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

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16 11, 2019

A Quick Guide to the New CollectA Models (Part 3)

By | November 16th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

New CollectA Models for 2020 (Part 3)

Yesterday, Everything Dinosaur published details of three more, new for 2020 CollectA prehistoric animal models.  As part of our on-going commitment to help educate and inform our customers about new figures and replicas, we have also produced a short video that provides more details on these three models (Megalodon shark, Allosaurus and the huge dicynodont Lisowicia bojani).  In this short video, it lasts a fraction under four and half minutes, we show the three new figures and provide some background as to how these new additions have come about.

New for 2020 CollectA Prehistoric Animal Models (Part 3)

Video credit: Everything Dinosaur

CollectA Megalodon (1:40 Scale)

The first model to be discussed is the CollectA Megalodon shark model, a replica based on the extinct, marine predator C. megalodon.  Fans of the CollectA range and model collectors have been requesting a Megalodon figure for some time.  Always, willing to listen to knowledgeable collectors, CollectA intend to make the new Megalodon model available by the middle of 2020 or thereabouts.  This shark replica has been introduced instead of a large mammal figure in the CollectA “other prehistoric animals” collection.

CollectA Allosaurus – Popular Size

The second model discussed in Everything Dinosaur’s video review is the new for 2020 Allosaurus model in “The Age of Dinosaurs – Popular” range.  It will replace the original Allosaurus replica that was introduced by this company some ten years ago.

Comparing the Two Versions of Allosaurus (CollectA Model Range)

CollectA Allosaurus models compared.

Comparing the two CollectA Allosaurus models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fans of the CollectA range can therefore conclude that the earlier Allosaurus replica will be retired in 2020.  It may appear in the CollectA catalogue but no further production of this figure can be expected and therefore it will become increasingly difficult to find.  Everything Dinosaur still has stocks of this model.

To view the Allosaurus and the rest of the CollectA Prehistoric Life model range: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.

CollectA Lisowicia bojani

The last model to be featured in our short video is the giant, Late Triassic dicynodont Lisowicia bojani.  It was only named and formally described about twelve months ago, so congratulations to CollectA for being so quick off the mark.  The dicynodonts have largely been ignored by model manufacturers, it is great to see CollectA opting to add such a figure to their range.  CollectA had promised to provide more models of animals from the Palaeozoic, Lisowicia might not fit the bill in that respect, but it is one of the more unusual prehistoric animals from the Norian stage of the Triassic to have been described in recent years.  To read about Lisowicia: Newly Described Giant Dicynodont.

CollectA Have Introduced Four Ancient Synapsids including Two Therapsids

Four CollectA synapsids.

CollectA have introduced a number of synapsid replicas in recent years.  Within this grouping CollectA have added two therapsids (Estemmenosuchus and Lisowicia).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

15 11, 2019

New CollectA Models 2020 (Part 3)

By | November 15th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

New CollectA Models 2020 (Part 3)

Today, Everything Dinosaur in collaboration with our chums at CollectA, announce a further three new prehistoric animal figures for 2020.  We have one new dinosaur, one prehistoric shark, and one new, giant member of the Dicynodontia, in fact, the biggest dicynodont known to science!

The three new CollectA prehistoric animal models are:

  • CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Megalodon shark (C. megalodon).
  • CollectA “Roaring Allosaurus in “The Age of Dinosaurs” – popular size range.
  • CollectA Deluxe 1:20 scale Lisowicia bojani – that giant dicynodont we promised.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Scale Megalodon Shark Model

CollectA Deluxe Megalodon shark model.

The CollectA 1:40 scale Megalodon shark model.  The CollectA Megalodon model has an articulated jaw.

Picture Credit: CollectA

CollectA Megalodon Model

Model collectors have been asking for a Megalodon shark to be added to this range for some time.  This giant, prehistoric shark, once again came to prominence with the release of “The Meg” last year, a film that grossed more than $500 million USD at the box office.  A sequel is in development, but good news for model collectors, the CollectA Megalodon model will be here much sooner, it can be expected mid-2020.

Designer Anthony Beeson commented that producing a shark figure with an articulated jaw was a real challenge, after all, large “mackerel sharks”, such as the living Great White (Carcharodon carcharias), unhinge their top jaws from the skull when they bite.  The teeth in the upper jaw shoot forward as the upper jaw moves, the team at CollectA worked hard to recreate an accurate model of one of the largest carnivores known to science.  The carefully proportioned figure, certainly gives the impression of a lithe but powerful animal.

The CollectA “The Age of Dinosaurs” Popular Size Roaring Allosaurus Model

CollectA "Roaring" Allosaurus model.

The CollectA “Roaring” Allosaurus dinosaur model.  This interpretation of Allosaurus will also have lips – a reflection on some of the latest scientific thinking concerning the Dinosauria.

Picture Credit: CollectA

The CollectA Roaring Allosaurus

CollectA have updated their interpretation of Allosaurus by adding a model of this famous theropod in a roaring pose.  Allosaurus (A. fragilis) is one of the most intensively studied and best-known of all the carnivorous dinosaurs and it is great to see CollectA scheduling an update of this famous Late Jurassic dinosaur.  The model has prominent eye crests, anatomically correct digits and it even has lips, in line with a recent theory.

