The new for 2021 Papo Megalodon model has arrived at Everything Dinosaur. This is the first new prehistoric animal model to be added to the Papo “Les Dinosaures” range this year. Like many model manufacturers, Papo have found it difficult to introduce new figures due to the global pandemic and issues with logistics, but this splendid prehistoric shark replica has been well worth the wait.
Regarded by many researchers as the biggest shark known to science and indeed, one of the largest fish to have ever existed “Megalodon” certainly has iconic status. Models of this apex predator, adult animals are believed to have fed on whales, have always been popular and in August 2018 the film “The Meg” premiered. The plot for the movie considered the possibility that these prehistoric sharks are not extinct and inhabit the deepest parts of the ocean. The film was a huge box office success and grossed over $530 million USD in box office sales. Although sightings of really large sharks have been made, most scientists believe that Otodus megalodon became extinct more than 2.5 million years ago.
Known mainly from fossilised teeth, the taxonomic position of “Megalodon” remains controversial. The famous Swiss zoologist Louis Agassiz published a scientific description in 1843 and erected the name Carcharodon megalodon as he believed that this prehistoric shark was closely related to the extant Great White (Carcharodon carcharias). This idea has fallen out of favour and it is now thought that Otodus megalodon was a member of the extinct shark family the Otodontidae, which diverged from those sharks that eventually led to the evolution of the modern Great White during the Cretaceous. It is likely that the ancestors of the Great White and Otodus were contemporaneous and the lineages may have competed against each other for resources (interspecific competition).
The Papo Megalodon model measures around 20.5 cm in length and that impressive dorsal fin is around 5.5 cm off the ground. The model is supplied with a transparent support stand which also serves to protect the broad, wide pectoral fins during shipping.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that they were delighted to be able to get this excellent shark figure into stock and that the published image from Papo for this model did not do it justice. They also stated that team members had taken the decision to update their “Megalodon” fact sheet that is sent out with sales of this figure. It was thought appropriate to amend the classification as stated in the fact sheet from Carcharocles megalodon to Otodus megalodon to reflect the latest scientific thinking, although the spokesperson did also comment that the taxonomic classification of this iconic prehistoric fish remained uncertain.
Scientists now know that during the Late Cretaceous (Campanian to Maastrichtian), southern Patagonia was home to ankylosaurs and that predatory abelisaurids competed with terrestrial crocodyliforms when it came to scavenging the carcases of giant Titanosaurs.
Researcher have examined fossilised teeth and osteoderms (bony plates and scales embedded in skin) collected from a small area of Upper Cretaceous deposits from the Cerro Fortaleza Formation in Santa Cruz province and used these fossils to piece together an archosaur dominated palaeocommunity.
Teeth from Abelisaurids, Titanosaurs and Ankylosaurs
The dinosaur fauna of the Cerro Fortaleza Formation is very poorly known with only a few dinosaurs named and described, such as the giant titanosaur Dreadnoughtus schrani. However, researchers who included scientists affiliated to CONICET as well as a researcher from Seoul National University (South Korea), have published a paper in the on-line, open access journal PLOS One reporting on the discovery of several very worn and broken teeth that along with fossil osteoderms have enabled the research team to reconstruct the fauna that once roamed this ancient landscape.
Lying some 100 miles (160 kilometres) to the south of the Cerro Fortaleza Formation exposures that yielded the teeth and osteoderm fossils, the Chorrillo Formation is also regarded as an important source of dinosaur fossils. Palaeontologists are not sure of the temporal relationship between these dinosaur-fossil-bearing units, although it has been postulated that the Chorrillo Formation is slightly older. Both units have provided evidence of titanosaurs, theropods and ornithopods, but up to now only the Chorrillo Formation had provided evidence of ankylosaurs. Whilst working at the Cerro Fortaleza locality in December 2016, field team members discovered several isolated osteoderms and a single, very worn tooth thus confirming the presence of armoured dinosaurs in the Cerro Fortaleza Formation too.
