All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
31 10, 2021

ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus Test Report

By | October 31st, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Everything Dinosaur videos, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur has received the product safety report on the ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus model that was conducted by independent testing company Eurofins. The next video to be posted up on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel will explain what the report says and the consequences for transporting this excellent collectable dinosaur model out of China.

This video will be published in the next few days (November 2021).

ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus product testing video
The next Everything Dinosaur YouTube video will feature the ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis figure and explain the independent product test results.

General Product Safety Assessment

As a limited number of the ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis figure have been produced, it will carry a 14+ age restriction and as this model will only be available through a specialist retailer such as Everything Dinosaur, it falls outside the scope of both the UK and European Union Toy Safety Directives. However, it is important to us that product testing should still take place, which is why we sent a sample to the independent, globally respected, testing company Eurofins for analysis under the General Product Safety Assessment (GPSA).

ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus collectable dinosaur figure
One of the photographs of the ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis model taken by Eurofins as part of their product testing. Picture credit: Eurofins.

ITOY Studio Prehistoric Animal Models

ITOY Studio has developed a formidable reputation for the production of high-quality, beautiful prehistoric animal collectables. The range contains several exciting figures including Tyrannosaurus rex, Ceratosaurus, Velociraptor and a much admired, enormous model of the prehistoric mammal Paraceratherium, which has already been featured on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel.

The Deluxe ITOY Studio Paraceratherium replica (with display base).
The ITOY Paraceratherium model (Deluxe) is supplied with a polystone display base. This exciting model was also the subject of a recent Everything Dinosaur YouTube video.

To view the range of ITOY Studio figures currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: ITOY Studio Prehistoric Animal Models.

Everything Dinosaur YouTube Video

The next Everything Dinosaur YouTube video will explain what the General Product Safety Assessment says and we will outline the steps required in order to permit us to bring this collectable figure into stock.

ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis product packaging.
The packaging for the model was also reviewed by Eurofins as part of the General Product Safety Assessment. Picture credit: Eurofins.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that they hoped to have their video posted up on the company’s YouTube channel in the next few days (November 2021).

The Everything Dinosaur YouTube channel contains hundreds of videos dedicated to prehistoric animal model collected. In line with the company’s aims to educate and inform, as well as providing product updates, model reviews and information about new figures, many of the videos also contain some information about the prehistoric animals the models represent. For example, in Everything Dinosaur’s previous video about the ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis information was included about the debate between palaeontologists as to whether D. sinensis is a valid species.

To visit Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel: Everything Dinosaur on YouTube.

To read our earlier blog post that includes the first YouTube video we produced featuring the ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus sinensis figure: ITOY Studio Dilophosaurus Video.

30 10, 2021

New CollectA Models and Mojo Smilodon Feature in Newsletter

By | October 30th, 2021|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Newsletters, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The last of the new for 2021 CollectA prehistoric animal figures that are due to arrive this year (2021) have featured in the latest Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter. In addition, team members had the opportunity to include the new Mojo Fun Smilodon figure, the only prehistoric animal model to be introduced by Mojo in the last 12 months and one that is proving to be very popular.

The first model to be shown in the newsletter is the CollectA Deluxe Dilophosaurus, a replica of this Early Jurassic carnivore in approximately 1:40 scale.

The figure has been based on some of the very latest scientific research into Dilophosaurus wetherilli that took place over the last two years or so.

CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Dilophosaurus
The CollectA Deluxe Dilophosaurus model, a 1:40 scale figure is the headline model in the October 2021 Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter.

Introducing More Models of Sea Monsters

CollectA has been praised for developing such a diverse range of prehistoric animal figures. For example, the company has recently added two more sea monsters, inhabitants of the Western Interior Seaway during the Late Cretaceous, the long-necked Elasmosaurus and the ferocious prehistoric fish with a reputation for gluttony – Xiphactinus.

CollectA Xiphactinus and Elasmosaurus models.
The CollectA Xiphactinus and the Elasmosaurus models feature in the latest Everything Dinosaur newsletter. CollectA are praised for developing such a diverse range of prehistoric animal models.

Pravitoceras and a New Glyptodont Scale Model

The Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter also includes the new CollectA ammonite replica (Pravitoceras) and the 1:20 scale replica of Doedicurus, complete with its heavily armoured tail club.

CollectA Pravitoceras and the CollectA Deluxe Doedicurus.
CollectA have introduced a heteromorphic ammonite replica (Pravitoceras) and a 1:20 scale model of the glyptodont Doedicurus.

