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

21 01, 2020

The Dogged “Dogbane” Family of Plants

By | January 21st, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Earliest Fossil Record of Asclepiadoideae (Dogbane Family) Reported from Asia

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, writing in the academic journal “The American Journal of Botany”, have reported the earliest fossil record of the Apocynaceae family of plants from fossils found on the Central Qinghai‐Tibetan Plateau.  These flowering plants are often referred to as the “Dogbane” family, as many species have poisonous sap and this was used to keep dogs at bay.

The fossils representing preserved seeds collected from an altitude of around 4,800 metres indicate that during the Early Eocene, this part of Asia had a very much warmer subtropical climate.  Based on the seed fossils the researchers discovered, the scientists have been able to erect a new genus (Asclepiadospermum) and place two new species of Early Eocene plants within it (A. marginatum and A. ellipticum)

Fossilised Seeds of One of the Newly Described “Dogbane” Species Asclepiadospermum marginatum

Asclepiadospermum marginatum fossil seeds from Tibet.

Asclepiadospermum marginatum fossil seeds from a Tibetan plateau.

Picture Credit: Cédric Del Rio et al (The American Journal of Botany)

Asclepiadoideae is now geographically widespread, found tropical and subtropical regions around the world with something like 5,000 individual species recorded, ranging in size from trees to small shrubs and climbing vines.  Fossilised remains of these types of plants from the Neogene of Europe and North America are relatively abundant, but fossils from Asia are exceptionally rare.  The researchers studied three Apocynaceae seed impressions from the Lower Eocene Niubao Formation, Jianglang village, Bangor County on the central Qinghai‐Tibetan Plateau.  The fossilised remains are more than fifty million years old.

A Record of a Subtropical Ecosystem

After comparing with modern seeds and mapping of the seed characters on a phylogeny of the family Apocynaceae, the researchers recognised the fossils as part of the subfamily Asclepiadoideae and erected the new genus with its two species of prehistoric plants.  The Jianglang location is now situated at an altitude of approximately 4,800 metres above sea level and hosts cold alpine vegetation dominated by grassland.  However, these fossils indicate that the early Eocene climate and biodiversity were profoundly different.  Asclepiadoideae is now present in Asia and widespread in tropical to subtropical areas.

Commenting on the significance of the seed fossils, Professor SU Tao ( Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences), corresponding author for the research paper, stated:

“The newly discovered early Eocene Asclepiadospermum from the central Qinghai‐Tibetan Plateau clearly belongs to Asclepiadoideae.  Our discoveries thus reconcile the fossil record and molecular estimations and represent the earliest fossil record for the subfamily.  Our fossils are important in documenting the floristic connection between Africa and Eurasia during the Eocene.  Based on current knowledge, Asclepiadospermum could represent an example of early diversification of Apocynaceae in Asia, with subsequent diversification in the Northern Hemisphere.”

20 01, 2020

Stegosaurus armatus – Thank You Rebor

By | January 20th, 2020|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Stegosaurus armatus – Thank You Rebor

In December, Everything Dinosaur received stocks of the 1:35 scale Rebor Stegosaurus armatus dinosaur model.  This beautiful figure is available in three colour schemes, “plain”, “woodland” and many team member’s personal favourite – “mountain”.  We had been asked to demonstrate how the tailpiece fitted into the model and we did produce a short video demonstrating how to insert the tail into the slot at the back of the figure, but we had more footage so we have posted up a slightly longer video that provides a little more detail about this excellent armoured dinosaur replica.

Thank You Rebor – Stegosaurus armatus “Mountain” Colour Scheme (1:35 Scale Dinosaur Model)

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Providing More Information About the Rebor Stegosaurus armatus Figure

In this short video, (it is a little under one minute forty-five seconds in length), we show the “mountain” colour scheme figure as well as images of the two other colour variants “plain” and “woodland”.  We comment on the tailpiece and demonstrate how to connect it to the body.  In addition, we briefly discuss the fossil material that was once the type specimen for the Stegosaurus genus.  This fossil material was very incomplete, only the rear portion of the animal was preserved and only one iconic plate was found in association.  The fossils once ascribed to S. armatus, were replaced as the designated type material for the genus by much more complete Stegosaurus stenops material in a ruling by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), in 2013.