Whilst it is difficult to identify a specific type of ankylosaur from just skin scales and a single tooth, the researchers postulate that these fossils represent a nodosaurid.
The Dinosaurs of the Cerro Fortaleza Formation
The researchers were able to confirm the presence of a large abelisaurid theropod and an ankylosaur based on the fossil teeth. Very worn and broken titanosaur spp. teeth were also recorded. The types of dinosaurs that lived in the area represented by the Cerro Fortaleza Formation were similar to those reported from the Chorrillo Formation, although the two populations were very probably made up of different genera.
Intriguingly, evidence of hadrosaurs has been reported from the Chorrillo Formation, as yet no fossils that could be assigned to the Hadrosauridae have been reported from the Cerro Fortaleza Formation.
Crocodyliforms Competing with Carnivorous Dinosaurs
In addition to the dinosaur fossils, the researchers found a total of 9 broken teeth which they assigned to the Peirosauridae family. Peirosaurids are an extinct group of terrestrial crocodyliforms, not closely related to modern crocodilians and seemingly confined to Gondwana. Their upright gait and different shaped teeth (heterodont teeth) indicate that these archosaurs may have had a more varied diet than the carnivorous dinosaurs. Most of the fossils found represent peirosaurid teeth (75%) and this suggests that there were more crocodyliforms present in the area than dinosaurs. The peirosaurid teeth represent the most southerly distribution of this type of archosaur recorded to date and since the teeth do not match those of Colhuehuapisuchus lunai which is known from Chubut Province to the north, this suggests at least two taxa of peirosaurids present in southern Patagonia during the Late Cretaceous.
The ankylosaur fossils from Cerro Fortaleza and Chorrillo formations, indicate that armoured dinosaurs lived in the region of southern South America during the Late Cretaceous. These fossils although fragmentary help to fill a gap in the fossil record between Antarctica and central-northern Patagonia. Thanks to this research the Late Cretaceous dinosaur record in southern South America has been improved.
The scientific paper: “A Late Cretaceous dinosaur and crocodyliform faunal association–based on isolate teeth and osteoderms–at Cerro Fortaleza Formation (Campanian-Maastrichtian) type locality, Santa Cruz, Argentina” by Ariana Paulina-Carabajal, Francisco T. Barrios, Ariel H. Méndez, Ignacio A. Cerda and Yuong-Nam Lee published in PLOS One.
Our thanks to model collector William who sent into Everything Dinosaur his review of the recently introduced PNSO Carcharodontosaurus dinosaur model.
Dinosaur fan William has been building up his collection of PNSO figures and replicas, here is his review of his latest acquisition, the PNSO “Gamba” the Carcharodontosaurus.
PNSO 2021 Carcharodontosaurus saharicus “Gamba”. 1/45 scale model. Length: 12 inches. Height: 3.5 inches. Box: Standard white PNSO issue with the acrylic stand and a beautiful booklet.
Examining the Head and Jaws
William begins his review by examining the head and jaws. He comments that “Gamba” has a fantastic Carcharodontosaurinae head with detailed scaling and the head shows no signs of model shrink wrapping. The colouration of the eyes is mentioned, it is a bold choice of paint, the eyes are a dark orange in appearance.
The jaw is fully articulated and it reflects the high build standards that collectors have come to expect from PNSO. The shape and painting of the mouth is praised along with the accurate nasal passages and the white, shark-like teeth that were the inspiration behind this dinosaur’s name.
Concluding his review of the head and the jaws William states:
“The PNSO “Gamba” is your go to Carcharodontosaurinae and I suggest you go get him, this quality only comes this way in a lifetime”.
Looking at the Dinosaur’s Limbs
The reviewer extolls the virtues of the front limbs stating that they are small but powerful and each finger is tipped with an excellent claw. The robust, typical Carcharodontosaurinae legs are discussed and William highlights the blunted toe claws, which reflect the way the toe claws probably looked as the keratin sheaths would have been worn down as the dinosaur walked.
