All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
31 07, 2010

A Beautiful Ultrasauros Visits Southsea Common

By |2024-04-19T10:33:03+01:00July 31st, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Huge Dinosaur Sculpture Erected at Southsea Common

A huge life-sized sculpture of a long-necked dinosaur has been erected on Southsea Common.  The sculpture, its six parts transported from Serbia to Southsea in Hampshire (England) is the work of artists Heather and Ivan Morison.  It represents a now no longer valid genus Ultrasauros.  Dinosaur hunter Jim Jenson described an enormous brachiosaurid dinosaur which he originally named Ultrasaurus.  However, the name had to be changed to Ultrasauros because the name Ultrasaurus had already been used two years earlier to describe the fossils of a smaller sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) discovered in South Korea.


For Jim Jenson, his problems with Ultrasauros did not end there.  This animal was once heralded as probably one of the largest land animals of all time with an estimated length of over 30 metres.  Unfortunately, the quarry in Colorado where Jenson discovered the bones is a real jumble of fossils.  This site represents a log jam in an ancient river system which led to the deposition of the remains of many animals all together.  One of Jenson’s giants, Ultrasauros seems to be a composite of bones from different genera.  The shoulder blade is most likely from a large brachiosaurid and the ribs from a huge diplodocid dinosaur named Supersaurus (Supersaurus vivianae).  Supersaurus was named and described by Jim Jenson in 1985.

The artists describe their life-size model as:

“It has big square legs, big curves, it’s simplified, almost like a toy dinosaur.”

The sculpture, named Luna Park stands 16 metres tall and measures 22 metres long.  It is so tall and imposing that the statue can be seen from the Isle of Wight.  This is appropriate as back in the Cretaceous the land we now know as the Isle of Wight made up part of an extensive river channel system and brachiosaurs roamed across it.

A Replica of a Brachiosaurid Dinosaur

W-Dragon Giraffatitan Compared to a Papo standing T. rex dinosaur model

W-Dragon Giraffatitan Compared to a Papo standing T. rex dinosaur model. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The sculpture will form a focal point and shelter on Southsea Common throughout the Summer.  It is due to be taken down in October, so if you have ever wanted to stand underneath a sauropod now’s your chance.

Ivan commented:

“You can sit underneath it, there’s lighting at night and it is so big that you’re in an open-sided room when you stand between its legs.”

The dinosaur has a steel frame and a polyester shell and is one of the largest exhibits of its kind ever to visit the United Kingdom.

At Everything Dinosaur, we do make models of prehistoric animals, but nothing quite on this scale.  sauropods were so huge that making models of them can be difficult, for example a 1/13 th scale model of a typical brachiosaur would be over 1.5 metres long.

One of the largest models we supplied was the Diplodocus model from Safari Ltd, part of the Carnegie collection of scale model dinosaurs.

To view the Safari Ltd model range: Safari Ltd. Wild Safari Prehistoric World.

30 07, 2010

Prehistoric Animals were Show Offs According to New Research

By |2024-04-19T14:40:16+01:00July 30th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

New Study suggests Prehistoric Animals “Dressed to Impress”

A new study into the ornamentation of prehistoric animals that has been preserved in the fossil record concludes that fancy crests, frills and sails on the back were evolutionary adaptations to attract a mate.  An international team of scientists, led by Dr Joseph Tomkins of Hull University have studied several iconic creatures from the fossil record and concluded that many of the elaborate head crests, spines and sails that these animals had were primarily to attract mates.  In essence dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals “dressed to impress”.

Prehistoric Animals

Animals in the study included the large pterosaur Pteranodon (Pteranodon longiceps) and the Permian pelycosaurs Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus (Dimetrodon grandis and Edaphosaurus pogonias).

Earlier studies had concluded that these physical characteristics such as large head crests on pterosaurs or sails on the back of some pelycosaurs played a role in thermoregulation.  However, this latest analysis has found that the size of the Pteranodon’s head crest for example, was to big to play a role in temperature control.

Previously, scientists thought these physical characteristics were associated with thermal regulation. However, the latest study found the size of the pterosaur’s head crest was too big to play a role in temperature control.

