All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
31 08, 2020

Hunting Ammonites A Wonderful Fossil Collecting Trip

By |2024-03-14T09:21:22+00:00August 31st, 2020|Educational Activities, Geology, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Hunting Ammonites

For a few hours team members at Everything Dinosaur were able to take a break from their duties and to visit the Yorkshire coast on a hunt for ammonites and other fossil remains.  It was an early start to take advantage of collecting on a low tide and to make the best of the fine weather that had been forecast.  For many fossil hunters, the hunt is almost as rewarding as the finds.  With all the problems with travel at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it made a pleasant change to be able to participate in a fossil hunting expedition, albeit only for a few hours.

The Spectacular and Very Beautiful Yorkshire Coast

A trip to the coast to collect fossils.
A visit to the North Yorkshire coast on fossil collecting expedition.  The beginning of the day, fine weather is forecast and the early start permitted the team to collect fossils on a falling tide.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur,

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Avoiding the Cliffs Whilst Fossil Hunting

The recent heavy rains had saturated the cliffs, making the risk of rockfalls even greater.  During the team’s visit to the beach, several small rockfalls were observed, however, team members stayed away from the cliffs and were content to scour the foreshore looking for fossils.  As this location on the North Yorkshire coast is a SSSI (site of special scientific interest), hammering rocks out of the cliffs is not permitted.  There were plenty of ammonites to see, including quite large ones, preserved at numerous locations at beach level.

Large Ammonite Fossils Could be Observed on the Beach

Fossil ammonite (geological hammer provides scale).
Large ammonites preserved on the beach.  The geology hammer provides a scale.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The cliffs at this location are very dangerous and there is a steep and hazardous descent to the beach from the cliff top, this location is not for the faint hearted and not suitable for family groups.

Searching for Fossils on the Foreshore – Some Interesting Finds

Fossil hunting on the foreshore.
A Dactylioceras ammonite negative exposed in a broken “cannonball” and some brachiopod pieces collected from the foreshore.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

Lower Jurassic Fossils

The strata dates from the Lower Jurassic and there were plenty of small fragments of ammonites to collect in addition to the occasional gryphaea fossil along with various bivalves and brachiopods.  Some of the large specimens were kept as when we visit schools or conduct outreach science activities, we like to give away fossils to help provide resources to the teaching team and to encourage young people to take up fossil collecting as a hobby.

An Ammonite Fossil Found on the Beach

An ammonite fossil find.
An ammonite partially eroded out of a nodule. We think this is an example of Dactylioceras commune. A wonderful discovery whilst fossil hunting.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

An Ammonite Model

When we visited schools we liked to take an ammonite model with us as well as ammonite fossils. The model helped the children to understand what the creature looked like in real life.

A Model of an Ammonite

CollectA Pleuroceras ammonite model.
CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Popular Size Pleuroceras ammonite model.

The picture (above) shows a CollectA ammonite figure. To view this range of prehistoric animal models: CollectA Prehistoric Life Figures.

30 08, 2020

New Study Suggests Ancient Crocodile Attacked Ground Sloths

By |2024-03-14T08:56:19+00:00August 30th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Juvenile Purussaurus Attacked Ground Sloth

The giant prehistoric caiman Purussaurus is regarded as one of the largest crocodilians to have ever lived.  How big this predator of the wetlands of South America during the Miocene actually was, remains open to debate.  It is known mainly through skull material, (the largest measuring 1.45 metres in length) and isolated teeth.  It is one of several types of crocodiles associated with the Pebas Mega-Wetland System from the north-western side of the continent.  Evidence of Purussaurus interaction with prey is limited, confined to a scarred and dented turtle shell, documenting a failed attack by an adult Purussaurus.

Fossilised Tibia with Pathology

However, scientists have reported the discovery of the lower leg bone of a ground sloth that bears the tell-tale tooth marks and scratches of an attack from a Purussaurus (P. neivensis).  The sloth identified as the genus Pseudoprepotherium very probably did not survive the encounter with a four-metre-long caiman.

A Life Reconstruction of the Purussaurus Attack

Ground sloth attacked by Purussaurus.
A ground sloth (Pseudoprepotherium) attacked by the giant South American caiman Purussaurus.  In total 46 toothmarks were identified on the 13 million-year-old tibia bone from the ground sloth.

Picture credit: Jorge A. González

Attacked by a Juvenile Purussaurus

Thirteen million years ago, South America was an island continent.  There was no isthmus joining the landmass to North America and therefore no opportunity for placental carnivores (Order Carnivora), to enter South America.  There were terrestrial predators, such as pouched mammals from the marsupial lineage (sparassodonts) and three-metre-high terror birds (phorusrhacids).  Competing with these creatures for the title of most feared predator was the prehistoric caiman Purussaurus neivensis and its close relatives.

