All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
31 01, 2019

A Newly Described Archosauromorph from Antarctica

By | January 31st, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Antarctanax shackletoni – Rise of the Archosaurs

A team of researchers, including scientists from the Field Museum (Chicago, USA), the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa) and the Burke Museum (University of Washington, USA), have published a scientific paper announcing the discovery of an archosauriform archosauromorph, that roamed Antarctica in the Early Triassic.  The fossil discovery suggests that early Archosaurs were more geographically widespread than previously thought and demonstrates that the biota of Antarctica may have been very different from other parts of the super-continent Pangaea as the planet recovered from the End-Permian mass extinction event.

A Diverse Fauna in Antarctica During the Early Triassic

Antarctica around 250 million years ago (Antarctanax shackletoni is in the left foreground).

A typical scene in Antarctica during the Early Triassic.   Antarctanax is in the left foreground.

Picture Credit: Adrienne Stroup (Field Museum, Chicago)

The illustration above depicts a typical ecosystem that existed in Antarctica approximately 250 million years ago.

Along the banks of a river, three Archosaur inhabitants of the dense Voltzia conifer forest cross paths, Antarctanax shackletoni attempts to sneak up on an early titanopetran insect, an archosauromorph Prolacerta rests on a log, and an enigmatic large Archosaur pursues two unsuspecting Dicynodonts, (Lystrosaurus maccaigi).

“Antarctic King”

Commenting on the significance of the discovery of the iguana-sized animal, co-author of the scientific paper Brandon Peecook (Field Museum) stated:

“This new animal was an Archosaur, an early relative of crocodiles and dinosaurs.  On its own, it just looks a little like a lizard, but evolutionarily, it’s one of the first members of that big group.  It tells us how dinosaurs and their closest relatives evolved and spread.”

The fossil skeleton is far from complete.  The material was collected from a site representing Lower Fremouw Formation deposits in the central Transantarctic Mountains.  The fossils consist of cervical and dorsal vertebrae, a single humerus and foot bones.  The reptile has been named Antarctanax shackletoni.  The genus name means “Antarctic King”, although this ancient, basal member of the group of reptiles that was to give rise to the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, crocodiles and birds, was probably not an apex predator.  This cannot be stated with certainty, after all, only one fossil specimen has been found, but Antarctanax shackletoni co-existed with a number of other vertebrates including amphibians, synapsids and at least one large archosauriform, which may have been the top predator.

The species name honours the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.  It is suggested that Antarctanax hunted insects as well as smaller vertebrates.

Antarctanax – Where it Lived and When

Brandon Peecook, a member of the Integrative Research Centre, at the Field Museum explained that this fossil find (made in the 2010/11 field season), is significant because it demonstrates that the ecosystem in Antarctica bounced back relatively quickly after the End-Permian mass extinction event and that  archosauriforms were quite widespread at this time.

He stated:

“The more we find out about prehistoric Antarctica, the weirder it is.  We thought that Antarctic animals would be similar to the ones that were living in southern Africa, [Karoo Basin biota] since those landmasses were joined back then, but we’re finding that Antarctica’s wildlife is surprisingly unique.”

The fauna of the Lower Fremouw Formation traditionally has been considered to represent a subset of the Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone of the Karoo Basin of southern Africa, with discrepancies largely a result of pronounced differences in sampling intensity.  However, a review of recent changes to the fauna, as well as a reassessment of occurrences based on older literature, indicates that significant discrepancies, including the co-occurrences of taxa known from both earlier and later in time and the presence of endemic forms in Antarctica, exist between the faunas of the Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zone and Lower Fremouw Formation.  In essence, Antarctica 250 million years ago had a different ecosystem to that associated with the contemporaneous Karoo Basin deposits.

A Slab of Rock Containing Exposed Post-cranial Material Attributed to Antarctanax shackletoni

Antarctanax shackletoni fossils

Antarctanax shackletoni fossil material.

Picture Credit: Brandon Peecook, Field Museum

As life on Earth recovered in the Early Triassic, so the Archosaurs rapidly diversified and laid the foundation for the evolution of the Dinosauria, Pterosauria, crocodiles and those other Archosaurs still very much with us today – the Aves (birds).

Post-doctoral Fellow Peecook, went on to state:

“Before the mass extinction, Archosaurs were only found around the Equator, but after it, they were everywhere.   Antarctica had a combination of these brand-new animals and stragglers of animals that were already extinct in most places, what palaeontologists call ‘dead clades walking.’  You’ve got tomorrow’s animals and yesterday’s animals, co-habiting in a cool place.”