We take this opportunity to thank Rebor for producing such an excellent dinosaur model.

Stegosaurus might be an iconic dinosaur, but compared to the horned dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous such as Triceratops and its close relatives, there remains a lot of debate as to the exact taxonomic make-up of the Stegosauridae.

The Rebor S. armatus Dinosaur Model is Available in Three Colour Variants

A trio of three Rebor Stegosaurus (S. armatus) models.

The Rebor 1:35 scale Stegosaurus (S. armatus) is available in three colour variants “plain”, “mountain” and woodland”.  Which one is your favourite?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Rebor Stegosaurus figures and the rest of the Rebor models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Replicas, Models and Figures.

Committed to Making More Videos Including Product Reviews

At Everything Dinosaur, we are committed to making and posting up more videos onto our YouTube channel.  We hope to put up a new video onto our YouTube channel every week, so long as other work commitments permit.

To view a recent blog post that contains our first, short video showing how to insert the tail into Stegosaurus armatus figure: The Tale of a Tail – How to Insert the Tailpiece into the 1:35 scale Stegosaurus armatus. model.

You can find the Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel here: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

19 01, 2020

Little Dancing Dragon Sheds Light on How Dinosaurs Grew Up

By | January 19th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The New Microraptorine Wulong bohaiensis

A new feathered dinosaur from Liaoning Province (north-eastern China), has been named and described.  The little dinosaur, not much bigger than a crow, but with a long tail, has been named Wulong bohaiensis.  The fossilised feathers associated with the beautifully preserved skeleton, include two long tail feathers, the sort of extravagant plumage associated with mature birds which use such adornments to attract a mate.  However, when an analysis of the limb bones was undertaken to determine the age of the specimen (histological analysis), the research team discovered that the specimen represented a juvenile.

Either those long, showy feathers served some other function, or dinosaurs that were closely related to birds grew up differently when compared to their living relatives.

The Newly Described Wulong bohaiensis.

Wulong bohaiensis fossil specimen.

The beautifully preserved and almost complete W. bohaiensis fossil specimen.

Picture Credit: Ashley W. Poust (University of California)

Dancing Dragon

The fossil specimen was found more than ten years ago by a local farmer.  It had resided in the vertebrate collection of the Dalian Natural History Museum (Liaoning Province), being eventually described and studied by scientists at the museum in conjunction with student Ashley Poust under the supervision of  Dr David Varricchio (Montana State University), her former advisor, prior to Ashley moving to the University of California.

The genus name is Chinese for “dancing dragon”, a reference to the posture of the preserved specimen.  A phylogenetic analysis places W. bohaiensis within Microraptorinae, this little dinosaur was therefore closely related to Microraptor.  Whether, like Microraptor, Wulong bohaiensis was capable of powered flight can be speculated upon.

Ashley Poust explained the significance of this research stating:

“The specimen has feathers on its limbs and tail that we associate with adult birds, but it had other features that made us think it was a juvenile.”

In order to determine the age of the dinosaur when it died, staff at the Dalian Natural History Museum gave permission for the tibia, fibula and humerus bones to be examined histologically.  Essentially, cross-sectional slices of these bones were removed from the skeleton, prepared and then examined under a microscope so that the seasonal/annual growth of the animal could be identified.  Such a technique is invasive and will cause damage to the fossil specimen, fortunately, the curators at the Dalian Natural History Museum took the decision that in order to benefit science the invasive procedures had to be undertaken.

Ashley commented:

“Thankfully, our co-authors at the Dalian Natural History Museum were really forward thinking and allowed us to apply these techniques, not only to Wulong, but also to another dinosaur, a close relative that looked more adult called Sinornithosaurus.”

A Life Reconstruction of Wulong bohaiensis

Life reconstruction of Wulong bohaiensis.

