All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//February
18 02, 2019

A New African Titanosaur is Announced

By | February 18th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia – Heart-shaped Tail Bones Help to Flesh Out Titanosaur Evolution

Scientists writing in the on-line, open access journal PLOS One, have published details of a new species of African Titanosaur.  It took several years to carefully remove the fossil material from a high cliff wall overlooking the Mtuka riverbed in south-western Tanzania, but the fossils, representing a not fully mature dinosaur, are providing palaeontologists with important information about how African ecosystems changed over the course of the Cretaceous.  The new Titanosaur has been named Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia (pronounced Mm-nya-ma-wah-mm-too-ka mm-oh-yo-wa-mm-key-ah).  The name is derived from Kiswahili for “animal of the Mtuka river with a heart-shaped tail”.

The heart-shaped tail element of the name refers to the strange shape of the most intact middle caudal vertebra described in the paper.  It bulges out at the sides (dorsolateral expansion of the posterior articular surface of the centrum), a unique tail bone morphology that resembles the shape of a romantic, love heart.

A Life Reconstruction of a Pair of  Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia Titanosaurs

Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia illustration

Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The first evidence of the dinosaur fossils was noted in 2004 and some fossils were excavated from the cliff face, in what were quite hazardous conditions, with field team members having to be lowered over the cliff on numerous occasions to work on the exposed bones.  Annual excavations took place until 2008, it was important to keep returning to the site as the fossils were in danger of being lost to the river in seasonal floods.

A Line Drawing of the Quarry Site Showing the Extent of the Annual Excavations

Quarry map of M. moyowamkia site.

Quarry map showing the layout and excavation timeline of the M. moyowamkia fossil material.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Around 110-100 Million Years Old

The specimen was excavated from the Mtuka Member of the Cretaceous Galula Formation, which was deposited around 110 to 100 million years ago (Aptian to Cenomanian faunal stage of the Cretaceous).  A substantial portion of the postcranial skeleton has been recovered.

Dangerous Work!  The Excavation Site in 2007

The location of the Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia fossils.

The quarry dig site above the Mtuka riverbed in south-western Tanzania.

Picture Credit: Ohio University

Commenting on the importance of this discovery, in relation to the evolution of African Titanosaurs, lead author of the paper, Dr Eric Gorscak, a recent PhD graduate of Ohio University and now an assistant professor at the Midwestern University (Illinois), stated:

“Although Titanosaurs became one of the most successful dinosaur groups before the infamous mass extinction capping the Age of Dinosaurs, their early evolutionary history remains obscure, and Mnyamawamtuka helps tell those beginnings, especially for their African-side of the story.  The wealth of information from the skeleton indicates it was distantly related to other known African Titanosaurs, except for some interesting similarities with another dinosaur, Malawisaurus, from just across the Tanzania–Malawi border.”

Adding to the Diversity of Titanosaurian Sauropods from Africa

The field team responsible for this discovery have also found the fossilised remains of two other Titanosaurs in this part of Africa.  In 2017, Everything Dinosaur reported upon the discovery of Shingopana songwensis.

To read about S. songwensisA New Species of African Titanosaur is Named

In addition, Rukwatitan bisepultus another Titanosaurian Sauropod dinosaur, was named and described in 2014: A New Species of Titanosaurian Sauropod Rukwatitan bisepultus

The researchers conclude that Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia was distantly related to both Shingopana songwensis and Rukwatitan bisepultus, fossils of which come from younger Cretaceous sediments, although it did share some anatomical characteristics with Malawisaurus dixeyi from Malawi, that might have been contemporaneous.  This new fossil discovery is helping palaeontologists to better understand the distribution of Titanosaurs between Africa and South America and their evolutionary relationships.

Heart-shaped Tail Bones

One of the middle caudal centra (tail bone from the middle portion of the tail), exhibits a unique dorsolateral expansion of the posterior articular surface of the centrum.  This unique characteristic was found to be present in the most intact middle caudal vertebra described.  This unique shape inspired the dinosaur’s name.

Heart-shaped Tail Bone Centrum (Rear View)

Heart-shaped tail bone.

A posterior view of a middle caudal vertebra showing the characteristic heart shape.  The term dle = dorsolateral expansion.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Tail Bones of Different Titanosaurs Compared

Titanosaur tail bne comparison.