The fact that scientists have found Antarctanax helps bolster the idea that Antarctica was a place of rapid evolution and diversification after the mass extinction.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Antarctica is an extremely difficult part of the world to prospect for fossils.  However, as more of the frozen continent is mapped and explored, so more fossil discoveries are going to occur.  Antarctanax shows that there was a diverse faunal assemblage on this part of Pangaea during the Early Triassic and this discovery will help palaeontologists to plot the evolution and distribution of Archosaurs.”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the Field Museum (Chicago), in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “A Novel Archosauromorph from Antarctica and an Updated Review of a High-latitude Vertebrate Assemblage in the Wake of the End-Permian Mass Extinction” by Brandon R. Peecook, Roger M. H. Smith and Christian A. Sidor published in the Journal of Paleontology.

30 01, 2019

JurassicCollectables Reviews Schleich Dimetrodon and Schleich Giganotosaurus

By | January 30th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Dimetrodon and Giganotosaurus (Schleich) Reviewed by JurassicCollectables

Those talented people at the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel have released another video, this time, it is a review of two of the new for 2019 Schleich prehistoric animal figures, both re-paints, the Schleich Giganotosaurus and the Schleich Dimetrodon.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Schleich Dimetrodon and the Schleich Giganotosaurus (New for 2019)

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

New for 2019/New Colour Schemes

Both these figures are new colour schemes of previously introduced sculpts.  Providing re-painted versions of existing models can help to broaden a product range and provides a contrast to previously introduced figures.  For example, the new for 2019 Schleich Giganotosaurus has an altogether darker colour scheme than the Schleich Giganotosaurus (orange) that was launched in 2015.  The narrator points this out and goes on to provide a detailed analysis of the subtle use of airbrushing as well as commenting upon the darker colour palette associated with the skull and the airbrushing to bring out the textures in the neck.

In the Video Review, the Darker Tones of the Giganotosaurus Colour Scheme are Commented Upon

A Schleich Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

The Schleich Giganotosaurus (2019).  This dinosaur model has a more muted and darker colour scheme than earlier Schleich figures of Giganotosaurus.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

Five New Schleich Prehistoric Animals

The Giganotosaurus and the Dimetrodon are two of the five new Schleich prehistoric animals to be introduced in the first part of 2019.  We will post up details of other Schleich models due to be introduced in July, but for the meantime, dinosaur fans have a Spinosaurus, Dimorphodon, an armoured dinosaur (Animantarx) and these two prehistoric animals to collect.

Schleich Giganotosaurus and Schleich Dimetrodon Size Comparison

A Schleich Dimetrodon and a Schleich Giganotosaurus.

Comparing the new for 2019 Schleich Giganotosaurus and the Schleich Dimetrodon figures.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

Everything Dinosaur has also announced a number of model retirements from the Schleich range.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article announcing Schleich prehistoric animal model retirements: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Model Retirements (2019)

The Schleich Dimetrodon (2019)

Dimetrodon seems to be a staple in prehistoric animal model ranges and is often described incorrectly as a dinosaur.  However, this Permian predator from Schleich is praised by the video narrator for its excellent airbrushing and fine detail, especially on the sail.  The texture on the animal’s flank and the carefully painted eyes are highlighted.  JurassicCollectables have a long history of producing dinosaur model reviews, they suggest that the colour scheme for the new for 2019 Dimetrodon reflects the original “Jurassic Park” Dimetrodon model that was introduced in the 1990’s.  The narrator comments that the figure has been painted in naturalistic colours, reminiscent of many living lizards.

The New for 2019 Schleich Dimetrodon Model

2019 Schleich Dimetrodon

The new for 2019 Schleich Dimetrodon model.

Picture Credit: Jurassic Collectables

The JurassicCollectables video is just under six minutes in length.  It provides fans of prehistoric animal models with an opportunity to take a really close look at these new Schleich replicas.

Take a look at the fabulous YouTube channel of JurassicCollectables: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Everything Dinosaur will be providing information about the July releases from Schleich, they have some very exciting models to come, however, in the meantime, it is great to see these re-paints being added to the Schleich range of models.

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

29 01, 2019

Preparing to Introduce a New Oviraptorid

By | January 29th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Press Releases|0 Comments

Preparing to Introduce a New Oviraptorid

As Everything Dinosaur team members prepare to write about the formal scientific description of a new species of oviraptorid from the Late Cretaceous of southern Mongolia, we have been brushing up on our knowledge of the Oviraptorosauria clade.

No Need to Get into a Flap over the Oviraptorosauria

Is this an example of dinosaur courtship?

The Oviraptorosauria is a very diverse clade of Theropods.