The introduction of this new figure, probably spells the end for the existing CollectA Allosaurus model in this series.  However, despite all the research centred around Allosaurus specimens from the Morrison Formation, palaeontologists remain unsure as to the taxonomy of this genus.  The fossil material classified as A. fragilis shows a wide diversity, especially when considering skull length to height ratios that cannot be explained by ontogeny.  The Morrison Formation fossil material currently assigned to Allosaurus fragilis may actually represent more than one species.  That is a good excuse to retain both CollectA Allosaurus figures in your model collection!

The CollectA Deluxe 1:20 Scale Lisowicia bojani

CollectA Deluxe Lisowicia bojani model.

The CollectA 1:20 scale Lisowicia bojani model.  This beautiful model of a giant, Late Triassic synapsid has an articulated lower jaw.

Picture Credit: CollectA

CollectA Deluxe Lisowicia bojani (1:20 Scale)

Last but by no means least this week, comes a 1:20 scale replica of the giant dicynodont from southern Poland Lisowicia bojani (pronounced: Les-wick-ee-ah bow-jan-eye).  Described in November 2018 (although the fossil remains had been found ten years earlier), Lisowicia was a giant herbivore that measured around 4.5 metres in length and it probably weighed more than a bull Asian elephant.  It was at least 40% bigger than any known dicynodont and one of the very last of its kind, living around 210-205 million years ago.  This animal, distantly related to modern mammals, co-existed with the dinosaurs, in truth, it dwarfed most of contemporaries, although the fragmentary bones of a five-metre long theropod dinosaur were also found at the same site.

Anthony Beeson explained that this was a very unusual member of the dicynodont group, not only was it huge, but unlike most other dicynodonts, its limbs were held directly under the body.  Lisowicia had a powerful beak and large tusks although the rest of the jaw lacked teeth.  The CollectA model has an articulated jaw.

The Tale of the Tape

  • CollectA Deluxe Megalodon shark model (1:40 scale)  measures 27.5 cm in length – available mid 2020.
  • CollectA Allosaurus length 17.5 cm with a head height of around 8 cm – available mid 2020.
  • CollectA Deluxe Lisowicia bojani (1:20 scale) measures 19.5 cm long and over the hips it is approximately 11 cm high – available mid 2020.

To view the first of the 2020 CollectA prehistoric animals to be announced: New CollectA Prehistoric Animals (Part 1).

To read about the second set of new for 2020 CollectA prehistoric animals: New CollectA Prehistoric Animals (Part 2).

To view the current CollectA prehistoric life range models: CollectA Prehistoric Life.

The CollectA Deluxe range: CollectA Deluxe Models.

14 11, 2019

We Have Dragons! Komodo Dragon Model in Stock

By | November 14th, 2019|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Rebor Komodo Dragon Model in Stock

The Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon model is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  Yes, we have dragons!  Team members have been busy contacting all those customers on our reserve lists who asked us to set aside one (sometimes two), of these amazing replicas for them.  Model collectors have been excited about the Rebor GrabNGo range ever since this exciting development was announced and now they can get their hands on the first of the figures in this new range, a 1:6 scale replica of the largest living lizard.

Behold!  We have Dragons!  The Rebor GrabNGo Komodo Dragon Replica is in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

Rebor Komodo dragon 1:6 scale replica.

Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To see the Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon and the rest of the Rebor replicas at Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Replicas and Figures.

A Very Realistic Model

The Komodo dragon figure is very realistic.  Team members have taken a number of photographs of this large model outside in various locations, when these images were shown to laypeople as well as herpetologists and other scientists, a few eyebrows were raised.  At first glance it looked like we had a live lizard wandering close to the warehouse!

The Rebor 1:6 Scale GrabNGo Komodo Dragon Model

Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon.

The new for 2019 Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon replica (1:6 scale model).  This picture provides an idea of the size of the figure, it measures nearly half a metre in length.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The Komodo dragon model is the first figure in the GrabNGo range from Rebor.  Collectors have the chance to judge for themselves the quality of production and the attention to detail.  This really is a super replica of Varanus komodoensis, or perhaps we should refer to it as “biawak raksasa”, which we believe is one of the names for this lizard used on the Island of Komodo.”

The New Komodo Dragon Model Has Won Praise for its Attention to Detail

Rebor GrabNGo Komodo dragon model.

Rebor Komodo dragon 1:6 scale replica.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The first orders for this exciting new figure will be despatched later today.  Such is the size of this new Rebor model, that Everything Dinosaur has had to invest in bespoke cardboard packaging to accommodate it and to ensure it arrives at our customers safe and sound.  As in line with our environmental policy, these new boxes are constructed from recycled card.  Everything Dinosaur hopes to achieve 100% utilisation of recycled card and paper packaging materials in the very near future.  For the time being, we have been using this new Rebor replica to help raise awareness regarding the plight of the Komodo dragon, an animal which is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) database.

Quite an unusual conversation with our packaging suppliers – “hello, we need recycled, double-ply boxes so that we can post out a half-metre-long lizard”!

