All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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7 03, 2020

Happy Birthday Zhao Chuang

By | March 7th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Happy Birthday Zhao Chuang

Today, we celebrate the birthday of renowned Chinese palaeoartist Zhao Chuang, one of the leading lights behind scientific illustrations in Chinese scientific literature.  Fans of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models will also be aware of his work through the PNSO product line and their range of museum quality figures.

Celebrating the Contribution to Scientific Illustration of Zhao Chuang

Compsognathus illustration by Chuang Zhao.

A beautiful feathered Compsognathus catches its lunch (artwork by Zhao Chuang).

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang/Everything Dinosaur

Illustrating Many Scientific Papers

This palaeoartist has been tasked with illustrating a number of scientific papers and press releases.  Interpreting scientific data and helping to depict a long extinct animal, place it within the context of the fossil discovery and in essence, to bring the animal back to life.  The picture (above), illustrates a Compsognathus.  It is shown as a brightly coloured, feathered dinosaur.  The artist is helping to promote the idea that far from being slow, sluggish animals, many dinosaurs were very bird-like.

Illustrating Ancient Landscapes and Ecosystems

The Late Cretaceous of northern China

Northern China in the Late Cretaceous.  A dromaeosaurid (left) takes evasive action as a herd of hadrosaurs approach the waterhole.  An armoured dinosaur (Pinacosaurus grangeri), has nothing to fear from the duck-billed dinosaurs or the small theropod but decides it is time to leave as well.

Picture Credit: Zhao Chuang

It was Zhao Chuang who created all the spectacular prehistoric artwork that was put on display as part of the “Dinosaurs of China – Ground Shakers to Feathered Flyers” exhibition in Nottingham (England).  As a palaeoartist at the Peking Natural Science-Art Organisation (PNSO), Zhao Chuang has worked with numerous members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and he has also collaborated with dozens of leading scientists from other research institutions around the world.  His work has been published in many academic publications.

Many happy returns.

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6 03, 2020

Wild Past 1:35 scale Protoceratops in Stock

By | March 6th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The Wild Past Protoceratops andrewsi (1:35) is in Stock

The Wild Past 1:35 scale Protoceratops andrewsi dinosaur model is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.  Dinosaur fans and model collectors can now acquire the first of this exciting new range of prehistoric animal figures from Everything Dinosaur.

The Wild Past Protoceratops Dinosaur Model Complete with a Nest of Dinosaur Eggs

Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model.

The Wild Past 1/35th scale Protoceratops andrewsi dinosaur model is now in stock at Everything Dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Protoceratops andrewsi

Protoceratops andrewsi is one of two species assigned to the Protoceratops genus.  It was formally named and scientifically described nearly a hundred years ago (1923).  A second, slightly larger species was described in 2001 (Protoceratops hellenikorhinus).  It remains one of the most intensely studied of all the Dinosauria and it’s discovery (the first fossil specimen was found in 1922), has helped palaeontologists to better understand two crucial aspects of dinosaur biology.

Firstly, dinosaur nests and eggs were found in association with the ubiquitous fossil remains.  This was the conclusive proof that scientists had been searching for that demonstrated that at least some of the Dinosauria laid eggs.  In addition, the hundreds of fossil specimens, many with cranial material, has enabled palaeontologists to piece together how these animals changed as they got older and matured.  As a result, the ontogeny of this dinosaur is quite well understood (ontogenesis – how an organism develops anatomically as it grows).  Palaeontologists have examples of embryos, recently hatched individuals, juveniles as well as fully mature adults to study.

A Protoceratops on Display at the Naturmuseum Senckenberg (Frankfurt)

Protoceratops on display.

A Protoceratops exhibit on display at The Naturmuseum Senckenberg (Frankfurt, Germany).  The skull is to the right of the photograph.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Commenting on the addition of the Wild Past Protoceratops model to Everything Dinosaur’s portfolio of prehistoric animal figures and replicas, a spokesperson for the UK-based company stated:

“We are delighted to be able to add the Wild Past range to our ever-going stock of dinosaur and prehistoric animal figures.  We have already received a number of enquiries about this new replica, many collectors have been concerned that they might not be able to get hold of the Protoceratops, especially as the first production run has been quite small.  Now dinosaur fans and model collectors can acquire this 1:35 scale dinosaur model from Everything Dinosaur.”

In Stock at Everything Dinosaur – The Wild Past Protoceratops Dinosaur Model (1/35th Scale)

The Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model available from Everything Dinosaur.

