All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
23 05, 2024

Baobab Tree Origin and Dispersal Explained in New Scientific Paper

By |2024-05-22T15:36:00+01:00May 23rd, 2024|Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

The baobab tree origin has been explained in a newly published scientific paper in the journal Nature. The researchers plotted the genome of this amazing tree.  The iconic baobab (Adansonia genus) is synonymous with the island of Madagascar. These spectacular, large and long-lived trees have influenced human culture. They have inspired traditions, folklore and are a symbol of the culture of many indigenous people. The researchers were able to sequence the genome of all eight extant species. The scientists postulate that the ancestor of the extant species arose in Madagascar.

A grove of magnificent baobab trees

A grove of magnificent baobab trees.  Research has been undertaken to plot the genome and trace baobab tree origin.  Picture credit: Alex Antonelli (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).

The Origin of the Baobab Tree

Colloquially known as “upside-down trees”, baobabs have a lot of cultural significance.  These huge trees with their diminutive canopies are also sometimes called the “tree of life”.  The scientists plotted the genomes of the eight recognised species and then worked out their evolutionary links and speciation.  The scientific paper is the result of a collaboration between researchers from Wuhan Botanical Garden (China), Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew, UK), University of Antananarivo (Madagascar) and Queen Mary University of London (UK).

Remarkably, the research demonstrates that baobab trees dispersed over vast distances, reaching both Africa and Australia. Over time an astonishing array of pollination mechanisms have evolved exploiting lemurs, bats and hawkmoths for a reward of sweet nectar.

The Adansonia genus originated relatively recently, however, the ancestral lineage of these trees can be traced back into the Cretaceous.

baobab tree origin.

The ancestor of the eight species of baobab tree known today most likely radiated from Madagascar. Two species underwent amazing long-distance geographical dispersal. One species reached Africa, the other species reached Australia. Picture credit: Queen Mary University of London.

Uncovering the Evolutionary History of the “Tree of Life”

Co-author of the paper, Professor Andrew Leitch (Queen Mary University of London), stated:

“We were delighted to be involved in this project uncovering patterns of baobab speciation in Madagascar followed by the astonishing long-distance dispersal of two species, one to Africa and another to Australia. This was accompanied by the evolution of some fascinating pollination syndromes involving hawkmoths, lemurs and bats.”

At Everything Dinosaur, we are aware of the impact of the baobab tree on collectors trying to build prehistoric animal dioramas.  We had been asked on numerous occasions on where customers could find a replica of an Adansonia.  Many diorama makers wanted to feature baobab trees amongst other prehistoric plants such as cycads and horsetails.  CollectA introduced a baobab tree model after the successful introduction of a ginkgo and cycad tree replica.

The CollectA design team deserve credit for creating a baobab tree model.

CollectA baobab tree.

The CollectA baobab tree model introduced circa 2015. This tree replica was added to the company’s African model range but has proved popular with model makers creating prehistoric scenes.

The CollectA model range that includes replicas of ancient trees and plants: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models.

The CollectA baobab tree replica is part of the company’s African model range.  It stands an impressive thirty-five centimetres high.  The newly published scientific paper (Wan et al) has uncovered a definitive link between the baobabs in Madagascar and the species found in Africa.

Fellow co-author Dr Ilia Leitch (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew explained:

“This work has uncovered new insights into the patterns of speciation in baobabs and shows how climate change has influenced baobab distribution and speciation patterns over millions of years.”

Baobab trees.

A stunning display of baobab trees. A new study published in the journal “Nature” has identified the origins of this iconic tree and explained its widespread dispersal. Picture credit: Alex Antonelli (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).

Important Implications for Conservation

Past populations of Malagasy baobabs may have been influenced by competition from other types of trees and changes in local sea levels. The researchers also highlight important concerns regarding the conservation status and protection of several endangered baobab species.

Husband and wife team Andrew and Ilia Leitch added:

“We were delighted to be involved in this project uncovering patterns of baobab speciation in Madagascar before the astonishing long-distance dispersal of two species, one to Africa and another to Australia. The work also provides new insights into how climate change has influenced baobab distribution and speciation patterns over millions of years.”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that this new study highlights the amazing evolutionary history of the baobab tree.  In addition, the genome mapping has highlighted the need to carefully monitor the remaining populations of some critically endangered baobab species.

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

The scientific paper: “The rise of baobab trees in Madagascar” by Jun-Nan Wan, Sheng-Wei Wang, Andrew R. Leitch, Ilia J. Leitch, Jian-Bo Jian, Zhang-Yan Wu, Hai-Ping Xin, Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, Guy Eric Onjalalaina, Robert Wahiti Gituru, Can Dai, Geoffrey Mwachala, Ming-Zhou Bai, Chen-Xi Zhao, Hong-Qi Wang, Sheng-Lan Du, Neng Wei, Guang-Wan Hu, Si-Chong Chen, Xiao-Ya Chen, Tao Wan and Qing-Feng Wang published in Nature.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Models of Prehistoric Animals and Plants.

