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9 08, 2019

New Prehistoric Animal Model from Eofauna Scientific Research

By | August 9th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

New Prehistoric Animal Model from Eofauna Scientific Research

Our chums at Eofauna Scientific Research will be bringing out two new prehistoric animal models this autumn.  Eofauna Scientific Research has produced a trio of stunning prehistoric animal figures and by the end of the year, a further two beautiful replicas will join their range, both of which will be available from Everything Dinosaur.

Which prehistoric animals will be depicted?  We know, but we are not going to reveal what they are just yet, model collectors will have to wait a little while to find out.  However, just for a bit of fun, in association with Eofauna Scientific Research we have put together a little teaser – can you guess which prehistoric animal it is?

Which Prehistoric Animal Figure Will Eofauna Produce Next?

Which prehistoric animal figure will they produce next?

Eofauna Scientific Research which prehistoric animal figure will they produce next?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Eofauna Scientific Research

Prehistoric Animal Guessing Game

Something like 1,200 dinosaur genera have been described to date.  Scientists have named around 120 different types of pterosaur and hundreds of genera of prehistoric mammal have been erected.  Then of course you have all the amazing and bizarre Palaeozoic creatures to consider.  The Trilobita alone has approximately 20,000 different species arranged in ten orders (sometimes 9 depending on the taxonomy, which is still debated).

Our apologies if you don’t like prehistoric animal guessing games, feel free to attribute blame to Everything Dinosaur, we suggested to Eofauna that providing a “teaser” about new models would be a good way to develop a sense of anticipation and help raise awareness about their range of replicas.

The Eofauna Scientific Research Model Range at the Beginning of 2019

The Eofauna model range (2018).

Eofauna model range at the beginning of 2019.  Far left the straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus), in the middle a Steppe Mammoth (Mammuthus trogontherii) and far right, the theropod dinosaur Giganotosaurus carolinii.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Commissioning a Scientific Drawing

As well as making preparations for the arrival of a new prehistoric animal model, team members at Everything Dinosaur will be commissioning a scientific drawing to be used in association with this new Eofauna Scientific Research figure.

Previous Scientific Drawing That Have Been Commissioned – Eofauna Scientific Research Models

Three Eofauna replicas illustrated.

Illustrations based on the three Eofauna replicas (left to right), Palaeoloxodon antiquus, Mammuthus trogontherii and Giganotosaurus carolinii.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The first of the new for 2019 Eofauna models should be with us in late October, the second figure should follow about 14 days later.  Naturally, the figures could arrive sooner, they could arrive later, but model collectors can be assured these two new models are worth the wait and we look forward to revealing the first of these new 2019 figures in about a week.

To view the current range of Eofauna Scientific Research models available from Everything Dinosaur: Eofauna Scientific Research Models

8 08, 2019

The Very Peculiar Parrots of Ancient New Zealand

By | August 8th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Heracles inexpectatus – A Prehistoric Parrot

We had known about this for a little while, but we wanted to keep our beaks firmly shut until the scientific paper had been published, the biggest parrot known to science has been announced.  The metre tall, most probably flightless psittaciform roamed the South Island of New Zealand around 19 million years ago.  Named Heracles inexpectatus it was part of a bizarre Miocene-aged biota that existed in New Zealand, the remains of which have been excavated from a riverbank on the Manuherikia River, Home Hills Station, Otago (Bannockburn Formation).  The fossil deposits are close to the small town of St Bathans, this area is renowned for its remarkable fossil deposits that record life in a sub-tropical forest environment which surrounded a huge, lake, which at its largest  extent covered an area equivalent to nearly four times the size of the city of London.

A Life Reconstruction of Heracles inexpectatus

A life reconstruction of Heracles inexpectatus the newly described giant prehistoric parrot from New Zealand.

A life reconstruction of the newly described giant prehistoric parrot from New Zealand.  If you look carefully at this image you can see three small birds as well as the giant parrot.  These represent the extinct genus Kuiornis, which at around 8 cm high was dwarfed by H. inexpectatus.

Picture Credit: Dr Brian Choo (Flinders University)

A Flightless Forager

Writing in “Biology Letters”, the researchers which include Associate Professor Trevor Worthy (Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia), suggest that this parrot weighed around seven kilogrammes, and if it did, this makes it twice as heavy as the largest living parrot, the Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), which also comes from New Zealand.  H. inexpectatus has been described based on partial lower leg bones (the shafts of the left and right tibiotarsi), which were collected in January 2008.  These two bones probably came from the same individual and since no other fossils related to a giant parrot have been found in the St Bathans area before, the discovery was quite unexpected, hence the trivial name of this new parrot species.

Comparing the Fossil Bone to the Leg Bones of an Extant Kakapo (Largest Living Parrot)

Comparing the fossil leg bone of the giant extinct parrot Heracles to the leg bones of the largest living parrot - the Kakapo.

