All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
31 01, 2020

A Whale of a Time at the London Natural History Museum

By | January 31st, 2020|Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

Saying Hello to “Hope” the Blue Whale Exhibit

Another busy week for Everything Dinosaur team members.  A member of staff was at the London Natural History Museum recently, although they had a busy itinerary there was still time to enter the main gallery (the Hintze Hall) and to say hello to “Hope”, the enormous Blue Whale exhibit that replaced “Dippy” the Diplodocus in 2017.  Suspended overhead, dominating the refurbished gallery, the Blue Whale skeleton (Balaenoptera musculus), symbolises the Museum’s focus on conservation and supporting efforts to save natural habitats and wildlife.

The Spectacular “Hope” Blue Whale Exhibit in the Hintze Hall (London Natural History Museum)

Blue Whale exhibit (London Natural History Museum).

The beautiful Blue Whale skeleton exhibit dominating the Hintze Hall at the London Natural History Museum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The skeleton measures 25.2 metres in length, it weighs some 4.5 tonnes and consists of 221 individual bones.  Not all parts of the exhibit are real bone, some bones were missing from the right flipper and these have been replaced by 3-D printed mirror copies of the bones from the left flipper.  Seeing the Diplodocus exhibit in the main gallery was always a highlight of any visit to the Museum.  It became almost a ritual to say hello to “Dippy” on the way to a meeting or prior to visiting one of the various departments on site.

The Diplodocus exhibit was only a cast, a specimen that had been donated to the London Natural History Museum in 1905 by the Scottish-born billionaire Andrew Carnegie.  “Dippy” was installed into the Hintze Hall in 1979, but finally removed in January 2017 to be replaced by the Blue Whale exhibit.

We will have to get used to saying hello to “Hope” instead.

 

30 01, 2020

A “Battle Damaged” Pachycephalosaurus

By | January 30th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus with “Battle Damage”

The new for 2020 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus model is a little bit special.  Naturally, it is beautifully painted and an accurate depiction of a Late Cretaceous “bone-headed” dinosaur, but the design team at Safari Ltd have taken care to introduce an element of subtle “battle damage” to their figure.  It is a case of a dinosaur model demonstrating some “pachycephalosaur pathology”.

To help collectors and dinosaur fans to see what we mean, team members at Everything Dinosaur put together this short video.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus Dinosaur Model with “Battle Damage”

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Demonstrating that Dinosaurs Had Tough Lives

In this short video, (it lasts a little over two minutes long), we show the model and provide close-up views of the brown mark on its skull.  This is not a flaw in the particular replica we use in the video, to prove it we show another figure from our stock, with exactly the same feature.  The design team at Safari Ltd have provided their Pachycephalosaurus figure with a little bit of “battle damage”, perhaps after a fight with another Pachycephalosaurus over social status in the herd, or perhaps in a dispute over food.  The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus might have damaged his headgear whilst competing for females.  After all, extant male red deer, the bucks, do damage their antlers in the autumn rut, when they are fighting to win the right to mate.

Superb Detail on the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus Dinosaur Model

The "battle damage" is located on the other side of the skull.

The beautifully detailed Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus dinosaur model.  The “battle damage” is located on the other side of the skull.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Pachycephalosaurus figure and the rest of the prehistoric animals in this range: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Figures.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Safari Ltd have gone that extra mile by thinking carefully how they could reflect inferred behaviour in their Pachycephalosaurus dinosaur model.  We congratulate the design team for their foresight and consideration.  This is a very detailed figure and it is intriguing to see the little extra details that have been incorporated into the sculpt.”

The Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel contains lots of helpful and informative videos about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.  Team members try to post up a new video once a week and with all these new Safari Ltd models, our script writers are going to be kept very busy.

Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel here: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

29 01, 2020

Noasaurids from Down Under

By | January 29th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Australia’s Latest Theropod Dinosaur

The theropod fossil record for Australia is particularly poor.  The majority of the meat-eating dinosaur fossils found down-under come from the Albian-Cenomanian faunal stages of the Cretaceous have been predominantly referred to the Megaraptoridae.  However, a single neck bone (cervical vertebra), found in an opal mine near the town of Lightning Ridge (New South Wales), in conjunction with a fragmentary ankle bone from the Gippsland Basin in Victoria have led scientists to conclude that another type of predatory dinosaur roamed Australia – noasaurids.