16 05, 2024

Amazing Ichthyotitan Jawbones Go on Display and Hollywood Comes to Bristol

By |2024-05-16T22:18:01+01:00May 16th, 2024|Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Movie Reviews and Movie News|0 Comments

The recently described Ichthyotitan jawbones are going on display and Everything Dinosaur sponsors a film all about dinosaurs.  Everything Dinosaur is proud to announce that they will be sponsoring the internationally acclaimed documentary “WHY DINOSAURS?” when it comes to the UK. Four special screenings have been announced – London, Sheffield, Bristol and the Lyme Regis fossil festival.

The special screenings will take place next month (June 2024), and the Bristol event has been scheduled to coincide with the giant jawbones of Ichthyotitan going on display.

The "Why Dinosaurs?" movie poster.

Four special screenings of the award-winning documentary “WHY DINOSAURS?” in the UK.  Everything Dinosaur is one of the sponsors of “WHY DINOSAURS?”.

Ichthyotitan Jawbones

The Bristol screening will take place on the evening of Wednesday June 5th. It will be hosted by The Bristol Aquarium. The fossilised remains of the giant marine reptile Ichthyotitan will be on display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, to coincide with this exciting event.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog post about Ichthyotitan: Ichthyotitan a Huge Triassic Marine Reptile.

Dr Dean Lomax, the lead author of the scientific paper was busy this week helping to install the Ichthyotitan jawbones in their new home.

Installing the Ichthyotitan jawbones.

The Ichthyotitan jawbones going into their display case.  A curious Megaloceros looks on as the team installs the fossil bones. Picture credit: University of Bristol.

Fragmentary bones representing part of the jaw of an enormous ichthyosaur were found along the Somerset coastline. The first discovery was made by Paul de la Salle in 2016. Father and daughter Justin and Ruby Reynolds discovered more material in 2020. The bones are from a Late Triassic ichthyosaur estimated to have been about the size of an extant Blue Whale!

Commenting on the film and fossil display, Dr Dean Lomax stated:

“As an 1851 research fellow here at the University of Bristol, I wanted to bring the film to the city and give people an opportunity to walk the red carpet and watch this exciting dinosaur movie. Moreover, I’m very excited to say that the bones of the recently announced Ichthyotitan, the giant ichthyosaur co-discovered by then-11-year-old Ruby Reynolds and announced last month [in April], will also be on display at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, to coincide with the screening of “WHY DINOSAURS?”.

Ichthyotitan jawbones on display

Dr Dean Lomax, Ruby Reynolds, Deborah Hutchinson, Carol Skiggs, Justin Reynolds and Paul de la Salle inspect the new Ichthyotitan exhibit. Picture credit: University of Bristol.

The website of Dr Dean Lomax: British Palaeontologist Dr Dean Lomax.

“WHY DINOSAURS?”

The Bristol screening of “WHY DINOSAURS?” will take place on the evening of Wednesday June 5th.

This award-winning documentary follows dino-obsessed teenager James Pinto and his father on a global search to try to understand why people are fascinated with the Dinosauria. In their quest they interviewed more than sixty-five experts from various fields related to dinosaurs, including leading scientists and artists among Jurassic Park fans.

The documentary explores themes from museum displays to blockbuster films. It attempts to discover what fascinates us about these prehistoric creatures. James Pinto, who narrates the film, explained:

“This movie explores the myriad ways in which people connect with dinosaurs, providing a unique look into the lives and careers of those who study them.”

As one of the world’s leading suppliers of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models, it was only fitting that Everything Dinosaur should become involved with this amazing project.

Dinosaur fans lucky enough to attend the Bristol screening will have a rare opportunity to meet and interact with palaeontology experts.  Kallie Moore, the co-host of PBS Eons, Jessica Lippincott of the Wyoming Dinosaurium Project, and acclaimed palaeontologist, author and presenter Dr Dean Lomax, who is also a scientist at the University of Bristol will be in attendance.  Dr Lomax is interviewed in the documentary and is also an Executive Producer.

Details of the 4 "Why Dinosaurs?" screenings.

Details of the four “WHY DINOSAURS?” screenings.

Sue and Mike from Everything Dinosaur will be attending the Sheffield screening on June 1st.

Tickets for Dinosaur Fans

The event at the Bristol Aquarium will commence at 6pm with a red-carpet reception with the film documentary starting around 7.15pm. The evening will conclude with an engaging question and answer session giving the audience an opportunity to delve deeper into the making of the documentary and the scientific wonders it explores.

