All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
30 06, 2016

Dinosaur Workshop in the Land of Dragons

By | June 30th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|2 Comments

Forden Church in Wales School Dinosaur Workshop

A trip into Wales for Everything Dinosaur this morning as one of the team members had been invited to visit Forden Church in Wales School to conduct dinosaur themed workshops with the Foundation children and a mixed class of Year 1 and Year 2.  The children had prepared lots of questions and our fossil expert did his best to answer them all.  The extra resources that he had brought with him went down well with the dedicated and enthusiastic teaching team, especially the dinosaur name pronunciation guide.

Setting Challenges

A number of challenges were set, with one special challenge for the mixed Year 3 and Year 4 class, could they compose a letter to Everything Dinosaur and if they did, could they think of a question that would stump our dinosaur experts?

Year 3 and Year 4 Children Wrote Letters to Everything Dinosaur

Letters from children to Everything Dinosaur

The children even illustrated their letters with some wonderful prehistoric animal drawings.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Footprints and Dinosaur Drawings

The children illustrated their letters with some wonderful prehistoric animal drawings.  Ffion and Aimi drew dinosaur footprints and they both wanted to know about dinosaur teeth.  Aimi asked do all types of dinosaurs have fierce teeth?  Her query ties in with a question sent in by Matthew who enquired how many dinosaur herbivores were there?  Ffion asked do all types of dinosaurs have special teeth?  The mouths of dinosaurs were adapted to help them eat the food that the ate.

Some dinosaurs, such as most of the meat-eaters, had teeth that were sharp and fierce looking, whilst many of the herbivorous dinosaurs such as Triceratops had rows and rows of square and blocky shaped teeth, ideal for grinding up plants.  Some dinosaurs did not have any teeth at all.  About two-thirds of all the dinosaurs described so far were plant eaters.

Matthew Wanted to Know How Many Herbivorous Dinosaurs Were There?

Proportion of plant-eaters to meat-eaters in the Dinosauria.

Proportion of plant-eaters to meat-eaters in the Dinosauria.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

In an email sent to Mrs Davies, one of the teachers, we were able to answer questions from Dan, Bethany and Nicky.  Ryan had wanted to know what the name Tyrannosaurus rex means, we challenged the class to be “dinosaur detectives” and to conduct some research to find out for themselves.

How Many Pterodactyls Were There?

Wayne wanted to know how many Pterodactyls were there?  This tied in with a question asked during one of our dinosaur workshops.  The correct term for these flying reptiles is Pterosaurs and so far, something like 120 different types of Pterosaur have been named.  The children were surprised to learn that the biggest Pterosaurs were taller than giraffes.

Prehistoric Animal Drawings from the Children

Children write letters about dinosaurs.

Ben wanted to know how many fossils we had found?

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

How Many Fossils Have We Found?

Ben asked about the number of fossils we had found.  Everything Dinosaur team members are really lucky and they get to go on lots of fossil hunts.  They have found thousands of fossils, some of which we keep and store in our warehouse so we can learn more about prehistoric life.

One Letter Featured Pachycephalosaurus and Apatosaurus

Key Stage 2 dinosaur lettters.

An illustrated dinosaur letter.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

For models and replicas of prehistoric animals: Prehistoric Animal and Dinosaur Models.

Marine Reptiles in a Dinosaur Workshop

A number of letters featured drawings of marine reptiles.  Harvey drew a green coloured marine reptile and asked when did the dinosaurs become extinct?  This is a question that we will leave for the children to research, perhaps they can look at the evidence and come up with their own theory as to why the non-avian dinosaurs died out.  The question why are dinosaurs called dinosaurs was also asked.  The term dinosaur was first coined more than 150 years ago, to find out about the scientist responsible, check out this link here: Happy Birthday Sir Richard Owen.

 When Did the Dinosaurs Live?

Year 3 children wrote to Everything Dinosaur

Marine reptiles used to illustrate a letter with questions about dinosaurs.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Zak asked when did the dinosaurs live?  The timeline we provided along with the other extension resources should help Zak to answer this one.  He also asked why are dinosaurs called reptiles?  Dinosaurs make up part of a group of animals called reptiles, there are many different types of reptile living today.  We sent a word game over to the school via email, can the children fill in the blanks and work out the names of reptiles alive today?

Dinosaur Workshop

Our thanks to all the children  and their teachers at Forden Church in Wales School.  We shall pin up these very colourful letters onto one of the walls in our office.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

29 06, 2016

Rebor Acrocanthosaurus Replica Rave Reviews

By | June 29th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Product Reviews|1 Comment

Collectors Praise the Rebor Replicas Acrocanthosaurus “Hercules”

Dinosaur fans and model collectors have been praising the Rebor range of 1:35 scale replicas ever since their introduction more than two years ago.  At Everything Dinosaur, we regularly receive emails from collectors who have written to say how much they admire a particular model.  Take for example, this missive we received from “Paleo Paul” regarding the Rebor Acrocanthosaurus atokensis model that he had recently purchased.

