Today, we continue our look back at the most popular blog posts that Everything Dinosaur published this year. Yesterday, we reviewed January through to June, and now we turn our attention to the favourite blog posts from the last six months.
Heatwaves in England made working outside extremely arduous and palaeontologists had to deal with the oppressive heat as they explored a fossil site exposed in a farmer’s field in Gloucestershire. The dedicated team unearthed some spectacular specimens including some superb Jurassic fish fossils.
It may have been hot in England, but we suspect Portugal in August was hotter still as a team of researchers struggled to unearth the fossilised remains of a sauropod dinosaur that had been discovered in the back garden of a house in Leiria district (central Portugal).
In September, Everything Dinosaur blogged about “April”, not the month but a remarkable Tenontosaurus fossil skeleton nicknamed “April” that was being restored ready for a new dinosaur gallery at the Manchester Museum.
The refurbished Manchester Museum complete with “April” is due to open in February 2023.
The first accurate skeletal reconstruction of a fossil specimen discovered in Scotland more than a century ago, provided new information on the evolutionary history of pterosaurs. Our blog about the research went live early in October.
November was a time to blow our own trumpet to some extent as Everything Dinosaur won the Excellence in Customer Service Award. We posted about our success and included a Papo green Styracosaurus dinosaur model in the photograph that showed our trophy.
Drawing our two-part feature on favourite blog posts of 2022 to a close, we come to December and in this month we blogged about new Rebor replicas, future PNSO dinosaurs, Beasts of the Mesozoic replicas and CollectA figures. However, just as we began 2022 looking at research highlighting stomach contents in a long extinct animal we returned to that subject in December, covering the discovery of a small mammal’s foot found inside the body cavity of a Microraptor (M. zhaoianus). This study, led by Dr David Hone (Queen Mary University of London), demonstrated that Microraptor was a generalist – feeding on a wide variety of small creatures including mammals.
At this time of year, Everything Dinosaur looks back on their favourite blog posts of 2022. The weblog posts that team members have created, and we list the favourite articles of 2022. This is quite a challenge given the enormous number of subjects that we have covered in the last twelve months. Our blog looks at advances in the Earth sciences, fossil finds, dinosaur research, new prehistoric animal models, provides book reviews and covers all sorts of stories and features associated with dinosaur models and model collecting.
So, without further fuss here is a countdown of our favourite and most popular articles from January to June 2022.
Favourite Blog Posts
In January, team members posted up several videos of the recently introduced Rebor Smilodon replicas. These popular models, proved to be excellent figures to highlight on Everything Dinosaur’s YouTube channel. These short videos gave viewers the opportunity to see these exciting models in close detail.
February may have been the shortest month, but there was no shortage of interesting fossil discoveries to write about. One of the most popular articles dealt with the discovery of a crocodile fossil from Australia that preserved the remains of its last meal – a small dinosaur.
Predator prey interactions are extremely rare in the fossil record, and this is the first documented instance of a crocodilian eating a dinosaur from Australia.
The world of palaeontology was rocked in March when a paper was published postulating that the species known as Tyrannosaurus rex was actually three! The paper caused a lot of controversy and debate as the fossils of arguably the most iconic dinosaur of all were divided into three.
Back in time we went in April, all the way back to the Cambrian. A newly published paper proposed that the bryozoans, an ancient group of miniature, aquatic invertebrates had their origins in the Early Cambrian. Remarkably, these tiny animals are an important constituent of modern marine ecosystems and are largely unchanged over 500 million years.
In May, the spectacular five-part, television documentary series “Prehistoric Planet” aired on Apple+ TV. Everything Dinosaur team members were given the opportunity to view all the programmes and this series has gone onto win many accolades and awards. Our congratulations to all those involved. “Prehistoric Planet” was one of the television highlights of the year.
We blogged about the programmes, and we think this series was far superior to the big film that came out later in the summer – “Jurassic World Dominion”.
The “White Rock Spinosaurid”
As we moved into the middle of the year, news broke of yet another theropod dinosaur discovery from the Isle of Wight. Fragmentary fossils found on the island, hinted at a ten-metre-plus spinosaurid that could represent the largest carnivorous dinosaur discovered to date in Europe.