A comparison of caudal vertebrae between three Titanosaurs. Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia (A), compared with Malawisaurus dixeyi (B) and Lohuecotitan pandafilandi of the Late Cretaceous of Spain (C). Posterior views and lateral views, scale bar = 10 cm.  The term dle = dorsolateral expansion.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The scientific paper: “A New African Titanosaurian Sauropod Dinosaur from the Middle Cretaceous Galula Formation (Mtuka Member), Rukwa Rift Basin, Southwestern Tanzania” by Eric Gorscak and Patrick M. O’Connor published in PLOS One.

17 02, 2019

The New for 2019 Papo Brown Running T. rex

By | February 17th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The New for 2019 Papo Brown Running T. rex Dinosaur Model

The new for 2019 Papo brown running T. rex dinosaur model is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.   This is the first of the 2019 prehistoric animal figures to be released by the French model and figure manufacturer.  It will be replacing the Papo running Tyrannosaurus rex (colour variant), which has now been retired, as announced in our blog post dated 15th December, 2018.  The figure is based on the same mould as the green running T. rex dinosaur model, but the colour scheme is different.

The New for 2019 Papo Brown Running T. rex Dinosaur Model

Papo brown running T. rex dinosaur figure.

The new for 2019 Papo brown running T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The green running T. rex figure was introduced into the “Les Dinosaures” range back in 2012 and Papo did make a limited edition brown running T. rex subsequently, but this was only in production for a few months.  Now the brown version of this popular figure has been included in the company’s catalogue and this figure will be more widely available.

The Brown and Green Running T. rex Dinosaur Models

The brown and green running T. rex figures from Papo.

The green (background) and the brown (foreground) running T. rex figures from Papo.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Celebrating with a Short Video

This new dinosaur model has an articulated lower jaw and it measures more than thirty centimetres long.  The head stands an impressive thirteen centimetres off the ground.  Everything Dinosaur team members have produced a short video (around 45 seconds duration), to give our blog post readers an opportunity to get a better look at this exciting new model, the first of two tyrannosaurid replicas coming from Papo this year.  A Gorgosaurus model is due to be introduced in the summer.

A Short Video Highlighting the New for 2019 Papo Brown Running T. rex Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo Brown Running T. rex Dinosaur Model

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Dinosaur model collectors have been lobbying Papo to bring back the brown coloured version of their popular running T. rex sculpt.  It is great to see this figure in the mainstream and available to a much wider audience than previously.  One caveat to sound though, we do not know how long this figure will be in production for, at least the model is included within the company’s model catalogue.  This catalogue is available from Everything Dinosaur free of charge, there’s just the postage to pay, collectors can see all the 2019 models, including the soon to be released Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Pentaceratops and the eagerly awaited Gorgosaurus.”

The New for 2019 Brown Running T. rex Dinosaur Model from Papo

The Papo brown running T. rex (anterior view).

The business end of the new for 2019 Papo brown running T. rex figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the new for 2019 Papo brown running T. rex and other Papo prehistoric animals: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

A Close-up View of the Head and the Jaws of the Papo Running T. rex (Brown Colour Version)

The head and jaws of the new for 2019 Papo brown running T. rex dinosaur model.

A closer view of the articulated lower jaw of the new for 2019 Papo brown running T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read about recent Papo prehistoric animal model retirements: News of Papo Prehistoric Animal Models being Retired

16 02, 2019

Customers Notified When Products Back in Stock

By | February 16th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Back-in-Stock Notifications Added to Everything Dinosaur’s Website

Customers can now be notified automatically when a product is back in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  The award winning dinosaur and prehistoric animal merchandise retailer has further enhanced its support for website visitors by adding, simple to use back-in-stock notifications to all its products.

If a product is out of stock, then customers have the option to join a waitlist for this item, when it is back in stock, they will automatically receive an email letting them know that this item is available to purchase.

Join the Waitlist to be Automatically Notified When a Product is Back in Stock

A waitlist to keep customers notified when an item is back in stock.