Picture Credit: Sydney Mohr, University of Alberta

An Unusual Branch of the Maniraptora

The Oviraptorosauria clade is an atypical branch of the maniraptoran Theropods.   They are characterised by short, deep skulls, jaws which lack teeth (edentulous in derived, advanced members of the clade), short, stunted tails and tail bones with lots of air sacs within them (pneumatised proximal caudal vertebrae).  The first of these dinosaurs were formally named and described in the 1920’s (Oviraptor and Chirostenotes), over the last three decades, numerous new members of this clade have been identified, mostly from Upper Cretaceous strata.

The  oviraptorosaurs are likely to have originated in Asia.  The earliest fossil record of these dinosaurs is reported from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of China.  It is likely that these dinosaurs were feathered and most of them were relatively small and light-weight.   However, there were exceptions to this rule, such as the huge Gigantoraptor (Gigantoraptor erlianensis), that stood nearly as tall as a giraffe.  Gigantoraptor was named and described in 2007: New Giant Chinese Dinosaur Described.

A Scale Drawing of Gigantoraptor Atypical of an Atypical Theropod Clade

Gigantoraptor scale drawing.

The largest feathered animal known to science.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Three Families within the Oviraptorosauria

Palaeontologists consider the Oviraptorosauria to be a very diverse clade with numerous taxa, but it can be broadly classified into three distinct families:

  1. The Avimimidae  – which for the moment contains a single genus (Avimimus), with two species from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia, although the provenance of the first fossils associated with this genus is not clear.
  2.  The Caenagnathidae – which are known from North America and Asia with numerous genera including the giant Gigantoraptor erlianensis.
  3. The Oviraptoridae – which are only known from Asia, although there are more genera recognised than within the more geographically widespread caenagnathids.

Of these three dinosaur families, it can be argued that the Oviraptoridae are the best understood.  Many genera are known from nearly complete fossil skeletons, whilst in the case of most caenagnathids, these dinosaurs are mostly known from highly fragmentary and far from complete material.

We look forward to publishing an article in the very near future describing a new member of the Oviraptoridae from the famous Upper Cretaceous deposits of the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia.

Note

Our article has been published, say hello to a new Asian, Late Cretaceous oviraptorid – Gobiraptor minutus.

You can read our article here: New Species of Late Cretaceous Oviraptorid Dinosaur Named

28 01, 2019

Preparing for the CollectA Supreme Deluxe Caiuajara

By | January 28th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|2 Comments

CollectA Supreme Deluxe Caiuajara

Everything Dinosaur team members are preparing for the arrival in the next few weeks or so of the CollectA Supreme Deluxe Caiuajara pterosaur model.  This beautiful and most impressive figure of a Cretaceous flying reptile from Brazil is going to be one of the first of the new for 2019 CollectA figures that arrive in our warehouse.  As part of our preparations, team members have been busy researching and writing a fact sheet all about this weird and wonderful member of the Pterosauria.

Everything Dinosaur’s Illustration of the Pterosaur Caiuajara

Everything Dinosaur has produced an illustration of the pterosaur called Caiuajara.

The CollectA Supreme Deluxe Caiuajara pterosaur illustration.  This drawing will be used by Everything Dinosaur when they produce a Caiuajara fact sheet which will accompany sales of this amazing model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A CollectA Speciality

Large replicas of pterosaurs are becoming a bit of a CollectA speciality.  When stocks of this 2019 figure arrive at our warehouse, it will be joining two other CollectA Supreme Deluxe pterosaur models.  CollectA introduced a 1:4 scale replica of a Chinese member of the Ornithocheiridae family – Guidraco back in 2015.  This was followed in 2017 by the award winning CollectA Supreme Deluxe Dimorphodon model.  All three models will have moveable, articulated jaws.

The Colourful CollectA Supreme Deluxe Caiuajara Pterosaur Model (New for 2019)

CollectA Deluxe Caiuajara with moveable jaw.

The Age of Dinosaurs Supreme Deluxe Caiuajara pterosaur figure with a moveable jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of CollectA Supreme Deluxe and CollectA Deluxe scale models of prehistoric animals in stock at Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life

Pronouncing Caiuajara

When this pterosaur was formally named and described back in 2014, it caused quite a sensation amongst palaeontologists who specialise in studying the Pterosauria.  It is quite usual to have just a few fragments of bone to study, but in this case, the fossilised remains of more than forty individuals were recovered from a dig site in south-eastern Brazil.  This flying reptile had a remarkable crest, shaped a bit like the wing of a butterfly.  The fossil site was interpreted as a stop-over location as these animals migrated.  They were very competent flyers travelling great distances, so it is appropriate that the new for 2019 Caiuajara figure is travelling a great distance from the factory to our UK warehouse.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2014 article about the naming and scientific description of Caiuajara: New Species of Flying Reptile Identified from a Pterosaur Graveyard

The fact sheet we are going to produce will also include a guide to pronunciation.  The genus name of this pterosaur is pronounced “Kay-you-ah-jar-rah”.  The CollectA Supreme Deluxe Caiuajara with moveable jaw measures around 19 centimetres in length and with that impressive and colourful crest the model’s height is about 23.5 cm.

