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16 08, 2020

New for 2020 CollectA Models Due in Stock in a Few Days

By | August 16th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Remaining New for 2020 CollectA Models Due in Stock

The rest of the new for 2020 CollectA prehistoric animal models are due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse in a few days.  The remaining figures, the last of what are eighteen new figures introduced by CollectA this year are expected in about six days.  The models include the 1:60 scale megalodon model with an articulated jaw, the 1:2 scale pterosaur Caviramus and the Early Jurassic theropod Saltriovenator (S. zanellai).

Everything Dinosaur Will Have All the Remaining CollectA Prehistoric Animal Models in Stock Soon

What a collection? The new for 2020 CollectA prehistoric animals.

Some of the illustrations we used in our recent videos announcing the new for 2020 CollectA prehistoric animal models.  The rest of the new for 2020 CollectA prehistoric animal figures will be in stock very soon.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

CollectA Dinosaurs, Pterosaurs, Prehistoric Sharks and Invertebrates (plus a Dicynodont)

The production of these models has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   Everything Dinosaur was able to bring in some of the new for 2020 figures earlier in the year, but the likes of the hunting Mapusaurus, the Allosaurus, the cephalopods, the horseshoe crab and the replica of the huge dicynodont Lisowicia bojani were all held up.  Team members have been busy sorting out reservation lists for these figures, making room to accommodate the models in the company’s warehouse as well as researching and writing fact sheets to accompany sales.

The Mapusaurus model (CollectA Age of Dinosaurs – Prehistoric Life)

CollectA hunting Mapusaurus

CollectA Mapusaurus hunting dinosaur model.  Due in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson for the UK-based company commented:

“It has been a while, but the hard-working and enthusiastic team at CollectA have been doing all they can to expediate the delivery of these excellent figures into our warehouse.  We are looking forward to receiving them and we have prepared plans to ensure that we contact all those people on our reserve lists for these models as quickly as possible.  We have even ensured that we can work through next weekend if required to make sure we swiftly dispatch orders.”

“Something Fishy” – The CollectA Deluxe 1:60 scale Megalodon will Swim into Stock

CollectA Deluxe Megalodon shark model.

The CollectA 1:60 scale Megalodon shark model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of CollectA not-to-scale models and figures: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.

CollectA deluxe and supreme scale models: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

15 08, 2020

Late Triassic Island Dwarfs?

By | August 15th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Bristol Channel Could Provide Oldest Evidence of Insular Dwarfism

The flamboyant Baron Franz Nopcsa did much to establish the concept of island dwarfism, that is animals on islands with limited resources often evolve into much smaller forms.  Baron Nopcsa was the first person to suggest dwarf dinosaurs based on specimens associated with the Late Cretaceous Hateg Island, but a team of researchers including scientists from Bristol University, have uncovered evidence of island dwarfism in strata laid down in the Upper Triassic millions of years before the Hateg biota evolved.

Writing in the “Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association”, the researchers report on an analysis of fossil remains from strata laid down around 205 million years ago that suggests ancient North American reptiles lived on an island archipelago in the area that now forms South Wales and the Bristol Channel.

Student Matthew Skinner, (School of Earth Sciences at Bristol University), studied a treasure trove of fossil material that had been collected from Ruthin Quarry back in the 1950s and housed as part of the fossil collection at the National Museum of Wales (Cardiff).  The fragmentary and very fragile material documented life on a small tropical island during a time in Earth’s history when the Atlantic Ocean did not exist and Europe and North America were only partly separated and what division there was consisted of narrow, shallow seaways dotted with small islands.

World Map (Late Triassic) The Black Square Shows the Approximate Location of the Island Archipelago

Position of continents in the Late Triassic.

Pangaea in the Late Triassic, the black square highlights the island archipelago linking Europe and North America.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In total eleven different taxa were identified, many of the vertebrates identified from the Ruthin Quarry fossils were reminiscent of fossils associated with much older strata in North America.  The researchers describe the Ruthin Quarry biota as “relictual”, they are the remnants of a population that was once much more widely distributed.  The Ruthin Quarry specimens are some 25 million years younger than the similar fossils known from North America.

Matthew Skinner commented:

“We were amazed to discover that most of the Ruthin beasts showed greatest similarity to relatives from North America.  Of course, at that time, one could just hop across from South Wales to New York.  The islands provided little space and food and so regular-sized animals couldn’t survive on them; the Ruthin animals were all dwarf versions of their closest mainland relatives, maybe half the size on average.”

