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16 10, 2017

“Rediscovering T. rex” Television Documentary

By | October 16th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

T. rex to Appear in a New Television Documentary

Everything Dinosaur has received the first preview picture for the television documentary that attempts to bust a few myths when it comes to the most iconic of the Dinosauria – Tyrannosaurus rex.  The one-hour documentary is a joint production between Talesmith and the leading North American producer, Cineflix Productions.  The programme, which is to be presented by naturalist Chris Packham, has been jointly commissioned by the BBC, France TV and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).  The working title is “Rediscovering T. rex“.

“Rediscovering T. rex” – A New Television Documentary

Naturalist Chris Packham and a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Chris Packham next to “Tristan” at the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin).

Picture Credit: BBC/Talesmith/Cineflix/Gordon Welters

Lifting the Lid on Tyrannosaurus rex

The television programme, which is believed to be scheduled in the UK for the Christmas period, aims to “lift the lid” on the most famous of all the meat-eating dinosaurs.  The programme makers state that Chris Packham will look at the fossil evidence and examine ground-breaking research to piece together the anatomy and potential behaviour of the most infamous predator to have ever walked the Earth.

Life-long dinosaur fan Chris, will embark on a globe-trotting journey to discover the truth behind centuries of inaccuracy and misrepresentation fuelled by misconceptions and gaps in our scientific understanding, gaps, which have often been exacerbated when Tyrannosaurus rex is featured in the media.  It seems that films like “Jurassic Park” and “One Million Years B.C.” have done T. rex a great disservice.

Viewers can expect to see the most accurate three-dimensional CGI depiction of Tyrannosaurus rex made to date (that’s what the programme makers promise).

Alongside the presenter, the other “star” of the show is the beautifully preserved T. rex fossil specimen from The Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin), known as “Tristan Otto”.  These fossilised bones, representing a single, sub-adult animal, consist of some 170 individual bones, making “Tristan Otto” one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever found.  Originating from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana and discovered in 2010, it took over four years to excavate the bones and prepare them for mounting in the museum.  Incidentally, this dinosaur is privately owned, the name “Tristan Otto” comes from the sons of the two owners and it is the largest original T. rex skeleton on display in Europe.

To read an earlier article by Everything Dinosaur on the forthcoming television documentary: New T. rex Documentary Coming to the BBC

15 10, 2017

Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

By | October 15th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Education and Life-long Learning at the Frankfurter Buchmesse

Everything Dinosaur team members found lots of inspiring ideas at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair.  This huge event, showcasing the world of publishing, attracted some 286,000 visitors over the course of the five days that it was held.  Exhibitors from over one hundred countries took part, it was a good job the event organisers had taken so much care and attention over the site layout, despite there being so much to see and do, congestion in the halls was kept to a minimum.

Visitors Attending the 2017 Frankfurter Buchmesse

Visitors to the trade fair.

286,000 visitors attended the 2017 Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Relaxed and Friendly Atmosphere

The spacious walk ways between the stands and exhibition areas, gave Everything Dinosaur team members the opportunity to peruse several displays and to get to grips with some of the latest teaching innovations.  Having heeded the advice of the event organisers, our pull along cabin cases were left in the hotel, this enabled us to pass through the numerous security checks quite quickly.  This was appreciated, as once again, there were so many stands and sectors on our “to do” list.

One of the sectors visited, was the area of the show dedicated to education – the “Hot Spot Education” zone.  It was easy to find and well sign-posted.  Once there, team members were able to look at the latest whiteboard technology and other classroom based interactive teaching hardware.

A Visit to the “Hot Spot Education” Area was a Highlight of the Exhibition

A section dedicated to the educational sector.

The “Education Hot Spot” area.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Hot Spot Education”

Lots of innovative teaching technologies were on display, alongside more traditional teaching methods all aimed at inspiring teachers and pupils alike.  It was pleasing to see a number of exhibitors tackling the special education needs market and Everything Dinosaur staff enjoyed trying out some of the kinaesthetic themed teaching materials as well as the digital technologies such as the VR (virtual reality) goggles.  The “Hot Spot Education” zone provided lots of inspiring ideas and insights, particularly when it came to the latest trends in learning aids.

“Professional and Scientific Information Hot Spot”

Located in the same hall as the education zone, the “professional and scientific information hot spot” catered for the needs of academics and librarians.  There were lots of specialist texts to peruse and an astounding number of academic publications to review, on just about every subject that we could think of.  These areas were certainly very vibrant and we enjoyed examining a number of new publications, particularly those orientated towards the English national curriculum and the concept of working scientifically.  During our, all too brief visit, we even found several books on prehistoric animals.  We just couldn’t help ourselves, we had to sit down in one of the many handy seating areas and indulge in our passion for reading about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric life.

