Dinosaurs & Fun Archives | Nature's Art VillageNature's Art Village

1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike, Montville, CT 06370

Nature's Art Village & The Dinosaur Place: 860-443-4367
The PAST Antiques & Genius Museum:860-437-3615

Breyer Horses

In the year 1950, the Breyer Molding Company made its first horse to adorn a custom order mantelpiece clock for the F.W. Woolworth Company. Once the public got their first look at the stunning craftsmanship of the horse, orders started pouring in. However, these customers didn’t want the clock, just the horses. It was at this moment, the founders took their company in a whole new direction and became Breyer Animal Creations.

Today, the Breyer division of Reeves International is the largest producer of porcelain, plastic and resin model horses and accessories for play and collecting. Each model horse begins as an artist’s sketch and is then handcrafted and hand painted using airbrushes and paint brushes. Today, each horse is worked on by approximately 20 different artists just as it was 67 years ago which is why even now, no two models are ever exactly alike!

The Breyer Company introduces approximately 300 new unique horses, animals and accessories to the market each year, and starting in 1998 they widened their market base to include movies. The company has become the “go to” company in Hollywood for all horse related movies.

The Shops at Nature’s Art Village just received a large collection of Breyer horses. Visit Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of toys and gifts.


Geology Toys & Science Kits

This Thursday, October 27th through Sunday, October 30th is the 7th Annual Nature’s Art Village Toy Sale and for today’s Mineral Monday we are looking at the best toys at Nature’s Art Village to inspire your young geologist! Every toy in The Ageless Toy Shop inside The Shops at Nature’s Art Village will be on sale between 15% and 50% off during the toy sale including the selection of rocks & geology toys displayed below. Click Here for more information on the 7th Annual Nature’s Art Village Toy Sale.

geocentral-excavation-kitExcavation Kits

Get hands-on with Nature’s Art Village’s selection of excavation dig kits! Perfect for boys and girls alike, these engaging science kits allow you to uncover genuine specimens from meteors and rocks to fossils and more. Learn about each unique piece you uncover on your archaeological adventure and add your finds to your personal collection. Each kit comes with all the supplies you’ll need and are the perfect gifts for birthdays, holidays or any special occasion. Nature’s Art Village has Excavation Kits from GeoCentral and Discover with Dr. Cool for sale in the Ageless Toy Shop.

earth-science-kit-rocksScience Experiment Sets

crystal-growing-kitsThe Ageless Toy Shop inside the Shops at Nature’s Art Village’s has an enormous collection of science experiment sets that are the perfect mix of learning and fun! Grow your very own crystals from scratch with our crystal growing kits or create an erupting volcano that bursts with lava. Learn about a large variety of rocks and how they formed with an earth science kit and begin your collection with the samples rocks included. With dozens of unique science kits made be GeoCentral, Kristal Educational, Toy Smith & Green Science, The Ageless Toy Shop at Nature’s Art Village is your destination for science fun!

Geology Books & Rock Guidesmagic-school-bus-inside-the-earth

From The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth to beginner rocks & mineral guides, The Shops at Nature’s Art Village have a large selection of books to inspire your little rock enthusiast. Picture story books with fun illustrations like Volcano Wakes Up! and The Magic School Bus allow you to take an entertaining adventure while learning about how the earth was made. Have a more advanced geologist in your family? Nature’s Art Village offers a selection of educational books and guides from National Geographic, GeoCentral and more. Turn their new hobby of rock collecting into a life-long passion with rocks and mineral guides for all ages and reading levels. All books within the Ageless Toy Shop at Nature’s Art Village will be included in the Toy Sale.

For more information on the 7th Annual Nature’s Art Village Toy Sale call 860.443.4367 or visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.

Check back next week for a new Mineral Monday!

Pachycephalosaurus Link Ad

Pachycephalosaurus Fossil

Pachycephalosaurus 1Today’s Fossil Friday is perched on a high ledge overlooking the Ancient Fossil Shop at Nature’s Art Village; it’s a life-sized cast of a Pachycephalosaurus skeleton!