To view the range of CollectA Deluxe figures available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Scale Models.

To view the range of CollectA not-to-scale figures (Prehistoric Life): CollectA Prehistoric Life.

Model Sets and the Mojo Fun Smilodon

CollectA’s model sets are very popular, especially with younger dinosaur fans or with model makers who want to depict juvenile animals in a prehistoric diorama. CollectA have added a new set of mini models (set 3), for 2021. This set contains 10 figures, 8 dinosaurs, a pterosaur (Guidraco) and a marine reptile (Pliosaurus).

Please note, whilst the package labelling states that there is a mini Diplodocus within the set, this is a printing error. The Diplodocus figure can be found in set 1, whilst set 3 contains a Mapusaurus model which is not mentioned on the product sleeve.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur used our latest customer newsletter to showcase the Mojo Fun Smilodon, a new sculpt and one that has received high praise from model collectors.

To view the range of Mojo Fun prehistoric animals including the new Smilodon available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric Life.

CollectA Mini Dinosaurs Set 2 and the Mojo Fun Smilodon (2021)
The CollectA mini dinosaurs set 3 contains 10 models but not all of them are dinosaurs. Included in the set is a model of the pterosaur Guidraco and there is a model of the giant marine reptile Pliosaurus. The Everything Dinosaur customer newsletter also featured the popular, recently introduced Mojo Fun Smilodon model.

Everything Dinosaur emails a newsletter periodically to its subscribers. It contains information on new products, competitions, product updates and so forth. To request to be added to our database, simply send Everything Dinosaur an email: Email Everything Dinosaur.

29 10, 2021

Prehistoric Times Issue 139 Reviewed

By | October 29th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Magazine Reviews, Main Page, Prehistoric Times|0 Comments

The autumn edition of “Prehistoric Times” magazine has arrived (issue 139). It features a close-up view of the head of a Suchomimus, artwork created by the talented American palaeoartist Chuck Egnaczak on the front cover and inside Phil Hore profiles this enigmatic African spinosaurid.

Prehistoric Times magazine (issue 139)
The front cover of the next issue of “Prehistoric Times” magazine (issue 139) features a close-up view of the head of the spinosaurid Suchomimus. The artwork is by talented palaeoartist Chuck Egnaczak.

Drawing Feathers

Tracy Lee Ford has dedicated the next few installments of his “how to draw dinosaurs” feature on how to draw feathers and other fancy integumentary coverings associated with the Dinosauria. In part 1, he covers different feather types and explains the differences between them. This is a handy technical guide which will aid illustrators as well as providing assistance when it comes to deciphering scientific papers which focus on feathered theropods.

The Berlin feather - preserved as a carbonised film.
The slab from the Berlin museum showing the iconic feather, so long associated with Archaeopteryx but now thought to have belonged to a different creature. Tracy Lee Ford provides an explanation of different feather types in his article.

Mike Howgate weighs in with not one, but two articles in this issue. He examines the fossil fish models created by 20th century model maker Vernon Edwards and in a separate piece, discusses the contribution of sculptor Alfred Lyndhurst Pocock who took up the reins for Gregory, Bottley and Co. after the sudden death of Edwards.

Jon Lavas continues his long-running series highlighting the work of the influential Czech artist Zdeněk Burian. In this issue the focus is on one of the most famous dinosaurs of all – Stegosaurus.

Stegosaurus stenops threatened by a pair of Antrodemus valens.
The classic depiction of a Late Jurassic scene by Burian (1950). In issue 139 (autumn/fall 2021), Jon Lavas looks at how Burian depicted Stegosaurus.

Remembering the Contribution to Palaeontology by José Bonaparte

José Bonaparte regarded as the “Father of Argentinian Palaeontology” passed away last year. His long and distinguished career is remembered in a special article written by CONICET staff members Agustin G. Martinelli and Analia M. Forasiepi. These two scientists along with colleague Guillermo W. Rougier (University of Louisville, Kentucky), contribute a second article looking at some of the early mammals of the Mesozoic.

José Bonaparte "El Maestro del Mesozoico".
José Bonaparte (1928-2020) the “father of Argentinian palaeontology”. A tribute is paid to his decades of work in the Earth Sciences in the latest edition of the magazine Picture credit: Télam.

