All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
29 02, 2020

Mystery of Dinosaur Prints on Cave Ceiling Solved

By |2024-01-17T13:58:11+00:00February 29th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A Dinosaur in the Cupboard Under the Stairs

Thanks to a dedicated geologist and the careful conservation of his materials and notes a sixty-six-year-old mystery about dinosaur footprints on a cave ceiling in Queensland (Australia), has been solved.  Palaeontologist Dr Anthony Romilio (University of Queensland), was able to decipher and interpret a series of dinosaur trackways preserved in Lower Jurassic strata, now exposed on a cave ceiling with the help of notes, photographs and casts of the prints stored in a cupboard under the stairs of a house in Sydney.

Dinosaur Footprints on the Ceiling

The Dinosaur Tracks from the Cave Ceiling (Insert Shows Estimated Size of Track Makers)

Ceiling dinosaur tracks from the Mount Morgan site.
Dinosaur tracks from the Mount Morgan site, with (insert), a line drawing showing the estimated size of the two track makers.  The photograph is circa 1954.

Picture credit: Historical Biology

Dr Romilio, of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Sciences  (University of Queensland) explained:

“The town of Mount Morgan near Rockhampton has hundreds of fossil footprints and has the highest dinosaur track diversity for the entire eastern half of Australia.  Earlier examinations of the ceiling footprints suggested some very curious dinosaur behaviour; that a carnivorous theropod walked on all four legs.”

There have been hundreds of dinosaur tracks reported from the so-called “fireclay caverns” in Mount Morgan.  Five prints first described by Ross Staines, the geologist who made such careful notes (1954), purportedly represent a theropod dinosaur that had left a handprint (manus), the interpretation was that this theropod had been walking on all fours.  Most theropods are characterised by their obligate bipedal stance.  Dr Romilio set out to determine whether this particular track did indeed preserve this very untypical theropod dinosaur behaviour.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to access the trace fossils “in situ”, the caverns have been closed since 2011 due to concerns about public safety.

A Line Drawing Showing the Five Tracks Studied

A line drawing showing the dinosaur tracks from the cavern ceiling.
A line drawing showing the five tracks in the study.

Picture credit: Historical Biology

Unable to view the fossils in the cave, it would have been difficult to determine what the tracks represented.

A Stroke of Good Fortune

However, Dr Romilio had a chance meeting with local dentist Dr Roslyn Dick, whose geologist father found many dinosaur fossils over the years.

Ms Dick commented:

“I’m sure Anthony didn’t believe me until I mentioned my father’s name – Ross Staines.  Our father was a geologist and reported on the Mount Morgan caves containing the dinosaur tracks in 1954.  Besides his published account, he had high-resolution photographs and detailed notebooks, and my sisters and I had kept it all.  We even have his dinosaur footprint plaster cast stored under my sister’s Harry Potter cupboard in Sydney.”

A Digitally Reconstructed Dinosaur Track Created from the Archive Material Compiled by Ross Staines

A dinosaur footprint from the ceiling trackway.
A digital reconstruction of one of the prints studied by Ross Staines.

Picture Credit: Dr Romilio (University of Queensland)

Extensive Notes and Meticulous Records

The extensive information archived by Ross Staines and carefully stored by Ms Dick and her sisters Heather Skinner and Janice Millar, permitted Dr Romilio to conduct a thorough analysis of the trace fossils.  He was able to digitise the original analogue photographs and to make a virtual, computer-generated model of the dinosaur track that had been stored under the stairs.  As a result, it was concluded that the five tracks were all foot (pes) impressions and that no handprint was present.

It turns out that these tracks do not represent the prints of a single dinosaur, but actually two dinosaurs produced the five tracks, one slightly smaller than the other, which led to the misinterpretation of one of the footprints as being the preserved impression of a dinosaur hand.  The splayed toes and moderately long middle digit of the footprints permitted the researcher to determine that these were probably not the footprints of a theropod, but that the tracks represent the progress of a pair of ornithopods.

Dr Romilio commented:

“Rather than one dinosaur walking on four legs, it seems as though we got two dinosaurs for the price of one – both plant-eaters that walked bipedally along the shore of an ancient lake.”