An Illustration of a Model Skeleton of Pteranodon (P. longiceps)

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the wide range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed toys and gifts available from Everything Dinosaur’s award-winning website: Visit Everything Dinosaur.

In a statement, the palaeontologists discussed the sail-back reptiles such as Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus, they statement said:

“Furthermore, small ancestral, sail-backed pelycosaurs would have been too small to need adaptations to thermoregulation.”

An Illustration of a Dimetrodon (D. grandis)

Prehistoric animals. The Papo Dimetrodon model.

Fearsome sail-backed reptile, with exquisite detail.  The Dimetrodon was included in the study.

Everything Dinosaur stocks a variety of Dimetrodon models, including the Papo Dimetrodon model.

View: Papo Prehistoric Animal Models.

The researchers plotted the relationship between metabolism and body size for each of the extinct creatures they studied.  They linked bigger crests and sails to the need to attract mates, with such features becoming more exaggerated over time.  We are not sure whether any extant creatures with large crests or other forms of ornamentation were studied.  Frilled lizards from Australia (Chlamydosaurus kingii) have a neck frill that is mainly used as a defence, but comparing the size of this frill and scaling it in the same way as the extant animals could provide an interesting and contrasting insight to this research.

29 07, 2010

Tyrannosaurus rex – Hunter or Scavenger? That’s a Great Question!

By |2024-04-19T14:40:46+01:00July 29th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Tyrannosaurus rex – Active Hunter or Predator?

Everything Dinosaur team members ask the question – Tyrannosaurus rex hunter or scavenger?

One of the longest running arguments surrounding Late Cretaceous, large tyrannosaurs is whether they were scavengers or active predators.  This debate forms the basis of a museum exhibition where team members at Everything Dinosaur have been giving presentations.  Our trained staff have been running seminars where visitors can handle fossils and see some of our T. rex fossils and casts plus get the chance to quiz the experts on the latest Tyrannosaurus and other discoveries.  The fossil evidence can be interpreted in a number of ways to support either the predator or the scavenger hypothesis.

Tyrannosaurus rex Hunter or Scavenger?

After reviewing all the evidence we ran our own survey during the course of the day to see what the visitors to the museum thought about T. rex.  We asked visitors to decide whether they thought T. rex was mainly a hunter, or whether it was a scavenger or indeed whether it was a hunter and an opportunist scavenging carcases as and when it found them.

The Results of our Seminar Survey – T. rex Hunter or Scavenger?

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Over 70% of the respondents to our survey stated that they thought that T. rex was a hunter but also an opportunist which would feed on the remains of dead animals that it found.  We intend to run similar surveys over the Summer at the various events that we are involved in and perhaps at the end of the holiday period we will compile all the data and provide an overview.

Over 70% of the respondents to our survey stated that they thought that T. rex was a hunter but also an opportunist which would feed on the remains of dead animals that it found.  We intend to run similar surveys over the Summer at the various events that we are involved in and perhaps at the end of the holiday period we will compile all the data and provide an overview.

A Replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex

Nanmu Studio T. rex dinosaur model (Alpha)

Nanmu Studio T. rex dinosaur model (Alpha) in the brown colouration in lateral view.  A replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Nanmu Studio Jurassic Series prehistoric animal figures in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Nanmu Studio Jurassic Series Prehistoric Animal Models.

28 07, 2010

A Thank you from the Baltic Science Festival

By |2023-03-06T08:47:52+00:00July 28th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Helps Out at Baltic Science Festival

Back in the spring we were contacted by scientists from the Department of Marine Geology at the University of Gdańsk (Poland) to supply some prehistoric animal models that would help them describe and illustrate some of the ancient marine creatures of the Mesozoic.  The University team were presenting at the eighth annual Baltic Science Festival which ran from the 27th to the 29th of May.  This event involves a number of scientific organisations and academic organisations presenting on a varied number of scientific topics to the public.

Topics covered included the invasion of alien species in the Baltic sea, wave dynamics, conservation projects and studies of the region’s fauna and flora.

Baltic Science Festival

We supplied models of ichthyosaurs, ammonites, belemnites, elasmosaurs and other prehistoric animals, all of them received favourable comments from mums, dads and young dinosaur fans alike.

