All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
//January
31 01, 2022

How Much do we Know About Sauropod Necks?

By | January 31st, 2022|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Sauropodomorpha consists of the long-necked sauropods and their ancestors. This clade contains many of the most famous and popular dinosaurs – Brontosaurus, Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, Mamenchisaurus and Argentinosaurus. Casts of these huge dinosaurs, some of which represent the biggest terrestrial animals known to science, dominate the halls and exhibition spaces of the world’s natural history museums. “Dippy” the Diplodocus, the famous plaster cast of Diplodocus carnegii (specimen number CM 84), arguably one of the most easily recognised of all museum exhibits, in common with just about every other sauropod neck on display, might be hiding a surprising and unpalatable truth.

It seems that palaeontologists don’t know that much about the necks of these long-necked herbivores.

That is the conclusion made in a paper published this month.

Diplodocus skeleton on display.
“Dippy” the Diplodocus. A dinosaur famous for its long neck, but how much do we really know about the necks of sauropods?

Not All is What it Seems

Writing in the on-line, open access journal “PeerJ”, Mike Taylor, an honorary research associate at the University of Bristol and renowned sauropod expert, concludes that all those beautifully displayed sauropod specimens in museums are in essence, misleading. The anatomy of the necks of these iconic dinosaurs is much less well known than is often assumed.

Very few complete sauropod necks have been scientifically described and famous specimens such as the Berlin brachiosaur have been constructed based on an incomplete and often substantially distorted cervical vertebrae sequence.

Berlin brachiosaur
A composite reconstruction made up of bones from several individuals and an incomplete neck bone series.

Surprisingly, given the number of sauropod specimens reconstructed for display in museums, few complete necks have been described in the literature. The paper lists nine fossil specimens with unambiguously complete necks, each of them articulated and known to include the bone at the base of the neck that lies in association with the first dorsal vertebra. The author also lists additional sauropod specimens thought to have complete necks but have yet to be fully described. The paper describes yet more sauropod necks which are probably complete but are missing the first cervical (atlas bone). The first cervical is often much smaller than the other neck bones and easily lost during fossilisation along with the skull.

The cervical bones of Silutan sinensis.
Silutitan sinensis gen. et sp. nov. (holotype-IVPP V27874) in left lateral view. A new species of Chinese sauropod has been scientifically described last year (2021) based on six articulated cervical vertebrae. Complete sauropod necks are extremely rare in the fossil record. Picture credit: Wang et al.

Very Little Information on Diplodocid Necks

In older museum reconstructions, missing bone is often difficult to identify as the restorers were tasked with making the fossil specimen look more complete. Furthermore, even those cervical vertebrae that are complete are often badly distorted due to taphonomic processes (crushed or distorted during fossilisation), so attempts to understand the anatomy of the neck, the posture of the head and the range of motion in the neck are severely hampered.

Famous dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus and Diplodocus are barely represented in terms of complete neck fossils. Outlining the size of the problem, author Mike Taylor commented that in December 2021 the Paleobiologiy Database listed a total of 342 sauropod species. Of these, only nine had unambiguously complete and articulated necks. Only one in every thirty-eight sauropod species named (2.6%) had a complete set of cervical vertebrae that had been scientifically described.

Comparing Giraffatitan Cervical Vertebrae
Comparing cervical vertebrae of Giraffatitan brancai (lectotype MB.R.2180). Cervical vertebra 4 (left) looks very different from cervical vertebra 6 (right). Distortion has occurred and this makes conducting a mechanical analysis of neck movements extremely difficult. Picture credit: Michael P. Taylor

A Need to Acknowledge the Ambiguity

Palaeontologists remain uncertain about how many neck bones famous sauropods such as Diplodocus and Giraffatitan had. The fossil record of cervical vertebrae of sauropods is poor and it is important that researchers acknowledge this paucity. The author of the paper cautions against blithely asserting “facts” about sauropod necks without the caveat of acknowledging the lack of evidence to support hypotheses.

Michael Taylor asserts that the presence of a partial fossil record on cervical vertebrae is not too onerous, but it is important to properly acknowledge the degree of uncertainty that surrounds studies. He cautions against drawing firm conclusions about sauropod neck posture and other aspects of sauropod neck anatomy based on limited data.

The scientific paper: “Almost all known sauropod necks are incomplete and distorted” by Michael P. Taylor published in PeerJ.