Everything Dinosaur is now stocking the new for 2020 Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the Wild Past 1:35 scale Protoceratops dinosaur model: Wild Past Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models.

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5 03, 2020

Mojo Fun New for 2020 Prehistoric Animal Models Delayed

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

New for 2020 Mojo Fun Prehistoric Animal Models Delayed Until at Least June 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the disruption to the Chinese economy is beginning to affect production plans and proposed delivery schedules for new for 2020 prehistoric animal models.  In Everything Dinosaur’s statement released earlier this week, we explained that this virus outbreak has global implications that will affect producers, retailers and importers across a vast spectrum of goods, not only goods sourced from Asia.  Our statement also conveyed our thoughts and sympathies to all those people affected by COVID-19.  Our full statement of earlier this week can be found here: Everything Dinosaur COVID-19 Information.

As part of our own plans to help mitigate the impact of the virus, we have been working closely with our distribution chain partners and we can now confirm that the eagerly awaited new for 2020 Mojo Fun prehistoric animal models are likely to be delayed until at least June 2020.  Further delays cannot be ruled out at this stage.

New for 2020 Mojo Fun Prehistoric Animal Models Delayed Until at Least June 2020

New Mojo Fun prehistoric animals delayed.

The new for 2020 Mojo Fun prehistoric animal models are likely to be delayed until at least June 2020.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Prehistoric Animal Models

There are plans to introduce more than ten new dinosaur models along with colour variants of existing models.  However, the outbreak of COVID-19 has curtailed the original plans to have these figures available in March 2020.  The latest information received by Everything Dinosaur suggests that the new for 2020 prehistoric animals are likely to be delayed until at least June 2020.  The new Tyrannosaurus rex Deluxe model with an articulated jaw (seen on the right of the picture above), is one of the new figures affected.

“Bully” for Mojo Fun Brontosaurus But Not Until June 2020

Delays to Mojo Fun Models 2020.

The new for 2020 Mojo Fun Brontosaurus dinosaur model is delayed.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Mojo Fun Brontosaurus Deluxe model, regarded as an impressive sauropod replica by those lucky enough to have had the chance to view the prototype and pre-production samples, is also affected.  This twenty-three centimetre long Brontosaurus had been expected in early March but it is not likely to be available now until the early summer.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are grateful to Mojo Fun for their swift action.  By informing Everything Dinosaur we can build in contingency plans to help to bring in new models from this range as quickly as possible.  This is a fast moving story, we will do all we can to keep our customers informed about new model availability.  Fortunately, we have managed to build up buffer stocks of the popular Mojo Fun prehistoric and extinct model range and we should be able to support sales of existing models for some time to come.”

The Impressive Mojo Fun Brachiosaurus Dinosaur Model is Also Delayed

New Mojo Fun prehistoric animals delayed due to virus outbreak.

The new for 2020 Mojo Fun prehistoric animal models including the new Deluxe Brachiosaurus are likely to be delayed until at least June 2020.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Keeping our Customers Informed

Everything Dinosaur will do all it can to ensure that our customers are kept informed about model availability and other developments.

To view the existing range of Mojo Fun models and replicas: Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Animals.

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4 03, 2020

Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast – Book Review

By | March 4th, 2020|Book Reviews, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A Review of “Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast”

The revered UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Jurassic Coast” has far more to offer fossil enthusiasts than just the congested beaches associated with Lyme Regis and Charmouth.  Head east towards Weymouth, travelling forward in deep geological time through the Jurassic and into the Cretaceous and the visitor to such places as Redcliffe Point, Bowleaze Cove and West Weare Cliff can be rewarded with some fantastic fossil discoveries.  In addition, intrepid explorers can enjoy some of the most spectacular and picturesque parts of the coast of southern England.

Providing a guide to this beautiful part of the world, is a new book written by dedicated fossil collectors Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers.  Entitled “A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast”, this is one book that does exactly what it claims to do in the title and what an excellent read it is too!

Fossil Hunting Guide with a Focus on the South Dorset Coast

"Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast"

Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast by Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers.  The front cover features a theropod dinosaur, a pliosaur Pliosaurus kevani and an example of an ammonite fossil.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Exploring a Range of Prehistoric Landscapes

Aimed at amateur fossil collectors as well as general visitors to the Dorset coast, this, the second volume in the series, takes the reader eastwards along the Dorset coast heading in the direction of Weymouth, the Isle of Portland and beyond.  The western part of the Dorset coast, covered in the first book, dealt with the fossils that can be found in the marine deposits associated with Lyme Regis, Seatown and the coastline eastwards towards Burton Bradstock.  In this guide, the reader is given the opportunity to explore different ancient environments as the rocks along the shoreline provide clues to ancient lagoons, dinosaur dominated floodplains as well as ancient seas populated by ammonites, corals, dense beds of oysters and exotic sea urchins.

