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18 06, 2022

When is a Jaw Not a Jaw?

By | June 18th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Teaching|0 Comments

The fossil record is rich and diverse however, it only represents a tiny fraction of all the life that has ever existed on Earth. In addition, some fossils can be easily confused and misinterpreted, for example, we recall an incident that occurred when visiting the National Museum Cardiff (Wales). We overhead a conversation in the Evolution of Wales gallery, a mother was pointing out a dinosaur jaw fossil to her children.

The object was not the fossilised remains of a dinosaur, this was not a jaw at all, but the preserved remains in lateral view of the claw of a large sea scorpion (eurypterid).

A sea scorpion claw
A stunning fossil of a sea scorpion (eurypterid) claw housed at the National Museum Cardiff (Wales) photographed in 2019 when team members at Everything Dinosaur visited.

We can understand how the confusion arose, the fossilised claw does resemble a jaw. The fossil exhibit featuring several examples of Palaeozoic invertebrates was clearly labelled and the gallery layout guides readers from the Big Bang to the present day in chronological order. There are plenty of helpful panels providing information and explanations, all helping to educate and inform.

One of the children corrected the grown-up, pointing out that the dinosaurs lived in the Mesozoic.

Ancient predator of the Middle Ordovician. An illustration of a sea scorpion. Picture credit: Patrick Lynch/Yale University.

We shared a smile and moved on to view some of the other amazing exhibits housed in this excellent museum.

To read about the discovery of a giant sea scorpion (Terropterus xiushanensis) from China: Giant Sea Scorpion from China.

17 06, 2022

Abnormal Titanosaur Egg Suggests Close Links to Bird Reproductive Strategy

By | June 17th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The discovery of a titanosaurid egg, preserved inside another titanosaur egg (ovum-in-ovo) adds weight to the theory that dinosaurs had a reproduction strategy very similar to birds. This discovery opens up the possibility that dinosaurs laid their eggs sequentially like birds, whereas other reptiles tend to lay eggs simultaneously as a clutch.

The researchers from the University of Delhi in collaboration with a colleague from the Higher Secondary School (Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh), documented the contents of a titanosaur nest discovered in Upper Cretaceous deposits (Maastrichtian stage) from the Lameta Formation exposed in the lower Narmada valley. The Lameta Formation is famous for its titanosaur nest fossils, hundreds of individual nests have been recorded. The titanosaur nest which records a rare example of an abnormal egg is known as P7, it is one of fifty-two titanosaur nests that have been mapped around the village of Padlya.

Photograph of titanosaur next P7 and explanatory diagram.
In-situ field photograph and explanatory drawing of the outcrop showing the titanosaur nest P7 and its eggs and eggshell fragments. Captions A to O indicate eggs and eggshell locations. Picture credit: Dhiman et al.

Titanosaur Nest P7

The titanosaur nest P7 preserves eleven large, round eggs which are placed in a circular arrangement entombed within a block of sandy limestone. Not all the eggs are entire, some of the eggshell is missing. They could represent broken shells after the eggs hatched or the missing shell elements may have been eroded away.

One egg (egg C) records unusual pathology. Two partially broken, circular eggshell outlines are preserved, with a prominent crescent-shaped gap between the two eggshells present in the top right corner (see line drawing). Egg C has been interpreted as an example of an abnormal egg, one egg containing another egg within it. This type of egg pathology is termed ovum-in-ovo and this is the first time this has been reported in a dinosaur. Ovum-in-ovo eggs are found in birds but no such egg pathology has been reported in a reptile (living or extinct). This discovery suggests that titanosaurids had a reproductive system similar to that of birds.

Ovum-in-ovo fossilised titanosaur egg
In-situ field photograph (a) of the ovum-in-ovo egg (egg number C) from the Upper Cretaceous Lameta Formation (Dhar District, India) with explanatory line drawing (b). Two partially broken, circular eggshell outlines can be seen with broken eggshell fragments also preserved. With ovum-in-ovo egg pathology, a crescent-shaped gap is characteristically present in the upper right part of the egg. Picture credit: Dhiman et al.

Different Types of Egg Pathology

Abnormal egg formation has been documented in many types of amniote (undergoing foetal or embryonic development within a protective membrane, the amnion), such as turtles, dinosaurs and birds. Two main examples of egg pathology are known. There is a condition where one egg forms within another egg (ovum-in-ovo) and a second condition in which multi-shelled eggs are formed, essentially the formation of a second eggshell layer beside the primary eggshell.