Pachycephalosaurus (PAK-ee-SEF-a-loh-SORE-us) is a rare and misunderstood dinosaur. Only one complete skeleton and two complete skulls have ever been found. This small dinosaur had small sharp teeth, good vision and a keen sense of smell. It ate soft plants, fruits, seeds and possibly insects, lizards and small rodent-like mammals. If approached by a predator, Pachycephalosaurus probably galloped away at speeds up to 15 mph.

Early researchers believed that Pachycephalosaurus used its huge dome head for mating or self-defense; however, current research indicates this is not the case. The skull bone is actually very fragile when placed under extreme pressure, and the neck vertebrae were too delicate to withstand heavy impact. Many paleontologists now believe Pachycephalosaurus butted other animals sides, so as to inflict damage on the other animal, but not injure itself.

Pachycephalosaurus 3The Ancient Fossil Shop inside The Shops at Nature’s Art Village features a collection of real and replica dinosaur fossils for sale from dinosaur eggs to life-sized dinosaur skeletons. To see our full selection visit The Shops at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.

Check back next week for a new Fossil Friday!

Can you help Monty find the answer to today’s Trivia Tuesday dinosaur question?

TriviaTuesday 6q

+- Click Here for today's Answer & Explanation!

TriviaTuesday 61

The Amargasaurus was a smaller sauropod dinosaur from the late Jurassic period featuring two parallel rows of elongated spines running down its neck and back. The exact purpose of the spines on the back and neck of Amargasaurus is still unclear, though paleontologists believe the spines on the dinosaur’s back were covered in skin creating a large sail. The spines on the neck of Amargasaurus could not have formed a sail as this would have restricted the dinosaurs movement too greatly, hindering its ability to eat low hanging plants which made up the majority of the Amargasaurus diet. These spines may have been pointed at the end and have been used as a defensive weapon against predators or used to attract a mate similar to the antlers of a deer. The Dinosaur Place has a pair of Amargasaurus, a mother and child, that are just waiting for the perfect photo opportunity! See these two and over 40 more life-sized dinosaurs in the Outdoor Adventure Park at The Dinosaur Place on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.



Trivia Tuesday 6-16-15June 16, 2015

Can you help Monty find the answer to today’s Trivia Tuesday dinosaur question?

TriviaTuesday 4q

+- Click Here for today's Answer & Explanation!

TriviaTuesday 4a

Iguanodon, like the majority of the ornithopod genus, walked upright on its hind-legs and used its tail to stay balanced. They did have the ability to walk and rest on four legs, like the dinosaur shown below, but were more commonly believed to walk upright. Their hands (our front legs) had 3 stationary hoof-like fingers for balance & motion, 1 flexible finger for grasping and a sharp “Thumb Spike” used for either raking branches to eat, or protection against carnivores. The Dinosaur Place does not currently have an Igaunodon among its more than 40 life-sized dinosaur in the Outdoor Adventure Park, but we add new dinosaurs each year and this unique beast could be next!  Click here for more on The Dinosaur Place and check back next week for another Trivia Tuesday question!




Trivia Tuesday 6-2-15June 02, 2015

Can you help Monty find the answer to this week’s Trivia Tuesday Dinosaur question?

TriviaTuesday 2a

+- Click Here for today's Answer & Explanation!

TriviaTuesday 2q

Camarasaurus, of the dinosaur classification Saurpoda Marcronaria, is best known for having large hollow chambers within its enormous vertebrae. In fact the meaning of Camarasaurus is “The Chambered Lizard”. The purpose for these large hollow chambers were to limit the overall weight if this giant beast, which much like Brachiosaurus of the same dinosaur classification, could live to be more than 65ft in size! The Dinosaur Place does not currently have a Camarasaurus among the over 40  life-sized dinosaurs in the Outdoor Adventure Park at Nature’s Art Village, but does have a gigantic Brachiosaurus stretching over 70ft long and more than 40ft tall! Click here for more on The Dinosaur Place and check back next week for another Trivia Tuesday question!