An Example of a Sea Urchin (Holaster spp.) from the Cretaceous Upper Greensand Exposures of Ringstead Bay

Sea urchin fossil from Ringstead Bay

A beautifully preserved sea urchin (Holaster spp.) from the Cretaceous Upper Greensand of Ringstead Bay.

Picture Credit: Snowball and Chivers

Following a general introduction section, outlining the importance of the “Jurassic Coast”, the reader is provided with information regarding the fossil collecting code and then schooled in the geology of the region.  The brief guide to the geology and landscapes of south Dorset then leads onto a series of chapters that provide details on excursions that can be undertaken to prospect for fossils.  Each location is beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs of the fossils that can be found and the ancient prehistoric landscapes are brought to life by Andreas Kurpisz, from a shallow sea with an oyster reef to a herd of brachiosaurs wandering across what would eventually become part of the Purbeck Formation.

A View of Bowleaze Cove from Redcliff Point

A View of the strata associated with Bowleaze Cove.

The rugged and beautiful Bowleaze Cove (south Dorset).  The book provides details of numerous excursions to some of the more secluded areas of the “Jurassic Coast”.

Picture Credit: Snowball and Chivers

Detailed Information About Fossil Collecting on the Isle of Portland is Provided

West Weare Cliff (Dorset).

West Weare Cliff at the end of Chesil Beach in Dorset.  The Kimmeridge Clay exposures can provide a wealth of fossils including ichthyosaur and plesiosaur remains.

Picture Credit: Snowball and Chivers

“A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast” provides a comprehensive overview on fossil collecting opportunities along the coast of  southern Dorset, it is essential reading for fossil collectors and for those wishing to explore eastwards along the “Jurassic Coast” from Burton Bradstock.

Published by Siri Scientific Press, “A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast” can be found here: Purchase the Book Here.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s review of the first book in this series: A Review of “A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast”.

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3 03, 2020

Has Dinosaur DNA Been Found?

By | March 3rd, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Cartilage, Proteins, Potential DNA Preserved in Juvenile Duck-billed Dinosaur

Whisper it quietly, but the debate about how long organic materials such as DNA can remain preserved with fossils without complete destruction and decay is about to be reignited.  An international team of researchers have identified possible evidence of fossilised cell nuclei, chromosomes with indications of DNA within the preserved, calcified cartilage of a baby duck-billed dinosaur that roamed Montana around 75 million years ago.

This discovery does not take us one step nearer to a “Jurassic Park” scenario, but it does challenge current thinking about how long delicate organic material such as DNA can persist.

A View of the Skull Bone (Supraoccipital) of the Juvenile Hypacrosaurus

Skull bone of a juvenile Hypacrosaurus.

An isolated supraoccipital (So) of Hypacrosaurus in dorsal view.  Note the scale bar equals 2 cm.

Picture Credit: A. Bailleul et al (National Science Review)

Writing in the journal “National Science Review”, researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (Chinese Academy of Sciences), report their findings in collaboration with Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University, a pioneer in dinosaur soft tissue research.

The fossil material was collected in 1988 by American palaeontologist Jack (John) Horner.  It heralds from the Two Medicine Formation (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous), in north-western Montana.  The fossilised bone comes from a genus of the lambeosaurine hadrosaur Hypacrosaurus (H. stebingeri).   The scientists conducted a microscopic analysis of fragmentary skull bones (supraoccipital bone – located towards the back of the skull), associated with very young animals (skull length about 20 cm and total body length less than 2 metres).  Corresponding author of the scientific paper, Alida Bailleul (Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology), noticed a handful of beautifully preserved cell-like structures within the calcified cartilage on the edges of the skull bone.  Two cartilage cells were still linked together by an intercellular bridge, morphologically consistent with the end of cell division.

Hypacrosaurus DNA Study

Emu skull and stained sections of Hypacrosaurus skull showing potential organic structures.

Caudal view of a juvenile emu skull (∼8–10 months old) showing the So and exoccipitals (Exo) in articulation.  (F, G) Ground section (stained with Toluidine blue) of calcified cartilage from this emu skull showing cell doublets (pink arrows) with remnants of nuclei (white arrows) and others without intracellular content (green arrow).

