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7 01, 2019

Smallest Dinosaur Tracks Known to Science

By | January 7th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A New Tiny Dromaeosaurid Ichnogenus Dromaeosauriformipes

Catching up with our reading of scientific papers over the weekend and our attention was caught by the description of tiny, two-toed prints from South Korea that reaffirm the growing conviction amongst scientists that some types of non-avian dinosaur were very small, not much bigger than sparrows.  Writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, researchers from South Korea, in collaboration with colleagues from Australia, China, Spain and the USA, describe eighteen diminutive, didactyl tracks that are attributed to either juveniles or tiny adult dinosaurs that may have had a hip height of around five centimetres.

The tracks have been ascribed to a new ichnogenus – Dromaeosauriformipes (D. rarus), the name translates as similar in form to Dromaeosauripus*, small and rare.

A Life Reconstruction of the Recently Described Dromaeosauriformipes rarus

Dromaeosauriformipes illustrated.

A life reconstruction of the diminutive, dromaeosaurid ichnogenus Dromaeosauriformipes.

Picture Credit: Anthony Romilio (Queensland University)

Dromaeosauripus* is an earlier described ichnogenus representing a larger set of tracks, three ichnospecies have been assigned to this ichnogenus to date.

Dromaeosauriformipes rarus – A Microsaur

The tracks were originally found by Professor Kyung Soo Kim (Chinju National University of Education, South Korea), one of the authors of the paper.  The tracks come from a series of remarkable multiple track-bearing horizons from the JinJu Formation of the south-eastern part of the Korean peninsula.  The deposits represent lakeshore sediments (Lower Cretaceous) and date from approximately 115 million years ago (Aptian faunal stage).  The trackways criss-cross an area that was once soft mud and the eighteen tracks are interpreted as representing an estimated 6 to 10 individual trackways possibly made by a similar number of different individuals.  It is suggested that the prints could resemble a Microraptor-like dromaeosaurid (Microraptorine).  Some scientists have suggested that Microraptor was piscivorous (fish-eating).  The tracks found in association with a lakeshore, could represent a Microraptor-like dinosaur searching for food, but equally the tracks could represent other types of activity.

Microraptorine Activity in Lakeshore Setting (D. rarus)

Mapping tiny tracks assigned to a dromaeosaurid dinosaur.

Diminutive dromaeosaurid tracks from South Korea (Dromaeosauriformipes rarus).

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports  – original photo (A) by Professor Kim

The picture shows (A), the seven print trackway of the diminutive dromaeosaurian Dromaeosauriformipes rarus.  A line drawing of the trackway is shown (B) and (C) shows a line drawing of the track-bearing surface showing two tiny tracks but trackway 2 has a much bigger stride length indicating greater velocity than recorded in trackway 1.  Pictured below are seven photographs recording the individual prints.

One of the authors of the scientific paper, Dr Anthony Romilio from the University of Queensland stated:

“They are the world’s smallest dinosaur tracks.  These new tracks are just one centimetre in length, which means the dinosaur that made them was an animal you could have easily held in your hand.”

Hatched from Tiny Eggs

To estimate the size of the dinosaur that made the tracks, the team measured the footprint length and multiplied the value by 4.5 to get an approximate hip height.  The maker(s) of these tiny tracks would have had a hip height of around five centimetres.  The two-toed prints are definitively dromaeosaurid, as the second toe, the killing claw, is held off the ground as the dinosaur moves about, hence just two toe impressions are left behind in each print.  In the paper, the scientists comment upon the fact that these tiny dinosaurs must have hatched from very small eggs.

Back in 2016, Everything Dinosaur featured the discovery of tiny three-toed Theropod prints that had been discovered in Lower Cretaceous sediments from south-western China.  As a result, a new “tiny-saurus” ichnogenus was erected – Minisauripus.  The South Korean prints assigned to Dromaeosauriformipes rarus are even smaller.

To read about the earlier discovery of tiny dinosaur footprints from south-western China: Minisauripus – the Smallest Dinosaur Known?

Professor Kyung Soo Kim commented that the lake deposits at this location created ideal conditions that allowed for the preservation of tiny footprints, rarely found anywhere else in the world.

Professor Kim added:

“In addition to tiny dinosaur tracks, we have footprints made by birds, pterosaurs, lizards, turtles, mammals, and even frogs.”

Comparing the Tracks of Dromaeosauriformipes rarus with Dromaeosauripus jinjuensis

Comparing the didactyl tracks of different sized dromaeosaurid ichnogenera.

Dromaeosauriformipes rarus tracks compared in size and scale to Dromaeosauripus jinjuensis.

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The image above compares illustrations of the tracks of  Dromaeosauriformipes rarus to the size of the trackways assigned to Dromaeosauripus jinjuensis.  Note the raised second toe which produces the characteristic two-toed print.  D rarus tracks suggest a much smaller dromaeosaur produced the tracks.  The image in the upper left is a colour photogrammetric image of Trackway 1 which helps to define track depth and characteristics.  This is compared to the photogrammetric colour image showing the type trackway of D. jinjuensis (right).

Are These Tiny Dinosaurs or Newly-Hatched Dinosaurs from a Much Larger Species?

The tracks support the idea that there may have been lots of very small dinosaurs, but their small bones would not necessarily be preserved in the fossil record so there may be a bias towards larger members of the Dinosauria due to their greater preservation potential.  However, if conditions are right, then diminutive prints and tracks can be preserved, providing tantalising evidence to support the idea of a much more diverse Theropoda then previously thought.  The researchers raise two fascinating questions in their published paper:

  1. What is the size range of “raptor” tracks based on footprints or inferred from skeletal remains?
  2. How might diminutive tracks of juveniles be distinguished from the prints made by tiny adults (Microsaurs)?

