived in what is southern Germany today, during the Jurassic Period approximately 180 million years ago.  At that time, the reptile, which was probably around two to three metres in length, swam in a vast, shallow ocean that was then covering large parts of present-day Europe.

Johan Lindgren, a senior lecturer in the Department of Geology (Lund University, Sweden), led the international collaboration that resulted in the most comprehensive and in-depth examination of a soft-tissue fossil ever undertaken.  Among other things, the study revealed that the soft parts had fossilised so rapidly that both the original cells and their internal contents were preserved.

The international research team identified blubber under the smooth skin that lacked scales.  Traces of internal organs were also analysed.

Dr Lindgren observed:

“You can clearly see both the body outline and remains of internal organs.  We can even distinguish the different cellular layers within the skin.”

Finding Evidence of Blubber Under the Skin

The researchers identified blubber underneath the skin.  To date, such specialised fat-laden tissue has only been found in modern marine mammals and adult individuals of the Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelyidae coriacea).  The discovery of blubber suggests that Ichthyosaurs had metabolic rates that were higher than those of typical extant reptiles.  It suggests a degree of homeothermy in the Ichthyosauria.  In essence, these reptiles were able to sustain an internal body temperature regardless of how cold the water was they were swimming in.

The results from this study could help to explain why the Ichthyosauria had such a large geographical range during the Mesozoic.  These creatures, that first evolved in the Triassic and died out some 80 million years ago, had an almost global distribution, even in cold waters.  Their layer of blubber would have helped them to dive very deep, perhaps diving to the deepest parts of the Epipelagic zone of the ocean or even into the Mesopelagic zone (diving down more than 220 metres).

Comparing Pressure and Heat Treated Porpoise Blubber to Ichthyosaur Fossil Blubber

Fossil blubber compared to heat and pressure treated porpoise blubber.

A comparison between artificially matured modern porpoise integument and fossil Ichthyosaur blubber.  A cross-section through porpoise skin and blubber before decay experiments (left).  In the centre, side (top) and internal (bottom) views of heat and pressure-treated porpoise integument (note severe reduction of the blubber layer).  Views, side (top) and internal (bottom) of fossilised ichthyosaur skin and blubber (right).

Picture Credit: Johan Lindgren and Martin Jarenmark

The team of international scientists also examined remains of the animal’s liver, which included part of the original biochemistry (eumelanin pigment and haemoglobin residues).

Dr Lindgren stated:

“It’s truly remarkable that the biomolecules we discovered so closely match the tissues that we could identify.”

In the study, the researchers also succeeded in showing that the fossil contains tissues that still retain some of their original pliability, even though 180 million years have passed since the animal died and sank to the bottom of the sea.  The team used chemicals to remove the mineral phase of the specimen, the inorganics that once turned the animal carcass into a petrified fossil.  Subsequent tests revealed that the soft tissues still retained a degree of elasticity.

Ichthyosaurs Had Counter Shading

A study of the melanophores and their distribution across the body indicates that Ichthyosaurs possessed countershading.  They were darker on top, but lighter underneath.  The upper part of the body was dark, this may have helped the animal to warm up rapidly at the surface after a deep dive.  The dark colouration would absorb more energy from the sun.  In addition, the dark upper part of the body would provide a degree of UV protection and the countershading would have provided effective camouflage.  Many, living large pelagic (actively swimming), animals exhibit countershading.

A Model of an Ichthyosaur Showing Countershading

Countershading in an Ichthyosaur.

An example of countershading in a member of the Ichthyosauria.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Identifying Pigment Cells (Melanophores) in Fossil Material

Close up pigment cells (melanophores) in the fossil.

180 million-year-old pigment cells (melanophores), (left), light micrograph of the branched melanophores.  Synchrotron-radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy (SRXTM) rendering of a melanophore with long dendritic processes (centre).  Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) image of a melanophore that contains melanosome organelles (right).