Producer, editor and filmmaker Tony Pinto was excited to be bringing this amazing project to the UK.  He went onto state:

“It isn’t the traditional computer-generated dinosaur reconstructions and celebrity-narrated prehistoric documentary. Instead, we introduce the genuine voices of working palaeontologists, science communicators, artists, and dinosaur fanatics to tell a brief history of palaeontology and explore the world’s fascination with dinosaurs in popular culture.”

Everything Dinosaur sponsors film documentary screenings.

Everything Dinosaur is one of the sponsors of the UK screenings.

Tickets are available from £15 to £20. This fantastic event promises to be a thrilling journey into the age of dinosaurs, appealing to enthusiasts of all ages.

For tickets visit: “WHY DINOSAURS?” – Buy Tickets.

15 05, 2024

A New Feefo Feedback Template for Everything Dinosaur

By |2024-05-16T16:21:56+01:00May 15th, 2024|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur receives hundreds of customer comments and feedback.  The company has been registered with the independent ratings and review platform Feefo for seven years.  We are grateful for all the feedback that we receive.  Recently, Feefo introduced a range of upgrades and improvements that made sharing customer reviews on social media platforms easier.  The upgrades included the introduction of a new Feefo feedback template.  This template can be customised to show the Everything Dinosaur logo.

A new Feefo feedback template for Everything Dinosaur

The new Everything Dinosaur Feefo post template. This template is part of the upgrades and improvements made by the Feefo team making it easier to share reviews and customer comments. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The New Feefo Feedback Template

Everything Dinosaur is able to incorporate their own logo and branding into the new Feefo feedback template.  The company receives a large number of reviews.  However, we only post a small proportion on our social media pages like Facebook.  The new template helps to reinforce our branding and our relationship with our customers.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“This new customised Feefo feedback template, makes it easier to share genuine customer reviews on-line.  We are fortunate to have received hundreds of Google reviews as well as thousands of reviews on our own website, however, it is great to have the independently verified Feefo reviews too.  We intend to post up these Feefo reviews on our Facebook page.”

Everything Dinosaur has been awarded Feefo’s top award for customer service.  This accolade is called the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award.  The UK-based mail order company has won this award every year since it was introduced.

Platinum Trusted Service Award 2024

Everything Dinosaur has won the Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award for 2024.

So far this year, over one hundred and twenty customer reviews have been posted up by Feefo.   Over three hundred reviews were received in the previous year.  In addition, the Feefo site logged over six hundred product reviews sent in by Everything Dinosaur customers.

To visit the award-winning and user friendly Everything Dinosaur website: The Everything Dinosaur Website.

12 05, 2024

A Profile of Everything Dinosaur Created by New Technology

By |2024-05-12T10:54:07+01:00May 12th, 2024|Main Page|0 Comments

At Everything Dinosaur, we like to explore the future as well as the past.  After attending a recent training seminar, team members became involved in testing some of the latest aspects of artificial intelligence (AI).  One of the tasks we set the technology was to write a short article celebrating the ninety-eighth birthday of Sir David Attenborough.

To read this article: Happy 98th Birthday Sir David Attenborough.

It was decided to set the artificial intelligence software a more challenging task.  Could they write a company profile of Everything Dinosaur?

Are these the best dinosaur models?

Everything Dinosaur supplies a quality selection of prehistoric animal figures. Could AI write a profile of this award-winning company?  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

AI Generates a Company Profile

When asking the software to create a company profile a more nuanced approach would be needed. For example, the term “Everything Dinosaur” might result in the software trying to write about everything to do with the Dinosauria.  However, appropriate and careful questioning enabled the computer software to complete the task.

The AI generated company profile:

Title: Everything Dinosaur: Unearth the Wonders of Prehistoric World

Introduction:

Welcome to Everything Dinosaur, a vibrant and captivating company dedicated to igniting the spark of curiosity and fascination for the prehistoric realm. With our diverse range of products, educational resources, and unwavering passion, we strive to inspire the young and the young-at-heart to explore the captivating world of dinosaurs and ancient lifeforms.

Company Overview:

At Everything Dinosaur, we are driven by our love for palaeontology and our commitment to spreading knowledge about Earth’s extraordinary past. As avid enthusiasts ourselves, we have brought together an extensive collection of dinosaur-themed products, including meticulously crafted replicas, educational toys, books, puzzles, and more.  All designed to engage and educate dinosaur lovers of all ages.

Our Mission:

Our primary mission is to make learning about dinosaurs and palaeontology an enjoyable and enriching experience. We believe that by fostering curiosity and understanding, we can nurture a lifelong love for science and natural history. Through our products and resources, we aim to bring the wonders of the prehistoric world to the fingertips of enthusiasts, educators, and families worldwide.