Unusual pathologies in amniote eggs.
Unusual pathologies in amniote eggs. Ovum-in-ovo (a) an egg within an egg, characterised by the presence of two yolks. Multi-shelled egg (b) with two or more eggshell layers surrounding a single yolk. Picture credit: Dhiman et al (after Carpenter).

If Egg C represents an example of ovum-in-ovo egg laying in a dinosaur, then this egg deformity will only have been recorded in the Dinosauria and birds, suggesting similar reproductive biology. In birds, when an egg is fully formed it is pushed into the cloaca to be laid one-by-one. Eggs are not laid as clutch, but egg laying can take place sequentially over several days. In birds such as hens (Galliformes), egg laying can be suspended if conditions are unfavourable. However, crocodiles and turtles tend to lay all their eggs at the same time, as a single clutch. Both turtles and crocodiles have two oviducts, but crocodiles are more derived than turtles possessing a segmented oviduct and share this derived trait with the birds.

The structure of the oviduct dictates the sort of egg abnormalities that can occur. The ovum-in-ovo pathology as observed in the titanosaur eggs has led the researchers to hypothesise that titanosaurs possessed a segmented oviduct similar to birds and crocodiles, but unlike crocodilians they were capable of laying eggs sequentially.

Titanosaur sequential egg laying.
Inferred cladogram showing divergence of dinosaurs from crocodiles on the basis of sequential egg laying. Picture credit: Dhiman et al.

Building up a Picture of Titanosaurid Reproductive Strategy

Turtles, crocodiles, dinosaurs and birds all share the common trait of having multi-shelled eggs. Both turtles and crocodiles have two oviducts, but crocodiles are more derived than turtles in that they possess a segmented oviduct, a characteristic that they share with birds.

This new study suggests that at least one type of dinosaur (titanosaurids) had an oviduct anatomy and biology similar to modern birds. Titanosaurs may have been capable of laying eggs sequentially, just like birds.

Palaeontologists are building up a detailed picture of titanosaur reproductive behaviour. These sauropods had favoured nesting sites, which they returned to, they nested in colonies, excavated nests and covered the nests to incubate the eggs and they may have laid their eggs not as a single clutch but sequentially over several days.

Brazilian titanosaur nesting site
A site in Brazil reveals that titanosaurs had favoured nesting sites and returned to these locations to lay their eggs. The titanosaur egg fossils were found in two distinct layers (L1 and L2) approximately two metres apart. This suggests that this area was a preferred nesting site for titanosaurs. This is the first confirmed dinosaur nesting area found in Brazil. The eggs attributed to titanosaurs also represent the most northerly titanosaurian nesting site known from South America. The discovery of nests located at different levels indicates that titanosaurs returned regularly to preferred nesting areas. Picture credit: Fiorelli et al.

The scientific report: “First ovum-in-ovo pathological titanosaurid egg throws light on the reproductive biology of sauropod dinosaurs” by Harsha Dhiman, Vishal Verma & Guntupalli V. R. Prasad published in Scientific Reports.

16 06, 2022

“Prehistoric Planet” Inspires Young Artists

By | June 16th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

The recent documentary series “Prehistoric Planet” has inspired many young artists to produce prehistoric animal drawings and illustrations depicting scenes from this highly acclaimed five-part television series.

Everything Dinosaur team members have observed an increased level of interest in dinosaurs and prehistoric animals after the programmes were aired on Apple TV+ last month (May 2022). Produced by the BBC Studios Natural History Unit and with Dr Darren Naish acting as lead scientific consultant, each programme looked at a specific dinosaur-dominated ecosystem that existed during the Late Cretaceous.

Young artist Caldey, was inspired by one scene in the first episode (Coasts), sending into Everything Dinosaur her illustration of a T. rex adult and juvenile.

Caldey draws a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Inspired by the first episode of the highly praised documentary television series “Prehistoric Planet”, Caldey has drawn an adult Tyrannosaurus rex and young. In the first episode of this five-part series, a male T. rex took its family to an off-shore island to feed on turtle remains and turtle hatchlings. Caldey shows T. rex not as a fearsome predator but as an attentive father. Picture credit: Caldey.

Depicting Prehistoric Animals as Living Creatures Not Movie Monsters

“Prehistoric Planet” has been praised for its depiction of dinosaurs and other long extinct creatures, not as terrifying, bloodthirsty movie monsters but as living animals capable of demonstrating complex social behaviours.

In Caldey’s illustration, the T. rex is depicted as an attentive parent. In contrast, when the film “Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom” was released in 2018, Caldey sent into Everything Dinosaur a drawing featuring Tyrannosaurus rex in an iconic scene from the movie.