A life reconstruction of Wulong bohaiensis.  The sharp, small teeth in the jaw of Wulong suggest that this dinosaur was a piscivore, or perhaps feeding on insects.

Picture Credit: Ashley Poust (University of California)

Sinornithosaurus Provides a Surprise

The histology of a specimen of another feathered dinosaur associated with the Early Cretaceous Jehol biota was also examined.  The research team wanted to compare their immature, juvenile Wulong to what they thought was a specimen of an adult Sinornithosaurus.  However, analysis of the bone structure of the Sinornithosaurus provided a surprise.  The histology revealed that both specimens were young and still growing at death, indicating an age for Wulong of about one-year-old.

Commenting on the results of the histological analysis on the Sinornithosaurus specimen, Ashley explained:

“Here was an animal that was large and had adult looking bones.  We thought it was going to be mature, but histology proved that idea wrong.  It was older than Wulong, but seems to have been still growing.  Researchers need to be really careful about determining whether a specimen is adult or not.  Until we learn a lot more, histology is really the most dependable way.”

An Illustration of Sinornithosaurus

Sinornithosaurus

The fearsome dromaeosaurid Sinornithosaurus, in reality this dinosaur was about 1-1.2 metres in length, although it might have preyed upon the smaller Wulong bohaiensis.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

This new study suggests that either young dinosaurs developed elaborate tail feathers for some other purpose, or that they were growing feathers in a different way from their close living relatives the Aves (birds).

The Paraves Clade

The Paraves is a clade of theropod dinosaurs.  It is defined as containing all the dinosaurs which are more closely related to birds than to oviraptorosaurs.  As such it includes troodontids, dromaeosaurids and avialians, which encompasses extant birds.  Much of what we know about the diversity of this group in the Early Cretaceous comes from fossil specimens found in Liaoning, China.  However, many taxa are represented by specimens of unclear ontogenetic age.  With a better understanding of how dinosaurs may have changed in their appearance as they grew up, scientists can be more confident about their phylogeny, their evolutionary relationships and which character traits can be used to infer biology and the dinosaur’s position within the complex Jehol ecosystem.

This scientific paper identified several different types of feather associated with Wulong bohaiensis – pennaceous primary feathers, filamentous feathers and long tail feathers.  The team established that such plumage preceded skeletal maturity and full adult size in some dromaeosaurids.  Histological analysis of the Wulong holotype and a Sinornithosaurus specimen revealed that they developed mature feather coverings associated with adult animals after their first year, but before they had become fully grown.  This has implications for Paraves research as assumptions made about the adult age of a fossil specimen may not be accurate in the absence of histological analysis.

The scientific paper: “A new microraptorine theropod from the Jehol Biota and growth in early dromaeosaurids” by Ashley W. Poust, Chunling Gao, David J. Varricchio, Jianlin Wu, and Fengjiao Zhang published in The Anatomical Record.

18 01, 2020

Diplodocus Features on a Thank You Note

By | January 18th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Diplodocus Says Thank You

Our thanks to dinosaur and fossil fan Caroline who on receipt of her delivery from Everything Dinosaur was inspired to send us a little thank you card illustrated with a sauropod sketch.  What a beautiful illustration of a dinosaur!  The drawing is entitled “Young Diplodocus Going for a Dip”.

A “Young Diplodocus Going for a Dip”

Young Diplodocus going for a dip.

A young Diplodocus going for a dip.

Picture Credit: Caroline Smalley.

Inside the card, Caroline had written:

“Thank you for your kindness, fantastic customer service and speedy delivery.”

You are most welcome, happy to help out where we can and thank you again for your card with the wonderful dinosaur illustration.

17 01, 2020

Extra-terrestrial Impact Wiped Out the Dinosaurs

By | January 17th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|2 Comments

Mass Extinction Event Caused by Impact Event

One of the greatest controversies surrounding the Dinosauria is what actually caused the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs?  Around the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event, there was an enormous extra-terrestrial impact in the Gulf of Mexico.  A worldwide layer of clay, saturated in the rare Earth element iridium, marking the K-Pg geological boundary was first publicised by American father and son Luis and Walter Alvarez.  They postulated that an Earth impact event had resulted in this deposition and it was speculated that such a catastrophic event might have been responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

New Study Suggests Dinosaur Extinction Due to the Extra-terrestrial Impact Event

Chicxulub impact event.

