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4 05, 2019

How Dinosaurs Ran Could Provide Key to Origins of Flight

By | May 4th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Caudipteryx Flapped its “Wings” as it Ran

Scientists from Tsinghua University (Beijing), in collaboration with colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have suggested that the way in which some Theropod dinosaurs ran caused their feathered arms to move up and down.  Involuntary wing flapping might have been the first stage in the evolution of powered, active flight.  This is the conclusion reached in a new scientific paper published in the academic journal “PLOS – Computational Biology”, after a series of highly innovative experiments that involved building a robotic dinosaur and strapping artificial wings to young ostriches.

Modelling the Running Action of Caudipteryx

Calculating the flapping of the wings (Caudipteryx).

Mechanically modelling the running action of the basal feathered dinosaur Caudipteryx.

Picture Credit: PLOS – Computational Biology

Ground Up or Tree Down

Most scientists now accept that the Dinosauria is divided into two divisions, the avian dinosaurs – the birds and the non-avian dinosaurs, essentially all the other dinosaurs.  In addition, it is also widely believed that a type of maniraptoran dinosaur (a clade that contains true birds and those dinosaurs closely related to birds), evolved into our feathered friends.  Trouble is, how did powered flight, a trait very closely associated with most birds alive today come about?  Were some dinosaurs arboreal, clambering amongst the branches of trees and they then evolved the ability to glide and finally powered flight came about in what is described as a “tree down” approach.  Or, were fast-running, cursorial dinosaurs learning to leap into the air and over many generations, feathered arms became longer and stronger and the lift generated led to the evolution of volant dinosaurs and subsequently the birds?  This theory is termed “ground up”.

The debate has persisted for more than a hundred years.

Proavis – A Hypothetical Attempt to Assess “Ground Up” – Fast Running Led to the Evolution of Powered Flight

A model of the hypothetical transitional animal Proavis.

A model of the hypothetical animal Proavis.  An early attempt to examine how fast-running bipedal animals might have evolved into birds.

Picture Credit: Grant Museum of Zoology

Taking a Mechanical Approach

The researchers adopted a mechanical approach to this evolutionary conundrum.  They looked at one of the most basal, non-flying feathered dinosaurs known – Caudipteryx and assessed whether if this dinosaur ran fast enough, its running gait might have caused its feathered arms to flap involuntarily.  In theory, if the arms were strong enough, the wings and their feathers large enough, flapping whilst running fast could generate lift and if the lift to body weight ratios were right, then the dinosaur could take to the air.  In essence, passive wing flapping may have been an evolutionary precursor to later active wing flapping and powered flight.

An Illustration of Caudipteryx

Cauditperyx.

A basal feathered dinosaur that could not fly, but could it flap?

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

An assessment of the fossilised bones of the pheasant-sized Caudipteryx led the researchers to determine that Caudipteryx had a top speed of 8 metres per second (28.8 kmh or 18 mph).  However, simulations using mechanical and computer models suggested that at even lower speeds from 2.5 to 5.8 metres per second, the gait of Caudipteryx would have created strong enough vibrations through its body to cause the wings to flap.

Testing the Physical Movement of Artificial Wings on Young Ostriches

Young ostriches fitted with artificial wings.

Testing the movement of artificial wings in young ostrich locomotion study.

Picture Credit: PLOS – Computational Biology

A Life-size Robotic Caudipteryx

To test their calculations, the scientists built a life-size, robotic Caudipteryx and tested its running performance on a treadmill.  Several young ostriches were kitted out with artificial wings equipped with sensors that could detect lift and forward thrust, or any coefficient drag.  These birds were then put on the treadmill to see how they would perform.  In addition, five different sizes of feathers on the wings were tried, the larger feathers producing more results akin to the development of powered flight.

Five Different Wing Sizes and Feathers were Tested

Wing and feather variations used in the locomotion experiment.

Five different wing and feather combinations were tested.

Picture Credit: PLOS – Computational Biology

Professor John Hutchinson (Royal Veterinary College, London), an expert on animal locomotion, although not directly involved in the research, described this physical modelling approach as “ambitious and creative”, but questioned the paper’s main findings.  The study, for example, may have oversimplified the biology, reducing a living organism to a series of springs and constituent parts with individual mass, subsequently compiled to produce a single result.  Caudipteryx could have ran with its arms held very close to its body, helping it to reduce air resistance as it moved quickly, but also negating some of the lift and thrust that might have been generated by its feathered forelimbs.

Despite his reservations, Professor Hutchinson sees this study has helping to “lay groundwork that could be built upon and tested more rigorously.”

It seems that for the time being, the debate between “tree down” and “ground up” remains unresolved and it is not certain how much of a role passive arm flapping as a result of terrestrial locomotion influenced the evolution of active wing flapping, the precursor to a truly aerial existence.

