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21 12, 2021

Ancient Relative of Velociraptor from the Isle of Wight

By | December 21st, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Researchers from the University of Bath and the University of Portsmouth have identified a new species of Early Cretaceous dromaeosaurid from fragmentary fossils found on the Isle of Wight. The new dinosaur, a distant relative of Velociraptor has been named Vectiraptor greeni and it is estimated to have been around 2.5 to 3 metres in length, powerfully built and although not the largest theropod associated with the Wessex Formation it would have been a formidable predator.

Vectiraptor greeni life reconstruction.
A life reconstruction of the newly described dromaeosaurid Vectiraptor greeni. This powerfully built predator may have been able to climb trees. Picture credit: Gabriel Ugueto.

Fossil Teeth Hinted at the Presence of Dromaeosaurids

Fossil teeth found on the Isle of Wight hinted at the presence of a large dromaeosaurid, but no large dromaeosaur bones had been discovered. The only dromaeosaur known from the Isle of Wight is the much smaller Ornithodesmus (O. cluniculus), which was once thought to represent a primitive bird but has been assigned to the Dromaeosauridae.

Local amateur fossil collector Mick Green discovered the bones on the foreshore of Compton Bay on the south coast of the island back in 2004. They had been washed out of the cliffs and they remained entombed in their matrix until in 2012 Mick gave up fossil collecting due to ill health and decided to spend more time cleaning and preparing the fossils that he had found.

They were shown to palaeontologists Megan Jacobs (University of Portsmouth) and Dr Nick Longrich (University of Bath) and this led to the material, which consists of three dorsal vertebrae and a partial sacrum, being taken away for further analysis. The genus name translates from the Latin as “Isle of Wight thief” and the species name honours Mick Green.

Vectiraptor fossils.
Although fragmentary and eroded the vertebrae demonstrate a combination of features found only in the Dromaeosauridae, including relatively short and massive vertebrae, tall neural spines, and facets for the ribs set on long stalks. Picture credit: University of Bath.

Early Cretaceous Predator

Bigger theropods have been discovered such as the tyrannosauroid Eotyrannus and the carcharodontosaurid Neovenator. Recently, two large spinosaurids were reported: Two New Spinosaurids Described from the Isle of Wight.

Vectiraptor may have roamed the forests and avoided large open areas where other, larger predators lurked. With strong arms and talons, it may have climbed trees like modern leopards. The heavy bones suggest an animal that relied less on speed and more on strength, and perhaps ambushes, to tackle its prey.

Lead author of the paper, Dr Nick Longrich (University of Bath) stated:

“This was a large, and very heavily constructed animal. The bones are thick-walled and massive. It clearly didn’t hunt small prey, but animals as large or larger than itself.”

Velociraptor fossil site.
Wessex Formation outcrops at Compton Bay on the Isle of Wight where the Vectiraptor fossils were discovered. Picture credit: University of Bath.

Dinosaur Dispersal

Vectiraptor resembles Early Cretaceous eudromaeosaurs from North America such as Deinonychus, suggesting a faunal exchange between Europe and North America. The diverse Early Cretaceous dinosaur assemblage found in England and Europe resulted from dispersal from North America, Asia, and West Gondwana, likely involving both land bridges and oceanic dispersal. Europe likely served as a biotic crossroads in the Early Cretaceous, allowing faunal interchange between landmasses.

Vectiraptor dorsal vertebra.
The eroded, partial dorsal vertebra of Vectiraptor. Picture credit: Nick Longrich.

Dr Longrich added:

“It’s a tantalising hint at the diversity of dinosaurs in England at this time. There’s an extraordinary diversity of dinosaurs known in England in the Cretaceous and even after more than a century of study, we continue to find new species.”

Eudromaeosauria stratigraphy and geography.
Dromaeosaurids closely related to Vectiraptor have been found in North America and Asia suggesting that during the Early Cretaceous southern England was an important dispersal route for dinosaurs. Picture credit: Bath University.

The First Large Dromaeosaur Known from the UK

This is the first time a large raptor has been found in the UK. Co-author of the study, Megan Jacobs (University of Portsmouth), commented:

This dinosaur is incredibly exciting, adding to the huge diversity of dinosaurs here on the Isle of Wight, and helping to build a bigger picture of the Early Cretaceous world. This little dinosaur also serves as an excellent example of the importance of amateur fossil collectors, and how working with them can produce important scientific research, which would otherwise not be possible.”