A reconstruction of the Chicxulub impact which marked the extinction of many terrestrial and marine forms of life, including the non-avian dinosaurs.

The “Smoking Gun” Evidence

Such an impact would have left an enormous crater, the search was on to find the “smoking gun” to support the theory regarding a meteorite, asteroid or perhaps a comet hitting the Earth.  Most researchers now agree, that the Yucatan peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico was ground zero.  However, there is a problem, as scientists are aware of a number of other potential candidates responsible for the extinction of a large amount of the planet’s biota some sixty-six million years ago.  For example, the Late Cretaceous was characterised by extensive volcanism.  Huge amounts of lava from the Deccan traps led to the formation of thousands of miles of  flood basalt.  The out-pouring of noxious gases as a result of this extensive volcanism could well have played a significant role in the extinction of many different kinds of organisms too.

Asteroid impact theory challenged: Blame the Deccan Traps.

In a new paper, a team of international researchers led by Dr Celli Hull from Yale University, conclude that the volcanism did not play a huge role in the extinction, but it may have played a significant role in shaping the rise of different species after the extinction event had occurred.

Impact Event the Most Likely Cause of End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction

The extinction of the dinosaurs.

An international team of scientists conclude that it was the extra-terrestrial bolide impact that caused the mass-extinction event.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Analysis of Ancient Ocean Sediments

In order to disentangle the relative effects of the volcanism and the impact event, the scientists analysed deep sea sediment sections drilled from the North Atlantic, Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans.  They found that volcanic activity in the Late Cretaceous period caused only a gradual global warming of about two degrees Celsius, but this had no significant effect on marine ecosystems, and cooler conditions had returned prior to the extinction.

Hull et al investigated the timing of the Deccan outgassing by modelling in several scenarios, the effects of the gases ejected by volcanoes (sulphur and carbon dioxide).  Their results suggest that more than half of the total Deccan outgassing occurred well before the impact event, not just before it.  The scientists concluded that the timing of most of the atmospheric pollution from the extensive volcanism, just did not fit the extinction event.  The major volcanism is likely to have occurred at least 200,000 years before the extinction event.

One of the co-authors of the study, Professor Paul Bown (University College London), explained.

“Most scientists acknowledge that the last, and best-known, mass extinction event occurred after a large asteroid slammed into Earth 66 million years ago, but some researchers suggested volcanic activity might have played a big role too and we’ve shown that is not the case.”

The team’s models showed that the changes in the carbon cycle that resulted from the volcanism was mitigated by the oceans absorbing vast quantities of CO2.  This would have limited any global warming.

Fellow co-author Professor Paul Wilson (Southampton University), added:

“There’s been a big row about the cause of the mass extinction for decades.  The demise of the dinosaurs was the iconic event but they were large animals and there weren’t really that many of them so it’s tough to use them to figure out the cause.  We studied microscopic marine organisms called foraminifera and there are thousands of them in a teaspoon-full of ocean sediment.  To get them we drilled into the sea bed in waters nearly 5 kilometres deep not far from the watery grave of RMS Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland using a sort of geology time machine – a drill ship called the JOIDES Resolution run by one the world’s most successful international scientific collaborations, the International Ocean Discovery Program.”

The authors postulate that the volcanism may have played a role in shaping the evolution of Palaeogene species in the aftermath of the end-Cretaceous extinction event.

What About Hell Creek – Were Dinosaurs Already in Decline?

From a scientific perspective, it makes much more sense to examine the fossil record of planktonic foraminifera.  Relying on the non-avian dinosaurs as an indicator of palaeo-climate change some sixty-six million years ago is fraught with difficulties.  For instance, although many different types of life were affected by the end-Cretaceous extinction event, it is often only the dinosaurs that are mentioned by the media.  It is worth remembering that many other lifeforms died out.  There are not that many windows into the end of the Maastrichtian and the earliest part of the Palaeocene (Danian faunal stage).  One such example is the Hell Creek Formation, which provides a record of the last few million years of the Mesozoic.