The Body of “Gamba” Scrutinised
Continuing his review William explained that “Gamba” has a classical Carcharodontosaurinae body as shared by all the known members of this superfamily. The texture and detailing of the skin was praised and regarded as “top-notch”.
Skin folds and the texture of the model were complimented with particular reverence afforded to the detail depicted on the lower portion of the ribs. The Carcharodontosaurus model reflects this dinosaur’s status as an apex predator.
Commenting on the Paint Scheme
William reflects on the similar colour schemes of “Gamba” the Carcharodontosaurus and the related Allosaurus in the PNSO mid-size model range known as “Paul”. The Carcharodontosaurus is described as having dark, dun tiger stripes which run down the length of the body. The outside of the legs are a mustard-brown colour and the claws are black. The main body area is described as having a mixture of greens which descend into creams and beige, with a hint of pink on the underside of the figure.
Discovery and History
As with William’s earlier PNSO model reviews, he concludes his review by providing some information on the dinosaur.
Temporal Period: Late Cretaceous Albian to Cenomanian: 113~90 million years ago. Carcharodontosaurus saharicus “Shark toothed lizard of the Sahara”. Estimates of 39~44 ft in length and weighing 6.2~15.1 tons (we are in the realms of large theropods here).
William was quick to point out the hugely significant contribution made by Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach (1871-1952), who named and described Carcharodontosaurus (C. saharicus) in 1931. Stromer’s name is synonymous with dinosaur research, the German palaeontologist made some very important fossil discoveries in the early part of the 20th century.
William also commented upon the profusion of large, predatory dinosaurs associated with the Cretaceous of North Africa – dinosaurs such as Rugops, Deltradromeus, Spinosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus.
Summarising his thoughts on the Carcharodontosaurinae, William exclaimed:
“The Carcharodontosaurinae superfamily fielded some of the Earth’s largest land predators as they never stopped growing throughout their 50 to 60 years. It is only a matter of time until a true “Tyrant Slayer” is unearthed either in North Africa or in South America.”
Our thanks to William for providing Everything Dinosaur with such a detailed review of “Gamba” the PNSO Carcharodontosaurus dinosaur model.
To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.
PNSO will add a Tylosaurus marine reptile model to their popular mid-size model range. Evan the Tylosaurus will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur before Christmas (2021). The Tylosaurus figure is number 57 in the PNSO mid-size model range.
Whilst other manufacturers have struggled to produce prehistoric animal figures this year, PNSO have gone from strength-to-strength introducing more than fifteen prehistoric animals in their mid-size range in 2021, including a Kronosaurus model (Jeff the Kronosaurus). A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur confirmed that both these marine reptile figures (Jeff the Kronosaurus and Evan the Tylosaurus), will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur very soon.
Tylosaurus Marine Reptile Model
Several species have been assigned to the Tylosaurus genus. The first species to formally named and described was Tylosaurus proriger, which was named by the famous American palaeontologist Edward Drinker Cope in 1869. The most recent addition to the Tylosaurus genus is T. saskatchewanensis which was described in 2018 (Jiménez-Huidobro et al). The fossils come from the Bearpaw Formation of southern Sasktachewan (Canada) and demonstrate that tylosaurs were present in the northern Western Interior Seaway during the late Campanian. Tylosaurus saskatchewanensis represents the most northerly occurrence of this genus.
Although the PNSO models do not have a declared scale, at around 31 cm in length, this is a very good size for a marine reptile figure.
Tylosaurus is a member of the Mosasauridae family. Mosasaurus is the type genus of the Mosasauridae, an extinct family of marine reptiles related to modern lizards and snakes. Several species have been named and Mosasaurus hoffmannii (which was named in 1829), with an estimated length in excess of 17 metres is one of the largest marine reptiles known from the Cretaceous. Tylosaurus proriger was slightly smaller with an estimated length of around 13-14 metres. Some palaeontologists have estimated that Tylosaurus could have weighed more than two tonnes.