Rebor Acrocanthosaurus atokensis Model

Paleo Paul wrote:

“Just purchased this recently and WOW! WOW! WOW!  Breathtaking work by Rebor.  Can’t find a single negative about this model.  Detail awesome.  Accuracy brilliant.  Paint and finish stunning.  Spent the first five days just staring at it.  Model comes with prey item accessory, which can be placed in its jaws or at its feet for maximum effect.  The eyes of the Acrocanthosaurus have been very cleverly depicted without pupils, in a translucent gold colour, and this works extremely well as you can imagine the Acro stealthily stalking its prey at dusk or during moonlight hours.”

The fan of Rebor models added:

“The Rebor range has all the quality of the super detailed polystone replicas, sometimes seen for sale without the megabucks price tag!  I can honestly see these super figurines increasing in value as they become more sought after!  Can’t wait to see what Rebor bring out next.”

The Object of “Paleo Paul’s” Affection – the Rebor 1:35 Scale Replica of Acrocanthosaurus “Hercules”

The Rebor Acrocanthosaurus atokensis model.

A great dinosaur model by Rebor (Acrocanthosaurus atokensis).

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Feedback from Customers

Team members at Everything Dinosaur enjoy receiving feedback from customers and we read every review and email that we receive.  It is always fun to read what discerning dinosaur fans think about their purchases.

To see the range of Rebor figures stocked by Everything Dinosaur, including the Acrocanthosaurus “Hercules” replica: Rebor Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

Praise for Everything Dinosaur’s Customer Service

It is not just the models that get rave reviews.  At Everything Dinosaur we try our best to help our customers, to advise them and we always strive to deliver top notch customer service.  Our attention to detail and helpful attitude did not go unnoticed by this reviewer, he added:

“An absolute pleasure to deal with the team at Everything Dinosaur.  They just make the whole ordering process so easy.”

It’s nice to know that are work is appreciated.

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

Beautiful Detail on the Rebor Acrocanthosaurus atokensis model

Great detail on the Rebor Acrocanthosaurus replica.

Wonderful detail on the Rebor Acrocanthosaurus model.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur has published a total of 1,492 customer reviews on its website over the last three years.  A total of forty-six reviews for the Rebor range of models and replicas have been received so far.

Given the popularity of Rebor models a spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur stated that it was likely that Rebor would pass the half century mark for customer reviews before the entire site reached the landmark total of fifteen hundred.

The Prey Item Accessory

“The prey item accessory” referred to in the Acrocanthosaurus model review by Paleo Paul is the head, neck and partial torso of a Tenontosaurus, a contemporary of A. atokensis and it is quite likely that this large carnivore did indeed hunt and eat Tenontosaurus.  Recently, Rebor introduced the second element of the Acrocanthosaurus diorama, the rest of the Tenontosaurus corpse.

The Second Element in the “Hercules” Dinosaur Diorama – the Tenontosaurus Carcase

The Rebor Acrocanthosaurus and the Tenontosaurus.

The Rebor Tenontosaurus links with the Rebor Acrocanthosaurus replica.

The Tenontosaurus replica “Ceryneian Hind” – from the labours of Hercules, has already received rave reviews of its own.

Regular Everything Dinosaur customer Rhiannon reviewed this replica and stated:

“Beautifully produced, with a high visual impact.  Suitably grotesque, yet also sombre and very much worth adding to the Hercules piece.  Corpse models can really bring a set to life!  It’s such a beautiful model it also bodes very well for Rebor’s future Ornithischian lines.”

A third element to make this diorama complete will shortly be available from Everything Dinosaur.

28 06, 2016

Bird Wing Preserved in Amber

By | June 28th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Early Bird Wings Preserved in Amber from Myanmar

A team of international scientists including researchers from Bristol University, have published research on two specimens of 99-million-year-old amber from Myanmar (called burmite), which have revealed the preserved remains of two tiny, baby birds.  The scientists conclude that these birds were active shortly after hatching (precocial).   Sadly they met their demise when they became trapped in sticky tree resin.

Fossilised Bird Wings

The Amber Has Preserved the Feathers in Exquisite Detail

Preserved in amber, the remains of a bird's wing.

The remains of the wing can be clearly made out trapped in the amber.

Picture credit: Royal Saskatchewan Museum (R.C. McKellar)

The photograph above shows a close up of the feathers preserved in one of the burmite specimens.  The researchers led by Dr Xing Lida (China University of Geosciences), along with colleagues from the USA, Canada and Professor Mike Benton from the School of Earth Sciences (Bristol University), have identified three long fingers, each tipped by a sharp and strongly curved claw, one of which can be seen in the top right of the picture above.

Amber Fossils from Myanmar

Amber fossils from Myanmar (formerly called Burma), have provided palaeontologists with a fascinating insight into life in the primordial forests of the Cretaceous.  In the spring, Everything Dinosaur published two articles regarding remarkable fossil discoveries which had only been possible due to fossil finds within burmite.  In one article, we reported on the potential origins of the malaria parasite, in the second we provided information regarding the discovery of the fossilised remains of tiny lizards.

To read about the evolutionary origins of the malaria: The Origins of Malaria Traced Back 100 Million Years.

To read more about the lizard fossil discovery: Lizards Preserved in Amber.

