All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
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23 02, 2024

Dinocephalosaurus and the Year of the Dragon

By | February 23rd, 2024|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A team of scientists have described new specimens of Dinocephalosaurus orientalis a bizarre, Triassic marine reptile. First scientifically described in 2003 (Li Chun), this new study has permitted scientists to construct the enormous neck of this animal in detail.

Measuring up to five metres in length, Dinocephalosaurus orientalis had an extremely long and flexible neck. The neck contains a total of thirty-two vertebrae. Tanystropheus in contrast, had thirteen cervical vertebrae. In some specimens the neck is 1.7 metres in length. It is much longer than the animal’s torso. The researchers compare D. orientalis to the Tanystropheus taxon. Tanystropheus is known from the Middle Triassic of Europe and China. Whilst Tanystropheus and Dinocephalosaurus had similar body shapes, these reptiles were not closely related. The long necks seen in these two taxa are an example of convergent evolution.

Dinocephalosaurus orientalis life reconstruction.
Dinocephalosaurus orientalis swimming amongst some prehistoric fish known as Saurichthys. Picture credit: Marlene Donelly.

Dinocephalosaurus orientalis A Remarkable Marine Reptile

The scientific paper describing the animal is published in full in the academic journal Earth and Environmental Science: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh – forming the entirety of the latest volume.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Editor-in-Chief of the RSE’s academic journal Transactions, Professor Robert Ellam FRSE commented:

“This remarkable marine reptile is another example of the stunning fossils that continue to be discovered in China”.

Comparisons with Tanystropheus

Both reptiles were of similar size and have several features of the skull in common, including a fish-trap type of dentition. However, Dinocephalosaurus is unique in possessing several more vertebrae both in the neck and in the torso, giving the animal a much more snake-like appearance. The neck of Dinocephalosaurus was more flexible than the neck of Tanystropheus. The fossils analysed in the newly published paper come from the Guizhou Province of China.

Dinocephalosaurus orientalis fossil specimen.
A nearly complete and articulated specimen of Dinocephalosaurus orientalis. Picture credit: The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Dr Nick Fraser FRSE, Keeper of Natural Sciences at National Museums Scotland stated:

“This discovery allows us to see this remarkable long-necked animal in full for the very first time. It is yet one more example of the weird and wonderful world of the Triassic that continues to baffle palaeontologists. We are certain that it will capture imaginations across the globe due to its striking appearance, reminiscent of the long and snake-like, mythical Chinese Dragon.”

Appropriate for the “Year of the Dragon”

As we have now entered the Chinese “Year of the Dragon”, a new scientific paper on a Chinese reptile that superficially resembled a mythical dragon is highly appropriate. The fossils were studied over a period of ten years by researchers from Scotland, China, America and Germany.

Professor Li Chun from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology in China, the scientist who originally described Dinocephalosaurus orientalis said:

“This has been an international effort. Working together with colleagues from the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Europe, we used newly discovered specimens housed at the Chinese Academy of Sciences to build on our existing knowledge of this animal. Among all of the extraordinary finds we have made in the Triassic of Guizhou Province, Dinocephalosaurus probably stands out as the most remarkable.”

Scientists propose that Dinocephalosaurus was superbly adapted to its marine environment. Given the length of its neck, moving on land would have been difficult. A remarkable fossil described in 2017 revealed that Dinocephalosaurus was viviparous (live birth). This remains the only record of viviparity associated with the Archosauromorpha.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog post about this discovery: First Evidence of Live Birth in Ancient Dinosaur Relative.

Dinocephalosaurus orientalis – Significant Fossil Discoveries

Dr Stephan Spiekman, a postdoctoral researcher based at the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History, commented:

“As an early-career researcher, it has been an incredible experience to contribute to these significant findings. We hope that our future research will help us understand more about the evolution of this group of animals, and particularly how the elongate neck functioned.”

The paper describing the animal is published in full in the academic journal Earth and Environmental Science: Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh – forming the entirety of the latest volume. The journal was first published in 1788.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of media releases from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland in the compilation of this article.

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

22 02, 2024

300 5-star Google Reviews for an Award-winning Company

By | February 22nd, 2024|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur has received 300 5-star Google reviews. Every Google reviewer to date has awarded the UK-based mail order company top marks. Earlier today, the company’s 300th Google review was posted up. Team members expressed their gratitude and stated that they were humbled by all the kind comments they had received.