Co-author Dr Martin Lockley (University of Colorado Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), suggests that these tiny trackways could represent the prints of adult dinosaurs.

He commented:

“Rapidly growing dinosaurs don’t remain small or leave little footprints for very long.  But of all of the footprints we’ve found of the Minisauripus, none grew larger than one inch; a preponderance of evidence of a small species and not babies.  There’s a chance that we just found something smaller.”

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6 01, 2019

Hatching Plans for the Rebor Hatchling Baryonyx

By | January 6th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Rebor Club Selection Limited Edition Baryonyx “Hurricane”

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are busy making plans for the imminent arrival of the latest figure in the Rebor Club Selection range – a hatching Baryonyx nicknamed “Hurricane”.  Only 1,000 of these highly collectable replicas have been produced and like the hatching Triceratops (Jolly) and the T. rex (Rudy), the Baryonyx replica is likely to sell out quickly.

New for 2019, the Rebor Club Selection Limited Edition Baryonyx Figure

Rebor Club Selection limited edition Hatching Baryonyx.

The Rebor Club Selection limited edition Hatching Baryonyx figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Inspired by a Footballer – Harry Kane

Baryonyx is known from Lower Cretaceous strata from Europe, most notably the Upper Weald Clay Formation in Surrey, from which the holotype specimen was excavated in 1983.  This Theropod is associated with southern England and the Isle of Wight, but isolated teeth and other material from Portugal and further afield suggest that Baryonyx (or closely related species/ancestral forms) may have had a wider distribution.  Both the Weald Clay Formation and the Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight, which has also yielded Baryonyx walkeri fossil material, represent palaeoenvironments that would have been subjected to tropical storms so the moniker “Hurricane” is scientifically appropriate.  However, it was the 2018 renaissance of the English football team captained by Harry Kane that proved the inspiration for the name “Hurricane”.  In 2018, the England football team reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia and in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, England have qualified for the semi-finals.  England’s semi-final against Holland in June 2019, will be played in Portugal, highly appropriate as fossil material ascribed to the Baryonyx genus has also been described from that country.

The Rebor Hatching Baryonyx – “Hurricane” (Harry Kane)

Rebor hatching Baryonyx "Hurricane" dinosaur model.

Rebor “Hurricane” limited edition hatching Baryonyx dinosaur model.  The football reaffirms the connection with the England soccer team.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Baryonyx walkeri

When the field team from the British Museum (London Natural History Museum), had finished excavating the fossil remains from the Smokejacks Brickworks in Ockley (Dorking, Surrey) in 1983, some 70% of the skeleton of an individual meat-eating dinosaur had been recovered.  This makes this fossil material one of the most complete, large Theropod dinosaur remains to have been found in Europe.  The Smokejacks Brickworks material represents a sub-adult animal, so estimating the size of Baryonyx walkeri is difficult.  However, most vertebrate palaeontologists estimate that this Theropod reached an adult size of between 7.5 to 10 metres in length, but like all dinosaurs, this giant hatched from an egg.

The Limited Edition Rebor Hatching Baryonyx Dinosaur Figure “Hurricane”

Rebor Hatching Baryonyx "Hurricane".

The limited edition hatching Baryonyx figure “Hurricane” by Rebor.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The hand-painted, highly detailed figure has  been beautifully sculpted and the dinosaur can be displayed with or without the football accessory.  Note also the care taken to sculpt that enlarged, curved thumb claw, an anatomical feature that first drew the attention of the world’s media to the fossil discovery back in 1983.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are excited and can’t wait to take delivery of this limited edition dinosaur figure. The stock is due to arrive at our warehouse in the next few days and then we shall be emailing all those collectors who have asked us to reserve a Club Selection replica hatching Baryonyx for them.  We suspect that when “Hurricane” arrives it will create a bit of storm amongst fans of dinosaur models.”

To view the range of Rebor prehistoric animal replicas in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

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5 01, 2019

First Fossil Record of a Yam from Asia

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

Leaf Fossils from India Hint at the Origin of Yams

The edible, starch-filled tubers of the genus Dioscorea are an important food stuff for many people.  These flowering plants (Dioscoreaceae family), are often referred to as yams and several hundred species are known.  These plants are widely distributed throughout warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions, but scientists were unsure of the evolutionary history of this important group of Angiosperms.  However, researchers from the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (Lucknow, northern India), have named a new fossil species – Dioscorea eocenicus.  Two broad, heart-shaped leaf fossils unearthed at a Gurha lignite mine in Bikaner (western Rajasthan), hint that this important group of plants could have evolved on the southern super-continent of Gondwana.

One of the Broad Leaf Fossils from the Mine – Dioscorea eocenicus

Ancient leaf fossils suggest Eocene Epoch yams.

Dioscorea eocenicus – ancient yam of the Early Eocene Epoch.

Picture Credit: Rakesh Chandra Mehrotra and Anumeha Shukla published (Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology)

The First Record of Dioscoreaceae from Asia

Writing in the academic journal “Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology”, the researchers describe the two leaf fossils which measure around sixteen centimetres in length.  Comparative analysis with extant and extinct flowering plants led the authors to conclude that these fossils represent the first record of the Dioscoreaceae family from Asia.  Fossils representing ancient members of the Dioscoreaceae are known from Africa, Europe and America, but these Eocene fossils found on the Indian subcontinent suggest a southern hemisphere origin for this plant family and furthermore, it could mean that yams were present in the Cretaceous.  Perhaps, Late Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaurs fed on their leaves and succulent, energy rich tubers.

