All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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31 08, 2019

The Lost Kingdom of the Purbeck Group

By | August 31st, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

The Lost Kingdom of The Purbeck Group

Our thanks to Thomas for sending into us the third and final article that he has compiled over the summer holidays.  Thomas has chosen to feature the biota associated with the Lower Cretaceous deposits of the Purbeck Group of south-eastern England.

The Purbeck Group consists of limestone, mudstones and evaporites representing a series of freshwater, brackish and marine environments laid down in the Upper Jurassic and into the Early Cretaceous, approximately 145 to 139 million years ago.  The fossils associated with these sedimentary rocks provide evidence of changing palaeoenvironments and also of faunal turnover, including a record of different types of dinosaur.

This world is not talked about often but is very interesting for at some point during the Late Jurassic allosauroids became extinct in the British Isles only to return sometime in the Early Cretaceous (around 140-139 million years ago).  Falling sea levels are thought to have contributed to the reintroduction of these theropods to their former territory.  During their absence, tyrannosauroids evolved to fill the niche left by the allosauroids, although in the Jurassic, they were not apex predators.

Let’s Meet the Dinosaur Fauna of this Lost Kingdom

  • Nuthetes destructor – known from extremely fragmentary fossil material, possibly a dromaeosaurid or perhaps a member of the Tyrannosauroidea (Proceratosauridae?).  The size of this dinosaur is unknown, although based on measurements of the anterior portion of the partial dentary associated with this species, a length of approximately 1.6 metres has been speculated.
  • Echinodon becklesii – represented by isolated teeth, one fragmentary skull and a handful of isolated jaw bones, this dinosaur is thought to be a member of the Heterodontosauridae.  It was a relatively small dinosaur with a body length of approximately 60 centimetres.
  • Owenodon hoggii – regarded as an ornithopod and known from a badly crushed right dentary found at Durleston Bay (Dorset) in 1860.  Hind limb material from near Speeton, (Yorkshire), recovered from Berriasian-aged deposits and a single tooth from Spain have also been tentatively assigned to O. hoggii.  The size of Owenodon remains unknown but it has been suggested that it could have been around 6 metres long.  Its taxonomic position remains uncertain.  When first described in the mid 1870’s it was thought the fossils represented a type of Iguanodon.

A Life Reconstruction of the Ornithopod Owenodon hoggii

Life reconstruction Owenodon hoggii.

A reconstruction of Owenodon hoggii.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Undiagnostic Specimens

The Purbeck Limestone Group has also yielded a variety of other dinosaur fossils.   For example, a single, beautifully preserved tooth and a partial tail bone (caudal vertebra), which represent an armoured dinosaur.  These fossils lack any specific autapomorphies (distinct features or traits), they are regarded as indeterminate, although it could be speculated that these fragmentary fossils represent a member of the Nodosauridae family, possibly a member of the subfamily Polacanthinae.  A single, partial metacarpal from a sauropod has also been found.

Thrombolites – Preserved Evidence of Ancient Microbial Communities are Associated with the Purbeck Group Limestones

Thromobolite structures are associated with the Purbect Group

A thrombolite around a former tree stump (fossil forest, Lulworth, Dorset).  Preserved in the limestone – evidence of microbial communities that formed around tree stumps and other organic debris.   This photograph was probably taken at the fossil forest ledges that lie to the east of Lulworth Cove.

Picture Credit: University of Southampton

Numerous trace fossils consisting of dinosaur tracks have been identified.  Footprint fossils suggest  the presence of other types of dinosaurs such as small ornithopods within the Purbeck Group ecosystem, there is even a track-way which may have conceivably been left by the “Purbeck giant tyrannosauroid”.

The Purbeck Giant Tyrannosauroid

Dinosaur tracks (natural casts), along with a single metatarsal bone indicate the presence of large theropods.  Classifying this material has proved difficult.  It has been suggested that these trace fossils and the body fossil (single foot bone), could represent a member of the Tyrannosauroidea.  This theropod superfamily is now known to have been both geographically and temporally wild spread during the Late Jurassic and the Early Cretaceous.

Large Theropod Metatarsal (Purbeck Group)

A large metatarsal (foot bone) - the Purbeck Giant.

The “Purbeck Giant”, a single theropod metatarsal.

Picture Credit: NHM Data Portal

Evidence linking this fossil to the Maniraptora is limited.  Based on comparative studies of other theropod toe bones, it has been estimated that the “Purbeck giant” could have been around 6.7 metres long with a hip height of approximately 1.9 metres.  To put into perspective why the “Purbeck giant” can’t be a maniraptoran, comparative analysis based on the foot bones of members of the Maniraptora suggest that this toe bone represents a maniraptoran that would have measured in excess of 9 metres in length.  The fossil bone (metatarsal III), could have come from a tyrannosauroid.  Until the arrival of the carcharodontosaurids in this part of western Europe, the “Purbeck giant” was most likely the apex predator.   This specimen was collected from Durlston Bay on the Isle of Purbeck (Lulworth Formation subdivision of the Purbeck Group).