Everything Dinosaur logo

The Everything Dinosaur logo. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Expertise, Quality, Community and Education

Expertise and Quality:

We take pride in our commitment to authenticity and accuracy. Our team of experts meticulously researches and collaborates with renowned palaeontologists to ensure that our products reflect the latest scientific discoveries. From lifelike models to scientifically accurate educational materials, we strive to provide the highest quality resources that captivate and educate.

Community and Education:

We believe in the power of community. We actively engage with educators, museums, and passionate individuals to promote dinosaur education globally. Our comprehensive website serves as a hub for knowledge, featuring articles, blog posts, and educational resources that delve into the remarkable world of dinosaurs and prehistoric life.

Conclusion:

Whether you’re a budding palaeontologist, a parent seeking educational toys, or simply captivated by the allure of dinosaurs, Everything Dinosaur is here to inspire and educate. Through our friendly approach, commitment to accuracy, and dedication to fostering a love for palaeontology, we strive to make learning about dinosaurs an adventure that enriches lives and fuels imaginations. Join us in uncovering the mysteries of the prehistoric world at Everything Dinosaur!

ENDS

Note

The AI software chose to spell palaeontology using the Americanised format.  We changed this spelling to reflect British (English) spelling). Furthermore, human beings added the images associated with this article.

Visit the award-winning and user-friendly Everything Dinosaur website: Dinosaur Toys.

11 05, 2024

Glaswegian Prehistoric Shrimp Fossil Revealed to be New Species

By |2024-05-09T22:03:19+01:00May 11th, 2024|Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The people of Glasgow have been recognised as a new species of prehistoric crustacean has been named in their honour.  The newly described taxon has been named Tealliocaris weegie.  The small but robust shrimp was part of a marine ecosystem that thrived in what was to eventually become Scotland over 330 million years ago.  The scientific paper describing this “wee beastie” was published in the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s journal Earth and Environmental Science Transactions.

Tealliocaris weegie fossil

The Tealliocaris weegie fossil. Picture credit: The Hunterian/University of Glasgow.

Tealliocaris weegie

This little shrimp was preserved in shale, the remnants of an ancient Carboniferous seabed.  The fossil comes from the world-famous site from which the Bearsden Shark (Akmonistion zangerii) was excavated in the early 1980s.

To read an article from 2015 on the Bearsden Shark: Rare Scottish Prehistoric Shark is Honoured.

Both the Bearsden Shark specimen and an example of the Tealliocaris weegie shrimp fossil can be seen on display at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow.

The Glaswegian shrimp was originally thought to be a variant of another species but is now known to belong to a different genus, which meant it warranted its own scientific name. The authors of the paper (Dr Neil Clark and Dr Andrew Ross) thought that it would be appropriate to name the new species in honour of the people of Greater Glasgow and in the local dialect.

Dr Neil Clark examines a dinosaur footprint.

Dr Neil Clark Curator of Palaeontology at the Hunterian University of Glasgow. Picture credit; The Hunterian/University of Glasgow.

 

Dr Neil Clark, Curator of Palaeontology at The Hunterian, explained:

“It is quite rare that any fossil is recognised as a new species and particularly the fossilised remains of a shrimp. I am especially proud, as a Glaswegian myself, that we were able to name a fossil shrimp Tealliocaris weegie. Named after the people of Glasgow, this must surely be one of the oldest ‘Weegies’ at over 330 million years old.”

Professor Rob Ellam FRSE, Emeritus Professor at the University of Glasgow and Editor of the Transactions journal added:

“This new species of fossil crustacean is basically a tiny fossil version of what we eat as scampi today.  This paper goes to show that there is still great science to be done with fossils that can be discovered on our own doorstep. Moreover, naming one of the new species Tealliocaris weegie shows that there is still room in the serious world of professional palaeontology and scientific publishing for a welcome bit of light-hearted Glaswegian banter.”

Professor Rob Ellam FRSE.

Professor Rob Ellam. Picture credit: The Hunterian/University of Glasgow.

An Exceptionally Rare Form of Fossil Preservation

These prehistoric shrimps, fish, sharks, and other animals lived in an equatorial lagoon when Scotland straddled the equator during the Carboniferous. The exceptional preservation suggests that the bottom of the lagoon was anoxic (low in oxygen) thus preventing scavengers from destroying the remains and allowing the fossils to remain intact through the millions of years before being excavated.  Bacterial decay of the shrimps in anoxic conditions has promoted the replacement of the soft tissues by calcium phosphate. This very rare form of preservation can be found in deposits known as Konservat Lagerstätte.  This is a German term used to describe a highly fossiliferous deposit with exceptional specimen preservation.

