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13 10, 2020

A New Basal Abelisaurid is Described “Ghost Hunter”

By | October 13th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A New Basal Abelisaurid – Spectrovenator ragei

Researchers from the Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil), in collaboration with colleagues from the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (Argentina), have described a new species of basal abelisaurid from the Early Cretaceous of Brazil.  The theropod has been named Spectrovenator ragei, the genus name translates from the Latin as “Ghost Hunter” as the fossilised remains were found unexpectedly underneath the holotype of the titanosaur Tapuiasaurus macedoi when the fossils of this dinosaur were being partially prepared by the field team.

An Illustration of Spectrovenator ragei with Key Fossils Highlighted that Help to Define the Dinosaur’s Taxonomy

Spectrovenator key fossils.

Key fossil bones that helped to define Spectrovenator taxonomically.  Known fossil material shaded blue.

Picture Credit: Zaher et al

The species or trivial name honours the late Dr Jean-Claude Rage, an eminent French researcher who made a significant contribution to the study of South American Mesozoic vertebrates.

Described from a partially articulated skeleton including a virtually complete skull, the dinosaur is thought to have measured around 2.2 metres in length and it is the first Early Cretaceous abelisaurid known with an almost complete skull.  The cranial material has helped the researchers to demonstrate the evolution of abelisaurid skulls from the earliest, most basal Eoabelisaurus to the abelisaurids that existed in Gondwana during the later stages of the Cretaceous.

Views of the Skull with Accompanying Line Drawings

The Skull of Spectovenator (lateral view with line drawings).

The skull of Spectrovenator ragei (MZSP-PV 833) in (a) right lateral view with (b) line drawing and (c) left lateral view and accompanying line drawing (d).  Scale bar equals 5 cm.

Picture Credit: Zaher et al

With a beautifully preserved skull to study, the scientists have been able to compare the function of the skull and jaws of Spectrovenator with more derived members of the Abelisauridae.  The Early Cretaceous Spectrovenator (Barremian-Aptian), lacks the specialisations, such as a high occipital region and highly flexible jaw joints linked to a modified feeding strategy suggested for much later abelisaurids.  For example, some scientists, think that large-bodied abelisaurids such as Carnotaurus (C. sastrei) specialised in hunting titanosaurs (large prey).  The lack of these specialisations in the skull of Spectrovenator suggests this modified feeding strategy may be restricted to Late Cretaceous abelisaurids and linked to an increase in body size by this type of predatory dinosaur which occurred during the Cenomanian and through to the Maastrichtian.

Phylogenetic relationships of Spectrovenator within the Ceratosauria

Phylogenetic relationships of Spectrovenator within the Ceratosauria.

Phylogenetic relationships of Spectrovenator within the Ceratosauria with a geographical and temporal break down of fossil material.  Spectrovenator is regarded as a basal member of the Abelisauridae.

Picture Credit: Zaher et al

The discovery of Spectrovenator helps to fill a sizeable gap in the evolutionary history of the Abelisauridae.  The earliest member of the Abelisauridae described to date Eoabelisaurus (E. mefi), is known from the Middle Jurassic of Argentina (around 166 million years ago), whilst other abelisaurids such as Rugops and Skorpiovenator are known from Upper Cretaceous sediments (100 million years ago approximately).  Whereas Spectrovenator was found in strata that is approximately 120 million years old.

The scientific paper: “An Early Cretaceous theropod dinosaur from Brazil sheds light on the cranial evolution of the Abelisauridae” by Hussam Zaher, Diego Pol, Bruno Albert Navarro, Rafael Delcourt and Alberto Barbosa Carvalho published in Comptes Rendus Palevol.

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12 10, 2020

Marine Reptile Soft Toys

By | October 12th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus Soft Toys

Everything Dinosaur stocks a large range of prehistoric animal soft toys.  We like to refer to all these soft and cuddly creatures as our “prehistoric plush”.  Joining our portfolio of prehistoric animals are a pair of marine reptile soft toys.  Everything Dinosaur has added another Plesiosaurus soft toy and we have also been able to bring in a special Ichthyosaurus as well.  Two wonderful examples of Mesozoic themed soft toys and they are super-sized too!

The Natural History Museum Ichthyosaurus Soft Toy

Natural History Museum Ichthyosaurus soft toy.