A Silhouette of the Unnamed Noasaurid with a Human Figure for Scale and the Fossil Neck Bone Placed in Life Position

Fossil neck bone and silhouette showing life position.

Silhouette showing approximate size of the Australian noasaurid and the fossil material.

Picture credit: Tom Brougham (University of New England, New South Wales)

Classifying the Noasauridae

The Noasauridae are a family of small-bodied, fast-running, largely predatory dinosaurs nested within the Superfamly Abelisauroidea, although their exact taxonomic position and which genera fit within the Noasauridae remains controversial.  Essentially, these types of dinosaurs are distantly related to the abelisaurids such as Carnotaurus and Rajasaurus.  Noasaurids demonstrate a wide range of anatomical characteristics.  For example, Masiakasaurus (M. knopfleri), known from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar, had a downturned lower jaw with teeth in both jaws, whereas the adult forms of Limusaurus (L. inextricabilis) known from the Jurassic of China, had no teeth in their jaws and could have been herbivores.

A Scale Drawing of Masiakasaurus (M. knopfleri)

Masiakasaurus scale drawing.

Unusual theropod dinosaur – Masiakasaurus, the downward turned lower jaw and the dentition suggest that this predator could have specialised in catching fish (piscivore).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Noasauridae are known from the southern hemisphere and seem to have been confined to the landmass of Gondwana.

Dr Tom Brougham (University New England, New South Wales), one of the co-authors of the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports stated:

“It was assumed that noasaurids must have lived in Australia because their fossils have been found on other southern continents that, like Australia, were once part of the Gondwanan supercontinent.  These recent fossil finds demonstrate for the first time that noasaurids once roamed across Australia.  Discoveries of theropods are rare in Australia, so every little find we make reveals important details about our unique dinosaur fauna.”

To read more about Limusaurus: Limusaurus – A Dinosaur That Lost its Teeth as it Grew.

The partial cervical vertebra from the Wallangulla Sandstone Member of the Griman Formation, collected from an underground opal mine at the “Sheepyard” opal field, southwest of Lightning Ridge was found within a bonebed containing the iguanodontian Fostoria dhimbangunmal.  The bone is estimated to be around 100 million years old.  Although, the fossil (specimen number LRF 3050.AR), is badly eroded the researchers discovered that is resembled cervical vertebrae associated with the noasaurids, hence the diagnosis that this fossil indicates the presence of these types of theropod dinosaurs in Australia.

The Neck Bone from the Opal Mine Ascribed to the Noasauridae

Opal mine noasaurid neck bone.

The noasaurid cervical vertebra LRF 3050.AR in (a) ventral; (b) dorsal, (c) left lateral, (d) right lateral, (e) anterior and (f) posterior views.  Note scale bar = 50 mm.

Picture Credit: Brougham et al (Scientific Reports)

The scientists re-examined a ceratosaurian astragalocalcaneum fossil (NMV P221202) that had been found in 2012 in strata associated with the much older upper Barremian–lower Aptian San Remo Member of the upper Strzelecki group in Victoria.  It was concluded that this ankle bone also represented noasaurid fossil material.

The East Gippsland Ankle Bone Now Ascribed to the Noasauridae

East Gippsland astragalocalcaneum (NMV P221202).

The East Gippsland astragalocalcaneum (NMV P221202) in (a) anterior, (b) posterior, and (c) proximal views.  Note scale bar = 20 mm.  This fossil lends support to the idea that noasaurids were present in Australia.

Picture Credit: Brougham et al (Scientific Reports)

Oldest Known Noasaurid

Between them, the Lightning Ridge neck bone and the ankle bone from Victoria represent the first evidence of noasaurid dinosaurs found in Australia.  The astragalocalcaneum material comes from deposits that were laid down in the Early Cretaceous and could be 120 million years of age.  This would make the ankle bone the earliest known example of a noasaurid in the world described to date.  The recognition of Australian noasaurids further indicates a more widespread Gondwanan distribution of the clade outside of South America, Madagascar and India consistent with the timing of the fragmentation of the supercontinent.