Outdated Reconstructions of the “Purbeck Giant” and Neovenator compared to a Human and Nuthetes

Purbeck Group theropods.

A scale drawing showing some of the theropods associated with the Purbeck Group.  Neovenator (grey), “Purbeck giant” light red, Nuthetes (N. destructor) dark red.  Note scale bar = 1 metre.

Picture Credit: Eotyrannu5 (Dan Folkes)

When allosauroids (carcharodontosaurids), recolonised what was to become the southern British Isles, there may have been a faunal turnover event with the carcharodontosaurids replacing members of the Tyrannosauroidea as apex and secondary predators.  The youngest strata associated with the Purbeck Group (the Durlston Formation), partly overlaps with the Ashdown Formation of the Wealden Group (both Berriasian in age).  The dinosaur fossils associated with the Ashdown Formation and the younger elements that between them form the Hastings Subgroup, represent a different dinosaur fauna than what is associated with the Purbeck Group.

Neovenator salerii – Known from the Isle of Wight (Barremian Stage)

A model of Neovenator.

“New Hunter” from the Isle of Wight – N. salerii.  Did these types of theropod dinosaur replace the Tyrannosauridea in western Europe?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The climate at the time would have been like the Late Jurassic and it gradually became more temperate.  The fossil forest ledges, preserved east of Lulworth Cove, represent an interesting and integral part of this ecosystem.  Imagine a coastal conifer forest, now cover the floor of it in mosses and algae and dried up seaweed.  The ingress of the tides permitted bacterial colonies to form large doughnut-shaped concretions around many tree stumps, these structures, termed thromobolites, can be observed today.  Some of these circular structures are big enough for a person to sit in.

Fossils of Mammals

The sedimentary rocks associated with the Purbeck Group has also yielded fossils of many other types of vertebrate including fragmentary jaws and teeth of several types of Early Cretaceous mammal: Early Placental Mammals Identified.  It is likely that pterosaurs were present, the fossil record of flying reptiles is particularly poor, but tracks preserved in sediments that represent intertidal flats have been ascribed to the ichnogenus Purbeckopus pentadactylus and these tracks suggest the presence of large pterosaurs.

The speed in which the carcharodontosaurids outcompeted tyrannosauroids, like the “Purbeck giant”, might lead to the conclusion that carcharodontosaurids were more successful, efficient and effective predators than either the Pantyrannosauria, a recently proposed clade consisting of all those theropods related to T. rex and Dilong paradoxus but not including Proceratosaurus bradleyi and the Proceratosauridae.  Owenodon was a bit like a blend between Camptosaurus and Mantellisaurus – fast but still of decent size.  Nuthetes would have mainly hunted the mammals, reptiles, baby dinosaurs and Echinodon.

Our thanks to Thomas for sending in the information which helped us to compile this article.

To read an article published in 2018, which provides information on the discovery of sauropod tracks on the Isle of Purbeck: Dorset Dinosaur Tracks Discovered

30 08, 2019

T. rex to Feature on U.S. Postal Service Stamps

By | August 30th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

“King of the Tyrant Lizards” on American Postage Stamps

The United States Postal Service saluted one of natural history’s superstars this week, with the introduction of a set of stamps depicting Tyrannosaurus rex, which has been known to science for over a hundred years.  One of the apex predators of the tail-end of the Mesozoic is commemorated with new Forever stamps, reflecting current scientific thinking about T. rex which roamed North America around sixty-six million years ago.

The Four U.S. Postal Service Stamps (2019) that Feature Tyrannosaurus rex

New T. rex postage stamps issued by the U. S. Postal Service.

Four new stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service celebrate Tyrannosaurus rex.

Picture Credit: U.S. Postal Service

Two of the four designs show movement when rotated.  See the skeletal remains with and without flesh and watch as an approaching T. rex suddenly lunges forward.  This printing method was first used by the Postal Service to produce the Rabbit and Hat stamp on the Art of Magic souvenir pane in 2018.

A Dinosaur that has Stirred the Public’s Imagination for over a Hundred Years

Speaking at the dedication ceremony for these stamps held at the prestigious Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington D.C.), Isaac Cronkhite, the U.S. Postal Service’s chief human resources officer and executive vice president stated:

“With the dedication of these dazzling new Forever stamps today, the Postal Service pays tribute to the king of dinosaurs.  More than any other dinosaur, since its discovery more than a century ago, the T. rex has stirred the public imagination.  We are proud to bring the powerful T. rex on stamps that will whiz through the mail stream on millions of birthday cards, letters and thank-you notes.”

Available in Panes of Sixteen Stamps with Four Designs

U. S. Postal Service T. rex pane.

Available as a set of sixteen stamps.