Join the waitlist and be automatically emailed as soon as the item is back in stock.  Simply click the “Join waitlist” link (arrowed and underlined in this picture).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture above, the PNSO Basilosaurus (Age of Dinosaurs), is currently out of stock, some more of these popular, large prehistoric whale models are coming in soon and by clicking the “Join waitlist” link visitors to this page will be automatically emailed when the figure is available again.

Simple to Use – Simple Steps to Follow

The system works like this:

  • Customer visits a product page on the Everything Dinosaur website and discovers that it is out of stock.
  • If that customer wants to know exactly when it is going to be available again – simple click the “join waitlist” link and if requested provide a contact email address.
  • When more of these items come into Everything Dinosaur’s website, as soon as the inventory is updated, an email will be sent alerting the customer that the item is back in stock.

An Example of a Typical Notification Email

Email stating that an item is back in stock at Everything Dinosaur

When the item is back in stock at Everything Dinosaur, customers will automatically receive an email informing them.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

  • When the customer gets the email alert, all they have to do is to click the handy product link included in the email and they will be directed to the product page on the Everything Dinosaur website.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This new system provides an easy way for customers and visitors to our website to be kept informed about product availability.  We still offer all the other customer support options such as the ability to contact a team member directly on the website via our chat facility, this new function provides additional support.  Customers can be reassured that they will receive an automatic notification and it only takes a couple of seconds for customers to join our waiting lists.”

Customers Can Easily Review and Edit Their Own Waiting Lists

Customers that have created an account at Everything Dinosaur can easily review and edit their own waitlists.  Once logged into to their personal account pages, a customer can click on the “Your Waitlists” link in the left margin of the account dashboard and simply edit the product waitlist information in just a few taps of the keyboard, or mouse clicks.

Allowing Customers to Easily Edit Their Waiting Lists

Easy waitlist management.

Easy to manage your own waitlists.  The link to the personal waitlist information is arrowed and underlined in red.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Users can manage their own waiting lists and all products that they have an interest in can be viewed on the “Your Waitlists” tab on their account page.  All products can be conveniently managed in one place.

It takes seconds for visitors to join a product waiting list and they can then relax knowing that they will be automatically emailed when the item comes back into stock.

See for yourself at: Everything Dinosaur

15 02, 2019

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Eofauna Giganotosaurus

By | February 15th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|1 Comment

Eofauna Giganotosaurus Reviewed by JurassicCollectables

Hot on the heels of several Schleich new for 2019 model reviews, JurassicCollectables have posted up a video of the new Eofauna Scientific Research Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.  The narrator correctly surmises that this is the first dinosaur figure to be introduced by Eofauna and the Giganotosaurus is heralded as being one of the most scientific accurate dinosaur models to have been made.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the New for 2019 Eofauna Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model (G. carolinii)

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Exclusive Behind the Scenes Images

As Everything Dinosaur works closely with Eofauna Scientific Research, we were able to provide the JurassicCollectables team with exclusive images showing the three-dimensional skeletal reconstructions that the designers at Eofauna created in order to help ensure the accuracy of their figure.  Osteological measurements were taken in order to build up the muscles and the skin texture.  The wrinkles on the dinosaur model reflect how this Cretaceous hypercarnivore would have actually moved.

Three-Dimensional Images Were Used to Scientifically Construct the Giganotosaurus from the Inside Out

Three dimensional Giganotosaurus figure.

A three-dimensional model of Giganotosaurus carolinii was produced to ensure a scientifically accurate dinosaur replica.

Image Credit: Eofauna Scientific Research/Everything Dinosaur

A “Boxer’s Chin” and the Correct Size Scales

In this short video (duration just under nine minutes), the narrator opens up the plastic bag containing the model and the proceeds to take the viewer on a guided tour of the figure.  The close-up views of the articulated jaws and the inside of the mouth are particularly well done.  Everything Dinosaur team members pointed out to JurassicCollectables that if the lower jaw is viewed from the side, the tip of the jaw is thicker and more robust.  We have nicknamed this characteristic of Giganotosaurus anatomy the “boxer’s chin”.  Not that this dinosaur indulged in pugilism, however, this thickened bone may have evolved to help protect the rest of the jaw from impact damage as this predator lunged and attacked its prey.

On the Turntable the Eofauna Scientific Research Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus dinosaur replica.

