The picturesque Red Wharf Bay on the eastern coast of the isle of Anglesey is often visited by geology students. The rocks surrounding the bay provide evidence of changing sea levels from the Carboniferous. Rounded pebbles part of the way up one of the cliffs provide evidence of a much more recent change in sea level. The weather-worn and eroded rocks represent a raised beach, geological proof of sea levels being much higher during interglacial intervals (Pleistocene Epoch).
The views are fairly spectacular too.
The limestones that make up the cliffs were deposited around 330 million years ago during the Serpukhovian stage (the youngest stage of the Mississippian, the lower subsystem of the Carboniferous). The area is dominated by the huge Castell Mawr (Castle Rock), the limestone was quarried for many years, but all quarrying has been abandoned and the area is now a haven for nesting seabirds. The bay attracts a variety of birds, as well as the ubiquitous gulls, many different types of wading bird can be found in this area including oystercatchers, sandpipers and curlews. Occasionally, visitors to this part of Anglesey can be treated to a view of a Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) hunting for fish as the tide comes in.
This area of outstanding natural beauty is famous for its geology, the limestone was formed in a shallow, tropical sea, but the presence of sandstone indicates that the sea retreated and the sandstones represent estuarine and river channels that criss-crossed the area, with the sand infilling the limestone as it was partially dissolved away.
Fossils can be found, but they are relatively rare. Brachiopod traces can be seen in the limestone rocks that litter the beach, a testament to the rich marine life that thrived in this area during the Carboniferous.
Occasional Corals Found in Pebbles
Walkers, if they descend onto the beaches from the Welsh Coastal Path can find the occasional fossil of colonial corals in pebbles scattered along the beach. They are rare and difficult to differentiate from the limestones and other material on dry, sunny days, but with patience the fossil collector can be rewarded with some finds, albeit highly eroded specimens.
Whilst sunny weather can never be guaranteed in North Wales, Red Wharf Bay is a family friendly beach close to beautiful countryside with stunning views which even on Bank Holidays is never overcrowded. It also provides the opportunity to spot a fossil or two.
Earlier this week, we posted up an article summarising the newly published research into an exquisitely preserved skull of an elasmosaurid plesiosaur from Angola. The African marine reptile is Cardiocorax mukulu, which had been formally named and described from post-cranial material found just 250 metres away from where the skull and other associated bones that were the subject of the scientific paper we reported upon, were discovered.
Whilst reading the paper (Marx et al 2020), it was stated that currently, six valid plesiosaurian taxa have been named and identified from the continent of Africa. This surprised Everything Dinosaur team members, only six valid plesiosaurian taxa known from the whole of Africa? This suggests that more plesiosaur genera are known from southern England than from the whole of the African continent. We are no experts, but we thought we would have a dig into our database to see if we could identify the six valid taxa mentioned in the scientific paper.
Plesiosaurs – A Very Ancient but Diverse Group of Marine Reptiles
Plesiosaur fossils have been found on every continent and this marine reptile clade is represented by a fossil record that extends for over 130 million years, with the first plesiosaurs probably evolved in the Late Triassic and they survived until the end of the Cretaceous, becoming extinct at the same time as the terrestrial non-avian dinosaurs. This diverse clade can be split into two distinct body types:
Plesiosauromorph – long necks and small heads such as the elasmosaurid Cardiocorax.
Pliosauromorph – short necks and large heads typical of apex predators such as Liopleurodon.
Listing the African Plesiosaurs We Know
Looking at our extensive database we were able to list the following African plesiosaurs:
Cardiocorax mukulu – Late Cretaceous (Angola), approximately 71.5 million years ago, named and described in 2015.
An unnamed aristonectine elasmosaurid plesiosaur coeval to Cardiocorax.
Thililua longicollis – Late Cretaceous (Morocco), a polycotylid plesiosaur dating from approximately 93-92 million years ago, named and described in 2003.
Manemergus anguirostris – Late Cretaceous (Morocco), another polycotylid plesiosaur dating from approximately 93-92 million years ago which was named and described in 2005.