Hell Creek – Prospecting for Fossils in the Upper Cretaceous Sediments

Looking for fossils - Hell Creek Formation.

Prospecting for fossils – Hell Creek Formation (Montana).

Picture Credit: University of California Museum of Palaeontology

Studies of the number and variety of dinosaur fossils excavated from the Hell Creek Formation and other slightly older geological formations, suggest that in the last ten million years of the Cretaceous, the number of dinosaur species fell by more than fifty percent.

An analysis of the youngest fifteen metres of sediments from the Hell Creek Formation, revealed just eleven different types of dinosaur.  In the uppermost strata, the last three metres of the Hell Creek Formation representing the end of the Cretaceous, only three types of dinosaur were recorded.  Whilst it can be difficult to accurately date and assess the chronology of strata, the study of dinosaur fossils from Hell Creek suggests that the Dinosauria may have been in decline (at least in this part of Laramida), prior to the impact event.  This decline, if it was a decline, could have been caused by the environmental effects of the extensive volcanism, or other factors for that matter.

We suspect that just like the Deccan Traps, this debate is going to rumble on for a considerable period of time.

16 01, 2020

A Tale of Tail – Tail Insertion (Rebor Stegosaurus armatus)

By | January 16th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

How to Insert the Tail – Rebor Stegosaurus armatus 1:35 Scale Figure

Just before Christmas, Everything Dinosaur received stocks of the 1:35 scale Rebor replica Stegosaurus armatus.  Dinosaur fans and model collectors will probably know that this figure is available in three colour schemes – “mountain”, “plain” and “woodland”.  Since these exciting figures came into stock, Everything Dinosaur team members have posted up several pictures of these dinosaurs.  Today, following a request from a Rebor collector, we have produced a short video which shows how to connect the tail to the model.

A Tale of a Tail – How to Insert the Tailpiece into the Rebor Stegosaurus armatus 1:35 Scale Replica

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Sixty Seconds – Dinosaur Model Update

The video lasts approximately sixty seconds.  The model is shown and the narrator explains how the figure is supplied (the tail piece can be found in the box, adjacent to the rest of the figure), then how the tail slots into the model is demonstrated.  One firm push should do the trick, the tail fitting snuggly into the aperture.  In the video, the flexibility of the tail is illustrated and compared to the neck which is also flexible.

The Tail Insertion Video Features the Rebor Stegosaurus armatus in the “Mountain” Colour Scheme

Rebor Stegosaurus 1:35 scale dinosaur model "mountain".

The Rebor Stegosaurus armatus “mountain” colour scheme.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Rebor Stegosaurus armatus figure and to view the rest of the Rebor range: Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models.

The Rebor Stegosaurus Figure – All Three Colour Schemes

Rebor Stegosaurus armatus "Garden" colour variants.

The three new for 2019 Rebor Stegosaurus dinosaur models – left to right “plain”, “mountain” and “woodland”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We intend to post up more videos including reviews of actual models in the future.  Everything Dinosaur has had a YouTube channel for many years now, over that time we have posted nearly 150 videos, but we intend to increase our output and do more using various media including Instagram and YouTube.  Our aim is to put up new content on the company’s YouTube channel once a week or so.”

Everything Dinosaur on YouTube

The Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel features information about new model releases, tips on working with figures, display suggestions and of course, lots of prehistoric animal facts and information.  Everything Dinosaur, in response to requests from collectors intends to increase the number of videos that are put up on this platform.  Blog articles will continue and where possible, more videos will be used in conjunction with blog articles and other social media posts.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

Look out for more YouTube content being posted from Everything Dinosaur very soon…

15 01, 2020

Ediacaran Fossil Site Gains Protection

By | January 15th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

South Australian Fossil Site Purchase Supported by Billionaire

With so much bad news about the environment coming out of Australia due to the devastating bush fires, it is pleasing to report on a conservation success story.   A $1 billion (USD), nature fund has been used to buy a vast tract of outback South Australia containing some of the oldest animal fossils on Earth.  The acquisition safeguards an extremely important fossil site and helps support the Australian Government’s plans to gain World Heritage Site status for the area.