300 5-star Google reviews
Confirmation that Everything Dinosaur has received three hundred Google reviews. Team members are grateful for all the feedback received. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Visit the award-winning and highly rated Everything Dinosaur website: The Everything Dinosaur Website.

300 5-star Google Reviews

The Everything Dinosaur website has thousands of customer reviews on it. In addition, the company has been working with Feefo for many years, gathering customer feedback and comments. It is estimated that Everything Dinosaur has received over 3,500 Feefo reviews.

The company was recently awarded Feefo’s highest accolade – the Platinum Trusted Service Award.

Platinum Trusted Service Award certificate.
The Platinum Trusted Service Award certificate given to Everything Dinosaur in recognition of the company’s outstanding customer service.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“Our thanks to all the wonderful people that have provided feedback. We read every single one and we respond to all those that require a reply. What with the website, Feefo and Google we have received thousands of 5-star reviews from customers.”

300 5-star Google reviews earned by Everything Dinosaur.
Everything Dinosaur has received three hundred Google reviews. Every reviewer has awarded Everything Dinosaur five stars. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Whether it is prehistoric animal figures, clothing or dinosaur soft toys, Everything Dinosaur has got it covered. The feedback from customers demonstrates the team’s commitment to service.

For dinosaur and prehistoric animal models: Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models.

For prehistoric plush and dinosaur soft toys: Dinosaur Soft Toys.

Once again, our thanks for all the wonderful feedback that we have received.

21 02, 2024

New Schleich Stegosaurus (2024) Coming into Stock

By | February 21st, 2024|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The new Schleich Stegosaurus (2024) dinosaur model is coming into stock at Everything Dinosaur. Team members took the opportunity to photograph this new Schleich figure at the Spielwarenmesse.

Schleich Stegosaurus (2024)
The new for 2024 Schleich Stegosaurus dinosaur model. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The Schleich Stegosaurus (2024)

Schleich have chosen to give their new ornithischian figure an extremely scaly skin. Schleich prehistoric animal models are known for their tactile qualities. The design team have worked hard on creating the model’s texture. The elaborate, multi-layered plates on the back of the model are intriguing. However, we don’t think these plates are scientifically accurate.

Schleich Stegosaurus (2024)
The new for 2024 Schleich Stegosaurus dinosaur model shown in right lateral view. This photograph was taken at a recent trade show. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Schleich prehistoric animal figures currently in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Schleich Prehistoric Animal Figures.

Stegosaurus is Popular

Schleich have produced several versions of Stegosaurus over the years. This armoured dinosaur is extremely popular with children. It regularly appears in the top five of our surveys examining the popularity of prehistoric animals.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We are looking forward to receiving the new Schleich Stegosaurus. It will be stock at Everything Dinosaur very soon. The Stegosaurus joins the new for 2024 Schleich figures that are already in our warehouse. We expect the new colour version of the Schleich Brachiosaurus, the red Brachiosaurus model will arrive at the same time as the Schleich Stegosaurus.”

The new for 2024 Schleich Stegosaurus dinosaur model.
New for 2024 Schleich Stegosaurus model.

The Schleich Stegosaurus (2024) figure measures twenty centimetres in length. Those elaborate hip plates are around ten centimetres off the ground. This figure along with the Schleich red Brachiosaurus model will be in stock soon.

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

20 02, 2024

New Lambeosaurine Dinosaur Described from Morocco

By | February 20th, 2024|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A new, pony-sized Moroccan lambeosaurine dinosaur has been named and described. The new dinosaur has been named Minqaria bata. It closely resembles the only previously known African duckbill, Ajnabia odysseus. However, the shape of the jaws and teeth are unique, demonstrating it was a distinct species. Minqaria probably occupied a different ecological niche.

Minqaria life reconstruction.
A trio of lambeosaurines (Minqaria bata) wander past the corpse of a large mosasaur. Picture credit: Raul Martin.

Minqaria bata – (Arabic for “Beak” and “Duck” Respectively)

The fossils consisting of a right maxilla with teeth, a partial left dentary and the braincase come from marine phosphate deposits located at Sidi Chennane in the Oulad Abdoun Basin. The size of the fossils, the associated matrix and the lack of duplication of elements suggests that these fossils came from a single, mature dinosaur. They represent a dwarf duck-billed dinosaur, a Late Cretaceous lambeosaurine that was smaller than Ajnabia odysseus, the first hadrosaurid known from Africa (Longrich et al, 2020). M. bata is estimated to have been around 3.5 metres in length and weighed approximately 250 kilograms.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2020 blog post about Ajnabia odysseus: The First Hadrosaurid Dinosaur from Africa.

