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.

8 09, 2023

Colourful Dinosaur Eggs

By | September 8th, 2023|Adobe CS5, Early Years Foundation Reception, Educational Activities, Key Stage 1/2, Main Page, Photos|0 Comments

Team members at Everything Dinosaur spotted some colourful dinosaur eggs in a carefully constructed nest on a visit to a Cheshire primary school. Whilst reviewing some teaching work from early 2018, we found a picture of the beautiful dinosaur eggs.

Dinosaur eggs in a dinosaur nest.
Some beautiful and very colour dinosaur eggs spotted at Little Leigh primary school (Cheshire). Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Eggs

The photograph of the dinosaur nest was taken on a visit to Little Leigh primary in Cheshire. Everything Dinosaur had been invited into the school to deliver a workshop to Year 1 children who were learning about dinosaurs. The dedicated teaching team created the eggs, and the children were asked about what materials could go into the nest to keep the eggs safe. This exercise was a great way for the pupils to explore the properties of materials. In addition, to learning about dinosaur eggs, the pupils had the opportunity to examine different nesting materials.

To contact Everything Dinosaur to learn more about our outreach work: Email Everything Dinosaur.

A Dinosaur Workshop

A spokesperson from the UK-based mail order company commented that they remembered the school visit. The spacious Year 1 classrooms were filled with lots of examples of the children’s work. One of the teachers had constructed a small dinosaur museum in a corner of the room.

A dinosaur museum at a primary school (Little Leigh, Cheshire).
A dinosaur museum spotted at a school. Picture credit: Little Leigh Primary/Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Little Leigh Primary/Everything Dinosaur

The spokesperson added:

“The children were very enthusiastic, and they wanted to give us a tour of their classroom. We enjoyed visiting the dinosaur museum. However, we had to cut our visit short, we had a dinosaur and fossil workshop to deliver.”

Afterwards we chatted to the teaching team. They thanked us for the visit, and we congratulated them on their excellent scheme of work.

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

26 08, 2023

A Dinosaur Letter

By | August 26th, 2023|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Educational Activities, Key Stage 1/2, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Team members were going through their image archive when they came across a beautiful dinosaur letter. The letter had been sent into Everything Dinosaur by a girl called Emma. Emma was a pupil at Streethouse Primary school when Everything Dinosaur visited in November 2017.

Team members were invited into the school to work with the Key Stage 2 class for a morning. The workshop provided a provocation for the term topic. Over the course of the morning, we challenged the children to have a go at a variety of extension activities.

A Dinosaur Letter

Year 5 and Year 6 children and their letters to Everything Dinosaur
Cursive writing on display from Year 5/6.

Picture credit: Emma from Streethouse Primary School

We remember visiting the school back in 2017. It was a pleasure to meet such enthusiastic pupils.

In Emma’s letter she thanked Everything Dinosaur for the school visit and stated:

“You made me more confident in answering questions.”

The Key Stage 2 pupil went onto add:

“Thank you so much for being inspiring.”

Our thanks to Emma for her wonderful comments.

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Everything Dinosaur.

22 07, 2023

Counting Ichthyosaur Coprolites

By | July 22nd, 2023|Adobe CS5, Early Years Foundation Reception, Educational Activities, General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Teaching|0 Comments

On a visit to the Manchester Museum a team member overheard a grandmother challenging her grandchildren. Her young charges were tasked with counting the fossils in a display cabinet. The cabinet contained various ichthyosaur fossil specimens. Part of the exhibit included marine reptile fossil dung (coprolite). The grandmother asked the children to have a go at counting ichthyosaur coprolites.

Counting ichthyosaur coprolites
Counting ichthyosaur coprolites. A grandmother visiting the Manchester Museum played a counting came with her grandchildren. It involved counting ichthyosaur coprolites. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Gaining Numeracy Confidence Counting Ichthyosaur Coprolites

The children were enjoying their visit to the Manchester Museum. After the photographs in front of the Tyrannosaurus rex cast (Stan), the grandmother set the counting challenge. We are not sure whether she knew that the display cases contained fossils of marine reptile poo, but the children were undeterred. They eagerly accepted the counting challenge.

