All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
20 09, 2019

Japan’s Greatest Fossil Dinosaur Gets a Name

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

Kamuysaurus japonicus – Japan’s Newest Dinosaur

Earlier this month, a scientific paper was published providing details of Japan’s most complete dinosaur fossil known to science.  The dinosaur, a member of the Hadrosauridae, has been named Kamuysaurus japonicus, with the Rugby World Cup starting today in the “land of the rising sun”, we thought it appropriate to feature this new species of Late Cretaceous duck-billed dinosaur in today’s blog post.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Japanese Dinosaur Kamuysaurus japonicus

Kamuysaurus life reconstruction.

A herd of Kamuysaurus wander along a beach.   In the illustration by Masato Hattori, a trio of Kamuysaurus wander across a beach some 72 mya, the fossilised remains, representing a single animal was discovered in marine strata.

Picture Credit:  Kobayashi Y., et al, Scientific Reports

The fossils come from the part Cretaceous to Palaeocene-aged Hakobuchi Formation, specifically from outcrops close to the town of Mukawa on the island of Hokkaido.  Despite the semi-articulated and nearly complete nature of the fossil material, some bones are heavily damaged and show signs of extensive bioerosion (damage caused by marine invertebrates boring into the bones), prior to burial.  The strata associated with the fossil material has yielded ammonites, mosasaurs and the remains of a sea turtle, it is correlated to the lowest Maastrichtian (faunal stage).

At Everything Dinosaur, we have followed the research into this new species of duck-billed dinosaur with eager anticipation.  We first wrote about this fossil discovery some years ago, when tail bones discovered eroding out of a hillside hinted at a very special dinosaur fossil find:  Japan’s Most Complete Dinosaur Discovery

Assigned to the Edmontosaurini Clade

In the current study, a group of researchers led by Professor Yoshitsugu Kobayashi of the Hokkaido University Museum conducted comparative and phylogenetic analyses on 350 bones and 70 taxa of hadrosaurids, which led to the discovery that the dinosaur belongs to the Edmontosaurini clade and is closely related to Kerberosaurus unearthed in Russia and Laiyangosaurus from China.  This herbivorous dinosaur was named after the indigenous people of Hokkaido, the specific name refers to Japan.  It translates as “the deity of Japanese dinosaurs”.

The Holotype Skeleton of Kamuysaurus

Holotype specimen of Kamuysaurus.

Holotype skeleton of Kamuysaurus japonicus (a). Reconstructed skeleton showing recovered elements in white (b).  Its unique characteristics include the anterior inclination of neural spines of the sixth to twelfth dorsal vertebrae.

Picture Credit: Kobayashi Y., et al Scientific Reports

The researchers found that Kamuysaurus has three unique characteristics that are not shared by other dinosaurs in the Edmontosaurini clade: the low position of the cranial bone notch, the short ascending process of the jaw bone, and the anterior inclination of the neural spines of the sixth to twelfth dorsal vertebrae.  The histological analysis revealed that the animal was a fully grown adult at least nine years of age and it measured 8 metres in length with a body mass of around 4,000 kilograms.

The frontal bone, a part of its skull, has a big articular facet connecting to the nasal bone, possible evidence that Kamuysaurus may have had a crest.  The crest, if it existed, is believed to resemble the thin, flat crest of Brachylophosaurus subadults, whose fossils have been unearthed in North America.

Selected Skull Elements of Kamuysaurus japonicus

Selected skull elements of Kamuysaurus.

Selected skull elements of Kamuysaurus japonicus.  Its unique characteristics include the low position of the cranial bone notch (quadratojugal notch, qjn) and the short ascending process of the jaw bone (surangular, acp)

Picture Credit: Kobayashi Y., et al Scientific Reports

The study also shed light on the origin of the Edmontosaurini clade and how it might have migrated.  Its latest common ancestors spread widely across Asia and North America, which were connected by what is now Alaska, allowing them to travel between the two continents.  Among them, the clade of Kamuysaurus, Kerberosaurus and Laiyangosaurus inhabited the Far East during the Campanian faunal stage, the fifth of six ages of the Late Cretaceous, before evolving independently.

The research team’s analyses pointed to the possibility that ancestors of hadrosaurids and its subfamilies, Hadrosaurinae and Lambeosaurinae, preferred to inhabit areas near the ocean, suggesting the coastline environment was an important factor in the diversification of the hadrosaurids in its early evolution, especially in North America.