We look forward to welcoming this model into our CollectA portfolio.

27 01, 2019

Prehistoric Times Issue 128 Reviewed

By | January 27th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

Prehistoric Times Issue 128 Reviewed

The latest edition of “Prehistoric Times”, the quarterly magazine for fans of dinosaurs and prehistoric animal figures has arrived at Everything Dinosaur.  Issue 128 is jam-packed with features, articles and stories, there’s even a summary of recent dinosaur fossil discoveries and research.  This provides an opportunity to catch up with Saltriovenator, Tratayenia and Crittendenceratops – all new species of dinosaur.  In the winter 2018 edition, the focus is on celebrating the 100th anniversary of the trilogy of prehistoric animal themed novels by the acclaimed American author Edgar Rice Burroughs (The Caspak Trilogy).

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times Pays Tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs

Prehistoric Times magazine issue 128.

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” magazine issue 128 (winter 2019), marks the 100th anniversary of the book “The Land that Time Forgot”.

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

The Caspak Trilogy

The three titles “The Land that Time Forgot”, “The People that Time Forgot” and “Out of Time’s Abyss”, collectively referred to as the Caspak Trilogy, after the prehistoric island where much of the action was set, are celebrated in the magazine.  Lots of readers have provided illustrations and artwork to celebrate the centenary.  The front cover artwork was created by Joshua Ballze and Phil Hore’s excellent article includes numerous illustrations, of which, for us, the contributions of Mike Landry really stand out.  Renowned Canadian palaeontologist, Phil Currie provides a perspective on the prehistoric animals within the novels and Allen Debus continues the science-fiction author theme with an article that compares and contrasts the work of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.

Beautiful Trilobite Fossils

It might be cold and dark outside, but readers are transported to the high Atlas mountains of Morocco in a well-penned feature by Sergio Luis Fica Biston that showcases the stunning Trilobite fossils that can be found in the ancient rocks that surround the small town of Elnif.  Finding the fossil is the start of a painstaking and long process of fossil preparation.  Some individual specimens can take upwards of thirty hours to prepare before they are ready to be put on display.

A Stunning Moroccan Trilobite Fossil

The art of Trilobite fossil preparation.

A beautifully prepared Trilobite specimen from Morocco.

Picture Credit: Sergio Luiz Fica Biston

“T” is for Triceratops

Tracy Lee Ford discusses the anatomy of Triceratops and provides a guide to scientific illustration.  Torosaurus is covered too, along with a helpful illustration of the fused cervical vertebrae, a characteristic shared by all Ceratopsians and an explanation of the differences between the hand (manus) and feet (pes) of these horned dinosaurs.  The article concludes with an updated life restoration of “three horned face”.  Cress Kearny introduces part two of the article demonstrating the beauty and wonder of agatised dinosaur bones and stamp collecting fans have the chance to brush-up on their prehistoric animal themed stamp knowledge with a well-crafted feature on dinosaur stamps of the 1970’s.

The Golden Age of Palaeo-art – Burian

Issue 128 also includes part eleven of the comprehensive overview of the work of the Czech illustrator Zdeněk Burian by John Lavas.  In the previous issue of “Prehistoric Times” how the Plesiosauria were portrayed was covered, this edition focuses on the Mosasauridae.

A Vibrant Dynamic Depiction of the Western Interior Seaway

The Western Interior Seaway (Late Cretaceous)

Dramatic scene from the Western Interior Seaway painted by Burian.

Picture Credit: Zdeněk Burian

Purchasers of the magazine will also have the chance to see pictures of new prehistoric animal model releases as well as to read an article all about Sabre-toothed cats including the Nimravidae by John Tuttle and there are lots and lots of reader submitted artworks to admire.

