All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//August
11 08, 2020

The Butchers of Boxgrove

By | August 11th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

The Butchers of Boxgrove

Not far from the location of one of the greatest anthropological hoaxes of all time, the Piltdown Man, lies Boxgrove quarry.  This site in picturesque, rural West Sussex provides evidence of the earliest known residents of the United Kingdom, some of the very first Europeans.  The gravel quarry reveals a chalk cliff and a bedding plane that represents an ancient beach.  Around 500,000 years ago this location was the gathering place for a group of Homo heidelbergensis as they butchered and processed the big game that they had brought down after a successful hunt.

Boxgrove has been meticulously studied for over forty years with the University College London Institute of Archaeology taking a prominent role.  Their work is detailed in a new book about the discoveries entitled “The Horse Butchery Site”, published by University College London Archaeology South-East’s “Spoilheap Publications”.

At Boxgrove a Number of Large Animals were Butchered including Prehistoric Horses

Butchering the horse at Boxgrove.

An artist’s impression of the social event of butchering the horse.

Picture Credit: Lauren Gibson / University College London institute of Archaeology

The book documents the activities and movements of a group of early Britons (H. heidelbergensis) as they knapped flints to make stone tools, modified bones to make implements and butchered a horse around 480,000 years ago or thereabouts.

Leader of the project, Dr Matthew Pope (Institute of Archaeology), commented:

“This was an exceptionally rare opportunity to examine a site pretty much as it had been left behind by an extinct population, after they had gathered to totally process the carcass of a dead horse on the edge of a coastal marshland”

Investigating a Site where Flint Knapping Took Place

Flint knapping site being investigated (1989).

Knapping site under excavation (1989).

Picture Credit: University College London institute of Archaeology

For over a decade from the 1980s and into the 1990s, a dedicated team of volunteers and archaeologists led by Mark Roberts (Institute of Archaeology) uncovered a treasure trove of prehistoric remains, that permitted the researchers to document the activities of these ancient people.   More than 2,000 sharp flint fragments were recovered from eight separate areas, known as knapping scatters.  These are individual workstations where humans knelt to make tools and left behind a concentrations of flint fragments.  In some places the impression made by the worker’s knees as they knelt on the sand can still be seen.

Boxgrove Knapping Site with Preserved Knee Impression

Investigating a flint knapping site (Boxgrove).

Examining a flint knapping site, note the preserved knee imprint (bottom right).

Picture Credit: University College London institute of Archaeology

At one location, the “flint shadow” of a man has been preserved.  The outline of his legs, as he sat, perhaps all day making tools and relentlessly flaking away at the flint, so that a shower of tiny fragments fell on him and around him, leaving a stencil impression of his limbs on the ground.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

” The communal activity recorded at Boxgrove, where a number of large animals were skilfully cut up, their bones broken and the marrow removed suggests a very high degree of co-ordination and co-operation.  Everything in this behaviour indicates planning and a need to communicate, this suggests that Homo heidelbergensis was using a language to explain abstract concepts, organise work and to exchange ideas.”

To read an article about Homo heidelbergensis butchering a prehistoric elephant: Giant Prehistoric Elephant Butchered by H. heidelbergensis.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges a media release from the University College London in the compilation of this article.

10 08, 2020

Smallest Dinosaur Preserved in Amber a Bizarre Lizard

By | August 10th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Oculudentavis khaungraae Not a Stem Bird

The preliminary manuscript has been made available on-line.  It seems that the remarkable fossil skull found preserved in amber from northern Myanmar does not represent a stem bird but it is the remains of a bizarre lizard.  Everything Dinosaur team members were aware of something big brewing within the scientific community earlier this year and on March 11th (2020), we were able to post up an article on this amazing fossil discovery coinciding with the scientific paper being published in the journal “Nature”.

The Polished Amber Nodule Containing the Fossil Skull

Oculudentavis khaungraae skull in amber.

Tiny fossil skull preserved in amber (Oculudentavis khaungraae).  Once thought to be a tiny avian, scientists how think that the skull is from a bizarre lizard.