Heracles leg bone (top) compared to the lower leg bones of a Kakapo parrot (bottom).

Picture Credit: Flinders Palaeontology Laboratory

Commenting on this quite surprising discovery, Associate Professor Worthy stated:

“New Zealand is well known for its giant birds.  Not only moa dominated avifaunas, but giant geese and adzebills shared the forest floor, while a giant eagle ruled the skies.  But until now, no-one has ever found an extinct giant parrot – anywhere.”

Carnivore or Omnivore?

It is the leg bones that give an indication of the bird’s size.  What it ate can be speculated upon, for example, in the absence of large mammalian predators Heracles could have been an apex predator, perhaps a hypercarnivore.  The rarity of the fossils, could indicate it was relatively uncommon and therefore likely to be near the top of an ancient food chain.

Associate Professor Worthy added:

“We have been excavating these fossil deposits for 20 years, and each year reveals new birds and other animals.  It [Heracles] was likely a flightless forager who ate abundantly on fruit and seeds but may have preyed on small animals that it could dig out of logs, or even snack on dead or dying moa.”

Co-author Professor Mike Archer (University of New South Wales), suggests that the feeding habits of such a large parrot could have been quite gruesome.

He explained:

“Heracles, as the largest parrot ever, no doubt with a massive parrot beak that could crack wide open anything it fancied, may well have dined on more than conventional parrot foods, perhaps even other parrots.”

More Amazing Fossil Finds from Otago Likely

Whilst the discovery of a giant prehistoric parrot is quite remarkable, the researchers are confident that the Miocene-aged sedimentary strata in this area (Manuherikia Group), will yield even more amazing fossils in the future.  In these rocks, palaeontologists have discovered the fossilised remains of around forty different types of bird, as well as bats, frogs and a crocodilian.

These fossil deposits have provided palaeontologists with an insight into the rich avian fauna of prehistoric New Zealand.  In 2018, Everything Dinosaur wrote about the discovery of fragmentary bones that suggested a type of prehistoric pigeon inhabited New Zealand during the Early Miocene: A New New Zealand Pigeon from the Early Miocene.

What’s in a Name?

A number of media outlets reporting this discovery have stated that the genus name Heracles honours the Greek hero (Hercules), renowned for his great strength.  That is true, but the inspiration behind the genus name is a little more subtle than that.  Some of the authors of this scientific paper about Heracles, were also involved in the discovery and naming of another much smaller parrot species from the Bannockburn Formation.  Nelepsittacus was named and described in 2011, its genus name was inspired by Neleus, who in Greek myth was the son of Poseidon and Tyro.  Neleus refused to release Hercules from a debt and was murdered by Hercules, so it seemed logical to give the much larger psittaciform from the St Bathans Fauna a name honouring Hercules.

The scientific paper: “Evidence for a giant parrot from the early Miocene of New Zealand” (2019) by Trevor H Worthy, Suzanne J Hand, Michael Archer, R Paul Scofield and Vanesa L De Pietri published in Biology Letters.

7 08, 2019

Everything Dinosaur Video – Papo Pentaceratops and Papo Gorgosaurus

By | August 7th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Pentaceratops and Papo Gorgosaurus Video

Over the last few months, team members at Everything Dinosaur have been working on an exciting new project.  We have been converting part of our warehouse area into a bespoke film studio so that we can take more photographs and produce more videos of prehistoric animal models that we sell.  Everything Dinosaur used to make quite a few videos for posting up onto the company’s YouTube channel, but our ability to shoot these videos was lost when the boardroom that we used was no longer available.  So, we have invested in a new film studio and although it is far from complete, we still have to sort out the sound quality and to bring in the studio lighting and such like, we have shot our first video.

With the arrival of the eagerly anticipated Papo Gorgosaurus and Papo Pentaceratops figures we took the opportunity to shoot, a short (rather unsteady) video of these two amazing models.

Introducing the Papo Gorgosaurus and the Papo Pentaceratops Dinosaur Models

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase these Papo dinosaur models and to see the rest of the Papo prehistoric animal models in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models.

Papo Gorgosaurus

The dinosaur known as “fierce or dreadful lizard”, arrived in stock a few days ago, we expect to sell out of this first batch of models very shortly, but not to worry more Papo Gorgosaurus models are on their way.  This dinosaur model is proving to be very popular with collectors, we have received lots of emails enquiring about this tyrannosaurid, almost as soon as we posted up some pictures of this model around six months ago.

The New for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model.