Picture Credit: A. Bailleul et al (National Science Review)

Dark Elongated Structures Within the Cells

Inside the cells, dark material resembling the cell nucleus was identified.  One cartilage cell preserved dark, elongated thread-like structures morphologically consistent with chromosomes.

Bailleul and Schweitzer, in collaboration with Zheng Wenxia (North Carolina State University), then set out to determine whether original molecules were also preserved in the dinosaur cartilage.  The researchers performed immunological and histochemical analyses on the skull of another nestling Hypacrosaurus from the same nesting ground.  The immunological test supports the presence of remnants of original cartilaginous proteins in this dinosaur.

The researchers also isolated individual Hypacrosaurus stebingeri cartilage cells and applied two DNA stains, DAPI and PI.  These bind specifically to DNA fragments in extant material and some of the isolated dinosaur cells showed internal, positive binding in the same pattern seen in modern cells.  In essence, the fragments reacted positively to the staining suggesting some original dinosaur DNA may be preserved.

Commenting on the significance of this study, Alida Bailleul stated:

“These new, exciting results add to growing evidence that cells and some of their biomolecules can persist for a long time.  They suggest DNA can be preserved for tens of millions of years and we hope this study will encourage scientists working on ancient DNA to push current limits and use new methodology in order to reveal all the unknown molecular secrets that ancient tissues have.”

Can DNA Survive for Millions of Years?

This research is likely to court controversy.  The possibility that DNA can survive for seventy-five million years is not widely accepted by the scientific community.  It is generally believed that the half-life of DNA is around five hundred years and that it does not persist in any form after several hundred thousand years.

For example, in 2013, Everything Dinosaur reported upon the discovery of a DNA sequence preserved in the fossil leg bone of an ancient horse that roamed Canada around 700,000 years ago. To read more about this research: Ancient Fossil Helps to Decode Horse Evolution.

If these results can be replicated and the data verified, then this would indicate that DNA, in some form, although highly degraded, might persist in the fossil record for tens of millions of years.   It might be possible to recover and sequence other samples of DNA from long extinct creatures.

A Life Reconstruction of the Hypacrosaurus stebingeri Nursery

Hypacrosaurus nesting site life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the Hypacrosaurus nesting site. A young dinosaur has died and is lying in a pool, whilst the mother investigates the corpse.

Picture Credit: Michael Rothman/Science China Press

However, this study does not mean that a dinosaur-themed safari park as depicted in the “Jurassic Park” franchise is just around the corner.

Bailleul explained:

“Here we have probably fossilised remnants, very minute amounts of fossilised dinosaur DNA, but that is a hypothesis at this stage.  The original dinosaur DNA might be transformed chemically during fossilisation.  No one really understands what happens to DNA in material so old, but our study encourages more research in ancient DNA to understand the processes of DNA fossilisation.  Our data suggest some DNA may still be preserved in these dinosaur cells, but it will never be possible to recreate a dinosaur.  Once a species goes extinct, it’s extinct forever.”

The research team conclude that the identification of chemical markers of DNA in Hypacrosaurus suggest DNA may preserve much longer than originally proposed.  Even though it is clear that contamination does exist in fossil material and complicates identifications of original organic molecules, it can be accounted for with proper controls.

This research does not suggest that dinosaurs can be resurrected and brought back from extinction, but this study might represent a significant landmark in how ancient DNA could be identified and used to trace the evolution of life.

Related articles: Researchers Confirm Dinosaur Collagen.

In addition: Dinosaur Claw Proteins Preserved in 75 million-year-old Dinosaur.

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

The scientific paper: “Evidence of proteins, chromosomes and chemical markers of DNA in exceptionally preserved dinosaur cartilage” by Alida M Bailleul, Wenxia Zheng, John R Horner, Brian K Hall, Casey M Holliday and Mary H Schweitzer published in National Science Review.

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2 03, 2020

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

By | March 2nd, 2020|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information from Everything Dinosaur

The continuing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in recent weeks has caused concern across our planet.  In view of this widespread anxiety and in response to a number of emails and other enquiries received, Everything Dinosaur has issued the following statement.

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak and its continuing spread has global implications and affects producers, retailers and importers across a vast spectrum of goods and services, not just from China and other parts of Asia.  It is extremely serious for those involved and we would like to convey our thoughts and sympathies to all those people who have been affected by this virus.

Everything Dinosaur Issues a Statement in Regard to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

An illustration of a virus.