Picture Credit: Lida Xing et al (Nature)

Doubts Over the Scientific Paper

Almost immediately academics cast doubt over the conclusion that the specimen represented an archosaur, specifically a bird.  However, a media feeding frenzy followed with many outlets reporting that the smallest dinosaur known to science had been found.  In our first blog post we highlighted some of the inconsistencies that had been raised by other scientists and included a synopsis of some of the criticisms in a section entitled “Post Publication Doubts”.

Oculudentavis khaungraae Computer Generated Image of the Skull

Oculudentavis khaungraae computer generated image of the skull.

Oculudentavis khaungraae computer generated image of the skull (left lateral view).

Picture Credit: Xing et al (Nature)

Everything Dinosaur followed this up with a second article published on March 15th entitled “Casting Doubt over Oculudentavis”.  Late last month, in a highly unusual development, the scientific paper was retracted: Scientific Paper on Hummingbird-sized Dinosaur Retracted.  Academic papers are often amended and reprised as new evidence/research comes to light, it is very unusual to have a paper retracted, clearly something was amiss.

Rumours had been circulating that a second specimen would confirm that the holotype (HPG-15-3), currently stored in the Hupoge Amber Museum in China, did not represent a bird or a tiny dinosaur.  Scientists from the University of Calgary (Canada), Sam Houston State University, Florida Museum of Natural History, Villanova University, (USA), Bristol University, University College London, Fundación Miguel Lillo, CONICET (Argentina) and Institut Català de Paleontologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), have used an analysis of the second specimen to propose that Oculudentavis is actually a bizarre lizard of uncertain taxonomic position.

The narrow rostrum, the huge orbits and the shape of the braincase led to erection of “eye tooth bird”, as the smallest member of the Dinosauria known from the Mesozoic.  However, Oculudentavis showed several traits that were inconsistent with the original assessment.  This amazing specimen might look like a bird, but it the new interpretation and phylogenetic placement highlights a rare case of convergent evolution rarely seen among the Reptilia. This new manuscript does reinforce the view that amber from Myanmar is affording science an unprecedented insight into the biota that existed in a coastal forest Cretaceous environment, but it also indicates that Oculudentavis khaungraae is a member of the Squamata and not the Archosauria.

9 08, 2020

Preparing for Edmontosaurus

By | August 9th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Preparing for Edmontosaurus

As Everything Dinosaur team members prepare to put together a video on their YouTube channel all about the dinosaur taxon Edmontosaurus, we have been busy exploring our archive and database and reviewing the original paper on this famous North American duck-billed dinosaur written by Lawrence Lambe.

The Title Page for the Scientific Paper on Edmontosaurus (Lambe 1917)

Edmontosaurus is announced to the world.

The title page from the original 1917 Edmontosaurus paper written by the eminent Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe.  The paper is entitled: “A new genus and species of crested hadrosaur from the Edmonton Formation of Alberta.”

Picture Credit: Archive of the “Ottawa Naturalist”

The First Two Fossil Specimens Attributed to Edmontosaurus were found by Brothers

The genus Edmontosaurus was first erected by the Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe back in 1917, in an article published in the “Ottawa Naturalist”.  He described two specimens found in the Red Deer River area of Alberta, Canada, from a formation known at the time as the Edmonton Formation, but now referred to as the Horseshoe Canyon Formation.  The first specimen, the type specimen for this genus, consisting of a disarticulated skull plus extensive post cranial material was collected in 1912 by Levi Sternberg.  The second fossil specimen which Lambe also described in his 1917 paper, was collected by George Sternberg, Levi’s older brother, during fieldwork in 1916.

Lambe named this new “crestless hadrosaur” in recognition of the geological formation from whence these fossils came and not in honour of Edmonton, the capital city of the Province of Alberta. He did note the resemblance of the Edmontosaurus material to other duck-billed dinosaur fossils associated with the geologically younger Lance Formation of Dakota, these fossils once described as Diclonius mirabilis, were also referred to as Trachodon mirabilis and form part of an extensive fossil collection from the northern United States that went through a number of taxonomic revisions, leading eventually to the establishment of the species Edmontosaurus annectens.

