All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//February
28 02, 2019

Rare Fossils of a North Lincolnshire Pliosaur Go on Display

By | February 28th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The “Scunthorpe Pliosaur”

This week has seen the formal unveiling of the fossilised remains of a pliosaur at North Lincolnshire Museum in Scunthorpe.  The fossils, consisting of a single tooth, a series of vertebrae, elements from the ribs, the tip of the snout and a single humerus, suggest an animal of around eight metres in length.  It would have been one of the apex predators of the Late Jurassic marine environment.

The “Scunthorpe Pliosaur” on Display

Rose Nicholson, Richard Forrest and Darren Withers with the Scunthorpe Pliosaur.

Rose Nicholson (North Lincolnshire Museum), palaeontologist Richard Forrest and Darren Withers (Stamford and District Geological Society), showing where the fossil bones are located on a pliosaur skeleton.

Picture Credit: North Lincolnshire Museum

A Memorable Geology Field Trip

The first evidence of the remains of a marine reptile, were discovered by Darren Withers of the Stamford and District Geological Society during a field trip to a north Lincolnshire quarry in October 2017.  The Society had visited the quarry previously and were aware that the Kimmeridge Clay deposits (dating from 157 to 152 million years ago), contained numerous fossils, but marine reptile bones, especially several pieces from an individual skeleton are exceptionally rare.

After spending some time looking at the quarry floor, Darren decided to investigate some of the stepped banks in the quarry side.  He followed a trail of small Rasenia cymodoce ammonites until they petered out after about thirty metres, but he decided to explore further and then a surprising discovery was made:

Darren commented:

“I’m so glad I did [explore a little further] because the next thing I was looking down at was a large vertebra.”

CEMEX, the quarry owners, granted further access to the site and over the next twelve months or so more of the pliosaur remains were found.  In total, the haul consists of twenty-eight vertebrae, a single tooth, fourteen rib elements, a bone from the upper arm (humerus) and some fragments from the front portion of the upper jaw (premaxilla).  It has been estimated that the specimen is around 155 million-years-old.

Excavating the Pliosaur Specimen

Extracting the fossilised remains of a pliosaur.

Extracting fossils at the north Lincolnshire quarry (CEMEX).

Picture Credit: North Lincolnshire Museum

Pliosaurs were marine reptiles, part of the Plesiosauria Order, specifically, the short-necked plesiosaurs, the Suborder Pliosauroidea.  They were the apex predators in most Late Jurassic marine ecosystems.  Pliosaurs had an enormously powerful bite, perhaps the most powerful bite of any vertebrate, a complex system of sensory organs in their snouts, superb eyesight and the ability to taste water as they swam to help them locate prey.

A Model of a Typical Pliosaur

Martin Garratt's customised CollectA Deluxe Pliosaurus.

The customised CollectA Deluxe Pliosaurus model.  The model helps to portray what the “Scunthorpe Pliosaur” might have looked like.

Picture Credit: Martin Garratt/Everything Dinosaur

Explaining the significance of the “Scunthorpe Pliosaur”, Richard Forrest, a vertebrate palaeontologist with an extensive knowledge of the Plesiosauria stated:

“Although the specimen is not complete it tells a fascinating story of how the carcase was broken down by scavenging and decay in the ancient Kimmeridge Clay seas.  Because top predators are much less common than their prey, this is indeed a rare find.  We have hundreds of specimens of other marine reptiles, but only a handful of Pliosaurs.”

The “Scunthorpe Pliosaur” Goes on Display

The fossils will be on display at the North Lincolnshire Museum in a temporary exhibit, however, there are plans to give this exceptionally rare fossil find from eastern England a permanent home at the Museum.

Richard Forrest Examines the Pliosaur Vertebrae

Richard Forrest (vertebrate palaeontologist) examines a Pliosaur vertebra.

Richard Forrest laying out one of the vertebrae in the correct anatomical position.

Picture Credit: North Lincolnshire Museum

Councillor Elaine Marper, responsible for the North Lincolnshire Museum added:

“We are over the moon to be able to have this prehistoric sea monster on display at North Lincolnshire Museum.  This is a rare find and to have the fossilised remains stay in North Lincolnshire and go on display for the public is a real feat.  Thank you to CEMEX for making this possible.”

Richard Forrest at the Quarry Holding the Pliosaur Tooth Discovered at the Site

The pliosaur tooth examined by Richard Forrest.

Richard Forrest holding a pliosaur tooth.

Picture Credit: North Lincolnshire Museum

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from North Lincolnshire Council in the compilation of this article.

27 02, 2019

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World T. rex Dinosaur Model (2019)

By | February 27th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World T. rex Dinosaur Model (2019)

Tyrannosaurus rex may have been formally named and described more than 100 years ago, but this iconic dinosaur has certainly not lost any of its appeal since Henry Fairfield Osborn’s scientific paper (1905).  The “tyrant lizard king” remains as popular as ever with casts of skeletons adorning many natural history museums and no dinosaur movie seems complete without an appearance or two of a T. rex.

Tyrannosaurus rex on the Front Cover of the First Edition of the Novel “Jurassic Park”

The front cover of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

The first edition of Jurassic Park, featured on the front cover a silhouette of a T. rex skeleton, albeit with a few anatomical discrepancies.

