The latest acquisitions

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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...

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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.

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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.

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I've seen all of these figures before, and I own the Torosaurus. It's good to see a slightly more obscure ceratopsid, but the head seems to be based on the outdated Marsh reconstruction, and I never understood why an animal would have black eyes with orange pupils. Overall, I think Schleich produces quality mammals (my girlfriend collects the horses), but somehow manages to get the dinosaurs wrong too often (another example is giving Carnotaurus a long forearm, or pretty much every aspect of their Ceratosaurus). I tend to prefer the Carnegie Collection from Safari, but of course no one since Battat's Boston Museum of Science line has made a toy sauropod with accurate manus prints.

By Brad McFeeters (not verified) on 24 Jul 2007 #permalink

Schleich's competitor Bullyland - the name sounds better in Germany, where "Bully" is just a common nickname for the french bulldog, and is not associated with antisocial behaviour - makes a nimravid (Eusmilus), see here. It isn't the best of models - some of Bullylands newer items, their excellent crurotarsians for example, are as good or better than Schleich's or Safari's output, but this is not one of them - but if you really want a nimravid, this is the only way to go.
Just to confuse everyone, they call it a "Saber-Tooth-Cat"...
But then Bullyland has a long and honourable tradition of strange nomenclature in their catalogues, their Gastornis (now sadly out of production) was called a "Predatory Ratite" and their Andrewsarchus (also discontinued) an "Urraubtier" - a rather obsolete german term for a creodont.

I have the Bully Eusmilus (there are two versions: grey and brown), Gastornis and Andrewsarchus... but they do crurotarsans? I'll be in Germany for the Munich pterosaur meeting in September: maybe I can get them then...

This post makes me want to dig through my parent's basement to find all the buried little figurines and dinosaur toys I managed to accumulate over the years. None of them are as good as the ones pictured here, though; every pack would usually come with a few tail-dragging dinos, a few mammals, and then a weird monster or two that looked more like Toho Studios-rejects than anything else.

I like the ceratopsian reconstructions that put enormous eyespots on the crest. Camouflage and misdirection must have been much easier when predators' brains were so small. (Consider the similar effect in modern political discourse; when your supporters are self-selected for gullibility, they practically demand you lie to them. Likewise, in human courtship.)

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 24 Jul 2007 #permalink

Must. not. collect. any. more. animals!

We do have a variety of hippos, plastic, ceramic, and metal.

> but they do crurotarsans?

Yep. They make a Batrachotomus, an Arizonasaurus and an aetosaur.

I won't even begin to horrify you with the enormous list of animal/dinosaur models I've collected over the years. It's a sickness really. But if you want, check out


or here

they both have huge selections of dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals and other fun stuff.

I got the Bullyland Megatherium and Cheirotherium from the Museum in Karlsrhuhe a few years back (while everybody else was off buying adult magazines, I might add), The Megatherium is a bit crap, with a tongue like Sherlock Holmes's Pipe, while the Cheriotherium is much better. I only wish I had them here...

Oh, and there was a series of those little jigsaw animals that did "Ice Age" animals, which included a Megatherium (very good) a Mammoth (very good) a Woolly Rhino (very good) and a Smilodon (very poor). I don't know if you have these, but at least 75% of them are worth getting.

The Macrochenia model is a thing of beauty!
I always wished I could have a computer mouse based on the old British Museum Natural History model of Glyptodon: the carapace felt good to the hand, the cord could be an extension oif the tail, and the head could be mounted as a clickable button. Dreams....
(Now get back to work!)

By Allen Hazen (not verified) on 25 Jul 2007 #permalink

> I got the Bullyland Megatherium and Cheirotherium

Cheirotherium (or Chirotherium) is a name used for the tracks made by triassic crurotarsans. The Batrachotomus made by Bullyland might be similar and/or related to the animal that made the tracks, but the model is rather new and was only issued last year (although sometimes Bullyland issues models for museum stores that are not available through normal retailers). Perhaps you meant Chalicotherium?