A Dinosaur Book on Display

Dinosaur Books at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

A dinosaur book spotted at the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

14 10, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Prepares for TetZooCon 2017

By | October 14th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Slides Prepared for TetZooCon 2017

Not long to go now until the fourth, annual Tetrapod zoology conference (TetZooCon), opens its doors.  The conference is on Saturday, October 21st and once again the organisers have put on an amazing and varied agenda.  Everything Dinosaur is proud to be associated with this fantastic event and team members are busy finishing off the slides to be played in between the presentations, seminars, palaeoart activities and conference speaker slots.

Everything Dinosaur Prepares Slides for Use at TetZooCon 2017

TetZooCon 2017 Everything Dinosaur slides.

TetZooCon slide 3 from Everything Dinosaur (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

What is TetZooCon?

TetZooCon, is an annual meeting themed around the contents and remit of the world-famous blog “Tetrapod Zoology”, currently in its twelfth year, the blog having started at around the same time as Everything Dinosaur’s blog began.  Written by vertebrate palaeontologist and author Darren Naish, “Tetrapod Zoology” covers topics as diverse as turtle evolution, the life and times of Secretary Birds (Sagittarius serpentarius), fossil discoveries, animals of myth and legend as well as model collecting.  TetZooCon provides an opportunity for fans of cryptozoology, palaeontology, zoology and evolutionary history to indulge in their passion.  Co-organiser, talented artist John Conway, has used his considerable influence to bring together some of the great and the good in scientific illustration and a number of palaeoart workshops and book signings have been organised as part of the day of activities.  You might even be able to snap up a few signed prints too.

Everything Dinosaur Stocks a Lot of Models

TetZooCon 2017 Everything Dinosaur slides.

TetZooCon slide 2 from Everything Dinosaur (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Bigger and Better Than Ever

The fourth annual TetZooCon promises to be bigger and better than ever.  Over 120 people are expected to attend this event, held at the prestigious central London venue appropriately called “The Venue”, located on Malet Street, WC1E.  Doors open at 9 am and the packed programme includes talks on the history of zoos, marine reptiles of the Mesozoic, an update on Thylacine research and an insight into the latest developments in the fascinating world of cryptozoology.

For further information about this year’s exciting TetZooCon: TetZooCon Tickets and Conference Information

Everything Dinosaur Highlighting the Company’s Range of Replicas

TetZooCon 2017 Everything Dinosaur slides.

TetZooCon slide 1 from Everything Dinosaur (2017).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur Supports TetZooCon

Everything Dinosaur has provided a range of wonderful, prehistoric animal themed goodies to help support this year’s event. These will be available as prizes at the end of conference quiz.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“TetZooCon is getting bigger and better each year!  Fans of palaeoart, palaeontology, biology and other related academic disciplines can feel a bit intimidated by the rarefied atmosphere of many scientific conferences, but not so with TetZooCon  This annual gathering brings together genuine enthusiasts with shared passions and as such, it is a unique event.  We congratulate the organisers for compiling such an amazing agenda and we compliment all those involved, helping to educate, inform and inspire the next generation of scientists.”

13 10, 2017

Ankylosaurus Not Your Typical Ankylosaur

By | October 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Ankylosaurus magniventris – Not Your Archetypal Ankylosaur

A newly-published study has provided fresh insights on Ankylosaurus.  This Ornithischian dinosaur, a contemporary of Tyrannosaurus rex in the Late Cretaceous of North America, is perhaps, one of the best-known of all the armoured dinosaurs in the minds of the public, however, this dinosaur star of stage and screen with such a high profile in the popular media, has actually a very fragmentary fossil record, when compared to its close relatives.  Palaeontologist and Ankylosauridae expert Victoria Arbour (Royal Ontario Museum), in collaboration with Jordan Mallon (Canadian Museum of Nature), writing in the Canadian open access science journal “Facets”, suggest that the dinosaur that gave its name to the family Ankylosauridae, is a very atypical member of this armoured dinosaur family.

A Model of an Ankylosaurus

An Ankylosaurus model.