Placodonts, Palaeontology News and Book Reviews

Issue 139 is crammed full of news, book reviews and features. There is more on the Marx collector models, editor Mike Fredericks provides an article and Randy Knol looks at new prehistoric animal model releases. Placodonts, specifically the bizarre Henodus are coverred by Phil Hore and look out for the article on the film “Quest for Fire”, which examines some of the perils of making films with prehistoric themes.

There is a lot to be admired in the latest issue of “Prehistoric Times”.

For more information and to subscribe to this magazine: “Prehistoric Times”.

28 10, 2021

PNSO Cretoxyrhina Model

By | October 28th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur will be stocking the PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina model. This fantastic model of a Late Cretaceous prehistoric shark is already on a shipment of PNSO models and figures heading into Everything Dinosaur and the UK-based company hope to have this model in stock in early December (2021).

PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina.
The PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina prehistoric shark model.

Cretoxyrhina mantelli

The type species, Cretoxyrhina mantelli honours the English dentist and palaeontologist Gideon Mantell who first coined the genus name when describing eight fossil shark teeth found in East Sussex. The genus name translates from the Latin as “Cretaceous sharp-nose”.

Mantell thought that the teeth from East Sussex were analogous with living species of shark such as the Common Smooth-hound shark (Mustelus mustelus), which is found around British coasts. The Common Smooth-hound has a pointed nose, so it was surmised that the fossil shark possessed a similar anatomy. Most palaeontologists believe that this large predator had a relatively blunt snout similar to that of the modern Great White (Carcharodon carcharias). The new PNSO Cretoxyrhina model, the first mainstream replica of Cretoxyrhina to be produced, has been given a blunt snout reminiscent to an extant Great White.

PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina
The PNSO Cretoxyrhina shark model is reminiscent of the extant Great White. It is thought that Cretoxyrhina occupied a similar ecological niche in the Late Cretaceous marine ecosystem.

PNSO Cretoxyrhina Model Measurements

Although the PNSO mid-size model range does not have a declared scale, team members from Everything Dinosaur estimate that the model, when considered in relation to an 8-metre-long C. mantelli specimen, would be in approximately 1:40 scale.

PNSO Cretoxyrhina model measurements.
The PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina figure measures 20 cm in length, although the curve of the model makes it slightly longer.

In Stock at Everything Dinosaur December 2021?

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur confirmed that they had known about this new PNSO prehistoric shark model for some time and that, as a result, they had been able to ensure that this figure was shipped over on a vessel that had already left China by the time of the formal product announcement. With the huge problems with global logistics, the ship had been delayed and more problems are to be expected, but with luck, this exciting new PNSO figure should be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in early December (2021).

PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina is supplied with a poster/art booklet.
The PNSO Cretoxyrhina is supplied with a poster and a booklet showcasing the art of Zhao Chuang.

Supplied with a Poster and a Booklet

The PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina figure is supplied with a poster featuring the shark attacking a mosasaur and a 64-page booklet that highlights the artwork of Zhao Chuang.

PNSO Cretoxyrhina poster and booklet.
The PNSO Aidan the Cretoxyrhina prehistoric shark model is supplied with a sci-art poster and a 64-page booklet.

To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Models and Figures.

27 10, 2021

Rare CollectA Models in Stock

By | October 27th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have managed to obtain some rare and out of production CollectA prehistoric life animal models. The officially retired CollectA Olorotitan and the CollectA Eustreptospondylus are back in stock at Everything Dinosaur. The CollectA Thylacine female is also available whilst stocks last.

The CollectA Thylacine replica.
The CollectA Thylacine model was retired and is officially out of production. However, Everything Dinosaur as been able to obtain a limited stock of this extremely rare figure from the factory. It is available whilst stocks last (autumn 2021).

CollectA Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) Female

The CollectA Thylacine was introduced back in 2016. It proved popular with model collectors, biologists and cryptozoologists. Sadly, just like the real animal, the figure became extinct when it was retired and withdrawn from production a couple of years ago.

Fortunately, team members at Everything Dinosaur were able to use their considerable influence with the factory to secure a small supply of this exceptionally rare figure.

CollectA Eustreptospondylus dinosaur model
The CollectA Eustreptospondylus model. A replica of the British theropod dinosaur Eustreptospondylus. This dinosaur figure was officially retired some time ago, but Everything Dinosaur has been able to obtain a limited stock of this rare figure (autumn 2021).

