The Papo red Styracosaurus has been retired. Production stopped a while ago, however, the dedicated team members at Everything Dinosaur were able to source a few models with the collaboration of their chums at Papo.
Originally introduced into the Papo “Les Dinosaures” range back in 2011, this popular horned dinosaur figure is being replaced by a green colour variant. A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated that as model collectors themselves, they can understand how customers feel if a model is retired and out of production before they have had the chance to add it to their collection.
The spokesperson explained:
“We have worked tirelessly to source a limited number of these rare red Styracosaurus figures. We have done this to help and support our customers. We have also ensured that although this figure is rare, we have not put it on-line at a ridiculous price, we know how other platforms rapidly raise their prices once they realise a model is out of production.”
Papo Product Packaging
The Papo red Styracosaurus figure will be supplied by Everything Dinosaur in a clear, re-sealable plastic bag. This is different from the normal Papo packaging and reflects the fact that only a few of these replicas were at the factory. Each model is contained in its own re-sealable and therefore re-useable plastic packaging.
Time to praise CollectA for adding some superb replicas of prehistoric cephalopods to the “Prehistoric Life” model collection including a Pleuroceras ammonite, a nautilus and a Cooperoceras replica.
The picture (above) shows the bizarre Palaeozoic nautiloid Cooperoceras (left). The CollectA Pleuroceras ammonite (centre) a replica of a geographically widespread ammonite known from Lower Jurassic strata and on the right is a replica of the extant, chambered nautilus N. pompilius, which is distantly related to Cooperoceras.
The Cephalopoda (cephalopods) are a class within the huge Mollusca phylum. The cephalopods which include extant squid, cuttlefish and octopi as well as extinct forms such as ammonites and indeed belemnites, only make up a small proportion of the genera within the Mollusca. The most successful molluscs in terms of the number of species and habitat range are the gastropods (slugs and snails). It has been calculated that more than three-quarters of all the molluscs known to science are members of the Gastropoda class. The Mollusca phylum is itself, the second largest phyla within the Kingdom Animalia (the largest being the Arthropoda).
Still, that is enough musing about invertebrate taxonomy for now, it is just great to be able to stock a fabulous selection of cephalopod models, including this trio of CollectA cephalopods.
CollectA Age of Dinosaurs “Prehistoric Life” Figures
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur praised CollectA for producing such a wide range of prehistoric animal figures. The cephalopod models have proved particularly popular with fossil collectors, they have been able to add a replica of the living animal to their fossil display cabinets.
Back in June (2022), Everything Dinosaur team members wrote about the “White Rock spinosaurid”*, what could turn out to be the biggest predatory dinosaur found to date in Europe. At the time, many media outlets mistakenly reported that these fossils, found on the Isle of Wight, represented “Europe’s biggest dinosaur”. Not true, the remains of what could be the largest dinosaur ever discovered in Europe are being excavated in a Portuguese back garden.
The first fossils were uncovered in 2017 when the property owner in the city of Pombal, in the Leiria District, central Portugal, began construction work in the garden. The strata in this area of Portugal were laid down approximately 150 million years ago (Upper Jurassic) and the fossils are from a sauropod, a long-necked, long-tailed herbivore that could have measured more than 25 metres long.
A joint Spanish/Portuguese field team have been working to expose, stabilise and remove the fossilised bones. In the picture above, two ribs have been coated in plaster and burlap in preparation for their removal from the site.
A European Brachiosaurid
Tentatively described as a member of the Brachiosauridae family, parts of the backbone and ribs have been excavated so far. The bones were found in virtually their original articulated and anatomical position.
Elisabete Malafaia, post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and member of the field team excavating the giant bones stated that it was extremely unusual to find all the ribs of a sauropod, almost entirely intact. The skeleton was found in the position that the dinosaur probably died in, no post-mortem transport of the corpse took place.
The field team are optimistic that more bones remain buried, including the skull. To find an almost complete skeleton of this type of dinosaur would be a truly remarkable discovery with the potential to provide scientists with an enormous amount of data on Late Jurassic sauropods.
A Member of the Macronaria
The Neosauropoda clade, a sub-group within the Sauropoda is divided into two sub-clades. The Diplodocoidea and the Macronaria. The Macronaria are distinguished by having a large nasal (external naris), the diameter of the nasal opening exceeding the diameter of the eye socket (orbit). Brachiosaurids and the titanosaurs, which thrived during the Cretaceous, represent some of the biggest land animals to have ever existed.