Mary Anning would have been proud!  A soft toy Ichthyosaurus – a fine example of “prehistoric plush”!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Beautifully Textured Soft Toys

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have been asked to comment on the scales visible on the image above.  We have been emailed several times about this subject and we can confirm that although the fossil record suggests that ichthyosaurs had streamlined bodies that lacked large scales, the texture of the soft toy does show lots of different sized scales.  There are also subtle hues of greys and browns within the fabric.  This is one very tactile example of prehistoric plush!

The Actual Ichthyosaurus Soft Toy as Photographed in the Everything Dinosaur Studio

Natural History Museum Ichthyosaurus soft toy.

The textured skin of this Ichthyosaurus soft toy is evident.  This is a soft toy of a marine reptile.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Taking a Close Look at the Ichthyosaurus Soft Toy

A soft toy Ichthyosaurus

Natural History Museum soft toy Ichthyosaurus.  The soft toy measures around 50 cm in length.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Natural History Museum Plesiosaurus Soft Toy

In addition to the “fish lizard” Everything Dinosaur have added a Natural History Museum Plesiosaurus soft toy.  Both these marine reptile soft toys are quite large, measuring around 50 cm in length.

The Natural History Museum Plesiosaurus Soft Toy

Natural History Museum Plesiosaurus soft toy.

A Natural History Museum Plesiosaurus soft toy.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are delighted to be able to add this pair of prehistoric plush to our prehistoric animal soft toy range.  It is great to be able to offer such a wide variety of prehistoric animal soft toys, they will be fine additions to our plush range which tends to be dominated by the dinosaurs.”

We Think the Plesiosaurus is Smiling!

Soft Toy Plesiosaurus.

The soft toy Plesiosaurus gives the impression that it is smiling.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Natural History Museum Ichthyosaurus soft toy and/or the Natural History Museum soft toy Plesiosaurus: Large Soft Toys from Everything Dinosaur.

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11 10, 2020

Papo in Perspective – YouTube Video

By | October 11th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Presents “Papo in Perspective”

The next YouTube video that Everything Dinosaur has planned is a perspective on how Everything Dinosaur works with the French model and figure manufacturer Papo.  Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel might have over 180 videos on it, but we have never before discussed in detail a single model making company in one of our videos.  Normally we focus on model and replica reviews and over the years we have posted dozens of videos dedicated to one Papo model or another.  However, let’s do something different and provide a perspective on some of their new for 2020 additions, consider potential retirements as well as revealing a sure-fire way to identify a legitimate Papo model supplier.

Everything Dinosaur on YouTube

Everything Dinosaur, putting Papo in perspective

Everything Dinosaur’s next YouTube review will focus on one model manufacturer rather than one prehistoric animal model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Providing Educational Video Reviews

At Everything Dinosaur, we hope to educate and inform when it comes to our video contents.  There are lots of model reviews to be found on YouTube, however, we are the only company of our kind with a very real insight into the model making industry as well as the palaeontology behind fossil finds.  You could say that Everything Dinosaur is uniquely placed to comment upon the science behind the design of prehistoric animal figures.  Our YouTube channel contains lots of helpful videos about prehistoric animal models and figures.  To visit our YouTube channel and to subscribe: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

To see the range of Papo prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models.

The Papo Giganotosaurus Dinosaur Model will Feature in Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube Video

The Papo Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Stepping into the spotlight the Papo Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.  It will feature in Everything Dinosaur’s latest video (mid-October 2020).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Question of the Day

In addition, to looking at Papo’s current crop of prehistoric animal figures, we know that model collectors will be eagerly anticipating new figures for 2021.  Manufacturers have the plans well advanced, but just for a bit of fun, we shall challenge our YouTube subscribers and video reviewers to come up with suggestions as to what replicas Papo ought to consider making in 2022.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

” We always like to include a question or two in our video reviews and with our strong working relationship with Papo we thought it would be fun to challenge viewers to suggest what sort of figures Papo ought to make in 2022.  There are more than fifty models in the Papo Les Dinosaures range, although not all of them are dinosaurs.  There are certainly enough figures and replicas to inspire model collectors.  We look forward to reviewing the suggestions and to passing them onto our pals at Papo.”

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10 10, 2020

Prehistoric Times – Preview

By | October 10th, 2020|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page, Photos, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

Prehistoric Times – Preview

This might be a very strange and distressing year for many people (2020), we might be yearning for a sense of normality or normalcy as they say across the pond.  Mike Fredericks and his team responsible for “Prehistoric Times”, the quarterly magazine for prehistoric animal enthusiasts, palaeoartists and collectors of dinosaur figures and related merchandise have produced another amazing issue and it will soon be in the post.