Counting games can help young children become more confident. Counting games can help them to develop confidence with numeracy.

Tyrannosaurus rex cast skeleton on display
The Tyrannosaurus rex cast on display at the Manchester Museum. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“There is lots to see and lots to do at the Manchester Museum. Staff hand out worksheets and encourage children to take part in various activities themed around the exhibits. We have not come across an activity that involved counting ichthyosaur coprolites before. We congratulate the family for their innovation.”

An Ichthyosaurus model
A model of an ichthyosaur. The Ichthyosaurus model (Wild Safari Prehistoric World) ready to take its turn on the Everything Dinosaur turntable. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

The image (above) shows a typical replica of an ichthyosaur. This is the Wild Safari Prehistoric World Ichthyosaurus model.

To view this range: Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models and Figures.

The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur added:

“There is an extensive display of ichthyosaur and other marine reptile fossil material on display. Several of the fossils of ichthyosaurs come from the Dorset coast. We have found some ichthyosaur fossils on the Dorset coast too. We do have ichthyosaur coprolite fossils in our collection. However, we have never played a counting coprolite game unlike the grandchildren.”

Visit the Everything Dinosaur website: Visit Everything Dinosaur.

22 05, 2023

A Trio of Colourful Prehistoric Animal Drawings

By | May 22nd, 2023|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Drawings, Early Years Foundation Reception, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos, Teaching|0 Comments

Our thanks to young dinosaur fan Jenson who provided Everything Dinosaur with a trio of colourful prehistoric animal drawings. A team member had visited Jenson’s school. The term topic had been dinosaurs and Jenson wanted to show his drawing of three colourful prehistoric animals.

Colourful prehistoric animal drawings.
Jenson provided Everything Dinosaur team members with a very colourful trio of prehistoric animal drawings. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Colourful Prehistoric Animal Drawings

Several schoolchildren had produced dinosaur illustrations. The Everything Dinosaur team member praised the children’s efforts and commented:

“Such wonderful, colourful drawings of pterosaurs and dinosaurs. These illustrations make a fantastic classroom display. The boxes on the drawings allow the children to include some adjectives that describe their artwork. This helps them practice their writing skills as well as their hand-eye co-ordination.”

The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur thanked the teaching team for inviting them to the school. He added that the term topic had been carefully planned. It contained lots of amazing lesson plans to help children with their reading, writing and general development.

For inspirational ideas concerning dinosaur themed toys and gifts: Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Themed Toys and Gifts.

Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur is based in the UK, and it supplies dinosaur and prehistoric animal related figures, gifts, soft toys, clothing and merchandise. Run by teachers and knowledgeable dinosaur enthusiasts helping collectors of prehistoric animal models and promoting education and an appreciation of the Earth sciences.

To visit the company’s award-winning and user-friendly website: Everything Dinosaur.

17 05, 2023

Cave Art Recreated by Pupils

By | May 17th, 2023|Adobe CS5, Educational Activities, Key Stage 1/2, Main Page, Photos/Schools, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur team members were reviewing some wonderful examples of cave art created by Year 3 and Year 4 pupils. The children attended Bowlee Community Primary, and they had been studying life in the Stone Age. As part of an exciting and diverse term topic the children had recreated cave paintings.

Cave art recreated by pupils.
A wonderful example of “Stone Age” cave art recreated by pupils at Bowlee Community Primary. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Recreating Cave Art

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur recalled visiting the school in 2017 and again in 2018. He praised the teaching team for their dedication and enthusiasm. The examples of the Stone Age drawings had been put on display outside the classroom. The children explained that they had enjoyed learning about their ancestors. They enjoyed creating the cave art and they were fascinated by the pictures of real cave art their teacher had shown them.

For inspirational teaching resources visit Everything Dinosaur’s child-friendly website: Everything Dinosaur.

5 05, 2023

Museum Acquires William Buckland Archive

By | May 5th, 2023|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Oxford University Museum of Natural History has completed the purchase of archive material belonging to pioneering geologist the Reverend William Buckland and his wife Mary (née Morland).