Nicknamed the “White Rock spinosaurid”, after the geological layer in which the fossils were found, the discovery demonstrated that even in areas that have been extensively mapped, explored and visited by thousands of holidaymakers every year, the rocks still hold surprises. Better still, a researcher on the paper Dr Darren Naish, played a pivotal role in “Prehistoric Planet” acting as one of the scientific advisors.
In today’s blog post we look at the dwarf nodosaurid Patagopelta (P. cristata), which was formally named and described earlier this month.
A new, very small, armoured dinosaur has been named and described from fossils found in Argentina. The dinosaur which measured around 2 to 2.3 metres in length (based on the dimensions of the femur), suggests that some members of the Nodosauridae in Gondwana became smaller in the Late Cretaceous, perhaps as armoured dinosaurs in South America were under evolutionary pressure from other ornithischians and titanosaurs.
Dwarf Nodosaurid Patagopelta
Fragmentary remains of Late Cretaceous armoured dinosaurs are known from Chile and Argentina, but little work had been undertaken to assess these specimens and to review their phylogeny and taxonomic relationship with other members of the Ankylosauria clade from North America and elsewhere in the world.
Writing in the ” Journal of Systematic Palaeontology”, the researchers led by Facundo Riguetti, a CONICET doctoral fellow, reassessed the known ankylosaur material in conjunction with some other recently found fossils and, as a result, they were able to establish a new nodosaurid species from bones and a single tooth found in sediments of the Allen Formation (Campanian–Maastrichtian) in Salitral Moreno, Río Negro Province (northern Patagonia).
The dinosaur’s genus name translates as “Patagonian shield” whilst the trivial name derives from the Latin for crest – a reference to the diagnostic crests on both the anterior surface of the femur and the lateral osteoderms of the cervical rings.
Dr Riguetti commented:
“The importance of the study lies in the fact that Patagopelta is the first species of Ankylosauria described for the continental territory of Argentina, which fills the existing gap for this group and adds a new thyreophoran to the very few incomplete and indeterminate remains known for our country from this type of ornithischian dinosaur.”
The Right Femur
The best-preserved fossil element is the right femur, which is complete and shows typical anatomical characteristics associated with the Nodosauridae. This bone along with the distinctive cervical osteoderms led to the erection of this new species. As the femur is only 25 cm in length and bone histology suggests an adult animal, the researchers conclude that Patagopelta was a dwarf form of armoured dinosaur.
Co-author Sebastián Apesteguía, a CONICET researcher, explained:
“For an armoured dinosaur, Patagopelta is extremely small. Due to the size of the femur, only 25 centimetres in length, we estimate that the animal must have been between two and three meters long, while, in general, ankylosaurs are medium-sized or large animals, with an average length of between four and five metres.”
A Faunal Exchange Across the Americas
Although it is thought that the Nodosauridae evolved in the Northern Hemisphere, towards the end of the Cretaceous (Campanian – Maastrichtian), a land bridge existed between North America and South America that permitted a faunal exchange. Titanosaurs migrated north, which explains why fossils of titanosaurs such as Alamosaurus occur in the USA. Ornithischian dinosaurs such as hadrosaurs and nodosaurids moved south.
The image above shows a typical Late Cretaceous titanosaur, for models of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs including titanosaurs and armoured dinosaurs: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.
Sebastián Apesteguía added:
“That is why in South America we only expect to find animals like Patagopelta in rocks from the Late Cretaceous, just before the global extinction of the dinosaurs took place.”
Dwarfism in Late Cretaceous South American Thyreophora
The size of Patagopelta along with the recently described Stegouros (Soto-Acuña et al, 2021)*, from southernmost Chile, suggests that armoured dinosaurs in South America may have gradually become smaller. This trait is not known in members of the Thyreophora described from other parts of the world. Palaeontologists have speculated that perhaps competition from titanosaurs and the migration of hadrosaurs into South America might have led to armoured dinosaurs adapting to different ecological niches to avoid competition. By being smaller these animals needed fewer resources than larger, contemporaneous herbivorous dinosaurs.
It has also been suggested that the geology of Patagonia where the fossils of Patagopelta were found might provide a clue to the dwarfism. Geologists are aware of several Late Cretaceous marine transgressions in the region. This might have led to the establishment of an island archipelago with dinosaurs living on these small islands gradually become smaller due to a scarcity of resources (the “island rule”).