10 11, 2019

Superb Dinosaur Fossil Sheds Light on Triassic Terrors

By | November 10th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Gnathovorax cabreirai – Triassic Terror Sheds Light on the Origins of Predatory Dinosaurs

A number of revisions to the Dinosauria have occurred in recent years.  Perhaps most famously, by the 2017 scientific paper published by Baron, Norman and Barrett, that redefined the dinosaurs along the lines of a model proposed by Henry Govier Seeley back in the late 1880’s*.  In this study, the enigmatic and quite poorly known herrerasaurids (Herrerasauridae), with their confusing array of dinosaur and non-dinosaur anatomical traits, were not classified as theropods, instead they are placed on the branch of the family tree associated with the Sauropodomorpha.  This paper, therefore, suggested that meat-eating actually evolved twice, once in the herrerasaurids and then again in the Theropoda.

This scientific paper has certainly opened up the taxonomic debate, however, the discovery of a remarkably-well preserved skeleton of a herrerasaurid from southern Brazil has helped scientists to get a much better idea of the Herrerasauridae and this, in turn, has provided a new insight into how these reptiles fit into the wider Dinosauria picture.

Location Map and Geological Setting Plus Skeletal Drawing of the Newly Described Herrerasaurid Gnathovorax cabreirai

Location map, geological setting and skeletal reconstruction (Gnathovorax).

Location map of fossil find (A), along with geological setting and key to the bones of other vertebrates found in situ (B).  Skeletal reconstruction of Gnathovorax (C), the white bones in the skeletal drawing represent known fossil material.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

Hardly Known Herrerasauridae

Fragmentary fossils associated with possible members of the Herrerasauridae have been found in North America and Europe, but the three species of herrerasaurids that most palaeontologists agree upon (Herrerasaurus, Staurikosaurus and Sanjuansaurus) all herald from the Late Triassic of South America.  Trouble is, as a dinosaur family there is not a lot of fossil material to study.  Writing in the academic journal PeerJ, a team of scientists have published a paper on a new and exquisitely-preserved herrerasaurid that has been named Gnathovorax cabreirai.

Preserved in mudstone, this dinosaur roamed southern Brazil some 233 million years ago (Carnian faunal stage of the Triassic), it was found in an almost articulated state, just some bones from the limbs were missing.  It lay alongside rhynchosaur and cynodont fossil remains, animals that this 3-metre-long dinosaur probably hunted.

The new specimen sheds light into poorly understood aspects of the herrerasaurid anatomy, even permitting the researchers, which included scientists from the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria in Santa Maria, (Brazil), to piece together the animal’s brain, inner ear and cranial nerves.

Photographs of the Skull of  Gnathovorax cabreirai and Interpretative Line Drawings

Views of the skull material and interpretative line drawing.

Photographs and a line drawing of the skull of Gnathovorax.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

Finding a Place for the Herrerasauridae on the Dinosaur Family Tree

The researchers conclude that Gnathovorax provides enough evidence about the suite of anatomical traits associated with the Herrerasauridae to enable them to be placed with more confidence on the lizard-hipped part of the dinosaur family tree.  Thanks to Gnathovorax, the best-preserved herrerasaurid found to date, palaeontologists can state with more certainty that these early predatory animals were indeed members of the Dinosauria, part of the Saurischia along with the sauropodomorphs and the theropods.  Importantly, the fossil material is not distorted very much, which has permitted the team to conduct a phylogenetic analysis with a great deal of confidence as to the outcome.  Strangely,  Gnathovorax cabreirai is nested more closely to the Argentinean taxa of Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis and Sanjuansaurus gordilloi than it is to the only other herrerasaurid known from Brazil (Staurikosaurus pricei).  It reinforces the idea that herrerasaurids were monophyletic, that is, that all the dinosaurs classified in this family shared a common ancestor.  Therefore, the Herrerasauridae are proposed to be part of the saurischian Order of dinosaurs, along with theropods and sauropodomorphs, but importantly, distinct from both groups.  This new paper supports the idea that meat-eating evolved twice in the Dinosauria (herrerasaurids and theropods), just like the Baron, Norman and Barrett 2017 paper proposed, but it differs from this earlier publication in that it concludes that the Herrerasauridae were indeed true dinosaurs.

What’s in a Name?

The fossil material comes from the Santa Maria Formation (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) and is dated to circa 233.23 +/- 0.73 million years.  The genus name is from the Greek and is translated as “jaw that is inclined to devour”, a reference to the recurved teeth and the bodyplan of Gnathovorax that resembles a theropod dinosaur.  The species name honours Dr. Sérgio Furtado Cabreira, the palaeontologist that found the specimen described in the scientific paper.

The scientific paper: “Gnathovorax cabreirai: a new early dinosaur and the origin and initial radiation of predatory dinosaurs” by Cristian Pacheco, Rodrigo T. Müller​, Max Langer, Flávio A. Pretto, Leonardo Kerber and Sérgio Dias da Silva published in PeerJ.

