All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
30 09, 2016

Giant Dinosaur Footprint from the Gobi Desert

By | September 30th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Giant Dinosaur Footprint from the Gobi Desert

The Upper Cretaceous formations of the Gobi Desert have provided scientists with a treasure trove of dinosaur fossil bones and teeth to study.  Trace fossils such as footprints are much rarer.  However, last month a joint Japanese and Mongolian research team uncovered a beautifully preserved natural cast of a giant plant-eating dinosaur’s foot.  The footprint, which represents the left hind foot of a titanosaur, is estimated to be between ninety to seventy million years of age and it was made by a dinosaur not currently known (most probably), from any bones within a museum’s collection.

Gobi Desert Fossil Discovery

The ancient, fossilised footprint was discovered as a joint research team from the Okayama University of Science (Okayama Prefecture, Japan) and researchers from the Institute of Palaeontology and Geology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences explored exposed Upper Cretaceous sediments in the Gobi Desert.

Professors are a Great Way to Show the Size and Scale of Dinosaur Tracks

The fossilised footprint of a Late Cretaceous Titanosaur.

Professor Shinobu Ishigaki (Okayama University of Science) provides the scale for the dinosaur print.

Picture credit: Okayama University of Science

In the picture above Professor  Shinobu Ishigaki (Okayama University of Science),  is lying next to the giant footprint.  His head is towards the rear of the foot and clearly defined claw impressions can be seen on the front of the footprint.  The dinosaur was walking towards the left of the photograph (direction of travel).

The exact location of the fossil find is a closely guarded secret.  Unfortunately, despite strict laws, the illegal export of many dinosaur fossils from the Gobi Desert still occurs and there is a significant black market trade in such ancient artefacts.

Giant Dinosaur Footprint

The print was discovered on August 21st and it measures 106 centimetres long and 77 centimetres wide (maximum diameter).

Commenting on the importance of this discovery, Professor Ishigaki, the leader of the research team from the Okayama University of Science, stated:

“A whole skeleton of a giant dinosaur that left such a massive footprint has yet to be uncovered in Mongolia.  A fossilised skeleton of such a dinosaur is expected to be eventually discovered.”

An Illustration of a Typical Titanosauriform (Daxiatitan)

Daxiatitan model by CollectA.

Perhaps up to 30 metres in length?

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture (above) shows a titanosaur.  It is the sort of dinosaur that could have produced the giant dinosaur footprint.  The figure is a CollectA titanosaur model.

To view this model collection: CollectA Models (Prehistoric Life).

Estimating the Size of the Maker of the Track

Although it is not possible to give an accurate estimate of the dinosaur’s size, the individual who made this print may have exceeded twenty-five metres in length.  The print is a natural cast created by sandy sediments infilling the impressions in the ground caused by the dinosaur walking over a muddy substrate.

Commenting on this fossil find a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur added:

“Titanosaurs are wide-bodied sauropods [long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs] that probably evolved sometime in the Late Jurassic and survived until the Cretaceous mass extinction event.  They are the only sauropods known to have survived into the Late Cretaceous.  The exceptional preservation of this natural cast makes this discovery extremely significant.  The shape of the claws can be made out and even the texture of the bottom of the foot has been preserved.”

Trace Fossils are Important

Trace fossils are important as they preserve evidence of activity, as in this case the footprint of a huge, plant-eating dinosaur.  Not only does this track provide information on the shape of dinosaur’s feet but it also provides valuable information on the ways in which they walked.

To read about some even bigger sauropod tracks discovered in France: 150 million-year-old Sauropod Prints from France.

For an article about a probable new titanosaur from Brazil: A New Brazilian Titanosaur (probably).

To read an article published earlier this year about a new titanosaur from Argentina: New Late Cretaceous Titanosaur from Patagonia.

29 09, 2016

Big Blue Dinosaur in School Mural

By | September 29th, 2016|Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Spot the Big, Blue Dinosaur

Whilst working in a school hall delivering a dinosaur themed workshop to Reception-aged children we spotted this super illustration of a dinosaur.  The big, blue sauropod was part of a mural created for the school by talented artist and children’s book author Steve Smallman back in 2013.  How do we know?  The artist had signed the dinosaur’s tail. It is a very colourful mural.