Co-author Dr Andre Ross, the Principal Curator of Palaeobiology at National Museums Scotland stated:

“This new species of crustacean, along with others collected recently from the Scottish Borders, now in the collections of National Museums Scotland, add to our knowledge of life at the beginning of the Carboniferous, 350-330 million years ago, when back-boned animals were starting to colonise the land.”

Dr Andrew Ross Principal Curator of Palaeontology at National Museums Scotland.

Co-author of the scientific paper Dr Andrew Ross Principal Curator of Palaeontology at National Museums Scotland. Picture credit: Phil Wilkinson.

The Bearsden site and other nearby locations are extremely important to palaeontologists.  The preservation of specimens is remarkable.  In some fossils, the muscles and blood vessels can be observed in the partially decayed bodies of the crustaceans as a result of being preserved in phosphates.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from The Hunterian Museum (Scotland) in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Caridoid crustaceans from the Ballagan Formation (Tournaisian, Lower Carboniferous) of Willie’s Hole, Chirnside, Scottish Borders, UK” by Neil D. L. Clark and Andrew J. Ross published in the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s journal Earth and Environmental Science Transactions.

The award-winning Everything Dinosaur website: Prehistoric Animal Models and Toys.

10 05, 2024

The New CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor will be in Stock Soon

By |2024-05-10T14:18:08+01:00May 10th, 2024|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos of Everything Dinosaur Products, Press Releases|0 Comments

The new for 2024, CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor dinosaur model will be in stock soon.  A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that the first new for 2024 CollectA figures will be arriving shortly.  The model has been created to mark the centenary of the formal scientific description of the first Velociraptor species (Osborn, 1924.)  The first Velociraptor species was V. mongoliensis. A second species was named and described in 2008 (V. osmolskae).

A spokesperson from the UK-based mail order company confirmed that the CollectA Deluxe Dearc pterosaur figure along with the 1:100 scale Dreadnoughtus models were arriving first.  In addition, the set of mini-sauropod models will also be stocked shortly.  The new 1:6 scale Velociraptor will be available later in the year.

The new for 2024 CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor model.

The new for 2024 CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor figure in lateral view. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor Model

The new dromaeosaurid figure features some new anatomical features associated with this type of dinosaur.  This model has a propatagium on each forelimb. A propatagium is a fold of skin associated with the wing of volant birds. It is a soft tissue structure that unites the wrists and shoulders. It helps with the wing flapping motion. Scientists think that this structure may have first evolved to help these terrestrial animals make sharp turns yet remain balanced and stable as they ran.

To watch a short video review of the new Velociraptor figure: CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor Video Review.

A close-up view of the new CollectA Velociraptor dinosaur model.

The new Velociraptor model has an articulated lower jaw.  The propatagium can be seen on the model helping to form the leading edge of the wing.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of CollectA Deluxe prehistoric animal figures available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Deluxe Prehistoric Animal Figures.

Scent Glands

The beautiful figure has also been given a pair of scent glands, either side of the cloaca.  Velociraptor was an animal that lived in a desert environment.  It probably lived in packs and had an extensive territory.  It may have used scent marking to define territory and to delineate individual status within the pack.  Many extant birds have scent glands.  Reptiles such as crocodiles have scent glands as well.  The CollectA design team have speculated that Velociraptor used scent marking too.

With such a big tail to waft any fragrances about, it does make sense.

The CollectA Velociraptor model in dorsal view.

The shape of the figure suggests an agile pursuit predator.  The big tail with its extensive surface area could have helped to disperse scent on the desert wind.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur confirmed that the CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor model would be in stock soon.

CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor dinosaur model.

The CollectA Deluxe Velociraptor model. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

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

9 05, 2024

Tyrannosaurus rex Was Not as Clever as a Primate According to New Research

By |2024-05-07T12:48:53+01:00May 9th, 2024|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Teaching|0 Comments

New scientific research has challenged the findings of a 2023 study that concluded T. rex may have been as clever as a primate. How smart was T. rex? That is a fascinating question, one that body and trace fossils cannot really answer. The idea that the Dinosauria were slow, lumbering, stupid giants has largely been debunked. However, scientists have continued to puzzle over their cognitive abilities.

In April 2023, Everything Dinosaur blogged about a controversial study by Dr Suzana Herculano-Houzel from the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University (Tennessee). Doctor Herculano-Houzel postulated that Tyrannosaurus rex had around 3 billion cerebral neurons. The Brazilian neuroscientist implied that this super-sized predator had cognitive capabilities that matched primates.

Titus the T.rex exhibit. A T. rex skeleton on display.