Picture Credit: U.S. Postal Service

The Digital Artwork of Julius T. Csotonyi

The artwork for these dinosaur-themed stamps was created by renowned palaeoartist Julius T. Csotonyi and these stamps are available in sets of sixteen with four different designs depicting this iconic dinosaur at different growth stages and reflecting inferred behaviours.  Julius T. Csotonyi created photorealistic illustrations of T. rex with depictions based on the growing body of research on these dinosaurs.  The artist painted digitally using a stylus on a computer screen, an approach he likens to acrylic painting.  Art director Greg Breeding designed the pane.

The Newly Hatched T. rex – Artwork Created by Julius T. Csotonyi

A baby T. rex features on an American stamp.

A newly hatched T. rex features on one of the Tyrannosaurus rex stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

Picture Credit: U.S. Postal Service based on original artwork by Julius T. Csotonyi

The “Nation’s T. rex

The young, sub-adult T. rex that is featured on two of the stamps, is specimen number MOR-555, discovered in 1988 on federal land in Montana.  When first brought to the attention of the scientific community, this specimen was nick-named “the Wankel T. rex” in honour of the person who found these fossilised remains, which represent about 45% of the skeleton of a single T. rex.  Painstaking excavation revealed what would become one of the most studied and important tyrannosaur specimens ever found, including the first T. rex arms ever recovered.  The Nation’s T. rex is now exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

This is not the first time that dinosaurs have featured on a set of postage stamps.  Many stamps featuring prehistoric animals have been issued.  For example, back in 2013, Everything Dinosaur team members were asked to help write the press releases for a set of prehistoric animal stamps produced by Royal Mail: Royal Mail Issues New Prehistoric Animal Stamps.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is great to see that such an iconic animal from North America’s natural history being honoured in this way.  These stamps are ‘roarsome’!”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the United States Postal Service in the compilation of this article.

29 08, 2019

Fabulous Fukuiraptor

By | August 29th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Praising the CollectA Prehistoric Life Fukuiraptor

Japan might not be that famous for its dinosaurs, although several Japanese dinosaurs have been named and described and we are expecting a new hadrosaurid to be announced from a substantial fossil found on the island of Hokkaido shortly*.  Fukuiraptor, from Fukui Prefecture on the largest island that makes up the country of Japan (Honshu), is known from fragmentary remains and its taxonomic affinity remains controversial.  However, those clever and talented model makers at CollectA were undeterred and this year, saw the introduction of a Fukuiraptor dinosaur model into the company’s “Prehistoric Life” model range.

The CollectA New for 2019 Fukuiraptor Dinosaur Model

CollectA Fukuiraptor dinosaur model.

CollectA Fukuiraptor model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Fukuiraptor dinosaur model and the rest of the figures in the not to scale, CollectA Prehistoric Life range: CollectA Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models (Prehistoric Life Range).

Lower Cretaceous Predator

The vast majority of the fossil material ascribed to Fukuiraptor (F. kitadaniensis), comes from excavation sites located along the banks of the Sugiyama River.  The strata are estimated to be around 120 million years of age (late Barremian to Aptian faunal stages of the Early Cretaceous).  This dinosaur was scientifically described nineteen years ago (Phil Currie and Yoichi Azuma), in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.  It had been suggested that these fossils represented a large dromaeosaurid, however, more recent taxonomic assessment has suggested affinities with the Megaraptora.

A CollectA Fukuiraptor Dinosaur Model on Display

The CollectA Fukuiraptor dinosaur model (CollectA Prehistoric Life 2019).

The new for 2019 CollectA Prehistoric Life Fukuiraptor dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Creating a Favourable Impression

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The CollectA Fukuiraptor dinosaur model has created a very favourable impression amongst dinosaur fans and model collectors.  Models representing relatively obscure species are always appreciated and this finely detailed and well-painted figure has proved to be very popular.”

Everything Dinosaur has compiled several reviews of this recently introduced dinosaur figure, including one from a French customer who described it as a “beau modèle”.  It is pleasing to note that this figure has such an international appeal.

*A new species of hadrosaurid, assigned to the Edmontosaurini subfamily has been announced.  It has been named Kamuysaurus japonicus and it lived at least forty million years after Fukuiraptor became extinct.  To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about this newly described (September 2019) hadrosaurid: Japan’s Greatest Dinosaur Discovery Gets a Name – Kamuysaurus japonicus.

Perhaps CollectA will make a model of Kamuysaurus in the future.

28 08, 2019

The Doubtful Sauropod Bothriospondylus

By | August 28th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

The Dubious Sauropod Bothriospondylus

Occasionally, Everything Dinosaur features the artwork of the talented Chinese palaeoartist Zhao Chuang on this blog.  Today, we feature one of his illustrations of a dubious species of sauropod named from fragmentary fossils found in Wiltshire.

