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27 03, 2020

Recommended Reading – Dinosaurs

By | March 27th, 2020|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Recommended Reading – “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”

With an estimated one quarter of the world’s population currently in lockdown and not able to get out and about, team members at Everything Dinosaur have been providing lots of support and assistance.  As we are unable to visit schools or to work in museums, we have ensured that our huge range of dinosaur and fossil teaching materials remain accessible to all those teachers, parents and guardians attempting to home educate.

However, we have also been asked to recommend suitable prehistoric animal themed reading materials.  So, in this spirit, the first publication we shall highlight is the excellent “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”, written by the highly talented American palaeontologist and geologist Donald R. Prothero, adjunct professor of geological sciences at California State Polytechnic University (Pomona, California).

The Front Cover of “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”

"The Story of the Dinosaursin 25 Discoveries".

Front cover of the new book by Professor Donald R. Prothero “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Our Book Review

Team members were lucky enough to be sent an advance copy of this new book.  Having read it, we produced a review and put this on our blog site in December (2019).

Our review can be found here: Everything Dinosaur reviews “The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries”.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This book tells the fascinating story of how our understanding of the Dinosauria has changed and evolved from the early days of the science of palaeontology through to some of the latest research involving dinosaur colouration and inferred social behaviours.  Dinosaur fans will be delighted with this latest offering from Columbia University Press and Everything Dinosaur highly recommends this new publication.”

This book can be acquired from the Columbia University Press website: Columbia University Press.   The search function on the Columbia University Press website can be used to find other books authored by Donald R. Prothero.

Whilst much of the world is in lockdown, it might be prudent and indeed opportune to catch up with some reading.

Stay safe, keep well.

26 03, 2020

Late Cretaceous Southern United States Had “Raptors” Too

By | March 26th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Dineobellator notohesperus – A Velociraptorine with Extra Attitude!

Scientists have described a new species of “raptor” from the Late Cretaceous of New Mexico.  Described from fragmentary remains, this two-metre-long carnivore was related to Velociraptor.  It may have been roughly the same size as the Mongolian genus, but it probably was even more agile with a stronger grip.  Its discovery suggests that the dromaeosaurids were diversifying right up to the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Life Reconstruction Dineobellator notohesperus (Maastrichtian of New Mexico)

Dineobellator Life Reconstruction

A trio of the newly described dromaeosaurid from the Late Cretaceous of New Mexico (Dineobellator) gather at a waterhole.  The titanosaur Alamosaurus passes by in the background and in the distance a tyrannosaur is approaching.

Picture Credit: Sergey Krasovskiy

Writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, the researchers from The University of Pennsylvania and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, describe a partial, skeleton excavated from the Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness of New Mexico, found within a few metres above the base of the Naashoibito Member.  The coarse sandstone deposits are notoriously difficult to date, these sediments were deposited towards the end of the Cretaceous between 70 and 66.3 million years ago (Maastrichtian faunal stage).

Fossil material includes parts of the skull, elements from the jaws, fragments of vertebrae, tail bones (caudal vertebrae), one rib with other pieces of rib and limb bones including a nearly complete right upper arm bone (humerus) and a nearly complete right ulna (bone from the forearm).  The first fossilised remains were found in 2008, subsequent field work carried out in 2009, 2015 and 2016 yielded more fossil material, mostly very fragmentary in nature.  It is believed all the fossil material, including a claw from the right hand, represents the remains of a single dinosaur.

A Skeletal Reconstruction of Dineobellator notohesperus

Known fossil material and skeletal reconstruction of Dineobellator.

A silhouette and postulated skeleton of Dineobellator (known fossil material in white).

Picture Credit: Jasinski et al/Scientific Reports

A Small but Dangerous Dinosaur

Dineobellator notohesperus is the first dromaeosaurid to be described from the southern United States.  It would have lived in the south of the Cretaceous landmass of Laramidia.  Although no evidence of feathers has been found, the ulna shows evidence of a row of small rounded pits in the bone, interpreted as anchor points for large feathers on the arm (ulna papillae).  Analysis of the forelimbs suggest that Dineobellator had stronger arms with a more powerful grip.  A study of the tail bones suggest that the tail had greater movement which would have made this dinosaur adept at making sharp turns and agile changes of direction.  The researchers suggest these anatomical traits provide an insight into how this small theropod hunted and behaved.