Dinosaur Footprints Mystery Solved

Thanks to the careful conservation of their father’s work, this is one Australian dinosaur trackway mystery that has been solved.  These tracks do not represent a theropod dinosaur walking in an uncharacteristic quadrupedal gait, as Dr Romilio explained:

“You don’t assume T. rex used its arms to walk, and we didn’t expect one of its earlier predatory relatives of 200 million years ago did either.”

The contribution of the ladies has been recognised, they are all cited as co-authors/contributors to the scientific paper.  We are sure their father would have been very proud.

A Life Reconstruction of the Larger of the Two Ornithopod Dinosaurs Believed to Have Made the Tracks

Life reconstruction the Mount Morgan ornithopod.
A reconstruction of the Lower Jurassic ornithopod, the type of dinosaur that probably made the tracks.

Picture credit: Dr Anthony Romilio

Dinosaurs Walking on the Ceiling?

How did the trace fossil end up on the ceiling of a cave?  The dinosaurs were not defying gravity, the explanation is very straight-forward.  The dinosaurs were walking on the soft sediment associated with a lake around 195 million years ago (Sinemurian faunal stage of the Lower Jurassic), the impressions they made in the soft sediments were infilled with sand.  Over time, the softer mudstone and shales were eroded away to expose the imprints as natural casts.

A Photograph of Ross Staines Measuring the Dinosaur Tracks

Ross Staines measuring the dinosaur ceiling footprints.
Ross Staines measuring the footprints 4.5 metres above the cave floor (circa 1954).

Picture credit: University of Queensland

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the University of Queensland in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Archival data provides insights into the ambiguous track-maker gait from the Lower Jurassic (Sinemurian) Razorback beds, Queensland, Australia: evidence of theropod quadrupedalism?” by Anthony Romilio, Roslyn Dick, Heather Skinner and Janice Millar published in the journal Historical Biology.

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28 02, 2020

Unique Crystal Palace Dinosaurs Declared “At Risk”

By |2024-01-17T13:39:09+00:00February 28th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Crystal Palace Prehistoric Animals Declared at Risk by Historic England

The world-famous, Grade I listed dinosaurs and the other prehistoric animals on display at Crystal Palace Park (south London), have been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.

Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

The now, very much inaccurate but at the time they were constructed more than 160 years ago, state-of-the-art depictions of long extinct creatures, are cracking and showing signs of distress.  Dinosaurs, pterosaurs, marine reptiles and examples of ancient mammals are in danger of losing toes, tails and teeth.

One of the Iconic Megalosaurus Statues at Crystal Palace

The Megalosaurus dinosaur at Crystal Palace Park.
The Megalosaurus statue at Crystal Palace a dinosaur from 1854.  This sculpture and the other prehistoric animals at the Park have been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Deterioration of Iconic London Landmarks

In a press release from Historic England, it was stated that the cause of the deterioration of these iconic London landmarks was not understood, but ground movement on the artificial islands upon which many of the 30 statues are sited could be to blame.

By adding these impressive, life-size sculptures to the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England is raising awareness of their condition and is focusing attention on their conservation and repair.  Bromley Council will be taking the lead as part of a major regeneration project centred on Crystal Palace Park.

The statues, created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, with the guidance of Richard Owen, were originally put on display as part of “The Great Exhibition”.  Since, their relocation to Crystal Palace the sculptures have fallen into disrepair.  Extensive conservation and restoration work in 2003 and in 2016/2017 was undertaken with the support of the Office of the Mayor of London and the National Lottery.

With the dinosaurs and their fellow exhibits added to the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England and Bromley Council can focus on their repair and conservation with a fresh impetus.

Marine Reptiles at Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Ichthyosaur.
A statue of an ichthyosaur at Crystal Palace Park, part of a display of prehistoric marine reptiles. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

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Commenting on the significance of this development, Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive of Historic England stated:

“These wonderful creatures are in a state of disrepair and require significant conservation works.  We don’t want them to become extinct again!  By adding them to our Heritage at Risk Register, we can focus attention on them and ensure a lasting programme of repairs and on-going maintenance is carried out.  Working in partnership with Bromley Council and the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, we hope to secure their long-term future.”

