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Why Do They Continue to Make Jurassic Park Movies?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Lost World - Jurassic Park (1997)

When it first came out, the original Jurassic Park movie was absolutely brilliant. It had it all. Action, adventure, not too much of the mushy stuff, and of course, dinosaurs aplenty!

Of course, we were going to get at least one sequel – after all, we never discovered what became of the island off the coast of Costa Rica once the team of scientists fled following the first disaster at Jurassic Park. However, as the franchise wore on through the 1990s, the quality waned.

Looks like we will get Jurassic Park – The Fast and the Furious


First, we headed to “site B” – a secret location that Dr. Hammond was using to keep other dinosaurs for the original park. Chaos theorist Ian Malcolm is summoned to document the ancient creatures living as close to a natural life as possible. However, a second team knows about the location and wants to start a new theme park, this time in the far more perilous location of San Francisco.

The next modern, prehistoric, not-quite-so-classic adventure – Jurassic Park III – sees the action return to the now sprawling dinosaur island from the second movie. Dr Grant is persuaded by a couple to give them a fly-over tour of Isla Sorna to find their son who is apparently lost in the sprawling forest below. The flight crash-lands on the island and the action that follows revolves around rescuing the boy from the million-year-old lizards.

Following the third movie, interest in dinosaurs was perceived to have waned sufficiently for there to be a much-needed break in the franchise. That said, the merchandising arm of Jurassic Park continued almost unabated. For the kids there would be lunch boxes, cuddly toys, action figures, and for adults, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and even video slots (play the free demo at NoDepositRewards) despite there being no new content from the series in years.

Almost a decade and a half later, however, the corpse of Jurassic Park would be wheeled out again. Jurassic World is actually a solid movie. It in no way captures the charm of the original title but it does get a lot right. The action takes place off the coast of Costa Rica once again. The plot is much more akin to the original movie, since it centres around a resort and what happens when the dinosaurs escape.

Finally, the newest movie in the franchise, for now at least, is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. This one departs from the typical Jurassic Park narrative of “humans plus dinosaurs equals danger.” Instead, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing are forced to return to Isla Nublar since the dinosaurs that survived from the previous movie are in danger from a huge volcanic eruption that could cause them to go extinct – again.

What Made Jurassic Park So Good?


The original Jurassic Park was such a success for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it had dinosaurs. Now, we all know that these ancient beasts have a powerful lure over both young and old – I for one had a bedroom adorned in dinosaur posters and pictures for much of my childhood.

However, we weren’t dealing with some low budget effort here. For Steven Spielberg’s now classic, only the most cutting edge in animatronics would suffice. This made Jurassic Park an absolute treat for the eyes and in all honesty, it still stands up well visually today.

This visual magnificence is built upon by the fact that the movie toes the line between pandering to the kids and their parents beautifully – a must for a family movie to be a success. If the adults roll their eyes at the mere mention of the title or the kids hide under their sheets in terror, it’s just not going to work. Fortunately, there is enough in the original Jurassic Park to keep all ages delighted – whether that’s the clowning around of young Timmy or the dry sarcastic wit of Ian Malcolm (masterfully played by Jeff Goldblum).

Throw into this winning mix a legendary theme tune, great performances from across the cast, an original plot and subtext that is believable yet unpredictable, and you have all the makings of a classic Hollywood blockbuster. Frankly, the original Jurassic Park is fantastic. So great in fact, that this entire article could easily be dedicated to the movie alone.

Why the Sequels Don’t Come Close


Jurassic Park set a high water mark that subsequent editions couldn’t come close to. None of the following plots manage to capture the drama of the original and no matter how many times our team of dino scientists visit one of the two damned islands, that much-needed freshness still hasn’t magically reappeared. In Jurassic Park III, the entire plot of movie two was dismissed as being largely trivial by the characters themselves. Even in the very latest movie out last year, the most interesting element of the whole plot was left undeveloped. However, there is hope that the human genetic experimentation angle will be developed in the forthcoming title – which is honestly not called Jurassic Park 15: Flogging a Dead T-Rex.

