All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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Dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed articles, features and stories.

14 09, 2019

Helping to Unravel the Troublesome Teleosauroids

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

New Fossil Study of Jurassic Crocodile Confirms Identity

Numerous genera of Jurassic and Cretaceous marine crocodiles have been described.  However, since many of these genera were erected in the 18th and 19th centuries, sometimes these fossil remains have to be revisited as new discoveries provide additional information.  Take the case of Mystriosaurus laurillardi, a teleosauroid known from fossils found in Germany and in the United Kingdom.  The taxonomy of the teleosauroids has been blighted by the problems associated with  Steneosaurus bollensis.  Specimens have been “lumped” into this species only to be subsequently reassigned.  A new study, published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica demonstrates that Mystriosaurus is a distinct species.

A Life Reconstruction of Mystriosaurus laurillardi

Mystriosaurus laurillardi life reconstruction.

Life reconstruction Mystriosaurus laurillardi.

Picture Credit: Julia Beier

Marine Predator

M. laurillardi grew to about four metres in length.  The long and narrow jaws and the teeth associated with this marine predator suggest that it fed primarily on fish (piscivore).  It lived 180 million years ago (Toarcian faunal stage of the Early Jurassic).  A fossil skull found in southern Germany in the 1770’s had previously been described as Steneosaurus bollensis, a contemporaneous member of the Teleosauridae, but in this new assessment of the cranial material, the researchers led by scientists from the Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld (Germany) and scientists from Edinburgh University, concluded that the skull represented M. laurillardi.

The research team also announced that another crocodilian skull found in Yorkshire (Mulgrave Shale Member, Whitby Mudstone Formation), should also be assigned to Mystriosaurus laurillardi.

The Holotype Cranial Material of M. laurillardi from southern Germany

M. laurillardi holotype cranial material.

The holotype material of M. laurillardi from southern Germany.

Picture Credit: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, Sachs et al.

Sorting Out Steneosaurus brevior

Previously, the crocodilian skull from Yorkshire had been named Steneosaurus brevior, the scientists suggest that this name is now a junior synonym of Mystriosaurus laurillardi.  Intriguingly, a phylogenetic assessment  indicates that Mystriosaurus was closely related to Steneosaurus, but it is probably more closely related to a Chinese teleosauroid (previously known as Peipehsuchus), than any European form.

13 09, 2019

The First Pterosaur Unique to Canada

By | September 13th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Under a Giant’s Wing – Cryodraken boreas

A new species of giant pterosaur has been named and described from fossil material excavated from the famous Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation in southern Alberta (Canada).  The flying reptile represents one of the geologically oldest azhdarchid pterosaurs described to date from North America.  It is the first flying reptile genus to be erected from Dinosaur Provincial Park fossils.  Writing in the academic publication, the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology”, researchers from Queen Mary University of London, the University of Southern California, and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology (Alberta), describe Cryodraken boreas and estimate that it could have been one of the largest flying vertebrates to have ever lived.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Azhdarchid Pterosaur Cryodraken boreas

The Canadian azhdarchid pterosaur C. boreas.

A life reconstruction of the Canadian pterosaur Cryodraken boreas.

Picture Credit: David Maas

Pterosaurs from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation

Despite the discovery of many thousands of dinosaur bones from the Dinosaur Provincial Park (DPP), the fossilised remains of pterosaurs are exceptionally rare.  Their delicate, pneumatised bones do not do well when it comes to the fossilisation process.  What fossils that have been found, since the first discoveries made in 1972, are highly fragmentary and difficult to assign down to the genus level.  Individual cervical vertebrae, metacarpals and metatarsal bones have been described as representing azhdarchid pterosaurs as they bore resemblance to Montanazhdarcho, a pterosaur known from contemporaneous strata some 150 miles or so, south of the DPP, or indeed to the Quetzalcoatlus genus known from the Javelina Formation of Texas.

In this scientific paper, the researchers examined undocumented pterosaur fossil material and reassessed previously studied fossils and concluded that the remains, bones from the wing, limb bones, cervical vertebrae and a rib originally assigned to Quetzalcoatlus were sufficient different to merit the establishment of a new azhdarchid pterosaur genus.

A Line Drawing of an Azhdarchid Pterosaur Neck Bone from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation

A line drawing of an azhdarchid pterosaur neck bone from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation.

A line drawing of an azhdarchid cervical vertebra in (A) ventral, (B) anterior and (C) posterior views.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Indiana University Press

“Cold Dragon”

The genus name is from the Greek and means “cold dragon”, reflecting the relatively high latitude where the fossils were found, commenting on why the fossils have been ascribed to a new genus, lead author Dr David Hone (Queen Mary University, London) stated:

“This is a cool discovery, we knew this animal was here but now we can show it is different to other azhdarchids and so it gets a name.”