Although Burmese amber has produced fossils of isolated feathers, this is the first time in which portions of birds have been discovered.

One of the Fossil Specimens Has Been Nicknamed “Rose”

Enantiornithes wing and skin sections encased in amber.

Pieces of skin and parts of an ancient wing preserved in amber.

Picture credit: Royal Saskatchewan Museum (R.C. McKellar)

Tiny Fossil Wings

The fossil wings are very small, between two and three centimetres long. the long, bony fingers can be made out along with the three digits on each wing.  The anatomy of the hand has allowed the scientists to identify these as members of the Enantiornithines (Enantiornithes), group of birds, a diverse clade of toothed birds that possessed prominent wing claws.  The Enantiornithines, thrived during the Cretaceous and some eighty species have been named, although a number are only known from single bones.  These birds became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous and they are thought not to have been very closely related to modern Aves (Neornithes).

Under High Magnification the Fine Details of the Feathers Can Be Clearly Made Out

Minute details on the feathers were preserved.

Tiny details on the feathers have been preserved. Ultraviolet light and X-rays were used to analyse the fossil material.

Evidence of Precocial Behaviour in Enantiornithes

Evidence of Precocial Behaviour in Enantiornithes

The two specimens have been nicknamed “Rose” and “Angel Wings”.  After careful polishing, the fossils were analysed using white light, UV light and powerful X-rays.

Commenting on the research, one of the authors of the paper published in the academic journal “Nature Communications”, Professor Mike Benton stated:

“These fossil wings show amazing detail.  The individual feathers show every filament and whisker, whether they are flight feathers or down feathers, and there are even traces of colour – spots and stripes.”

The scientists conclude that the birds, although babies were highly mobile.  This indicates that these birds were very well developed when they hatched and capable of being independent from their parents.  Sadly, their mobility seems to have been their downfall.   As the clambered around the branches and trunks of trees they became trapped in sticky tree resin.  Larger animals would have had the strength to pull free, but these youngsters were doomed.  The amber even preserves claw marks and scratches as the birds tried to pull themselves free.

A Desperate but Ultimately Doomed Struggle

Fossils from Myanmar show bird's wing.

Preserved in amber the wings of baby birds that once became trapped in tree resin.

Picture credit: Chung-tat Cheung

Young Birds Trapped in Tree Resin

The beautiful illustration above shows an imagined scene in which one of these young birds find itself trapped and unable to break free of the glue-like tree resin.

Lead author of the study, Dr Xing Lida added:

“The fact that the tiny birds were clambering about in the trees suggests that they had advanced development, meaning they were ready for action as soon as they hatched [precocial].  These birds did not hang about in the nest waiting to be fed, but set off looking for food, and sadly died perhaps because of their small size and lack of experience.  Isolated feathers in other amber samples show that adult birds might have avoided the sticky sap, or pulled themselves free.”

Scientists Can Identify Different Pigments in the Fossilised Remains of the Feathers

Feathers preserved in Burmese amber.

Different pigments in the feathers can be made out quite clearly in this feather preserved in Burmese amber.

Picture credit: Royal Saskatchewan Museum (R.C. McKellar)

For models and replicas of ancient prehistoric animals: PNSO Models and Figures.

Researchers Hope to Learn More About Aves/Dinosaur Evolution

Exquisite details on the fossilised feathers can be made out.

Fine details of the fossilised feather can be clearly seen in the amber.

Picture credit: Royal Saskatchewan Museum (R.C. McKellar)

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of Bristol University in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper from which this article is drawn: “Mummified precocial bird wings in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber” by Lida Xing, Ryan C. McKellar, Min Wang, Ming Bai, Jingmai K. O’Connor, Michael J. Benton, Jianping Zhang, Yan Wang, Kuowei Tseng, Martin G. Lockley, Gang Li, Weiwei Zhang and Xing Xu.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

27 06, 2016

Abercrombie Primary and Dinosaurs

By | June 27th, 2016|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Abercrombie Primary and Dinosaurs

Schoolchildren Send in Dinosaur Drawings and Letters

A very big thank you to all the children at Abercrombie Primary in Derbyshire, who sent in letters and drawings to Everything Dinosaur, after our dinosaur workshop at their school earlier this month.  During Everything Dinosaur’s visit to the school, based in Chesterfield, we conducted dinosaur and fossil themed workshops with both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  We set each class a number of follow up activities and the drawings and thank you letters we received were part of these teaching extensions.


Classmates Sent in Dinosaur Drawings to Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaurs drawn by schoolchildren.

Dinosaurs drawn by schoolchildren.  This is a drawing of Owlasaurus.

Picture credit: Abercrombie Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Visit Everything Dinosaur.

Dinosaurs – Non-Fiction Writing Exercise

We challenged the children to write thank you letters and our dinosaur expert informed them that he would be checking carefully for punctuation and spelling.  We received lots of letters and our team members enjoyed reading them all.  Some thank you letters contained questions and we endeavoured to email the class teacher with answers to help the children with their dinosaur and fossil studies.

A Thank You Letter from Cole Received by Everything Dinosaur

Abercrombie Primary children sent in letters to Everything Dinosaur.