I can't say I have a huge collection of dinosaur toys &/or models -- I'd love to, but budgetary reasons and other priorities have taken precedence (though I have managed to get a hold of all the Japanese "Dinotales" models -- for some reason, those little things are insanely cool to my eyes!), I do have some that I use primarily for educational purposes with kiddies. Anyone looking for a terrific selection of toys and models should check out Link and Pin Hobbies.

Well.. if anyone wants any ideas on what to get me for my birthday (cough 26th September cough)...

> (though I have managed to get a hold of all the Japanese "Dinotales" models --
> for some reason, those little things are insanely cool to my eyes!)

Especially their furry Trochosaurus, the one and only therocephalian model on the market - although I still have doubts about those double set of canines. I think those double-canine fossils are from animals who were in the process of replacing their canines when they died. Nevertheless, this is a model that I really want to have, but trying to find one in Germany or even the rest of Europe is hopeless.

[from Darren: if I remember correctly, Kemp argued that the 'double canines' so often reconstructed for lycosuchids in fact preserve the act of canine replacement. I think van der Heever argued likewise]

Nevertheless, this is a model that I really want to have, but trying to find one in Germany or even the rest of Europe is hopeless.

Same in the U.S....but that's what ebay is for! Just do a search for "Trochosaurus" -- there's two up there right now. Pretty much all of the Dinotales ones on ebay are out of Japan or Singapore, so they're pricey (especially with shipping), but they're at least available.

I have most of them, but my favorite is Desmatosuchus ( i told you live Crurotarsi)

By Georgios Georgalis (not verified) on 27 Jul 2007 #permalink

Morlo, M., Peigné, S. & Nagel, D. 2004.

Ah. Looks like Doris Nagel at the vertebrate palaeontology department here in Vienna publishes nice research.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 29 Jul 2007 #permalink

Perhaps you meant Chalicotherium?

Yeah, I did. Oops! It's still a nice model though, for something so obscure (and I do have a Cheirotherium cast somewhere, plus I identified one erroneously attributed to the Isle of Wight a few years back, so I shouldn't have made that mistake.)

By Simon M. Clabby (not verified) on 30 Jul 2007 #permalink

Speaking of mammals, news on why mammals hear better than others:

They don't. Birds have better pitch distinction because the sensory cells are crammed more densely in their inner ear.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 12 Aug 2007 #permalink

> I'll be in Germany for the Munich pterosaur meeting in September:
> maybe I can get them then...

This will be too early to aquire the Revell/epixx Neovenator, wich will be issued in October, see here:

I have not yet seen any epixx dinosaurs in the flesh, but their knights and romans range from o.k. to excellent (the auxiliary archer).

Damnit! You guys are having too much fun with those Bullysaurs and Schleichotheres. Back in the interglacials we didn't have those things. (Nor were there Barbie dolls). My college buddy, now a famous chondrichthyologist in South Africa -- used to satisfy his craving for scientific toys by making his own. Out of clay. He also made a splendid likeness of one of our professors in Viking raiment, brandishing a battle axe. Occasionally a gray-colored clay Charcharodon carcharias would dismember it, and the scene of carnage (like a mini-diorama) would decorate his office for a few days. This seemed to coincide with disputes over test grades. Not that my friend had to worry--he was always 20 points above the highest A in class.

The French manufacturer Papo makes some nice soft-vinyl dinosaurs too.

By Christophe Thill (not verified) on 19 Sep 2007 #permalink

My son is 9-years-old, and positive he will be a paleontologist someday. We have more Schleich and Papo animals than I can count, most of them prehistoric. We have dinosaur books all over the house, ans both the Walking With Dinosaurs and Walking With Prehistoric Beasts series. He now considers you a kindred spirit (a bit of a hero). He'll be checking out all of your links and availing himself of all the information you provide. Thank you!

wow! dat is so cool! i wish i were really there to see this so i can take a good picture of this. and i really like the prehistoric beats because they are similar to the animals that live around the world today. that is why i love animals. so that s all i have to say.
god bless


By asdcdddduid (not verified) on 14 Jan 2009 #permalink

The dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals I played with as a child weren't nearly as anatomically accurate as these models (plus, I had to paint them myself!)

By Raymond Minton (not verified) on 14 Jan 2009 #permalink