30 01, 2022

Rebor Smilodon “Ice Age” Video Showcase

By | January 30th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have produced their second short YouTube video highlighting the features of a prehistoric animal model that the company has in stock. The first video showcase featured the Rebor Smilodon populator in the plain colour scheme, so it is only fitting that the second video in this new series should focus on another Rebor Smilodon figure, the Ice Age colour variant.

The forty-five second video shows the model, packaging and box contents. How easy it is to change the heads is demonstrated and the Smilodon figure placed on a revolving turntable is shown with the open jaws head and then with the closed head attachment.

The Everything Dinosaur video showcase of the Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the Ice Age colour scheme. A short, 45 second video that highlights this excellent Rebor model.

Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the Ice Age Colour Scheme

The captions in the video provide details of the model’s measurements and confirm that the Smilodon figure has a declared scale of 1:11. Team members took advice from Rebor and from viewers of the first Smilodon video showcase to improve the lighting and exposure on the turntable footage to permit the colouration of the model to be shown clearly.

Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat Ice Age model
The Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat Ice Age colour variant. More lights were used in this second Everything Dinosaur video showcase to help to show the figure in more detail. The exposure settings on the camera were also adjusted in a bid to help viewers to perceive the subtle colour variations of the Smilodon’s coat.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that the Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat model in the Ice Age colour scheme had been selected for the second video showcase after the very positive feedback the company had received after their first YouTube video which featured the plain colour variant.

The spokesperson went onto add:

“We intend to create more showcase videos of models and figures. Our plan is to embed these videos into the product pages of our company website so visitors can see videos as well as images of the models that we sell. We aim to provide as much information as possible to help customers to make an informed purchase decision.”

To view the Rebor range of models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Models and Figures.

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel and subscribe: Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

29 01, 2022

More Theropods from Appalachia

By | January 29th, 2022|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

An analysis of fragmentary dinosaur fossil remains recovered from Lewisville Formation exposures around the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas have provided scientists with a fresh perspective on the theropod fauna of Appalachia during the Cenomanian stage of the Late Cretaceous. Around 95 million years ago, the extreme western edge of Appalachia was home to a variety of meat-eating dinosaurs including a tyrannosauroid and a larger carcharodontosaurid.

Although the fossil remains consisting mainly of shed teeth and small portions of bone are highly fragmentary, the researchers are confident that this material confirms for the first time, the presence of a large carcharodontosaur allosauroid in Appalachia.

The researchers conclude that the Lewisville Formation theropod biota was similar in composition to contemporaneous deposits known from Laramidia. This confirms that theropod dinosaur communities were probably very similar across North America during the early Late Cretaceous and extends our knowledge regarding the non-avian dinosaur fauna of Appalachia shortly after the establishment of the Western Interior Seaway that divided the continent into two separate landmasses.

Siats meekerorum .
Siats meekerorum (left) was a huge (10 metres+) carcharodontosaurid that roamed Laramidia in the Cenomanian faunal stage of the early Late Cretaceous. It was the apex predator and had nothing to fear from smaller tyrannosauroids. Research into theropod fossil finds from the Lewisville Formation of Texas, which represent Appalachian deposits suggest a similar theropod biota in Appalachia during the Cenomanian. Picture credit: Julio Lacerdo.

Large Meat-Eating Dinosaurs were Widespread Across Appalachia

The researchers who included lead author Christopher Noto (University of Wisconsin-Parkside), examined fossils that had been recently collected from four sites in the Fort Worth/Dallas area of Texas as well as many specimens housed in museum collections.

They found that fossils representing a large-bodied carcharodontosaur and a mid-sized tyrannosauroid were present at a number of locations. This suggests that big, meat-eating dinosaurs roamed extensively over the delta represented by the Lewisville Formation deposits. The fossilised remains of much smaller theropods such as troodontids and dromaeosaurids were in contrast, restricted to just one or two sites.

Lewisville Formation carcharodontosaurid teeth.
Teeth assigned to the Carcharodontosauria from the Lewisville Formation. Scale bars of unbordered images in A–E are 5 mm, (J)–(V) are 10 mm. Scale bars of bordered images are 1 mm. Picture credit: Noto et al.