A thank you letter from a pupil at Abercrombie Primary.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The writing of these letters was a great way for Everything Dinosaur to support the scheme of work that had been devised by the teaching team.

Creative Dinosaur Designs

Many children were also asked to design their very own dinosaur.  We had some amazing creations such as “Jumbysaurus” from Rueben.  It looks like a very scary dinosaur indeed!

We challenged the children to consider what their dinosaur might eat and how it might survive in the Mesozoic.  We introduced ideas about camouflage and habitat and how these factors might affect the animal’s colouration.  These types of extension activities dovetail with the national curriculum for schools.

For further information on Everything Dinosaur’s work in schools and our science outreach: About Everything Dinosaur.

Providing feedback to Everything Dinosaur one of the teachers at the school commented:

“It was an excellent session, very engaging with excellent subject knowledge shown by the Everything Dinosaur team member.  Super resources used to wow the children, with very good use of repetition to encourage children to learn key vocabulary.”

Reading All the Letters

The Everything Dinosaur team members enjoyed reading all the letters from the children and we have posted up the colourful prehistoric animal drawings onto one of the walls in our warehouse.  Looking at them certainly brightens up our day and we had a great time working with all the classes leading the dinosaur workshops.

27 06, 2016

One in the Eye for Jurassic Mammals

By | June 27th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Early Mammals May Have Evolved Night Vision as a Jurassic Survival Strategy

Over the last few days a number of articles have been published detailing the research of scientists from the University of Alberta and the National Eye Institute of the United States who have been studying the light detecting photoreceptors in the retinas of mammals.  It turns out that night-time vision, an ability to see in very low light levels, evolved millions of years ago in early mammals during the Jurassic.  Many of these articles have emphasised the possibility that night vision evolved to help the mammals adjust to a nocturnal lifestyle in order to avoid the dinosaurs that dominated during the day.

Implications for Modern Medical Science

However, the real significance of the research might be a unique genetic ability in mammals to transform some types of light receptors in the eye.   This could have huge implications when it comes to restoring sight in people with damaged eyes.

Adapted to a Life in the Dark – Most Mesozoic Mammals

The Triassic mammal Morganucodon.

An illustration of the Triassic mammal Morganucodon.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

Rods and Cones

Mammalian eyes are complex organs.  Light enters the eye through the cornea, passes through the pupil and into the lens, where it is focused and then directed back to photo sensitive cells that line the retina at the back of the eye.  These light sensitive cells covert the light into electrical signals that are carried to the brain by optic nerves and the brain then decodes them and provides vision.  The retina contains two main types of distinctive photoreceptor cells – the rods and cones.  Rods are thinner than the cones and they are distributed differently across the retina, but the chemical process in each that supports the interpretation of light to electrical signals is very similar.

  • Rods – are sensitive to low light levels making then highly suited for night vision.
  • Cones – are less sensitive and not capable of operating effectively in low light but they are much better at being able to pick up broader wavelengths of light across the colour spectrum and therefore they are responsible for colour vision and image resolution in bright light.

Student Phil Oel (University of Alberta) One of the Authors of the Scientific Paper

New insight into mammalian eye evolution.

Helping to work out the photoreceptor layout of the mammalian eye.

Picture credit: The University of Alberta

Comparing Rods and Cones

When the structure of rods and cones are compared, it would appear that the rods are the more primitive and ancient of the two types of light sensitive cell, but this is not the case.  Researchers have long suspected that the light detecting cone cells came first and the rods evolved later.  In the study of the retinas of mice, the researchers found evidence to support the idea of a cone to rod transition.

They found the vestiges of short-wave cones (those responsible for detecting the shorter wave lengths in the visual light spectrum, the blues and violets), in developing rod photosensitive cells.  This would confirm the idea that had persisted for decades that there was a cone-to-rod transition, that the cones came first.

Co-author of the new study, published in the academic journal “Developmental Cell”, PhD candidate Phil Oel (University of Alberta), stated:

“We found evidence in the mouse that these rods were coming from cones, and thought we’d figured it out at that point.”

Enter the Zebrafish – Fresh Insight

When the scientists looked at zebrafish, a member of the most ancient of all the vertebrate lineages, the fish, they found that there was no evidence for short wave cones having converted into rods.  In zebrafish rods did not show any signs of having developed from cones.

Student Phil Oel, explained:

“When we looked for the same thing in zebrafish, we found no evidence for the same feature, that any rods were ever coming from cones.”

The discovery that mice have the ability to convert some types of cone cell into rods is significant in itself, the lack of this feature in zebrafish has helped the researchers solve a seventy-year-old evolutionary puzzle.

If cones provide colour vision and rods vision in low light, it would be reasonable to assume that diurnal (daytime functioning) animals would have a cone cell dominated retina to provide them with optimal daytime vision.  However, studies of mammalian evolution have shown that mammals have a rod dominated retina, better suited for vision at night or a very low light levels, even with diurnal species like H. sapiens.  In humans we have something like 20 rod cells for every 1 cone cell in our retina.