The scientific paper: “Noasaurids are a component of the Australian ‘mid’-Cretaceous theropod fauna” by Tom Brougham, Elizabeth T. Smith and Phil R. Bell published in Scientific Reports.

28 01, 2020

Rebor “Broodlord” X-REX Has Arrived

By | January 28th, 2020|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|1 Comment

Rebor “Broodlord” X-REX Has Arrived

The eagerly anticipated xenomorph/dinosaur crossover from Rebor has arrived at Everything Dinosaur.  The 1:35 scale “Broodlord” X-REX is now in stock.  Model collectors have got a new branch of the Rebor replica family tree to get excited about.  This detailed model has a wet-look about it, courtesy of the metallic colour scheme, our congratulations to the design team at Rebor for coming up with such an imaginative sculpt.

The New for 2020 Rebor “Broodlord” X-REX Figure

Rebor "Broodlord" replica.

The 1:35 scale Rebor “Broodlord” replica.  A team member at Everything Dinosaur has used a geology ruler to help show the size of this new for 2020 Rebor figure.  The model measures a whopping 43 cm in length!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the new Rebor “Broodlord” X-REX replica and the rest of the Rebor range: Rebor Replicas, Models and Figures.

Your Flexible Friend!

The tailpiece fits neatly into the slot at the back of the model.  Do not be alarmed if your figure does not balance very well when first removed from its packaging.  Once that long, flexible tail has been inserted the figure is perfectly stable.  The rotatable arms, four back extensions and the extended tongue with the jaw can be found in a small, plastic bag at the bottom of the foam protection.  Carefully remove these pieces and fit into your model.  The beautifully sculpted tail, is quite flexible and we liked to pose our figure with the tail slightly curved round (as shown in the picture above).

Carefully Insert the Pieces to Create your Rebor X-REX

A view of the Rebor "Broodlord".

The model has rotable arms, a secondary jaw/tongue and four extensions on its back.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Examine the back extensions carefully, each piece fits into its own bespoke slot on the model.  Adding the tongue/jaw element can be a bit a tricky, we suggest collectors examine the inside of the lower jaw of their model to identify the slot for this piece.  Take care when inserting the tongue, we found that to secure this part in place a cocktail stick or tweezers could be used to push the peg on the bottom of the tongue into the slot on the floor of the mouth.

A View of the Beautifully Detailed Head of the Rebor X-REX Figure

Rebor 1:35 scale X-REX model.

Charging towards you!  A view of the spectacular head of “Broodlord”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Rebor Broodlord X-REX Metallic Variant (1:35 scale) is certainly an amazing model.  There are plans to introduce three more figures by the end of 2020.  A figure is expected every three months or so for the rest of the year, pictures of the proposed figures can be found on the back of the “Broodlord” box.  Collectors have a lot to look forward to in 2020.

The Shape of Things to Come – Four Figures in Total are Planned

Four figures in this Rebor range.

The four figures intended for this range are shown on the back of the box.  The figures are named, metallic, organic, plague and radioactive.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This is an incredible model, it is a wonderful 1:35 scale science fiction figure.

27 01, 2020

A New Species of Allosaurus – Allosaurus jimmadseni

By | January 27th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

“Big Al” is Not Allosaurus fragilis but Allosaurus jimmadseni

A new species of North American Allosaurus has been described, the new dinosaur has been named Allosaurus jimmadseni, the species name honouring the late James H. Madsen Jr, Utah’s first state palaeontologist, who dedicated his career to excavating, preserving and studying the fossils found at the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry.  In 1976, Madsen published a detailed monograph documenting the Allosaurus specimens found at this location, which is now the Jurassic National Monument complete with visitor centre.  The monograph describing and illustrating the Quarry’s Allosaurus fossils is regarded as a seminal piece of work that strongly influenced the direction of research into theropod dinosaurs.

A Pack of Allosaurs (Allosaurus jimmadseni) Attacking a Juvenile Sauropod

A pack of allosaurs (A. jimmadseni) attacking a juvenile sauropod.