Writing in “Biology Letters”, palaeontologist Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi from Cayetano Heredia University (Peru), along with co-author François Pujos conclude that the bitemarks on a tibia found during field work in north-eastern Peru represent predation by a four-metre-long, juvenile Purussaurus.

The Location of the Fossil Find and Views of the Damaged Tibia

Purussaurus attacked ground sloth.
The location of the fossil tibia find in north-eastern Peru.  Close-up views of the toothmarks on the tibia and line drawings.

Picture credit: Salas-Gismondi and François Pujos (Biology Letters)

The picture (above), shows the  Pebas Mega-Wetland System around 13 million years ago (a).  Na069 represents the bonebed where the tibia was found and (b) shows this bonebed location on the Napo River in north-eastern Peru.   The left tibia of the ground sloth is shown in anterior (c i) and posterior (c ii) views with accompanying line drawings.  Photographs (d-f) highlight individual toothmarks and punctures.  The red dots map the bitemarks.

Extant and Extinct Crocodilian Skulls Compared Along with Purussaurus Teeth and Damaged Turtle Shell 

Crocodilian skulls and bitemark damage.
The skull of an adult black caiman compared to a juvenile Purussaurus neivensis, the bite-marked tibia and the skull of a fully grown P. neivensis along with turtle shell showing bitemark.

Picture credit: Salas-Gismondi and François Pujos (Biology Letters)

The picture (above) shows dorsal views of an adult extant black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) skull (a) compared with the skull of a juvenile Purussaurus neivensis (b), facing the damaged ground sloth tibia.  The skull of an adult P. neivensis (c) and teeth (d).  The shell of the prehistoric turtle Podocnemis with a portion of the carapace missing attributed to a bite from a huge Purussaurus brasiliensis (tip of jaw in line drawing).

A Substantial Meal for a 4-metre Crocodilian

The interpretation of the damaged tibia as evidence of predation from Purussaurus neivensis provides a rare insight into prehistoric crocodilian/prey behaviour.  It suggests that prior to reaching adult size, young individuals fed upon terrestrial mammals about the size of a capybara.  The ground sloth is estimated to have weighed around 78 kilograms that’s the about the same as an adult human male.  If a young Purussaurus could take down an sloth weighing as much as a man, it speaks volumes for that person’s chances if they ever would have met a fully grown Purussaurus.

To read an article commenting on contenders for the largest crocodile known to science: Which was the Largest Crocodilian of All Time?

Ancient Purussaurus from Venezuela had unique adaptations to help it move: Ancient Crocodilian Evolved Unique Specialisations Due to its Size.

Prehistoric crocodilians from Peru: Peruvian Paradise for Prehistoric Crocodiles.

The scientific paper: “Predation of the giant Miocene caiman Purussaurus on a mylodontid ground sloth in the wetlands of proto-Amazonia” by François Pujos and Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi published in Biology Letters.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

29 08, 2020

New Study Unravels the Evolution of the Mammalian Middle Ear?

By |2024-03-14T07:59:54+00:00August 29th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Newly Described Multituberculate Mammal Provides Clues to Middle Ear Evolution

A team of international scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the American Museum of Natural History (New York) and the Beipiao Pterosaur Museum of China, have described a new species of multituberculate mammal that once roamed and climbed in the forests of north-eastern China during the Early Cretaceous.  The small creature has been named Sinobaatar pani and its delicate middle ear bones have been preserved providing researchers with an opportunity to study the evolutionary development of hearing.

A Life Reconstruction of the Small Multituberculate Mammal S. pani

 A life reconstruction of Sinobaatar pani.
Newly described multituberculate mammal provides clues to middle ear evolution.  A life reconstruction of Sinobaatar pani.

Picture credit: Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP)

How Do Mammals Hear?

The terrestrial placental mammal ear can be divided into three sections:

  1. Outer ear – collects and directs sound via the ear flap (pinna) and the outer ear canal which ends in the eardrum (tympanic membrane).
  2. Middle ear – which filters and amplifies sound waves directing them to the inner ear.  The middle ear contains three, delicate and tiny bones (ossicles), the anvil, hammer and the stapes (incus, malleus and stirrup).
  3. Inner ear – consisting of the cochlea (organ for hearing) and the vestibular system (associated with balance).

The Inner Bones of a Model Mammal

Diagram of the middle ear of a modern mammal.
The three middle ear bones of a modern mammal.  The three tiny bones are highlighted, these transfer vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear, where the sound waves are changed into electrical signals by the cochlea which are then deciphered by the brain.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

It is the inner ear bones that act as a bridge between the eardrum and the oval window which is the opening to inner ear.  The cochlea, which is a hollow, spiral shaped bone transduces the sound waves into electrical signals (neural impulses), that are deciphered by the brain.

