All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
31 01, 2011

A “Broken-Hearted ” Dinosaur Thescelosaurus

By | January 31st, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaurs with Four-Chambered Hearts – Still Unproven

In April 2000, a research team published a paper on the small and relatively unremarkable American dinosaur, Thescelosaurus.  However, the paper postulated that an iron concretion within the body cavity of the articulated dinosaur specimen actually represented the preserved remains of a dinosaur’s heart – the first and only time that such a fossil appertaining to Dinosauria had been found.


The dinosaur fossils discovered in 1993 in South Dakota were purchased by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in 1996.  A study of the well-preserved specimen revealed this strange object located in the body cavity where a heart might be found.  The preservation of what is effectively a bag of muscle was the result of an exceptionally rare process, perhaps mineral enriched oxygen had mineralised while the specimen was in contact with groundwater, or maybe the preservation was as a result of a poorly known bacterial related process.  Either way a CAT scan seemed to show that there was the remnants of a sophisticated four-chambered heart with a single systematic aorta.

At the time, this heart was regarded as being somewhere between a birds and a crocodiles in structure. This was cited as evidence that some dinosaurs had high metabolic rates – that they were endothermic (warm-blooded).

However, a re-examination of the fossil material using more powerful scanners and X-ray machines have left many palaeontologists broken-hearted.  This might not have been a case of soft tissue preservation after all.

In a paper published in the scientific journal “Naturwissenschaften”, a team of palaeontologists led by Timothy Cleland of the North Carolina museum conclude that the earlier work, carried out without the use of very powerful CAT scanners and other advanced machinery was probably inaccurate.

Thescelosaurus Fossil Study

The study states:

“A three-dimensional, iron-cemented structure found in the anterior thoracic cavity [chest] of articulated Thescelosaurus skeletal remains was hypothesised to be the fossilised remains of the animal’s four-chambered heart.”

When the paper on the discovery of the “heart” was first published, over ten years ago, it sparked an intensive debate amongst scientists as to the structure and nature of the dinosaurian heart.  Was the Thescelosaurus evidence proof that these animals had sophisticated and advanced hearts very similar to the heart of a mammal, even our own?

The new paper goes on to say:

“The hypothesis that this Thescelosaurus has a preserved heart was controversial, and therefore, we re-examined it using higher-resolution computed tomography [CAT scans] paleohistological examination, X-ray diffraction analysis, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy.”

This new research concludes that the object in the thoracic cavity is not a heart, but most likely a sandy concretion that formed as the organic material of the carcase rotted away.

The study concludes:

“Neither the more detailed examination of the gross morphology and orientation of the thoracic ‘heart’ nor the microstructural studies supported the hypothesis that the structure was a heart.”

With Valentines day just a fortnight away it seems that this new evidence relating to Thescelosaurus may have left one or two palaeontologists “broken-hearted”.

To view models and replicas of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs: Bullyland Prehistoric Animal Models.

30 01, 2011

The Bear Facts – Largest Bear in the Fossil Record

By | January 30th, 2011|Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

South American Short-Faced Bear World’s Largest Bear

A report in the forthcoming scientific publication “The Journal of Palaeontology”, describes the fossil evidence in support of a claim by a group of scientists that they have identified the largest known specimen of a bear in the fossil record.  This “Goliath” of a bear, an American Short-Faced bear when rearing up on its hind legs would have stood more than eleven feet high, dwarfing all the Brown and Polar bears in the world today.  This huge male is believed to have weighed in excess of 3,300lbs making it at least a third as big again as the heaviest bears known today.

Largest Bear

The South American Short-Faced bear (Arctotherium angustidens), lived in Argentina approximately 2.5 million years ago (Late Pliocene epoch).

Co-author of the paper detailing the fossil specimen, Leopoldo Soibelzon, a researcher at the Vertebrate Palaeontology Division of La Plata Museum stated:

“During its time, this bear was the largest and most powerful land predator in the world, so we think it lived free of fear of being eaten.”