The CollectA Eustreptospondylus Dinosaur Model

This replica of a British theropod dinosaur was part of the second batch of CollectA/Procon models to be released back in 2008. It was withdrawn from production some time ago and it is hoped that the design team at CollectA might introduce an updated figure. However, for a limited time Everything Dinosaur is able to offer this dinosaur model once again.

CollectA Olorotitan dinosaur model.
The CollectA Olorotitan dinosaur model. A fabulous model of this Late Cretaceous hadrosaur.

CollectA Olorotitan

CollectA added a replica of the duck-billed dinosaur Olorotitan to their Prehistoric Life range in 2009, not long after the CollectA Eustreptospondylus was introduced. Known from the Amur region of far eastern Russia, Olorotitan was one of the very last of the non-avian members of the Dinosauria to go extinct. The model was retired some years ago and some collectors, who may have missed it first time around, now have the opportunity to add this hadrosaur model to their prehistoric animal model collection.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained:

“Sometimes we get lucky! We are able to find rare and out of production figures in a factory or warehouse somewhere that might have been overlooked. We don’t have many of these figures, after all, they were all retired a while ago, but at least we can give collectors the opportunity to pick up these replicas and we don’t increase our prices just because a figure is rare.”

To view the range of CollectA Prehistoric Life figures available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Life.

26 10, 2021

Re-drawing the “False Sabre-tooths”

By | October 26th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Paul Barrett of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon, has put the prehistoric “cats” amongst the prehistoric pigeons with the publishing of a new scientific paper that reassesses the evolution of the “false-sabre tooths”, the Nimravidae. Previous studies had focused on the remarkable, over-sized canines of these placental predators. The paper, published in the journal “Scientific Research”, examined non-sabre-tooth anatomical features and as a result, a different hypothesis on the evolution of nimravids has been proposed.

The skull of the nimravid Hoplophoneus.
A view of the skull of the “false Sabre-tooth” Hoplophoneus (a member of the Nimravidae). Nimravids such as Hoplophoneus and Eusmilus adelos (which is the subject of the scientific paper published this week), are not true cats (felids) they are not closely related to members of the Felidae such as Smilodon, but they did evolve large, scimitar-like canines – an example of convergent evolution. Picture credit: R. Prothero.

An Over Emphasis on the Teeth and Skulls

Previous studies attempting to map the evolutionary history of the Nimravidae from their origins in the Middle Eocene Epoch to their extinction in the Late Miocene, had focused on examining the shape of the skull and the dentition (teeth). This over reliance on anatomical characters associated with the teeth and the necessary cranial adaptations to wield the enlarged canines led to palaeontologists thinking that these predators evolved in a relatively narrow, restricted way – that there was a gradual evolution of more specialised sabre-tooth features.

This new research based on sophisticated Bayesian analysis looking at a much broader suite of characters and traits suggests that the Nimravidae split, relatively early on in their evolution, into two distinct clusters. One branch (Hopliphoninae) became sabre-toothed hunters, whilst the second branch (Nimravinae) evolved traits reminiscent of extant big cats.

Eusmilus adelos fossils.
The partial skeleton of Eusmilus adelos (USNM 12820) with known fossil elements shaded light blue. E. adelos is estimated to around the same size as an African lion (P. leo). Skeletal reconstruction by Dhruv Franklin, picture credit: Paul Barrett (University of Oregon).

Eusmilus adelos

In addition to the reassessment of the evolutionary direction of the nimravids, PhD student Paul also examined the fossilised remains of a lion-sized specimen found in Wyoming (White River Formation). This has led to the erection of a new species Eusmilus adelos. Regarded as the biggest member of the Hopliphoninae described to date, it is suggested that a large predator such as E. adelos specialised in hunting prey bigger than itself. Eusmilus adelos may have tackled tapirs, rhinoceratids and large anthracotheriids (an extinct family of hooved, even-toed ungulates distantly related to hippos).

Studying False Sabre-tooths

Coeval hoplophonines were smaller and the author suggests these predators specialised in tackling much smaller prey. This niche partitioning (avoiding of competition by focusing on different resources), would have reflected what is seen on the plains of Africa today amongst extant felids. Large predators such as lions specialising in prey bigger than themselves, whilst smaller felids such as the caracal (Caracal caracal) and the leopard (Panthera pardus) tend to hunt prey smaller than themselves.