*For Everything Dinosaur’s article on the Baron, Norman and Barrett paper: Root and Branch Reform for the Dinosaur Family Tree

9 11, 2019

Illustrating Allosaurus

By | November 9th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Illustrating Allosaurus

Everything Dinosaur team members get the chance to view all sorts of different examples of prehistoric artwork and illustrations.  We are grateful for Caldey for sending into us her illustration of the Late Jurassic theropod Allosaurus, a dinosaur that is sometimes referred to as the “lion of the Jurassic”.

An Illustration of the Head and Neck of Allosaurus (A. fragilis)

Allosaurus Illustrated

An illustration of the fearsome Jurassic carnivorous dinosaur – Allosaurus.

Picture Credit: Caldey

Like many aspiring palaeoartists, young Caldey has been experimenting by using different techniques to create the impression of the texture of reptilian skin.  In her illustration of Allosaurus, she has used a different method to produce the scales of this large, meat-eating dinosaur.  Coloured dots have been used to create the illusion of rough scales and we think the end result is most impressive.

The flash of red is very distinctive over the eyes.  Allosaurus had a pair of small horns just above each eye-socket.  These horns were actually extensions of the lacrimal bones that are located just in front of the eyes and help to form the orbit.  These bones, in turn, were probably covered in keratin and they could have been quite colourful, perhaps having a role in visual displays.

This specimen has scars located on both the upper and lower jaw.  These injuries could have occurred when tackling prey or perhaps during intraspecific combat, for example, face-biting behaviour has been postulated for a number of theropods.

Caldey has also used her own colour palette based on their environment and her research as to which habitats could have been home to this Late Jurassic predator (possible forest and plain areas).  She has also mentioned that it would be great if a manufacturer would make an Allosaurus model in this colour scheme.

Our thanks again to Caldey for sending her drawing into us.

8 11, 2019

New CollectA Models 2020 (Part 2)

By | November 8th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|1 Comment

New CollectA Models 2020 (Part 2)

Time to reveal the second part of our blog series that highlights the new for 2020 prehistoric animal models that are due to be released by CollectA.  Today, we announce the addition of two new 1:40 scale prehistoric animal replicas, representing dinosaurs that have only recently been scientifically described.

The two models are:

  • CollectA Deluxe Saltriovenator in 1:40 scale (S. zanellai) – a large, predatory dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of northern Italy.
  • CollectA Bajadasaurus in 1:40 scale (B. pronuspinax) – a member of the Dicraeosauridae family of Sauropods, known from the Early Cretaceous of Argentina.

The New for 2020 CollectA Deluxe Saltriovenator Dinosaur Model (1:40 Scale)

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Saltriovenator dinosaur model.

CollectA Deluxe Saltriovenator dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: CollectA

CollectA Saltriovenator 1:40 Scale Dinosaur Model

Known from fragmentary fossils found at the Salnova marble quarry in the municipality of Saltrio from which the dinosaur is named, Saltriovenator is the largest known predatory dinosaur to have been described from fossil material associated with the Sinemurian faunal stage of the Early Jurassic.  The quarry workers used explosives to blast the rocks, which resulted in the fossilised bones being blown into hundreds of fragments.  Careful, painstaking preparation by scientists from the Natural History Museum of Milan and the Geological Museum of Bologna enabled this dinosaur to be “pieced” together.  This new replica for 2020 is sure to make an explosive impact!

Model designer Anthony Beeson explained that Saltriovenator is an ancestor of Ceratosaurus, so this new for 2020 addition will work well with the CollectA Ceratosaurus introduced in 2018.  It is only the third dinosaur known from Italy and the second carnivore.

The single specimen known to science is believed to represent a sub-adult, so the full size of this Early Jurassic monster is unclear, although it could have been around 8 metres long when fully grown and weighed as much as a tonne.  Intriguingly, in line with a recently published theory, this carnivore has been given lips.

The New for 2020 CollectA Bajadasaurus (1:40 Scale)

CollectA Bajadasaurus a 1:40 scale dinosaur model.

The CollectA Bajadasaurus a 1:40 scale dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: CollectA

CollectA Bajadasaurus 1:40 Scale Dinosaur Model

The second new for 2020 prehistoric animal from CollectA to be announced this week is the spectacular Bajadasaurus (B. pronuspinax).  A spectacular dicraeosaurid from Patagonia, closely related to Amargasaurus, a model of which, is already present in the CollectA range.  This plant-eating giant was described even more recently than Saltriovenator (published in Scientific Reports in February 2019).  Like Saltriovenator it is known from fragmentary remains, but skull material has been recovered and a single neck bone (the fifth cervical vertebra), sports an elongated and curved neural spine.  Designer Anthony Beeson commented that it was this spine that gave the dinosaur its name “Bajada reptile bent over forwards”.  The relatively short neck was probably crowned with a double row of tall curved spines that may have helped this herbivore defend itself from theropod dinosaurs.  The ornamentation on the neck could have also played a role in thermoregulation or perhaps even visual display.

At around nine to ten metres in length, Bajadasaurus was quite sizeable and Anthony explained that he had based this model on the better known Amargasaurus.  It certainly makes an amazing addition to the CollectA 1:40 scale model range and just like Saltriovenator, this dinosaur model has been given lips.