Soibelzon and his colleague Blaine Schubert of East Tennessee State University analysed the fossilised remains of the bear, which were originally discovered by construction workers in the 1930s and donated to La Plata Museum shortly afterwards.

The researchers conducted and extensive study of extant and extinct bears and found that the most reliable predictor of body size in bears is based on seven particular bone measurements.  The team then calculated the giant bear’s size using these bone measurements in conjunction with equations to assess body mass.  The scientists think that the bear evolved to such a huge size due to the absence of other large carnivores in the environment.  The Sabre-toothed cats and Terror Birds were also apex predators but not as bulky or as powerful as this bear would have been.

To view models and figures of sabre-toothed cats and other apex predators of the Cenozoic: Models of Prehistoric Mammals.

With the abundance of big herbivores living in the region at the time, there were plenty of dinner options available for a bear with a giant appetite.

Soibelzon commented:

“A. angustidens probably had an omnivorous diet composed of a great variety of components, but with a predominance of animal remains.  Amongst them, probably the bones and flesh of large mammals were very important in its diet.”

This particular beast, the scientists say, reached old age despite sustaining a number of serious injuries during its life.  The pathology (disease and injuries) are preserved on the fossil bones.  The research team are not certain how these injuries were caused, but the scientists have commented that “male-to-male fighting would be a possibility.”

Such intra-specific competition between such large animals could have caused the injuries but also, if the bear had predated on mega fauna such as Megatherium and other powerful animals then the injuries could have been a result of attacking large prey.  Disputes with other carnivores are also not ruled out by the research team, such as a quarrel with a pride of Sabre-tooths over a carcase.

The South American Short-Faced bear is part of a family of bears known as the tremarctines.  There is just one living representative of this family, the Spectacled bear, a relatively small species.  However, during the Pliocene and later Pleistocene there were many large bears both in the Americas and in the Old World (Europe).

29 01, 2011

A Fox is Man’s Best Friend?

By | January 29th, 2011|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Did Mesolithic People Prefer Foxes to Dogs as Pets?

Foxes may be regarded today in the United Kingdom by many people as vermin, particularly with the case recently of a fox attacking a baby.  Indeed, the traditional fox hunting scene of a fox being chased by a pack of dogs still adorns many a tea-towel and other such apparel, but evidence found in an archaeological dig in the Middle East country of Jordan suggests that at least one fox was man’s (or woman’s) best friend long before dogs became prominent.

Fox Bones Found in Mesolithic Grave

Foxes are members of the Canidae family, the same family as dogs (canines), they are generally omnivorous and usually no bigger than a Springer Spaniel, the Red Fox for example, (Vulpes vulpes).  Regarded as intelligent, cunning and resourceful animals, they are found on virtually every continent (having been introduced to Australia) and they are common subjects for folklore and country tales.

Mesolithic peoples may have preferred the fox to the dog as a pet, a new study in the online scientific journal PLoS One suggests.  Researchers examining graves and grave goods at a prehistoric burial ground in the country of Jordan have discovered a grave in which a fox was buried alongside a human.  Perhaps this was the household pet.

The research team (based at Cambridge University, UK) have postulated that this is evidence of some sort of emotional bond between human beings and foxes.  The fox may have been buried along side its master or mistress so that the two could travel to the afterlife together.

Fox Bones

Although, the bones may not be proof of an emotional link between a person and a fox, if people were domesticating foxes at the time the person was buried, it suggests that foxes were forming an association with people long before dogs came onto the scene.  The graves are located at Uyun-al-Hammam, in northern Jordan.  The site is approximately 16,500 years old and depicts a human culture that was becoming more sedentary, moving away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and becoming more involved with agriculture.  The fox/human grave is approximately 4,000 years older than the earliest human-dog burial and 7,000 years earlier than anything else similar found in Europe.

