All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
5 01, 2019

First Fossil Record of a Yam from Asia

By | January 5th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Leaf Fossils from India Hint at the Origin of Yams

The edible, starch-filled tubers of the genus Dioscorea are an important food stuff for many people.  These flowering plants (Dioscoreaceae family), are often referred to as yams and several hundred species are known.  These plants are widely distributed throughout warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions, but scientists were unsure of the evolutionary history of this important group of Angiosperms.  However, researchers from the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (Lucknow, northern India), have named a new fossil species – Dioscorea eocenicus.  Two broad, heart-shaped leaf fossils unearthed at a Gurha lignite mine in Bikaner (western Rajasthan), hint that this important group of plants could have evolved on the southern super-continent of Gondwana.

One of the Broad Leaf Fossils from the Mine – Dioscorea eocenicus

Ancient leaf fossils suggest Eocene Epoch yams.

Dioscorea eocenicus – ancient yam of the Early Eocene Epoch.

Picture Credit: Rakesh Chandra Mehrotra and Anumeha Shukla published (Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology)

The First Record of Dioscoreaceae from Asia

Writing in the academic journal “Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology”, the researchers describe the two leaf fossils which measure around sixteen centimetres in length.  Comparative analysis with extant and extinct flowering plants led the authors to conclude that these fossils represent the first record of the Dioscoreaceae family from Asia.  Fossils representing ancient members of the Dioscoreaceae are known from Africa, Europe and America, but these Eocene fossils found on the Indian subcontinent suggest a southern hemisphere origin for this plant family and furthermore, it could mean that yams were present in the Cretaceous.  Perhaps, Late Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaurs fed on their leaves and succulent, energy rich tubers.

Analysis of other plant fossils found in the same deposits, reveal that when these early yams lived, Rajasthan was a humid, tropical paradise.  The climate of Rajasthan today is very different.  India’s largest state is arid and it contains the Thar Desert, sometimes referred to as the “Great Indian Desert” which covers and area bigger than the whole of England and Wales.

The scientific paper: “First Record of Dioscorea from the Early Eocene of north-western India: Its Evolutionary and Palaeoecological Importance” by Rakesh Chandra Mehrotra and Anumeha Shukla published in the Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology.

4 01, 2019

New Middle Jurassic Pterosaur Described

By | January 4th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Klobiodon rochei – Fanged Flier of the Middle Jurassic

The famous Stonesfield Slate mines located in Oxfordshire have provided palaeontologists with a rich assemblage of Middle Jurassic (Bathonian), marine and terrestrial fossils, perhaps most famously, the Theropod Megalosaurus, the first dinosaur to be scientifically described.  Joining “big reptile” as a member of the area’s prehistoric biota is a newly described, toothy pterosaur – Klobiodon rochei.

Writing in the academic journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, Dr Michael O’Sullivan, (University of Portsmouth), has reviewed the extensive but highly fragmentary pterosaur material and uncovered evidence of well-armed and substantial flying reptiles from historically important, but overlooked, British fossils.

A Life Reconstruction of the Middle Jurassic Rhamphorhynchid Pterosaur Klobiodon rochei

Klobiodon rochei life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the Middle Jurassic pterosaur Klobiodon rochei.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

An Unexpectedly Large and Formidable Flying Reptile

Working in collaboration with Professor David Martill (University of Portsmouth), Dr O’Sullivan examined many of the 215 fragmentary pterosaur fossils that have been collected from the Stonesfield Slate mines, K. rochei is one of the largest known from any Middle Jurassic-aged deposits.  It had an estimated wingspan of two metres, making it about the size of a modern-day mute swan.  Living around 166-165 million years ago, Klobiodon is an unexpectedly large and formidably-armed species.

Commenting on the significance of the newly described member of the Rhamphorhynchidae family, Dr O’Sullivan stated:

“It’s large fangs would have meshed together to form a toothy cage, from which little could escape once Klobiodon had gotten a hold of it.   The excellent marine reptiles and ammonites of the UK’s Jurassic heritage are widely known, but we celebrate our Jurassic flying reptiles far less.  The Stonesfield pterosaurs are rarely pretty or spectacular, but they capture a time in flying reptile evolution which is poorly represented globally.  They have an important role to play in not only understanding the UK’s natural history, but help us understand the bigger global picture as well.”