Picture Credit: Todd Marshall

“The Ballard of Big Al” – Allosaurus jimmadseni

Fans of the documentary “The Ballard of Big Al”, a spin-off programme to the famous “Walking with Dinosaurs” television series, made by the BBC Natural History Unit and Impossible Pictures that first aired over twenty years ago, will remember that this programme told the story of the life of an Allosaurus.  The fossil specimen used as the basis for the story line, was found in the Howe Quarry (Wyoming), specimen number MOR 693.  This was thought to represent an Allosaurus fragilis, but MOR 693 “Big Al” has now been assigned to this new species.

The Star of the Ballard of Big Al (MOR 693) Now Assigned to A. jimmadseni

"The Ballard of Big Al".

The front cover of “The Ballard of Big Al” BBC/Impossible Pictures documentary.  Once thought to be an example of Allosaurus fragilis, this fossil specimen (MOR 693), has been reassigned to A. jimmadseni.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

New Allosaurus Species Based on Two Nearly Complete Fossil Skeletons

Writing in the academic journal PeerJ, the two authors of the scientific paper Mark Loewen, research associate at the Natural History Museum of Utah and associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah and co-worker Dan Chure, now retired, but formerly based at the Dinosaur National Monument, set out the case for the erection of a new species of Allosaurus.  Between them they have studied virtually all the Allosaurus specimens in North American museums, a research project that has taken two decades and is still on-going.  The paper describing Allosaurus jimmadseni, is one of several papers that will be published by the pair.  Future scientific papers will address post-cranial morphology and provide a further revision of the Allosaurus genus.

The new species of Allosaurus has been established based on the study of the “Big Al” specimen and specimen number DINO 11541 discovered by Dr George Engelmann (University of Nebraska), in 1990.  Excavation continued at the Dinosaur National Monument site for several years, gradually exposing an almost complete articulated skeleton, but missing the skull.  In the summer of 1996, University of Utah employee Ray Jones returned to the site and used a gamma X-ray detection device to locate the beautifully preserved cranium.

A Cast of the Specimen DINO 11541 Showing the Articulation and the Approximate position of the Skull

Painted cast of Allosaurus jimmadseni holotype material.

A painted cast of the holotype fossil material DINO 11541 (Allosaurus jimmadseni).

Picture Credit: Dan Chure

Three Recognised Allosaurus Species

Since Allosaurus was first erected by the American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877, numerous species have been named.  However, in this research paper only three species are recognised – Allosaurus fragilis and Allosaurus jimmadseni in North America and Allosaurus europaeus from Europe.  The researchers identified a number of unique characteristics (autapomorphies), in the specimens MOR 693 and DINO 11541 that led them to propose a new species.  For example, the paired nasals of A. jimmadseni possess bilateral, thin, blade-like crests that run from the nostrils up the snout, ending at the apex of the eye socket.  This feature is absent in Allosaurus fragilis.

A Life Reconstruction of Allosaurus jimmadseni

Allosaurus jimmadseni life reconstruction.

A reconstruction of the head of Allosaurus jimmadseni.  Note the pair of bilateral nasal crests that run from the nostrils to the eye socket.  This feature is absent in Allosaurus fragilis.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

As a result of this new study, a number of other fossil specimens formerly placed within A. fragilis have been reassigned to A. jimmadseni.

Geologically the Oldest Species of Allosaurus

The “Big Al” fossil and specimen number DINO 11541 come from strata associated with the Lower Morrison Formation (Brushy Basin Member and Salt Wash Member respectively), as such, these animals are several million years older than those fossils now ascribed to Allosaurus fragilis.

Commenting on the significance of their extensive research, co-author Mark Loewen stated:

“Previously, palaeontologist thought there was only one species of Allosaurus in Jurassic North America, but this study shows that there were two species.  The newly described Allosaurus jimmadseni evolved at least five million years earlier than its younger cousin, Allosaurus fragilis.  The skull of Allosaurus jimmadseni is more lightly built than its later relative Allosaurus fragilis, suggesting a different feeding behaviour between the two.”

Comparing Allosaurus Skulls (Three Species Compared)

Comparing Allosaurus skulls.