In the Universal Studios production, T. rex is depicted as attacking a Carnotaurus. Once the abelisaurid had been subdued the Tyrannosaurus emits an ear-piercing roar.

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom illustration by Caldey
Caldey illustrates an iconic scene from “Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom” when the T. rex attacks a Carnotaurus. Picture credit: Caldey.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The Apple TV plus television series has inspired a whole new generation of dinosaur fans and we have received numerous drawings depicting prehistoric animals from the documentary series. Our thanks to Caldey for sending into Everything Dinosaur her illustration of the male T. rex with its offspring.”

15 06, 2022

Searching for Evidence of Ice Age Settlements Under the Sea

By | June 15th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Geology, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

A study published in the journal Ocean and Coastal Management predicts that rising sea levels threaten 200,000 properties in England. Sea levels have changed before and a new research programme instigated by scientists at the University of Bradford is setting out to map Stone Age settlements that have been swallowed by the sea.

The extent of the palaeolandscape prior to sea level changes.
Approximate maximum extent of marine palaeolandscapes off the Irish and British coasts. Scientists plan to map Stone Age settlements that once existed on landmasses that are now submerged. Picture credit: University of Bradford.

Searching for Human Settlements

The archaeological study, the first of its kind in the world, is being led by Dr Simon Fitch, a geoarchaeologist at the University of Bradford. It will entail the use of unmanned underwater drones and advanced three-dimensional seismic sensors to map coastlines as they looked between 20,000 BCE and 10,000 BCE (BCE – Before the Common Era).

During the later stages of the Palaeolithic, sea levels were between 120 metres to 40 metres lower than they are today, the British Isles was still connected to the European mainland and much of the area we now refer to as the North Sea was land (Doggerland). This project aims to find evidence of human occupation in areas which are now underwater.

Geoarchaeologist Dr Simon Fitch
Dr Simon Fitch is a geoarchaeologist who has a long interest in the study of all aspects of submerged landscapes. Dr Fitch will lead the project to find evidence of Stone Age occupation in areas that are now under the sea. Picture credit: University of Bradford.

The “Life on the Edge” Project

The five-year project entitled “Life on the Edge” has received funding from several sources including the use of a vessel provided by the Flanders Marine Institute.

Commenting on the significance of this study, Dr Fitch stated:

“Our knowledge of the submerged coastal zones of the Late Palaeolithic is essentially non-existent and we have little to no knowledge on the settlement of these areas. This project will represent the first serious attempt to record these landscapes and understand the communities who lived on the edge of the continents.”

Ice Age Settlements

During the last glacial period, humans occupied the extensive plains that linked the British Isles to the European mainland. It is likely that there were many settlements and this project sets out to map the unexplored record of coastal occupation with the focus on three locations the coast of Scotland, Belgium and the continental shelf of Croatia.

Whilst looking backwards into human history, this research also has important implications for the future of humanity. The study will examine how people adapted to the challenges of sea levels and climate change – issues that threaten humanity today.

Brown Bank Stone Age artefacts.
Brown Bank artefacts – A selection of prehistoric artefacts from Brown Bank (southern North Sea) collected by Dr Dick Mol polished stone axe mace head; b) perforated deer antler socketed adze axe head; c) human mandible, without scale from (Peeters 2011). Picture credit: University of Bradford.

Dr Fitch added:

“It is not hyperbole to say this is ground-breaking. This survey will provide significant advances in scientific understanding and the results will be of global importance, as it will vastly improve the methodologies available to investigate the vast inundated prehistoric landscapes that can be found around the world.”

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

14 06, 2022

Dinosaurs had “Belly Buttons”

By | June 14th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Researchers have identified the oldest preserved umbilical scar (umbilicus) in the fossilised remains of a dinosaur (Psittacosaurus). The equivalent of our “belly button”, this is the first dinosaur specimen to demonstrate an umbilical scar.

Psittacosaurus had a belly button
A life reconstruction of a resting Psittacosaurus, the umbilical scar is highlighted. Picture credit: Jagged Fang Designs.

The “Belly Button” in Placental Mammals

Placental mammals such as humans (Homo sapiens) have an umbilical cord that connects the growing embryo to the placenta. It provides a supply line for nutrients, gaseous exchange and the removal of waste products. Our “belly button”, the navel, is the scar that is left when the last fragment of the umbilical detaches from the baby shortly after the cord has been cut.