To read a related article from Everything Dinosaur that focuses on a study into the evolution of sabre-toothed predators across deep geological time, that suggests that these superficially similar animals evolved very different hunting strategies: Sabre-toothed Predators Evolved Different Hunting Styles.

The scientific paper: “The largest hoplophonine and a complex new hypothesis of nimravid evolution” by Paul Zachary Barrett published in Scientific Reports.

25 10, 2021

Livyatan Scale Drawing

By | October 25th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page|0 Comments

Team members at Everything Dinosaur are busy preparing for arrival of the latest batch of PNSO prehistoric animals including the PNSO Requena the Livyatan model. With production delays and difficulties with logistics, many companies have struggled to receive stock but plans at Everything Dinosaur are well advanced and a shipment of new PNSO models including the Livyatan figure along with Tucson the Himalayasaurus, Evan the Tylosaurus and the eagerly anticipated Aidan the Cretoxyrhina shark model should be in stock at the end of next month (November 2021).

PNSO Requena the Livyatan model
The PNSO Requena the Livyatan prehistoric whale model. This prehistoric whale model should be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in November 2021.

Livyatan melvillei – Leviathan

Formally named and described in 2010 (Lambert et al), from a partial skull discovered in southern Peru (Pisco Formation) two years earlier, the exact size of this prehistoric whale remains unknown. Based on scaling up the 3-metre-long fossil skull with those of extant Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), palaeontologists have estimated that Livyatan could have been between 13.5 and 18 metres in length.

Not knowing the size of this ancient cetacean has made creating a scale drawing challenging for Everything Dinosaur team members. Male Livyatans were probably considerably larger than females, as seen in Sperm whales today. Bull Sperm whales can be up to 20 metres in length, whilst females rarely exceed 12 metres and these bulls can be up to 3 times heavier.

Livyatan Scale Drawing

After having reviewed the scientific literature, Everything Dinosaur team members have given their illustration of Livyatan melvillei a length of approximately 15 metres.

Livyatan melvillei scale drawing.
As only the skull and some teeth are known, the size of this predatory whale remains uncertain. Size estimates vary from between 13.5 to 18 metres, males may have been larger than females as seen in the largest extant toothed whale, the Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).

Originally named Leviathan melvillei, with the genus name reflecting the biblical sea monster and the species name honouring Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, it was discovered that the word “Leviathan” was a junior synonym for a Mastodon, so under the rules of scientific nomenclature the genus name was changed. Livyatan is derived from the Hebrew word for the biblical sea monster.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article from 2010 about the discovery of this prehistoric whale: Nightmare Whale from Prehistory.

Team members are looking forward to receiving the PNSO Requena the Livyatan model in stock next month (November 2021).

To view the range of PNSO prehistoric animal models in stock at Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Prehistoric Animal Models.

24 10, 2021

CollectA Prehistoric Life Models in Stock

By | October 24th, 2021|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The last batch of 2021 CollectA Prehistoric Life models are in stock at Everything Dinosaur. The last of the new for 2021, not-to-scale CollectA figures, the Elasmosaurus, the ammonite Pravitoceras and the mini dinosaurs model set 3 are now available from the 5-star rated, UK-based mail order company.

New for 2021 CollectA Prehistoric Life Models
Some of the new for 2021 CollectA prehistoric life models. The new heteromorph ammonite Pravitoceras (top left), the CollectA Elasmosaurus model (top right) and (lower right) the CollectA Mini Dinosaurs set 3.

CollectA Mollusc Models

The new CollectA heteromorphic ammonite Pravitoceras joins a growing line-up of invertebrate models in the Prehistoric Life range. Molluscs are particularly well-represented with a homomorphic (planispiral, regularly coiled shells) ammonite Pleuroceras, a belemnite, a nautilus (N. pompilius) and an Orthoceras replica already in the range.

CollectA Arthropods and Cephalopods new for 2020.
New CollectA arthropods and cephalopods. The new for 2021 ammonite model – Pravitoceras continues the trend of CollectA introducing replicas of important zonal fossils that assist with the dating of strata (biostratigraphy).

CollectA Elasmosaurus and Other Elasmosaurids

The new CollectA Elasmosaurus is the second elasmosaurid replica to be added to the CollectA Prehistoric Life range and the third member of the Elasmosauridae family to be represented by a CollectA figure. There was a replica of Hydrotherosaurus introduced in 2008, it was joined by the Elasmosaurus in the not-to-scale Prehistoric Life range, whilst in the CollectA Deluxe series, a replica of Thalassomedon was added in 2016.