The Magnificent Megaloceros Sculpture

Megaloceros statues.
A pair of magnificent Megaloceros statues. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A new project to build a bridge to the islands will reinstate access for guided, up-close-and-personal interpretation visits and maintenance has been crowdfunded by many hundreds of members of the public, businesses, the mayor’s office, and council, and supported by Historic England.

27 02, 2020

New Research into One-billion-year-old Greens

By |2024-01-17T13:47:17+00:00February 27th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

One-billion-year-old Green Seaweeds

This week has seen the publication of a remarkable paper that documents the discovery of tiny one-billion-year-old fossils of green seaweeds that could be the ancestor of the first land plants.

Writing in the academic journal “Nature Ecology and Evolution”, the researchers from Virginia Tech (USA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, describe abundant millimetre-sized, multicellular fossils that were preserved in ancient marine sediments close to the city of Dalian in Liaoning Province (northern China).

Evidence of Ancient Green Seaweed

Ancient green seaweed fossil.
Proterocladus antiquus fossil material.  A photograph of a green seaweed fossil preserved in rocks around 1,000 million years old.  The dark colour of this fossil was created by adding a drop of mineral oil to the rock in which it’s embedded, to create contrast.

Picture credit: Virginia Tech

Proterocladus antiquus

The microscopic fossils, measuring around two millimetres in length are described as a new species of green algae (Proterocladus antiquus).  The fossil material is interpreted as benthic (living on the sea floor) and members of the Chlorophyta Phylum, which means that these ancient marine plants were photosynthesising 1,000 million years ago and that the fossils are the oldest evidence of green seaweeds known to science.

Shuhai Xiao (Geosciences and Global Change Centre at Virginia Tech), one of the co-authors of the scientific paper commented:

“These new fossils suggest that green seaweeds were important players in the ocean long before their land-plant descendants moved and took control of dry land.  The entire biosphere is largely dependent on plants and algae for food and oxygen, yet land plants did not evolve until about 450 million years ago.  Our study shows that green seaweeds evolved no later than 1 billion years ago, pushing back the record of green seaweeds by about 200 million years.  What kind of seaweeds supplied food to the marine ecosystem?”

Land Plants Evolved from Green Seaweeds

One of the theories proposed for the evolution of land plants is that they originated from marine chlorophytes.  These plants adapted to a life on dry land, the scientists propose that these Chinese fossils represent the ancestors of modern land plants that we see today.

However, Xiao added that not all geobiologists agree with this hypothesis, the debate as to how land plants originated goes on.  For example, some scientists think that green plants first evolved in freshwater environments before adapting to a terrestrial existence.

A Life Reconstruction of the Ancient Green Seaweed P. antiquus

Life reconstruction of Proterocladus antiquus overlaid on the fossil material.
A digital reconstruction of the ancient green algae (Proterocladus antiquus).

Picture credit: Dinghua Yang/Virginia Tech

Different Types of Seaweed

Scientists have classified three main kinds of seaweed, commonly referred to by their predominant colour.  There is brown (Phaeophyceae), green (Chlorophyta) and red (Rhodophyta).  There are thousands of species of each kind.  Rhodophyta (red seaweed), have a fossil record that also dates back to more than a billion years ago.

Xiao added:

“There are some modern green seaweeds that look very similar to the fossils that we found.  A group of modern green seaweeds, known as siphonocladaleans, are particularly similar in shape and size to the fossils we found.”

Early Plant Fossils

The discovery of such an early photosynthetic plant represents a significant landmark in helping scientists to better understand the evolution and development of planetary ecosystems.  Plants that photosynthesise are essential to the ecological balance of our planet.  They produce carbon and oxygen through the process of photosynthesis and they are regarded as primary producers and comprise the basic components of most food chains.

It was Qing Tang of Virginia Tech, who discovered the micro-fossils of the ancient seaweeds, electron microscopy was used to spot the tiny specimens.  To more easily see the fossils, mineral oil was dripped onto the fossil to create a strong contrast.

