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

Everything Dinosaur team members working in schools, helping museums and other educational bodies. Our work with and in schools.

25 12, 2022

Merry Christmas from Everything Dinosaur

By | December 25th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

It is that time of year, time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas on behalf of all of us at Everything Dinosaur. Season’s greetings to you all. We will still be working over much of the holiday season and of course we will be answering emails and helping our customers as much as we can.

Everything Dinosaur - Merry Christmas 2022
We wish all our customers, blog readers and social media followers a Merry Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous New Year.

Everything Dinosaur

It will be business as usual once the Bank Holidays are over. We will be back at work sending out all the Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter items to customers in the UK and Europe. A special thank you to all those customers who sent us prehistoric animal themed Christmas cards, gifts and drawings, they certainly have brightened up the offices and the warehouse.

Back to School and to Museums

At this time of year our thoughts turn to all the amazing people that we have met as we continue our adventures. We have been busy helping science communicators and teaching teams sending out lots of free information and providing advice. For teachers and teaching assistants it has been a very busy autumn term. We hope that everyone has a very happy Christmas gets time to relax and unwind and we look forward to an exciting spring term with us continuing to support teaching work in schools.

We plan to visit a few more museums in 2023 and we are looking forward to the opening of the newly refurbished Manchester Museum that is due to re-open in February of next year.

To read about the refurbishment of Manchester Museum: Manchester Museum – Bring Back April.

For those of you tucking into turkey, goose or chicken on the 25th, click the link below to see the article we wrote a few years ago that shows how your Christmas dinner has a close affinity with dinosaurs: Christmas Dinner Links Dinosaurs to Birds.

On behalf of Everything Dinosaur, we wish everyone a happy Christmas.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s award-winning website: Everything Dinosaur.

20 11, 2022

“The Plesiosaur’s Neck” – Encouraging Young Readers

By | November 20th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Book Reviews, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Are you looking for an entertaining and colourful story book to help inspire the next generation of young palaeontologists? With the festive season fast approaching, we recommend “The Plesiosaur’s Neck” written by Dr Adam S. Smith and Jonathan Emmett, with lots of superb illustrations by Adam Larkum, a graduate of the Edinburgh College of Art.

The Plesiosaur's Neck
“The Plesiosaur’s Neck” by Dr Adam S. Smith and Jonathan Emmett with illustrations by Adam Larkum that explores the question why did plesiosaurs like Poppy the Albertonectes have a long neck?

Prehistoric Prose, Puns and Palaeontology

Poppy is an Albertonectes plesiosaur. Her neck is seven metres long! This fun book, aimed at young readers sets out to explore some of the theories put forward by scientists as they attempt to explain why some plesiosaurs had super-sized necks.

The rhyming text bounces along and has been devised to help young readers maintain concentration and attention. Alfie the ammonite and Bella the belemnite accompany Poppy on her quest to solve this palaeontological puzzle and they chime in with cheeky comments as Poppy considers whether her neck can zap predators with electricity, helps her pluck off pesky parasites or allows to sneak up on her dinner.

Poppy what a long neck!
Why did Poppy the Plesiosaur have a long neck?

Highly Praised

In the competitive field of children’s books, “The Plesiosaur’s Neck” has been singled out for praise. For example, shortly after it was launched it was “Children’s Book of the Week” in both Books for Keeps magazine and The Independent newspaper.

“The Plesiosaur’s Neck” was included in Teach Primary magazine’s “Fifty Modern Reads Every School Library Needs” and the book was also a finalist in the Sparks! School Book Awards.

“The Plesiosaur’s Neck”

When this delightful book was first published, team members at Everything Dinosaur had the opportunity to review a copy.

We stated:

“This book combines colourful characters with a cornucopia of fun facts. It is an entertaining exploration of a genuine palaeontological puzzle.”

“The Plesiosaur’s Neck” is suitable for ages 5 years plus, this rhyming picture book has thirty-two pages and is published by UCLan Publishing.

UCLan publishing: The UCLan Publishing Website.

The Authors of "The Plesiosaur's Neck"
Dr Adam S. Smith (left) and Jonathan Emmett (right) the authors of the rhyming picture book.

More Books in the Pipeline

Dr Adam S. Smith told Everything Dinosaur that a second publication was in the pipeline, this time the story would evolve around a dinosaur, a tyrannosaur!