CollectA Elasmosaurid Models
Members of the Elasmosauridae family represented by CollectA models. The new for 2021 CollectA Elasmosaurus (top). CollectA Hydrotherosaurus (middle) and (bottom) the CollectA Deluxe 1:40 scale Thalassomedon.

Hydrotherosaurus and Elasmosaurus are closely related, members of the subfamily the Elasmosaurinae whilst Thalassomedon is more distantly related to these two plesiosaurs, it having lived some 25 million years earlier than both Hydrotherosaurus and Elasmosaurus.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Over the last twelve years or so, the CollectA Prehistoric Life series has expanded and it now consists of over a hundred models. There are dinosaurs, ancient Palaeozoic creatures and plenty of marine reptiles too”.

To see the range of CollectA not-to-scale prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Life.

23 10, 2021

Autumn Storms Bring Fossils

By | October 23rd, 2021|Adobe CS5, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The autumn weather is definitely with us and as the nights draw in and cold winds begin to bite, we can be comforted by the fact that bad weather, particularly storms around the coast of the British Isles will expose more fossils for collectors to find.

With the tourist season in the UK ending (Covid-19 restrictions preventing many people from travelling to holiday destinations), local fossil collectors will have the deserted beaches to themselves. Hopefully, the storms this autumn will bring lots of material out from the cliffs and down to the foreshore, enabling eagle-eyed fossil hunters to discover a few choice specimens to add to their collection.

Ammonite fossils (Dactylioceras).
Some fine examples of ammonite fossils – a successful fossil hunt! The ammonite fossils are Dactylioceras – a common ammonite from strata dating from the Lower Jurassic.

Stay Safe When Collecting Fossils

Storms and bad weather can make cliffs even more dangerous than usual. The cliffs could become saturated with water and this can cause mud slips and landslides. Falling rocks are also a hazard. We urge all fossil collectors to take extreme care when out fossil hunting on beaches and to avoid getting too close to the cliffs.

We advise that fossil hunters make themselves aware of the fossil collecting code, full details of which can be found on an earlier Everything Dinosaur blog post here: The Fossil Collecting Code.

Fossil hunting is an enjoyable and rewarding hobby, however, we urge all fossil hunters to consider their safety and the safety of the others in their group if they intend to take advantage of recent bad weather to go fossil collecting.

22 10, 2021

Early Dinosaurs Lived in Herds

By | October 22nd, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Researchers studying an extensive dinosaur nesting site associated with the Early Jurassic sauropodomorph Mussaurus patagonicus have suggested that these dinosaurs migrated to preferred colonial nesting areas and indulged in complex social behaviours. Articulated skeletons grouped in clusters of individuals of approximately the same age indicate the presence of social cohesion throughout life and age-segregation within a herd structure. This is the earliest evidence found to date of complex behaviours within the Dinosauria and the researchers postulate that their social behaviour may have been a key factor in their rise to dominance.

Mussaurus patagonicus nesting site.
New research on an extensive dinosaur nesting site in Patagonia suggests that early dinosaurs were highly social and lived in herds. A life reconstruction of the Mussaurus patagonicus nesting site. Picture credit: Jorge Gonzalez.

Dinosaurs Living in Herds

Substantial evidence has been uncovered to demonstrate that different types of herbivorous dinosaurs lived in herds. There are extensive trackways and substantial hadrosaur and ceratopsian bonebeds dating from the Late Cretaceous, there has also been some evidence, albeit controversial, to suggest that some meat-eating dinosaurs lived in packs or family groups, but when did this sort of behaviour evolve in the Dinosauria? A team of international researchers studying a 192-million-year-old nesting ground located in southern Argentina (Santa Cruz Province), have demonstrated that complex social behaviours existed in sauropodomorphs.

The site, which covers an area of approximately 1,000 square metres, the locality representing river and lake deposits part of the Laguna Colorada Formation, has yielded over 100 fossil eggs in various degrees of association, from individual finds to entire clutches and over 80 specimens of Mussaurus patagonicus, at very stages of growth from embryos to fully grown adults.

