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12 07, 2021

Miniature Alvarezsauroids under the Spotlight

By | July 12th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

A new study into those bizarre theropods the alvarezsauroids, indicates that they became much smaller in the Late Cretaceous. Newly published research in “Current Biology” suggests that these dinosaurs reduced in size about 95 million years ago when they became specialised insectivores.

The research team, which included PhD student Zichuan Qin and Professor Michael Benton (Bristol University), along with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, George Washington University (USA) and Jonah N Choiniere from the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), conclude that the miniaturisation of the alvarezsauroids probably coincided with adaptations to feeding on termites and ants. It has been a busy week for Professor Choiniere, as Everything Dinosaur recently published an article summarising a study of Heterodontosaurus that Professor Choiniere had co-authored: Breathing Life into the Dinosauria.

Typical alvarezsauroids.
Life reconstruction of four representative alvarezsauroids, Haplocheirus sollers (left), Patagonykus puertai (upper middle), Linhenykus monodactylus (lower middle) and Bannykus wulatensis (lower right), illustrating the body size and dieting change in alvarezsauroid dinosaurs. Picture credit: Zhixin Han.

Miniaturisation in the Dinosauria is Very Rare

The research team define sustained miniaturisation within a group of animals as a drop in body size of at least two orders of magnitude from ancestors to descendants. This trait has been recorded many times in terrestrial vertebrates such as dwarf hippos and elephants, diminutive chameleons and tiny frogs. Miniaturisation is often associated with animals living in environments with limited resources such as islands and as such dwarf forms of dinosaurs associated with “island dwarfism” are known. However, in general terms miniaturisation within the Dinosauria is rare.

Miniaturisation is recorded twice within the Dinosauria:

  • Once in the avialan theropods as powered flight evolved (the lineage leading to birds).
  • Once in the Alvarezsauroidea -a bizarre group of dinosaurs nested within the Maniraptora.
Chinese fossils shed light on the evolution of the specialised Alvarezsaurian monodactyl hand.
Known mainly from China, although fossils have been found in the Americas and Europe, the Alvarezsauroidea had bird-like skeletons with many derived species having significantly reduced front limbs and digits. The oldest and most primitive alvarezsauroids are known from the early Late Jurassic Shishugou Formation of north-western China. Picture credit: Viktor Radermacher.

Measuring Alvarezsaurs and Calculating their Age

The scientists measured the fossilised remains of dozens of these dinosaurs and assessed bone histology to separate juvenile, not fully grown specimens from adult fossil remains. They demonstrated that alvarezsaurs ranged in size from about 10 kilograms up to 70 kilograms for most of their evolutionary history, but from about 95 million years ago, very much smaller, chicken-sized forms, weighing less than 5 kilograms evolved. This miniaturisation coincided with these dinosaurs adopting a more specialised diet, that of consuming ants and termites.

Towards the end of the Cretaceous alvarezsauroids became much smaller and many more species evolved
Study shows a rapid Late Cretaceous alvarezsauroid miniaturisation and radiation. Picture credit: Bristol University.

Professor Michael Benton commented:

“Perhaps competition with other dinosaurs intensified through the Cretaceous. The Cretaceous was a time of rapidly evolving ecosystems and the biggest change was the gradual takeover by flowering plants. Flowering plants changed the nature of the landscape completely, and yet dinosaurs mostly did not feed on these new plants. But they led to an explosion of new types of insects, including ants and termites”.

The Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution

The rapid evolution of flowering plants (angiosperms), led to a dramatic change in ecosystems with modern-looking woodlands and forests evolving with a diverse flora and fauna, including an enormous increase in insects that specialised on feeding on the leaves, nectar, petals and pollen of the flowering plants. This restructuring of ecosystems has been called the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution.

Whilst most other types of dinosaurs got bigger as they evolved, the alvarezsaurs seem to be the exception. When the first of these bizarre theropods evolved some of them were ostrich-sized, such as Haplocheirus, with sharp teeth and strong, flexible forelimbs suggesting a mixed and varied diet. However, from about 95 million years ago, body size plummeted and claw shapes changed from grabbing and tearing types to more robust forms. Arms became reduced as did the number of digits.