The new for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Pentaceratops

One of a number of horned dinosaur figures produced by Papo over the years, the Pentaceratops has a very unusual pose.  It is depicted rearing up onto its hind legs as if confronted by a meat-eating dinosaur.  Although roughly contemporaneous with Gorgosaurus (G. libratus) – Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous, these dinosaurs lived on different parts of the North American landmass known as Laramidia.  Fossils of Pentaceratops are known from the south-central United States (Colorado and New Mexico), whilst Gorgosaurus is known from the Canadian province of Alberta, although there is some evidence to support the idea that this theropod genus roamed Montana.  Even if this is the case, there would have been hundreds of miles between any population of Gorgosaurus and a herd of Pentaceratops dinosaurs.  There is no evidence in the fossil record that these two dinosaurs ever met, there is, (as far as Everything Dinosaur is aware), no evidence of interspecific combat between these two species – however, this does not stop us from posting up a video, or indeed taking some photographs of the models together.

The Papo Gorgosaurus Confronts the Rearing Papo Pentaceratops

The new for 2019 Papo Pentaceratops and the Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur models.

The new for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus and the Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur models.  The Papo Gorgosaurus (left) confronts the rearing Papo Pentaceratops (right).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Team members are looking forward to posting up more videos and taking more photographs in our bespoke studio, we even promise to do something about our video camera shake!

Please feel free to take a look at our YouTube channel we shall be posting up more videos very soon.

Here is a link to the YouTube channel of Everything Dinosaur: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube

6 08, 2019

New Dinosaur Species Discovered “Hiding in Plain Sight”

By | August 6th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Sauropodomorph Ngwevu intloko “Hiding in Plain Sight”

The fossilised remains of a dinosaur that once roamed South Africa some 200 million years ago and that had lain mislabelled in a university vault for three decades has been identified as an entirely new species of dinosaur, a discovery that helps to demonstrate that ecosystems that developed shortly after the end-Triassic extinction event were much more specious than previously thought.

A View of the Skull of the Newly Described Sauropodomorpha N. intloko in the University of Witwatersrand Collection

Ngwevu fossil skull (BP/1/4779.

The skull of the newly described South African sauropodomorph Ngwevu intloko.

Picture Credit: Kimberley Chapelle (University of Witwatersrand)

Ngwevu intloko

The dinosaur has been named Ngwevu intloko and it was PhD student Kimberley Chapelle (University of Witwatersrand), whilst working with her supervisors mapping the extensive fossil material associated with Massospondylus (M. carinatus), that first realised that the well-preserved skull and postcranial remains could represent a new species.  Hundreds of fossils including several nearly complete skulls have been ascribed to Massospondylus (M. carinatus), since it was described by Richard Owen (later Sir Richard Owen) in 1854.  The skull (specimen number BP/1/4779), had been part of the University of Witwatersrand vertebrate fossil collection for years, but it had been thought that this was just an unusual example of this species.

Co-author of the scientific paper, which has been published in the journal PeerJ, Professor Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum, London explained:

“This is a new dinosaur that has been hiding in plain sight.  The specimen has been in the collections in Johannesburg for about thirty years and lots of other scientists have already looked at it.  But they all thought that it was simply an odd example of Massospondylus.”

Views of BP/1/4779 – The Skull of Ngwevu intloko

Views of the skull of N. intloko.

Views of the skull of Ngwevu intloko.  Views of BP/1/4779 in (A) right lateral view, (B) dorsal view and (C) left lateral view.  Scale bar = 1 cm.

Picture Credit: Kimberley Chapelle (University of Witwatersrand)

A Diverse Sauropodomorpha Fauna of South Africa During the Early Jurassic

Using a variety of techniques including computerised tomography (CT) scans and three-dimensional bone mapping, the team identified a total of sixteen cranial and six postcranial characteristics that supported the establishment of a new dinosaur species.  Deformation due to the fossilisation process and ontogeny were ruled out as the basis of these traits, thus leading to the conclusion that these fossils did not represent Massospondylus, but a different, albeit related dinosaur.  Ngwevu was a bipedal omnivore with a small head, long neck and a robust, chunky body.  It is estimated to have reached a length of about three metres or so.  Analysis of bone cross sections indicate that the specimen would have been about ten years old when it died.

A Life Reconstruction of N. intloko

Drawing of Ngwevu intloko (based on Lufengosaurus).

A drawing of Ngwevu intloko (based on Lufengosaurus).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Up until recently, Massospondylus (M. carinatus) was thought to be the only sauropodomorph represented by fossil material from the Lower Jurassic upper Elliot and Clarens formations of southern Africa, but there are now known to have been several different genera present, some of which were to eventually give rise to the huge sauropods of the Late Jurassic.  Scientists are now starting to take a closer look at many of the supposed Massospondylus specimens, believing there to be much more variation than first thought.

Sauropodomorpha from the Elliot Formation include:

  • Antetonitrus ingenipes
  • Massospondylus kaalae
  • Aardonyx celestae
  • Ignavusaurus rachelis
  • Arcusaurus pereirabdalorum
  • Pulanesaura eocollum
  • Ledumahadi mafube to read an article about the naming and scientific description of L. mafubeNew Giant Dinosaur from South Africa

This new research, helping to support the idea that there were many different types of sauropodomorphs in this part of Gondwana during the Early Jurassic, will help scientists to better understand how ecosystems recovered after the end-Triassic extinction event.