The First Evidence of Tyrannosauroidea and Troodontidae in Appalachia

Whilst largely fragmentary, the researchers are confident that the material is sufficiently diagnostic to identify six or seven new taxa representing small, medium and large theropods. As well as recording the first carcharodontosaurid fossil material from Appalachia, the team concluded that there were also specimens representing the Tyrannosauroidea and Troodontidae too, the first occurrence of these groups in Appalachia.

Lewisville Formation Tyrannosauroidea teeth.
Teeth assigned to the Tyrannosauroidea from the Lewsiville Formation. Scale bars of bordered images are 1 mm, except P which is 0.5 mm. Picture credit: Noto et al.

Size Assessment Based on Komodo Dragon Tooth Research

The body size of each dinosaur was estimated using a formula based on the size of the serrations (denticles) found on the teeth of Komodo dragon lizards of various sizes, D’Amore and Blumenschine (2012). The researchers hope that more body fossils will be found to provide a clearer picture of the theropod biota of Appalachia during the early Late Cretaceous.

A List of the theropod taxa with maximum size based on Komodo dragon tooth comparisons stated:

  • Carcharodontosauria maximum body length 5.7 metres*
  • Tyrannosauridae maximum body length 4.8 metres*
  • Dromaeosaurinae (a theropod potentially similar to Deinonychus or Utahraptor) maximum body length 5.1 metres*
  • Dromaeosauridae maximum body length 1.9 metres*
  • Troodontidae
  • Coelurosauria maximum body length 1.6 metres*
  • Indeterminate theropod maximum body length 2.6 metres*

Maximum body length* based on D’Amore and Blumenschine (2012).

Text in green indicates new taxa for Appalachia.

Transitional Fauna

Comparison with other, roughly contemporaneous fossil assemblages across North America supports the presence of a cosmopolitan fauna throughout the Early Cretaceous. These theropod fossils from south-western Appalachia are remarkably similar to contemporaneous deposits known from Laramidia to the west. However, the opening up of the Western Interior Seaway led to a considerable divergence in the composition of dinosaur dominated terrestrial communities between Laramidia and Appalachia.

Lewisville Formation in association with the Western Interior Seaway
Palaeogeographic maps showing North America in the late Early Cretaceous and early Late Cretaceous (A) Albian stage approximately 110 million years ago, with (B) the late Albian approximately 105 million years ago. During the late Albian, the first vestiges of the Western Interior Seaway began to form separating North America into two landmasses, Appalachia to the east and Laramidia to the west. Early Cenomanian approximately 100 million years ago, showing short-term regression of the shallow seaway that led to the two landmasses being connected. Finally (D), middle Cenomanian approximately 95 million years ago depicting the establishment of the Western Interior Seaway separating the landmasses once again. The black star marks the location of the Lewisville Formation. Maps redrawn from Scotese (2021). Picture credit: Noto et al.

By the Late Cretaceous distinctive dinosaur faunas had evolved on the two North American landmasses. The Lewisville Formation documents the transitional nature of Cenomanian coastal ecosystems in Texas while providing additional details on the evolution of Appalachian communities shortly after Western Interior Seaway extension. These fossils indicate that the faunal transition between Early and Late Cretaceous dinosaur groups was already underway around 95 million years ago (early-middle Cenomanian).

The scientific paper: “A newly recognized theropod assemblage from the Lewisville Formation (Woodbine Group; Cenomanian) and its implications for understanding Late Cretaceous Appalachian terrestrial ecosystems” by Christopher R. Noto​, Domenic C. D’Amore, Stephanie K. Drumheller and Thomas L. Adams published in PeerJ.

28 01, 2022

Rebor Smilodon “Plain” Video Showcase

By | January 28th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

A few days ago, team members at Everything Dinosaur announced that they were looking at adding short videos to the company’s website that could highlight prehistoric animal models and their features. A video was posted on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel outlining these plans and asking for feedback on the idea. This YouTube video also featured the first of the Everything Dinosaur products to get placed into the spotlight, the Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the plain colour variant.

This forty-five second video showcase has been posted up on the channel as a separate, stand-alone item and it can be viewed (see below).

The Everything Dinosaur Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the plain colour scheme.

Demonstrating the Model

The idea behind these short, 30-60 second videos is that we can help customers to make informed purchase decisions. We do put up lots of images on our product pages, but the video will help us to demonstrate some of the features of the figure. For example, we can show the articulated jaw, poseable arms and the flexible tail. We can demonstrate how the model is put together as well as showing the box contents and the packaging.