Along with plot issues, the sequels suffer from a variety of other downfalls that make them difficult to like, let alone love. Take the acting for example. It’s hard to think of a single character in the first movie that lets the side down. However, in the third instalment, we get to witness the truly cringe worthy relationship between Paul Kirby and wife Amanda. The lack of chemistry between the pair is really quite difficult to watch at times.

Then there are the characterizations themselves. Whereas Ellie Sattler was a straight up badass and the ultimate hero of the first movie, the female characters in later editions are frankly embarrassing. Both Amanda Kirby and Claire Dearing (of Jurassic World) are less characters and more caricatures. They play your typical “damsel in distress”, which in the second decade of the 21stcentury, feels dated at best and offensive at worst.

Ultimately, the movies following the original title try to get by on special effects and previous sentimental attachments to characters alone. This doesn’t really work when the writing and directing isn’t on par with the Jurassic Park.

A New Hope?


As mentioned, there is a new Jurassic Park movie on the way. It’s scheduled for release in 2021. Not a great deal is known about the latest in this now-oversized franchise. However, the writers and directors will clearly have their work cut out if they want to restore the magic of the first movie.

The entire series is really starting to feel tired by this point. The dinosaurs no longer have the visual impact they once did and the whole thing could probably use another, longer break. How the team behind Jurassic World III will overcome this is unclear – but please, no more tragically helpless female characters or derelict amusement parks!


Scientists Put Ichthyosaurs in Virtual Water Tanks

Friday, March 8, 2019

3D models of the nine ichthyosaurs analyzed by the researchers, shown in their evolutionary context. Credit: Gutarra et al., 2019)

Using computer simulations and 3-D models, palaeontologists from the University of Bristol have uncovered more detail on how Mesozoic sea dragons swam.

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, sheds new light on their energy demands while swimming, showing that even the first ichthyosaurs had  shapes well adapted to minimise resistance and maximise volume, in a similar way to modern dolphins.

Ichthyosaurs are an extinct group of sea-going reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, around 248-93.9 million years ago.

During their evolution, they changed shape substantially, from having narrow, lizard-like bodies to more streamlined fish-shaped bodies.

It was assumed that the change in body shape made them more efficient swimmers, especially by reducing the drag of the body, in other words, the resistance to movement.

If they could produce less resistance for a given body mass, they would have more power for swimming, or swimming would take less effort. Then they could swim longer distances or reach faster speeds.

Susana Gutarra, a Ph.D. student in palaeobiology at the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, said: "To test whether fish-shaped bodies helped ichthyosaurs reduce the energy demands of swimming, we made 3-D models of several different ichthyosaurs.

"We also created a model of a bottlenose dolphin, a living species which can be observed in the wild, so we could test if the method worked."

Dr. Colin Palmer, a hydrodynamics expert and a collaborator, added: "Susana used classic methods from ship design to test these ancient reptiles.

"The software builds a "virtual water tank" where we can control variables like the temperature, density and speed or water, and that allow us to measure all resulting forces.

Computational simulation of flow over the 3D models of two ichthyosaurs and a bottlenose dolphin. Velocity plot (left) and pressure coefficient (right) for a primitive ichthyosaur (Chaohusaurus), a derived fish-shaped ichthyosaur (Ophthalmosaurus) and a modern bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops). Credit: Susana Gutarra, University of Bristol

"The model ichthyosaurs were put into this "tank", and fluid flow conditions modelled, in the same way ship designers test different hull shapes to minimize drag and improve performance."

Professor Mike Benton, also from Bristol's School of Earth Sciences and a collaborator, said: "Much to our surprise, we found that the drastic changes to ichthyosaur body shape through millions of years did not really reduce drag very much.

"All of them had low-drag designs, and body shape must have changed from long and slender to dolphin-like for another reason. It seems that body size mattered as well."

Susana Gutarra added: "The first ichthyosaurs were quite small, about the size of an otter, and later ones reached sizes of 5-20 metres in length.