The artwork that adorns the front cover is a dramatic Pleistocene-inspired scene created by the extremely talented American palaeoartist Mark Hallet.  The artwork depicting a cave bear defending her calf, certainly has impact!

The Front Cover of “Prehistoric Times” Magazine (Issue 135)

Prehistoric Times magazine front cover (issue 135)

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” magazine issue 135 (autumn 2020).

Picture Credit: Mike Fredericks

Front Cover Artwork by Mark Hallett

Inspired by a previous generation of great artists such as Charles R. Knight, Mark has worked with a large number of prestigious publications, museums and other institutions including National Geographic, the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History as well as working with the likes of Steven Spielberg on the Jurassic Park franchise.

A passionate supporter of conservation, Mark continues to create beautiful and dramatic artwork depicting prehistoric scenes and dioramas helping to excite and inspire the next generation of scientists by encouraging them develop a fascination for the natural world.  Inside this edition of the magazine readers will discover two articles penned by the Texas-based artist along with more examples of his exquisite artwork.

The autumn edition of “Prehistoric Times” (issue 135), also features an article written by the American researcher, illustrator and author Gregory S. Paul along with the second part of the perspective on theropod dinosaur artwork of the famous Czech artist Zdeněk Burian in a long-running series researched and written by John Lavas.  Stegosaurus is the featured dinosaur and look out for an article on that survivor of the Permian mass extinction, the herbivorous, heavily-built Lystrosaurus.   It’s great to see a member of the Dicynodontia showcased in the magazine.

In these troubling times, “Prehistoric Times” helps to bring together the prehistoric animal model collecting community.  We are looking forward to receiving the next issue, it should be with us very soon.

Want to subscribe to “Prehistoric Times”?   Click this link for more details: Subscribe to Prehistoric Times.

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9 10, 2020

The Sensitive Beaks of Pterosaurs

By | October 9th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Sensitive Probe Feeding Pterosaurs

Whilst it is not always sensible to compare the Pterosauria to birds, they do have a number of things in common.  As vertebrates they may not be very closely related but both birds and pterosaurs share some common anatomical characteristics that have helped them to conquer the sky.  Their skeletons show special adaptations to assist with powered flight and if we focus on modern birds for a moment, we can see that many forms have evolved to occupy different niches in ecosystems.  For example, some birds such as vultures and condors are primarily scavengers, whilst others are active predators (eagles, hawks and falcons).  Yet more are omnivores and some such as flamingos (filter feeders), swifts (aerial insect hunters) and hummingbirds (nectar feeders) occupy very specialist roles within food chains.

Although the known fossil record of the Pterosauria probably grossly under-represents these flying reptiles, palaeontologists are becoming increasingly aware of the diversity of this enigmatic clade.  Around 130 genera have been described, probably only a fraction of the total number of genera that evolved during their long history and recently a combination of fossil finds from Morocco in conjunction with a re-examination of fossils from a chalk pit near Maidstone in Kent (England), has led researchers to propose yet another environmental niche for pterosaurs.  Some pterosaurs evolved sensitive beaks that allowed them to probe sediments to help them find food just like many types of modern wading birds and members of the Aves such as the kiwi.

A Life Reconstruction of the Lonchodectid Lonchodraco giganteus Probing in the Mud to Find Food

Lonchodraco (pterosaur) probing mud for food.

A life reconstruction of a lonchodectid pterosaur using its sensitive beak to find food.

Picture Credit: Megan Jacobs (The University of Portsmouth)

Unusual Foramina in a Fossil Specimen

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth in collaboration with Dr Nicholas Longrich (University of Bath), took a close look at the fragmentary remains of the anterior of the rostrum (front of the jaws), of the pterosaur Lonchodraco giganteus (formerly referred to as Lonchodectes giganteus).  These fossils had been found in a chalk pit, close to the village of Burham, near Maidstone, Kent.  They were originally described as a species of Pterodactylus by the British naturalist James Scott Bowerbank in 1846.

Lonchodraco giganteus Holotype Jaws

Lonchodraco giganteus holotype rostrum and mandible.

Holotype rostrum and mandible of Lonchodraco giganteus (NHMUK 39412) in (a) left lateral and (b) right lateral views.  Scale bar = 1 cm.