Line Drawings of a Juvenile Azhdarchid Pterosaur Cervical Vertebra from the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation

Juvenile pterosaur neck bone.

A juvenile azhdarchid cervical vertebra from the Upper Campanian strata of the Dinosaur Provincial Park Formation.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Indiana University Press

The associated fossil material represents a young animal, with an estimated wingspan of five metres, but one giant cervical vertebra from the DPP, once thought to represent a partial femur, indicates that mature adults were comparable in size to Quetzalcoatlus northropi.

The slightly more robust bones from the DPP (when compared to Javelina Formation material), suggests that Cryodraken may have been slightly heavier than Quetzalcoatlus spp.  It is difficult to calculate bodyweights, but the press releases suggested an adult Cryodraken might have weighed in excess of 250 kilograms.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, (Alberta) and a press release from Queen Mary University (London), in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Cryodraken boreas, gen. et sp. nov., a Late Cretaceous Canadian azhdarchid pterosaur” by David W. E. Hone, Michael B. Habib and François Therrien published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

11 09, 2019

Skull Bones of Saurornitholestes Point to Asian Migration

By | September 11th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

New Study Published on Saurornitholestes langstoni

Researchers based at the University of Alberta and the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada), have published a new scientific paper on the dinosaur nicknamed the “raptor of Alberta”.  The dinosaur – Saurornitholestes langstoni, was once thought to be a troodontid, but its placement within the Dromaeosauridae has been reinforced.  Furthermore, although no impressions of preserved feathers have ever been found in association with skeletal material, a tooth wear analysis conducted by the scientists suggests that a tooth in the upper jaw might have been specialised for preening feathers.

The Beautifully Preserved Saurornitholestes langstoni Specimen

The beautifully preserved and nearly complete Saurornitholestes langstoni fossil discovered in 2014.

The nearly complete Saurornitholestes langstoni fossil discovered in 2014.

Picture Credit: University of Alberta

The researchers who produced the scientific paper, two famous and very influential palaeontologists, Professor Philip Currie (University of Alberta) and Dr David Evans (Royal Ontario Museum), also suggest that their analysis of recently described skull bones supports the idea of at least two major faunal interchanges between Asia and North America during the Late Cretaceous.

Several Partial Skeletons – Hundreds of Isolated Teeth and Bones

In 1978, Saurornitholestes langstoni was formally described based on some fragmentary fossil bones found close to the small town of Patricia in southern Alberta four years before.  Since then, four additional partial skeletons ascribed to Saurornitholestes and hundreds of isolated teeth and bones have been recovered from the Upper Cretaceous sediments (Campanian faunal stage), of Alberta and Montana.  Despite these fossils, very little was known about the skull of S. langstoni, curtailing attempts to better understand the taxonomic relationship between this Canadian dromaeosaurid and other Asian forms such as Velociraptor mongoliensis and Tsaagan mangas.

A Scale Drawing of Saurornitholestes langstoni

Saurornitholestes langstoni illustration - scale drawing.

Saurornitholestes langstoni illustration (scale drawing).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Study of the 2014 Specimen

Frustrated by the lack of truly diagnostic fossil cranial material to study, palaeontologists could do very little to better understand where within the Dromaeosauridae the “raptor of Alberta” should reside.  This all changed in 2014 with the discovery of a nearly complete fossil specimen, ironically within a thousand metres of where the holotype specimen had been found back in 1978.  Although loaned out to Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science (Tokyo), for a special exhibition marking fifty years of “raptor research”, analysis continued on the remarkable skeleton.

Writing in the academic journal “The Anatomical Record”, the scientists confirm that Saurornitholestes was similar in size to Velociraptor, but the facial region of the skull is relatively shorter, taller and wider.  The premaxillary teeth are distinctive, and fossil teeth collected in the Dinosaur Provincial Park (southern Alberta), ascribed to the dromaeosaurid Zapsalis abradens can now be identified as the second premaxillary tooth of S. langstoni.

A Close-up View of the Skull of S. langstoni 

Saurornitholestes langstoni fossil skull.

A close-up view of the fossilised skull of the 2014 specimen.  The skull bones were preserved in articulation, helping the scientists to understand the anatomy of the skull.

Picture Credit: University of Alberta

Teeth Used for Preening Feathers

A detailed microscopic study of the tiny abrasions preserved on the teeth located in the front of the upper jaw (premaxilla), have led the researchers to speculate that these teeth could have had a role in helping to preen and clean the dinosaur’s feathery coat.

A Typical Dromaeosaurid Tooth

Dromaeosaurid tooth from Alabama.