Picture Credit: Mats E. Eriksson, Federica Marone and Ola Gustafsson

Improving our Knowledge of Taphonomy

The research team conclude that this fossil has provided some remarkable insights into Ichthyosaur anatomy and biology.  The study also reveals how much more we have to learn about the process of fossilisation (taphonomy).  The beautifully-preserved Stenopterygius fossil demonstrates a number of adaptations that Ichthyosaurs share with other, living marine creatures such as the Leatherback turtle and toothed whales such as dolphins and porpoises.  Ever since the first outlines of preserved soft tissue were recognised in Ichthyosaurs, scientists have commented on their superficial resemblance to modern cetaceans.  Thanks to this new study, it seems that this resemblance goes a lot further than was previously thought.

A Close-up View of Fossilised Skin (Stenopterygius)

Evidence of soft tissue preseved in a Stenopterygius fossil.

Fossilised skin forming the trailing edge of the right pelvic fin on the specimen.

Picture Credit: Johan Lindgren

The scientific paper: “Soft-tissue Evidence for Homeothermy and Crypsis in a Jurassic Ichthyosaur” by Johan Lindgren, Peter Sjövall, Volker Thiel, Wenxia Zheng, Shosuke Ito, Kazumasa Wakamatsu, Rolf Hauff, Benjamin P. Kear, Anders Engdahl, Carl Alwmark, Mats E. Eriksson, Martin Jarenmark, Sven Sachs, Per E. Ahlberg, Federica Marone, Takeo Kuriyama, Ola Gustafsson, Per Malmberg, Aurélien Thomen, Irene Rodríguez-Meizoso, Per Uvdal, Makoto Ojika and Mary H. Schweitzer.  The paper is published in the journal Nature.

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

5 12, 2018

New Dinosaur Named from New South Wales

By | December 5th, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Weewarrasaurus pobeni – Hints at Different Kinds of Dinosaur Communities

The fortuitous discovery of pieces from the lower jaw of a small, plant-eating dinosaur is helping scientists to discover more about the Cretaceous dinosaurs that once roamed Australia.  Writing in the academic journal “PeerJ”, the researchers provide evidence to support the idea that there were numerous small-bodied Ornithopods at high latitudes in south-eastern Australia, whilst further north, in what would have been slightly warmer environments, these types of dinosaurs co-existed with much bigger Ornithopods and Titanosaurs.

The dinosaur has been named Weewarrasaurus pobeni (pronounced wee-whah-rar-sore-us poe-ben-eye) and it is the first new dinosaur to be described from New South Wales for nearly 100 years.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Gondwanan Ornithopod Weewarrasaurus pobeni

Weewarrasaurus life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the small Ornithopod Weewarrasaurus.

Picture Credit: James Kuether

A Lucky Fossil Find

Adelaide-based opal buyer Mike Poben spotted the fossil pieces in a bucket of opal rubble from the Wee Warra opal field at Lightning Ridge (New South Wales, Australia).  The dinosaur was named in honour of the location and the trivial name recognises the contribution of Mr Poben who donated the specimens for research.

Numerous opalised dinosaur fossils are known from the Lightning Ridge area.  The material, including fragments of bones and isolated teeth come from the Griman Creek Formation.  Recent radiometric dating indicates that these deposits are around 100 to 96 million years old (Cenomanian stage of the Late Cretaceous), making these rocks some 10 million years younger than equivalent exposures containing dinosaur fossils found in northern Queensland.

The Fossil Jaw Fragments (Right Dentary) of Weewarrasaurus pobeni

W. pobeni fossil material (right dentary in medial view).

The right dentary of W. pobeni (medial view). The two pieces are part of the same lower jaw.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

Unfortunately, the underground mining process involves breaking up the rocks, so any specimens found tend to consist of isolated broken pieces, however the presence of a scalloped-shaped tooth in the object immediately caught the attention of Mr Poben, so he was able to quickly appreciate that this was part of a jawbone.  Lightning Ridge is the only place in the world where dinosaur bones and teeth routinely turn to opal.  Corresponding author of the scientific paper, Dr Philip Bell (University of New England), explained that researchers were now looking into acquiring more fossil material from opal mines.

Dr Bell stated:

“Unfortunately, the fossil remnants we see are almost always part of mining spoil… but on another hand, we would never get to see even those fragments if it wasn’t for mining.”

Opal Helps to Identify a Dinosaur

One of the benefits of the presence of opal in the fossil is that the distinctive banding pattern formed helped the scientists to identify that the two fossil pieces belonged to the same jawbone.