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

The “A New Hadrosaurine (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae) from the Marine Deposits of the Late Cretaceous Hakobuchi Formation, Yezo Group, Japan” by Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Tomohiro Nishimura, Ryuji Takasaki, Kentaro Chiba, Anthony R. Fiorillo, Kohei Tanaka, Tsogtbaatar Chinzorig, Tamaki Sato and Kazuhiko Sakurai published in the journal Scientific Reports.

19 09, 2019

Saturnalia Gets Its Head Examined

By | September 19th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New Study Suggests Saturnalia Had a Small Head

The South American sauropodomorph Saturnalia (S. tupiniquim) lived some 233 million years ago.  As dinosaurs go, this 1.4 metre long animal might not be regarded as a superstar of the Dinosauria, it is not likely to be offered a starring role in any new instalment of the Jurassic Park movie franchise, but for palaeontologists, Saturnalia is a very significant dinosaur indeed.  Described twenty years ago, the skeleton of this little dinosaur demonstrates both sauropod and theropod traits and as such, any additional information gleaned about it can cause quite considerable shock waves in palaeontological circles.

A Life Reconstruction of Saturnalia tupiniquim

A life reconstruction of Saturnalia.

New study on the skull Saturnalia suggests it had a disproportionately small head.

Picture Credit: Rodolfo Nogueira

New Study Published in the Journal PLOS One

Scientists from the Universidade de São Paulo in collaboration with a colleague from the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria have published a new study of the skull shape and size of Saturnalia in the on-line academic journal PLOS One.  The research team conclude that Saturnalia had a skull less than 10 centimetres in length, quite small in relation to the size of the animal.  Because it had a long neck and a small, lightweight skull, Saturnalia may have been able to move its head very quickly, helping it to secure tiny, elusive prey.  This idea is also supported by a study of the teeth of this dinosaur and brain shape inferred from an analysis of the skull bones.

The Skull of Saturnalia

Analysing the skull of Saturnalia.

The skull of Saturnalia was examined using computerised tomography.  The picture shows the skull elements that were subjected to the CT scan and a line drawing shows a lateral view of the proposed skull of Saturnalia (known fossil elements in green).

Picture Credit: Rodolfo Nogueira

A Reduced Skull

Computerised microtomography was used to assess the shape and structure of the delicate skull fossils still entombed inside their rock matrix.  This non-destructive technique enabled the research team to reconstruct the skull of this dinosaur and to identify the reduced skull.

One of the authors of the scientific paper, Mario Bronzati, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Biology at the Ribeirão Preto School of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil) commented:

“It was very difficult to remove the fossil from the sediment in which it was trapped.  Doing so in the traditional way by scraping the sediment could break these bones because they were so fragile.”

Although numerous papers on Saturnalia tupiniquim have been published, little was known about the morphology of the skull.  The three-dimensional images that were created as a result of this analysis provided the researchers with the opportunity to study the head of this dinosaur in detail and the reconstruct the skull of this Late Triassic dinosaur.

A Diagram Showing the Skull of Saturnalia

Saturnalia skull diagram.

A diagram of the skull of Saturnalia (lateral view and dorsal view).

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The skull is disproportionately small when compared to the size of the dinosaur’s body.  It is thought that Saturnalia was carnivorous, eating small prey items  such as lizards, mammals and insects, but the consumption of plants cannot be ruled out.  The reduced skull is a characteristic of the Sauropodomorpha lineage and demonstrated in later sauropods such as Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus.  The specialisation of the skull and neck of Saturnalia has implications for the evolution of these lizard-hipped dinosaurs as later forms became entirely herbivorous.  Skull reduction significantly reduced the biomechanical contraints for the development of long necks, in turn, longer necks permitted access to food resources that were unreachable for other plant-eating dinosaurs.  This would have helped to provide a competitive advantage and might explain why later sauropods grew to such large sizes.  Thus, the idea that skull reduction was first acquired in a likely predatory member of the sauropodomorph lineage (i.e. Saturnalia) implies a scenario where a trait related to one habit (faunivory) was crucial for the evolution of a completely different lifestyle (herbivory) in a subsequently different selection regime.