These videos will help customers to get a really good look at the figure they are considering purchasing. Viewers will be able to gauge the quality and detail of a replica.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and we are grateful for all the comments that we have received. A second product video showcase, this time featuring the Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the Ice Age colour scheme will be posted up shortly.

Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat Ice Age model
The Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat Ice Age colour variant. A video showcase of this Smilodon model will be posted up shortly.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The first video showcase featuring a prehistoric animal model stocked by Everything Dinosaur has been posted up. The video features the Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the plain colour scheme. We intend to post up more videos in the coming weeks.”

To view the range of Rebor models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur, including the Smilodon populator replicas: Rebor Models and Prehistoric Animals.

27 01, 2022

Papo Pentaceratops Gets a Display Base

By | January 27th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Our thanks to prehistoric animal model fan and collector James who sent into Everything Dinosaur some pictures of the display base he had made for his Papo Pentaceratops model. The clever design of the Papo Pentaceratops permits collectors to display this figure as a quadruped or in a rearing pose, the Pentaceratops being balanced on its hind legs supported by its tail. James has added a base to the figure and created a little prehistoric scene in which this large, horned dinosaur is confronted by a crocodilian.

Papo Pentaceratops with display base
The Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model is confronted by a crocodilian. Although alarmed by the presence of a predator this large, ornithischian dinosaur has nothing to fear from the croc. Picture credit: James.

Crocodilians Prey on Dinosaurs

Palaeontologists have named and described a wide range of different crocodilians and their close relatives from fossils found in Upper Cretaceous rocks in North America. Pentaceratops fossils are known from the Kirtland Formation (late Campanian faunal stage), in New Mexico. The sandstones and mudstones that predominately make up these deposits were laid down in a wide, alluvial flood plain close to the western shore of a shallow sea that split North America into two landmasses – Appalachia to the east and Laramidia to the west.

Papo Pentaceratops Display Base
The Pentaceratops display base. The horned dinosaur is alarmed by the presence of the crocodilian. Picture credit: James.

Several crocodilians are known from the Kirtland Formation (Denazinosuchus, Leidyosuchus and Brachychampsa), but these genera would have posed no threat to a fully-grown Pentaceratops, or indeed any large plant-eating dinosaur.

Akainacephalus johnsoni.
When the armoured dinosaur Akainacephalus from the Kaiparowits Formation of Utah was described (2018), a scientific illustration of this dinosaur was commissioned. The painting depicts an Akainacephalus walking past a group of basking Denazinosuchus. The Denazinosuchus are no threat to the armoured dinosaur. The Kaiparowits Formation is geologically older than the Kirtland Formation. Picture credit: Andrey Atuchin (Denver Museum of Nature and Science).

An adult Deinosuchus could have been a threat to a Pentaceratops. Although this giant alligatoroid lived during the Campanian and its fossils are associated with estuarine environments of the Western Interior Seaway, team members at Everything Dinosaur are unaware of any Deinosuchus fossils having been excavated from Kirtland Formation deposits. Still, it is highly likely that dinosaurs such as Pentaceratops would have frequently come across large crocodilians at water holes or when attempting to cross rivers, so some interspecific interaction is entirely plausible.

Papo Pentaceratops display base.
A close-up view of the Papo Pentaceratops display base. Picture credit: James.

Papo Pentaceratops

The Papo Pentaceratops has proved to be a popular model, since it was introduced into the Papo “Dinosaures” range in 2019. A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated that they had been delighted to receive the images of the dinosaur and praised the model collector for creating such a carefully constructed prehistoric scene.

Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model.
The Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model. A popular addition to the Papo “Dinosaures” model range.

To view the Papo Pentaceratops and the rest of the Papo models in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models.

26 01, 2022

Everything Dinosaur Video Showcase

By | January 26th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|2 Comments

We at Everything Dinosaur get lots of feedback and suggestions from our customers and we are grateful for the comments that we receive. We read them all carefully and where we can, we implement customer recommendations.

Take for example, a suggestion we have had from several of our customers – wouldn’t it be great if there were short product videos on the Everything Dinosaur website, so visitors could get a really good look at the item before buying. A video showcasing the prehistoric animal model would help a potential customer to make an informed purchase decision.

Everything Dinosaur listens to its customers, we aim to create short 30-60 second videos and embed them into our website.