"When we measured flow over different body shapes at different sizes, we found that large bodies reduced the mass-specific energy demands of steady swimming."

Dr. Benjamin Moon, another collaborator from Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, said: "There was a shift in swimming style during ichthyosaur evolution. The most primitive ichthyosaurs swam by body undulations and later on they acquired broad tails for swimming by beating their tails (more efficient for fast and sustained swimming).

However, we found that some very early ichthyosaurs, like Utatsusaurus, might have been well suited for endurance swimming thanks to their large size, in spite of swimming by body undulations. Our results provide a very interesting insight into the ecology of ichthyosaurs."

Susana Gutarra concluded: "Swimming is a very complex phenomenon and there are some aspects of it that are particularly hard to test in fossil animals, like motion.

"In the future, we'll probably see simulations of ichthyosaurs moving through water.

"At the moment, simulating the ichthyosaurs in a static gliding position, enables us to focus our study on the morphology, minimizing our assumptions about their motion and also allow us to compare a relatively large sample of models."

More information: Effects of body plan evolution on the hydrodynamic drag and energy requirements of swimming in ichthyosaurs, Proceedings of the Royal Society Brspb.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098/rspb.2018.2786


American Museum of National History Brings the T-Rex to Life in VR

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Visitors encounter a massive animated projection of a t. rex and its offspring in a late cretaceous setting. the huge dinosaur will react to visitors, leaving them to wonder, ‘did that t. rex see me?’ image © AMNH /r. mickens

VR Technology can unlock many different use cases in the coming years. For the American Museum of Natural History, bringing dinosaurs back to life is an option worth exploring. Through the “T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator” exhibition, the museum will give visitors a chance to get up close and personal with this majestic creature.

Meeting a T-Rex in Virtual Reality

Although most people would love to see a dinosaur in the real world, chances of that ever happening are slim to none. That is, assuming no one tries to recreate Jurassic Park or Jurassic World in real life over the coming decades. Thankfully, it seems the American Museum of Natural History is offering a viable alternative. Their new exhibition will focus on the Tyrannosaurus rex, which can be met in VR.

This new exhibition will serve as an educational tool in the future. Viewers can learn more about this creature, both as an adult version or when they grow up. There is a lot most people do not know about the T. rex, other than how frightening it looks. At the same time, this was an apex predator, thus it is only normal the adult-sized version isn’t too cuddly. Its hatchling version, however, is a different matter altogether.

This VR exhibition will also provide viewers with the most realistic and scientifically accurate representation of the T. rex to date. There will be an option to interact with fossils and casts. Additionally, the museum will offer a multiplayer VR experience, which is made possible thanks to the help of the HTC Vive team. Up to three individuals will team up to build a T. rex fossil bone by bone in virtual reality.

It is not the first time virtual reality will serve as an educational tool either. Numerous options are being explored in this regard. Giving museum visitors an option to engage with the subject matter at hand is a big step in the right direction. When bringing history and knowledge to life, virtual reality can offer many opportunities to look into. An at-home version of this T. rex exhibition will launch on Viveport during the Summer of 2019.


Dinosaurs Were Thriving Before Asteroid Strike That Wiped Them Out

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Reconstruction of a late Maastrichtian (~66 million years ago) palaeoenvironment in North America, where a floodplain is roamed by dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex, Edmontosaurus and Triceratops. Credit: Davide Bonadonna

Dinosaurs were unaffected by long-term climate changes and flourished before their sudden demise by asteroid strike.

Scientists largely agree that an asteroid impact, possibly coupled with intense volcanic activity, wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago.

However, there is debate about whether dinosaurs were flourishing before this, or whether they had been in decline due to long-term changes in climate over millions of years.

Previously, researchers used the fossil record and some mathematical predictions to suggest dinosaurs may have already been in decline, with the number and diversity of species falling before the asteroid impact.

Now, in a new analysis that models the changing environment and dinosaur species distribution in North America, researchers from Imperial College London, University College London and University of Bristol have shown that dinosaurs were likely not in decline before the meteorite.