Tracks of Dwarf Ankylosaurs
Members of the Patagopelta research team had previously described tracks of dwarf ankylosaurs, possibly affected by similar circumstances, preserved in Upper Cretaceous deposits in Bolivia.
Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) in the compilation of this article.
The scientific paper: “A new small-bodied ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of North Patagonia (Río Negro Province, Argentina)” by Facundo Riguetti, Xabier Pereda-Suberbiola, Denis Ponce, Leonardo Salgado, Sebastián Apesteguía, Sebastián Rozadilla and Victoria Arbour published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.
The new Rebor Triceratops dinosaur models have arrived at Everything Dinosaur! A fabulous pair of 1/35th scale horned dinosaurs, there is the Rebor male Triceratops Trident King and the Rebor Triceratops Trident Horn of Doom, complete with its broken and healed brow horn.
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
Rebor Triceratops Dinosaur Models
These beautifully crafted figures are the first adult Triceratops models to be made by Rebor since the famous “Fallen Queen” Triceratops replica which was originally introduced in 2015 with a second colour variant launched two years later.
A spokesperson for Everything Dinosaur exclaimed:
“These are amazing Rebor models, and each figure does have an articulated lower jaw. We are currently contacting all our customers who wanted to be notified when these remarkable horned dinosaurs arrived.”
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
Scale Models of Horned Dinosaurs
Scale models of horned dinosaurs are extremely popular with dinosaur fans and model collectors. Triceratops is perhaps, the most popular ornithischian dinosaur of all. These two ceratopsians, the Rebor male Triceratops Trident Horn of Doom and the Rebor male Triceratops Trident King are going to be gracing the model collections of lots of fans of prehistoric animal replicas.
The picture (above) shows the Rebor male Triceratops Trident Horn of Doom variation. The right brow horn has been broken and is healed. Such an injury could have been caused during intraspecific combat or perhaps when fending off an attack from a Tyrannosaurus rex.
To view the range of Rebor prehistoric animal models and figures in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Replicas.
The limited-edition Rebor Oddities Extinction models are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur. Two fantastic collectables featuring a Velociraptor. The Rebor Oddities “Extinction” Renaissance bronze version and the Rebor Oddities “Extinction” Victorian neoclassical marble have arrived at Everything Dinosaur.
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
Rebor Oddities Extinction Models
Rebor Oddities “Extinction” Victorian neoclassical marble and bronze version. A wonderful pair of limited-edition and highly detailed replicas of a Velociraptor in contemplation cast in elastic resin and polystone. The fantastic Rebor Oddities “Extinction” replicas. These figures are highly-prized collector’s items.
Holding a human skull, the Velociraptor is in deep thought sat upon a pile of books. Such is the detail in this fantastic replica that there are twenty-three books listed, one for each of our twenty-three pairs of chromosomes. The books are a combination of fiction and non-fiction and team members at Everything Dinosaur wrote a blog post in the autumn outlining the contents of this dinosaur’s extensive library.
Each display piece has been skilfully crafted, and we congratulate the design team at Rebor for producing such an inspirational pair of figures. These are certainly dinosaur models with a difference. Our personal favourite is the Rebor Oddities “Extinction” Victorian neoclassical marble figure, although we suspect both these incredible figures will prove to be extremely popular amongst collectors.
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented.
“These are very innovative figures and quite striking. We have had lots of enquiries, not just from dinosaur fans and collectors but also from academics conducting research into various aspects of the human condition. Over the next day or so, we will be emailing all those who enquired and ensuring that they know that these limited-edition figures are available.”
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
To view the Rebor Oddities Extinction models (whilst stocks last) and the rest of the Rebor range of figures in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Figures and Models.
Everything Dinosaur team members can confirm that they will be stocking the recently announced PNSO Thabo the Suchomimus dinosaur model. The figure is due to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur early next year (2023).
PNSO Thabo the Suchomimus
The new for 2023 PNSO Suchomimus model will be part of the mid-sized model range produced by this Chinese company. The Suchomimus figure will join Essien the Spinosaurus and the recently introduced Chongzuo the Sinopliosaurus as representatives of the Spinosauridae family within the PNSO model range.
This dinosaur model measures 29 cm in length and the top of the head is approximately 8.5 cm off the ground, it is about the same size of the Sinopliosaurus figure.