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.  The anterior portion of the lower jaw is thickened, perhaps an adaptation to help protect the dentary from impacts.

Image Credit: JurassicCollectables

In the video review, JurassicCollectables note the care and attention taken over getting the scales on this dinosaur to look right.  In the section of the video that focuses on the ribs, viewers will note the very fine scales with just the occasional, larger rounded scale on the model picked out, these scales are most prominent on this part of the figure.  As the replica has been designed based on a 3-D simulation, Eofauna have been able to add lots of wrinkles and folds to depict movement, at the back of the femur (thigh area) for example, these are once again highly accurate based on the skeletal assessment.  Such features are skilfully highlighted in this excellent video review.

JurassicCollectables have a wonderful YouTube channel dedicated to prehistoric animals and dinosaur models.  Everything Dinosaur recommends that fans of dinosaurs subscribe: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Comparing the Eofauna Giganotosaurus to Other Eofauna Figures

During the video review, the two other Eofauna figures, the Steppe Mammoth and the Straight-tusked Elephant are introduced and provide a size comparison with the Giganotosaurus.  Naturally, off-colour Alan also gets involved.

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus Model is Compared to the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus and the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth.

Comparing the Eofauna Giganotosaurus with the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth.

Image Credit: JurassicCollectables

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus and the Eofauna Straight-tusked Elephant Model

Giganotosaurus from Eofauna compared to the Straight-tusked elephant model.

The Eofauna Giganotosaurus compared with the Eofauna Straight-tusked elephant.

Image Credit: JurassicCollectables

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is an excellent video review.  JurassicCollectables have been able to provide model collectors with detailed information not only on the figure itself, but how it was created using the fossilised material to ensure scientific accuracy.”

To purchase the Eofauna Giganotosaurus figure and the rest of the Eofauna model range: Eofauna Scientific Research Models

14 02, 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day

By | February 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Happy Valentines Day

For some parts of the world, (but not all), today is Valentine’s Day.  This is as good an excuse as any to post up some artwork that Everything Dinosaur team members commissioned when they were working on some new children’s t-shirt designs with a dinosaur theme.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love in the time of the dinosaurs.

I love dinosaurs!  Love in the time of the dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaurs Go Courting

Little is known about the courtship and mating habits of non-avian dinosaurs, after all such behaviours are difficult to interpret from the fossil record, but some insight might be gained by studying the behaviour of avian dinosaurs – the birds.  Some birds engage in very elaborate and sophisticated courtship displays.

In August 2016, Everything Dinosaur published a blog post about a remarkable piece of research, scientists from Poland, the USA, China and South Korea has studied Late Cretaceous dinosaur trace fossils and some of these impressions were interpreted as representing nest scrape displays, as seen in living birds.

To read our article: The Dance of the Dinosauria

Reproduction Might Have Been an Awkward Affair Especially for Armoured Dinosaurs

A life reconstruction of Acantholipan gonzalezi.

A model of the Mexican nodosaurid Acantholipan gonzalezi.

Picture Credit: Museo del Desierto (Mexico)

Happy Valentine’s!

13 02, 2019

A Quick Preview of the Schleich Diabloceratops Model

By | February 13th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

A Short Video of the Schleich Diabloceratops Model

Everything Dinosaur have posted up a short video previewing the new for 2019 Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur model.  This video is more of a teaser for fans of prehistoric animals and dinosaur model collectors.  In the video, we confirm the length of this figure (it is approximately sixteen centimetres long and those impressive horns are approximately eleven centimetres off the ground).

A Quick Preview of the New for July 2019 Schleich Diabloceratops Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

One of Four New Prehistoric Animal Models from Schleich in July 2019

The Schleich Diabloceratops will be replacing the recently retired Schleich Styracosaurus and the beautiful Pentaceratops figure.  It will be one of four new prehistoric animal models from Schleich due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse in July (2019).  The other figures are:

  1. Schleich Dracorex – a model of the “dome-headed” dinosaur Dracorex hogwartsia.  The Schleich Dracorex measures nineteen centimetres long and the head height is around ten centimetres.
  2. Schleich juvenile Giganotosaurus – this figure has an articulated lower jaw and it measures around twenty-six centimetres in length and stands over ten centimetres high.
  3. Schleich Plesiosaurus – this marine reptile has a poseable neck and it is approximately sixteen centimetres long.