Lead researcher Alessandro Chiarenza, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial, said: "Dinosaurs were likely not doomed to extinction until the end of the Cretaceous, when the asteroid hit, declaring the end of their reign and leaving the planet to animals like mammals, lizards and a minor group of surviving dinosaurs: birds.

"The results of our study suggest that dinosaurs as a whole were adaptable animals, capable of coping with the environmental changes and climatic fluctuations that happened during the last few million years of the Late Cretaceous. Climate change over prolonged time scales did not cause a long-term decline of dinosaurs through the last stages of this period."

The study, published today in Nature Communications, shows how the changing conditions for fossilisation means previous analyses have underestimated the number of species at the end of the Cretaceous.

The team focused their study on North America, where many Late Cretaceous dinosaurs are preserved, such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. During this period, the continent was split in two by a large inland sea.

A global map showing the distribution of surface temperature over the Earth in the Late Cretaceous, .76 million years ago. Warmer colours represent higher temperatures, while colder colours indicate lower ones. Credit: Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza/ BRIDGE University of Bristol/ GETECH

In the western half there was a steady supply of sediment from the newly forming Rocky Mountains, which created perfect conditions for fossilising dinosaurs once they died. The eastern half of the continent was instead characterised by conditions far less suitable for fossilisation.

This means that far more dinosaur fossils are found in the western half, and it is this fossil record that is often used to suggest dinosaurs were in decline for the few million years before the asteroid strike.

Co-author Dr. Philip Mannion, from University College London, commented: "Most of what we know about Late Cretaceous North American dinosaurs comes from an area smaller than one-third of the present-day continent, and yet we know that dinosaurs roamed all across North America, from Alaska to New Jersey and down to Mexico."

Instead of using this known record exclusively, the team employed 'ecological niche modelling'. This approach models which environmental conditions, such as temperature and rainfall, each species needs to survive.

The team then mapped where these conditions would occur both across the continent and over time. This allowed them to create a picture of where groups of dinosaur species could survive as conditions changed, rather than just where their fossils had been found.

The team found habitats that could support a range of dinosaur groups were actually more widespread at the end of the Cretaceous, but that these were in areas less likely to preserve fossils.

Furthermore, these potentially dinosaur-rich areas were smaller wherever they occurred, again reducing the likelihood of finding a fossil from each of these areas.

'Ecological niche modelling does not support climatically-driven dinosaur diversity decline before the Cretaceous/Paleogene mass extinction' by Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza, Philip D. Mannion, Daniel J. Lunt, Alex Farnsworth, Lewis A. Jones, Sarah-Jane Kelland & Peter A. Allison is published in Nature Communications.

More information: Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08997-2 

Journal reference: Nature Communications

Provided by: Imperial College London


Paleontologists Uncover Hundreds of Fossils Near Beverly Hills

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Metro officials and paleontologists presented their findings today at the La Brea Tarpits.

Metro’s purple line expansion leads to Ice Age fossil discoveries. The fossils found include remains of giant ground sloths, mammoths and bisons.

The expansion of Los Angeles' Metro purple line has unearthed over 500 fossils, including some from the Ice Age. Paleontologists and Metro officials showed off their newly acquired artifacts today at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Metro's construction, which plans to add seven stops and nine miles of rail to the purple line from Koreatown to West LA, has given paleontologists a better look at what life may have been like some 10,000 years ago.

"We had an idea that we would find some fossils," said Kasey Shuda, the senior manager of construction relations for the purple line expansion. "That's why we made sure there were paleontologists in our environmental report."

The paleontological field director for Cogstone Resource Management, Ashley Leger, said the discovery teaches us about the history of the area.

"It's interesting to get a glance outside of the tar pits and see what the rest of Los Angeles and Southern California was like," Leger said. "We learn so much about the Ice Age just from the fossils being found."