This is an important, historical and culturally significant archive that has been acquired by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH). The material which documents the contribution to science by the 19th century theologian and geologist contains over 1,000 items. There are notebooks, family papers, drawings, artworks and letters. The collection is noteworthy as it also highlights the contribution of Buckland’s wife Mary (née Morland). Mary was a talented artist and naturalist.

William Buckland surrounded by fossils.
A portrait of the Reverend William Buckland. Picture credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Funding the Acquisition

The acquisition has been made possible with support from the Friends of the National Libraries, Headley Trust, the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund. Private donors also contributed.

Head of Earth Collections at the OUMNH, Eliza Howlett stated:

“The Museum’s acquisition of a large collection of Buckland papers from private hands is a game-changer for historians of science and others with an interest in the histories of gender, class, and colonialism. Combined with the already large and diverse Oxford collections, the new materials will confirm OUMNH as the epicentre for future research, and we are tremendously grateful to the many trusts and foundations, and to the private individuals, who generously contributed to this purchase.”

This important collection also includes correspondence between Mary Anning and William Buckland about new fossil discoveries. In a letter penned by Mary Anning the famous Lyme Regis resident informs the Reverend William Buckland about the discovery of Plesiosaurus remains.

Mary Anning Letter to William Buckland.
Part of a signed letter from Mary Anning to William Buckland from December 21st 1830, informing him of a plesiosaur skeleton she had recently discovered. Picture credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

William Buckland

William Buckland was a hugely influential figure in academia, religion, politics and science. He successively held the positions of Reader in Mineralogy and Geology at Oxford University; Dean of Westminster and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.

He is accredited with the first, formal scientific description of a dinosaur (Megalosaurus bucklandii). This was one of three genera placed into the Dinosauria by Richard Owen in the early 1840s.

The lower jaw of Megalosaurus.
The partial dentary with teeth associated with Megalosaurus bucklandii on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view Megalosaurus models and replicas of other prehistoric creatures including dinosaurs: CollectA Prehistoric Life Figures.

The reverend William Buckland also pioneered palaeoecology with is ground-breaking study of an ancient hyena den. Buckland was also a notable convert to glacial theory, and showed how glaciation rather than a global flood shaped the British landscape.

An Insight into the Life of a Pioneering Scientist

This extensive archive reveals aspects of Buckland’s life as a student at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, as well his work as a practising geologist, eminent member of the clergy and university lecturer. Evidence from the archive provides a comprehensive insight into the thinking and institutions of the early 19th century. During this time, the biblical interpretation of creation was being challenged. Material in the archive documents correspondence with major figures such as art critic John Ruskin and prime minister Robert Peel.

William Buckland inspecting a rock formation in Snowdonia, by Thomas Sopwith (October 1841).
A watercolour of the Reverend William Buckland inspecting a rock formation in Snowdonia, by Thomas Sopwith (October 1841). Picture credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Identifying Iconic Artworks

The archive also includes original artworks, such as Thomas Sopwith’s watercolour of William Buckland exploring a rock formation armed with a geological hammer. It had been thought that this artwork portrayed Mary Anning. The collection also includes an exceptionally rare, coloured version of the lithograph based on Henry de la Beche’s drawing Duria Antiquior. The artwork, depicting prehistoric Dorset, is famous for being the first pictorial representation of a scene of prehistoric life based on fossil evidence.

Mary’s Contribution is Recognised

This substantial archive also includes a number of illustrations created by Buckland’s wife Mary (née Morland). Highlights include two of Mary’s sketchbooks. One of these, dating from before her marriage to Buckland, contains exquisite ink and watercolour drawings of natural history specimens, and highlights the huge artistic and scientific contribution she made to her husband’s work.

Mary Morland and an illustration of a jumping mouse.
A watercolour of Dipus canadensis, a jumping mouse from Canada, by Mary Morland circa 1817 from her notebook of specimens. Picture credit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Dr Simon Thurley CBE, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, commented:

“I am delighted the National Heritage Memorial Fund is able to support Oxford University Museum of Natural History to acquire the outstanding Buckland Archive and ensure that the collection remains together and is saved for the nation.”

