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

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16 01, 2021

New PNSO Prehistoric Animals Feature in Everything Dinosaur Newsletter

By | January 16th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

PNSO Prehistoric Animals Feature in Everything Dinosaur Newsletter

The latest Everything Dinosaur newsletter features the exciting new for 2021 editions to the popular PNSO prehistoric animal model range.  In total, seven recently arrived figures are featured, six dinosaurs and a replica of the bizarre Chinese, herbivorous marine reptile known as Atopodentatus (Zewail the Atopodentatus).  Headlining our latest newsletter is the excellent Essien the Spinosaurus, which is not to be confused with the much larger 1:35 scale Spinosaurus replica also called Essien, within the PNSO model range.

Top of the Pops – The PNSO Essien the Spinosaurus (Mid-size Range) Headlines the Everything Dinosaur Newsletter

Featured in the Everything Dinosaur newsletter - Essien the Spinosaurus.

The new PNSO Essien the Spinosaurus features as the headline item in the latest Everything Dinosaur newsletter.  This Spinosaurus dinosaur model has an articulated jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Pair of Duck-billed Dinosaurs

A pair of duck-billed dinosaurs also feature in the latest Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter.  Both dinosaurs are members of the Lambeosaurinae, they belong to the crested hadrosaurs group.  This sub-family may have been named after Lambeosaurus, but ironically, Corythosaurus represented by the model named Caroline, was named and scientifically described earlier than Lambeosaurus (represented by the model entitled Audrey).  Corythosaurus was named and described in 1914, whilst Lambeosaurus was formally described in 1923.

A Pair of Duck-billed Dinosaurs (Audrey the Lambeosaurus and Caroline the Corythosaurus)

New PNSO models Audrey the Lambeosaurus and Caroline the Corythosaurus.

PNSO Audrey the Lambeosaurus and Caroline the Corythosaurus.  A pair of duck-billed dinosaurs also feature in the latest edition of the Everything Dinosaur newsletter, Audrey the Lambeosaurus (left) and Caroline the Corythosaurus (right).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Atopodentatus and Tuojiangosaurus Models

The customer newsletter also features the PNSO Atopodentatus and the stunning stegosaur figure Tuojiangosaurus.  Both these prehistoric animals are synonymous with China.  Fossils of the bizarre Middle Triassic marine reptile Atopodentatus come from Yunnan Province, whereas fossils of the Late Jurassic Tuojiangosaurus have been found in Sichuan province that borders Yunnan to the north.

The PNSO Atopodentatus and the PNSO Stegosaur Tuojiangosaurus Feature in the Newsletter

PNSO prehistoric animal models.

Two new for 2021 prehistoric animal models from PNSO (Zewail the Atopodentatus and Qichuan the Tuojiangosaurus).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To request to be added to the Everything Dinosaur newsletter subscribers list, just simply send us an email: Email Everything Dinosaur.

Ornithischians – Borealopelta and Pachyrhinosaurus

The last of the seven new prehistoric animal figures to be featured are both members of the bird-hipped group (Ornithischia), however, they are only distantly related.  Brian the Pachyrhinosaurus is one of several new horned dinosaur models expected in stock at Everything Dinosaur this year, whilst the beautiful Borealopelta is an armoured dinosaur that roamed what is now known as Canada, some 44 million years before the likes of Pachyrhinosaurus wandered across North America.

The PNSO Pachyrhinosaurus and Borealopelta Dinosaur Models

Ornithischian dinosaur models from PNSO.

Brian the Pachyrhinosaurus and Gavin the Borealopelta dinosaur models from PNSO.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view all the new PNSO prehistoric animals in stock at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

15 01, 2021

Extensive Dinosaur Tracks Discovered in China

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

Over 240 Fossilised Dinosaur Prints Discovered in South-eastern China

Everything Dinosaur team members have received several media reports from Chinese news agencies about the discovery of an extensive series of dinosaur tracks in Fujian Province (south-eastern China).  The dinosaur track site was uncovered in Shanghang County and covers approximately 1,600 square metres.  The tracks and individual prints were made around 80 million years ago (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous) and they represent the first dinosaur trace fossils to have been found in Fujian Province.

