All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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14 02, 2021

Dinosaurs and St Valentine’s Day

By | February 14th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

Dinosaurs and St Valentine’s Day

Today, February 14th is St Valentine’s Day in the UK (and elsewhere in the world too).  It is the feast day of St Valentine, a day associated with romance.  Romance and the Dinosauria might be an unusual mix, but we are reminded of an article we published nearly five years ago that reported upon some remarkable research into dinosaur trace fossils that possibly shed light on the mating behaviour of “terrible lizards”.

Writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, a team of scientists from Poland, China, South Korea and the USA concluded that a series of trace fossils consisting of pits, scrapes and gouges associated with Upper Cretaceous strata located in western Colorado, preserve evidence of dinosaurs engaging in courtship and mating behaviours similar to modern birds.

Dinosaurs Go a Wooing

Courtship of dinosaurs.

An artist imagines the Cretaceous courtship scene.  Gouges and scrapes preserved in sandstone strata that is estimated to be around 100 million years old, preserve evidence of dinosaurs engaging in courtship and mating behaviours similar to extant birds.

Picture Credit: Lida Xing and Yujiang Han / University of Colorado, Denver

The connection between dinosaurs and Aves (birds) is well established.  However, to what extent can we view the behaviour of modern-day birds and infer behaviours in their long extinct relatives?  Thanks to some research published in 2016 in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, palaeontologists may have gained an insight into the courtship and mating behaviours of theropod dinosaurs.

To view the original Everything Dinosaur article from 2016:Dance of the Dinosaurs.

The scientific paper: “Theropod courtship: large scale physical evidence of display arenas and avian-like scrape ceremony behaviour by Cretaceous dinosaurs” by Martin G. Lockley, Richard T. McCrea, Lisa G. Buckley, Jong Deock Lim, Neffra A. Matthews, Brent H. Breithaupt, Karen J. Houck, Gerard D. Gierliński, Dawid Surmik, Kyung Soo Kim, Lida Xing, Dal Yong Kong, Ken Cart, Jason Martin and Glade Hadden published in the journal Scientific Reports.

3 02, 2021

Teeth Provide Evidence of H. sapiens and Neanderthal Interbreeding

By | February 3rd, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Teeth Provide Evidence of H. sapiens and Neanderthal Interbreeding

Teeth estimated to be less than 48,000 years old from a site in Jersey have provided evidence of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis interbreeding.  The collection of thirteen teeth were all found on a ledge behind a hearth at the cave site of La Cotte de St Brelade on the island of Jersey.  The teeth which were all collected between 1910 and 1911 were all thought to represent the adult teeth of Neanderthals, however, new research led by the Natural History Museum (London), the University of Wales, the University of Kent, The British Museum, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany), Wessex Archaeology and University College London, uncovered features characteristic with modern human teeth (H. sapiens).

Views of One of the Teeth from the La Cotte de St Brelade (Jersey) Site

Views of one of the teeth from La Cotte de St Brelade.

The teeth demonstrate a mixture of Neanderthal and modern human traits.

Picture Credit: Journal of Human Evolution

Traits of Both Neanderthal and Modern Human

One of the original teeth had been lost, another was identified as nonhominin, the remainder represent the teeth from at least two adults.  The shape of the area between the crown and the root, the cervix, indicated that the teeth were from a Homo sapiens, whilst the crown and root dimensions along with the shape of the roots are consistent with H. neanderthalensis.

Field Team Members at Work on the La Cotte de St Brelade Site

Evidence of interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans on Jersey.

The site of the discovery La Cotte de St Brelade on the island of Jersey.

Picture Credit: Dr Martin Bates (University of Wales)

This combination of Neanderthal and modern human traits led the research team to conclude that the people who had these teeth had a possible shared Neanderthal and H. sapiens ancestry.

Dating the Cave Deposits

The research team were able to utilise advance sediment dating techniques to determine the approximate age of the teeth.  The age of the material three to four metres below the horizon from which the teeth came from dates to about 48,000 years ago, a time when modern human populations and Neanderthals were both present in Europe.  A fragmentary skull bone (occipital) found in association with the teeth does not exhibit any diagnostic Neanderthal features, however the teeth provide further, intriguing evidence in support of hominin interbreeding.