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3 05, 2019

Everything Dinosaur will be Stocking More PNSO Figures

By | May 3rd, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

More PNSO Prehistoric Animals Added to Everything Dinosaur’s Model Range

Everything Dinosaur will be bringing more PNSO prehistoric animal models into stock.  In the next few weeks, the UK-based company will take delivery of “Essien” the Spinosaurus, “Lucio” the Amargasaurus and the marine reptile “Ron” the Mosasaurus.  In addition, Everything Dinosaur will be stocking the new Ankylosaurus “Sede” along with the new Megalodon model “Patton”.

Coming into Stock at Everything Dinosaur – The PNSO Spinosaurus Model “Essien”

PNSO Spinosaurus model "Essien".

The PNSO Spinosaurus measures around 49 cm long.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Essien” The Spinosaurus

The PNSO Spinosaurus model represents a recent interpretation of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, the North African  Theropod is depicted as a quadruped and the model measures around 49 cm long and the top of the sail on the back is some 18.5 cm off the ground.  This PNSO Spinosaurus would make a stunning centrepiece.

The Spinosaurus Has Captured an Onchopristis

The new PNSO Spinosaurus model.

PNSO Spinosaurus replica with the just caught Onchopristis.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Ron” The Mosasaurus

Swimming into view is the marine reptile “Ron” the Mosasaurus, which, like “Essien” the Spinosaurus has an articulated jaw.  The model is reported to be in 1:35 scale and it measures around 30 cm in length.  It truly is a monster-sized Mosasaurus model.

“Ron” The Beautiful PNSO Mosasaurus Figure

The PNSO Mosasaurus "Ron".

“Ron” the PNSO Mosasaurus replica.  It has an articulated lower jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This highly detailed figure even has pterygoid teeth located in the roof of its mouth, betraying the Squamata link with the Mosasauridae.

A Monster of a Marine Reptile with Fantastic Packaging – PNSO Mosasaurus

PNSO Mosasaurus model.

Marine reptile in a box – the PNSO Mosasaurus “Ron”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

“Lucio” The Amargasaurus

For a company that has focused so much on Chinese dinosaurs, it is great to see the South American Amargasaurus figure enter the “Scientific Art Model” range.  “Lucio” the Amargasaurus measures around 30 cm in length and the figure is supplied with a base, on which to pose the figure.

PNSO Amargasaurus “Lucio”

"Lucio" the PNSO Amargasaurus model.

PNSO Amargasaurus “Lucio”.  A beautiful Amargasaurus model with a declared scale of 1:35.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Amargasaurus figure with its polystone effect base depicts the model walking over soft mud, the base even has a couple of Amargasaurus footprints preserved within it.

A New Range of PNSO Figures “Sede” and “Patton”

Everything Dinosaur will be also be stocking a new range of PNSO prehistoric animal figures.  PNSO have introduced a range of large models under the straplines “PNSO prehistoric animal models that accompany your growth”, now extended to include “Scientific Art Models”.  The company has also made forty-eight small prehistoric animal figures under the strapline “PNSO prehistoric animal toys that accompany your growth”.   Today, Everything Dinosaur announces that there will also be a range of intermediate-sized models, including and Ankylosaurus “Sede” and a Megalodon model with an articulated lower jaw “Patton”.

The New PNSO Ankylosaurus Figure “Sede”

PNSO Ankylosaurus "Sede".

“Sede” the Ankylosaurus (PNSO).  The Ankylosaurus figure measures approximately 25 cm long.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The New PNSO Megalodon Model “Patton”

The PNSO Megalodon model "Patton".

PNSO Megalodon model.  This figure has an articulated lower jaw.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“All these figures will be coming into stock in the next few weeks, perhaps as early as next month.  We will publish prices but for the time being we encourage collectors to email us, to join our no obligation, priority reserve lists for these exciting PNSO figures.”

Join our special, priority reserve list for these models: Email Everything Dinosaur

Remember to state in your email which models you would like to reserve.

To view the current range of PNSO prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Models and Figures

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2 05, 2019

The Search for Lost Prehistoric Settlements in the North Sea

By | May 2nd, 2019|Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Brown Banks and White Cliffs – The Search for Lost Prehistoric Settlements

After a successful expedition in 2018, the second voyage in search of prehistoric landscapes and submerged settlements within the Brown Bank area of the southern North Sea will set off next week.  Marine experts will join archaeologists on the eleven-day voyage.   Researchers from the UK and Belgium will combine acoustic techniques and physical sampling of the seabed to unravel the topography and history of these landscapes and their inhabitants.  The scientists will be mapping a lost world.

Careful Analysis of North Sea Sediment Cores Looking for Evidence of Prehistoric Settlements

Seabed cores searched for signs of prehistoric settlement.

DNA sampling of sediment cores at the University of Warwick.