Dr Smith exclaimed:

“We’re excited to be working on a follow up book, ‘The Tyrannosaur’s Feathers’, to be published in 2024.”

In the meantime, if you are looking for a children’s book as a gift idea for the festive season, “The Plesiosaur’s Neck” is highly recommended.

24 10, 2022

Dinosaur Toys Encourage Play

By | October 24th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Early Years Foundation Reception, Educational Activities, Main Page, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Academics have defined different types of play activity that children indulge in and concluded that dinosaur toys encourage play. Creative, imaginative play is very important for a child’s development and there are lots of dinosaur and prehistoric animal models available from Everything Dinosaur to keep even the most discerning young dinosaur fan happy.

Dinosaur toys encourage play.
Children playing with dinosaur and prehistoric animal models. Picture credit: Schleich.

Picture credit: Schleich

Defining Different Types of Play

Scientists such as psychologists and paediatricians have defined six types of basic play activity namely:

  • Independent Play – playing on their own, using imagination.
  • Co-operative Play – playing with others, learning to share and to play together.
  • Motor skills – hand and eye co-ordination.
  • Visual Development – learning to focus, to develop observational skills such as being able to track moving objects.
  • Linguistic skills – learning language skills and developing a vocabulary.
  • Mathematical skills – learning with numbers, developing confidence with mathematics.

Children engaging in play whether on their own or with others helps them to develop important life skills.

Dinosaur Toys Encourage Play

A spokesperson from the UK-based Everything Dinosaur commented that they were aware that many Reception classes start their autumn term with a topic focused on dinosaurs. This term topic helps to encourage the children to take part in more cognitive based learning activities as they move away from free play.

A Reception class dinosaur themed creative play area.
A creative play area with a dinosaur theme in the Reception class. Children playing with dinosaurs helps them develop important life skills. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

We wish all the teaching teams every success with this autumn’s term topics.

Everything Dinosaur stocks a massive range of dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed toys and games, all of which have been tested and approved by team members.

To view the range of dinosaur toys, models and creative play craft items: Prehistoric Animal Toys and Gifts.

18 10, 2022

A Dinosaur Poem

By | October 18th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos/Schools, Teaching|0 Comments

Whilst sorting through the company’s extensive teaching database a picture of a dinosaur poem spotted during a school visit was found. During a routine tidy up of the images associated with Everything Dinosaur’s work in school, a poem about a Triceratops written by a young schoolgirl called Grace was discovered.

A Dinosaur Poem.  Developing Language and Communication Skills
“Three horned Face” has a poem written about it. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Helping to Gain Confidence with Writing

Dinosaurs and prehistoric animals provide a rewarding and satisfying term topic for many teachers of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils. The children approach the topic with enthusiasm and demonstrate lots of knowledge. The term topic lends itself to extensive activities related to English, maths and artwork as well as science. A dinosaur term topic can help children develop confidence with numeracy and literacy.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur have become quite creative in their support for teachers and teaching assistants. For example, fossil shark teeth have been used to make unusual “greater than” and “less than” symbols to help young children gain more confidence when using numbers.

Fossil shark teeth used to help demonstrate symbols in maths.
Fossils used to make mathematical symbols for use in schools. Greater than and less than thanks to Otodus megalodon. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

A Dinosaur Poem

Team members have come across many instances of dinosaurs inspiring young poets to write prose. Many of the children’s poems have been posted up on the walls of the classroom and they make bright and colourful displays.

Dinosaur poems
Prehistoric Animal Poems. Helping children to gain confidence with writing and literacy. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

A spokesperson for the UK-based, dinosaur company commented that over the years of delivering dinosaur themed workshops and supporting teachers, team members had come across some amazing examples of prehistoric animal themed poems.

Whether limericks, free verse or even Japanese inspired poetry forms such as haiku, Everything Dinosaur team members have always tried to encourage and inspire children.

To view the extensive range of prehistoric animal models and toys, all approved by the company’s teaching team, visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Visit Everything Dinosaur’s Website.

17 10, 2022

Inaccurate Teaching Materials

By | October 17th, 2022|Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, General Teaching, Main Page, Photos/Schools, Press Releases, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur team members have visited many schools. Unfortunately, during our travels we have come across many instances of inaccurate teaching materials. Educational budgets are stretched as never before and it always disappoints team members when they discover inaccurate information about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals being used in schools.

