All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
26 01, 2017

Gigantosaurus – You Mean Giganotosaurus? That’s an Interesting Question

By |2024-05-07T13:03:23+01:00January 26th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Main Page, Teaching|7 Comments

No Such Dinosaur As Gigantosaurus

This week, team members at Everything Dinosaur are in the middle of their dinosaur themed workshops planned for the first half of the Spring Term.  About fifteen workshops have been undertaken since Christmas and there are another fifteen or so to go before the half-term break.

Dinosaur Themed Workshops

On Friday, a member of the Everything Dinosaur teaching team will be visiting a school to work with two classes of Year 2 children who have been learning about dinosaurs.  The inspirational text is “Gigantosaurus” written by Jonny Duddle.  The class teacher has been using this fictional text to inspire English work by using imaginative descriptions to create characters and setting descriptions.  In addition, the Lower Key Stage children will be exploring rhyme through poetry.

However, there has not been a dinosaur named “Gigantosaurus”.

Children Being Inspired by a Dinosaur Book


No such dinosaur called “Gigantosaurus”.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

A Carefully Crafted Scheme of Work

The choice of dinosaur themed text is part of a carefully crafted scheme of work that explores a range of fiction and non-fiction texts over the course of the term topic.  Non-fiction texts are being used to help challenge the children to write non-chronological reports.

For those readers unfamiliar with the book “Gigantosaurus”, it is a simple tale based on the story of the boy who cried wolf.  All young dinosaurs are warned about the scary “Gigantosaurus”.   Young Bonehead volunteers to be the lookout whenever the group of dinosaur friends go into the jungle to play.  He alerts his friends on numerous occasions but “Gigantosaurus” is nowhere to be seen, this is the story of the “boy who cried wolf”.  Bonehead’s friends refuse to believe his warnings when the dinosaur called “Gigantosaurus” finally turns up.

Giganotosaurus carolinii or Gigantspinosaurus sichuanensis

Inspirational this fiction text might be, but most young palaeontologists will tell you that the closest real dinosaur name is Giganotosaurus (giant southern lizard), a meat-eating dinosaur and one of the largest terrestrial carnivores known to science.

A Model of the Giant Meat-eating Dinosaur Giganotosaurus (G. carolinii)

Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Wild Safari Prehistoric World Giganotosaurus dinosaur model.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Giganotosaurus model (above) is made by Safari Ltd. It is one of several theropod dinosaur in the Wild Safari Prehistoric World range.

To view this range of prehistoric animal figures: Wild Safari Prehistoric Animal Models.

Ironically, Giganotosaurus (pronounced jy-ga-no-toe-sore-us), is a favourite amongst children, especially boys.  Being bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex makes Giganotosaurus carolinii very popular indeed.  It is not the only dinosaur with a similar sounding name. There is stegosaur from China known as Gigantspinosaurus (G. sichuanensis).  The genus name means “giant spined lizard” and one glance at the illustration of this plant-eating dinosaur (below) will tell you why.

“Giant Spined Lizard”

An Illustration of Gigantspinosaurus (G. sichuanensis)

A drawing of Gigantspinosaurus.

The very “spiky” Gigantspinosaurus.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The illustration (above) shows Gigantspinosaurus.  A Gigantspinosaurus is found in the CollectA Prehistoric Life range.

To view this model range: CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Figures.

Dinosaur Themed Workshops – Providing Extension Activities

As part of a series of extension activities planned for the children after our dinosaur workshop in the school, we have prepared a dinosaur “hokey cokey” song for the children, it will help them explore rhyme through a familiar song.  We will also be telling them all about Giganotosaurus.

Visit the award-winning Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

26 01, 2017

Rare Giant Prehistoric Otter Fossil From South-Western China

By |2024-05-07T13:03:55+01:00January 26th, 2017|Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on Rare Giant Prehistoric Otter Fossil From South-Western China

Giant Prehistoric Otter – Siamogale melilutra

A team of international researchers, including scientists from Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, have described the fossilised skull, teeth and limbs of a giant prehistoric otter that roamed south-western China some 6.25 million years ago.  The fossil material, which includes a crushed, but quite well preserved skull, represents a new species in the sub-family Lutrinae (otters).  The prehistoric otter has been name Siamogale melilutra and it probably weighed six times heavier than the European otter.

A Giant Prehistoric Otter

An Illustration of the Giant Otter from the Late Miocene Epoch

Siamogale illustration.

Yunnan Province (south-western China), in the Late Miocene was home to a giant otter (S. melilutra).

Picture credit: Mauricio Antón

Siamogale melilutra

Palaeontologists have suggested that this otter probably weighed in excess of fifty kilogrammes and it specialised on feeding on clams and freshwater mussels.  It lived during the Late Miocene Epoch, a time when south-western China was covered in a dense, lush forest.  Siamogale melilutra shared its home with tapirs, several species of ancient elephants and crocodiles.  It is related to another ancient otter species from Thailand.

Convergent Evolution

S. melilutra had a large, powerful jaw with enlarged, bunodont (rounded-cusped) teeth typical of many otter lineages.  The discovery of these fossils, far more complete than the fossils of other ancient otters, poses the question of whether these bunodont teeth were inherited by all otters from a common ancestor, or evolved independently in different otter genera over time because of the evolution of similar adaptations to thrive in similar environments, (convergent evolution).

Skull Size Comparison Between S. melilutra and the Living Giant South American Otter and the European Otter found in the British Isles

Otter skull comparisons.

Siamogale skull size comparison with South American giant river otter (middle) and European otter (right).

Picture credit: The Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “A New Otter of Giant Size Siamogale melilutra sp. nov. (Lutrinae: Mustelidae: Carnivora), from the latest Miocene Shiutangba site in north-eastern Yunnan, south-western China, and a total-evidence of phylogeny of Lutrines.” published in “The Journal of Systematic Palaeontology”.

Visit the award-winning Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

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