Flippers and Tail
The PNSO Tylosaurus model has been given an asymmetrical tail fluke, which reflects soft tissue evidence from fossil remains. The model has a deep chest which is typical of the Mosasauridae and short but powerful flippers.
The model has been provided with two rows of teeth in its upper jaws. The second set located towards the back of the mouth are called pterygoid teeth. The pterygoid teeth helped the animal to grip its prey and to aid in the movement of prey down the gullet.
Transparent Support Stands
PNSO Evan the Tylosaurus is supplied with two transparent support stands. These stands permit collectors to display their figure, the substantial lower tail fluke would cause the figure to topple over if it were simply placed on a table.
The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained that Evan the Tylosaurus was just the latest prehistoric animal model to be announced by PNSO and they expected more exciting figures to be released before the end of the year.
To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.
Our thanks to William who sent into Everything Dinosaur a detailed review of the PNSO “Yinqi” the Yutyrannus dinosaur model. William has been busy writing reviews on his recent PNSO prehistoric animal acquisitions. He is becoming an avid fan of the PNSO mid-size model range.
The Yutyrannus (Y. huali), is just one of several theropod models that have been introduced by PNSO this year.
Dinosaur Model Review
Here is William’s review of his latest PNSO acquisition:
PNSO 2021 Yutyrannus huali “Yinqi”. 1/30-1/35 scale model. Length: 10 inches. Height: 4.1 inches. Box: Standard white PNSO issue with the acrylic stand and a beautiful booklet.
Looking at the Head and the Articulated Jaws
William starts his review by looking at the head and the jaws of the Yutyrannus figure. He comments on the bare snout and highlights the fine detail of the scales and the well-defined nostrils, before declaring the orange nasal crest as “a stunner”. The lacrimal horns are praised and he states:
“What a fantastic, feathered head sculpt, you will not find anywhere else, kudos to PNSO we have a Yutyrannus finally.”
William also commented on the eye colouration and the black skin folds encircling the orbits. Turning his attention to the jaw, he stated that the jaw of the dinosaur model is fully articulated and opens quite wide to show off wonderful white teeth which are displayed in a lipless mouth. The painting of the interior of the mouth was extolled and he exclaimed:
“The tongue sits flat to the bottom of the mouth and looks great with detailed nasal passages in the roof of the skull.”
Reviewing the Limbs of “Yinqi” the Yutyrannus
When compared to the reduced forelimbs of T. rex or Tarbosaurus, the arms of the tyrannosauroid Yutyrannus look powerful, each hand is armed with three robust claws and William suggests that these claws were used to hold onto or despatch prey. Even though the arms are feathered, the sculpting team at PNSO have taken care to give the impression of powerful muscles under the plumage, a point that William remarks upon. He also comments on the strong, muscular legs of the model with their large dewclaws and the padded soles of the feet.
The rough, shaggy integumentary covering providing excellent insulation for this large dinosaur in its harsh, temperate climate.
The review looks at the torso of the figure and the feather impressions covering the body are discussed.
William praises the pose of the figure remarking:
“The pose is that of a hunter sniffing out prey in a forward motion with the head posed to spot movement. Truly this figure is a wonder to behold.”
Painting a Prehistoric Animal
The choice of colour scheme is lauded in William’s review. He states that the tips of the jaws are black, but this colour gradually softens and lightens towards the posterior end of the jawbones. He praises the contrasting white of the jowls and the chest area of the model. The main body colour is described as “a rich golden wheat of varied shades from dark to light”.
William also highlights the dark wash that runs over the back along the spine to the end of the tail, which is painted a dun colour.
As with previous reviews, William concludes by providing some further information on the dinosaur.