Take for example, this teaching aid downloaded and used by a school, which we came across a few years ago during a dinosaur workshop at the school.

Inaccurate teaching materials
Unfortunately, some of the dinosaur and prehistoric animal themed teaching resources available in the UK are wildly inaccurate. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The picture makes a statement about dinosaurs. The fossil record does provide evidence to support the idea that like other reptiles, dinosaurs were scaly. However, the prehistoric animal depicted on the “fact card” is a pterosaur and pterosaurs are not members of the Dinosauria.

Inaccurate Teaching Materials

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented that team members regularly came across inaccurate and misleading information about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals in schools.

The spokesperson added:

“Organisations compile teaching materials and sell these to schools and nurseries. Unfortunately, some of the learning materials contain obvious errors and inaccuracies. When we come across these materials, we do our best to point them out to the teaching team and to offer them, free of charge, replacement teaching materials that more accurately reflect the fossil record.”

Contact Everything Dinosaur team members for advice about teaching materials: Email Everything Dinosaur Team Members.

Providing Support for Teachers and Teaching Assistants

As well as providing support for teachers and teaching assistants, Everything Dinosaur team members have assisted parents who are home educating their children. We have provided helpful teaching resources and provided links to other sources of accurate facts about dinosaurs and prehistoric animals. Everything Dinosaur has also provided information about museums, events and exhibitions to visit many of which are free.

The company also provides a range of dinosaur themed toys and games including replicas of iconic animals preserved in the fossil record: Dinosaur Toys, Replicas Fossils and Gifts.

The spokesperson added that team members remained committed to helping where they could and they answered swiftly and promptly all the emails and enquiries that they received.

11 10, 2022

Fossils and Rocks with Year 3

By | October 11th, 2022|Educational Activities, General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2, Main Page, Photos/Schools, Teaching|0 Comments

Whilst examining some old files on the Everything Dinosaur database, team members came across a picture of a wonderful dinosaur themed wall display at Pebble Brook Primary, when Everything Dinosaur visited to conduct a workshop all about dinosaurs, fossils and rocks.

The children had been studying soils, rocks and fossils as part of their work during the autumn term and to start the topic with an event, a team member was invited to the school to lead a series of dinosaur and fossil themed workshops for the day.

During a pause in the busy schedule, a photograph of a very colourful wall display created by the children was taken.

A Delightful and Colourful Dinosaur Wall Display

Fossils and rocks studied by Year 3 pupils.
Year 3 children learn about dinosaurs, fossils, rocks and volcanoes in a term topic entitled “Dinosaurs Yabba Dabba Doo”! Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur/Pebble Brook Primary.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur/Pebble Brook Primary

Exploring Fossils and Rocks

The children investigated how fossils form, how they feel and what they can tell us about animals that lived in the past and extinction. For the science element of the term topic, the class have been examining numerous types of rock, exploring the school grounds and the buildings to identify different types of stone and rock.

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We remember visiting the school on a couple of occasions to work with different classes and enrich their curriculum. The classrooms were full of colourful artwork and delightful wall displays. We all had a great time”

Everything Dinosaur stocks a wide range of prehistoric animal themed crafts and art materials as well as replicas of dinosaurs and famous animals such as trilobites, belemnites and ammonites from the fossil record. All the items that the UK-based mail order company stocks have been tested and approved by the company’s teaching team.

To view the range of products available, visit Everything Dinosaur’s award-winning website: Dinosaur Crafts for Kids.

23 09, 2022

Allometric Growth

By | September 23rd, 2022|Dinosaur Fans, Key Stage 3/4, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Teaching|0 Comments

We received an email earlier this week with an enquiry about the term allometric growth which had been found in a scientific paper the emailer had been reading. Our emailer wrote to ask what did this term mean?

Allometric growth is a term used to describe the growth of an organism whereby different parts develop at different rates. The appearance of the organism will change as it grows and matures.

Papo Triceratops and baby Triceratops models - allometric growth.
The Papo baby Triceratops figure next to the adult Papo Triceratops. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Triceratops Allometric Growth

In the picture (above) a model of a juvenile Triceratops is compared with a model of a fully-grown, mature Triceratops. In the juvenile the head is proportionately larger and the skull frill and horns are very different in their morphology compared to the adult. This is an example of allometric growth. Allometry is the study of body size relative to body shape, it is often partnered in scientific papers with ontogeny which is the term used to describe how organisms develop and grow.