The genus name is derived from the Arabic “minqar” which means beak and the species name is from the Arabic “bata” for duck.

Minqaria skull showing placement of fossil bones.
Approximate life position of skull fossils associated with the newly described lambeosaurine taxon Minqaria bata. Picture credit: Nick Longrich.

The Diversity of North African Lambeosaurines

A humerus and femur also described in the scientific paper appear to represent lambeosaurines too. However, their size indicates that larger lambeosaurines, animals longer than six metres in length were also present in the ecosystem.

The discovery of Ajnabia in 2020 was surprising. During the Late Cretaceous, hundreds of miles of water separated North Africa from Eurasia. The new lambeosaurine fossils not only confirm the existence of lambeosaurines in North Africa, but shows they were diverse, with at least four taxa present.

The dinosaur fauna of Morocco during the Late Cretaceous.
The dinosaur fauna of Morocco during the Late Cretaceous. Picture credit: Nick Longrich.

How Did Duck-billed Dinosaurs Get to North Africa?

This new study published in the journal “Scientific Reports” reveals that not only did duckbills manage to cross the Tethys Sea, but they became highly diverse once they colonised Africa. The duck-billed dinosaurs are thought to have evolved in North America. Africa during the Late Cretaceous was an isolated continent, surrounded on all sides by water. So, how did duckbill dinosaurs, a group that evolved in North America, end up in Morocco?

Anatomical traits of Minqaria are similar to European hadrosaurs. The researchers postulate that duckbills either swam or floated across several hundred kilometres of open water to colonise Africa.

Dr Nick Longrich (University of Bath), who led the study commented:

“These were probably loud, vocal animals. Modern birds vocalise to find mates, or to declare territories. But they’re especially vocal in flocks – a flock of flamingos or a nesting colony of pelicans is extremely noisy, constantly communicating. So, it’s likely that like birds, these duckbills were social animals.”

Part of the dentary (lower jaw) of Minqaria bata.
Part of the dentary (lower jaw) of Minqaria bata. Picture credit: University of Bath.

Social Dinosaurs

The brain is also large by dinosaur standards, a feature associated with social animals like crows and primates.

Dr Longrich explained:

“There were probably very loud, noisy herds – or flocks if you prefer – of these little duckbills wandering the coasts of Morocco 66 million years ago.”

Minqaria bata braincase.
The braincase of the newly described Moroccan lambeosaurine Minqaria bata. Picture credit: University of Bath.

Commenting on the presence of lambeosaurine dinosaurs on the isolated continent of Africa, Dr Longrich added:

“Not only did duckbills manage to reach Africa at the end of the Cretaceous, but once they did, they quickly evolved to take advantage of open niches and became diverse.”

Analogies can be found in the modern world. Animals can sometimes make unexpected and unusual journeys across large bodies of water. During the Ice Age, elephants, deer and hippos were able to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach the island of Crete. Iguanas swept offshore by a hurricane can be transported hundreds of miles to other Caribbean islands as they cling to dislodged vegetation.

Dr Longrich stated:

“It’s extremely improbable that dinosaurs could cross water to get to Africa, but improbable isn’t the same as impossible. And given enough time, improbable things become probable. Buy a lottery ticket every day, and if you wait long enough, you’ll win. These ocean crossings might be once-in-a-million-year events but the Cretaceous lasted nearly 100 million years. A lot of strange things will happen in that time – including dinosaurs crossing seas.”

Remarkable to Discover Fossils of Hadrosaurs Like Minqaria bata in Africa

Co-author Dr Nour-Eddine Jalil (Natural History Museum of Paris and the Université Cadi Ayyad in Morocco) commented:

“Minqaria and its relatives are players that a few years ago we would never have supposed to be on the African continent at that time.”

The doctor added:

“The phosphates of Morocco offers new images on past biodiversity in a key period of the history of life, the last moments of the dinosaur age followed by the diversification of mammals, announcing a new era. Despite their marine origin, these phosphates of Morocco also contain remains of vertebrates that lived on land. They constitute one of the only windows on the terrestrial ecosystems in Africa. The dinosaur remains suggest a great diversity, all the three major groups of dinosaurs are represented, the abelisaurid carnivores and the sauropod and ornithischian herbivores.”