Picture Credit: Martill et al (Cretaceous Research)

Like many pterosaur fossils from southern England, the fossilised remains are extremely scrappy, more recent studies have assigned these remains to the little-known lonchodectid pterosaurs (Lonchodectidae family).  These types of pterosaurs are united by having low profile jaws, raised teeth sockets and uniformly small teeth.  In a study of the holotype rostrum and mandible of L. giganteus, dozens of tiny holes (foramina) were discovered in the beak tip.  These are thought to represent sensory areas on the beak, where nerves pass through the bone and make contact with the beak’s surface.  Although foramina have been observed in the Pterosauria before, the pattern identified on the tip of the rostrum of Lonchodraco is unique.

Lonchodraco giganteus Holotype (Anterior View)

Lonchodraco giganteus holotype (anterior view).

Lonchodraco giganteus (NHMUK 39412).  Two views of anterior rostrum and mandible.  Photograph ( a) showing anterior margin of mandible with small, triangular symphysial process and (b), anterior view of rostrum showing the rounded termination of the beak and the fine perforations of the dental borders.  Black arrows indicate symphysial process/odontoid.  Scale bar = 1 cm.

Picture Credit: Martill et al (Cretaceous Research)

These types of nerve clusters are reminiscent to those found in living birds such as kiwis, sandpapers, spoonbills, geese, ducks and snipes.  These birds rely on their sense of touch when finding and catching food.  Typically, they either probe in water, mud, sand or soil to locate and catch prey.  This research, in combination with a second paper that also postulates on probe-feeding behaviour in the Pterosauria, suggests that just like modern birds, the pterosaurs were capable of evolving into a myriad of forms to exploit different food sources.

Concentration of Foramina at the Jaw Tips (Lonchodraco giganteus)

Lonchodraco line drawing showing concentration of foramina at the jaw tips

Hypothetical restoration of the jaw tips of Lonchodraco giganteus.  The black dots represent sensory areas (foramina).

Picture Credit: Martill et al (Cretaceous Research)

The scientific paper: “Evidence for tactile foraging in pterosaurs: a sensitive tip to the beak of Lonchodraco giganteus (Pterosauria, Lonchodectidae) from the Upper Cretaceous of southern England” by David M. Martill, Roy E. Smith, Nicholas Longrich and James Brown published in Cretaceous Research.

A Second Example of Probe Feeding

Recently, Professor David Martill, along with colleagues from Portsmouth University, pterosaur expert Samir Zouhri (Université Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco) and Nicholas Longrich (University of Bath), published a paper in Cretaceous Research describing a new species of long-jawed pterosaur from Morocco that also could have been a probe feeder.  The flying reptile was described as having exceptionally long jaws for its body size, which terminated in a flattened beak with thickened bony walls.  The shape of these jaws superficially resembled the beaks of probing birds such as kiwis, ibises and curlews.  The research team hypothesised that like these living birds, this pterosaur probed in soft sediments in search of invertebrates.  The age of the fossils is not certain, although an Albian to Cenomanian age was postulated.  This pterosaur was tentatively assigned to the azhdarchoids, but if it is a member of the Azhdarchoidea, then it represents an extremely atypical form.

The scientists conclude that this Moroccan pterosaur adds to the remarkable diversity of the Pterosauria known from the Cretaceous.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of media releases from the University of Portsmouth and the University of Bath in compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “A long-billed, possible probe-feeding pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea: ?Azhdarchoidea) from the mid-Cretaceous of Morocco, North Africa” by Roy E. Smith, David M. Martill, Alexander Kao, Samir Zouhri, and Nicholas Longrich published in Cretaceous Research.

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8 10, 2020

Two-fingered Oviraptosaur Sheds Light on the Success of the “Egg Thiefs”

By | October 8th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Oksoko avarsan – New Species of Oviraptorosaur with Two Fingers

That inappropriately named clade of “Egg Thief Lizards”, the Oviraptorosauria has a new member.  Standing around one metre high at the hips, the newly described Oksoko avarsan (Oak-soak-oh), which had just two digits on each hand, instead of the default Oviraptor setting of three, is helping palaeontologists to understand the radiation and success of these feathered dinosaurs.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Oksoko avarsan

Oksoko avarsan life reconstruction.

A trio of oviraptors – a life reconstruction of Oksoko avarsan.