Here is a short YouTube video that explains our plans and reveals the first figure to receive a “video showcase” – the Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the plain colour version,

Should Everything Dinosaur put short Product Videos on its Website? Everything Dinosaur asks customers for their comments.

Rebor Smilodon populator Video Showcase

As well as seeing images supplied by the model manufacturer, visitors to Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur could get access to a short video that provides a showcase for the prehistoric animal model. Potential customers can view a video of the actual model, allowing them to see how the articulated jaws works, how much movement the flexible tail provides and they can gain an appreciation of the build quality.

In the case of the Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat figures, our video showcase demonstrates how easy it is to swap the heads over, allowing the figure to be displayed with either its mouth open or closed.

Rebor Smilodon model "plain".
The Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat in the “plain” colour scheme. The model is supplied with two interchangeable heads, one showing the mouth open, the other with the mouth closed as seen here. The Everything Dinosaur video showcase permits customers to see how easy it is to change the heads.

Plans to Make More Product Video Showcases

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that the company still intended to produce other videos such as more detailed model reviews, updates on new model introductions and videos providing hints and tips for collectors.

He explained:

“At the request of our customers, we plan to embed into our product pages short videos less than a minute in length that provide a visual guide to the figure, its packaging and the box contents. We have been asked to include footage of a person holding the model, viewers can instantly judge how big the figure is.”

Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat Plain
The Rebor Smilodon populator Museum Class Replica Stray Cat Plain displayed with its mouth open. This Rebor replica in 1:11 scale is the subject of a short YouTube video produced by team members at Everything Dinosaur.

Providing Model Measurements

The model video showcase will permit us to reinforce the printed information we include about products on the Everything Dinosaur website. We do measure models and figures ourselves and post up this information under the “additional information” link on the product page, but we can also state the measurements and show any declared scale in the “video showcase”.

Rebor Smilodon populator (plain colour variant)
A still from the Rebor Smilodon populator (Stray Cat) in the plain colour variant video showcase highlighting the model’s measurements and declared scale.

To view the Rebor Smilodon populator model and the rest of the Rebor replica range available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Models and Figures.

Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel is jam-packed with prehistoric animal videos. The channel contains lots of helpful information for dinosaur fans and model collectors: Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

25 01, 2022

Struthiosaurus austriacus – Differences Between Nodosaurids and Ankylosaurids

By | January 25th, 2022|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A study published this month in “Scientific Research” suggests that the Late Cretaceous European nodosaurid Struthiosaurus was not the most active of dinosaurs and probably not the most social. Analysis of the single, partial braincase (IPUW 2349/6) of S. austriacus has permitted scientists to gain a better understanding of this armoured dinosaur’s senses. The conclude that the short semi-circular canals and the shortest cochlear duct described from dinosaur fossils known to date, indicate that Struthiosaurus led a rather inert, sedentary life and compared to other members of the Dinosauria, it was comparatively inactive with limited social interactions.

The researchers calculate that Struthiosaurus had poor hearing and it probably relied on a less active style of self-defence compared to their tail club swinging relatives the ankylosaurids.

Struthiosaurus austriacus life reconstruction
An illustration of the Late Cretaceous nodosaurid Struthiosaurus austriacus from Austria. A study of this dinosaur’s braincase suggests that it was relatively inert, sluggish and with limited hearing. Picture credit: Fabrizio De Rossi.

Sluggish and with Limited Hearing

Researchers from the University of Vienna in collaboration with a colleague from the University of Greifswald in Germany subjected the partial braincase of S. austriacus to CT scans. From this information, three-dimensional models of the 5 cm wide braincase of this dinosaur were created.

The braincase consists of several fused skull bones that housed the brain and other neurosensory tissues. Analysis of the structures preserved can provide palaeontologists with information about the sensory capabilities of the animal and more fundamental details of anatomy such as the angle at which the animal held its head.

Struthiosaurus braincase study
Photographs (C,D,G,J) and photogrammetric models (E,F,H,I,K) created from the CT scans of the holotype specimen of Struthiosaurus austriacus, (IPUW 2349/6). Right lateral view (C,E), (D,F) left lateral, (I) anterior, (J,K) ventral and (G,H) posterior views. Note scale bar = 2 cm. Picture credit: Schade et al.