Tang commented:

“These seaweeds display multiple branches, upright growths, and specialised cells known as akinetes that are very common in this type of fossil.  Taken together, these features strongly suggest that the fossil is a green seaweed with complex multicellularity that is circa 1 billion years old.  These likely represent the earliest fossil of green seaweeds.  In short, our study tells us that the ubiquitous green plants we see today can be traced back to at least 1 billion years.”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from Virginia Tech in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “A one-billion-year-old multicellular chlorophyte” by Qing Tang, Ke Pang, Xunlai Yuan and Shuhai Xiao published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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26 02, 2020

Last Chance to Enter the Everything Dinosaur Giveaway

By |2024-01-17T13:32:03+00:00February 26th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Fantastic Mojo Fun Models Giveaway – Last Chance to Enter

Please note this contest is now closed.

Mojo Fun Giveaway Competition Ends on 28th February

There are just a couple of days left for blog readers, dinosaur fans and customers of Everything Dinosaur to enter our marvellous Mojo Fun dinosaur model giveaway.  The competition closes at midnight on Friday 28th February (2020).

Everything Dinosaur got together with those clever, talented people at Mojo Fun and to celebrate the introduction of the new for 2020 Mojo Fun dinosaur models, Everything Dinosaur is giving away two very special Mandschurosaurus replicas.

Mojo Fun Models

One of the production models from China and there is a second figure in a different colour scheme.  One model that collectors will find in the new Mojo Fun 2020 catalogue plus a second, additional Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus.

Two Mojo Fun Dinosaur Models to Win in Everything Dinosaur’s Great Giveaway

Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus dinosaur models.
Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus dinosaur model giveaway contest.  Two Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus dinosaur models to give away- thanks to  Everything Dinosaur. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Win a pair of marvellous Mandschurosaurus models in Everything Dinosaur’s contest.

All entrants have to do is “Like” Everything Dinosaur’s FACEBOOK page, comment on the “Mojo Fun Competition” picture, perhaps you could tell us your favourite prehistoric animal, dinosaur movie or propose names for these two rare dinosaur figures and we will enter you into our free prize draw.

Everything Dinosaur on FACEBOOK: “LIKE” our Facebook page and enter the competition!

A team member will draw the winner at random and the “Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus” contest ends on midnight Friday 28th February.  We wish all the entrants the very best of luck, we hope you win these two highly sought after dinosaur figures.

The new for 2020 Mojo Fun Prehistoric Life prehistoric animal models are due in stock at Everything Dinosaur very soon, to view the Mojo Fun range: Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Animals.

Win Two Very Special Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus Models

Win the Pair of Special Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus Dinosaur Replicas

Two Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus models to win in Everything Dinosaur's giveaway.
Two special Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus dinosaur models to win. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus Models

The “Everything Dinosaur Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus” Contest Terms and Conditions

Automated entries are not permitted and will be excluded from the draw.

Only one entry per person.

The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be offered.

The “Everything Dinosaur Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus” competition runs until midnight Friday 28th February 2020.

Winner will be notified by private message on Facebook.

Prize includes postage and packing.

This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges a complete release of Facebook by each entrant/participant.

For full terms and conditions contact: Contact Everything Dinosaur.

Win with Everything Dinosaur!

A Wonderful Pair of Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus Dinosaur Models to Win with Everything Dinosaur

Win a pair of dinosaur models.
Win a pair of Mojo Fun Mandschurosaurus dinosaur models thanks to Everything Dinosaur. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Remember the competition closes at midnight on the 28th February 2020.

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

Please note this contest is now closed.

25 02, 2020

CollectA Deluxe Protoceratops Video Preview

By |2024-01-17T13:01:33+00:00February 25th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

CollectA Deluxe Protoceratops Video Preview

Everything Dinosaur is expecting to take delivery of the first batch of the new for 2020 CollectA prehistoric animal models in just a few weeks.  One of the new figures will be the 1:6 scale replica of Protoceratops (P. andrewsi).  To help dinosaur fans and model collectors to appreciate the superb detailing on this replica, we have made a short sixty second preview video.  This is the first video that utilises our new turntable, this is really helpful when it comes to displaying dinosaur models and figures. We are proud to highlight the CollectA Deluxe Protoceratops.

Previewing Protoceratops – The CollectA Deluxe Protoceratops Dinosaur Model

Video credit: Everything Dinosaur

A CollectA 1:6 Scale Protoceratops Model

The CollectA Protoceratops measures around 24 cm in length and those bristles on the tail stand approximately 11 cm high.  Everything Dinosaur has invested in a small turntable so that viewers of the company’s videos can get a really good look at prehistoric animal models and replicas.  In this short video preview, the detail on the Protoceratops can be clearly seen, with features such as the articulated lower jaw and cloaca visible.