Picture Credit: Michael Skrepnick

The First Evidence of Digit Loss in the Oviraptorosaurs

Over the last forty years or so, lots of new oviraptorosaur theropods have been named and described, principally from fossil finds made in China and Mongolia.   These feathered dinosaurs were highly successful and although their origins are uncertain, this type of dinosaur probably evolved in the Early Cretaceous of northern China and by the Late Cretaceous they had spread across much of Asia and into North America.

Whilst most palaeontologists confronted with the wealth of fossil material would concede that these theropods were geographically widespread, little research has been undertaken to ascertain the reasons for their evolutionary success.  The discovery of Oksoko with its reduced forelimb with only two functional digits suggests that this group could alter their diets, behaviours and habits which enabled them to diversify and multiply.  In essence, variation in forelimb length and hand morphology provides another example of niche partitioning in oviraptorosaurs, which may have contributed to their incredible diversity in the latest Cretaceous of Asia.

The Holotype Block Containing Three Specimens of O. avarsan

The holotype block consisting of three individuals (Oksoko avarsan).

The holotype block of Oksoko avarsan MPC-D 102/110 with an explanatory line drawing.  The holotype fossil is individual A coloured blue.

Picture Credit: Funston et al (Royal Society Open Science)

Gregarious Behaviour in Oviraptorids

Oksoko is known from four specimens, a group of three (see picture above) and a fourth specimen found in the same crouched position that is believed to come from the same location.  All the fossil material was confiscated from poachers so the exact discovery site of these fossils remains unknown.  However, the researchers have confidently assigned them to the Nemegt Formation of the Gobi Desert and the material is estimated to be around 68 million years old.  It had long been suspected that oviraptorosaurs were gregarious social animals.  The finding of three individuals preserved together represents the first, definitive evidence that these animals probably lived in groups and that they were gregarious.  The fossil bones of all four individuals have provided the researchers with an almost complete skeleton of this two-metre-long dinosaur to study.

Key Fossils Representing the Anatomy of Oksoko avarsan

Key fossils associated with Oksoko avarsan.

Skeletal anatomy of Oksoko avarsan with key fossils including skull in lateral view (b) with line drawing (c).

Picture Credit: Funston et al (Royal Society Open Science)

A Three-headed Eagle

The scientists which included Dr Gregory Funston (Edinburgh University) and Phil Currie (University of Alberta), named this dinosaur after the three-headed eagle of Altaic mythology, a reference to the holotype block which contains the skulls of three individuals.  The species or trivial name is from a Mongolian word for “rescued”, it alludes to the fact that these fossils were recovered from poachers.

The remarkably well-preserved fossil material provides the first documented evidence of digit loss in the usually three-fingered Oviraptorosauria.  The holotype block material represents the remains of three dinosaurs that were approximately the same size and bone histology reveals that these animals died when they were around a year old.  The fourth specimen is believed to represent an older animal that died around the age of five.

Commenting on the discovery, Dr Funston remarked:

“Oksoko avarsan is interesting because the skeletons are very complete and the way they were preserved resting together shows that juveniles roamed together in groups.  But more importantly, its two-fingered hand prompted us to look at the way the hand and forelimb changed throughout the evolution of oviraptors — which hadn’t been studied before.  This revealed some unexpected trends that are a key piece in the puzzle of why oviraptors were so diverse before the extinction that killed the dinosaurs.”

Finger Loss in a Dinosaur Family

Oksoko is the sixth genus of the Oviraptoridae family to be named from fossils associated with the Nemegt Formation.  This demonstrates the diversity of these types of dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous of China.

The other five oviraptorids known from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia as stated by Everything Dinosaur team members are:

  • Rinchenia mongoliensis
  • Nomingia gobiensis
  • Nemegtomaia barsboldi
  • Gobiraptor minutus
  • Conchoraptor gracilis

In addition, a number of closely related dinosaurs are known from the Nemegt Formation including the caenagnathid Elmisaurus rarus

The scientists produced a phylogeny of the Oviraptorosauria based in a reduction in size and eventual loss of digit III as shown in the most derived form described to date (O. avarsan) and a corresponding increase in size and robustness of digit I.  They concluded that the arms and hands of these dinosaurs changed radically in conjunction with migrations into new geographical areas and presumably different habitats – specifically to what is now North America and the Gobi Desert.

Plotting the Change in Hand Morphology and the Radiation of the Oviraptorosauria

Phylogeny, biogeography and digit reduction in Oviraptorosauria.