An Illustration of the Sauropod Bothriospondylus (B. suffossus) by Zhao Chuang)

The sauropod Bothriospondylus illustrated by Zhao Chuang.

An illustration of the dubious (nomen dubium) sauropod Bothriospondylus by the Chinese artist Zhao Chuang.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang (from the Science Art World by Zhao Chuang and Yang Yang)

Named and described by Richard Owen in 1875, based on four dorsal vertebrae collected from Upper Jurassic strata (Kimmeridgian faunal stage), a number of species have subsequently been assigned to this genus including a species based on fossils from as far afield as Madagascar.

The four vertebrae (along with three unfused, fragmentary sacral vertebrae), referred to this species are now regarded as non-diagnostic.  They lack distinctive characteristics to permit the establishment of a new genus, therefore Bothriospondylus is regarded by most palaeontologists as nomen dubium.

What Does Nomen Dubium Mean?

Nomen dubium is a term that we have explained in previous articles on this blog.  It simply means that the name given to the organism is doubted.  Any organism whose validity is in doubt is regarded as nomen dubium.

27 08, 2019

Picturing a Papo Gorgosaurus

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

Picturing a Papo Gorgosaurus

The recently introduced Papo Gorgosaurus model has been very well received by dinosaur fans and model collectors.  Everything Dinosaur team members have been sent lots of photographs from customers showing us how this tyrannosaurid figure has fitted into their prehistoric animal collections.  We have also received some wonderful outdoor shots of this dinosaur model.  Take for example, some photographs sent to us by Amy.

The Papo Gorgosaurus Goes for a Wander Around the Garden

The Papo Gorgosaurus has a wander in the garden.

A Gorgosaurus in the garden.

Picture Credit: Amy

Our thanks to Amy for sending in such a splendid set of photos.

Gorgosaurus in the Garden

Amy has skilfully used the available light and ensured that the model is the central focal point.  The dinosaur is shown in stark contrast to the blurred background, permitting the fine details on this excellent dinosaur replica to be displayed.

The Papo Gorgosaurus Dinosaur Model Roars as the Sun Sets

The Papo Gorgosaurus model has an articulated lower jaw.

Roaring at the sunset – the Papo Gorgosaurus.

Picture Credit: Amy

Having a Stroll and Sniffing the Air – the Papo Gorgosaurus Figure

On display in the garden, the Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model.

The Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model displayed in the garden.

Picture Credit: Amy

Amy sent us a Facebook message, commenting:

“Hi, I recently made my first purchase with your company and bought the new Papo Gorgosaurus and was amazed by the quick and easy service I received.  Here are some snaps I took of my new model, I will definitely be coming back to you guys again!”

A Dinosaur in Water

Amy has produced some very clever shots, including a very well composed photograph of her Papo model in water.  Water lilies were around when Gorgosaurus roamed the Late Cretaceous landscape of Laramidia.  Gorgosaurus would have been familiar with these flowering plants.  The model is waterproof and the spines along the back make this dinosaur look a little crocodilian.

A Gorgosaurus Goes for a Dip

The Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model goes for a swim.

A Papo Gorgosaurus takes a dip.

Picture Credit: Amy

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We really appreciate the photographs sent into us by Amy.  The Papo Gorgosaurus has been one of the most eagerly anticipated models this year and in these pictures, the details on this replica are superbly displayed. Our congratulations to Amy for her imaginative and creative pics.”

A Gorgosaurus Lurks!  Gorgosaurus is Ready to Ambush Other Dinosaurs

Setting an ambush the Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model in the garden.

A Gorgosaurus sets an ambush.

Picture Credit: Amy

The Papo Gorgosaurus Roars

A roaring Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model in the garden.

Papo Gorgosaurus roars.  A “roarsome” dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Amy

To view the Papo Gorgosaurus and the other prehistoric animal figures in the Papo “Dinosaures” range: Papo Prehistoric Animals and Dinosaurs

26 08, 2019

Praising Eofauna Models

By | August 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

New Eofauna Models Scheduled for Autumn 2019

Recently Everything Dinosaur in collaboration with Eofauna Scientific Research announced the introduction of two new prehistoric animal models for the autumn of 2019.  The first model to be announced was a replica of the amazing African sauropod Atlasaurus.  A few days later, a second new Eofauna prehistoric animal figure was announced, this time, it was a prehistoric elephant, a beautiful scale model of Deinotherium.

To celebrate this news, Everything Dinosaur included pictures of these two new figures in their latest customer newsletter.

The Two New for Autumn 2019 Eofauna Scientific Research Models Feature in Everything Dinosaur’s Customer Newsletter

Eofauna Deinotherium and the Eofauna Atlasaurus.

The Eofauna Deinotherium model (left) and the Atlasaurus model (right).  Two new Eofauna scale models are scheduled for autumn 2019.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Two Models Due out in October

The two models are due out in October and Everything Dinosaur has already opened a reservation list for these eagerly anticipated prehistoric animal figures.