An isolated dromaeosaurid tooth with very different denticles (anterior and posterior).  Different sized serrations might have assisted with grooming as a secondary function of the tooth.

Picture Credit: David R. Schwimmer

A Distinctive North American Clade of Dromaeosaurs

With an almost complete specimen to study and, most importantly of all, a skull, the scientists have concluded that a distinctive North American clade of Late Cretaceous dromaeosaurids can be established within the Dromaeosauridae family.  A distinctive and separate branch from the Asian part of the Dromaeosauridae that includes the likes of Velociraptor.  Professor Currie and Dr Evans were able to identify many unique anatomical traits (autapomorphies), that permitted the establishment of this clade – the Saurornitholestinae.  This new information on the skull allows a more complete evaluation of the systematic position of Saurornitholestes langstoni within the Dromaeosauridae and supports the suggestion of at least two major faunal interchanges between Asia and North America during the Cretaceous.

At Everything Dinosaur, we have seen a resurgence in interest in “raptor” figures and models.  These theropod dinosaurs continue to feature prominently in dinosaur movies and the “Beasts of the Mesozoic” range of “raptor” models including an articulated replica of Saurornitholestes langstoni have been introduced.

To view the Beasts of the Mesozoic model range available from Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures

The scientific paper: “Cranial Anatomy of New Specimens of Saurornitholestes langstoni (Dinosauria, Theropoda, Dromaeosauridae) from the Dinosaur Park Formation (Campanian) of Alberta” by Philip J. Currie and David C. Evans published in the journal The Anatomical Record.

10 09, 2019

A Special Dinosaur Delivery

By | September 10th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

A Special Dinosaur Delivery

Everything Dinosaur has lots of customers in South America.  Sometimes some of our customers visit the UK and they request that if they are staying in the UK, could they order some prehistoric animal models and have Everything Dinosaur despatch them to a UK address such as a hotel or guest house.  By doing this, model collectors can get their hands on the latest prehistoric animal models, without having to worry about international deliveries.  Andre is a case in point.  He contacted Everything Dinosaur some months ago requesting that we reserve some up and coming, 2019 dinosaur models for him.  He explained that he would be travelling to London in September and if possible, could we liaise with him so that his models could be delivered to the hotel where he was staying.  Sure enough, our team members were happy to oblige, to set aside the models he wanted as they came into stock and then organise a courier delivery to his hotel.

Delighted with our customer service, Andre kindly sent in a picture of the latest additions to his model collection.

Another Successful Everything Dinosaur Delivery

Safely delivered to a customer's hotel - a selection of prehistoric animal models.

All safely delivered to a customer’s hotel – a selection of prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Andre

Papo and PNSO Prehistoric Animal Models

In total, our team members organised the delivery of seven dinosaur figures from the Papo “les dinosaures” model range and the PNSO “Age of Dinosaurs” scale figures.  We know that regular readers of our blog will be able to name all these replicas, but just for the record, here is the list of models that we sent out to Andre’s hotel.

  • PNSO Lucas the Giganotosaurus 1:35 scale figure (back left).
  • PNSO Lucio the Amargasaurus 1:35 scale figure (back centre).
  • The Papo new colour variant Stegosaurus model (back right).
  • PNSO “Sede” the Ankylosaurus dinosaur model (front left).
  • PNSO Dayong the Yangchuanosaurus and Xiaobei the Chungkingosaurus 1:35 scale model diorama (front centre).
  • The Papo Gorgosaurus dinosaur model (front centre).
  • The Papo Pentaceratops (front right).

Andre kindly emailed to let us know that his parcel had arrived, he stated:

“Everything perfectly delivered.  Thank you very, very much for reserving them for me.  These are the first PNSO models I got and they’re amazing!”

As model collectors ourselves we were happy to help out.

To view the Papo “les dinosaures” model range including the new Stegosaurus, Pentaceratops and Gorgosaurus models: Papo Prehistoric Animals and Dinosaurs

For the PNSO “Age of Dinosaurs” model range: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Model Range

9 09, 2019

Picturing a Papo Pentaceratops

By | September 9th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Picturing a Papo Pentaceratops

One of the most enthusiastically received new prehistoric animal models of 2019 is the Papo Pentaceratops.  When we first published photographs of this new horned dinosaur model from the French manufacturer (Papo), earlier this year, a number of collectors and dinosaur model fans commented on its unusual pose.  After all, a rearing ceratopsid is very different from the postures normally associated with Triceratops, Torosaurus, Styracosaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus and so forth.

However, this dinosaur model has proved to be a big hit.  Everything Dinosaur team members have received lots of photographs, positive feedback and drawings of this Papo dinosaur model.  For example, young dinosaur fan Caldey sent in a beautiful illustration of her Papo Pentaceratops.