The spectacular Titus the T. rex exhibit at Wollaton Hall.  How smart was T. rex?  A newly published paper challenges an earlier study that postulated that this theropod was as clever as an extant primate. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The earlier paper proposed that large theropods such as Tyrannosaurus rex were long-lived, and remarkably intelligent.  It was postulated that these animals had “macaque or baboon-like cognition”.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s blog post about this paper: How Big was a T. rex Brain?

Challenging Established Views About Dinosaur Intelligence

The research challenged established views on dinosaur biology and inferred behaviours.  In addition, the earlier paper raised questions about whether neuron count estimates could benefit research on extinct animals in general.  However, a team of international scientists, including Dr Darren Naish (University of Southampton), have refuted these claims.  In a study published in “The Anatomical Record”, the researchers conclude that Tyrannosaurus rex was probably about as smart as a modern crocodile.

Their work reaffirms older theories about the intelligence of large theropods. Soft tissue structures like dinosaur brains rarely survive as fossils. Scientists can use endocasts, moulds made of the brain cavity to estimate brain size and structure. This is imperfect. For example, in extant crocodilians the brain only occupies about a third of the cranial cavity. In mammals and birds nearly 100% of this cavity is occupied by the brain.  By revisiting Herculano-Houzel’s (2023) work, the researchers identified several crucial discrepancies regarding interpretation and analysis of data.

Dr Herculano-Houzel probably overestimated the size of the brain of T. rex. It was assumed that the brain filled the whole of the endocranial cavity. In essence, the brain size of T. rex was modelled on mammals and birds, but this new study suggests crocodilians are a better analogy.

How smart was T. rex?

Blue: olfactory bulb and tracts, Green: pallium (homologous to the mammalian cerebral cortex), Orange: cerebellum, Yellow: diencephalon and optic tectum, Violet: brain stem. Olfactory structures, pallium and subpallium comprise the telencephalon. The overlay in grey indicates extinct taxa, the brain morphologies of which are estimated. The brain morphology of extinct ornithodirans is similar when compared to living reptiles. Picture credit: Caspar et al.

How Smart was T. rex?

The data used by Dr Herculano-Houzel was found to be inconsistent. For instance, brain size estimates had included other structures that are located in the cranium, but not part of the brain, the olfactory bulb for example. In addition, the earlier study had used a mixture of both juvenile and adult tyrannosaurs.  The use of not fully mature animals in the study could have led to inaccurate results.

The team revised the estimates of encephalisation and telencephalic neuron counts in the Dinosauria.  For large-bodied theropods in particular, this study estimated significantly lower neuron counts than previously proposed.  Their phylogenetic modelling indicated a neuron count for T. rex at between 250 million and 1.7 billion neurons.  Although the data spread was substantial, the results modelled reflect the neuron counts found in extant crocodilians.  This dataset did not produce neuron counts approaching those found in primates.

A close-up view of the Rebor T. rex Tusk figure.

A close-up view of the detail on the head of the Rebor T. rex Tusk dinosaur model.  Although this theropod was a formidable predator, its intelligence may have been overestimated. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

 

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The image (above) shows a close-up view of a 1:35 scale model of a Rebor Tyrannosaurus rex.

To view the Rebor range of prehistoric animals available from Everything Dinosaur: Rebor Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Figures.

Brain Size May Not Represent the Best Measure of Cognitive Abilities

Furthermore, the researchers reviewed the suitability of neurological variables such as neuron numbers and relative brain size to predict cognitive complexity, metabolic rate and life history traits in dinosaurs.  They concluded that these measures are not helpful when trying to assess the cognition of extinct creatures.

The team stated that trying to gauge the cognitive abilities of dinosaurs without close living analogues is extremely challenging.  Neuron numbers might be considered a minor component in an assessment of intelligence and much more work is required to build a robust framework to better understand the level of cognition in extinct animals.  In addition, the team concluded that given the depiction of dinosaurs in the popular media, researchers should acknowledge the limitations of the presented inferences to allow their audience to delineate between reasoned conclusions and speculation.

So, when it comes to calculating how smart was T. rex?  Scientists have yet to devise robust models to explore dinosaur intelligence.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of the open-source paper (Caspar et al) published in the journal The Anatomical Record in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “How smart was T. rex? Testing claims of exceptional cognition in dinosaurs and the application of neuron count estimates in palaeontological research” by Kai R. Caspar, Cristián Gutiérrez-Ibáñez, Ornella C. Bertrand, Thomas Carr, Jennifer A. D. Colbourne, Arthur Erb, Hady George, Thomas R. Holtz Jr, Darren Naish, Douglas R. Wylie and Grant R. Hurlburt published in The Anatomical Record.