The Enduring Popularity of Tyrannosaurus rex

For dinosaur fans and prehistoric animal model collectors, there are a plethora of T. rex figures to collect and most manufacturers carry at least one replica of this, perhaps the most famous of all the dinosaurs, within their ranges.  Today, we take a look at just one recently introduced figure, that of the 2019 Wild Safari Prehistoric World T. rex made by Safari Ltd.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World T. rex Dinosaur Model (2019)

T.rex Dinosaur Model

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A lot of print space has been devoted to trying to explain this carnivores’ enduring popularity.  In the 2019 Safari Ltd catalogue there are no less than five Tyrannosaurus rex models within the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range and that does not include the baby dinosaurs in eggs.  The most recent figure was introduced a few weeks ago (see picture above), this has led to some speculation that a number of the older figures in this range will be withdrawn.  Measuring around seventeen centimetres in length and with that powerful head standing some eleven centimetres off the ground, this is not the largest T. rex figure available, but as with all the models in the Safari Ltd portfolio, it is well painted and has lots of fine detail.  The figure has already attracted a 5-star review on the Everything Dinosaur website.

Safari Ltd have taken some beautiful photographs highlighting the exquisite details on their prehistoric animal models.  We intend to post these pictures up onto our social media platforms as they permit model collectors the opportunity to see more than just the standard figure studio shots.  Perhaps the photographs will inspire collectors to take their own pictures showcasing their very own “Jurassic Park”

An Outward Bound Tyrannosaurus rex 

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World T. rex dinosaur model.

The new for 2019 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Tyrannosaurus rex figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Wild Safari Prehistoric World figures available from Everything Dinosaur including the new for 2019 Tyrannosaurus rexWild Safari Prehistoric World

Admiring the Details – The Skin Folds and a Beautifully Painted Eye

T. rex (Wild Safari Prehistoric World)

A closer look at the new for 2019 Tyrannosaurus rex figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

26 02, 2019

Middle Cambrian Worm – Amiskwia Finds a Home

By | February 26th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Weird Prehistoric Worm Finally Gets Classified

Ever since Charles Doolittle Walcott, discovered the now famous Burgess Shale deposits of Cambrian-aged fossils in British Columbia, palaeontologists have marvelled at the amazing snapshot of ancient marine life the fossils represent.  One of the enduring mysteries surrounding many of the preserved remains is how to classify the more than 500-million-year-old-fossil specimens.  One such Burgess Shale creature, a prehistoric worm with jaws – Amiskwia sagittiformis and its equally ancient cousin A. sinica from the roughly contemporaneous Maotianshan shales of Yunnan Province, China have finally found a home on the Tree of Life.

A Fossil of Amiskwia sagittiformis (Burgess Shale)

Amiskwia sagittiformis from the Burgess Shale.

The fossil, Amiskwia sagittiformis from the Burgess Shale (508 million years old), preserving bilateral jaw elements inside its head.

Picture Credit: Luke Alexander Parry/University of Bristol – Yale University

Analysis of Fossils from the Smithsonian Institute

Researchers from Bristol University in collaboration with a former colleague now based at the University of Yale, have identified that this soft-bodied creature is a stem lineage to arrow worms that possesses the jaw apparatus seen in microscopic gnathiferan worms.  This new analysis of ancient fossils helps to link recent DNA studies on the bristle-jawed arrow worms (Chaetognatha), indicating that these worms are related to the Gnathifera, tiny, unsegmented worms with primitive jaws that like the chaetognaths, are found in marine environments.

The scientists conclude that the soft-bodied taxon Amiskwia possesses characters intermediate between chaetognaths and gnathiferans.

A Close View of the Head of an Extant Arrow Worm

A photograph of the head of an arrow worm.

The head of the arrow worm, Parasagitta elegans.  This group of animals (Chaetognatha), are the closest living relatives to the Amiskwia genus.

Picture Credit: Rafael Martin Ledo/Consejería de Educación de Cantabría

Originally Described by Walcott

Like many of the Burgess Shale animals, an original description of Amiskwia was published by Walcott (1911).  Walcott made the connection with extant arrow worms (chaetognaths).  These unsegmented worms are predators and they use the spines on their head for catching prey.  Despite the remarkable degree of preservation of Burgess Shale specimens, fossils of Amiskwia are very rare when compared to other Burgess Shale Middle Cambrian biota.  Fossils of Amiskwia sinica are also very rare in the Chinese Maotianshan shales.  These types of creatures may have comprised a scarce component of the Middle Cambrian marine fauna, or perhaps, there is a fossil preservation bias.

With few fossils to study, there was widespread debate amongst scientists with regards to Walcott’s conclusions regarding the taxonomy of Amiskwia.  The renowned American palaeontologist, Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), re-ignited the controversy by speculating that these little, soft-bodied, squished fossils represented an organism that had no modern relatives.  Gould proposed that Amiskwia was an experiment in evolution that ultimately failed leaving an extinct lineage and no modern-day descendants.

The problem with Walcott’s idea that Amiskwia was related to arrow worms was that scientists were unable to find evidence of any grasping spines at the anterior end of the animal in any of the fossils.  Instead, many researchers proposed that Amiskwia was a representative of another group of worms the ribbon worms (Nemertea).

When Dr Jakob Vinther from the University of Bristol’s Schools of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences and Luke Parry (Yale University), studied specimens of Amiskwia, kept at the Smithsonian Institute, they found something that had been overlooked by the previous researchers.

Dr Vinther explained:

“I coated the specimen with ammonium chloride smoke to make the relief of the fossil stand out and then I could see that in the head was a pair of robust elements.”

A Set of Jaws

Interpreting these structures as a set of jaws, their resemblance led the scientists to the conclusion that there was a link between these fossils and the Gnathifera.  In essence, the Amiskwia fossil material represents a sort of half-way stage between two important groups of invertebrates.  Amiskwia had the jaw apparatus of a gnathiferan, but the body plan of an arrow worm.

A Microscopic Member of the Gnathifera – the gnathostomulid Rastrognathia macrostoma

The gnathostomulid Rastrognathia macrostoma.