The discovered fossils will all go on display at the Los Angeles National History Museum. The fossils discovered include giant ground sloths, mammoths and bison. The most rare discovery was the "Hayden" fossil, a nearly complete skull of a juvenile Columbian Mammoth, which was found at the Wilshire/La Brea stop in section one.

In order to ensure that fossils are not carelessly damaged during excavation, a team of monitors  are on the ground and underground, when construction is taking place.

"Anytime there is active excavation, some of our staff is there on hand watching the sediment move," field director Ashley Leger said. "When anything is found they can immediately retrieve it."

When a fossil is found the excavation team is able to dynamically divert work to another section of the subway, so that production isn't completely halted.

The excavation of section one is nearly completed and work on section two is expected to begin soon. The entire expansion project is expected to be completed in 2026.


Megalodon’s Teeth Evolved Over 12 Millions Years, Researchers Find

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Teeth are the only reliably identifiable fossils from Carcharocles megalodon. They’re also damn huge. Image credits Kristen Grace / Florida Museum of Natural History.

These “ultimate cutting tools” were a long time in the making.

The teeth of Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon), the largest shark ever to prowl the oceans, look like daggers. They’re up to 7 inches (18 cm) long and shaped like blades. But it took them millions of years to evolve into their final shape, new research reveals. The findings created more questions than they answered, as we still don’t know why the process took so long or why it started in the first place.

Big fish, bigger bite

“This transition was a very long, drawn-out process, eventually resulting in the perfect cutting tool — a broad, flat tooth with uniform serrations,” said study lead author Victor Perez, a doctoral student in geology at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“It’s not yet clear why this process took millions of years and why this feature [serration] was lost.”

Megalodon has to be one of the most awe-inspiring and mysterious animals out there. It was the largest shark ever seen on Earth, but the only trace they’ve left is their teeth. Which is quite fitting for a shark.

But these teeth, according to Perez’s team, evolved over 12 million years. The researchers analyzed the evolutionary path of megalodon teeth and those of its immediate ancestor, Carcharocles chubutensis. Their study revealed a surprisingly slow and gradual process, in which they shifted from large teeth flanked by cusplets to regular, cusplet-less teeth.

The team performed a “census of teeth,” analyzing 359 fossils along with the precise location of their retrieval at the Calvert Cliffs on the western shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay — an area that used to be an ocean in C. chubutensis and megalodon’s day.

Megalodon’s earliest ancestor, Otodus obliquus, boasted three-pronged teeth (i.e. teeth with cusplets) that acted more like forks, the team writes. This suggests that O. obliquus dined on fast-moving (but not too large) fish, and it needed teeth to pin them in place. This species effectively forms the baseline from which later megatooth shark species derived.

The fossil record at Calvert Cliffs spans from about 20 to 7.6 million years ago, so they overlap with both C. chubutensis and megalodon. Perez’s team found a consistent decrease in the number of teeth with lateral cusplets over this timespan. About 87% of teeth from 20 to 17 million years ago had cusplets, falling to about 33% roughly 14.5 million years ago. By 7.6 million years, no fossil teeth had cusplets.

But here’s where the results start getting muddy. While the team notes that adult C. chubutensis had cusplets, and adult megalodon did not, they also caution that this feature is not a reliable identifier of which species a tooth belonged to — juvenile megalodon could have cusplets, making it virtually impossible to discern whether a tooth with cusplets came from C. chubutensis or a young megalodon. Furthermore, some teeth analyzed for the study had tiny bumps or pronounced serrations where cusplets would be. A set of teeth from a single shark even had cusplets on some, no cusplets on others, and replacement teeth with reduced cusplets.

Carcharocles Megalodon by RAPHTOR

While definitely interesting from a paleontological and biological point of view, such specimens make it virtually impossible for the team to draw clean lines between different species. They can’t pinpoint when megalodon first appeared or when C. chubutensis went extinct.

“As paleontologists, we can’t look at DNA to tell us what is a distinct species. We have to make distinctions based off of physical characteristics,” says Perez. “We feel it’s impossible to make a clean distinction between these two species of sharks. In this study, we just focused on the evolution of this single trait over time.”