Coming into Stock at Everything Dinosaur Soon (Quarter 1 2020)

CollectA Deluxe Protoceratops model.
The CollectA Deluxe 1:6 scale Protoceratops dinosaur model (P. andrewsi).

The CollectA Deluxe Protoceratops Model

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The turntable permits us to display a model in such a way that viewers can get a really good look at the figure.  We can operate the turntable in either a clockwise or an anti-clockwise direction, so our YouTube channel subscribers have a 360˚ view of the prehistoric animal on display.  We intend to post up more videos providing previews of up and coming models in the future, after all, we have a lot of new dinosaurs coming into stock in the next two months or so.”

A Close-up View of the CollectA Deluxe Protoceratops Showing the Beautifully Detailed Head and the Articulated Lower Jaw

The CollectA Protoceratops dinosaur model has an articulated jaw.
A close-up view of the CollectA 1:6 scale Protoceratops model showing the articulated jaw. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

The YouTube channel of Everything Dinosaur is a great resource for dinosaur fans and prehistoric animal model collectors.  The channel contains over 150 videos dedicated to dinosaurs and other forms of prehistoric life, with model reviews, collecting tips and previews of forthcoming replicas.

You can find the Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel here: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.  We recommend that blog readers subscribe to Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

Everything Dinosaur stocks a huge range of prehistoric animals including a large number of scale models in the CollectA Deluxe series.

To purchase CollectA Deluxe models and figures: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life.

24 02, 2020

Everything Dinosaur will be Stocking the Wild Past Protoceratops Model

By |2024-01-17T12:50:52+00:00February 24th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur will be Stocking the Wild Past Protoceratops Dinosaur Model

Everything Dinosaur will be stocking the Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model, the first dinosaur figure to be introduced in this exciting range.  Stock is due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse in just a couple of weeks or so and a reserve list for this limited production run model has now been opened.

A New Protoceratops Dinosaur Model

Everything Dinosaur will be Stocking the New for 2020 Wild Past Protoceratops Dinosaur Model

Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model.
The new for 2020 Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model will be stocked by Everything Dinosaur. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A New 1:35 Scale Replica of Protoceratops andrewsi

The carefully crafted Protoceratops replica is the first model to be introduced in the Wild Past range, this is quite appropriate as the genus name translates from the Greek as “first horn face”.  Two species are placed within this genus, Protoceratops andrewsi, which was named and described in back in 1923 and the larger Protoceratops hellenikorhinus, known from the Bayan Mandahu Formation of Inner Mongolia (China), which was named and described in 2001.

Arguably, Protoceratops is one of the most important dinosaurs ever discovered.  Hundreds of fossil specimens have been found ranging in size from embryos to fully mature and elderly adults.  In some sites, Protoceratops andrewsi fossil material represents around three-quarters of all the vertebrate fossil material associated with that location.

The Wild Past Protoceratops Dinosaur Model

The Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model.
Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model what a “hand”some figure. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

When American palaeontologists William King Gregory and Walter Granger (American Museum of Natural History, New York), produced the first scientific description (1923), they commented on the remarkable number of fossils found, including complete skulls representing small juveniles to large adults.  Some of these skulls depicting the growth stages of Protoceratops were put on display at the Museum and as far as Everything Dinosaur team members are aware, the exhibit is still there.

Views of the Remarkable Protoceratops Dinosaur Model

The Wild Past Protoceratops and Everything Dinosaur

The Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model available from Everything Dinosaur.
Everything Dinosaur will be stocking the new for 2020 Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

View the Wild Past model range: Wild Past Prehistoric Animal Models.

The Wild Past Protoceratops Complete with a Nest of Dinosaur Eggs

Wild Past Protoceratops dinosaur model complete with a nest of dinosaur eggs.
Wild Past Protoceratops model with nest. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur website: The Website of Everything Dinosaur.

