All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
30 04, 2016

Giant Duck-Billed Dinosaur is a Record Breaker

By |2023-04-18T22:39:37+01:00April 30th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Shantungosaurus giganteus Exhibit Recognised by Guinness Book of Records

Everything Dinosaur has received reports from Chinese news agencies that a dinosaur exhibit in the Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum (Shandong Province, China), has been recognised by the Guinness World Records organisation as being the largest hadrosaurid skeleton on display.  The duck-billed dinosaur skeleton is part of an exhibit showing a herd of Shantungosaurus dinosaurs in the entrance area of the huge museum.

In the press release, the dinosaur is referred to as Zhuchengosaurus maximus, but this is regarded as a junior synonym of Shantungosaurus giganteus, the mounted skeleton stands 9.1 metres high and is 16.6 metres long.

Shantungosaurus giganteus

The Giant Shantungosaurus Compared to Edmontosaurus

Edmontosaurus compared to Shantungosaurus.

Comparing hadrosaurs. Shantungosaurus compared to Edmontosaurus.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Largest Biped to Have Ever Lived?

With the recent hypothesis that Spinosaurus (S. aegyptiacus) was a quadruped and incapable of walking on its hind legs, Shantungosaurus, is regarded by many palaeontologists as a facultative biped (able to walk on its hind legs if it wished to) and as such, the largest biped known to science.  Body length and body mass estimates are difficult to calculate, but the mounted exhibit examined by the Guinness Book of Records, exceeds fifty-four feet in length, and one of the neighbouring Shantungosaurus mounts at the museum is almost as long.

As for bodyweight, estimates vary, but Gregory Scott Paul has estimated that this dinosaur could reach weights in excess of fifteen tonnes, that’s getting on for being twice as heavy as a T. rex!

For models and replicas of hadrosaurs and other dinosaurs: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

An Illustration of the Giant Hadrosaur Shantungosaurus giganteus

Perhaps the largest biped to have ever lived - Shantungosaurus giganteus,

Perhaps the largest biped to have ever lived – Shantungosaurus giganteus,

Picture credit: Mike Fredericks

The Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum

The Zhucheng Dinosaur Museum is one of the largest museums dedicated to the Dinosauria anywhere in the world.  It celebrates the rich fossil heritage of Shandong Province and Shantungosaurus giganteus was named in honour of this coastal province in eastern China.  The record breaking exhibit, does not represent a single, individual animal.

When remains of the giant ornithischian dinosaur that was to be named Shantungosaurus were first found in the mid 1960s, fossils from at least five individuals were found together in an extensive bone bed.  Although, none of these specimens represented a complete skeleton, the bones (and casts of missing fossils) could be assembled into a single mount.

A Scale Drawing of the Duck-Billed Dinosaur S. giganteus 

A scale drawing of Shantungosaurus.

A scale drawing of Shantungosaurus. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Giant Ornithischian Dinosaurs

Named in 1973, Shantungosaurus lived during the Late Cretaceous and it is one of a number of ornithischian dinosaurs known from this part of the Wangshi Formation of eastern China.  A second, equally sized hadrosaurid was described in 2007 – Zhuchengosaurus maximus and the Chinese press agency referred to the record breaking exhibit using this nomenclature.  However, Z. maximus, named and described in 2007, is probably a junior synonym of Shantungosaurus giganteus.

Anatomical features used to distinguish the fossils as a separate species when Z. maximus was named in 2007 were later to be found to be related to ontogeny (different aged animals with differences in growth).  A similar fate befell a third giant hadrosaur Huaxiaosaurus (H. aigahtens), it too is now regarded as a junior synonym of Shantungosaurus.

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

Whatever the position regarding the validity of these other genera, it is certain that this part of China in the Late Cretaceous was home to some truly huge duck-billed dinosaurs, why these animals grew so big remains a mystery.  Perhaps an abundance of food resources permitted larger and larger generations, or maybe a larger size helped avoid predation?  The naming of a new genus of tyrannosaurid (Zhuchengtyrannus magnus) in 2011 may help explain the reason for the very large size of these particular duck-billed dinosaurs.

To read an article about the discovery of Zhuchengtyrannus: A New Species of Tyrannosaur from China.

29 04, 2016

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival in Full Swing

By |2023-04-18T21:59:07+01:00April 29th, 2016|Geology, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival 2016

The 2016 Lyme Regis Fossil Festival is in full swing.  After a successful day yesterday with around two dozen primary schools attending, Friday is dedicated to supporting secondary schools, those pupils at Key Stages 3 and 4 of the English national curriculum.  Local fossil expert Brandon Lennon reports that there were some strong winds battering the Dorset coast earlier in the week, this affected the build up to the Festival but all the marquees were erected and everything made ready for what will be four days for frenetic fossil themed activities.

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival

The View Towards the Famous Lyme Regis Cobb

Lyme Regis prepares for the 2016 Fossil Festival.

Lyme Regis prepares for the 2016 Fossil Festival.