Caldey’s Illustration of the Papo Pentaceratops Dinosaur Model

A drawing of the new for 2019 Papo Pentaceratops by Caldey.

Caldey’s illustration of the new for 2019 Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Caldey

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Our thanks to Caldey and all the other dinosaur model collectors and fans who have sent in pictures and photographs of their Papo model.  It is great to see how this new prehistoric animal figure has inspired so many people to get in touch.”

Pentaceratops en Español “Cara Con Cinco Cuernos”

Everything Dinosaur has received feedback about the Papo Pentaceratops from customers all over the world.  One of our customers from Chile commented:

“Increíble modelo y pintura, además de una versatilidad en su forma de posar.”

This translates from the Spanish as:

“Incredible model and painting, as well as versatility in the way that it has been posed.”

It seems that this prehistoric posture has been very well received indeed.  Can we expect more posing prehistoric animals from Papo in the future?  Collectors and fans of dinosaur replicas will have to wait and see what 2020 brings.  The Pentaceratops “five horned face”, or as they say in Chile “cara con cinco cuernos”, has gathered a world-wide following.

Proudly Holding a Papo Pentaceratops

Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model.

The Papo Pentaceratops dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our thanks to Caldey and all the other Everything Dinosaur customers who have been in touch to sing the praises of the Pentaceratops.

To view the complete range of Papo prehistoric animals available from Everything Dinosaur, including the new for 2019 Papo Gorgosaurus and the Pentaceratops: Papo Dinosaurs (Les Dinosaures) and Prehistoric Animal Models

6 09, 2019

T. rex and Air-conditioning

By | September 6th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

T. rex had “Air Conditioning”

Scientists from the University of Missouri, Ohio University and the University of Florida have turned a theory about Tyrannosaurus rex (and other archosaurs for that matter), on its head.  Previously, palaeontologists had thought that two large holes in the roof of the skull of T. rex (the dorsotemporal fenestra), were filled with muscles to assist with movement of the jaws.  However, a thermal imaging study of extant archosaurs, specifically American alligators at the St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park (Florida), has led the researchers to suggest that these skull holes played a role in helping this huge animal to regulate its temperature.  The team, which included Larry Witmer, a professor of anatomy at Ohio University, conclude that, in essence T. rex had an air-conditioning unit in its head.

An Imagined Thermal Image Taken in the Cretaceous Night

The glowing dorsotemporal fenestra of T. rex and two crocodiles.

Archosaurs at night!  An imagined thermal image showing the glowing dorsotemporal fenestra of Cretaceous archosaurs.

Picture Credit: Brian Engh

Helping to Regulate Body Temperature

Lead author of the scientific paper, published in the journal “The Anatomical Record”, Professor Casey Holliday was puzzled by the idea that these skull holes were associated with muscle attachments.  The Professor of anatomy at the Missouri University School of Medicine commented:

“It’s really weird for a muscle to come up from the jaw, make a 90-degree turn, and go along the roof of the skull.  Yet, we now have a lot of compelling evidence for blood vessels in this area, based on our work with alligators and other reptiles.”

The researchers used thermal imaging cameras to examine alligators in captivity and they believe that these living archosaurs can provide key insights into the anatomy of their long dead, cousins the Dinosauria.

A Thermal Image of the “Hot Spots” on the Head of an American Alligator

American alligator thermal image.

A thermal image of the head of an American alligator.

Picture Credit: University of Missouri

Studying American Alligators

Explaining the significance of this new study, co-author Kent Vliet (University of Florida), stated:

“An alligator’s body heat depends on its environment.  Therefore, we noticed when it was cooler and the alligators are trying to warm up, our thermal imaging showed big hot spots in these holes in the roof of their skull, indicating a rise in temperature.  Yet, later in the day when it’s warmer, the holes appear dark, like they were turned off to keep cool.  This is consistent with prior evidence that alligators have a cross-current circulatory system — or an internal thermostat, so to speak.”

If the dorsotemporal fenestra of theropods such as Tyrannosaurus rex were also lined with blood vessels then these holes could have played a role in helping dinosaurs to control their body temperatures.  For such a big animal, the problem might not be trying to keep warm, but actually the avoidance of overheating.  The blood vessels occupying the dorsotemporal fenestra would have been covered by skin and the proximity of these vessels to the outside environment might have helped T. rex to lose heat.

An Speculative Thermal Image (Dorsal View) Showing the Head of T. rex

A thermal image of the head of T. rex.

A dorsal view of the head of T. rex showing the two “hot spots” the dorsotemporal fenestra.

Picture Credit: Brian Engh

T. rex and alligators have similar holes in the top of their head.  By studying the anatomy of living animals, scientists can gain valuable insights into the anatomy of long extinct relatives such as the dinosaurs.