Tale of the Tape

  • CollectA Deluxe Saltriovenator 1:40 Scale Model – length 27.5 cm, with a head height of around 14 cm.  Expected mid 2020.
  • CollectA Bajadasaurus (1:40 scale) – length 35 cm with those amazing neural spines standing around 10 cm high.  Expected early 2020.

To view the current range of CollectA models available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Life.

To view the Deluxe range of CollectA figures available: CollectA Deluxe.

We look forward to posting up more information and images of other new for 2020 prehistoric animal models from CollectA next week.

To view the first of our blog posts featuring new for 2020 CollectA models: New CollectA 2020 (Part 1).

7 11, 2019

Remarkable Fossil Ape from the Miocene of Southern Germany

By | November 7th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Danuvius guggenmosi – Adapted for Walking and Climbing

A previously unknown primate that lived in the forests of southern Germany around 12 million years ago was capable of walking upright, just like us.  Palaeontologists have debated how the development of bipedalism amongst the great apes occurred and for that matter, where in the world did the first apes capable of upright walking evolve.  A remarkable fossil found in Bavaria suggests that upright posture may have originated in a common ancestor of humans and great apes that lived in Europe and not in Africa as previously supposed.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Miocene Ape Danuvius guggenmosi

Danuvius guggenmosi life reconstruction.

Danuvius life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Velizar Simeonovski / University of Tübingen

Writing in the publication “Nature”, an international research team led by Professor Madelaine Böhme from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (University of Tübingen), report on the discovery of a previously unknown type of primate that once roamed the forests of Bavaria.  This ape named Danuvius guggenmosi, which lived 11.62 million years ago, shows anatomical adaptations suited to both walking upright as well as using all four limbs for climbing.  The ability to walk bipedally with a plantigrade foot is considered a key evolutionary stage on the road that would eventually lead to the evolution of hominins including our own species H. sapiens.

The Twenty-one Fossils that Comprise the Male Danuvius Specimen

The 21 bones of the most complete partial skeleton of a male Danuvius.

The 21 bones of the most complete partial skeleton of a male Danuvius (D. guggenmosi).

Picture Credit: Christoph Jäckle / University of Tübingen

A Fossil That Resets the Evolutionary Clock

The scientists conclude that Danuvius were able to walk on two legs nearly twelve million years ago.  This is around six million years earlier than previously thought.  Up until this discovery the oldest evidence of potential bipedalism had been reported from Late Miocene of Africa and remarkably, from the island of Crete in the Mediterranean.  Close to the village of Trachilos in western Crete, scientists uncovered a series of footprints, the preserved tracks of an upright walking ape-like animal.  These trace fossils are believed to be around 5.7 million years old.  To read about these strange fossil tracks: Has Human Evolution Tripped Us Up?

The German fossil material represent a significant step (no pun intended), in terms of human evolution.  Lead author Professor Böhme explained:

“The finds in southern Germany are a milestone in palaeoanthropology, because they raise fundamental questions about our previous understanding of the evolution of the great apes and humans.”

Piecing Together the Skeleton of Danuvius (White Elements Represent Plaster Reconstructions of Bones)

Part of the reconstructed skeleton of Danuvius.

Reconstructing the skeleton of Danuvius.

Picture Credit: Christoph Jäckle / University of Tübingen

Lead Author of the Scientific Paper Professor Madelaine Böhme

Professor Madelaine Böhme (University of Tübingen)

Professor Madelaine Böhme examining the fossil material.

Picture Credit: Christoph Jäckle / University of Tübingen

How Did Hommins Come to Walk on Two Legs?

In the “Origin of Species” written by Charles Darwin and first published in 1859, one of the great controversies that arose from this book was the implications regarding our own evolution.  Darwin, perhaps all too aware of the seismic nature of his theory, did not dwell on this aspect of natural selection in his ground-breaking volume.  Towards the end of the book, in the concluding remarks section, he merely stated “light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history”.  Most of us now believe that we are descended from apes, however, one of the key distinguishing features between ourselves and the Great Apes, now bracketed in the same taxonomic family – the Hominidae, is that we walk on our hind legs and are truly bipedal, but how did this come about?  Did our bipedalism evolve from forest-dwelling monkey-like apes which clambered around on all fours?  Did bipedalism first arise in brachiating apes such as gibbons and orangutans who mostly use their arms to climb, or did it arise first in knuckle-walking apes such as bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas?

Reconstructing Cranial Elements of Danuvius guggenmosi

Piecing together the skull and jaws of Danuvius.

A reconstruction of part of the skull and the jaws of Danuvius (white plaster indicates reconstructed elements).

Picture Credit: Christoph Jäckle / University of Tübingen

Mapping an Ancient Vertebrate Fauna Preserved in a Bavarian Clay Pit

The Danuvius guggenmosi fossils were discovered between 2015 and 2018.  Working in the Hammerschmiede clay pit in the Allgäu region of Bavaria, Böhme and her team excavated more than 15,000 fossil vertebrate bones from the ancient humid and forested ecosystems that were abundant in southern Germany at that time.  The new primate fossils include the remains of at least four individuals.  The most complete skeleton, of a male Danuvius, has body proportions similar to modern-day bonobos.  Thanks to completely preserved limb bones, vertebrae, finger and toe bones, the researchers were able to reconstruct the way Danuvius moved about in its environment.