Honouring Comic Book Artist Nick Roche

The genus name translates as “cage tooth”, a reference to its huge, fang-like teeth, up to 26 millimetres long, that lined the jaw (this pterosaur has been named based on the morphology of the lower mandible).  The species name honours comic book artist Nick Roche in recognition of the role this popular media has in how extinct animals are portrayed.  Comic books are a medium where prehistoric animals are portrayed in an increasingly scientifically accurate manner, Roche’s work at the turn of this century was one of the earlier examples of a revival of palaeoart.

The Lower Jaw of Klobiodon rochei

Holotype fossil fo Klobiodon rochei.

The right lower mandible of the newly described Middle Jurassic pterosaur Klobiodon rochei.  The photograph shows the original label assigned to the fossil the validity of Rhamphocephalus depressirostris has now been questioned.

Only the lower jaw of Klobiodon is known, but it has a unique dental configuration that allows it to be distinguished from other pterosaurs.   It probably fed on small fish and squid, filling a role in the coastal ecosystem of an extant seagull or tern.

A Confused Picture

Much of Dr O’Sullivan’s research has involved untangling the messy science associated with these neglected specimens.  For example, the pterosaur specimens from the Great Oolite Group (Stonesfield Slate is a unit of the Great Oolite Group), are held in museums scattered across the world, although the majority are housed either at the London Natural History Museum or within the collection of the Natural History Museum of Oxford University.  Most of these fossils were assigned in the 19th Century to the genus Rhamphocephalus and to one of three species namely: Rhamphocephalus prestwichi, Rhamphocephalus bucklandi, and Rhamphocephalus depressirostris.

This study reviewed the British Middle Jurassic Pterosauria assemblage, evaluating both their systematics and taxonomic diversity.  The holotype of Rhamphocephalus, an isolated skull table, is found to be a misidentified crocodylomorph skull and the genus is therefore considered a nomen dubium.  The holotype of Rhamphocephalus bucklandi is identified as missing and that of Rhamphocephalus depressirostris has characters diagnostic at a family level, not a generic or specific one.  Both species are considered dubious.  Detailed examination of the entire pterosaur fossil assemblage shows that these fossils actually represent at least five different taxa, representing three families.  The researchers propose that the fossil material includes the earliest occurrences of the Monofenestrata clade and sub-order Pterodactyloidea, that was to give rise to some of the largest flying reptiles known to science.

Dr O’Sullivan explained:

“Klobiodon has been known to us for centuries, archived in a museum drawer and seen by dozens or hundreds of scientists, but it’s significance has been overlooked because it’s been confused with another species since the 1800s.”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“The pterosaur fossils associated with Middle Jurassic deposits of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire have been neglected.  Research undertaken in the 19th century suggested that this was a time of relatively low pterosaur diversity.  This new research suggests that this was not the case, the Bathonian pterosaur assemblage is actually quite diverse with important early representatives of key types of flying reptile having been identified from this English fossil material.”

Stonefield Slate’s Most Famous Resident

Perhaps the most famous member of the Great Oolite Group biota is Megalosaurus bucklandii, the first dinosaur to be formally described.  The name was first used by James Parkinson in 1822 and published by the Reverend William Buckland in 1824, when he described various fossil remains including an iconic lower jaw bone (right dentary).  Size estimates vary for M. bucklandii, it could have been around ten metres in length.  It was probably the apex predator within this ecosystem and it is intriguing to think that the likes of Klobiodon could have scavenged the kills of Megalosaurus.

A Life Reconstruction of the Stonefield Slate’s Most Famous Member – Megalosaurus bucklandii

A life reconstruction of Megalosaurus bucklandii.

Megalosaurus feeding.  An illustration of the Middle Jurassic Ecosystem (Great Oolite Group).

