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

Dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed articles, features and stories.

16 05, 2019

Estemmenosuchus and Edaphosaurus Models

By | May 16th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Estemmenosuchus and Edaphosaurus Models

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have posted up an image featuring two of their favourite Permian tetrapods, the sail-backed, herbivorous reptile Edaphosaurus and the “crowned crocodile” Estemmenosuchus.  Although these reptiles lived during the Permian geological period, their fossils are not found in the same rock formations and although both animals are classified as members of the Class Synapsida, they are not closely related.

An Illustration of Estemmenosuchus and Edaphosaurus

The CollectA Deluxe Estemmenosuchus and the CollectA Edaphosaurus model.

The CollectA 1:20 scale Estemmenosuchus model and the CollectA Edaphosaurus figure. What a splendid pair of Palaeozoic Era models!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

CollectA 1:20 Scale Estemmenosuchus and the CollectA Edaphosaurus

Often described as dinosaurs, these two CollectA figures represent vertebrates that lived long before the first dinosaurs evolved.  As synapsids, they are actually more closely related to modern mammals than they are to the Dinosauria.  The CollectA Deluxe 1:20 scale Estemmenosuchus was introduced in 2018, whilst the CollectA Edaphosaurus came out earlier this year (2019).  They are most impressive models and are part of an initiative by CollectA to add more models and replicas of animals that existed before the dinosaurs evolved to their already extensive range of prehistoric animal figures.

The first species assigned to the genus Edaphosaurus may have originated in the Late Carboniferous.  Edaphosaurus spp. fossils are known from the southern United States and Europe (notably the Czech Republic and Germany).  In contrast, Estemmenosuchus fossil material, as far as we at Everything Dinosaur know, comes from the Perm region of Russia.  It is from this region of Russia that the geological period – the Permian was named.

The image (above), depicts two splendid CollectA figures, the company has been praised for introducing more replicas of Palaeozoic animals into its model range, but based on the current fossil record, such a meeting between these two animals never took place.  Estemmenosuchus was geographically and chronologically separated from those species assigned to the Edaphosaurus genus.

In answer to a query raised by one of Everything Dinosaur’s customers, the CollectA Deluxe Estemmenosuchus model does indeed have an articulated jaw.

14 05, 2019

Archaeopteryx Gets Company

By | May 14th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Alcmonavis poeschli – Another Late Jurassic “Early Bird”

Scientists have identified a new species of “proto-bird” which was contemporaneous with Archaeopteryx (A. lithographica).  Known from a single, fragmentary fossil, excavated from the Lower Tithonian Mörnsheim Formation of the Solnhofen Archipelago, the species has been named Alcmonavis poeschli.  Its discovery supports the hypothesis that there were numerous bird-like dinosaurs in the Late Jurassic.

The Late Jurassic of Europe Could Have Been Home to Numerous “Proto-birds”

Archaeopteryx could have been one of numerous bird-like dinosaurs from the Solnhofen Archipelago.

Picture Credit: Carl Buell

A Right Wing from a Volant Animal

A. poeschli is represented by a right wing (specimen number: SNSB-BSPG 2017 I 133).  The bones are partially dislocated but lying in proximal association, the fossils consist of the humerus, radius, ulna, the hand and finger bones with claws.  Although there are only a handful of bones to study, they show a number of derived characters such as a pronounced attachment area for the pectoralis muscle and a robust second finger.  These traits indicate that Alcmonavis is a more derived avialan than Archaeopteryx.

A Photograph Showing the Holotype Fossil of Alcmonavis poeschli

Alcmonavis poeschli holotype fossil material.

Alcmonavis poeschli holotype.

Picture Credit: Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie/AFP

The photograph (above), shows the wing of Alcmonavis poeschli as it was found in the limestone slab.  Alcmonavis poeschli is another example of a volant bird from the Jurassic period.  It may have been a more capable flyer than the urvogel (Archaeopteryx).  Scars on the wing bones suggest the placement of sizeable muscles, indicating that the raven-sized Alcmonavis was capable of flapping its wings with some force.

One of the authors of the scientific paper, published this week in the academic journal “eLife”, Oliver Rauhut of the Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie (Bavarian State Collection of Palaeontology and Geology) stated:

“At first, we assumed that this was another specimen of Archaeopteryx.  There are similarities, but after detailed comparisons with Archaeopteryx and other, geologically younger birds, its fossil remains suggested that we were dealing with a somewhat more derived bird.  The wing muscles indicate a greater capacity for flying.”

This discovery indicates higher avialan diversity in the Late Jurassic than previously recognized.

Named after the Altmühl River

The genus name is derived from the old Celtic name for the Altmühl River which flows through the Solnhofen limestone region and from the Greek “avis” for bird.  The species name honours Roland Pöschl who leads fossil hunting expeditions to the Old Schöpfel Quarry, where the fossilised wing was discovered.