A Big, Blue Dinosaur

A Big Blue Dinosaur Spotted in a School Hall

School hall has a dinosaur in a mural.

A mural that features a big, blue dinosaur in a school hall.

Picture credit: Three Peaks Academy and Everything Dinosaur

Whilst we can’t vouch for its anatomical accuracy, it certainly is a very colourful dinosaur.  The dinosaur drawing was certainly popular with the children.

For dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed drawing resources: Dinosaur Drawing Materials, Gifts and Toys.

A Dinosaur Mural

The mural reached up from the floor to the ceiling and we estimate that the blue dinosaur was around four metres tall.  Surprisingly, the teacher who had booked Everything Dinosaur to undertake the morning of dinosaur themed workshops with the classes, was not aware that a dinosaur was lurking in the school hall.  This must be an example of hiding in plain sight.  We wonder what other dinosaurs and prehistoric animals might be found in school artwork displays?  We shall have to keep a lookout for any more striking dinosaur illustrations to be found in the schools that we are scheduled to visit.

Take a look at Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

28 09, 2016

Answering Questions About Dinosaurs

By | September 28th, 2016|Key Stage 1/2|Comments Off on Answering Questions About Dinosaurs

Answering Questions About Dinosaurs

Another busy day yesterday for the teaching team at Everything Dinosaur.  One of our dinosaur and fossil experts had been invited into Astbury St Mary’s Church of England Primary to work with the Reception class who had just started studying dinosaurs, the children’s first ever term topic.  The impressive dinosaur museum already had a number of very colourful exhibits and we were able to suggest a dinosaur sorting game helping the children work out which dinosaurs were plant-eaters and which were meat-eaters.

For soft toy dinosaurs: Dinosaur Soft Toys.

Our suggestion was certainly well received by the class teacher, she incorporated our idea into her teaching activities for the afternoon.  We even got the chance to see the outcome of this activity as a short post about the children’s sorting fun was posted on the school blog.

Most of the Dinosaurs Had Plants in their Diet

Dinosaurs carnivores or herbivores.

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

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Questions About Dinosaurs

Prior to our visit the Reception class children were challenged to come up with some questions about dinosaurs that they wanted to learn the answers to.  The questions that the children came up with were then posted up onto one of the display walls in the well-appointed and spacious class room.

Children Compose Questions about Dinosaurs

Praise for Everything Dinosaur.

Brainstorming dinosaurs with a class of school children.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Lots of questions and to be perfectly honest, most of them we had encountered before, but one question really floored us, Jude wanted to know did dinosaurs have phones?  What a wonderful, imaginative question.  The Reception children certainly had a great time exploring dinosaurs.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

28 09, 2016

Countdown to TetZooCon 2016

By | September 28th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Press Releases|0 Comments

Countdown to TetZooCon 2016

The countdown has started, tetrapods from all walks of life will be getting ready for the third annual TetZooCon gathering this Saturday (1st October).  The great and the good in the TetZoo-verse will be making their way to the London Wetland Centre (Barnes, London, SW13) to enjoy a series of presentations from illustrious speakers covering topics as wide ranging as British reptiles and amphibians, palaeoart, pterosaurs and sea monsters.

For soft toy dinosaurs and prehistoric plush: Dinosaur Soft Toys.

TetZooCon 2016

Highlights this year include John Hutchinson providing an insight into locomotion and biomechanics, specifically kneecaps, expect some jumbo sized explanations as pachyderms get placed up front and centre!

Look out also for Hannah O’Regan’s (University of Nottingham), talk on the Ursidae in the archaeological record could TetZooCon be turning into a teddy’s bear picnic?  Certainly, organisers Darren Naish, John Conway and friends have ensured that tea and coffee is included in the admission price of £50 and attendees can pick up lunch and other snacks at the London Wetland Centre in between the cornucopia of events, activities and speakers that have been assembled.