The Illustration of the Skull of Edmontosaurus (1917)

A line drawing of the skull of Edmontosaurus.

The illustration of the type skull from the 1917 Edmontosaurus paper.  Illustration by Arthur Miles.  The paper described this lateral view of the skull as being in approximate 1:7 scale when it was reproduced in the Ottawa Naturalist.

Picture Credit: Archive of the “Ottawa Naturalist” skull diagram attributed to Arthur Miles

The Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel contains over 170 dinosaur and prehistoric animal-themed videos.  The Edmontosaurus video will be posted up shortly and team members encourage blog readers to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

A Life Reconstruction of the Hadrosaurid Edmontosaurus

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Emontosaurus model.

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

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model (pictured above), is the new for 2020 Edmontosaurus dinosaur model.  To view this figure and the rest of the models in the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Figures.

For dinosaur and prehistoric animal related videos and reviews, visit Everything Dinosaur on YouTube: Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

8 08, 2020

Little Euparkeria into the Spotlight

By | August 8th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A Fresh Look at Euparkeria

The fossilised remains of a little, lithe reptile that wandered South Africa during the Middle Triassic have come into the spotlight more than a hundred years after they were first scientifically described.  The fossils represent the taxon Euparkeria (pronounced Yoo-park-air-ree-ah) and they are regarded as highly significant in terms of plotting the evolution of tetrapods.  Formally named and described in 1913 (Robert Broom), Euparkeria is phylogenetically regarded as a basal member of the Archosauria.  As such, by studying the fossil remains of this animal, palaeontologists can gain a better understanding of the evolution of the archosaurs – a diverse group of tetrapods that includes the crocodilians, birds and of course, the dinosaurs.

A Life Reconstruction of Euparkeria (Euparkeria capensis)

Euparkeria life reconstruction

A life reconstruction of the basal archosauriform Euparkeria.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Represented By More Than Ten Fossil Specimens

The fossils all come from a single locality, Aliwal North on the Eastern Cape and Free State Province boundary in South Africa.  The fossilised bones having been collected from a solitary stone quarry, adjacent to a small stream.  Measuring around sixty centimetres in length (the tail made up more than half the body length), Euparkeria is known from at least ten specimens.  This material was extensively reviewed in 1965, but over the last six decades or so, there have been huge advances in fossil bone imaging techniques and the researchers led by Roland B. Sookias (Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin), subjected Euparkeria material to CT scanning at the Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

The Research Has Enabled Detailed Diagrams of the Skull of Euparkeria to be Compiled

Euparkeria capensis drawings of the skull.

Reconstruction of the skull and mandible of Euparkeria capensis.  Cranium (a) and right mandible (b) in right lateral view; (c) left mandible in medial view; and cranium in (d) dorsal, (e) ventral and (f) posterior view.

Picture Credit: Sookias et al (Royal Society Open Science)

Examining the Skull of Euparkeria

The CT scans enabled the scientists to describe the skull and jaw of Euparkeria in much greater detail than ever before.  Anatomical features previously unclear, are fully described for the first time.  The researchers were able to examine the palate, determine the number of teeth in the premaxilla (4 teeth in each premaxilla) and reconstruct the braincase.  The modular composition of the skull would have ensured that the cranium was quite flexible, adapted to coping with the stress of prey struggling in the jaws.

The study, published by the Royal Society Open Science, confirms Euparkeria as a major advance in tetrapod evolution and helps to place the crown Archosauria in greater context informing palaeontologists about the early stages of archosaur evolution.  Euparkeria most probably spent most of its time on all fours, a comparison of forelimb versus hindlimb length suggests that it was a facultative biped (usually walking on all fours but capable of walking as a biped when it needed to).  It was one of the first reptiles capable of running on just its hind legs.

Skull of Euparkeria capensis Specimen (SAM-PK-6047A) with Line Drawings

Fossil skull of Euparkeria with accompanying line drawings.

Skull of Euparkeria with accompanying line drawings.