To read an article published in 2017 about another feathered dinosaur from Solnhofen: The Archaeopteryx That Wasn’t

To read an article from February 2019, that explains how the iconic Archaeopteryx feather fossil was reclassified: Iconic “Archaeopteryx” Feather Not From Archaeopteryx

13 05, 2019

“Oh We Do Like to be Beside the Seaside” – Triassic Marine Phytosaurs

By | May 13th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Austrian Phytosaur Fossils Point to Phytosaurs in Marine Environments

Look at most books that feature an illustration of the fauna of the Triassic and it is likely that squeezed into the colourful but so spurious illustration of early dinosaurs, beaked rhynchosaurs and cynodonts all going about their business but effectively ignoring each other, you will spot a phytosaur.  Phytosaurs, the long-snouted, semi-aquatic carnivores that resembled crocodiles but were certainly not crocodilian, were widely distributed during the Triassic.  However, very little evidence had emerged that linked these predators with marine ecosystems.  It had been thought phytosaurs were confirmed to freshwater or brackish environments.  The publication of a new scientific paper, reporting on the discovery of the remains of at least four individuals from an ancient lagoon, represents the best evidence yet that these formidable predators also inhabited the sea.

Phytosaurs in Marine Ecosystems

Mystriosuchus steinbergeri life reconstruction.

A newly described species of Austrian phytosaur provides evidence of a marine existence.  Mystriosuchus steinbergeri life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton (© 2019 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society)

Mystriosuchus steinbergeri

Although the fossil remains were laid down in a coastal, lagoonal environment, these days, thanks to plate tectonics, the quarry site is two kilometres above sea level in a remote part of the Austrian Alps.  The fossils were found in 1980 by Sepp Steinberger, a member of a local caving club.  The species name (Mystriosuchus steinbergeri), was erected in his honour.  One of the reasons cited for the amount of time it has taken to fully study these fossils is that despite the relative abundance of phytosaur fossils compared to other Triassic vertebrates, there are not that many vertebrate palaeontologists that specialise in studying the Phytosauria.

Phylogenetic analysis positions this newly described species as the sister taxon to a clade comprising Mystriosuchus planirostris and Mystriosuchus westphali.  A study of the fossil bones indicates that the Austrian phytosaur specimens represent individuals that were at least eight years of age at the time of their death.  The palaeoenvironmental data recovered suggests that these archosaurian reptiles were living in a marine lagoon.  This provides strong evidence to support the idea that some phytosaurs may have adapted to living in saltwater as well as freshwater environments.

A Classic Triassic Diorama Depicting a Phytosaur

A phytosaur in a Triassic diorama.

A beautifully painted Triassic scene (Rudolph Zallinger).  A newly published scientific paper provides strong evidence for marine adaptations in the Phytosauria.

Picture Credit: Rudolph Zallinger

How Did They Die?

Everything Dinosaur contacted one of the authors of the scientific paper, Richard Butler (School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham), enquiring about the discovery of four individuals, all roughly the same age and the same size (approximately 4 metres in length), being found together.

Professor Butler commented:

“As to how these animals died and were buried together, your guess is as good as mine!  It’s a puzzle, and I don’t have an answer.  However, I think it’s very unlikely that they died together on land and were somehow washed out tens of kilometres and buried together.  I think it’s more likely that they were living in the lagoon and died near to where they were buried.  Interestingly, the fact that there are multiple individuals all of a similar size might suggest some social/group behaviour, although again it’s quite speculative.”

When asked to put into context the significance of this evidence supporting the idea of some members of the Phytosauria adapting to marine environments, Professor Butler explained that there have been a handful of occurrences of the species Mystriosuchus planirostris recorded in marine sediments in northern Italy, and the basal phytosaur Diandongosuchus was also found in a marine deposit.  These fossil discoveries have led to speculation that both these species were possibly marine animals.  However, they’ve all been isolated specimens, and in the northern Italian sequences, for example, there is evidence to indicate that fully terrestrial animals had been washed into these marine deposits.  So, in the case of these fossils,  it is plausible that rather than being examples of marine phytosaurs, these are terrestrial phytosaurs that died on land and were washed out to sea.  The Austrian phytosaur material ascribed to Mystriosuchus steinbergeri might not be the first evidence found to support a marine environment hypothesis but it does probably represent the strongest evidence found to date.

The professor concluded that if he and his fellow authors are correct, then the phytosaurs represent yet another group of tetrapods that independently invaded marine environments.