It has been speculated that the head height of the Portuguese sauropod could be as much as 12 metres, that would make this dinosaur tall enough to look over a three-storey house!
Years of Laboratory Work Ahead
Dinosaur fans will have to be patient and wait for a formal scientific description. It is likely to take several years to fully prepare and study the huge, fossilised bones, of what is probably a new dinosaur species. A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that this was an amazing fossil find and that this Portuguese discovery could rival some of the sauropod fossils found in the roughly contemporaneous Morrison Formation of the western United States.
Everything Dinosaur contacted the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon media team to request images for this blog post, we acknowledge their assistance in the compilation of this article. The University’s press team kindly responded, supplied images and wrote:
“Obrigada pelo interesse neste trabalho. Partilho aqui algumas imagens com boa resolução.”
This translates as “thank you for your interest in this work, here are some high-resolution images for you.”
We look forward to hearing more about this remarkable discovery and the eventual naming and scientific description of a huge sauropod from a Portuguese garden.
Our thanks to Caldey who sent into Everything Dinosaur her illustration of the ferocious, crimson coloured Pyroraptor that featured recently in the film “Jurassic World Dominion”.
Formally named and scientifically described in 2000 (Allain and Taquet), this theropod dinosaur is known from fragmentary fossil material including teeth found in south-eastern France and eastern Spain. When described it was assigned to the Dromaeosauridae, but the limited fossil material associated with this genus makes a definitive taxonomic assessment difficult. Recent phylogenetic assessments have placed Pyroraptor within the dromaeosaurid sub-family the Unenlagiinae. However, some palaeontologists have proposed that unenlagiines with their characteristic long and slender snouts, might represent an entirely different family of theropods and therefore should not be classified within the Dromaeosauridae.
Caldey has chosen to echo the Pyroraptor as seen in the recent movie. It is depicted as a formidable predator with powerful jaws. In the film, this feathered “raptor” was revealed to be an accomplished swimmer.
Our thanks to Caldey for sending into Everything Dinosaur her Pyroraptor drawing.
An international team of researchers have uncovered the remains of a huge mosasaur, one that was adapted to hypercarnivory and was an apex predator in the shallow seas of North Africa around 66 million years ago. In addition, the scientists have unearthed remains of other marine vertebrates that shared this giant’s habitat. Acid damage on the bones suggest that these animals were prey and ingested by mosasaurids potentially this new leviathan named Thalassotitan atrox.
Late Cretaceous Marine Giant
The remains of this Late Cretaceous marine giant, including a 1.4-metre-long-skull were excavated from the Upper Cretaceous, phosphatic beds of the Ouled Abdoun Basin (northern Morocco). High sea levels created a shallow, tropical sea that teemed with life in North Africa and at the very end of the Cretaceous, approximately 66 million years ago (Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Cretaceous), the 9-metre-long Thalassotitan was the apex marine predator.
A Contemporary of Tyrannosaurus rex
Thalassotitan atrox was a mosasaur, which are extinct members of the largest order of reptiles the Squamata. As such, Thalassotitan was more closely related to snakes and lizards than it was to archosaurs such as crocodilians and the Dinosauria. However, it was a contemporary of Tyrannosaurus rex and like T. rex it was a hypercarnivore, attacking and feeding upon other large vertebrates.
An Apex Predator
The massive jaws and robust, conical teeth suggest that Thalassotitan was an apex predator, filling a similar environmental nice as Orcas (Orcinus orca) and the Great White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in extant marine ecosystems. The research team, who included Dr Nick Longrich, Senior Lecturer from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath and lead author on the study, published in the journal Cretaceous Research, postulate that the acid-etched fossilised bones of other vertebrates found in the same deposit might represent prey ingested by mosasaurids, likely Thalassotitan.
Thalassotitan’s large teeth are often broken and show extensive signs of wear, with some teeth in the jaws worn down to the root. Piscivory (fish-eating) would not have caused this damage, the scientists conclude that this is evidence to support the theory that Thalassotitan was an apex predator.
Dr Longrich commented:
“Thalassotitan was an amazing, terrifying animal. Imagine a Komodo Dragon crossed with a great white shark crossed with a T. rex crossed with a killer whale.”