Reptiles and living avian dinosaurs (birds) do not have a true umbilical cord. However, whilst inside the egg, the embryo’s abdomen is connected to the yolk sac, which provides the developing embryo with a food source. The umbilical scar (umbilicus), appears when the embryo detaches from the yolk sac and other membranes.

In most living reptiles and birds this umbilical scar persists for only a few days, although in some genera the scar can persist and be found in adult animals, the Rock pigeon (Columba livia) for example. Scales on the bellies of snakes, lizards and crocodilians often preserve faint traces of the umbilicus, it being marked by a subtle change in scale morphology and alignment.

The embryo of a Lufengosaurus
This diagram of a baby Lufengosaurus (Sauropodomorpha) shows that the embryo is attached to the yolk sac inside the egg. When the baby hatches and leaves the egg, the yolk sac is detached but a scar on the belly (umbilicus) is formed. This scar may quickly heal and grow over, but it can persist in some amniotes for a lifetime. Picture credit: D. Mazierski.

The Remarkable Senckenberg Psittacosaurus

The researchers who included Dr Phil Bell (University of New England, New South Wales, Australia) and Dr Michael Pittman (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), subjected the superbly-preserved Senckenberg Psittacosaurus specimen (SMF R 4970) to examination under laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF). Using this imaging technique, the team were able to identify the umbilical scar as a midline structure outlined by a row of paired scales on the abdomen.

Senckenberg specimen of Psittacosaurus reveals umbilical scar
Umbilical scar in Psittacosaurus SMF R 4970 under LSF. Cropped image (A) of Psittacosaurus sp. (SMF R 4970) showing just the skeleton and soft tissue outlines, with the umbilical scar highlighted by the dashed yellow line. B Close up of boxed region in (A) with the maximal anteroposterior extent of the umbilical scar indicated by arrowheads. Wrinkling forming irregular wavy creases in the integument can be seen on the far right on this image where the abdomen meets the inner thigh; C, D Close up of boxed region in (B) showing paired quadrangular scales (blue outline in D) delimiting the umbilicus. Transverse banding is visible in the remaining abdominal scales (black outlines in D). E Close up of paired quadrangular scales (ps). A clear line of interstitial tissue, delimiting the former scar, can be seen between the paired scales. Anterior is towards the top in (B–E). Scale bars equal 5 mm (B–D) and 2 mm (E). Picture credit: Bell et al.

The remarkable Senckenberg Psittacosaurus specimen preserves extensive soft tissues including skin, it has provided palaeontologists with a rare insight into the integumentary covering of an early member of the horned dinosaur lineage. The skeleton is so precious that no form of destructive bone histology was permitted, but by measuring the length of the thighbones (femora) of this fossil and comparing these measurements to the length of the thigh bones from other Psittacosaurus fossils, which had been subjected to ontogenetic study, the researchers concluded that the Senckenberg specimen was close to being sexually mature.

This suggests that the umbilicus was probably retained in psittacosaurids throughout their lives.

Whilst this is the first, definitive proof of an umbilical scar in the Dinosauria, it is not possible to infer from this study whether all dinosaurs retained the umbilicus into adulthood.

A Psittacosaurus fossil.
Psittacosaurus fossils (SMF R 4970) on display at the Senckenberg Naturmuseum (Frankfurt).

A Legal Debate Surrounding SMF R 4970

The Psittacosaurus sp. specimen (SMF R 4970) is on public display in the Dinosaurs Unlimited permanent exhibition at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany. Team members at Everything Dinosaur have had the opportunity to view this remarkable fossil.

The legal ownership of this fossil is disputed and there have been attempts to have this specimen repatriated to China.

The scientific paper: “Oldest preserved umbilical scar reveals dinosaurs had “belly buttons” by Phil R. Bell, Christophe Hendrickx, Michael Pittman and Thomas G. Kaye published in BMC Biology.

13 06, 2022

Abelisaurids Lived Alongside Spinosaurus

By | June 13th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Last week, the discovery of the fossilised bones of a huge spinosaurid from the Isle of Wight was reported*. This giant theropod, with an estimated length of around ten metres, could be the biggest meat-eating dinosaur described from European fossils, but the largest theropod known to science is thought to be Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, which was first reported from the Bahariya Formation of Egypt.

Spinosaurus had plenty of company, several large theropods have been named and described from fossils from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian), Bahariya Oasis, Western Desert of Egypt and a newly published paper confirms the presence of abelisaurids in this ancient ecosystem too.