Comparing the skulls of Allosaurus species (left lateral view).  (A) Allosaurus fragilis (DINO 2560).  (B) Allosaurus jimmadseni (DINO 11541).  (C) Allosaurus europaeus (ML 415).  Scale bars equal 10 cm.

Picture Credit: Chure and Loewen published in PeerJ

An Anagenetic Lineage?

This study suggests that Allosaurus jimmadseni fossils are found in the Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation in Utah and the lower part of the Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation in Wyoming and South Dakota.  If this is the case, then it raises the question whether the later A. fragilis evolved from the earlier Allosaurus jimmadseni.  Did Allosaurus fragilis directly evolve from its older, close relative?  If it did, then this is a form of evolution known as anagenesis – whereby one species gradually evolves into a new species over a long period of geological time.  An anagenetic lineage occurs when one population representing a single species, over thousands and thousands of years, gradually accumulates change.  These changes eventually become sufficiently distinct from the earlier form that descendants can be labelled a new species.

Skull Drawings and Skeletal Reconstructions of Allosaurus jimmadseni

Skull and skeletal diagrams Allosaurus jimmadseni.

Skull and skeletal reconstructions of Allosaurus jimmadseni.

Picture Credit: Chure and Loewen published in PeerJ with additional notation by Everything Dinosaur.

The illustration above shows stylised line drawings of the skull of Allosaurus jimmadseni in lateral, dorsal and posterior views along with skeletal reconstructions of DINO 11541 and “Big Al”.  Scale bar (A-C) equals 10 cm and for D-E 1 metre.

Allosaurus, as the most common genus of Late Jurassic theropod in North America has played a significant role in helping palaeontologists to cement the phylogeny of Jurassic meat-eating dinosaurs. A revision of this key genus will probably have important consequences for future studies regarding the taxonomy of the Coelurosauria.

The scientific paper: “Cranial anatomy of Allosaurus jimmadseni, a new species from the lower part of the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Western North America” by Daniel J. Chure and Mark A. Loewen published in PeerJ.

26 01, 2020

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus “Battle Damage”

By | January 26th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus “Battle Damage”

Sometimes a model manufacturer goes that little bit further when it comes to adding a degree of authenticity to its figures.  A case in point is Safari Ltd and their recently introduced Wild Safari Prehistoric World, Pachycephalosaurus.  This beautifully painted replica depicts an injury to the skull of this “bone-headed” dinosaur.  There is a small, brown-coloured mark on top of the skull.  Eagle-eyed Everything Dinosaur team members noticed this feature when looking at pre-production images, but it had been difficult to spot in some promotional shots.

However, we can confirm this little bit of pachycephalosaur pathology is indeed an integral part of the model.

Showing the “Pachycephalosaur Pathology” – The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus with the Mark on its Head

Showing the pathology on the head of the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus dinosaur model.

A close-up view of the top of the head of the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus model with the “battle damage” highlighted.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the new for 2020 Pachycephalosaurus model and the rest of the figures available from Everything Dinosaur in the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range: Safari Ltd – Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Figures.

Pachycephalosaur Pathology

A number of theories have been put forward as to why pachycephalosaurs tended to have highly ornate, often very thick skulls.  These anatomical features probably did not evolve to protect their brains, the brains of these types of dinosaur are proportionately no bigger than many other types of ornithischians.  They probably did not have a defensive role, after all, to a large tyrannosaurid a thick, reinforced skull would have been not much of an obstacle to overcome if it were fortunate to catch a pachycephalosaur.  Many palaeontologists believe these characteristics evolved as these animals competed with each other in combat over hierarchical status in the herd, or the right to mate.   This theory was, we believe, first postulated by the distinguished American vertebrate palaeontologist Edwin Colbert in 1954.  Since then, a number of studies have been undertaken to verify/refute this idea: Study Sheds New Light on the Intraspecific Combat of Pachycephalosaurs.

Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis Replica Skull

A replica skull of Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis.

Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis replica skull.   In some specimens the skull bone is more than twenty centimetres thick.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

However these Late Cretaceous dinosaurs used their heavily ornate and robust headgear remains open to speculation, but one thing is for sure, the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus model certainly shows lots of detail.