Without the dedication of Mick Green and others like him, Vectiraptor would have been lost to the sea.

To read a recent Everything Dinosaur blog post about the discovery of a new species of ornithopod dinosaur from the Isle of Wight: New iguanodontid from the Isle of Wight.

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

The scientific paper: “A new dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the Wessex Formation (Lower Cretaceous, Barremian) of the Isle of Wight, and implications for European palaeobiogeography” by Nicholas R. Longrich, David M. Martill and Megan L. Jacobs published in Cretaceous Research.

20 12, 2021

Young Dinosaur Fan Receives a Special Christmas Gift

By | December 20th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Earlier this month (December 2021), Everything Dinosaur was emailed by a desperate mum looking for a soft toy Spinosaurus for her little boy. The soft toy nicknamed “Botasaur” by the young dinosaur fan had been lost and mum was very keen to get a replacement. Unfortunately, this line of prehistoric plush had been retired for many years and mum was getting worried as to whether she would be able to find this dinosaur in time for Christmas. If Santa was not able to produce this present, there was going to be one very sad little boy.

Finding an extinct dinosaur soft toy was a challenge our team members were happy to accept after all, if anyone can help, it would be a company called “Everything Dinosaur”.

Large Spinosaurus Soft Toy
Large dinosaur soft toy, now retired but wanted by a little boy for Christmas.

Hunting for a Special Spinosaurus

This red, Spinosaurus soft toy was part of a line that Everything Dinosaur used to stock. It was introduced in 2013 and these soft toys went out of production around 2016/2017. The first thing we did was to undertake a thorough search of our offices and warehouse, just in case there was one of these red, sail-backed dinosaurs hiding away somewhere on our premises. Sadly, no Spinosaurus was found, but we did not give up, as we put out an appeal on Everything Dinosaur’s social media pages asking if one of our fans or followers knew where one of these long-retired soft toys could be purchased.

Sure enough, within a few days we had received two messages from our social media contacts, one from America and one from the UK. We passed on this information to the mum and we have been informed that both dinosaur soft toys have been purchased and that they have both safely arrived, just in time for Christmas.

Mum emailed to thank everyone involved for their help and support commenting:

“Just to let you know that Botasaur (and spare Botasaur) have arrived and we now have a very happy junior palaeontologist. Thank you for all your help.”

Young dinosaur fan reunited with his dinosaur soft toy
Helping to unite a young boy with his lost dinosaur soft toy. Everything Dinosaur fans and followers on social media were able to make one little boy’s Christmas by finding a replacement Spinosaurus soft toy.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur praised the company’s fans and followers for their efforts to find a replacement soft toy and stated:

“We are delighted that this little boy has been reunited with his favourite dinosaur soft toy. We do appreciate how challenging it can be for mums if they are searching for a favourite toy that has been out of production for some time, glad our fans and followers were able to assist.”

Our thanks to everyone who helped to provide a happy ending to this story. There is going to be one incredibly happy junior palaeontologist this Christmas.

19 12, 2021

PNSO to Add an Iguanodon Model

By | December 19th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

PNSO will introduce a replica of an Iguanodon into their prehistoric animal model range in 2022. Harvey the Iguanodon will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur, one of several new figures that PNSO will be adding to their portfolio in the coming months. For example, one of our earlier blog posts introduced the new version of Doyle the Triceratops, another ornithischian added to this exciting product range.

PNSO Harvey the Iguanodon dinosaur model
The PNSO Iguanodon dinosaur model. This figure will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in early 2022.

Iguanodon bernissartensis

Named and described in 1825, only the second dinosaur to be scientifically described “iguana tooth” has had a troubled taxonomic history, with numerous revisions and changes. For example, the holotype for the species I. bernissartensis has changed. The holotype is the single, physical specimen which acts as the blueprint for all other fossil samples to be compared against. The original holotype consisted of the isolated teeth and partial remains identified by Gideon Mantell. The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) ruled that the type species be changed to the I. bernissartensis with the new holotype IRSNB 1534, a much more complete specimen which was part of a treasure trove of Iguanodon fossils discovered in a coal mine in Belgium in 1878 and studied by the famous Belgian palaeontologist Louis Dollo.