A Small Production Run

It is official, Everything Dinosaur will be stocking the new Protoceratops in the Wild Past range.  The production run for this exciting new replica, complete with a nest of dinosaur eggs, is small, but stock will be available from Everything Dinosaur in just a couple of weeks (as of end February 2020).

The Wild Past Protoceratops will cost £11.99 including tax (if applicable) plus P+P.

To join our priority reserve list for this fantastic figure: Email Everything Dinosaur to Reserve the Wild Past Protoceratops.

23 02, 2020

Tiny Fossil From Germany Lifts Lid on the Lepidosauromorphs

By |2024-01-17T12:45:01+00:00February 23rd, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Tiny Fossil Sheds Light on Reptile Diversification in the Triassic

Scientists writing in the on-line, open access journal “Scientific Reports”, have published details of a remarkable fossil discovery from a limestone quarry located close to the town of Vellberg in Baden-Württemberg (Germany).  The tiny fossilised remains of juvenile lizard-like reptile are helping palaeontologists to better understand the evolution of modern-day lizards and snakes as well as their taxonomic relationship with a “living fossil” – the tuatara of New Zealand.

A Tiny, Partially Articulated Fossil

The partially articulated fossil, including a beautifully preserved skull, is approximately 240 million-years-old (Middle Triassic – Ladinian faunal stage).  The entire specimen is around ten centimetres long and it has been named Vellbergia bartholomaei and classified as a stem-lepidosauromorph.

The Tiny Preserved Skull of Vellbergia bartholomaei

Vellbergia bartholomaei skull fossil and line drawing.
Vellbergia bartholomaei – photograph of fossil skull and interpretative line drawing.  The holotype material, note scale bar equals 5 mm approximately.

Picture credit: Scientific Reports

A Decisive Contribution to a Better Understanding of the Evolution of the Reptilia

The Middle Triassic represents a period in Earth’s history where tetrapod faunas were recovering from the global devastation caused by the end Permian extinction event.  However, the paucity of terrestrial vertebrate fossils has limited how much scientists can learn about how the fauna changed and developed during this time, prior to the emergence and eventual dominance of the Dinosauria.

Researchers from the Natural History Museum Stuttgart in collaboration with a colleague from Harvard University (USA), noted that the skeleton of V. bartholomaei showed anatomical traits that link it to both the Order Squamata (lizards and snakes) and the Rhynchocephalia, ancient lizard-like reptiles that includes only one living species, the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus).

Co-author of the Scientific Paper Dr. Rainer Schoch Holding the Tiny Specimen of Vellbergia bartholomaei

Dr. Rainer Schoch (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart).
Dr. Rainer Schoch (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart), holding the tiny V. bartholomaei fossil.  The skull of the unrelated but contemporary archosaur Batrachotomus can be seen on the right.

Picture credit: Stuttgart Natural History Museum (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart)

Vellbergia bartholomaei

Vellbergia is named after the nearby town, whilst the species name honours Alfred Bartholomä of Neuenstein, who was responsible for many of the significant fossil finds associated with rocks of the Middle Triassic age from Germany.  The new species described here falls into the smallest size cluster so far collected from the Vellberg location, and likely represents the first juvenile individual from the site.  This new taxon depicts a mosaic of features that are generally observed in both early evolving rhynchocephalians and squamates, providing a link between the two and suggesting stem-lepidosauromorphs may have survived up to the Middle Triassic.

The mudstones associated with the limestone quarry have proved to be a particularly successful hunting ground for vertebrate palaeontologists.  In 2015, Everything Dinosaur reported upon another discovery made by Dr. Rainer Schoch and his colleagues, the finding of the fossilised remains that provided a fresh insight into the origins of modern turtles (Chelonia).

To read about this fossil discovery: Pappochelys rosinae The Grandfather of all Tortoises and Turtles.

The scientific paper: “A tiny new Middle Triassic stem-lepidosauromorph from Germany: implications for the early evolution of lepidosauromorphs and the Vellberg fauna” by Gabriela Sobral, Tiago R. Simões and Rainer R. Schoch published in Scientific Reports.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

22 02, 2020

New Papo Prehistoric Animal Models Shine at Toy Fair

By |2024-01-17T12:39:58+00:00February 22nd, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Papo Prehistoric Animal Models Shine at Toy Fair

An eagle-eyed Everything Dinosaur team member spotted a photograph showcasing some of the Papo prehistoric animal models at the recent Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse in Germany.  The Toy Fair organisers had taken pictures of various product displays at the exhibition over the course of a few days and some of the Papo prehistoric animals had obviously caught the eye of the trade show photographer.