Mononykus (M. olecranus) typifies the Late Cretaceous alvarezsaurids. It roamed southern Mongolia around 70 million years ago and it measured about a metre in length and weighed around 3.5 kilograms. The forelimbs of Mononykus were tiny and they terminated in a hand that had just one digit topped with a very robust probe-like claw. This claw seems ideally suited to punching holes in termite mounds.

Beasts of the Mesozoic Desert Accessory Pack.
The assembled Beasts of the Mesozoic Desert Accessory Pack featuring Mononykus.

The Second Case of Miniaturisation within the Dinosauria

Whilst most scientists accept the link between getting smaller and the evolution of powered flight within the branch of the Dinosauria leading to the evolution of birds, not much research had been undertaken into alvarezsauroid miniaturisation.

Professor Xing Xu (Chinese Academy of Sciences), a co-author of the study added:

“This is a very strange result, but it seems to be true. All other dinosaurs were getting bigger and bigger, but one group of flesh-eaters miniaturised and this was associated with living in trees and flying. They eventually became birds. We’ve identified a second miniaturisation event – but it wasn’t for flight, but to accommodate a completely new diet, switching from flesh to termites.”

The scientific paper: “Growth and miniaturization among alvarezsauroid dinosaurs” by Zichuan Qin, Qi Zhao, Jonah N. Choiniere, James M. Clark, Michael J. Benton and Xing Xu published in Current Biology.

11 07, 2021

Heterodontosaurus Breathes Life into Dinosauria Respiratory Studies

By | July 11th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A beautifully preserved and almost complete fossil specimen of the early ornithischian Heterodontosaurus (H. tucki) has provided palaeontologists with a fresh perspective on how bird-hipped dinosaurs breathed.

An international team of scientists including Richard Butler, a professor of palaeobiology at the University of Birmingham, Jonah Choiniere, a professor of comparative palaeobiology at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, Kimberley Chapelle, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History (New York), subjected the 200-million-year-old fossil to a series of extremely powerful X-rays courtesy of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, (France). The data from these scans permitted the researchers to construct computer models reassembling the skeleton in unprecedented detail and to learn how this dinosaur breathed.

Heterodontosaurus breathing study.
A life reconstruction of the early ornithischian Heterodontosaurus – its breath shows as a vapour trail in the early morning light. Picture credit: University of Witwatersrand.

Getting to Understand the Unique Ornithischian Dinosaurs

Vertebrates like reptiles, birds and mammals all move air through their lungs in different ways. Mammals like us have a diaphragm, whilst lizards use rib movements to help them move air through their lungs. Birds have another, very different respiratory system which is more efficient than our own. Birds have thin-walled air sacs connected to their lungs. These air sacs fill a considerable portion of the body cavity. They are not involved directly in gas exchange but function as bellows to direct airflow through the lungs in one direction, from back to front. This increases lung efficiency. To read an article from 2007 that examines how non-avian dinosaurs might have breathed: Dinosaur Breathing Study.

This study showed that Heterodontosaurus was using its oddly shaped ribs connected to its sternum to breathe, but that it also showed the first steps towards a muscle attached to the hips that would inflate the lung – similar to how crocodiles breathe.

Heterodontosaurus respiration study
Each of the blocks making up the Heterodontosaurus fossil material (AM 4766) were scanned by the synchrotron and then the skeleton was digitally recreated with a focus on the trunk. Gastralia ribs are shown in blue. Picture credit: Viktor Radermacher.

Lead author of the scientific study published in the journal eLife, Viktor Radermacher (PhD student in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences), commented:

“This specimen represents a turning point in understanding how dinosaurs evolved”.

Fossil Discovered in 2009

The specimen, representing a sub-adult Heterodontosaurus was discovered in 2009, eroding out of a riverbed. It is the most complete Heterodontosaurus fossil known to science. The surrounding matrix is very hard, so removal of the individual bones was not possible, but employing extremely powerful X-rays allows the scientists to peer inside the matrix and reconstruct the anatomy of this dinosaur.

In 2016, the fossil of the turkey-sized dinosaur was transported to the ESRF for a week-long study. Huge amounts of data on this early member of the Ornithischia were compiled: Heterodontosaurus visits the European Synchrotron.