So what can the study, then, tell us? Well, it does help to flesh out our understanding of how later megatooth species (such as megalodon) lived, how they hunted, and a bit or two about how they handled disease.

Megalodon fossils have flat teeth, often with serrated edges. Based on their shape, they likely performed a different job than that of its earliest ancestor: that of killing (or at least, mortally wounding) large, fleshy animals like whales or dolphins. Megalodon likely hunted in a single-strike manner: it charged at its prey and chomped down hard. Whatever didn’t die on the spot was left immobilized or too crippled to run away, and bleeding heavily.

“It would just become scavenging after that,” says Perez. “A shark wouldn’t want to grab and hold onto a whale because it’s going to thrash about and possibly injure the shark in the process.”

Lateral cusplets may have been used to grasp prey, according to Perez, which could explain why they disappeared as these sharks shifted to a new hunting style. It’s also possible that the cusplets kept food out from between the sharks’ teeth — so they helped prevent gum diseases. But, frankly speaking, the team simply doesn’t have enough information to know why these structures evolved out of the shark’s teeth.

“It’s still a mystery,” Perez says. “We’re wondering if something was tweaked in the genetic pathway of tooth development.”

One point I found particularly interesting was how important ‘beachcombers’ were for this study. The team says that vast majority of teeth they analyzed were discovered by amateur fossil collectors and donated to museum collections.

“This study is almost entirely built on the contributions of amateur, avocational paleontologists,” Perez notes. “They are a valuable part of research.”

The paper “The transition between Carcharocles chubutensis and Carcharocles megalodon (Otodontidae, Chondrichthyes): lateral cusplet loss through time” has been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


Protoceratops in Red Rock Finish on 2nd Coin in Prehistoric Beasts Series

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Protoceratops in Red Rock Finish on 2nd Coin in Prehistoric Beasts Series

Prehistoric Beasts – Protoceratops andrewsi

Mongolia. 2,000 Togrog. 2019. Silver .999. 3 oz. Red-rock finish. 65 mm. ProofMintage999 pcs. B. H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt, Munich.


The obverse depicts the emblem of the Central Bank of Mongolia, below in Cyrillic lettering 2,000 Togrog, in the exergue in Latin lettering MONGOLIA 3 oz .999 SILVER.

The reverse presents the fossilized skeleton of a Protoceratops; below in italics Protoceratops andrewsi, in print Late Cretaceous, Mongolia.


In 2018, CIT Coin Invest AG initiated the “Prehistoric Beasts” series with a Velociraptor mongoliensis. In 2019, this success story continues with the Protoceratops andrewsi. The two prehistoric species share a close connection.

A fossil was found in the Mongolian Gobi Desert in 1971 that shows a Velociraptor fighting a Protoceratops. This is remarkable because the find was the first evidence of the Velociraptor with its razor-sharp claws really having been the dangerous predator it is presented as in Jurassic Park. For the purpose of boosting the arc of suspense, the dimensions of the turkey-sized Velociraptor were drastically exaggerated, however. The fact that it nevertheless dared to attack the herbivore Protoceratops despite its considerably heavier weight of 400 kilograms, is proven by the fossil known as “Fighting Dinosaurs” amongst paleontologists: while the Velociraptor has rammed its claws into the Protoceratops’ head and attempts to crack open the lower abdomen of its opponent with its beak, the Protoceratops holds his opponent’s arm in his beak respectively. Supposedly, both animals were mortally wounded in this fight. The desert sand then covered them and preserved their remains.

Just like the previous one, the second issue of the “Prehistoric Beasts” series is also struck in the “Red Rock Finish”. A special technique allows for the surface to resemble sandy rocks. Smartminting technology makes the high relief skeleton stand out against its background.

If you want to see a reconstruction of the fight, don’t miss this Chinese YouTube video – it shows the animals in the correct proportions!


Huge Plastic Dinosaur Turns Grandfather's Garden Into Visitor Attraction

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Jerry Adams, of Cwmbran near Newport, bought the 30ft-long Allosaurus for £1,600 in a charity auction.