PNSO Harvey the Iguanodon (Anterior)
PNSO have added a model of an Iguanodon to their mid-size model range. The figure has some amazing detail, stunning skin folds and a prominent beak.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is wonderful to see this famous Lower Cretaceous ornithopod added to the PNSO model range. The figure will have an official, declared scale of 1:35 and we are looking forward to stocking this excellent dinosaur in early 2022.”

The Model Measurements

Harvey the Iguanodon model has a declared scale of 1:35. The model measures 27 cm in length and stands around 9.5 cm high at the hip. The acclaimed dinosaur expert and best-selling author Gregory S. Paul has stated that Iguanodon bernissartensis had a maximum length of approximately 8 metres. Based on this size estimate, the 27 cm long model would be in around 1:29.5 scale.

Harvey the Iguanodon measurements.
The PNSO Harvey the Iguanodon measures 27 cm in length and stands around 9.5 cm high. The figure has a declared scale of 1:35.

Supplied with a Booklet, Colour Posters and a QR Code Linked to a Video

This PNSO dinosaur model is supplied with an illustrated, full colour booklet, colour posters and the packaging contains a QR code that when scanned links to a short video that explains how the figure was developed.

PNSO Iguanodon model (Harvey)
Harvey the Iguanodon dinosaur model (PNSO) supplied with colour posters.

Harvey the Iguanodon will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in early 2022.

To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models and figures supplied by Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

18 12, 2021

Searching for Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures

By | December 18th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The Beasts of the Mesozoic range of figures has grown into a considerable portfolio of articulated dinosaur models. The first of these exciting scale models, the first wave of “raptors” was in stock at Everything Dinosaur back in 2018. Since then, there have been additions and amendments to the range of feathered theropods incorporated into the range and three waves of articulated ceratopsian figures.

As Everything Dinosaur team members constantly review and update the key words and phrases associated with product searches on their website, time was taken out of their busy schedule to examine the key words assigned to the Beasts of the Mesozoic section of the site.

Beasts of the Mesozoic articulated dinosaur models
Team members at Everything Dinosaur put together this little montage of Beasts of the Mesozoic figures and models to try to illustrate just how big this range of articulated dinosaur models has become.

Ceratopsians in Abundance

The first wave of articulated horned dinosaur figures was added a couple of years ago and there have been two further waves since, culminating in the recent addition of seven new ceratopsians namely:

Albertaceratops, Pentaceratops, the large, Late Cretaceous, Chinese horned dinosaur Sinoceratops, Torosaurus, an adult Triceratops, Utahceratops and Xenoceratops. As the number of different genera have been increased, so team members have been keeping tabs on the keywords and phrases associated with searches for this part of the Everything Dinosaur website.

Beasts of the Mesozoic Albertaceratops dinosaur model
The Beasts of the Mesozoic Albertaceratops dinosaur model. A. nesmoi, part of the third wave of horned dinosaurs introduced in the Beasts of the Mesozoic ceratopsian series.

Torosaurus latus and Triceratops horridus

The two largest figures in wave 3 are the adult Triceratops horridus and the Torosaurus latus models. Both models measure over 45.5 cm in length and have a declared scale of 1:18. These figures are even bigger than the Pachyrhinosaurus and the adult Centrosaurus that were introduced previously, P. lakustai measures over 38 cm long whilst the Centrosaurus apertus is an impressive 40.6 cm in length.

Beasts of the Mesozoic adult Triceratops and Torosaurus
The largest figures in wave 3 represent two of the largest horned dinosaurs known to science. Torosaurus latus (left) and Triceratops horridus (right).
Beasts of the Mesozoic Torosaurus latus dinosaur model.
A view of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Torosaurus articulated dinosaur model out of its packaging.
Beasts of the Mesozoic adult Triceratops
The new for 2021 Triceratops horridus (adult figure) in the Beasts of the Mesozoic range. The figure has been removed from its box at the request of a customer who wanted to see how the model was articulated.

Tyrannosaur Range Planned

The Beasts of the Mesozoic product portfolio will become even bigger and diverse next year (2022). A tyrannosaur themed range is planned, this too will be introduced gradually, in a series of waves. When these theropod models ae added, the website will need updating and the keywords and phrases associated with it will be reassessed.

To view the range of Beasts of the Mesozoic models currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic Models and Figures.