The scientific paper: “Description and Phylogenetic Placement of a New Marine Species of Phytosaur (Archosauriformes: Phytosauria) from the Late Triassic of Austria” by Richard J Butler, Andrew S Jones, Eric Buffetaut, Gerhard W Mandl, Torsten M Scheyer and Ortwin Schultz published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

12 05, 2019

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Killer Queen T. rex Models

By | May 12th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Killer Queen T. rex Models

JurassicCollectables has produced a video review of the two, new for 2019, Rebor Killer Queen T. rex dinosaur models.  This has been one of the most eagerly anticipated video reviews for model collectors so far this year, with a great deal of interest in these two 1:35 scale Tyrannosaurus rex figures.  Interest has been piqued for several reasons, firstly, it is great to see Rebor bringing out more dinosaur models, after all, this range has gained quite a substantial following and secondly, fans of the Jurassic Park franchise can see two T. rex figures that reflect changes in how “the tyrant lizard king” was depicted as the franchise progressed.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex Dinosaur Models “Plain” and “Jungle”

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

Classy Packaging

The video review starts with a look at the classy packaging with the models packed in a black satin box, the back of which depicts other Rebor replicas available in the range.  The unboxing part of the video highlights the protective foam packaging that each model is packed in and looks at the handy T. rex fact card that accompanies each figure.  At Everything Dinosaur, we also include a special T. rex fact sheet that is researched and written by our team members.  The seventeen minute video examines each model in detail starting with the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex “plain” colour variant.

In the Spotlight – The Rebor Killer Queen Tyrannosaurus rex “Plain” Colour Variant

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex "plain".

The Rebor Killer Queen “Plain” T. rex dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

A Close-up View of the Underside

In these cleverly constructed videos, JurassicCollectables are able to show parts of the model not depicted in the manufacturer’s studio images.  For example, the narrator describes the Rebor Killer Queen “plain” colour variant of being reminiscent to the T. rex seen in the first “Jurassic Park” movie.  When highlighting the details on the model, the narrator shows the underside of the figure and comments on the careful sculpting of the belly scales.

The Underside of the Rebor Killer Queen “Plain” Tyrannosaurus rex Figure

A close view of the belly scales on the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex figure.

A close-up view of the belly scales of the Rebor Killer Queen 1:35 scale T. rex “plain”.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

A Tyrannosaurus rex Model from a “Lost World”

In this highly informative video review, the narrator comments that if the “plain” colour variant is reminiscent of the T. rex from the first “Jurassic Park” film, then the colour variant “jungle” reminds him of the apex predator seen in the second instalment of the franchise “The Lost World”.

Rebor Killer Queen Tyrannosaurus rex Model “Jungle”

Rebor Killer Queen Tyrannosaurus rex model "jungle".

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex “jungle”.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The beautiful detailed texture of the skin is praised, as is the painting around the eye and the glossy, wet-look given to the wide jaws.  Measurements are provided and the figures compared to a number of other models within the JurassicCollectables portfolio including the Papo standing T. rex figure (55001) and of course, off-colour Alan.

A Spectacular Pair of Tyrannosaurs

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex dinosaur models "plain" and "jungle".

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex dinosaur models “plain” and “jungle”.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel is crammed full of brilliant video reviews of prehistoric animal models and figure, it has nearly 80,000 subscribers.  Everything Dinosaur recommends that readers subscribe: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube

Rebor Killer Queen Available Individually or as a Pair

The reviewer has trouble selecting his favourite model.  He recommends both of these excellent Rebor figures to collectors and praises these figures at great length.  Everything Dinosaur offers the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex models “plain” and “jungle” as a pair at a special discounted price as well as offering the figures individually.

The Rebor Killer Queen Figures Sold as a Pair

Buy the Rebor Killer Queen T.rex models as a pair (jungle and plain).

Purchase the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex models as a pair (plain and jungle).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex models and to view the complete Rebor range available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures

11 05, 2019

Highlighting the New for 2019 Safari Ltd Collector Booklet

By | May 11th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Highlighting the New for 2019 Safari Ltd Collector Booklet

With a recent delivery of Wild Safari Prehistoric Animal figures, Everything Dinosaur received a number of the new for 2019 Safari Ltd collector booklets.  This handy-pocket sized guide lists all the figures and replicas in the Safari Ltd portfolio, including all the amazing dinosaur and prehistoric animals that make up the Wild Safari Prehistoric World model range.  To give collectors an idea of its size and contents, we put up a short, forty second video showing the catalogue on the Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel.

The New for 2019 Safari Ltd Collectors Booklet

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An Extensive Range of Museum Quality Replicas and Figures

Safari Ltd have earned an excellent reputation for the quality of their prehistoric animal replicas and figures.  For example, when Everything Dinosaur announced that this handy booklet was available, we posted up pictures of the catalogue and commented upon the recent awards that two Safari Ltd models had won.  Firstly, the 2018 Malawisaurus dinosaur model was voted the best dinosaur toy of 2018 by readers of the prestigious “Prehistoric Times” magazine.  Furthermore, Safari Ltd had a double celebration as the 2018 American Mastodon figure was awarded the accolade of best non-dinosaur prehistoric animal toy by readers.  Our congratulations to Safari Ltd.