The Distinctive and Successful Ornithischia

Described in 1962, Heterodontosaurus is thought to one of the most primitive members of the Ornithischia (bird-hipped dinosaurs), although the exact taxonomic placement of the Heterodontosauridae is still debated and their early evolution remains obscure. Ornithischian dinosaurs include the armoured dinosaurs, pachycephalosaurs, ceratopsians and the ornithopods – which encompasses such well-known dinosaurs as Iguanodon and the duck-billed dinosaurs.

Research team member Richard Butler (Birmingham University), explained the importance of this study:

“We’ve long known that the skeletons of ornithischian dinosaurs were radically different from those of other dinosaurs. This amazing new fossil helps us understand why ornithischians were so distinctive and successful”.

Not All Dinosaurs Breathed in the Same Way

The research revealed that Heterodontosaurus possessed numerous gastralia (belly ribs), the first time this anatomical feature has been found in an ornithischian and several other, unique autapomorphies (characteristics), that are unknown in other bird-hipped dinosaurs. For example, it had paddle-shaped sternal ribs and a forward projecting sternum. The team concluded that this suite of anatomical features enabled Heterodontosaurus to breathe in a different way when compared to other members of the Dinosauria. Heterodontosaurus forced air into its lungs by expanding both its belly and chest.

Lead author Viktor Radermacher stated:

“We have actually never known how these ornithischians breathed. The interesting thing is that Heterodontosaurus is the ancestor of this group and it has these [newly discovered] pieces of anatomy, but its descendants don’t. What that means is that Heterodontosaurus is a missing link between the ancestors of dinosaurs and the bigger, charismatic species we know. This gives us a whole bunch of information and fills in some pretty glaring gaps in our knowledge of the biology of these dinosaurs.”

Lead author of the research, University of Minnesota PhD student Viktor Radermacher
Lead author of the research, University of Minnesota PhD student Viktor Radermacher, poses next to some skull casts and dinosaur models that represent suborders of the Ornithischia. Picture credit: Sebastian Alfonzo.

Different Solutions to the Need to Breathe

Viktor Radermacher explained that this research demonstrates that there is still a lot to learn about the Dinosauria and that many different types of tetrapod evolved different solutions when it came to getting oxygen to their muscles.

He added:

“The takeaway message is that there are many ways to breathe. The really interesting thing about life on Earth is that we all have different strategies to do the same thing, and we’ve just identified a new strategy of breathing. This shows that utilising dinosaurs and palaeontology, we can learn more about the diversity of animals on Earth and how they breathe.”

The scientific paper: “A new Heterodontosaurus specimen elucidates the unique ventilatory macroevolution of ornithischian dinosaurs” by Viktor J Radermacher, Vincent Fernandez, Emma R Schachner, Richard J Butler, Emese M Bordy, Michael Naylor Hudgins, William J de Klerk, Kimberley E J Chapelle and Jonah N Choiniere published in eLife.

10 07, 2021

Drawing Prehistoric Fish

By | July 10th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

A few days ago, Everything Dinosaur published a drawing of the marine reptile Elasmosaurus that we had commissioned. Today, we publish an illustration of the monstrous fish that was a contemporary of Elasmosaurus, another resident of “Hell’s Aquarium” otherwise known as the Western Interior Seaway. The fish is Xiphactinus and we have commissioned an illustration of this predator as we prepare for the arrival of the 1:40 scale CollectA Deluxe Xiphactinus replica in a few weeks’ time.

Xiphactinus drawing
The Xiphactinus drawing that was commissioned by Everything Dinosaur as the company prepares for the arrival of the CollectA Deluxe Xiphactinus 1:40 scale replica.

Xiphactinus “Sword Ray”

Xiphactinus was a large, bony fish that was both geographically and temporally widespread. The genus name is from the Latin and Greek and translates as “sword ray”, with some specimens over six metres in length, this was one very voracious predator and prehistoric animal model collectors have been keen to get a figure of Xiphactinus introduced into a mainstream model series.