For further information about “Prehistoric Times” and to subscribe: Subscribe to Prehistoric Times Magazine

26 01, 2019

Rebor Hatching Baryonyx Reviewed by JurassicCollectables

By | January 26th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Limited Edition Club Selection Rebor Hatching Baryonyx Reviewed by JurassicCollectables

The limited edition Club Selection hatching Baryonyx figure by Rebor has been given the video review treatment by those talented people at JurassicCollectables.  Following on from their very informative and helpful video review of the new for 2019 Schleich Spinosaurus model, JurassicCollectables have focused their camera lenses on this limited edition hatching dinosaur from Rebor.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor Club Selection Limited Edition Hatching Baryonyx “Hurricane”

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

“Hurricane” – Hatching Baryonyx

There have only been a 1,000 of these models made and the narrator begins the video by highlighting the box and the packaging.  Comments are made about taking care when it comes to removing the model out of the protective foam.  Those beautifully sculpted claws on this substantial figure might catch and get damaged, so the narrator emphasises the need to take care when opening the box and taking out the model and its accessories for the first time.

The New for 2019 Limited Edition Club Selection Rebor Hatching Baryonyx

Hatching Baryonyx by Rebor.

The Rebor limited edition Club Selection hatching Baryonyx “Hurricane”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Why Hurricane?

At Everything Dinosaur, we have been asked why does this dinosaur figure have the nickname “Hurricane”?  Baryonyx (B. walkeri) is known from sediments that were deposited in a low-lying, flood plain environment.  When Baryonyx roamed that part of the world that we now know as the Isle of Wight, for example, large rivers meandered slowly eastwards to the sea.  This location would have been subjected to tropical storms and hurricanes from time to time and such events would have had a devastating effect on the environment.  Dinosaurs like Baryonyx would have had to endure such violent weather, so the term “Hurricane” is appropriate.  However, there is another reason for this Rebor figure’s nickname…

Unpacked and Set Up the Rebor Limited Edition Club Selection Hatching Baryonyx “Hurricane”

Ready for display, the Rebor hatching Baryonyx figure "Hurricane".

The Rebor Hatching Baryonyx dinosaur model ready for display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaurs and a Famous English Football Captain

“Hurricane” honours Harry Kane, the Tottenham Hotspur and England forward.  Harry Kane is the current captain of the England football team and he helped England reach two semi-finals in 2018.  Hence this football themed dinosaur replica from Rebor, it celebrates England reaching the World Cup semi-final as well as their qualification for the semi-finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

In the Video, JurassicCollectables Showcase Many Features of the Model Including the Very Life-like Eyes

He head of the Rebor hatching Baryonyx "Hurricane".

A close-up view of the glossy eye of the Rebor hatching Baryonyx figure.  In the video review, the narrator talks about the details on the head and paint scheme to be found on the inside of the mouth.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

JurassicCollectables have a fascinating YouTube channel.  It has attracted nearly 80,000 subscribers.  For video reviews of Rebor figures and lots of other prehistoric animal models, Everything Dinosaur recommends subscribing to JurassicCollectables: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube

A Detailed Video Review

In the detailed video review, the narrator comments over the subtle use of a wash that gives the replica a wet look, just like a newly hatched animal.  The shape of the egg is discussed and how to position it on its base is demonstrated and JurassicCollectables comment on the delicately shaped and realistic looking vegetation that is included with the figure.  Off-colour Alan makes his customary appearance and the recently reviewed Schleich 2019 Spinosaurus is included so that viewers can gain an appreciation as to just how big this hatching Baryonyx actually is.

The Rebor Hatching Baryonyx “Hurricane” Compared in Size to the Schleich Spinosaurus Model (2019)

Comparing the 2019 Schleich Spinosaurus to the Rebor Club Selection hatching Baryonyx.

The Schleich Spinosaurus (2019) compared with the Rebor Club Selection hatching Baryonyx.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Rebor figures and replicas in stock at Everything Dinosaur including limited edition Club Selection figures: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Figures

25 01, 2019

Link Between Bird Beak Shape and Feeding Ecology Not That Strong

By | January 25th, 2019|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Bird Beak Shape Did Not Evolve to Help Process Different Types of Food

A team of international researchers, including scientists from Bristol University, have published a new scientific paper that provides a new perspective on how the beaks of birds adapted over time. It seems that the “strong relationship” between bird beak shape and what the bird eats might not be that strong a relationship after all.

New Research Shows a Link Between Beak Shape and Feeding Ecology but it is not as Strong as Previously Suggested

The highly modified mandible of the Black Skimmer.

The highly modified mandible of the Black Skimmer indicates a strong link between feeding ecology and beak shape, but this relationship might not be as strong as previously thought.

Picture Credit: hoganphoto.com

Darwin and the Galapagos Finches

Charles Darwin famously observed that finches on different islands of the Galapagos possessed distinctive beak shapes.  He postulated that the beak shapes had come about due to natural selection as the birds adapted to fill unique niches within the ecosystem.  It had been assumed that this form-function relationship holds true across all species of bird.  In a new study looking at a total of 176 extant avian species and published in the academic journal “Evolution”, it is suggested that the beaks of birds are not as adapted to the food types they feed upon as it is generally believed.  After all, birds use their beaks for a variety of functions not just for feeding.