Examples of the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Range (2019 New Introductions)

Wild Safari Prehistoric World - reptiles 2019.

The remaining new for 2019 prehistoric animal figures from the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range.  Representatives of a fantastic and very diverse prehistoric animal model range.  Can you name them all?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Safari Ltd collectors booklet measures 10 cm by 12.5 cm approximately and contains more than 160 pages, showcasing 800 models and figures.  It is available free of charge from Everything Dinosaur, just postage to pay.  If you want a collector’s booklet, (limited to one per order), simply add the booklet to your shopping cart when making a purchase or request one in the convenient message box that pops up when moving through the check-out procedure.

To view the collectors booklet and the range of models and figures from Safari Ltd that Everything Dinosaur stocks: Safari Ltd – Wild Safari Prehistoric World Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Allosaurus

The last of the new for 2019 prehistoric animal model introductions, the exciting new Allosaurus model is due into stock soon.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Allosaurus Dinosaur Model

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Allosaurus dinosaur figure.

The new for 2019 Wild Safari Prehistoric World Allosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube, just visit our YouTube channel: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube

10 05, 2019

Illustrating a Therizinosaurus

By | May 10th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

A Therizinosaurus Drawing

At Everything Dinosaur, we get sent lots of pictures, illustrations and drawings by our customers.  It is always a pleasure to receive such items and whilst we could never publish all that we receive, please be assured that we do look at every single one that gets sent in.  Prehistoric animal model fan, Ian sent into our offices a wonderful drawing of a Therizinosaurus.  It is a spectacular pencil sketch of a “scythe lizard”, our congratulations to Ian.  Our thanks to him as well for taking the trouble of posting the picture to us.  He actually sent several illustrations to our offices, we will try to post up more of them shortly.

An Illustration of Therizinosaurus (T. cheloniformis)

Therzinosaurus A drawing of the Theropod dinosaur Therizinosaurus (T. cheloniformis drawing.

A drawing of the Theropod dinosaur Therizinosaurus (T. cheloniformis).

Picture Credit: Ian

Lots of Drawings to Admire

Ian very kindly sent in several drawings, we will endeavour to post up some more on our various social media pages, including our Facebook page.  We think we know what inspired Ian to produce his Therizinosaur illustration.  The drawing reminds us of the new for 2018 Papo Therizinosaurus dinosaur model, but what do you think?

Is this the Source of Inspiration?  The Papo Therizinosaurus Dinosaur Model

Papo Therizinosaurus model.

Papo Therizinosaurus dinosaur model.  Was this model the inspiration for Ian’s drawing.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

If the Papo Therizinosaurus dinosaur model was the inspiration for Ian’s dinosaur illustration, then the artist has certainly created a likeness, our congratulations to Ian for his artistic endeavours.

9 05, 2019

Everything Dinosaur Announces More PNSO Models

By | May 9th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Will Be Stocking Even More PNSO Models

Everything Dinosaur will be stocking more new for 2019 PNSO prehistoric animal models.  Today, the UK-based company has announced that the dinosaur diorama featuring “Dayong” the Yangchuanosaurus and “Xiaobei” the Chungkingosaurus will be in stock soon along with “Lucas” the Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

New for 2019 PNSO Prehistoric Animal Figures Coming to Everything Dinosaur (Yangchuanosaurus and Chungkingosaurus)

PNSO Yangchuanosaurus and Chungkingosaurus dinosaur diorama.

PNSO dinosaur diorama “Dayong” the Yangchuanosaurus battles “Xiaobei” the Chungkingosaurus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The PNSO Giganotosaurus (G. carolinii) Replica “Lucas” will be in Stock Too

"Lucas" the PNSO Giganotosaurus model.

The PNSO Giganotosaurus dinosaur model “Lucas”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

PNSO Replicas and Figures

This is the second new PNSO product announcement made by Everything Dinosaur this week.  A few days ago, it was announced that the Amargasaurus, Spinosaurus and Mosasaurus figures were being stocked, along with a new range of intermediate models featuring a Megalodon and an Ankylosaurus.  To see this earlier announcement: Everything Dinosaur Announces more PNSO Figures Coming into Stock.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“At the start of the year, we claimed that we would be bringing into stock at least fifty new prehistoric animal models.  Once again, we have proven to be as good as our word with the addition of these two excellent PNSO figures.  Customers can now source PNSO replicas such as the new for 2019 “Ron” the Mosasaurus, “Lucio” the Amargasaurus, “Dayong” the Yangchuanosaurus and “Xiaobei” the Chungkingosaurus, as well as the Giganotosaurus “Lucas” from a supplier based in the west.”