Papo Prehistoric Animal Models

Some Papo Prehistoric Animal Models are Showcased at the Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse 2020

Papo models are showcased at the 2020 Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse.
Papo models are showcased at the 2020 Nuremberg Toy Fair.  Four Papo models are featured can you name them all?

Picture credit: Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse/Everything Dinosaur

The photograph shows four prehistoric animals in close proximity to the Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse logo.

The Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“With thousands of Papo models in our warehouse, our team members get to see Papo prehistoric animal models every day.  However, for a photographer at a huge exhibition such as the Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse, which is, we believe to be the largest toy fair in Europe, they may not have been all that aware of the Papo range.  Having come across the Papo trade stand, the photogenic qualities of the models and figures, attracted a lot of attention and hence the resulting photograph came about.”

The award-winning Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

The four Papo figures certainly look impressive and whilst at the event, Everything Dinosaur took the opportunity to take some photographs of their own, focusing on the new for 2020 Papo prehistoric animal models such as the magnificent Megaloceros figure.

The Papo Megaloceros Model on Display at the Trade Fair (Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse)

Spotted a Papo Megaloceros model on display.
A pre-production Papo Megaloceros model on display at the Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse 2020.  The Megaloceros is one of six new Papo prehistoric animals to be introduced later this year – Chilesaurus, Stygimoloch, Giganotosaurus, new colour variant feathered Velociraptor (seen far right of the photograph) and a new colour variant Papo Parasaurolophus (background). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Papo dinosaurs and prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: Papo Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals.

21 02, 2020

CT Scanning an Eagle Lizard New Technology Reveals New Information

By |2024-05-06T09:22:52+01:00February 21st, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

CT Scans Reveal the Armour of Aetosaurs

A student from Bristol University has carried out a study into the armour on the tail of an aetosaur.   The study, published in the Scottish Journal of Geology, has provided fresh information on how these large, lumbering herbivores kept themselves safe from ancient predators.  Emily Keeble, a recent graduate from the palaeobiology programme at Bristol University carried out the study under the supervision of Professor Mike Benton (School of Earth Sciences).  CT (computerised tomography), scans were undertaken, the first time this scientific method has been employed to better understand how the armour of an aetosaur functioned.

A Model of a Typical Aetosaur.

Desmatosuchus model.
A model of an aetosaur (ruler provides scale).  Although these tetrapods looked formidable with their spikes and their body armour they were herbivores. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture (above) depicts an aetosaur figure (Desmatosuchus haploceras) from Safari Ltd.

To view the range of Safari Ltd prehistoric animal figures: Safari Ltd. Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models.

Late Triassic Archosaurs

Aetosaurs were heavily armoured, herbivorous archosaurs that were geographically widespread during the Middle and Late Triassic.  The term “aetosaur” is from the Greek and it means “eagle lizard”, when scientists first examined the skulls of these animals, their superficial resemblance to the skulls of eagles was remarked upon.  The fossil specimens used in this research were collected from a sandstone quarry near the town of Elgin in north-eastern Scotland.  They had been donated to the nearby Elgin Museum, where staff members Janet Trythall and Alison Wright were able to identify what they were and arrange for the scanning in Bristol.

Professor Benton explained:

“Aetosaurs were first identified from an Elgin specimen in 1844, but at that time people thought they had found a giant fish.  The first specimen showed a number of rectangular scales, arranged in a closely overlapping, regular pattern, and it was called Stagonolepis, meaning drop-shaped scale.”

Dorsal and Lateral Views of the Scottish Aetosaur Stagonolepis

The Scottish aetosaur Stagonolepis
The Scottish aetosaur Stagonolepis (A) dorsal and (B) lateral views.  Note scale bar = 1 metre.

Picture credit: Bristol University (illustration by Jeffrey Martz after work by Alick Walker)

CT Scans Provide Details on Aetosaur Osteoderm Structure

The fossilised tail bones were subjected to high resolution CT scans, this permitted the researchers to see surface details and the texture of the bones and related armour plates.