 The armoured dinosaur – Ankylosaurus magniventris – not your typical armoured dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Examining Previously Unidentified Elements of the Holotype

Ankylosaurus (A. magniventris), is known from only a handful of fossil specimens excavated from Upper Cretaceous deposits in Montana, Wyoming, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  The researchers examined previously unidentified and not described fossil fragments associated with the holotype fossil AMNH 5895 (from Montana).  In addition, they revisited earlier research (Carpenter 2004), making further observations as to body mass, arrangement of the body armour, size of the tail club and the anatomy of Ankylosaurus.

Tail Club Comparison Anodontosaurus Compared to Ankylosaurus

Ankylosaur tail club comparisons.

Ankylosaur tail club comparisons (Anodontosaurus versus Ankylosaurus).

Picture Credit: “Facets Journal”

The picture above shows a comparison between the tail club of Anodontosaurus lambei, and the closely related Ankylosaurus magniventris (dorsal view).  The tail bones and club of Ankylosaurus are poorly known, although the specimen number AMNH 5214 includes a portion of the tail club and a well-preserved, bony knob.  The vertebrae that make up the handle are twice as wide as those corresponding vertebrae making up the handle on the Anodontosaurus club, but they are not longer.  The researchers suggest that the tail of Ankylosaurus may have been proportionately shorter than the tail of Anodontosaurus, or the tail may have had similar overall proportions but the Ankylosaurus tail club was smaller.  The handle vertebrae of Ankylosaurus are unique among ankylosaurids, with U-shaped neural spines in dorsal view compared with the V-shaped neural spines in Anodontosaurus, Euoplocephalus, Pinacosaurus, Talarurus, and most other ankylosaurids.  There may be an upward size limit for ankylosaurid clubs, the shape of the bony knobs (labelled “maj” and “min” for major and minor respectively in the diagram), are different between these two closely related genera, Ankylosaurus magniventris may have had an atypical tail club, one that was not representative of the Ankylosauridae.

One Large Skull Helping to Shape Our Understanding

The largest skull associated with Ankylosaurus is specimen CMN 8880.  It is huge and it was briefly described in 2004 (Carpenter), who regarded the dorsal surface as poorly preserved.  However, the skull was stored on its dorsal surface and it was not turned to permit a proper examination of what would have been the top of the dinosaur’s head.  In Arbour and Mallon’s new paper, they have had the chance to examine the dorsal surface of CMN 8880, which they found to be remarkably well-preserved.  As a result, the scientists have been able to compare and contrast the bony cranial morphology of the top of the skull and confirm that the arrangement of scales and scutes on the top of the skull was very different when compared to other North American ankylosaurids.

The Largest Skull of Ankylosaurus (Specimen Number CMN 8880)

Ankylosaurus cranial material.

Views of the largest Ankylosaurus skull found to date (CMN 8880).

Picture Credit: “Facets Journal”

The picture above shows the skull of CMN 8880, Ankylosaurus magniventris, in (A) dorsal, (B) ventral, (C) left lateral, and (D) right lateral views, note the scale bar equals ten centimetres.  The skull is well preserved on the dorsal and left lateral surfaces. The right lateral surface has caved inwards slightly, the researchers have measured the basal skull length as 671 millimetres, based on these measurements and other material reported in this scientific paper, the researchers were able to confirm that A. magniventris was much larger than other Late Cretaceous armoured dinosaurs.  The scientists reaffirmed the length of this dinosaur at around ten metres.

This review underscores the fact that although Ankylosaurus gave rise to the family name the Ankylosauridae, A. magniventris is far from typical of this family.  The teeth, the nares, the tail club and body size of Ankylosaurus tend to make it stand out from the other Laramidian Ankylosaurines.

Changing Views of Ankylosaurus magniventris

Changing views of Ankylosaurus (dorsal view).

Changing views of Ankylosaurus magniventris over the years.

Picture Credit: “Facets Journal”

In Competition with Edmontonia – Perhaps Not

It is thanks to this new study, that we have a better understanding of Ankylosaurus, it is not your typical Ankylosaur.  Intriguingly, the researchers postulate on the role of Ankylosaurus in the palaeoenvironment of Laramidia during the Late Cretaceous.  Fossils of this armoured dinosaur are very infrequently found and therefore it might have been ecologically rare, or just a very infrequent visitor to the coastal plain where fossilisation of corpses was much more likely than if these creatures habitually lived further inland away from rivers and large bodies of water.  The nodosaurid Edmontonia was contemporaneous with Ankylosaurus and the researchers comment on previous studies that have alluded to the fact that Edmontonia may have been ecologically separated from Ankylosaurus on the basis that Edmontonia seems to have been more abundant in coastal, lowland habitats.  It is likely that these animals did not compete directly with each other (different beak and tooth shapes – indicating niche partitioning).