Countdown to TetZooCon 2016

TetZooCon 1st October 2016.

TetZooCon banner 2016.

Picture credit: Darren Naish

For further information on this event and for last minute ticket information check out this link: TetZooCon 2016.

Palaeoart, Plushies and Publications

TetZooCon gives fans of biology, zoology, palaeontology, cryptozoology, conservation and how animals (living and extinct) are portrayed in art, literature and fiction the opportunity to meet up once a year and to indulge their interest in all things related to the Tetrapoda and the contents of the world-famous blog Tetrapod Zoology (currently hosted by Scientific American and followed by Everything Dinosaur team members).

On the subject of blog writers followed by Everything Dinosaur, renowned flying reptile expert Mark Witton (he of Mark Witton’s blog), will be attending and conference delegates will be able to purchase signed prints of his artwork as well as copies of his new book “Recreating an Age of Reptiles”.

Over the course of the day visitors will be able to peruse and purchase a range of merchandise including spectacular illustrations and to get their hands on some of the very latest publications.  Rumour has it that the recently refurbished lecture theatre at the London Wetland Centre will see the unveiling of the new dinosaur book “Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved” by Darren Naish, only a limited number of copies of this highly anticipated new volume will be available, doors open promptly at 9am with the first presentation scheduled to start at 9.20am, best to get there early to avoid disappointment.

The TetZooCon Quiz

Just prior to the traditional end of event trip to the local hostelry and bringing down the curtain on the day-long activities there is the quiz and look out for some fantastic prehistoric animal scale replica prizes provided by Everything Dinosaur who are once again proud to be involved in such a worthwhile event.

Up for Grabs a “Winston” Rebor Replica and Other Prizes

Rebor Velociraptor "Winston"

Rebor 1:18 scale Velociraptor model

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

We wish all the delegates and speakers a wonderful day!  Perhaps next year it will be a two day event, now that’s a thought!

Look Out for Everything Dinosaur at TetZooCon 2016

Everything Dinosaur at TetZooCon

All ready for the TetZooCon 2016.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

27 09, 2016

Staff Rooms Islands of Calm and Serenity

By | September 27th, 2016|General Teaching|Comments Off on Staff Rooms Islands of Calm and Serenity

Staff Rooms – Islands of Calm

As team members at Everything Dinosaur like to arrive nice and early at schools prior to delivering a dinosaur or fossil themed workshop, we very often get the chance to visit the staff room.  We can tell a lot about the school from the staff room, the orderly lay out of information on the walls, every inch of space (in most schools), being occupied by helpful and important information about child welfare, safe guarding and school activities.  The tidy sink area with the dishwasher emptying rota clearly displayed – oh happy days.  We think of the staff room as being a little island of calm inside a busy learning environment.

Everything Dinosaur

Located on one of the more prominent walls is the master whiteboard.  This for us, is the very hub of the school, its centre, its beating heart.  Written on the board are lots of notes for the teachers, teaching support team members and the school administrators, all the information required to help the school run efficiently and smoothly.  Most whiteboards are divided up into days of the week, this helps the staff to see at a glance what is going on and when.  A well organised staff room, equipped with a well organised white board does say a lot about the school.  Sometimes, team members at Everything Dinosaur even get a mention!

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

Fame as Everything Dinosaur and Palaeontology is Mentioned on the Notice Board

The FS2/Year 1 class have a palaeontology lab.

The FS2/Year 1 class have a palaeontology laboratory.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

We even got an emoticon 🙂 on the notice board.

Arriving Early in Plenty of Time for a Dinosaur Workshop

Team members always like to arrive early.  With dinosaur themed school workshops to deliver up and down the country, we certainly travel a lot in our work, but we try our best to arrive in plenty of time.  We do not want to worry the teachers and a late arrival could upset their teaching plans.  We know ourselves just how stressful it can be waiting for a school visitor to turn up.

For dinosaur toys, models and gifts: Dinosaur Toys, Models and Gifts.

27 09, 2016

Dinosaurs Roar with Jonah!