The gnathostomulid Rastrognathia macrostoma, these microscopic animals have a jaw apparatus similar to Amiskwia, which scientists now propose are amongst the closest living relatives of living arrow worms.

Picture Credit: Martin Vinther Sørensen/SNM Denmark

This study in conjunction with the recent DNA analysis, confirms that Amiskwia is the fossil link between the Gnathifera and arrow worms, the Chaetognatha.  This research was originally conducted some years, ago but was not published as the paper’s conclusions lacked supporting evidence from other studies.

Dr Vinther added:

“The bizarre combination of anatomy seemed altogether alien back in 2012.  Some people have proposed that there could be a relationship between arrow worms and gnathiferans based on their shared possession of a jaw apparatus, both made of a substance called chitin.  However, there was little other evidence to suggest a relationship, such as evidence from phylogenetic analyses of DNA.”

Co-author of the scientific paper, Luke Parry stated:

“It altogether seemed like heresy to propose that gnathiferans and arrow worms may be related back then so we held off publishing our intriguing results out of fear of criticism from our peers.  However, new DNA studies have since emerged that found arrow worms to be more and more closely affiliated to the Gnathifera in the Tree of Life.  In particular, some researchers found that arrow worms share a duplication of the important Hox genes with a gnathiferan, the rotifers.  We suddenly felt no more in a deadlock situation.”

Now the authors have published their findings in the journal Current Biology. The study follows a new phylogenetic study, which finds robust support for arrow worms forming an evolutionary group with gnathiferans.

The Inferred Phylogeny of Amiskwia and its Position in Relation to the Gnathifera and the Chaetognatha

Amiskwia inferred phylogeny.

Inferred phylogeny. Thumbnails at the bottom of the figure show reconstructions of relevant extant and extinct gnathiferan and chaetognath taxa.

Picture Credit: Current Biology

Scientists have pieced together a little bit of the enigmatic Burgess Shale and the Chinese Maotianshan biotas and linked them to modern organisms.  Amiskwia has been found a place on the Tree of Life.  It is a stem lineage to arrow worms that possess the jaw apparatus seen in gnathiferan worms.

This jaw evolved into the fearsome grasping spines in living arrow worms, which play an important role in  marine ecosystems.

The scientific paper: “Bilateral Jaw Elements in Amiskwia sagittiformis Bridge the Morphological Gap between Gnathiferans and Chaetognaths” by Jakob Vinther and Luke A. Parry published in Current Biology.

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

25 02, 2019

A Beautiful Dinosaur Themed Pencil Drawing

By | February 25th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

A Beautiful Dinosaur Themed Pencil Drawing

Our thanks to Caroline for sending into Everything Dinosaur, a beautiful, hand-drawn dinosaur themed card.  Caroline had wanted to purchase one of the limited edition, Rebor hatching Baryonyx figures, but she was unable to make the purchase when these figures first came into stock.  We received her request to reserve a Rebor “Hurricane”, one of just 1,000 replicas made.  Our team members were happy to set a Baryonyx aside and a few weeks later Caroline was able to make her purchase.

As a thank you, we received this splendid illustration of a swimming Spinosaurus.  The Onchopristis (an extinct sawfish), swimming closeby and better watch out!  Spinosaurus is believed to have been a piscivore.

Spinosaurus Going for a Swim

A swimming Spinosaurus.

Spinosaurus going for a swim.

Picture Credit: Caroline Smalley

Caroline included a message with her card.  She thanked us for holding onto the Rebor Hatching Baryonyx “Hurricane” figure and congratulated us on our customer service.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is always a pleasure to receive illustrations such as the swimming Spinosaurus from our customers.  There are so many incredibly talented people out there and to be able to reconstruct a long extinct animal and place it within an environmental context is a real skill.  We even noted the small Theropod dinosaur illustrated on the inside of the card.  We are happy to know that the limited edition Rebor Hatching Baryonyx figure has found a good home.”

Even the Rebor Hatching Baryonyx “Hurricane” Looks Impressed!

Rebor Hatching Baryonyx "Hurricane".

The limited edition hatching Baryonyx figure “Hurricane” by Rebor.  Even the Rebor figure looks awestruck at seeing the Spinosaurus illustration, after all, these two Theropods belong to the same family (Spinosauridae), although Baryonyx (B. walkeri) lived tens of millions of years earlier than Spinosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our thanks once again to Caroline for sending in her wonderful dinosaur themed thank you card.

24 02, 2019

Mini Marsupial Lived Amongst Arctic Dinosaurs

By | February 24th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Unnuakomys hutchisoni – Late Cretaceous of Alaska

Researchers have discovered a new species of ancient marsupial that lived deep in the Arctic Circle approximately 69 million years ago (lower Maastrichtian faunal stage).  The new mammal has been named Unnuakomys hutchisoni, not much bigger than a house mouse (Mus musculus), it is likely that this little creature was nocturnal and may have retreated to burrows to protect itself from periods of extreme cold.  Known from more than sixty fossil specimens, the vast majority being tiny teeth but two dentaries (lower jaw bones ) were found along with a fragment of upper jaw (maxilla), this little mammal helps to flesh out the rich, diverse and unique Late Cretaceous biota of Alaska.

Little Mammals Such as the Marsupial  Unnuakomys hutchisoni Lived in the Shadow of Dinosaurs

Alaska in the Late Cretaceous (inset shows tiny mammal).

Hadrosaurs (Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis) under the northern lights in the Late Cretaceous of Alaska – inset shows tiny mammal.  See note at the bottom of this article.