17 12, 2021

The Big Herbivores of the Nemegt Formation

By | December 17th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

In a recently published scientific paper describing a new species of armoured dinosaur from the Nemegt Formation, it was postulated that some Late Cretaceous ankylosaurs evolved a selective feeding habit in order to avoid competition from other herbivorous dinosaurs.

The ankylosaurs Tarchia teresae and the recently described Tarchia tumanovae had relatively narrow muzzles, compared to earlier ankylosaurids known from the Bayanshiree, Djadokhta and Baruungoyot Formations. Although these ankylosaurs were around five metres in length and perhaps weighed as much as two thousand kilograms, there were several much larger types of herbivorous dinosaur that co-existed with them.

Mega herbivores of the Nemegt Formation
A diagram showing the major, large herbivores that have been scientifically described from the Upper Cretaceous Nemegt Formation of Mongolia. The relatively small size of the Tarchia spp. in comparison with the other large herbivorous dinosaurs may have led to selective pressure on these ankylosaurs to evolve a different feeding habit to reduce interspecific competition for food resources.

Evolving a Selective Feeding Strategy to Avoid Excessive Competition

Writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, the researchers postulate that Tarchia species became more selective feeders as a result of competition from other larger herbivorous dinosaurs such as titanosaurs, therizinosaurs and ornithomimosaurs such as the giant Deinocheirus (D. mirificus).

The shift in feeding strategy may have coincided with the arrival of more bulk feeders such as saurolophine hadrosaurids, that may have entered Asia from North America. The invasion of new, highly efficient, bulk-feeding hadrosaurs, may have caused even greater interspecific competition for limited resources, possibly driving selection pressure on the diets of ankylosaurs.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s earlier article on the scientific description of Tarchia tumanovae: Tarchia tumanovae a New Ankylosaur Species.

16 12, 2021

As Theropods Evolved Their Jaws Got Stronger

By | December 16th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Scientists from the University of Birmingham in collaboration with a colleague from University College London have undertaken a detailed study of the lower jaws of theropod dinosaurs. They have concluded that the jaws of these dinosaurs, some of which are very closely related to modern birds, evolved over time to become stronger and more robust.

The study also examined bite stresses imposed on the jaws of Tyrannosaurus rex and Tarbosaurus bataar, looking at the differences in jaw stress between juveniles and adults. This research reveals that mature T. rex and T. bataar have lower jaws that are much more stress resistant than the jaws of juveniles. Adult tyrannosaurs also had a faster bite.

Tarbosaurus specimen
A study of bite force mechanics and jaw stresses imposed on the lower jaws of tyrannosaurs such as Tarbosaurus bataar as they fed suggests that proportionately adults had much stronger, robust jaws than juveniles and that the adults had a faster bite too.

Dinosaurs Studied Digitally

The research team used digital modelling and computer simulation to uncover a common trend of jaw strengthening in theropods – expanding the rear jaw portion in all groups, as well as evolving an upturned jaw in carnivores and a downturned jaw in herbivores.

Biomechanical analysis of the evolving morphology of the jaw demonstrated that these form changes made jaws mechanically more stable when biting, minimising the chance of damage such as a bone fracture.

The researchers created digital models of more than 40 lower jaws from five different theropod dinosaur groups, including typical carnivores like Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor, and lesser-known omnivorous/herbivorous theropods like ornithomimosaurs, therizinosaurs and oviraptorosaurs. Their results are published in the journal “Current Biology”.

Lead author of the study, PhD student at the University of Birmingham Fion Waisum Ma stated:

“Although theropod dinosaurs are always depicted as fearsome predators in popular culture, they are in fact very diverse in terms of diets. It is interesting to observe the jaws becoming structurally stronger over time, in both carnivores and herbivores. This gives them the capacity to exploit a wider range of food items.”

The Dabasu theropod dinosaur biota.
Life reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Iren Dabasu Formation fauna, showing theropod dinosaurs of various diets. Such dietary niche partitioning could have contributed to the diversification of theropod dinosaurs, which eventually led to the evolution of modern birds. Depicted species: Gigantoraptor, Garudimimus, Neimongosaurus and Velociraptor. The age of the Iren Dabasu Formation (also known as the Erlian Formation) remains unknown, although it is certainly Upper Cretaceous in origin. Picture credit: Gabriel Ugueto.