Everything Dinosaur Models helping the University of Gdańsk

Picture credit: Małgorzata Leśniewska

The University Team Hard at Work at the Science Festival

Scientists hard at work.  The prehistoric animal models were displayed next to fossils to help visitors to appreciate the significance of the region’s ancient history.

Picture credit: Małgorzata Leśniewska

Commenting on the event a spokesperson for the University of Gdansk said:

“Everything went well, kids just loved the models and we had many questions from the adults about the source of the models.  I hope they will use the information someday.”

Delighted to hear that the festival was a success, well done to everyone involved.

Prehistoric Animal Models and Replicas

A spokesperson for the UK-based dinosaur company Everything Dinosaur added:

“We were happy to help the University team as they made preparations for the Baltic Science Festival.  With our knowledge of prehistoric animal figures and replicas our team members were able to provide the researchers with all the models they needed.”

To see the range of prehistoric animal models and replicas in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Replicas.

28 07, 2010

Dr Phil Manning goes in Search of Triceratops

By |2023-01-10T15:02:50+00:00July 28th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Press Releases|0 Comments

The University of Manchester’s Dr Phil Manning in Search of Triceratops

Dr Phil Manning from the University of Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences is setting out to explore the Badlands of South Dakota in a bid to find and excavate the fossilised remains of a Triceratops.  Dr Manning is part of a field team in search of Triceratops.

Last year’s prospecting of several promising locations suggested at least three skeletons of this iconic, famous three-horned dinosaur were gently weathering from 66-million-year-old rocks at a secret fossil rich site.

In Search of Triceratops

In his latest trip, Dr Manning is leading a team to evaluate the potential for excavating one of the creatures from its rocky tomb.

The pioneering palaeontologist and his team are famed for their research work on the hadrosaur Dinomummy, known as “Dakota”,  helping dinosaurs “virtually” walk, zapping Archaeopteryx lithographica with particle accelerators and tracking the enigmatic Tyrannosaurus rex in the Badlands of Montana.

The starkly-isolated Hell Creek Formation provides the most promising sites for the discovery of Late Cretaceous dinosaur remains in the world.

This is the last slice of geological time that contains the fossil remains of dinosaurs, before their mass extinction. Dr Manning, is confident that one of the Triceratops will be ideal for their research programme.

“We have been working on the exceptional preservation of soft tissue and the biomechanics of dinosaurs from the Hell Creek for over five years now, but this is our first major Manchester-led expedition to this very promising field area.”

A cast of Stan the T. rex already sits in the Manchester Museum, erected by a museum team and Dr Manning five years ago.

The Hell  Creek Formation

This fearsome predator from the Hell Creek Formation is also well-known from the area where Dr Manning and his team are working on the Triceratops

He said:

“It’s great that we have a chance to look at one of the prey animals of the mighty T. rex – who knows what we might find associated with the bones of this magnificent creature from the Cretaceous, maybe a predator tooth or three?”

The team, which includes Dr William Sellers from the University of Manchester and a group of co-workers from the University of Pennsylvania and other institutions in Philadelphia, hope to find additional pristine remains of dinosaurs this year in this very remote landscape.

In Search of Triceratops – A Replica of T. horridus

CollectA Triceratops horridus 1:40 scale model. In search of Triceratops.

CollectA Triceratops horridus dinosaur model (left lateral view). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Triceratops model is from the CollectA scale model range, to view this range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal figures: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life Models.

Dr Sellers, who works on dinosaur locomotion at Manchester, commented:

“The bones of Triceratops will make a perfect large quadrupedal dinosaur model to study dinosaur locomotion.  We have already published on the maximum running speed of predators and even hadrosaurs, but Triceratops are just wonderful creatures to behold.  Many have compared them to rhinoceros, but our work indicates these animals moved quite differently from these modern herbivores.”

The fieldwork is part of an on-going research programme between the University of Manchester and the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University and the Museum of Prehistoric Life in Price (Utah).

Dr Manning is head of the palaeontology research group at the University of Manchester and a research fellow at the Manchester Museum.