Discovery and History
Temporal Period: Early Cretaceous of the Liaoning Province: 125 million years ago. Yutyrannus huali “Beautiful Feathered Tyrant”. The adult was 29.5 ft with a weight of 1.1 tonnes around the weight of Megalosaurus.
First described and named in 2012 by Xu Xing from a trio of nearly complete fossil remains representing an adult with a subadult and a juvenile tagging along on maybe its first hunt. All three have been captured for all time.
A great pity those that had discovered the specimens cut them into square sections for ease of transport to a dealer from the Batu Yingzi quarry. Imagine what more could have been learned from where they were unearthed.
The palaeoenvironment that Yutyrannus inhabited would have been similar to the temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest of the USA/Canada – warm and wet in summer and harsh in the winter but Yutyrannus was well-insulated thanks to its thick, saggy coat.
In concluding his review William stated:
“PNSO 2021 Yutyrannus huali “Yinqi” another great addition to their ever-expanding theropod line but a unique edition to own a fully feathered natural looking Tyrannosauroidea and presently the world largest feathered dinosaur”.
Everything Dinosaur, the UK-based supplier of dinosaur models, toys and games has received 160 Google reviews from customers. All of these reviews are 5-stars, the top marks that can be awarded. Team members are honoured to have received such praise from customers.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“We are truly humbled to have received 161 Google 5-star reviews in a row. Customer feedback and testimonials are very important to us and we really do appreciate all the comments that we receive.”
Genuine Customer Feedback
Each of the Google reviews has been provided by a genuine customer of Everything Dinosaur. These are reviews from real people who are commenting on their experience of purchasing from the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.
Here are some typical, recent customer reviews received by the company:
Jay provided a review stating:
“Stellar customer service! Everything Dinosaur go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction. I am yet to come across another company who does so much for their customers”.
“Great quality, fantastic value for money, super fast delivery. We are loyal customers.”
Regular customer Paul wrote in his 5-star Google review:
“Really great on-line shop for dinosaur paraphernalia, fantastic range from simple toys to high-end, well-detailed models, fast delivery, great customer service, highly recommended.”
“Always amazing service, genuinely the best I have ever experienced from an on-line transaction – courteous, quick response etc. And great models too…”
These Google reviews are not received in isolation, product reviews and customer comments are being posted up on Everything Dinosaur’s website all the time. There are over 1,700 reviews on the Everything Dinosaur website and in addition, the company’s products and customer service record is independently vetted by Feefo. There are over 640 Feefo reviews currently displayed, Everything Dinosaur is well on its way to retaining the prestigious Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award – the highest award for customer service provided by Feefo.
The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur added:
“We are grateful for all the feedback we receive and we are continually trying our best under very difficult circumstances to support our customers. For example, manufacturing and logistic difficulties have been widely reported but this week we were able to receive a shipment of Wild Safari Prehistoric World models at our warehouse. Twenty-two prehistoric animal model lines were either put back into stock or had more stock added to their inventory. This provides our customers with a reliable source of prehistoric animal themed merchandise.”
With around 100 days until Christmas, customers can be assured that Everything Dinosaur will be doing all they can to ensure continuation of supplies and stock of dinosaur toys and dinosaur models, although it is advisable to shop early. Purchases of Everything Dinosaur products are all backed by the company’s 5-star, award-winning service.
Our thanks to dinosaur fan and model collector William who sent in his detailed review of the PNSO “Connor” the Torvosaurus dinosaur model after his recent purchase from Everything Dinosaur.
Reviewing a Torvosaurus Dinosaur Model
Here is William’s review of the PNSO Torvosaurus:
PNSO 2021 Torvosaurus tanneri “Connor”. 1/35-1/38 scale model. Length: 11.5 inches. Height: 3.1 inches. Box: Standard white PNSO issue with the plastic stand and beautiful booklet.
Looking at the Head and Jaws
William states that the head of the model is based upon Professor Scott Hartman’s reconstruction which gives the head a longer snout – a wonderful Megalosauridae head. PNSO have given “Connor” a pair of lacrimal crests these are only seen in an as yet undescribed German specimen, but they are an attractive feature of this model.