Picture Credit: Sookias et al (Royal Society Open Science)

Euparkeria, which lived approximately 245 million years ago, shows a number of anatomical advances including an increase in brain size with improved senses, upright locomotion and a likely rapid metabolism placing this taxon in a pivotal position between ancestral diapsids the very first members of the Archosauria.

The scientific paper: “The craniomandibular anatomy of the early archosauriform Euparkeria capensis and the dawn of the archosaur skull” by Roland B. Sookias, David Dilkes, Gabriela Sobral, Roger M. H. Smith, Frederik P. Wolvaardt, Andrea B. Arcucci, Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar and Ingmar Werneburg published by the Royal Society Open Science.

7 08, 2020

When Tanystropheus Becomes Two

By | August 7th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New Study Solves Mystery of Tanystropheus

A newly published scientific paper demonstrates that small specimens of Tanystropheus from the Middle Triassic Lagerstätte of Monte San Giorgio (Italy/Switzerland border), represent a separate species (Tanystropheus longobardicus) and that they co-existed with much larger examples of this genus (Tanystropheus hydroides).  Writing in the academic journal “Current Biology”, the researchers which include Olivier Rieppel (Field Museum in Chicago), postulate that the larger species was an aquatic ambush predator, whilst the smaller species fed on other types of prey.

Sophisticated Computer Models Developed from High Resolution CT Scans Identified the Two Species

New scientific paper identifies new species of Tanystropheus.

Computer model of CT scan showing a reconstructed skull of T. hydroides, line drawing and fossil material.  Skeletal size comparison and line drawing with close-up of bone growth rings associated with T. longobardicus.

Picture Credit: Spiekman et al (Current Biology)

Tanystropheus longobardicus Remains but Referencing Smaller Species

Tanystropheus represents one of the most bizarre of all the vertebrates known from the Mesozoic.  It is characterised by an extremely long and inflexible neck that is almost three times the length of its torso.  The palaeobiology of this reptile has remained contentious with a fully aquatic, semi-aquatic and entirely terrestrial lifestyle having been proposed since it was formally described back in 1852 (Hermann von Meyer).

An Illustration of the Bizarre Triassic Archosauromorph Tanystropheus

A drawing of Tanystropheus.

A drawing of the bizarre Triassic reptile Tanystropheus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The research team used high-resolution CT scans to construct three-dimensional computer generated models of fossil specimens that had been crushed and flattened.  The skulls that were constructed revealed that the larger specimens were anatomically very different from the skulls of the smaller specimens.  The smaller morphotype was known for having different shaped teeth when compared to the teeth of larger specimens from the same strata.  Historically, this had been interpreted as evidence for juveniles of T. longobardicus feeding on different types of prey compared to fully-grown adults.

Lead author of the paper, Stephan Spiekman (University of Zurich), explained:

“The power of CT scanning allows us to see details that are otherwise impossible to observe in fossils.  From a strongly crushed skull we have been able to reconstruct an almost complete 3-D skull, revealing crucial morphological details.”

The computer generated models permitted the team to conclude that two species of Tanystropheus co-existed in the Middle Triassic coastal ecosystem.   The larger species, which grew up to six metres long, has been named Tanystropheus hydroides, whilst the smaller species is retained as T. longobardicus.

A Crushed Skull and Examples of a Three-Dimensional Skull Map

Computer generated model of the holotype skull T. hydroides.

The skull of Tanystropheus hydroides (holotype material).  The different coloured portions represent different bones.

Picture Credit: Spiekman et al (Current Biology)

A Marine Predator

The study also revealed strong evidence that Tanystropheus hydroides was a marine predator.  The scans of the skull revealed that the nostrils were on top of the snout, rather like a crocodile’s.   The long, pointed teeth in the anterior portion of the jaw enabled it to grab and hold onto slippery prey, the teeth being described by the scientists as a “fish-trap type dentition”.   Both species were probably confined to coastal environments, the larger of the two species ambushing small fish whilst Tanystropheus longobardicus may have fed on shrimps and other  types of crustacean.  Although adapted to a marine habitat, both species probably had to return to land in order to lay eggs.