Puffins on the Island of Skomer – Beaks Perform a Variety of Tasks

Bird beaks used for various tasks not just feeding.

The beak on a bird is used for various tasks.  Functions of the beak include visual display, preening and feeding.

Picture Credit: Sergio Martínez-Nebreda and Paula Medina-García

The research team, consisting of scientists from the UK, the United States and Spain, used mathematical and computational statistical techniques to map the connection between beak shapes and functions in birds.  By measuring the beak shape in a wide range of modern bird species from museum collections and looking at information about how the beak is used by different species to consume different foods, the scientists were able to examine the link between beak shape and feeding behaviour.  Did feeding behaviour influence beak shape evolution?  If it did, how strong a link was this?

Co-author of the study, Professor Emily Rayfield (Bristol University), commented:

“This is, to our knowledge, the first approach to test a long-standing principle in biology: that the beak shape and function of birds is tightly linked to their feeding ecologies.”

Lead author of the research, Guillermo Navalón, a PhD student at Bristol University’s School of Earth Sciences added:

“The connection between beak shapes and feeding ecology in birds was much weaker and more complex than we expected and that while there is definitely a relationship there, many species with similarly shaped beaks forage in entirely different ways and on entirely different kinds of food.  This is something that has been shown in other animal groups, but in birds this relationship was always assumed to be stronger.”

Research co-author, Dr Jesús Marugán-Lobón from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, explained:

“These results only made sense when you realise birds use the beak for literally everything!  Therefore, it also makes sense they evolved a versatile tool not just for getting food, but also to accomplish many other tasks.”

Important Implications for the Study of Fossil Birds

The study is part of a larger research programme by the team in collaboration with academics from other universities across Europe and the USA to better understand the main drivers of the evolution of the skull in birds, the only living members of the Theropoda.  Similar results were identified in a study of birds of prey, but this is the first time that the link between beak shape and ecology has been examined across a wide variety of bird families.

Guillermo Navalón added:

“These results have important implications for the study of fossil birds.  We have to be careful about inferring ecology in ancient birds, which we often assume based solely on the shape of the beak.”

A Fossil Bird – Eoconfuciusornis

Eoconfuciusornis fossil bird.

The fossilised remains of a Lower Cretaceous bird from China (Eoconfuciusornis).  This new study has implications for how the beaks of fossil birds are interpreted.

Picture Credit: Dr Xiaoli Wang (Linyi University)

What About the Pterosauria?

This study may also have implications for the Pterosauria.  Pterosaurs are extinct and they have no living close relatives, so what we know about these volant animals has to be deduced from their fossils.  There are many different types of beak associated with these flying reptiles and the link between shape and feeding ecology may not be as strong as previously thought.  The beaks of pterosaurs may not be as adapted to the food types they are thought to have fed upon.

A Wide Range of Different Beak Types Demonstrated in the Pterosauria

Examples of pterosaurs from the Museum Nacional collection.

The Pterosauria exhibit a wide variety of different types of mandible.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

If the mandibles of pterosaurs were employed in a variety of functions such as display, preening and visual signalling as well as feeding could their beaks be not as well adapted to the food types they fed on as is generally believed?  These reptiles had more manipulative function in their hands and fingers than extant birds, but the function of the hand would have been limited by the animal’s wing membranes.

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

The scientific paper: “The Evolutionary Relationship between Beak Shape, Mechanical Advantage and Feeding Ecology in Modern Birds” by G. Navalón, J. A. Bright, J. Marugán‐Lobón and E.J. Rayfield published in the journal Evolution.

24 01, 2019

New Papo Gorgosaurus (Sneaky Peek)

By | January 24th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

New Papo Gorgosaurus Previewed

Everything Dinosaur team members had the opportunity this week to view the new for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur figure.  As well as taking plenty of photographs, we were able to shoot a short video demonstrating that this dinosaur model stands on its hind legs and it does not need to balance on its tail in order to stand.

Everything Dinosaur Previews the New for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Beautiful Model that is Beautifully Balanced

In this short video, we demonstrate that the Papo Gorgosaurus does not need to rest on its tail in order to balance.  This figure is one of five new for 2019 Papo prehistoric animal models, it should be available in quarter three of this year, perhaps around June/July .  It could arrive a little sooner, it could be in stock at Everything Dinosaur a little later.  At least our customers and dinosaur model fans have had the chance of a sneak peek of this new tyrannosaurid dinosaur figure from the French manufacturer..