Picture credit: Brandon Lennon

Even in bad weather, Lyme Regis is picturesque.  This part of the “Jurassic Coast” tends to have its own micro-climate, a phenomenon that team members at Everything Dinosaur have experienced themselves.  It can be raining in Sidmouth (Devon) to the west, but the Lyme Regis and Charmouth areas stay dry.  The weather forecast for the weekend, the public open days of the 2016 festival, is much better.  Strong sea breezes are still in the forecast but it is going to be dry and as a result, even more visitors are expected.  It is going to be a busy couple of days for the organisers and the exhibitors.

The Marquees Along the Sea Front

All is ready for the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival 2016.

All is ready for the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival 2016.

Picture credit: Brandon Lennon

To visit the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival website: Lyme Regis Fossil Festival 2016

Promoting Science to Young People

The theme of this year’s festival is “promoting science to young people” and there will be lots to do and see at Lyme Regis over the next couple of days or so.  However, team members at Everything Dinosaur have received reports about further minor rock falls from the cliffs surrounding the town.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The cliffs remain saturated and further rock falls over the next few days cannot be discounted.  We urge visitors to the Festival to take care whilst on the beach and to stay away from the bottom of the cliffs.”

One of the best ways to enjoy the geology of Lyme Regis and Charmouth is to take part in a guided fossil walk.  There are a number of these walks built into the programme of the Festival itself, but other walks are available throughout most of the year.

To learn more about organised fossil walks in the Lyme Regis area: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

Amazing Fossils

For those who would prefer not to explore the beaches themselves, there will be lots of fascinating fossils on display in the marquees.  Many of the specimens on display have been found in the Dorset area and can be purchased, there will certainly be many different Ammonites to choose from, if Chris Moore’s trade stand is anything to go by.

Chris Moore (Forge Fossils, Charmouth) Prepares his Trade Stand

A splendid display of Lyme Regis fossils.

A splendid display of Lyme Regis fossils.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

It looks like there will be one or two bargains to be had.  There will also be plenty of opportunities to discuss the ancient fauna of Lyme Regis with the multitude of local fossil experts who will be attending this year’s event, in addition, visitors have the chance to meet scientists from the Natural History Museum, British Antarctic Survey, Palaeontological Association, Plymouth University, Natural England, Jurassic Coast Trust, Dorset Geologists, Geological Society, Lyme Regis Museum, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, National Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the National Oceanography Centre.

For models and replicas of iconic animals from the “Jurassic Coast”: Models of Iconic Fossil Animals, Toys and Gifts.

We wish the Festival every success and we look forward to hearing more about the 2016 Lyme Regis Fossil Festival over the weekend.

28 04, 2016

Kind Words from a Teaching Assistant

By |2023-04-18T21:54:28+01:00April 28th, 2016|General Teaching|Comments Off on Kind Words from a Teaching Assistant

Memorable Dinosaur Workshops in Schools

Most of us can remember things that we did at school, field trips, summer excursions, special assemblies and so on.  With Everything Dinosaur having delivered something like three hundred dinosaur and fossil themed events and workshops over the last few  years, we like to think that in our own small way our work in schools has contributed to those happy memories.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

Dinosaur Workshop

Whilst on a return visit to a school to work with a Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) class, we were pleased to hear from a teaching assistant how fondly her own children remembered a visit from Everything Dinosaur to their classroom.  It seems our tactile fossil handling activities made quite an impression.  The Teaching Assistant dropped us a line to let us know what an effect our workshops had.

Thank you Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Workshop thank you letter.

Thanks from teacher.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Encouraging Children

We encourage children to write letters to us, after all, this is a good way for Key Stage One and Key Stage Two pupils to practice handwriting, sentence construction and the layout of letters, but we also appreciate feedback from the grown-ups too.

The Teaching Assistant wrote:

“My own children participated in this session when in Reception, they were very jealous this morning.  Alexander is now in Year 8 and Charlotte is in Year 5 now.  It is a fantastic memory which was so inspiring for them.  Thank you!”

Thank you for your kind words, it is always nice to get feedback and to receive comments from those who have had the opportunity to see one of our workshops.

For further information on Everything Dinosaur’s workshops in school: Contact Everything Dinosaur.

28 04, 2016

Digitalised Dinosaur Leads to Dorking Museum Discovery

By |2023-04-18T21:48:04+01:00April 28th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

When is an Iguanodon Not an Iguanodon?

Yesterday, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a giant whale tooth found in Beaumaris Bay (Victoria).  This significant fossil find, once again highlighted the importance of amateur fossil hunters when it comes to contributing to the Earth Sciences.  You don’t have to travel all the way to Australia to play your part, sometimes the geological collection housed at your local regional museum can provide an opportunity for you to make you mark.

Take for example, the vertebrate fossil collection at Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre.  Student Tom Fedrick has helped re-classify dinosaur tail bones originally described as belonging to an Iguanodon, but keen-eyed Tom, using knowledge gained from four years volunteering at the Museum, concluded that a centrepiece of the collection represented the bones of an entirely different, albeit related dinosaur – Mantellisaurus.