An Articulated Lower Jaw
A source at Everything Dinosaur confirmed that the Suchomimus model would have an articulated lower jaw. The PNSO Thabo the Suchomimus dinosaur model would also be supplied with an A3-sized Sci-Art poster, a full-colour booklet and a QR code on the box linked to a video about the model.
The Suchomimus figure is supplied with an A3-sized poster, a full-colour, 64-page booklet and a QR code on the product packaging links to a video which demonstrates how the model was made.
The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur added:
“It is fantastic to see another Spinosauridae family member added to the PNSO mid-size model range.”
The new PNSO Thabo the Suchomimus figure is due to be in stock at Everything Dinosaur in early 2023.
It is that time of year, time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas on behalf of all of us at Everything Dinosaur. Season’s greetings to you all. We will still be working over much of the holiday season and of course we will be answering emails and helping our customers as much as we can.
It will be business as usual once the Bank Holidays are over. We will be back at work sending out all the Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter items to customers in the UK and Europe. A special thank you to all those customers who sent us prehistoric animal themed Christmas cards, gifts and drawings, they certainly have brightened up the offices and the warehouse.
Back to School and to Museums
At this time of year our thoughts turn to all the amazing people that we have met as we continue our adventures. We have been busy helping science communicators and teaching teams sending out lots of free information and providing advice. For teachers and teaching assistants it has been a very busy autumn term. We hope that everyone has a very happy Christmas gets time to relax and unwind and we look forward to an exciting spring term with us continuing to support teaching work in schools.
We plan to visit a few more museums in 2023 and we are looking forward to the opening of the newly refurbished Manchester Museum that is due to re-open in February of next year.
For those of you tucking into turkey, goose or chicken on the 25th, click the link below to see the article we wrote a few years ago that shows how your Christmas dinner has a close affinity with dinosaurs: Christmas Dinner Links Dinosaurs to Birds.
On behalf of Everything Dinosaur, we wish everyone a happy Christmas.
The Beasts of the Mesozoic T. rex dinosaurs are now in stock at Everything Dinosaur. The 1:35 scale and the giant, 1:18 scale articulated replicas of Tyrannosaurus rex have arrived at the Everything Dinosaur warehouse.
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
The Beasts of the Mesozoic T. rex Figure (1:35 Scale)
The picture (above), shows the 1:35 scale Beasts of the Mesozoic articulated Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur model. This replica measures nearly 36 cm in length (14 inches) and it has twenty points of articulation.
The artwork for this model and its very much larger companion, the 1:18 scale replica, was created by R. J. Palmer.
Beasts of the Mesozoic 1:18 Scale T. rex Figure
How best to show off the superb packaging? How to give an indication of the size of the enormous 1/18th scale figure? Prior to starting to pack orders and despatch those models acquired under the Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter project, take a couple of photographs so dinosaur fans and model collectors can see for themselves.
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
The giant 1:18 scale Tyrannosaurus rex model has twenty-two points of articulation and measures a whopping 68. 5 cm (27 inches) in length.
Beasts of the Mesozoic T. rex Dinosaurs
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that these two figures were the first tyrannosaurs to come into stock and that they were part of the wave 1 introductions. The spokesperson added that team members would be working over most of the festive holiday season to ensure that orders were packed and despatched promptly.
Recently published research examining tooth shape in early members of the Dinosauria has provided new information on dinosaur diet. The very earliest known dinosaurs included carnivores, herbivores as well as omnivores. Early dinosaurs were already developing adaptations to exploit a wide variety of feeding strategies.
Picture credit: Gabriel Ugueto
Writing in the academic journal “Science Advances”, the scientists from the University of Bristol developed computer models to test the function and bite force of the teeth of a variety of early dinosaurs. These results were then compared with the data from extant lizards so that the diet could be inferred. The study shows that many groups of plant-eating ornithischian dinosaurs were ancestrally omnivorous and the ancestors of the huge sauropods, dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Dreadnoughtus and Argentinosaurus were carnivores.
The scientists conclude that the ability of the Dinosauria to diversify their diets early in their evolution probably explains their evolutionary and ecological success.
Studying the Earliest Dinosaurs
The Dinosauria dominated terrestrial ecosystems for much of the Mesozoic. However, their origins and how they came to out compete other tetrapods during the Middle to Late Triassic remains the subject of intense debate. Over a few million years, the dinosaurs seem to have rapidly diversified and moved from being essential “bit-part” players in terrestrial ecosystems dominated by other types of archosaur and synapsid to becoming the dominant group.