The “Nocturnal Bottleneck”

Evolutionary biologists have traced the origins of a rod dominated mammalian retina to the Late Jurassic and referred to as the “nocturnal bottleneck theory”.  This theory suggests that many mammalian traits such as excellent hearing, a good sense of smell, a rod cell dominated retina, whiskers and a highly developed sense of touch can be explained by the fact that mammals were confined to the dark, poorly lit undergrowth or to a nocturnal existence, so long as the terrestrial reptiles, most notably the dinosaurs, existed.

It was only with the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous that led to mammals diversifying to occupy diurnal niches in ecosystems.  Even today, the majority of the 8,000 species of mammals on our planet are nocturnal.

Recently, the idea that the mammals were restricted to only a few niches and that they were relatively small has been challenged as new fossil finds suggest that during the Cretaceous the mammals were much more diverse and speciose then previously thought.

To read more about this study: Time to Debunk Mammals Totally Dominated by Dinosaurs Myth.

Lead author of the research, Ted Allison, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta commented:

“During the Jurassic period, mammals are diversifying, or about to diversify.  The concept that’s been in the literature for years is that mammals took on a nocturnal habit to survive this period, and escaped the daytime roaming dinosaurs by being more active at night.”

Associate Professor Ted Allison (right) and his PhD student Phil Oel

Scientists providing an insight into mammalian evolution.

PhD student Phil Oel and his supervisor Associate Professor Ted Allison.

Picture credit: The University of Alberta

Jurassic Mammals

Those mammals that were best able to exploit the nocturnal way of life, were the ones that survived, going on to radiate and diversify and eventually, after the dinosaur extinction, replacing the Dinosauria as the dominant terrestrial megafauna.  One intriguing question remained, if the mammals were somehow able to produce extra rod cells to help with night-time vision, then where did they come from?

The Associate Professor explained:

“What we’ve proposed here for the first time is a mechanism for how mammals survived that initial nocturnal stage, how they were able to make many rods and exploit that nighttime adaptation.  This nocturnal bottleneck has been theorised now for some 70-odd years, so it’s a big vision mystery solved.”

The findings not only have important implications for evolutionary biologists, but this new understanding may have clinical applications in the future.  If mammals have a way of converting cone photoreceptors to rod cells then it may be possible to apply this research to help develop ways of restoring vision in humans.

The paper: “Recruitment of Rod Photoreceptors from Short-Wavelength-Sensitive Cones during the Evolution of Nocturnal Vision in Mammals.”

26 06, 2016

Abercrombie School and Dinosaurs

By | June 26th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Abercrombie School Pupils Study Dinosaurs

Earlier this month, a member of the Everything Dinosaur team visited Abercrombie Primary School in Chesterfield (Derbyshire), as part of two days of science study with Year 2, 3, 4, 5 and Year 6.  Over the course of the workshops we conducted, we set a number of challenges for the classes.  One challenge was to have the children “design their very own prehistoric animal”, with a new dinosaur species being named, on average, every three weeks or so, there is plenty of scope for new dinosaurs.

Another challenge involved the children writing Everything Dinosaur a thank you letter, from our bulging mail bag on Friday, it looks like lots of the pupils at the school took up the opportunity to send in examples of their work.

Drawings of Dinosaurs

A Collection of Very Colourful Prehistoric Animal Drawings

Schoolchildren send in dinosaur drawings.

Pupils from Abercrombie Primary sent in dinosaur drawings.

Picture credit: Abercrombie Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur Says Thank You

Our thanks to Henry, Daisy, Frasier, Sophie, Ebony, Daisy, Reuben, Lucy, Daniel, Ibrahim, Alfie, Holly, Noah and all the other children who sent in super prehistoric animal drawings, they are certainly very colourful.

The children have thought very carefully about their prehistoric animal designs.  They considered where the animal might live, what it might eat and how it would keep itself safe.

Joelasaurus by Henry

A dinosaur designed by a schoolchild.

A very colourful dinosaur drawing by Henry.

Picture credit: Abercrombie Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

We enjoyed looking at all the prehistoric animal pictures that had been sent into us by the children.  Some of the dinosaur names the children had invented were very creative such as “Hungry eater steeler” from Leo and we even had a drawing of Indominus rex from the film Jurassic World.

For dinosaur toys, games and gifts: Dinosaur Toys and Gifts.

Thank You Letters Sent to Everything Dinosaur

The hand-writing challenge involved composing a thank you letter to Everything Dinosaur and sure enough we received a set of beautiful and well written thank you letters, some of which had even been illustrated.

Thank You Letters Sent in by the Children (Abercrombie Primary School)

A set of thank you letters from a class.

Pupils sent in thank you letters to Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Abercrombie Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Our thanks to Ali, Dexter, Oliver, Libby, Alice (yes, you are quite right fossils are usually found in sandstone and limestone), Erin and Harry (wonderful dinosaur skull drawing).

Isobel wanted to know how long have we been looking for fossils?  Everything Dinosaur team members found their first fossils when they were not much older than Georgia or Felix.  Louie wrote to say that he was sorry to have missed all the dinosaurs as he had been ill but he did send in a nice letter and even took the trouble to draw some dinosaur eggs.

Cole Sent in a Beautiful Thank You Letter

Abercrombie Primary children sent in letters to Everything Dinosaur.