The Skull of a Gharial Showing Two Large, Prominent Dorsotemporal Fenestra 

The skull of a gharial.

The skull of a gharial from the Grant Museum of Zoology (London).  The large holes in the skull roof are the dorsotemporal fenestra.

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

The scientific paper: “The Frontoparietal Fossa and Dorsotemporal Fenestra of Archosaurs and Their Significance for Interpretations of Vascular and Muscular Anatomy in Dinosaurs” by Casey M. Holliday, William Ruger Porter, Kent A. Vliet and Lawrence M. Witmer published in the journal The Anatomical Record.

5 09, 2019

Non-dinosaurian Dinosauromorphs from Colorado

By | September 5th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Kwanasaurus williamparkeri – The Newest Member of the Silesauridae

Dinosaur discoveries usually grab all the headlines.  However, our attention was caught recently with the publication of a scientific paper in the academic journal “PeerJ”, describing a new species of silesaurid, a Triassic reptile that was so very closely related to the Dinosauria, but not quite a dinosaur.  The animal has been named Kwanasaurus williamparkeri and it roamed what was to become Colorado some 210 million years ago.

A Skeletal Reconstruction and a Life Reconstruction of Kwanasaurus williamparkeri

Skeletal drawing and life reconstruction of K. williamparkeri.

Skeletal drawing and life reconstruction of Kwanasaurus williamparkeri.

Picture Credit: PeerJ/Jeffrey W Martz and Bryan J Small

The picture (above), shows (A) a skeletal reconstruction with known fossil elements shaded light grey.  The skeletal reconstruction is based on the fossilised remains of several individuals all scaled to the same size.  The body plan is based on Silesaurus.  Note the scale bars equal ten centimetres given for probable largest specimen (DMNH EPV.34579) and one of the smallest specimens.(DMNH EPV.63139).

From the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation of Colorado

Numerous fragmentary fossils representing parts of the jaw, limb bones and possibly a scapula and lower leg bones along with isolated teeth have been found in the “red siltstone” member of the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation (Eagle Basin, Colorado).  The strata were deposited in the Late Triassic (215-207 mya – middle to late Norian.  Kwanasaurus  is the northernmost silesaurid known from the Americas and only the fourth taxon recognised from North America, although more specimens of silesaurids are likely to be found in the future, after all the Silesauridae was only formally erected in 2010.  In addition, the authors of the paper, report on the discovery of fossils ascribed to Dromomeron romeri, a bipedal member of the Dinosauromorpha but from another branch (the Lagerpetidae), thus, we have two non-dinosaurian dinosauromorphs from these sediments.  This is the first documented occurrence of D. romeri from the Chinle Formation of the Eagle Basin of Colorado

Upper Jawbone (Maxillae) and Accompanying Line Drawings – Kwanasaurus williamparkeri

Kwanasaurus upper jaw bone images and line drawings.

Images of upper jaw bones maxillae and accompanying line drawings of Kwanasaurus.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

“Eagle Lizard” – Probably a Herbivore

The genus name means “eagle lizard” honouring the town and county of Eagle, as the fossils were found nearby. The trivial epithet honours Dr William Parker, a vertebrate palaeontologist who has helped develop our understanding of Triassic archosaurs.  These types of archosaurs were contemporaneous with the first dinosaurs and the discovery of Kwanasaurus adds further support to the theory that for millions of years different types of archosaurs co-existed and that the Dinosauria did not have a sudden rise to ecological dominance.  The robust jaws and the teeth indicate that Kwanasaurus was probably herbivorous, this suggests a dietary specialism amongst silesaurids as most other genera are believed to have been omnivorous.

Views of the Left Dentary (Lower Jaw) of K. williamparkeri with Accompanying Line Drawings

Views and line drawings of the dentary of Kwanasaurus.

Views of the left jawbone (dentary) of Kwanasaurus.   The deep lower jaw and the shape of the teeth suggest a herbivorous diet.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

The scientific paper: “Non-dinosaurian dinosauromorphs from the Chinle Formation (Upper Triassic) of the Eagle Basin, northern Colorado: Dromomeron romeri (Lagerpetidae) and a new taxon, Kwanasaurus williamparkeri (Silesauridae)” by Jeffrey W Martz and Bryan J Small published in PeerJ.

4 09, 2019

The Schleich Diabloceratops Dinosaur Model

By | September 4th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

The Schleich Diabloceratops Dinosaur Model

The Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur model is back in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  This recently introduced Ceratopsian figure (spring 2019), has proved to be a favourite amongst fans of Schleich and dinosaur models.  Our initial stocks sold out quickly and it is great to see “devil horned face” back in our warehouse again.

Back in Stock at Everything Dinosaur – the Schleich Diabloceratops Dinosaur Model

Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur replica.

The Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Diabloceratops eatoni

Known from a single skull discovered in 2002 and a second skull specimen found eight years later, Diabloceratops is the oldest known ceratopsid, it having roamed the upper parts of the United States some 79 million years ago.  It is regarded as a basal centrosaurine and it was the first member of the Centrosaurinae to be have been discovered south of Montana.  Zuniceratops (Z. christopheri), which is known from the mid Turonian of New Mexico, is regarded as the sister taxon.

To view the Schleich Diabloceratops model and the rest of the replicas in the Schleich model range: Schleich Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

A Close-up View of the Schleich Diabloceratops Dinosaur Model

Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur model.

A close up of the front end (anterior portion) of the Schleich Diabloceratops dinosaur model.  The model has beautiful detailing on the skin and the Ceratopsian frill is very striking.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

What’s in a Name?

The genus name reflects the remarkable pair of horns that stick out from the back of the neck frill, whilst the species name honours vertebrate palaeontologist Jeff Eaton of Weber State University. The geosciences professor has been honoured for his work in Utah (where the Diabloceratops specimens originate), Professor Eaton has had a trace fossil, a lizard and a marsupial, as well as a dinosaur named after him.  The holotype Diabloceratops fossil material consisting of a partial skull and elements from the jaw, along with a second skull ascribed to this genus in 2010, are housed in the Natural History Museum of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah).

The fossils were excavated from the Wahweap Formation near Last Chance Creek in southern Utah.

The Schleich Diabloceratops has received many favourable reviews, including this one from a French-speaking Everything Dinosaur customer:

“Beau modèle avec couleurs splendides”, which translates as “beautiful model with splendid colours”.

A Scale Drawing of Diabloceratops eatoni

A scale drawing of Diabloceratops eatoni.

A scale drawing of Diabloceratops eatoni (human figure provides scale).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

1 09, 2019

New Brazilian Pterosaur Announced

By | September 1st, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Keresdrakon Lived Alongside Caiuajara

A new species of large, toothless pterosaur has been described based on fossil specimens excavated from the “cemitério dos pterossauros” (pterosaur graveyard), in southern Brazil.  This new flying reptile has been named Keresdrakon vilsoni.  The researchers, writing in the academic journal “Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências” conclude that Keresdrakon co-existed with another, smaller and, based on the fossil evidence more numerous, pterosaur (Caiuajara dobruskii).  In addition, the two distinct pterosaurs coexisted with a theropod dinosaur (Vespersaurus paranaensis) and together they provide an unique insight into an ancient desert ecosystem.

The Palaeoenvironment of the “Cemitério dos Pterossauros”

Keresdrakon life reconstruction.

Keresdrakon life reconstruction, feeding on the carcase of a Vespersaurus.

Picture Credit: Maurilio Oliveira

Interpreting the Palaeoenvironment

The age of the strata is disputed.  Some authors favour a Turonian to Campanian age indicating Upper Cretaceous deposits, whilst other scientists have suggested that the rocks might be Lower Cretaceous in age (Aptian to Albian).  The bonebeds associated with these sandstones indicate a congregation of vertebrates in what was probably an interdunal wetland in the middle of a desert.  Caiuajara is interpreted as a likely frugivore, a feeding behaviour associated with other members of the Tapejaridae family.  Although, the much larger, edentulous (toothless), Keresdrakon probably filled a different niche in the ecosystem.  Its fossils are much rarer than those of Caiuajara, the researchers infer that Keresdrakon vilsoni might have behaved as an opportunistic predator or a scavenger.  Analysis of this pterosaur’s beak suggest that it did not have a strong bite, so overcoming larger prey such as the theropod Vespersaurus might have been difficult for Keresdrakon, but it could have fed on carrion, as depicted in the above illustration.

The authors of the scientific paper, which include pterosaur expert Alexander Kellner of the Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), consider Keresdrakon to be the equivalent of a modern-day Marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer), which scavenges but also eats any small animal that it can swallow.  The scientists speculate that K. vilsoni might have eaten juvenile Caiuajara or even hatchlings and eggs.  Given the geological and fossil evidence, it is likely that these two pterosaurs along with Vespersaurus co-existed together and that the “cemitério dos pterossauros”, demonstrates evidence of sympatry in the Pterosauria, if this is the case, then these sandstone deposits of uncertain age in Paraná State represent an extremely significant discovery for vertebrate palaeontologists.

The Holotype Fossil Material of Keresdrakon vilsoni

Holotype of Keresdrakon vilsoni.

Holotype of Keresdrakon vilsoni gen. et sp. nov. (CP.V 2069).  Skull and lower jaw are presented in right lateral view.  Note scale bar = 10 cm.