The Caudal Vertebrae on Display (Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis)

On display at the museum.

On display at the museum.

Picture credit: Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre

Digitalising the Dorking Museum Collection

Much of the fossil collection is currently being catalogued digitally.  This will enable the collection to be accessed by other museums, researchers and academics.  A-level student Tom has been working on this substantial project and having completed work on around half of the collection, he turned his attention to the Iguanodon exhibit.

Tom explained:

“Looking at it [the Iguanodon exhibit] in the past I always thought it was odd, thinner than I would expect.  However with the catalogue entry in front of me my suspicions were confirmed: this was not an Iguanodon.  Though it was listed as Iguanodon atherfieldensis my background knowledge meant I knew that this species had been reclassified as a new genus entirely – Mantellisaurus by Gregory Paul in 2007.”

Tom Fedrick and the Re-classified Dinosaur Bones (Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis)

Tom a pupil at Reigate Grammar School oversees the cataloguing of the dinosaur bones.

Tom, a student at Reigate Grammar School oversees the cataloguing of the dinosaur bones.

Picture credit: Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre

The Problem with Iguanodontids

The fragmentary nature of iguanodontid fossils excavated from various locations across the south of England have presented palaeontologists with a number of taxonomic puzzles to solve.  Iguanodon was the second dinosaur species to be named and described (although the genus name was erected before the Order Dinosauria had been established).  Gideon Mantell named Iguanodon, but at the time his paper was published, he failed to establish a holotype or indeed assign a trivial name to his specimen.  From that point on, the Iguanodon genus became a sort of dumping ground for any large Ornithischian dinosaur fossil material excavated from the Weald Clay Formations and the contemporaneous Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It’s complicated!  Lots of fossils found in Europe, Africa and North America formerly ascribed to Iguanodon, have been re-classified since the turn of the Century.  The holotype material for Iguanodon bernissartensis for instance, a genus synonymous with the term “English dinosaur”, has been reassigned to more complete Belgian fossil material and we congratulate Tom for spotting the incorrectly labelled museum specimen.”


Mantellisaurus atherfieldenis  was established in 2007 by the American Gregory Scott Paul.  It is a more gracile animal than the robust Iguanodon bernissartensis  and considerably smaller, perhaps around seven metres in length.  Analysis of the forelimbs suggest that Mantellisaurus spent the majority of its time as a biped, although it could adopt a four-legged stance when desired (facultative quadruped).

Comparing Iguanodontid Skeletons (after Gregory S. Paul)

Iguanodontid comparisons. D. bampingi is regarded as Nomen dubium.

Iguanodontid comparisons. D. bampingi is regarded as Nomen dubium.

Picture credit: Gregory S. Paul with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The picture above compares the skeletons of three types of iguanodontids.  Although, Gregory S. Paul regarded Dollodon bampingi as a valid genus, more recent research suggests that Dollodon might be a synonym of Mantellisaurus.  The term “Nomen dubium” is given to any organism whose validity is in doubt.

A Model of Mantellisaurus atherfieldenis

CollectA Mantellisaurus dinosaur model.

CollectA Mantellisaurus drinking.

For models and replicas of iguanodontids: CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Popular Models.

Digitised Dinosaur

This is the second time that a fossil specimen has been reclassified after research undertaken at the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre.  Last year, Everything Dinosaur reported upon the reclassification of a marine reptile specimen, thought to have represented Polyptychodon interruptus.

To read this article: Pliosaur Skull Links Dorking to Kansas.

The programme of digitally logging the collection at the Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre is progressing.  It is thanks to dedicated, hard-working individuals that our country continues to be blessed with a wealth of regional museums which contribute so much to our understanding of the world

Dorking Museum opening times: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10am – 4pm.
Admission: Adults £2, Concessions £1, Under-5s free, Family ticket £4.50 (prices correct at time of publication)

For more information on this fascinating regional museum visit: Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre.

27 04, 2016

Giant Aussie Whale – A Terror of Pliocene Seas

By |2023-04-18T21:39:43+01:00April 27th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Monster Whale Tooth from Beaumaris Bay (Victoria)

A fossil tooth of a giant, prehistoric whale found on a beach by an amateur fossil hunter has provided scientists with further evidence of monstrous whales that once ruled the oceans of the world.  The tooth, which weighs around three kilogrammes and measures a whopping thirty centimetres in length is not even complete.  The tip of the crown is missing and the base of the root has broken off.  However, it is easily the biggest fossil tooth ever found in Australia. The fossil provides proof of giant Aussie whales.

Palaeontologist Erich Fitzgerald Holds the Giant Fossil Tooth

Palaeontologist Dr. Erich Fitzgerald holds the fossil whale tooth.

Palaeontologist Dr Erich Fitzgerald holds the fossil whale tooth.