Sinobaatar pani and Middle Ear Evolution

Scientists believe that bones that were once part of the reptilian jaw slowly evolved into the three bones that are now found in the middle ear.  A joint research team led by Dr Mao Fangyuan from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Professor Meng Jin from the American Museum of Natural History were able to model the delicate middle ear bones of S. pani by using computerised tomography to access and view the fossils whilst they were still surrounded by matrix.

The powerful, rock-penetrating X-rays allowed the scientists to construct three-dimensional computer models of the malleus, incus and the stapes and to study their shape.

The images generated, permitted the comparing of the tiny inner ear bones of the Early Cretaceous multituberculate with the embryos of different types of living mammal (placental, marsupial and monotreme).

The Ancestral Phenotype of the Mammalian Middle Ear

Dr Mao explained that her colleagues were able to examine and assess the ancestral phenotype of the mammalian middle ear.  The researchers recognised that the three main Mesozoic mammalian groups (multituberculates, eutriconodontans and symmetrodontans) share a similar middle ear structure between the incus and malleus, which they termed the “braced hinge joint”.  Although they acknowledged that the middle ear may have evolved independently in several mammalian groups, they proposed that the braced hinge joint could represent a critical feature of the ancestral phenotype of the mammalian middle ear.

The Evolution of Mammalian Hearing

Evolution of the mammalian middle ear.
The evolution of the mammalian middle ear.  The skull and jaw of an early synapsid (pelycosaur) compared to the skull and jaw of a later synapsid, the evolution of the three middle ear bones.

Dr Mao commented:

“There are two basic patterns of the middle ear in living mammals, represented by monotremes and therians [placentals and marsupials], respectively.  In the former, the middle ear is characterised by an “abutting contact” between the incus and malleus, which is distinct from the one in therian mammals where the incus-malleus articulation is saddle-shaped.”

Sinobaatar pani Provides Clues

The abutting pattern in monotremes and the saddle-shaped joint in therians may well be derived from the braced hinge joint linking the incus and malleus as observed in Mesozoic mammals.  At the very least, these fossil forms have narrowed the morphological gap between the middle ear of protomammals, formed by the postdentary bones lodged in the lower jaw, to the middle ear of extant mammals.  The researchers proposed that the surangular bone, which is another postdentary bone in protomammals, persisted in Mesozoic mammals; its fate in living mammals remains uncertain.

Writing in the National Science Review, the researchers demonstrate that middle ear morphologies in Mesozoic mammals represent different evolutionary stages with Sinobaatar showing an advanced inner ear configuration.  Furthermore, the evolutionary changes recorded in the Mesozoic mammals are largely consistent with the way the middle ear bones develop as living mammals grow, supporting the relationship between evolution and development.

The Holotype of S. pani and Three-dimensional Skull and Teeth Images

Sinobaatar pani holotype material.
The holotype specimen of Sinobaatar pani (BPMC 0051) in the matrix (A) the black rectangle shows the area that has been CT-rendered to show the three-dimensional skull (B).  Left upper dentition in (C) lingual and (D) occlusal views.

Picture credit: Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP)

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Exploring ancestral phenotypes and evolutionary development of the mammalian middle ear based on Early Cretaceous Jehol mammals” by Fangyuan Mao, Cunyu Liu, Morgan Hill Chase, Andrew K Smith and Jin Meng published in National Science Review.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

28 08, 2020

Preparing for the New Zuniceratops Model

By |2024-03-14T07:52:41+00:00August 28th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Preparing for the Beasts of the Mesozoic Zuniceratops

A neoceratopsian is drawing nearer.  Everything Dinosaur will soon be receiving stock of the new Beasts of the Mesozoic ceratopsians, including the wonderful Zuniceratops figure.  This colourful creation depicts Zuniceratops christopheri, the oldest North American ceratopsian possessing prominent, well-developed brow horns, a foretaste of what was to become with the evolution of the centrosaurine and chasmosaurine lineages of horned dinosaurs.

The Beasts of the Mesozoic Zuniceratops Model

Beasts of the Mesozoic Zuniceratops dinosaur model
Beasts of the Mesozoic Zuniceratops dinosaur model (lateral view).

Preparing Fact Sheets on Horned Dinosaurs Including Zuniceratops

Everything Dinosaur likes to supply a free fact sheet with sales of dinosaur models.  Over the years, the company has researched and written hundreds of fact sheets.   As a result, most of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsidae are already covered, but Zuniceratops is one of the exceptions.  Staff are currently completing their fact sheet all about this neoceratopsian from the Middle Turonian Moreno Hill Formation of west-central New Mexico.  A scale drawing of this relatively small member of the horned dinosaurs has already been commissioned.

A Scale Drawing of the Neoceratopsian Zuniceratops (Z. christopheri)

Zuniceratops scale drawing.
Everything Dinosaur’s scale drawing of the neoceratopsian Zuniceratops christopheri. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Stocks of the new for 2020 Beasts of the Mesozoic ceratopsians are due to arrive at Everything Dinosaur’s UK warehouse in a few weeks.  In addition, new supplies of the popular Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptors will be arriving too.