Ecosystem Engineer Like a Modern Elephant – Unlikely

Ankylosaurus probably fed on low-growing vegetation, ferns, flowers and shrubs, with an estimated consumption of about 60 kilogrammes of vegetable matter per day, about the same as an elephant. It did not chew its food, food processing taking place in the enormous gut.

Modern elephants with their ability to knock down trees and strip bark, are regarded as ecosystem engineers, helping to shape the environment.  It is suggested that Ankylosaurus did not carry out this role, tree felling, bark stripping and environmental engineering was more likely to have been undertaken by the equally massive and much more ubiquitous hadrosaurids.

Although Ankylosaurines are typically categorised as herbivores, the unusual narial anatomy of Ankylosaurus could reflect a change in diet or feeding strategy relative to other Ankylosaurs and the researchers suggest this warrants further investigation.  The smaller, posteriorly set, and dorsally roofed external nares in Ankylosaurus could have evolved as these animals grubbed in the soil for nutritious grubs, earthworms, insects or plant tubers.  The broad muzzle and powerful front limbs would have made Ankylosaurus an accomplished digger.  So perhaps Ankylosaurus had a different lifestyle compared to other members of the Ankylosauridae, it may have foraged through leaf litter or turned over the soil, like a giant hog.

The scientific paper: “Unusual cranial and Postcranial Anatomy in the Archetypal Ankylosaur Ankylosaurus magniventris” by Victoria M. Arbour and Jordan C. Mallon, published in the Canadian open access journal “Facets”.

Link to the paper: Ankylosaurus Paper

12 10, 2017

Reaffirming Protoichthyosaurus as a Valid Genus

By | October 12th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Muddy Water Surrounding Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus Just Got a Little Clearer

A type of British Ichthyosaur, first identified nearly forty years ago, but then dismissed as a distinct genus, has been re-examined and found to be a new type of marine reptile after all.  British palaeontologist Dr Robert Appleby, in 1979, conducted a review of Ichthyosaur fossil material found around the UK and announced a news species which he named Protoichthyosaurus.  Two separate species were assigned to this genus P. prostaxalis and P. prosostealis.  Erecting this genus with its two component species proved controversial and a number of other scientists have dismissed this assessment, reassigning the fossil material to the Ichthyosaurus genus.

One of the Fossil Specimens from the 1979 Marine Reptile Study

Protoichthyosaurus fossil material.

One of the original skeletons of Protoichthyosaurus described by Robert Appleby in 1979.

Picture Credit: National Museum of Wales/Dean Lomax

A detailed study which involved making comparisons between Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus by Dean Lomax, (Manchester University), Rashmi Mistry (University of Reading) and Professor Judy Massare (State University of New York), published in the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology” has established Protoichthyosaurus as a separate genus once again.

The researchers found major differences in the number of bones in the front fin, or forefin, of both species.  The team posit that this fundamental difference in anatomy probably reflects the way both species used their forefins to manoeuvre whilst swimming.  Differences were also found in the skulls.

Scientists Studying the Fossil Material

A Protoichthyosaurus fossil is studied by palaeontologists.

Bill Wahl, Prof. Judy Massare, Dr David Large and Dean Lomax study the fossil.

Picture Credit: University of Nottingham

Fin Grabs Attention

During this research, another discovery about the fins was made, palaeontologist Dean Lomax explained:

“This unusual forefin structure was originally identified by Robert Appleby in 1979, but some of the historic specimens he examined had been ‘faked’, and this fakery had been missed until now.  In some instances, an isolated fin of an Ichthyosaurus had been added to a Protoichthyosaurus skeleton to make it appear more complete, which led to the genuine differences being missed.  This has been a major problem because it stopped science from progressing.  We also found some pathological fins, including Ichthyosaurus fins with pathologies that mimic the Protoichthyosaurus forefin structure”.

Dean and Judy teamed up with former undergraduate student Rashmi Mistry, who had been studying an unusual Ichthyosaur in the collections of the Cole Museum of Zoology, (University of Reading), as she prepared her undergraduate dissertation.

Rashmi added:

“Whilst doing my dissertation in 2016, I studied several Ichthyosaurs in the collections, including a very small skeleton.  It had an unusual forefin that matched Protoichthyosaurus, which I understood to be a widely unrecognised genus.  However, when I contacted Dean, he was very excited.  He told me that this little skeleton is the only known small juvenile Protoichthyosaurus.”

The Juvenile Protoichthyosaurus Specimen

Protoichthyosaurus (juvenile).

The juvenile Protoichthyosaurus fossil.