Picture Credit: James Havens

Fossils from the Pediomys Point Locality 

For several years now, researchers have been exploring the Upper Cretaceous strata that is exposed along the steep banks of the Colville River.  The researchers, which include lead author of the paper on Unnuakomys hutchisoni, Jaelyn Eberle (University of Colorado) and her collaborator Patrick Druckenmiller (University of Fairbanks Alaska), have uncovered evidence of a unique assemblage of dinosaurs and the discovery of this little marsupial represents the most northern of this type of mammal known to science.  The climate during the Late Cretaceous in this part of the world was not as severe as it is today, but the animals living this far north would have had to endure around four months of complete darkness each year and the temperatures would frequently drop below freezing.  The fossil material representing U. hutchisoni was collected during the sieving of sediments from the Pediomys Point Locality of the Prince Creek Formation exposed along the Colville River on the North Slope of Alaska.

Field Team Members Pose Next to Buckets of Sediment Ready for Sieving

Researchers pose next to buckets of sediments that will be sieved for microfossils.

Field team members pose for a photograph next to buckets of sediment that they will sift through to search for tiny mammalian teeth.

Picture Credit: Jaelyn Eberle

A Diverse Faunal Assemblage

This part of Alaska was some 80 degrees north around 69 million years ago.  It was once thought that these high latitudes were virtually devoid of life, but that view has gradually changed as more fossil discoveries have been made.  Teeth of U. hutchisoni greatly outnumber those recovered from other mammals at Pediomys Point, this could be down to sampling, or it could have arisen due to a preservation bias, perhaps the remains of this tiny mammal were more likely to be preserved than other mammal bones and teeth, although this is unlikely.  The abundance of Unnuakomys fossils in relation to other mammals could indicate that this tiny animal thrived in an environment well above the Arctic Circle whose climatic extremes may have acted as a biogeographical barrier preventing the encroachment of other types of Late Cretaceous mammal.

Field Team Members Working on a Steeply Sloping Riverbank

Unnuakomys hutchisoni - looking for fossils on a steep Alaskan riverbank.

Looking for fossils on a steep riverbank.

Picture Credit: Patrick Druckenmiller

Patrick Druckenmiller stated:

“Northern Alaska was not only inhabited by a wide variety of dinosaurs, but in fact we’re finding there were also new species of mammals that helped to fill out the ecology.  With every new species, we paint a new picture of this ancient polar landscape.”

“Night Mouse”

In a reflection of the likely ecology of this miniature marsupial, that of an animal well-adapted to living in the dark, Eberle and her colleagues gave the new mammal the genus name Unnuakomys, a mixture of Greek and the indigenous Iñupiaq language that means “night mouse.”  The trivial name honours the palaeontologist J. Howard Hutchison, who was the first person to identify and explore this fossil assemblage.

The research team, whose project was funded with a National Science Foundation grant, identified the new marsupial using a painstaking process.  With the help of numerous graduate and undergraduate students, they collected, washed and screened ancient river sediment collected on the North Slope and then carefully inspected it under a microscope.  Over many years, they were able to locate numerous fossilised teeth, most of which were no bigger than a grain of sand.

Co-author of the paper, Gregory Erickson (Florida State University), explained:

“I liken it to searching for proverbial needles in haystacks, more rocks than fossils.”

Find the Teeth – Identify the Mammal

By far the most durable part of most mammal skeletons are the teeth, thanks to their coating of hard enamel.  It is the shape of the teeth and their wear pattern, particularly the shape of the molars that allow palaeontologists to identify the type of mammal they have found simply by examining the teeth.  Mammalian teeth have unique cusps on the crown that differ from species to species and they, as a result, are highly diagnostic.  The triangular cusps on the teeth of U. hutchisoni are reminiscent of the triangular blades associated with pinking shears and are typical of an insectivore.

A Computer Generated Image Showing the Lower Jaw (Dentary) of Unnuakomys hutchisoni

Unnuakomys hutchisoni dentary.

Unnuakomys hutchisoni lower jaw bone with teeth.

Picture Credit: University of Colorado Boulder

Other co-authors of the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology paper include William Clemens (University of California), Paul McCarthy (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and Anthony Fiorillo of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

Recycling a Scientific Illustration

In 2015, Everything Dinosaur reported upon the discovery of a unique species of Alaskan Hadrosaur (Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis), James Havens produced an exquisite piece of art showing a herd of these duck-billed dinosaurs moving through the Late Cretaceous, Alaskan landscape.  To illustrate the likely position of U. hutchisoni in this ecosystem, the original artwork was carefully photoshopped to permit the inclusion of the little mammal (see inset above).  As our understanding of the fauna and flora of Late Cretaceous Alaska evolves, the artwork may have to be altered again, in the meantime, we have an excuse to show the original illustration once more.

The Original Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis Life Reconstruction (2015)

Ugrunaalik life reconstruction.

The original Ugrunaaluk illustration without the inclusion of a little marsupial.

Picture Credit: James Havens

To read our article about U. kuukpikensisLatest Dinosaur Discovery from Alaska

The scientific paper: “Northernmost record of the Metatheria: A New Late Cretaceous Pediomyid from the North Slope of Alaska” by Jaelyn J. Eberle, William A. Clemens, Paul J. McCarthy, Anthony R. Fiorillo, Gregory M. Erickson and Patrick S. Druckenmiller published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

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

23 02, 2019

The Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi is in Stock

By | February 23rd, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi is in Stock

The Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi model is in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  Everything Dinosaur team members have been able to secure some additional models from a product line that was retired several years ago.  Limited numbers are available and staff have been busy emailing customers on our priority reserve list, letting them know that this flying reptile figure is available and that one has been set aside for them.