Analysis of other plant fossils found in the same deposits, reveal that when these early yams lived, Rajasthan was a humid, tropical paradise.  The climate of Rajasthan today is very different.  India’s largest state is arid and it contains the Thar Desert, sometimes referred to as the “Great Indian Desert” which covers and area bigger than the whole of England and Wales.

The scientific paper: “First Record of Dioscorea from the Early Eocene of north-western India: Its Evolutionary and Palaeoecological Importance” by Rakesh Chandra Mehrotra and Anumeha Shukla published in the Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology.

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4 01, 2019

New Middle Jurassic Pterosaur Described

By | January 4th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Klobiodon rochei – Fanged Flier of the Middle Jurassic

The famous Stonesfield Slate mines located in Oxfordshire have provided palaeontologists with a rich assemblage of Middle Jurassic (Bathonian), marine and terrestrial fossils, perhaps most famously, the Theropod Megalosaurus, the first dinosaur to be scientifically described.  Joining “big reptile” as a member of the area’s prehistoric biota is a newly described, toothy pterosaur – Klobiodon rochei.

Writing in the academic journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, Dr Michael O’Sullivan, (University of Portsmouth), has reviewed the extensive but highly fragmentary pterosaur material and uncovered evidence of well-armed and substantial flying reptiles from historically important, but overlooked, British fossils.

A Life Reconstruction of the Middle Jurassic Rhamphorhynchid Pterosaur Klobiodon rochei

Klobiodon rochei life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the Middle Jurassic pterosaur Klobiodon rochei.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

An Unexpectedly Large and Formidable Flying Reptile

Working in collaboration with Professor David Martill (University of Portsmouth), Dr O’Sullivan examined many of the 215 fragmentary pterosaur fossils that have been collected from the Stonesfield Slate mines, K. rochei is one of the largest known from any Middle Jurassic-aged deposits.  It had an estimated wingspan of two metres, making it about the size of a modern-day mute swan.  Living around 166-165 million years ago, Klobiodon is an unexpectedly large and formidably-armed species.

Commenting on the significance of the newly described member of the Rhamphorhynchidae family, Dr O’Sullivan stated:

“It’s large fangs would have meshed together to form a toothy cage, from which little could escape once Klobiodon had gotten a hold of it.   The excellent marine reptiles and ammonites of the UK’s Jurassic heritage are widely known, but we celebrate our Jurassic flying reptiles far less.  The Stonesfield pterosaurs are rarely pretty or spectacular, but they capture a time in flying reptile evolution which is poorly represented globally.  They have an important role to play in not only understanding the UK’s natural history, but help us understand the bigger global picture as well.”

Honouring Comic Book Artist Nick Roche

The genus name translates as “cage tooth”, a reference to its huge, fang-like teeth, up to 26 millimetres long, that lined the jaw (this pterosaur has been named based on the morphology of the lower mandible).  The species name honours comic book artist Nick Roche in recognition of the role this popular media has in how extinct animals are portrayed.  Comic books are a medium where prehistoric animals are portrayed in an increasingly scientifically accurate manner, Roche’s work at the turn of this century was one of the earlier examples of a revival of palaeoart.

The Lower Jaw of Klobiodon rochei

Holotype fossil fo Klobiodon rochei.

The right lower mandible of the newly described Middle Jurassic pterosaur Klobiodon rochei.  The photograph shows the original label assigned to the fossil the validity of Rhamphocephalus depressirostris has now been questioned.

Only the lower jaw of Klobiodon is known, but it has a unique dental configuration that allows it to be distinguished from other pterosaurs.   It probably fed on small fish and squid, filling a role in the coastal ecosystem of an extant seagull or tern.

A Confused Picture

Much of Dr O’Sullivan’s research has involved untangling the messy science associated with these neglected specimens.  For example, the pterosaur specimens from the Great Oolite Group (Stonesfield Slate is a unit of the Great Oolite Group), are held in museums scattered across the world, although the majority are housed either at the London Natural History Museum or within the collection of the Natural History Museum of Oxford University.  Most of these fossils were assigned in the 19th Century to the genus Rhamphocephalus and to one of three species namely: Rhamphocephalus prestwichi, Rhamphocephalus bucklandi, and Rhamphocephalus depressirostris.

This study reviewed the British Middle Jurassic Pterosauria assemblage, evaluating both their systematics and taxonomic diversity.  The holotype of Rhamphocephalus, an isolated skull table, is found to be a misidentified crocodylomorph skull and the genus is therefore considered a nomen dubium.  The holotype of Rhamphocephalus bucklandi is identified as missing and that of Rhamphocephalus depressirostris has characters diagnostic at a family level, not a generic or specific one.  Both species are considered dubious.  Detailed examination of the entire pterosaur fossil assemblage shows that these fossils actually represent at least five different taxa, representing three families.  The researchers propose that the fossil material includes the earliest occurrences of the Monofenestrata clade and sub-order Pterodactyloidea, that was to give rise to some of the largest flying reptiles known to science.

Dr O’Sullivan explained:

“Klobiodon has been known to us for centuries, archived in a museum drawer and seen by dozens or hundreds of scientists, but it’s significance has been overlooked because it’s been confused with another species since the 1800s.”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“The pterosaur fossils associated with Middle Jurassic deposits of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire have been neglected.  Research undertaken in the 19th century suggested that this was a time of relatively low pterosaur diversity.  This new research suggests that this was not the case, the Bathonian pterosaur assemblage is actually quite diverse with important early representatives of key types of flying reptile having been identified from this English fossil material.”