Picture Credit: Lost Frontiers

The expedition will be led by Dr. Tine Missiaen (Flanders Marine Institute – VLIZ), accompanied by scientists from Ghent University and the University of Bradford.  The voyage on board the Belgian research vessel “RV Belgica” takes place within the collaborative Belgian-UK-Dutch research project known as “Deep History: Revealing the palaeo-landscape of the southern North Sea”.  The research project aims to reconstruct the Quaternary history (roughly spanning the last half a million years) and human occupation of the wider Brown Bank area.  The project compliments the Bradford-led “Lost Frontiers” project, in which archaeologists are mapping the prehistoric North Sea landscape known as Doggerland.  The research is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

Until sea levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age, between 8-10,000 years ago, an area of land connected Great Britain to Scandinavia and the continent.  The Lost Frontiers team has identified thousands of kilometres of plains, hills, marshlands and river valleys, but despite all this mapping, evidence of human settlement has been difficult to find.

Home to Thousands of Stone Age People

Archaeologists have long suspected that the southern North Sea plain, right in the centre of Doggerland, may have been home to thousands of people.  Tantalising clues have been brought up by trawlers over the years, but the researchers hope to find more evidence to substantiate the population hypothesis.  A concentration of archaeological material, including worked bone, stone and human remains, has been found within the area around the Brown Bank, an elongated,  eighteen-mile-long (thirty-kilometres) sand ridge roughly sixty miles (a hundred kilometres) due east from Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast.  The amount of artifacts found suggests the presence of a Stone Age settlement.

Exploration Areas (May 2019) – The Brown Banks and the Southern River

Map showing the 2019 exploration areas.

The Southern River and the Brown Banks 2019 exploration areas.  Note: VC45 core location.

Picture Credit: Lost Frontiers/VLIZ/UGent

A Detailed Geophysical and Geotechnical Survey

In 2018, teams from the Flanders Marine Institute, Ghent University, the Dutch Geological Service and the University of Bradford collaborated on a detailed geophysical and geotechnical survey to identify prehistoric land surfaces, including ancient lakes and river valleys.  Sediment was extracted from the seabed to see if traces of human activity could be identified.

Thanks to the simultaneous use of different seismic sources, an uninterrupted image of the subbottom was obtained with unprecedented detail.  Combined with the study of sediment cores this allowed the scientists to refine the search for human activity to areas on the Brown Banks.  The May 2019 expedition will focus on detailed investigations in these areas, deploying VLIZ’s novel multitransducer echosounder, which uses sonar technology to obtain images of the subbottom with the highest possible resolution, and the collection of larger samples of sediment as well as video footage from the seafloor using VLIZ’s dedicated videoframe.

The Grab Sampler Ready to be Deployed

The grab sampler on the vessel ready to be deployed.

The grab sampler ready to be deployed.

Picture Credit: Belgian Navy

Exploring the “Southern River”

The team will also be visiting another area, known as the “Southern River”, a major prehistoric river valley flowing across a submerged headland off the East Anglian coast.  Previously surveyed by Lost Frontiers, the team believes that the estuary of the river, which may also have been flanked by white chalk cliffs, provides another potential area for prehistoric settlement.  The detailed survey of this area during this expedition will be the first ever undertaken to assess the archaeological potential of this part of the North Sea.

Commenting on the importance of this research, Professor Vincent Gaffney (University of Bradford), stated:

“In 2018, the team demonstrated that we can find prehistoric land surfaces on the Brown Banks that date from the Mesolithic period.  This provides the exciting prospect to return and recover larger volumes of sediment from those land surfaces, and find out what evidence they may contain of human settlement.”

The Survey Vessel – The RV Belgica

The RV Belgica of the Belgian Navy.

The RV Belgica (Belgian Navy).

Picture Credit: Belgian Navy

Doctor Tine Missiaen, (Flanders Marine Institute), added:

“The combined use of different state-of-the-art acoustic sources provides a major step forward in the identification and reconstruction of prehistoric land surfaces that now lie buried below the seafloor.  With the detailed investigations that will be carried out in May 2019 we hope to further unravel the unique history of these landscapes and their inhabitants.”

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1 05, 2019

Denisovans Lived on the “Roof of the World”

By | May 1st, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Jaw Fossil Indicates Denisovans Occupied the Tibetan Plateau

Denisovans, occupied the Tibetan Plateau long before Homo sapiens arrived in the region.  Furthermore, the ability to cope with less oxygen at high altitudes may have been passed onto our species when ancient members of Homo sapiens, bred with Denisovans.  The analysis of a fragmentary lower jaw bone reveals the presence of Denisovans at least 160,000 years ago at the Baishiya Karst Cave complex in Xiahe, China.  The ability to survive in such extreme climates had been thought to be a unique trait of H. sapiens, that is now not the case and what is more, the enigmatic and poorly known Denisovans seem to have passed on a gene that helps modern people cope with living at high elevations.