Currently in Stock at Everything Dinosaur – Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi Model

Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi

The Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Bullyland prehistoric animal figures and replicas in stock at Everything Dinosaur, including the Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi model: Bullyland Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

A Long Retired Bullyland Figure

A lot has happened since this excellent pterosaur figure went out of production.  The range of flying reptile figures has certainly increased but as far as we are aware, no mainstream manufacturer has introduced a P. sternbergi model.  A lot has also happened when it comes to research into the Pterosauria and the Pteranodon genus.  Although arguably, Pteranodon is perhaps the best known pterosaur, both with palaeontologists and the wider public, after all, there are in excess of 1,100 Pteranodon fossils in museums all over the world, there has been a dramatic revision of the fossil material ascribed to this genus.

Flattened Like a Pancake

Visitors to museums seeing a beautifully modelled Pteranodon replica, often dangling from the ceiling, can get the wrong idea when it comes to the fossil material associated with this genus.  The three-dimensional replicas do not portray the reality.  The vast majority of fossil material comes from the Pierre Shale Formation and the Smoky Hill Chalk member of the Niobrara Formation, both marine deposits and Pteranodon fossils tend to be crushed, highly fragmentary, distorted and flattened like a pancake.

Unloading a Lifesize Pteranodon Replica at the Field Museum (Chicago, USA)

Unloading a Pteranodon.

A life-size Pteranodon replica is unloaded.  Is this P. sternbergi or a representative of the genus Geosternbergia?  Although the fossil record of assigned Pteranodon material is extensive, the fossils tend to be fragmentary and crushed.

Picture Credit: (c) Field Museum, photo by John Weinstein

Geosternbergia sternbergi or Pteranodon sternbergi?

The genus was erected back in 1876, when Othniel C. Marsh named Pteranodon longiceps.  Over the years, several species have been added to this genus, one of which was Pteranodon sternbergi, named in 1966 from fossil material found in 1952.  The species name honours the Sternberg family, who between them have made a tremendous contribution to North American palaeontology.  Such a high profile pterosaur genus with a wealth of fossils to study, has led to academics focusing on this genus and large numbers of scientific papers about Pteranodon have been produced.  Inevitably, numerous revisions have been suggested.  For example, it has been proposed that the fossil material represents a total of four different flying reptiles (Kellner 2010) and this led to the idea that P. sternbergi, was so different from P. longiceps that it should be assigned a separate genus.  Hence the use of the genus Geosternbergia (G. sternbergi) often regarded as a subgenus, in recent literature.

Much of the Revision of Pteranodontidae Fossil Material is Based on the Morphology of the Crest and Mandible

The Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi model.

The shape and size of the crest and subtle differences in the mandible has led to a revision of Pteranodon fossil material.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In essence, over the period of time that the Bullyland Pteranodon sternbergi has been out of production, a revision of the fossil material has led to the placement of material formerly ascribed to P. sternbergi being assigned by some scientists to Geosternbergia.  The debate over the taxonomy of the pterosaur that honours the Sternberg family (and other Pteranodontia material), is likely to continue, at least, for the time being collectors have the chance to acquire the model.

22 02, 2019

Fleet-footed Tyrannosaur Leaps 70-million-year Gap

By | February 22nd, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Diminutive Tyrannosaur Moros intrepidus

A small, but speedy dinosaur is the newest member of the Superfamily Tyrannosauroidea, a distant relative of the most famous dinosaur of all Tyrannosaurus rexT. rex et al might have a reputation for being giant, bone-crunching apex predators, but for much of their evolutionary history, the Tyrannosaurs have been rather over-shadowed by other super-sized dinosaur carnivores.  Indeed, it was only in the last few million years of the Cretaceous that these types of Theropod emerged as the apex predators of northern latitudes.  The new dinosaur, named Moros intrepidus, at approximately 78 kilograms (data range 53 to 85 kilograms), around the same bodyweight as a South American Jaguar (Panthera onca), is about ninety times lighter than its famous top-of-the-food-chain relative.

Ironically, contrary to public opinion, M. intrepidus might just be more typical of the Tyrannosauroidea bauplan than its more famous relatives – Gorgosaurus, Albertosaurus and T. rex.

The Newly Described Moros intrepidus from the Late Cretaceous of Central Utah

Life reconstruction Moros intrepidus.

Moros intrepidus from the Late Cretaceous of central Utah.

Picture Credit: Jorge Gonzalez

Teeth and a Hind Limb from a New Theropod

The fossilised remains of a partial right leg consisting of a femur, a tibia, metatarsal bones and some toe bones from the fourth toe were discovered in sediments representing the lower Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation located in Emery County (Utah).  These fossils, in conjunction with isolated teeth from the front portion of the upper jaw (premaxilla) found nearby provide the basis for this new taxon.  The deposits represent a terrestrial environment, a large delta and they date from approximately 96 million years ago (Cenomanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).

Moros intrepidus represents the oldest known Cretaceous-aged tyrannosauroid discovered to date in North America. It extends the definitive fossil record for these types of dinosaurs by around 15 million years.

The Temporal Relationships and Phylogeny of the Tyrannosauroidea

Moros intrepidus fills a 15-million-year evolutionary gap.

Phylogenetic and temporal relationships between tyrannosauroids and an examination of faunal turnover.  The Allosaurs/Megaraptor apex predator niche was gradually taken over by Tyrannosaurs.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications Biology

In the diagram (above), the section on the left (a), shows the fossil record gap between Late Jurassic tyrannosauroids and much larger Late Cretaceous members of the Tyrannosauridae family such as Lythronax (L. argestes).  Section (b) demonstrates the temporal range of these Theropods and the change in bauplan, whilst (c) demonstrates key evolutionary anatomical changes.  The blue and pink coloured shapes in (d) reflect the transition from Allosaur/Megaraptoran dominated ecosystems to Tyrannosaur dominated palaeoenvironments.