Dr Martin Bates, (University of Wales), a geologist on the research team stated:

“The work on the teeth show the value of going back to historic collections of material where modern work at a site provides new contexts for this historic material.  So, although the teeth were collected back in the early 20th century, modern techniques applied to both the teeth and the site now allow us to really begin to understand what the teeth represent and how old they are.”

Mapping and Excavating the La Cotte de St Brelade Site

The cave site La Cotte de St Brelade (Jersey).

La Cotte de St Brelade cave entrance where excavation work continues.

Picture Credit: Dr Martin Bates (University of Wales)

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

The scientific paper: “The morphology of the Late Pleistocene hominin remains from the site of La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey (Channel Islands)” by Tim Compton, Matthew M. Skinner, Louise Humphrey, Matthew Pope, Martin Bates, Thomas W. Davies, Simon A. Parfitt, William P. Plummer, Beccy Scott, Andrew Shaw and Chris Stringer published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

17 01, 2021

Unravelling the Origins of the Earliest Animals

By | January 17th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos|0 Comments

Unravelling the Origins of the Earliest Animals

A team of international scientists including researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Moscow State University have used some remarkable fossils of animals that lived before the Cambrian Explosion to trace the ancestry of some of the world’s earliest organisms.  The fossils, a total of 73 specimens of the primitive metazoan known as Namacalathus (N. hermanastes), were found a single bedding plane sample of rocks associated with the Upper Omkyk Member of the Nama Group of Namibia (Africa).  An in-depth analysis of the tiny three-dimensional fossils, the largest of which were around 12.3 mm in diameter, suggest that these animals are basal members of the Superphylum Lophotrochozoa which are characterised by having a feeding/food gathering structure that is surrounded by a ring of tentacles and a free-swimming, zooplankton developmental stage.  This Superphylum includes the Brachiopoda as well as molluscs, worms and other related, generally soft-bodied organisms.

Members of the Research Team at the Fossil Site (Namibia)

Field team members looking for Ediacaran fossils in Namibia.

Exploring an outcrop of the Upper Omkyk Member (Nama Group, Namibia).  The beautiful but remote fossil site.

Picture Credit: Professor Rachel Wood (University of Edinburgh)

Writing in the academic journal Science Advances, the research team report on the first known link between some of the major groups of animals that evolved during the Cambrian Explosion and their ancestral forms.

Mapping Life from 547 Million Years Ago

The close proximity of the marine deposits that contain the tiny Namacalathus fossils and an ash layer which resulted from volcanic activity permitted the researchers to accurately date the fossils to around 547 million years ago (late in the Ediacaran), the geological period that immediately precedes the Cambrian and the beginning of the Phanerozoic Eon (visible life).  It is only in the last few decades that scientists have been able to piece together a picture of life prior to the Cambrian Explosion event but the fossil record for the tiny, soft-bodied creatures that dominated early marine ecosystems is exceptionally poor.

Once thought to be an ancestor of today’s jellyfishes, Namacalathus have been described as a “pin cushion on a short, hollow stalk”.  The stalk is at its narrowest towards the strange cup-like structure at the top of the stalk where the feeding apparatus was located.

A Diagram of the Proposed Body Plan of Namacalathus (N. hermanastes)

The anatomy of Namacalathus.

A diagram showing the anatomy of Namacalathus.  Measuring just a few millimetres in diameter, the 3-dimensional preservation of the Namibian specimens has permitted researchers a glimpse into the biological affinity of some of the oldest animals known to science.

Picture Credit: Shore et al (Science Advances)

Commenting on the significance of this research, co-author of the scientific paper, Professor Rachel Wood of the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh stated:

“These are exceptional fossils, which give us a glimpse into the biological affinity of some of the oldest animals.  They help us trace the roots of the Cambrian Explosion and the origin of modern animal groups.  Such preservation opens up many new avenues of research into the history of life which was previously not possible.”

Soft Tissue Preservation and Preserved Structures

Prior to this research the exact position of Namacalathus within the Kingdom Animalia remained controversial.  It had been difficult to trace the origins of the major invertebrate groups found today, as the mainly soft-bodied Ediacaran biota left only the merest hints as to their taxonomy in the fossil record.