Phylogeny, biogeography and digit reduction in Oviraptorosauria.  The map (top left) shows the distribution of oviraptorids during the Late Cretaceous of Asia.

Picture Credit: Funston et al (Royal Society Open Science)

To read a related article that considered the holotype block as evidence for communal roosting in oviraptorids: Three Theropods Preserved in a Resting Pose.

The scientific paper: “A new two-fingered dinosaur sheds light on the radiation of Oviraptorosauria” by Gregory F. Funston, Tsogtbaatar Chinzorig, Khishigjav Tsogtbaatar, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Corwin Sullivan and Philip J. Currie published in Royal Society Open Science.

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7 10, 2020

Little Juravenator Had Sensory Scales on its Tail

By | October 7th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Juravenator and a “Tale” of Sensory Scales

Researchers writing in the academic journal “Current Biology”, have revealed how dinosaurs may have made sense of their surroundings using special sensory nodes embedded in the scales on their skin.  A new paper focusing on the small, theropod Juravenator starki from the Torleite Formation (upper Kimmeridgian), Solnhofen, Bavaria, (Germany), reports on the discovery of dermal structures along the side of the dinosaur’s tail resembling the integumentary sense organs found in extant crocodiles.

Getting a Sense of Dinosaur Senses

Identifying integumentary sense organs in the Juravenator holotype specimen.

Integumentary sense organs identified in the Juravenator starki holotype.  The black arrow points to the sensory organ, which are found on polygonal scales covering the lower part of the tail

Picture Credit: Bell et al Current Biology with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Juravenator starki

Once thought to be a close relative of the contemporary Compsognathus longipes, Juravenator is known from a single, beautifully preserved fossil specimen (JME Sch 200), found in a limestone quarry in 1998.  Although squashed flat, the specimen is mostly articulated and complete with only some caudal vertebrae missing.  It is a juvenile and as such, placing it within the Theropoda has proved problematic.  The taxonomic position is uncertain, but it has been suggested that it could represent a basal member of the Coelurosauria or perhaps a primitive member of the Maniraptora.

The genus name is derived from the Bavarian Jura mountains and “venator” – Latin for “hunter”.  The species (trivial) name honours the Stark family who owned the quarry where the sixty-centimetre-long dinosaur fossil was discovered.

Soft tissue representing body scales have been identified associated with the lower leg bones and between the 8th and 22nd caudal vertebrae.  Other soft tissue structures have been found probably representing preserved tendons and ligaments.  It is these dermal structures that have been the centre of this new study.

A Life Reconstruction of the Late Jurassic Theropod Juravenator starki

Juravenator starki illustrated.

An illustration of the theropod Juravenator starki.

Picture Credit: Jake Baardse

Specialised Scales

Scientists are aware that early in the evolution of the first truly terrestrial tetrapods epidermal scales evolved to provide an effective barrier against ultraviolet radiation and to prevent excessive water loss.  This evolutionary development meant that stem reptiles were no longer constrained by having to stay close to freshwater like their amphibian ancestors.  Epidermal scales in extant reptiles are not simple, inert structures but can perform a suite of functions and assist in how the animal senses its environment.

Researchers Dr Phil Bell (University of New England) in Armidale, Australia along with his colleague Dr Christophe Hendrickx, from the Unidad Ejecutora Lillo in San Miguel de Tucumán, (Argentina), both specialists in dinosaur dermatology, identified a unique scale type with distinctive, prominent circular nodes on the preserved integumentary covering on the tail of Juravenator. They interpret these raised nodes as integumentary sense organs, analogous to those found today in living crocodilians.

Dr Bell commented:

“Few people pay much attention to dinosaur skin, because it is assumed that they are just big, scaly reptiles.  But when I looked closely at the scales on the side of the tail, I kept finding these little ring-like features that didn’t make sense; they were certainly unlike other dinosaur scales.”

Integumentary Sense Organs Identified in a Dinosaur

Crocodilian integumentary sense organs.

Crocodilian integumentary sense organs, circular objects visible on the dermal scales.

Picture Credit: Bell et al Current Biology

The surprising presence of such structures suggests the tail of Juravenator played a role in how this dinosaur sensed the world around it.  This is the first direct evidence of such structures being present on the skin of a dinosaur.

