Just a very quick post before I get back to work… Regular Tet Zoo readers will know that – for my shame – I’m a pathological collector of toy/model animals [for more, go to the ver 1 articles here and here]. One of the things I did over the weekend was acquire some fantastic new models, all produced by the German toy company Schleich. They are so awesome I just had to share the news. Clockwise from right to left, the animals on the ground are a musk ox, Smilodon, cave bear and Torosaurus. The cave bear is awesome. The Smilodon isn’t tremendously good, and I admit I bought it because I initially assumed it was meant to be a nimravid: while Smilodon is generally depicted by artists and model-makers as plain-coated like a lion, nimravids are usually shown with dappled coats like the toy here… though, yeah yeah, nimravids don’t have short tails [barbourofelids did though, and if you're thinking of them note that they're no longer included within Nimravidae (Morlo et al. 2004)]. But what about the two creatures on the rock? They are indeed the pièce[s] de résistance…
It turns out that, as part of their ‘Prehistoric Series’, Schleich produce a number of very accurate South American Pleistocene mammals. I already have the sloth in the set, but now I have the Glyptodon. Glyptodon was one of the latest-surviving members of the entirely South American glyptodont clade Glyptodontinae, and the first of all glyptodonts to be named (note that it was named in 1839, not 1838 as usually stated. Richard Owen named it; Darwin had collected it). The toy is highly accurate, with a studded carapace, accurate caudal armour rings and other details. Schleich obviously opted not to follow Gillette & Ray’s (1981) idea (earlier proposed by Senechal in 1865) that glyptodonts had a short tapir-like proboscis: so far as I can tell, these authors favoured the idea of a proboscis simply because they thought that the neck morphology of glyptodonts would have prevented the mouth from reaching the ground, ergo a proboscis must have existed. I’m not convinced: glyptodont skulls lack the features present in living mammals that possess proboscides… but more on this another time.
Even better, Schleich also do a Macrauchenia, and it is excellent. Macrauchenia is the best known of the macraucheniid litopterns, a fascinating South American group that superficially resembled camels or horses, and it hung on to the late Pleistocene. I’m doing an article on litopterns some time soonish, so will say more about them then. The toy has thoroughly accurate limb proportions, and doesn’t make the (usual) mistake of giving the animal super-robust rhino-like limbs. Incidentally, this isn’t the only Macrauchenia I have: a small, grey version has been produced by a company whose name I forget. But it’s nowhere near as good as the Schleich version. Anyway… if only they’d produced as astrapothere!
So far as I can tell from the web, these models were first released in 2004. If you’re a fan of Cenozoic mammals and/or weird toy animals you’ll obviously have to hunt them down – good luck.
PS – the new Fortean Times arrived this morning. It includes Karl Shuker’s article on Marc van Roosmalen’s new Amazonian mammals (for my take on these go here), as well as a short piece on the formal description of the Giant peccary (covered on ver 1 here). A ‘stop press’ item discusses Marc’s recent imprisonment. Under Marc’s instructions, I am still not going to say anything about this yet.
PPS – as you have no doubt heard, Mark Witton and colleagues have just published their paper on skim-feeding pterosaurs in PLoS Biology. I was going to cover it but may not get round to it: Mark’s personal take on it can be found here and the paper is available – free – from here. Congrats Mark et al!
Refs – –
Gillette, D. D. & Ray, C. E. 1981. Glyptodonts of North America. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 40, 1-255.
Morlo, M., Peigné, S. & Nagel, D. 2004. A new species of Prosansanosmilus: implication for the systematic relationships of the family Barbourofelidae new rank (Carnivora, Mammalia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 140, 43-61.