Stonefield Slate’s Most Famous Resident

Perhaps the most famous member of the Great Oolite Group biota is Megalosaurus bucklandii, the first dinosaur to be formally described.  The name was first used by James Parkinson in 1822 and published by the Reverend William Buckland in 1824, when he described various fossil remains including an iconic lower jaw bone (right dentary).  Size estimates vary for M. bucklandii, it could have been around ten metres in length.  It was probably the apex predator within this ecosystem and it is intriguing to think that the likes of Klobiodon could have scavenged the kills of Megalosaurus.

A Life Reconstruction of the Stonefield Slate’s Most Famous Member – Megalosaurus bucklandii

A life reconstruction of Megalosaurus bucklandii.

Megalosaurus feeding.  An illustration of the Middle Jurassic Ecosystem (Great Oolite Group).

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The scientific paper: “Pterosauria of the Great Oolite Group (Bathonian, Middle Jurassic) of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, England” by Michael O’Sullivan and David M. Martill, published in published in Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (editor’s choice).

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

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3 01, 2019

Picking Up a Pair of Peccaries in Tennessee

By | January 3rd, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Picking up a Peccary or Two

Scientists from East Tennessee State University in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Tennessee and the University of California have published a scientific paper on the discovery of two types of Pliocene peccary from the famous Gray Fossil Site located Washington County (north-eastern Tennessee).  The town of Gray harbours a remarkable fossil quarry that has highly fossiliferous strata that dates from around 4.9 to 4.5 million years ago.  The site represents a watery sink hole, that was once surrounded by an oak and hickory dominated forest.  Since this location’s discovery nineteen years ago, a treasure trove of vertebrate and plant fossils has been excavated, permitting palaeontologists and palaeobotanists to build up a detailed picture of the ecosystem.  Fossils of frogs, fish, salamanders and several reptiles including two types of alligator have been recorded, but perhaps the most spectacular fossils are the numerous specimens of mammals that have been discovered.

Views of part of the Skull of a Peccary from the Gray Fossil Site (assigned to Mylohyus elmorei)

Mylohyus elmorei fossil from the Gray Fossil Site.

Gray Fossil Site peccary jaw – assigned to Mylohyus elmorei. Note the scale bar = 30 mm, (A) lateral view, (B) occlusal view and (C) medial view.

Picture Credit: PeerJ

Field teams have found evidence of short-faced bears, dwarf tapirs, sabre-toothed cats, prehistoric elephants (Gomphotheres and Mastodons), camels, as well as rodents, bats and rabbits.  Scientists can add another animal to the ecosystem – a peccary, to be precise, fossils of two different types of peccary have been found.

Prehistoric Peccaries

Peccaries may look like pigs but they are not true pigs (members of the Suidae family).  Peccaries, or as they are sometimes known javelinas, are assigned to a different family (Tayassuidae).  They probably share a common Eocene ancestor with the true pigs, however, by around 35 million years ago peccaries were established in North America and they have evolved independently away from European and Asian suoids.

Writing in the academic journal “PeerJ”, the researchers identify two different extinct species of peccary from skull and jaw fossils found at the site.  The species are Mylohyus elmorei and Prosthennops serus.  They are not new to science, after all the genera were erected in 1860 and 1877 respectively but neither of these extinct species has ever been found in this part of the United States before.  P. serus has been found in fossil sites around the United States, but never before in the Appalachian region.  With the confirmation that the Gray Fossil Site contains specimens of Mylohyus elmorei, the range of this species has been extended by over 500 miles northwards.

The Lower Jaw of the Extinct Peccary Prosthennops serus

Prosthennops serus lower jaw.

The lower jaw of Prosthennops serus.  Note how the large canine teeth in the front of the jaw point straight up, this is an important characteristic that helps to distinguish peccary fossils from the fossils of true pigs (Suidae).

Picture Credit: East Tennessee State University

Commenting on the significance of the published paper, Dr Chris Widga (East Tennessee State University Museum of Natural History at the Gray Fossil Site), stated:

“Details of the peccaries’ teeth suggest that they spent their lives browsing on the leaves and fruits of succulent plants, so they would have been right at home in the Gray Fossil Site ecosystem, which we know from plant fossils was rich with tasty vegetation.”

How to Tell a Peccary from a Pig (True Pig)

Peccaries look superficially like pigs, they fill the same niche in the ecosystem (ground dwelling omnivores), but there are a number of striking anatomical differences.  The canine tusks of peccaries are always very simple, either pointing up or down.  In contrast the canine tusks of true pigs usually are more elaborate affairs, with distinct curves and often flaring out to the side.  Peccary skulls tend to be much narrower and much shorter than pig skulls.

Comparing the Skull of a Pig (Warthog) to that of a Peccary

A pig skull (warthog) compared to a peccary skull.

Comparing a pig skull (left) with a peccary skull (right).

Picture Credit: Christine Janis (Brown University) with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The Gray Fossil Site peccary material will help scientists to better understand subtle variations within each peccary species (intraspecific variation), which will aid peccary fossil interpretation and classification.  In addition, the Gray Fossil Site material includes the most complete mandible found to date of Mylohyus elmorei.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the East Tennessee State University in the preparation of this article.

The scientific paper: “First Occurrence of the Enigmatic Peccaries Mylohyus elmorei and Prosthennops serus from the Appalachians: Latest Hemphillian to Early Blancan of Gray Fossil Site, Tennessee” by Evan M. Doughty​, Steven C. Wallace, Blaine W. Schubert and Lauren M. Lyon published in the journal PeerJ.