A Changing of the Guard When it Comes to Apex Predators

Palaeontologists know that the Tyrannosaur lineage dates back a long way.  For example, basal tyrannosaurids such as Stokesosaurus (S. clevelandi) are known from Upper Jurassic deposits of Utah.  By the Late Cretaceous (Campanian faunal stage), Tyrannosaurs were large and had become the iconic apex predators beloved by dinosaur fans and film directors.  The fossil record for North American Tyrannosaurs was essentially blank, giving palaeontologists a T. rex skull-sized headache when it came to piecing together how these Theropods changed over time.

The discovery of Moros helps to narrow a 70-million-year-gap in the fossil record of tyrant lizards in North America.

Lead-author of the study, published in “Nature Communications” Lindsay Zanno of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences explained:

“When and how quickly Tyrannosaurs went from wallflower to prom king has been vexing palaeontologists for a long time.  The only way to attack this problem was to get out there and find more data on these rare animals.”

A Silhouette of M. intrepidus Showing the Anatomical Position of the Known Fossil Material

Moros intrepidus silhouette showing placement of known fossil elements.

Silhouette of M. intrepidus showing known fossil elements.  Key = (g) femur, (h) tibia, (i) fourth metatarsal, (j) second metatarsal, and (k) pedal phalanges of the fourth digit.   Scale bar (c) 1 m, (g–k) 5 mm.  Note the tooth (views d-f) are not to scale.

Picture Credit: Nature Communications Biology

Living in the Shadow of Siats meekerorum

In 2013, two of the authors of the Moros intrepidus paper, Lindsay Zanno and Peter Makovicky (Field Museum, Chicago), published a study on a large allosauroid from similar-aged sediments.  The dinosaur, named Siats meekerorum is estimated to have measured around 12 metres in length, dwarfing the contemporary Moros, which had a hip height of around 1.2 metres.  The researchers conclude that within a palaeoenvironment dominated by giant, allosauroid Theropods, Tyrannosaurs such as M. intrepidus relied on their speed and small size and would have kept out of the way of the larger predators.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“During the Cenomanian, tyrannosauroids like Moros intrepidus were secondary predators within an ecosystem dominated by apex predators from a completely different part of the Theropod family tree.  For the greater part of the Tyrannosaur evolutionary history, these types of dinosaurs were marginal predators, living in the shadow of much bigger carnivorous dinosaurs.”

A Life Reconstruction of Siats meekerorum with two Tyrannosauroids shown in the Foreground

Siats meekerorum .

Siats meekerorum has nothing to fear from these two Tyrannosaurs.  Moros intrepidus may have scavenged the kills of larger Theropods but these types of tyrannosauroid were very much the secondary predators.

Picture Credit: Julio Laceardo

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the discovery of Siats meekerorumUnravelling the Apex Predators of the Cretaceous Before Tyrannosaurs

Phylogeny Points at Asian Ancestry

A study of the longer limb bones indicates that the individual was around six to seven years of age when it died.  It was likely to have reached its adult size.  A phylogenetic assessment indicates an affinity with Asian Tyrannosaur taxa, in essence, the ancestors of famous North American dinosaurs such as Gorgosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex migrated into North America from Asia.

Assistant Research Professor Zanno stated:

“T. rex and its famous contemporaries such as Triceratops may be among our most beloved cultural icons, but we owe their existence to their intrepid ancestors who migrated here from Asia at least 30 million years prior.  Moros signals the establishment of the iconic Late Cretaceous ecosystems of North America.”

Views of the Lower Leg Bones from the Right Leg of M. intrepidus

Views of the lower leg bones of Moros intrepidus.

Right tibia (a–f) and right fourth metatarsal (g–l) of M. intrepidus (NCSM 33392).

Picture Credit: Nature Communications Biology

What’s In a Name?

The etymology of this new tyrannosauroid reflects the later faunal turnover that led to the apex predator roles in North America being dominated by Tyrannosaurs.  The genus name is from the Greek “Moros”, the embodiment of impending doom, for the descendants of this fast-running dinosaur were to evolve into some of the largest and most formidable terrestrial predators known to science.  The species name is from the Latin “intrepidus”, a reference to these intrepid dinosaurs making the migration from Asia into North America and their subsequent dispersal.

Size is Not Everything

Although around ninety times lighter than Tyrannosaurus rex, Lindsay warns against underestimating the predatory abilities of Moros.

She added:

“Moros was lightweight and exceptionally fast.  These adaptations, together with advanced sensory capabilities, are the mark of a formidable predator.  It could easily have run down prey, while avoiding confrontation with the top predators of the day.  Although the earliest Cretaceous Tyrannosaurs were small, their predatory specialisations meant that they were primed to take advantage of new opportunities when warming temperatures, rising sea-level and shrinking ranges restructured ecosystems at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous.  We now know it took them less than 15 million years to rise to power.”

The scientific paper: “Diminutive fleet-footed tyrannosauroid narrows the 70-million-year gap in the North American fossil record” by Lindsay E. Zanno, Ryan T. Tucker, Aurore Canoville, Haviv M. Avrahami, Terry A. Gates and Peter J. Makovicky published in Nature Communications Biology.

21 02, 2019

Everything Dinosaur Receives Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award 2019

By | February 21st, 2019|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Top Marks for Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has won the Feefo Gold Service award, an independent seal of excellence that recognises that the UK-based dinosaur company delivers exceptional customer service as well as exceptional prehistoric animal models.  Feefo product and service ratings are provided by real customers, Everything Dinosaur has over 600 customer reviews and comments posted up on its award winning website.