CollectA Deluxe Xiphactinus model.
The CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Xiphactinus prehistoric fish model. A fantastic replica of a very formidable marine predator.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that this figure, along with the other remaining new for 2021 CollectA prehistoric animal figures should be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in August or thereabouts.

The spokesperson went onto explain that the Xiphactinus (pronounced Zee-fak-tin-us), drawing would be used in a fact sheet that would be sent out with purchases of this CollectA model.

Fact sheets prepared for the Beasts of the Mesozoic range of models.
A collection of fact sheets created by Everything Dinosaur. These fact sheets are sent out free of charge to accompany sales of prehistoric animal models and figures.

Xiphactinus and Elasmosaurus

As well as being contemporaries in the marine biota of the Western Interior Seaway, Everything Dinosaur expects these two models to arrive at their UK warehouse at the same time. These figures will no doubt provide double delight for fans of marine monsters.

To view the range of not to scale prehistoric animal models in the CollectA Age of Dinosaurs/Prehistoric Life Series: CollectA Age of Dinosaurs/Prehistoric Life.

To view the range of scale prehistoric animal models produced by CollectA and available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe and Supreme Models.

9 07, 2021

Providing Advice About Visiting Lyme Regis

By | July 9th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, General Teaching, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

As Everything Dinosaur team members have written quite a lot about staying safe when visiting the beaches around Lyme Regis on the famous Jurassic Coast of southern England, we are now receiving emails from first time visitors to Dorset asking for our advice.

Our dedicated team members are happy to provide assistance and to direct these enquiries to the local tourist information office and various visitor centres.

Some of the recently built sea defences around Lyme Regis. Stonebarrow and Golden Cap can be seen in the background. The stunning and very beautiful part of the UNESCO World Heritage site around the picturesque town of Lyme Regis (Dorset) – the “Jurassic Coast”.

Our Advice

As the school holidays approach many families are wanting to have a vacation in the UK rather than travel abroad. The Dorset coast is a popular destination and first-time visitors have turned to Everything Dinosaur for advice on staying safe when visiting the beaches. Whilst team members can provide general information and guidance it is important that visitors obey any local notices that have been posted up.

Avoid the cliffs, don’t go near them and whatever you do please do not attempt to climb them. For further information about visiting the beaches around Lyme Regis: Visiting Lyme Regis in Summer. If you are at Charmouth, pop into the local Heritage Centre and ask their advice, you may also be able to book a fossil walk or at least enquire about availability.

Supervised fossil walks are always a good idea, most are now fully booked but it might be worthwhile emailing local guides and enquiring. Brandon Lennon is one of the most respected in the area, he can be contacted here: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks.

For further advice you can visit the local Lyme Regis Tourist Information centre located in the town centre of Lyme Regis – 62, Church Street, Lyme Regis DT7 3BS. Local knowledge can be invaluable.

If you want specific information about tides and beach safety, you can enquire at the lifeboat station down on the Cobb at Lyme Regis. Alternatively, there are a number of websites that provide information about high and low tides on this part of the coast, or for a small fee, an annual tide timetable can be purchased.

It is a good idea to go fossil collecting on a falling tide and to keep away from the steep cliffs. Everything Dinosaur team members provide general advice and guidance to visitors to Lyme Regis and Charmouth.
8 07, 2021

Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri Safety Assessment

By | July 8th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

The results of the independent tests undertaken by Eurofins on the YvY Figures Dino Hazard 1:20 scale Irritator challengeri dinosaur model have arrived. In Everything Dinosaur’s next YouTube video, we will announce the results and explain a little more about the steps required in order to allow Everything Dinosaur to bring this replica into the company’s UK warehouse.

Irritator challengeri product safety tests
The independent product safety test under the General Product Safety Directive for the YvY Figures Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri 1:20 scale dinosaur model.

Independent Product Tests

Once a sample of the Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri figure had been received, Everything Dinosaur set about commissioning independent product safety tests under the General Product Safety Directive. Eurofins was the testing company that Everything Dinosaur sent this dinosaur model to so that an assessment could be carried out.