18 09, 2019

Everything Dinosaur Handling UK and European Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter Rewards

By | September 18th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Handling UK and European Kickstarter Action Figure Rewards

With the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for the Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsian series, these are exciting times for model collectors and dinosaur fans.  Everything Dinosaur, the UK-based, specialist prehistoric animal mail order company is proud to have been associated with the Beasts of the Mesozoic range of collectable figures for several years and will be handling the fulfilment of all the Kickstarter action figure rewards for this prestigious campaign for Ceratopsian Kickstarter backers within the UK and European Union.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsian Series Kickstarter Has Launched

Ceratopsian series - Beasts of the Mesozoic

Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsian Series.  An exciting new range of articulated horned dinosaur figures.

Everything Dinosaur’s Involvement

The involvement of Everything Dinosaur in the fulfilment aspect of the campaign further cements the close working relationship between the talented team behind Creative Beast Studio and the logistics experts at an award-winning company.  Dinosaur fans are going to be elated about this new Kickstarter project, but the design and build process is just one phase in meeting the needs of model collectors.  Followers of the previous “Raptor” Kickstarter project will be all too aware of the difficulties that can arise during the production process.  Once produced, other issues can be encountered as these models are despatched to project supporters.  By involving Everything Dinosaur in the fulfilment, supporters within the UK and Europe can be assured that their figures will be despatched by Everything Dinosaur from their European base.  This substantially reduces the risk of customers incurring additional taxes, custom duties and tariffs.

What a Line Up!  A Cornucopia of Ceratopsians

A selection of some of the amazing Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsians.

A selection of Beasts of the Mesozoic horned dinosaur models.  The Kickstarter campaign outlines a schedule of ten models being released in September 2020, with a further eight new figures in March 2021.  If all goes to plan, a third wave consisting of seven more dinosaurs will be available in September 2021.

Ceratopsian Figures Coming into Stock

As well as handling the fulfilment for European and UK customers, Everything Dinosaur will be bringing in their own bulk stock of these figures, this should ensure a swift and trouble free route for the models from the factory to UK warehousing without customs delays, thus ensuring that Kickstarter backers can receive their pledged items promptly.

In addition, as  Everything Dinosaur will be carrying stocks of the Beasts of the Mesozoic ranges, fans can add to their figure collection easily and conveniently via Everything Dinosaur’s own website.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Xenoceratops Figure

Beasts of the Mesozoic Xenoceratops.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Xenoceratops figure, part of this exciting new model range.


Mike Walley from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Fulfilment operations on a global scale can be quite a tricky business.  Fans of the excellent Beasts of the Mesozoic model range want to get these models without any additional burdens.  At Everything Dinosaur, our warehouse team despatch parcels to Europe and the UK all the time, our customers are well-used to our seamless and efficient delivery service.  Whilst we cannot guarantee that customers may incur additional expense in the form of duties and taxes, or indeed that international trading terms and conditions may change, in our experience when supplying European and UK customers from our UK warehousing we are have not heard of any problems arising .  We take great care to ensure that parcels are labelled correctly and despatched appropriately, after all, we have a 5-star customer service rating from Feefo as well as an award for Gold Standard service.”

To visit the new Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter site: Ceratopsian Kickstarter Campaign

To view the existing range of Beasts of the Mesozoic prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic “Raptors”

17 09, 2019

Preparing for a School Visit

By | September 17th, 2019|Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Teaching|0 Comments

Preparing for a Fossil Workshop

The autumn term is well underway and team members at Everything Dinosaur are busy conducting dinosaur themed and fossil workshops in schools, catering for a wide range of different age groups.  This week, our team members will be dealing with the eager and very excitable Early Years Foundation Stage classes (Nursery and Reception), as well as working with slightly more mature (we hope), students in Key Stages 3 and 4.

One of the things we have been asked to discuss with the students in year nine and ten that we will be working with this week, is potential career options in the Earth sciences.  This is certainly a very broad subject and we hope to provide some pointers.  We have been brushing up on our knowledge regarding career paths as well as brushing up some rather beautiful Dactylioceras ammonite fossils that we intend to use in a short exercise looking at taphonomy and the importance of index fossils.

Selecting Fossils to Use in Our Exercise with Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 Students

Ammonite fossils (Dactylioceras).