The Evolving and Diversifying Theropoda

Theropod dinosaurs underwent some of the most remarkable dietary changes in vertebrate evolutionary history, the first theropods were carnivorous, later theropods were apex predators and hypercarnivores. Over time, other dietary niches were exploited such as omnivory and herbivory, with some taxa eventually reverting to a carnivorous diet like their ancestors. The lower jaw is an important tool for food acquisition and its shape reflects adaptations to feeding modes and diets.

Theropod jaw study.
The research team examined the jaw shapes of five groups of theropod dinosaurs. They concluded that theropod jaws became more robust over time and that the anterior portion of the jaws of carnivores bent upwards to strengthen the bone, whilst in several types of herbivore the front of the jaw bent downwards and deepened to accommodate bite force stresses from cropping plants. Picture credit: Ma et al

Fion Waisum Ma added:

“Theropod dinosaurs underwent extreme dietary changes during their evolutionary history of 165 million years. They started off as carnivores, later on evolved into more specialised carnivores, omnivores and herbivores. Studying how their feeding mechanics changed is key to understanding the dietary transitions in other vertebrate animals too.”

When the tyrannosauroid lineage was examined, the researchers identified that early forms such as Guanlong (G. wucaii) had relatively slender and straight jaws, but later tyrannosaurs such as Tarbosaurus and T. rex evolved much deeper jaws with their front portions bending upward, increasing jaw strength.

Having a strengthened jaw is especially important to herbivorous theropods, as their jaws experience considerable stress from repetitive plant cropping. Herbivores like Erlikosaurus and Caudipteryx have extremely downward-bending jaws that could help dissipate such stress.

Senior author of the study, Dr Stephan Lautenschlager, (University of Birmingham), commented:

“It is fascinating to see how theropod dinosaurs had evolved different strategies to increase jaw stability depending on their diet. This was achieved through bone remodelling – a mechanism where bone is deposited in regions of the jaw that experience high stresses during feeding.”

The Jaws of Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaurs

The scientists studied the feeding mechanics of tyrannosaurids through growth and observed that the deeper and more upturned jaws of adult tyrannosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus and Tarbosaurus, are structurally stronger compared to those of their juvenile forms.

Commenting on the significance of this finding Dr Lautenschlager explained:

“The similarity between jaw strengthening through growth and through time suggests that developmental patterns in juvenile dinosaurs ultimately affected the evolution of the whole group. This likely facilitated the jaw evolution of theropod dinosaurs and their overall success for over 150 million years.”

Tarbosaurus and T. rex jaw study.
Comparison of biomechanical performance of the jaws of the tyrannosaurs T. rex and Tarbosaurus bataar. As these animals matured, their jaws became more robust and there was an increase in jaw-closing speed. Picture credit: Ma et al

The research team concluded that there was a common tendency for the structural strengthening of the theropod lower jaw through time, irrespective of diet across the five major groups of theropods studied.

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

The scientific paper: “Macroevolutionary trends in theropod dinosaur feeding mechanics” by Waisum Ma, Michael Pittman, Richard J, Butler and Stephan Lautenschlager published in Current Biology.

15 12, 2021

A New Species of Ichthyosaur

By | December 15th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A new species of Early Cretaceous ichthyosaur has been named and described following the study of fossilised remains found in Columbia. The fossils had previously been assigned to the ophthalmosaurian Platypterygius, but researchers from Canada, Germany and Columbia have erected a new species Kyhytysuka sachicarum.

An examination of the teeth in the jaws of the 94-cm-long skull, found that the anterior teeth were small whilst the teeth towards the back of the jaw were much bigger and robust. The researchers, who include Hans Larsson (Director of the Redpath Museum at McGill University), conclude that this ichthyosaur evolved unique dentition that enabled it to despatch large prey such as other marine reptiles.

Kyhytysuka sachicarum life reconstruction.
A life reconstruction of the newly described, Early Cretaceous ichthyosaur Kyhytysuka sachicarum. Picture credit: Dirley Cortés,

The First Ichthyosaur Fossils from Columbia to be Described

The fossil specimen, consisting of a relatively uncrushed skull, preserved in three-dimensions, was the first definitive ichthyosaur material to have been found in Columbia (Paja Formation). The material was compared to other South American ichthyosaur fossils and assigned to the Platypterygius genus, being formally described and assigned to a new species – P. sachicarum in 1997.