A thank you letter from a pupil at Abercrombie Primary.

Picture credit: Abercrombie Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

How Do You Get Fossils of Dinosaurs?

The question was asked, how do you get fossils?  Fossil can be found in lots of places but most fossils are found in rocks and one of the best places to find them is at the seaside.  Arthur wrote in to say that his favourite part was holding the Tyrannosaurus rex tooth and he also liked the stickers we gave him.

A special thank you to all the children at Abercrombie Primary who sent in letters and pictures.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

25 06, 2016

Mexico City Mammoth Find

By | June 25th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Digging for Drains Unearths Columbian Mammoth

Back in December 2015, a routine drain excavation taking place north of Mexico City was halted when the fossilised remains of a giant Woolly Mammoth were uncovered.  Such finds are relatively common in this part of Mexico, a number of specimens of the Columbian Mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) have been discovered in recent years as the metropolitan area of Mexico has expanded.

The Columbian Mammoth

The Columbian Mammoth roamed much of North America during the Pleistocene Epoch, its fossils have been found over most parts of the United States and it has been recorded as far south as Costa Rica.  Scientists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia), in Mexico, have been working to excavate the fossils including an exquisitely preserved skull with two-metre long tusks.

This Mammoth is believed to have died around 14,000 years ago, when it became bogged down in mud surrounding a shallow lake.  Around fifty individuals have been found around Mexico City, it seems that these large elephants (Columbian Mammoths were considerably bigger than their more famous counterparts, the Woolly Mammoth, M. primigenius), were prone to getting stuck in mud.

Once a Shallow Lake

The site where the remains were found, near the village of Tultepec was once covered by a shallow lake, animals were attracted to this area and occasionally a Mammoth would have become stuck in the mud that surrounded the water.  Field team members working to remove the bones have suggested that the scattered remains may indicate that the carcase was butchered by humans for meat.  However, Everything Dinosaur team members have not been informed of the discovery of any tell-tale cut marks found on the bones.  The carcase could have become scattered as a result of other animals trampling the bones.

Prehistoric Elephants on Display

Large elephants on display. (Mastodons and Mammoths).

Prehistoric elephants on display at the Senckenberg Museum (Frankfurt).

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

For prehistoric animal models and figures visit: Prehistoric Animal Figures.

Access to a Columbian Mammoth Dig

Back in 2009, Everything Dinosaur reported on the opening of a major exhibit at Waco in Texas which provided members of the public access to a Columbian Mammoth dig site where the remains of more than a dozen of these elephants had been discovered.

To read more about this: Prehistoric Mammoth Site Opens to the Public.

Commenting on the discovery, archaeologist Luis Cordoba from the National Institute of Anthropology and History explained that these fossils were found some two metres below ground and they represent an animal that would have been between 20 and 25 years of age when it died.  The skeleton, although disarticulated is almost complete and it is in a remarkable state of preservation.  It is hoped that the specimen will be able to go on display to the public once it has been fully prepared.

Ancestry of the Columbian Mammoth

It is likely that the Columbian Mammoth is descended from the Steppe Mammoth (M. trogontherii).  Mammoths crossed the Bering Straits land bridge (Beringia), entering the New World from Asia around 1.5 million years ago.  The very last of these Mammoths may have lived as recently as 11,000 years ago.  It is not known what role human hunting played in their extinction.

A Model of a Steppe Mammoth

The size of the Eofauna Steppe Mammoth model.

The beautiful Eofauna Scientific Research Steppe Mammoth model.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view models and replicas of extinct animals including prehistoric elephants: Eofauna Scientific Research Prehistoric Animal Models.

24 06, 2016

JurassicCollectables Reviews the Papo Feathered Velociraptor

By | June 24th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page|0 Comments

The Papo Feathered Velociraptor Model Reviewed

The talented people at JurassicCollectables have made a video review of the new for 2016 Papo feathered Velociraptor dinosaur model, for us this was the last of the 2016 models to arrive and it is certainly a case of last but not least as this is bound to be a big hit with feathered dinosaur replica fans. In the short video, it lasts a little over nine and a half minutes, the JurassicCollectables narrator reviews this new model and compares and contrasts this “raptor” with earlier Papo models.  Papo have certainly done a great job of recreating “speedy thief”.

Dinosaur Model Reviews

JurassicCollectables – Papo Feathered Velociraptor Video Review

Video credit: JurassicCollectables

JurassicCollectables have produced video reviews of every single prehistoric animal and dinosaur replica that Papo have made, to view these videos and to subscribe to their brilliant YouTube channel: Subscribe to JurassicCollectables on YouTube.

The Papo Green Velociraptor Dinosaur Model and the Feathered Velociraptor Side by Side

Two Papo Velociraptor models are compared.

Papo Velociraptor model size comparison.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A Great Video Review of the Papo Feathered Velociraptor Model

In this great video, the narrator gives a detailed review of this new for 2016 sculpt.  It is compared with other Papo models and we really liked the description of that wide opening articulated jaw as a “butterfly jaw”, that’s a fantastic description.  Look out for the CollectA mosasaur model that can be seen at the end of the video.