A Beautiful and Very Detailed Dinosaur Model

The new for 2020 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus dinosaur model.

The new for 2020 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Pachycephalosaurus model.  The “battle damage” to the skull can be seen in this image of the dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

25 01, 2020

Canada’s Newest and Oldest Tyrannosaurid – Thanatotheristes degrootorum

By | January 25th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|1 Comment

Canada’s Newest and Oldest Tyrannosaurid – Thanatotheristes degrootorum

Researchers from the University of Calgary and the Royal Tyrrell Museum (Alberta, Canada), have published a scientific paper describing a new species of tyrannosaur, based on fragmentary skull and jaw elements excavated from Campanian-aged deposits representing the Foremost Formation of Alberta. The Foremost Formation is the oldest geological formation ascribed to the Belly River Group, it is overlain by the Oldman Formation and the Dinosaur Park Formation. The newly named tyrannosaurid is Thanatotheristes degrootorum and its fossilised remains represent the earliest known evidence of diagnostic tyrannosaurid material to have been discovered in Canada.

A Silhouette of the Skull of Thanatotheristes degrootorum

Thanatotheristes skull reconstruction.

Thanatotheristes skull reconstruction showing known fossil material.

Picture Credit: Science Direct/The Journal of Cretaceous Research

The Evolution of North American Tyrannosaurs

Whilst tyrannosaurid fossil material is synonymous with Upper Campanian and Maastrichtian-aged deposits in North America, very little tyrannosaur fossil material has been recovered from older Campanian deposits.  In the autumn of 2018, Everything Dinosaur published an article on a new species of tyrannosaurid (Dynamoterror dynastes), which had been found in Lower to Mid Campanian-aged deposits in New Mexico.  Prior to the discovery of Dynamoterror, the fossil record for these types of theropods had been largely restricted to a period from approximately 77 million years ago to the K-Pg extinction event.  Dynamoterror roamed southern Laramidia around 80 million years ago, the fossils associated with T. degrootorum are roughly contemporaneous (dated from 80.1 to 79.5 million years ago).  Together, the northern Thanatotheristes and the southern Dynamoterror will help scientists to better understand tyrannosaurid evolution in North America.

To read our article about Dynamoterror dynastesPowerful Terror Ruler Dynamoterror dynastes.

A Sister Taxon to Daspletosaurus spp.

The researchers, which included Darla Zelenitsky (University of Calgary) and Caleb Brown (Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology), define Thanatotheristes as the sister taxon to the later tyrannosaurid genus Daspletosaurus.  Together, these taxa provide evidence for the existence of a clade of long and deep-snouted tyrannosaurines endemic to northern Laramidia during the Campanian.  The clade has been named the Daspletosaurini and comprises Thanatotheristes (pronounced Than-ah-toe-ther-ris-tees) and the two known species of Daspletosaurus.  D. torosus is associated with the Oldman and Dinosaur Park Formations of Alberta, whilst the recently described (2017), Daspletosaurus horneri  is from the uppermost parts of the geologically slightly younger, Two Medicine Formation of Montana.  Other proposed Daspletosaurus material is awaiting scientific description, so it is probable that additional species may be added to the Daspletosaurus genus.

The scientists conclude that the Tyrannosauridae family in North America consisted of several geographically segregated clades rather than a series of monogeneric (a genus with just one species in it), successive sister taxa as postulated in previous studies.

The Stratigraphy of the Belly River Group Showing Approximate Locations in Geological Time of Described Daspletosaurini

The Stratigraphy of the Belly River Group.

The stratigraphy of the Belly River Group with approximate position of Thanatotheristes and Daspletosaurus spp. fossil finds.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur from D. Eberth (Dinosaur Provincial Park)

The figure (above) shows the stratigraphy of the Belly River Group and its component formations.  The theropod shape (red) shows the approximate chronological location of the Thanatotheristes degrootorum fossil material, whilst the blue theropod silhouettes represent the approximate chronological location of Daspletosaurus fossil material.  The black star shape represents the approximate age of Daspletosaurus horneri fossil material from the Two Medicine Formation.