Using advanced and sophisticated X-ray imaging techniques, the research team were able to identify some of the animal’s soft tissues beautifully preserved inside the fossils by iron sulphide. Until this paper’s publication, scientists had only ever identified exoskeleton remains of Namacalathus.

By looking at the soft tissues that had been entombed by the iron sulphide, the research team were able to identify that Namacalathus was probably a distant ancestor of today’s worms and molluscs (a basal member of the Superphylum Lophotrochozoa).

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

The scientific paper: “Ediacaran metazoan reveals lophotrochozoan affinity and deepens root of Cambrian Explosion” by A. J. Shore, R. A. Wood, I. B. Butler, A. Yu Zhuravlev, S. McMahon, A. Curtis and F. T. Bowyer published in Science Advances.

13 01, 2021

Early Apemen by Zdeněk Burian

By | January 13th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

Illustrating Neanderthals – Zdeněk Burian

Our perception of our close cousins the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis) has changed dramatically over the last four decades or so.  Once thought to be brutish thugs with limited intelligence recent discoveries have revealed that the “apemen” of prehistory were just as sophisticated as ourselves and their demise and eventual extinction remains a mystery.  When Everything Dinosaur team members posted up some Ice Age inspired artwork by the famous 20th century wildlife illustrator and palaeoartist Charles Robert Knight earlier this month*, we were asked by a blog fan to post up some similarly themed artwork by Zdeněk Burian.

The Illustration of a Group of Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) by Zdeněk Burian

Ancient hominins by Zdenek Burian.

Neanderthals depicted a quite primitive “ape-men”.

Picture Credit: Zdeněk Burian

Burian was an equally influential 20th Century artist, who produced numerous illustrations of prehistoric mammals and Ice Age scenes, but we thought we would reflect on how our views have changed regarding what is arguably the most closely related** hominin species to our own – Homo neanderthalensis by posting artwork from Burian illustrating a Neanderthal campsite.

To view the post* which features the Ice Age artwork by Charles R. Knight: A Herd of Woolly Mammoths by Charles R. Knight.

The exact taxonomic relationship between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis remains controversial.  Some palaeoanthropologists consider H. neanderthalensis to be a sub-species of H. sapiens, whilst others suggest that both H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis are descended from Homo heidelbergensis.

7 01, 2021

A Herd of Woolly Mammoths (Charles R. Knight)

By | January 7th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

A Herd of Woolly Mammoths (Charles R. Knight)

The weather might be decidedly chilly (at least here in the UK), at the moment.  With this in mind, time to post up an iconic Ice Age scene painted by the renowned American palaeoartist Charles Robert Knight, depicting a herd of Woolly Mammoths on the move.  This talented artist might be most famous for his depictions of dinosaurs but he also produced many artworks and illustrations of prehistoric mammals and hominins.

A Herd of Woolly Mammoths a Famous Illustration by the American Artist Charles R. Knight (1874-1953)

The Woolly Mammoth an iconic animal of the Ice Age.

A Woolly Mammoth herd (Charles R. Knight).  An iconic painting of a herd of Mammuthus primigenius.  An ideal illustration given the chilly weather here in the UK.

Picture Credit: Charles R. Knight

The artwork, illustrations and murals of Charles R. Knight can be found on display in numerous museums in the United States, such as the National Museum of Natural History (Washington – District of Columbia), the Field Museum (Chicago) and perhaps most famously of all, the American Museum of Natural History (New York).

He also painted many extant animals and several of these illustrations can be found in American Zoos such as the Bronx Zoo (New York) and the National Zoo (Washington – District of Columbia).

His illustration of a herd of mammoths is in keeping with the cold weather we are currently experiencing.  The detailed and beautifully crafted artworks of Charles R. Knight are all the more remarkable given his poor eyesight.  For most of his life, this highly talented and gifted person who has left a legacy of superb artworks, was virtually blind.

2 01, 2021

A Komodo Dragon in the Snow

By | January 2nd, 2021|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

A Komodo Dragon in the Snow

A good artist can turn their hand to using a variety of materials and techniques to express themselves.  Take for instance, this excellent illustration of a Komodo dragon (V. komodoensis), created after a recent snowfall by Caldey.  A fine example of snow art, depicting the largest living lizard, a reptile that would have been very uncomfortable in such a cold environment, however Caldey’s Komodo dragon looks very much at home in her back garden.