To view the range of Beasts of the Mesozoic models available from Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic Articulated Prehistoric Animal Models.

At Home in the Landscape Zuniceratops christopheri

The beautiful Beasts of the Mesozoic Zuniceratops dinosaur model.
Zuniceratops in the landscape.  The beautiful Beasts of the Mesozoic Zuniceratops dinosaur model.

Zuniceratops christopheri

Zuniceratops was formally named in 1998 (Douglas Wolfe and James Kirkland), in a preliminary description.  The publishing of the scientific paper coincided with the discovery of a substantial Zuniceratops bonebed that provided hundreds more fossil bones representing at least seven individuals (based on the number of lower jaws found).

The bones are disarticulated and represent a group of different sized animals, so calculating the maximum size for Zuniceratops is problematic, but most palaeontologists estimate that this horned dinosaur that lived around 90 million years ago (Turonian stage of the Late Cretaceous), measured between 2.2 and 3.3 metres in length.  As such, it was very much smaller than its descendants, the centrosaurine and chasmosaurine dinosaurs that were so diverse and numerous during the Campanian and Maastrichtian faunal stages of the Late Cretaceous.

The co-association of individuals of various sizes in the bonebed suggests that this dinosaur lived in herds, with adults and younger animals demonstrating communal behaviour.

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

27 08, 2020

Baby Sauropods had Rhino-like Horns

By |2024-03-14T07:48:17+00:00August 27th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Horned Baby Dinosaurs But Not a Ceratopsian in Sight!

A team of international researchers have published a new scientific paper that reports on the discovery of a beautifully preserved embryo of a dinosaur.  The fossil specimen representing a titanosaur, that lived around 80 million years ago, has permitted palaeontologists to demonstrate that these herbivores had stereoscopic vision, just like most of the carnivorous dinosaurs that would have hunted them.  Furthermore, the embryonic skull has revealed that these sauropods had small horns on the front of the face, which they later lost as they grew up.

A Close-up View of the Embryonic Titanosaur Skull

A view of the embryonic skull of the titanosaur
A close-up view showing the embryonic titanosaur articulated skull preserved inside the dinosaur egg.

Picture credit: The University of Manchester

An Amazing Fossil Discovery

The research team, which included Dr John Nudds (Manchester University), state that this is the most complete and articulate skull known from any titanosaur, a group of temporally and geographically diverse sauropods, members of which evolved into some of the largest land animals that ever existed.  The egg fossil was discovered in southern Argentina (Patagonia) and heralds from strata laid down during the Cretaceous (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).

A Model of a South American Titanosaur – Dreadnoughtus

CollectA Deluxe Dreadnoughtus
The new for 2024 CollectA Deluxe 1:100 scale Dreadnoughtus dinosaur model. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The image (above) show a titanosaur figure in the CollectA Deluxe range.

To view this range of models: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Life Models.

It was imperative the egg was repatriated to Argentina however as it is illegal to permanently remove fossils from the country.

Commenting on the significance of the fossil discovery, Dr John Nudds (Manchester University) stated:

“The preservation of embryonic dinosaurs preserved inside their eggs is extremely rare.  Imagine the huge sauropods from Jurassic Park and consider that the tiny skulls of their babies, still inside their eggs, are just a couple of centimetres long.  We were able to reconstruct the embryonic skull prior to hatching.  The embryos possessed a specialised craniofacial anatomy that precedes the post-natal transformation of the skull in adult sauropods.  Part of the skull of these embryonic sauropods was extended into an elongated snout or horn, so that they possessed a peculiarly shaped face.”

Revising Opinions About Baby Dinosaur Anatomy

The analysis of the fossil specimen allowed the research team to revise opinions on how babies of these huge dinosaur might hatch and to test previously held ideas about sauropodomorph reproduction.  The elongated facial horn may have been used as an “egg tooth” to help the babies to break out of their eggs.

New Study Tests Ideas about Sauropodomorph Reproduction

Fragment of dinosaur eggshell (A) and the embryonic titanosaur skull (B).
Eggshell fragment (A) and the skull of the embryonic dinosaur (B).  Note scale bar = 2 cm.

Picture credit: The University of Manchester

The paper has been published today in the academic journal “Current Biology”.  The fossilised bones of the embryo were revealed by dissolving the matrix using an acid preparation.  The researchers were able to perform a virtual dissection of the fossil material by bombarding the specimen with powerful X-rays to build up a three-dimensional image.   The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) at Grenoble was employed for this purpose.