It can be speculated that geographically dispersed but temporally contemporaneous genera such as Daspletosaurus and Thanatotheristes adds support to the theory that distinct regional faunas evolved on Laramidia during the Late Cretaceous.  There may have been physical barriers that prevented the mixing of faunas on this landmass, this led to provincial ecosystems, with different parts of Laramidia having different types of dinosaur associated with them.

The skull of Thanatotheristes degrootorum is estimated to have measured around 80 cm in length, but the actual size of this dinosaur is uncertain as the fossils probably represent a sub-adult.

The scientific paper: “A new tyrannosaurine (Theropoda:Tyrannosauridae) from the Campanian Foremost Formation of Alberta, Canada, provides insight into the evolution and biogeography of tyrannosaurids” by Jared T. Voris, François Therrien, Darla K. Zelenitsky, and Caleb M. Brown published in the Journal of Cretaceous Research.

24 01, 2020

Phytosaurs from Zimbabwe

By | January 24th, 2020|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Evidence Found of Late Triassic Phytosaurs in Southern Africa

A team of international researchers have reported the discovery of phytosaur fossils from southern Africa.  A local safari guide noticed some fossils eroding out of sediments on the shores of Lake Kariba in northern Zimbabwe.  Field expeditions to the area were undertaken in 2017 and 2018 and the researchers, which included scientists from the London Natural History Museum, were able to map the fauna and flora of a Late Triassic freshwater ecosystem.

Fragmentary remains including dermal scutes (armour), teeth and bones were found and this is the first evidence that crocodile-like phytosaurs were present in southern Africa.  Many palaeontologists thought that these aquatic reptiles were confined mostly to the tropics and sub-tropics.  These fossils suggest that phytosaurs may have been more widely distributed than previously thought.

A Museum Exhibit Featuring a Typical Phytosaur (National Museum of Wales)

A typical phytosaur.

A museum exhibit featuring a typical phytosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Not Closely Related to Modern Crocodiles

Phytosaurs superficially resemble modern crocodiles, especially long, thin snouted forms like the American crocodile and the Gharial, although they are not closely related.  It is likely that phytosaurs filled the same ecological niche as extant crocodilians, hunting for fish and small reptiles/amphibians around bodies of freshwater, although it is now known that some phytosaurs adapted to a marine environment: Marine Phytosaurs of the Triassic.

The Phytosauria clade and its superficial similarity to crocodilians is an example of convergent evolution, whereby, similar features and traits evolve in unrelated species.  One of the easiest ways to tell a crocodile from a phytosaur is to look at the skull.  The jaws and teeth may look similar but with crocodiles the pair of nostrils are located towards the front of the snout whilst in phytosaurs the nostrils are located towards the back of the snout, much closer to the eyes.

The Location of the Nostrils in Phytosaurs

Telling the difference between a phytosaur and a crocodile.

The location of the nostrils in a phytosaur.  The nostrils are located towards the rear of the snout, close to the eyes not at the anterior portion of the snout as in the Crocodilia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fossilised remains of phytosaurs have been found in Europe, North America, Morocco, Madagascar, India and Brazil.  The strata in which these fossils are found would have been at a low latitude when the sediments were laid down.  In comparison, the Lake Kariba fossil finds indicate that large phytosaurs were living very far from the equator.  Until now, phytosaurs had been unknown from high southerly latitudes.

Professor Paul Barret, (London Natural History Museum), a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“This is the first discovery of phytosaurs from southern Africa.  It provides us with our first snapshot of a mostly aquatic environment from this part of the world, which was part of the ecological puzzle that was missing before.”

The study has also permitted the researchers to properly date the rocks in which the fossils were found, placing the entire site into much greater context with the other Triassic-age formations found across South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana.

Environmental Indicators

The presence of large phytosaurs in Zimbabwe, is a good indicator of the environment and climatic conditions in the area some 210 million years ago.

Professor Barrett explained:

“Phytosaurs usually need permanent bodies of water.  They’re big animals that liked large lakes and rivers.”