Field Team Members Examine and Map the Dinosaur Tracks

Extensive dinosaur tracks uncovered in China.

Chinese field team members examine and map the numerous dinosaur tracks and prints uncovered in Fujian Province.

Picture Credit: CFP

The Tracks of at Least Eight Different Types of Dinosaur

Extensive track sites such as this are exceptionally rare, early indications from the field team mapping the prints are that at least eight different types of dinosaur are represented.  The three-toed prints of ornithopods and the large, more rounded prints of sauropods have been identified.  The various media channels have also reported both large and small theropod prints including prints around thirty centimetres in length made by a large, bird-like member of the Deinonychosauria, a raptor that has left distinctive two-toed prints, as the second toe was raised off the ground as it possessed a large, curved sickle-like claw.

Running with Second Toe Raised Off the Ground

The second toe claw of Velociraptor.

A model showing the raised second toe held off the ground as a member of the Deinonychosauria (Velociraptor) runs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Xing Lida, from the China University of Geosciences and a member of the research team has stated:

“Judging from the size of the footprints, which were eight to fifty-five centimetres long, lengths of the dinosaurs range from one metre to ten metres.”

The site is under the stewardship of the local authorities in order to protect this important discovery and to deter any would-be fossil hunters who might be tempted to remove any prints for sale on the black market.  The site contains at least 240 individual dinosaur prints.

Two of the Dinosaur Prints from the Shanghang County Site

Dinosaur tracks discovered in Fujian Province.

Two dinosaur prints from the Fujian Province site.  The research team estimate that the tracks represent lakeside activity from around 80 million years ago.

Picture Credit: CFP

The tracks were made as dinosaurs visited an ancient lake, the various prints and trackways being preserved in the soft mud on the lake margins.

Senior palaeontologist and former curator at the Zigong Dinosaur Museum (Sichuan Province) Peng Guangzhao, explained that the researchers were optimistic about finding more fossils.  The team are hopeful that more tracks, bones or even dinosaur eggs could be discovered in Fujian Province in the future.

14 01, 2021

World’s Oldest Cave Art Discovered

By | January 14th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Oldest Cave Art Found in Sulawesi

Scientists have discovered the world’s oldest known animal cave painting on the island of Sulawesi (Indonesia) – a wild pig – believed to have been drawn 45,500 years ago.  The cave painting consists of a figurative depiction of a group of Sulawesi warty pigs, one male seems to be observing an interaction between two other pigs, their impressions are only partly preserved.  Painted in red ochre, the dark red impressions are approximately life size.  There are two handprints painted above the back of the pig, this evocative artwork provides the earliest evidence recorded to date of human settlement in this region.

The World’s Oldest Known Animal Cave Painting

Warty pig cave art (Sulawesi, Indonesia).

The world’s oldest known animal cave painting on Sulawesi (Indonesia).  An illustration of a warty pig believed to have been drawn 45,500 years ago.

Picture Credit: Maxime Aubert (Griffith University, Australia)

Writing in the academic journal Science Advances, the archaeologists from Griffith University, the University of Brisbane in collaboration with their Indonesian colleagues from Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi Nasional (ARKENAS), Hasanuddin University (Indonesia) and other academic bodies discovered the remarkable cave art in a limestone cave known as Leang Tedongnge on the south-western peninsula of the island of Sulawesi.  The cave painting consists of a figurative depiction of a group of Sulawesi warty pigs (Sus celebensis) that are endemic to this Indonesian island.

Commenting on the significance of their discovery, Professor Adam Brumm (Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University) stated:

“The Sulawesi warty pig painting we found in the limestone cave of Leang Tedongnge is now the earliest known representational work of art in the world, as far as are aware.  The cave is in a valley that’s enclosed by steep limestone cliffs and is only accessible by a narrow cave passage in the dry season, as the valley floor is completely flooded in the wet.  The isolated Bugis community living in this hidden valley claim it had never before been visited by Westerners.”