The Papo Gorgosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model.

The new for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

New Papo Models for 2019

In total, five new figures are being introduced by Papo this year, there will (most likely), be a box set released in the autumn and we are already working on new for 2020 and 2021 production ideas.

The five new Papo models are:

  • Brown Running T. rex due into stock in a few days at Everything Dinosaur.
  • Papo Allosaurus (new colour variant), also due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur, in just a few days.
  • Papo Gorgosaurus (see images and video), which is scheduled to be available sometime in quarter 3.
  • Papo Pentaceratops – also due to be in stock sometime in quarter 3 of 2019.
  • Stegosaurus, (new colour variant), this figure is also planned for launch in quarter 3 of this year.

Everything Dinosaur has also been made aware of a number of model retirements from the Papo “Les Dinosaures” range of figures.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about forthcoming Papo prehistoric animal model retirements: News of Papo Model Retirements

Coming Soon a New Gorgosaurus Figure from Papo

Papo Gorgosaurus.

The Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model.  This dinosaur model will have an articulated lower jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the current range of Papo dinosaurs and prehistoric animal figures, including some of the increasingly rare retired figures: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Figures

Everything Dinosaur customers will also be able to get their hands on the new for 2019 Papo consumer booklet, it’s up there on our website.

23 01, 2019

Prehistoric Shark Named after Video Game

By | January 23rd, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Galagadon nordquistae – Shark Resident of Hell Creek

Perhaps the most famous exhibit at the Field Museum (Chicago), is the Tyrannosaurus rex specimen named “Sue”, the most complete T. rex fossil discovered to date.  A great deal of research has been carried out on the 66 million-year-old fossilised bones of this giant, meat-eating Theropod that measures over twelve metres in length.  However, the matrix that surrounded the fossil material has helped to shed light on another resident of the famous Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota.  Fossil teeth found in the matrix surrounding the bones of the most famous T. rex in the world has led to the naming and description of a prehistoric shark that lived in freshwater, say hello to Galagadon nordquistae.

A Life Reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Shark G. nordquistae

Galagadon nordquistae life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous shark Galagadon nordquistae.

Picture Credit: Velizar Simeonovski (Field Museum)

A Small, Freshwater Predator

Ever since the preparation work on “Sue” began in the 1990’s, the leftover sediment (matrix), was carefully stored at the Field Museum.  Researchers examined this material searching for micro-fossils in a bid to build up a picture of what life was like in this part of Laramidia towards the end of the age of dinosaurs.  Teeth were found from a shark which would have measured around half a metre in length.

Peter Makovicky (Curator of Dinosaurs at the Field Museum) commented:

“This shark lived at the same as Sue the T. rex, it was part of the same world.  Most of its body wasn’t preserved, because sharks’ skeletons are made of cartilage, but we were able to find its tiny fossilised teeth.”

The shark, named Galagadon nordquistae, is described in a scientific paper published in the “Journal of Palaeontology”.

Named After a 1980s Video Game

Lead author of the research, Terry Gates (North Carolina State University), explained that the shark’s name was inspired by the stepped, triangular shape of the teeth that reminded the research team of the spaceships in the 1980s video game Galaga.  The species epithet honours Field Museum volunteer Karen Nordquist who discovered the fossilised teeth in the matrix material.

Fossil Teeth Reminded the Scientists of Video Game Spaceships

Galagadon fossil teeth.

Specimens of shark teeth (lingual view) assigned to Galagadon.  Scale bars = 1 mm.

Picture Credit: Terry Gates (North Carolina State University)/Journal of Paleontology

Commentating on her fossil find, Nordquist stated:

“It [a tooth] was so tiny, you could miss it if you weren’t looking really carefully.  To the naked eye, it just looks like a little bump, you have to have a microscope to get a good view of it.”

Tiny Teeth Change our View of the Prehistoric Environment

The tiny teeth are only about a millimetre wide, about the size of a pinhead.  Galagadon was small too, estimated at around thirty to sixty centimetres in length.

Dr Makovicky added:

“Galagadon was less than two feet long, it’s not exactly Jaws.  It’s comparable to bamboo sharks living today.  It probably had a flat face and was very likely camouflage-coloured, since its relatives today have a camouflage pattern.  It would have eaten small invertebrates and probably spent a fair amount of time lying on the bottom of the riverbed.”

Galagadon may not have been huge, but its discovery has forced scientists into a re-think over what they thought they knew about the area where the T. rex named “Sue” was found.  It had been thought that the fossil locality represented a lake formed from a partially dried-up river, the presence of a shark suggests there must have been at least some connection to the sea.