The shape and the orientation of the teeth, especially those in the upper jaw suggest Juravenator ate fish (piscivore).  During the Late Jurassic, this part of Europe was covered by a warm, tropical, shallow sea with numerous small islands.  This archipelago was home to a number of dinosaurs including the famous “urvogel” Archaeopteryx.  As crocodiles are aquatic predators, the research team speculate that Juravenator may have been an aquatic hunter too.  Alligators have integumentary sense organs on their snout, whereas crocodiles have these special scales all over their body including the tail.  These sensory nodes help these reptiles to detect temperature changes, chemical signals in the water as well as having tactile properties.  Although the entire integumentary covering of Juravenator is unknown, this lithe dinosaur could have submerged its tail to help it detect the movement of prey underwater.

To read an article about the sense of smell in the Dinosauria: Don’t Get Sniffy About Dinosaur Sense of Smell.

The scientific paper: “Crocodile-like sensory scales in a Late Jurassic theropod dinosaur” by Phil R. Bell and Christophe Hendrickx published in Current Biology.

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6 10, 2020

Rebor T. rex Carcass “Bites the Dust” Reviewed

By | October 6th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Product Reviews|0 Comments

A Video Review of the Rebor T. rex Carcass Models “Bites the Dust”

With the recent arrival of the excellent Rebor Tyrannosaurus rex carcass models “Bites the Dust”, team members at Everything Dinosaur set about producing a video review of these 1:35 scale replicas and providing a guide to some of the science behind cannibalism in tyrannosaurs.  The YouTube video we subsequently created reviews both “plain” and “jungle” colour variants as well as discussing intraspecific competition, pathology on tyrannosaur fossils and examines the injuries preserved on two famous T. rex fossil specimens.

Everything Dinosaur’s Review of the Rebor T. rex Carcass Models “Bites the Dust”

Video credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Rebor replica range including the Rebor Tyrannosaurus rex models: Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models.

Pointing out the Pathology

As well as providing potential purchasers of a figure the opportunity to have a really good look at the model, at Everything Dinosaur, we try and build in a little bit of the science behind the study of prehistoric animals into our YouTube video reviews.  For example, in this video review we examine the evidence which suggests that tyrannosaurs engaged in face biting and that they would have competed with each other for finite resources such as hunting grounds, access to water and territory.  Our video review provides details of the injuries identified on two famous T. rex fossil specimens, interpreted as evidence of fights between members of this species.  We use our video review of the two “Bites the Dust” carcasses to point out some of the pathology associated with Tyrannosaurus rex fossil bones.

Pointing Out the Pathology on a Tyrannosaurus rex Carcass

The pathology on a T. rex carcass (Rebor "Bites the Dust").

Pointing out the pathology on a T. rex carcass.  The Rebor T. rex carcass “Bites the Dust” in the plain colour scheme is used to highlight the injuries depicted on the corpse.  Evidence of a brutal fight between two apex predators.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Using Rebor T. rex Models to Explain Intraspecific Competition

Building upon our objective of making videos that inform and educate, competition between members of the same species is examined and we look at the evidence that suggests that intraspecific competition, occurred in tyrannosaurs.  We utilise Rebor dinosaur models to illustrate how animals of the same species might come into conflict with each other.  The Rebor T. rex models, known as the “Killer Queen” figures make an appearance in the video review and the narrator comments on the similarity in the colour schemes between the “Bites the Dust” tyrannosaurs and the “Killer Queen” models.

Using Rebor Replicas to Illustrate Intraspecific Competition

Rebor T. rex models helping to illustrate intraspecific competition.

Using Rebor T. rex replicas to discuss the biological concept of intraspecific competition. Animals of the same species competing with each other for finite resources such as food and territory.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Find Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube video channel here: Our YouTube Channel (we recommend that you subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube).

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5 10, 2020

Papo Stygimoloch Dinosaur Model

By | October 5th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases, Product Reviews|0 Comments

The Papo Stygimoloch Dinosaur Model

In stock at Everything Dinosaur is the last dinosaur model to be introduced by the French figure and replica manufacturer Papo for 2020, the Papo Stygimoloch.  This model represents a genus of bone-headed dinosaur that was formally named and described back in 1983 (Galton and Sues), from very fragmentary fossils associated with the Hell Creek Formation of North America.

The New for 2020 Papo Stygimoloch Dinosaur Model

New for 2020 Papo Stygimoloch model.