The co-occurrence of these two species of very different sizes and tooth morphology provides strong evidence for niche partitioning, highlighting the surprising versatility of the Tanystropheus bauplan and the complexity of Middle Triassic nearshore ecosystems.

Line Drawings Comparing the Skull and Bauplan of the Two Tanystropheus Species

Two different species of Tanystropheus identified.

Tanystropheus hydroides compared with Tanystropheus longobardicus  Skull illustrations (lateral, dorsal and ventral views), with a scale drawing (G).  T. longobardicus is represented by D-F, whilst T. hydroides is represented by A-C.

Picture Credit: Spiekman et al (Current Biology)

The scientific paper: “Aquatic Habits and Niche Partitioning in the Extraordinarily Long-Necked Triassic Reptile Tanystropheus” by Stephan N.F. Spiekman, James M. Neenan, Nicholas C. Fraser, Vincent Fernandez, Olivier Rieppel, Stefania Nosotti and Torsten M. Scheyer published in Current Biology.

6 08, 2020

Scale Drawings of Invertebrates

By | August 6th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Scale Drawings of Iconic Invertebrates

Prehistoric animal model collectors will probably already know that CollectA is about to introduce a range of models of iconic invertebrates, animals such as a straight-shelled nautiloid, an ammonite, trilobite and an extant nautilus (Nautilus pompilius).  These figures are due to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur very soon.  As part of our preparations for the arrival of these replicas, our team members have been busy compiling fact sheets and data files on these key taxa.

A Scale Drawing of the Nautilus

Nautilus scale drawing.

A scale drawing of an extant nautilus (Nautilus pompilius).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We have compiled hundreds of fact sheets over the years.  They are supplied to our customers, being sent out with model purchases.  For example, purchasers of the CollectA nautilus model from Everything Dinosaur will also be sent a free fact sheet about this amazing cephalopod.  We have also prepared fact sheets on the straight-shelled nautiloid and the horseshoe crab.”

The New for 2020 CollectA Nautilus Model (N. pompilius)

CollectA Nautilus pompilius model.

CollectA Nautilus pompilius sometimes referred to as the “Emperor nautilus” because of its large size.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Horseshoe Crab Scale Drawing

Horseshoe Crab scale drawing.

A scale drawing of an extant horseshoe crab.  The silhouette of the hand helps to provide a scale for the illustration.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

These invertebrate figures are due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse shortly.  However, due to issues arising from the COVID-19 global pandemic affecting global logistics, we are unable to provide an exact date as to when these models will arrive.  Followers of Everything Dinosaur on social media such as our Facebook page and newsletter subscribers will be alerted very quickly when these figures are in stock and available to purchase.

To view the range of CollectA Prehistoric Life models available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models and Figures.

To view the range of CollectA Deluxe and scale replicas of prehistoric animals: CollectA Deluxe, Supreme and Scale Models.

5 08, 2020

Lifelike Replica of “Sue” T. rex Goes on Display

By | August 5th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

Lifelike Replica of “Sue” T. rex Goes on Display

One of the most famous museum exhibits in the world, “Sue” the enormous T. rex mount located at the Field Museum in Chicago has something new to keep her company.  A life-size replica of the skeleton has been installed and museum visitors can get to see “Sue” in the flesh.  The 13 metre-long life-size model was created by the amazing talented people at Blue Rhino Studio (based in Minnesota).

Staff at Blue Rhino Studio Pose Next to the Completed Tyrannosaurus rex Replica

Lifesize model of "Sue".

Staff at Blue Rhino Studio photographed next to their life-size replica of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Picture Credit: Blue Rhino Studio

Say Hello to “Fleshy”

The beautifully crafted replica is currently on display at the Field Museum, but is due to go shortly on a nationwide tour.  The huge theropod figure is based on the skeleton of “Sue”, it shows some of the pathology associated with the fossil specimen.  For example, there is a substantial scar just above the left ankle.  This was the site of a bone infection, probably resulting from an injury that “Sue” had sometime during her long life.  This amazing replica has been named “Fleshy”.

Blue Rhino Studio Staff Working on the Huge T. rex Replica

Working on the enormous T. rex model.

Blue Rhino staff working on the huge model.