Views of the Entrance to the Leang Tedongnge Cave and a Schematic Plan of the Cave Site

Views of the Leang Tedongnge cave on Sulawesi and a schematic diagram of the cave system.

(A and B) Leang Tedongnge cave.  The cave is located at the foot of a limestone karst hill (A); the cave mouth entrance is shown in (B).  Plan (C) and section of Leang Tedongnge site.

Picture Credit: Brumm et al (Science Advances)

Dating Using Isotope Analysis of Mineral Deposits

To determine the approximate age of the cave paintings, the research team used Uranium-series isotope dating of associated calcium carbonate mineral deposits.  The oldest cave painting was estimated to be at least 45,500 years old.  A second painting from a nearby cave known as Leang Balangajia was dated to around 32,000 years ago.

A Digitally Enhanced View of the Cave Art at the Leang Tedongnge site

Computer enhanced view of the cave art with hand prints and pigs highlighted.

A stitched panorama view of the cave art enhanced using Decorrelation Stretch (DStretch) computer software.

Picture Credit: Brumm et al (Science Advances)

Professor Brumm described the artwork:

“It shows a pig with a short crest of upright hairs and a pair of horn-like facial warts in front of the eyes, a characteristic feature of adult male Sulawesi warty pigs.  Painted using red ochre pigment, the pig appears to be observing a fight or social interaction between two other warty pigs.”

Co-author of the paper PhD student Basran Burhan, an Indonesian archaeologist from southern Sulawesi ,who is currently studying at Griffith University commented:

“These pigs were the most commonly portrayed animal in the ice age rock art of the island, suggesting they have long been valued both as food and a focus of creative thinking and artistic expression.”

Recovering DNA from the Handprints

The research team are confident that they will be able to recover DNA from the two handprints located above the pig’s back.  A study of this genetic material will shed light on the origins of the people who painted this prehistoric scene.  This cave art underlines the importance of Indonesia in terms of mapping the spread of modern humans around Asia and the researchers state that even older cave art may still be awaiting discovery in the hundreds of limestone caves located on Sulawesi.

Views of the Two Sulawesi Handprints

Cave art hands.

Close-up views of the two Sulawesi handprints preserved above the red ochre illustration of the warty pig.  One looks much larger than the other and these may represent stencils made by two individuals.

Picture Credit: Maxime Aubert (Griffith University, Australia)

The scientific paper: “Oldest cave art found in Sulawesi” by Adam Brumm, Adhi Agus Oktaviana, Basran Burhan, Budianto Hakim, Rustan Lebe, Jian-xin Zhao, Priyatno Hadi Sulistyarto, Marlon Ririmasse, Shinatria Adhityatama, Iwan Sumantri and Maxime Aubert published in the journal Science Advances.

13 01, 2021

Early Apemen by Zdeněk Burian

By | January 13th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

Illustrating Neanderthals – Zdeněk Burian

Our perception of our close cousins the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis) has changed dramatically over the last four decades or so.  Once thought to be brutish thugs with limited intelligence recent discoveries have revealed that the “apemen” of prehistory were just as sophisticated as ourselves and their demise and eventual extinction remains a mystery.  When Everything Dinosaur team members posted up some Ice Age inspired artwork by the famous 20th century wildlife illustrator and palaeoartist Charles Robert Knight earlier this month*, we were asked by a blog fan to post up some similarly themed artwork by Zdeněk Burian.

The Illustration of a Group of Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) by Zdeněk Burian

Ancient hominins by Zdenek Burian.

Neanderthals depicted a quite primitive “ape-men”.

Picture Credit: Zdeněk Burian

Burian was an equally influential 20th Century artist, who produced numerous illustrations of prehistoric mammals and Ice Age scenes, but we thought we would reflect on how our views have changed regarding what is arguably the most closely related** hominin species to our own – Homo neanderthalensis by posting artwork from Burian illustrating a Neanderthal campsite.

To view the post* which features the Ice Age artwork by Charles R. Knight: A Herd of Woolly Mammoths by Charles R. Knight.