Uniting the Collections

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is already a significant repository for Buckland’s work. This new archive will fit with the Museum’s existing collection, helping to provide a more complete understanding of the contribution made to science and to scientific debate.

Reuniting these collections both physically and digitally will allow researchers and other museum audiences access to the full spectrum of Buckland material.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in the compilation of this article.

15 04, 2023

Dinosaur Footprints Created by Reception Class

By | April 15th, 2023|Adobe CS5, Early Years Foundation Reception, Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos, Teaching|0 Comments

A few years ago, Everything Dinosaur visited Sandbrook Community Primary. Team members had been contracted to deliver some dinosaur themed workshops with the Reception classes as a provocation for the start of the term topic. As part of the teaching team’s scheme of work, a large strip of white paper had been laid out on the floor and children had been challenged to create some dinosaur footprints on it.

Using a foam cut which had been dipped in paint, the children were able to walk along a strip of paper and produce some super dinosaur tracks.

dinosaur footprints
Dinosaur footprints created by Reception children. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Dinosaur Footprints

During the lunch break one of our dinosaur and fossil experts was allowed to return to the classroom to take some pictures of the children’s work whilst the children were either on lunch or playing outside. We praised the teaching team for their innovative scheme of work. We also praised the teachers for managing to keep the classroom floor so clean!

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.

Young Palaeontologists

Team members were soon back to work delivering the afternoon workshops. The young palaeontologists in the Reception class had a wonderful time, some of the Nursery school staff came in to take a look at the activities. The Nursery school staff were due to have an inspection that week and they wanted to pick up some ideas on lesson plans.

As part of our follow-up work, we set the children a few challenges. Could they produce a dinosaur drawing? Could they count all the green dinosaur feet on the floor? How would they get on with the dinosaur hokey-cokey song we supplied?

A teacher enquired about soft toy dinosaurs helping to reinforce learning. We were happy to supply further information and advice.

For dinosaur soft toys: Soft Toy Dinosaurs.

It was a most enjoyable day. Team members were also able to email over additional information to assist the teaching team.

9 04, 2023

Hominid or Hominin? Explaining the Terms

By | April 9th, 2023|Adobe CS5, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur team members have produced numerous blog posts documenting fossil discoveries and research into human evolution. Scientists are gradually gaining a better understanding of the evolution of our own species (Homo sapiens). Readers may have noticed a change in the use of the terms that describe members of the Homo genus, related genera and their ancestors.

For example, the terms “hominid” and “hominin”. In the past, these terms were interchangeable. Both hominid and hominin referred to the group of apes consisting of modern humans, extinct humans and all our immediate ancestors. The definition of these terms has changed. This change can lead to confusion, so, Everything Dinosaur thought it might be helpful to explain what “hominid” and “hominin” now refer to.

Hominid (Hominidae Family)

The term “hominid” has been given a wider definition, encompassing all the Great Apes. It now encompasses all modern and extinct Great Apes (humans, chimpanzees, including the bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and their immediate ancestors.

Hominin and Hominid
The Great Apes – extant and extinct (humans, gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and all their immediate ancestors) – defining hominids (Hominidae Family).

Hominin Defined

The term “hominin” now refers to a narrower group. This group consists of modern humans, extinct human species and all our immediate ancestors (including members of the genera Homo, Australopithecus, Paranthropus and Ardipithecus).

Hominin and Hominid
The term hominin defined: modern humans, extinct human species and all our immediate ancestors (including members of the genera Homo, Australopithecus, Ardipithecus and Paranthropus).

Hominid or Hominin?

The change in definition has occurred as palaeoanthropologists have altered the way that apes are classified. In the previous taxonomy, humans were distinct and separate from all other apes. They were placed into their own, unique family the Hominidae or hominids, one of three families classifying the apes.