A Three-dimensional Digital Reconstruction of the Skull

Ngwevu intloko fossil skull - digital reconstruction.

A digital reconstruction of the skull of Ngwevu intloko.

Picture Credit: Kimberley Chapelle (University of Witwatersrand)

Professor Paul Barrett commented:

“This new species is interesting, because we thought previously that there was really only one type of sauropodomorph living in South Africa at this time.  We now know there were actually six or seven of these dinosaurs in this area, as well as a variety of other dinosaurs from less common groups.  It means that their ecology was much more complex that we used to think.  Some of these other sauropodomorphs were like Massospondylus, but a few were close to the origins of true sauropods, if not true sauropods themselves.”

This research shows the value of revisiting specimens in museum collections, as many news species are probably sitting unnoticed in cabinets around the world, an example of dinosaurs “hiding in plain sight”.

The scientific paper: “Ngwevu intloko: a new early sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic Elliot Formation of South Africa and comments on the cranial ontogeny in Massospondylus carinatus” by Kimberley E.J. Chapelle​, Paul M. Barrett, Jennifer Botha and Jonah N. Choiniere published in PeerJ.

5 08, 2019

Papo Gorgosaurus and Papo Pentaceratops in Stock

By | August 5th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Gorgosaurus and Papo Pentaceratops in Stock

The new for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus and the Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur models are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  These eagerly anticipated Papo figures have arrived at our warehouse and team members are busying themselves emailing all our customers who reserved these wonderful new Papo dinosaurs.

The Papo Pentaceratops and the Papo Gorgosaurus are in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

Available from Everything Dinosaur the Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model and the Papo Gorgorsaurus.

In stock at Everything Dinosaur the Papo Gorgosaurus and the Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo Gorgosaurus

The Papo Gorgosaurus model is the second member of the Tyrannosauridae family to be depicted by Papo, after the ubiquitous Tyrannosaurus rex.  The Gorgosaurus figure reflects the fossil record in that this model is considerably smaller than the various Papo T. rex models.  It measures around eighteen centimetres in length and the head of the dinosaur is approximately eight centimetres off the ground.

The Papo Gorgosaurus Model Compared to the Papo Allosaurus

The Papo Gorgosaurus compared to the Papo Allosaurus dinosaur model.

In stock at Everything Dinosaur the Papo Gorgosaurus and the Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur models.  The Papo Gorgosaurus (foreground), is compared to the recently introduced Papo Allosaurus dinosaur model (background).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo Pentaceratops

Papo have produced a number of horned dinosaur models in the past.  For example, this manufacturer has an adult Triceratops within its model portfolio and until recently a baby Triceratops (it is now retired), too.  In addition, Papo did once have a Pachyrhinosaurus (also out of production), but the Papo Styracosaurus model is still available.  Although Pentaceratops means “five-horned face”, this dinosaur had three anterior facing horns on its head.  It may superficially resemble Triceratops but Pentaceratops is believed to be more closely related to Utahceratops from Utah.

The Papo Pentaceratops Dinosaur Model is in a Rearing Pose

Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model.

The Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model stands an impressive nineteen centimetres high.  This is an unusual pose for a horned dinosaur and it is difficult to provide an estimate of the scale of the model.  Papo does not offer a scale size suggestion for their “Les Dinosaures” range, but based on an adult size for Pentaceratops sternbergii of around 6.3 metres, this new for 2019 Papo figure is in approximately 1:32 scale.

These splendid Papo dinosaurs can be viewed in the 2019 Papo collector’s booklet.  This handy booklet is available free of charge to Everything Dinosaur customers.

To view the range of Papo prehistoric animals and dinosaurs available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models

4 08, 2019

New Study Confirms Ichthyosaurs Had Tough Lives

By | August 4th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Hard, Tough Lives of Ichthyosaurs

A trio of scientists have published a study looking at signs of injury and disease in a range of ichthyosaur genera.  Such studies have been undertaken before, indeed the authors of this new paper, published by the Royal Society Open Science, Judith M. Pardo-Pérez, Erin Maxwell (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart, Germany) and Benjamin Kear (Uppsala University, Sweden) have examined pathologies in the giant ichthyosaur Temnodontosaurus as recently as 2018, but this study takes a different approach.  The researchers looked in detail at one specific ancient ecosystem, analysing injuries and disease recorded in several different types of  ichthyosaur and found some surprising results.

A Scale Drawing Illustrating the Size of the Superpredator Temnodontosaurus

Scale drawing of Temnodontosaurus.

Temnodontosaurus scale drawing.  In this illustration the marine reptile is giving birth (these vertebrates were viviparous).  A study was published in 2018 which examined pathologies associated with the skeleton of this apex predator.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Back in 2018, these scientists published a paper detailing the injuries and disease lesions (pathology), associated the ichthyosaur superpredator Temnodontosaurus.  They found that despite its size, growing up to ten metres in length, these predators led quite tough lives, given the healed wounds, evidence of trauma and signs of disease preserved in their fossils.