Professor Mike Benton (Bristol University), who supervised the research study, explained:

“Our other questions were about the effects of island life.  We know today that animals on remote islands can evolve in different ways from on the mainland.  Often they become smaller, as there is less food, and they might be anachronistic – meaning they are throw-backs to much more ancient animals from the mainland.”

As most of the taxa identified from the site possess closest relatives that are found in much older strata and their body size is small, the scientists have concluded that these fossils record evidence of island dwarfism, also referred to as insular dwarfism.  This is the oldest known record of this biological phenomenon.

A New Species – Smilodonterpeton ruthinensi

The team identified cartilaginous fish including the primitive shark Rhomphaiodon minor from a single tooth which helped to date the material.  Numerous reptiles were described including parareptiles from the Procolophonidae family, one procolophonid is a new species and has been named Smilodonterpeton ruthinensis (chisel-toothed reptile from Ruthin).  Other reptiles identified include three species of rhynchocephalians (beak lizards, distantly related to the living Tuatara of New Zealand), the herbivore Tricuspisaurus thomasi and archosaurs including a small, predatory crocodylomorph similar to Terrestrisuchus.  Although less than a metre in length, this crocodylomorph may have been the top predator on the island.  From this inventory, a simple food chain for the Ruthin Quarry fossil site could be constructed.

Location of the Fossil Finds and the Ruthin Quarry Food Chain

Ancient islands and a food web for the Late Triassic Ruthin Island.

A map of the Bristol Channel/South Wales area during the Late Triassic showing the ancient islands in relation to the modern coastline. With (below) a food web for Ruthin Island.

Picture Credit: Bristol University

 CT Scans and Three-Dimensional Computer Models

A number of the delicate fossil specimens were subjected to non-destructive CT scans to help reveal their anatomical details.  Tricuspisaurus had been named and scientifically described in 1957, but its taxonomic relationship with other reptiles was unclear.  This research has enabled the scientists to challenge the view that Tricuspisaurus was a procolophonid.

Co-author of the paper, Dr David Whiteside (Bristol University and the Palaeontology Department of the London Natural History Museum), stated:

“It has been questioned for many years how Tricuspisaurus is related to the other reptiles.  I was keen we found out what it really was, and Matthew was able to CT scan the specimens and this showed that its teeth were located in tooth sockets and it had a beak at the front of its jaws.  This confirms it was not a procolophonid, as had been thought, but a distant relative of birds, crocodiles and dinosaurs.”

CT Scan and Digital Image of the Lower Jaw of Tricuspisaurus

Tricuspisaurus CT scan and computer model of the lower jaw.

CT scan and 3-D digital computer model of the lower jaw of Tricuspisaurus.  The scan shows the base of its teeth embedded in tooth sockets.  A clear tooth socket lacking a tooth is visible at the back of the jaw.  Scale bar equals 5 mm.

Picture Credit: Bristol University

For a related article on the Bristol Channel/South Wales archipelago: Getting to Grips with the Jaws of Clevosaurus.

The scientific paper: “Late Triassic island dwarfs?  Terrestrial tetrapods of the Ruthin fissure (South Wales, UK) including a new genus of procolophonid” by M. Skinner, D. Whiteside, and M. Benton published in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

14 08, 2020

Eustreptospondylus from Summertown (Oxfordshire)

By | August 14th, 2020|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|1 Comment

Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis from Summertown (Oxfordshire)

After the recent hot weather and to coincide with the gradual opening up of museums as some of the COVID-19 restrictions are eased in England, we wanted to feature the fossilised remains of one of the most complete theropod dinosaurs known from the Middle Jurassic of Europe – Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis.  Why Eustreptospondylus?  It’s fossils were discovered in a clay pit at Summertown, Oxfordshire.  The marine sediments revealed a single, disarticulated skeleton, probably representing a young animal.  The specimen (OUMNH J. 13558) is on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  As we reach high summer in the northern hemisphere, we think it fitting to remember the dinosaur from Summertown.

Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis on Display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Eustreptospondylus fossil specimen on display.

The mounted skeleton of Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis on display at the museum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Discovered in 1871?

The fossilised remains of this theropod were discovered in 1871 according to the Oxford University museum, but some sources claim the fossils were found in the previous year.  The dinosaur has not always been displayed like this, for many years the fossils were posed in a “kangaroo-like” posture with the tail bones dragging on the ground.  In addition, a replica of the head of an adult Eustreptospondylus was added to the exhibition case to demonstrate that this dinosaur would have grown up into a formidable predator, had it lived for a few years longer.