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2 01, 2019

The Limited Edition Velociraptor osmolskae (Beasts of the Mesozoic)

By | January 2nd, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae Figure (Limited Edition)

Plans are progressing well at Everything Dinosaur with regards to new additions to the very popular Beasts of the Mesozoic collectable “raptor” figures.  New lines will be coming into stock in the spring and we have featured the new additions in a previous blog post and a customer e-newsletter.  Today, we focus on one of these new replicas, the limited edition Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae figure, that will only be available for sale in Europe from Everything Dinosaur.

New for 2019 – A Limited Edition Beast of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae Figure

Beasts of the Mesozoic limited edition V. osmolskae figure.

Limited edition Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae figure.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To read our previous article that provides details on all the new Beasts of the Mesozoic “raptor” releases for 2019: New Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures for 2019

Superb Quality Articulated Figures

The Beasts of the Mesozoic range consist of superb quality, articulated figures.  They are the brainchild of the highly talented and respected artist David Silva.  Everything Dinosaur team members are eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the new “raptors” including the limited edition Velociraptor osmolskae figure, the second species to be named in the Velociraptor genus (named in 2008, whereas V. mongoliensis was formally named and described back in 1924).

The Limited Edition Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor osmolskae Box Contents

Beasts of the Mesozoic Limited Edition Velociraptor osmolskae box contents.

Box contents – the limited edition Velociraptor osmolskae figure (Beasts of the Mesozoic).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is fitting to see a Velociraptor named after a Polish scientist – Halszka Osmólskaand one first described by researchers led by a Belgian palaeontologist – Pascal Godefroit, coming to Europe.  It has been eleven years since this ground dwelling carnivore was formally named and described and more than ninety years since the genus Velociraptor was erected, it is great to see a Velociraptor osmolskae figure added to our inventory.”

To view the range of Beasts of the Mesozoic articulated figures offered by Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic Figures

Beautiful Artwork

One of the features of this highly collectable range of prehistoric animals is the beautiful box art.  The Velociraptor osmolskae illustration on the box is from renowned artist Raul Ramos.  Raul will be the package illustrator for the Ceratopsian themed articulated figure series which will be the next range of models to be launched.

The Stunning Velociraptor osmolskae Package Art

Beasts of the Mesozoic Limited Edition Velociraptor osmolskae artwork

The original artwork of the Velociraptor osmolskae will feature on the box for the new for 2019 Beasts of the Mesozoic V. osmolskae replica.

Picture Credit: Raul Ramos

In the beautiful illustration by Raul Ramos, the Velociraptor is depicted in a dry, arid environment.  The type fossil specimen for this species comes from the Bayan Mandahu Formation of China, strata that represents a desert habitat, so the backdrop chosen by the artist is entirely appropriate.

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1 01, 2019

Happy New Year from Everything Dinosaur

By | January 1st, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Happy New Year from Everything Dinosaur

Just a brief note to wish all our weblog readers, social media followers and customers a happy New Year.  We wish everyone a peaceful, prosperous 2019.   Team members at Everything Dinosaur have lots of exciting plans for the next twelve months, including adding numerous new prehistoric animal models to our range.   We estimate that by the end of this year (2019), we will have added around fifty new prehistoric animal models to our inventory.

We will also be updating our website and making some improvements to further aid navigation and enhance the website visitor experience.

Everything Dinosaur Team Members Wish Everyone a Happy New Year

Everything Dinosaur wishes everyone a Happy New Year.

Happy New Year from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

From all of us, to all of you – Happy New Year.

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31 12, 2018

Scientists Discover the Earliest Evidence of Three Major Plant Groups

By | December 31st, 2018|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Permian Tropical Lowlands – A Hot Spot for Plant Evolution

Over recent days, team members at Everything Dinosaur have been reviewing the breadth and scope of the articles posted on this blog in the last twelve months.  The number of Sauropodomorpha themed articles (Sauropods and their ancestors), has been commented upon.  There have certainly been some amazing early, long-necked dinosaur discoveries, but we have also had a lot of exciting fossil discoveries concerning the Plantae Kingdom to write about too.  In 2019, we have reported on research that suggests the very first land plants evolved earlier than previously thought.  We have also written about new compelling evidence that suggests that flowering plants (Angiosperms), were present during the Middle Jurassic.

The Preserved Remains of a Seed Fern (Upper Permian Deposits – Jordan)

The fossilised remains of a seed fern.

A beautifully preserved seed fern frond in mudstone from the Jordan (Upper Permian).

Picture Credit: Palaeobotany Research Group, University of Münster/Blomenkemper et al

It seems fitting that our last post for 2019, once again looks at some remarkable plant fossil discoveries.

Scientists led by palaeobotanists from the University of Münster (western Germany), have uncovered a series of well-preserved fossils representing important plant groups from Upper Permian rocks at a site in Jordan.  The location, on the Dead Sea, has revealed the fossils of three major plant lineages:

  1. Podocarpaceae – a type of conifer, an evergreen tree
  2. Corystospermaceae – a type of seed fern (Pteridosperm)
  3. Bennettitales – cycad-like plants which produced seeds in cone-like structures

All the fossils pre-date the End-Permian extinction event that wiped out around 95% of all the life on our planet and the fossils prove that all three plant groups evolved millions of years earlier than previously thought.  For example, the now extinct Bennettitales were thought to have evolved sometime in the Triassic.  These fossils confirm that their evolution took place much earlier and that all three types of plant evolved before and persisted through the greatest mass extinction event known in Phanerozoic Eon.