Picture credit: Museum Victoria

Beaumaris Bay

The fossil was discovered back in February by Murray Orr as he explored the famous Beaumaris Bay area to the south-east of Melbourne (Victoria).  The sandstone cliffs and foreshore of this bay represent sandstone deposits laid down between ten and five million years ago in an estuarine and marine environment.  The strata preserves fossils of a huge number of invertebrates as well as the fossilised bones of penguins, ancient seals, sharks and other fishes.  The bones of giant birds have also been found along with fossils representing terrestrial marsupials whose bodies must have been washed down the Yarra River and out to sea.

Such is the importance of the Beaumaris Bay area and the Pliocene-aged strata that a lobby group has been formed to help preserve the two mile long beach area by awarding it UNESCO World Heritage status.

Significant Australian Fossil Find

The tooth is estimated to be around five million years old and would have come from a cetacean similar to the giant of Peru – Livyatan melvillei, formerly known as Leviathan melvillei.

To read about the discovery of L. melvilleiThe Nightmare Whale from Prehistory.

Giant Aussie Whale

Although the teeth are very similar, it is unlikely that the Australian tooth represents the same genus, as the Peruvian fossil material has been dated to around 12 million years ago, so the Beaumaris Bay specimen is considerably younger.  The tooth is internationally significant, as it represents the first evidence of massive sperm whales present outside the Americas.  The tooth is indeed immense and dwarfs a tooth from the jaw of an extant Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus).  It even makes the teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex look quite dainty in comparison.

Tooth Comparison – T. rex versus the Extinct Sperm Whale and a Modern Sperm Whale Tooth

The fossil whale tooth (centre) compared to a T. rex tooth (left) and an extant Sperm Whale tooth (right).

The fossil whale tooth (centre) compared to a T. rex tooth (left) and an extant Sperm Whale tooth (right).

Picture credit: Museum Victoria

The picture above provides a comparison between the tooth of a Tyrannosaurus rex (left), the extinct fossil whale (centre) and a modern-day Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) on the right.

A Scale Drawing Providing an Estimate of the Size of the Extinct Toothed Whale

Estimated size of toothed whale based on the fossil tooth - around 18 metres.

Estimated size of toothed whale based on the fossil tooth – around 18 metres.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

How Big was the Giant Aussie Whale?

Although it is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of size based on a single tooth, it has been suggested that this whale could have reached lengths in excess of eighteen metres and it might have weighed some forty tonnes.  Murray Orr has donated his remarkable fossil find to Museum Victoria, thanking Mr Orr for his kind donation, the museum’s senior curator of vertebrate fossils, Dr Erich Fitzgerald stated:

“It’s a first for the entire continent of Australia and it’s a fossil of a whale that has never thought to be here before.”

Dr Fitzgerald is no stranger to the Beaumaris Bay area and he has worked on a number of important fossil discoveries from this area.  For example, back in 2013, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of the first seal bones from this locality: Australia’s First Seal – A Pliocene Pinniped.

Fossils from Beaumaris Bay have even proved that giant, toothed birds once flew Australia’s coastline: Giant Toothed Birds Once Soared Over Australia.

How Old is the Fossil?

As the fossil is believed to be around five million years old, it is the youngest known fossil of a whale-eating Sperm Whale.  Extant Sperm Whale males can reach fifteen metres in length and they are predators but they only have teeth in their narrow, lower jaw.  They specialise on feeding on squid and fish, the fossil tooth indicates that in the Southern Hemisphere giant marine, super-predators were geographically widely dispersed.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is a truly remarkable find and this discovery once again shows the important contribution that amateur fossil hunters can make to science.  As for naming this beast, it would be hard to erect a new genus from a single fossil tooth but precedence has been set before.  Perhaps we should refer to this simply as “Murray’s Monster”, after all, given the size of the tooth, albeit missing part of the root and the tip of the crown, this toothed whale really was a monster!”

The Beaumaris Bay area of Melbourne provides a remarkable insight into the ancient fauna of Australia.  Giant marsupials roamed the estuary with seals and ancient penguins basking on the beach, whilst flying overhead giant toothed birds soared out to sea, where perhaps a massive toothed whale lurked offshore to pick off any unwary seals.

An Illustration of Beaumaris Bay During the Pliocene

Beaumaris bay, (Victoria, Australia) some five million years ago.

Beaumaris bay, (Victoria, Australia) some five million years ago.

Picture credit: Monash University

For models and replicas of prehistoric animals including Livyatan melvillei (whilst stocks last): PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Replicas.

26 04, 2016

JurassicCollectables CollectA 2016 Unboxing (Part 1)

By |2023-04-18T19:07:58+01:00April 26th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|1 Comment

JurassicCollectables CollectA Unboxing Video

CollectA have got so many new for 2016 prehistoric animal models coming out, that those clever people at JurassicCollectables have had to split their unboxing video into two parts.

JurassicCollectables – CollectA Unboxing Video Review

Video credit: JurassicCollectables


Everything Dinosaur sent out a complete set of these new for 2016 CollectA replicas and in this unboxing video the narrator takes viewers through a summary of the models that were included in the first batch of releases.  It’s an impressive line up with the terrific Tyrannosaurus rex corpse up first and JurassicCollectables provide lot of amazing close ups of the injuries sustained by this unfortunate tyrannosaurid.  Then it’s on to the hunting T. rex model as our narrator makes short work of the product packaging to reveal this replica in all its glory.