In this new paper, published last week, the scientists examined the fossils of five different ichthyosaurs known from a single fossil deposit (Posidonienschiefer Formation).  These fossils from southern Germany, date from the Early Jurassic (Toarcian faunal stage) and represent a marine fauna that suffered a minor extinction event resulting in a significant faunal turnover amongst the vertebrates.

The five genera of ichthyosaur (Posidonienschiefer Formation) from the study in order of maximum size:

1).  Hauffiopteryx (2.5 m long) – a relatively short-snouted genus that probably fed on small fish and squid.
2).  Stenopterygius (3.5 m long) – feeding on small fish and squid.
3).  Suevoleviathan (4 m long)- a primitive member of the Neoichthyosuria clade that with a short-snout that indicates a generalist feeding habit.
4).  Eurhinosaurus (7 m long) – its elongated upper snout suggests a specialist position in the food chain, perhaps feeding on small fish or probing the seabed to feed on invertebrates.
5).  Temnodontosaurus (up to 10 metres long) – the top predator in the ecosystem, attacking and eating other marine reptiles including ichthyosaurs.

Not Just Damaged Ribs

Damaged ribs are quite commonly found on ichthyosaur fossils, but in this study, a detailed examination of the entire fossilised remains of individual animals was carried out.  The team examined the influence of taxa (which species demonstrated the greatest signs of trauma and disease), as well as which parts of the body were damaged the most, the influence of ontogeny and the impact of environmental change (early Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event).

Examples of Pathologies in Ichthyosaurs from the Posidonienschiefer Formation

Ichthyosaur pathologies.

Examples of ichthyosaur pathologies from the Posidonienschiefer Formation.  In picture (a) a fused (ankylosed) femur and fibula is indicated by the two black arrows, the species is Stenopterygius uniter.  In picture (b) fused neural spines (ankylosis) is indicated by the single black arrow.   The species is Stenopterygius quadriscissus.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

Small-bodied Genera Do Best

Following the review of the skeletal material, the researchers found that the incidence of pathologies is dependent on the type of taxon being examined.  Small-bodied genera such as Stenopterygius had fewer injuries, signs of disease and trauma when compared to larger-bodied ichthyosaurs.  Within the Stenopterygius genus, the scientists discovered that more pathologies were identified in large adults when compared to smaller sized individuals.  Stratigraphic horizon, a proxy for evidence of change within the ancient marine ecosystem did not influence the incidence of pathology associated with Stenopterygius.

The Research Team Carefully Examined an Extensive Portion of the Posidonienschiefer Formation Ichthyosaur Biota

Ichthyoaur pathology.

Evidence of pathologies found in ichthyosaur fossils.  Photograph (C) shows a fractured and healed gastralia rib (belly rib) of a Hauffiopteryx (H. typicus).  The black arrow indicates the break and the resulting callus.  Photograph (D) shows a healed fractured rib from a Stenopterygius, the arrow indicating the break and showing the callus.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

Skull and Forelimb Injuries

When all the data from the examined taxa was added together, it was no surprise that the rib area was identified as that part of an ichthyosaur’s body most likely to show signs of pathology.  Around 8% of the specimens examined showed rib trauma.  However, approximately 6% of skulls and 4% of forelimbs also showed pathologies.  In contrast, those areas of the body showing the least signs of injury were the vertebrae and the hind limb.

The researchers concluded that within the fauna studied, ichthyosaurs appear to be similar to living vertebrates in which pathologies accumulate in the oldest/largest members of a population, and larger taxa experience proportionately more frequent skeletal traumas.

The scientific paper: “Palaeoepidemiology in extinct vertebrate populations: factors influencing skeletal health in Jurassic marine reptiles” by Judith M. Pardo-Pérez , Benjamin Kear and Erin E. Maxwell published in Royal Society Open Science.

3 08, 2019

Legal Protection for Isle of Skye Fossil Sites

By | August 3rd, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Vital Legal Protection for Isle of Sky Fossil Sites

Some very good news for scientists, conservationists and for anyone concerned with protecting the natural heritage of the UK.  Internationally-recognised and extremely important Jurassic-aged fossil sites on the Scottish island of Skye, containing rare evidence of how dinosaurs and early mammals lived many millions of years ago, have been granted greater legal status.  This will help to ensure their protection for future generations and provide greater security for future fossil discoveries.

A Tridactyl Dinosaur Footprint Preserved on the Shoreline of the Isle of Skye

Tridactyl dinosaur footprint (Isle of Skye).

A three-toed dinosaur footprint on the Isle of Skye.