Leptocleidus capenensis – Early Cretaceous of South Africa, formerly known as Plesiosaurus capensis dating from 139-132 million years ago.
Zarafasaura oceanis – Late Cretaceous (Morocco), an elasmosaurid and the geologically youngest plesiosaur known from Africa (Late Maastrichtian – around 67- 66 million years ago).
Brachauchenius lucasi (Turonian of Morocco), described in 2015, a pliosaurid from 93-92 million years ago. This genus is most closely associated with the Western Interior Seaway of North America.
Libonectes morgani – Late Cretaceous (Morocco), formerly known as Libonectes atlasense, an elasmosaurid dating from 93-92 million years ago. Just like B. lucasi, fossils of this marine reptile are closely associated with North America.
Numerous fragmentary bones, isolated teeth and such like have been found in Africa that purport to represent plesiosaurs, but these are the valid taxa that we could retrieve from our database.
We have probably missed a few, no doubt our well-educated readers will be able to give us a steer.
Many retailers are already warning customers that manufacturing and supply chain difficulties are going to lead to product shortages in the Christmas sales period. For dinosaur model fans and collectors, a number of prehistoric animal model ranges are going to be in short supply as the impact of COVID-19 is felt around the world.
A Global Problem
Dinosaur fans and model collectors have already encountered difficulties in obtaining some of their favourite brands. Production schedules at factories based in the Far East have been severely disrupted due to the global pandemic and problems have been exacerbated by shortages of containers to bring goods from Asia into America, Europe and the UK. Many new for 2021 figures such as the CollectA and Papo models have yet to reach outlets and numerous production plans have had to be postponed or rescheduled.
Shipping costs as well as the cost of raw materials have increased rapidly, so dinosaur models and toys, like many retail items are going to be more expensive and higher prices are going to be seen leading up to Christmas and beyond.
Gary Grant, the chairman of The Entertainer chain of toy stores, has been widely reported stating:
“What is unique to us is that Christmas is a fixed date, so we are under extreme pressure at the moment to move as much stock as we can, but are significantly behind with the shipment of products.”
A Shortage of Cardboard
As well as having to cope with a near doubling of shipping costs, Everything Dinosaur, like all mail order companies has had difficulties obtaining cardboard and other packing materials. The company uses double walled cardboard for their parcels, these are stronger and help to protect the items inside the parcel from damage. Everything Dinosaur has committed to using 100% recycled cardboard as part of their environmental policy and sourcing recycled cardboard has proved challenging with a global shortage of this material.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“The current supply problems are likely to get worse as we go into quarter 4 of the trading year, this is historically the busiest time of year for retailers as Christmas approaches. Difficulties with the supply of goods will also be compounded by shortages of cardboard and other packing materials that will affect mail order companies.”
Longer Delivery Times for Parcels
The limited number of flights has restricted the movement of parcels. Many courier companies report a shortage of lorry drivers and remain understaffed due to team members having to self-isolate due to COVID-19. It is likely that Christmas parcels will take longer to be delivered.
One thing customers can do to avoid disappointment is to shop early to ensure that parcels can be sent out in plenty of time.
The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur added:
“We are doing all we can to help our customers and we continue to work seven days a week to ensure we can support our customer base. Product shipments continue to face delays and we think the situation will get worse as demand for containers increases in the run up to Christmas. We have done all we can to ensure that we have stock of parcel packaging and we have set up new delivery routes into our UK warehouse to help alleviate some of the logistical problems. Our advice is to shop early and to be prepared for product shortages.”
A few days ago, team members at Everything Dinosaur posted up a picture of a recently commissioned dinosaur drawing and challenged our blog readers and social media followers to identify the species illustrated. Sure enough, these knowledgeable collectors of prehistoric animals were quickly able to identify Torosaurus (T. latus).