The COVID-19 virus is highly infectious and is capable of making some people seriously ill.

Picture Credit: Getty Images

New Models Coming into Stock at Everything Dinosaur

We are aware that production plans and schedules for a number of new for 2020 prehistoric animals and figures that were due to come into Everything Dinosaur have already been interrupted.  Delays in manufacture and subsequent shipping are an inevitable consequence of the current global situation.  Our team members remain in constant dialogue with our supply partners, a dialogue that commenced several weeks ago, as part of our forward planning and our objective to mitigate the impact of the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 on our business.

As soon as we have definite information with regards to the expected arrival of new for 2020 models, then we shall share this by publishing such information on our social media platforms.  However, at this stage it is still too early to tell what the effects of the virus might be but we remain optimistic that all reasonable measures are in place to minimise disruption.

Existing Stock of Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models

With regards to stock of existing models, Everything Dinosaur has built up a substantial inventory as part of its plans to take all reasonable measures to minimise the consequences of this outbreak.  Stock levels were built up towards the end of 2019 and in January 2020 in part, as a precaution against any problems that might have emerged in the global logistics chain.  We remain confident that we have enough inventory to support the needs of our customer base.  Although, some disruption to postal and other delivery systems may occur, which may result in some delay in receipt of orders. Our team members are doing all they can to maintain our excellent record of swift dispatch and we are liaising with our postal and courier partners to assess what is, understandably, a fluid situation.

We are committed to continuing our award-winning business as usual, the recent Feefo accolade of the “Platinum Trusted Service Award”, the highest award possible from this independent rating company, demonstrates that Everything Dinosaur does all it can to support its customers.

Can I Catch COVID-19 from a Parcel or the Contents of a Parcel?

At Everything Dinosaur, we have received a number of queries concerning whether it is safe to receive a parcel which might contain an item that was originally manufactured in Asia.  It is important to point out, that as Everything Dinosaur has built up extensive stocks, the vast majority of items in our inventory were manufactured and moved out of Asia long before the virus outbreak occurred.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), has issued guidance in regard to the receipt of parcels from China, we would suggest that the advice relating to the parcel itself would also apply to the contents of this parcel, in this case a prehistoric animal figure or replica.

The WHO states that it is safe to receive packages, you are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 (coronavirus).  From previous analysis, coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as packages, nor do they survive long on other surfaces such as the surfaces of our products.

Yes, It is Safe to Receive Items from China

Is is safe to receive a item from China?

It is safe to receive a prehistoric animal model from Everything Dinosaur – the virus does not survive long on surfaces.

Picture Credit: WHO (World Health Organisation)

We will issue an update if and when the situation substantively changes.

Thank you.

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1 03, 2020

Celebrating Dragons

By | March 1st, 2020|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Celebrating Dragons – St David’s Day

In celebration of St David’s Day (St David being the patron saint of Wales, a country with a red dragon on its national flag), Everything Dinosaur team members explored their huge weblog database to see how many of our thousands of articles mention the word “dragon”, a term regarded by many as synonymous with the Dinosauria.  To our surprise, we discovered 155 articles that are associated with “dragon”.  The number of posts has increased recently with the naming of several new, Chinese dinosaur discoveries which tend to use the word “long” rather than “saurus” in their scientific name.  The term “long” means dragon in Chinese, a suffix frequently used to name Chinese dinosaurs whereas the Greek term “saurus” is preferred in the West.

For example, earlier this year we put together a blog post about the newly named microraptorine Wulong bohaiensis, the genus name translates as “dancing dragon”, a reference to the posture of the preserved specimen.

A Little Dragon for St David’s Day

Wulong bohaiensis fossil specimen.

The beautifully preserved and almost complete W. bohaiensis fossil specimen.  The genus name translates from the Chinese as “dancing dragon” – a reference to the preserved posture of the fossil specimen.  A red dragon is a heraldic symbol used on the national flag of Wales.

Picture Credit: Ashley W. Poust (University of California)

To read our article about this little feathered dinosaur: Little Dancing Dragon Sheds Light on how Dinosaurs Grew Up.

Komodo Dragons

Another reason why the Everything Dinosaur blog may have a lot of references to dragons is that back in the autumn of 2019, the eagerly awaited Rebor GrabNGo 1:6 scale Komodo dragon replica came into stock.  This was the first model in the Rebor GrabNGo line and the first commercial model of an extant (not extinct) animal that Rebor had produced.  Measuring nearly half a metre in length, this super-sized replica of a super-sized lizard earned rave reviews from model collectors.