Check out the 1:40 scale CollectA feathered T. rex video review on the JurassicCollectables YouTube channel.  It has over ten thousand video views already and it has only been up a few weeks.

Find JurassicCollectables on YouTube:  Check out the JurassicCollectables on YouTube.

Everything Dinosaur Fact Sheets Get a Mention

The reviewer mentions that Everything Dinosaur supplies a fact sheet on every named prehistoric animal that we supply, we do like to go the extra mile when it comes to looking after our customers.  We have several hundred prehistoric animal fact sheets and the latest, Nanshiungosaurus (number 807) is currently being checked before final approval. 

Nanshiungosaurus Illustration for the Everything Dinosaur Fact Sheet

The illustration ready for our Nanshiungosaurus fact sheet.

The illustration ready for our Nanshiungosaurus fact sheet.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Nanshiungosaurus Fact Sheet for JurassicCollectables

Why might Everything Dinosaur have researched and written a Nanshiungosaurus fact sheet?  All will be revealed next month…

Next up on the CollectA unboxing video (part 1) is the horned dinosaur Mercuriceratops and JurassicCollectables lets the viewer take in all the exquisite details on this model.  The Metriacanthosaurus replica follows and it is great to see CollectA making a model of another type of British Theropod dinosaur.

Last but not least we have the two 1:40 scale dinosaur replicas that have come out in the first part of this year.  There is the 1:40 scale feathered Beishanlong and to conclude this video, the CollectA 1:40 scale Torvosaurus is shown.  This model seems to be the narrator’s favourite and what a splendid dinosaur model it is too.  In the video review, reference is made to the articulated jaw and in the comments section on the YouTube video we added further information about this feature.

Everything Dinosaur

All these models are available from Everything Dinosaur, to see the complete CollectA range of not to scale models (Prehistoric Life): CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Prehistoric Life Models.

For the CollectA Deluxe range of scale models: CollectA Deluxe Scale Models.

Part of the New for 2016 CollectA Prehistoric Animal Model Range

Just some of the fantastic CollectA prehistoric animal models new for 2016.

Just some of the fantastic CollectA prehistoric animal models new for 2016.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The JurassicCollectables YouTube channel is crammed full with lots of very well made and extremely informative dinosaur and prehistoric animal videos, if you have not already checked out this most professional YouTube site we urge you to take a look and we advise readers to subscribe: Check out the JurassicCollectables YouTube Channel

We look forward to the next part of this CollectA unboxing video (CollectA new for 2016 part two), from JurassicCollectables.

25 04, 2016

Prehistoric Times (Spring 2016) Reviewed

By |2023-04-18T19:01:05+01:00April 25th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page|0 Comments

A Review of Issue 117 of Prehistoric Times Magazine

First into the office this morning and it has benefits, pick of the biscuits and a chance to read the latest edition of Prehistoric Times magazine (spring 2016), that arrived over the weekend and what a jam-packed, splendid edition it is.  The front cover features Carnotaurus artwork by Kurt Miller which dovetails nicely into an informative feature on this, perhaps the most famous of the abelisaurids, by the talented Phil Hore.  Phil begins his article with a short fantasy piece before providing a detailed biography of this long-legged hunter from South America.  The article is illustrated with copious amounts of reader submitted artwork.

Prehistoric Times Magazine

As Prehistoric Times editor, Mike Fredericks freely admits, he was somewhat overwhelmed by the number of Carnotaurus illustrations he received for this issue.  It’s hard to pick a personal favourite, Todd Mills gave his Carnotaurus a bright yellow throat pouch, whilst Ashli Lenox’s drawing was very reminiscent of the Papo Carnotaurus replica – all great stuff.  A special mention goes to Wade Carmen for providing a beautiful illustration of the skull of this Late Cretaceous predator.

Carnotaurus Artwork by Californian Artist Kurt Miller on the Front Cover of Issue 117

The front cover of the next edition of "Prehistoric Times" magazine.

The front cover of “Prehistoric Times” magazine.

Picture credit: Mike Fredericks

Paying Tribute to Zdeněk Burian

Weaving its way through issue 117, like the ossified tendons associated with caudal vertebrae on a Edmontosaurus, is a super article all about the ground-breaking palaeoartist Zdeněk Burian.  John R. Lavas, the writer, has provided a comprehensive guide to this famous Czech painter’s legacy and of course there are lots and lots of examples of his spectacular artwork.

Tracy Lee Ford gives budding artists a bit of head’s up in the second part of his thought-provoking feature regarding how to illustrate feathered dinosaurs.  Readers of this quarterly magazine might remember that in issue 116 Tracy called for a curtailing on the amount of feathered dinosaur drawings being produced, this time, the focus is on feathered theropods and how to interpret fossil feather impressions.  The article concludes with some well drawn sketches including an interpretation of the recently described Dakotaraptor steini.