Visit the award-winning Everything Dinosaur website: Dinosaur Models and Toys.

8 05, 2024

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough Ninety-Eight Years Young!

By |2024-05-07T15:14:31+01:00May 8th, 2024|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Today, May the 8th is the ninety-eighth birthday of Sir David Attenborough.  Sir David can be described as a “national treasure”.  Naturalist, biologist, campaigner and broadcaster his work has spanned eight decades.  Back in 2023, we experimented with artificial intelligence (AI) to compose a birthday message.  Chat GPT was employed to compose a suitable piece for our blog.

To read last year’s birthday message: Happy 97th Birthday Sir David Attenborough.

Twelve months on, and AI continues to develop at a remarkable pace.  For this year’s birthday message, we have utilised the AI chatbot aggregator Poe (poe.com) which provides users with access to a variety of AI tools and chatbots.

The AI Birthday Message

Happy 98th Birthday! Today, we celebrate not only another year of your remarkable life but also the immeasurable contributions you have made to our understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Your unwavering commitment to conservation and your extraordinary storytelling have touched the hearts of millions, leaving an indelible mark on the collective consciousness.

Sir David Attenborough.

Still enthusing about the natural world, the remarkable Sir David Attenborough.

Through your captivating documentaries, you have taken us on awe-inspiring journeys, unravelling the wonders of our planet and shedding light on the urgent need to protect its fragile ecosystems. Your voice, filled with passion and knowledge, has served as a beacon of hope, reminding us of our responsibility as stewards of this magnificent Earth.

Your tireless efforts to raise awareness about climate change, biodiversity loss, and the importance of sustainable living have inspired a global movement. You have sparked conversations, ignited curiosity, and empowered countless individuals to take action, making a real difference in the fight to preserve our planet for future generations.

As we celebrate your 98th birthday, we are grateful for the wisdom and inspiration you continue to impart. Your dedication, resilience, and unwavering love for nature are a testament to a life well-lived. May this day be filled with joy, surrounded by loved ones, and may the year ahead bring you good health, happiness, and many more opportunities to share your invaluable knowledge with the world.

Happy birthday, Sir David Attenborough! Thank you for being a shining light in our quest to protect and cherish the beauty of our natural world.

ENDS

We added a media image, a signed photograph of Sir David that we received some years ago.

Many Happy Returns Sir David Attenborough

These are changing times, our world is changing, and technology is changing too.  The genie is well and truly out of the bottle and AI is here to stay.  It will continue to have an enormous impact on our lives and on our planet.  Let us hope that technologies like artificial intelligence can help us develop strategies to combat climate change and to devise robust conservation strategies.

In the meantime, we continue to adopt processes and systems that increase the use of recycled materials in our business.  Furthermore, we have embarked on several projects exploring the adoption of more sustainable product packaging.  In addition, we are continuing to explore ways of reducing single use plastic within the model making industry.

We are sure Sir David would approve.

On that note, we wish you Sir, many happy returns.

Contact Everything Dinosaur to enquire about our environmental policy: Email Everything Dinosaur Team Members.

7 05, 2024

New Haolonggood Baryonyx Model (Wei Ding Guo) Reviewed

By |2024-05-02T15:17:40+01:00May 7th, 2024|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur Products, Main Page, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Our thanks to dinosaur fan William who sent in a review of the Haolonggood Baryonyx model.  William chose to review Wei Ding Guo, the brown coloured Baryonyx.  William suggested that this model represented a female.  The blue colour variant (Shan Ting) probably represented a male.  Haolonggood have chosen to depict Baryonyx as a lithe and agile animal.  Both Haolonggood Baryonyx models have articulated lower jaws.

William praised the design team and suggested that these figures had been inspired by Dr Scott Hartman’s interpretation of Baryonyx walkeri.

Haolonggood Baryonyx Wei Ding Guo model.

A stunning image of the new for 2024 Haolonggood Baryonyx model Wei Ding Guo wading through some water.

The reviewer stated:

“I really like the brown colouration with the admixture of mottling. It is all very natural and the heavy claw on both hands is expertly done.”

The Haolonggood Baryonyx Model (Wei Ding Guo)

William had been on a special quest to obtain accurate models of Baryonyx. He suggested that the late William Walker, who discovered the holotype fossils, would have been proud to own these Haolonggood figures.  Both models measure twenty-six centimetres in length and stand nine centimetres high.  Haolonggood have proposed a scale of 1:35 for their Baryonyx dinosaur models.

This Haolonggood Baryonyx model was described:

“A most excellent and accurate example of the species to add to one’s collection.”

 

Haolonggood Baryonyx dinosaur model (Shan Ting).

The Haolonggood Baryonyx dinosaur model in the blue colour scheme (Shan Ting).