Dr Manning stated:

We have used techniques as diverse as evolutionary robotics, high-performance computing, finite element modelling, LiDAR, high-resolution x-ray tomography, nanoindentation, as well as recently published work using synchrotron light sources.  These cutting edge approaches have provided significant advances across the whole subject, generating high-profile international interest.”

We wish Dr Manning and his colleagues the very best and hope to hear more about their fieldwork over the next few weeks or so.

27 07, 2010

Gigantic Rat Bones Discovered – The biggest Rat known to Science

By |2023-03-06T08:49:23+00:00July 27th, 2010|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

East Timor Expedition Reveals Evidence of Giant Rats

Often the subject of urban myths, the brown rats and black rats (members of the Rattus genus) seen in the sewers and subways of cities are sometimes described as being huge.  Some folk claim to have spotted rats the size of a domestic cats.  These highly successful members of the rodent family have certainly benefited from feeding off all the rubbish and fat filled food to be found on and beneath our streets.  However, a scientific expedition to the remote south-east Asian island of East Timor has found evidence of a truly gigantic member of the rat family.

Gigantic Rat Bones

East Timor is an independent state, once formerly a Portuguese colony that covers the eastern part of the island of Timor.  Although much of the island has been deforested, those areas of rain-forest that do remain are dense and largely unexplored by scientific teams.  Archaeological research has unearthed the remains of the biggest rat known to science, an animal with an estimated body weight of six kilogrammes, something like twenty times the size of a black rat (Rattus rattus), a species commonly associated with our cityscapes.

A series of cave excavations in the rain-forest of East Timor has revealed a total of thirteen species of rodents, eleven of which are completely new to science.  The bones and teeth discovered suggest that at least eight of the rats discovered weighed more than a kilogramme.

The Australian/U.S. led expedition, part of CSIRO research on the island of East Timor to map the extensive unique fauna and flora has published their findings in the scientific journal “The Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History”.  The acronym CSIRO stands for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.  It is Australia’s national science agency.

A Hot Spot for Rodent Evolution

Discussing the discovery, Dr Ken Aplin, a wildlife biologist at the Australian National Wildlife Collection stated:

“East Indonesia is a hot spot for rodent evolution.  We want international attention on conservation in that area.  Rodents make up forty percent of mammalian diversity worldwide and they are a key element of ecosystems, important for processes like soil maintenance and seed dispersal.  Maintaining biodiversity among rats is just as important as protecting whales or birds.”

Carbon dating tests on the bones and teeth found in the cave system suggest that the biggest type of rat that ever lived could have survived until around 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.  Only one of the smaller species of rats whose remains were found in the cave is known to survive on Timor today.

Rats on the Island of Timor

Pictures show a partial skull of the new to science giant rat compared to the skull of a black rat.

Dr Aplin added:

“People have lived on the island of Timor for over 40,000 years and hunted and ate rates throughout this period, yet extinctions did not occur until quite recently.  We think this shows people used to live sustainably on Timor until around 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.  This means extinctions aren’t inevitable when people arrive on an island.  Large scale clearing of forest for agriculture probably caused the extinctions, and this may have been possible following the introduction of metal tools.

A number of the islands of eastern Indonesia evolved their own unique flora and fauna, including unique types of rat and other rodent.  Dr Aplin and his team have also found six new species of rat on the island of Flores.  Flores has been in the scientific media spotlight recently for the discovery in 2003 of a previously known species of human – homo floresiensis, known as the “hobbit” of Indonesia.

Some of these new species of rat, might still be living on Flores according to Dr Aplin, evading detection by western scientists in the dense and remote jungles of this island.

Few Native Mammals

The island of Timor has few native mammals, the strong tidal currents making the migration of such animals to Timor very difficult.  The majority of the mammalian fauna is made up of bats and rodents, many of the roles in ecosystems occupied by other mammals may have been filled by these rodents and this may have led to the development and diversification of the rodent species.

Pictures show the partial skull and teeth of East Timor’s extinct giant rat compared to the skull of a black rat (Rattus rattus) on the right.

Commenting on the possibility that new species of rats, even giant ones may still be awaiting discovery, Dr Aplin stated:

“Although less than fifteen per cent of Timor’s original forest cover remains, parts of the island are still heavily forested, so who knows what might be out there?”