To join our priority reserve list for the Eofauna Atlasaurus and the Eofauna Deinotherium, just email Everything Dinosaur: Email Everything Dinosaur and our team members will be happy to add you to our special, priority reserve list.

Reserving a model or models is easy with Everything Dinosaur, there is no deposit to pay, no need to hand over credit/debit card details and you will not be bombarded with emails.  Our team members will contact you when the model is stock, ensuring that you have the opportunity to acquire a model.  There is no obligation to purchase, it is just our way of helping collectors out, after all, we are dinosaur model collectors too.

Everything Dinosaur is proud to have featured the two new Eofauna models scheduled for release in 2019 (Deinotherium and Atlasaurus) in the company’s recent newsletter.

To view the range of Eofauna Scientific Research scale models of prehistoric animals available from Everything Dinosaur: Eofauna Scientific Research Prehistoric Animal Models.

25 08, 2019

Oxfordian Britain – The Kingdom of Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

By | August 25th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Oxfordian Britain – The Kingdom of Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

Our thanks once again to young Thomas who has spent part of his summer holiday compiling blog articles for Everything Dinosaur.  In this, his second piece, he focuses on the theropod fauna of the Late Jurassic of the British Isles and in particular a dinosaur known as Metriacanthosaurus parkeri, fossils of which come from Dorset.

The Oxfordian in the UK is a rather mysterious faunal stage of the Late Jurassic, especially when it comes to what was living on land at the time.  There are four described dinosaurs from this time one of which lived later in the Oxfordian than the others.  These three are the metriacanthosaurid Metriacanthosaurus parkeri at 7.5 metres long and just over 2 metres tall, the megalosaurid Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis which had a juvenile length of 5 metres and hypothesised adult length of 6 metres and the ankylosaurian Priodontognathus phillipsii which was probably, only a few metres long, maybe 2 to 3 metres long.

Approximate Size Comparisons of Late Jurassic British Theropods

Late Jurassic theropods size comparison.

Size comparison of Late Jurassic theropods.

Image credit: Eotyrannu5 (Dan Folkes)

Key

red = Juratyrant langhami

tan = Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis

blue = “Megalosaur”

green = Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

Note – scale bar = 1 metre and J. langhami and the blue “Megalosaur” are dated to approximately the same time (Late Jurassic).

Indeterminate Dinosaur Fossil Remains

Strata associated with the Oxfordian faunal stage, (early Late Jurassic), yields fragmentary, indeterminate dinosaur remains including an indeterminate sauropod found nearby to Metriacanthosaurus, a femur of a juvenile stegosaur and a large tooth from North Yorkshire belonging to a theropod, possibly metriacanthosaurid in nature.  In addition, footprints have been found indicating other types of dinosaur present and based on fossil discoveries associated with strata from geologically older and slightly younger rocks than those ascribed to the Oxfordian, it can be concluded that megalosaurine megalosaurids, tyrannosauroids and ornithopods would have lived in the Oxfordian too, we just haven’t found them yet.

A Scale Drawing of Metriacanthosaurus parkeri

Scale drawing of Metriacanthosaurus.

A scale drawing of the Theropod dinosaur Metriacanthosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The British Isles During the Late Jurassic

The ecology of the time is also mysterious.  We know for certain that the UK was separated into a series of islands, many of the islands were close enough to allow dinosaurs like Metriacanthosaurus and Eustreptospondylus to travel between them.  However to reconstruct the flora and habitat we can look back to the Callovian stage as its likely the environment wasn’t too different from then which allows for the conclusion to be drawn that the islands were semi-tropical and lush in plant life with forests located in the middle of the islands spreading outwards and ending near or in some places at the coast.  Mixed in with the forests would have been rivers, streams, small lakes, swamps, floodplains, open woodland areas closer to the coast and at the coast, estuaries, marshes, ooid beaches, bars, lagoons, coves and other coastal structures.

A Seasonal Climate

The dry season on the islands would have been long and dry with humid areas and during the wet season, the islands would have had to endure harsh tropical storms with hurricane force winds.  Plant life consisted of pollen and spore releasing plants, gymnosperms like ginkgoes, conifers and cycads, ferns, other pteridophytes along with other plants such as horsetails.  The climate would have been warm and subtropical to tropical.

Ooid Beaches – an Explanation and Metriacanthosaurus

For context, ooid beaches are where beaches are made of small, fine sand-like granules of calcium carbonate, the largest quarry in the UK (Ketton Quarry), has a portion of it that dates to just before the Oxfordian stage and might help unravel the mystery behind the Oxfordian of Britain.  Metriacanthosaurus was most likely the apex predator of the time, hunting anything from smaller theropods to perhaps the sauropod dinosaurs it coexisted with, it would have had powerful jaws with large sharp teeth and long powerful arms tipped with large hand claws for grasping prey. Metriacanthosaurus’s raised neural spinal ridge was probably used for extra back muscle attachment anchor points allowing the animal to be physically stronger than other similarly sized theropods of the time, although this assessment remains largely speculative.  Metriacanthosaurus means “moderately-spined lizard”.