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the range of Haolonggood prehistoric animal models in stock: Dinosaur Models from Haolonggood.

Praising Everything Dinosaur

William very kindly praised Everything Dinosaur team members.

He stated:

“Now let me take the final moments of my review to give praise where praise is due to Everything Dinosaur.”

He thanked the team for their efforts sourcing such a huge variety of prehistoric animal figures and models.

Our thanks to William for his kind words and for his comments praising Everything Dinosaur.

Visit the award-winning and easy to use Everything Dinosaur website: Dinosaur Models, Figures and Toys.

6 05, 2024

Researchers Discover World’s First Tapeworm Body Fossil

By |2024-05-06T15:02:47+01:00May 6th, 2024|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

International researchers including scientists from Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology (China) have found a tapeworm fossil preserved in amber.  The amber was mined in Myanmar and is believed to date from approximately 99 million years ago.  The three-dimensionally preserved fossil displays unique external and internal features.  These features most closely resemble the tentacles of the trypanorhynch tapeworms that parasitise marine elasmobranchs (sharks and rays).

It is a mystery as to how the marine parasite ended up preserved in tree resin.  One theory is that the carcase of an elasmobranch was scavenged by a theropod dinosaur. The dinosaur fed on the carcase close to where a pine tree was exuding resin.  As the dinosaur tore the carcase apart part of the parasite was flung at the tree and entombed in the resin as it seeped from the bark.

How as a marine tapeworm preserved in tree resin?

A hypothetical ecological reconstruction of the fossil trypanorhynch tapeworm (drawn by YANG Dinghua). The fossil tapeworm was lodged in the intestine of an elasmobranch and the dead host was possibly scavenged by a dinosaur on a strandline with pine resin extruding nearby. Picture credit: Cihang Luo.

Studying a Tapeworm Fossil

Tapeworms are a type of parasitic flatworm (Class Cestoda). Many have complex life cycles, with larvae developing in one host before invading a secondary host in which they grow to adults and produce eggs.  Some six thousand species are known, and they infect all major groups of vertebrates including mammals and ourselves.  Their fossil record is extremely sparse.  However, there is a record of possible tapeworm eggs having been preserved in the coprolite of a Permian shark.

Researcher Wang Bo (Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology), commented that the fossil is the first ever tapeworm body fossil found. The specimen provides direct evidence of the evolution of the Cestoda.

Fossil tapeworm compared to an extant tapeworm.

The fossil tapeworm from mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber (circa 99 million years ago) and the comparison with the tentacle of an extant trypanorhynch tapeworm. (A) Microscopic image of fossil tapeworm. (B) Micro-CT image of fossil tapeworm. (C) Scanning electron microscopy image of an extant trypanorhynch tapeworm. Picture credit: Cihang Luo.

The discovery demonstrates the remarkable preservation properties of amber.

How Did the Marine Tapeworm Become Trapped in Tree Resin?

PhD student Luo Cihang (Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology), suggested how a marine tapeworm became trapped in tree resin.

He proposed:

“It may have parasitised the intestines of a ray. The ray’s body was washed ashore and was preyed upon by a dinosaur.  As the dinosaur consumed the internal organs of the ray, the worm fell out and become enveloped in nearby resin.”

The research, conducted by scientists from multiple countries including China, Germany, the United Kingdom and Myanmar, was recently published in the academic journal Geology.

Internal structure of fossil tapeworm compared to an extant tapeworm.

The comparison of the internal structure of the fossil (A) with the tentacle of an extant trypanorhynch tapeworm (B). Abbreviation: ivt—invaginated tentacle. Picture credit: Cihang Luo.

A Remarkable Fossil Find

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that this was a remarkable and unique fossil discovery.  To find a tapeworm fossil preserved in amber is astonishing.  Furthermore, it added to the growing body of evidence that amber from Myanmar was produced from Cretaceous trees growing close to the coast.  Amber from Myanmar has yielded some amazing fossils, including the shell of an ammonite.  The ammonite shell preserved in the tree resin is further evidence that this Cretaceous forest was close to a marine environment.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s early blog post about the ammonite shell preserved in amber: Ammonite Shell Preserved in Amber from Myanmar.

The scientists conclude that the exquisite preservation provides and exceptional example of a marine endoparasite.  The study provides, arguably the most convincing body fossil of a flatworm discovered to date.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release requested from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Exceptional preservation of a marine tapeworm tentacle in Cretaceous amber” by Cihang Luo, Harry W. Palm, Yuhui Zhuang, Edmund A. Jarzembowski, Thet Tin Nyunt and Bo Wang published in Geology.

The Everything Dinosaur website: Prehistoric Animal Models and Fossil Replicas.

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