Dinosaur Embryology and Baby Sauropods

Dinosaur embryology remains one of the least explored and poorly understood areas of research when it comes to the Dinosauria.   Argentina has provided palaeontologists with evidence of titanosaur nesting sites and embryos before, most famously the nest sites discovered in northern Patagonia associated with Saltasaurus loricatus that were studied by the famous Argentinian palaeontologist José Bonaparte.   Saltasaurus was named and described in 1980, the first titanosaur to be named from South America.  Since then, many more genera have been erected including Argentinosaurus, Andesaurus, Barrosasaurus, Bonatitan, Dreadnoughtus and Futalognkosaurus.

However, this is the first time a fully intact embryo has been studied.  Other fossilised eggs are also known from this site, the scientists hope to repeat their work with other specimens and are optimistic that some of the eggs might even retain the preserved remains of dinosaur skin.

The scientific paper, “Specialized Craniofacial Anatomy of a Titanosaurian Embryo from Argentina” is published in Current Biology.  The lead author on the paper is Martin Kundrat, Evolutionary Biodiversity Research Group Pavol Jozef Šafárik University.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

26 08, 2020

Stegosaurus Fossil Bone Found on Scottish Island

By |2024-03-13T17:04:41+00:00August 26th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Confirmation of Scottish Stegosaurs

The Jurassic-aged strata found on the coastline of the Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides is recognised as one of the most globally significant locations in the world for dinosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic.  Recently, the fossil sites on Skye received greater legal protection: Legal Protection for Isle of Skye Fossil Locations.  The vertebrate body and trace fossils confirm the presence of a rich biota of different dinosaurs and early mammals.  Footprints on Skye had hinted at the presence of stegosaurs in Scotland.  It is ironic therefore, that further evidence for the existence of armoured dinosaurs in the Middle Jurassic of Scotland has not come from Skye but from its island neighbour, the Isle of Eigg that lies to the south.

Stegosaur Limb Bone Found on a Beach on the Isle of Eigg

Stegosaur limb bone found on Scottish beach.
The stegosaur limb bone exposed on the beach (Isle of Eigg).

Picture credit: Dr Elsa Panciroli (National Museums Scotland)

A Stegosaurus Fossil Bone – A Serendipitous Discovery

The contemporaneous Jurassic strata that outcrops on the small island of Eigg, it covers an area of just 30² kilometres (11² miles), has been well explored.  It is renowned for its fossils of marine fauna including ammonites, prehistoric sharks and marine reptiles.  This is the first time that a dinosaur bone has been found on the Isle of Eigg.  The 166 million-year-old limb bone (Bathonian faunal stage of the Jurassic), was discovered by chance by Dr Elsa Panciroli (National Museums Scotland).

Dr Panciroli explained:

“I was running along the shore on my way back to meet the rest of the team and I ran right over it.  It wasn’t clear exactly what kind of animal it belonged to at the time, but there was no doubt it was a dinosaur bone.”

The bone is highly eroded, it having been exposed on the face of a boulder for some time, it measures a little over fifty centimetres in length.  It represents a bone from the hind limb.

The Stegosaurus Fossil Bone Specimen Removed from the Boulder

Eroded stegosaur limb bone.
The eroded stegosaur limb bone is now in the collection of the National Museums of Scotland.

Picture credit: N. Larkin

A Hugely Significant Find

The scientists comment that this single fossil bone represents a “hugely significant find”, albeit one found fortuitously thanks to a sharp-eyed field team member.  Dinosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic are particularly rare and this fossil has a global significance for palaeontologists.

Palaeontologist Dr Steve Brusatte (University of Edinburgh), who has co-authored a paper on the fossil bone stated:

“This fossil is additional evidence that plate-backed stegosaurs used to roam Scotland, which corroborates footprints from the Isle of Skye that we identified as being made by a stegosaur”.

The bone now resides in the collections of National Museums Scotland (Edinburgh), the fieldwork on the Isle of Eigg was funded by the National Geographic Society with the permission of The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.

A paper on the fossil specimen will be published in the Earth And Environmental Transactions Of The Royal Society Of Edinburgh.

Mesozoic Strata Associated with Skye, Eigg and Rùm (Inner Hebrides)

Mesozoic strata on the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Eigg.
The Isle of Eigg in relation to the Isle of Skye (Inner Hebrides), the location of Mesozoic-aged strata is highlighted in dark green.

Picture credit: Google Maps with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The British Isles and Stegosaurs

The oldest fossils of a stegosaur described to date, also come from the British Isles, but from a location very much to the south and east of the Inner Hebrides.  The coast of North Yorkshire, notably the Saltwick Formation has yielded at least two stegosaur tracks, attributed to the ichnospecies Deltapodus brodricki.  These are the oldest fossils attributed to a stegosaur known to science (we think).  The Saltwick Formation was laid down around 175-171 million years ago (Aalenian faunal stage of the Middle Jurassic) and are therefore at least five million years older than the stegosaur body and trace fossils associated with the Inner Hebrides.