Studying the Burial Site

The study of the burial site, reveals a growing cultural sophistication, more closely associated with the later Neolithic age.  Foxes (the Red Fox) were common in that area of the Middle East in the Mesolithic (as they are today), perhaps they played a role in keeping man’s first grain harvests safe from rates and mice whilst it was in storage.  However, the relationship between mankind and foxes does not seem to have lasted, the more friendly and less timid dogs seem to have taken over sometime in the Neolithic.

A Diagram Showing the Layout of the Human/Fox Graves

Picture credit: PLoS One – Maher et al.

The picture shows a diagram of the grave area and highlighted areas with accompanying photographs providing more detail.  The site shows evidence of the grave being opened and the human body being relocated and buried close by.  The body of the fox was also removed from the first grave and reburied with the human.

Body of the Fox Reburied

Commenting on this, Dr Lisa Maher from the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies (Cambridge University) stated:

“The burial site provides intriguing evidence of a relationship between humans and foxes which predates any comparable example of animal domestication.  What we appear to have found is a case where a fox was killed and buried with its owner.”

Dr Maher went onto add:

“Later, the grave was reopened for some reason and the human’s body was moved.  But because the link between fox and human had been significant, the fox was moved as well, so that the person, or people, would still be accompanied by it in the afterlife.”

Photographs of the Fox Skull from the Grave

Is the Fox Man’s Best Friend.

Picture credit: PLoS One – Maher et al.

The photographs show various views (lateral views, close up of lateral views and ventral view) of the prepared and conserved fox skull found at the Uyun-al-Hammam site.  The skulls of a number of canines were studied by the research team in order to identify the species and the skull/skeleton from the grave has been identified as a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes).

It is interesting to think how things may have turned out for the foxes if we humans had not started domesticating chickens and other birds.  Foxes are renowned in many cultures for their ability to break into and cause havoc in chicken coups, perhaps as we became more successful at domesticating other animals so our relationship with the fox was doomed.

The scientific paper: “A Unique Human-Fox Burial from a Pre-Natufian Cemetery in the Levant (Jordan)” by Lisa A. Maher, Jay T. Stock, Sarah Finney, James J. N. Heywood, Preston T. Miracle, Edward B. Banning published in PLoS One.

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

28 01, 2011

Meeting “Thomas the Triceratops”

By | January 28th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Horned Dinosaur helps Children Learn about Geography

Today another school visit conducting experiments for a member of the Everything Dinosaur team.  One of the teachers at the school, working closely with the rest of the teaching staff had used software to show pictures of a soft toy Triceratops travelling to various parts of the world.  The topic the children had been working on for a few weeks was based around dinosaurs, but also linked to the wider national curriculum component called “Changes”.  The dinosaur, a ceratopsian (Triceratops horridus) sent the children pictures of his travels, he had been to Paris, the jungle and even to the North Pole.  The Triceratops was called “Thomas”.

Triceratops Model

The children loved hearing about his travels, the places he had visited and where in the world he had gone.  The teaching staff devised a number of exercises to help engage the young pupils, including writing letters and postcards to “Thomas the travelling Triceratops”.

A Triceratops Model

Triceratops model.

A still from Everything Dinosaur’s recent video review showing a Triceratops model.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

It is great to see such creative and well thought out teaching delivery.  This sort of scheme of work lends itself to lots of extension activities and will appeal to different learning styles.  When we were told about the Triceratops centred teaching, we got the children to help us cast a replica of a ceratopsian nose horn and we sent over lots of horned dinosaur drawing materials to help them with their studies.

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

27 01, 2011

The Giant Rodent on the Front Cover of Prehistoric Times

By | January 27th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page|0 Comments

Identifying the Giant Rodent on the Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (issue 96)

The animal featured on the front cover of the latest edition of the magazine Prehistoric Times is an extinct rodent from the genus Josephoartigasia (J. monesi).  Standing approximately 1.5 metres high at the shoulder, this animal, which lived in South America from 4-2 million years ago, looked like something crossed between a guinea pig and a rhinoceros.