Scientists have revised their classifications to develop more up-to-date evolutionary trees. The revision has reduced the number of families recognised to just two. All the Great Apes (including humans) are placed into the same family, the Hominidae or hominids. The next branching of this evolutionary tree divides the orangutans into one subfamily and all the remaining Great Apes into another subfamily. Then at the tribe level, gorillas, chimpanzees and humans separate onto different branches of the evolutionary tree with humans in the Hominini or hominin branch.

To view models and replicas of extinct Great Apes and ancestors of modern humans: Everything Dinosaur Prehistoric Animal Models and Figures.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of post produced by the Australian Museum (Sydney) in the compilation of this article.

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

7 04, 2023

Thank You Letters and Everything Dinosaur

By | April 7th, 2023|Educational Activities, Main Page, Photos, Teaching|0 Comments

Whilst tidying up some files on the Everything Dinosaur database, an old photograph of a set of thank you letters sent into the UK-based mail order company was discovered. When team members conducted school visits lots of pupils sent in thank you letters. The letters from each class were grouped together and photographed. Often a picture of the children’s letters would have been pinned to our office notice board.

A set of thank you letters from a class.
Pupils sent in thank you letters to Everything Dinosaur. A school class sent in thank you letters to Everything Dinosaur after a dinosaur workshop at their school. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Dinosaur Workshops in School

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“In the past, the company visited schools to conduct dinosaur workshops. Over the years we must have worked with thousands of schoolchildren. We enjoyed our school visits, and the dinosaur workshops were an enormous success. The company has received hundreds of thank you letters from pupils. It was always a pleasure to read these notes.”

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

Thank You Letters

Asking the class to produce a thank you letter was a popular extension activity encouraged by Everything Dinosaur team members. These thank you letters helped the children practice their handwriting and helped build confidence with sentence construction, punctuation and grammar.

The spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur explained that the company did not visit schools at present. This service was stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic and other projects have prevented this popular service from resuming.

For educational, dinosaur and prehistoric themed toys, models and crafts: Dinosaur Toys and Gifts.

As team members tidy up files and archive more photographs, happy memories will be triggered as old school photographs are seen once more. The archiving and cataloguing of these files are part of Everything Dinosaur’s commitment to GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the UK Data Protection legislation help to protect customer’s data.

1 04, 2023

How Big was a T. rex Brain?

By | April 1st, 2023|Adobe CS5, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos, Photos/Pictures of Fossils, Teaching|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur team members were sent a question by a young dinosaur fan who wanted to know how big was the brain of T. rex? We put our own brains trust to work on this intriguing question.

Having a large brain does not necessarily indicate intelligence, how that organ is configured, and its complexity can provide neuroscientists with an insight into the intelligence of organisms.

Ironically, a controversial study published earlier this year, postulated that Tyrannosaurus rex might have been as smart as a primate, it may have possessed a comparable number of brain cells to that of a monkey.

How big was the brain of T. rex?
An endocast of the brain of T. rex derived from internal moulds of the brain case. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

How Big was the Brain of T. rex?

CAT scans of theropod skulls have enabled palaeontologists to trace nerve pathways and to build up a picture of what some brains of dinosaurs might have looked like. The Tyrannosaurus rex fossil material known as Stan (BHI3033), has provided researchers with a detailed understanding of T. rex brain function. For example, fifty percent of the brain volume was dedicated to analysing smells. Hence the assertion that the sense of smell was extremely important to this carnivore.

As for brain size, estimates vary, but a recent paper published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology estimated the T. rex brain to have weighed around 350 grammes, and endowed this predator with considerable intelligence, putting the “King of the Tyrant Lizards” on a par with extant monkeys.

To read an article from 2013 that looks at research that indicated that dinosaurs had complex brains and postulated that they were capable of sophisticated behaviours similar to modern birds and mammals: Scientists Create a Detailed Map of a Dinosaur’s Brain.

Capable of Tool Use?

Author of the recently published paper, Dr Suzana Herculano-Houzel from the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University (Tennessee), postulates that Tyrannosaurus rex had approximately 3 billion cerebral neurons, a greater number than found in baboons.