The exact taxonomic relationship between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis remains controversial.  Some palaeoanthropologists consider H. neanderthalensis to be a sub-species of H. sapiens, whilst others suggest that both H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis are descended from Homo heidelbergensis.

12 01, 2021

New PNSO Prehistoric Animal Models in Stock

By | January 12th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

New PNSO Prehistoric Animal Models in Stock

Seven new PNSO prehistoric animal models are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  It seems that no sooner have Everything Dinosaur team members finished blogging* about the latest models from PNSO that the first of the new for 2021 figures arrive at the company’s UK warehouse.  Dinosaur fans and model collectors have six new dinosaurs and one remarkable replica of a bizarre marine reptile to add to their collections.

Six New PNSO Dinosaur Models and an Atopodentatus Marine Reptile Model

New PNSO Prehistoric Animal Models in Stock

Seven new for 2021 PNSO prehistoric animal models are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  The models are Audrey the Lambeosaurus (top left), Brian the Pachyrhinosaurus (top row, centre) and Essien the Spinosaurus (middle).  The stegosaur (centre right) is Qichuan the Tuojiangosaurus, Gavin the Borealopelta (centre left).  Bottom row – centre the marine reptile model Atopodentatus (Zewail the Atopodentatus) and Caroline the Corythosaurus (bottom right).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the new models and the entire range of PNSO prehistoric animal models in stock at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

The Magnificent Seven

The models that have arrived and are in stock are:

  • Caroline the Corythosaurus
  • Brian the Pachyrhinosaurus
  • Gavin the Borealopelta
  • Audrey the Lambeosaurus
  • Zewail the Atopodentatus – a replica of the bizarre Middle Triassic marine reptile from south-western China called Atopodentatus unicus.
  • Qichuan the Tuojiangosaurus
  • Essien the Spinosaurus – a new mid-size model of this famous theropod.  The model updates the iconic 1:35 scale “Essien” the Spinosaurus figure.

To read our latest post* about new PNSO figures for 2021 (Bart the Pinacosaurus): New PNSO Armoured Dinosaur Model – Pinacosaurus grangeri for 2021.

Brian the Pachyrhinosaurus Dinosaur Model

PNSO Pachyrhinosaurus model measurements.

The measurements of the PNSO Brian the Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur model.  In stock at Everything Dinosaur, the model measures a fraction over 15 cm in length.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We know how keen collectors have been to access these new PNSO models and figures.  Today, we announce that the next seven new prehistoric animal models have arrived and are in stock.  These exciting replicas join Gaoyuan the Microraptor model, that arrived in the autumn of 2020.  Together they demonstrate Everything Dinosaur’s commitment to our partners PNSO and we feel proud and privileged to be able to bring these figures to a new audience.  The latest batch of new figures really are a magnificent seven!”

The PNSO Atopodentatus Model Swims into Stock

The PNSO Atopodentatus marine reptile model.

The impressive head of the bizarre marine reptile Atopodentatus model.  Atopodentatus is the only non-dinosaur model to be added to Everything Dinosaur’s inventory in the latest shipment of PNSO products.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

11 01, 2021

New PNSO Pinacosaurus Dinosaur Model

By | January 11th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

New PNSO Pinacosaurus Dinosaur Model

Everything Dinosaur in collaboration with PNSO announce that in 2021 a museum quality replica of Pinacosaurus will be added to the PNSO model range.  Over the last few months, Everything Dinosaur has released information about a huge range of new PNSO dinosaur models, including lots of armoured dinosaurs such as new Tuojiangosaurus, Borealopelta, Sauropelta and Miragaia.  It is wonderful to see a Chinese manufacturer adding an Asian member of the Ankylosauridae family to their product portfolio.

This new Pinacosaurus dinosaur model will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in 2021.

The New for 2021 PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus Dinosaur Model

PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus dinosaur model (lateral view).