By | September 27th, 2016|Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Jonah Class Explore Dinosaurs

It was a busy morning for the Reception class at Astbury St Mary’s Church of England Primary School.  It was also a busy morning for Everything Dinosaur.

Class Jonah have been learning all about dinosaurs and the enthusiastic teaching team had invited a member of the Everything Dinosaur staff into the school to explore dinosaurs and fossils.  The spacious hall was taken over and turned into a mini dinosaur museum and the budding young palaeontologists quickly learned that they had more fingers on their hands than a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Dinosaurs as a Term Topic

Dinosaurs as a term topic was proving very popular amongst the children as they settled into full-time education, the girls were delighted to hear that a girl T. rex grew up to be bigger and stronger than a boy T. rex!  As far as we can tell, the female Tyrannosaurs were probably bigger than the males.

Lots of Creative Dinosaur Drawings on Display

FS2 children draw prehistoric landscapes.

Drawings of a prehistoric landscape by FS2 children.

Picture credit: St Mary’s Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

A Well-organised Classroom

The well-organised classroom already had lots of dinosaur themed drawings and models on display.  The children had made some pointy dinosaur teeth (probably a meat-eater) and the walls were decorated with some lovely prehistoric animal drawings.   The class teacher Miss Irwin, had challenged her class to imagine what a prehistoric landscape looked like, the children had certainly produced some very imaginative drawings.

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

The dinosaur food we brought with us helped support the children’s learning about herbivores and carnivores and we note that on the Jonah class blog there are some pictures of a dinosaur plant-eater/meat-eater sorting exercise that our expert suggested the children attempt to help reinforce their understanding about the diets of different dinosaurs.

Dinosaur Land with an Erupting Volcano

FS2 draw dinosaurs.

Reception draw a volcano.

Picture credit: St Mary’s Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

Did Dinosaurs Have Phones?

Prior to our visit, the children under the supervision of Miss Irwin and with the support of Mrs Ainscough, had come up with some super questions about dinosaurs that they would like to explore.  The eager learners busy practising their phonics and getting to grips with reading wanted to learn lots of amazing facts about life in the past.

Questions About Dinosaurs from Jonah Class

Questions about dinosaurs from Reception.

Dinosaur questions from FS2

Picture credit: St Mary’s Primary School/Everything Dinosaur

The Big Teeth of Dinosaurs

Sebastian asked why do dinosaurs have big teeth?  Toby enquired why dinosaurs have bones?  Brad questioned whether there were dinosaurs in the playground?  Some news for you Toby, perhaps some birds like Robins, Magpies and Blue Tits will visit your dinosaur museum outside.  Birds are so closely related to some types of dinosaur that, technically, birds are dinosaurs.  Jude asked did dinosaurs have phones?  That’s an interesting question!  With T. rex having such short arms and only two fingers on each hand, do the children think that this dinosaur could make a phone call?  If you happen to receive a text from a T. rex what would it say?

Did Dinosaurs Have Phones?

Did dinosaurs have phones?

Reception class consider whether dinosaurs had phones and how closely related birds are to dinosaurs.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

26 09, 2016

Out of Africa – Earlier Than Thought?

By | September 26th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

DNA Analysis Hints at Earlier Exodus of Modern Humans from Africa

A number of scientific papers have been published this week, most notably in the journal “Nature”, which discuss the thorny issue of how our species spread across the world.  Studies of modern human genomes from populations around the globe hint that there may have been an earlier human migration out of Africa, however, the evidence for this earlier migration remains controversial.

Understanding how and when our species migrated out of Africa and spread around the planet, reaching far-flung destinations such as Australasia, is still some way off.  Rather than clarify and unify theories, genetic studies seem to have muddied the waters somewhat.

Out of Africa Human Migration

A Native of Papua New Guinea – New Research Indicates A Very Ancient Human Ancestry

A Papuan tribesman.

A native of Papua New Guinea.