The PNSO Chungkingosaurus and the Yangchuanosaurus Battle

PNSO figures - Chungkingosaurus and Yangchuanosaurus

“Dayong” the Yangchuanosaurus and “Xiaobei” the Chungkingosaurus (PNSO).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Dayong” the Yangchuanosaurus and “Xiaobei” the Chungkingosaurus (PNSO)

Anatomical accuracy is very important for Everything Dinosaur, when it comes to selecting which prehistoric animal models and figures to stock.  In addition, when it comes to dinosaur dioramas featuring a pair of animals, the geological and temporal context has to be correct.  PNSO have been very careful to create beautiful and anatomically accurate figures based on the fossil evidence.  Yangchuanosaurus and Chungkingosaurus were contemporaneous so the depicting of this encounter between Theropod and armoured dinosaur is perfectly valid in our view.

Yangchuanosaurus has an unusual claim to fame, it was the first Theropod dinosaur to be named and scientifically described by four authors (Y. shangyouensis by Dong, Chang, Li and Zhou in 1978).  Yangchuanosaurus is known from several specimens including a considerable amount of cranial material.  Analysis of these fossils has revealed that it had a remarkable change in its body proportions as this dinosaur grew.  A sub-adult specimen reveals a skull some 9% shorter than its femur, but in an adult specimen, the skull is proportionately much bigger, some 15% longer than the adult femur.  As Yangchuanosaurus matured so its skull increased in size, this probably reflects the position of the adults as the dominant, apex predators within the ecosystem represented by the vertebrate fossil assemblage from the Upper Shaximiao Formation.

“Lucas” the Giganotosaurus

Whilst PNSO have tended to produce models of prehistoric animals known from Asia, it is great to see a figure of the super-sized South American predator Giganotosaurus added to their range.

The PNSO Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model “Lucas”

PNSO Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

The PNSO Giganotosaurus dinosaur model “Lucas”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

All these figures will be available from Everything Dinosaur in a few weeks’ time, perhaps as early as June.  Pricing information will be published shortly.

To view the current range of PNSO models and replicas available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs and Scientific Art Scale Models.

To enquire about these new PNSO models and to join our priority reserve list for these models, simply: Email Everything Dinosaur.

8 05, 2019

A New Jurassic Scansoriopterygid Dinosaur – Ambopteryx

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

Ambopteryx longibrachium – A New Bat-winged Dinosaur

Scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), have identified a new species of flying dinosaur from Jurassic-aged strata in north-eastern China.  This dinosaur has been identified as a member of the Scansoriopterygidae dinosaur family and it had bat-like, membranous wings just like the related Yi qi, that was named and described back in 2015.  The little dinosaur, not much bigger than a starling, had a flap of skin from its arms to its torso, in essence a wing.  It has been named Ambopteryx longibrachium and this discovery supports the idea that within the forests of northern China during the Middle to the Late Jurassic, dinosaurs were experimenting with several different methods of gliding and powered flight.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Scansoriopterygid Dinosaur Ambopteryx longibrachium

Ambopteryx longibrachium life reconstruction.

A life illustration of Ambopteryx longibrachium.

Picture Credit: IVPP (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Bizarre and Buck-toothed Little Flying Dinosaur

The fossil specimen was found by a local farmer who supplements his income like many folk in Liaoning Province by searching for fossils in the fine-grained sediments.  It is beautifully preserved and dates to around 163 million years ago, commenting on the discovery, one of the co-authors of the scientific paper, published this week in the journal “Nature”, Jingmai O’Connor of the IVPP stated:

“It would have been this tiny, bizarre-looking, buck-toothed thing like nothing alive today.”

The Beautifully Preserved Fossil Specimen (Ambopteryx longibrachium)

Ambopteryx fossil specimen.

Ambopteryx longibrachium fossil.

Picture Credit: Min Wang IVPP (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

A Secondary Form of Flight That Does Not Involve Feathers

Close to the origins of flight, dinosaurs closely related to birds were experimenting with a range of different wing structures.  One of the most bizarre of these is the scansoriopterygid named Yi qi, (pronounced: Ee-chee), which was described and named in 2015.  This little dinosaur had membranous wings, supported by a curved, rod-like bone (styliform), attached to the wrist.  Soft tissue proximal to the arm bones was interpreted as bat-like wings, although this interpretation was not widely accepted by the scientific community.  However, the discovery of another type of scansoriopterygid dinosaur with the same type of wings demonstrates that members of the Scansoriopterygidae were indeed taking to the air.