The Chinese model-making company PNSO have recently introduced some replicas that demonstrate how dinosaurs changed as they grew and matured. For example, the company recently introduced (2022), a 1:35 scale replica of an adult chasmosaurine ceratopsian (Torosaurus latus) and a juvenile. The models, entitled Aubrey and Dabei were supplied with posters and a full-colour, illustrated booklet.

PNSO Aubrey and Dabei (Torosaurus dinosaur models)
The 1:35 scale PNSO Torosaurus models (Aubrey and Dabei). The adult Torosaurus figure has an articulated lower jaw. Aubrey is the name of the adult Torosaurus in this model set, it towers over the juvenile (Dabei). The pair of models illustrate the biological concept of allometric growth – how organisms often change shape as they develop as different parts of the animal grow at different rates. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

To view the range of PNSO models and figures available from Everything Dinosaur: PNSO Age of Dinosaurs.

Back in 2019, Everything Dinosaur received an almost identical enquiry about how to define allometric growth. At the time, we wrote a short blog post highlighting our explanation.

To read our earlier article: Defining Allometric Growth.

26 07, 2022

Remembering School Workshops in Blackpool

By | July 26th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2, Main Page, Photos/Schools, Press Releases|0 Comments

Whilst reviewing some old files in the Everything Dinosaur offices as part of our compliance with GDPR regulations, team members came across some feedback from teachers after we had delivered as series of prehistoric animal themed workshops at Unity Academy in Lancashire.

Everything Dinosaur had been invited to participate in the “Blackpool Celebrating Science Conference”. This event, which took place back in 2015 is well remembered by our staff. We prepared and delivered two workshops around the theme of “A Jurassic World”. We received excellent feedback from the teachers that observed our workshops.

One teacher commented:

“Fabulous! Very interesting! Children really engaged and focused. Thoroughly, enjoyed it – thank you.”

Feedback from Blackpool
Five stars for Everything Dinosaur. Excellent feedback received by Everything Dinosaur after workshops supporting the “Blackpool Celebrating Science Conference”.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A second teacher, who attended one of our workshops with her Key Stage 2 pupils added:

“Very informative and entertaining”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated that team members were delighted to have received the feedback and it was a pleasure working with all the enthusiastic and highly motivated children.

To view the range of educational prehistoric animal toys and gifts available from Everything Dinosaur’s user-friendly and award-winning website: Everything Dinosaur.

18 06, 2022

When is a Jaw Not a Jaw?

By | June 18th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Teaching|0 Comments

The fossil record is rich and diverse however, it only represents a tiny fraction of all the life that has ever existed on Earth. In addition, some fossils can be easily confused and misinterpreted, for example, we recall an incident that occurred when visiting the National Museum Cardiff (Wales). We overhead a conversation in the Evolution of Wales gallery, a mother was pointing out a dinosaur jaw fossil to her children.

The object was not the fossilised remains of a dinosaur, this was not a jaw at all, but the preserved remains in lateral view of the claw of a large sea scorpion (eurypterid).

A sea scorpion claw
A stunning fossil of a sea scorpion (eurypterid) claw housed at the National Museum Cardiff (Wales) photographed in 2019 when team members at Everything Dinosaur visited.

We can understand how the confusion arose, the fossilised claw does resemble a jaw. The fossil exhibit featuring several examples of Palaeozoic invertebrates was clearly labelled and the gallery layout guides readers from the Big Bang to the present day in chronological order. There are plenty of helpful panels providing information and explanations, all helping to educate and inform.

One of the children corrected the grown-up, pointing out that the dinosaurs lived in the Mesozoic.

Ancient predator of the Middle Ordovician. An illustration of a sea scorpion. Picture credit: Patrick Lynch/Yale University.

We shared a smile and moved on to view some of the other amazing exhibits housed in this excellent museum.

To read about the discovery of a giant sea scorpion (Terropterus xiushanensis) from China: Giant Sea Scorpion from China.