Picture Credit: Eric Lafforgue

Out of Africa

For decades, palaeoanthropologists argued over the origins of our species.  Did Homo sapiens originate from Africa or did we evolve from hominins that had spread across Europe, the Middle East and Asia much earlier?  Whilst most scientist now agree that Africa was the “cradle of mankind”, skeletal remains from various locations and new research into ancient climates, particularly the prehistoric climate of the Arabian peninsula, hinted that modern humans may have migrated out of Africa earlier than 60,000 years ago.

Certainly, the migration of modern hominins (and we include Neanderthals and the enigmatic Denisovans within this group), seems to be much more complicated than previously thought.  Fluctuating global climates allowed a number of migrations to take place with different species of people occupying different areas and indeed mixing at various points in our short history.  Our family tree resembles a very gnarled and twisted sapling.

To read a related article that looks at how changing climates in the Arabian peninsula may have had an impact on human migration: Out of Africa and into Arabia.

Five Hundred Human Genomes Analysed (Almost)

Most non-Africans can trace their heritage back to a group of humans that left Africa around 60,000 years ago.  However, the study of almost five hundred human genomes (483 to be precise, from 148 world-wide populations), undertaken by scientists at the Estonian Biocentre has found traces of a much earlier “Out of Africa” human migration.

Faint traces of an earlier human migration were recorded in the DNA of the people of Papua New Guinea, but this study suggests that these earlier human pioneers all but vanished, so it does not alter drastically the prevailing theories as to the ancestors of the majority of us.  The researchers suggest that a genetic signature representing around 2% of the genome in present-day Papuans originates from an earlier and largely extinct expansion of anatomically modern humans out of Africa.

This data, together with fossil evidence and a recently published paper indicating a genetic mixing of Neanderthals and modern humans predating the main Eurasian expansion* contributes to the growing evidence to support the presence of our species outside Africa earlier than 75,000 years ago.

The paper published in the journal “Nature” and available as a pdf: “Genomic Analyses inform on Migration Events during the Peopling of Eurasia”.

Attempting to Map Human Migration out of Africa – When Did this Take Place?  How Many Times?

Bullyland H. sapiens

A model of modern human being (H. sapiens).

The figure in the picture is from the Bullyland model range.

To view the range: Bullyland Prehistoric Animal Figures.

Doctor Luca Pagani, lead author of the paper stated:

“All the other Eurasians we had were very homogenous in their split times from Africans.  This suggests most Eurasians diverged from Africans in a single event… about 75,000 years ago, while the [Papua New Guinea] split was more ancient, about 90,000 years ago.  So we thought there must be something going on.”

Same Edition of “Nature” Different Conclusions

In another paper, also published in “Nature” a team of scientists including researchers from the Estonian Biocentre (such as an author of the first paper – Mait Metspalu), as well as scientists from the Harvard Medical School and the New York Genome Centre, along with colleagues from a number of other institutions, came to a slightly different conclusion.

In this study, 300 genomes from 142 different populations were analysed and evidence was found of early splits in the populations within Africa, along with a single migration event that gave rise to non-African humans.

However, in this paper, no substantial evidence of an early (pre-60,000 years ago), African exodus was identified in the genomes of Papuans and other related populations such as of those groups that make up the Aboriginal race of Australia.  This team of scientists conclude that if, the genetic legacy of a more ancient migration survives in these populations, it cannot comprise more than a tiny portion of the entire genome.

The paper: “The Simons Genome Diversity Project: 300 Genomes from 142 Diverse Populations”.

A Third Study – Similar Conclusion

Papers on human ancestry must be a bit like buses.  You wait a while and nothing and then three come along at once.

In a third paper, also published in “Nature”, a study of the genomes of the Aboriginal race of Australia by researchers from the Centre for GeoGenetics, the Denmark Natural History Museum affiliated to the University of Copenhagen, along with colleagues from a number of other institutions including the Max Planck Institute, University College London and (once again), Mait Metspalu of the Estonian Biocentre, a similar conclusion to paper two is reached.  That, if there was an earlier human migration, then it is represented by only a tiny portion of the genome of living people from Oceania and Australia.

The title of this paper: “A Genomic History of Aboriginal Australia”.

