Beipiaosaurus is a therizinosauroid, although it is not included within the family Therizinosauridae because it is more ‘primitive’. Fossils of therizinosaurs have confused palaeontologists for many years. Their fragmentary remains were originally allied with prosauropods because of their long necks, backwards-facing hips, peg-like teeth suited for a herbivorous lifestyle, and other anatomical features. However, new and more complete discoveries have since revealed them to be unusual theropods. Some fossils, including those of Beipiaosaurus, preserve filamentous structures that have been interpreted as feathery integument.
The Carnegie Collection Beipiaosaurus figure by Safari Ltd is moderately sized at about 20 cm long. Beipiaosaurus is actually a very small animal, a little over 2m long, so the Carnegie model has been produced at a larger scale (1:10) than most of the others in the series. This has allowed plenty of detail to be incorporated in the sculpt.
For example, with the exception of the feet and tummy, the entire surface of the figure is covered in a finely detailed plumage of filamentous feathers. These are especially developed on the arms and also form tufts at the back of the head and at the tip of the tail. This reflect the current consensus on the appearance of these animals and contrasts with Safari Ltd’s older smooth-skinned therizinosaur, Therizinosaurus, previously released as part of the ‘Dinosaurs of China’ line. Safari Ltd’s ‘Great Dinos’ Therizinosaurus is also feathered, as is Bullyland’s version of this species.
The beak-like mouth is open showing neat rows of teeth and a small tongue. The arms with their three massive claws are large and long enough so that the left arm support the figure in a tripod pose allowing the tail to be raised. It is unclear what their spectacular long hand claws were used for but the palms correctly face each other and the wrist joint is angled as it would have been in life.
The colour is mellow and quite fitting for such a scraggly creature. There are some white highlights on the neck and side of the head but most of the plumage is grey. The eyes are particularly nice and birdlike, they are red with a gold iris and round black pupil. In my opinion this is the best therizinosaur figure available.
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