29 05, 2022

Fires Started by “Raptors”

By | May 29th, 2022|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Key Stage 3/4, Main Page, Photos, Teaching, TV Reviews|0 Comments

In episode four (Ice Worlds) of the acclaimed television series “Prehistoric Planet”, a troodontid dinosaur is depicted deliberately spreading a forest fire. Is this behaviour plausible? This Apple TV+ series has been praised for depicting prehistoric animals not as movie monsters but as animals capable of complex behaviours as seen in living relatives. The behaviour of many of the dinosaurs in the documentary series reflects behaviour observed and documented in birds.

The clever troodontid from the television series "Prehistoric Planet"
The feathered troodontid, regarded as one of the cleverest non-avian dinosaurs to have evolved, searches for a smouldering ember in order to start a fire elsewhere in the forest. Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Lead scientific consultant for the five-part, nature documentary series, vertebrate palaeontologist and author Darren Naish has used his extensive knowledge of the living world to create realistic scenarios illustrating behaviours of long extinct creatures.

For example, the troodontid is depicted carefully selecting a burning ember and carrying it to another, as yet unburnt, part of the forest in order to deliberately start a fire. Fire starting is a behaviour that has been observed in some species of birds.

Troodontid on the prowl (Prehistoric Planet Apple TV Plus)
A troodontid patrols the edge of a forest fire in a northern, Late Cretaceous forest. Small animals fleeing the flames would make an easy target for this hunter, but did it deliberately carry smouldering embers to create further fires as part of its hunting strategy? Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Forest Fires Provide an Opportunity for Hunters

Flames and smoke from a forest fire, presumably started by lightning would cause animals to flee and a hunter like a troodontid could patrol the fringes of the fire and ambush any small mammal, lizards or birds that had been panicked and were attempting to avoid the flames.

In the scene which features the troodontid, this clever little dinosaur (troodontids having relatively large brains in proportion to their body size), chooses an ember and deliberately carries it to another part of the forest to in order to spread the fire.

A troodontid carries a smouldering stick.
In the television episode the troodontid is shown carrying an ember from the forest fire. It drops the ember in a part of the forest not yet ablaze in a bid to flush out more potential prey. Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Australian Fire Hawks

Indigenous Australians have reported that certain types of bird intentionally spread fires in order to exploit feeding opportunities. People in northern Australia have considered the black kite (Milvus migrans), the whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus) and the brown falcon (Falco berigora) to be “fire hawks” picking up smouldering debris moving it some distance and then dropping it in a bid to spread the conflagration. Some of the observations and anecdotes were reported in a scientific paper published in the “Journal of Ethnobiology”.

The paper attempted to document evidence supporting the theory that many birds of prey used fires to help them find food, making easy meals out of insects and other small animals attempting to avoid the blaze.

A successful hunt for a troodontid
A successful hunt. The intelligent and resourceful troodontid claims its prize. Picture credit: Apple TV Plus.

Co-author of the scientific paper, which was published in 2017, Mark Bonta (Pennsylvania State University), commented:

“We’re not discovering anything. Most of the data that we’ve worked with is collaborative with Aboriginal peoples. They’ve known this for probably 40,000 years or more.”

Other Scientists are Sceptical

Some experts have expressed scepticism, whether these birds were intentionally spreading fires or were seen to pick up sticks as a consequence of darting down to capture prey but missing their intended target.

Anthony Molyneux of the Alice Springs Desert Park commented:

“If [hawks] have missed the prey and perhaps grabbed a stick, they will drop that stick or rock. If the stick is smouldering or on fire, then it will start another fire.”

In a 2016 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Bob Gosford, an Australian indigenous-rights lawyer and ornithologist explained that these raptors thrive in areas where wildfires are common.

In the interview he stated:

“It’s a feeding frenzy, because out of these grasslands come small birds, lizards, insects, everything fleeing the front of the fire.”

There have been many first-hand accounts of hawks and other birds of prey picking up burning sticks in their claws and dropping them in a fresh area of dry grass several hundred metres away to start another fire.

No one can ever know whether troodontids or other theropod dinosaurs indulged in this fire-spreading behaviour, but research is on-going to determine whether their close relatives (birds) deliberately spread fires.

It certainly made an intriguing and thought-provoking segment in the documentary series.

The scientific paper: “Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia” by Mark Bonta, Robert Gosford, Dick Eussen, Nathan Ferguson, Erana Loveless, Maxwell Witwer published in the Journal of Ethnobiology.

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