The new for 2020 Papo Stygimoloch dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Stygimoloch spiniferNomen dubium

The fragmentary remains that led to the erection of this genus included an unusual, piece of a left squamosal (bone from the top part of the back of the skull).  This partial squamosal was ornamented by “three or four massive horn cores”.  In their scientific paper describing S. spinifer, Galton and Sues referred other fragmentary pieces to this new genus including a skull bone that had previously thought to have come from a Triceratops.

As many pachycephalosaurs have been described based on very poorly preserved and extremely fragmentary remains this has led to the original interpretations being challenged by other academics.  When dealing with small pieces of bone, a more cautious approach is usually taken, palaeontologists being all too aware of founding a new genus on a paucity of fossil remains.

Stygimoloch in Everything Dinosaur’s Studio

The Papo Stygimoloch dinosaur model.

Displaying those prominent spikes on the back of the skull – Stygimoloch spinifer.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A number of reviews of the taxonomy and phylogeny of the pachycephalosaurs have taken place.  Confusion has arisen as it is thought that these dinosaurs changed radically in appearance as they grew up and matured.  Many palaeontologists regard Stygimoloch as a Nomen dubium, a genus of dinosaur whose validity is doubted.  It is thought that the fossils associated with S. spinifer represent material from juvenile Pachycephalosaurus specimens (Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis).

The Papo Stygimoloch figure measures approximately thirteen centimetres long and it stands a little over eight centimetres high.

Popular Due to the Film “Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom”

With such spectacular head gear, Stygimoloch continues to be a firm favourite amongst model collectors and fans of the Dinosauria.  Stygimoloch found a whole generation of new admirers when a pachycephalosaur resembling it made a dramatic appearance in the 2018 film release “Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom”.  This highly successful film grossed more than $1.3 billion USD in cinema ticket sales worldwide.  The film features a short scene in which a pachycephalosaur breaks down a wall, thus permitting the main protagonists of the film, Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), to escape their captors.

To purchase the Papo Stygimoloch dinosaur model and the rest of the Papo model range: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models.

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4 10, 2020

Predatory Tactics of Prehistoric Felids

By | October 4th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Predatory Tactics of Prehistoric Felids

In the summer, Everything Dinosaur was contacted by Kate from Nottingham University who was conducting research into the predatory habits of extinct felids.  Our team members are contacted quite frequently by academics, museum staff and students requesting our advice and guidance.  Kate wanted to know whether there were any replicas available that could represent Pseudaelurus, a genus of prehistoric cat that was both geographically and temporally widely distributed.  In addition, our advice was sought over finding suitable models of Smilodon species, specifically S. fatalis, S. gracilis and S. populator.

Smilodon Ambush – Creeping Up on a Young Mammoth

Smilodon ambushes a Woolly Mammoth calf.

Everything Dinosaur was asked about potential predator/prey interactions with specific reference to Smilodon.  A beautifully composed diorama depicting a hunting strategy of the sabre-toothed cat Smilodon.

Picture Credit: Kate/Nottingham University

Everything Dinosaur has been involved in a number of prehistoric mammal themed projects recently.  Many museums around the world may have been closed due to the current pandemic but this has permitted exhibition organisers and curators the opportunity to review and revamp some of their public displays.  For example, Everything Dinosaur was asked to supply replicas of several prehistoric elephants including Deinotherium and Palaeoloxodon antiquus (Straight-tusked elephant), to a German natural history museum as part of a display featuring the teeth of extinct members of the Proboscidae.

Our work is certainly diverse, no two days are the same.

Having worked with several academics previously on enigmatic sabre-toothed predators, including gorgonopsids, we were able to advise Kate on which prehistoric animal models could be used to differentiate between the various species and sub-species of Smilodon.

As part of her project work, Kate created some beautiful dioramas using these figures in a bid to replicate hunting behaviours.

A Pair of Smilodon Tackle a Prehistoric Horse

A Smilodon diorama.

Smilodon hunting.  As apex predators these powerful animals would have preyed on a variety of animals including prehistoric horses, if they could get close enough to ambush them.

Picture Credit: Kate Nottingham University

Commenting upon the assistance received from Everything Dinosaur, Kate stated:

“Thank you for your help and advice with the Smilodon models and prey species.  I had a lot of fun using them in my final project.”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We get asked to work on all kinds of prehistoric animal related activities supplying models and figures to museums and other educational bodies all over the world.  The replicas that we supply have proved extremely useful in helping to visualise ancient, prehistoric landscapes and to inform and educate visitors.”

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