Picture Credit: Colin MacFadyen (Scottish National Heritage)

Here is the full press release provided by Scottish Natural Heritage with some additional information from Everything Dinosaur:

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, had signed a Nature Conservation Order (NCO) at Staffin Museum, home of dinosaur bones and footprints found nearby on the Isle of Skye.  The key aim of the NCO is to prevent rare vertebrate fossils from being damaged through irresponsible collection and removal from Skye’s globally important fossil sites.  Importantly, the NCO aims to encourage local people and the wider public to take an interest in and report any potentially important fossil finds.

The Isle of Skye in the Middle Jurassic

Isle of Skye Sauropods.

The Isle of Skye (Bathonian faunal stage).  The Isle of Skye during the Middle Jurassic.

Picture Credit: Jon Hoad

Aiming to Deter Irresponsible Fossil Collecting

In the past, important fossil discoveries have been damaged by hammering, with specimens taken from the island and moved to private collections.  In 2016, an attempt to take a plaster cast of a dinosaur footprint at An Corran risked significant damage to a feature that has become an important tourist attraction.  To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about this: 165-million-year-old dinosaur footprints damaged.

Known as the dinosaur capital of Scotland, the rich Middle Jurassic fossil fauna of Skye is gradually being revealed with new discoveries continuing to be made.  These include some of the first fossil evidence of dinosaur parenting.  Housed at Staffin Museum, a rock slab shows the footprints of baby dinosaurs, together with the print of an adult.  It is expected that Skye is also home to fossil remains of flying reptiles, and confirmation of this will firmly place the island in the international dinosaur hall of fame.  The new legal protection will help to deter irresponsible fossil collecting on the island.

Commenting on the significance of the increased protection, Minister for the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said:

“Skye lays claim to the most significant dinosaur discoveries of Scotland’s Jurassic past and this Nature Conservation Order is a vital step in protecting and preserving this important part of our natural heritage for future generations.  The Order gives extra legal protection to these special sites whilst providing for important artefacts to be collected responsibly for science and public exhibition, as Dugald Ross of the Staffin Museum has been doing since his first important discovery in 1982.  I hope the Order gives even greater awareness of the significance of these important sites, and the important and valuable role everyone has in helping protect them.”

Everything Dinosaur team members have corresponded with Dugald Ross in the past.  Sadly, our communications have mostly been about damage to fossil deposits and suspected thefts of fossil material.

To read an article from 2011 that reported on the damage caused to an important fossil site on the Isle of Skye: Important Jurassic Fossil Site Ransacked.

Colin MacFadyen, a geologist at Scottish National Heritage stated:

“This vital legal protection is important to ensure Skye’s unique dinosaur heritage is available for everyone to learn from and enjoy.  The NCO covers areas of coastline where 165 million-year-old Middle Jurassic sedimentary rocks are gradually being eroded by the sea.  It is crucial that the footprints and actual skeletal remains of dinosaurs and other vertebrates, that are being revealed by nature are protected.  These fabulous fossil finds can help answer crucial questions about ancient ecosystems and pave the way for exciting advances in our understanding of vertebrate evolution.”

Dinosaurs and Mammal Fossil Evidence Too

The Minch Basin region of north-western Scotland partially consists of strata laid down in the Middle Jurassic, an important time in the evolution of the Dinosauria with many new families evolving.  This period in Earth’s history also marks the evolution of a number of mammal genera.   Unfortunately, there are very few fossil bearing exposures around the world that record evidence of life on our planet during this important period of terrestrial vertebrate evolution.  The Isle of Skye is one of these locations, hence this new legal protection is extremely important.

Early Mammal Fossils Have Also Been Found on the Isle of Skye

Jawbone and line drawing of Wareolestes jawbone fossil.

The fossil jawbone from the Isle of Skye (Wareolestes).  The Middle Jurassic was also an important time for mammalian evolution.

Staffin Museum owner Dugald Ross added:

“Everyone has a role to play in making the Order a success, and we are encouraging local people who think they may have found a vertebrate fossil – or a dinosaur bone or tooth – to contact Staffin Museum for advice.  We are encouraging everyone to find, report and help protect – but not collect – Skye’s wonderful dinosaur heritage.”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from Scottish Natural Heritage in the compilation of this article.

2 08, 2019

A Jinzhousaurus in Trouble

By | August 2nd, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

A Jinzhousaurus in Trouble

Continuing our occasional series, in which we post up illustrations from renowned palaeoartists, today, we feature a dramatic scene as depicted by the well-known Chinese artist Zhao Chuang.  An unfortunate Jinzhousaurus is being attacked by a flock of “raptors”.  The fast-running theropods will not find the Jinzhousaurus easy prey, Jinzhousaurus was strongly built and at over five metres long and weighing perhaps as much as three-quarters of a tonne, it was a formidable opponent.

Zhao Chuang’s Illustration of the Jinzhousaurus Attacked by Dromaeosaurids

Jinzhousaurus under attack from "raptors". An illustration by Zhao Chuang.