To read a brief article about the new for 2019 Schleich Plesiosaurus and to see a short video preview of this model: A Quick Look at the New for 2019 Schleich Plesiosaurus Model

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The Schleich Diabloceratops model has certainly been getting a lot of attention.  Within the Schleich range of large dinosaur models, there is one chasmosaurine (Triceratops) and one centrosaurine which is the new Diabloceratops.  The two great tribes of Late Cretaceous horned dinosaurs are now represented by Schleich figures once again.  Diabloceratops may have been very distantly related to Triceratops, but they would never have met.  Diabloceratops lived millions of years before Triceratops evolved.”

A Closer View of the Beautifully Detailed Head of the Schleich Diabloceratops

Schleich Diabloceratops model.

The beautifully painted and very detailed head of the new for July 2017 Schleich Diabloceratops model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the current range of Schleich prehistoric animal figures, including some already released new for 2019 Schleich dinosaurs: Schleich Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models

Coming into Stock Soon at Everything Dinosaur (July 2019)

The Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur model.

The Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur model (available July 2019 from Everything Dinosaur).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Diabloceratops Fact Sheet

Dinosaur fans and prehistoric animal model collectors will receive a Diabloceratops (D. eatoni) fact sheet with every model purchased from Everything Dinosaur.

12 02, 2019

Reflecting on the Eyes of Cretaceous Spiders

By | February 12th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Early Cretaceous Spiders Reveal Reflective Eyes

A team of scientists, including a researcher from the University of Kansas, writing in an academic journal (Journal of Systematic Palaeontology), have described spiders from the Early Cretaceous that had reflective eyes, an adaptation to permit these tiny predators to hunt at night.  The remarkable fossils were discovered in black shale beds from South Korea which form part of the Jinju Formation (Albian faunal stage) and the flattened fossils preserve the remains of spiders that lived between 113 and 110 million years ago.

The Light Reflective Properties of the Crescent-shaped Tapetum

UV light reveals the ancient tapetum of spiders.

The two tapetum can be seen as crescent-shaped objects on the anterior portion of the head.

Picture Credit: Paul Selden/University of Kansas

Two of the fossils from the extinct spider family Lagonomegopidae feature reflective eyes.  The fossils represent the first non-amber Lagonomegopidae to be described, with the first preservation of a spider eye tapetum recorded in the fossil record.

C0-author of the scientific paper, Paul Selden, Gulf-Hedberg Distinguished Professor of Geology and the Director of the Palaeontological Institute at Kansas University’s Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, explained:

“Because these spiders were preserved in strange slivery flecks on dark rock, what was immediately obvious was their rather large eyes brightly marked with crescentic features.  I realised this must have been the tapetum — that’s a reflective structure in an inverted eye where light comes in and is reverted back into retina cells.  This is unlike a straightforward eye where light goes through and doesn’t have a reflective characteristic.”

Selden said that some contemporary spiders feature eyes with a tapetum, but the new paper is the first to describe the anatomical feature in a fossilised spider.  The research team said the discovery provides evidence for lagonomegopid enlarged eyes being posterior medians.

“In spiders, the ones you see with really big eyes are jumping spiders, but their eyes are regular eyes — whereas wolf spiders at night time, you see their eyes reflected in light like cats.  So, night-hunting predators tend to use this different kind of eye.  This was the first time a tapetum had been in found in fossil.  This tapetum was canoe-shaped — it looks a bit like a Canadian canoe.  That will help us place this group of spiders among other families.”

Selden’s collaborators were Tae-Yoon Park of the Korea Polar Research Institute and amateur fossil hunter Kye-Soo Nam of the Daejeon Science High School for the Gifted, who found the fossils preserved in the shale.

The description of the fossils increases the number of known spiders from the Jinju Formation from a single specimen to eleven.

Commenting on their remarkable state of preservation, Paul added:

“This is so rare because they’re very soft — they don’t have hard shells so they very easily decay.  It has to be a very special situation where they were washed into a body of water.  Normally, they’d float.  But here, they sank, and that kept them away from decaying bacteria, it may have been a low-oxygen condition.  These rocks also are covered in little crustaceans and fish, so there maybe was some catastrophic event like an algal bloom that trapped them in a mucus mat and sunk them, but that’s conjecture.  We don’t really know what caused this, but something killed off a lot of animals around the lake at one time or on an annual basis.”