Thalassotitan’s Potential Victims
The scientists comment that possible remains of Thalassotitan’s victims may have been found. Fossils from the same beds show damage from acid, perhaps evidence of their partial digestion in the stomach of Thalassotitan before the bones and teeth were regurgitated. Fossils with this particular damage include large predatory fish, a sea turtle, a half-metre-long elasmosaurid (plesiosaur) skull, and jaws and skulls of at least three different mosasaur species.
Dr Longrich explained the significance of the acid etched fossil bones and teeth stating:
“It’s circumstantial evidence. We can’t say for certain which species of animal ate all these other mosasaurs. But we have the bones of marine reptiles killed and eaten by a large predator and in the same location, we find Thalassotitan, a species that fits the profile of the killer – it’s a mosasaur specialised to prey on other marine reptiles. That’s probably not a coincidence.”
Mosasaurids Not in Decline Immediately Prior to their Extinction
The discovery of T. atrox along with the other dozen or so mosasaurid genera identified from fossils found in the Ouled Abdoun Basin suggests that mosasaurs continued to diversify and fill new niches until their extinction at the end of the Cretaceous. These marine lizards probably filled ecological niches vacated by the recently extinct ichthyosaurs and they may have out-competed plesiosaurs. The mosasaurs were probably not in decline prior to the end-Cretaceous extinction event.
Co-author of the scientific paper, Professor Nour-Eddine Jalil (Muséum National D’Histoire Naturelle, Paris), added:
“The phosphate fossils of Morocco offer an unparalleled window on the paleobiodiversity at the end of Cretaceous. They tell us how life was rich and diversified just before the end of the ‘dinosaur era’, where animals had to specialise to have a place in their ecosystems. Thalassotitan completes the picture by taking on the role of the megapredator at the top of the food chain.”
A Threat to Other Marine Animals and to Other Thalassotitans
Extensive pathology associated with the fossilised remains of Thalassotitan indicate that these large mosasaurs sustained injuries as a result of combat. Injuries not only sustained through predation but also during intra-specific combat – fights with members of their own species. The skull and jaws show signs of injury. Other mosasaur fossils have similar pathology, but in Thalassotitan these wounds were exceptionally common, suggesting frequent, intense fights over feeding grounds or mates.
Merciless Sea Monster
Although not the largest mosasaurid described to date, specimens from the Tylosaurus and Hainosaurus genera indicate body lengths in excess of twelve metres, Thalassotitan was a formidable predator, and this is emphasised by the binomial scientific name chosen by the research team. The genus name is from the Greek for “sea monster” or “sea titan” and the species name means “cruel or merciless”
Phylogenetic analysis recovers Thalassotitan as a close relative of Prognathodon currii and P. saturator within the Mosasauridae tribe the Prognathodontini. Prognathodon is represented by numerous species all known from the end of the Cretaceous (Campanian to Maastrichtian faunal stages). Prognathodon species are characterised by very robust skulls, with powerful jaws.
More Discoveries Waiting to be Made
Dr Longrich and his colleagues stressed the importance of the prehistoric animal fossils from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco and hinted that further exciting discoveries are likely to be made.
“There’s so much more to be done. Morocco has one of the richest and most diverse marine faunas known from the Cretaceous. We’re just getting started understanding the diversity and the biology of the mosasaurs.”
The extensive, Upper Cretaceous phosphate beds of the Ouled Abdoun Basin have proved palaeontologists with more than a dozen species of mosasaurid to study. Many of these mosasaurs show anatomical adaptations that permitted them to exploit different niches in the ecosystem (niche partitioning). For example, Gavialimimus (G. almaghribensis) had a long, narrow jaw lined with interlocking teeth suggesting that this mosasaur specialised in hunting small fish. In contrast the recently described Pluridens serpentis had disproportionately small eyes, suggesting that this mosasaurid either hunted at depth or within murky water.
Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the University of Bath in the compilation of this article.
The scientific paper: “Thalassotitan atrox, a giant predatory mosasaurid (Squamata) from the Upper Maastrichtian Phosphates of Morocco” by Nicholas R. Longrich, Nour-Eddine Jalil, Fatima Khaldoune, Oussama Khadiri Yazami, Xabier Pereda-Suberbiola, and Nathalie Bardet published in Cretaceous Research.