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

The scientific paper: “A new small duckbilled dinosaur (Hadrosauridae: Lambeosaurinae) from Morocco and dinosaur diversity in the late Maastrichtian of North Africa” by Nicholas R. Longrich, Xabier Pereda-Suberbiola, Nathalie Bardet and Nour-Eddine Jalil published in Scientific Reports.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

19 02, 2024

New Study Demonstrates Tridentinosaurus Fossil is a Fake

By | February 19th, 2024|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

A fossil once thought to represent an Early Permian reptile with soft tissue preservation has been proven to be a fake. The fossilised remains of a lizard-like reptile named Tridentinosaurus antiquus were found in the 1930s. It was thought to be an extremely rare fossil with carbonised skin impressions surrounding the articulated fossil bones. However, a detailed analysis of the specimen has revealed that these “soft tissues” were painted on.

Images of the Tridentinosaurus antiquus fossil specimen.
Tridentinosaurus antiquus fossil specimen (A) showing sampling locations with (B) surface map of the fossil. The specimen photographed under UV light (C). Analysis revealed that the purported fossilised soft tissues of T. antiquus were forged. Picture credit: Rossi et al.

Tridentinosaurus antiquus Specimen is a Forgery

Discovered in the Italian Alps near the “Stramaiolo” (Redebus) locality in the Pinè Valley, the fossil was thought to represent one of the oldest, nearly complete and articulated reptiles known to science. Writing in the journal “Palaeontology”, the research team used a variety of techniques to analyse the surface structure of the twenty-centimetre-long fossil.

The results demonstrated that the purported fossilised soft tissues of Tridentinosaurus antiquus are not original. The fossil is a forgery. The paint applied within the prepared area around the poorly preserved bones and osteoderms, produced the shape of a slender lizard-like animal making the specimen look authentic.

Carbonised plant remains are known from the same locality. The forged body outline and soft tissues misled scientists who thought that the soft tissue had been carbonised just like plant fossils from this region. Under ultraviolet light the plant fossils did not fluoresce, however, the reptile fossil outline became fluorescent. Normally, carbonised fossil material does not fluoresce when exposed to UV light. However, artificial pigments, vanishes and glues are likely to become fluorescent.

The Validity of the Taxon is Doubted

Tridentinosaurus antiquus represents one of the oldest fossil reptiles known to science. The taphonomy and the appearance of this fossil had puzzled palaeontologists for decades. It was thought to represent a primitive diapsid reptile, a basal member of the Archosauromorpha that gave rise to the dinosaurs, crocodiles and birds.

The researchers were able to confirm that many of the features of this specimen had been forged. This discovery raises questions about the validity of this enigmatic taxon.

Despite the manipulation of the specimen, it may still have scientific value. The poorly preserved long bones of the hindlimbs seem to be genuine and resemble the quality of preservation of exposed bones of Late Triassic pterosauromorphs such as Scleromochlus. Perhaps, this fossil is an example of the lineage of basal archosaurs that gave rise to the flying reptiles (Pterosauria).

Close-up views of the Tridentinosaurus antiquus fossil specimen.
Close-up view of the shoulder area (D) and an enlargement of the pelvic girdle (E). Although much of the fossil has been altered some bones seem to be genuine and resemble the quality of preservation of exposed bones of Late Triassic pterosauromorphs such as Scleromochlus. Scale bar in (D) equals 5 mm. The scale bar (E) equals 3 mm. Picture credit: Rossi et al.

Why Fake a Fossil?

Fossils are sometimes manipulated to make them more valuable to collectors. If the fossil can be seen to be more complete or rare it can greatly enhance their monetary value.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the Museum of Nature South Tyrol (Naturmuseum Südtirol) in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Forged soft tissues revealed in the oldest fossil reptile from the early Permian of the Alps” by Valentina Rossi, Massimo Bernardi, Mariagabriella Fornasiero, Fabrizio Nestola, Richard Unitt, Stefano Castelli, Evelyn Kustatscher published in Palaeontology.

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website (there are no fakes here): Everything Dinosaur.

18 02, 2024

Frogspawn Discovered in the Office Pond

By | February 18th, 2024|Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

We have frogspawn in the office pond. Today, a clump of frogspawn was observed in a shallow area of the office pond. Frogs had been spotted in the pond a few days ago, it seems that the spawning season has started. This is the earliest date in the year that we have recorded frogspawn. Last year (2023), the first frogspawn was recorded on the 28th of February. This was the first time that the frogs have spawned in February. This year, the frogs have begun spawning even earlier.