Picture Credit: Blue Rhino Studio

A Close-up View of the Area Above the Left Ankle Showing the Scar

The T. rex replica even has its own scars.

A close-up view of the area above the left ankle showing the scar.   The red arrow points to the patholoy on the replica.

Picture Credit: Blue Rhino Studio with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Sharing her Home with a Titanosaur

The fossilised remains of perhaps the most famous dinosaur in North America were moved in the winter of 2018 to a new location at the museum.  “Sue” can now be found within the museum’s Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, alongside a skeleton of a titanosaur (nicknamed Máximo).  The replica stands nearly 4.5 metres tall and it has a juvenile Edmontosaurus in its mouth.  It is likely that E. annectens was on the menu for this Late Cretaceous apex predator.

The Life-size “Sue” T. rex Replica has a Baby Edmontosaurus in its Mouth

"Sue" the T. rex has captured a young Edmontosaurus.

Team members working on the giant T. rex figure – complete with juvenile Edmontosaurus.

Picture Credit: Blue Rhino Studio

The figure took two whole days to set up in the Field Museum, the staff responsible for the set build and dismantling of “Sue” hope to reduce this to just a day when the figure is on tour.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This is an amazing piece of work!  Yes, you can debate the lack of feathers, but this wonderful exhibit will really help visitors to appreciate just how large Tyrannosaurus rex actually was.”

4 08, 2020

Rare Malignant Cancer Diagnosed in Centrosaurus Bone

By | August 4th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma) Identified in Dinosaur Fibula

Scientists have identified a rare malignant cancer in the fossilised bone of a horned dinosaur.  Writing in “The Lancet Oncology”, the researchers report on the discovery and diagnosis of an osteosarcoma in the lower leg bone (fibula), of a Centrosaurus (Centrosaurus apertus).  This is the first time that an osteosarcoma has been found in the fossilised bones of a dinosaur.

An Osteosarcoma Identified in the Leg Bone of a Dinosaur (Centrosaurus apertus)

Malignant cancer identified in Centrosaurus fossil bone.

Malignant cancer identified in horned dinosaur leg bone.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum

What is an Osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is a cancer that produces immature bone.  There are an estimated 3.4 million cases reported in the human population each year.  It mostly occurs in young people, under the age of 25 and there is some evidence to suggest that it is more prevalent in males.  In our species, osteosarcoma is associated with periods of rapid bone growth, to date the cause, genetic alterations, oncogenic events and evolutionary history of osteosarcoma are poorly understood.

The research team included scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum, McMaster University (Ontario) and the Okayama University of Science (Japan), along with numerous other specialists in pathology, molecular medicine, image resonance and oncology.  They subjected the leg bone to high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scans.  Thin sections were than prepared and examined under a microscope to assess the specimen at the bone-cellular level.  The investigators were able to reach a diagnosis of osteosarcoma, the first time such a diagnosis has been identified in a member of the Dinosauria.

Centrosaurus Life Reconstruction

An illustration of Centrosaurus.

Centrosaurus life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Michael W. Skrepnick

Originally Believed to be a Healing Fracture

The Centrosaurus bone was found in 1989 in the Dinosaur Provincial Park (Alberta).  The badly malformed bone was thought to represent a healing fracture but it was decided to investigate its unusual morphology in order to better understand the pathology.

A Cast of the Deformed Bone (Fibula) of Centrosaurus

The malformed Centrosaurus dinosaur bone.

Evidence of a malignant tumour in a dinosaur bone.  A cast of the dinosaur bone showing the deformity

Picture Credit: Danielle Dufault (Royal Ontario Museum)

One of the co-authors of the paper, Rhianne Crowther (Trent University, Ontario), commented:

“Diagnosis of aggressive cancer like this in dinosaurs has been elusive and requires medical expertise and multiple levels of analysis to properly identify.  Here, we show the unmistakable signature of advanced bone cancer in 76-million-year-old horned dinosaur — the first of its kind.  It’s very exciting.”