According to Selden, the shale preserved the spider fossils in a manner that highlighted the reflectivity of the tapetum, a feature that may have been missed had the spiders been preserved in amber instead, as is more typical.

Preserved in the Black Shale an Almost Perfect Impression of an Early Cretaceous Spider

Fossilised remains of an Early Cretaceous spider with reflective eyes.

The black shale preserved perfect impressions of the ancient spiders.

Picture Credit: Paul Selden/University of Kansas

The discovery of these spiders will help researchers to piece together a better understanding of the environment that existed in South Korea during the Early Cretaceous.

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

11 02, 2019

Two Ancient Seed-eating Birds Described

By | February 11th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Eofringillirostrum boudreauxi  and Eofringillirostrum parvulum Passerines from the Early Eocene

A scientific paper has just been published in the journal “Current Biology”, that describes two Early Eocene, seed-eating, perching birds (passerines).  The birds are closely related, assigned to the same genus but one fossil was discovered in Wyoming, the other comes from the famous Messel shales of Germany and they are separated by around 5 million years.  These species are amongst the oldest fossil birds to exhibit a finch-like beak and provide the earliest evidence for a diet focused on small, hard seeds in crown birds.  The discovery of these two early granivores, will help scientists to better understand the evolution and radiation of this important group of birds, that make up 65% of all extant bird species.

The Wyoming Specimen – Holotype of Eofringillirostrum boudreauxi

Eofringillirostrum boudreauxi holotype from the Green River Formation of Wyoming.

(A) Photograph and (B) line drawing of the holotype skeleton of Eofringillirostrum boudreauxi (FMNH PA 793).

Picture Credit: Current Biology

The Ancestors of Sparrows, Finches, Crows, Robins etc.

Passerines might be ubiquitous these days, but once they were rare and only made up a small proportion of avian biotas.  We still have a lot to learn about their evolution.

Commenting on the significance of the fossil discoveries, one of the co-authors of the paper Lance Grande (Field Museum, Chicago), stated:

“This [Eofringillirostrum boudreauxi] is one of the earliest known perching birds.  It’s fascinating because passerines today make up most of all bird species, but they were extremely rare back then.  This particular piece is just exquisite.  It is a complete skeleton with the feathers still attached, which is extremely rare in the fossil record of birds.”

The Wyoming specimen, E. boudreauxi, is the earliest example of a bird with a finch-like beak, similar to many of the birds you see today inhabiting parks and gardens.  This legacy is reflected in its name; Eofringillirostrum means “dawn finch beak”, whilst the specific epithet honours Terry and Gail Boudreaux, who donated the holotype to the Field Museum.

The Green River Formation

The Wyoming specimen heralds from the famous Early Eocene Green River Formation, extensive fine-grained deposits formed in a lacustrine environment.  The area is famous for its beautifully preserved but compressed vertebrate fossil specimens.

Lead author of the research, Daniel Ksepka from the Bruce Museum (Connecticut), commented on the importance of finding fossil birds with finch-like beaks adapted to eating seeds:

“These bills are particularly well-suited for consuming small, hard seeds.  Anyone with a birdfeeder knows that lots of birds are nuts for seeds, but seed-eating is a fairly recent biological phenomenon.”

The earliest birds probably ate insects, plant material and even fish, although a recent theory has been proposed that the ability to consume seeds may have helped some kinds of birds survive the catastrophic End-Cretaceous mass extinction event.

To read an article about this: Seed-eating may have Helped Birds Survive Mass Extinction Event

Comparing the Two Specimens

Both the Wyoming and the German specimens have similar shaped beaks, although the German fossil represents a slightly smaller type of bird.  Beak shape infers information about the bird’s diet and as such, beak shape plays a key role in avian radiations and is one of the most intensely studied aspects of avian evolution and ecology.

With two specimens that were both temporally and geographically dispersed the researchers were able to conclude that these types of birds were widespread during the Eocene.