Professor David Reich (Harvard Medical School) and a member of the Simons Genome Diversity Project that published the second paper summarised the research as follows:

“In our paper, we exclude more than about 2% ancestry in Australians, Papuans, and New Guineans from an early dispersal population, and our best estimate is 0%.  I am a bit concerned that poorly modelled features of the methods used by Pagani and colleagues [“Genomic Analyses inform on Migration Events during the Peopling of Eurasia”] may have contributed to a false-positive signal of early dispersal ancestry in them.  However, an alternative possibility is that the truth is around 2%, and this might just be consistent with all three studies.”

No Definitive Signature for an Earlier African Migration

Dr Mait Metspalu, the scientist who figured in all three publications stated that although the other papers do not detect a definitive signature for an earlier African migration by anatomically modern humans, this idea is not rejected, so long as it just contributes to a tiny portion of the genome in people alive today.

We leave it to the esteemed Professor Chris Stringer from the London Natural History Museum for the final word (for the moment), on this aspect of human ancestry.

Professor Stringer explained that the analysis undertaken by the Simons Genome Diversity Project and those scientists who studied the genome of the indigenous Australians favour the theory of a single migration event out of Africa less than 80,000 years ago giving rise to all living non-Africans.  In contrast, the paper with Doctor Luca Pagani as lead author, supports the idea of an additional and earlier modern human migration out of Africa more than 100,000 years ago, genetic traces of this earlier exodus can be found in Papuans, et al.

Tying It All in with the Human Fossil Record

There is certainly fossil evidence to indicate that our species (H. sapiens) was living outside Africa in the Near East, the Middle East and indeed elsewhere more than 60,000 years ago.  However, the paucity of the human fossil record, coupled with problems over dating bones and teeth in conjunction with a rather confusing picture involving interbreeding between several species of humans (Neanderthals, Denisovans and potentially yet another species of early human or two), has led to a rather muddled picture.

All three papers, although drawing slightly different conclusions, are helping to contribute to a greater understanding with regards to our own ancestry and we expect this lively debate to continue.  The evidence is likely to ebb and flow between the different scientific viewpoints, ironically, in a very similar pattern of backwards and forwards that most probably occurred with hominin species as they migrated in and out of various regions in response to climate change and other pressures.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

A view articulated in a letter entitled “Human migration: Climate and the Peopling of the World”, co-authored by Professor Chris Stringer and coincidently also published in the latest edition of “Nature”.

*For the related article published in February which suggests that modern humans and Neanderthals may have interbreed 100,000 years ago: Mapping the Ancient Gene Flow between Ourselves and Neanderthals.

25 09, 2016

Bullyland Ancient Horse

By | September 25th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

Bullyland Ancient Horse Figure

The Everything Dinosaur warehouse is a real treasure trove of prehistoric animal models.  Team members are currently making room for more models to arrive in 2017, but that gives us time to reflect on some of the very special residents that we have had the privilege of stocking.  Take for example, the exceedingly rare Bullyland “Prehistoric World” range of prehistoric animal models.  We have been able to provide many collectors with these models over the years, even though as a series, apart from one specially commissioned manufacture, these replicas have been out of production for nearly a decade.

Bullyland Ancient Horse Figure

Bullyland Ancient Horse Figure

Bullyland Ancient Horse.

Bullyland 1:24 scale approx prehistoric horse model.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Models and Collectables

We still have a few of these very collectable models in our warehouse.  Whilst undertaking a stock take it is always a pleasure to see models such as these.  However, they will soon be sold out and the likes of the ancient horse replica from Bullyland will be extinct.  The Bullyland ancient horse model represents a primitive horse called Anchitherium, which evolved in the Miocene.  The fossil record indicates that this little horse stood about sixty centimetres high at the shoulder (about six hands) and it had three toes on each foot.