Beasts of the Mesozoic T. rex model in 1:18 scale
The image of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Tyrannosaurus rex model in 1:18 scale that features on the back of the product packaging. A recent research paper has suggested T. rex was as clever as a monkey. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

The picture (above) shows an image of an articulated Tyrannosaurus rex from the Beasts of the Mesozoic range. To view this range of prehistoric animal figures: Beasts of the Mesozoic Models and Figures.

Using data on living birds and reptiles, Dr Herculano-Houzel inferred the number of neurons extinct creatures had based on calculations of brain mass, including many theropods such as Allosaurus, Archaeopteryx and T. rex.

Writing in the “Journal of Comparative Neurology”, a publication edited by Dr Herculano-Houzel, the doctor extrapolated how many brain cells T. rex possessed in its cerebrum (telencephalon), the most highly advanced part of the brain associated with higher cognitive functions.

Dr Herculano-Houzel postulates that Tyrannosaurus rex would have matured rapidly, lived to about forty years of age and was smart enough to use tools and to pass on acquired knowledge to offspring.

Controversial Ideas

Summarising her research, the doctor concludes:

“That theropods such as Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus were endotherms with baboon and monkey-like numbers of telencephalic neurons, respectively, which would make these animals not only giant but also long-lived and endowed with flexible cognition, and thus even more magnificent predators than previously thought.”

How big was the brain of T. rex.
T. rex brain endocast. Was T. rex really smart? Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

As Clever as a Primate!

The paper has attracted scepticism from palaeontologists and other researchers. Gaining an understanding of the neuronal composition of the brains of dinosaurs would provide fundamental insights into their behavioural and cognitive capabilities.

However, brain tissue is rarely fossilised and to achieve her calculations Dr Herculano-Houzel assumed that the entire volume of the braincase was filled by brain tissue. This may not have been so. Perhaps, less than fifty percent of the braincase of T. rex was filled with brain tissue. Dinosaur brains could have been considerably smaller than the size postulated in the scientific paper.

In addition, how the brain is configured, its composition, if you like how it is “wired”, will have a significant impact on an organism’s intelligence.

Claiming that theropods such as Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus were “the primates of their times”, is exceptionally difficult to substantiate in the absence of a living animal to study.

To read an article from October 2016 about the remarkable discovery of a preserved partial iguanodontid brain: Dinosaur Brain from Southern England.

Bird Brains

Assessing intelligence is challenging, even in living creatures. Pigeons for example, would perhaps not be regarded by many people as being particularly smart, but these avian dinosaurs are capable of remarkable feats of navigation. Many birds demonstrate advanced cognitive abilities such as corvids (crows and their relatives) using tools. Crows have much smaller brains than most monkeys, they have far fewer cerebral neurons but they can outperform some primates when it comes to cognitive assessment tasks.

Dr Herculano-Houzel argues that estimating neuron counts from brain mass is a method that has been applied to hundreds of mammal, bird, and non-avian dinosaur species, the methodology is robust.

However, claiming that T. rex was a smart as a monkey is quite a leap.

The Dinosaur Renaissance

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“The research paper is free to access, so readers can make up their own minds. Whilst it is extremely challenging to try to work out how intelligent an extinct animal was, the days of regarding dinosaurs as creatures so stupid that they were an evolutionary dead end are long gone.”

The spokesperson added:

“Since the 1960s and the work of palaeontologist John Ostrom, the view of the Dinosauria has fundamentally changed. These animals were perfectly adapted to their environments and they were capable of complex behaviours just like mammals and their close relatives the birds. Just how smart T. rex was is difficult to quantify and validate with scientific evidence. Along with other theropods such as the dromaeosaurids and the oviraptorids these predators might have demonstrated very complex behaviours derived from their cognitive abilities.”

Unfortunately, as we are unlikely to ever observe a living non-avian dinosaur, assessments regarding dinosaur intelligence remain speculative.

How Big was the Brain of T. rex? Something to Ponder

However, the idea of a smart, 7 tonne carnivore measuring in excess of 12 metres long, it makes you think…

The scientific paper: “Theropod dinosaurs had primate-like numbers of telencephalic neurons” by Suzana Herculano-Houzel published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology.

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