The researchers, which include Dr Steven Jasinski (Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania), postulate that Dineobellator was an active predator that occupied a discrete ecological niche in the food chain whilst living in the shadow of Tyrannosaurus rex.  The newest North American “raptor” Dineobellator notohesperus is pronounced dih-nay-oh-bell-ah-tor noh-toh-hes-per-us and the genus name comes from the native Navajo word “Diné”, a reference to the Navajo Nation and the Latin word “bellator” which means warrior.  The trivial name has been erected to acknowledge the location of the fossil find.  The word “noto” is from the Greek meaning southern and “hesper” the Greek for western.  This is an acknowledgement that Dineobellator roamed the south-western part of the United States.  In addition, Hesperus is a reference to a Greek god, the personification of the evening star (Venus) and by extension “western”.

Dr Jasinski has already had a considerable impact on the Dromaeosauridae family.  Back in 2015, Everything Dinosaur reported on the formal description of Saurornitholestes sullivani, a dinosaur named by Steven Jasinski whilst a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania.  To read more about S. sullivaniSniffing Out a New Dinosaur Species.

An Illustration of Saurornitholestes sullivani

Saurornitholestes sullivani illustrated

An agile dinosaur, an illustration of Saurornitholestes sullivani.  Although the fossil material associated with this species was found in New Mexico, S. sullivani lived several million years earlier than Dineobellator notohesperus.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Tough Life for a Tough Dinosaur

A phylogenetic analysis undertaken by the research team places Dineobellator within the Velociraptorinae subfamily of the Dromaeosauridae.  Other Maastrichtian “raptors” known from North America are few and far between (Acheroraptor and Dakotaraptor – both from the Hell Creek Formation).  The discovery of Dineobellator suggests that dromaeosaurids were still diversifying at the end of the Cretaceous and as an velociraptorine, its fossils lend further weight to the idea that faunal interchange between Asian and North American dinosaurs took place sometime during the Campanian/Maastrichtian.

It is not known whether Dineobellator notohesperus was a pack hunter.  The fossilised remains do indicate that this was one very tough dinosaur but it did not have everything its own way.  A rib shows a deformity, suggesting that this bone was broken, but the animal suffered this trauma a while before it died as the break is healed.  Intriguingly, the scientists identified a prominent gouge mark preserved on the hand claw (manual ungual).  This gouge mark, which measures nearly a centimetre long, terminates in a small depression.  The scientists suggest that this damage was not caused by disease or by any process associated with the preservation of the fossil bones.  The team suggest that this was an injury that occurred close to, or at the time of this dinosaur’s demise.

The researchers speculate that this Dineobellator received an injury in a fight with another Dineobellator or perhaps this damage to its hand claw was inflicted upon it by another type of predatory theropod.

Views of the Hand Claw of  Dineobellator notohesperus Showing Damage Interpreted as a Wound Inflicted by Another Theropod Dinosaur

The manual ungual of Dineobellator.

Views of the hand claw of Dineobellator.  The right manual ungual of Dineobellator notohesperus (I) lateral view, with (J) a silhouette of the transverse plane of the right manual ungual near the distal end.  Image (K) shows the claw in media view with the dashed area highlighted in (K) showing the gouge mark (L).  The red arrow indicates the pathology.  Scale bars equal 1 mm, please note (L) is not to scale.

Picture Credit: Jasinski et al/Scientific Reports with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper: “New Dromaeosaurid Dinosaur (Theropoda, Dromaeosauridae) from New Mexico and Biodiversity of Dromaeosaurids at the end of the Cretaceous” by Steven E. Jasinski, Robert M. Sullivan and Peter Dodson published in Scientific Reports.

25 03, 2020

Everything Dinosaur – Still Operating Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

By | March 25th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur – Far from Extinct

Dear Customers and Friends of Everything Dinosaur,

We are living in unprecedented times.  The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has global implications, we would once again, like to convey our thoughts and sympathies to all those people who have been affected by this virus.