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The scientific paper: “Pterosauria of the Great Oolite Group (Bathonian, Middle Jurassic) of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, England” by Michael O’Sullivan and David M. Martill, published in published in Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (editor’s choice).

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

3 01, 2019

Picking Up a Pair of Peccaries in Tennessee

By | January 3rd, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Picking up a Peccary or Two

Scientists from East Tennessee State University in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Tennessee and the University of California have published a scientific paper on the discovery of two types of Pliocene peccary from the famous Gray Fossil Site located Washington County (north-eastern Tennessee).  The town of Gray harbours a remarkable fossil quarry that has highly fossiliferous strata that dates from around 4.9 to 4.5 million years ago.  The site represents a watery sink hole, that was once surrounded by an oak and hickory dominated forest.  Since this location’s discovery nineteen years ago, a treasure trove of vertebrate and plant fossils has been excavated, permitting palaeontologists and palaeobotanists to build up a detailed picture of the ecosystem.  Fossils of frogs, fish, salamanders and several reptiles including two types of alligator have been recorded, but perhaps the most spectacular fossils are the numerous specimens of mammals that have been discovered.

Views of part of the Skull of a Peccary from the Gray Fossil Site (assigned to Mylohyus elmorei)

Mylohyus elmorei fossil from the Gray Fossil Site.

Gray Fossil Site peccary jaw – assigned to Mylohyus elmorei. Note the scale bar = 30 mm, (A) lateral view, (B) occlusal view and (C) medial view.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

Field teams have found evidence of short-faced bears, dwarf tapirs, sabre-toothed cats, prehistoric elephants (Gomphotheres and Mastodons), camels, as well as rodents, bats and rabbits.  Scientists can add another animal to the ecosystem – a peccary, to be precise, fossils of two different types of peccary have been found.

Prehistoric Peccaries

Peccaries may look like pigs but they are not true pigs (members of the Suidae family).  Peccaries, or as they are sometimes known javelinas, are assigned to a different family (Tayassuidae).  They probably share a common Eocene ancestor with the true pigs, however, by around 35 million years ago peccaries were established in North America and they have evolved independently away from European and Asian suoids.

Writing in the academic journal “PeerJ”, the researchers identify two different extinct species of peccary from skull and jaw fossils found at the site.  The species are Mylohyus elmorei and Prosthennops serus.  They are not new to science, after all the genera were erected in 1860 and 1877 respectively but neither of these extinct species has ever been found in this part of the United States before.  P. serus has been found in fossil sites around the United States, but never before in the Appalachian region.  With the confirmation that the Gray Fossil Site contains specimens of Mylohyus elmorei, the range of this species has been extended by over 500 miles northwards.

The Lower Jaw of the Extinct Peccary Prosthennops serus

Prosthennops serus lower jaw.

The lower jaw of Prosthennops serus.  Note how the large canine teeth in the front of the jaw point straight up, this is an important characteristic that helps to distinguish peccary fossils from the fossils of true pigs (Suidae).

Picture Credit: East Tennessee State University

Commenting on the significance of the published paper, Dr Chris Widga (East Tennessee State University Museum of Natural History at the Gray Fossil Site), stated:

“Details of the peccaries’ teeth suggest that they spent their lives browsing on the leaves and fruits of succulent plants, so they would have been right at home in the Gray Fossil Site ecosystem, which we know from plant fossils was rich with tasty vegetation.”

How to Tell a Peccary from a Pig (True Pig)

Peccaries look superficially like pigs, they fill the same niche in the ecosystem (ground dwelling omnivores), but there are a number of striking anatomical differences.  The canine tusks of peccaries are always very simple, either pointing up or down.  In contrast the canine tusks of true pigs usually are more elaborate affairs, with distinct curves and often flaring out to the side.  Peccary skulls tend to be much narrower and much shorter than pig skulls.

Comparing the Skull of a Pig (Warthog) to that of a Peccary

A pig skull (warthog) compared to a peccary skull.

Comparing a pig skull (left) with a peccary skull (right).