A selection of ammonite fossils to be used in an exercise exploring the role of index fossils with science students.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

16 09, 2019

Rebor GrabNGo Komodo Dragon Model

By | September 16th, 2019|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|1 Comment

Rebor GrabNGo Komodo Dragon Model

Everything Dinosaur team members have been taking an exclusive look at the up-and-coming Rebor Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) model, which is the first in a new product line entitled “GrabNGo”.  This is a beautiful, highly detailed model of the largest living lizard, which is sometimes referred to as the Komodo monitor.

The New Rebor GrabNGo Komodo Dragon (V. komodoensis) Replica

The Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon model.

The new for 2019 Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A 1:6 Scale Komodo Dragon Replica

The model measures a fraction under 48 centimetres in length, but when the curvature of that impressive tail is taken into account the model’s true size is around half a metre, making this a 1:6 scale replica.  The skin texture has been skilfully created with accurate folds and appropriately proportioned digits.  The underside of the body and tail also shows lots of amazing detail and scales, particularly along the underside of the neck and jaw, although our figure lacks a cloaca.  The production sample we were kindly sent does not have a CE mark so the skin texture is uninterrupted along the entire animal’s length.

Amazing Detail on the Head of the New Rebor GrabNGo Komodo Dragon Model

The fine detailing around the head and neck of the new Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon replica.

The fine detailing around the head and neck of the new Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon model.  The dark eye has been given a wet-look with the application of a fine gloss.  This contrasts nicely with the muted tones of the body colouration.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A View Showing the Variety of Scales Represented on the Head and the Back of the Model

A wonderful representation of the largest living lizard - Komodo dragon.

A dorsal view of the new Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dragon Skin

The lightweight but reinforced hollow vinyl material gives this figure a very solid feel and the subtle painting provides the viewer with an impression of an expensive desk-top figure.  The Komodo dragon is renowned for its tough hide.  The skin of this lizard, which can reach lengths of up to 2.6 metres and weigh in excess of 70 kilograms, is reinforced by tiny dermal scales (osteoderms).  It is thought that this armour helps to prevent injury when it attacks large prey or during intraspecific combat.

Skin Folds around the Belly Area and the Back of the Head – Komodo Dragon Model

GrabNGo Komodo dragon figure (Rebor).

Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Megalania Connection

This Rebor GrabNGo figure could also be used to represent the extinct giant goanna of southern Australia – Megalania (Varanus priscus, or sometimes referred to as Megalania prisca).  It has been proposed that Megalania represents a sister taxon to the Komodo dragon and like its Indonesian cousin, it was an apex predator within the ecosystem.  Size estimates for Megalania vary but studies of fossilised dorsal vertebrae suggest a length of around 6 metres.  If this is the case, then the Rebor GrabNGo model would equate to a 1:12 scale replica.

Is this a Megalania or a Komodo Dragon?

Megalania or Komodo dragon? Your decide.

Komodo dragon or Megalania?  You decide.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Available Late September/Early October

The Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon is likely to be available before Christmas.  Everything Dinosaur team members are doing all they can to ship this model in quickly.

The price is estimated to be around £15.99 plus postage (GBP).

To join our priority reserve list for this exciting new figure: Email Everything Dinosaur to Reserve a Komodo Dragon Model

15 09, 2019

Protodontopteryx ruthae – Toothed Terror of the Waipara Greensand

By | September 15th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Scientists discover one of the oldest “toothed” bird species in the Waipara Greensands

The remarkable fossil site located on the banks of the Waipara River north of the town of Canterbury on New Zealand’s South Island has provided palaeontologists with an amazing record of life during the Palaeocene Epoch, when the climate of New Zealand was very different than it is today.  Soaring above the tropical coastline some 62 million years ago was a gull-sized, bony-toothed bird which has been named Protodontopteryx ruthae.  Classified as a member of the Pelagornithidae, a family of huge seafaring birds, characterised by bony outgrowths along their jaws that served as teeth, the discovery of Protodontopteryx suggests that these birds originated in the Southern Hemisphere and not in the Northern Hemisphere as previously thought.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Pelagornithid Protodontopteryx ruthae

Life reconstruction of Protodontopteryx.

Protodontopteryx life reconstruction.  A flock of Protodontopteryx flies over a pair of prehistoric penguins.  Both types of bird are believed to have fed on fish.