Writing in the “Journal of Systematic Palaeontology”, the research team concluded that this fossil should really be placed in its own separate genus. The name Kyhytysuka translates from the ancient Muisca culture of central Columbia as “the one that cuts with something sharp”, a nod to the heterodont dentition in the jaw.

Hans Larsson explained:

“This animal evolved a unique dentition that allowed it to eat large prey. Whereas other ichthyosaurs had small, equally sized teeth for feeding on small prey, this new species modified its tooth sizes and spacing to build an arsenal of teeth for dispatching large prey, like big fishes and other marine reptiles.”

A Columbian Researcher Assists with the Study

This is an exciting opportunity for graduate researcher and co-author Dirley Cortés, who hopes to be able to continue to study Columbian marine reptiles, as she grew up in the mountainous area of Columbia close to where this fossil was discovered.

Dirley Cortés studies the ichthyosaur skull
Columbian researcher Dirley Cortés studying the skull of Kyhytysuka which was discovered in Columbia. Picture credit: Dirley Cortés.

A Fearsome Predator

The dentition of Kyhytysuka sachicarum is unique among ichthyosaurs. This ichthyosaur had heterodont dentition (teeth of different shapes and sizes in the jaw), the teeth at the front of the jaw were small and designed to pierce, further along the jaw the teeth were larger, and adapted to cut flesh, whilst teeth at the back of the jaw were more robust and better at crushing. These teeth and other skull adaptations imply that Kyhytysuka evolved as an apex predator specialising in the hunting and consuming of large vertebrates such as fish and other marine reptiles. As such, this is the first example of a Cretaceous hypercarnivorous ichthyosaur. A hypercarnivore is defined as an organism whose diet consists of at least 70% meat.

Skeletal drawing of Kyhytysuka.
A scale drawing of the fearsome Kyhytysuka ichthyosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Columbia. Known bones are shown in white. Picture credit: Dirley Cortés.

The scientific paper: “Re-appearance of hypercarnivore ichthyosaurs in the Cretaceous with differentiated dentition: revision of ‘Platypterygius’ sachicarum (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria, Ophthalmosauridae) from Colombia” by Dirley Cortés, Erin E. Maxwell and Hans C. E. Larsson published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.

14 12, 2021

A New Species of Giant Sauropod is Described

By | December 14th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Scientists have re-examined fossil bones associated with the Chinese mamenchisaurid dinosaur Hudiesaurus sinojapanorum and propose that the robust limb bone associated with this sauropod represents an entirely different genus which they have named Rhomaleopakhus turpanensis.

The forelimb bones are exceptionally stout and strong, particularly the ulna. The researchers, who include Professor Paul Barrett of the London Natural History Museum, speculate that strong forelimbs could have helped this dinosaur to “push off” from the ground so that it could rear up onto its back legs to feed. Strong forelimbs would also have helped to resist the deceleration forces as the huge dinosaur lowered itself back onto all fours.

Rhomaleopakhus right forelimb
The robust right forelimb of Rhomaleopakhus turpanensis (specimen number IVPP V11121-1) showing the bones in approximate anatomical position (anterior view). The bones had been ascribed to Hudiesaurus sinojapanorum although they were not found at the same location as other bones that led to the erection of the Hudiesaurus genus. The forelimb bones demonstrate several autapomorphies that led the research team to propose a new genus R. turpanensis. Picture credit: Upchurch et al.

Note – the scale bar in the picture (above) equals 20 cm. Although, only described from bones from the right forelimb, it is estimated that Rhomaleopakhus (pronounced Row-ma-lee-oh-pack-hus) could have been between 25 and 30 metres long.

Core Mamenchisaurus-like Taxa

In 1993, a joint Chinese/Japanese field team uncovered sauropod fossil material from the Jurassic-aged Kalazha Formation within Shanshan County in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of north-western China. The fossils consisted of a single, huge vertebra, four teeth and a nearly complete right forelimb. On the basis of these fossils, a new member of the Mamenchisauridae family of long-necked dinosaurs was erected in 1997 – Hudiesaurus sinojapanorum. This dinosaur’s name translates as Chinese/Japanese butterfly lizard, in recognition of the co-operation between China and Japan in field excavations and because the vertebra had a flat butterfly-shaped process on the front base of the vertebral spine.