Eurofins is one of the largest and most respected testing companies in the world. It employs over 50,000 staff across a network of more than 900 independent companies and it has more than 800 laboratories located in 50 countries. The Eurofins Group is committed to providing the highest quality services, accurate results and expert advice from its highly qualified staff. The reliability and accuracy of their analytical services help customers like Everything Dinosaur make decisions about which dinosaur models to bring into the UK and then sell around the world.

The Irritator challengeri dinosaur model
An Everything Dinosaur team member holds the Dino Hazard Irritator challengeri dinosaur model, which in turn is holding in its claws the replica of a lungfish (Equinoxiodus alcantarensis) which is supplied as an accessory with this dinosaur figure. The independent test results for this 1:20 scale dinosaur model are in and Everything Dinosaur’s next YouTube video will discuss them.

Subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube

In a few days, Everything Dinosaur will post up a short video on the company’s YouTube channel discussing the Eurofins assessment and the next steps that the UK-based company needs to take in order to bring this exciting dinosaur model out of China.

The Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel is packed with lots of prehistoric animal model reviews, collecting hints and tips and lots of helpful information. There are over 170 videos on the channel, we recommend that you subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

7 07, 2021

New Dinosaur Described from Spain

By | July 7th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A new species of dinosaur has been named and described from a jawbone found in Castellón, Spain. The dinosaur has been named Portellsaurus sosbaynati and it has been classified as a member of the Ornithopoda subgroup Styracosterna. Its discovery could help shed light on the evolution of the Hadrosauroidea – the duck-billed dinosaurs, from other large-bodied dinosaurs more closely related to the iguanodontids.

Portellsaurus sosbaynati life reconstruction
A life reconstruction of the newly described Spanish styracosternan hadrosauroid named Portellsaurus sosbaynati. Picture credit: Universitat Jaume I.

Portellsaurus sosbaynati

The fossil material, consisting of a right dentary (lower jawbone), specimen number MQ98-II-1, comes from Mirambell Formation exposures at a site near Mas de Curolles, Portell, Castellón (Spain). The fossil is around 129-130 million years old (Barremian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous). The strata represent a shallow lagoon and although no other fossil material has been described, unique characteristics associated with the dentary combined with the fossil’s geological age, permitted the research team to erect a new genus of herbivorous dinosaur.

Views of the right dentary of Portellsaurus
View of the right dentary (MQ98-II-1) of Portellsaurus sosbaynati. Labial (A), lingual (B), and occlusal (C) views. (D) Enlargement (2x) of a dental crown fragment at the tooth row. Note scale bar = 10 cm. Picture credit: Santos-Cubedo et al.

Writing in the on-line academic journal PLoS One, the researchers from Universitat Jaume I, Grup Guix and Valencia University, conclude that Portellsaurus is closely related to Ouranosaurus (O. nigeriensis) from Africa and Bolong (B. yixianensis) from north-eastern China.

Based on comparisons with other fossil material from other better-known iguanodontids and hadrosauroids, the scientists estimate that Portellsaurus could have been up to 8 metres long. The genus name for this new Spanish dinosaur honours the town of Portell, whilst the trivial name honours Vicente Sos Baynat, a Spanish geologist born in Castelló de la Plana and the first scientist to be awarded the accolade of honorary doctorate by the Universitat Jaume I.

Time-calibrated phylogeny of Portellsaurus sosbaynati.
Time-calibrated phylogeny of Portellsaurus sosbaynati. This analysis suggests that this Spanish styracosternan hadrosauroid was closely related to Ouranosaurus from Africa and Bolong from China. Picture credit: Santos-Cubedo et al.

Not Closely Related to Other Large-bodied Iberian Ornithopods

In addition, the scientists including corresponding author Andrés Santos-Cubedo (Universitat Jaume I), conclude that Portellsaurus sosbaynati is less closely related to other Iberian taxa such as Iguanodon bernissartensis and Proa valdearinnoensis than it is to the other Early Cretaceous Iberian styracosternans Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis and Morelladon beltrani, although Portellsaurus is geologically several million years older than both Mantellisaurus and Morelladon.

The scientific paper: “A new styracosternan hadrosauroid (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Early Cretaceous of Portell, Spain” by Andrés Santos-Cubedo, Carlos de Santisteban, Begoña Poza and Sergi Meseguer published in PLoS One.