Picture Credit: Derek Onley

The Oldest and Smallest Member of the Pelagornithidae to be Described

Writing in the journal “Papers in Palaeontology”, the research team, which included scientists from Canterbury Museum, describe Protodontopteryx which is oldest member of the Pelagornithidae to be described to date.  It is one of the oldest named Neornithes (modern birds), known to science.

Examining the Fossil Remains of P. ruthae

Examing the Protodontopteryx fossil at Canterbury Museum.

Curators at Canterbury Museum and co-authors of the scientific paper, Dr Paul Scofield (left) and Dr Vanesa De Pietri (right) examine the Protodontopteryx fossil in a laboratory.

Picture Credit: Canterbury Museum

While its descendants were some of the biggest flying birds ever, with wingspans of more than 5 metres, Protodontopteryx was only the size of an average gull.  Like other members of its family, the seabird had bony, tooth-like projections on the edge of its beak.  Its discovery provides further evidence of the remarkable biota that existed in this part of the world just a few million years after the Cretaceous mass extinction event that saw the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs.  Recently, Everything Dinosaur team members blogged about another bird fossil excavated from the Waipara Greensand, a giant 1.6 metre high prehistoric penguin: Monster Penquin from the Palaeocene of New Zealand.

Discovered in 2018

Amateur palaeontologist Leigh Love found the partial Protodontopteryx skeleton last year at the Waipara Greensand fossil site.  The bird was named Protodontopteryx ruthae after Love’s wife Ruth, a token of his appreciation for her tolerance and support as he pursued his decades-long passion for fossil collecting.  Fellow amateur Alan Mannering prepared the bones, and a team comprising Love, Mannering, Canterbury Museum Curators Dr Paul Scofield and Dr Vanesa De Pietri and Dr Gerald Mayr (Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany), described Protodontopteryx.

Commenting on the implications regarding the likely origin of pelagornithids Dr Scofield stated:

“While this bird was relatively small, the impact of its discovery is hugely significant in our understanding of this family.  Until we found this skeleton, all the really old pelagornithids had been found in the Northern Hemisphere, so everyone thought they’d evolved up there.  New Zealand was a very different place when Protodontopteryx were in the skies.  It had a tropical climate – the sea temperature was about twenty-five degrees [Celsius] so we had corals and giant turtles.”

An Unexpected Discovery

Dr Mayr added that the discovery was:

“Truly amazing and unexpected.  Not only is the fossil one of the most complete specimens of a pseudotoothed bird, but it also shows a number of unexpected skeletal features that contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of these enigmatic birds.”

Later pelagornithid species evolved to soar over oceans with some species having wingspans in excess of six metres.  Protodontopteryx’s skeleton suggests it was less suited for long-distance soaring than later pelagornithids and probably covered much shorter ranges.  Its short, broad pseudoteeth were likely designed for catching fish.  Later species had needle-like pseudoteeth which were likely used to catch soft-bodied prey like squid.

The Fossil Site where the Remains of Protodontopteryx was Discovered

Research team members at the site of the fossil discovery.

Paul Scofield and amateur palaeontologist Leigh Love examine a section of riverbank on the Waipara River, near where the Protodontopteryx fossil was found.

Picture Credit: Canterbury Museum

Dr De Pietri added:

“Protodontopteryx was less adapted to sustained soaring than other known pelagornithids, we can now say that pseudoteeth evolved before these birds became highly specialised gliders.”

These types of bird once dominated the oceans of the world, but the last of their kind died out some 2.5 million years ago.  A number of fossil discoveries from the remarkable Waipara Greensand will be put on display at Canterbury Museum, in a new exhibition tracing the evolutionary history of the fauna and flora of New Zealand.  The exhibition is due to open later this year.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from Canterbury Museum in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Oldest, Smallest And Phylogenetically Most Basal Pelagornithid, From The Early Paleocene Of New Zealand, Sheds Light On The Evolutionary History Of The Largest Flying Birds” by Gerald Mayr, Vanesa L. De Pietri, Leigh Love, Al Mannering and R Paul Scofield published in Papers in Palaeontology.