Confirming the Diagnosis, Human Compared to a Dinosaur

To confirm the diagnosis of osteosarcoma, the bone was compared to a normal fibula from a Centrosaurus.  It was then compared to a human fibula with a confirmed case of osteosarcoma.  The Centrosaurus was an adult dinosaur and the cancer was at an advanced stage, suggesting that it probably invaded other organs and parts of its body.  The bone comes from an extensive monodominant Centrosaurus bonebed, so this dinosaur probably died with a large number of other animals in its herd during a catastrophic flood.

David Evans, a palaeontologist at the Royal Ontario Museum added:

“The shin bone shows aggressive cancer at an advanced stage.  The cancer would have had crippling effects on the individual and made it very vulnerable to the formidable tyrannosaur predators of the time.  The fact that this plant-eating dinosaur lived in a large, protective herd may have allowed it to survive longer than it normally would have with such a devastating disease.”

Seper Ekhtiari, an Orthopaedic Surgery Resident at McMaster University, who had also been involved in this study, stated:

“It is both fascinating and inspiring to see a similar multidisciplinary effort that we use in diagnosing and treating osteosarcoma in our patients leading to the first diagnosis of osteosarcoma in a dinosaur.  This discovery reminds us of the common biological links throughout the animal kingdom and reinforces the theory that osteosarcoma tends to affect bones when and where they are growing most rapidly.”

It is hoped that this research will establish a new standard for the diagnosis of unclear pathology in vertebrate fossils.  Forging links between pathology preserved in fossilised bones and human medicine will help scientists to gain a better understanding of the evolution and genetics of various diseases.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the Royal Ontario Museum in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “First case of osteosarcoma in a dinosaur: a multimodal diagnosis” by Seper Ekhtiari, Kentaro Chiba, Snezana Popovic, Rhianne Crowther, Gregory Wohl, Andy Kin On Wong, Darren H Tanke, Danielle M Dufault, Olivia D Geen, Naveen Parasu, Mark A Crowther and David C Evans published in The Lancet Oncology.

3 08, 2020

Scotland’s Own “Jurassic Park”

By | August 3rd, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Jurassic Fossils from the Isle of Skye Globally Significant

The filming might have resumed for the next instalment in the “Jurassic Park/World” franchise last week, but in the scientific community there has been an important development in the study and protection of Scotland’s very own “Jurassic Park”.

Scientists from the University of Oxford, University College London, Birmingham University the University of Edinburgh and the National Museum of Scotland have published a new scientific paper that emphasises the importance of vertebrate fossils from the Isle of Skye.

The Isle of Skye is Heralded as One of the Most Important Places in the World for Middle Jurassic Vertebrate Fossils

Isle of Skye Sauropods.

The Isle of Skye (Bathonian faunal stage).  A newly published scientific paper heralds the vertebrate fossils from the Kilmaluag Formation on the Isle of Skye as “globally significant”.

Picture Credit: Jon Hoad

The Kilmaluag Formation

Outcrops of the Bathonian-aged Kilmaluag Formation on the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye hold vital information on how vertebrate life was evolving and changing around 167 million years ago.  The strata contain both body and trace fossils of numerous tetrapods including dinosaurs.  Since there are not that many highly fossiliferous sites around the world providing evidence of terrestrial ecosystems and biota from back in the Middle Jurassic, the Isle of Skye has long been recognised as a hugely significant.

The area was given greater legal protection last year, when the Scottish Government signed a Nature Conservation Order (NCO), to assist in the protection of the rare vertebrate fossils found in the area and to deter irresponsible fossil collecting on the island.

To read about the provision of the Nature Conservation Order: Legal Protection for Isle of Skye Fossil Sites.

In this new study, the researchers which include Scottish palaeontologist Elsa Panciroli, a research assistant in the department of Evolution and Palaeobiology at the University of Oxford, conclude that unlike other contemporaneous fossil localities from England, the strata of the Kilmaluag Formation provides partial skeletons, providing unprecedented insights and new data.  The research team state that this location has yielded predominantly small-bodied tetrapods including amphibians, many types of reptiles (including pterosaurs and dinosaurs) and non-mammalian cynodonts as well as early mammals.  An abundant fossil fish and invertebrate assemblage is also reported.