Picture Credit: Kellner et al

What is Sympatry?

Sympatry is a term used in biology to describe the situation when two or more related species co-exist in the same environment at the same time.  Caiuajara and Keresdrakon are contemporaneous, occupying the same space and time in the fossil record.

To read about the discovery of Caiuajara dobruskiiNew Species of Flying Reptile Identified from Pterosaur Graveyard.

To read about the theropod dinosaur associated with this fossil site: The First Dinosaur from the Caiuá Group – Brazil.

Classifying Keresdrakon

A phylogenetic analysis suggests that Keresdrakon sits outside the Tapejaridae family but is still quite closely related to these types of flying reptiles.  It is described as part of a non-tapejarid lineage within the wider Tapejaromorpha.

A Sandstone Block Showing Keresdrakon vilsoni and Caiuajara dobruskii Fossils in Association

Keresdrakon and Caiuajara in association.

Sample (CP.V 5697) from bonebed C showing on the right (a) a partial skeleton of the Caiuajara dobruskii the left (b) elements of Keresdrakon vilsoni gen. et sp. nov. separated by the white line.  Scale bar = 10 cm.

Picture Credit: Kellner et al

The scientific paper: “A new toothless pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea) from Southern Brazil with insights into the paleoecology of a Cretaceous desert” by Kellner, Alexander W. A.; Weinschütz, Luiz C.; Holgado, Borja; Bantim, Renan A. M.; Sayão, Juliana M. and published in the Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências.

31 08, 2019

The Lost Kingdom of the Purbeck Group

By | August 31st, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

The Lost Kingdom of The Purbeck Group

Our thanks to Thomas for sending into us the third and final article that he has compiled over the summer holidays.  Thomas has chosen to feature the biota associated with the Lower Cretaceous deposits of the Purbeck Group of south-eastern England.

The Purbeck Group consists of limestone, mudstones and evaporites representing a series of freshwater, brackish and marine environments laid down in the Upper Jurassic and into the Early Cretaceous, approximately 145 to 139 million years ago.  The fossils associated with these sedimentary rocks provide evidence of changing palaeoenvironments and also of faunal turnover, including a record of different types of dinosaur.

This world is not talked about often but is very interesting for at some point during the Late Jurassic allosauroids became extinct in the British Isles only to return sometime in the Early Cretaceous (around 140-139 million years ago).  Falling sea levels are thought to have contributed to the reintroduction of these theropods to their former territory.  During their absence, tyrannosauroids evolved to fill the niche left by the allosauroids, although in the Jurassic, they were not apex predators.

Let’s Meet the Dinosaur Fauna of this Lost Kingdom

  • Nuthetes destructor – known from extremely fragmentary fossil material, possibly a dromaeosaurid or perhaps a member of the Tyrannosauroidea (Proceratosauridae?).  The size of this dinosaur is unknown, although based on measurements of the anterior portion of the partial dentary associated with this species, a length of approximately 1.6 metres has been speculated.
  • Echinodon becklesii – represented by isolated teeth, one fragmentary skull and a handful of isolated jaw bones, this dinosaur is thought to be a member of the Heterodontosauridae.  It was a relatively small dinosaur with a body length of approximately 60 centimetres.
  • Owenodon hoggii – regarded as an ornithopod and known from a badly crushed right dentary found at Durleston Bay (Dorset) in 1860.  Hind limb material from near Speeton, (Yorkshire), recovered from Berriasian-aged deposits and a single tooth from Spain have also been tentatively assigned to O. hoggii.  The size of Owenodon remains unknown but it has been suggested that it could have been around 6 metres long.  Its taxonomic position remains uncertain.  When first described in the mid 1870’s it was thought the fossils represented a type of Iguanodon.

A Life Reconstruction of the Ornithopod Owenodon hoggii

Life reconstruction Owenodon hoggii.

A reconstruction of Owenodon hoggii.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Undiagnostic Specimens

The Purbeck Limestone Group has also yielded a variety of other dinosaur fossils.   For example, a single, beautifully preserved tooth and a partial tail bone (caudal vertebra), which represent an armoured dinosaur.  These fossils lack any specific autapomorphies (distinct features or traits), they are regarded as indeterminate, although it could be speculated that these fragmentary fossils represent a member of the Nodosauridae family, possibly a member of the subfamily Polacanthinae.  A single, partial metacarpal from a sauropod has also been found.

Thrombolites – Preserved Evidence of Ancient Microbial Communities are Associated with the Purbeck Group Limestones

Thromobolite structures are associated with the Purbect Group

A thrombolite around a former tree stump (fossil forest, Lulworth, Dorset).  Preserved in the limestone – evidence of microbial communities that formed around tree stumps and other organic debris.   This photograph was probably taken at the fossil forest ledges that lie to the east of Lulworth Cove.