Beasts of the Mesozoic Torosaurus Dinosaur Model
The drawing of Torosaurus was commissioned in preparation for the arrival this autumn of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Wave 3 Ceratopsians, seven new, articulated horned dinosaur models including a Torosaurus replica. The drawing (above), was inspired by the photograph of the Torosaurus shown below.
The Wave 3 Ceratopsians (Albertaceratops, Pentaceratops, Sinoceratops, adult Triceratops, Utahceratops, Xenoceratops and the Torosaurus model), are due to be shipped from the factory in September (September 2021). It is difficult to predict when these figures will be in stock at Everything Dinosaur, but they could be available sometime after the middle of October. Team members will do all they can to expediate delivery into their UK warehouse.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“We like to set little puzzles and quizzes on our Instagram, Facebook and other social media pages. We thought that our picture puzzle would prove a bit of a challenge, but once again, our fans and followers have demonstrated their in-depth knowledge of prehistoric animals as well as dinosaur models and figures. Not only did respondents correctly identify Torosaurus latus but they recognised that our illustration had been inspired by the Beasts of the Mesozoic Torosaurus model. Perhaps it was the prominent target spots on the headshield that gave the game away.”
Torosaurus Model Measurements
The Beasts of the Mesozoic Torosaurus is a huge model! It is considerably bigger than both the Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai and the Centrosaurus apertus figures that were introduced earlier. The articulated Torosaurus measures nearly 46 cm in length. The dinosaur model has a declared scale of 1:18.
The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur added:
“The Torosaurus and the adult Triceratops figures are the largest horned dinosaur models in the Beasts of the Mesozoic model range. These two figures and the other models in Wave 3 are going to make a big splash when they touch down at Everything Dinosaur’s warehouse.”
To view the range of Beasts of the Mesozoic models currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Beasts of the Mesozoic.
A superbly preserved and almost complete specimen of the pterosaur Tupandactylus navigans has enabled researchers to get a better understanding of the body of this Brazilian flying reptile. The skull too, with its exquisite preservation has provided new data on the amazing super-sized sagittal crest associated with this genus.
Confiscated in a Police Raid
The fossil specimen (number GP/2E 9266), was confiscated in a police raid at Santos Harbour, São Paulo State (Brazil), along with several other beautifully well-preserved fossils. Unfortunately, illegal fossil collection and sale of specimens on the black market is an increasing problem in Brazil. However, the successful raid prevented this hugely significant pterosaur fossil from ending up in the hands of a private collector.
The specimen is now housed at the Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil) and most of the researchers involved in the scientific paper are also based in Brazil, except for Octávio Mateus (Museu da Lourinhã, Portugal). Writing in the on-line, open access journal PLOS One, the scientists conclude that this specimen is the best-preserved tapejarid skeleton discovered to date. Their analysis has shed new light on the anatomy of this Tapejaridae family.
The pterosaur fossil is comprised of six limestone slabs. As this fossil was collected illegally, its provenance is unknown. However, by studying the yellow-stained, laminated limestone matrix, the research team were able to confidently assign the fossil to the Aptian-aged Crato Formation. The fossil took a trip to the local hospital in São Paulo, to enable CT scans to be undertaken. The subsequent three-dimensional models generated enabled the scientists to reconstruct the body of Tupandactylus for the first time. Prior to the discovery of this fossil, most Brazilian tapejarids had been described based on isolated skull bones.
A Remarkable Head Crest
Soft tissue from the huge crest on the top of the head, extends to more than five times the actual height of the skull. Analysis of the crest enabled the research team to confirm differences between Tupandactylus navigans and the closely related T. imperator. Specimens of T. navigans tend to be smaller than T. imperator and it had been speculated that just one species was represented with the differences between T. imperator and T. navigans being explained by sexual dimorphism. Thanks to the exquisite preservation of this fossil specimen the research team were able to identify several anatomical traits that support the idea that Tupandactylus navigans and Tupandactylus imperator are indeed separate species.
Different colour patterns seen in the sagittal crest do not represent fossilisation of any colour patterning but may have occurred due to oxidation of the material. However, a more detailed analysis of the soft tissues associated with GP/2E 9266 is currently being undertaken.