Everything Dinosaur’s Gold Trusted Service Award

Feefo certificate of excellence (2019).

Everything Dinosaur has won for the second year in a row, the top award from Feefo.  We even got sent a certificate to prove it.

Picture Credit: Feefo

The Gold Trusted Service Award

The accolade was created by Feefo.  Trusted Service is only awarded to those businesses that use Feefo to collect genuine reviews and comments.  Those organisations that meet this high standard, based on the number of reviews collected, and their average rating, are recognised with this award.  It is regarded as a badge of honour, this accreditation remains unique, as it is based purely on the interactions with real people who purchase from Everything Dinosaur.  As all reviews are verified as genuine, the accreditation is a true reflection of a Everything Dinosaur’s commitment to outstanding service.

To see what all the fuss is about check out Everything Dinosaur’s website: Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website

Gold Trusted Service Award to Everything Dinosaur

Gold Trusted Service Award to Everything Dinosaur.

Feefo awards top marks to Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Feefo

To win this prestigious award, a company must meet the criteria of receiving at least fifty reviews between January 2018 and December 31st 2018, with a Feefo customer service rating of between 4.5 and 5.0.  At the moment, Everything Dinosaur has six hundred reviews posted up on-line, over 98% of them are 5-stars.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are really pleased to receive this award from Feefo.  This is the second year that we have been eligible for this honour and it is the second year in a row that we have been awarded it.  The Feefo Gold Trusted Service award.  We are committed to delivering the highest quality of customer service and these days it is vitally important for companies to listen, understand and respond to customers.  We have lots of exciting plans for our websites in 2019, we are looking forward to another successful year.”

Praise from the CEO

Matt West, the Chief Executive Officer at Feefo congratulated Everything Dinosaur and added:

“The Trusted Service award has always been about recognising those companies that excel beyond the norm.  This year we’ve seen many remarkable businesses leveraging the full potential of Feefo to provide outstanding levels of experience for their customers – and rightly being awarded our most prestigious accreditation.  I’m looking forward to the continual success of the businesses that work in partnership with us throughout 2019.”

Over the next few months, Everything Dinosaur will be introducing new prehistoric animal models from Papo, Safari Ltd, CollectA, PNSO, Rebor, Mojo Fun and a number of other organisations.  For a company that specialises in dinosaurs, there is no sign that Everything Dinosaur is heading for extinction.

20 02, 2019

Dinosaur Trackways Saved from Floods

By | February 20th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A Unique Set of Australian Dinosaur Tracks on the Move

A series of dinosaur tracks located around ninety minutes’ drive away from the town of Winton in Queensland, representing three different types of Late Cretaceous dinosaur, are being moved in order to protect and preserve them.  The dinosaur footprints including a set of Sauropod tracks, the hind prints of some which measure more than a metre across, represent the first substantial evidence of Sauropod locomotion to be recorded from this part of Australia.  In addition, the track of a chicken-sized Theropod is preserved at this location, along with the larger, tridactyl prints of an Ornithopod.

These tracks are the first recorded evidence of substantial walking tracks for Sauropods in Australia and the first Cretaceous-aged sequence of solitary Ornithopod tracks to have been identified “down under”.

An Aerial View Showing the Exposed Dinosaur Tracksite

An aerial view of the trackway site.

An aerial view showing the extent of the Sauropod trackway.

Picture Credit: Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum

First Tracks Exposed Nineteen Years Ago

The fossil trackways site was first exposed in the summer of 2000, when a small creek changed its course following substantial flooding across this part of central-west Queensland.   The footprints were not recognised at first and lay exposed to the elements, slowly being bleached by the extreme heat and subjected to infrequent but devastating water damage.  However, a major project to map and remove the tracks was begun in April 2018 by volunteers and staff from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum.

It was soon realised that the dinosaur tracks, a series of depressions (hyporelief preservation), were extensive.  The Sauropod tracks consist of at least twenty prints and run for approximately forty metres.  There is also evidence of the tracks having been made on the prints left by other Sauropods including the tracks of a smaller long-necked dinosaur, tentatively described as a sub-adult.

Exposing the Dinosaur Tracks Using an Air Blast Hose

Using an air blast hose to clean away the overburden.

Cleaning the overburden from around the Sauropod tracks using an air blast hose.

Picture Credit: Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum

Restoration and excavation work has been undertaken to help protect the fragile sandstone prints, conserve them and to prepare them for transport to the Museum, where they will form part of a major new exhibit, safe from further erosion.

Incredibly Rare Dinosaur Trackway Assemblage

It is incredibly rare to have major Sub-orders of the Dinosauria (Theropoda, Ornithopoda and Sauropoda), represented at the same fossil trackway site, in the same bedding plane.

Dr Stephen Poropot of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and the lead researcher on the project stated:

“The small Ornithopod and Theropod footprints were clearly made by very similar [if not identical] trackmakers to those preserved at Dinosaur Stampede National Monument, which is located about 100 kilometres south of this site”.

To read about the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument tracks preserved at Lark Hill Quarry: Lark Quarry Dinosaur Footprints – Scientists Re-examine the Evidence

Dr Stephen Poropot Carefully Measuring the Dinosaur Tracks

Mapping and measuring a dinosaur tracksite.

Dr Steve Poropot mapping and measuring the tracks.

Picture Credit: ABC Science/Belinda Smith

Significant Sauropod Tracks

According to Dr Poropot, the longest sequence of Sauropod tracks identified at the site can be followed continuously and the thumb claw impressions from the front feet can be clearly made out.  The Sauropod prints are being heralded as the best of their kind found to date in Australia.  The tracks were created approximately 95 million years ago (Cenomanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous) and many of the Sauropod tracks are surrounded by concentric mud cracks that were spread through the wet sands as these giant creatures moved across the landscape.