Theropod dominated Bahariya Formation palaeoecosystem.
Reconstruction of the palaeoecosystem of the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Bahariya Formation of the Bahariya Oasis, Western Desert of Egypt. A single neck bone proves the presence of abelisaurids in the ecosystem. Picture credit: Andrew McAfee, Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Cervical Vertebra Fossil Discovery

A 2016 expedition led by researchers from the Mansoura University Vertebrate Palaeontology Centre, (Mansoura, Egypt), unearthed a single neck bone (10th cervical vertebra), a formal description of this specimen (MUVP 477) has been published in Royal Society Open Science.

Neck bone of an abelisaurid (Bahariya Formation)
Tenth cervical vertebra of Abelisauridae indet. (MUVP 477) in cranial (a), caudal (b), left lateral (c), right dorsolateral (d), ventral (e) and dorsal (f) views. Note scale bar = 5 cm. Picture credit: Salem et al.

Similar to the Cervical Vertebrae of Majungasaurus and Carnotaurus

The neckbone is strikingly similar to the cervical vertebrae of Majungasaurus from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar and the cervical vertebrae of Carnotaurus, fossils of which are associated with Upper Cretaceous deposits of Argentina. Phylogenetic analysis places the Bahariya Formation specimen within the Abelisauridae, but the absence of any further fossil material has restricted the taxonomic classification to the family level (a similar taxonomic position to that of the “White Rock spinosaurid” described from fragmentary bones found on the Isle of Wight).

Based on measurements of the cervical vertebra the Bahariya Formation abelisaurid is estimated to have had a body length of between 5.3 and 6.3 metres, indicating that this fossil represents a mid-sized member of the Abelisauridae with a body size similar to Rugops, Majungasaurus, Viavenator and Xenotarsosaurus bonapartei.

Abelisaurid size Comparison
Abelisaurid size comparison. The Bahariya Formation abelisaurid is described as a mid-sized member of the Abelisauridae with a body length estimated to be 5.3 to 6.3 metres long.

The First Definitive Proof of Abelisaurids and the Oldest from North-eastern Africa

Specimen number MUVP 477 is not only the first definitive proof of the presence of abelisaurids with the Bahariya Formation biota, but with an estimated age of approximately 98 million years, this fossil is also the oldest record of the Abelisauria clade in Egypt and north-eastern Africa generally.

Providing a Key for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Life Reconstruction

Theropod dominated Bahariya Formation palaeoecosystem.
The early Late Cretaceous of north-eastern Africa was a dangerous place with several different types of predatory dinosaur present in the ecosystem. Picture credit: Andrew McAfee, Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

The stunning prehistoric scene (Andrew McAfee/Carnegie Museum of Natural History) shows, the mid-sized abelisaurid (far right) confronting the giant theropod Spinosaurus aegyptiacus which is holding a dipnoan (lungfish) Retodus tuberculatus in its jaws.

The large carcharodontosaurid Carcharodontosaurus saharicus can be seen in the centre background. Two stomatosuchid crocodyliforms (Stomatosuchus inermis) can be seen on the far left, whilst in the background a trio of Paralititan stromeri walk by. A pair of bahariasaurids are located just behind the tail of the abelisaurid whilst a flock of pterosaurs soar overhead. The vegetation is dominated by the mangrove-like tree fern Weichselia reticulata.

Niche Partitioning

The presence of so many large predators in the biota suggests that the Bahariya Formation ecosystem was extremely rich, even so, it is likely that the different types of theropod exhibited niche-partitioning, with coeval genera exploiting different resources.

*To read our article on the “White Rock spinosaurid”: Super-sized Carnivorous Dinosaur from the Isle of Wight.

The scientific paper: “First definitive record of Abelisauridae (Theropoda: Ceratosauria) from the Cretaceous Bahariya Formation, Bahariya Oasis, Western Desert of Egypt” by Belal S. Salem, Matthew C. Lamanna, Patrick M. O’Connor, Gamal M. El-Qot, Fatma Shaker, Wael A. Thabet, Sanaa El-Sayed and Hesham M. Sallam published by Royal Society Open Science.

12 06, 2022

Everything Dinosaur – Trust Us to Deliver

By | June 12th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Maintenance on Website, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur has thousands of customers and ships dinosaur models and prehistoric animal merchandise to over a hundred countries. We have a 5-star service rating and award-winning customer service and as part of website updates and improvements we will be emphasising this on the home page.

Team members have been busy creating a small logo to emphasis our trusted delivery service and here is one of the designs that we have come up with.

Everything Dinosaur Trust Us to Deliver
Trust Everything Dinosaur to deliver. Team members have been busy creating a new icon for the website to emphasis our fine record of shipping dinosaur and prehistoric animal merchandise overseas.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We can use the “e” from our logo and trademark to create the wheels for our delivery vehicle and we designed a dinosaur driver in keeping with the theme of our website. It was just for a bit of fun, but we do take our award-winning customer service and our excellent record for shipping overseas, extremely seriously.”