Picture Credit: University of Reading

More Than Twenty Specimens of Protoichthyosaurus Identified

As a result of this extensive study, more than twenty specimens of Protoichthyosaurus have been identified.  This is highly significant as each specimen (with a forefin) has the same structure.  The specimens all date from the early Jurassic geological period (200-190 million years ago) and they are geographically dispersed with specimens reported from Dorset, Somerset, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Glamorgan (Wales)

Links with the Dinosaurs of China Exhibition

As part of his research, Dean examined a nearly complete skeleton which is part of the vertebrate collection at the museum of Nottingham.  This specimen turned out to be different from all the other known examples of Protoichthyosaurus (autapomorphies concerning the cranium and the shape of the humeri).  A new species of Protoichthyosaurus has been erected, it has been named  Protoichthyosaurus applebyi, in honour of Dr Appleby and in recognition of his work some forty years ago that established the Protoichthyosaurus genus in the first place.

The Protoichthyosaurus applebyi Specimen

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi fossil specimen.

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi fossil.

The fossil specimen is currently on display at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts centre, as part of the “Dinosaurs of China” exhibition.  If you want to catch this marine reptile and take in all the beautiful feathered dinosaurs in this exhibition, you had better hurry, “Dinosaurs of China” closes at the end of the month.

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Viewed the Specimen at the “Dinosaurs of China” Exhibition

Protoichthyosaurus applebyi

The Nottingham Ichthyosaur (P. applebyi).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper: “The Taxonomic Utility of Forefin Morphology in Lower Jurassic Ichthyosaurs: Protoichthyosaurus and Ichthyosaurus” by Lomax, D. R., Massare, J. A. and Mistry, R.  Published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

11 10, 2017

Education a “Hot Spot” at the Frankfurter Buchmesse

By | October 11th, 2017|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

“Hot Spot Education” at the Frankfurter Buchmesse

Today, sees the start of the annual Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair), regarded by many teachers and educationalists as the most important trade fair for books, publishing and digital media.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur will be attending and we are excited to see (and hear about), the latest developments in the publishing world.  This huge international event has attracted over seven thousand exhibitors from over one hundred countries and during the course of the next five days, the Frankfurter Buchmesse will bring over a quarter of a million visitors to Frankfurt.

The Frankfurt Book Fair Starts Today

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2017

The Frankfurt Book Fair opens today.

Picture Credit: Frankfurt Book Fair

Education a Priority

Once again, education and learning take priority at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with many hundreds of exhibitors supporting the education sector in attendance.  For those visitors with an interest in education, be they teachers, those who school at home or education practitioners, check out the “Hot Spot Education” zone in Hall 4.2.  This part of the exhibition is dedicated to looking at innovations in the fields of teaching and learning aids.  The focus is on how digital products and services are changing the classroom, expect plenty of opportunities to try out the latest whiteboards and e-learning solutions.

The “Hot Spot Education” Brings Together Buyers and Suppliers

The Educational Hot Spot at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

A focus on education at the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Picture Credit: Frankfurt Book Fair

The use of digital technology is a day-to-day reality for teachers in all parts of the school system, from pre-school and nursery right up to university and further education.  The Frankfurt Book Fair organisers promise that the “Hot Spot Education” area will provide a platform for displaying new products and teaching services.  Company stands will feature the latest interactive learning tools and the latest whiteboards and whiteboard software.  In addition, visitors can expect to hear from technology hardware providers that support this sector and to meet consultants who can assist with digital service provision.  The special educational needs (SEN) market is particularly strongly represented.

We all like to learn whilst having fun.  Whilst visiting this part of the huge exhibition, check out the stands that feature game developers and those companies that support a range of products to help inspire and enthuse young minds through active play.

10 10, 2017

Fused Bones in Primitive Birds Earlier than Previously Thought

By | October 10th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Evolution of the Light but Strong Skeleton for Powered Flight

It is widely accepted that birds evolved from dinosaurs.  The Order Dinosauria is now classified into two parts, the non-avian dinosaurs, which are extinct and the avian dinosaurs (the birds), which are very much still with us.  However, the evolution of the specialised anatomy that enables powered flight is not well understood.  Birds have several skeletal modifications that greatly assist them when it comes to their aerial abilities.  Any aeronautical engineer will expound the virtues of a light but strong frame for an aircraft, birds have a light but strong skeleton with many elements fused for greater rigidity.  A team of scientists writing in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, have provided new evidence to help explain how these remarkable anatomical modifications came about.  This evolutionary story is likely to be much more complicated than previously thought.