Professor Böhme stated:

“For the first time, we were able to investigate several functionally important joints, including the elbow, hip, knee and ankle, in a single fossil skeleton of this age.  It was astonishing for us to realise how similar certain bones are to humans, as opposed to great apes.”

The scientists conclude that Danuvius was capable of walking on two legs but could also climb like an ape.  The spine, for example, had an S-shaped curve similar to our own spine, it held the body upright when standing on two legs.  The ape’s build, posture, and the ways in which it moved are unique among known primates.

Co-author of the paper, Professor David Begun (University of Toronto), commented:

“Danuvius combines the hindlimb-dominated bipedality of humans with the forelimb-dominated climbing typical of living apes.”

The male Danuvius stood about a metre in height and weighed approximately 31 kilograms.  Females were smaller, reflecting the sexual dimorphism found in the extant members of the Hominidae today.  The research team estimate that females weighed around 18 kg, less than any great ape alive today.  The ribcage of these apes was broad and flat.  The lower back was elongated; this helped to position the centre of gravity over extended hips, knees and flat feet, as in bipeds.  Several key-features of human bipedality have been found on bones from the leg.

The Hand Bones of the Male Danuvius in their Storage Boxes

Hand bones from the male Danuvius.

Bones from the hand of the male Danuvius (manus).

Picture Credit: Christoph Jäckle / University of Tübingen

Despite these human-like anatomical adaptations, Danuvius would have been very much at home in the trees, fellow researcher, Professor Nikolai Spassov of the Bulgarian Academy of Science highlighted that:

“In contrast to later hominins, Danuvius had a powerful, opposable big toe, which enabled it to grasp large and small branches securely”.

This new study supports a previously published paper that analysed a fossilised ape hip bone that was around ten million years of age, that had been found in Hungary.  The Hungarian and the German fossil material indicate that the European ancestors of African apes and humans differed from extant gorillas and chimpanzees.

The researchers point out that the ancestors we share with living African apes were as unique as we are today.  These fossils may help palaeoanthropologists to map out where in deep time the African apes and human ancestors diverged, these remarkable fossils from southern Germany are certainly a step in the right direction.

The scientific paper: “A new Miocene ape and locomotion in the ancestor of great apes and humans” by Madelaine Böhme, Nikolai Spassov, Jochen Fuss, Adrian Tröscher, Andrew S. Deane, Jérôme Prieto, Uwe Kirscher, Thomas Lechner and David R. Begun published in the journal Nature.

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

6 11, 2019

Rebor Garden Stegosaurus armatus 1:35 Scale Models

By | November 6th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Rebor “Garden” Stegosaurus armatus 1:35 Scale Dinosaur Models

Those talented people at Rebor are introducing not one, but three amazing Stegosaurus dinosaur models in 1:35 scale in time for Christmas.  The new Rebor Stegosaurus models will be available from Everything Dinosaur in three colour variants – namely “Plain”, “Mountain” and “Woodland” and team members are expecting this stock to arrive at the company’s warehouse in about 7-8 weeks, although they could be in stock slightly sooner.

The Rebor Stegosaurus Dinosaur Model “Garden” – Mountain Colour Variant

Rebor "Garden" Stegosaurus 1:35 scale dinosaur model (mountain).

Rebor Garden Stegosaurus armatus 1:35 scale dinosaur model (Mountain).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Each model measures around 28 cm long with a height of 14 cm.  The Rebor Stegosaurus figures have flexible necks and tails and each display base is approximately 11.5 cm long and 8 cm wide.

The Rebor Stegosaurus Dinosaur Model “Garden” – Plain Colour Variant

Rebor "Garden" Stegosaurus 1:35 scale dinosaur model (plain).

Rebor Garden Stegosaurus armatus 1:35 scale dinosaur model (Plain).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Rebor Stegosaurus Dinosaur Model “Garden” – Woodland Colour Variant

Rebor "Garden" Stegosaurus 1:35 scale dinosaur model (woodland).

Rebor Garden Stegosaurus armatus 1:35 scale dinosaur model (Woodland).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

1:35 Scale Dinosaur Models

Each beautifully crafted replica is depicted in 1:35 scale and are designed to accompany the Rebor Ceratosaurus (C. dentisulcatus), a fellow resident of the famous Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of the western United States.  Dinosaur fans can choose from three colour schemes for their armoured dinosaur – “plain”, “woodland” and “mountain”, a motif introduced when the 2018 Ankylosaurus models were launched by Rebor.

The Rebor Ceratosaurus Dinosaur Model (1:35 Scale)

Rebor Ceratosaurus dinosaur model (Savage).

The Rebor 1:35 scale Ceratosaurus dentisulcatus replica.  This figure is on display at the Everything Dinosaur office.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To join Everything Dinosaur’s priority reserve list for the three new Stegosaurus replicas, simply: Email Everything Dinosaur to Join our Priority Stegosaurus Reservation List.