Tupandactylus navigans was named and scientifically described in 2003 based on a study of two fossil skulls (Frey, Martill and Buchy). At the time, it was postulated that the huge head crest could have been used as a sail to help with flight stability and assist with aerial propulsion. For this structure to work in this way, the neckbones would have had to be robust, relatively short and supported by powerful tendons to combat stresses imposed on the neck. With an almost complete, articulated skeleton to study, the scientists led by Victor Beccari (Universidade de São Paulo), discovered that this pterosaur had a long neck, long limbs and relatively short wings (estimated wingspan 2.7 metres).
The enormous crest probably did not play a role in aiding powered flight. Such a huge structure may well have hindered this pterosaur’s aerial abilities.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“The sagittal crest of Tupandactylus may have evolved due to sexual selection pressure, females showing a bias towards males with larger crests. The crest may have been used for display or to denote maturity, status or fitness for breeding. Many living birds sport crests, wattles and other structures, perhaps adult T. navigans sacrificed some aerial ability by growing enormous crests in a bid to attract mates.”
Spotting a Notarium
The front five dorsal vertebrae form a notarium which helps brace the chest and counter the stresses on the torso created by the flapping of the wings. This structure is found in living birds and some types of pterosaur but this is the first time, as far as Everything Dinosaur team members are aware, that a notarium has been identified in a tapejarid.
he scientific paper: “Osteology of an exceptionally well-preserved tapejarid skeleton from Brazil: Revealing the anatomy of a curious pterodactyloid clade” by Victor Beccari, Felipe Lima Pinheiro, Ivan Nunes, Luiz Eduardo Anelli, Octávio Mateus and Fabiana Rodrigues Costa published in PLOS One.
Everything Dinosaur team members have been helping fossil collector and dinosaur fan Robert source various prehistoric animal figures and replicas to accompany his fossil collection. As a token of appreciation, he sent a little gift to our offices to say thank you for our work.
The parcel got mislaid on its way from Scotland to our warehouse but it finally arrived yesterday and when the package was opened we found this model of three hatching dinosaurs inside.
Recently Robert had telephoned asking us to help him source a model of a Maiasaura with young. A dinosaur model featuring a Maiasaura with a nest was once part of the Carnegie collection of figures, but this range was retired and went out of production back in 2014. We were able to provide Robert with a fact sheet on this herbivorous dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Montana.
In gratitude and as a token of appreciation we were sent this little gift of hatching dinosaurs.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:
“We were very touched to receive this little gift. We try our best to help customers and we provide all kinds of advice, information and support. We took some photographs of the hatching dinosaurs in our packing room and now we have put this on display in one of our offices.”
Thank you from Everything Dinosaur
When the parcel arrived, we sent an email to Robert, just to let him know that the parcel had got to us safely and to thank him for his very kind gesture.
At Everything Dinosaur, we are amazed at the in-depth dinosaur and prehistoric animal knowledge that is often demonstrated by our customers. Our fans, followers and supporters on the various social media platforms that we occupy such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube constantly impress us with their knowledge of palaeontology.
We are often humbled by the sheer breadth and depth of knowledge they collectively possess. So, it’s time for another little tease, time to put our customers and social media fans to the test.
Below, we have posted up a dinosaur drawing that we at Everything Dinosaur recently commissioned.
Can you identify the dinosaur species from the drawing?
Dinosaur Picture Puzzle
Based in the UK, Everything Dinosaur is run by teachers and knowledgeable dinosaur enthusiasts helping collectors of prehistoric animal models and promoting education and an appreciation of the Earth sciences. We research and write fact sheets for many of the models and figures we sell and we commission illustrations of prehistoric animals that can be used in these fact sheets and in our other educational activities.
The dinosaur drawings that we commission help to support a network of palaeoartists and illustrators. Our financial support of these illustrators is just one of the ways in which Everything Dinosaur assists the wider community.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that they would reveal the identity of the dinosaur featured in the drawing in a blog post to be published later this week.