The figure has a fully articulated jaw with fantastic white teeth as is the norm no lips and the teeth indicate that this dinosaur had an overbite. Great to see a dewlap under the jaw – the head looks very natural. The pink tongue and very detailed nasal passage finish off the business end of this Megalosauridae head.
William went on to comment that the nasal ridges run from the top of the snout to the lacrimal crests and below a pair of pale-yellow eyes with eyelids and skin folds around the eye sockets. William also praised the detail associated with the ear opening. He noted no shrink wrapping on the model.
Commenting on the Limbs
As a dinosaur model fan and collector, William was able to comment that the Torvosaurus possessed a pair of powerful forelimbs, a stark contrast to tyrannosaurs. He remarked that the forelimbs on the model ended in three-fingered hands with a strong, robust grappling-hook-like thumb claw. William speculated that this large claw could have been used for holding or despatching prey.
The hind legs are commented upon, they are described as robust and anchored to an equally robust pelvis. The powerful, muscular legs would have been ideally suited for chasing herbivorous dinosaurs. William pointed out that the feet had padded soles and large dewclaws with blunted toe claws – a detail praised as in life toe claws would not have been razor-sharp, but somewhat blunted.
Admiring the Torvosaurus Trunk
When discussing the body of the Torvosaurus model William declared:
“The classical long Megalosauridae body, oh we have wait for this for a lifetime…”
The scales, textures and other details such as the skin folds are praised and described as very lifelike. The osteoderms which run from the back of the skull down to the tail are also highlighted in William’s review.
When describing the row of osteoderms that run down the model’s back, William said:
“The spinal osteoderms are not to small nor too big, just correct running from the base of skull to the tip of the tail growing slightly smaller.”
When concluding his review of the body of the Torvosaurus William exclaimed that such an eye for detail in skin and scales was rarely matched by other manufacturers.
Paint Application and Colour Scheme
William ended his review of the PNSO Torvosaurus figure by commenting on the colour scheme. He explained that the design team at PNSO had chosen a good, well-defined grey paint scheme which was broken up by broad, mottled stripes, with a delicate pinkish underside that was “very pleasing to the eye.”
The russet orange depicted on the antorbital fenestra of the model suggested to William that this was a replica of a male Torvosaurus in his prime ready to battle for territory and hunting grounds.
Discovery and History
Keen to demonstrate his knowledge of dinosaurs, William provided a brief summary of the Torvosaurus genus:
Torvosaurus tanneri “Tanner’s Savage Lizard”.
Temporal Period: Middle to Late Jurassic “Morrison Formation” 165–148 million years ago.
The year was 1979 Peter Malcolm Galton and James Alvin Jensen named and described the new type species Torvosaurus tanneri.
A second species was named and described in 2014 (Torvosaurus gurneyi), based on fossil material discovered in Portugal (Lourinhã Formation). The trivial name for this species honoured James Gurney, a world-renowned artist and creator of the “Dinotopia” book series.
“2021 has been a very busy year for the entire team of Everything Dinosaur from the lockdowns to the move to the new premises but not for one moment have they faltered their service and stocks only grow and we you friends and loyal customers salute you all and look forward to marvels and surprises of 2022.”
To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.
New research published in the journal “Nature Communications” suggests that all extant snakes evolved from just a handful of species that survived the K-Pg extinction event 66 million years ago. The researchers conclude that this catastrophic extinction event, that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs and something like 75% of all terrestrial life, was a form of “creative destruction” leading to a burst of evolutionary development within the Serpentes.
Snakes benefited from the extinction event, the loss of so many competitors allowed them to diversify rapidly and to occupy new niches in food chains.
The Snake Fossil Record
The fossil record of snakes is relatively poor because snake skeletons are typically small and fragile making the preservation of fossil material a rare event.