Some Theropod Dinosaurs Evolved into Birds Skeletal Similarities and Differences

Bird skeleton compared to ground dwelling dinosaur skeleton

A skeleton of the Theropod dinosaur compared with a simplified skeleton of a modern bird.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture above shows the skeleton of the recently described oviraptorid Corythoraptor jacobsi compared to that of a modern bird.  The bird skeleton shows a number of adaptations for powered flight, such as fused hand and foot bones and an enlarged sternum but the ground-dwelling Oviraptor possesses number of anatomical characteristics which show its affinity to modern birds.  Both Aves and the Oviraptoridae are included together in the clade Maniraptora which consists of modern birds and their closest extinct relatives from the Coelurosaurian Theropods.

Pterygornis dapingfangensis – Fused Bones

A second, beautifully-preserved specimen of the Early Cretaceous Enantiornithine bird Pterygornis dapingfangensis has fully fused hands (carpometacarpus bones) as well as a fused pelvic girdle.  Dating from around 120 million years ago, this specimen is the oldest known bird fossil which shows these modifications for powered flight.  The fossil comes from the Jiufotang Formation of Liaoning Province (north-eastern China).  This sparrow-sized creature is one of several genera known from these Lower Cretaceous deposits, only the Solnhofen deposits of Germany are older in terms of the bird fossils they contain.  The exquisite specimen shows that the carpometacarpus and the pelvis are completely fused, it had been thought that these traits did not appear in Aves until the Late Cretaceous.   The fossil record had shown that all bird fossils associated with Upper Cretaceous deposits have a completely fused hand and pelvis.  Thanks to this newly published scientific paper, the historical origin of these avian bone fusions has been pushed back some forty million years.

The Second Specimen of Pterygornis dapingfangensis

Pterygornis dapingfangensi helps scientists to better understand bird evolution.

Pterygornis dapingfangensis fossil.

Picture Credit: W. GAO (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Great Fossils but Squashed Flat!

Named in 2015 from a single, disarticulated specimen, discovered near the town of Dapingfang, Chaoyang County in Liaoning Province, Pterygornis shows a number of unique autapomorphies that distinguishes it from other Enantiornithines and the second fossil has shown that the body plan for a rigid, fused skeleton was present in at least one species of bird from the Early Cretaceous.

Dr Steve Brusatte (University of Edinburgh), who reviewed the scientific paper, commented:

“These [fused bones] are fundamental features of the modern bird blueprint, and are integral to giving birds the strength and rigidity needed to fly.  There seems to have been a lot of experimentation among early birds, with different species trying out different ways of making their skeletons stronger and better able to withstand the rigours of flight.”

Sadly, many of the fossils from the Jiufotang Formation have been compressed and distorted as a result of the fossilisation process.  However, despite the taphonomy that ends with a lot of the fossils from these rocks being squashed flat, the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences were able to identify that the fused bones in the second known specimen of Pterygornis were not a result of pathology or the fossilisation process.

The Disarticulated Holotype Specimen of Pterygornis dapingfangensis

Pterygornis dapingfangensi holotype material.

The scattered and disarticulated fossil remains of Pterygornis dapingfangensis.

Picture Credit: Wang Min

The lack of transitional fossils has hindered the process of identifying the evolutionary process towards the modern bird skeleton.  However, in this research paper the authors outline how the fusion of pelvic bones and those in the hands and feet may have evolved independently in non-avian dinosaurs, primitive and more advanced birds.  The scientists speculate that varying degrees of bone fusion were likely to have evolved in basal birds, perhaps as a result of environmental pressures or related to a refinement of flight capability.  It seems that the developmental pathway from ground-dwelling dinosaur to the skeletal shape of living birds has a few more surprises to spring before it is more fully understood.

9 10, 2017

Papo Dimorphodon and the Papo Roaring Smilodon are in Stock

By | October 9th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Papo Roaring Smilodon and Papo Dimorphodon in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

The last of the new for 2017, individual model releases from Papo are in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  The eagerly awaited Papo Dimorphodon along with the Papo Roaring Smilodon have arrived at our warehouse.  All those model fans and collectors who wanted to be informed about these replicas have been emailed.

The Papo Dimorphodon Model is in Stock at Everything Dinosaur

Papo Dimorphodon figure.

The Papo Dimorphodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Papo Dimorphodon Model

This is a beautifully crafted figure.  Everything dinosaur team members have been asked to estimate the scale of this particular Papo replica.  Papo themselves, don’t publish a scale guide for their models, but as this flying reptile has a wingspan of around fifteen centimetres and the fossils of the species Dimorphodon macronyx suggest a wingspan of about one hundred and fifty centimetres, it is not unreasonable to suggest a scale of 1:10.