The new for 2021 PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus dinosaur model (lateral view).   This new model is number 37 in the PNSO model series.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Pinacosaurus grangeri

Named and described in 1933 by the American palaeontologist C. W. Gilmore, the first fossils of this medium-sized member of the ankylosaur family were discovered by the famous American Museum of Natural History Museum expedition to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia in the early 1920s.  The genus name translates from the Latin as “plank lizard”, a reference to the small, plank-like dermal scutes associated with the top of the skull.  The trivial or species name honours Walter Wallis Granger one of the scientists involved with the American Museum of Natural History expedition.  It was Granger who found the first fossilised remains of this armoured dinosaur in 1923.

The dinosaur (P. grangeri) is estimated to have been around 5 metres long when fully grown.  Estimates of body weight vary, Gregory S. Paul estimates a body weight of 1,900 kilograms, whereas other researchers, suggest that this armoured dinosaur was relatively lightly-built when compared to similarly sized ankylosaurines such as Tarchia (T. kielanae), Ziapelta (Z. sanjuanensis) and Aletopelta (A. coombsi).

The New for 2021 Pinacosaurus Dinosaur Model from PNSO

PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus dinosaur model.

The new for 2021 PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus dinosaur model.   A replica of the Late Cretaceous ankylosaurine from Inner Mongolia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Lots of Specimens to Study

The design at PNSO have been spoilt for choice when it comes to Pinacosaurus.   There are numerous fossil specimens to study including almost complete individual skeletons.  Most of the fossil material represents juveniles and as these remains tend to be found in groups, it has been suggested that these herbivores roamed their desert environment in small herds.

Pinacosaurus has been featured in a diorama by the renowned artist Zhao Chuang depicting the dinosaur dominated Late Cretaceous Asian ecosystem

A Pinacosaurus (P. grangeri) Life Reconstruction

Life reconstruction Pinacosaurus grangeri.

Pinacosaurus life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

Inspired by the Australian Mountain Devil?

Everything Dinosaur team members noted the striking similarity between Bart the PNSO Pinacosaurus model and the extant Australian agamid lizard known as the Mountain Devil or Moloch (Moloch horridus).  The colours chosen for the PNSO model are reminiscent of the colour of the Moloch, a thorny lizard which is widespread in Australia.

A Dorsal View of Bart the PNSO Pinacosaurus Replica

PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus dinosaur model (dorsal view).

The new for 2021 PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus dinosaur model (dorsal view).  The colouration of the dermal armour reminds Everything Dinosaur team members of the Mountain Devil lizard from Australia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Mountain Devil (Moloch) a Lizard Native to Australia

The Mountain Devil (Moloch) from Australia.

The very spiny Mountain Devil or Moloch (Moloch horridus) which is native to Australia.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The new PNSO Bart the Pinacosaurus dinosaur model will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in 2021.

To view the current of PNSO dinosaurs and prehistoric animals in stock at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Models.

10 01, 2021

Remember School Visits – Tips and Advice

By | January 10th, 2021|Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Remember School Visits – Tips and Advice

Do you remember school visits?  With most of the schools only accommodating children of key workers or other pupils with exemptions under the current COVID-19 regulations, Everything Dinosaur’s team members have stopped all school visits and outreach work.  However, we continue to receive emails asking us about various aspects of our work in schools.

Here is a general article that explains how a teaching team can get the most out of a school visitor who is there to deliver activities in support of a term topic:

Tips and Advice About Getting the Most from a School Visit

Tips and advice about school visits.

Tips and advice about school visits.  Everything Dinosaur helps out.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Advice and Tips – Frequently Asked Questions

Whether a museum, college, school or youth club here are a list of tips and helpful suggestions compiled by the Homo sapiens at Everything Dinosaur who are tasked with undertaking dinosaur themed workshops and other teaching activities.  After all, having worked with tens of thousands of people, our dinosaur experts/teachers know a thing or two about providing support for other educationalists.