A “Hidden Cradle of Plant Evolution”

Fossilised twigs representing the Podocarpaceae, commonly referred to as southern conifers, as the vast majority of extant species are found in the southern hemisphere, have been found.  These fossils represent the oldest record of any living conifer family.  In collaboration with colleagues from the Smithsonian Institute (USA) and scientists from the University of Jordan, the team also discovered the preserved, carbonised leaves and reproductive organs of Corystospermaceae, a group of seed ferns that went extinct some 150 million years ago, as well as remains of Bennettitales, a peculiar lineage of extinct seed plants with flower-like reproductive organs.

Trekking Through the Wadis on the Dead Sea Coast Looking for Plant Fossils

Exploring the Dead Sea coast of Jordan for Permian plant fossils.

Exploring Upper Permian fossil deposits for evidence of an ancient, lowland plant community.

Picture Credit: Palaeobotany Research Group, University of Münster/Blomenkemper et al

Evidence for the unexpectedly early occurrence of Corystospermaceae in the Permian of Jordan was first published about ten years ago by a research team led by Prof Dr Hans Kerp.  Since then, researchers have uncovered not only the well-preserved leaves but also the characteristic reproductive organs of this group of plants.  Like Bennettitales and Podocarpaceae, these plants were believed to have evolved millions of years later during the Early Mesozoic.

One of the co-authors of the scientific paper, published in the journal “Science”, Benjamin Bomfleur (Palaeobotany Research Group, University of Münster), stated:

“Analysis of characteristic epidermal cell patterns enabled us to resolve the systematic relationships of the plant fossils more precisely.  The study area is really exceptional, like a melting pot of floral provinces.”

An Unusual Mix of Plant Taxa

The researchers noted that the plant fossils at the site represent a diverse and very mixed assemblage of plant types.  The sedimentary deposits were laid down in an equatorial coastal environment with a distinct dry season – an ecosystem that rarely preserves delicate plant fossils.  The scientists conclude that, early evolutionary innovations can occur in drought-prone tropical habitats which rarely offer the conditions needed for fossil preservation.

Dr Bomfleur added:

“The occurrence of no less than three major ‘modern’ plant groups in deposits of just this single rock formation may indicate that such stressed and disturbance-prone tropical environments may have acted as evolutionary cradles also for other plant groups.”

Exquisite Details Revealed by Acid Etching

Once the fossil material had been collected by the field team, a variety of methods were employed in the preparation laboratory to help identify the plant types the fossils represented.  Powerful acids were used on some specimens to prepare plant cuticles for detailed microscopic analysis.  It can be very difficult to distinguish Pteridosperms from ferns based on foliage alone.  Similarly, the fossil leaves of cycads are very difficult to tell apart from those of true Bennettitales.  Identification is usually confirmed by examining microscopic details preserved in cells and on the cell wall of the cuticle, hence the need to use a variety of delicate techniques to reveal fine details.

Careful Exposure to Acids Helps Prepare Delicate Fossils for Microscopic Analysis

A seed fern frond is prepared for analysis.

A fragment of a seed fern frond after acid preparation.

Picture Credit: Palaeobotany Research Group, University of Münster/Blomenkemper et al

Survivors of a Mass Extinction Event

The plant fossils have been dated to approximately 255 million years ago (Lopingian Epoch of the Late Permian), so this ecosystem existed just a few million years prior to the “Great Permian Dying”, a mass extinction event that devasted both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.  The unexpected discovery of these three main groups of plants prior to this extinction event, not only pushes back the origins of these plant types in time, but also proves that all three groups survived the End-Permian extinction event.  Some of these lineages appear to span the mass extinction event, which suggests that the communities they supported may have been more stable than expected over this period of dramatic transition and change.  Thus, early evolutionary innovations can occur in drought-prone tropical habitats, which rarely offer the conditions needed for fossil preservation.  Seasonally dry tropical environments could be described as “cradles of evolution”.

The scientific paper: “A Hidden Cradle of Plant Evolution in Permian Tropical Lowlands” by Patrick Blomenkemper, Hans Kerp, Abdalla Abu Hamad, William A. DiMichele and Benjamin Bomfleur published in the journal Science.

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

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog post on the idea that the first land plants evolved millions of years earlier than once thought: Plants May Have Originated 100 Million Years Earlier

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about the discovery of fossils representing very early flowering plants: The First Flowering Plants Originated in the Early Jurassic

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30 12, 2018

Palaeontology Predictions for 2019

By | December 30th, 2018|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Press Releases|0 Comments

Palaeontology Predictions for 2019

Time to stick our collective necks out to see if we can predict the sort of news stories that we are going to feature on this blog next year (2019).  We took a break from making predictions in 2018, after all, just like fossil collecting, attempting to foresee some of the scientific discoveries that will be covered in the next twelve months can be a bit of a hit and miss affair to say the least.  However, with our trusty geological hammers tucked into our rucksack next to our crystal ball, here are our suggestions as to the fossil finds and palaeontology themed stories that 2019 will bring.

1).  Bring on the Horned Dinosaurs – More Ceratopsians to be Named and Described from America

After the dearth of new horned dinosaurs named and described this year (only one – Crittenceratops krzyzanowskii), we expect the Marginocephalia clade, specifically the North American Ceratopsia to be increased substantially again next year.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur predict that at least four new horned dinosaurs from the United States will be named and described in 2019.

The Diverse Ceratopsia – Likely to be More Diverse by the end of 2019

Divesity in the Ceratopsia.