The CollectA Prehistoric Life Metriacanthosaurus parkeri Dinosaur Model

The CollectA Metriacanthosaurus.

“Parker’s moderately-spined lizard”.  This dinosaur was named after its tall neural spines.

Eustreptospondylus is a rather unique megalosaur, it may have been a lot like today’s Komodo dragon frequenting many islands combing beaches, hunting down smaller animals, perhaps raiding nests of larger dinosaurs and possibly even hunting fish.  Despite Eustreptospondylus’s hypothesised adult size, it would have still been prey for the likes of Metriacanthosaurus.  A specimen of another dinosaur found from this geological time is an ankylosaur called Priodontognathus.  It was around 2 to 3 metres long and is known from Yorkshire.

Our thanks once again to Thomas for sending in his article to us.

To read the first article submitted by Thomas: The “Scunthorpe Pliosaur.”

24 08, 2019

Picking the Brains of Psittacosaurus

By | August 24th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Psittacosaurus Gets its Head Examined

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with colleagues from Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) and Bristol University, have produced a new study on the Early Cretaceous Asian dinosaur Psittacosaurus (P. lujiatunensis).  This new research, published in PeerJ, provides the first detailed survey of Ceratopsian braincase changes as a dinosaur grows.  Three growth stages were studied – hatching, juvenile and adult and as Psittacosaurus got bigger, so its brain changed in shape.  Furthermore, the study suggests that these little, herbivorous dinosaurs changed posture as the aged.  When young they were facultative quadrupeds, but as they matured they favoured a bipedal stance.

Psittacosaurus Gets Its Head Examined

CollectA Psittacosaurus dinosaur model.

A typical psittacosaurid.  A model of Psittacosaurus (CollectA Psittacosaurus).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Hundreds of Fossil Specimens Examined

Hundreds of Psittacosaurus fossil specimens were examined.  These fossils herald from the Early Cretaceous (Barremian–Aptian) of China, specifically from the Yixian Formation.  The lack of fossils representing dinosaurs at different growth stages limits ontogenetic studies, but Psittacosaurus is an exception, it is one of the better represented members of the Ornithischia.  The cranial and endocranial morphology of Psittacosaurus has been well documented, but only cursory details have been published on the bones surrounding the brain.

Comparing Skulls Psittacosaurus “Parrot Lizard” Compared to a Parrot 

The skull of parrot lizard compared to the skull of a parrot.

Comparing skulls.  The skull of an adult Psittacosaurus – P. gobiensis (left) is compared with an adult parrot (right).

Picture Credit: Mike Hettwer

From Hamster-sized Hatchlings to Two-metre-long Adults

From hamster-sized babies these dinosaurs grew relatively quickly into two-metre-long adults.  As they grew, their brain changed in shape from being crammed into the back of the head, behind the huge eyes in the hatchling, to being longer, and extending under the skull roof in the adult animals.  The braincase provides evidence that supports the idea that these dinosaurs changed posture as they got older.  The position and the orientation of the semi-circular canals, which helped these dinosaurs with their balance, changed as they grew.

Corresponding author of the paper, Claire Bullar (University of Bristol School of Earth Sciences), commented:

“I was excited to see that the orientation of the semi-circular canals changes to show this posture switch.  The semi-circular canals are the structures inside our ears that help us keep balance, and the so-called horizontal semi-circular canal should be just that – horizontal – when the animal is standing in its normal posture.  This is just what we see, with the head of Psittacosaurus pointing down and forwards when it was a baby – just right for moving on all-fours.  Then, in the teen or adult, we see the head points exactly forwards, and not downwards, just right for a biped.”

Dinosaur Brains from Baby to Adult (left to right)

Changing head position of Psittacosaurus.

A study of the brain of Psittacosaurus (ontogenetic study).  Head posture if the lateral (horizontal) semi-circular canal is parallel to the ground, in hatching (A), juvenile (B) and adult (C) Psittacosaurus lutjiatunensis.  Images not to scale.

Picture Credit: Claire Bullar/Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology

The change in posture is supported by postcranial fossil evidence.  The relative limb lengths indicate that a juvenile Psittacosaurus would have moved around on four legs, but by the age of two or three, they switched to a bipedal posture, standing upright on their elongate hind legs.  This would have freed up the arms and hands to help with gathering food.  The team used reconstructions created from micro-computed tomography scans of well-preserved skulls to plot the ontogenetic changes.

Co-supervisor Dr Qi Zhao from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing, where the specimens are housed, added:

“It’s great to see our idea of posture shift confirmed, and in such a clear-cut way, from the orientation of the horizontal ear canal.  It’s also amazing to see the results of high-quality CT scanning in Beijing and the technical work by Claire to get the best 3-D models from these scan data.”