The Reconstructed Head of the Fearsome Eustreptospondylus (E. oxoniensis)

A reconstruction of the head of Eustreptospondylus.

A reconstruction of the head of Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis on display at the Oxford University Natural History Museum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As we move into high summer, it’s a pleasure to remember one resident of Summertown.

13 08, 2020

Edmontosaurus – Not a Helpless, Hapless Hadrosaur

By | August 13th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Respect to Edmontosaurus

Everything Dinosaur team members have produced a short YouTube video praising the Late Cretaceous duck-billed dinosaur Edmontosaurus.  A juvenile Edmontosaurus might be on display at the moment, stuck in the jaws of a life-size replica of “Sue” the famous Tyrannosaurus rex exhibit, but Edmontosaurus was more than just lunch for a large theropod.  In our short video, we highlight just how successful the Edmontosaurus spp. were.  Indeed, the genus may have persisted for as much as seven million years and roamed over an enormous part of the western northern hemisphere.

It’s time to show Edmontosaurus some respect!

Edmontosaurus Not a Helpless, Hapless Hadrosaur

Video credit: Everything Dinosaur

Edmontosaurus regalis and Edmontosaurus annectens

In our short video, it lasts a fraction under eight minutes fifteen seconds, we discuss Edmontosaurus and explain that this genus was extremely successful.  It made up a considerable portion of the Late Cretaceous biota of Laramidia and some individuals may have grown to truly gigantic proportions.  The narrator discusses both Edmontosaurus regalis and E. annectens looking at some of the unpublished fossil evidence that suggests that this herbivore could have reached lengths in excess of fifteen metres.  A large, mature adult Edmontosaurus could perhaps have weighed as much as nine tonnes.

In the Video Edmontosaurus was Compared to the Chinese Hadrosaur Shantungosaurus 

Edmontosaurus compared to Shantungosaurus.

Comparing hadrosaurs.  Shantungosaurus compared to Edmontosaurus.  Could Edmontosaurus have rivalled Shantungosaurus giganteus for the title of the largest facultative biped that ever existed?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

—Video Contents—
0:00 – Introduction, an outline of the video’s contents and objectives.
0:28 – Introducing Edmontosaurus, you might think you know Edmontosaurus, but be prepared for some surprises.
0:54 – Field Museum Life-size T. rex, the amazing replica created by Blue Rhino Studios.
1:32 – Subscribe!  To view Everything Dinosaur on YouTube, we recommend subscribing to our YouTube channel: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.
1:43 – Two species of Edmontosaurus, an explanation of where, in general, fossils of E. regalis and E. annectens are found.
2:12 – Edmontosaurus roamed Alaska?  Hadrosaur fossils associated with the Prince Creek Formation of northern Alaska, could represent a species of Edmontosaurus.
2:43 – Edmontosaurus versus T. rex.  Tyrannosaurs predated upon Edmontosaurus, probably targeting the young, the old, or injured/sick individuals.
3:12 – How Big was Edmontosaurus?  Fossils provide evidence with regards to the size of this genus.
3:48 – Edmontosaurus “mummies”.  Analysis of soft tissues associated with Edmontosaurus specimens indicates that these herbivores were bigger than previously thought.
4:07 – Which species was Bigger?  Comparing the two species of Edmontosaurus that have been described to date.
4:21 – Super-sized Edmontosaurus!  Just how big could Edmontosaurus be?
4:55 – Biggest Biped that Ever Lived!  It may have rivalled Shantungosaurus giganteus for the title of the largest facultative biped that ever lived.
5:13 – Two Edmontosaurus models.  Looking at the Wild Safari Prehistoric World 2020 Edmontosaurus and the 2011 replica (see image below).
5:45 – Soft Crest on Edmontosaurus?  Did Edmontosaurus have a crest of soft tissue on the top of its skull?  We look at the fossil evidence.
6:02 – Successful Edmontosaurus!  Time to show Edmontosaurus some respect, it was a truly amazing member of the Dinosauria.
6:32 – Question of the Day!  Which T. rex model would you display next to the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Edmontosaurus figure?
7:10 – Respect to Edmontosaurus.  Concluding our video, it’s time to show some respect to Edmontosaurus spp.

The Two Safari Ltd Edmontosaurus Models Compared

Safari Ltd Edmontosaurus models.

Two Safari Ltd Edmontosaurus models (2020 and 2011).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Respect to Edmontosaurus

Time to show Edmontosaurus some respect.

Respect to Edmontosaurus!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Purchase the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Edmontosaurus and other Safari Ltd dinosaurs here: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Figures.

Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

The life-size Tyrannosaurus rex at the Field Museum (Chicago): Lifelike Replica of “Sue” T. rex Goes on Display.

12 08, 2020

Vectaerovenator inopinatus – “Unexpected Air Filled Hunter”

By | August 12th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Vectaerovenator inopinatus – “Unexpected Air Filled Hunter from the Isle of Wight”

This week has seen the announcement of the discovery of four fossil bones from the foreshore near Knock Cliff, south of the town of Shanklin on the Isle of Wight that led to the naming of a new species of carnivorous dinosaur.  The new theropod has been named Vectaerovenator inopinatus (pronounced: Vec-tare-row-ve-nay-tor in-op-pin-ar-tus).  Most of the media outlets that have covered this story have focused on the dedicated people who found the fossils and the research team responsible for describing them.  The fossils were found over a period of several weeks in 2019 in three separate discoveries, two by individuals and one by a family group, who all handed in their finds to the nearby Dinosaur Isle Museum (Sandown).

The Carcass of Vectaerovenator inopinatus Floats Out to Sea

The Vectaerovenator inopinatus floats out to sea.

Vectaerovenator inopinatus – carcass floating out to sea.  The fossil bones come from the marine Ferruginous Sandstone Formation of the Lower Greensand Group.

Picture Credit: Trudie Wilson

A Vital Contribution to the Earth Sciences

The contribution from amateur fossil hunters cannot be underestimated, such enthusiastic and knowledgeable fossil hunters continue to make a hugely significant contribution to the Earth sciences.  The fossil material, consisting of four vertebrae (one cervical, two dorsal and one caudal), are, with the exception of some isolated teeth, the youngest non-avian theropod remains reported from Mesozoic strata from the British Isles.

The fossils come from the Aptian (Early Cretaceous), Ferruginous Sandstone Formation of the Lower Greensand Group and as these are marine deposits, it is likely that the carcass was washed out to sea and floated for some time before eventually settling on the seabed.  Most Early Cretaceous dinosaur fossil material known from the British Isles come from the Wealden Group or the older Purbeck Limestone Group.  Exposures of the generally younger Ferruginous Sandstone Formation can be found in Dorset as well as the southern part of the Isle of Wight.  These sediments were laid down during a period of rising sea levels.  The rising seas engulfed the lower lying coastal swamps, floodplains and deltas that had been home to many different types of dinosaur.  Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in these strata.  For example, a single, isolated theropod tooth found at Punfield Cove, Dorset represents the very first record of a dinosaur from the Lower Greensand of Dorset.

As the four fossil bones ascribed to V. inopinatus are consistent in size and have the same adhering matrix, it is very likely the all four bones came from a single, individual dinosaur.

Silhouette of Vectaerovenator inopinatus with the Fossil Bones in Approximate Life Position

Vectaerovenator inopinatus silhouette showing placement of fossil bones.

A silhouette of V. inopinatus showing the placement of the four fossil bones. Although the material was collected on separate occasions, it is thought that they all come from a single skeleton.

Picture Credit: Darren Naish

One of the Few Valid British Greensand Taxa

What fossils that are associated with the Lower Greensand Group, are often highly fragmentary, substantially eroded and often the result of re-deposition from older strata.  The four vertebrae represent the youngest non-avian theropod remains reported from the British Mesozoic.  Described as a mid-sized tetanuran, the Vectaerovenator specimen is estimated to represent a four-metre-long animal, one that roamed Europe approximately 1115 million years ago.  It is the first diagnosable theropod taxon to be named from Aptian deposits associated with Europe.

“Unexpected Air-filled Hunter from the Isle of Wight”

The scientific name translates as unexpected, air-filled hunter from the Isle of Wight.  The neck and back bones are chambered (camerate) and full of air pockets (highly pneumatic).  These are adaptations to help lighten the skeleton and extensions to the lungs, part of an extremely efficient respiratory system seen today in living birds.  The shape of the cervical vertebra, along with the evidence of highly pneumatised bones indicate that Vectaerovenator was a member of the Tetanurae, a clade of theropod dinosaurs defined as all theropods more closely related to birds than they are to the genus Ceratosaurus.   As such, this is by far the largest clade of theropods known, it includes the tyrannosaurs, Maniraptora, megalosaurs, allosaurs, ornithomimosaurs and the Aves.  It is not possible to classify these bones any further, down to the family or the genus name for example.

The formal scientific paper is expected to be published next month in the journal Papers in Palaeontology.