Hudiesaurus vertebra
Posterior cervical vertebra of Hudiesaurus sinojapanorum (IVPP V11120; holotype). A, right lateral view; B, left lateral view; C, anterior view; D, posterior view. Scale bar = 10 cm. Picture credit: Upchurch et al

Having reassessed the fossil material ascribed to Hudiesaurus the scientists, writing in the “Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology”, suggest that the bone from the spine, with its unique anatomical characteristics should remain the holotype material for H. sinojapanorum, but the forelimb which was found 1.1 kilometres from the vertebra and the teeth should not be assigned to Hudiesaurus. Indeed, the researchers propose that the robust forelimb with its own unique anatomical characteristics represents a new taxon. The teeth are too poorly preserved and can only be assigned to “core Mamenchisaurus-like taxa”.

Closely Related Mamenchisaurids

The researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, University College London as well as the London Natural History Museum undertook a phylogenetic assessment of the Hudiesaurus and the newly assigned Rhomaleopakhus fossil material. The analysis indicates that Hudiesaurus is closely related to the “core Mamenchisaurus-like taxon” Xinjiangtitan, although differences between them indicate that they should remain separate genera for the time being. The four, poorly preserved teeth cannot be identified with any certainty, but they too probably represent a mamenchisaurid. Rhomaleopakhus too is very likely a member of the Mamenchisauridae family, albeit closely related to Chuanjiesaurus and Analong from the Middle Jurassic and found in Yunnan Province (south-western China).

PNSO Er-ma the Mamenchisaurus dinosaur model (2021) in anterior view
A view of the giant PNSO Er-ma the Mamenchisaurus dinosaur model. A typical mamenchisaurid sauropod, with a very long neck. Mamenchisaurids have many more cervical vertebrae (18+) when compared to most other sauropods. The evolution of an exceptionally long neck could have occurred as a way to exploit other food resources or perhaps through sexual selection.

The scientific paper: “Re-assessment of the Late Jurassic eusauropod dinosaur Hudiesaurus sinojapanorum Dong, 1997, from the Turpan Basin, China, and the evolution of hyper-robust antebrachia in sauropods” by Paul Upchurch, Philip D. Mannion, Xing Xu and Paul M. Barrett published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.

13 12, 2021

Rebor Smilodon Models in Stock

By | December 13th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The Rebor Smilodon models have arrived at Everything Dinosaur. These fabulous 1:11 scale models of an iconic Ice Age predator are now in stock and team members have been very busy contacting all those customers who wanted to purchase one of these beautiful replicas.

Rebor Smilodon models
The Rebor Smilodon models are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur (December 2021).

Rebor Smilodon

The Rebor Smilodon populator Museum Class Replica Deluxe Pack replicas are supplied with two interchangeable heads so the Smilodon model can be displayed with mouth closed or mouth open. A fabulous 1:11 scale model of a Sabre-toothed Cat. Everything Dinosaur has two colour variants in stock, the “Plain” colour variant and the snow leopard inspired “Ice Age” colour variant.

Rebor Smilodon populator Museum Class Replica Deluxe Pack Stray Cat Plain
The Rebor Smilodon populator Museum Class Replica Deluxe Pack Stray Cat Plain comes with two interchangeable heads so collectors can display this 1:11 scale model with either its mouth open or closed. This exciting Rebor model, the first prehistoric mammal model to be introduced to the Rebor range, is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“There have been several delays with international shipping due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are delighted to welcome these two figures into stock. Our aim is to contact customers who wanted these models as quickly as we can so that we can get many of them delivered to customers in time for Christmas.”

Rebor Smilodon populator Stray Cat Ice Age
The Rebor Smilodon populator Museum Class Replica Deluxe Pack (Ice Age) is so called as the model comes with two interchangeable heads. This stunning Smilodon can be displayed with mouth closed or mouth open. This exciting 1/11th scale replica of an iconic Ice Age predator is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur (December 2021).

To view the range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal figures in the Rebor range available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

12 12, 2021

New Dinosaur Species Described – Arrudatitan

By | December 12th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

This year (2021), has been another bumper year for dinosaur discoveries with over forty new species of dinosaur described, including several from the British Isles such as Pendraig (P. milnerae) from Wales and four new dinosaurs described from fossil finds on the Isle of Wight (Brighstoneus, Ceratosuchops, Riparovenator and Vectiraptor).