The Nilpena Fossil Fields (South Australia)

The Nilpena fossil fields (South Australia).

The Nilpena fossil fields preserve examples of Precambrian biota.

Picture Credit: Jason Irving

The 60,000-hectare (150,000 acre) Nilpena West property is 370 miles (600 kilometres), north of the South Australian capital Adelaide and was previously part of Nilpena Pastoral Station.  The property includes the Ediacara Fossil Site (Nilpena), which is listed on Australia’s National Heritage List and records a remarkable marine biota, documenting some of the earliest, large, multicellular creatures to have evolved on Earth.

Global not-for-profit organisation The Nature Conservancy, sourced funding from an anonymous donor in October 2019 to allow the purchase and protection to go ahead after the South Australian Government announced in March that it had reached an agreement with the land’s owners to purchase the site.  The purchased land is adjacent to the Ediacara Conservation Park and increases the size of the protected area ten-fold.

The Importance of the Flinders Range

Strange fossils, preserved in the sandstone of the Ediacaran hills of South Australia provided the first substantial evidence for the existence of complex life in the late Precambrian.  In 1946, Australian geologist Reginald Spriggs discovered fossilised impressions in this part of the Flinders Range, his unexpected discovery failed to enthuse the scientific community at first, his paper outlining the discovery was rejected by the academic journal “Nature”.  However, the significance of these exquisitely preserved fossils and what they represented – organisms associated with an ancient marine community, was soon realised.

An Example of Dickinsonia – One of the Fossilised Ediacaran Organisms Associated with the Nilpena Fossil Fields

Dickinsonia costata fossil.

The Ediacaran fossil Dickinsonia costata, specimen P40135 from the collections of the South Australia Museum.  The disc-like Dickinsonia is one of the creatures preserved at the Nilpena fossil site.

Picture Credit: Dr Alex Liu (Cambridge University)

To read an article about the bizarre Dickinsonia: Dickinsonia Definitely an Animal.

The sale has now been finalised with The Nature Conservancy announcing this week that funding from the Wyss Campaign for Nature, the once anonymous donor, had helped secure the acquisition.  The Wyss Campaign for Nature was founded two years ago, by the wealthy, Swiss-born philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss.  The purchased land will be permanently protected and managed by the South Australian Government.  It will be formally allocated to the Ediacara Conservation Park later this year.

A Map Showing the Location of the Nilpena Fossil Fields Relative to the Ediacara Conservation Park

A map of the Nilpena fossil fields site.

Nilpena fossil fields site.  The Nilpena Station purchase will greatly increase the protected area for the fossils.

Picture Credit: The Government of South Australia

The South Australian property is now permanently protected and managed for conservation by the South Australian Government. It will be added to the Ediacara Conservation Park later this year.

Scores of Species

Palaeontologists have excavated many hundreds of specimens representing three dozen different species, most of which are more than 550 million years old.  The fossils provide the first evidence of locomotion and sexual reproduction.  The space agency NASA, has examined the Ediacaran biota in a project to assess how life could evolve on other worlds.

The Nature Conservancy’s Australian Director of Conservation Dr James Fitzsimons explained that this purchase which would permit the formal protection of the 60,000 hectare property was a big win for conservation in South Australia.

He commented:

“The property contains significant biodiversity values including two threatened ecological communities and a number of threatened species.  Most critically, the property also covers extremely important sites that contain the oldest fossilised animals on Earth.”

South Australian Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said Nilpena West would soon be added to the South Australian public protected area estate and managed by the Department for Environment and Water.

The minister added:

“Its inclusion in the conservation estate will link the Ediacara Conservation Park to the Lake Torrens National Park and will support our nomination for the listing of areas of the Flinders Ranges as a World Heritage Site.”