  • When working in a school or college it is often best to base the teaching work in a single classroom.  It is often easier to bring the pupils to the presenter than having to move the presenter and all their equipment/resources from classroom to classroom.
  • A few days prior to every school visit the designated teacher/expert should email over a proposed, bespoke lesson plan, a suggested itinerary and further information to help the school to maximise the teaching time.  If they don’t, drop the visitor an email and chase them up.
  • The individually tailored lesson plans should indicate which sections of the national curriculum the session is related to.  Ask them to confirm how what they intend to deliver fits into the national curriculum learning objectives and intended outcomes.
  • If a parking space could be allocated close to where the teaching work is to be carried out that would be greatly appreciated and help with the unloading and loading of the vehicle.
  • Encourage the teaching team to ask questions, and feel free to pick brains with regards to follow up and extension activities.  The visitor should be able to suggest plenty of extensions and ways in which to reinforce learning.
  • A camera, Ipad, Smartphone to take pictures/video is recommended (if the school privacy and photographic policies allow).  Take lots and lots of pictures and don’t worry about making notes, use the pictures/video to test the understanding of the children.
  • When working with older students such as Key Stage 3 and beyond a useful and free resource worth exploring is the huge Everything Dinosaur web log.  It is packed with information on the latest fossil finds, explanations of scientific terms, updates on genetic research, news stories and features regarding palaeontology and other Earth sciences visit: Everything Dinosaur Web Log and review the General Teaching, EYFS and Key Stage Categories.

Classrooms May Be Empty But Everything Dinosaur Still Helping Out

Empty Classrooms But Everything Dinosaur Still Providing Free Advice and Assistance

A well appointed laboratory in a school.

Classrooms might be deserted at the moment, but Everything Dinosaur is still providing free advice and assistance to teachers.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

School visits may not be possible at the moment due to COVID-19, but Everything Dinosaur team members are still providing free advice and assistance. Everything Dinosaur helping to support teachers and teaching assistants.

9 01, 2021

Oviraptorid Overturns Ideas on Late Stage Egg Incubation

By | January 9th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Fossil of Dinosaur Sitting on Eggs (Late Stage Incubation)

Fossils of dinosaurs are rare, fossils of articulated dinosaur skeletons rarer still and any fossils that preserve evidence of behaviour, these are amongst the rarest of all, truly scientific treasures.  A newly published paper describes the fossilised remains of a Late Cretaceous oviraptorid from east China’s south-eastern Jiangxi Province, a specimen that ticks all these boxes.  The fossils represent the partial, articulated remains of oviraptorosaur preserved sitting on a clutch of eggs in a brooding position.  Such fossils have been found before, but uniquely these 70 million-year-old remains include fossils of baby dinosaurs preserved inside the eggs, the first time this has been recorded in the non-avian dinosaur fossil record.

The Partially Preserved Adult Oviraptorid On the Nest

Oviraptorid sitting on eggs with embryos identified.

The fossilised remains of an oviraptorid with preserved eggs that contain the remains of baby dinosaurs.  Note scale bar = 10 cm.

Picture Credit: Shundong Bi et al (Science Bulletin)

Sitting Atop a Nest

The multinational team of researchers includes Dr Shundong Bi (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and Xing Xu (Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology – Beijing) along with Dr Matt Lamanna (Carnegie Museum of Natural History) and scientific illustrator Andrew McAfee.

Commenting on the significance of this discovery, Dr Bi stated:

“Dinosaurs preserved on their nests are rare, and so are fossil embryos.  This is the first time a non-avian dinosaur has been found, sitting on a nest of eggs that preserve embryos, in a single spectacular specimen.”

Fossils of brooding dinosaurs have been found before, perhaps the most famous is “Big Mamma” the fossilised remains of an adult Citipati osmolskae (also an oviraptorid) on display at the American Museum of Natural History (New York).

Citipati osmolskae Fossil Sitting Atop a Nest of Eggs

Citipati osmolskae fossil.

The Citipati fossil sitting on a nest “Big Mamma”.