To read more about the discovery of this new, very large Maniraptoran dinosaur: Dakotaraptor – A Giant Raptor and Niche Partitioning.

The Amphicyonidae

Phil Hore’s other major contribution to the spring edition is to provide the text on the Bear Dogs (Amphicyonidae), a family of geographically diverse carnivores that early hominids would have done well to avoid.  Some great reader submitted artwork once again, including the rather cute image sent in by David Hicks of one of these apex predators taking an interest in a butterfly.  Phil’s debut novel gets a mention.  “The Order of the Dragon”, the first in the bloodline, gothic fantasy trilogy and a jolly good read it is too.  For a review of “The Order of the Dragon”: The Order of the Dragon Book Review.

Lots of new books get reviewed including Tracy Lee Ford’s first fiction novel (did he get the idea from co-contributor to Prehistoric Times, Phil Hore we wonder)?  There is also the chance to learn a little about a newly published textbook all about the amazing trace fossils from the St George Dinosaur Discovery Site (Utah).   Look out also for a tour of Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, fossil news stories and more reader art, in what is a very full edition.

To learn more about Prehistoric Times magazine and to subscribe: Prehistoric Times Magazine.

Cherilea – The First All-British Dinosaur Toy Range

Last but not least, a quick mention of the three-page spread dedicated to the Cherilea range of prehistoric animal models, a range that can claim to be Britain’s first dinosaur set.  In production, as far back as the late 1950s, author and model dinosaur Anthony Beeson pays tribute to these trail blazers.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Visit Everything Dinosaur.

24 04, 2016

Seed Eating May Have Helped Birds Survive

By |2023-04-18T16:54:11+01:00April 24th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|2 Comments

Seed Clue to How Birds Survived the Cretaceous Extinction Event

The birds that are around today, might have the seed-eating habit of an ancestor to thank for enabling their kind to survive the extinction event that saw the demise of the dinosaurs.  A study published in the scientific journal “Current Biology” suggests that whilst the meat-eating and insectivorous feathered Maniraptoran dinosaurs did not survive into the Tertiary, toothless, beaked birds may have coped with the devastation that wiped out 70% of all terrestrial vertebrates, by eating seeds.

Seed Eating a Key to Survival

The study, conducted by scientists from the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum, involved the analysis of 3,104 Maniraptoran fossil teeth from eighteen different sites in western North America (Montana, USA and Alberta, Canada).

Late Cretaceous North America – Survival of the Seed Eaters?

Study suggests the evolution of a toothless beak ideal for seed eating may have had evolutionary advantages at the end of the Cretaceous.

Study suggests the evolution of a toothless beak ideal for seed eating may have had evolutionary advantages at the end of the Cretaceous.

Picture credit: Danielle Dufault

Seed Eating Birds

The beautiful illustration above, depicts an imaginary scene in the forests of Late Cretaceous North American (Maastrichtian faunal stage).  There were probably large numbers of Maniraptoran dinosaurs represented by numerous families but these types of dinosaur along with the toothed birds did not survive the End Cretaceous mass extinction.  Those members of the Maniraptora clade that had evolved an edentulous (toothless) beak capable of holding, manipulating and cracking seeds may have had an evolutionary advantage.

In the picture above, a large dromaeosaurid dinosaur pursues a toothed bird in the background, whilst a smaller dromaeosaurid pounces on an unsuspecting lizard resting on a log.  Emerging from the hollow log is a hypothetical, toothless bird, closely related to the earliest modern birds.

A Nuclear Winter

Many scientists believe that after the extraterrestrial impact that marked the beginning of the end for the non-avian Dinosauria, the impact threw up huge amounts of dust and debris into the atmosphere.  This would have blocked out sunlight, leading to a nuclear winter with plant populations (reliant on photosynthesis to make food), crashing.  The loss of the plants led to a collapse of the entire food chain.  The plant-eaters would have died out and once there were no carcases left to scavenge, the meat-eaters would have perished too.

This new paper is one of a number of recent studies that attempts to explain why some types of animals survived, whilst other, often closely related species did not.

Toothed Dromaeosaurs Faced Extinction

Maniraptor illustration (dromaeosaurid).

Dromaeosaurid drawing for Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Maniraptora Fossil Record

The Maniraptora fossil record (dinosaurs and the birds) is very incomplete.  The research team knew that they only had a limited number of fossils of Late Cretaceous Maniraptorans to examine and that in all likelihood there were many more species living towards the end of the Age of Dinosaurs than have been identified to date.  In addition, there was very little direct evidence of fossil species surviving the extinction event.  So to help unravel the puzzle as to why some animals died but their close relatives survived, the scientists examined the fossil record of isolated teeth.

Shed teeth tend to be more robust than the delicate and light bones of Maniraptorans and they are more numerous, so the research team had a more substantial data set to work with.

Seeds – A Readily Available Food Source

The team concluded that seeds would have survived the global devastation that occurred.  Seeds already in the ground would have been available as a food source for anything with a beak capable of eating them.