Natural Casts of Stegosaur Tracks (Deltapodus brodricki) from the North Yorkshire Coast

Stegosaur tracks (north Yorkshire coast).
Natural casts of stegosaur tracks Deltapodus brodricki from the Aalenian aged Saltwick Formation.

Picture credit: Martin Whyte and Mike Romano

Isle Skye Middle Jurassic Fossils: Isle of Skye Steps into the Jurassic Spotlight.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

25 08, 2020

Rebor Swarm “Plague Variant” Assembly and Review

By |2024-03-13T16:46:19+00:00August 25th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Rebor Swarm “Plague Variant” Assembly and Review

With the arrival of the stunning Rebor X-REX xenomorph replica Swarm (plague variant), Everything Dinosaur team members have been busy putting together a short video review of this amazing alien figure.  In the company’s video, the narrator highlights this new model. It is the second in a quartet of xenomorph figures planned by Rebor.  In addition, the video provides collectors with hints and tips on how to assemble Swarm.  As it states in the video review – think of this as “Everything Dinosaur’s guide to assembling alien animals”.

The Rebor X-REX Swarm – Plague Variant is Assembled and Reviewed by Everything Dinosaur

Video credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Rebor X-REX Swarm (Plague Variant)

The video provides a quick run through on how to put together the Rebor Swarm model.  It is a fantastic replica, the second in this series to be introduced in 2020, following the launch of the Broodlord (metallic variant) in January (2020).  A total of four figures are scheduled, it had been proposed to introduce one new figure each quarter, but the global COVID-19 pandemic led to some unavoidable production delays.

The New Rebor X-REX Swarm

Rebor Swarm Packaging
The new Rebor X-REX Swarm (plague variant).  The box sits on Everything Dinosaur’s turntable ready to commence filming. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Rebor Swarm and Broodlord Compared

As well as highlighting the superb Swarm, the short video review also includes the Broodlord figure and the two alien models are shown together providing viewers with an ideal opportunity to compare them.

The Video Also Shows Swarm and Broodlord Together (Comparing Rebor Figures)

A pair of Rebor figures Swarm and Broodlord.
The Rebor Swarm and Broodlord pair (plague variant and metallic variant).  The Rebor Swarm model is on the left, whilst the first of the figures in this series to be introduced Broodlord, is on the right. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Rebor figures available from Everything Dinosaur including the alien models Swarm and Broodlord: Rebor Figures and Replicas.

The Assembled Rebor X-REX Swarm (Plague Variant)

Rebor Swarm (plague variant) assembled.
The assembled Rebor Swarm (plague variant). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

The Question of the Day

Team members ask viewers a “Question of the Day”, which of the two Rebor xenomorph figures (Rebor Swarm or Broodlord) do you prefer?  We ask our subscribers and video watchers to add comments.

The YouTube channel of Everything Dinosaur contains over 180 videos featuring lots of prehistoric animal models.  The company aims to post up at least one new video each week and our YouTube presence has already attracted thousands of followers and subscribers.

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel: Visit Everything Dinosaur on YouTube and Subscribe.

24 08, 2020

Comprehensive Journal on Pennaraptoran Theropods Published (Past Progress and New Frontiers)

By |2024-03-13T16:40:09+00:00August 24th, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Comprehensive Review of Dinosaur/Bird Relationship Published

The evolution of the Aves (birds), can be regarded as one of the most significant moments in tetrapod evolution.   From their Mesozoic origins, the birds have thrived and today they have a global distribution and still outnumber the Mammalia in terms of extant species.  Spectacular fossils, particularly those from northern China, demonstrate that birds are members of the Theropoda.

Numerous palaeontologists and other scientists have got together to publish a comprehensive overview of that part of the Theropoda most closely related to living birds.  The volume entitled “Pennaraptoran Theropod Dinosaurs – Past Present and New Frontiers” has been edited by Research Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Pittman of Hong Kong University and Professor Xing Xu (Chinese Academy of Sciences).

Pennaraptoran Theropod Dinosaurs – Past Progress and New Frontiers

Landmark volume on the biology and evolution of early birds and their close relatives.
A landmark volume on the biology and evolution of early birds and their close relatives.

Picture credit: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History and Julius T Csotonyi

The Origin of Birds

The Pennaraptora are a clade that consists of the Aves, as well as the pennaceous feathered dromaeosaurids, troodontids, oviraptorosaurians and the scansoriopterygids.  It was erected relatively recently (2014), it is defined as the most recent common ancestor of Oviraptor philoceratops, the “raptor” Deinonychus antirrhopus, and Passer domesticus (the house sparrow), and all descendants.  To improve understanding about this clade the International Pennaraptoran Dinosaur Symposium (IPDS), was held at the University of Hong Kong in the spring of 2018 and as a follow-up to this event, a special volume detailing the scientific papers and research has been published in the journal “Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History”.

The symposium permitted the drafting of a comprehensive cladogram demonstrating evolutionary relationships within the Pennaraptora.