What’s In A Name? (part 2)

Oviraptor TDPlogo


Let the paleontology adventure continue!  As promised, I am back with more on the oviraptorid story.  Last time on our Nature’s Art Village blog, I shared with you the righting of the great wrong that was perpetrated against the name and character of Oviraptor philoceratops and related dinosaurs in the oviraptorid clade (Family: Oviraptoridae).  With the first installment of this riveting scientific exploration, I posted this picture of the famous oviraptorid clutch with a fossilized Citipati osmolskae having clearly died while brooding these eggs.  This beautiful specimen has been nicknamed “Big Mamma”!  Big Mamma was of great importance to discerning the true intentions of the first Oviraptor discovered.  It is also of great value to continuing to learn more about their lives and behaviors.  In this post, we will look closer at the eggs and the bone histology of the broody, the one who incubates and protects the eggs.  With these foci, we can learn a great deal about the overall reproductive behaviors of these magnificent dinosaurs and their extant descendants: birds.

Let’s first take a look at the eggs.  They are tightly paired and have been found this way in multiple oviraptorid clutches.  The pairedness of eggs in oviraptorid nests suggests two possible scenarios: (i) the eggs were laid and then arranged in pairs, or (ii) the eggs were laid simultaneously.   A recent study of an oviraptorid pelvic specimen has revealed eggs that developed at the same time in two fully-functioning oviducts.  Furthermore, in the pelvis the more pointed end of the eggs was facing the tail and in the ring-shaped clutches the more pointed end of the eggs was oriented towards the nest perimeter.  This fits with the model of oviposition (the process of laying eggs) wherein the female moves to the center of the nest to lay her eggs.  Modern birds are born with two functional oviducts, an evolutionary trait evident from their ancestral dinosaurian origins.  Over time, however, the right oviducts in modern birds regress to a weak, unusable state.  This is hypothesized to be a weight-reduction adaptation necessary for flight.



The number of eggs in these famous oviraptorid clutches also indicates that more than one female laid eggs in a single nest.  The group of modern birds known as Paleognathes (the basal* lineage of living birds), including emus, ostriches, and cassowaries (pictured above), share this habit.  Another reproductive trait shared by basal extant birds with their ancestors may be the parent that actually sits on the nests.  One image we have of birds in their nests is the hen incubating her eggs.  It can seem obvious to us that the female bird would take on this role.  But if we go to our paleognathes, we see just the opposite.  With almost all paleognathes, the males build the nests, brood the eggs, and raise the young.  This may also be the case with oviraptorids!  A recent study found that the large number of eggs in oviraptorid clutches is representative of the large number of eggs also found in paleognathes clutches – evidence for paternal care only.  It also found that a special kind of bone called medullary bone, deposited in the long bones by female birds during reproduction, was lacking in all limb bone samples from the Citipati nest specimens.  This indicates that the oviraptorids incubating the eggs were actually male!

So what’s in a name?  The name Oviraptor used to be synonymous with a thieving, conniving criminal – not the kind of animal you’d want to be friends with!  But that perception has changed thanks to paleontological studies.  And now Big Mamma here might actually be Big Papa!  Certain regions of Mongolia appear to be a treasure trove for oviraptorid fossils so I am sure that new discoveries will soon offer us even more clarification.  Why not stop by The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village and take a peek at our Oviraptor replicas with their nest and babies?  And make sure you check out the real dinosaur eggs for sale in our Gallery while you’re here!


Dinosaur Eggs (2)


*basal – this term refers to the early members of a new group which gave rise to later members with their own unique specializations.   It is a neutral way to say “primitive” since that has negative connotations and is not preferred language within the scientific community.



Clark, James M., Norell, Mark A., and Rowe, Timothy. 2002. Cranial Anatomy of Citipati osmolskae (Theropoda, Oviraptorosauria), and a Reinterpretation of the Holotype Oviraptor philoceratops. American Museum Novitates, 3364.