Rebor Komodo Dragon (1:6 Scale Replica)

Megalania or Komodo dragon? Your decide.

Komodo dragon or Megalania?  You decide.  Many collectors used the Komodo dragon replica to represent the extinct Australian Megalania.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This popular Rebor figure not only occupies space on our blog, we get lots of emails about this model too.  For instance, an email was received last week from a model maker who wanted to use this figure in a diorama.  Everything Dinosaur was contacted after the purchase was made and we were asked for our advice on how best to depict the figure and what sort of prey items were suitable for including in the intended diorama.

To purchase the Rebor Komodo dragon and the rest of the replicas in the Rebor range: Rebor Dinosaurs and Models.

With the very strong possibility of more Chinese dinosaurs being scientifically described in 2020 and with the ever increasing popularity of Rebor models, team members at Everything Dinosaur are likely to be writing about “dragons” for some time to come.

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29 02, 2020

Mystery of Dinosaur Prints on Cave Ceiling Solved

By | February 29th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A Dinosaur in the Cupboard Under the Stairs

Thanks to a dedicated geologist and the careful conservation of his materials and notes a sixty-six-year-old mystery about dinosaur footprints on a cave ceiling in Queensland (Australia), has been solved.  Palaeontologist Dr Anthony Romilio (University of Queensland), was able to decipher and interpret a series of dinosaur trackways preserved in Lower Jurassic strata, now exposed on a cave ceiling with the help of notes, photographs and casts of the prints stored in a cupboard under the stairs of a house in Sydney.

The Dinosaur Tracks from the Cave Ceiling (Insert Shows Estimated Size of Track Makers)

Ceiling dinosaur tracks from the Mount Morgan site.

Dinosaur tracks from the Mount Morgan site, with (insert), a line drawing showing the estimated size of the two track makers.  The photograph is circa 1954.

Picture Credit: Historical Biology

Dr Romilio, of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences  (University of Queensland) explained:

“The town of Mount Morgan near Rockhampton has hundreds of fossil footprints and has the highest dinosaur track diversity for the entire eastern half of Australia.  Earlier examinations of the ceiling footprints suggested some very curious dinosaur behaviour; that a carnivorous theropod walked on all four legs.”

There have been hundreds of dinosaur tracks reported from the so-called “fireclay caverns” in Mount Morgan.  Five prints first described by Ross Staines, the geologist who made such careful notes (1954), purportedly represent a theropod dinosaur that had left a handprint (manus), the interpretation was that this theropod had been walking on all fours.  Most theropods are characterised by their obligate bipedal stance.  Dr Romilio set out to determine whether this particular track did indeed preserve this very untypical theropod dinosaur behaviour.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to access the trace fossils “in situ”, the caverns have been closed since 2011 due to concerns about public safety.

A Line Drawing Showing the Five Tracks Studied

A line drawing showing the dinosaur tracks from the cavern ceiling.

A line drawing showing the five tracks in the study.

Picture Credit: Historical Biology

Unable to view the fossils in the cave, it would have been difficult to determine what the tracks represented.

A Stroke of Good Fortune

However, Dr Romilio had a chance meeting with local dentist Dr Roslyn Dick, whose geologist father found many dinosaur fossils over the years.

Ms Dick commented:

“I’m sure Anthony didn’t believe me until I mentioned my father’s name – Ross Staines.  Our father was a geologist and reported on the Mount Morgan caves containing the dinosaur tracks in 1954.  Besides his published account, he had high-resolution photographs and detailed notebooks, and my sisters and I had kept it all.  We even have his dinosaur footprint plaster cast stored under my sister’s Harry Potter cupboard in Sydney.”

A Digitally Reconstructed Dinosaur Track Created from the Archive Material Compiled by Ross Staines

A dinosaur footprint from the ceiling trackway.

A digital reconstruction of one of the prints studied by Ross Staines.

Picture Credit: Dr Romilio (University of Queensland)

The extensive information archived by Ross Staines and carefully stored by Ms Dick and her sisters Heather Skinner and Janice Millar, permitted Dr Romilio to conduct a thorough analysis of the trace fossils.  He was able to digitise the original analogue photographs and to make a virtual, computer-generated model of the dinosaur track that had been stored under the stairs.  As a result, it was concluded that the five tracks were all foot (pes) impressions and that no handprint was present.