To see the range of Papo prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur (including the Papo Feathered Velociraptor): Papo Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

The Papo Feathered Velociraptor Model (Close Up of the Head)

The Papo Feathered Dinosaur Model

A close look at the Papo feathered Velociraptor dinosaur model.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The 2016 Papo Feathered Velociraptor

The picture above shows one of our studio shots of the new for 2016  Papo Feathered Velociraptor.  JurassicCollectables comment extensively about this new replica and they stress how the skull of this replica more accurately reflects the skull fossils of the Velociraptor genus.

The narrator comments:

“I think this [the Papo feathered Velociraptor model] is incredible!  Papo have excelled in terms of detail and paint job.”

The feathery coat is really well done and we too at Everything Dinosaur would like to congratulate the designers at Papo for making such a fascinating and intriguing replica.

In Everything Dinosaur’s annual survey of the most popular prehistoric animal models, Velociraptor had climbed to number two in our chart.  We suspect that this was because of the influence of the film “Jurassic World”, as Velociraptors play a significant part and perhaps have almost as much, if not more screen time than the Indominus rex.

To read an article about the top five most popular prehistoric animals in our annual survey: Everything Dinosaur’s Annual Prehistoric Animal Survey.

This new feathered Velociraptor model is a welcome addition to the Papo range and it will prove popular with dinosaur fans and collectors alike.  For more information on this replica, don’t forget to check out the amazing Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

23 06, 2016

Scientists “Root Out” Oldest Plant Root Cells

By | June 23rd, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Oldest Plant Roots Identified

Scientists from Oxford University and the Departamento de Biología Molecular de Plantas, Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico), have identified the oldest known population of plant root cells in a 320-million-year-old fossil.  This study, published as an on-line, open access article, highlights the importance of historical collections such as the Oxford University Herbaria, which as part of the University’s Plant Sciences Department, houses an extensive botany collection, with some specimens within the archive over 300 years old.

Oldest Fossil Plant Roots

A Slide Showing Preserved Plant Remains from the Oxford University Herbaria Collection

Carboniferous root structures preserved in a thin slice (slide)

A slide made over 100 years ago preserves evidence of fossilised root structures.

Picture credit: Oxford University Herbaria

The picture above shows a thin soil slice prepared on a slide over 100 years ago and part of the Oxford University Herbaria collection.  The fossilised soil is estimated to be around 320 million-years-old and shows the cellular anatomy of plants which were growing and decaying in the fossil soil underlying the Carboniferous coal swamp forests.

The scientists have not only revealed the oldest plant root stem cells found to date, the research also marks the first time an actively growing fossilised root has been discovered and it shows that plant root cell division in the past may have been more diverse than today.

Roots and Shoots – Getting to the Root of the Problem

The roots and shoots of plants develop from specialised groups of cells called meristems.  These self renew and produce cells that undergo differentiation.  The organisation of these cells changes when growth stops, so up until this research was published, it was impossible to compare the fossil record with the cellular structure of actively growing meristems.  Using slides from the Oxford University Herbaria that represent thin sections of fossilised soils taken from Carboniferous coal balls, researchers were able to identify the fossilised remains of an actively growing root meristem and examine in detail the stem cells and their structure.  They found that the cellular organisation of the fossilised root tip is unique.

Roots and shoots of ancient plants from the Carboniferous may have grown in a broadly similar way to modern plants such as the angiosperms (flowering plants), but the unique cellular order and structure demonstrates that the meristem growth we find today may only represent a proportion of the root and shoot growth diversity that once existed.  This research indicates that some of the biological processes and systems controlling the root development of plants have now become extinct.

A Highly Magnified Image Showing the Growing Root Apex Assigned to the Species Radix carbonica

The holotype fossil of Radix caronica (growing root).

The dark horseshoe-shaped structure is the root cap protecting the growing root apex as it pushes through the soil.

Picture credit: Oxford University Herbaria

A Unique Cellular Arrangement

The structures preserved in the fossil record are similar to those found in extant species, but they are different, they represent a unique cellular arrangement not known in modern plants.

Commenting on the study, one of the authors of the paper, Oxford Plant Sciences PhD student Alexander (Sandy) Hetherington stated:

“I was examining one of the fossilised soil slides held at the University Herbaria as part of my research into the rooting systems of ancient trees when I noticed a structure that looked like the living root tips we see in plants today.  I began to realise that I was looking at a population of 320-million-year-old plant stem cells preserved as they were growing – and that it was the first time anything like this had ever been found.  It gives us a unique window into how roots developed hundreds of millions of years ago.”

For models and replicas of prehistoric plants: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.

The First Global Tropical Wetland Forests

The fossil soil slides and the root structures they contain are extremely important as they provide a record of our planet’s first global tropical wetland forests.  The Carboniferous swamps and wetlands were to form the extensive coal deposits found in much of the world today, including most of the coal in the United Kingdom, exploitation of which fuelled the industrial revolution.