It is generally accepted that snakes (Suborder Serpentes), evolved from lizards. Snakes gradually losing their limbs, whether the first snakes were burrowers and evolved from burrowing lizards or whether the first snakes were adapted to a life in marine environments is an area of on-going debate between vertebrate palaeontologists. For example, in 2016 a team of scientists challenged the conclusions from the paper that described Tetrapodophis amplectus, a primitive snake-like animal from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil. It had been suggested that T. amplectus, which had been described and named the year before, was adapted to a life underground, however, researchers from Canada and Australia challenged this view and proposed a marine habit for this 20 cm long animal that has been classified as being close to the base of the evolutionary lineage of true snakes.
The research, led by scientists at the University of Bath in collaboration with researchers from Cambridge, Bristol and Germany, involved examining snake fossils and an analysis of the genomes of living snakes to pinpoint genetic differences permitting a picture of modern snake evolution to be built up.
The results indicate that despite the great variety of snakes alive today – cobras, vipers, pythons, boas, sea snakes and blind, burrowing snakes for example, all extant snakes can be traced back to a handful of species that survived the K-Pg extinction event that took place 66 million years ago.
Snake Survival Strategy
The authors postulate that the ability of snakes to shelter underground and go for long periods without food helped them survive the destructive effects of the bolide impact event. In the aftermath, the extinction of their competitors including Cretaceous snakes and small theropod dinosaurs, permitted snakes to move into new niches, new habitats and new parts of the world. Today, snakes are found in all but the highest latitudes and are present on every continent except Antarctica.
The researchers, which included lead author Dr Catherine Klein, a former graduate of Bath University but now based at the Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in Germany, state that modern snake diversity – including tree snakes, sea snakes, venomous vipers and cobras, and huge constrictors like boas and pythons – emerged only after the non-avian dinosaur extinction.
Dr Klein commented:
“It’s remarkable, because not only are they surviving an extinction that wipes out so many other animals, but within a few million years they are innovating, using their habitats in new ways.”
A Change in Snake Vertebrae
Fossils also show a change in the shape of snake vertebrae in the aftermath, resulting from the extinction of Cretaceous lineages and the appearance of new groups, including giant sea snakes, such as Gigantophis garstini from the Eocene of northern Africa which may have reached a length of ten metres. Gigantophis was scientifically described in 1901, it was thought to have been the largest snake to have ever lived, until in 2009 when the giant, South American boa – Titanoboa cerrejonensis was described.
Rapidly Spreading Around the Globe
The research team also suggest that snakes began to spread rapidly around the globe. The “Greenhouse Earth” conditions that occurred close to the boundary between the Palaeocene and Eocene Epochs that led to the establishment of extensive tropical forests in the Northern Hemisphere, would have facilitated the geographical spread of cold-blooded animals such as snakes.
Although the ancestor of living snakes probably lived somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, snakes first appear to have spread to Asia after the extinction event.
Corresponding author, Dr Nick Longrich, from the Milner Centre for Evolution (University of Bath), explained:
“Our research suggests that extinction acted as a form of “creative destruction”- by wiping out old species, it allowed survivors to exploit the gaps in the ecosystem, experimenting with new lifestyles and habitats. This seems to be a general feature of evolution – it’s the periods immediately after major extinctions where we see evolution at its most wildly experimental and innovative. The destruction of biodiversity makes room for new things to emerge and colonise new landmasses. Ultimately life becomes even more diverse than before.”
Further Serpentes Evolution Driven by Climate Change
The researchers also found evidence for a second major diversification event around the time that the world shifted from a warm and moist climate to a colder, more seasonal climate (Oligocene Epoch).
It seems, that for the snakes at least, global catastrophes can have their upsides. The patterns seen in snake evolution hint at the key role played by mass extinction events – they are the catalysts for driving rapid evolutionary changes.
The scientific paper: “Evolution and dispersal of snakes across the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction” by Catherine G. Klein, Davide Pisani, Daniel J. Field, Rebecca Lakin, Matthew A. Wills and Nicholas R. Longrich published in Nature Communications.