Analysis of trackways discovered in the Southern Alps suggests a link between extensive faunal turnover leading to the dominance of the Dinosauria and the Carnian Pluvial Episode (CPE), a period of major climate change and a shift in the types of flora.
A Wide Diversity of Different Skull and Tooth Shapes
Commenting on the implications of this study, lead author Dr Antonio Ballell stated:
“Soon after their origin, dinosaurs start to show an interesting diversity of skull and tooth shapes. For decades, this has made palaeontologists suspect that different species were already experimenting with different kinds of diets. They have compared them to modern lizard species and tried to infer what they ate based on the similarities in their teeth.”
Dr Ballell, based at the University’s School of Earth Sciences added:
“We investigated this by applying a set of computational methods to quantify the shape and function of the teeth of early dinosaurs and compare them to living reptiles that have different diets. This included mathematically modelling their tooth shapes and simulating their mechanical responses to biting forces with engineering software.”
The Plateosaurus replica (above), is part of the CollectA not-to-scale range of prehistoric animal models.
Co-author of the paper, Professor Mike Benton explained:
“With this battery of methods, we were able to numerically quantify how similar early dinosaurs were to modern animals, providing solid evidence for our inferences of diets. Theropod dinosaurs have pointy, curved and blade-like teeth with tiny serrations, which behaved like those of modern monitor lizards. In contrast, the denticulated teeth of ornithischians and sauropodomorphs are more similar to modern omnivores and herbivores, like iguanas.”
Innovative Machine Learning
This innovative research used machine learning models to group the earliest dinosaurs into different diet categories based on their jaw mechanics and tooth shape. For example, Thecodontosaurus, a dinosaur which roamed the Triassic archipelago where Bristol now stands, had teeth well adapted for feeding on plants.
Senior co-author, Bristol University’s Professor Emily Rayfield commented:
“Our analyses reveal that ornithischians, the group that includes many plant-eating species like the horned dinosaurs, the armoured ankylosaurs and the duck-billed dinosaurs started off as omnivores. Another interesting finding is that the earliest sauropodomorphs, ancestors of the veggie long-necked sauropods like Diplodocus, were carnivores. This shows that herbivory was not ancestral for any of these two lineages, countering traditional hypotheses, and that the diets of early dinosaurs were quite diverse.”
The Evolution of Different Diets
The researchers postulate that the ability for the Dinosauria to evolve different dietary habits may have played a key role in the ecological and evolutionary success.
Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the contribution of a media release from Bristol University in the compilation of this article.
The scientific paper: “Dental form and function in the early feeding diversification of dinosaurs” by Antonio Ballell, Michael J. Benton and Emily J. Rayfield published in Science Advances.
The new for 2023 Beasts of the Mesozoic Fans’ Choice Pachyrhinosaurus and Torosaurus models have arrived at Everything Dinosaur. These two, articulated horned dinosaur figures are part of the new for 2023 fourth wave of Beasts of the Mesozoic ceratopsians.
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
Pachyrhinosaurus and Torosaurus Models
The Pachyrhinosaurus (P. lakustai) and the Torosaurus (T. latus) have twenty points of articulation and are supplied with a product card and for Everything Dinosaur customers, they will of course receive one of our fact sheets, packed full of helpful information about these Late Cretaceous, North American dinosaurs.
Beasts of the Mesozoic Fans’ Choice Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai
The Beasts of the Mesozoic Fans’ Choice Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai is the second species of Pachyrhinosaurus to have been formally named and described (Currie, Langston and Tanke in 2008). This is (appropriately), the second version of this horned dinosaur to be introduced into the popular Beasts of the Mesozoic model range.
The Beasts of the Mesozoic Fans’ Choice Torosaurus latus
The Beasts of the Mesozoic Fans’ Choice Torosaurus latus is the slightly larger of the two new ceratopsian figures. It measures 45.7 cm in length (18 inches), whilst the centrosaurine replica P. lakustai measures 38.1 cm (approximately 15 inches).
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that they were delighted to have received these exciting figures into stock, slightly earlier than anticipated.
The spokesperson added:
“We shall be busy over the festive season, packing orders and despatching parcels as quickly as we can. We have arranged an extra early start tomorrow morning, so that we can get packed as many orders as possible.”