A Jinzhousaurus under attack from a flock of “raptors”.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang (PNSO)

Jinzhousaurus yangi

Named and described in 2001, Jinzhousaurus (J. yangi) is known from an almost complete skeleton (including cranial material) from north-eastern China (Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province).  The exact taxonomic position of Jinzhousaurus remains controversial.  The skeletal material ascribed to this genus shows a mix of basal and more advanced characteristics.  At first it was thought that this Ornithischian was related to the likes of Dollodon, Mantellodon from Europe and Bolong (B. yixianensis) from north-eastern China.  It was described as an iguanodontoid, however, more recent analysis places Jinzhousaurus as a member of the Hadrosauroidea Superfamily.

Which Dromaeosaurid or Troodontid?

There is certainly no shortage of candidates as to which dromaeosaurid or troodontid might be depicted in this illustration.  The Maniraptora is well represented in these Early Cretaceous deposits.  However, as Jinzhousaurus is confined to the Dawangzhangzi Beds section of the Yixian Formation, this does narrow the field somewhat. It could be Sinornithosaurus, but as this genus is regarded as one of the smallest of the dromaeosaurids, then unless the Jinzhousaurus in the artwork is a juvenile, this seems unlikely.  It could be an as yet, unnamed member of the Maniraptora whose fossils have yet to be formally described.  Perhaps the attacking “raptors” are a flock of Zhenyuanlong dromaeosaurs.

An Illustration of the Early Cretaceous Dromaeosaurid Zhenyuanlong suni

Zhenyuanlong illustrated.

Very probably a ground-dwelling predator.  An illustration of the dromaeosaurid Zhenyuanlong suni.  This artwork was also created by the talented Chinese palaeoartist Zhao Chuang.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

Zhenyuanlong suni

Zhenyuanlong is one of several dromaeosaurid genera from Liaoning Province, for an article that compares these various dinosaurs and comments on whether they were ground-dwelling or otherwise: Updating the Winged Dragon.

To read an article about the scientific description of Zhenyuanlong suniNew Winged Dragon from Liaoning Province.

Although Zhenyuanlong was only recently named and scientifically described, there is already a prehistoric animal figure available that represents this dinosaur.  In fact, in the Beasts of the Mesozoic model series, there are two Zhenyuanlong figures available.  Our congratulations to the team behind these wonderful display pieces for being so quick off the mark when it comes to adding new dromaeosaurids to their “raptor” range.

Not One but Two Zhenyuanlong suni Figures are Available in the Beasts of the Mesozoic Range

Beasts of the Mesozoic "raptor" figures - Zhenyuanlong suni.

Beasts of the Mesozoic Zhenyuanlong suni “raptor” figures.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Zhenyuanlong figures and the rest of the splendid Beasts of the Mesozoic series: Beasts of the Mesozoic Prehistoric Animal Figures.

1 08, 2019

Cute and Cuddly Marsupial Had a Fearsome Fossil Relative

By | August 1st, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Sparassocynus – A Pliocene Predator

Scientists, including a researcher from the University of Salford (Manchester), writing in the academic publication the “Journal of Mammalian Evolution”, have shed further light on a predatory prehistoric marsupial from the Pliocene of South America.  Sparassocynus might be related to living short-tailed opossums, but unlike its extant relatives, Sparassocynus was not insectivorous, most likely, other small mammals were on the menu.

A Life Reconstruction of Sparassocynus

Sparassocynus life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of Sparassocynus feeding on a small rodent.

Picture Credit: Velizar Simeonovski

Living short-tailed opossums are cute and most are not much bigger than a squirrel, but these natives of South America had a bigger and ferocious fossil relative.  The joint British and Argentinian research team have shown that Sparassocynus, is an extinct carnivorous relative of today’s cute and cuddly short-tailed opossums.  The Sparassocynus genus has been known to science for over a hundred years, but its evolutionary position within the Didelphimorphia, that great clade of marsupials that includes the specious opossums and their relatives has been uncertain.  However, Dr Robin Beck, a mammal systematist at the University of Salford, in collaboration with Matías Taglioretti (Museo Municipal de Ciencias Naturales “Lorenzo Scaglia”, Argentina), have clarified its taxonomic position.

The pair of scientists focused their attention on a 4-million-year-old skull of Sparassocynus (Sparassocynus derivatus), that provided vital new information about this genus.  The skull was found in 2012 by Taglioretti and colleagues in a fossil deposit in cliffs along the Atlantic coast of Argentina, near the city of Mar del Plata (Playa Las Palomas).

Commenting on the significance of the skull fossil find Dr Beck stated:

“As soon as Matías showed me the skull, I knew it was really important.  It’s almost perfectly preserved, and it’s not fully grown [it still has its baby teeth], so it preserves a lot of features that are not visible in other specimens.”