The new dinosaur, Ambopteryx longibrachium (meaning “both-wing” and “long arm,” a reference to this second method of dinosaur flight, one that does not involve feathered wings), provides confirmatory evidence of the evolution of dinosaurs with bat-like, membranous wings.

Palaeontologist Steve Brusatte, (University of Edinburgh), when asked to reflect on the significance of this newly published scientific paper commented:

“This fossil seals the deal, there really were bat-winged dinosaurs.”

Ambopteryx longibrachium – Takes to the Air

A gliding Ambopteryx longibrachium (dorsal view).

Ambopteryx longibrachium (dorsal view).  The speculated flying pose of this new Chinese dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Min Wang IVPP (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

An Evolutionary Dead End

The researchers conclude that marked changes in wing design evolved near the split between the Scansoriopterygidae and the avian lineage, the two clades took very different routes to becoming volant.  Furthermore, the scientists determine that the membranous wings supported by elongate forelimbs present in scansoriopterygids such as Yi and Ambopteryx was a short-lived evolutionary experiment and that the feathered, winged dinosaurs ultimately proved to be the more successful leading to the eventual evolution of the Aves.  The likes of Yi qi and Ambopteryx longibrachium were evolutionary dead ends.  Whether Ambopteryx was capable of sustained powered flight, or whether it moved from tree to tree entirely by passive gliding remains unknown.

Coming in to Land – Ambopteryx longibrachium

At home amongst the trees Ambopteryx longibrachium.

Coming into land, a gliding Ambopteryx moving effortlessly from tree to tree.

Video Image Credit: Min Wang IVPP (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Stomach Contents Preserved

The stomach contents of the little dinosaur have been preserved.  The Chinese scientists recovered pieces of bone and small stones (gastroliths), which modern birds use to grind plant material, indicating Ambopteryx may have been omnivorous.  It may have lacked pinnate feathers, but the body was covered by a downy fuzz to help this small dinosaur keep warm.  Jingmai O’Connor speculates that male Ambopteryx may have sported long, ornamental tail feathers, as seen in other scansoriopterygids such as Epidexipteryx (E. hui).

The scientific paper examines the anatomical traits that enabled a mode of flight.  The wings of Ambopteryx were formed by elongated arm bones (humerus and ulna).  Aves (birds), have elongated finger bones (metacarpals), in effect, different solutions found in nature to achieve the same aim – volant activity.

Professor O’Connor added:

“The main lift-generating surface of bird’s wings is formed by the feathers.  In bats, pterosaurs and now scansoriopterygids, you have instead flaps of skin that are stretched out in between skeletal elements.”

Yi qi was Not Alone

It seems likely therefore, that with the discovery of a second bat-winged scansoriopterygid, there may be numerous other fossils of bizarre dinosaurs that were adapted to a life in the trees awaiting discovery in Liaoning Province.  It now seems that flight evolved more than once in the Dinosauria, Yi qi was not alone and the scientific community will provide further insight in the near future with regards to the remarkable and arguably the strangest of all the dinosaurs the Scansoriopterygidae.  Such research might be hindered by the small body-size of these creatures, the Ambopteryx specimen represents a sub-adult animal, it would have measured in life around 32 cm in length and weighed just a few hundred grammes.  Epidexipteryx and Yi qi were also small, E. hui has been estimated to have measured 30 cm long and weighed less than 200 grammes, whilst Yi qi is estimated to have had a wingspan of less than 60 cm and it would have been not much heavier.  The fact that any specimens of these tiny arboreal dinosaurs have survived at all is remarkable in itself.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Much of our knowledge about these tree-dwelling dinosaurs has been derived from fossils discovered in the last twelve years or so.  Our blog was started back in 2007 and over the course of the life of our blog we have charted the rise in the knowledge and awareness surrounding the curious Scansoriopterygidae.  There has even been a model of scansoriopterygid produced by a mainstream manufacturer.  PNSO introduced a model of Yi qi this year.  Who knows what other remarkable dinosaurs are awaiting discovery?”

The PNSO Yi qi Dinosaur Model

Yi qi dinosaur model (PNSO).

PNSO Yi qi dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read about the discovery of Epidexipteryx: Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s Epidexipteryx!

To read about the discovery of Yi qiYi qi The Dinosaur that Thought it was a Bat

To view the Yi qi dinosaur model and the other figures in the PNSO model range: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs

7 05, 2019

Safari Ltd Models Back in Stock

By | May 7th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Safari Ltd Models Back in Stock and the 2019 Booklet Too

Everything Dinosaur has received a new shipment of Safari Ltd prehistoric animal models and the 2019 collectors booklet is now in stock too.  Fans of the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models can now keep up to date with Safari Ltd’s range with this handy, pocket-sized booklet.   The collectors booklet lists all the Safari Ltd models that are currently available, it is more than 160 pages long, reflecting the breadth and scope of Safari Ltd’s product offering.