The Messel Shale Passerine Specimen – Eofringillirostrum parvulum

Eofringillirostrum parvulum from the Messel Shales.

Holotype slab (IRSNB Av 128a) and (G) counter slab (IRSNB Av 128b) of Eofringillirostrum parvulum with enlargements showing details of (H) skull and (I) carpometacarpus.

Picture Credit: Current Biology

Found in Subtropical Habitats Not Open Plains

Whilst many Passeriformes (passerines or perching birds), are synonymous with open, grassland environments today, the researchers note that these fossil specimens occurred in subtropical palaeoenvironments.  Given that seed-eating (granivory), is a key adaptation that allows passerines to exploit open temperate environments, the seed-eating habit may have evolved prior to the movement of these types of birds into more open habitats.  The ability to consume and digest seeds may not have been a driver in allowing these types of birds to exploit new habitats, but this type of feeding behaviour would have proved to be extremely beneficial as the world became much cooler towards the end of Eocene and the once widespread rainforests gave way to more open landscapes.

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

The scientific paper: “Oldest Finch-beaked Birds Reveal Parallel Ecological Radiations in the Earliest Evolution of Passerines” by Daniel T. Ksepka, Lance Grande and Gerald Mayr published in Current Biology.

10 02, 2019

A Quick Look at the New for 2019 Schleich Plesiosaurus Model

By | February 10th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

A Preview of the New for 2019 Schleich Plesiosaurus Model

Schleich will be introducing four new prehistoric animal models in July 2019.  Today, we take a brief look at the only non-dinosaur figure to come out with this batch of replicas, the Schleich Plesiosaurus.  It had been rumoured that the German-based model manufacturer intended to produce a plesiosaur and thanks to Everything Dinosaur, we can now post up a quick video preview of this model that will be in stock in the summer.

A Short Preview of the New for 2019 Schleich Plesiosaurus Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Four New Schleich Models

The four new Schleich prehistoric animal models scheduled to be released in July (2019) are as follows:

  • A juvenile Giganotosaurus
  • A Dracorex
  • A horned dinosaur Diabloceratops
  • A Plesiosaurus (marine reptile)

Coming into Stock at Everything Dinosaur in the Summer (July 2019) New Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models

New from Schleich in 2019.

New models being introduced into the Schleich prehistoric animal model range in July 2019.  Foreground the new Plesiosaurus figure with a flexible neck, middle left the juvenile Giganotosaurus with an articulated jaw.  Middle right the Dracorex figure and top left the new Diabloceratops model.  In the top right, a Schleich Animantarx armoured dinosaur can be spotted, this figure was introduced in January.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Praising the Schleich Plesiosaurus

In the short video preview, a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur comments on the unusual colouration on the top of the head of this figure, the dark blue markings have been described as looking like “goggles”, quite appropriate for an animal that spent much of its time under water.  It can be speculated that these reptiles had good colour vision and their heads may have played a role in visual communication. Crests or horns on the head would have affected streamlining so such ornamentation is not known in the Plesiosauria, so perhaps subtle markings on the head could have helped signal the maturity of the animal and its fitness for breeding.

The overall colouration of the plesiosaur model is also discussed.  The model is coloured a sky blue with flecks of white on the broad back.  This combines well with a paler underside which represents countershading, a concept long linked with extinct marine reptiles and seen in many marine mammals today.  The narrator in the video reflects on the fact that the colour scheme reminds him of polar conditions and states that as fossils of plesiosaurs have been found in high latitudes, such a colour scheme is appropriate as these reptiles are now known to have lived in cold waters.

On Display The New for July 2019 Schleich Plesiosaurus Model

Schleich Plesiosaurus model.

The Schleich Plesiosaurus model on display.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Model with a Flexible Neck

As with a number of earlier plesiosaur figures, the Schleich Plesiosaurus has a flexible neck.  This permits the neck to be placed in a variety of poses.  When tested the neck is quite stiff and this allows the figure to remain in the pose chosen without the head drooping down.  The Schleich Plesiosaurus will be in stock along with the three other figures (Dracorex, Diabloceratops and the juvenile Giganotosaurus), in July (2019).