Giant Rodent

Weighing as much as one tonne, this cow sized rodent is the biggest rodent genus known to science.  Known only from a partial skull, found in Uruguay and scientifically described just three years ago, the illustration was created by the renowned artist James Gurney.

The Front Cover of Prehistoric Times (Winter)

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The sheer size of this giant, prehistoric rodent and the low point of view of the artwork, may have confused some viewers as to thinking this was some sort of prehistoric horse (the teeth provide the clue to the rodent heritage), perhaps even a toxodont, such as Toxodon.  These large notoungulates such as the toxodonts, had prominent incisors and also lived in South America, but the massive, pair of incisors at the front of the mouth identify the animal in the illustration as a member of the Order Rodentia.

To view models and figures of extinct prehistoric mammals: Models of Prehistoric Mammals.

26 01, 2011

The Birth of Britain TV Documentary – Review

By | January 26th, 2011|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, TV Reviews|0 Comments

The Birth of Britain Television Programme Review

There have been several excellent television documentaries on the subject of geology and geography aired recently.  For example, the very well put together “Men of Rock” shown by the BBC on Thursday evenings.  This three-part television programme, highlighting the contribution to geology made by notable scientists such as Louis Agassiz and James Croll.  These programmes are narrated by Professor Iain Stewart, whose bubbly enthusiasm for his subject makes good television.

However, a quick note in praise of Tony Robinson who narrates the Channel Four documentary series “The Birth of Britain”.  In these three programmes Tony Robinson travels the length and breadth of the mainland of Great Britain highlighting the volcanic past of the United Kingdom, the effect of the Ice Ages on shaping the landscape and in the last programme, how gold and other precious metals are mined.

Whilst Tony Robinson cannot boast the academic credentials of a Professor Iain Stewart, he is equally enthusiastic and seems to genuinely enjoy explaining the clues left to our island’s past in its geology and geography.

To his credit, he keeps his enthusiasm even when getting soaked.  He seems to have spent half the filming time in a rain shower. We know how he feels, the trickle of water seeping into the boots, the discovery that your waterproofs are not quite as “waterproof” as they used to be – all good fun.

The United Kingdom has some wonderful landscapes and we have enjoyed watching these programmes even looking on enviously as Tony Robinson speaks into the camera in yet another rainstorm.

Everything Dinosaur

“The Birth of Britain” documentaries are being shown on Channel Four at 8pm Mondays, although let down by some poor animation, they are informative and show some of the most spectacular parts of the British Isles as well as revealing what evidence can be found in cities and in railway stations that show what happened in the past.

To view models and figures of prehistoric animals, fossils of which have been found in Britain: Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

25 01, 2011

Bird or Dinosaur? The Bizarre Linhenykus

By | January 25th, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

A New Alvarezsaurid – Linhenykus, Dinosauria Just Gets More and More Curious

That fleet footed and bizarre sub-branch of the Dinosaur Order Theropoda, the alvarezsaurids, just got a little more curious with the announcement of the discovery of a new member of this strange group – Linhenykus.

Linhenykus monodactylus

The new dinosaur, scientifically named as Linhenykus monodactylus (the name means “Linhe city’s clawed, single finger”), was a fast running, agile dinosaur with stumpy forelimbs and just one finger on each hand.  The single finger was armed with a large, curved claw, people may be familiar with the two-fingered T. rex, but here is a dinosaur with even less digits.

With details of the discovery, published in the journal “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, the remains of this little dinosaur, found in Upper Cretaceous sediments near the city of Linhe in Inner Mongolia, has given scientists further information on the bizarre alvarezsaurids.

The cursorial, compact bodied, long-legged, but with stumpy arms and single, clawed fingers alvarezsaurids must represent one of the more bizarre families with the dinosaur clade.  Many of these types of dinosaur have very bird-like skeletons such as a breast bone, fused ankles and a narrow skull.