Everything Dinosaur would like to extend our well wishes to each and every one of our customers and friends.  We want to pass on our thoughts and sympathies to all those people who have been affected by this outbreak.  This is a very difficult time for all of us.  We would like to briefly update you on the current situation at Everything Dinosaur.

We are far from extinct!  Whilst we are constantly reviewing advice received from the UK Government, the Chamber of Commerce and our Dept of Trade and Industry account manager, for the time being at least, our mail order business is operating as normal.

Business as Usual for Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur taking steps to ensure business as usual.

Everything Dinosaur has put in place a number of measures that means the company can operate the mail order business.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Customers Can Still Place Orders!

Everything Dinosaur is still operating!  The plans we put in place weeks ago have put us in a reasonable position when it comes to our mail order business.  Whilst we will always heed the advice of the Government and the Chamber of Commerce, we are still able to operate our mail order business.  Customers can still place orders; we are still despatching and our customers are receiving their parcels.

We don’t have a crystal ball, but because we have lots of contacts in China and elsewhere in the world, team members at Everything Dinosaur quickly became aware of the potential implications if the disease spread outside of Hubei Province (China).  We started to put plans in place back in January (2020), a rolling set of measures to support our staff, our customers, our suppliers and our local community.

Everything Dinosaur Putting Plans In Place to Manage in Difficult Times

Business as Usual at Everything Dinosaur.

Everything Dinosaur working hard to stay on top of the situation.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Preparations and Plans

The United Kingdom and much of the world, may now be in lockdown.  Everything Dinosaur began its preparations on a “just in case scenario” ten weeks ago.

These preparations included:

  • Cutting back on the amount of teaching work undertaken to permit more management time dedicated towards the mail order business.
  • Using stocks (purchased 2018 for outreach science programmes) of alcohol based hand sanitisers (some of which have already been donated to vulnerable members of the local community).
  • Deliberately building up stock of dinosaur models, figures and other items and ensuring that these could be packed and despatched from homes if needed.
  • Building up quantities of packaging supplies to help support the mail order operations.
  • Implementing stringent cleanliness regimes and social distancing.
  • Taking all essential steps to ensure the safety and protection of all Everything Dinosaur team members.
  • Switching shipment delivery addresses to permit stock to remain accessible to Everything Dinosaur team members.
  • Liaising closely with factories in order to put in place contingency plans to ensure continuity of stock.
  • Suspension of all but essential travel, suspension of all face-to-face meetings.
  • Postponement of outreach science programmes and dinosaur themed workshops.

In the last three weeks we have received a total of eighteen FEEFO reviews all of them rated Everything Dinosaur as a 5-star service provider.

We are still continuing to maintain the very highest levels of customer service.

Helping Out at Home

Lots of our customers have been in touch, with many of our customers having to stay at home, they have been looking for products and projects to help get them through these uncertain times.  We are should not overlook the mental health of those persons advised to self-isolate.  A hobby like dinosaur model collecting, model making, replica painting, building dioramas and so forth can play a significant part in helping with well-being.  We are also aware of the large numbers of children currently at home.

Keeping Children Occupied – Dinosaurs for Creative, Imaginative Play

Children playing with Schleich dinosaur and prehistoric animal models.

Children playing with dinosaur and prehistoric animal models.

Picture Credit: Schleich

Free Resources, Downloads, Fact Sheets, Games and Teaching Materials

It has always been our philosophy to support teachers, teaching assistants and home educators.  It is our belief that play is an essential part of childhood and the young people learn more whilst they are having fun.  A new dinosaur is named and described every two weeks or so.  There is always plenty to talk about when it comes to prehistoric animals.  In the light of the current situation, Everything Dinosaur acknowledges that some of our customers have additional needs and we have rolled out a programme of extra support and assistance.