Frogspawn in the office pond.
Frogspawn in the office pond. Today, 18th February a batch of frogspawn was observed in the office pond. This is the earliest recorded spawning. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Common Frogs (Rana temporaria)

The spawn was produced by Common frogs (Rana temporaria). Observations by team members suggest that there were four frogs in the pond. The pond has been created to attract wildlife and frogs have laid their eggs in the pond each spring since 2008. For many years the frogs spawned around the third week of March. However, there is a distinct trend for recording spawning much earlier in the year.

Could this be a consequence of global warming and climate change?

It has certainly been very mild over the last week or two. Temperatures of 13-14 degrees Celsius have been recorded in the northwest of England. The average temperature for February in the Manchester area of England would normally be expected to be around 4-7 degrees Celsius.

A close-up view of the frogspawn (18th February, 2024).
A close-up view of the frogspawn laid early in the morning of 18th February. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Frogspawn Laid in a Shallow Part of the Pond

The frogs have laid their eggs in a shallow part of the pond. Eggs are not normally laid in this part of the office pond. Folklore suggests that if frogs lay in the shallows, then the next few weeks will be mild but wet. We will continue to observe the pond to see if more frogs arrive and more spawn is produced.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

17 02, 2024

The Popular Mojo Fun Woolly Rhinoceros Model

By | February 17th, 2024|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur has received some new images of Mojo Fun prehistoric animal models. One of our favourites highlights the recently introduced Mojo Fun Woolly Rhinoceros. This replica of Coelodonta antiquitatis was introduced in 2023. The model has proved to be extremely popular with prehistoric animal model collectors.

Mojo Fun Woolly Rhinoceros model.
The popular and highly praised Mojo Fun Woolly Rhinoceros model.

To view the extensive range of Mojo Fun prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: Mojo Fun Prehistoric and Extinct Figures.

The Mojo Fun Woolly Rhinoceros Model

This Woolly Rhino model measures approximately 18 cm in length. Everything Dinosaur team members estimate its head height is around 7 cm. It is a stunning figure of a prehistoric mammal.

Mojo Fun Woolly Rhino model.
The new for 2023 Mojo Fun Woolly Rhino model is in stock. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur praised Mojo Fun for their excellent Woolly Rhino image and added:

“The Woolly Rhino is synonymous with the Ice Age. However, these magnificent animals were geographically widespread during the Pleistocene Epoch and thrived in grassland habitats.”

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

16 02, 2024

Lungfish and the Remarkable History of Fossil Holes

By | February 16th, 2024|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

Yesterday, Everything Dinosaur team members posted up an article that provided information on the evolutionary history of burrowing vertebrates. The first vertebrates to dig burrows were probably lungfish. These animals were similar to extant lungfish, animals such as Neoceratodus forsteri, the Australian lungfish. This taxon is also referred to as the Queensland lungfish.

Ironically, it is thought that this species of lungfish does not enter a dormant state (aestivation), by producing a mucous cocoon and burying itself in mud. Neoceratodus forsteri inhabits slow-moving rivers and reservoirs, primarily in south-eastern Queensland. In contrast, the African genus Protopterus does dig burrows. Protopterus is distantly related to the Australian lungfish. During the dry season when lakes tend to dry up, this fish excavates a burrow and buries itself in the mud. It enters a state of dormancy (aestivation), enabling it to survive whilst it waits for the water to return. During aestivation Protopterus is able to reduce its metabolism to 1/60th of its active state.

The Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri).
A stuffed specimen of an Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) on display at the London Natural History Museum. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A team of researchers, including scientists from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin examined the origins and early evolution of vertebrate burrowing behaviour. Their paper was published in Earth-Science Reviews.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about this new research: Digging into the History of Burrowing Vertebrates.

The Scientific Paper

The scientific paper comprises a short overview of convergent morphological and behavioural adaptations seen in modern fossorial taxa. The researchers also document the diversity of extant vertebrate burrows. In addition, the team reviews the fossil record of inferred vertebrate burrows and fossorial vertebrates from the Devonian to the Triassic. Results highlight a probable Devonian earliest occurrence of fossoriality in continental vertebrates (Dipnoi – lungfishes).

The earliest lungfish taxa were mostly marine animals. However, after the Carboniferous, lung fish fossils are confined to deposits laid down in freshwater environments.

The Australian lungfish specimen at the London Natural History Museum is displayed next to a model of a Protopterus burrow. This can confuse visitors, it was stated earlier in this article that not all lungfish exhibit this burrowing behaviour.