The updated and improved Everything Dinosaur website is currently undergoing testing and it is hoped to go live later in the summer (2022).

Everything Dinosaur specialises in the sale of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models and figures. Working in association with museums and other related educational bodies the UK-based company aims to create a marketplace for accurate, exciting, imaginative and educational products.

To visit the Everything Dinosaur website, click this link here: Everything Dinosaur.

11 06, 2022

Nanmu Studio Nutcracker Parasaurolophus Models Arrive

By | June 11th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The stunning Nanmu Studio Nutcracker Parasaurolophus models have arrived at Everything Dinosaur. This beautiful, 1:35 scale model of the crested hadrosaur Parasaurolophus is available in both a green and a brown coloured version.

Nanmu Studio Parasaurolophus (green)
The new for 2022 Nanmu Studio Nutcracker Parasaurolophus dinosaur model in the green colour variant.

A Detailed Scale Model of a Parasaurolophus

The Nanmu Studio Jurassic Series Parasaurolophus Nutcracker is a fantastic model of a Parasaurolophus in 1:35 scale. Customers will receive a free Parasaurolophus fact sheet with sales of both the green and brown colour variants.

Each model is supplied with a small Parasaurolophus figure long with a display base which measures 12 cm in length.

Nanmu Studip Parasaurolophus (Brown Version)
The Nanmu Studio Parasaurolophus is supplied with a small, bipedal Parasaurolophus figure. The model has a display base and the dinosaur model in this picture is the brown colour variant. The model measures around 31.5 cm long and the display the base is approximately 12 cm in length.

Parasaurolophus Model Measurements

Both Nanmu Studio Parasaurolophus models measure approximately 31.5 cm in length and they are secured to the display base by a metal pin that sits inside an ornithopod footprint impression that is incorporated into the base. The display base measures 12 cm long.

Nanmu Studio Nutcracker (green)
The Nanmu Studio Parasaurolophus Nutcracker dinosaur model in the green colour scheme.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented;

“We are delighted to have these two new Nanmu Studio models in stock at Everything Dinosaur. Team members have been busy today contacting all those customers who wanted to be alerted when the Nutcrackers arrived.”

Nanmu Studio Parasaurolophus dinosaur model (Nutcracker brown).
The Nanmu Studio Parasaurolophus in the brown colour scheme. This 1:35 scale dinosaur model has been nicknamed “Nutcracker”.

To view the two new Nanmu Studio models (the green colour variant and the brown colour variant) and to see the rest of the amazing Nanmu Studio models in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Nanmu Studio Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models.

10 06, 2022

Super-sized Carnivorous Dinosaur from the Isle of Wight

By | June 10th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

A newly published scientific paper has described the fragmentary remains of a super-sized theropod dinosaur unearthed on the Isle of Wight. With an estimated length exceeding 10 metres, the fossils could represent the largest carnivorous dinosaur found in Europe.

The fragmentary nature of the fossilised bones means that a more precise identification and the establishment of a new genus is not currently possible, although the fossils do probably represent a new taxon.

Illustration of White Rock spinosaurid.
Illustration of the “White Rock spinosaurid”. Picture credit: University of Southampton/Anthony Hutchings.

Europe’s Largest Land Predator – A Member of the Spinosauridae

Based on anatomical traits identified from these weathered and damaged bones (they may have been trampled by other dinosaurs), the researchers are not able at this time to assign this specimen to a specific branch of the spinosaurid family tree, instead the material is classified at the family level of taxonomy and assigned to the Spinosauridae.

Commenting on the significance of this discovery, PhD student and lead author of the scientific paper Chris Barker (University of Southampton) stated:

“This was a huge animal, exceeding ten metres in length and probably several tonnes in weight. Judging from some of the dimensions, it appears to represent one of the largest predatory dinosaur ever found in Europe – maybe even the biggest yet known. It’s a shame it’s only known from a small amount of material, but these are enough to show it was an immense creature.”

Not “Europe’s Largest Ever Land Dinosaur”

Although massive and the largest theropod currently known from the Wealden Supergroup and based on bone measurements, potentially the largest theropod dinosaur found in Europe to date, Everything Dinosaur team members have noted inaccuracies in news articles. Some media outlets have declared that these fossils represent “Europe’s largest ever land dinosaur”. This is not true, fossils assigned to the Sauropoda, including several specimens from the Isle of Wight indicate, that there were many, much larger dinosaurs present in the Early Cretaceous of Europe when spinosaurids roamed.