One of the benefits of working in the packing rooms at Everything Dinosaur sorting orders for customers and preparing parcels so that they can be sent out is that you get the opportunity to admire product packaging. Take for example, the clean lines of the Nanmu Studio Jurassic Series models, the artwork on the front of the boxes is most impressive. It also permits the size of the packaging and the size of the models contained therein to be compared.
Comparing Product Packaging
The picture (above) shows four different Nanmu Studio theropod models. The limited edition Spinosaurus (Supplanter) is at the top, the Giganotosaurus Behemoth in the tiger stripe version is in the middle and the Nanmu Studio Jurassic Series Tyrannosaurus rex (Alpha Green) is closest to the camera. Model collectors do not often get the chance to see product packaging displayed in this way. The product on the right of the photograph is the Nanmu Studio Ceratosaurus (Scavenger), it is dwarfed by the other three boxes, but the Ceratosaurus packaging is over 33 cm long and the model inside measures over 30 cm in length and represents a 1/35th scale replica.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“Dinosaur fans and model collectors see lots of images of the actual products, but they do not see many pictures of the product packaging. Some of the designs and illustrations on the front of the box are a work of art in themselves. The detailed dinosaur illustrations on the Nanmu Studio Jurassic Series boxes are a lovely example of product packaging art.”
Everything Dinosaur is a legal importer of Nanmu Studio models for the UK. The company has also registered all the Nanmu Studio models that it stocks under the EU 2019/1020 market surveillance regulations so it can legally sell these figures in the European Economic Area.
Ask someone to draw an ammonite and it is very likely that they will sketch a coiled shell. Such fossils are ubiquitous and a mainstay of most people’s fossil collections. However, not all ammonites had a coiled shell, some of the members of the Order Ammonitida (more derived ammonites), especially some families that evolved during the Late Cretaceous, had very bizarre shell shapes, far removed from the tightly coiled planispiral shape that most people associate with these highly successful cephalopods.
Preparing for Pravitoceras
As team members at Everything Dinosaur prepare for the arrival of the last of the new for 2021 CollectA Age of Dinosaur models they have been busy checking over their fact sheet for Pravitoceras. The CollectA Pravitoceras is a replica of one of those ammonite genera with a very peculiar shell.
The attractive Pravitoceras model increases the number of invertebrates featured in the CollectA range following the recent introduction (2020) of a horseshoe crab, a trilobite, Orthoceras, a belemnite, the nautilus (N. pompilius) and an ammonite with a regularly coiled shell (homomorph) – Pleuroceras.
Members of the public might be quite familiar with those types of ammonites with tightly coiled shells, as epitomised by the CollectA Pleuroceras (an example of a homomorph shell). In the Late Jurassic a number of new types of marine cephalopod began to appear in the fossil record with different shell morphotypes – the ammonite shell began to diverge from the standard planispiral shape. These ammonites became increasingly abundant and diverse during the Cretaceous and by the Late Cretaceous they were geographically widespread. The heteromorphic ammonites were so abundant, that just like their coiled relatives, many genera have become important zonal fossils assisting with the relative dating of strata (biostratigraphy).
The final shell coil of Pravitoceras helps to form a distinctive “S” shape and the body chamber is folded back on itself to form a retroversal hook. Palaeontologists have speculated that these types of ammonites were either entirely epifaunal (dwelling on the sea floor), perhaps scavenging or hunting slow moving animals such as bivalves or snails, or they floated passively in the water column, like many types of extant jellyfish, feeding on zooplankton. Research using wax replicas and computer models has demonstrated that no matter how complex the shell shape, these creatures would have had no trouble maintaining their buoyancy in the water column. Palaeontologists debate what role in the food web ammonites like Pravitoceras occupied. Many scientists have postulated that Pravitoceras floated passively in the water column feeding on zooplankton.