A Sauropod Track from the Isle of Skye

Sauropod track on the foreshore (Isle of Skye).

Sauropod track from the Isle of Skye.  The Trotternish peninsula provides both body and trace fossils, such as this sauropod track for example.

Picture Credit: Jon Hoad

The researchers provide a comprehensive overview of the Kilmaluag Formation, outlining the importance of its geology and the fossil discoveries made to date.  They also present evidence of several species that are being reported from the Isle of Skye for the first time.   The review places the vertebrate faunal assemblage in an international context and confirms the global significance of the region.  Although the dinosaurs grab all the headlines, the Kilmaluag Formation is most likely to provide important information with regards to the evolutionary history of early mammals, the Squamata (lizards and snakes) along with amphibians.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog post about damage to dinosaur footprints being reported: Dinosaur Footprints Damaged on the Isle of Skye.

The link between the fossil sites in Wyoming and the Isle of Skye: What have Wyoming and the Isle of Skye got in Common?

Evidence of Scottish Stegosaurs: Scottish Stegosaurs.

The scientific paper: “Diverse vertebrate assemblage of the Kilmaluag Formation (Bathonian, Middle Jurassic) of Skye, Scotland” by Elsa Panciroli, Roger B. J. Benson, Stig Walsh, Richard J. Butler, Tiago Andrade Castro, Marc E. H. Jones and Susan E. Evans published by The Royal Society of Edinburgh/Cambridge University Press.

2 08, 2020

“Early Jurassic Park” – Dilophosaurus wetherilli

By | August 2nd, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

“Early Jurassic Park” – Dilophosaurus wetherilli

Whilst working on their YouTube video explaining about the newly published scientific paper on Dilophosaurus, team members at Everything Dinosaur needed a visual to explain the importance of this North American dinosaur to palaeontologists as they try to improve their understanding about Early Jurassic dinosaur biota.  Interpreting Dilophosaurus fossil material has been hampered by their fragmentary nature and poor preservation.  Attempting to summarise the research since the University of California field work from 1942, it was decided to modify an iconic book cover “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton.  The new research suggests that Dilophosaurus may have looked very different, it was probably not a weak-jawed scavenger but an apex predator, the most dangerous dinosaur in the ecosystem.

The Importance of Dilophosaurus wetherilli – An Important Dinosaur from the Early Jurassic

"Early Jurassic Park" - Dilophosaurus wetherilli.

“Early Jurassic Park” – demonstrating the significance of the Early Jurassic theropod Dilophosaurus wetherilli.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dilophosaurus was popularised in the famous dinosaur movie “Jurassic Park” which was released in 1993.  It also appeared in the novel written by Michael Crichton, upon which the film was based.  The small venomous dinosaur with its neck frill, reminiscent of the frilled-neck lizard of Australia (Chlamydosaurus kingii) was regarded as a major departure from the science by many movie-goers although Dilophosaurus played a prominent role in one of the most significant scenes of the whole franchise when Dennis Nedry, the computer programmer who had been bribed to smuggle dinosaur embryos off the resort, was attacked and eaten.

The Dilophosaurus from the Film “Jurassic Park”

A relatively small animal was depicted.  The Dilophosaurus from the 1993 film “Jurassic Park”.

Picture Credit: Universal Pictures

In the newly published paper (Marsh and Rowe 2020), Dilophosaurus is depicted as a more robust, powerful animal and as far as the fossil record known to date goes, Dilophosaurus represents the largest terrestrial vertebrate known from the Early Jurassic of North America.

A Life Reconstruction of Dilophosaurus wetherilli Based on the 2020 Scientific Interpretation

Dilophosaurus wetherilli Makeover

An amazing puppet depicting Dilophosaurus wetherilli using the data from the newly published scientific paper was created by Brian Engh.

Picture Credit: University of Texas at Austin

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog post about the new scientific paper: Time to Beef Up Dilophosaurus.

The Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel, is packed with lots of amazing videos all about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.  The channel has over 175 videos on it, providing lots of information to dinosaur fans and model collectors: Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

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