A Digital Reconstruction of the Fossil Mandible

A digital reconstruction of the Xiahe mandible identified as Denisovan.

View of the virtual reconstruction of the Xiahe mandible after digital removal of the adhering carbonate crust.  The mandible is so well preserved that it allows for a virtual reconstruction of the two sides of the mandible.  Mirrored parts are in grey.

Picture Credit: Jean-Jacques Hublin (MPI-EVA)

The study, undertaken by a team of international researchers including Shara Bailey (New York University), as well as scientists from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou University, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, has been published in the journal “Nature”.

Using a technique known as ancient protein analysis, the researchers found that the mandible’s (lower jaw) owner belonged to a Denisovan population from Siberia.  This population occupied the Tibetan Plateau, regarded as the “Roof of the World” because it rises three miles (five kilometres), above sea level.  This suggests that the enigmatic Denisovans were adapted to a low oxygen environment.  In contrast, evidence of Neanderthals is rarely found above 2,000 metres and what evidence there is, probably indicates that Homo neanderthalensis populations only occasionally climbed to such heights, perhaps for the purpose of a special hunt or ceremony.  They do not seem to have persisted at high altitude.

The research team state that Denisovans had already adapted to living in this high-altitude setting significantly prior to the appearance of Homo sapiens.  Previous genetic studies found present-day Himalayan populations carry the EPAS1 allele in their genome, passed on to them by Denisovans, which helps with adaptation to their specific and demanding environment.

A Posterior View of the Fossil Mandible

Digital reconstruction of the Denisovan jaw bone from China.

Digital reconstruction of the Denisovan jaw bone.  Reconstructed area is shaded grey.

Picture Credit: Jean-Jacques Hublin (MPI-EVA)

Who were the Denisovans?

Denisovans are members of a hominin group currently only known directly from fragmentary fossils, the genomes of which have been studied from a single site, Denisova Cave in Siberia.  They are also known indirectly from their genetic legacy through gene flow into several low-altitude East Asian populations and high-altitude modern Tibetans.  The presence of a new species of ancient human was confirmed when a research team led by Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), conducted a genetic study on a single fossil finger bone from the Denisova Cave site.

To read an article from 2010 that summarises the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology research: Finger Bone Hints at New Species of Hominin.

Commenting on the significance of linking a fossil to the Tibetan Plateau, one of the paper’s co-authors Jean-Jacques Hublin (MPI-EVA), stated:

“Traces of Denisovan DNA are found in present-day Asian, Australian, and Melanesian populations, suggesting that these ancient hominins may have once been widespread.  Yet, so far, the only fossils representing this ancient hominin group were identified at the Denisova Cave.”

Indeed, Everything Dinosaur published a report back in 2016 that linked the Inuit people of the Arctic to a Denisovan ancestry: Extinct Human Cousin Helped the Inuit Survive.

A Photograph of the Actual Fossil Jaw Bone (Lateral View)

Denisovan fossil jaw bone ( Baishiya Karst Cave).

Xiahe Denisovan jaw bone from the Baishiya Karst Cave (Gansu Province, China).

Picture Credit: Dongju Zhang (Lanzhou University)

Discovered by a Monk

In this newly published paper, the researchers describe a hominin lower mandible that was found on the Tibetan Plateau in the Baishiya Karst Cave in Xiahe, Gansu Province, China.  The fossil was originally discovered in 1980 by a local monk who donated it to the 6th Gung-Thang Living Buddha who then passed it on to Lanzhou University.  Since 2010, researchers Fahu Chen and Dongju Zhang from Lanzhou University have been studying the cave site from where the mandible originated in a bid to find more human remains.  In 2016, a collaboration began with the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and although no DNA has been recovered, the team did manage to extract proteins from one of the large molars within the jaw.  These proteins were then categorised using a technique called ancient protein analysis.

The Reconstructed Denisovan Jaw Bone

Denisovan jaw bone identified on the Tibetan Plateau (digital reconstruction).

A view of the Denisovan jaw bone from China. The grey area represents reconstructed elements.

Picture Credit: Jean-Jacques Hublin (MPI-EVA)

Piecing Together the Face of a Denisovan

The fossil record of the Denisovans is particularly sparse, it is limited to just some teeth and part of a finger.  This is the first fossil of its kind to be found and perhaps, if more Denisovan fossils can be discovered, then it hints at the possibility that anthropologists might be able to reconstruct the skull.

Co-author Shara Bailey explained:

“Although we still do not know the shape and size of the Denisovan skull, now with a lower jaw we can start to piece together the puzzle of what they actually looked like”.