It turns out that these tracks do not represent the prints of a single dinosaur, but actually two dinosaurs produced the five tracks, one slightly smaller than the other, which led to the misinterpretation of one of the footprints as being the preserved impression of a dinosaur hand.  The splayed toes and moderately long middle digit of the footprints permitted the researcher to determine that these were probably not the footprints of a theropod, but that the tracks represent the progress of a pair of ornithopods.

Dr Romilio commented:

“Rather than one dinosaur walking on four legs, it seems as though we got two dinosaurs for the price of one – both plant-eaters that walked bipedally along the shore of an ancient lake.”

Thanks to the careful conservation of their father’s work, this is one Australian dinosaur trackway mystery that has been solved.  These tracks do not represent a theropod dinosaur walking in an uncharacteristic quadrupedal gait, as Dr Romilio explained:

“You don’t assume T. rex used its arms to walk, and we didn’t expect one of its earlier predatory relatives of 200 million years ago did either.”

The contribution of the ladies has been recognised, they are all cited as co-authors/contributors to the scientific paper.  We are sure their father would have been very proud.

A Life Reconstruction of the Larger of the Two Ornithopod Dinosaurs Believed to Have Made the Tracks

Life reconstruction the Mount Morgan ornithopod.

A reconstruction of the Lower Jurassic ornithopod, the type of dinosaur that probably made the tracks.

Picture Credit: Dr Anthony Romilio

Dinosaurs Walking on the Ceiling?

How did the trace fossil end up on the ceiling of a cave?  The dinosaurs were not defying gravity, the explanation is very straight-forward.  The dinosaurs were walking on the soft sediment associated with a lake around 195 million years ago (Sinemurian faunal stage of the Lower Jurassic), the impressions they made in the soft sediments were infilled with sand.  Over time, the softer mudstone and shales were eroded away to expose the imprints as natural casts.

A Photograph of Ross Staines Measuring the Dinosaur Tracks

Ross Staines measuring the dinosaur ceiling footprints.

Ross Staines measuring the footprints 4.5 metres above the cave floor (circa 1954).

Picture Credit: University of Queensland

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

The scientific paper: “Archival data provides insights into the ambiguous track-maker gait from the Lower Jurassic (Sinemurian) Razorback beds, Queensland, Australia: evidence of theropod quadrupedalism?” by Anthony Romilio, Roslyn Dick, Heather Skinner and Janice Millar published in the journal Historical Biology.

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28 02, 2020

Crystal Palace Dinosaurs Declared “At Risk”

By | February 28th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Crystal Palace Prehistoric Animals Declared at Risk by Historic England

The world-famous, Grade I listed dinosaurs and the other prehistoric animals on display at Crystal Palace Park (south London), have been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

The now, very much inaccurate but at the time they were constructed more than 160 years ago, state-of-the-art depictions of long extinct creatures, are cracking and showing signs of distress.  Dinosaurs, pterosaurs, marine reptiles and examples of ancient mammals are in danger of losing toes, tails and teeth.

One of the Iconic Megalosaurus Statues at Crystal Palace

The Megalosaurus dinosaur at Crystal Palace Park.

The Megalosaurus statue at Crystal Palace a dinosaur from 1854.  This sculpture and the other prehistoric animals at the Park have been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Deterioration of Iconic London Landmarks

In a press release from Historic England, it was stated that the cause of the deterioration of these iconic London landmarks was not understood, but ground movement on the artificial islands upon which many of the 30 statues are sited could be to blame.

By adding these impressive, life-size sculptures to the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England is raising awareness of their condition and is focusing attention on their conservation and repair.  Bromley Council will be taking the lead as part of a major regeneration project centred on Crystal Palace Park.

The statues, created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, with the guidance of Richard Owen, were originally put on display as part of “The Great Exhibition”.  Since, their relocation to Crystal Palace the sculptures have fallen into disrepair.  Extensive conservation and restoration work in 2003 and in 2016/2017 was undertaken with the support of the Office of the Mayor of London and the National Lottery.

With the dinosaurs and their fellow exhibits added to the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England and Bromley Council can focus on their repair and conservation with a fresh impetus.

Marine Reptiles at Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Ichthyosaur.

A statue of an ichthyosaur at Crystal Palace Park, part of a display of prehistoric marine reptiles

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Commenting on the significance of this development, Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive of Historic England stated:

“These wonderful creatures are in a state of disrepair and require significant conservation works.  We don’t want them to become extinct again!  By adding them to our Heritage at Risk Register, we can focus attention on them and ensure a lasting programme of repairs and on-going maintenance is carried out.  Working in partnership with Bromley Council and the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, we hope to secure their long-term future.”