Picture Credit: The American Museum of Natural History

Oviraptorids – Very Bird-like Dinosaurs

The Chinese fossil material has been assigned to the Oviraptoridae, although Everything Dinosaur are not aware of any new taxon being announced.  Oviraptorid dinosaurs are mainly associated with Asia, but the closely related Caenagnathidae are also known from North America.  The bones of these dinosaurs are very bird-like and they do belong to a great linage of theropods that are related to modern birds (the Maniraptora).

The specimen represents an incomplete, articulated skeleton of a large, (presumably adult) oviraptorid crouched in a bird-like brooding posture over a clutch of at least twenty-four eggs.  The adult appears to have perished whilst brooding the clutch.  The researchers identified the preserved remains of seven unhatched dinosaurs entombed inside the eggs.  The late stage of development of the embryos suggests that, just like modern birds, oviraptorids brooded their eggs, rather than simply guarding them as observed in extant crocodilians.

A Caring Parent

Dr Lamanna explained:

“This kind of discovery, in essence, fossilised behaviour, is the rarest of the rare in dinosaurs.  Though a few adult oviraptorids have been found on nests of their eggs before, no embryos have ever been found inside those eggs.  In the new specimen, the babies were almost ready to hatch, which tells us beyond a doubt that this oviraptorid had tended its nest for quite a long time.  This dinosaur was a caring parent that ultimately gave its life while nurturing its young.”

As part of their research, the scientists conducted an oxygen isotope study that demonstrated that the eggs were incubated at high bird-like temperatures, further evidence to support the idea that the adult died whilst brooding its clutch of eggs.  Analysis of the tiny baby dinosaur bones preserved inside their eggs indicate that some babies were more fully developed than others, this suggests that the eggs might have hatched at different intervals, a hatching strategy known as asynchronous hatching.  This strategy is found in many types of birds today such as Shoebill storks and numerous species of birds of prey such as raptors and owls.

Oviraptorids – Evidence that they were Caring Parents

Communal roosting in oviraptorids.

A pair of oviraptorosaurs.  Scientists suggest that these dinosaurs incubated their eggs and that they were caring parents.

Picture Credit: Mike Skrepnick

Asynchronous hatching appears to have evolved independently in oviraptorids and modern avians.

The Evolutionary Benefits of Asynchronous Hatching

If the eggs of oviraptorids did hatch at different intervals, then this too can provide an insight into the behaviour of these Late Cretaceous dinosaurs.  Biologists have identified a number of reasons why some kinds of bird alive today have evolved asynchronous hatching.

The evolutionary benefits of asynchronous hatching:

  • To reduce the losses from predators due to the whole brood not being present in the nest at the same time.
  • The younger animals are a back-up plan in case earlier hatched animals die.
  • When food resources are scarce the adults can dedicate the bulk of these scarce resources to the older babies and let the younger siblings perish.
  • Reduces the demands on the parents as they do not have to care for all the babies at the same time.

Gastroliths Identified

The researchers also noted the presence of gastroliths (stomach stones).  A cluster of tiny pebbles had accumulated in the body cavity of the adult dinosaur.  Gastroliths are associated with many different types of dinosaur, but this is the first time that undoubted gastroliths have been found in an oviraptorid.  As such, these stones may provide new insights into the diets of these very bird-like dinosaurs.

Dr Xu concluded:

“It’s extraordinary to think how much biological information is captured in just this single fossil.  We’re going to be learning from this specimen for many years to come.”

To read a related article on dinosaur parenting skills: Doting Fathers – A Parenting Strategy Amongst the Dinosauria

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pennsylvania).

The scientific paper: “An oviraptorid preserved atop an embryo-bearing egg clutch sheds light on the reproductive biology of non-avialan theropod dinosaurs” by Shundong Bi, Romain Amiot, Claire Peyre de Fabrègues, Michael Pittman, Matthew C. Lamanna, Yilun Yu, Congyu Yu, Tzuruei Yang, Shukang Zhang, Qi Zhao and Xing Xu published in Science Bulletin.

8 01, 2021

How Far Might Plant-eating Dinosaurs Have Dispersed Seeds?

By | January 8th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

How Far Might Plant-eating Dinosaurs Have Dispersed Seeds?