Skulls of Psittacosaurus (P. lujiatunensis) Showing Different Growth Stages

Brain and skull study - Psittacosaurus.

Ontogenetic skull sequence from hatchling to adult (Psittacosaurus).  Hatchling (IVPP V15451) – (A) in lateral view.  (B) Hatchling in dorsal view.  (C) Juvenile (IVPP V22647) in lateral view. (D) Juvenile in dorsal view.  (E) Adult (IVPP V12617) in lateral view.  (F) Adult in dorsal view. All shown to the same scale; scale bar represents 2 cm.

Picture Credit: Claire Bullar/Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology

Co-author Professor Michael Ryan (Carleton University) contributed:

“This posture shift during growth from quadruped to biped is unusual for dinosaurs, or indeed any animal.  Among dinosaurs, it’s more usual to go the other way, to start out as a bipedal baby, and then go down on all fours as you get really huge.  Of course, adult Psittacosaurus were not so huge, and the shift maybe reflects different modes of life: the babies were small and vulnerable and so probably hid in the undergrowth, whereas bipedalism allowed the adults to run faster and escape their predators.”

Professor Michael Benton (Bristol University), another collaborator in this study commented:

“This is a great example of classic, thorough anatomical work, but also an excellent example of international collaboration.”

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

The scientific paper: “Ontogenetic braincase development in Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis (Dinosauria: Ceratopsia) using micro-computed tomography” by C. Bullar, Q. Zhao, M. Benton and M. Ryan in PeerJ — the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences.

23 08, 2019

North Africa’s First Stegosaur

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

Adratiklit boulahfa – The Oldest Definitive Stegosaur

A team of British scientists in collaboration with colleagues from Morocco, have announced the discovery of a new species of armoured dinosaur, described from remains found in the Atlas Mountains.  The dinosaur has been named Adratiklit boulahfa and it is the first stegosaur to have been found in northern Africa.  Adratiklit is also the oldest definitive stegosaur described, it having roamed Morocco some 168 million years ago (Bathonian faunal stage of the Middle Jurassic).  This fossil discovery is significant, as it hints at the possibility of more armoured dinosaurs likely to be found on the continents that once made up the ancient landmass of Gondwana.

A Life Restoration of the Newly Described North African Stegosaur Adratiklit boulahfa

A life restoration of Adratiklit boulahfa.

A life restoration of Adratiklit boulahfa based on the closely related Dacentrurus.  The scale size estimate for this dinosaur has been compiled using the left humerus (NHMUK PV R37007).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Third Stegosaur from Africa

The fossils were acquired by the Natural History Museum (London).  The material consists of cervical and dorsal vertebrae and the left humerus.  Although fragmentary, these fossils permitted the scientists to erect a new armoured dinosaur genus.  Although the exact provenance of these fossils is unclear, they probably came from the siltstone deposits of the El Mers II Formation located in the Middle of the Atlas Mountains (Fès-Meknes, northern Morocco).  The age of this formation has been dated biostratigraphically based on ammonite fossils.  Adratiklit is only the third stegosaur known from Africa, although a phylogenetic assessment carried out by the researchers, indicates that it was probably more closely related to European stegosaurs such as Dacentrurus (D. armatus).

Views of the Left Humerus Ascribed to A. boulahfa

Views of the left humerus ascribed to Adratiklit boulahfa.

Views of the left humerus ascribed to A. boulahfa.  NHMUK PV R37007, left humerus referred to Adratiklit boulahfa in A, lateral, B, posterior, C, medial, D, anterior, E, dorsal and F, ventral views.  Note the white scale bar.

Picture Credit: Gondwana Research/Maidment et al

The two other stegosaurs known from Africa described to date are:

  • Kentrosaurus – K. aethiopicus from the Late Jurassic (approximately 156-148 million years ago), fossils found in Tanzania
  • Paranthodon P. africanus from the Early Cretaceous (approximately 139-131 million years ago), fossils come from Cape Province, South Africa

What’s in a Name?

The generic name (Adratiklit), is from the local Berber terms for “mountain” and “lizard”, whilst the trivial epithet refers to Boulahfa, the likely site of the fossil discovery.  Commenting on the significance of this stegosaur from Morocco, lead author Dr Maidment commented:

“The discovery of Adratiklit boulahfa is particularly exciting as we have dated it to the Middle Jurassic.  Most known stegosaurs date from far later in the Jurassic period, making this the oldest definite stegosaur described and helping to increase our understanding of the evolution of this group of dinosaurs.”

One of the Two Dorsal Vertebrae Preserved (A. boulahfa)

Views of the holotype fossil specimen (dorsal vertebra) of A. boulahfa.

Views of the holotype fossil specimen (dorsal vertebra) of Adratiklit boulahfa.  NHMUK PV R37366, holotype specimen of Adratiklit boulahfa.  Dorsal vertebra in A, anterior, B, posterior, C, left lateral, D, right lateral, E, dorsal and F, ventral view.