The Safari Ltd Collectors Booklet (2019) is in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

Safari Ltd collectors booklet - 2019.

The Safari Ltd collectors booklet (2019).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Toys that Teach ®

Eagle-eyed readers will spot that the Safari Ltd strapline “Toys that Teach” is a registered trade mark.  This reflects the company’s commitment to education and learning.  The model range extends to over 800 figures and items and the US-based company remains dedicated to creating the most accurate and educational figures they possibly can.  Note for example, the quadrupedal Spinosaurus figure that is depicted on the front cover of the new for 2019 collectors booklet.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World Swimming Spinosaurus Figure

Wild Safari Prehistoric World swimming Spinosaurus.

The Wild Safari Prehistoric World swimming Spinosaurus one of the new for 2019 dinosaur models.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the complete range of Safari Ltd prehistoric animal models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Safari Ltd – Wild Safari Prehistoric World

Old Favourites and New Favourites Back in Stock

The shipment of models that we have received includes some old favourites as well as some new favourites.  The Cambrian Life Toob, a model set that depicts life some 520 million years ago is back in stock.  This popular set features eight super models representing the bizarre life forms of the Cambrian geological period.

The Cambrian Life Toob

Cambrian Toob by Safari Ltd

Say hello to Cambrian wildlife.  The Cambrian Life Toob by Safari Ltd.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This model set epitomises the Safari Ltd philosophy.  The accurate models help to educate about life in the past, these figures have been used by many scientists in their studies and their science communication work.  The Cambrian Life Toob is an embodiment of the company’s philosophy to produce “toys that teach”.

The 2019 Safari Ltd collectors booklet is available free of charge (just postage to pay), from Everything Dinosaur.  If collectors and dinosaur model fans want a booklet then they can simply pop one into their shopping cart when placing an order with us and we will make sure the booklet is included in their parcel.  Alternatively, when making a purchase, just leave a note requesting the 2019 collectors booklet when placing an order in the handy message box and an Everything Dinosaur team member will ensure that the booklet is included in your order.

Award Winning Models

Safari Ltd manufacture a range of award winning models.  Recently, readers of the illustrious “Prehistoric Times” magazine voted the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Malawisaurus as the best new dinosaur figure of 2018.  In addition, the Wild Safari Prehistoric World American Mastodon topped the poll for the best non-dinosaur figure introduced last year.

Award Winning Prehistoric Animal Figures

Safari Ltd model winners.

Award winning models from Safari Ltd.  The Malawisaurus and the American Mastodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are happy to send out the Safari Ltd collectors booklet out to our customers.  This little booklet highlights the huge range of models and figures made by Safari Ltd.  The 2019 booklet is around ten pages longer than the 2018 edition reflecting the commitment of Safari Ltd to produce toys that teach.”

6 05, 2019

Suskityrannus – Our Best Glimpse Yet of a Mid-Cretaceous Tyrannosauroid

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

Suskityrannus hazelae – The Shape of Things To Come

The first of what will probably turn out to be numerous new Theropod dinosaurs from southern Laramidia has been announced today.  Writing in the academic journal “Nature: Ecology & Evolution”, a team of international scientists have described a new species of relatively small-bodied tyrannosauroid that helps to fill a gap in the evolution of the Tyrannosaur family.  Significantly, the new dinosaur, named Suskityrannus hazelae, has the same general body shape and feet adapted to running (arctometatarsalian feet), as the later, much larger Tyrannosaurs such as Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus and T. rex.  This suggests that Tyrannosaurs evolved many of their characteristic features whilst they were relatively small, secondary predators.   When Suskityrannus roamed western North America some 92 million years ago (Middle Turonian faunal stage), this little Theropod was the shape of things to come.

A Life Reconstruction of Suskityrannus hazelae

Suskityrannus hazelae life reconstruction.

The newly described Suskityrannus walks past two unconcerned Zuniceratops.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

The Moreno Hill Dinosaur Assemblage

Suskityrannus heralds from the Zuni Basin of New Mexico, specifically the Moreno Hill Formation and it has been described based on two associated but fragmentary skeletons.  Even so, these fossils represent the most complete examples of early Late Cretaceous tryannosauroids described to date.  Dinosaur fossils from the Turonian faunal stage are exceptionally rare, the fossils from the Moreno Hill Formation have provided palaeontologists with an insight into the types of dinosaur that were the forerunners of the key groups of dinosaur that were to dominate the terrestrial ecosystems of North America towards the end of the Cretaceous.  For example, the beautiful life reconstruction of Suskityrannus by Andrey Atuchin (above),  shows a three-metre long Theropod about to feed on some garfish that have become stranded as a result of a flood.  The pair of Zuniceratops are unconcerned about the proximity of the meat-eater, they are many times heavier and have nothing to fear from the fleet-footed tyrannosauroid.  In the background, to the right of the image a large Ornithopod dinosaur can be seen, we think this is probably a life reconstruction of the basal hadrosauroid Jeyawati.