Views of the Jawbone Fossil (Weewarrasaurus pobeni)

Weewarrasaurus fossils.

Weewarrasaurus pobeni fossils (right dentary fragments in medial view).

Picture Credit: PeerJ/Dr Bell (University of New England)

The picture above shows three views of the fossils, (A), medial; (B), dorsal; and (C) lateral views.   The dashed black line shows the outline of the missing pieces that would have comprised a more substantial part of the dentary.  The dashed red lines indicate the distinctive banding pattern in the opal used to estimate the extent of the missing area.  Another jawbone fragment (LRF 766), representing a right dentary with teeth in situ from the nearby Three Mile opal field has also been assigned to this new dinosaur species.

Faunal Differences in Different Regions of Prehistoric Australia

The Griman Creek Formation fossils from Lightning Ridge indicate that there were numerous small Ornithopods living in this environment during the Cenomanian stage of the Late Cretaceous.  This research provides further evidence to support previous studies that favour a general abundance of small-bodied basal Ornithopods in high-latitude localities of south-eastern Australia.  These little dinosaurs, most of which were under two metres in length, inhabited a verdant flood plain, but this part of the Gondwana was at approximately 60 degrees south.  Today, Australia is much further north, the city of Sydney (New South Wales), is located at approximately 33.86 degrees south.  During the Cretaceous, the dinosaurs that inhabited the part of Australia we now call New South Wales, would have had to endure periods of darkness in the year when the sun dipped below the horizon, although the presence of ectothermic reptiles such as crocodyliforms and turtles indicate that average minimum temperatures may not have fallen below 5 degrees Celsius.  Even so, the climate may have been too extreme for Sauropods.  Cretaceous deposits in Queensland (Winton Formation), have revealed several Titanosaurs, but the colder temperatures experienced further south may have limited Sauropod distribution.

The researchers conclude that although future dinosaur fossil discoveries have the potential to alter these interpretations, it is suggested that the Griman Creek Formation at Lightning Ridge occupied a “meeting point” between more northern Sauropod-dominated faunas and the Ornithopod-dominated faunas that existed further south.

Computer Generated Images from Fossil Scans Helped to Identify Ornithopod Characteristics

Weewarrasaurus three-dimensional, computer generated images of the fossil material.

Three-dimensional renders of the posterior dentary fragment.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

To read a recent article about an opalised dinosaur toe bone found in South Australia: Lost Dinosaur Toe Bone Turns Up on the Internet

4 12, 2018

New Schleich Replicas for 2019

By | December 4th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

New Schleich Prehistoric Animal Replicas for 2019

Schleich are introducing a number of new prehistoric animal replicas in 2019.  Several models have also been retired from their “Dinosaurs” range.  The first models scheduled for quarter 1 of 2019 are:

  • Schleich Spinosaurus (quadruped pose)
  • Schleich Animantarx (an armoured dinosaur)
  • Schleich Dimorphodon (flying reptile)
  • Schleich Dimetrodon (a sail-backed pelycosaur)
  • Schleich Giganotosaurus (giant, South American dinosaur)

The New for 2019 Schleich Prehistoric Animal Figures (Quarter 1 2019)

Schleich prehistoric animal figures for 2019.

New from Schleich – prehistoric animal figures for 2019.  Spinosaurus (top left), the nodosaurid Animantarx (top right), the Early Jurassic pterosaur Dimorphodon (centre), Giganotosaurus (bottom left) and the sail-backed reptile Dimorphodon (bottom right).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The New for 2019 Schleich Spinosaurus

The new for 2019 Schleich Spinosaurus model will replace the current obligate biped version (Spinosaurus violet).  The German manufacturer has created a Spinosaurus dinosaur model in a true quadrupedal pose, this reflects the consensus reached about the posture of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus in a scientific paper published in 2014.  Note that the sail of this figure has also been given a makeover with the new Spinosaurus sail much less rounded in shape than on previous incarnations.  The tail is much more crocodilian and the colour scheme chosen for this replica is muted and understated.

New for 2019 – Schleich Spinosaurus

New for 2019 Schleich Spinosaurus model.