14 09, 2019

Helping to Unravel the Troublesome Teleosauroids

By | September 14th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New Fossil Study of Jurassic Crocodile Confirms Identity

Numerous genera of Jurassic and Cretaceous marine crocodiles have been described.  However, since many of these genera were erected in the 18th and 19th centuries, sometimes these fossil remains have to be revisited as new discoveries provide additional information.  Take the case of Mystriosaurus laurillardi, a teleosauroid known from fossils found in Germany and in the United Kingdom.  The taxonomy of the teleosauroids has been blighted by the problems associated with  Steneosaurus bollensis.  Specimens have been “lumped” into this species only to be subsequently reassigned.  A new study, published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica demonstrates that Mystriosaurus is a distinct species.

A Life Reconstruction of Mystriosaurus laurillardi

Mystriosaurus laurillardi life reconstruction.

Life reconstruction Mystriosaurus laurillardi.

Picture Credit: Julia Beier

Marine Predator

M. laurillardi grew to about four metres in length.  The long and narrow jaws and the teeth associated with this marine predator suggest that it fed primarily on fish (piscivore).  It lived 180 million years ago (Toarcian faunal stage of the Early Jurassic).  A fossil skull found in southern Germany in the 1770’s had previously been described as Steneosaurus bollensis, a contemporaneous member of the Teleosauridae, but in this new assessment of the cranial material, the researchers led by scientists from the Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld (Germany) and scientists from Edinburgh University, concluded that the skull represented M. laurillardi.

The research team also announced that another crocodilian skull found in Yorkshire (Mulgrave Shale Member, Whitby Mudstone Formation), should also be assigned to Mystriosaurus laurillardi.

The Holotype Cranial Material of M. laurillardi from southern Germany

M. laurillardi holotype cranial material.

The holotype material of M. laurillardi from southern Germany.

Picture Credit: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, Sachs et al.

Sorting Out Steneosaurus brevior

Previously, the crocodilian skull from Yorkshire had been named Steneosaurus brevior, the scientists suggest that this name is now a junior synonym of Mystriosaurus laurillardi.  Intriguingly, a phylogenetic assessment  indicates that Mystriosaurus was closely related to Steneosaurus, but it is probably more closely related to a Chinese teleosauroid (previously known as Peipehsuchus), than any European form.

13 09, 2019

The First Pterosaur Unique to Canada

By | September 13th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Under a Giant’s Wing – Cryodrakon boreas

A new species of giant pterosaur has been named and described from fossil material excavated from the famous Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation in southern Alberta (Canada).  The flying reptile represents one of the geologically oldest azhdarchid pterosaurs described to date from North America.  It is the first flying reptile genus to be erected from Dinosaur Provincial Park fossils.  Writing in the academic publication, the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology”, researchers from Queen Mary University of London, the University of Southern California, and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology (Alberta), describe Cryodrakon boreas and estimate that it could have been one of the largest flying vertebrates to have ever lived.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Azhdarchid Pterosaur Cryodrakon boreas

The Canadian azhdarchid pterosaur C. boreas.

A life reconstruction of the Canadian pterosaur Cryodrakon boreas.

Picture Credit: David Maas

Pterosaurs from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation

Despite the discovery of many thousands of dinosaur bones from the Dinosaur Provincial Park (DPP), the fossilised remains of pterosaurs are exceptionally rare.  Their delicate, pneumatised bones do not do well when it comes to the fossilisation process.  What fossils that have been found, since the first discoveries made in 1972, are highly fragmentary and difficult to assign down to the genus level.  Individual cervical vertebrae, metacarpals and metatarsal bones have been described as representing azhdarchid pterosaurs as they bore resemblance to Montanazhdarcho, a pterosaur known from contemporaneous strata some 150 miles or so, south of the DPP, or indeed to the Quetzalcoatlus genus known from the Javelina Formation of Texas.

In this scientific paper, the researchers examined undocumented pterosaur fossil material and reassessed previously studied fossils and concluded that the remains, bones from the wing, limb bones, cervical vertebrae and a rib originally assigned to Quetzalcoatlus were sufficient different to merit the establishment of a new azhdarchid pterosaur genus.

A Line Drawing of an Azhdarchid Pterosaur Neck Bone from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation

A line drawing of an azhdarchid pterosaur neck bone from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation.

A line drawing of an azhdarchid cervical vertebra in (A) ventral, (B) anterior and (C) posterior views.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Indiana University Press

“Cold Dragon”

The genus name is from the Greek and means “cold dragon”, reflecting the relatively high latitude where the fossils were found, commenting on why the fossils have been ascribed to a new genus, lead author Dr David Hone (Queen Mary University, London) stated:

“This is a cool discovery, we knew this animal was here but now we can show it is different to other azhdarchids and so it gets a name.”