Chinese Dinosaurs

Weighing just a few kilogrammes and standing less than a metre tall, this little dinosaur wandered the arid environment of what was to become China, approximately 80 million years ago.  The fossils were found in the Wulansuhai Formation, strata that has already provided an extensive range of vertebrate fossils.  Although, only known from one partial skeleton (pelvis, vertebrae, forelimb and hind limbs), the research team were able to piece together an impression of this dinosaur by comparing its bones to the fossilised remains of other alvarezsaurids found in Asia and South America.

Michael Pittman of the University College, London, who was one of the research team members, commentated on the small size of this new dinosaur:

“You would see a very small animal, probably below your hip height, with a very small skull.  It is not very threatening because its teeth are very small compared to other carnivorous dinosaurs and there is some evidence it may have been an insectivore.”

The bizarre, shortened forelimbs with their single clawed finger are very peculiar adaptations, unlike any other type of dinosaur.  Many scientists believe that these very bird-like arms were adapted to dig, perhaps to break open the mounds of termites and then with their long jaws (possibly a long tongue, like a woodpeckers), they could reach into the termite mounds to feed on the insects.

An insectivorous diet is quite common amongst the Dinosauria, a few days ago we wrote a blog article on a sauropodomorph called Sarahsaurus.  This dinosaur, whose fossilised remains date from the Early Jurassic,  had very powerful forelimbs, it too may have fed on social insect colonies.

To read more about the Sarahsaurus: A Dinosaur Called Sarah.

The Fingers of Non-avian Theropods

Commenting on the evolution of dinosaurs with just a single clawed finger, Michael Pittman stated:

“Non-avian theropods start with five fingers but evolved to have only three fingers in later forms.  tyrannosaurs were unusual in having just two fingers but the one fingered Linhenykus shows how extensive and complex theropod hand modifications really were.”

The disappearing digits suggest that the mono-digits that represent the alvarezsaurids may be the end of one evolutionary pathway, in which unused digits disappear as part of the process of natural selection.  For example, there is evidence that some types of tyrannosaurid from the Late Cretaceous may have had a vestigial third finger, which eventually was lost as the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex from the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian faunal stage) evolved.

Jonah Choiniere, a scientist at the American Museum of Natural History (New York), another member of the international research team commented:

“Vestigial structures, like legs in whales and snakes, may appear and disappear seemingly randomly in the course of evolution.  Linhenykus highlights the complexity in the evolution of these vestigial fingers.”

If these creatures were feeding on termites, having to break into their concrete-like structures, then their three-fingered coelurosaurid ancestors may not have been capable of breaking into the colonies very efficiently.  Over millions of years these dinosaurs adapted and their limbs became more compact and powerful, with an evolutionary investment in a single, powerful digit armed with a strong, curved claw.

Dr Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London, the scientist responsible for the technical detail in the highly successful range of dinosaur models sold by this museum added:

“Alvarezsauroids are already known to be an unusual group of theropods with very bizarre hands used primarily for digging and this new find confirms there was some variation in how weird these hands were.”

To view models and replicas of Chinese dinosaurs: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Models and Figures.

24 01, 2011

Best Prehistoric Animal Toy of 2010

By | January 24th, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page|0 Comments

Safari Ltd Kentrosaurus Wins Award

The Kentrosaurus model introduced by Safari Ltd of the United States has won the prestigious – Best Prehistoric Animal Toy of 2010 award.  This award is voted for by readers of Prehistoric Times magazine.  The Safari Kentrosaurus dinosaur model has been voted best Prehistoric Animal Toy of last year (2010).

The Safari Kentrosaurus Dinosaur Model (Wild Safari Dinos Series)

Safari Kentrosaurus dinosaur model

East African Stegosaur wins an award.

The model, which measures approximately 13 centimetres long is finely detailed and shows the latest scientific interpretation of this member of the Stegosauria clade.  Beating off a number of rivals (it helps to have many spikes on your tail), to win this accolade, including a number of new introductions from Schleich, Bullyland, Papo plus Safari themselves, the Wild Safari Dinos Kentrosaurus is a worthy winner.