Evolutionary Tree of Pennaraptoran Theropods

Cladogram of pennaraptoran theropods.
Evolutionary tree of pennaraptoran theropods.

Picture credit: Pittman et al

Commenting on the significance of this volume, co-editor Dr Pittman stated:

“The volume documents past progress, works toward consensus on key unresolved issues, breaks new ground in the field and identifies priority areas for future research.”

Split into Three Sections

The publication has been divided into three main sections and consists of fourteen chapters:

1).  The Fossil Record, Systematics and Biogeography – how fossils have shaped the definition of the clade.

2).  Anatomical Frontiers – with a focus on recent fossil discoveries particularly related to the manus (hand) and the skull.

3).  Early Flight Study – research into the origin and evolution of powered flight.

Incisivosaurus – A Primitive Member of the Oviraptorosauria

Incisivosaurus fossil skull.
Skull of the early-diverging oviraptorosaurian pennaraptoran Incisivosaurus.  Later-diverging oviraptorosaurians lost their teeth and evolved a beak.

Picture credit: Xing Xu and Waisum Ma

Examining the Relationship Between Extant Aves and Theropod Dinosaurs

The third part of the volume, looking at the evolution of flight examines recent efforts to identify the small pennaraptorans that first took to the skies, what their flight capabilities were and how their flight might have been acquired.  A new broader context is postulated for flight behaviour as part of a functional landscape.  Wing-assisted incline running (WAIR), a behaviour seen in modern birds that is proposed as an early stage of flight development, is argued as a later innovation based on a study of modern ostriches.

Co-editor Professor Xu commented:

“The volume involved 49 experts from more than 10 countries whose views cover much of the current discussion on pennaraptoran palaeobiology and evolution.”

One of the contributors, Dr Daniel Field (Cambridge University), added:

“This is a landmark volume that advances our understanding of pennaraptoran dinosaurs and identifies key areas to address in the years ahead.”

Sapeornis chaoyangensis – An Early Cretaceous Avialan

Short-tailed fossil bird Sapeornis.
The early short-tailed fossil bird Sapeornis.  Under Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence, the feathers and other soft tissues preserved around the fossil skeleton become clear.  This new information has been used to assess the bird’s soaring abilities.

Picture credit: Serrano et al

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

The award-winning website of Everything Dinosaur: Everything Dinosaur.

23 08, 2020

Dramatic Rock Fall Reveals Ancient Fossilised Trackways in Arizona

By |2024-03-13T16:34:53+00:00August 23rd, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Two Ancient Trackways Discovered in Arizona

A fortuitous rock fall on the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona), has revealed two ancient trace fossils that have been interpreted as the trackways created by small vertebrates as they climbed a steep sand dune.  The sandstone blocks containing the fossilised trackways from the Manakacha Formation, a sub-unit of the extensive Supai Group, are the subject of a scientific paper published in the academic, on-line, open-access journal PLOS One.

Estimated to be around 313 million years old (Moscovian Age of the Pennsylvanian Epoch – Late Carboniferous), the fossilised trackways are thought to have been made by either basal diapsid reptile or a basal synapsid and are the first tetrapod tracks reported from the Manakacha Formation and the oldest known from the Grand Canyon region.

An Artist’s Reconstruction of the Tetrapod Ascending the Sand Dune

Basal amniote moves up a sand dune.
Crossing a sand dune.  A life reconstruction of a basal amniote moving diagonally up a dune creating a trackway similar to the one described in the scientific paper.

Picture credit: Emily Waldman

Ascending Sand Dunes

The rocks in this region are aeolian sandstones and the discovery of the two trackways document the earliest known occurrence of dunefield-dwelling amniotes.  Lead author of the scientific paper, Steve Rowland (professor emeritus of geology at the University of Nevada), commented that these fossils demonstrate that by the Late Carboniferous, the first vertebrates capable of laying eggs out of water had adapted to desert habitats.

The Main Trackway, Line Drawing, Site of Rock Fall and Counterpart Slab

Trackway evidence at the Grand Canyon.
Main trackway block adjacent to Bright Angel Trail (Grand Canyon), with tracks in concave epirelief (impressions) at (A).  Scale is calibrated in decimeters.  Sketch of main trackway surface (B).  Note occurrence of Trackway 2 (alignments of small black spots) above Trackway 1.  The rocks (C) next to the Bright Angel Trail, including at least two rocks with amniote tracks.  Counterpart block (D) with tracks in convex hyporelief (natural casts).

Picture credit: Rowland et al (PLOS One)

Side-stepping Ascent of a Steep Dune Revealed by Fossilised Trackways

The rock fall occurred close to a popular hiking trail and they were first spotted during a geology field trip to the Grand Canyon in 2016.  The leader of that trip, professor Allan Krill sent a photograph of the tracks to the Department of Geology at the University of Nevada and Professor Rowland decided to investigate further.  The tracks have been interpreted as showing the ascent of a dune slope at an angle of approximately 20 degrees, thus reducing the steepness of the climb.