Today, is the first day of industrial action by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) which will have an impact on the postal services of Royal Mail. Everything Dinosaur team members have put in place measures to protect customers and to minimise the disruption to parcel collection and deliveries.
However, despite our best efforts, there will be delays to UK deliveries and as overseas parcels handled by Royal Mail will also be affected, our customers outside the UK will also face delays in receiving their parcels.
Four Days of Industrial Action Planned
The CWU has called on its members who collect, sort and deliver parcels and letters to take strike action. Four days of industrial action have been announced, starting with today (26th August). Further strike action is planned for Wednesday 31st August, with two further strikes scheduled for September (8th and 9th of September).
Royal Mail has released the following statement:
“We’re really sorry for the disruption that this strike action is likely to cause to you. We want to reassure you we will do everything we can to minimise disruption and get our services back to normal as quickly as possible. Royal Mail has well-developed contingency plans, but they cannot fully replace the daily efforts of its frontline workforce. We will be doing what we can to keep services running, but customers should expect significant disruption.”
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur confirmed that the UK-based mail order company was not expecting any collections by Royal Mail today. Parcels would still be packed and prepared for collection, but with the Bank Holiday Monday, the earliest deliveries could be sent out would be Tuesday 30th August.
Staff would be working over the weekend and during the Bank Holiday to ensure that as many parcels as possible could be sent out on Tuesday 30th August.
It is hoped that some collection services would be able to take place as Royal Mail management adjusts to the industrial action, but delays to parcel deliveries were inevitable.
Royal Mail has issued advice to its customers stating that it was sensible to “post items as early as possible in advance of the strike dates”. This would help to minimise the disruption.
Industrial action at the Port of Felixstowe could have an impact on the availability of goods, including Everything Dinosaur’s range of prehistoric animal models and figures in the crucial sales period leading up to Christmas.
Recently, staff at Felixstowe Port, one of the busiest ports in Europe, started industrial action in a dispute over pay. If the dispute is not resolved and further strike action follows, this could have an impact on the range of items available and inventory in the vital retail period – quarter 4.
The Port of Felixstowe
The Port of Felixstowe is the UK’s biggest and busiest container port, and one of the largest in Europe. It handles over 4 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) per year, around 2,000 container ships, including some of the biggest vessels afloat, unload at Felixstowe each year. The port is a vital component of Britain’s commercial infrastructure. If industrial action continues into the autumn, then this could cause significant disruption to already stretched supply chains in the lead up to Christmas.
All sorts of sectors of the UK economy could be affected including legal importers of prehistoric animal models and figures such as Everything Dinosaur.
A spokesperson from the UK-based company commented:
“We continue to monitor the situation and we are working closely with our freight forwarding contacts to mitigate the impact of any disruption to supplies and minimise any inconvenience for our customers.”
Shop Early for Christmas
Whilst alternative ports are a possibility, continued and prolonged industrial action at Felixstowe could have a knock-on effect for the UK supply chain and result in a shortage of products available in shops. Commentators have advised that customers shop early for Christmas as one way of minimising the potential impact of these strikes.
The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained that as the company had their own warehouse, they had been able to build up considerable stock of prehistoric animal models and figures as well as dinosaur toys. It was stressed that deliveries to the warehouse were still taking place.
The Everything Dinosaur spokesperson added:
“We do have shipments arriving at Felixstowe and there are shipments already scheduled and further ones being planned. We have been able to build up our inventory and we currently have thousands of items in stock which should provide some reassurance to our customers.”
Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the Head of Corporate Affairs at the Port of Felixstowe in the compilation of this article.
Earlier this year, (spring 2022), PNSO announced that they would be adding a 1:35 scale replica of an adult Torosaurus and juvenile to their scientific art series. The PNSO Aubrey and Dabei Torosaurus models are in stock and have been proving to be very popular amongst dinosaur fans and model collectors.
Torosaurus Figures in 1/35th Scale
The Torosaurus pair (Aubrey and Dabei) are part of the highly successful 1:35 scale scientific art models series from PNSO. Torosaurus is the second ceratopsian to be featured after the initial introduction of the Triceratops figure (Doyle).