Picture Credit: Christine Janis (Brown University) with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The Gray Fossil Site peccary material will help scientists to better understand subtle variations within each peccary species (intraspecific variation), which will aid peccary fossil interpretation and classification.  In addition, the Gray Fossil Site material includes the most complete mandible found to date of Mylohyus elmorei.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the East Tennessee State University in the preparation of this article.

The scientific paper: “First Occurrence of the Enigmatic Peccaries Mylohyus elmorei and Prosthennops serus from the Appalachians: Latest Hemphillian to Early Blancan of Gray Fossil Site, Tennessee” by Evan M. Doughty​, Steven C. Wallace, Blaine W. Schubert and Lauren M. Lyon published in the journal PeerJ.

2 01, 2019

The Limited Edition Velociraptor osmolskae (Beasts of the Mesozoic)

By | January 2nd, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae Figure (Limited Edition)

Plans are progressing well at Everything Dinosaur with regards to new additions to the very popular Beasts of the Mesozoic collectable “raptor” figures.  New lines will be coming into stock in the spring and we have featured the new additions in a previous blog post and a customer e-newsletter.  Today, we focus on one of these new replicas, the limited edition Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae figure, that will only be available for sale in Europe from Everything Dinosaur.

New for 2019 – A Limited Edition Beast of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae Figure

Beasts of the Mesozoic limited edition V. osmolskae figure.

Limited edition Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read our previous article that provides details on all the new Beasts of the Mesozoic “raptor” releases for 2019: New Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures for 2019

Superb Quality Articulated Figures

The Beasts of the Mesozoic range consist of superb quality, articulated figures.  They are the brainchild of the highly talented and respected artist David Silva.  Everything Dinosaur team members are eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the new “raptors” including the limited edition Velociraptor osmolskae figure, the second species to be named in the Velociraptor genus (named in 2008, whereas V. mongoliensis was formally named and described back in 1924).

The Limited Edition Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae Box Contents

Beasts of the Mesozoic Limited Edition Velociraptor osmolskae box contents.

Box contents – the limited edition Velociraptor osmolskae figure (Beasts of the Mesozoic).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is fitting to see a Velociraptor named after a Polish scientist – Halszka Osmólskaand one first described by researchers led by a Belgian palaeontologist – Pascal Godefroit, coming to Europe.  It has been eleven years since this ground dwelling carnivore was formally named and described and more than ninety years since the genus Velociraptor was erected, it is great to see a Velociraptor osmolskae figure added to our inventory.”

To view the range of Beasts of the Mesozoic articulated figures offered by Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures

Beautiful Artwork

One of the features of this highly collectable range of prehistoric animals is the beautiful box art.  The Velociraptor osmolskae illustration on the box is from renowned artist Raul Ramos.  Raul will be the package illustrator for the Ceratopsian themed articulated figure series which will be the next range of models to be launched.

The Stunning Velociraptor osmolskae Package Art

Beasts of the Mesozoic Limited Edition Velociraptor osmolskae artwork

The original artwork of the Velociraptor osmolskae will feature on the box for the new for 2019 Beasts of the Mesozoic V. osmolskae replica.

Picture Credit: Raul Ramos

In the beautiful illustration by Raul Ramos, the Velociraptor is depicted in a dry, arid environment.  The type fossil specimen for this species comes from the Bayan Mandahu Formation of China, strata that represents a desert habitat, so the backdrop chosen by the artist is entirely appropriate.

1 01, 2019

Happy New Year from Everything Dinosaur

By | January 1st, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Happy New Year from Everything Dinosaur

Just a brief note to wish all our weblog readers, social media followers and customers a happy New Year.  We wish everyone a peaceful, prosperous 2019.   Team members at Everything Dinosaur have lots of exciting plans for the next twelve months, including adding numerous new prehistoric animal models to our range.   We estimate that by the end of this year (2019), we will have added around fifty new prehistoric animal models to our inventory.

We will also be updating our website and making some improvements to further aid navigation and enhance the website visitor experience.

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Wish Everyone a Happy New Year

Everything Dinosaur wishes everyone a Happy New Year.

Happy New Year from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

From all of us, to all of you – Happy New Year.

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