Ancient Plants

From a biological point of view, these huge, lycopsid (club mosses), pteridosperm (seed fern) and sphenopsid (horsetails) dominated forests represent the first time deep rooting structures evolved on Earth.  These root systems increased the rate of chemical weathering of the silicate minerals in rocks, a chemical reaction that pulled carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, leading to a period of global cooling – climate change on a worldwide scale.  Of the 139 slides studied, two root caps were identified.  The first was assigned to a known species Lyginopteris oldhamia, a seed fern (pteridosperm), the second was an unknown species, this has been named Radix carbonica, this translates as “coal root”.

Professor Liam Dolan, (Department Head of Plant Sciences, Oxford University) and lead author of the academic paper, explained:

“These fossils demonstrate how the roots of these ancient plants grew for the first time.  It is startling that something so small could have had such a dramatic effect on the Earth’s climate.  This discovery also shows the importance of collections such as the Oxford University Herbaria, they are so valuable, and we need to maintain them for future generations.”

A Highly Magnified Image Showing the Root Cellular Structure

A close up of the fossilised root structure (Radix carbonica).

Fossilised root structure preserves record of ancient root growth.

Picture credit: Oxford University Herbaria

From examining the size and number of cells which radiate out from the tip the researchers were able to establish that the root was actively growing at the time it was fossilised.  This makes the finding the first and only discovery to date of the fossilised remains of an actively growing root meristem.

The Root Growth of Radix carbonica is Unique Compared to Living Plant Root Meristems

The schematic diagram below shows the cellular organisation of a typical member of the gymnosperm group (conifers, ginkgos and cycads).  The colours show various major tissue types within the meristem.

Mapping the Evolution of Root Systems

The origin of root evolution in the Plantae.

New study suggests different types of root growth in plants took place in the past.

Picture credit: Current Biology with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The diagram above shows (A and C) the meristem of a typical gymnosperm, compared with (B and D) the meristem of Radix carbonica.

Yellow = the root cap

Pink = the promeristem (yellow lines in the R. carbonica promeristem indicate the positions of anticlinal cell divisions within the promeristem)

Orange = ground tissue

Blue = epidermis

Green = procambium

A simplified cladogram showing the hypothesised origin of roots based on this new study (E).  The meristems of different types of lycopsids are compared to the evolution of ferns, gymnosperms and the path towards the flowing plants (angiosperms), that evolved later.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from the press team at Oxford University in the compilation of this article.

The paper “Unique Cellular Organization in the Oldest Root Meristem”  is published in Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.072.

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

23 06, 2016

Great Science Teaching Article by the BBC

By | June 23rd, 2016|General Teaching|Comments Off on Great Science Teaching Article by the BBC

Promoting Scientific Working to Year 6

Congratulations to Judith Burns (Education Reporter), who posted up a super article all about how to enthuse Key Stage 2 children about science.  With the inspirational British astronaut Major Tim Peake safely returned to Earth after six months on the International Space Station orbiting our planet, now is a great time to “grasp the nettle” and use Tim’s space experience to help inspire and enthuse school children all about science.  A dinosaur workshop can help to motivate children.

A Dinosaur Workshop and Science Visit

Earlier this month, Year 2 children at Colegrave Primary School (Stratford, east London) were asked to consider questions related to the universe and physics.  A visit from Dr Berry Billingsley, an associate professor at Reading University provided the catalyst for an afternoon of science exploration.

Key Stage 1 Pupils Explore Science

A dinosaur workshop.

Rather taken with T. rex toes.  Exploring science.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

To learn more about how Everything Dinosaur helps with science teaching: About Everything Dinosaur.

Why is my Jacket Red?

The pupils were asked to explain why Dr Billingsley’s jacket was red.  Lots of suggestions were put forward such as, it was made red by the factory and maybe it’s because your favourite colour is red.  The associate professor then suggested that the jacket is red because it bounces back red light and absorbs all other colours.  She postulated, that if her answer is right, does that mean that all the answers given by the children were wrong?  Cue an exploration of the spectrum of visible (white) light.  Special glasses were worn by the pupils, these glasses refract the light into its various wavelengths.

The young man in the picture (above) has a red T-shirt.  Why is it red?

Defining Science

In a series of fun experiments the children explored gravity and evidence for gravitational waves, with the objective of the session to help the children to understand how scientific advances come about, how “scientific working” can help to find answers to problems.  A key question asked was what is science?  Several children came up with explanations:

Maryam: “You can discover new things about the world, which you did not know before.”

Alamame: “Science is about exploring space and making scientific discoveries.”

Dr Billingsley’s  favourite definition of science is: “Science is about observing and talking about our observations.”

At Everything Dinosaur, we have our own favourite definition: “Science is the search for truth.”

Whatever the definition, the children certainly enjoyed their afternoon of challenging science based activities.

Learning about Fossils, Dinosaurs and Life in the Past Helps to Enthuse Children about Science

dinosaur workshop.

Making dinosaur themed snacks a novel way to learn about science.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur, one of the team members who conducts dinosaur themed workshops in schools stated: “Our trained teachers visit schools all over the country delivering dinosaur and fossil themed science workshops.  It’s great to be able to help enthuse and motivate the next generation of scientists.”

Learning about dinosaurs and fossils in class can help to enthuse school children about science.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s user-friendly website: Everything Dinosaur.

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