The results of this study of the braincase of Struthiosaurus indicate that its brain was very similar to the brains of other nodosaurids. For example, the flocculus, an ancient part of the tetrapod brain, associated with co-ordination and motor skills was very small. Ankylosaurs with their large tail clubs, such as Euoplocephalus had a proportionately larger flocculus. A bigger flocculus might have helped ankylosaurs to co-ordinate their defensive strikes with their powerful tail clubs.

In addition, the team which included Marco Schade (University of Vienna), plotted the auditory capacity of Struthiosaurus and calculated that its hearing range was rather limited (between 296 and 2164 Hz). In contrast, humans on average have a much broader frequency of hearing range – around 31 Hz to 19,000 Hz.

S. austriacus type locality and scale drawing.
Location of the Struthiosaurus austriacus fossil finds in Austria (A). To date three species of Struthiosaurus have been scientifically described, S. transylvanicus from Maastrichtian-aged deposits of Romania, S. languedocensis from the early Campanian of France and S. austriacus which was described from fragmentary fossil material including a partial braincase discovered during coal mining operations near the town of Muthmannsdorf (early Campanian Grünbach Formation). The type locality of S. austriacus is marked by the star. Scale drawing of S. austriacus from Fabrizio De Rossi. Picture credit: Schade et al.

Nodosaurids Occupied a Different Ecological Niche

Both nodosaurids and their close relatives, the ankylosaurids were lumbering, heavily armoured animals adapted to low browsing. Although postcranial fossils are quite similar, there is a growing body of evidence to indicate marked differences between these two types of dinosaur. Nodosaurids may have preferred coastal or floodplain environments and may have evolved stronger jaws to give them a more powerful bite, an adaptation to processing tough vegetation. Gut contents associated with nodosaurids such as Borealopelta markmitchelli, suggest they were selective feeders: Borealopelta was a Fussy Eater.

This study suggests that for Struthiosaurus at least the combination of a relatively short cochlear duct, a reduced flocculus, less elaborate nasal passages and the absence of a tail club but with heavily reinforced dermal armour suggests that nodosaurids had different ecological adaptations when compared to ankylosaurs.

The researchers postulate that nodosaurids were possibly less reliant on their sense of hearing, had a less active style of self-defence and may have occupied different ecological niches than ankylosaurids.

Struthiosaurus may have lived alone and may not have moved in social groups.

PNSO Isaac the Sauropelta dinosaur model.
The recently introduced Isaac the Sauropelta model depicts the typical armour and spikes of a nodosaur. These dinosaurs may have been relatively slow moving, with a limited sense of hearing but they would have represented a formidable adversary for a hungry theropod.

The scientific paper: “Neuroanatomy of the nodosaurid Struthiosaurus austriacus (Dinosauria: Thyreophora) supports potential ecological differentiations within Ankylosauria” by Marco Schade, Sebastian Stumpf, Jürgen Kriwet, Christoph Kettler and Cathrin Pfaff published in Scientific Reports.

24 01, 2022

The Muscles of Thecodontosaurus Provide Clue to Super-sized Sauropods

By | January 24th, 2022|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New research into the musculature of the early sauropodomorph Thecodontosaurus antiquus has helped scientists to understand the evolutionary transition from agile bipeds to super-sized quadrupedal sauropods. Writing in the open-access, on-line journal “Royal Society Open Science”, scientists from the University of Bristol have reconstructed the limb musculature of Thecodontosaurus. Their reconstruction shows that this Late Triassic dinosaur was an agile, biped but it already had some anatomical adaptations which would permit its descendants to grow to huge sizes.

Thecodontosaurus study.
Thecodontosaurus fossil block with life reconstruction in the background. Picture credit: Simon Powell/University of Bristol.

Bristol’s Dinosaur

Thecodontosaurus (T. antiquus) fossils are known from Upper Triassic rocks exposed around the city of Bristol in England. During the Late Triassic, this region consisted of an archipelago surrounded by a warm tropical sea. Hundreds of fragmentary fossils representing many individuals are known, most of these fossils are housed at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. Thecodontosaurus is believed to have measured up to 2.5 metres in length, however, its long, thin tail made up more than 50% of its entire body length. It weighed around twenty kilograms, but it was part of the Sauropodomorpha clade of lizard-hipped dinosaurs that were to evolve into giants during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. Famous dinosaurs such as Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus from the Jurassic as well as Cretaceous leviathans such as Patagotitan and Alamosaurus.