The dimensions of the model are:

  • Length around 9.5 cm
  • Height of head 6 cm approximately
  • Wingspan 15 cm

The Papo Dimorphodon has an articulated lower jaw, continuing the trend for this French manufacturer to add articulated jaws to Theropods and other meat-eating animals in the company’s “Les Dinosaures” range.

A Closer View of the Skilfully Painted Head of the Papo Dimorphodon Model

The Papo Dimorphodon model (detail of the head).

The Papo Dimorphodon flying reptile head close-up.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The colour palette for this Papo model includes a lustrous, almost metallic blue for the integument of the back of the skull.  This is a superbly painted flying reptile model.

To view the Papo range of prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Prehistoric Animals

The Papo Roaring Smilodon

Flying in along with the Dimorphodon, we have the Papo “Roaring Smilodon”, a figure that has had a bit of a mixed reception from model fans and reviewers.  When we first saw pictures of this prehistoric mammal, we were a little concerned over the lion-like mane and the tiger stripes on the rump and back legs.  We are not aware of any fossil evidence for a mane in Smilodon species, stripes are controversial but they would have made effective camouflage, however, the model is very characteristically Papo and it has a certain degree of charm.  This replica, now that we have seen it up close, is beginning to grow on us.

New for 2017 – the Papo Roaring Smilodon Model

The Papo roaring Sabre-Tooth Cat.

The Papo roaring Smilodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The figure shows some amazing detail.  The musculature of this powerful predator is very well depicted and the raised paw has a fantastic finish.  The head and those gaping jaws have been skilfully sculpted and we love the way the nose is wrinkled.  It certainly is a very dynamic pose and when you look at our own photographs of the model, the details and the clever sculpting really stand out.

Papo Roaring Smilodon Figure

The Papo Roaring Smilodon.

Papo Roaring Smilodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Getting to Grips with the Papo Roaring Smilodon Figure

Roaring Smilodon from Papo

Papo roaring Smilodon model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

In the picture above, you can see the animal’s ribs and the musculature of those immensely strong and powerful shoulders.  Scientists now know that even young Sabre-Tooths had very strong forelimbs, to read an article about this recent research: Strong-armed Sabre-Tooth Kittens

This year, Papo has certainly introduced an eclectic range of figures, we look forward to commenting on the company’s new editions for 2018.

In the meantime, it is great to see “two form tooth” and a roaring “knife tooth” added to the Papo model range.

8 10, 2017

Dinosaur Artwork – Palaeoart

By | October 8th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Dinosaur Artwork – Palaeoart

Illustrating prehistoric life, whether it is drawing Devonian landscapes, colouring in Cambrian scenes, painting Pterosaurs or sketching Silurian fishes is extremely important as these artworks help to inform, educate and fire the imagination of the public.  At Everything Dinosaur, we are very lucky as we get to meet so many talented palaeoartists, from the very young to the young at heart.  When visiting a school, we often get given some pictures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals that the children have produced, perhaps, inspired by our dinosaur themed workshops in school.  We also get the chance to work with professional palaeoartists who make a living providing illustrations for books, museum galleries and exhibitions.

Late Cretaceous China – Superb Artwork by Zhao Chuang

China - Late Cretaceous

Late Cretaceous China – an amazing prehistoric landscape.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Helping to Illustrate Prehistoric Life

The illustration above, depicts the Late Cretaceous of China, this artwork was created by the very talented illustrator Zhao Chuang, who describes himself as a science artist.  Mr Chuang, a founder member of PNSO (Peking Natural Science Organisation), has collaborated with numerous leading palaeontologists and natural history museums including the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Natural History Museum.  The scene above shows China around 77 million years ago (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous), a herd of duck-billed dinosaurs arrive at a waterhole, these large herbivores have nothing to fear from the beautifully feathered dromaeosaurid on the left of the image, whilst the Ankylosaurine Pinacosaurus, confident that its body armour will keep it safe, wanders away from the water having drunk its fill.

The artwork on the boxes of the prehistoric animal figures made by PNSO is also excellent too.  To view the range of prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs

Take for example, the artwork on the large Triceratops model within the PNSO model range.  The model is placed in a forest setting and the low light effect shows the scales on the figure very well.  The background is in soft focus, whilst in contrast, the Triceratops is very prominent.  The superb detail on the PNSO Triceratops can be clearly seen.  The strapline on the box is “every life should be respected”, a core message that is depicted across a range of Zhao Chuang inspired products.