6 07, 2021

“Prehistoric Times” Magazine Summer 2021

By | July 6th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Main Page, Prehistoric Times|2 Comments

Editor Mike Fredericks kindly sent Everything Dinosaur a preview image of the forthcoming summer edition of “Prehistoric Times” magazine. This quarterly magazine is aimed at prehistoric animal enthusiasts and collectors of dinosaur models. Each edition is packed with amazing articles, reviews of the latest models and interviews with leading artists and Earth scientists.

Issue 138 (summer 2021), features the stunning artwork of renowned American palaeoartist Mark Hallett.

Oregon-based Mark was working on a book describing the evolution of the horse, to be published by Columbia University Press. He had been busy preparing illustrations for “The Horse: A Natural History”, however, he has found time to produce some stunning artwork reflecting current thinking about our close cousins the Neanderthals.

"Prehistoric Times" magazine - summer 2021
The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” magazine edition 138 (summer 2021).

Neanderthals Revisited

Our views of the hominin Homo neanderthalensis have changed dramatically over the last three decades or so. Early perceptions about Neanderthals being brutish ape-like creatures have largely been replaced with a very different view. They made a variety of sophisticated tools, cooked using fire, lived in shelters and made and wore clothing. Neanderthals were very capable hunters of large game, hence the herd of mammoths in the background of Mark Hallett’s front cover art as a wooden spear wielding female Neanderthal looks on.

Ancient hominins by Zdenek Burian.
Neanderthals depicted as quite primitive “ape-men”. A 20th Century illustration of Neanderthals by Zdenek Burian.

Neanderthals Made Jewellery

Evidence has emerged that Neanderthals deliberately buried their dead and in some instances marked the graves and provided grave goods and offerings such as shells and flowers. They probably had language skills and they made jewellery. Artefacts found in the Iberian Peninsula and dated to around 40,000 years ago prove that Neanderthals used eagle talons as necklace pendants. The female in the Mark Hallett illustration is wearing a shell necklace and has a very fetching eagle talon earring. Only two species of hominins are known to have demonstrated such sophisticated behaviour, the Neanderthals and our own species Homo sapiens.

We look forward to reading the article about Mark Hallett’s work in the forthcoming edition of the magazine.

To read more about “Prehistoric Times” magazine and to subscribe: Subscribe to “Prehistoric Times”. “

5 07, 2021

Preparing for Elasmosaurus

By | July 5th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

We are expecting the rest of the new for 2021 CollectA prehistoric animal models to be in stock in a few weeks’ time. As team members at Everything Dinosaur prepare for their arrival, we have been updating our illustration of Elasmosaurus on our Elasmosaurus fact sheet.

Everything Dinosaur commissions illustrations of prehistoric animals – just one of the many ways in which we support the palaeoart community.

Elasmosaurus scale drawing
The Elasmosaurus scale drawing commissioned by Everything Dinosaur as the company’s fact sheet is updated.

A Change in the Tail

Observant readers will spot that the tail of our Elasmosaurus has been given a fin. This reflects some of the latest research into this Late Cretaceous, long-necked member of the Plesiosauria. The CollectA Elasmosaurus has also been given a tail fluke. Back in November 2020, when we announced the new for 2021 CollectA figures we created a short video highlighting the fossil evidence that supports the presence of a caudal fluke in members of the Plesiosauria.

To read more about this: New Prehistoric Animal Models for 2021 from CollectA (Part 3).

CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Popular Elasmosaurus model.
CollectA Elasmosaurus marine reptile model. A new for 2021 marine reptile model from CollectA.

Everything Dinosaur Fact Sheets

For virtually every named prehistoric animal model we supply, Everything Dinosaur researches and writes a fact sheet on that creature. These fact sheets are then sent out free to our customers with their model purchases. This is one of the ways in which team members help to inform and educate the public about the amazing animals that once existed on our planet.

Everything Dinosaur fact sheets, supplied with prehistoric animal models.
The unboxing video features some Everything Dinosaur fact sheets. Dinosaur fans and model collectors appreciate the free fact sheets that we supply. Picture credit: JurassicCollectables.

CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Model Range

The CollectA Age of Dinosaurs model range contains a wide variety of prehistoric creatures including lots of marine reptile models including the elasmosaurid Hydrotherosaurus. Team members are looking forward to the arrival of the new CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Elasmosaurus replica and sending out free fact sheets with purchases.

To view the range of CollectA Age of Dinosaur figures in stock: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.

4 07, 2021

Dinosaur Water Bottle BPA Free

By | July 4th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Team members at Everything Dinosaur do all they can to respond to customer queries and questions. We appreciate how busy all our lives are and our hard-working staff are on standby to answer emails and to do all they can to help customers.

Take for example, an email we received from Sammy, who wanted to know about the dinosaur themed water bottle that we sell. Sammy asked:

“Is this dinosaur water bottle BPA free?”

Dinosaur water bottle
The dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed water bottle available from Everything Dinosaur. The bottle holds 500 ml and the plastic that it is made from is BPA free.

BPA Free Dinosaur Water Bottle

This colourful dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed water bottle is indeed BPA free.

BPA (Bisphenol A), is a chemical used to make some plastics, including food storage containers and refillable drinks bottles. Microscopic amounts of this chemical can be transferred from packaging into the food and drinks that we consume, however the level of BPA found in food is not considered to be harmful.

The design on the dinosaur drinking bottle
The colourful prehistoric animal themed design on the 500 ml drinking bottle. Ideal for school or picnics, this water bottle is BPA free. Can you name all the prehistoric animals featured?

BPA (Bisphenol A) Safety Assessments

Some people are concerned about BPA because it’s one of a large number of substances that could possibly interfere with human hormone systems. Extensive assessments have been carried out on BPA by the UK Food Standards Agency. Their current full assessment has found that dietary exposure to BPA is not a health concern for any age group.

However, Everything Dinosaur are pleased to confirm that this water bottle that we supply is BPA free.

To view the range of dinosaur and prehistoric themed merchandise available from Everything Dinosaur: Visit Everything Dinosaur.

3 07, 2021

Dinosaurs Nested in the High Arctic

By | July 3rd, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Analysis of sediments taken from the famous Prince Creek Formation of northern Alaska has revealed tiny, fossilised bones and teeth representing perinatal dinosaurs – either embryonic (just about to hatch) or dinosaurs that have recently hatched. Several different types of dinosaurs are represented, which means that high latitudes in the northern hemisphere were probably the dinosaur’s permanent home and that they nested there.

High Arctic was a Nursery for some dinosaurs
The discovery of tiny teeth and bones from perinatal dinosaurs provides strong evidence for dinosaurs nesting in the Arctic. This in turn suggests that many different dinosaurs were year-round residents and supports the hypothesis that most theropod and ornithischian dinosaurs were endothermic (warm-blooded). Picture credit: James Havens.

A Dinosaur Nursery

Researchers from the University of Alaska Museum, the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Florida State University and the University of Colorado writing in the academic journal “Current Biology”, report the discovery of tiny teeth — some less than 2 mm in length along with bones from seven species of perinatal dinosaurs. These tiny fossils were found after conducting a microscopic analysis of sediments from the bluffs that can be found along the shores of the Coleville River. These sediments are from the Prince Creek Formation and represent deposition that took place around 70 million years ago,

The field season is very short at such a high latitude. In the three weeks of field work that are possible, the team removed hundreds of kilograms of sediment from the face of the bluffs. The buckets of sediment are hauled down to the river’s edge, where team members wash the material through smaller and smaller screens until they have removed any large rocks and soil.

Researchers pose next to buckets of sediments that will be sieved for microfossils.
Field team members pose for a photograph next to buckets of sediment that they will sift through to search for tiny mammalian teeth end evidence of perinatal dinosaurs. Picture credit: Jaelyn Eberle.