Stegosaurus armatus

Stegosaurus is one of the most instantly recognisable of all the dinosaurs.  However, compared to other iconic prehistoric animals such as Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex only recently have palaeontologists begun to learn more about the physiology and anatomy of this genus.  Stegosaurus was one of those taxa caught up in the “Bone Wars” between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, as such, new species were erected, often, on only the flimsiest and scrappiest of fossil evidence.  Take for example, Stegosaurus affinis which was named by Marsh in 1881, just four years after the first Stegosaurus (S. armatus) was named and described.  This species was erected based on the description of a single bone from the hips, as such Stegosaurus affinis, like many Stegosaur species has been revised over the years and this particular armoured dinosaur is now regarded as “nomen dubium” – of dubious taxonomic affinity.

Even the validity of Stegosaurus armatus has been questioned.  It was originally appointed the type species for the entire genus and despite around thirty Morrison Formation specimens being ascribed to it, S. armatus has been replaced as the type species by Stegosaurus stenops in 2013.  It might be surprising, given the iconic nature of this dinosaur, but palaeontologists remain uncertain as to the composition of the Stegosauridae family and the exact taxonomic relationships within such instantly recognisable genera such as Stegosaurus.  Despite its status and popularity, Stegosaurus was not even the first armoured dinosaur to be described, that honour goes to the equally confusing and little known Hylaeosaurus (H. armatus), which shares the same trivial name as S. armatus.  Hylaeosaurus heralds from the Grinstead Clay Formation (Wealden Group).  A life-size model of Hylaeosaurus (the first large, armoured dinosaur model to be commissioned, can be found at the Crystal Palace Park, how fitting therefore, that the London-based Rebor should add models of Stegosaurs to its exciting range of prehistoric animal replicas.

Each Colour Variant Has its Own Display Base – “Mountain”, “Plain” or “Woodland”

Three display bases - Rebor "Garden" Stegosaurus dinosaur model.

Rebor “Garden” Stegosaurus dinosaur model – three display bases.  Three Stegosaur models and three beautifully crafted Stegosaur bases – which one will you choose?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To see the range of Rebor figures and replicas in stock at Everything Dinosaur, including the Ceratosaurus “Savage”: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Replicas

5 11, 2019

Fossil Footprints Reflect Diverse Dinosaurs in South-western Alaska

By | November 5th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Fossil Footprints Reflect Diverse Dinosaurs in South-western Alaska

Dinosaur fossils and their footprints have been found in Cretaceous-aged rocks in the American state of Alaska before.  Everything Dinosaur has produced a number of articles featuring fossil discoveries, many of which come from the Denali National Park area of the central part of the state.  However,  a new paper published in the journal PLOS One, provides an insight into the dinosaurs that roamed the south-western corner of the “Last Frontier” state.  The Late Cretaceous of the area of Alaska now known as the Aniakchak National Monument was dominated by duck-billed dinosaurs, but ankylosaurs, theropods and birds also lived in that part of the world.

A Digital Reconstruction of the Aniakchak National Monument in the Late Cretaceous

A landscape dominated by hadrosaurs but ankylosaurs were present too.

Numerous hadrosaur tracks have been found – both adults and juveniles.

Picture Credit: Karen Carr/PLOS One

The Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Chignik Formation

The trackways, individual prints and other fossils, such as cycad leaves that indicate that around 70 million years ago, this part of Alaska was much warmer than it is today, provide palaeontologists with an insight into a high latitude, dinosaur dominated ecosystem.  These fossils may also provide some further evidence to help palaeontologists understand how dinosaurs migrated from Asia into the Americas.  Seventy-five new dinosaur footprints and trackways have been documented, more than ninety percent of which represent hadrosaurs.

Representative Hadrosaur Tracks

Hadrosaur tracks from Alaska.

Photographs of hadrosaur trackways including an overlapping track (A) with line drawing (B) and a photogrammatic contour map of a footprint (F).

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Co-author of the study, Dr Yoshitsugu Kobayashi (Hokkaido University Museum, Japan), stated:

“This study provides us a better understanding of the high-latitude dinosaur ecosystems of Alaska.  Such an understanding will help us address important questions such as did the dinosaurs survive the winters there and, if so, how did they survive?”

A Map Highlighting the Position of the Fossil Discoveries

Aniakchak National Park location and fossil sites.

A, Alaska.  Red star is location of Aniakchak National Park and Preserve.  Blue circles show location of dinosaur bonebeds on North Slope.  B, Drawing of Aniakchak National Park and Preserve.  The outcrop pattern for the Chignik Formation is shown in light green. Red rectangle outlines this study area.  C, Close-up diagram of study area showing Chignik Formation exposures in light green, restricted to shoreline.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Ankylosaurs Present Too

Two tracks have been identified as having been made by armoured dinosaurs (ichnotaxon Tetrapodosaurus), both these tracks were found in fallen blocks and the largest of the footprints measures around 35 centimetres wide.  The impression of five digits in each of the tracks indicate that these prints represent tracks made by the forelimbs, not the four-toed back legs of armoured dinosaurs.

A Potential Ankylosaur Track – Aniakchak National Monument

Potentail Alaskan armoured dinosaur track.

Armoured dinosaur track (ichnotaxon Tetrapodosaurus).