Everything Dinosaur and Prehistoric Horses

Fossil finds indicate that this genus migrated into Asia and Europe and it provides a tantalising clue in the evolution of the single hoof forms of the horse we see today.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

The evolution of the horse from small cat-sized creatures such as Propalaeotherium that lived in the dense jungles and lush forests of the Eocene to the magnificent creatures we see around us, was first documented by the famous American palaeontologist Charles Othniel Marsh.

Marsh was a prolific writer and published a great deal many scientific papers, but few are as eloquent and as compelling in support of the argument in favour of evolutionary theory than his 1874 publication in which he plotted the evolution of the horse.

To read more about Charles Othniel Marsh: Celebrating the Anniversary of the Birth of Othniel Charles Marsh.

To view the remaining figures available in the Bullyland “Prehistoric World” model series including the last of our ancient horses: Bullyland Models and Figures.

24 09, 2016

Research Suggests Dogs Helped Early Modern Humans Hunt

By | September 24th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Japanese Based Study Suggests Early Modern Humans Used Dogs to Hunt

Most scientists agree that dogs and our own species have had a symbiotic relationship for many thousands of years.  It has been speculated that before dogs became our companions they co-operated with us in hunting.  Here are two diurnal pack animals, in essence, both going after the same game, but archaeological evidence to support this idea has been very difficult to track down.  True, there have been a number of canine burials associated with early, modern humans and we have written about some of these discoveries on this blog site.

Early Modern Human Hunting Strategies

However, new research, a study of over one hundred ancient burial sites in Japan has provided the strongest evidence yet that dogs did indeed assist with hunting.  In fact, our reliance on dogs may have played an extremely significant part in our ability to survive in some parts of the world.

Research Suggests Dogs Played an Important Role in Hunting

A picture of a large dog.

A diurnal hunter like our species but with different colour perception – a useful hunting companion?

Whilst attending Durham University, graduate student Angela Perri had the opportunity to take part in a wild boar hunt in dense forest close to the city of Hiroshima (Honshu Island, Japan).  She wanted to get a sense of the reliance hunters had on the use of dogs, to see how dependent hunters were on their four-legged, canine counterparts.

Dogs Used for Hunting

Angela explained:

“It was terrifying.  The boar sound like a train.  They’re very aggressive and they have big tusks.  At any moment, one could come charging at you.”

The dogs (five bloodhounds and a Shiba Inus, a breed native to Japan, bred to help hunt small game), certainly made a big impression on her.  Their ability to detect, chase and corner a dangerous quarry whilst at the same time offering protection to the humans struck a chord with her and she set off on a quest to try and establish once and for all the role dogs played in early human hunting parties.  This subject area would be the basis for her dissertation whilst at Durham University.

The Jōmon Culture

Keen to understand the hunter/dog relationship in more detail, Angela began to examine the scientific literature.  She focused on the Jōmon culture, a group of hunter-gatherers who inhabited the islands of Japan from the very late Pleistocene to around 2,400 years ago.  The Jōmon culture spread throughout the islands that make up Japan.  In the northernmost part of the archipelago they subsisted on dolphins and whales, whilst those in the tropical south engaged in more traditional fishing.

The Jōmon on Honshu were beachcombers, collecting mussels and other shellfish, but they were also very dependent on the dense forests and hunting was a big part of their lives.  As the Holocene Epoch dawned, the fauna and flora changed and deer and wild boar became commonplace.

As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Human Evolution, (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany), Angela is very well placed to gain an understanding as to the evolution of our relationship with dogs.  She proposes that dogs would have been highly valued by the Jōmon people, those on Honshu Island in particular.   Her idea is supported by what she found when she scanned the Japanese archaeological record.  Various archaeological digs dating back to around 9,000 years ago on Honshu show that the Jōmon began to bury dogs in shell middens, similar to human graves.

Studying Grave Sites

Like the people, the corpses of dogs were placed singly and appear to have been arranged with care in particular postures, as Angela says: “they looked like they curled up and went to sleep”.

A number of the bones revealed what could have been hunting injuries, broken legs and teeth.  Many of the bones had healed suggesting people had taken care of them. Some dogs were also found with grave goods, like seashell bracelets and deer antlers.