Norell, Mark A., Clark, James M., Chiappe, Luis M., and Dashzeveg, Demberelyin. 1995. A nesting dinosaur. Nature, 378;28.


Plum, Richard O. 2008. Who’s Your Daddy? Science, 322.


Sati, Tamaki, Cheng, Yen-nien, Wu, Xiao-chun, Zelenitsky, Darla K., and Hsiao, Yu-fu. 2005. A Pair of Shelled Eggs Inside A Female Dinosaur. Science, 308.


Varricchio, David J., Moore, Jason R., Erickson, Gregory M., Norell, Mark A., Jackson, Frankie D., Barkowski, John J. 2008. Avian Paternal Care Had Dinosaur Origin. Science, 322.



The case for the innocence of a dinosaur labeled the “egg seizer”; the Oviraptor.

Most children I have the pleasure of teaching and interacting with here at Nature’s Art Village know all about the big bad Oviraptor who steals other dinosaurs’ eggs.  Parents, grandparents, teachers, nannies, and best friends also know this story.  It begins in 1924 when the first specimen was described in a publication by Henry Fairfield Osborn.  The fossilized partial skeleton was discovered atop what was believed to be a pile of eggs belonging to a fossilized Protoceratops found nearby.  Appearing to have died in the act of taking some undoubtedly scrumptious Protoceratops eggs, this new dinosaur was given a scientific name Oviraptor philoceratops with genus meaning “egg seizer” and species meaning “lover of Ceratopsians”.  The entire oviraptoridae family reputation was tarnished from day one.

Citipati nest

A Boogieman of sorts, oviraptorids are often portrayed creeping up on nests filled with helpless eggs to devour the unborn hatchlings with their egg-piercing beaks.  But what if I told you that there’s no truth to that popular image?  Over half a century after the first oviraptorid dinosaur was discovered, some striking new fossils from the same genus were found.  These fossils were of Citipati osmolskae, a new species of oviraptoridae, the family to which its close relative Oviraptor philoceratops also belongs.  Citipati was found perched atop a clutch of eggs (pictured above).  Ahha!  Caught in the act again!  Not quite.  The well-preserved Citipati skeletons were nestled in the middle of eggs carefully arranged in a circle.  Its forearms were spread over and around them symmetrically.  This position can be observed today in birds brooding their eggs.  The feathers of Citipati would have covered the eggs and protected them from the elements.  And what’s more, the eggs are the same type as the ones previously thought to be Oviraptor’s dinner in 1924.  Scientists are nothing if not thorough, and with the happy discovery of Citipati came the uncovering of even more oviraptorid egg clutches.  The most famous of these eggs was broken revealing the fossilized embryo inside.  This embryo was not of Protoceratops; it was of an oviraptorid further assisting to correct the “egg thief” misnomer.  Oviraptorids can no longer be seen as criminals on the hunt for unprotected eggs, but rather as devoted parents.

Oviraptor TDPlogo

Here at Nature’s Art Village, I’ve had the privilege to share the happy resolution to the Oviraptor story with many children and families.  In our outdoor adventure park, The Dinosaur Place, kids often remark on the “bad” Oviraptor replicas next to the Protoceratops nest.  The vignette (pictured) with our life-sized replicas displayed outside is a fantastic teaching tool.  Parents have told me that they had no idea the image they had grown up with was so entirely false.  These teaching moments excite me, and I hope this knowledge excites you as well.  As is usually the case with science, there’s more to the story, but that will have to wait until my next blog post.  So for now, I’ll leave you with this: one of the best things about science is that it’s self-correcting.  The oviraptorids and their legacy can surely attest to that.

Clark, James M., Norell, Mark A., and Rowe, Timothy. 2002. Cranial Anatomy of Citipati osmolskae (Theropoda, Oviraptorosauria), and a Reinterpretation of the Holotype Oviraptor philoceratops. American Museum Novitates, 3364.

Norell, Mark A., Clark, James M., Chiappe, Luis M., and Dashzeveg, Demberelyin. 1995. A nesting dinosaur. Nature, 378;28.