Commenting on why some animals survived whilst others went extinct, lead researcher, Derek Larson (University of Toronto) explained:

“We came up with a hypothesis that it had something to do with diet.  Looking at the diet of modern birds, we were able to reconstruct a hypothetical ancestral bird and what its likely diet would have been.  What we are envisaging is a seed-eating bird, so you’d have a relatively short and robust, strong beak, which would be able to crush these seeds.”

In August 2014, Everything Dinosaur published a study which had been conducted by an international team of researchers that looked at the rapid evolution and diversification of the  Maniraptora.   These dinosaurs evolved very rapidly and probably made up a significant proportion of the terrestrial vertebrate fauna in a number of Late Cretaceous ecosystems.

The Evolution of the Maniraptora

To read more about the rapid evolution of the Maniraptora: Downsizing Dinosaurs the Key to Survival.

The challenge to palaeontologists is to find fossil evidence of seed-eating birds being prevalent prior to the End Cretaceous extinction event and then evidence of radiation and diversification in strata laid down in younger sediments deposited beyond the famous K-T extinction boundary.

What About the Mammals?

This very interesting piece of research raises a number of other questions.  For example, a number of Cretaceous  small mammals would also have very probably eaten seeds, just like many kinds of small mammals do today.  Could seed-eating also have helped several different types of mammal survive the extinction event?  Given the success of the Maniraptora and their diversity it seems peculiar that no member of the Dinosauria evolved to take advantage of seeds as a source of food.

Many members of the Maniraptora were small, around the size of many seed-eating birds today, why weren’t these dinosaurs also able to take advantage of this food source to help them endure the nuclear winter?

Teeth Representing a Variety of Different Members of the  Maniraptora Were Studied

No evidence of teeth adapted to seed-eating were found in the study.

No evidence of teeth adapted to seed-eating were found in the study.

Picture credit: Royal Ontario Museum/University of Toronto with additional notation by Everything Dinosaur

Shed Teeth

The picture above shows a typical selection of the shed teeth used in the fossil study.  Four different types of maniraptoran were incorporated into the study.  Firstly, there were the Troodontidae, (top left) with their proportionately broader and much more prominent tooth serrations (denticles), an example of a typical Late Cretaceous North American Troodontidae would be Troodon inequalis.  Secondly, there were members of the genus Richardoestesia (top right).

These maniraptoran dinosaurs are known from a pair of jawbones and many shed teeth, two species have been assigned, based on tooth differences.  Then there are the dromaeosaurids (Dromaeosauridae).  The teeth tend to be much more finely serrated than troodontid teeth and a typical North American dromaeosaurid would have been the two-metre-long Saurornitholestes langstoni.

An Illustration of Saurornitholestes langstoni

Saurornitholestes langstoni illustration - scale drawing.

Saurornitholestes langstoni illustration (scale drawing).

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

For models and replicas of dromaeosaurids and other dinosaurs: Beasts of the Mesozoic Models.

Dinosaur and Bird Fossils

Even though only a handful of fossil bones ascribed to Aves (birds) have been found in places such as the Dinosaur Provincial Park (southern Alberta), those bones that have been discovered indicate that some volant (flying) birds as big as modern-day raptors existed during the Late Cretaceous.  Many examples of teeth from toothed birds are known from the Dinosaur Provincial Park, and at least three types of Neornithine birds have been described.

This research, that examined maniraptoran teeth across the last 18 million years of the Cretaceous, supports the idea of a sudden extinction event and the survival of Neornithine lineages as a result of some forms having evolved to exploit seeds as a food source.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

23 04, 2016

St George’s Day – Dragons A Plenty

By |2023-04-18T16:40:15+01:00April 23rd, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

St George’s Day and Dragons

Today, April 23rd, is the saint day in England (and in a number of other countries), of St George.  St George is famous for slaying a dragon one of a number of stories and legends associated with this figure who was believed to have been a Roman soldier and become a martyr following his execution for refusing to denounce his Christian faith in the year 303 AD.  St George’s Day is traditionally celebrated on the 23rd April as this is thought to have been the date of his execution.

Dragons and Dinosaurs

The St George and the dragon legend was brought back to Europe by Crusaders.  Dragons and dinosaurs are synonymous, after all, the Chinese dragons, which actually pre-date St George by several hundred years were probably thought up to explain the large fossil bones found in many parts of China.  Those early Chinese scientists were remarkably close to the truth.

The Dragon Myth Probably Inspired by Dinosaur Fossils

dragons and dinosaurs

The dragon myth was very probably inspired by the discovery of dinosaur fossils.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

Whilst delivering a dinosaur themed workshop in school at Oasis Academy (Short Heath, West Midlands), one of our fossil experts was shown a display of model dragons made by the children.  It certainly was a wonderful display.

To read more about this and to see pictures of the dragons that the children made (some we suspect with a little help from parents) and to learn more about the dinosaur and dragon connection: The Dinosaur/Dragon Connection.