The shark has been classified as a member of the Orectolobiformes Order of sharks, making it distantly related to extant carpet sharks including bamboo sharks.  These types of shark are believed to have originated in the Jurassic and had a global distribution, today they are mostly restricted to waters in southeast Asia and Australia.

Co-author of the study, Eric Gorscak (Field Museum) explained:

“It’s surprising to find their fossils at the Sue locality.  During the Late Cretaceous, the continents continued to drift apart, further isolating dinosaurs and other land animals, and at the same time created the Atlantic and Indian oceans.  With occasional seaways connecting these young oceans, we have found fossils of marine life flourishing globally, including Galagadon and its relatives.”

Various Views of the Galagadon Teeth

Views of Galagadon teeth.

Galagadon teeth. Specimens in lingual view (1–4), labial view (5–8), lateral view (9–12), basal view (13–16), and occlusal view (17–20). Scale bars = 1 mm.

Picture Credit: Terry Gates (North Carolina State University)/Journal of Paleontology

Hell Creek – More than Flashy Dinosaurs

The study also reflects the importance of learning about fossils beyond big, flashy dinosaurs.  Each species discovered helps to build up a picture of the ecosystem in which the dinosaurs and other megafauna existed.

Karen Nordquist added:

“Most people, when they think of fossils, think of big huge dinosaur bones, but in the dirt, there are the bones of tiny animals.  When you get those bones and identify them, you get an idea of the whole environment, everything that lived with the big dinosaurs.  You learn so much from micro-sorting.”

The scientific paper: “New Sharks and Other Chondrichthyans from the Latest Maastrichtian (Late Cretaceous) of North America” by Terry A. Gates, Eric Gorscak and Peter J. Makovicky published in the Journal of Paleontology.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from the Field Museum (Chicago), in the compilation of this article.

22 01, 2019

Dinosaurs with Foundation Stage Children

By | January 22nd, 2019|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Dinosaurs with Foundation Stage Children

Over the last few days, the teaching team at Everything Dinosaur have been out and about visiting lots of schools to work with Foundation Stage children.  We have met some very enthusiastic and eager young palaeontologists and conducted several workshops with Reception and Nursery classes.  We have seen fossils, dinosaur drawings, prehistoric animal skeletons made from pasta shapes and even a few flying reptiles dangling from a classroom ceiling.  One class of Nursery children (Foundation Stage 1), have been helping “Trudy the Triceratops” build a nest and each weekend one of the children gets to take “Trudy” home and to look after the dinosaur for a couple of days.

“Trudy the Triceratops” – Helping with a Dinosaur Term Topic with a Nursery Class

Triceratops soft toy.

A soft toy Triceratops like “Trudy the Triceratops”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Trudy loves adventures and she will have a diary with her so that parents and children can record what Trudy gets up to whilst she is away from the school.  On the Monday, following Trudy’s visit, the child will be given the opportunity to tell the class what Trudy has been up to over the weekend.

Explaining about Trudy’s adventures will help improve the children’s communication skills and help develop confidence.

Labelling a Triceratops

To help support the teaching team’s scheme of work we provide extra resources and teaching materials.  At one school we learned that the Nursery class teacher had a favourite dinosaur.  It was Triceratops, so we sent an illustration of what palaeontologists think Triceratops actually looked like.  We suggested that if the teacher blanked out our labels, then the children could write in their own labels and name the various parts of the body.

Can You Label a Dinosaur?

Labelling a Triceratops.

Can you label a dinosaur?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Can the children label the dinosaur?  A good exercise in helping with vocabulary development and writing, some words might be spelt correctly whilst others could be phonetically plausible.

Hatching Dinosaur Eggs

During our visits we saw lots of dinosaur eggs and nests.  We suggested that an extension activity to accompany the discovery of a dinosaur egg in the classroom would be to challenge the children to think of materials that might help to keep the egg safe and warm.  What sort of materials should we use to make a nest for a dinosaur?  This activity supports the concept of learning through play and exploration.  The children can look at the properties of materials and think through their own ideas, making links between ideas and developing strategies for achieving outcomes.

A Dinosaur Egg About to Hatch in a Reception Classroom

A dinosaur egg is about to hatch.

A hatching dinosaur egg spotted in a Foundation Stage (Reception) classroom.

Picture Credit: Lum Head Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The children in the Reception class at Lum Head Primary had decided to wrap their dinosaur egg in a blanket to help keep the egg safe and warm.  A dinosaur had been added by the children to help keep the baby dinosaur company when it hatched.

For information about Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools: Email us to find out more about our dinosaur workshops

Load More Posts