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

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30 04, 2019

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex – Attaching the Tail

By | April 30th, 2019|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex – Attaching the Tail

Fans of the Rebor range of prehistoric animal replicas will know that some of the recent model introductions have had flexible tails.  The three Ankylosaurus models “War Pig” for example, along with the two colour variants of the Tyrannosaur figure “Vanilla Ice”, these figures have all been supplied with detachable, flexible tails.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur thought it might be helpful to would-be Rebor collectors if we were to shoot a short video to show how these tails attach to the models.  In addition, for those people who had not purchased one of these Rebor dinosaur models before, we could show how the figures are supplied.

How to Attach the Tail to the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex Dinosaur Model (Jungle Colour Variant)

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Tail is Supplied as a Separate Piece

In this short, thirty second video, we show how the tail is supplied as a separate piece (Rebor Killer Queen Tyrannosaurus rex models) and how it can be inserted into the back of the figure to make the model complete.  Both the Rebor Killer Queen “jungle” and “plain” variants have this feature and the tails are flexible, allowing collectors to put their T. rex into a variety of poses.  The nature of the joint into the posterior of the animal reduces the amount of vertical movement, but in the Dinosauria, generally, the tail could not move a great deal in the vertical plane.  However, the flexible rod in the tail piece permits quite a degree of lateral movement.

In an earlier blog post, we included a short video that demonstrated the flexibility of the tail in a Rebor Tyrannosaur model.  To view this post: Rebor Killer Queen T. rex Models Have Poseable Tails.

A Trio of Dinosaur Tails

Three Rebor dinosaur tails.

A trio of Rebor tyrannosaurid dinosaur tails.  The tail piece (top) is from the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex model (plain colour variant).  The tail in the middle is from the Rebor Vanilla Ice Tyrannosaur figure (jungle colour variant) and the tail (bottom) is from the Rebor Killer Queen Tyrannosaurus rex (jungle colour version).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture (above), shows three tail pieces from three different Rebor tyrannosaurid models.  The tail piece (top) is from the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex model (plain colour variant).  The tail in the middle is from the Rebor Vanilla Ice Tyrannosaur figure (jungle colour variant) and the tail (bottom) is from the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex (jungle colour variant).

All the tails in the photograph come from 1:35 scale Rebor replicas.

The tail inserts into the posterior with a positive “click” and the separate tail piece helps Rebor to cut down on product packaging (less cardboard required as the model fits into a smaller box).

To view the range of Rebor prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Replicas

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29 04, 2019

Cretaceous Crabs Ruffle Feathers

By | April 29th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Callichimaera perplexa et al Challenging the Definition of a Crab

An international team of scientists reported the discovery of a variety of Late Cretaceous marine crustacea that have challenged the current definitions of what makes a crab.  Writing in the academic journal “Science Advances”, the researchers from the University of Alberta, Kent State University, the University of Montreal, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the University of Nevada, and the College of Communication and Design in Boca Raton, Florida, as well as Yale University , describe the discovery of hundreds of beautifully-preserved specimens from the USA and Colombia.

A Life Reconstruction of the Cretaceous Crab  Callichimaera perplexa

Callichimaera perplexa life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of Callichimaera perplexa.

Picture Credit: Elissa Martin, (Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History)

The preserved remains include hundreds of tiny shrimp fossils and an entirely new branch of the evolutionary tree for crabs (Order Decapoda).

A Very “Goofy-looking” Crab – Callichimaera perplexa

According to lead researcher, Yale University palaeontologist Javier Luque, the most significant fossil discovery is Callichimaera perplexa, which at around 95-million-years-old, is the earliest example of a swimming arthropod with paddle-like legs since the eurypterids (sea scorpions), that are believed to have died out in the Permian.  The genus name derives from the mythical creature called a chimera, which was formed from the body parts of a variety of different animals.  In a press release from Yale University, it is stated that the binomial scientific name translates as “perplexing beautiful chimera.”

Examining a Fossil Specimen (Callichimaera perplexa)

Callichimaera perplexa fossil specimen.

Examining a Callichimaera perplexa fossil.

Picture Credit: Yale University

A Unique and Very Strange Cretaceous Nektonic Crab

Measuring around 2-3 centimetres in diameter, Callichimaera is described as looking very strange with large, unprotected compound eyes with no sockets, bent claws, leg-like mouth parts, a long body and an exposed tail.  It was nektonic (an active swimmer), as an adult it resembled typical crab larval stages.  This suggests that some ancient crabs may have retained a few of their larval traits into adulthood, amplified them, and developed a new body architecture.  This is an evolutionary process called “heterochrony” – a change to the timing or rate of development relative to the ancestor.

The Diverse Body Plans of Swimming Crabs and other Nektonic Arthropods

The huge variations in the Arthropoda body plan.

The diverse body plans of selected arthropods.

Picture Credit: Yale University

Luque commented:

“Callichimaera perplexa is so unique and strange that it can be considered the platypus of the crab world.  It hints at how novel forms evolve and become so disparate through time.  Usually we think of crabs as big animals with broad carapaces, strong claws, small eyes in long eyestalks, and a small tail tucked under the body.  Well, Callichimaera defies all of these ‘crabby’ features and forces a re-think of our definition of what makes a crab a crab.”