He went on to add:

“During a recent field trip in East Timor, I found the remains of a freshly dead rat which we knew about only from cave deposits.”

The largest extant species of rat weigh around two kilogrammes and can be found in the rain-forests of the Philippines and New Guinea.  Unless of course those urban myths about giant rats lurking in sewers underneath our feet are to be believed.

For models and replicas of extinct mammals: Prehistoric Animal Figures and Replicas.

26 07, 2010

A Fossil Casting we will Go – An Exclusive Everything Dinosaur Event

By |2024-04-19T14:41:41+01:00July 26th, 2010|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Start of Everything Dinosaur’s Summer Fossil Casting Activities

Today, Monday 26th July, is the start of the school holidays for most children in the United Kingdom.  For us at Everything Dinosaur, we are about to go into one of our busiest periods of the year.  As well as being involved with lots of different dinosaur tours and events over the Summer vacation period, we are also running a series of special fossil handling and fossil casting seminars for children over the course of the school holidays.

Fossil Casting

We have been putting together a number of our fossils and dinosaur casts and they are packed into one of our vehicles ready for the drive to a council run leisure centre where the first of our sold out sessions is being run.  We are all looking forward to meeting the keen and enthusiastic dinosaur fans.  Using specially prepared latex moulds we are intending to give each participant the chance to cast their own museum quality replica of various dinosaur and prehistoric animal replicas, items such as teeth, claws, ammonite shells, brachiopods and such like.  No doubt our experts will be put on the spot and asked lots of challenging and difficult questions, we don’t get stumped very often but it does happen.

A Successful Fossil Casting Activity

Completed fossil casts. A successful fossil casting activity.

The completed fossil casts produced by visitors to The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven) who participated in Everything Dinosaur’s workshops. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

We have created a special dinosaur themed activity to help burn up some of the energy of these young dinosaur fans, we can run this activity whilst we are waiting for the casts to set.  It is always an exciting moment and a little nerve racking when it comes to turning out, hopefully everything will go well.  Due to our policy on photographs we don’t normally take pictures which is such a shame, but we know the mums and dads who remember to bring their cameras or phones are glad they did, especially when the children see some of the huge fossils that we bring along to show them.

All in all, an exciting and interesting day ahead for us.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s award-winning website: Everything Dinosaur.

25 07, 2010

Giant Ichthyosaur Predator of the Triassic

By |2023-01-10T13:32:59+00:00July 25th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Fearsome Triassic Ichthyosaur Ruled the Seas North of Laurentia

A team of scientists have identified a potentially new genus of Triassic ichthyosaur, one that was the “jaws” of its day, an apex predator probably feeding on other marine reptiles.  During the Triassic, sea levels across the world were higher than today and as a result there were extensive, shallow continental seas in which marine reptiles were rapidly establishing themselves as the dominant vertebrate predators.  The super continent of Pangaea stretched from the South Pole almost to the North Pole, it was sub-divided into two great land masses.  In the south there was Gondwanaland consisting of Antarctica, Australia, India and southern Africa.  In the north there was Laurentia made up of the land masses that were to eventually become North America and Europe.  In the shallow seas north of Laurentia, lurked a gigantic 14 metre long predatory ichthyosaur.  It ruled this watery domain, which 240 million years later was to become the arid, deserts of Nevada (United States).

Triassic Ichthyosaur

Nadia Fröbisch, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Chicago unearthed the fossil in the Augusta Mountains of central Nevada in 2008.  A preliminary report on this huge beast that measured somewhere between 12 -15 metres long was published last year in the scientific journal “The Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology”.

Ichthyosaurs had been found in this region for many years, in fact the ichthyosaur is the state vertebrate fossil of Nevada.  However, the size and sharpness of the teeth found in association with these fossils indicate that this animal was something different.  It is likely that this ichthyosaur specialised in hunting other marine reptiles.

An Model of a Typical Ichthyosaur

An Ichthyosaurus model

The Ichthyosaurus model (Wild Safari Prehistoric World) ready to take its turn on the Everything Dinosaur turntable. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rather than having a round cross-section, the teeth of this particular specimen were roughly diamond-shaped with serrations along their front and rear edges, dentition particularly well-suited to shearing flesh.