A Komodo Dragon in the Snow

Komodo dragon in the snow

Creating a Komodo dragon in the snow.

Picture Credit: Caldey

Plotting Proportions and Adding Details

When working on a large project, many professional artists sketch out their design at first and use this as a blueprint for the much larger artwork. By taking this approach, the proportions can be plotted prior to the outline being made and the details added.  We are not sure how Caldey created her lizard, but she has done well to plot the proportions and scale the animal to fit the space that was available.  Our congratulations!  What a clever and innovative piece of work.

Getting Creative in the Snow – Creating a Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragon in the snow.

Getting creative in the snow.  An illustration of a Komodo dragon by Caldey.  A close-up view of the head of the Komodo dragon snow drawing.

Picture Credit: Caldey

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“With the recent snowfalls in the UK, we have seen lots of pictures of snowmen on social media, but we can’t recall ever seeing a Komodo dragon before.  Our congratulations to Caldey for her clever and innovative use of “solid precipitation”.  We suspect there are not many gardens graced with drawings of lizards.”

Sadly, given the vagaries of the British weather, the Komodo dragon will not be on view for very long.

28 12, 2020

Favourite Blog Posts of 2020 (Part 2)

By | December 28th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Press Releases|0 Comments

Favourite Blog Posts of 2020 (Part 2)

Everything Dinosaur team members conclude their review of their favourite blog articles of 2020 by looking at articles and news stories that were posted up between July and December.  With the best part of 180 posts to choose from selecting our favourite six for this period was quite tricky.  The ones we have selected demonstrate the broad range of topics we cover on the Everything Dinosaur weblog.

To view our earlier article about our favourite posts in the first half of the year: Favourite Blog Posts of 2020 (Part 1).

July – “Lizard Born of Fire”

We might have been in the middle of a global pandemic but Everything Dinosaur team members kept up their blogging reporting upon tiny theropod eggs from Japan, a revision of Dilophosaurus and a number of new dinosaurs.  Our favourite post of the month concerned the scientific description of Aratasaurus museunacionali, a basal member of the Coelurosauria from Brazil.  The genus name translates as “lizard born of fire”, a reference to the terrible fire that ripped through the National Museum of Brazil where the fossil specimen was kept.

A Life Reconstruction of the Basal Member of the Coelurosauria Aratasaurus museunacionali

Aratasaurus museonacionali illustration.

Aratasaurus museonacionali life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Museu Nacional

To read more about A. museunacionaliAratasaurus museunacionali A Lizard Born of Fire.

August – Oculudentavis khaungraae Not a Stem Bird

The controversy over the naming of the smallest dinosaur based on a skull preserved in amber from northern Myanmar rumbled on.  In August, a paper was published that refuted claims that the tiny skull of the animal named Oculudentavis khaungraae was that of an archosaur.  A month earlier (July 2020), the original scientific paper describing this remarkable fossil was retracted.

The Tiny Fossil Skull Preserved in Amber from Myanmar – But is it a Dinosaur?

Oculudentavis khaungraae skull in amber.

Tiny fossil skull preserved in amber (Oculudentavis khaungraae).

 

Picture Credit: Lida Xing et al (Nature)

To read more about O. khaungraaeSmallest Dinosaur Preserved in Amber a Lizard.

September: Doctor Who Meets a Trilobite

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History celebrated its 160th birthday, the Monsters of the Deep exhibition opened in the midst of the chaos caused by COVID-19 and Euparkeria got a makeover. Our favourite post of September concerned a new species of trilobite (Gravicalymene bakeri) from Tasmanian that was named after Doctor Who actor Tom Baker.

A Photograph of a Gravicalymene bakeri Trilobite Fossil with Line Drawing

Gravicalymene bakeri trilobite fossil.

Gravicalymene bakeri trilobite fossil with line drawing.

Picture Credit: Australian Museum

To read more about “Doctor Who and the Trilobites”: Newly Described Species of Trilobite Named after Doctor Who Actor.