  • Ensuring that everyone, not just schools have access to our free, educational downloads: General Teaching Resources.
  • Reception, nursery and Early Years Foundation Stage (ages 3-6) dinosaur themed teaching resources to download: Early Years Downloads.
  • Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 (ages 6 to 12) dinosaur and fossil themed teaching resources to download: Key Stage 1 and 2 Downloads.
  • Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 (ages 12 to 16) dinosaur and fossil themed teaching resources to download: Key Stage 3 and 4 Downloads.
  • The Everything Dinosaur teaching blog – hundreds of articles featuring advice, hints, lesson plans and other materials: Everything Dinosaur Teaching Blog.
  • In addition, there is this blog site, with over 4, 750 articles and features about prehistoric animals and fossil discoveries.
  • Over the last ten days, Everything Dinosaur has initiated a programme of sending out every day to a lucky customer a free Mojo Fun golden model.
  • Support for our customers with additional needs have been rolled out including surprise free gifts, learning materials and free downloads.
  • Sending out personalised projects and providing one-to-one support for parents of children/young people with an interest in fossils and dinosaurs.
  • Supplying free puzzles, games, top trumps, crosswords as part of a programme to help support families in lockdown.

Everything Dinosaur Has Launched a Programme of Supporting Families at Home

Teaching support from Everything Dinosaur.

Everything Dinosaur providing lots of free resources to support families.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur remains committed to doing all it can to help in the current difficult situation.  For the time being, we are able to operate our mail order business with the minimum of disruption.  Everything Dinosaur is far from extinct!

Keep well, stay safe!

24 03, 2020

CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus (Turntable Tuesday)

By | March 24th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus Turntable Tuesday

Time to pop into our studio and to put the new for 2020 CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus dinosaur model through its paces for “turntable Tuesday”.  Each week, Everything Dinosaur intends to feature a prehistoric animal on the company’s YouTube channel and today, it is the CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus going for a spin.

“Turntable Tuesday” – The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Scale Bajadasaurus

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur on YouTube

The YouTube channel of Everything Dinosaur features lots of videos of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animal figures.  Our aim is to provide model reviews, hints and tips for collectors and to develop videos that provide a useful resource for our customers and for dinosaur fans of all ages.

To see Everything Dinosaur on YouTube and to subscribe: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 Scale Bajadasaurus (B. pronuspinax)

Bajadasaurus was only formally named and scientifically described in February 2019 (although the fossils were found back in 2010), we congratulate the design team at CollectA for being so quick off the mark when it comes to bringing out a figure representing a dinosaur that was described a little over a year ago.  It has been assigned to the Dicraeosauridae family of long-necked dinosaurs, although, these dinosaurs are characterised by their relatively short necks when compared to the related diplodocids such as Apatosaurus, Brontosaurus and Diplodocus.

The CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus with its Bizarre Neck Spines

The CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus dinosaur model.

The new for 2020 CollectA Deluxe1:40 scale Bajadasaurus dinosaur model.  The neck spines (enlarged, paired neural spines) are forward facing and may have had a role in defence against theropod dinosaur attacks.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

If the fossil material has been interpreted correctly, then Bajadasaurus was one of the most bizarre of all the Dinosauria known to science.  The model, and indeed the scientific illustrations of this prehistoric animal have been based on better-known dicraeosaurids.  The huge neural spines, associated with the cervical vertebra assigned to position C5 in the neck of this dinosaur, gave rise to the idea that each neck bone had a pair of enormous, keratin-coated spines which would have acted as a formidable deterrent for any meat-eating dinosaur looking for a meal.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog article about the scientific description of Bajadasaurus pronuspinaxDefensive Dicraeosaurids – the Bizarre Bajadasaurus.

A Very Spiky Sauropod – The CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus Dinosaur Model

The CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus.

CollectA Bajadasaurus dinosaur model (1:40 scale).  A view of the amazing neck spines of this South American dinosaur that lived approximately 14o million years ago.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the CollectA Deluxe Bajadasaurus and the rest of the prehistoric animals in the CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life model range: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life.

23 03, 2020

Discovery of the Oldest Bilaterian – Ikaria wariootia

By | March 23rd, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Meet Your Oldest Ancestor – Ikaria wariootia 

A team of international scientists have identified the first ancestor of animals that show bilateral symmetry, in ancient marine sediment around 555 million years old.  Palaeontologists had predicted that such an organism would be identified in Ediacaran sediments, essentially a creature with a body plan that has been adopted by the majority of the Kingdom Animalia, now thanks to the use of sophisticated three-dimensional laser scans funded by NASA, the “smoking gun” evidence has been found.

A Life Reconstruction of the Earliest Bilaterian Known to Date (I. wariootia)

Ikaria wariootia the earliest known bilaterian.