Diversity in the horned dinosaurs.  Everything Dinosaur team members predict that there will be another four new Ceratopsia taxa from the United States described in 2019.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

2).  Herefordshire Lagerstätte To Make Its Mark Again

In recent years, we have featured a number of amazing fossil finds from the Silurian-aged deposits from the secret Lagerstätte in the county of Herefordshire.  These fossils represent an ancient marine biota that was covered in fine volcanic ash some 425 million years ago.  Such is the exquisite nature of their taphonomy that even the finest soft tissues have been preserved.  We predict that British-based scientists will utilise high-resolution computed tomography in conjunction with computer-generated three-dimensional modelling to reveal a new species of Silurian marine invertebrate.

3).  A New Dinosaur from India

More Chinese dinosaur fossil discoveries are going to be made in 2019.  We also expect fresh insights into the Cretaceous flora and fauna entombed in amber from Myanmar.  However, amongst the twenty or so new species of dinosaur described in the next twelve months, we predict that one of these new-to-science specimens will be found in India.  Many parts of the world (Africa and Asia) for example, are being opened up to geological and fossil exploration.  Several different types of dinosaur are already known from the sub-continent and we predict that there will be a new addition to the dinosaur fauna described from India.

Will a New Dinosaur Species be Discovered in India?

Will a new dinosaur taxon be discovered in Indian in 2019?

Will a new dinosaur species be discovered in India?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

4).  Everything Dinosaur – A New Look to the Website

As well as writing about what other people have been doing, we expect our blog site to update readers on how Everything Dinosaur itself is evolving and changing.  Our core values of customer service and finding the very best quality prehistoric animal products are not going to change, but visitors to: Everything Dinosaur can expect to see some changes next year – all aimed at improving our service and helping our customers.  The number of different types of prehistoric animal models that we offer is also going to increase, but by how many?  Let’s predict another fifty new models  to be made available on our website in 2019.

5).  More Fossils Reveal Melanosomes

With more and more sophisticated and sensitive devices being made available to palaeontologists to aid their research, 2019 will see further developments in the study of fossil specimens on the molecular level.  There have already been some remarkable papers published on the presence of fossilised microscopic structures containing the colour pigment melanin (melanosomes) and we confidently predict that this trend will continue.  We predict that further evidence will emerge next year concerning the colour of members of the Dinosauria.

The Hunt is on for More Melanosome Structures in Fossil Material

Identifying potential melanosomes in fossil material.

Sausage-shapes – potential melanosomes.  Research is likely to continue into prehistoric animal colouration in 2019.

Picture Credit: Lund University (Johan Lindgren)

6). Giant Azhdarchid Pterosaurs

Recent fossil discoveries have indicated that the Pterosauria were more diverse than previously thought towards the very end of the Cretaceous (Campanian to Maastrichtian faunal stages).  Everything Dinosaur has reported on the discovery of several fossil fragments from Europe and Africa in recent years and we predict that a new species of large, very probably azhdarchid, pterosaur will be described in 2019.  The fossil find could come from northern Africa or perhaps from the famous Hateg Basin deposits of Romania.

An Azhdarchid Pterosaur Wrist Bone (Hateg Island) – Will a New Species of Azhdarchid Pterosaur be Described in 2019?

Azhdarchid Pterosaur wrist bone (Hateg Formation).

Azhdarchid pterosaur wrist bone.  What surprises lie in wait for flying reptile researchers in 2019?

Picture Credit: Mátyás Vremir

7).  New Tyrannosaurids from the United States

We began our predictions by stating that we thought it was likely that at least four new horned dinosaur taxa from the USA will be named next year.  With all these herbivores being named and described, it would not surprise us if some more, large Theropod dinosaurs were formally described from fossil material found in the United States next year as well.  Let us conclude our crystal ball gazing by suggesting that two new species of Late Cretaceous tyrannosaurid will be identified from fossil finds from the southern USA (southern parts of Laramidia).

Will New Members be Added to the Tyrannosauridae Family in 2019?

Will there be new types of tyrannosaurid described in 2019.

Will new Tyrannosauridae taxa be described in 2019?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This time next year, as we approach the end of 2019, we will review our predictions and see how we got on.

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29 12, 2018

Everything Dinosaur’s Top Blog Posts of 2018 (Part 2)

By | December 29th, 2018|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur’s Top Blog Posts of 2018 (Part 2)

Today, we conclude our look at our most memorable blog posts of 2018, with a review of blog posts from July through to December.  Since we try to post something up every day, there are certainly a lot of articles to choose from, in our previous posting covering the first six months of the year, we certainly came up with an eclectic mix: Top Blog Posts of 2018 (Part 1), part two is very much cut from the same cloth, with a wide range of scientific subjects covered.

July – Pink Life’s First Colour

July featured marine crocodile evolution, a dinosaur discovery from Northern China (Lingwulong shenqi) that defied logic, Utah’s latest armoured dinosaur, Spanish plesiosaurs and French Gomphotheres.  However, we were “tickled pink” to be able to write about the analysis of 1.1 billion-year-old cyanobacteria that led to the extraction of pink coloured pigments from ancient marine shales.  The world’s oldest biological colour turns out to be pink: In the Pink!  The First Colour of Life.

A Team of International Scientists Have Isolated the Oldest Known Biological Colour

A vial of pink pigments porphyrins - representing the oldest intact pigments in the world.

The oldest colours found to date.

Picture Credit: Australian National University

August – DIY Taphonomy – (Make Your Own Fossils)

The beautiful summer weather continued into August and much of the UK faced drought conditions.  However, fossil finds and prehistoric animal news stories did not dry up.  Team members wrote about marine reptile discoveries in Queensland, a new nodosaurid from Mexico, Chinese alvarezsaurids, a challenge to the idea of aquatic spinosaurids, Scottish Sauropods and toothy pterosaurs from the Late Triassic.  It was an article on how a team of scientists had learned to mimic the fossilisation process, compressing millions of years into just 24-hours that really got our attention.  After all, having a better understanding of how fossils form (taphonomy), will help to improve fossil interpretation: Do It Yourself Taphonomy!