Researchers writing in the on-line, open-access journal PLOS One have described the most complete plesiosaur skull found to date from sub-Saharan Africa. The skull and post cranial fossil material reported upon comes from the Upper Cretaceous Mocuio Formation exposures located at Bentiaba in the Namibe Province of Angola.
The fossils represent another specimen of the elasmosaurid Cardiocorax (C. mukulu) one of just six valid plesiosaurian taxa known from the whole of Africa. This plesiosaur swam in a shallow, tropical sea and the fossils are around 71.5 million years old.
The specimen was found in sandstone deposits, stratigraphically just 3 metres above where the holotype material for this taxon was found. The researchers who studied the fossils, which included Octávio Mateus (Museu da Lourinhã, Portugal) and lead author Miguel Marx from the Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas), concluded that the fossils represented C. mukulu as the overlapping skeletal material of this specimen – MGUAN PA278 with that of the holotype were virtually identical.
This elasmosaurid had been originally named and described back in 2015. The genus name comes from the Greek “kardia” which means heart and coracoid, a paired bone that forms part of the shoulder in most vertebrates. This is a reference to the unique heart-shaped fenestra (hole) which occurs between the coracoid bones, a characteristic that is unique to this genus. The specific or trivial name comes from the local Angolan Bantu dialect and means “ancestor).
High Resolution CT Scans Reveal Details
The exquisite, three-dimensional preservation of the skull material provided the scientists with an opportunity to examine in close detail the morphology of the skull. The delicate fossil could have been damaged during further preparation, so the specimen was subjected to high resolution CT scans at the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility this permitted the anatomy of the skull to be revealed.
The holotype fossils, which were used to name and describe this elasmosaurid back in 2015 lacked skull bones. The discovery of an almost complete, three-dimensional skull of Cardiocorax enabled the research team to conduct an elaborate series of phylogenetic assessments to assess where within the Plesiosauria Cardiocorax should be placed.
Most of these analyses suggest an early-branching or intermediate position for Cardiocorax mukulu within the Elasmosauridae family. Elasmosaurines have elongated neck bones (cervical vertebrae), this anatomical characteristic is absent in Cardiocorax mukulu which suggests that it was a relic of an older, less derived lineage of elasmosaurids. These results indicate that several different types of elasmosaurid persisted into the Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Cretaceous.
The scientific paper: “The cranial anatomy and relationships of Cardiocorax mukulu (Plesiosauria: Elasmosauridae) from Bentiaba, Angola” by Miguel P. Marx, Octávio Mateus, Michael J. Polcyn, Anne S. Schulp, A. Olímpio Gonçalves and Louis L. Jacobs published in PLOS One.
In the summer of 2010, a giant sculpture of a plant-eating dinosaur named Luna Park was erected on Southsea Common. The huge statue, created by Studio Morison, stood 16 metres tall and was over 22 metres long. It was so large that it could be seen from the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately, a fire in October 2010 completely destroyed this local landmark, but plans are in place to install a tribute to the “Southsea Dinosaur”, albeit on a smaller scale.
Plans are well advanced to introduce a new public artwork for Portsmouth that pays tribute to the much loved “Southsea Dinosaur”. A new artwork designed by Ivan Morison and Heather Peak of Studio Morison will be installed this autumn. The installation will be officially opened on October 2nd, exactly ten years since the original sculpture was destroyed in a fire.
This new piece of public art will consist of a bronze sculpture of the original, affectionately known by local residents as the “Southsea Dinosaur” atop a fossil Portland stone plinth. Portland stone is limestone that was laid down at the very end of the Jurassic. It has been quarried for centuries and is an excellent building material. It is highly fossiliferous and contains many fossils including the famous “Portland screws”, which are the moulds in the rock created by snail shells as they dissolved away.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that the choice of Portland stone for the plinth was very appropriate as footprints representing giant, long-necked dinosaurs similar to Luna Park had been discovered preserved in these rocks.