A Computer-generated Image Showing the Underside of Callichimaera perplexa

Digital reconstruction of Callichimaera (ventral view),

A view of the ventral side (underside of the body) of Callichimaera.

Picture Credit: Yale University

The scientific paper: “Exceptional Preservation of mid-Cretaceous Marine Arthropods and the Evolution of Novel Forms via Heterochrony” by J. Luque1, R. M. Feldmann, O. Vernygora, C. E. Schweitzer, C. B. Cameron, K. A. Kerr, F. J. Vega, A. Duque, M. Strange, A. R. Palmer and C. Jaramillo published in the journal Science Advances.

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

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28 04, 2019

A New Hadrosauroid Dinosaur from Mongolia

By | April 28th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Gobihadros mongoliensis – A Newly Described Hadrosauroid from Mongolia

Scientists have described a new species of basal hadrosauroid from the Baynshire Formation of the central and eastern Gobi Desert (Mongolia).  It has been named Gobihadros mongoliensis.  At approximately three metres long, this cow-sized, Ornithischian may not be the most impressive dinosaur to have been found, but its discovery is significant for vertebrate palaeontologists.  G. mongoliensis is the first non-hadrosaurid hadrosauroid from the Late Cretaceous of central Asia known from an almost complete, articulated skull and postcranial material.

A Skeletal Reconstruction of Gobihadros mongoliensis

Gobihadros mongoliensis skeletal reconstruction.

A skeletal reconstruction of the basal hadrosauroid Gobihadros mongoliensis.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Writing in the on-line academic journal “PLOS One”, the researchers David Evans (Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario, Canada), Khishigjav Tsogtbaatar (Mongolian Academy of Sciences), David Weishampel (John Hopkins University, Maryland, USA) and Mahito Watabe (Osaka City University, Japan), have concluded that Gobihadros is similar to Bactrosaurus johnsoni from eastern China and Gilmoreosaurus mongoliensis from the Iren Nor region of Inner Mongolia.

Outside of the Hadrosauridae Family

A phylogenetic assessment places Gobihadros outside of the Hadrosauridae, the family of dinosaurs commonly referred to as the duck-billed dinosaurs.  Gobihadros most certainly had a broad beak, very typical of a duck-billed dinosaur, but it has been classified as a basal member of the Hadrosauroidea, essentially the next classification bracket up from the Hadrosauridae, encompassing all the duck-billed dinosaurs and all dinosaurs more closely related to them than to Iguanodon.

Views of the Skull and Jaw Bones of Gobihadros mongoliensis

Views of the skull and mandible of Gobihadros mongoliensis.

Skull and mandible (MPC-D100/763) of Gobihadros mongoliensis in left lateral (A), dorsal (B), ventral (C), and posterior (D) views.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

From the Baynshire Formation

The fossil material was collected over a period of several years from the sandstone and mudstone deposits from a number of sites associated with the Baynshire Formation.  The dinosaur was described from two superbly preserved specimens, a complete and uncrushed skull (MPC-D100/763) and the holotype, which consists of an almost complete skull and postcranial skeleton found largely in an articulated state.  Although, the exact date of the Baynshire Formation remains open to debate, recent studies place the sediments in the early Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian-Santonian faunal stages).

Line Drawings of the Skull and Jaws of G. mongoliensis

Line drawings of the skull of Gobihadros mongoliensis.

Skull (MPC-D100/763) of Gobihadros mongoliensis in left lateral (A), anterior (B), dorsal (C), and posterior (D) views.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Helping Scientists to Understand an Evolutionary Transition

The exquisite nature of the fossil preservation and its completeness has provided palaeontologists with one of the most detailed anatomical records of a hadrosauroid.  New information has been compiled documenting the evolutionary transition of the Hadrosauroidea towards the Hadrosauridae.  In addition, comparison with the fossil remains of much younger hadrosaurids from the Late Cretaceous of Asia (Maastrichtian faunal stage), such as Saurolophus angustirostris, Kerberosaurus manakini, Wulagasaurus dongi and Kundurosaurus nagornyi suggests that later Asian hadrosaurids migrated into Asia from North America, rather than sharing a common Asian ancestor with Gobihadros mongoliensis.

The scientific paper: “A New Hadrosauroid (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Late Cretaceous Baynshire Formation of the Gobi Desert (Mongolia)” by Khishigjav Tsogtbaatar, David B. Weishampel, David C. Evans and Mahito Watabe published in PLOS One.