The continuing transgression of the sea led to much of the land in this region becoming fully submerged.  Deposition from deltas stopped, land-derived sediments to this part of the world ceased and for millions of years the only material to accumulate on the seabed were the microscopic remains of eukaryotic phytoplankton (coccolithophoroids).  Many coccolithophorids are covered in overlapping scales made of calcium carbonate.  Their remains formed the beautiful white cliffs, (which gave the Isle of Wight its name) and formed the stunning white cliffs associated with the coast of south-eastern England and elsewhere in Europe.

White Cliffs Highlighting the Cretaceous Sea Level Rise

White cliffs formed from the remains of coccolithophoroids.

Stevns Klint chalk cliffs (Denmark).  These cliffs are formed from the fossilised remains of microscopic phytoplankton (coccolithophoroids).

Picture Credit: PLOS One

11 08, 2020

The Butchers of Boxgrove

By | August 11th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

The Butchers of Boxgrove

Not far from the location of one of the greatest anthropological hoaxes of all time, the Piltdown Man, lies Boxgrove quarry.  This site in picturesque, rural West Sussex provides evidence of the earliest known residents of the United Kingdom, some of the very first Europeans.  The gravel quarry reveals a chalk cliff and a bedding plane that represents an ancient beach.  Around 500,000 years ago this location was the gathering place for a group of Homo heidelbergensis as they butchered and processed the big game that they had brought down after a successful hunt.

Boxgrove has been meticulously studied for over forty years with the University College London Institute of Archaeology taking a prominent role.  Their work is detailed in a new book about the discoveries entitled “The Horse Butchery Site”, published by University College London Archaeology South-East’s “Spoilheap Publications”.

At Boxgrove a Number of Large Animals were Butchered including Prehistoric Horses

Butchering the horse at Boxgrove.

An artist’s impression of the social event of butchering the horse.

Picture Credit: Lauren Gibson / University College London institute of Archaeology

The book documents the activities and movements of a group of early Britons (H. heidelbergensis) as they knapped flints to make stone tools, modified bones to make implements and butchered a horse around 480,000 years ago or thereabouts.

Leader of the project, Dr Matthew Pope (Institute of Archaeology), commented:

“This was an exceptionally rare opportunity to examine a site pretty much as it had been left behind by an extinct population, after they had gathered to totally process the carcass of a dead horse on the edge of a coastal marshland”

Investigating a Site where Flint Knapping Took Place

Flint knapping site being investigated (1989).

Knapping site under excavation (1989).

Picture Credit: University College London institute of Archaeology

For over a decade from the 1980s and into the 1990s, a dedicated team of volunteers and archaeologists led by Mark Roberts (Institute of Archaeology) uncovered a treasure trove of prehistoric remains, that permitted the researchers to document the activities of these ancient people.   More than 2,000 sharp flint fragments were recovered from eight separate areas, known as knapping scatters.  These are individual workstations where humans knelt to make tools and left behind a concentrations of flint fragments.  In some places the impression made by the worker’s knees as they knelt on the sand can still be seen.

Boxgrove Knapping Site with Preserved Knee Impression

Investigating a flint knapping site (Boxgrove).

Examining a flint knapping site, note the preserved knee imprint (bottom right).

Picture Credit: University College London institute of Archaeology

At one location, the “flint shadow” of a man has been preserved.  The outline of his legs, as he sat, perhaps all day making tools and relentlessly flaking away at the flint, so that a shower of tiny fragments fell on him and around him, leaving a stencil impression of his limbs on the ground.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

” The communal activity recorded at Boxgrove, where a number of large animals were skilfully cut up, their bones broken and the marrow removed suggests a very high degree of co-ordination and co-operation.  Everything in this behaviour indicates planning and a need to communicate, this suggests that Homo heidelbergensis was using a language to explain abstract concepts, organise work and to exchange ideas.”

To read an article about Homo heidelbergensis butchering a prehistoric elephant: Giant Prehistoric Elephant Butchered by H. heidelbergensis.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges a media release from the University College London in the compilation of this article.

10 08, 2020

Smallest Dinosaur Preserved in Amber a Bizarre Lizard

By | August 10th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Oculudentavis khaungraae Not a Stem Bird

The preliminary manuscript has been made available on-line.  It seems that the remarkable fossil skull found preserved in amber from northern Myanmar does not represent a stem bird but it is the remains of a bizarre lizard.  Everything Dinosaur team members were aware of something big brewing within the scientific community earlier this year and on March 11th (2020), we were able to post up an article on this amazing fossil discovery coinciding with the scientific paper being published in the journal “Nature”.