September – Dickinsonia Definitely an Animal

September turned the spotlight on the Ediacaran fauna and one of the most puzzling of all the bizarre life forms to have ever existed – Dickinsonia.  A research paper finally put to rest (most probably), a long-standing argument about this disc-shaped organism.  It was an animal.  What sort of animal?  This remains an area of some debate, but the 550-million-year-old Dickinsonia is now in the same Kingdom as ourselves (Animalia).  Here is our article: Mysterious Dickinsonia Classified as an Animal

A Fossil of the Enigmatic Dickinsonia – Finally Classified and Placed in the Animalia

Dickinsonia fossil.

A beautifully preserved 558 million-year-old fossil of Dickinsonia, now classified as an animal (Metazoan).

Picture Credit: Australian National University

October – A Better Understanding of the Sauropodomorpha (Sarahsaurus et al)

This year, we have seen numerous scientific papers published relating to the evolution and dispersal of the Sauropodomorpha (the Sauropods and their ancestral forms).  For example, researchers from the University of Texas concluded that ancestors of North American, Early Jurassic Sauropodomorphs, such as Sarahsaurus were essentially migrants.  In China, a study of Yizhousaurus fossil material yielded new data on the evolution of long-necked dinosaurs.  The announcement of the discovery of a monstrous Late Triassic Sauropodomorph from Argentina (Ingentia prima), demonstrated that gigantism in the Dinosauria occurred earlier than previously thought.  Amongst all these amazing Sauropodiform/Sauropodomorpha articles, we even managed to publish a feature on the oldest, long-necked dinosaur described to date – Macrocollum itaquii.  October like much of the year, was dominated by the Sauropods: The Ancestors of Sarahsaurus Probably Did Not Originate in North America.

Great Strides in Our Understanding of the Sauropodomorpha in 2018

2018 - The Rise of the Sauropodomorpha.

2018 will be remembered as the year that featured a lot of Sauropodomorpha fossil discoveries and research.

Picture Credit: Viktor Radermacher (Witwatersrand University), R T Müller et al, Jorge A. González, Brian Engh, Xiao-Cong Guo and Everything Dinosaur

2018 is likely to be remembered by many vertebrate palaeontologists as the year in which the evolution of the Sauropodomorpha began to make more sense.

November – Fresh Insight into the “Siberian Unicorn”

Our blog posts in November were dominated by news of new models and figures for 2019.  The weblog also covered elephant-sized Triassic Dicynodonts, Oregon Ornithopods, Enantiornithine birds from Utah, Ornithischian dental batteries, a new Rebbachisaurid (Lavocatisaurus agrioensis), from Argentina and our work in schools.  However, it was a feature on the enigmatic Elasmotherium, sometimes referred to as the “Siberian Unicorn” that stood out for us.  A scientific paper published in November, revealed that the enormous Elasmotherium probably survived until as recently as 36,000 years ago.  It was climate change that ultimately led to the demise of this beast, the paper on the relatively recent extinction of a member of the Rhinoceros family puts into focus the current plight of the remaining members of this once diverse and extensive family of hoofed mammals.   All extant members of the Rhinocerotidae face a very uncertain future.

To read about the extinction of Elasmotherium: Extinction of the “Siberian Unicorn” caused by Climate Change

An Illustration of the “Siberian Unicorn” – Elasmotherium

CollectA Deluxe Elasmotherium model.

The CollectA Deluxe Elasmotherium model.  A replica of the recently extinct Elasmotherium sibiricum.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

December – Fuzzy Feathered Pterosaurs and the First New Ceratopsian of 2018

As the year drew to a close, the breadth and scope of the topic areas we attempted to cover did not diminish.  Over the course of December lost Australian dinosaur toe bones, a new, dog-sized dinosaur from down-under (Weewarrasaurus pobeni), Ichthyosaur blubber, new models and replica retirements all featured.  This month, we also wrote articles about a new Russian dinosaur (Volgatitan simbirskiensis) and featured a paper that demonstrated that the first flowering plants probably evolved at least fifty million years earlier than previously thought.  Two articles we published stand out for us, firstly, on December 14th we produced an article on the Ceratopsian Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii, a new species of Centrosaurine from Arizona.  In the last twenty years or so, there have been an astonishing number of new horned dinosaurs described and named.  Ironically, Crittendenceratops is the first (and only), new horned dinosaur to be named in 2018: A New Horned Dinosaur Species from Late Cretaceous Arizona.

A Life Reconstruction of Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii

Crittendenceratops krzyzanowskii illustrated.

A life reconstruction of the newly described Ceratopsian Crittendenceratops (2018).

Picture Credit: Sergey Krasovskiy

Secondly, our blog post from December 17th, featured the work of an international team of scientists who had identified four kinds of feather-like filaments on the fossils of Pterosaurs: Are the Feathers About to Fly in the Pterosauria?  If they are correct, then this suggests that either the Pterosauria evolved feathers as a form of convergent evolution separate from the Dinosauria, or, that feathers evolved many millions of years earlier than previously thought – in a common ancestor of the Dinosauria and the Pterosauria clades.  Interesting times ahead for those palaeontologists that study flying reptiles.

Four Types of Feather-like Structures Identified in Chinese Pterosaurs

Jeholopterus pterosaur fossil.

Pterosaur material.  A study published in December 2018 suggests that flying reptiles had feathers.

Picture Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences/Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology

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