These kinds of environments would not have been unusual during the Late Triassic, which is one of the reasons why the distinct lack of any phytosaurs from southern Africa is particularly curious.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a news release from the London Natural History Museum in the compilation of this article.

23 01, 2020

Everything Dinosaur Wins Feefo Platinum Service Award

By | January 23rd, 2020|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Wins Top Feefo Award

Everything Dinosaur has been awarded the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service award, a newly created accolade that provides independent verification of a company’s customer service credentials.  Every year since Everything Dinosaur signed up to Feefo, the UK-based dinosaur company has won the Feefo Gold Trusted Service award and in recognition of the company’s continually high service standards, a new standard was introduced by Feefo for 2020 – platinum.

Everything Dinosaur Has Won Feefo’s Highest Award for Customer Service

Platinum Standard Service from Everything Dinosaur.

Everything Dinosaur has won the Feefo Platinum Service Award for 2020.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Prestigious Seal of Approval

The award is based on genuine feedback and ratings from Everything Dinosaur customers.  At present, Everything Dinosaur has over 450 published customer reviews and has a 5-star rating for customer service.  The Feefo Platinum Trusted Service award provides an independent seal of approval and demonstrates that an organisation is delivering exceptional customer service as rated by the customers themselves.

Feefo have given Platinum Trusted Service awards to businesses who have achieved the “Gold” standard for three consecutive years.  The Feefo Gold Trusted Service award recognises those who have collected at least 50 Feefo reviews in a year and have achieved a service rating of at least 4.5 out of 5-stars.

Everything Dinosaur’s Certificate of Achievement – 2020 Platinum Trusted Service Award Winners!”

Feefo award for Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has been awarded the Platinum Trusted Service award from Feefo.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Commenting on the award a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We are very proud and delighted to have received this new award from Feefo as this accolade genuinely reflects the views of our customers, who are the most important judges of all.  We all work hard to ensure that everyone who purchases from Everything Dinosaur is looked after properly.  We are continually striving to improve and we are looking forward to helping dinosaur model fans and collectors in what is going to be another very busy year for us.

Congratulating Everything Dinosaur on winning this very special award, the Director of Customer Success at Feefo, Steph Heasman added:

“The Trusted Service award has always been about recognising companies that go way beyond the norm in customer experience and generate great feedback from happy customers.  This year we’ve been delighted to see so many companies using Feefo to provide outstandingly high levels of all-round service.”

22 01, 2020

Astonishing Ammonites

By | January 22nd, 2020|Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Astonishing Ammonites

A quick trip to the London Natural History Museum to gain some inspiration for a project that Everything Dinosaur team members have been invited to participate in.  Once there and with our mission accomplished, there was just time to take a look at some of the superb fossil exhibits on display adjacent to the Earth Hall and the British Geological Survey display.  It was like meeting old friends again with a chance to admire the Megatherium specimen and the amazing marine reptiles within the “Green Zone”.  One of our favourite specimens, is this cross-section of a substantial ammonite.  With all those chambers exposed , the fossilised remains of this large marine invertebrate remind us of a piece of modern art.

A Beautiful Ammonite Fossil on Display

A beautiful ammonite fossil on display.

A stunning fossil of a Jurassic ammonite on display at the London Natural History Museum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

We suspect that this is an example of Asteroceras stellare, an ammonite species associated with the Lower Jurassic of Europe from around 195 to 188 million years ago.  Some specimens of A. stellare have shells nearly a metre in diameter.  Gigantism in cephalopods has arisen on numerous occasions during the long evolutionary history of this Class of the Mollusca.  Today, we have the giant squid (Architeuthis), whilst in the Ordovician, one of the world’s first super-predators was a cephalopod, the enigmatic Cameroceros.  As for why some types of ammonite grew so large, whilst most could comfortably fit in the palm of your hand, remains a mystery.  Scientists are uncertain as to what environmental factors are the driving forces in the evolution of giant forms in some types of animal, however, such large animals could be linked to a bountiful supply of oxygen in the atmosphere and subsequently dissolved in sea water.

The specimen on display at the Natural History Museum, may not be the biggest ammonite fossil, but to us we think it is one of the most beautiful exhibits to be seen in the whole of the Earth Hall.

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