Line Drawings of a Juvenile Azhdarchid Pterosaur Cervical Vertebra from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation

Juvenile pterosaur neck bone.

A juvenile azhdarchid cervical vertebra from the Upper Campanian strata of the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Indiana University Press

The associated fossil material represents a young animal, with an estimated wingspan of five metres, but one giant cervical vertebra from the DPP, once thought to represent a partial femur, indicates that mature adults were comparable in size to Quetzalcoatlus northropi.

The slightly more robust bones from the DPP (when compared to Javelina Formation material), suggests that Cryodrakon may have been slightly heavier than Quetzalcoatlus spp.  It is difficult to calculate bodyweights, but the press releases suggested an adult Cryodrakon might have weighed in excess of 250 kilograms.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, (Alberta) and a press release from Queen Mary University (London), in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Cryodrakon boreas, gen. et sp. nov., a Late Cretaceous Canadian azhdarchid pterosaur” by David W. E. Hone, Michael B. Habib and François Therrien published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

12 09, 2019

Year 1 Children Find Fossils

By | September 12th, 2019|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Year 1 Children Find Fossils

The children in Year 1 at St Joseph’s Primary (Lancashire), had a morning of pretending to be palaeontologists as their autumn term topic “Dinosaur Planet” was kicked-off in style.  The friendly staff had prepared a scheme of work all about dinosaurs, an area of learning used elsewhere in the school, as the Nursery children (EYFS), would also be studying Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus et al over the course of the academic year.

Prior to our visit to conduct a morning of dinosaur and fossil themed activities with the enthusiastic children, the teaching team had challenged the class to record in their topic books what they knew about these long extinct animals.  Our dinosaur expert was impressed with the neatness of the handwriting, how well the letters had been formed and the appropriate finger spacing between words.

“Dinosaur Planet” – What I Know About Dinosaurs

At the start of the dinosaur topic the Year 1 children recorded what they know about dinosaurs.

At the start of the dinosaur topic the Year 1 children recorded what they know about dinosaurs.  For example, one pupil wrote that dinosaurs are related to reptiles – that’s right, the Dinosauria are indeed a diverse group of reptiles.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Why Did Diplodocus Have a Long Neck?

As part of the writing exercise, referred to as KWL:

  • what I know?
  • what I want to know?
  • what have I learned?  An opportunity to check understanding at the end of the topic.

The year 1 children wanted to know why did a Diplodocus have a long neck?

Why Did a Diplodocus Have a Long Neck?

CollectA rearing Diplodocus dinosaur figure.

During the morning of dinosaur themed activities, the school visitor from Everything Dinosaur made sure to answer the question about the neck of Diplodocus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The first part of the morning involved visual and kinaesthetic learning with lots of physical exercises to help reinforce learning.  In the second part of the workshop, which was conducted in the classroom, the children were given the opportunity to find their own fossils.  The eager young palaeontologists found lots of fossils in our special challenge, teeth from prehistoric sharks, pieces of fossilised turtle shell, lots of ammonites and even some armour from a Jurassic crocodile!

The Children Demonstrated Lots of Pre-knowledge

Year 1 KWL exercise at the start of the dinosaur term topic.

KWL exercise (Year 1 term topic).  The Year 1 children were keen to demonstrate their knowledge about dinosaurs, even a Gallimimus was mentioned.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We are confident that the budding young palaeontologists at St Joseph’s Primary are going to really enjoy their autumn term topic.

11 09, 2019

Skull Bones of Saurornitholestes Point to Asian Migration

By | September 11th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New Study Published on Saurornitholestes langstoni

Researchers based at the University of Alberta and the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada), have published a new scientific paper on the dinosaur nicknamed the “raptor of Alberta”.  The dinosaur – Saurornitholestes langstoni, was once thought to be a troodontid, but its placement within the Dromaeosauridae has been reinforced.  Furthermore, although no impressions of preserved feathers have ever been found in association with skeletal material, a tooth wear analysis conducted by the scientists suggests that a tooth in the upper jaw might have been specialised for preening feathers.

The Beautifully Preserved Saurornitholestes langstoni Specimen

The beautifully preserved and nearly complete Saurornitholestes langstoni fossil discovered in 2014.