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27 04, 2019

JurassicCollectables Reviews “Clover” Hatching Stegosaurus

By | April 27th, 2019|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Rebor Club Selection “Clover” Hatchling Stegosaurus Video Review

JurassicCollectables have produced a video review of the limited edition Rebor Club Selection hatching Stegosaurus “Clover”.  Only 1,000 of these beautifully crafted figures have been made and there are only a handful of these replicas in stock, but by watching this video review, collectors are able to get an idea of the quality of this figure from Rebor, even though only a few models remain.

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Rebor Club Selection “Clover” Hatchling Stegosaurus

Video Credit: JurassicCollectables

A Baby Stegosaurus Model

Made in the spring of 2017, the hatchling Stegosaurus figure forms part of a set of limited edition figures manufactured by Rebor.  In this excellent video review from JurassicCollectables, the presenter first shows the matt finished packaging and then carefully displays the box contents before unpacking each of the items.  Rebor like to offer something a little different with this line, something that is quite quirky.  For example, in this video review a reference is made to the recently reviewed Rebor hatchling Baryonyx nicknamed “Hurricane”, that was supplied with a model of a football, to coincide with the 2018 World Cup.  The Stegosaurus figure set includes a skilfully crafted model of a four-leaf clover.  Clover (Trifolium genus), may not have been around during the Late Jurassic, but as a four-leafed clover is supposed to be lucky, then a young Stegosaurus could do with all the luck it could get growing up in the western United States with a large number of carnivorous dinosaurs in the same ecosystem, any of which would have greedily snapped up a hatchling Stegosaurus.

The Rebor Club Selection Hatchling Stegosaurus “Clover”

Rebor "Clover" hatching Stegosaurus.

Rebor hatchling Stegosaurus “Clover”.  The polystone figure is supplied with a detachable model of a “lucky” four-leaf clover.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Viewing the Rebor Club Selection Hatching Stegosaurus

In the video, the narrator comments upon the superb details that Rebor builds into their figures.  For instance, the finely detailed body scales on the baby Stegosaurus are highlighted.  The egg with its fine lines and carefully plotted cracks adds a degree of realism to the figure.  The model is placed on a revolving turntable and this provides the viewer with the opportunity to see this highly collectable figure from a variety of viewpoints.

A Video Review of a Rebor Stegosaurus Dinosaur Model “Clover”

A video review of the Rebor hatchling Stegosaurus "Clover".

JurassicCollectables reviews “Clover” the limited edition, hatching Stegosaurus figure from Rebor.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

Highlighting the Exquisite Detail on the Club Selection Hatching Stegosaurus

A close-up of the Rebor hatching Stegosaurus dinosaur model.

JurassicCollectables reviews “Clover” the limited edition, hatching Stegosaurus figure from Rebor.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

Measuring the Model

Towards the end of the video review, JurassicCollectables provide model measurements, always helpful information to collectors.  At Everything Dinosaur, we have measured this figure too.  We have recorded a height of 18 cm for this replica when resting on its base, the circumference of the egg is around 30 cm.  The hatching Stegosaurus with the ferns acting as a backdrop makes an excellent conversation piece, a point made several times by the video narrator.

Can You Spot the Four-leaf Clover?

"Clover" the hatchling Stegosaurus from Rebor.

The Rebor limited edition, club selection hatchling Stegosaurus “Clover”.

Picture Credit: JurassicCollectables

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel has a large number of Rebor figure video reviews.  Everything Dinosaur recommends that readers subscribe to JurassicCollectables: JurassicCollectables on YouTube

To view the range of Rebor figures and replicas available from Everything Dinosaur, including the limited edition Club Selection hatching Stegosaurus (whilst stocks last): Rebor Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals

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26 04, 2019

A New Abelisaurid from the Kem Kem Beds of Morocco

By | April 26th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Just How Successful were the Abelisaurs in Africa?

A partial ilium collected from the famous Kem Kem Beds of eastern Morocco hints that those enigmatic abelisaurids may have been widely distributed (both geographically and temporally) in Africa.  Writing in the on-line academic journal “PLOS One” scientists including researchers from the University of Southampton, Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Marrakech (Morocco), the University of Debrecen (Hungary) and the Natural History Museum (Paris), report on a fragmentary ilium bone, collected in 2007 and sourced via the fossil dealer network that indicates that abelisaurids were present in Morocco around 100 million years ago.  This fossil find adds to the growing evidence to suggest that abelisaurids were the dominant predators in Africa in the Late Cretaceous.

The Fragmentary Ilium – Abelisaurid Fossil Remains

Abelisaurid ilium (Kem Kem Beds - Morocco).

Views of the fragmentary right ilium bone, assigned to an indeterminate abelisaurid dinosaur.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Fossil Specimen (MHNM KK 04)

The picture (above), shows various views of the ilium fossil.  The pieces have been prepared and assembled and now form part of the collection of the Natural History Museum of Marrakech.  The ilium is shown in (A) lateral view, (B) medial view, (C) anterior view, (D) dorsal view and posterior view (E).  In the photograph the scale bar is given as 50 mm, however, in the accompanying notes, the scale is reported as 10 cm, it is therefore difficult to estimate the size of the individual Theropod without confirmation of the size of the fossils.