To view the large range of prehistoric animal models including dinosaurs in the Wild Safari Prehistoric World model series: Safari Ltd. Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Figures.

23 01, 2011

Pterosaur Males were the “Peacocks” of the Mesozoic

By | January 23rd, 2011|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Pterosaur Fossil with Egg – Vital Clues to Pterosaur Reproduction

Pterosaurs, those members of the Archosauria alongside the dinosaurs that dominated life in the air for much of the Mesozoic have long fascinated scientists and ordinary folk alike.  These creatures that evolved sometime in the Triassic and went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous, dominated life in the air until the birds, those descendants from theropod dinosaurs came onto the scene.

With no extant animals even coming close to the pterosaurs, scientists had been very much in the dark about a number of aspects about pterosaur habits, life styles, breeding strategies and such like.  However, the finding of a fossilised pterosaur complete with the remains of an unlaid egg that was inside her may provide vital clues to help palaeontologists piece together more information about these fascinating, extinct flying reptiles.

It seems that pterosaurs laid leathery eggs like turtles rather than the hard-shelled eggs that birds lay.  In addition, this new fossil suggests that it was the males of the species that had large head crests, whilst the females were less conspicuous.

The report on the discovery of a pterosaur fossil with evidence of an egg, is in this months edition of the scientific journal “Science”.  The genus concerned is a small, Chinese Pterosaur known as Darwinopterus, named in 2009 to honour the bicentennial of the birth of the naturalist Charles Darwin and also to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s ground breaking book outlining his theory of natural selection “The Origin of Species”.

To read more about the discovery and naming  of this pterosaur: Pterosaur Transitional Fossil.

Pterosaur Research

The fossil of Darwinopterus was found in the Liaoning Province of China, it has been dated to approximately 160 million years ago, we have put an arrow on the picture we received to highlight the egg which had been expelled by gases inside the body cavity as the organic remains of this pterosaur rotted away.  The fossil was found in sediments that formed at the bottom of an ancient lake, it seems that this little flying reptile suffered a broken wing for some reason and fell into the water, eventually settling on the still bottom where the muddy sediments preserved her remains.

Commenting on the discovery of the egg and its implications for pterosaur gender, David Unwin, a palaeobiologist at the University of Leicester (England) stated:

“In almost none of the previous collections can we tell what the gender of the fossil is.  This is the first association of an egg with an adult, so we can identify it as a female.”

Pterosaur Egg Discovery

The discovery of this fossil, it was found by a local farmer and handed over to Chinese scientists, provides evidence to support a number of theories that had been proposed by palaeontologists.  Firstly, that female pterosaurs had larger, wider pelvic areas than the males, this would permit the storage and passage of eggs.  The lack of an ornate head crest suggests that it was the males who tended to be crested – the peacocks of the Mesozoic.

A chemical analysis of the area shows that there is an absence of calcium carbonate, the mineral responsible for making bird eggs hard.

Under high powered magnification, the researchers could identify folds and pores within the egg (see black arrows on picture).  This suggests that the pterosaur egg had a similar structure to that of a modern turtles, it would have been leathery and “parchment like”.  These soft-shelled eggs, could probably swell and grow in size, absorbing water from the environment rather than having to contain all the water required to make the egg hatch as in the case of the hard-shelled eggs of birds.

Dr Unwin stated:

“By laying soft eggs that could grow in size, pterosaurs could make a much smaller investment in terms of material effort.”

This has implications for pterosaur nesting behaviour, perhaps they buried their eggs in sand, rather than brooding them as birds do.  The fact that the egg has been found in association with the egg layer provides evidence for the relationship between the pterosaur that laid the egg and the size of the actual egg laid.

Dr Unwin went onto add:

“What we now need to do, is to look at lots of pterosaurs and look at other things such as size.  Were males typically bigger or smaller than females?  And other really fundamental kinds of things that we know for living species, we can now look at in pterosaurs.”

This is evidence for a very “reptilian” form of reproduction for the pterosaurs.  This fossil suggests that these flying reptiles, laid their eggs in moist, soft ground and then abandoned them to their fate, in a similar way to turtles today.