PNSO Box Art – Triceratops (T. horridus)

PNSO Triceratops box art.

PNSO box art- Triceratops.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Importance of Palaeoart

Palaeoart helps to portray ancient life and plays an extremely important role in helping to depict long extinct creatures.  The best examples represent the animals and landscapes using the very latest scientific thinking, helping to directly contribute to the public’s knowledge and understanding with regards to life in the past.  It is often these images, those seen in books and increasingly, images viewed on-line, that help to inspire the next generation of palaeontologists.

Zhao Chaung’s Illustration of the Theropod Concavenator

Concavenator dinosaur illustration (Zhao Chuang)

A beautiful illustration of the Theropod dinosaur Concavenator.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

7 10, 2017

Everything Dinosaur and Proposed Royal Mail Strike Action

By | October 7th, 2017|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Contingency Planning in Place if Royal Mail Strike Goes Ahead

On Thursday (5th October), it was announced that Royal Mail workers in the UK are set to go on strike for 48-hours from the 19th October in a dispute over pensions, job status and pay.  The Communication Workers Union (CWU), has informed the management at the Royal Mail Group that 111,000 postal workers will walk out and go on strike until Saturday 21st October.  As a mail order company, this is quite troubling news, especially as we build up to the very busy Christmas period.  However, Everything Dinosaur has already started to put in contingency plans to help manage any potential disruption in UK mail services.

Potential Parcel Disruption with Proposed Royal Mail Strike Action

Royal Mail industrial action threatened (October 2017).

The threat of industrial action at Royal Mail.

Picture Credit: Andrew Milligan/Press Association

This industrial action is proposed to take place at or after 11am on Thursday 19th October and run until 11am Saturday 21st October 2017.  The CWU has already intimated that further industrial action cannot be ruled out at this stage.  This dispute, which has been ongoing for some considerable time, may escalate and industrial action of this nature could, potentially disrupt Christmas deliveries.

Everything Dinosaur has already been contacted by Royal Mail over this issue and we have plans in place to help minimise any disruption should strike action go ahead.

As a mail order company, we have put into place some contingency plans to help reduce any inconvenience to our customers.

  • More packing of parcels has been scheduled to take place on the weekend prior to the 19th October.  By ensuring all orders placed on Saturday and Sunday are despatched on the following Monday, these orders should avoid the worst of any industrial action.
  • Additional, mail collections have been organised for the Tuesday and Wednesday proceeding the proposed industrial action.  This should enable us to get parcels into the mail system more quickly and help to minimise the impact of any industrial action that has taken place.
  • Staff will continue to pack items during any period of disruption, this will ensure a prompt collection and placement into the mail network as soon as any industrial action has finished.
  • Time has been allocated on the Saturday (21st), to enable us to pack orders and to get them sent out on that day.
  • All our correspondence, letters and such like are being held back so that in our own small way we can reduce the workload and the subsequent backlog for local Royal Mail staff.

In addition to not having any Royal Mail service over the intended period of strike action, further disruption can be expected as the backlog of letters and parcels is cleared.  Orders despatched by other channels such as via courier services are not going to be affected and we have already discussed with our couriers contingency plans to cover any increase in the number of courier deliveries that we use.

Everything Dinosaur Putting Plans in Place to Minimise the Impact on Customers

Royal Mail parcels being sorted.

Royal Mail parcels (2017).  Plans are in place to help minimise the disruption.

Picture Credit: Press Association/Royal Mail

Everything Dinosaur, like many firms, is actively exploring alternative mail delivery systems.  The strike action, if it is to continue, may result in delays with the Christmas post.  We are doing all we can to assist customers and provide support.

However, we urge that it would be very sensible for customers not to leave ordering until quite late, especially as the Christmas mail build up increases.  It is always a good idea to order early, so for birthdays, parties and Christmas our advice is to plan ahead.

Royal Mail management have put a press release about the threat of industrial action, in this press release they state:

“We are committed to further talks as a matter of urgency to reach agreement with the CWU.  There are no grounds for industrial action.  We want to reach agreement.  Earlier this week we reminded the CWU of the dispute resolution procedures that we agreed in the Agenda for Growth.  These dispute resolution procedures were set up as a vehicle to resolve industrial disputes.  We wish to use them to do just that.  External mediation as set out in Agenda For Growth has not taken place.  We will use all legal options at our disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent industrial action.”

Naturally, we will keep all our customers informed.  We will keep you posted….

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