The Polished Amber Nodule Containing the Fossil Skull

Oculudentavis khaungraae skull in amber.

Tiny fossil skull preserved in amber (Oculudentavis khaungraae).  Once thought to be a tiny avian, scientists how think that the skull is from a bizarre lizard.

Picture Credit: Lida Xing et al (Nature)

Doubts Over the Scientific Paper

Almost immediately academics cast doubt over the conclusion that the specimen represented an archosaur, specifically a bird.  However, a media feeding frenzy followed with many outlets reporting that the smallest dinosaur known to science had been found.  In our first blog post we highlighted some of the inconsistencies that had been raised by other scientists and included a synopsis of some of the criticisms in a section entitled “Post Publication Doubts”.

Oculudentavis khaungraae Computer Generated Image of the Skull

Oculudentavis khaungraae computer generated image of the skull.

Oculudentavis khaungraae computer generated image of the skull (left lateral view).

Picture Credit: Xing et al (Nature)

Everything Dinosaur followed this up with a second article published on March 15th entitled “Casting Doubt over Oculudentavis”.  Late last month, in a highly unusual development, the scientific paper was retracted: Scientific Paper on Hummingbird-sized Dinosaur Retracted.  Academic papers are often amended and reprised as new evidence/research comes to light, it is very unusual to have a paper retracted, clearly something was amiss.

Rumours had been circulating that a second specimen would confirm that the holotype (HPG-15-3), currently stored in the Hupoge Amber Museum in China, did not represent a bird or a tiny dinosaur.  Scientists from the University of Calgary (Canada), Sam Houston State University, Florida Museum of Natural History, Villanova University, (USA), Bristol University, University College London, Fundación Miguel Lillo, CONICET (Argentina) and Institut Català de Paleontologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), have used an analysis of the second specimen to propose that Oculudentavis is actually a bizarre lizard of uncertain taxonomic position.

The narrow rostrum, the huge orbits and the shape of the braincase led to erection of “eye tooth bird”, as the smallest member of the Dinosauria known from the Mesozoic.  However, Oculudentavis showed several traits that were inconsistent with the original assessment.  This amazing specimen might look like a bird, but it the new interpretation and phylogenetic placement highlights a rare case of convergent evolution rarely seen among the Reptilia. This new manuscript does reinforce the view that amber from Myanmar is affording science an unprecedented insight into the biota that existed in a coastal forest Cretaceous environment, but it also indicates that Oculudentavis khaungraae is a member of the Squamata and not the Archosauria.

9 08, 2020

Preparing for Edmontosaurus

By | August 9th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Preparing for Edmontosaurus

As Everything Dinosaur team members prepare to put together a video on their YouTube channel all about the dinosaur taxon Edmontosaurus, we have been busy exploring our archive and database and reviewing the original paper on this famous North American duck-billed dinosaur written by Lawrence Lambe.

The Title Page for the Scientific Paper on Edmontosaurus (Lambe 1917)

Edmontosaurus is announced to the world.

The title page from the original 1917 Edmontosaurus paper written by the eminent Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe.  The paper is entitled: “A new genus and species of crested hadrosaur from the Edmonton Formation of Alberta.”

Picture Credit: Archive of the “Ottawa Naturalist”

The First Two Fossil Specimens Attributed to Edmontosaurus were found by Brothers

The genus Edmontosaurus was first erected by the Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe back in 1917, in an article published in the “Ottawa Naturalist”.  He described two specimens found in the Red Deer River area of Alberta, Canada, from a formation known at the time as the Edmonton Formation, but now referred to as the Horseshoe Canyon Formation.  The first specimen, the type specimen for this genus, consisting of a disarticulated skull plus extensive post cranial material was collected in 1912 by Levi Sternberg.  The second fossil specimen which Lambe also described in his 1917 paper, was collected by George Sternberg, Levi’s older brother, during fieldwork in 1916.

Lambe named this new “crestless hadrosaur” in recognition of the geological formation from whence these fossils came and not in honour of Edmonton, the capital city of the Province of Alberta. He did note the resemblance of the Edmontosaurus material to other duck-billed dinosaur fossils associated with the geologically younger Lance Formation of Dakota, these fossils once described as Diclonius mirabilis, were also referred to as Trachodon mirabilis and form part of an extensive fossil collection from the northern United States that went through a number of taxonomic revisions, leading eventually to the establishment of the species Edmontosaurus annectens.