Hundreds of people have flocked to a house in Wales after a man installed a 30ft dinosaur in his front garden.

Grandfather of 12 Jerry Adams paid £1,600 to put the Allosaurus in his garden after the National Showcaves Centre for Wales decided to auction the plastic dinosaur to raise money for charity.

Mr Adams, who lives in Cwmbran near Newport, said he bought the beast to entertain three of his grandchildren who have autism.

He said: “I saw it was for sale on the news and I thought that it would be a fantastic garden ornament.

“We just try to make the garden a nice place as we have a lot of passing traffic.”

The dinosaur stands at 20ft high and is between 8ft and 9ft wide.

Mr Adams said he had to adjust the position of the dinosaur, named Alan by his grandchildren, to allow the postman to access their front door.

Asked about the reaction from his neighbours, he said: “They know I’m eccentric, I’ve had a vintage tractor in the garden, but so far no one has complained about it.

“When it arrived, hundreds of cars parked up to come and take a look at it.”

The 58-year-old gardener, who has lived in Cwmbran for 45 years, drove on the M4 for more than an hour with the 30ft-long dinosaur attached to his van, to the “astonishment” of fellow motorists.

The Showcaves Centre attraction, called Dan-yr-Ogof, is a cave system in Wales with 250 dinosaur models on display.

The sale of the reptile, which was at the centre for 20 years, raised money for type 1 diabetes charity JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Dan Owen, a manager at Dan-yr-Ogof, said: “We’ve ordered some new animatronic dinosaurs with sensors that move when someone walks past and we’re running out of room.

“We do a lot with JDRF and thought it would be a good idea to put the dinosaur on eBay.”

The centre chose to donate the money raised from the sale to JDRF, as the son and grandson of chairman Ashford Price both have type 1 diabetes.

Mr Owen said the park had received inquiries from “over a hundred people” asking if they would be putting any more of their dinosaurs up for sale.

Miranda Burdett, regional fundraiser for Wales at JDRF, who previously worked in the dinosaur souvenir shop at the centre, said: “I knew this was going to be a unique fundraiser.

“When I went to see the dinosaur, I realised just how big it is and I just knew it would raise a lot of awareness.

“It’s going to improve lives and it’s a really good fit for us working with the showcaves.”


Teenage T. Rex Was Already Chomping on Prey

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Joseph Peterson, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, demonstrates how a T. rex takes a bite. Credit: Patrick Flood, UW Oshkosh

New research from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh indicates that even as a teenager the Tyrannosaurus rex showed signs that it would grow up to be a ferocious predator.

In a study published last week in the peer-reviewed journal Peerj -- the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences, UWO scientists reported evidence that a juvenile T. rex fed on a large plant-eating dinosaur, even though it lacked the bone-crushing abilities it would develop as an adult.

While studying fossils from an Edmontosaurus -- a plant-eating Hadrosaurid or duck-billed dinosaur, UWO vertebrate paleontologist Joseph Peterson noticed three large, v-shaped, bite marks on a tail bone and wondered, "Who made these?"

Peterson knew that T. rex -- a member of the meat-eating dinosaur suborder known as Theropoda -- was "a likely culprit."

"We suspected that T. rex was responsible for the bit marks, because in the upper Cretaceous rock formation, where the hadrosaur was discovered, there are only a few carnivorous dinosaurs and other reptiles in the fossil record. Crocodile fossils are found there, but such a crocodile would have left tooth marks that are round rather than the elliptical punctures we found on the vertebra," Peterson explained.

"There also were small Velociraptor-like dinosaurs, but their teeth are too small to have made the marks. Finally, an adult T. rex would have made punctures that would have been too large! That's when we started considering a juvenile tyrannosaur."

To test the hypothesis, Peterson and geology student Karsen Daus, of Suamico, coated the fossil with a silicon rubber to make a silicone peel of the puncture marks.

They found that the dimensions of the "teeth" better matched a late-stage juvenile T. rex (11 to 12 years) than an adult (approximately 30 years).