During the imposed lockdown due to COVID-19 lots of people have attempted to learn new skills, perhaps studying a musical instrument, mastering a new language or taking an on-line course as part of a planned career move.

For Professor George Perry of the School of the Environment at the University of Auckland, time away from his students gave him the opportunity to conduct a study into the pooping habits of plant-eating dinosaurs. This is not simply a case of an educated man with too much time on his hands but a serious examination in the role played in seed dispersal by ancient megaherbivores.

How Far Might Plant-Eating Dinosaurs Have Dispersed Seeds?

The new Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus deluxe dinosaur model.

A scientist has examined the role large, herbivorous dinosaurs may have had in the dispersal of seeds.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Plotting Frequency of Pooping Against Walking Speed

Herbivores play and important role in seed dispersal in modern ecosystems and it has been proposed that herbivorous dinosaurs might have been important seed dispersal agents in the Mesozoic. It is likely that a proportion of the plant seeds ingested by plant-eating dinosaurs would have passed through the gut, ending up being deposited with a helpful quantity of dung to act as fertiliser.

How far dinosaurs of different body sizes might have dispersed seeds remains uncertain.

Professor Perry modelled the likely travelling speeds of various dinosaurs along with the likely frequency of defecation (both factors that can be estimated based on an assessment of body mass).

It is known that large vertebrates are capable of transporting seeds considerable distances.  For example, African elephants (Loxodonta africana africana) can deposit seeds as a far away as 36 miles (60 kilometres), from their parent plant.  Using statistical analysis to assess the spread of seeds from members of the Dinosauria, Professor Perry concluded that the simulations demonstrated that dinosaurs likely moved some seeds very long distances, comparable distances to those observed in extant megaherbivores.

It is not possible to infer from the fossil record the effect on germination on seeds having passed through the gut of a dinosaur, or indeed, whether plants evolved seed dispersal strategies to take advantage of browsing and grazing dinosaurs, but this research does suggest that dinosaurs such as Triceratops and Stegosaurus may have spread seeds around 20 miles (more than 30 kilometres) away from their parent plants.

A Champion at Seed Dispersal (Triceratops)

Triceratops dinosaur illustration.

Triceratops was one of the last dinosaurs to evolve.  It is likely that ornithischian dinosaurs played an important role in seed dispersal during the Mesozoic.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

The scientific paper: “How far might plant-eating dinosaurs have moved seeds?” by George L. W. Perry published in Biology Letters.

7 01, 2021

A Herd of Woolly Mammoths (Charles R. Knight)

By | January 7th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

A Herd of Woolly Mammoths (Charles R. Knight)

The weather might be decidedly chilly (at least here in the UK), at the moment.  With this in mind, time to post up an iconic Ice Age scene painted by the renowned American palaeoartist Charles Robert Knight, depicting a herd of Woolly Mammoths on the move.  This talented artist might be most famous for his depictions of dinosaurs but he also produced many artworks and illustrations of prehistoric mammals and hominins.

A Herd of Woolly Mammoths a Famous Illustration by the American Artist Charles R. Knight (1874-1953)

The Woolly Mammoth an iconic animal of the Ice Age.

A Woolly Mammoth herd (Charles R. Knight).  An iconic painting of a herd of Mammuthus primigenius.  An ideal illustration given the chilly weather here in the UK.

Picture Credit: Charles R. Knight

The artwork, illustrations and murals of Charles R. Knight can be found on display in numerous museums in the United States, such as the National Museum of Natural History (Washington – District of Columbia), the Field Museum (Chicago) and perhaps most famously of all, the American Museum of Natural History (New York).

He also painted many extant animals and several of these illustrations can be found in American Zoos such as the Bronx Zoo (New York) and the National Zoo (Washington – District of Columbia).

His illustration of a herd of mammoths is in keeping with the cold weather we are currently experiencing.  The detailed and beautifully crafted artworks of Charles R. Knight are all the more remarkable given his poor eyesight.  For most of his life, this highly talented and gifted person who has left a legacy of superb artworks, was virtually blind.

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