The Illustration of the Skull of Edmontosaurus (1917)

A line drawing of the skull of Edmontosaurus.

The illustration of the type skull from the 1917 Edmontosaurus paper.  Illustration by Arthur Miles.  The paper described this lateral view of the skull as being in approximate 1:7 scale when it was reproduced in the Ottawa Naturalist.

Picture Credit: Archive of the “Ottawa Naturalist” skull diagram attributed to Arthur Miles

The Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel contains over 170 dinosaur and prehistoric animal-themed videos.  The Edmontosaurus video will be posted up shortly and team members encourage blog readers to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

A Life Reconstruction of the Hadrosaurid Edmontosaurus

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Emontosaurus model.

The new for 2020 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Edmontosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The model (pictured above), is the new for 2020 Edmontosaurus dinosaur model.  To view this figure and the rest of the models in the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Figures.

For dinosaur and prehistoric animal related videos and reviews, visit Everything Dinosaur on YouTube: Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

8 08, 2020

Little Euparkeria into the Spotlight

By | August 8th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A Fresh Look at Euparkeria

The fossilised remains of a little, lithe reptile that wandered South Africa during the Middle Triassic have come into the spotlight more than a hundred years after they were first scientifically described.  The fossils represent the taxon Euparkeria (pronounced Yoo-park-air-ree-ah) and they are regarded as highly significant in terms of plotting the evolution of tetrapods.  Formally named and described in 1913 (Robert Broom), Euparkeria is phylogenetically regarded as a basal member of the Archosauria.  As such, by studying the fossil remains of this animal, palaeontologists can gain a better understanding of the evolution of the archosaurs – a diverse group of tetrapods that includes the crocodilians, birds and of course, the dinosaurs.

A Life Reconstruction of Euparkeria (Euparkeria capensis)

Euparkeria life reconstruction

A life reconstruction of the basal archosauriform Euparkeria.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Represented By More Than Ten Fossil Specimens

The fossils all come from a single locality, Aliwal North on the Eastern Cape and Free State Province boundary in South Africa.  The fossilised bones having been collected from a solitary stone quarry, adjacent to a small stream.  Measuring around sixty centimetres in length (the tail made up more than half the body length), Euparkeria is known from at least ten specimens.  This material was extensively reviewed in 1965, but over the last six decades or so, there have been huge advances in fossil bone imaging techniques and the researchers led by Roland B. Sookias (Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin), subjected Euparkeria material to CT scanning at the Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

The Research Has Enabled Detailed Diagrams of the Skull of Euparkeria to be Compiled

Euparkeria capensis drawings of the skull.

Reconstruction of the skull and mandible of Euparkeria capensis.  Cranium (a) and right mandible (b) in right lateral view; (c) left mandible in medial view; and cranium in (d) dorsal, (e) ventral and (f) posterior view.

Picture Credit: Sookias et al (Royal Society Open Science)

Examining the Skull of Euparkeria

The CT scans enabled the scientists to describe the skull and jaw of Euparkeria in much greater detail than ever before.  Anatomical features previously unclear, are fully described for the first time.  The researchers were able to examine the palate, determine the number of teeth in the premaxilla (4 teeth in each premaxilla) and reconstruct the braincase.  The modular composition of the skull would have ensured that the cranium was quite flexible, adapted to coping with the stress of prey struggling in the jaws.

The study, published by the Royal Society Open Science, confirms Euparkeria as a major advance in tetrapod evolution and helps to place the crown Archosauria in greater context informing palaeontologists about the early stages of archosaur evolution.  Euparkeria most probably spent most of its time on all fours, a comparison of forelimb versus hindlimb length suggests that it was a facultative biped (usually walking on all fours but capable of walking as a biped when it needed to).  It was one of the first reptiles capable of running on just its hind legs.

Skull of Euparkeria capensis Specimen (SAM-PK-6047A) with Line Drawings

Fossil skull of Euparkeria with accompanying line drawings.

Skull of Euparkeria with accompanying line drawings.

Picture Credit: Sookias et al (Royal Society Open Science)

Euparkeria, which lived approximately 245 million years ago, shows a number of anatomical advances including an increase in brain size with improved senses, upright locomotion and a likely rapid metabolism placing this taxon in a pivotal position between ancestral diapsids the very first members of the Archosauria.

The scientific paper: “The craniomandibular anatomy of the early archosauriform Euparkeria capensis and the dawn of the archosaur skull” by Roland B. Sookias, David Dilkes, Gabriela Sobral, Roger M. H. Smith, Frederik P. Wolvaardt, Andrea B. Arcucci, Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar and Ingmar Werneburg published by the Royal Society Open Science.