Picture Credit: University of Southampton

Numerous trace fossils consisting of dinosaur tracks have been identified.  Footprint fossils suggest  the presence of other types of dinosaurs such as small ornithopods within the Purbeck Group ecosystem, there is even a track-way which may have conceivably been left by the “Purbeck giant tyrannosauroid”.

The Purbeck Giant Tyrannosauroid

Dinosaur tracks (natural casts), along with a single metatarsal bone indicate the presence of large theropods.  Classifying this material has proved difficult.  It has been suggested that these trace fossils and the body fossil (single foot bone), could represent a member of the Tyrannosauroidea.  This theropod superfamily is now known to have been both geographically and temporally wild spread during the Late Jurassic and the Early Cretaceous.

Large Theropod Metatarsal (Purbeck Group)

A large metatarsal (foot bone) - the Purbeck Giant.

The “Purbeck Giant”, a single theropod metatarsal.

Picture Credit: NHM Data Portal

Evidence linking this fossil to the Maniraptora is limited.  Based on comparative studies of other theropod toe bones, it has been estimated that the “Purbeck giant” could have been around 6.7 metres long with a hip height of approximately 1.9 metres.  To put into perspective why the “Purbeck giant” can’t be a maniraptoran, comparative analysis based on the foot bones of members of the Maniraptora suggest that this toe bone represents a maniraptoran that would have measured in excess of 9 metres in length.  The fossil bone (metatarsal III), could have come from a tyrannosauroid.  Until the arrival of the carcharodontosaurids in this part of western Europe, the “Purbeck giant” was most likely the apex predator.   This specimen was collected from Durlston Bay on the Isle of Purbeck (Lulworth Formation subdivision of the Purbeck Group).

Outdated Reconstructions of the “Purbeck Giant” and Neovenator compared to a Human and Nuthetes

Purbeck Group theropods.

A scale drawing showing some of the theropods associated with the Purbeck Group.  Neovenator (grey), “Purbeck giant” light red, Nuthetes (N. destructor) dark red.  Note scale bar = 1 metre.

Picture Credit: Eotyrannu5 (Dan Folkes)

When allosauroids (carcharodontosaurids), recolonised what was to become the southern British Isles, there may have been a faunal turnover event with the carcharodontosaurids replacing members of the Tyrannosauroidea as apex and secondary predators.  The youngest strata associated with the Purbeck Group (the Durlston Formation), partly overlaps with the Ashdown Formation of the Wealden Group (both Berriasian in age).  The dinosaur fossils associated with the Ashdown Formation and the younger elements that between them form the Hastings Subgroup, represent a different dinosaur fauna than what is associated with the Purbeck Group.

Neovenator salerii – Known from the Isle of Wight (Barremian Stage)

A model of Neovenator.

“New Hunter” from the Isle of Wight – N. salerii.  Did these types of theropod dinosaur replace the Tyrannosauridea in western Europe?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The climate at the time would have been like the Late Jurassic and it gradually became more temperate.  The fossil forest ledges, preserved east of Lulworth Cove, represent an interesting and integral part of this ecosystem.  Imagine a coastal conifer forest, now cover the floor of it in mosses and algae and dried up seaweed.  The ingress of the tides permitted bacterial colonies to form large doughnut-shaped concretions around many tree stumps, these structures, termed thromobolites, can be observed today.  Some of these circular structures are big enough for a person to sit in.

Fossils of Mammals

The sedimentary rocks associated with the Purbeck Group has also yielded fossils of many other types of vertebrate including fragmentary jaws and teeth of several types of Early Cretaceous mammal: Early Placental Mammals Identified.  It is likely that pterosaurs were present, the fossil record of flying reptiles is particularly poor, but tracks preserved in sediments that represent intertidal flats have been ascribed to the ichnogenus Purbeckopus pentadactylus and these tracks suggest the presence of large pterosaurs.

The speed in which the carcharodontosaurids outcompeted tyrannosauroids, like the “Purbeck giant”, might lead to the conclusion that carcharodontosaurids were more successful, efficient and effective predators than either the Pantyrannosauria, a recently proposed clade consisting of all those theropods related to T. rex and Dilong paradoxus but not including Proceratosaurus bradleyi and the Proceratosauridae.  Owenodon was a bit like a blend between Camptosaurus and Mantellisaurus – fast but still of decent size.  Nuthetes would have mainly hunted the mammals, reptiles, baby dinosaurs and Echinodon.

Our thanks to Thomas for sending in the information which helped us to compile this article.

To read an article published in 2018, which provides information on the discovery of sauropod tracks on the Isle of Purbeck: Dorset Dinosaur Tracks Discovered

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