New genera are erected based on new fossil discoveries. In addition, a new dinosaur genus or species can be established based on a revision of existing and previously studied fossil material. A new genus of Late Cretaceous, Brazilian titanosaur was announced this year, based on fragmentary remains that had previously been assigned to a titanosaur that roamed Argentina. Time for Arrudatitan maximus to step out of the shadows.

Arrudatitan maximus fossils
The fragmentary fossil bones previously assigned to the Argentinian titanosaur Aeolosaurus maximus and now defined as a new Brazilian titanosaur taxon Arrudatitan maximus. Picture credit: Silva Junior et al.

Aeolosaurus maximus

The Aeolosaurus genus was erected by the Argentinian palaeontologist Jaime Powell in 1987 when the first species was named (A. rionegrinus). It was a widespread genus known from numerous individuals collected from Upper Cretaceous deposits, most notably the Angostura Colorada Formation in Río Negro Province, but dinosaur fossils collected from the Bajo Barreal, Los Alamitos and Allen Formations of Argentina have also been assigned to this genus.

The Brazilian fossil remains that led to the erection of the species Aeolosaurus maximus in 2011, have always been regarded as somewhat of an outlier when compared to Aeolosaurus fossil remains discovered in Argentina. A. maximus was described based on vertebrae, ribs, a left ischium, a fragmentary scapula and elements from the limbs including a left femur discovered in 1997 eroding out of an outcrop of the Adamantina Formation in the state of São Paulo state south-eastern Brazil.

Researchers who included Julian Silva Junior (Universidade de São Paulo), reassessed the fossil material following a cladistic analysis in 2019 that challenged the taxonomic placement. Writing in “Historical Biology”, the scientists have confirmed the assertion expressed previously that the Brazilian fossil material represents a distinct genus and the fossils ascribed to Aeolosaurus maximus have been reassigned to the new dinosaur species Arrudatitan maximus.

Arrudatitan maximus scale drawing.
Although the size of A. maximus remains uncertain, based on the femur length of 1.55 metres, palaeontologists estimate that this titanosaur may have reached a length of around 15 metres.

Commenting on the revision, lead author of the scientific paper, doctoral student Julian Silva Junior stated:

“When analysing the caudal vertebrae, we found that they were different to those assigned to Aeolosaurus and these characteristics served to establish a diagnosis to propose a new genus.”

2021 – A Good Year for Titanosaur Discoveries

Several new titanosaur genera have been erected this year including Menucocelsior (M. arriagadai) and Ninjatitan (N. zapatai), which is the oldest titanosaur known to science.

Everything Dinosaur’s list of new titanosaurs named in 2021

  • Arackar licanantay a titanosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Hornitos Formation of Chile.
  • Arrudatitan maximus from the Upper Cretaceous Adamantina Formation of south-eastern Brazil.
  • Australotitan cooperensis a titanosaur from the Winton Formation of Queensland, Australia.
  • Garrigatitan meridionalis from the Upper Cretaceous Argiles Rutilantes Formation of south-eastern France.
  • Hamititan xinjiangensis from the Lower Cretaceous Shengjinkou Formation of north-western China which was coeval with the euhelopodid sauropod Silutitan (S. sinensis) which was also scientifically described in 2021.
  • Menucocelsior arriagadai from the Upper Cretaceous Allen Formation of Argentina.
  • Ninjatitan zapatai the earliest titanosaur known to date described from fossils found in the Lower Cretaceous Bajada Colorada Formation of Argentina.

To read blog posts about some of these newly described titanosaurs:

A new species of titanosaur from the Atacama Desert of northern Chile (Arackar licanantay): A New Titanosaur from Chile – Arackar licanantay.

Australian dinosaur “Cooper” named: “Cooper” – Australotitan cooperensis.

Our article on Hamititan xinjiangensis and Silutitan sinensis: Two New Sauropods from North-western China.

To read the Everything Dinosaur blog post about the earliest titanosaur known to science: Ninjatitan zapatai the Earliest Titanosaur.

The scientific paper: “Reassessment of Aeolosaurus maximus, a titanosaur dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Southeastern Brazil” by Julian C. G. Silva Junior, Agustín G. Martinelli, Fabiano V. Iori, Thiago S. Marinho, E. Martín Hechenleitner and Max C. Langer published in Historical Biology.

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