October – It’s a Dog’s Life

In October we reported on the mapping of the genome of the Scimitar-toothed cat Homotherium latidens, discussed a new species of mosasaur from Morocco and the diet of pterosaurs, but our favourite article concerned the research into ancient dog DNA.  The study suggested that the diversity observed between dogs in different parts of the world today originated when all of mankind were hunters and gatherers.

Mapping Ancient Doggy DNA

Mapping ancient dog DNA.

Mesolithic dog skull (left) compared to wolf skull (right).

Picture Credit: E. E. Antipina (Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

To read the article: DNA Study Highlights Ancient Relationship Between Humans and Dogs.

November – Dinosaurs from the Emerald Isle

In November, Everything Dinosaur celebrated publishing its 5,000 blog post, discussed Kholumolumo a dinosaur from an African rubbish dump, looked at seal evolution and got to grips with the earliest Paranthropus robustus skull described to date.

Our favourite post concerned the first dinosaur remains reported from Ireland, not just one dinosaur but two!

First Evidence of Dinosaurs from Ireland

Dr Mike Simms holds the two precious fossils.

Dr Mike Simms (National Museums Northern Ireland) holds the theropod tibia on the left and the thyreophoran femur on the right.

Picture Credit: The University of Portsmouth

To learn more about the Irish dinosaurs: The First Dinosaur Remains from Ireland.

December – Thalassodraco etchesi Swims into View

As the year closed, in the final month of 2020 we looked at how interactive “I-books” were helping to explain archaeology, examined a very flashy new dinosaur (U. jubatus), the first sauropod dinosaur from Switzerland (Amanzia greppini) and studied Parasaurolophus pathology.

Our favourite post concerned the establishment of a new species of Late Jurassic ichthyosaur after the discovery of fossil bones by the wonderful Dr Steve Etches MBE, the founder of the amazing Etches Collection museum in Dorset.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Thalassodraco etchesi

Thalassodraco etchesi life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the newly described Late Jurassic ichthyosaur Thalassodraco etchesi.

Picture Credit: Megan Jacobs/University of Portsmouth

To read more about Thalassodraco etchesi: A New Taxon of Late Jurassic Ichthyosaur is Described.

This concludes our review of the blog posts that we have researched and written up over the last twelve months.  Which one is your favourite?

27 12, 2020

Favourite Blog Posts of 2020 (Part 1)

By | December 27th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Press Releases|0 Comments

Favourite Blog Posts of 2020 (Part 1)

At Everything Dinosaur, we try and post up an article on this blog site every single day.  This can be quite a challenge considering all our other activities and projects.  However, as a result of our work on this weblog we have managed to compile a huge amount of information, articles and features chronicling (for the most part), advances in the Earth sciences and new fossil discoveries along with research into the Dinosauria.

This year, Everything Dinosaur’s blog has passed the 5,000 articles benchmark.  Here is a selection of our own favourite news stories that we have covered in the first six months of 2020 (January to June).

January – A New Allosaurus Taxon

In January, a new species of North American Allosaurus was added to the pantheon of dinosaurs known from the famous Morrison Formation of the western United States.  Allosaurus jimmadseni honours the sadly departed James H. Madsen Jr. Utah’s inaugural state palaeontologist.  The famous Allosaurus specimen MOR 693 “Big Al” was reassigned to this new species.

A Pack of Allosaurus (A. jimmadseni) Attack a Luckless Juvenile Sauropod

Allosaurus jimmadseni a new Allosaurus taxon is described.

A pack of allosaurs (A. jimmadseni) attacking a juvenile sauropod.

Picture Credit: Todd Marshall

The January Allosaurus article: A New Species of Allosaurus.

February – The “Father of Argentinian Palaeontology” – José Bonaparte

On the 18th February José Bonaparte, regarded by many as the most influential vertebrate palaeontologist of the 20th Century passed away.  Respected and admired, José helped to develop and train a whole new generation of Earth scientists.  He was also responsible for naming and describing a large number of new dinosaurs including Abelisaurus, hence our illustration of that South American theropod (below).

José Bonaparte and a Drawing of One of the Many Dinosaurs He Named and Described (Abelisaurus comahuensis)

Lamenting the death of José Bonaparte (February 2020).

José Bonaparte (inset) and a drawing of one of the dinosaurs he named in his long and distinguished career Abelisaurus (A. comahuensis).