The skeletal position of the best-preserved spinosaurid bones.
Position of the best-preserved bones. Although the material was collected from the foreshore over a period of several months, their large size suggest they all originated from a single skeleton. Picture credit: Chris Barker and Dan Folkes.

The “White Rock Spinosaurid”

Nicknamed the “White Rock spinosaurid” after the geological layer in which it was found (the basal unit [the White Rock Sandstone equivalent] of the Vectis Formation near Compton Chine, on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight), the fossils are around 125 million years of age (Barremian stage of the Lower Cretaceous).

It represents the first documented spinosaurid from the Vectis Formation of the Isle of Wight, extending the temporal span of the clade in the British fossil record to the late Barremian.

Dr Neil Gostling (University of Southampton), commented:

“Unusually, this specimen eroded out of the Vectis Formation, which is notoriously poor in dinosaur fossils. It’s likely to be the youngest spinosaur material yet known from the UK.”

Vertebrae from the Isle of Wight Spinosaurid
Close up views of the fragmentary spinosaurid fossil material. Anterior caudal vertebra (left) and a partial dorsal vertebra (right). Picture credit: Chris Barker with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur.

Dinosaur remains are generally very rarely found in the Vectis Formation, although these deposits represent sandflats and lagoonal environments where dinosaurs roamed and spinosaurid fossils have been found in other strata laid down in similar palaeoenvironments.

Vertebrate palaeontologist and co-author of the scientific paper Darren Naish commented:

“Because it’s only known from fragments at the moment, we haven’t given it a formal scientific name. We hope that additional remains will turn up in time. This new animal bolsters our previous argument – published last year – that spinosaurid dinosaurs originated and diversified in western Europe before becoming more widespread.”

The researchers hope to cut thin sections in some of the fossil remains to look at the microscopic internal properties of the bones. This may provide information about the growth rate of this dinosaur, its age and maturity.

Marks on the bone also showed how, even after death, the body of this giant probably supported a range of scavengers and decomposers.

Co-author and PhD student Jeremy Lockwood (University of Portsmouth and the London Natural History Museum), added:

“Most of these amazing fossils were found by Nick Chase, one of Britain’s most skilled dinosaur hunters, who sadly died just before the Covid epidemic. I was searching for remains of this dinosaur with Nick and found a lump of pelvis with tunnels bored into it, each about the size of my index finger. We think they were caused by bone eating larvae of a type of scavenging beetle. It’s an interesting thought that this giant killer wound up becoming a meal for a host of insects.”

The Youngest Spinosaurid Known from the UK

The fossils also represent the youngest spinosaurid known from the UK and it is most likely a new taxon but a lack of convincing autapomorphies in the fossil material found to date has prevented a more precise taxonomic classification.

Southampton University researchers were prominent in a 2021 study that described two other spinosaurs Riparovenator milnerae and Ceratosuchops inferodios, from the Isle of Wight. Both these dinosaurs come from the older Wessex Formation that underlies the Vectis Formation, so they would have been alive several million years before the “White Rock spinosaurid” evolved.

To read about R. milnerae and C. inferodios: Two New Spinosaurids from the Isle of Wight.

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

The scientific paper: “A European giant: a large spinosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Vectis Formation (Wealden Group, Early Cretaceous)” by Chris T. Barker, Jeremy A. F. Lockwood, Darren Naish, Sophie Brown, Amy Hart, Ethan Tulloch and Neil J. Gostling published in PeerJ.

9 06, 2022

New Study Suggests Quetzalcoatlus Could Not Soar for Hundreds of Miles

By | June 9th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

The recently aired television documentary series “Prehistoric Planet” depicted giant azhdarchid pterosaurs such as Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx as competent aeronauts extremely proficient at flight and capable of travelling huge distances without ever having the need to land. This idea has been challenged in newly published research that suggests Quetzalcoatlus was more suited to short-range flights.

Quetzalcoatlus takes to the air
Quetzalcoatlus takes to the air. A new study suggests that Quetzalcoatlus and other super-sized azhdarchid pterosaurs were probably short-range fliers.