Aubrey, the adult Torosaurus measures an impressive 23 cm in length. The beautiful headshield with its stunning eyespots over the fenestrae stands over 12 cm off the ground. The baby Torosaurus (Dabei) measures approximately 5.5 cm long.
Torosaurus (T. latus) was formally named and described in 1891 (Othniel Charles Marsh), and is one of the largest, and youngest of the chasmosaurine horned dinosaurs known to science. Fossils have been ascribed to this genus from Upper Cretaceous deposits from both the USA and Canada, although the identification of some of these specimens as Torosaurus fossils remains controversial.
Compared to the closely related Triceratops, fossils of Torosaurus are much rarer.
Twenty Scientific Art Posters
The PNSO Aubrey and Dabei Torosaurus models are supplied with a 48-page, fully illustrated booklet, 7 drawing cards and twenty scientific art posters featuring the two dinosaur figures.
PNSO have earned a deserved reputation for the breadth and depth of their prehistoric animal model range. To view the wide range of PNSO figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs Models and Figures.
CollectA have supplied Everything Dinosaur with some further images of their new for 2022 prehistoric animal figures including a life reconstruction of the CollectA Cooperoceras model. Part of the CollectA Prehistoric World “Other Prehistoric Animals” series, the replica of Cooperoceras (C. texanum) is shown against a seascape backdrop.
Cooperoceras was an early nautiloid with a shell measuring approximately 4 inches (10 cm) long and 3 inches (7.5 cm) high. Its fossils are associated with Upper Carboniferous and Permian marine strata. The type species C. texanum was collected from the Glass Mountains and Sierra Diablo areas of Texas. These deposits contain many cephalopod fossils, and they were laid down in a shallow marine environment. The presence of photosynthesising plants in background of the Cooperoceras seascape indicate that the design team at CollectA wanted to portray Cooperoceras as a shallow water genus.
Cooperoceras along with other nautiloids is regarded as an important zonal fossil by invertebrate palaeontologists. It helps scientists to correlate the relative ages of geographically distant strata based on the fossil specimens contained therein.
A Cooperoceras Fact Sheet
Everything Dinosaur commissioned an illustration of this Palaeozoic cephalopod which could be used in a fact sheet sent out with sales of this new for 2022 CollectA model.
The function of the recurvant spines on the shell remains a mystery, although they are thought to have played a role in defence or possibly denoted sexual maturity.
CollectA are to be congratulated for introducing a range of prehistoric animal replicas that represent iconic fossil invertebrates. In recent years, the company has produced a trilobite (Redlichia rex), a model of an Orthoceras, a belemnite and a replica of the extant Horseshoe crab. Furthermore, an ammonite model (Pleuroceras) and a model of the pearly nautilus have been added to the CollectA series.
A dragonfly has been spotted by Everything Dinosaur team members on a small patch of grass next to a drainage ditch outside the company’s warehouse. This is the first time that a dragonfly has been seen in the vicinity of the Everything Dinosaur warehouse. There is a small area of grass next to a drainage ditch and we suspect the dragonfly, possibly a male Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum) emerged from the ditch during the recent hot weather. Our litter picking and tidying up of this small body of water outside our warehouse is paying dividends.
A Haven for Wildlife
The ditch is a haven for wildlife, and we have spotted several different species of water snails including the Great Pond Snail (Lymnaea stagnalis) and the Great Ramshorn (Planorbarius corneus). There are also small fish – we suspect Stickleback (Gasterosteidae family). There may also be frogs and newts, although we have not observed any amphibians to date, although we were visited by a young Mallard duck a few weeks ago.
Photographing the dragonfly was tricky, we could not get that close to our subject, but we tried our best.
A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that it was always exciting to see a dragonfly. Due to loss of habitat and pollution, these magnificent insects are under threat in many parts of the UK. The earliest dragonfly fossils are known from the Carboniferous. Some of these Carboniferous forms (Meganisoptera order) were huge with wingspans in excess of sixty centimetres. Extant dragonflies (Odonata) are distantly related to these ancient, winged insects, the Odonata lineage may have evolved in the Late Permian.
The office pond has also produced dragonflies, although no Common darters. As the mature nymphs emerge from the pond, they climb up plant stems and prepare to shed their external skeletons and emerge as winged adults (Ecdysis).
Team members have already spotted several exuviae (shed exoskeletons) around the pond.
Let’s hope we see a few more dragonflies before the end of summer.