Chinese Dragon Dinosaurs

The Chinese word for dragon is translated as “lóng”  or “long” and given the plethora of Chinese dinosaur discoveries over the last fifty years or so, it is no surprise that a number of Chinese dinosaur genus names refer to dragons, examples being Dilong, Guanlong and the recently described (2015) Zhenyuanlong suni (see picture below).

Zhenyuanlong suni – Known from  Lower Cretaceous deposits of Liaoning Province, north-eastern China.

Very probably a ground-dwelling predator.

Very probably a ground-dwelling predator.

Picture credit: Zhao Chuang

For articulated models of dromaeosaurs and other dinosaurs: Beasts of the Mesozoic Dinosaur Models and Figures.

As far as we at Everything Dinosaur are aware, the majority of the dinosaurs named “dragon” in China are representatives of the Theropoda.  There are exceptions, for example the basal ceratopsian Yinlong (the name means “hidden dragon”.  In the case of Zhenyuanlong suni, the name translates as “Mr Zhenyuan’s sun dragon”.  The genus name honours the person who was able to acquire the fossil material for the scientists to examine.

The Latin Term for Dragon – Draco

The Latin term for dragon is “draco”.  There are a number of non-Chinese dinosaurs with the “draco” prefix, Everything Dinosaur team members were able to list five genera*.  It seems when it comes to the Latinised form “draco”, western scientists tend to apply this term to a wider range of dinosaurs, not just predominately theropods.

Our list*

  1. Dracopelta – An ankylosaur named from Late Jurassic-aged fossil material found in Portugal.  The genus name means “dragon shield”.
  2. Draconyx – A very poorly known iguanodont, also from Portugal.  The name translates as “dragon claw”.
  3. Dracovenator – An Early Jurassic theropod dinosaur from South Africa, believed to be related to Dilophosaurus (the name means “dragon hunter”)
  4. Dracoraptor – The “dragon thief”, the very recently described dinosaur discovered in very Early Jurassic sediments from Wales – : Article about Dracoraptor.
  5. Dracorex – A North American pachycephalosaur named by school children.  The name means “dragon king”.

A Model of the Pachycephalosaur – Dracorex (D. hogwartsia)

Dracorex Dinosaur Model Available from Everything Dinosaur

Dracorex dinosaur model available from Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Can you name other dinosaurs which are named after the Latin term for dragon?  Now that’s a challenge to get your teeth into on St George’s Day.

22 04, 2016

The Gradual Decline of the Dinosaurs – Earth Day Thoughts

By |2023-04-18T16:22:46+01:00April 22nd, 2016|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

The Gradual Decline of the Dinosaurs – Earth Day Thoughts

Today, the 46th commemoration of Earth Day, some 171 nations signed and ratified the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.  In essence, the Agreement sets out that the global increase in temperature will be limited to no more than around two degrees Celsius as countries work together to cut greenhouse gas emissions, widely believed to be responsible for a rapidly warming Earth. Some fifteen nations had already signed this international accord prior to today, mainly small island states in the Pacific, but with the addition of the 171 signatories, this is a record number for a new treaty.

Decline of the Dinosaurs

Commenting on the importance of this Agreement, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated:

“Paris will shape the lives of all future generations in a profound way – it is their future that is at stake.”

The Two Degree Limit

The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.  Although, the implementation of the agreement will not be easy and several countries, including a number from Africa and central Asia have not signed, if the Earth continues to warm, then our own species could well be threatened.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explained that as the planet experienced record highs in average annual temperatures:

“We are in a race against time.  I urge all countries to join the agreement at the national level.  Today we are signing a new covenant for the future.”

Yesterday, Everything Dinosaur reported on some new research conducted by scientists at Reading and Bristol Universities that looked at the extinction of the dinosaurs.  A statistical study (Bayesian analysis), revealed that the Dinosauria had been in gradual decline for some fifty million years before finally becoming extinct. To read an article on this research: Fifty Million Year Decline of the Dinosauria.

Extinction of the Dinosaurs Will the Human Race Go the Same Way Due to Global Climate Change?

An Oivraptor fossil with nest.

An Oviraptor dinosaur sitting on her nest.  The extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur Comments

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“There is already quite a strong body of evidence indicating that our planet is experiencing a mass extinction event.  Many key species are endangered or threatened and as we are top of the food chain it is in all our interests to try to limit greenhouse gas emissions so that a global climate catastrophe can be avoided.”

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

One of the authors of the research into the decline of the dinosaurs, that we reported upon yesterday, Dr Sakamoto, pointed out that the research into the demise of the Dinosauria might have a significance with regards to what we are experiencing today.

He stated:

“Our study strongly indicates that if a group of animals is experiencing a fast pace of extinction more so than they can replace, then they are prone to annihilation once a major catastrophe occurs.  This has huge implications for our current and future biodiversity, given the unprecedented speed at which species are going extinct owing to the ongoing human-caused climate change.”

If the UN General-Secretary calls this a “race against time”, then this is one race that the human race cannot afford to lose.

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