When did life on land evolve?  An Ediacaran related article: When Did Life on Land First Evolve – Does the Ediacaran Biota Provide the Answer?

A recent article about how computerised tomography and other sophisticated research techniques are providing new insights into how the first animals evolved: Chinese Fossils Suggest Animal-like-embryos Evolved Before Animals.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from The Lead South Australia in the compilation of this article.

14 01, 2020

Ysgol Maes Owen – Deinosoriaid

By | January 14th, 2020|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Ysgol Maes Owen – Deinosoriaid

Ysgol Maes Owen – Deinosoriaid

The children in Year 3 and Year 4 at Ysgol Maes Owen in North Wales have been studying dinosaurs and fossils this spring term.  The eager young palaeontologists constructed a “dinosaur island” and are researching prehistoric animals so that they can populate their own “Jurassic World”.  As part of  the term topic, the enthusiastic teaching team have challenged the children to learn lots of dinosaur facts and to build a set of dinosaur “Top Trumps”.  We hope our advice about which was the cleverest dinosaur helped.

With four workshops to squeeze into the day, a classroom had to be allocated for the visitor from Everything Dinosaur.  Not to worry, there was plenty of space in the classroom to put all the resources our dinosaur expert had brought and there was still room to have a go at creeping through a forest like a giant, armoured dinosaur.

During wet play (thanks to storm Brendan), Lilly demonstrated her appreciation of dinosaurs (deinosoriaid), she certainly enjoys learning all about dinosaurs as her note (below) shows.

Lilly Shows Her Appreciation for Dinosaurs

Lilly showing her appreciation of dinosaurs.

Lilly loves dinosaurs.

Picture Credit: Ysgol Maes Owen/Everything Dinosaur

We are sure the footprint measuring resources along with the dinosaur timeline lesson plan we provided will help the teaching team with this exciting topic.

14 01, 2020

The First Stegosaur Dacentrurus armatus

By | January 14th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The First Stegosaur Dacentrurus armatus

Situated amongst specimens of marine reptiles in the Mary Anning gallery at the London Natural History Museum is a remarkable fossil specimen.  Behind its glass case the viewer can make out a block of bones containing various vertebrae, a massive right femur (thigh bone), ribs and a near complete pelvis.  At approximately two metres across this is an impressive fossil specimen.  It is the holotype material for Dacentrurus armatus (NHMUK OR46013), the first large collection of dinosaur bones associated with a member of the Stegosauridae to be scientifically described and studied.

The Main Bone Block (D. armatus) at the Natural History Museum (London)

Dacentrurus armatus specimen on display at the Natural History Museum (London).

The Dacentrurus armatus specimen on display at the Natural History Museum (London).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The fossils come from a clay quarry close to the town of Swindon in the county of Wiltshire.  Richard Owen (later Sir Richard Owen), who was to play a pivotal role in the foundation of the institute that we now know as the London Natural History Museum, studied the fossils and erected the name Omosaurus armatus in 1875.  The genus name, Omosaurus had already been used to describe a North American phytosaur (O. perplexus) in 1856.  Therefore, the original genus name for this armoured dinosaur was invalidated.  In 1902 the eminent American zoologist, Frederick Augustus Lucas erected Dacentrurus.

With the recently published paper describing a new specimen of Miragaia longicollum, a “Rosetta Stone” moment in vertebrate palaeontology permitting scientists to better understand the Dacentrurinae subfamily of the Stegosauridae, it is fitting that whilst in London an Everything Dinosaur team member took the opportunity to take a photograph of the main Dacentrurus block.  The beautiful fossils are notoriously difficult to photograph, but still, they continue to play a role in helping to decipher Late Jurassic stegosaurs.

One mystery still remains, why is this important dinosaur fossil on display in the marine reptiles gallery?  Perhaps, one day, these hugely significant fossils we will placed in the dinosaur gallery, where visitors could be given the opportunity to learn more about the world’s first extensively studied armoured dinosaur specimen.

To read our recent article on the M. longicollum paper: Turning a Stegosaur Fossil into the Rosetta Stone.

Load More Posts