The Largest Known Flying Animals

A number of vertebrates are volant (capable of powered flight). Amongst this diverse and eclectic group consisting of bats, birds and pterosaurs are some giants. For example, Pelagornis sandersi*, a pelagornithid bird from the Late Oligocene of Southern Carolina had an estimated wingspan of about 7 metres. Argentavis magnificens was an enormous condor from the Late Miocene of Argentina. It had a wingspan in excess of 6 metres and it was very much larger than its extant, distant relative the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus). During the Late Cretaceous enormous pterosaurs dominated the skies. Pteranodon was thought to be one of the biggest, but over the last fifty years or so, evidence has emerged of the Azhdarchidae – a family of Late Cretaceous flying reptiles, some members of which such as Hatzegopteryx, Quetzalcoatlus, Arambourgiania and the recently described Thanatosdrakon* were the largest flying animals known to science.

Comparing Today’s Large Birds with Ancient Flyers

A new study, led by Dr Yusuke Goto from Nagoya University (Japan), along with researchers from the Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (France) and the University of Tokyo (Japan), calculated and compared the ability of some of these ancient flyers to the capabilities of large, extant birds such as the Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), the California condor, the Magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) and the Kori bustard (Ardeotis kori). The Kori bustard has a bodyweight in the region of 10-18 kilograms, it is the heaviest flying bird alive today.

The team set out to quantify the soaring performance of these animals using a combination of potential speed of flight, soaring efficiency and the wind speed and conditions required to sustain aerial activity.

They analysed two types of soaring behaviour:

  • Thermal soaring – which uses updrafts arising from the land or ocean to ascend and glide. A method of flight observed in eagles and frigatebirds.
  • Dynamic soaring – which uses wind gradients over the ocean, as demonstrated by albatrosses and petrels.
Comparing the soaring capabilities of giant birds and pterosaurs.
Scientists set out to examine the soaring abilities of extinct giant birds and giant pterosaurs including the taxa Pteranodon and Quetzalcoatlus. The giant Argentavis magnificens was a thermal soarer like the extant California condor, whilst Pelagornis sandersi, thought to have used wind currents over bodies of water to stay aloft was found to be better suited to thermal soaring. Analysis of the wings of Pteranodon suggest thermal soaring capacities whilst in this study, the giant azhdarchid Quetzalcoatlus was thought to be more adapted to a terrestrial existence and flew short distances with a similar flight habit to the Kori bustard, the heaviest, living volant bird. The icons indicate dynamic soarer, thermal soarer, and poor soarer, and summarise the main results of this study. The pink arrows indicate the transition from a previous expectation or hypothesis to the knowledge updated in the study. Image credit: Goto et al.

The Soaring Abilities of Pteranodon

The scientists concluded that Pteranodon, fossils of which are associated with marine environments, was probably an ocean dweller, excelling at soaring flight using updrafts over the sea. The predicted flying style of Pteranodon was similar to that seen in extant, ocean-going frigatebirds.

The Western Interior Seaway (Late Cretaceous)
Dramatic scene from the Western Interior Seaway painted by Burian. Pteranodon depicted as an ocean-going animal.

Challenging Perceptions About Quetzalcoatlus

This analysis challenges perceptions about the flight capabilities of Quetzalcoatlus. The team concluded that this azhdarchid was not well adapted for soaring flight, even when wind speeds and atmospheric conditions were favourable.

Previous studies had proposed that Quetzalcoatlus was capable of travelling hundreds if not thousands of miles without having the need to land, this study showed that its thermal soaring abilities were much lower than that seen in living birds.

The idea that large azhdarchids were terrestrial hunters has been proposed previously, but the research team go further suggesting that Quetzalcoatlus and other giants were short-range flyers and did spend most of their time on land. The Kori bustard is proposed as a modern-day analogue for the biggest members of the Azhdarchidae. It is largely terrestrial and only flies relatively short distances.

Azhdarchid pterosaurs feeding on dinosaurs.
A pair of Arambourgiania philadelphia pterosaurs squabble over a small theropod dinosaur. The new research suggests that giant azhdarchids may have spent a lot of time on the ground and only flown short distances. Picture credit: Mark Witton.

The research team’s results corroborated the findings of previous studies examining the flying abilities of Argentavis magnificens. They found that it was well suited to thermal soaring. In contrast, the team found that Pelagornis sandersi was better suited to thermal soaring, although earlier studies had proposed dynamic soaring.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article from 2014 about the discovery of P. sandersi: The Largest Ever Flying Bird Pelagornis sandersi.

Everything Dinosaur’s recent article (May 2022), on Thanatosdrakon: The Dragon of Death.

The scientific paper: “How did extinct giant birds and pterosaurs fly? A comprehensive modeling approach to evaluate soaring performance” by Yusuke Goto, Ken Yoda, Henri Weimerskirch and Katsufumi Sato published in the PNAS Nexus.

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