Picture Credit: Télam/Everything Dinosaur

To read more about José Bonaparte: José Bonaparte – The Founding Father of Palaeontology in Argentina.

March – Telling the Time Back in the Cretaceous

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, team members at Everything Dinosaur were distracted by some remarkable research undertaken by scientists from the University of Ghent and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

A study of the growth rings preserved on the fossilised shells of Cretaceous bivalves permitted the researchers to calculate that 70 million years ago, the day length was approximately thirty minutes shorter and a year on Earth was around a week longer than it is today.

To read this article: Telling the Time Back in the Cretaceous.

April – Homo erectus at Home in Africa

The remarkable Drimolen fossil hominin site in South Africa, provided palaeoanthropologists with likely confirmation that the hominin H. erectus did indeed evolve in Africa and not Asia.  A carefully and painstakingly reconstructed fossil skull (DNH 134), found in this area – regarded as the “Cradle of Humankind”, suggests that Homo erectus existed some 100,000 to 200,000 years earlier than previously realised.

We still have a lot to learn about our own evolution.

Homo erectus Evolved in Africa

Partial H. erectus cranium from the Drimolen Fossil Hominin site.

The partial H. erectus cranium from the Drimolen Fossil Hominin site.

Picture Credit: La Trobe University (Australia)

To learn more about the origins of Homo erectusH. erectus Originated in Africa.

May – Lots of Pterosaurs

A jawbone found on the Isle of Wight was identified as a new species of tapejarid pterosaur.  The flying reptile, named Wightia declivirostris which translates as “slanting beak from the Isle of Wight” was one of several new pterosaur species described in 2020.

A Life Reconstruction of the Early Cretaceous Pterosaur Wightia declivirostris

Wightia declivirostris from the Isle of Wight

A life reconstruction of the newly described tapejarid from the Lower Cretaceous of the Isle of Wight (Wightia declivirostris).

Picture Credit: Megan Jacobs (University of Portsmouth)

To read more about Wightia declivirostrisA New Terrific Tapejarid.

We have a lot more to learn about the Pterosauria too.

June – Fossilised Stick – Provides a Surprise

A fossil discovered more than fifty years ago and regarded as little more than a “fossilised stick” has proved to be a new species of Late Devonian plant and it will help scientists to better understand the flora of the ancient landmass of Gondwana.

The specimen was found by amateur geologist John Irving whilst exploring the banks of the Manilla River in Barraba (New South Wales, Australia).  A study in the open-access journal PeerJ identifies the newly named Keraphyton mawsoniae and proposes that it has a similar structure to primitive horsetails and ferns.  The fossil which looks so unremarkable on the outside, once studied in cross-section, has provided a unique window into the plant life on Earth around 360 million years ago.

Not Much to Look at on the Outside but Inside a Treasure Trove of Information for Palaeobotanists

Keraphyton mawsoniae fossil.

The newly described Keraphyton mawsoniae a fern-like land plant from the Late Devonian of Australia.

Picture Credit: Champreux et al (PeerJ)

To read more about K. mawsoniaeFossil Stick Proves to be New Species of Ancient Plant.

This selection represents some of our favourite blog posts from the first six months of 2020, which one is your favourite post?

We will conclude this review of the news stories we have covered on this blog in part 2.

25 12, 2020

Merry Christmas from Everything Dinosaur

By | December 25th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Photos, Press Releases|0 Comments

Merry Christmas from Everything Dinosaur

From all of us to all of you, we would just like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.  This special day seems to come round even quicker each year.  Team members have been so busy wrapping parcels for customers that we have hardly had time to wrap our own presents and gifts.

Santaroarus Wishes Everyone a Very Merry Christmas

A seasonal decoration with a dinosaur theme - a festive T. rex.

A seasonal decoration with a dinosaur theme.  This is one of our favourite festive decorations.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Lots of Exciting Plans

Here’s hoping that all our blog readers and social media followers have a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.  We have lots of exciting plans for 2021, but before we get there we have perhaps the worst job of the year ahead of us – stock take.  Between now and New Year, we will all be in the warehouse counting the stock, with something like 1,000 product lines it is going to be a “mammoth” task!