Ikaria wariootia life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Sohail Wasif/University California Riverside

Ikaria wariootia – The Size of a Rice Grain but a Big Discovery!

Writing in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America”, the researchers, which included scientists from University California Riverside and the South Australian Museum, examined tiny trace fossils, essentially burrows and borings into an ancient Ediacaran seabed (Ediacara Member, South Australia).  Proximal to some of these traces were very small oval impressions.  Thanks to funding from a NASA exobiology grant, the team were able to employ a sophisticated three-dimensional laser scanner to map these depressions in the ancient rock.  Computer-generated images revealed a worm-like organism with a cylindrical body and faintly grooved musculature.  A distinct head and tail were also identified.  This little animal represents the earliest bilaterian, a hugely significant step in the evolution of life on Earth.

The transition from simple, microscopic forms of life to the abundance and variety of complex creatures in the Cambrian remains quite poorly understood.  However, the beautifully preserved remains of soft-bodied organisms, many of which look like nothing alive today, associated with the ancient strata of the Ediacara Hills of South Australia have permitted palaeontologists the opportunity to learn about life on our planet prior to the evolution of hard body parts such as shells and exoskeletons.  Many of the creatures identified from their fossils had bizarre body forms such as the circular Dickinsonia (below), but scientists had predicted that animals with bilateral symmetry would be present in this ecosystem, it was just a question of finding them.

A Circular Impression of an Organism from the Ediacara Hills (South Australia) – Dickinsonia costata Fossil

Dickinsonia costata fossil.

The Ediacaran fossil Dickinsonia costata, specimen P40135 from the collections of the South Australia Museum.

Picture Credit: Dr Alex Liu (Cambridge University)

The development of bilateral symmetry was a critical step in the evolution of animal life, giving organisms the ability to move purposefully and a common, yet successful way to organise their bodies.  In the scientific paper, the research team describe Ikaria wariootia as ranging in size between 2 and 7 millimetres in length and being around 1 to 2.5 millimetres wide.   The largest specimens were about the size of a grain of rice, just the right size to have made the burrows and borings (trace fossils).

The discovery of Ikaria wariootia is consistent with predictions based on modern animal phylogenetics, that the last ancestor of all bilaterians was simple and small and represents a rare link between the Ediacaran and the subsequent record of animal life.  Put simply, I. wariootia is on the same part of the animal family tree as the majority of animals alive today and that includes us (Homo sapiens).

Ikaria wariootia Impressions Preserved in Ancient Marine Sediment

Ikaria wariootia impressions.

Ikaria wariootia impressions preserved in ancient marine sediments.

Picture Credit: Droser Laboratory/University of California Riverside

Commenting on the significance of the discovery, one of the authors of the scientific paper, Scott Evans (University of California Riverside), stated:

“We thought these animals should have existed during this interval [Ediacaran], but always understood they would be difficult to recognise.  Once we had the 3-D scans, we knew that we had made an important discovery.”

Analysis of modern animals and Ediacaran trace fossils predicted that the oldest bilaterians would be very small with simple body plans.  The research team found that the size and shape of Ikaria matched the predictions that had been made with regards to the maker of the trace fossil Helminthoidichnites, indicating sediment displacement and purposeful animal movement.  Importantly, in the Ediacara Member, Helminthoidichnites occurs stratigraphically below classic Ediacara body fossils such as Dickinsonia.  Together, these suggest that Ikaria represents one of the oldest total group bilaterians identified to date, with very little deviation from the characters and traits predicted for their last common ancestor.

In addition, these trace fossils persist into the Phanerozoic Eon (from the Cambrian Period onwards),  providing a critical link between the Ediacaran and Cambrian biota.

A Three-Dimensional Laser Image of a Scan of a Rock Depression Revealing the Body Plan of Ikaria wariootia

Three-dimensional laser scan of an Ikaria wariootia impression.

A three-dimensional laser scan of an Ikaria wariootia impression.

Picture Credit: Droser Laboratory/University of California Riverside

What’s in a Name?