The Implications for Stegosaurs and Ankylosaurs from Gondwana

The Stegosauria together with the Ankylosauria form a clade within the Ornithischian dinosaurs, this is referred to as the Eurypoda, which has been defined to include the iconic armoured dinosaurs Ankylosaurus, Stegosaurus and their most recent, common ancestor and all its descendants.  The fossil record suggests that stegosaurs were more common than ankylosaurs in the Jurassic, but during the Cretaceous the ankylosaurs rose in prominence and the stegosaurs as a group went into decline.

It is important to note that numerous members of the Eurypoda are known from Mesozoic rocks that made up the northern landmass of Laurasia, but only a few Eurypoda taxa are known from the super-continent of Gondwana.

The Global Distribution of Eurypoda Fossil Finds (Stegosaurs and Ankylosaurs)

A map showing where stegosaur and ankylosaur fossils have been found.

A map showing the known fossil distribution of the Eurypoda.  The grey dots indicate the presence of fossils associated with the Eurypoda clade.  More dinosaurs assigned to the Eurypoda have been found in areas associated with Laurasia, in contrast fossils representing the Eurypoda from Gondwana are relatively sparse.

Picture Credit: Tom Patterson, Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso et al from naturalearthdata.com, along with Bjørn Sandvik via Wikimedia Commons.

Writing in the academic journal, “Gondwana Research”, the scientists conclude that it remains unclear whether these types of armoured dinosaurs were genuinely rare in Gondwanan Mesozoic ecosystems, or whether their poor fossil record on southern continents is the result of sampling bias.  The discovery of a Moroccan stegosaur hints at the possibility that there could be many more armoured dinosaurs awaiting discovery in South America, India, Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Antarctica.

The scientific paper: “North Africa’s first stegosaur: Implications for Gondwanan thyreophoran dinosaur diversity” by Susannah C. R. Maidment, Thomas J. Raven, Driss Ouarhache and Paul M. Barrett published in Gondwana Research.

22 08, 2019

Praise from America

By | August 22nd, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases, Product Reviews|2 Comments

Praise from America

Everything Dinosaur has thousands of customers all over the world.  We are always delighted to hear feedback from our customers, here at home in the UK and of course, overseas.  For example, we recently received this kind email from one of our customers in the United States, she had just purchased some Papo prehistoric animals and wrote to say:

“I just received my order from Everything Dinosaur and once again, I am just BLOWN AWAY at the quality and workmanship of the Papo dinosaur figures.  I mean, truly blown away!  They are so realistic!  I really enjoy and appreciate the info sheets that accompany my order from Everything Dinosaur as well.  I have been collecting for my four-year-old daughter since she was two years old.  I loved dinosaurs myself as a little girl.  I lived in Germany growing up and the toys in the stores there were top notch.  I collected Schleich animals as companies really didn’t have nice dinosaur figures available like this then.  It has been so fun sharing this love of dinos with my daughter and learning more about the prehistoric world through the toys we get her.”

Our thanks for the feedback and kind comments, Everything Dinosaur is a 5-star rated company as monitored by the independent survey company Feefo.

Everything Dinosaur Has Been Awarded Feefo’s Highest Accolade for Customer Service

Gold Trusted Service Award to Everything Dinosaur.

Feefo awards top marks to Everything Dinosaur.  Everything Dinosaur has been awarded the accolade of the “Gold Trusted Service Award” from Feefo for its 5-star service.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Customer Feedback

As a mail order company, Everything Dinosaur gets a large number of emails from customers offering us feedback and praise on our products and customer service.  Potential customers can view over five hundred independently verified customer reviews by clicking the “Feefo” tab on our website: Visit Everything Dinosaur.  In addition, we have over 1,800 customer and product reviews on our website.

Dinosaur model collector William, for instance, has posted up several reviews of his recent PNSO Age of Dinosaurs purchases.  One of his reviews concerned the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Abelisaurus (Martin the little Abelisaurus).

William commented:

“PNSO’s Abelisaurus  is a mighty mini.  Paint applied to perfection and very natural markings.  Martin has a wry little cheeky expression fantastic.  GREAT SERVICE from Everything Dinosaur.”

Praise for the PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Abelisaurus Model

PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Abelisaurus dinosaur model.

PNSO prehistoric animals that accompany your growth – Martin the Abelisaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained that they were always pleased to receive feedback from customers and that each and every email that the company received was read by team members and the company did all it could to respond quickly to customer queries.

Wonderful Customer Service

Our American customer went onto add:

“I am very impressed with Everything Dinosaur.  Your prices are so much better than they are here in the United States and I appreciate the wonderful customer service.  Thank you so much for letting me know when all the figures I was looking for came back in stock.  I will definitely be back to shop at Everything Dinosaur in the future.”

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