The award-winning Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

15 02, 2024

Digging into the History of Burrowing Vertebrates

By | February 15th, 2024|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

A newly published scientific paper documents the evolutionary history of burrowing vertebrates. Many animals alive today are able to live underground. Burrows are used for a variety of purposes. They are used for shelter, protection and for breeding. Understanding the origin and early evolution of fossorial vertebrates and the architecture and function of the burrows they excavate is an important component of the history of life on Earth. However, little research has been done into this area of vertebrate behaviour. A newly published scientific paper reviews the fossil record of vertebrate burrows and fossorial vertebrates.

Jehol mammals Fossiomanus sinensis and Jueconodon cheni
Two new species of Early Cretaceous mammals were described from fossils found in north-eastern China. Fossiomanus sinensis (upper right) and Jueconodon cheni in their burrows. A newly published scientific paper reviews the fossil record of burrowing vertebrates. Picture credit: Zhao Chuang.

Picture credit: Zhao Chuang

The Evolution of Burrowing Vertebrates

Scientists including Dr Lorenzo Marchetti and colleagues from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin analysed both body and trace fossils. The fossil material covered a large interval of geological time, from the Devonian to the Triassic. The research revealed an older appearance of several features related to burrowing behaviour and their relationship with global warming and mass extinctions.

During the Devonian-Carboniferous, burrows were probably used primarily for aestivation or temporary shelter and evidence of fossoriality is restricted so far to European and North American localities. During the Permian, fossoriality became geographically widespread and developed in new, distantly related vertebrate lineages. This is evidence of convergent evolution. Adaptations for burrowing and living underground being identified in both synapsids and diapsids.

The research highlights that lungfish (Dipnoi) were probably the first vertebrates to use burrows. Lungfish excavate burrows so that they have a protected environment in which they can spend long periods in a state of dormancy (aestivation). This behaviour probably first evolved in the Devonian.

Burrows Became Bigger and More Complex

The paper, published in “Earth-Science Reviews” outlines a trend for bigger and more complex burrows during the Palaeozoic and into the Mesozoic. Burrows became permanent shelters and breeding locations. The researchers link these developments to climate crises such as the Cisuralian aridification (Early Permian) and the end-Permian extinction event.

After the end-Permian mass extinction, vertebrate fossoriality became more common and widespread. This behaviour became a feature of continental environments and in more distal floodplain areas, probably as a consequence of changing fluvial regimes. In the Triassic, fossoriality is recorded in even more groups, such as the Temnospondyli and the Procolophonidae. In addition, evidence of burrow sharing by unrelated vertebrates appears. This indicates that burrowers were playing an increasing role as ecosystem engineers.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Origin and early evolution of vertebrate burrowing behaviour” by Lorenzo Marchetti, Mark J. MacDougall, Michael Buchwitz, Aurore Canoville, Max Herde, Christian F. Kammerer and Jörg Fröbisch published in Earth-Science Reviews.

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

12 02, 2024

The CollectA Horseshoe Crab Model is Reviewed

By | February 12th, 2024|Adobe CS5, Animal News Stories, Educational Activities, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products|0 Comments

In 2020, CollectA introduced a Horseshoe crab model. These animals are members of the Limulidae family. This model of an ancient invertebrate is extremely detailed. The Horseshoe crab lineage has a fossil record that dates back to the Ordovician. Team members were asked to take some photographs of the figure for a palaeontology related project.

CollectA Horseshoe crab model in lateral view.
CollectA Horseshoe crab in lateral view. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The CollectA Horseshoe Crab Model

The model is very detailed, and the paint scheme makes this replica look extremely realistic. However, it is on the underside where the care and dedication of the design team really shows.

CollectA Horseshoe crab model in ventral view
The CollectA Horseshoe crab model in ventral view (view of the underside). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the not-to-scale CollectA range of models available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.

The small chelicerae (modified claws) are bent towards the mouth. These appendages pass food into the mouth. The walking legs show the bifurcated end segments, and the rear “pusher” leg is clearly visible. The design team have included a vent at the base of the long, pointed telson.

Atlantic Horseshoe crab in ventral view.
An Atlantic Horseshoe crab in ventral view (view of the underside). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture (above) shows an Atlantic Horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) in ventral view. It is on display at the London Natural History Museum.

CollectA Horseshoe Crab model.
CollectA Age of Dinosaurs Popular Size Horseshoe crab figure. The model measures 15 centimetres in length and the width of the carapace is 7.7 cm approximately.

In horseshoe crabs, the head and thorax are fused. This structure is called the prosoma. It is also sometimes referred to as the cephalothorax. The cephalothorax is covered in a hard, protective carapace.

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Take a Look at the Everything Dinosaur Website.

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