The genus name comes from Ikara, which means “meeting place” in the local Adnyamathanha dialect.  It is the Adnyamathanha term for a grouping of mountains known as Wilpena Pound.  The trivial name comes from Warioota Creek, which runs from the Flinders Ranges to Nilpena Station in the Ediacara Hills.  It may look a fairly simple animal to us, but back in the Ediacaran Ikaria was one of the most complex organisms around.  It burrowed in thin layers of well-oxygenated sand on the ocean floor in search of organic matter, indicating rudimentary sensory abilities.  The depth and curvature of Ikaria represent clearly distinct front and rear ends, supporting the directed movement found in the burrows.  The walls of the burrows preserve evidence of “v-shaped” ridges, which indicate that Ikaria moved by contracting muscles across its body like an earthworm.  This is known as peristaltic locomotion.

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

The scientific paper: “Discovery of the oldest bilaterian from the Ediacaran of South Australia” by Scott D. Evans, Ian V. Hughes, James G. Gehling and Mary L. Droser published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

22 03, 2020

We have Frogspawn in our Office Pond

By | March 22nd, 2020|Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

Frogspawn Laid on 19th March (2020)

These might be challenging times for us humans (Homo sapiens), what with all the concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, but at least for some animals it is business as usual.  We have frogspawn in our office pond!  The first eggs were laid in the early morning of the 19th March.  We normally have frogspawn around the third week of March in our part of the world, the date of laying can vary by a couple of weeks, depending on the weather and the type of winter we have had.  However, the spawning usually takes place around this time of year (third week of March).

The First Frogspawn Spotted in the Office Pond Early on the 19th March 2020

Frogspawn in the office pond at Everything Dinosaur (March 19th 2020).

The first batch of frogspawn laid in the office pond (March 19th 2020).  The photograph was taken a few minutes after 8am in the morning.  From the size of the frogspawn we think that these are the eggs from a single female and that they had only just been laid.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Common Frog (Rana temporaria)

We have counted a total of seven frogs in the pond, the majority were males.  We tend to have the males arriving first and the females taking up residence a little time later (after all, the females tend to be pounced upon as soon as they enter the pond).  The frogs are all Common frogs (Rana temporaria), their name is a bit of a misnomer these days, as like many amphibians, they are becoming increasingly rare.

More Frogspawn was Laid that Morning (March 19th 2020)

Frogspawn spotted in the office pond - March 19th 2020.

More frogspawn laid on the morning of 19th March 2020.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur estimate that the egg masses represent the eggs from two or three females.  We shall continue to carefully monitor the pond (taking care not to disturb the frogs too much), to see if more eggs will be laid.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As we cope with the current restrictions on our lives due to the coronavirus crisis, we will be able to observe how the tadpoles are getting on – something for us to think about in these challenging times.  At least the frogs are behaving as normal, for them at least, it is business as usual.

21 03, 2020

Everything Dinosaur and Fossil Workshops Postponed

By | March 21st, 2020|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur and Fossil Workshops Postponed

The planned dinosaur and fossil themed workshops that were scheduled to take place this weekend (Saturday, 21st March, 2020) have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.  These events had proved to be extremely popular but with the growing concern over coronavirus, staff at Rochdale Borough Council responsible for the “Dippy the Dinosaur” exhibition, have reluctantly decided to postpone these workshops along with all the other related exhibition events and activities.

Everything Dinosaur Was Conducting a Series of Family Themed Workshops and Other Activities

Everything Dinosaur workshops cancelled for March 21st (2020).

Everything Dinosaur’s dinosaur and fossil themed workshops planned for the “Dippy on Tour” exhibition have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A statement posted on the Borough Council’s “The Dippy Experience” website explains the reasoning behind the suspension of planned events related to the dinosaur exhibition:

“In light of the current situation we’ve taken the difficult decision to suspend Dippy in Rochdale.  The health and safety of our residents and visitors must come first and now is the time to take a pause.  We will review the possibility of reopening Dippy on Tour in Rochdale in the upcoming months.”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Families are at the centre of everything we do and this is particularly important during these challenging times.  We have been monitoring the situation very closely and we fully understand and support the decision taken.  The hands-on nature of our fossil handling activities would make operating the workshops extremely difficult given the current restrictions.  However, we have moth-balled all the various activities that we had planned and prepared, these will be stored at one of our warehouses, so that before “Dippy” leaves the northwest of England, we could deliver the workshops we promised.”