Based on the few fossils of juvenile pterosaurs found to date, scientists believe that, unlike birds which need a degree of parental care, pterosaurs once hatched; were fully independent, miniature versions of the adults and capable of feeding for themselves.

Dr Unwin commented:

“The y looked like tiny adults.  They were highly precocious and could almost certainly fly very soon after hatching.”

Mark Witton, a pterosaur research scientist and renowned illustrator based at the University of Portsmouth, when asked about the discovery said:

“What makes this find so special is that the egg was not found in isolation.  We could identify in some cases what species the eggs belonged to, but we have never had a pterosaur egg in association with its mother before.”

Commenting on the size ratio between the mother and the egg, Chatham University palaeontologist Michael Habib stated:

“They seem to be relatively smallish eggs.  That is consistent with most egg-laying animals, but they don’t all do that.”


The absence of a discernible head crest on the female suggests that it was the male pterosaurs that possessed the ornate head crests.  If this is true, then this discovery will help scientists separate the girls from the boys in other pterosaur genera.

Based on this evidence, the research team thinks only Darwinopterus males sported head crests, which they may have used to communicate with other members of their species.

Dr Unwin, a co-author of the study paper stated that the crests could be used for communication or display, being used to signal to other males that “I’m bigger than you”, or it could be used to tell females that “here I am, carrying this enormous crest, and I’m better to mate with than the chap next door who has a smaller crest.”

To view scale models of pterosaurs such as Dimorphodon and Guidraco: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Animal Figures.

22 01, 2011

Dinosaurs Unleashed at the O2 (London)

By | January 22nd, 2011|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaurs Unleashed from 18th February

Grab a piece of prehistory in London next month with the start of the Dinosaurs Unleashed experience at the O2 arena.  A chance to see Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops on the banks of the Thames, plus a total of 22 animatronic prehistoric animals in a unique visitor experience.

Dinosaurs Unleashed

Get up close to some of the most iconic and awesome creatures that ever walked on the Earth, or swam in the sea, or flew in the air for that matter.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur have had the chance to peruse the fantastic exhibits, personal favourites amongst our staff were the tusked, Triassic Placerias and the huge Megalosaurus plus of course the CGI aquarium that brought back to life the Jurassic marine environment with its ferocious and awe-inspiring marine reptiles.  These were just some of the exciting and amazing animatronic animals on display the last time we visited this exhibition.

One of the Amazing Animatronic Dinosaurs – Stegosaurus

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

One of the really great things about the Dinosaurs Unleashed exhibition is the attention to detail on the models, they really are amazing and give you the chance to see the latest scientific reconstructions of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.  It is only once you have stood alongside a Stegosaurus, like the one in the picture above, that you really appreciate just how big some of these dinosaurs were.

For further details on the Dinosaurs Unleashed exhibition at the O2 arena and for ticket information regarding dinosaur events check out the Everything Dinosaur blog.

There are something like 40 interactive and educational panels providing lots and lots of information about the latest dinosaur discoveries, where they lived, what they hunted and how they evolved.

The Enormous T. rex Animatronic Dinosaur

T. rex on display. Dinosaurs Unleashed.

Ferocious T. rex on display.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The animatronic dinosaurs can be a bit scary for very young children, but parents need not worry too much, as the young palaeontologists soon get the idea that these monsters are not going to hurt them.  We loved watching children roaring back at the big Tyrannosaurus rex and trying to avoid catching his watchful gaze.  Lots of information available on the prehistoric animals featured and a great deal of care has been taken by the organisers to pack as much educational information and material into the exhibition as possible.

Dinosaurs Unleashed opens its doors on February 18th, just in time for the half-term school break, and for dinosaur fans from two years of age to those of us considered to be “old fossils”, this exhibition would make a super day out.

To view models and replicas of many of the dinosaurs on display at this exhibition: Dinosaur Models and Figures.

Load More Posts