"Although this T. rex was young, it really packed a punch," Peterson said.

"This is significant to paleontology because it demonstrates how T. rex -- the most popular dinosaur of all time -- may have developed changes in diet and feeding abilities while growing," he said. "This is part of a larger, ongoing research initiative by many paleontologists to better understand how T. rex grew and functioned as a living creature over 65 million years ago."

Most theropod feeding traces and bite marks are attributed to adults; juvenile tooth marks rarely have been reported in the literature, he added.

"We really are in the 'Golden Age' of paleontology," Peterson said. "We are learning more now than we ever thought we would know about dinosaurs. And, we're learn more about how they grew up."

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Wisconsin OshkoshNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Joseph E. Peterson, Karsen N. Daus. Feeding traces attributable to juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex offer insight into ontogenetic dietary trendsPeerJ, 2019; 7: e6573 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.6573


Galleonosaurus dorisae: New Species of Plant-Eating Dinosaur Discovered in Australia

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Galleonosaurus dorisae. Image credit: James Kuether.

Paleontologists in Australia have found fossil fragments from a new genus and species of ornithopod dinosaur that walked the Earth during the Early Cretaceous Period.

The new dinosaur belongs to Ornithopoda (ornithopods), a major group of herbivorous bird-hipped dinosaurs.

Dubbed Galleonosaurus dorisae, it inhabited the rift between Australia and Antarctica approximately 125 million years ago (Cretaceous Period).

Five fossilized upper jaws of the ancient beast were found at the Flat Rocks locality of the Wonthaggi Formation in a region of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.

Galleonosaurus is the fifth small ornithopod genus named from Victoria,” said Dr. Matthew Herne, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New England.

“The discovery confirms that on a global scale, the diversity of these small-bodied dinosaurs had been unusually high in the ancient rift valley that once extended between the spreading continents of Australia and Antarctica.”

“Small ornithopods appear to have thrived on the vast forested floodplain within the ancient rift valley.”

Specimens of Galleonosaurus dorisae from the Flat Rocks Sandstone in the upper Barremian, Wonthaggi Formation, Gippsland Basin, southeastern Australia. Scale bars – 10 mm (1-6); 1 mm (7). Image credit: Herne et al, doi: 10.1017/jpa.2018.95.

Galleonosaurus dorisae is a close relative of Diluvicursor pickeringi, another small ornithopod named by Dr. Herne and co-authors in 2018, from excavations along the Otway coast to the west of the Gippsland region.

“Interestingly, the jaws of the new species and the partial skeleton of Diluvicursor pickeringi were similarly buried in volcanic sediments on the floor of deep powerful rivers,” Dr. Herne said.

“However, Galleonosaurus dorisae is about 12 million years older than Diluvicursor pickeringi, showing that the evolutionary history of dinosaurs in the Australian-Antarctic rift had been lengthy.”

Prior to discovery of Galleonosaurus dorisae, the only other ornithopod known from the Gippsland region was Qantassaurus intrepidus, named in 1999.

“However, Qantassaurus intrepidus had a shorter more robust snout than that of Galleonosaurus dorisae,” Dr. Herne said.

“We consider that these two, similarly-sized dinosaurs fed on different plant types, which would have allowed them to coexist.”

The researchers also found that the ornithopods from Victoria are closely related to those from Patagonia in Argentina.

“We are steadily building a picture of terrestrial dinosaur interchange between the shifting Gondwanan continents of Australia, South America and Antarctica during the Cretaceous period,” Dr. Herne noted.

The study was published in the Journal of Paleontology.


Matthew C. Herne et al. New small-bodied ornithopods (Dinosauria, Neornithischia) from the Early Cretaceous Wonthaggi Formation (Strzelecki Group) of the Australian-Antarctic rift system, with revision of Qantassaurus intrepidus Rich and Vickers-Rich, 1999. Journal of Paleontology, published online March 11, 2019; doi: 10.1017/jpa.2018.95