The Juvenile Sparassocynus Skull Fossil (Lateral View)

Sparassocynus fossil skull.

Four-million-year-old skull of a Sparassocynus (S. derivatus) juvenile from the Chapadmalal Formation near Mar del Plata, Argentina.  Note scale bar = 1 cm.

Picture Credit: Dr Robin Beck (University of Salford)

By comparing over a hundred different anatomical characteristics, and incorporating DNA evidence from living species, Beck and Taglioretti showed that Sparassocynus is an extinct member of the opossum family and is most closely related to the much more cute and cuddly, insect-eating short-tailed opossums.

Dr Beck added:

“This might seem surprising because Sparassocynus was clearly a carnivore that would probably have eaten rodents and other small vertebrates, whereas short-tailed opossums are about five times smaller and mainly eat insects, but they share some unusual features that indicate a close relationship.”

Sparassocynus survived in South America until about 2.5 million years ago, when it may have been driven extinct by the arrival of weasels from North America in what is known as the “Great American Biotic Interchange”, the land masses of North America and South America were finally united when the Panama land bridge became complete.  There are over a hundred species of opossum still alive today in South America, of which, twenty-four are short-tailed opossums.  Thankfully, none of these extant species are quite as ferocious as Sparassocynus would have been.

The scientific paper:

“A nearly complete juvenile skull of the marsupial Sparassocynus derivatus from the Pliocene of Argentina, the affinities of “sparassocynids” and the diversification of opossums (Marsupialia; Didelphimorphia; Didelphidae)” by RMD Beck and ML Taglioretti published in the Journal of Mammalian Evolution.

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

31 07, 2019

The Late Cretaceous of Northern China

By | July 31st, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

The Late Cretaceous of Northern China

Today, we wanted to post up some more of the amazing artwork produced by Zhao Chuang that was created in association with the Peking Natural Science-Art Organisation (PNSO).  Zhao Chuang has an extensive portfolio of palaeoart, we have already featured a number of illustrations of prehistoric scenes and individual dinosaurs and other long extinct creatures on this blog.  However, rather than focus on one particular dinosaur we thought that for a change, we would post up an imagined dinosaur diorama.

Northern China in the Late Cretaceous

The Late Cretaceous of northern China

Northern China in the Late Cretaceous.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang (PNSO)

A Stunning Piece of Palaeoart

The picture (above), depicts northern China (Inner Mongolia), in the Late Cretaceous, approximately 77-75 million years ago (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).  The armoured dinosaur in the foreground (left), is Pinacosaurus (P. grangeri), a member of the Ankylosaurinae.  At around five metres in length, this heavily armoured dinosaur probably had little to fear from the numerous dromaeosaurids such as Velociraptor and Tsaagan which shared its environment, although there is some evidence to suggest that larger theropods (tyrannosaurids) were present.  The artist has depicted a dromaeosaurid on the extreme left of the diorama.  This fleet-footed predator is on its own, no pack or flock behaviour for this little carnivore is inferred.  The feathered dromaeosaurid is making a swift exit as it does not want to get involved with the herd of duck-billed dinosaurs approaching the oasis, although in truth, these herbivorous giants have very little to fear from this particular theropod.

A Closer View of the Small Theropod Dinosaur Depicted in the Dinosaur Diorama

A dromaeosaurid takes evasive action to avoid a herd of duck-billed dinosaurs.

A closer view of the beautifully coloured dromaeosaurid dinosaur depicted in the illustration by Zhao Chuang.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang (PNSO)

Plesiohadros?

We have commented on this artwork on a previous post, but on that occasion we did not identify the hadrosaurids approaching the waterhole.  Although the Hadrosauridae has an extensive fossil record in northern latitudes, identifying the group approaching the oasis in this illustration is quite tricky.  Remarkably, despite the multitude of vertebrate fossils associated with the Djadokhta Formation (sometimes also referred to as the  Djadochta Formation), of northern China, very few Ornithischian dinosaurs have been identified.  The majority of Ornithischian dinosaurs known from this region are either members of the armoured Thyreophora such as Pinacosaurus or Neoceratopsia (part of the horned dinosaurs group).

The duck-billed dinosaurs could represent Plesiohadros (Plesiohadros djadokhtaensis), which is known from both cranial and postcranial fossil material from the same locality where Velociraptor fossils have been found.  As Plesiohadros is the only hadrosaurid discovered so far from the Djadokhta Formation , then the large herbivores in the diorama could represent this species.  However, as Plesiohadros was only named and described in 2014, if the artwork had been completed earlier, then the presence of hadrosaurids could be speculative on the part of the illustrator.

Are the Hadrosaurids Depicted in the Diorama Plesiohadros?

A herd of dubk-billed dinosaurs.

Is this a herd of Plesiohadros?

Picture Credit : Zhao Chuang (PNSO)

Whatever the species represented, the illustration is truly spectacular and one of our favourites.

To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs

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