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animal models currently available from Everything Dinosaur: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models

9 02, 2019

Cretaceous Dinosaurs of South America Diorama

By | February 9th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Cretaceous Dinosaurs of South America Diorama

Everything Dinosaur team members have received a set of pictures highlighting a diorama that features South American dinosaurs of the Cretaceous.  South America in the Cretaceous was home to a diverse range of dinosaurs.  Unlike North America, where there is evidence to suggest that Sauropods were rare in the Late Cretaceous and may have been absent from a number of palaeoenvironments, Sauropods (Titanosauria), were still numerous in South America and represented a considerable proportion of the mega-herbivores.  For example, the Anacleto Formation of Patagonia, which consists primarily of mudstones and sandstones deposited in a terrestrial environment, has provided evidence of at least seven different genera of Late Cretaceous (Campanian faunal stage), Titanosaur.  The diversity of these long-necked, plant-eaters is demonstrated in a carefully crafted diorama, skilfully created by prehistoric animal enthusiast Robert Townsend.

Agustinia Roams the Prehistoric Landscape

The CollectA Agustinia dinosaur model.

Agustinia dinosaur model in the prehistoric scene.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Sauropods Dominate

The plant-eating dinosaurs in the extensive diorama are dominated by the Sauropoda, as well as a splendid Agustinia, we spotted a juvenile Argentinosaurus, Amargasaurus and a pair of Saltasaurus dinosaurs being stalked by a Giganotosaurus.  South America was home to a number of super-sized Titanosaurs, the fossils of some of the largest terrestrial vertebrates known to science, giants such as Antarctosaurus, Patagotitan, Sarmientosaurus and perhaps, the biggest of them all Argentinosaurus, are known from this continent.

Only this week, Everything Dinosaur published an article about a newly described long-necked dinosaur from northern Patagonia.  The dinosaur has been named Bajadasaurus pronuspinax and it lived during the Early Cretaceous.

To read about B. pronuspinaxDefensive Dicraeosaurids Deter Predators

Two Saltasaurus are Stalked by a Giganotosaurus

Two Sauropods being stalked by Giganotosaurus.

Giganotosaurus stalks a pair of Saltasaurus dinosaurs.  Note the carefully crafted tridactyl prints in the foreground of the diorama and the use of dyed lichen (extreme right), to make foliage, note also the CollectA model prehistoric plants in the background.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Robert’s diorama is huge.  The size of the diorama permits him to build mini prehistoric scenes into different parts of the landscape, there is always something interesting going on and his extensive prehistoric animal model collection allows him to introduce a variety of different dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures into the diorama, creating a colourful palaeoenvironment montage.

The Use of Carefully Modelled Props Such as this Sauropod Carcase Helps to Create Points of Interest

A Carnotaurus feeds on a Sauropod carcase.

Carnotaurus feeds on a Sauropod carcase.  The model featured is a long-retired Carnegie Carnotaurus dinosaur figure.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

A Land of Giant Predators

South America is also famous for its super-sized carnivorous dinosaurs and model maker Robert does not disappoint when it comes to populating his prehistoric scene with plenty of predators.

Part of the Impressive Diorama with Carnivorous Dinosaurs in the Foreground

South American dinosaurs diorama.

The Eofauna Scientific Research Giganotosaurus in the diorama (centre).  The CollectA Mapusaurus dinosaur model can be seen on the right.  Note, the variety of Sauropod models placed in the background.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Mapusaurus makes an appearance and there are plenty of examples of Giganotosaurus included too.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is fascinating to see recently introduced replicas such as the Eofauna Scientific Research Giganotosaurus model featuring in prehistoric animal model dioramas.”

A Giganotosaurus Mother Stands Guard Over Her Hatchlings

A Giganotosaurus mother stands guard over her hatchlings.

A Giganotosaurus mother takes care of her young.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

Praising Everything Dinosaur Customers

It is always a pleasure to view pictures sent in by Everything Dinosaur customers.  We often marvel at the skill and creativity shown by our customers.  The montage of South American dinosaurs created by Robert is certainly on a very impressive scale!  Team members are always pleased to see how model purchases are displayed.

A Very Impressive Montage of South American Dinosaurs (Cretaceous)

South American Dinosaurs of the Cretaceous.

The Cretaceous montage.

Picture Credit: Robert Townsend

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