The new for 2019 Schleich Spinosaurus model, depicting Spinosaurus as a quadruped.  This figure will have an articulated jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Schleich Animantarx

Also expected in quarter 1 of 2019, is the Animantarx model.  An armoured dinosaur (member of the Nodosauridae family), from the famous Cedar Mountain Formation of the western United States (Utah).  This figure is being introduced to the range, as 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of the formal scientific description of this three-metre-long “living citadel”.  The Animantarx model is the first nodosaurid that Schleich has added to their model range since the retirement of the “Saurus” Edmontonia more than a decade ago.

Coming to Everything Dinosaur in 2019 the Schleich Animantarx Model

The new for 2019 Schleich Animantarx dinosaur model.

The Schleich Animantarx dinosaur model (new for 2019).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Schleich Dimorphodon

Flying into view comes the Schleich Dimorphodon model, a beautifully-crafted replica of a flying reptile, fossils of which were found by the famous Georgian/Victorian fossil hunter Mary Anning.  Unlike the majority of earlier Schleich pterosaur models, the Dimorphodon is not flying but modelled as a terrestrial animal, wandering around Early Jurassic forest floors on all fours.

The New for 2019 Schleich Dimorphodon Model

The Schleich Dimorphodon flying reptile model.

The Schleich Dimorphodon model (new for 2019).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The “eyespots” on the wings are very distinctive and that large skull with its big teeth has been carefully sculpted.  The tail too is also to be commended, it was very stiff and the “rudder” on the end might have been marked in some way to aid visual communication.  The Schleich Dimorphodon is due to arrive in early 2019, looks like it could be a soar away success!

Schleich Dimetrodon

A new colour version of the Dimetrodon will be introduced next year.  The 2016 Dimetrodon figure with its reticulated pattern on the sail, is being retired and will be replaced by this, predominantly green model.  Although, not a dinosaur and more closely related to modern humans than to animals such as Tyrannosaurus rex, Dimetrodon has been a staple of prehistoric animal ranges for a long time.  It might be sad to see the withdrawal of the 2016 model, but at least with this new addition, pelycosaurs will still be represented within the Schleich range.

Say Hello to a New Version of a Sail-backed Reptile – Schleich Dimetrodon

A prehistoric pelycosaur from Schleich (Dimetrodon).

New for 2019 Schleich Dimetrodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read a recent article about Schleich prehistoric animal model retirements: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Model Retirements 2018

A New Schleich Giganotosaurus

The last of the new for 2019 announcements features a replacement for the brightly coloured, orange Giganotosaurus figure, which first made an appearance in 2015.  The colour scheme for the new figure is more subdued, when the paintwork on the new Spinosaurus figure is also considered, Schleich might be moving towards more subtle colouration on their prehistoric animal figures.  If this is a trend, then these new colour versions of existing replicas may have a greater appeal with animal figure collectors as well as dinosaur model fans.

The New for 2019 Schleich Giganotosaurus Model

Schleich Giganotosaurus dinosaur model (new for 2019).

New for 2019 Schleich Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All these models are scheduled to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in the first few weeks of 2019.

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animals currently available: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models

3 12, 2018

Lost Dinosaur Toe Bone Turns Up on the Internet

By | December 3rd, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Toe Bone Turns Up on the Internet

A rare dinosaur bone, one of only three dinosaur fossils known from the state of South Australia, is going on display at the South Australian Museum some forty-five years after it was lost to science.  The opalised bone, representing a single toe bone (phalanx), is believed to come from a type of Theropod dinosaur and although named Kakuru kujani, which was officially described from opalised remains representing lower leg bones back in 1980, very little is known about this Cretaceous dinosaur.

The toe bone was found in Andamooka in the far north of South Australia sometime in the early 1970’s.  It was spotted for sale in an opal shop in Hindley Street, Adelaide by Neville Pledge, the South Australian Museum’s then curator of fossils, in 1973.  Neville had the foresight to take several photographs, measurements and plaster casts of the toe bone.  However, shortly afterwards, the item was sold and it disappeared from the scientific community.

The Opalised Toe Bone on Display at the South Australian Museum

An opalised dinosaur toe bone on display (ventral view)

The five cm long opalised dinosaur toe bone from South Australia.