Even though erosion had removed much of the snout, the fossil was more than 10 metres long, indicating that a fully grown adult could have easily have been twice the length of a Great White Shark.

Commenting on the discovery, Fröbisch said:

“This could have been the T. rex of the seas”.

Although some later Mesozoic ichthyosaurs also had serrated teeth, those predators weren’t nearly as large and probably specialised in catching fish and smaller prey.  This giant ichthyosaur was probably the top predator around at the time.

Donald Henderson, a palaeontologist at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, (Alberta, Canada), stated that such sea monsters may have been quite widespread in the Early and Middle Triassic. He had recently found some isolated teeth from strata of the same age as the Nevada find, but in British Columbia.

He commented:

“I was mystified when I first saw them [the fossil teeth], I thought they had possibly belonged to a dinosaur.”

Marine Reptile Models

For models and replicas of ichthyosaurs and other marine reptiles: Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

24 07, 2010

Allosaurus for Sale – Pop Along to Paris

By |2023-01-10T13:26:29+00:00July 24th, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Mounted Skeleton of Allosaurus for Sale at Auction

Times may be hard and the world economy struggling to recover from the recent financial crisis but Sotheby’s in Paris are expecting the mounted skeleton of an Allosaurus to fetch an estimated 800,000 euros when it goes under the hammer later this year.  Although not likely to fetch as much as its more famous theropod cousin T. rex, if you would like a 10 metre plus mounted skeleton of this fearsome Late Jurassic carnivore in your living room (presuming you have a living room large enough), you will be expected to fork out in excess of £660,000 GBP.

Allosaurus for Sale

The fully prepared and mounted skeleton is believed to be a female, the fossils were found in Wyoming and represent an individual animal.

The Allosaurus will go under the hammer at a special auction of fossils and other prehistoric items at Sotheby’s Paris headquarters.  If an Allosaurus is not your particular fancy, then there are the fossils of a pterosaur (flying reptile) or a beautifully preserved Plesiosaurus discovered in a block of stone in Gloucestershire to bid for.

The Plesiosaurus (marine reptile) was dug out from a limestone outcrop in Blockley, Gloucestershire, in the early 1990s.  Sotheby’s says that the 6ft 7in by 9ft 10in skeleton is the best-preserved specimen of a Plesiosaurus to date, meaning it could easily go for more than £300,000 GBP.

The Plesiosaurus family has recently been revised with a number of specimens assigned to other marine reptile genera.  This is one of the earliest group of ancient animals to be studied with the likes of the great English anatomist William Conybeare studying and describing the Plesiosaurus fossil discovered by Mary Anning at Lyme Regis in the early part of the 19th Century.

At Everything Dinosaur, we remain uncomfortable with the continued popularity of large fossil specimens and the quantity of fossil material ending up in private collections.  This deprives scientists from being able to study them and encourages individuals to dig up specimens irresponsibly.

We can’t offer you a £300,000 Plesiosaurus fossil specimen but for a lot less we can recommend an Elasmosaurus model from the Wild Safari Prehistoric World series.  This model has been well received by collectors and dinosaur fans alike and it is lovely to see a scale model of a plesiosaur introduced into a major model series.

The Safari Ltd Elasmosaurus Marine Reptile Model

A typical Elasmosaurus model.

Cretaceous plesiosaur. A replica of an Elasmosaurus.

The Elasmosaurus model and other marine reptile figures: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models.

For those of us with a slightly smaller budget you could snap up a pair of fossilised crabs found near Vicenza in Italy and dating from the Cenozoic.

Fossilised Palm Leaf

Alternatively, there is a fossilised palm leaf and accompanying fishes dating from the Eocene, some 50 million years ago, about 15 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct but before mammals had fully risen to take their place as the dominant, large terrestrial lifeforms.

Commenting on the sale lots, Professor Eric Mickeler, a palaeontologist and the expert consultant on the Sotheby’s sale stated:

“Whether you look at them as artistic masterpieces or wonders of nature, dinosaur skeletons, fossils and minerals retrace the saga of evolution, especially that of mighty terrestrial and marine mammals that are now extinct.”