Thecodontosaurus was the first Triassic genus of dinosaur to be named and described (1836).

Thecodontosaurus limb muscles
Researchers have examined tell-tale muscle scars associated with Thecodontosaurus limb bones to reconstruct the musculature of this Late Triassic dinosaur. Picture credit: Gabriel Ugueto.

Lead author of the paper, PhD student at the University of Bristol Antonio Ballell commented:

“The University of Bristol houses a huge collection of beautifully preserved Thecodontosaurus fossils that were discovered around Bristol. The amazing thing about these fossilised bones is that many preserve the scars and rugosities that the limb musculature left on them with its attachment.”

These features on the bones permit palaeontologists to infer the shape, size and anatomical position of the musculature of the animal. For example, the muscles associated with the limbs can be reconstructed and the dinosaur’s anatomy can be further refined by comparing the computer models generated with the anatomy of extant relatives such as crocodiles and birds.

Co-author of the study Professor Emily Rayfield (University of Bristol), added:

“These kinds of muscular reconstructions are fundamental to understand functional aspects of the life of extinct organisms. We can use this information to simulate how these animals walked and ran with computational tools.”

Palaeontologists Continuing to Learn from Thecodontosaurus Fossils

Thecodontosaurus was one of the first dinosaurs to be formally named and described but palaeontologists can still learn a lot from its fossils. For example, thanks to the considerable volume of T. antiquus material, the research team were able to build the entire forelimb and hindlimb musculature. This is the first time scientists have been able to reconstruct the limb musculature of an early-branching sauropodomorph.

The analysis of the limb muscles of T. antiquus confirm that it was a fast-running, agile biped. The forelimbs were probably not used in locomotion but were very effective at grasping objects such as potential prey. The anatomy of the lithe Thecodontosaurus is in stark contrast to the later sauropods which became obligate quadrupeds.

The researchers determined that key traits of later sauropod-line dinosaurs had already evolved in this early genus.

“From an evolutionary perspective, our study adds more pieces to the puzzle of how the locomotion and posture changed during the evolution of dinosaurs and in the line to the giant sauropods. How were limb muscles modified in the evolution of multi-ton quadrupeds from tiny bipeds? Reconstructing the limb muscles of Thecodontosaurus gives us new information of the early stages of that important evolutionary transition.”

Patagotitan size comparison.
Patagotitan mayorum size comparison with an adult African elephant and a human for scale. Although small and a biped, the descendants of Thecodontosaurus evolved into the largest terrestrial animals known to science.

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

The scientific paper: “Walking with early dinosaurs: appendicular myology of the Late Triassic sauropodomorph Thecodontosaurus antiquus” by Antonio Ballell, Emily J. Rayfield and Michael J. Benton published in Royal Society Open Science.

23 01, 2022

Prehistoric Times Issue 140 Reviewed

By | January 23rd, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

The winter edition (issue 140) of “Prehistoric Times” is a bumper issue with over 60 pages crammed full of articles, features and illustrations. Talented artist Mark Hallett provides the front cover for the magazine, an illustration entitled “Predator’s Moon”. It features a bear-dog (Amphicyon lydekkeri) crunching on some bones. Mark provides a guide to the bear-dogs inside and provides more artwork on these enigmatic mammals.

Collectors of “Prehistoric Times” will recall that Mark also provided the artwork for the front cover of issue 138 (Neanderthal woman).

Issue 140 of Prehistoric Times
Prehistoric Times issue 140 (winter 2022) the front cover illustration by Mark Hallett.

Neovenator and Megalictis

Phil Hore provides articles for the featured prehistoric animals in this issue. There is a piece on the Lower Cretaceous theropod from England – Neovenator (N. salerii), its inclusion ties in well with the palaeo news section, as lots of British research and English dinosaur discoveries are reported. There is also a special feature on the ferocious North American mustelid Megalictis with lots of reader artwork incorporated into it.

Jon Lavas continues his long-running history of the work of renowned Czech artist Zdeněk Burian. In issue 140, the focus is on Burian’s illustrations of ceratopsians and there are some truly iconic illustrations provided.

Styracosaurus illustration (Burian 1941).
The classical depiction of Styracosaurus albertensis by Burian (1941). The illustration depicts two horned dinosaurs emerging into a clearing. This image has inspired many other artists and box art packaging designers. Picture credit J. R. Lavas.