A Chance to Reschedule the Dinosaur and Fossil Workshops

A spokesperson from Rochdale Borough Council thanked the team members at Everything Dinosaur for their efforts so far and stated that the Council would love to welcome Everything Dinosaur back, rescheduling later on in the year.

We shall see how things go, but dates in our busy diaries can be switched around and changed over to accommodate the eager young palaeontologists of the northwest of England.

20 03, 2020

Everything Dinosaur Continuing to Support Schools and Home Educators

By | March 20th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Continuing to Support Schools and Home Educators

At this time of uncertainty due to the coronavirus outbreak, Everything Dinosaur team members want to let you know how we are responding to the recent announcement about school closures. Our hearts go out to all those affected globally by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.  We are doing all we can to assist the education sector.  Everything Dinosaur is currently operating as normal and we intend to provide regular updates in what is a very fluid situation.  We are working very hard to limit the disruption to schools, nurseries and other academic bodies.

Everything Dinosaur has released the following statement:

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Helping to Support the Education Sector and Home Schooling

Everything Dinosaur supporting schools and home educators.

Everything Dinosaur team members working hard to support the educational sector and home schooling at this difficult time (coronavirus outbreak 2020).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The website links to gain access to our free teaching resources and other educational materials:

In addition, this blog site has posted up news stories, information about fossils, features about dinosaurs, evolution, natural selection, new theories and articles on other science related subject areas, every day since May 2007.  This is a resource that has over 4,750 articles, which are all free to access, helping to provide additional materials for teachers, teaching assistants, academics and home schoolers.

Furthermore, our hard-working and enthusiastic staff handle numerous email enquiries each day, providing advice, free prehistoric animal fact sheets and other resources.

Everything Dinosaur is working extremely hard to help support universities, colleges, nurseries, other academic bodies and home educators.  We continue to provide free of charge, a wide range of fossil and dinosaur themed teaching resources and learning materials.

19 03, 2020

Canadian Fish Fossil Lends Palaeontologists a Helping Hand

By | March 19th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Fish Fossil Helps to Demonstrate How Fins Turned into Hands

A team of international scientists including researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide (South Australia) and the Université du Québec à Rimouski (Canada), have scanned the fossilised remains of an ancient fish with tetrapod tendencies to reveal evidence of how the limbs of fish evolved into the terrestrial appendages of land animals.  The fossilised remains date from the Late Devonian and are approximately 380 million years old.  The fossil is a specimen of Elpistostege (E. watsoni), the discovery of a much more complete skeleton of this strange animal gave the researchers the opportunity to analyse the body plan of this predator in much greater detail than previously.

A Near Complete Specimen of Elpistostege watsoni with Accompanying Line Drawing

Elpistostege watsoni fossil with interpretive drawing and life reconstruction.

The near complete Elpistostege specimen with line drawing showing the outline of the skeleton and a life reconstruction.  The research was conducted on a fossil specimen that had been discovered in 2010.

Picture Credit: South Australia Leads/Flinders University

Strategic Professor in Palaeontology (Finders University), Professor John Long, announced the discovery of the near complete fossil specimen in the journal “Nature”.  Commenting on the significance of the fossil find, he stated that the specimen “reveals extraordinary new information about the evolution of the vertebrate hand.”

High Energy X-Rays to Assess Fin Structure

The research team bombarded the fossil specimen with high energy X-rays to reveal the presence of limb and wrist bones hidden in the fins.  Evidence of finger-like bones could also be made out.

The Professor added:

“This is the first time that we have unequivocally discovered fingers locked in a fin with fin-rays in any known fish.  The articulating digits in the fin are like the finger bones found in the hands of most animals.  This finding pushes back the origin of digits in vertebrates to the fish level and tells us that the patterning for the vertebrate hand was first developed deep in evolution, just before fishes left the water.”

A Life Reconstruction of the Late Devonian Elpistostege

Elpistostege life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of Elpistostege.