The Three Different Types of Dinosaur Track in Close Proximity

Highlighting different types of dinosaur track.

Sauropod tracks outlined in blue, Theropod tracks (red) and the Ornithopod tracks outlined in green.  Dr Stephen Poropot’s boot in the top left corner provides scale.

Picture Credit: Swinburne University of Technology

Made by Titanosauriform Sauropods

These trace fossils cannot be assigned to any particular species of dinosaur.  However, the deposit in which the fossils were found represents the Winton Formation and three genera of Sauropods (all Titanosaurs), have been described from these sandstone sediments to date:

  • Savannasaurus elliottorum named in 2016.
  • Diamantinasaurus matildae named in 2009 (it has been speculated that the Sauropod tracks could have been made by Diamantinasaurus).
  •  Wintonotitan wattsi named in 2009.

Exposing the Titanosauriform Sauropod Tracks

Titanosauriform tracks exposed at the site.

The edge of the Titanosauriform Sauropod trample zone revealed. The tracks were made by a dinosaur estimated at around 18 metres in length. These are the best preserved Sauropod tracks at the site.

Picture Credit: Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum

David Elliott, Executive Chairman of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, who has been heavily involved with this Sauropod-sized excavation and restoration project, explained that the relocation of the trackway began in September 2018 and twenty-five per cent of the total area, including all of the fragile footprints that were in danger of being destroyed, have now been removed.

He commented: “This is a very slow and painstaking process.  The total weight of the trackway is in the vicinity of 500 tonnes and we are transporting it back to the Museum, one two-tonne trailer load at a time.”

A scientific analysis of the trackways interpreting dinosaur body size, gaits and potential Sauropod herd dynamics, has been submitted for peer review by Dr Poropot and his colleagues and Mr Elliott is hoping that the attraction, named “March of the Titanosaurs”, will be open to the public from May of next year.

A Major Boost For Queensland Tourism

David Elliott added:

“Very few museums in the world can boast a multi-sequence Sauropod trackway as one of their in-house exhibitions, much less one fifty-five metres long with the footprints of all three major groups of Dinosauria represented.”

A Close-up View of the Sauropod Tracks

Sauropod tracks.

The exposed and cleaned Sauropod tracks.

Picture Credit: ABC Science/Belinda Smith

It is hoped that once opened in May 2020, “March of the Titanosaurs” will provide a major boost to tourism in this part of Queensland, especially after this area was hit by devastating floods recently.  Had the project to remove the dinosaur tracks been delayed, it is likely that many of the prints would have been destroyed in the flooding.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This has been a tremendous conservation effort, we congratulate all those involved.  Thanks to this dedicated team, a hugely significant set of dinosaur trace fossils have been preserved.”

19 02, 2019

“The Dinosaurs Rediscovered” – New Book About Dinosaurs

By | February 19th, 2019|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Press Releases|0 Comments

“The Dinosaurs Rediscovered” – New Book About Dinosaurs

Everything Dinosaur has received an uncorrected proof of the eagerly awaited new dinosaur book by Professor Michael Benton.  Team members are looking forward to reading about how research into the Dinosauria has been revolutionised over the last two decades or so.  Professor Benton is one of the leading lights in vertebrate palaeontology and has written over fifty books covering a wide range of prehistoric animals and events from deep time.  As the head of the world-renowned Palaeobiology Research Group at the University of Bristol, Professor Benton has been involved in and led some of the most insightful and ground-breaking studies into the dinosaurs, helping to re-write scientific understanding.

“The Dinosaurs Rediscovered” – Exploring the Revolution in Dinosaur Research

A new dinosaur book "The Dinosaurs Rediscovered".

“The Dinosaurs Rediscovered” by Professor Mike Benton.

Picture Credit: Thames & Hudson/Everything Dinosaur

The Changing Story of the Dinosaurs

The book runs to 336 pages with 163 illustrations (23 in colour), it explores the changing story of the dinosaurs, highlighting how the application of 21st Century technologies have revealed new information about these remarkable reptiles, information that had been locked deep inside their fossilised bones and teeth.  Trace fossils are also explored in detail and Professor Benton demonstrates how biomechanical engineering combines with computer modelling and digital dinosaurs to calculate how fast Theropod dinosaurs could run.  The work of the famous Bristol Dinosaur Project is covered and naturally, Bristol’s very own dinosaur Thecodontosaurus (T. antiquus) is included, but Professor Benton does not just feature dinosaurs from the south-west of England, this impressive publication provides a global perspective on the Dinosauria.  This beautifully written book includes chapters on feathered dinosaurs and even explores whether dinosaur DNA could be used to resurrect the Dinosauria.

The Book includes Chapters on Feathered Dinosaurs and Explores Whether Dinosaur DNA could be Found Preserved in Amber

Feathered dinosaur illustration.

An illustration of the feathered dinosaur, about to become stuck in amber.  Professor Mike Benton introduces the reader to some amazing recent dinosaur discoveries.

Picture Credit: Cheung Chung-Tat

An Engaging Account

This is an engaging account of the evolution of the “terrible lizards” and is aimed at readers with a general interest in life in the past as well as academics and students.  Fans of prehistoric animals and dinosaur devotees don’t have to wait too long before this book is published.  The hardback is due out on April 25th (published by Thames and Hudson).

The Front Cover of Professor Benton’s New Book

"The Dinosaurs Rediscovered".

The jacket cover of the new book about dinosaurs “The Dinosaurs Rediscovered”.

Picture Credit: Thames & Hudson

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