Celebrating on Southsea Common
The work will be 1.4 metres high in total. In addition to key information about the work, a plaque on the plinth will also feature a QR code which when scanned with a smartphone will connect to an augmented reality experience, showing a digital rendering of the original artwork seemingly in front of the user, on Southsea Common.
Viewers will also be able to use their mobile device to visit a digital archive of memories contributed by the general public in honour of the original artwork. The work will be located within a direct sightline to the position of the original Luna Park sculpture.
It is hoped that the piece will generate new memories for locals and visitors. More than 12,000 residents joined an independently created Facebook group called “RIP Southsea Dinosaur” when Luna Park was tragically destroyed in 2010 and since summer 2020, a Crowdfunder has raised £10,000 to build a bronze replica of the original statue.
Joanne Bushell, Director of Aspex, Portsmouth’s contemporary art gallery, currently celebrating its 40-year anniversary which is curating the installation commented:
“There is a tremendous spirit of warmth towards the original work and we are thrilled to be exhibiting it this year as part of our anniversary celebrations.”
We at Everything Dinosaur wish the organisers every success with their venture. It is great to see a tribute to Luna Park and whilst marvelling this contemporary installation, perhaps visitors will reflect that some 145 million years earlier, dinosaurs similar to Luna Park roamed nearby.
The new “Retrosaurs” range from Rebor has been very well received by many dinosaur fans and model collectors. The first two figures in this series “Californiacation” and “Mesozoic Rhapsody” have attracted lots of praise and Everything Dinosaur customers have been providing feedback and reviews of these two Rebor models.
Bring Back Forgotten Good Memories
Take for example, the feedback we received recently from long-time Everything Dinosaur customer Ed. He was delighted with his Rebor 1:35 Vintage Palaeoart Tyrannosaurus rex “Mesozoic Rhapsody” Valley and sent us a detailed review of the figure. He commented on how the introduction of this dinosaur reminded him of prehistoric animals depicted in movies and stated that “Mesozoic Rhapsody” reminded him of good memories from his childhood.
Customer Review’s Rhapsody
“What a blast from the past this model is. Growing up in the 80’s I had a few of these toys, all be it a lot smaller. It is amazing how dinosaur toys have gone far more accurate these days. The only one I remember being up to date at the time was the natural museum T. rex and that never appealed to me. I love this model’s pose. It is a homage to Ray Harryhausen’s “Gwangi” and his Allosaurus in 1 million years B.C. It is because of these films I started my interest in dinosaurs. True, not up to date by today’s standards but the way he breathed life into them and were a threat to any caveman! The model is a lot bigger than expected therefore it stands out a bit more. I have got mine next to Rebor’s T. rex. it is amazing how far the depiction of these animals has changed. To be honest it could any carnosaur they were all depicted the same. I know they are doing a Ceratosaurus based on 1 million BC. I would love Rebor to do other depictions of yesteryear. Triceratops and Deinonychus would be nice.“
We note Ed’s model suggestions, comments which the talented people at Rebor consider when developing this range, no doubt.
Feefo Feedback Too
Both the Rebor 1:35 Vintage Palaeoart Tyrannosaurus rex “Mesozoic Rhapsody” Valley and “Californiacation” replicas have started to receive Feefo feedback. The Feefo feedback consists of genuine customer reviews of Everything Dinosaur products. Although these models have only been available for a few days the Feefo emails have begun to be sent out and feedback from purchasers received.
The Rebor 1:35 80s T-REX Toy HD Remastered “Californiacation” VHS dinosaur model has proved to be very popular as it too, also brings back happy memories for model collectors.
The Feefo feedback on the Rebor 1:35 80s T-REX Toy HD Remastered “Californiacation” VHS figure.
Top Service from Everything Dinosaur
Dinosaur model collector Ed concluded his review by stating:
“I think Rebor could do really well with this line of models. They are vintage but they also bring back forgotten good memories as well. Really good price compared to other model makers who are doing the same thing and top service from Everything Dinosaur.”