A total of 110 burial records were studied in all, the most recent of which dating from about 2,500 years ago when the Jōmon adopted a more sedentary, farming based culture.  Bones of dogs recovered from archaeological sites dating from after the reliance on hunting ended, show that many dogs were eaten, bones are found as random piles.   It seems that from about 2,500 years ago, dogs lost their high status in Jōmon society.

Japanese Dogs were Revered

The fact that the Japanese dogs were only revered in a time and place where they would have made ideal hunting companions strongly suggests that they did indeed play this role.  Writing in the journal “Antiquity”, Perri proposes that dogs were indeed central to many early human hunter-gatherer cultures, especially those the relied on hunting game for their survival.  She also points to a 2500-year-old bronze bell found on the east coast of Honshu Island that contains an engraving believed to depict an event from even further in the past, a boar surrounded by a hunter and his pack of dogs, to support her theory.

A View of the Ceremonial Bronze Bell with the Hunting with Dogs Scene

Hunting scene on ancient bronze bell.

A hunting scene depicted on a 2,500-year-old ceremonial bell.

Picture credit: Tokyo National Museum

The picture above shows a relief from a ceremonial bronze bell (dotaku) from the Pacific Honshu region depicting a hunter with a bow and arrow hunting a wild boar, surrounded by a pack of dogs.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

23 09, 2016

The Jurassic of Europe

By | September 23rd, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Europe in the Jurassic

Our thanks to Robert Townsend who sent us some more prehistoric animal diorama pictures.  This time, Robert focuses on dinosaurs that lived in Europe during the Jurassic and he has created some fascinating scenes in his large-scale dinosaur diorama “The Lost World”.

A Lourinhanosaurus Stalks an Europasaurus

Stalking an Europasaurus.

A Lourinhanosaurus stalks Europasaurus.

Picture credit: Robert Townsend

The sauropod model shown in the foreground is a Bullyland Europasaurus.

To view the Bullyland range of dinosaurs and other models: Bullyland Prehistoric Animal Models.

A Dinosaur Themed Diorama

This is a nicely composed shot, the details on the foreground are clearly defined and the whole photograph has a sense of perspective.

A Close up of the CollectA Lourinhanosaurus Dinosaur Model

The CollectA Lourinhanosaurus dinosaur model.

CollectA Lourinhanosaurus in a dinosaur diorama.

Picture credit: Robert Townsend

The Lourinhanosaurus model is part of the “Prehistoric Life” model range by CollectA.  In this image, Robert brings out the detail on the figure quite nicely as well as revealing the level of care taken in the creation of the prehistoric scene, note the tiny pebbles in the foreground.  Clearly a lot of time and effort has gone into creating the prehistoric settings for these dinosaur models.

To view the CollectA Prehistoric Life model range: CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Popular Figures.

The CollectA Metriacanthosaurus at the Water’s Edge

CollectA Metriacanthosaurus.

CollectA Metriacanthosaurus model.

Picture credit: Robert Townsend

The Jurassic of Europe

A number of environments are depicted in the dinosaur themed diorama, the use of water effects provides a good focal point to set various prehistoric scenes.  The low light in the background gives the impression of dusk, here is a Metriacanthosaurus (model by CollectA), coming down to the river late at night to quench its thirst.

A Metriacanthosaurus Confronts an Adult Stegosaur (Dacentrurus)

Metriacanthosaurus and Dacentrurus fight it out.

A CollectA Metriacanthosaurus threatens a CollectA Dacentrurus dinosaur model.

Picture credit: Robert Townsend

Robert is keen to depict various interactions between prehistoric animals associated with Jurassic-aged strata from Europe.  In this photograph, an adult Dacentrurus adopts a threatening posture when confronted with a Metriacanthosaurus.  The meat-eater better watch-out, as at nearly two tonnes, the Dacentrurus is a very formidable opponent.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

Our thanks to Robert for sending in these photographs.  We get sent lots of pictures and other dinosaur related items, we enjoy looking at them all.  We really do enjoy the creative ways in which our customers display their dinosaur and prehistoric animal model collections.

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