Tracy Lee Ford contributes part 2 of his in-depth analysis of dinosaur integumentary coverings (feathers). It includes a glossary of scientific terms and some beautifully detailed illustrations. On the subject of beautiful illustrations, palaeoartist Emily Willoughby is interviewed and the article includes an array of stunning images depicting feathered dinosaurs.

Randy Knol profiles some of the latest prehistoric animal model releases and magazine editor Mike Fredericks has been kept busy with new models and reviews of the latest books. Take a look at the “Mesozoic Media” section of the magazine, it includes a review of “Dinopedia: A Brief Compendium of Dinosaur Lore” by Tetrapod Zoology author Darren Naish from the University of Southampton.

The review concludes by stating that this book is “highly recommended as a handy reference guide for all your dinosaur questions.”

Dinopedia front cover illustration
The front cover of Dinopedia features a horned dinosaur. The book is reviewed in issue 140 of “Prehistoric Times”.

Prehistoric Coins, 3-D Printed Dinosaurs and “The Beast of Busco”

The magazine contains an article discussing the history of prehistoric animals depicted on coins written by Brian Novak. Model maker Sean Kotz provides a step-by-step guide to creating a unique Neovenator model from a 3-D print and Matt Howard provides an entertaining account of the giant turtle nicknamed “The Beast of Busco”.

There is some wonderful reader submitted artwork, special mentions to Samuel Pickens and John Sibbick for their Neovenator illustrations, for M. Elliot Massion for the Megalictis grabbing a goose as well as the Neovenator lurking behind a teapot. The Woolly Rhino painting by Jacek Major and the Edmontosaurus annectens by Sergey Krasovskiy are also impressive.

Pastorama Dimetrodon image
There is a lot to get your teeth into when examining the latest edition of “Prehistoric Times” issue 140. This black and white photograph is from an article that looks at the World’s Fair. Picture credit: Don Glut.

There is a lot to praise in the latest issue of “Prehistoric Times”.

To learn more about this magazine and to subscribe: “Prehistoric Times”.

22 01, 2022

Preparing for Nothosaurus

By | January 22nd, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

The new for 2022 Schleich Nothosaurus model will soon be in stock at Everything Dinosaur and team members have been busy preparing a fact sheet all about this Triassic marine reptile. We research and write an information sheet on virtually every prehistoric animal model that we stock. The Nothosaurus fact sheet will be sent out with our sales of the Schleich model.

Schleich Nothosaurus model
The new for 2022 Schleich Nothosaurus marine reptile model.

Several Species of Nothosaurus Have Been Described

Several species of Nothosaurus have been named and scientifically described, although the taxonomy and exact composition of this genus is still debated. The type species, is N. mirabilis, named from fossils found in Middle Triassic rocks from Germany. It is estimated to have been up to four metres in length, although it shared its marine habitat with considerably larger nothosaurs such as Nothosaurus giganteus, which like the recently described Nothosaurus zhangi (2014), from China may have reached lengths of around seven metres, making these fish-eaters from the Triassic bigger than an extant Saltwater crocodile (C. porosus).

Nothosaurus drawing.
The illustration of Nothosaurus commissioned by Everything Dinosaur for use in the company’s Nothosaurus fact sheet.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The Nothosaurus fact sheet will be sent out with the new Schleich model. Collectors will be aware that there is a small, blue nothosaur figure included in the Wild Safari Prehistoric World prehistoric sea life toob, but it is still great to see another replica of this important Triassic marine reptile incorporated within a manufacturer’s model range. We congratulate Schleich for introducing this figure. It is the only non-dinosaur model announced by Schleich for 2022 in their Dinosaurier range.”

Nothosaurus scale drawing.
Nothosaurus scale drawing. The largest specimens of the nothosaur N. mirabilis are estimated to have measured around 4 metres in length, although much larger species of Nothosaurus have been described.

A Piscivore

The jaws were lined with forward projecting and interlocking needle-sharp teeth, ideal for catching slippery prey such as small fish, although larger individuals may have hunted smaller marine reptiles.

Schleich Nothosaurus
The Schleich Nothosaurus marine reptile model with (top) a close-up view of the head.

The Schleich Nothosaurus model is due into stock at Everything Dinosaur shortly (January 2022), to view the range of Schleich models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Models.

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