Picture Credit: Miguasha National Park/Johanne Kerr and François Miville-Deschênes

The high resolution scans revealed the presence of a humerus (upper arm bone), the radius and ulna (the two bones from the forearm), carpal bones from the wrist and the presence of bones that resembled digits.  The fossil specimen measures 1.57 metres in length.  It comes from exposures of the Escuminac Formation located in the Canadian province of Quebec.  The strata represent a brackish water, estuarine environment and palaeontologists have long speculated that such a habitat may have been one of the driving forces behind the evolution of limbs capable of terrestrial locomotion in certain types of ancient fish.  The teeth in the broad jaw suggest that Elpistostege was an apex hypercarnivore, but whether it fed on other fish or ventured out onto land to grab insects and arthropods on the shore (as indicated by the position of the eyes at the top of the head suggesting an ambush predator), remains unknown.

Co-author of the scientific paper Richard Cloutier (Université du Québec à Rimouski), commented that over the last ten years or so, fossils representing the fish-to-tetrapod transition had helped palaeontologists to gain a better understanding about this important stage in vertebrate evolution.

He added:

“The origin of digits relates to developing the capability for the fish to support its weight in shallow water and for short trips out on land.  The increased number of small bones in the fin allows more planes of flexibility to spread out the weight through the fin.”

In previous studies, Dr Cloutier had postulated that Elpistostege might represent the most primitive tetrapod known to science, an accolade currently held by the closely related Tiktaalik, fossils of which come from northern Canada (Ellesmere Island).

Australian Professor John Long has dedicated much of his academic career to studying Devonian fish and the early stages of the evolution of the modern tetrapod body plan.

Here are some blog articles that provide more details of his research: The Early Evolutionary History of Sharks.

A Placoderm “Platypus”: Ancient Placoderm from Australia.

18 03, 2020

Every Day Everything Dinosaur Will Give Away a Lucky Charm

By | March 18th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Golden Rat Lucky Charm Giveaway with Everything Dinosaur

Things might be a little difficult right now due to the coronavirus outbreak, but team members at Everything Dinosaur are determined to keep cheerful and are trying to spread a little joy and happiness in these challenging times.  Take for example, an initiative started this week to include a Mojo Fun golden rat lucky charm as a free gift to one Everything Dinosaur customer each day.

The Beautiful Mojo Fun Golden Rat Lucky Charm Key Ring

Mojo Fun lucky charm key ring - golden rat.

The beautiful Mojo Fun lucky charm rat key ring.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur Giving Away Mojo Fun Golden Rat Lucky Charms

In the Chinese lunar calendar, the year 2020 is the year of rat.  The rat in the Chinese zodiac is seen as a sign of surplus, good prospects and wealth.  The rat is strongly linked to the family in Chinese culture (a consequence of this rodent’s ability to breed rapidly), rats are seen as successful, adaptable but happy to lead a quiet, peaceful existence.

Each year for the past few years, Mojo Fun has produced a special, limited edition replica of the animal represented by the new Chinese year.  These figures are highly prized and difficult to obtain, but at Everything Dinosaur, we have decided to include one of these beautiful models in a parcel every day until our stock runs out.

Everything Dinosaur Giving Away Lucky Charms

Everything Dinosaur lucky charm giveaway.

Everything Dinosaur is giving away a golden rat lucky charm key ring to one customer every day until the stock runs out.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We had intended to give away these stunning little models once the new for 2020 Mojo Fun prehistoric animal models arrived, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, these models, like a lot of other items have been delayed.  So, we thought we would cheer everybody up by sending one of these special figures out to a customer every day for as long as our stocks last.  For us, it’s all about spreading a little happiness and joy at this difficult time.”

Take a Photograph – Share the Smile!

In addition, we are asking all those customers who receive a golden rat, to take a picture of their lucky charm next to their purchases from Everything Dinosaur.  If they email the picture to us, we will then post it up onto our social media pages so that we can share the joy a little.

Take a Photograph of Your Gift Next to the Items from Everything Dinosaur – Share the Smile

Everything Dinosaur giving away Mojo Fun golden rat key rings.

Everything Dinosaur giving away Mojo Fun golden rat lucky charms.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

As a valued customer, we hope this gift brings a little happiness and we have asked recipients to take a picture of their gift alongside the prehistoric animals purchased from Everything Dinosaur.  If the photograph is then emailed to us, we will post the picture up onto our social media pages so that everyone can share in the fun.

To view the Mojo Fun range of prehistoric animal models and replicas available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Model Range.

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