Map and stratigraphic section of the Laguna Colorada type locality.
Locality map and stratigraphic section of the Laguna Colorada type locality. (a) general map of fossil findings at the locality (red dots represent skeletal remains of M. patagonicus and blue dots represents eggs or nests, (b) detailed map of area with high fossil density (including associated juveniles, neonates, and nests). General stratigraphic section of the type locality (c) showing the position of skeletal remains and eggs/nests of M. patagonicus; (d) detailed stratigraphic section of the 3 m-thick interval with the highest concentration of Mussaurus skeletons and eggs. Picture credit: Pol et al.

The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF)

Thirty fossil eggs were selected to take the trip to the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France for further, detailed study. Once at the facility, the eggs were bombarded with powerful, high-intensity X-rays so that their contents could be revealed. This non-destructive technique permitted the research team, which was led by Diego Pol, a palaeontologist at CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas), the Government agency that fosters science and technology in Argentina, to confirm that the eggs were those of Mussaurus patagonicus. The high-resolution computed tomography revealed fossilised embryos of Mussaurus within some of the eggs and showed all these fossils belong to a communal breeding site of a single dinosaur species.

Mussaurus patagonicus fossils.
Fossil specimens from the nesting colony (a) nest, (b) single egg, (c) egg with embryo, jaw of embryo (d) with a line drawing of an embryo (e). Skull anatomy compared (f) embryo, skull of juvenile (h), skull of adult (j). Associated skeletons of juveniles (g) and associated skeletons of two adults (i) with (k) growth series for Mussaurus patagonicus and bone histology indicating ages (l-o). Picture credit: Pol et al.

An Organised and Regimented Herd Structure

Field work revealed that the Mussaurus skeletons were not randomly scattered across the site. They were clustered together according to their age. Babies were found in close proximity to the nests as would have been expected. However, the remains of one-year-olds were found closely associated with each other, including a group of eleven skeletons all preserved in the same resting pose. This suggests that Mussaurus youngsters stayed together, probably for protection against predators.

Intriguingly, the fossilised remains of adults and sub-adults were frequently found alone or in pairs. Perhaps the pair represented a male and female, which had got together for the breeding season.

The team which included Vincent Fernandez, a palaeontologist at the London Natural History Museum and former ESRF scientist, undertook histological analysis of thin sections of fossil bone so that they could observe the lines of arrested growth (LAGs) and calculate the age of the dinosaur.

Lead author Diego Pol explained:

“The bones of these dinosaurs grew in annual cycles, much as the tree rings, so by counting the growth cycles we could infer the age of the dinosaur”.

Social Behaviour – Key to the Success of the Dinosauria?

The location had proved difficult to date. Previous studies had suggested the site was much older, the deposits thought to have been laid down in the Late Triassic, but the team were able to accurately date the fossil site by plotting the decay of uranium to lead in zircon crystals found in siltstones in a fossil bearing layer (U–Pb zircon geochronology). The results prove that the Mussaurus nesting colonies were formed around 192 million years ago (Sinemurian faunal stage of the Early Jurassic). As fossil bones were found at several distinct layers, this suggests that these dinosaurs returned to this favoured nesting site year after year.

The researchers conclude that Mussaurus lived in well-organised herds and this is the first time these complex behaviours have been recorded in an early dinosaur. It pre-dates other records of dinosaur social behaviour by more than 40 million years. Furthermore, by studying colonial nesting in the similarly aged early sauropodomorphs Lufengosaurus from China and Massospondylus from South Africa, the team suggest that complex nesting behaviours and organised herd structures emerged very early in dinosaur evolution.

Mussaurus fossil egg.
The fossilised remains of a Mussaurus preserved inside an egg. Thirty eggs from the site were analysed using computed tomography confirming that this was a nest site occupied by a single dinosaur species. Picture credit: Diego Pol (CONICET).

Living in herds, exhibiting complex social behaviours and breeding in colonies at preferred nesting locations may have contributed to the success of these early dinosaurs, which enabled sauropodomorphs to become a mainstay of terrestrial ecosystems, laying the foundation for the success of the Sauropoda for most of the Mesozoic.

To read a related article on Mussaurus patagonicus from 2019, that looks at how the Laguna Colorada fossil site has helped palaeontologists to understand dinosaur locomotion: Some Baby Dinosaurs Crawled Before Learning to Walk on Two Legs.

The scientific paper: “Earliest evidence of herd-living and age segregation amongst dinosaurs” by Diego Pol, Adriana C. Mancuso, Roger M. H. Smith, Claudia A. Marsicano, Jahandar Ramezani, Ignacio A. Cerda, Alejandro Otero and Vincent Fernandez published in Scientific Reports.

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