Picture Credit: Ashleigh Glynn

The Tale of a Toe Bone

In April 2018, the bone was spotted up for sale on the internet by Coober Pedy resident Joy Kloester, who purchased the bone and then offered it to the South Australian Museum.  The Museum’s Senior Collections Manager for Earth Sciences, Ben McHenry acted quickly to acquire the specimen for the vertebrate palaeontology department.

Mr McHenry commented:

“I couldn’t believe our luck in finding the same bone after forty-five years.”

Dinosaur bones from South Australia are extremely rare.  The only two other bones known to science found to date are also part of the vertebrate fossil collection of the South Australian Museum.  During the Early Cretaceous period (around 110 million years ago, Albian fauna stage), when dinosaurs roamed the land, most of South Australia was under water, being part of the ancient Eromanga Sea.  The sediments deposited on the floor of this ancient sea now form the rocks of the Great Artesian Basin and preserve the abundant remains of marine life that can be viewed in the Museum’s Opal Fossil gallery.  This special dinosaur toe bone will be on display in this gallery from today (December 3rd).  Neville Pledge is now an Honorary Researcher at the South Australia Museum, it seems his discovery from 45 years ago, has now joined him at this highly respected institution.

What Sort of Dinosaur was Kakuru kujani?

Kakuru kujani (pronounced: Kah-koo-roo koo-yan-eee), is believed to be about the size of a turkey.  Unfortunately, given the limited fossil material, it is not possible to identify its taxonomic position with the Theropoda.  K. kujani was described from fragmentary lower leg bones (tibia and possible fibula fragments), the toe bone may not belong to this genus at all, but given the lack of other candidates, the Museum has assigned the bone to Kakuru.  It has been postulated that this dinosaur was an oviraptorid, although some affinity to the Abelisauridae has also been proposed.  Its formal classification remains Theropoda incertae sedis, which means it has an uncertain placement within this Sub-order.

A Speculative Reconstruction of Kakuru kujani

A life reconstruction of Kakuru kujani.

A speculative reconstruction of the Theropod dinosaur Kakuru kujani from South Australia.  In this illustration, K. kujani is depicted as an oviraptorosaurian dinosaur.

Picture Credit: South Australian Museum

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the South Australian Museum in the compilation of this article.

2 12, 2018

Bully for Baryonyx

By | December 2nd, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Bully for Baryonyx

When amateur fossil collector William Walker found a huge fossilised claw in a Surrey clay pit, our understanding of Theropod dinosaurs began to change.  The claw (which was discovered in January 1983), was only the start of the story.  The following late spring and early summer saw a field team from the Natural History Museum in London working in the pit to extract nearly two thirds of the skeleton of an unknown and never seen before meat-eating dinosaur.  The bones were entombed in hard siltstone nodules and clay.  It took a further six years of preparation before all the bones representing a single, individual specimen had been cleaned and prepared for display.  The dinosaur was named by palaeontologists Alan J. Charig and Angela C. Milner in 1986, when enough of the fossil material had been cleaned and prepared revealing a very different type of Theropod dinosaur.  Baryonyx walkeri is a member of the Spinosauridae family.

An Illustration of the Theropod Dinosaur Baryonyx (B. walkeri)

A drawing of the Theropod dinosaur Baryonyx.

An illustration of the Theropod dinosaur Baryonyx.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Theropod was named Baryonyx walkeri and it has been classified as a member of the Spinosauridae family, although the exact taxonomic position of Baryonyx and related dinosaurs such as Suchomimus remains disputed.  A revision in 2018, concluded that baryonychid dinosaurs were monophyletic (all descended from a common ancestor).  Everything Dinosaur team members have been busy preparing for the arrival next year of the new CollectA 1:40 scale Baryonyx model, the illustration (above) has been commissioned so that we can update our Baryonyx fact sheet.

The New for 2019 CollectA Deluxe Baryonyx Dinosaur Model

CollectA Deluxe Baryonyx dinosaur model.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Baryonyx dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Subfamily Baryonychinae

In their original 1986 description, palaeontologists Alan Charig and Angela Milner erected the Subfamily Baryonychinae, however, where the Baryonychinae sits within the Spinosauridae remains open to debate.

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