The second trackway, a series of small rounded depressions in the rock suggest claw marks.  It has been postulated that these marks are a deeper undertrackway, made some hours or days after the first track was produced, possibly by an animal of the same species as the first trackmaker.

Line Drawing of Main Trackway (1) with a Plotted Three-dimensional Track Interpretation

Line drawing of main trackway surface and coloured digital elevation model.
Studying the fossilised trackways. Sketch of main trackway surface (A).  Detail of a portion of the trackway, with scale (B).  Coloured digital elevation model with explanation of colours (C).  Contour interval is 1 cm.

Picture credit: Rowland et al (PLOS One)

The scientists conclude that to traverse over the steep slope the little animal was moving, laterally one step at a time so that it always had its three other legs to support its body and to grip the surface.  The transition across the dune may not have been particularly elegant but the 28 impressions that have been preserved may help to shed further light on the evolution of early amniotes, which are scarce in the Carboniferous/Early Permian fossil record of North America.

A Controversial Interpretation

Not everyone is convinced of the interpretation of the fossils by the research team which included Mario Caputo (Society for Sedimentary Geology) and Zachary Jensen (College of Southern Nevada).

A spokesperson representing the palaeontology programme at the Grand Canyon commented that there was a lot of disagreement amongst the scientific community when it came to interpreting fossil tracks and inferring animal behaviours from them.  During the Late Carboniferous, this part of Arizona was a coastal-plain on the western edge of the super-continent of Pangaea.  There were extensive dunefields in close proximity, the dunes being formed by the action of the wind (aeolian), occasionally exceptional tidal conditions, storms or other flooding events interrupted the aeolian deposition burying parts of the dunefield in fine mud.

The scientific paper: “Early adaptation to eolian sand dunes by basal amniotes is documented in two Pennsylvanian Grand Canyon trackways” by Stephen M. Rowland, Mario V. Caputo and Zachary A. Jensen published in the open-access, on-line journal PLOS One.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

22 08, 2020

New Rebor Figures Feature in Everything Dinosaur Newsletter

By |2024-03-13T16:28:08+00:00August 22nd, 2020|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

Rebor Figures Feature in Everything Dinosaur Newsletter

The new Rebor X-REX Swarm (plague variant), makes headlines in the Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter.  The arrival of this new figure has made headlines in the latest customer newsletter to be sent out by the UK-based company.  This eagerly anticipated figure from Rebor, the second in their science-fiction/dinosaur hybrid series, had been delayed in production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this beautifully-crafted figure is now available.

The New Rebor X-REX Swarm (Plague Variant) Makes Headlines

Making headlines the Rebor X-REX Swarm "Plague Variant".
The Everything Dinosaur newsletter highlights the arrival of the second figure in the Rebor alien/T. rex series – the X-REX Swarm (plague variant).  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase the Rebor X-REX Swarm in the plague variant colouration: Rebor Scale Models and Figures including X-REX Swarm and Broodlord.

Rebor X-REX Swarm – An Articulated Figure

The model has a detachable tail which is also flexible, moveable arms and an inner jaw piece.  The figure is very detailed and the skull looks incredible (see picture below).

The Very Alien Rebor X-REX Swarm Model

Swarm - plague variant.
A close view of the amazing head of the Rebor X-REX Swarm (plague variant).  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Broodlord and Stegosaurus Woodland Also Make an Appearance

The newsletter also featured the first of the Rebor science fiction figures X-REX Broodlord.   This popular model came out in late January (2020) and with the introduction of Swarm, we wanted to remind collectors that we had a few of these figures available to purchase.  In addition, as well as receiving a shipment of Swarm models, we were able to obtain a number of the Rebor Stegosaurus Garden figure in the Woodland colour scheme.

The Rebor X-REX Broodlord “Metallic Variant” and the Rebor 1:35 scale Stegosaurus Garden 

Rebor figures feature in Everything Dinosaur newsletter.
The Rebor X-REX Broodlord ” metallic variant” and a Rebor “Garden” Stegosaurus in the woodland colouration.  The Stegosaurus figure is also in 1/35th scale and it is one of a series of three stegosaurs introduced by Rebor.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Our Company Website (Everything Dinosaur).

The latest newsletter certainly has a strong emphasis on the Rebor range.  There are lots of planned new model introductions from Rebor for quarter 3 and 4 and team members are looking forward to these new figures coming into the company’s warehouse.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We send out newsletters to our subscriber list every once in a while. We give our subscribers priority ordering and they are the first to hear of new arrivals along with other updates and information to help them with their model collecting hobby.”

To request to join the Everything Dinosaur newsletter subscribers list just send us an email: Email Everything Dinosaur.

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