In essence, that is what makes the dinosaurs from the Moreno Hill Formation so significant.  These sediments were laid down before the diversification of the tyrannosaurids, hardrosaurids and ceratopsids, all key components in later Cretaceous dinosaur assemblages from North America.

A Powerful Bite

Named Suskityrannus hazelae, (pronounced Sus-key-tie-ran-us haze-ah-lie), analysis of the jaw bone indicates that this dinosaur had an elongated skull measuring between 25 and 32 cm in length.  Despite its small size, less than 3 metres long, with a hip height of around 1 metre, Suskityrannus had a powerful bite, foretelling the evolutionary direction of later Tyrannosaurs which were to evolve massive skulls with bone crushing bite forces.

The Fossil Skeleton of S. hazelae Compared to the Dentary (Lower Jaw) of Tyrannosaurus rex

Suskityrannus compared to the jaw bone of a T. rex.

The fossil remains of Suskityrannus compared to a lower jaw from a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Picture Credit: Virginia Tech

What’s in a Name?

The name Suskityrannus hazelae is derived from “Suski,” the Zuni Native American tribe word for “coyote,” reflecting this tyrannosauroid’s position in the ecosystem as a secondary predator.  The species name honours Hazel Wolfe whose support made possible many expeditions to the Zuni Basin of New Mexico.  The first evidence, including a partial skull was found in 1997 by co-author Robert Denton (GeoConcepts Engineering).  The second, more complete specimen was found in 1998 by Sterling Nesbitt, a high school student at the time, but now based at the Department of GeoSciences (Virginia Tech).  Dr Nesbitt is the corresponding author for the scientific paper.  The fossils were housed at the Arizona Museum of Natural History for many years before they were formally studied.

Co-author, Steve Brusatte (School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh) commented:

“Suskityrannus is a key link between the enormous bone-crunching dinosaurs like T. rex and the smaller species they evolved from.  The new species shows that Tyrannosaurs developed many of their signature features like a muscular skull, broad mouth, and a shock-absorbing foot when they were still small, maybe as adaptations for living in the shadows.”

Dr Sterling Nesbitt and Suskityrannus hazelae

Co-author Sterling Nesbitt and fossil remains of Suskityrannus.

Corresponding author Sterling Nesbitt, with the fossilised remains of Suskityrannus laid out in their anatomical position.

Picture Credit: Virginia Tech

The Moreno Hill and the Bissekty Formations

The Moreno Hill Formation is analogous to the Bissekty Formation of Uzbekistan.  Within the northern hemisphere, dinosaur fossils from the Turonian faunal stage are exceptionally rare, although thousands of miles apart, the strata are approximately the same age (around 90 million-years-old) and the dinosaur specimens found provide evidence of similar faunas.  The tyrannosauroid Timurlengia was named and described from fragmentary remains from the Bissekty Formation in 2016, the publication of a scientific paper on Suskityrannus will help palaeontologists to better understand how relatively small-bodied tyrannosauroids evolved into giant apex predators some twenty million years later.

To read about the discover of Timurlengia: Fossil Study Suggests How Tyrannosaurs Got Big

How Big Were the Arms of Suskityrannus?

As for that other famous Late Cretaceous Tyrannosaur body trait, the much reduced arms, scientists are very much in the dark about how big the forelimbs of Suskityrannus were.  Very little forelimb fossil material has been recovered.  Scientists can’t even say with any certainty whether Suskityrannus had two-fingered or three-fingered hands.  Cross-sectional analysis of slices of bone indicate that both known specimens were juveniles.  The fossils are providing further information on tyrannosauroid ontogeny.  Despite not being fully-grown, the authors are confident that Suskityrannus was not as big as its descendants, the famous apex predators of the Campanian and Maastrichtian faunal stages of the Cretaceous.

Commenting on the discovery a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“When we made our palaeontology predictions for 2019, the last prediction we made was that more tyrannosaurids would be named and described from fossil material associated with southern Laramidia.  We suggested that two new species would be named.   Suskityrannus hazelae has helped us to confirm our prediction made earlier this year, at least in part.  We are expecting more Theropod news to come out of the southern United States over the next few months.  These are exciting times for anyone studying the Tyrannosauroidea.”

To read about the discovery of a tyrannosauroid from central Utah that lived approximately four million years before Suskityrannus: Moros intrepidus Fleet Footed Tyrannosauroid Leaps 70 Million Year Gap

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