7 08, 2020

When Tanystropheus Becomes Two

By | August 7th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New Study Solves Mystery of Tanystropheus

A newly published scientific paper demonstrates that small specimens of Tanystropheus from the Middle Triassic Lagerstätte of Monte San Giorgio (Italy/Switzerland border), represent a separate species (Tanystropheus longobardicus) and that they co-existed with much larger examples of this genus (Tanystropheus hydroides).  Writing in the academic journal “Current Biology”, the researchers which include Olivier Rieppel (Field Museum in Chicago), postulate that the larger species was an aquatic ambush predator, whilst the smaller species fed on other types of prey.

Sophisticated Computer Models Developed from High Resolution CT Scans Identified the Two Species

New scientific paper identifies new species of Tanystropheus.

Computer model of CT scan showing a reconstructed skull of T. hydroides, line drawing and fossil material.  Skeletal size comparison and line drawing with close-up of bone growth rings associated with T. longobardicus.

Picture Credit: Spiekman et al (Current Biology)

Tanystropheus longobardicus Remains but Referencing Smaller Species

Tanystropheus represents one of the most bizarre of all the vertebrates known from the Mesozoic.  It is characterised by an extremely long and inflexible neck that is almost three times the length of its torso.  The palaeobiology of this reptile has remained contentious with a fully aquatic, semi-aquatic and entirely terrestrial lifestyle having been proposed since it was formally described back in 1852 (Hermann von Meyer).

An Illustration of the Bizarre Triassic Archosauromorph Tanystropheus

A drawing of Tanystropheus.

A drawing of the bizarre Triassic reptile Tanystropheus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The research team used high-resolution CT scans to construct three-dimensional computer generated models of fossil specimens that had been crushed and flattened.  The skulls that were constructed revealed that the larger specimens were anatomically very different from the skulls of the smaller specimens.  The smaller morphotype was known for having different shaped teeth when compared to the teeth of larger specimens from the same strata.  Historically, this had been interpreted as evidence for juveniles of T. longobardicus feeding on different types of prey compared to fully-grown adults.

Lead author of the paper, Stephan Spiekman (University of Zurich), explained:

“The power of CT scanning allows us to see details that are otherwise impossible to observe in fossils.  From a strongly crushed skull we have been able to reconstruct an almost complete 3-D skull, revealing crucial morphological details.”

The computer generated models permitted the team to conclude that two species of Tanystropheus co-existed in the Middle Triassic coastal ecosystem.   The larger species, which grew up to six metres long, has been named Tanystropheus hydroides, whilst the smaller species is retained as T. longobardicus.

A Crushed Skull and Examples of a Three-Dimensional Skull Map

Computer generated model of the holotype skull T. hydroides.

The skull of Tanystropheus hydroides (holotype material).  The different coloured portions represent different bones.

Picture Credit: Spiekman et al (Current Biology)

A Marine Predator

The study also revealed strong evidence that Tanystropheus hydroides was a marine predator.  The scans of the skull revealed that the nostrils were on top of the snout, rather like a crocodile’s.   The long, pointed teeth in the anterior portion of the jaw enabled it to grab and hold onto slippery prey, the teeth being described by the scientists as a “fish-trap type dentition”.   Both species were probably confined to coastal environments, the larger of the two species ambushing small fish whilst Tanystropheus longobardicus may have fed on shrimps and other  types of crustacean.  Although adapted to a marine habitat, both species probably had to return to land in order to lay eggs.

The co-occurrence of these two species of very different sizes and tooth morphology provides strong evidence for niche partitioning, highlighting the surprising versatility of the Tanystropheus bauplan and the complexity of Middle Triassic nearshore ecosystems.

Line Drawings Comparing the Skull and Bauplan of the Two Tanystropheus Species

Two different species of Tanystropheus identified.

Tanystropheus hydroides compared with Tanystropheus longobardicus  Skull illustrations (lateral, dorsal and ventral views), with a scale drawing (G).  T. longobardicus is represented by D-F, whilst T. hydroides is represented by A-C.

Picture Credit: Spiekman et al (Current Biology)

The scientific paper: “Aquatic Habits and Niche Partitioning in the Extraordinarily Long-Necked Triassic Reptile Tanystropheus” by Stephan N.F. Spiekman, James M. Neenan, Nicholas C. Fraser, Vincent Fernandez, Olivier Rieppel, Stefania Nosotti and Torsten M. Scheyer published in Current Biology.

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