The nearly complete Saurornitholestes langstoni fossil discovered in 2014.

Picture Credit: University of Alberta

The researchers who produced the scientific paper, two famous and very influential palaeontologists, Professor Philip Currie (University of Alberta) and Dr David Evans (Royal Ontario Museum), also suggest that their analysis of recently described skull bones supports the idea of at least two major faunal interchanges between Asia and North America during the Late Cretaceous.

Several Partial Skeletons – Hundreds of Isolated Teeth and Bones

In 1978, Saurornitholestes langstoni was formally described based on some fragmentary fossil bones found close to the small town of Patricia in southern Alberta four years before.  Since then, four additional partial skeletons ascribed to Saurornitholestes and hundreds of isolated teeth and bones have been recovered from the Upper Cretaceous sediments (Campanian faunal stage), of Alberta and Montana.  Despite these fossils, very little was known about the skull of S. langstoni, curtailing attempts to better understand the taxonomic relationship between this Canadian dromaeosaurid and other Asian forms such as Velociraptor mongoliensis and Tsaagan mangas.

A Scale Drawing of Saurornitholestes langstoni

Saurornitholestes langstoni illustration - scale drawing.

Saurornitholestes langstoni illustration (scale drawing).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Study of the 2014 Specimen

Frustrated by the lack of truly diagnostic fossil cranial material to study, palaeontologists could do very little to better understand where within the Dromaeosauridae the “raptor of Alberta” should reside.  This all changed in 2014 with the discovery of a nearly complete fossil specimen, ironically within a thousand metres of where the holotype specimen had been found back in 1978.  Although loaned out to Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science (Tokyo), for a special exhibition marking fifty years of “raptor research”, analysis continued on the remarkable skeleton.

Writing in the academic journal “The Anatomical Record”, the scientists confirm that Saurornitholestes was similar in size to Velociraptor, but the facial region of the skull is relatively shorter, taller and wider.  The premaxillary teeth are distinctive, and fossil teeth collected in the Dinosaur Provincial Park (southern Alberta), ascribed to the dromaeosaurid Zapsalis abradens can now be identified as the second premaxillary tooth of S. langstoni.

A Close-up View of the Skull of S. langstoni 

Saurornitholestes langstoni fossil skull.

A close-up view of the fossilised skull of the 2014 specimen.  The skull bones were preserved in articulation, helping the scientists to understand the anatomy of the skull.

Picture Credit: University of Alberta

Teeth Used for Preening Feathers

A detailed microscopic study of the tiny abrasions preserved on the teeth located in the front of the upper jaw (premaxilla), have led the researchers to speculate that these teeth could have had a role in helping to preen and clean the dinosaur’s feathery coat.

A Typical Dromaeosaurid Tooth

Dromaeosaurid tooth from Alabama.

An isolated dromaeosaurid tooth with very different denticles (anterior and posterior).  Different sized serrations might have assisted with grooming as a secondary function of the tooth.

Picture Credit: David R. Schwimmer

A Distinctive North American Clade of Dromaeosaurs

With an almost complete specimen to study and, most importantly of all, a skull, the scientists have concluded that a distinctive North American clade of Late Cretaceous dromaeosaurids can be established within the Dromaeosauridae family.  A distinctive and separate branch from the Asian part of the Dromaeosauridae that includes the likes of Velociraptor.  Professor Currie and Dr Evans were able to identify many unique anatomical traits (autapomorphies), that permitted the establishment of this clade – the Saurornitholestinae.  This new information on the skull allows a more complete evaluation of the systematic position of Saurornitholestes langstoni within the Dromaeosauridae and supports the suggestion of at least two major faunal interchanges between Asia and North America during the Cretaceous.

At Everything Dinosaur, we have seen a resurgence in interest in “raptor” figures and models.  These theropod dinosaurs continue to feature prominently in dinosaur movies and the “Beasts of the Mesozoic” range of “raptor” models including an articulated replica of Saurornitholestes langstoni have been introduced.

To view the Beasts of the Mesozoic model range available from Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures

The scientific paper: “Cranial Anatomy of New Specimens of Saurornitholestes langstoni (Dinosauria, Theropoda, Dromaeosauridae) from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Campanian) of Alberta” by Philip J. Currie and David C. Evans published in the journal The Anatomical Record.

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