The Magnificent Megaloceros Sculpture

Megaloceros statues.

A pair of magnificent Megaloceros statues.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A new project to build a bridge to the islands will reinstate access for guided, up-close-and-personal interpretation visits and maintenance has been crowdfunded by many hundreds of members of the public, businesses, the mayor’s office, and council, and supported by Historic England.

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27 02, 2020

One-billion-year-old Greens

By | February 27th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

One-billion-year-old Green Seaweeds

This week has seen the publication of a remarkable paper that documents the discovery of tiny one-billion-year-old fossils of green seaweeds that could be the ancestor of the first land plants.

Writing in the academic journal “Nature Ecology and Evolution”, the researchers from Virginia Tech (USA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, describe abundant millimetre-sized, multicellular fossils that were preserved in ancient marine sediments close to the city of Dalian in Liaoning Province (northern China).

Evidence of Ancient Green Seaweed

Ancient green seaweed fossil.

Proterocladus antiquus fossil material.  A photograph of a green seaweed fossil preserved in rocks around 1,000 million years old.  The dark colour of this fossil was created by adding a drop of mineral oil to the rock in which it’s embedded, to create contrast.

Picture Credit: Virginia Tech

Proterocladus antiquus

The microscopic fossils, measuring around two millimetres in length are described as a new species of green algae (Proterocladus antiquus).  The fossil material is interpreted as benthic (living on the sea floor) and members of the Chlorophyta Phylum, which means that these ancient marine plants were photosynthesising 1,000 million years ago and that the fossils are the oldest evidence of green seaweeds known to science.

Shuhai Xiao (Geosciences and Global Change Centre at Virginia Tech), one of the co-authors of the scientific paper commented:

“These new fossils suggest that green seaweeds were important players in the ocean long before their land-plant descendants moved and took control of dry land.  The entire biosphere is largely dependent on plants and algae for food and oxygen, yet land plants did not evolve until about 450 million years ago.  Our study shows that green seaweeds evolved no later than 1 billion years ago, pushing back the record of green seaweeds by about 200 million years.  What kind of seaweeds supplied food to the marine ecosystem?”

Land Plants Evolved from Green Seaweeds

One of the theories proposed for the evolution of land plants is that they originated from marine chlorophytes.  These plants adapted to a life on dry land, the scientists propose that these Chinese fossils represent the ancestors of modern land plants that we see today.

However, Xiao added that not all geobiologists agree with this hypothesis, the debate as to how land plants originated goes on.  For example, some scientists think that green plants first evolved in freshwater environments before adapting to a terrestrial existence.

A Life Reconstruction of the Ancient Green Seaweed P. antiquus

Life reconstruction of Proterocladus antiquus overlaid on the fossil material.

A digital reconstruction of the ancient green algae (Proterocladus antiquus).

Picture Credit: Dinghua Yang/Virginia Tech

Different Types of Seaweed

There are three main kinds of seaweed, commonly referred to by their predominant colour.  There is brown (Phaeophyceae), green (Chlorophyta) and red (Rhodophyta).  There are thousands of species of each kind.  Rhodophyta (red seaweed), have a fossil record that also dates back to more than a billion years ago.

Xiao added:

“There are some modern green seaweeds that look very similar to the fossils that we found.  A group of modern green seaweeds, known as siphonocladaleans, are particularly similar in shape and size to the fossils we found.”

The discovery of such an early photosynthetic plant represents a significant landmark in helping scientists to better understand the evolution and development of planetary ecosystems.  Plants that photosynthesise are essential to the ecological balance of our planet.  They produce carbon and oxygen through the process of photosynthesis and they are regarded as primary producers and comprise the basic components of most food chains.

It was Qing Tang of Virginia Tech, who discovered the micro-fossils of the ancient seaweeds, electron microscopy was used to spot the tiny specimens.  To more easily see the fossils, mineral oil was dripped onto the fossil to create a strong contrast.

Tang commented:

“These seaweeds display multiple branches, upright growths, and specialised cells known as akinetes that are very common in this type of fossil.  Taken together, these features strongly suggest that the fossil is a green seaweed with complex multicellularity that is circa 1 billion years old.  These likely represent the earliest fossil of green seaweeds.  In short, our study tells us that the ubiquitous green plants we see today can be traced back to at least 1 billion years.”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from Virginia Tech in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “A one-billion-year-old multicellular chlorophyte” by Qing Tang, Ke Pang, Xunlai Yuan and Shuhai Xiao published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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