It is clear that fossils, especially Mesozoic fossils are big business.  According to Lorraine Cornish, a senior conservator at the Natural History Museum in London, who is involved in the museum’s attempts to purchase fossil specimens.

Commenting on the problems that these auctions bring, she stated:

“We try not to buy on the commercial market.  For a start we have limited funds, but we also don’t particularly want to encourage the sale of fossils that may be dug up without the details of the find being recorded, which would mean the loss of important scientific information.  But we have to accept that dealing in fossils is a reality.  Some very wealthy people are passionate about the fossils they collect and they want the best, just like some people want the best works of art.”

23 07, 2010

Digging for Dinosaurs One Special Maniraptoran Gets his own Back on Us Mammals

By |2024-04-19T14:58:09+01:00July 23rd, 2010|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Trace Fossils Show Evidence of Dinosaur Digging for Mammals in their Burrow

For us, the concept of digging up dinosaurs is not unusual, we have had the opportunity to be involved in a number of vertebrate fossil excavations including Dinosauria.  However, a paper published in the scientific journal “Geology” discusses a remarkable find in Utah (USA) that provides Late Cretaceous evidence of a dinosaur turning the tables and digging up mammals.  This amazing trace fossil (a trace fossil preserves evidence of behaviour and/or activity) provides an insight into the hunting behaviour of a small theropod dinosaur.

Described as an “ancient crime scene”, the 77-million-year-old dinosaur claw marks and scratches were discovered next to a series of mammal burrows in the Dixie National Forest by Edward Simpson, a geologist at Kutztown University (Pennsylvania).  Some of the burrows were made by rabbit sized mammals, others were much smaller, perhaps the homes of shrew-like creatures.  However, it appears that one little dinosaur was attempting to dig out the residents, aiming to turn the mammalian burrow dwellers into lunch.  This is the first instance of this behaviour being found in the fossil record.

Commenting on the discovery, Simpson stated:

“It appears a dinosaur was digging down and trapping rodent-like mammals in a similar way to coyotes hunting prairie dog burrows today.”

A co-author of the paper that has been published in the journal “Geology” Simpson and his colleagues describe the study of this newly discovered trace fossil of signs of digging and scratch marks found in association with mammalian burrows as evidence of a predator/prey relationship.

The fossils are actually three component elements that together can be interpreted as evidence of dinosaur hunting behaviour.  All the fossils occur within a floodplain siltstone-mudstone bed of the Upper Cretaceous Wahweap Formation in southern Utah.  The strata and the fossils they contain have been dated to Campanian faunal stage and although the dinosaur cannot be specifically identified, the scientists suggest that the marks indicate a maniraptoran theropod, possibly a dromeosaurid or a troodontid.  The team conclude that the close proxmity of the digging scratches and marks to the mammalian burrows suggests that dinosaurs used excavation techniques to prey on mammals.

A study of the strata and surrounding fossil matrix paints a picture of a sparsely vegetated, dry and exposed sandy plain, crossed by meandering streams.  The trace fossil evidence was preserved when it was suddenly covered by a flood and sand was deposited  covering the tell-tale signs of dinosaur and mammalian activity.  The fossils were eventually re-exposed at the bottom of a cliff face and discovered by the geological team.

Dinosaur trace fossil expert (ichnologist) Martin Lockley of the University of Colorado agreed with Simpson and his team’s interpretation of the fossils.

He went on to state:

“Hopefully, this will encourage palaeontologists to look for more of this type of evidence.”

Although trace fossils provide extremely important “in situ” evidence of behaviour such as digging for prey, it is difficult to associate the trace fossil evidence with any known specific dinosaur genera.  However, the size of the claw marks and an assessment of the curvature has led the authors to conclude that the culprit was a one metre tall maniraptoran theropod, possibly a dromaeosaurid such as Dromaeosaurus or maybe Saurornitholestes.  The claw marks may also have been made by a member of the Troodontidae such as Troodon.

Although it is difficult to ascribe this behaviour to any known genus, it is very easy to imagine a keen eyed maniraptoran spotting a burrow entrance and then starting to dig out the hole to get to the small mammal cowering inside.

To view a large range of articulated “raptor” models including dromaeosaurids and troodontids: Beasts of the Mesozoic Models and Figures.

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