Once back at the lab, researchers run the material through more screens to remove all the clay, until all that’s left is sandy particles. Then, teaspoon by teaspoon, the team, including graduate and undergraduate students examine the sand under microscopes to find the tiny bones and teeth. This work has revealed tiny teeth of mammals, but in addition, tiny teeth and bones of dinosaurs have been discovered.

dinosaurs nested in the Arctic
A map of Laramidia in the Late Cretaceous showing the position of the Prince Creek Formation in relation to other deposits where Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils have been found. At this latitude, around 120 days each year were in total darkness. The scientists have found perinatal bones and teeth representing a wide variety of dinosaurs. Picture credit: Druckenmiller et al

Endothermic Dinosaurs

Although not as cold as today, conditions in this part of northern Laramidia during the Late Cretaceous were extremely challenging. For around 120 days each year there was total darkness and it has been calculated that the mean average temperature was just 6.3°C ± 2.2°C (43.3°F ± 4.0°F). The Eumeralla and Wonthaggi Formations of Australia at a palaeolatitude of about 70° south, have also provided evidence of recently hatched dinosaurs and yearlings. However, the Prince Creek Formation at a latitude of 80°– 85° north represents the most extreme environment yet described for the Dinosauria. Intriguingly, whilst dinosaurs living in southern Gondwana (Eumeralla and Wonthaggi Formation fossil remains), would have experienced around 45 days of total darkness each year, this palaeoenvironment was still warm enough for ectothermic animals such as crocodilians and amphibians to thrive. However, no such “cold-blooded” animals are found in association with Prince Creek Formation sediments.

To survive such harsh conditions, the researchers conclude that the dinosaurs of Prince Creek Formation were endothermic, just like modern mammals and birds.

Evidence of perinatal dinosaurs from the Prince Creek Formation.
Perinatal skeletal elements of Prince Creek Formation dinosaurs. Insert (A) medial and distal views of distal femur(?), Ornithischia indet. (UAMES 41721). (B) Lateral, articular, and ventral views of caudal centrum, Ornithischia indet. (UAMES 41633). (C) Lateral, ventral, and articular views of caudal centrum, Theropoda indet. (UAMES 51934). (D) Transverse thin section of Ornithischia indet. long bone (UAMES 52384) showing the extreme porosity attributable to large, irregularly shaped vascular canals and the incompletely formed primary vascular canals on both the endosteal and periosteal surfaces. (E) Extensor, distal, and flexor views of distal tarsometatarsus, Avialae indet. (UAMES 41722). bol, bulbous osteocyte lacunae; end, endosteal surface; ipvc, incipient primary vascular canals; per, periosteal surface.

Lead author of the research Patrick Druckenmiller (University of Alaska Museum) commented:

“Recovering these tiny fossils is like panning for gold. It requires a great amount of time and effort to sort through tonnes of sediment grain-by-grain under a microscope. The fossils we found are rare but are scientifically rich in information”.

Dinosaurs were Year-round Residents of Northern Alaska

The presence of such young dinosaurs, who were not capable of making long, seasonal migrations is strong evidence to suggest that the dinosaur biota was present all year. The palaeoenvironment was extreme but numerous different types of dinosaur were able to thrive in this harsh habitat.

Tiny teeth suggest dinosaurs nested in the Arctic
Comparative sizes of immature and mature teeth from Prince Creek Formation dinosaurs. A) Troodontidae indet. (UAMES 52268, UAMES 51652). (B) Saurornitholestinae indet. (UAMES 52292, UAMES 29574). (C) Thescelosauridae indet. cheek teeth (UAMES 52230, UAMES 52272) (D) Leptoceratopsidae indet. (UAMES 42720, UAMES 39298). (E) Hadrosauridae (cf. Ugrunaaluk) (UAMES 42739, UAMES 12491). (F) Ceratopsidae (cf. Pachyrhinosaurus) (UAMES 52467, UAMES 29413). (G), Tyrannosauridae (cf. Nanuqsaurus) premaxillary teeth, Picture credit: Druckenmiller et al.

This discovery demonstrates just how adaptable members of the Dinosauria were and hints at a diverse and rich dinosaur dominated ecosystem hundreds of miles inside the Palaeo-Arctic Circle.

The scientific paper: “Nesting at extreme polar latitudes by non-avian dinosaurs” by Patrick S. Druckenmiller, Gregory M. Erickson, Donald Brinkman, Caleb M. Brown and Jaelyn J. Eberle published in Current Biology.

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