We will also be rolling out some changes to our website, we will be able to offer our customers in Europe a fast, fully tracked postal service with all deliveries duty paid (DDP).  No hidden charges, no carding fees, no administration costs for our customers, just the usual 5-star customer service you have come to expect from Everything Dinosaur.  We might even be nominated for another customer service award as well…

Our stock take might be arduous but we will take it in our stride.  Still, I’m sure someone will bring in some mince pies and Christmas cake and this will keep us going.

On behalf of all the team members at Everything Dinosaur have a Happy Christmas.

18 12, 2020

Interactive “I-Book” Provides Readers with Unprecedented Access to Archaeological Sites

By | December 18th, 2020|Book Reviews, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos, Teaching|0 Comments

Interactive “I-Book” Provides Readers with Unprecedented Access to Archaeological Sites

An interactive ‘”I-Book” which allows users to virtually walk around otherwise inaccessible historical sites has been shortlisted as a finalist in a major award.  Entitled “The Shetland in the Iron Age”, this  Interactive “I-Book” gives anyone a VIP pass to three distant archaeological sites and has been highly commended in an industry awards ceremony.

The concept of providing virtual access to sites of great historical significance was developed by Archaeological and Forensic Sciences PhD student Li Sou from the University of Bradford.  The “I-Book” offers a no-holds barred tour of three “broch”, Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structures found in the Shetland Islands, Scotland.  The technology is so simple to use, that anyone aged nine or over can use the “I-Book” and visit relatively remote and inaccessible sites.

University of Bradford Student Li Sou Demonstrates the “I-Book”

Archaeological and Forensic Sciences PhD student Li Sou from the University of Bradford.

Archaeological and Forensic Sciences PhD student Li Sou from the University of Bradford demonstrates the new “I-Book”.

Picture Credit: University of Bradford

The “I-Book” provides 360° virtual maps of the interiors that users can explore.  Virtual visitors can wander around their inner workings, exploring different buildings, accessing staircases and corridors, as though they were there in the Shetlands themselves.

Providing Lots of Associated Information and Data

The cleverly designed “I-Book” includes clickable information hotspots that link to a wealth of associated data, including historic photographs and videos from experts in the field.  The concept was shortlisted in the Association for Learning Technologists Awards and the “I-Book” was highly commended.  The judges describing it as an “incredibly varied, engaging and accessible digital educational resource.”

Historic Environment Scotland have been developing this technology for use at other historic properties in their care and these will launch in 2021, both on site and freely downloadable online.

An Overhead Photograph of a Broch

An overhead photograph of a broch on the Isle of Shetland.

An aerial shot of a broch.

Picture Credit: University of Bradford

The judging panel stated that the project:

“Has excelled in developing a range of versatile digital assets to aid in learning about complicated archaeological and academic themes.”

Commenting after the prestigious award ceremony, student Li Sou exclaimed:

“This is the culmination of a six-month project and brochs are complicated archaeological sites to understand and are not physically accessible to everyone.  The I-Book format is not very well known in the heritage sector, so the project was an excellent opportunity to design a resource that gives readers a chance to explore the sites as if they were there in real life, with integrated accessibility features to make them accessible to all.”

A Useful Resource in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

The use of technology such as this has significant implications for the support of archaeology and general education in the midst of a global pandemic.  The emergence and spread of COVID-19 has curtailed travel and restricted the opening times for heritage monuments.  “I-Books” such as this permit sites that might be closed to the public and otherwise difficult to reach due to the need to restrict travel or to self-isolate, to still be accessible to students, archaeologists and the general public.

“I-Book” Development Team Photo (in an Age of Social Distancing)

Team photo of all those involved in the project

Team photo of all those involved in the “I-Book” project.

Picture Credit: University of Bradford

The interactive “I-Book”  entitled “The Shetland in the Iron Age” was developed in collaboration with the Shetland Amenity Trust with a working group from Historic Environment Scotland, along with the co-operation and assistance of the Visualising Heritage group within the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences, University of Bradford.

Implications for Palaeontology Departments

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that this type of technology has applications within the Earth sciences.  For example, interactive “I-Books” could be provided to help students and researchers virtually visit remote dig sites and fossil quarries.  It could also be used in other research areas such as allowing observations of fossil collections and other material that would otherwise be very difficult to access.

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

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