Emily Keeble added:

“What had been identified as giant fish scales are actually armour plates, or osteoderms, made of plates of bone and embedded in the skin, just like in modern crocodiles.”

Two specimens were studied, both associated with caudal vertebra and possibly from the same animal, but they do not fit together.  Each fossil shows a complete circle of osteoderms around the tail, two above, two on each side, and two below.

Caudal Specimen of Stagonolepis robertsoni Used in the Fossil Study

Stagonolepis robertsoni fossil.
Stagonolepis robertsoni, ELGNM 2018.6.1 one of the aetosaur caudal vertebra specimens used in the study.  Scale bar = 1 cm.

Picture credit: Bristol University

Regular Rows of Osteoderms

The researchers discovered that the rows of osteoderms were very regular and in life covered the entire body from the back of the small head, over the neck, down the back and along the tail.  Osteoderms also covered the flanks and underneath.  There were even small osteoderms over the fleshy parts of the arms and legs.

The Second Stagonolepis robertsoni Fossil Specimen Used in the Research

Aetosaur osteoderm study.
Stagonolepis robertsoni ELGNM 2018.6.2 showing internal impressions of the caudal osteoderms in articulation.  Note scale bar = 1 cm.

Picture credit: Bristol University

Aetosaur Armour Makes an Effective Defence Against Predators

This study suggests that the armour of these herbivores wrapped around them completely and would have made an effective defence against predators such as rauisuchians and ornithosuchids.

Emily Keeble added:

“Vertebrae of the tail are preserved inside the ring of osteoderms, and these show the specimens were only slightly squished during the preservation process.  We could also see how the osteoderms overlap like roof tiles, the osteoderm in front slightly overlapping the one behind.  They were linked with connective tissue so the armour overall was flexible, but tough and could probably protect the animal from the fierce predators of its day.”

A Colourised Image of Aetosaur Osteoderms and a Single Scale Shown in More Detail

Aetosaur osteoderms.
Reconstructed segment of the aetosaur tail armour and a single osteoderm in more detail.

Picture credit: Emily Keeble (Bristol University)

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from Bristol University in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Three-dimensional tomographic study of dermal armour from the tail of the Triassic aetosaur Stagonolepis robertsoni” by E. Keeble and M. Benton published in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

20 02, 2020

Illustrating Canada’s New Tyrannosaur Discovery

By |2024-01-17T09:57:43+00:00February 20th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Illustrating Thanatotheristes degrootorum

Our thanks to Caldey for sending into Everything Dinosaur a beautiful illustration of the recently described Canadian tyrannosaur Thanatotheristes degrootorum.  Caldey was inspired by the media coverage of this new theropod dinosaur, perhaps she even read our blog post about this large carnivore from the Foremost Formation of Alberta.

Described from fragmentary remains, the fossils of T. degrootorum represent the earliest known evidence of diagnostic tyrannosaurid material to have been discovered in Canada.  It roamed northern Laramidia around 80.1 to 79.5 million years ago, as such it is (for the moment at least), both Canada’s oldest and newest tyrannosaur.

The Illustration of Thanatotheristes degrootorum by Caldey

Thanatotheristes degrootorum illustration by Caldey.
Thanatotheristes degrootorum illustration by Caldey, a drawing of a newly described theropod dinosaur from Alberta (Canada).

Picture credit: Caldey

Everything Dinosaur receives lots of illustrations of prehistoric animals.  Our team members view them all and we are grateful for everyone that we get sent to us.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the newly described Thanatotheristes degrootorumCanada’s Newest and Oldest Tyrannosaurid Thanatotheristes degrootorum.

Thanatotheristes degrootorum the “Reaper of Death”

Closely related to Daspletosaurus, Thanatotheristes, which means the “reaper of death” in Greek, has been placed within a newly erected tribe within the Tyrannosauridae family.  This tribe, named the Daspletosaurini consists of T. degrootorum, Daspletosaurus torosus along with Daspletosaurus horneri and an as yet not formally described tyrannosaurid from the Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta (specimen number FMNH PR308).

Our thanks to Caldey for sending into Everything Dinosaur her fantastic dinosaur drawing.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

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