An Illustration of a Typical Theropod Dinosaur (Abelisauridae)

A drawing of a dinosaur (Abelisaurus).

A typical member of the Abelisauridae.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The fossils are believed to come from the Aferdou region, near the locality of Gara Sbaâ (eastern Morocco), based on biostratigraphical analysis, the terrestrial sandstones in this region are thought to date from the Lower Cenomanian faunal stage of the Upper Cretaceous.  Dinosaur fossils from the Kem Kem Beds represent either Theropods (most numerous), or Sauropods.  In the research paper, the authors state that no Ornithischian body fossils are known from the Kem Kem Beds.  However, most of the material is fragmentary, represents deposits that have been reworked and the thriving fossil trade is now playing a significant role in the local economy.  Commercial fossil hunters are affecting the quality of the research that can be carried out on the fossil bearing strata.

The scientists conclude that the ilium is likely to represent an abelisaurid, but no genera has been specified and no new species named.  Based on the shape of the bone, the specimen (MHNM KK04), is assigned to the clade Abelisauria.

This adds to the growing evidence to indicate that abelisaurids may have been the dominant land predators in Late Cretaceous Africa.  In 2017, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a fragment of jaw bone found in a Moroccan phosphate mine that led to the naming of a new species of abelisaurid – Chenanisaurus barbaricusC. barbaricus may belong to an as-yet undescribed family of Abelisaurs unique to Africa and its fossils are around thirty million years younger than the ilium bone from the Aferdou region.

To read about Chenanisaurus barbaricusThe Last Dinosaur in Africa

For an article that looks at why the Late Cretaceous of Africa might have been home to such a large number of predators: Why So Many Large Predators in Cretaceous Africa?

The scientific paper: “An abelisaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda Ilium from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) of the Kem Kem Beds, Morocco” by Slimane Zitouni, Christian Laurent , Gareth Dyke and Nour-Eddine Jalil published in PLOS One.

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25 04, 2019

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex Models have Poseable Tails

By | April 25th, 2019|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

Rebor Killer Queen T. rex Models have Poseable Tails

The new for spring 2019 Rebor Killer Queen T. rex models have poseable tails.  Everything Dinosaur demonstrates this function in a short video.  In order to showcase the beautifully engineered Rebor Killer Queen 1:35 scale Tyrannosaurus rex replicas, team members have produced a trio of videos highlighting the various articulated parts.  A few days ago, we posted up a short video from our YouTube channel that showed how to use hot air to safely free up the articulated arms on these dinosaurs.  In addition, a second video was shot which focused on the articulated lower jaw.  Today, we conclude our look at these new figures by revealing that the tail is also poseable.

Everything Dinosaur Highlights the Poseable Tail on the Rebor Killer Queen T. rex Dinosaur Model

Video Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Available in Two Colour Variants – “Plain” and “Jungle”

The Killer Queen Rebor replica is available in two colour variants, “plain” and “jungle”.  The “plain” version has more of a browish hue to it, whereas the “jungle” colour variant is dominated by green tones.  Both models have proved to be extremely popular amongst model fans and collectors.  So many of these figures have been sent out, that Everything Dinosaur team members still get confused for a few moments over which model is which.  For example, in this short video highlighting the moveable tail, the model is referred to as the “plain” version, actually it is the “jungle” variant.  Please be assured, all boxes are checked carefully prior to dispatch, after all, we would not want to send out the wrong coloured model to a collector.

The Everything Dinosaur Killer Queen Videos Have Featured the “Jungle” Variant

Rebor Killer Queen "jungle".

The Rebor Killer Queen T. rex dinosaur model – “jungle” colour variant.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Stiffened Rod Carefully Built into the Tail Piece

The tail piece fits securely into the rear of the model and it is this tail piece that contains a flexible, stiff rod that enables the tail to be moved into different positions.  We commend Rebor for their creativity and for designing such a beautifully crafted T. rex figure.  The tail has quite a lot of lateral movement and some degree of movement in the vertical plane as well.  The combination of the poseable arms, the articulated lower jaw and the flexible tail permits collectors and dinosaur model fans to depict Tyrannosaurus rex in a huge variety of poses.  Furthermore, they even have two colour variants to choose from as well.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s comments about the articulated lower jaw and to view a short video demonstrating the jaw movement: Rebor Killer Queen T. rex – Articulated Jaw

For a short article that highlights how to free up the poseable forelimbs safely without damaging the model: Rebor Killer Queen T. rex Adjusting the Arms

To view the range of Rebor prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur, including the 1:35 scale Rebor Killer Queen “plain” and “jungle” colour variants: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

Look out for further updates on the Rebor range of replicas.

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