Picture Credit: PLOS One with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Avian and Non-Avian Theropods

The research team also identified a number of different sized tridactyl (three-toed), prints.  Two different types of bird track were identified in the study, along with a much larger single print that the scientists estimate was made by a theropod dinosaur around five to six metres in length.  The fossil print has been assigned to the ichnogenus Grallator.  The track suggests a large, predatory dinosaur and the team comment that the footprint is roughly around the track size that would have been made by the pygmy tyrannosaurid Nanuqusaurus hoglandi, which was named and described in 2014, from material found in the far north of Alaska (Prince Creek Formation).

A Large Three-toed Theropod Dinosaur Print (Aniakchak National Monument)

Large theropod track from south-western Alaska.

Large tridactyl track attributed to the ichnogenus Grallator from the Aniakchak National Monument location.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

The scientific paper: “Dinosaur ichnology and sedimentology of the Chignik Formation (Upper Cretaceous), Aniakchak National Monument, south-western Alaska; Further insights on habitat preferences of high-latitude hadrosaurs)” by Anthony R. Fiorillo, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Paul J. McCarthy, Tomonori Tanaka, Ronald S. Tykoski, Yuong-Nam Lee, Ryuji Takasaki and Junki Yoshida published in the journal PLOS One.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the compilation of this article.

4 11, 2019

The First Pliosaur from Poland

By | November 4th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Polish Giant Marine Reptile Found in Cornfield

A pair of Polish palaeontologists have published a scientific paper describing the discovery of a large, Late Jurassic pliosaur from a site located in a cornfield in the north-eastern part of the Holy Cross Mountains close to the village of Krzyżanowice in southern Poland.  This is the first pliosaur to have been found in Poland.  Scientists are puzzled with regards to the vertebrate fauna identified at the site, the pliosaur fossils are very similar to pliosaur remains associated with the Late Jurassic Boreal/Sub-Boreal localities of the Kimmeridge Clay in England and the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic.  However, the fossils of turtles and marine crocodiles found at this location have more in common with the fauna associated with ecosystems found much further to the south.

Teeth and a Partially Preserved Jaw of the Polish Pliosaur

Teeth and a partial jaw of the Polish pliosaur.

A photograph show a partial preserved jaw of the Polish pliosaur and fossil teeth.

Picture Credit: Polish Academy of Sciences

Fearsome Pliosaurs

The Pliosauridae are a family of marine reptiles within the clade Plesiosauria.  They are often referred to as the “short-necked plesiosaurs”, as unlike plesiosaurs, these reptiles evolved massive skulls on short, powerful necks.  Pliosaurs were geographically widespread throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous with fossil discoveries having been made in Europe, including the UK, Australia, and the Americas.  It is believed they originated in the Early Jurassic and survived into the Late Cretaceous.

A Typical Pliosaur – Pliosaurus

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Pliosaurus marine reptile diorama.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Pliosaurus marine reptile model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Ten-metre-long Giant

The fossilised remains, although fragmentary, suggest an animal around ten metres in length.  The presence of such a large, apex predator indicates that the ecosystem was particularly rich and diverse.  The pliosaur has yet to be scientifically described but it is very likely a new genus.  It swam in the warm, tropical sea in the central portion of the European archipelago, as during the Late Jurassic, sea levels were much higher and western Europe consisted of a series of large islands surrounded by a shallow sea.

Examining the Fossilised Bones and Teeth

Examining the pliosaur fossils.

Palaeontologist Dr Daniel Tyborowski (from the Museum of the Earth of the Polish Academy of Sciences) in Warsaw and co-author of the scientific paper examines the fossil remains.

Picture Credit: Polish Academy of Sciences

Identifying a Late Jurassic Faunal Boundary

The unusual mix of vertebrate fossils, some similar to animals that lived further north, whilst others resemble marine animals that lived in more southerly palaeolatitudes, has led the researchers to suggest that the fossils preserved in this part of Poland represent an ancient faunal boundary.  A faunal boundary is an area of demarcation between two ecosystems that are similar but contain different members.

The unique composition of the Krzyżanowice-site vertebrate fauna demonstrates that, during the Late Jurassic this new locality was located in the transitional palaeobiogeographic line referred to in the scientific paper as the “Matyja-Wierzbowski Line”.  The fossils represent the boundary between two ecosystems, an area where some faunal mixing between the two ecosystems occurred.

Identifying the “Matyja-Wierzbowski Line” in the Upper Jurassic Marine Deposits of Europe

Identifying the Identifying the “Matyja-Wierzbowski Line” - a faunal boundary.

Identifying the “Matyja-Wierzbowski Line”.  The black line plots the boundary between the two marine ecosystems.

Picture Credit: Polish Academy of Sciences with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

For a more in-depth explanation of faunal boundary, please refer to this article that discusses “The Wallace Line”, a faunal boundary in south-east Asia proposed by the English biologist Alfred Russel Wallace: New Species of Rat Discovered in Sulawesi.

The scientific paper: “New marine reptile fossils from the Late Jurassic of Poland with implications for vertebrate faunas palaeobiogeography” by Daniel Tyborowski and Błażej Błażejowski published in the Proceedings of the Geologist’s Association.

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