The hognosed Paratypothorax was, at up to 3 meters in length, one of the largest of the aetosaurs. Aetosaurs were a clade of quadrupedal armored archosaurs (“ruling reptiles”) which existed during the Late Triassic. Paratypothorax lived some 210 million years ago in Europe. The name translates to “near pitted armor”. Although its bony armor causes it to resemble a primitive form of armored dinosaur, Paratypothorax and its relatives such as Desmatosuchus were not dinosaurs, and the similarities are due to convergent evolution causing these two groups to adapt to predators along similar lines, though independently of each other. Although most aetosaurs were strictly herbivorous, it has been suggested that some may have been omnivorous, subsisting on roots which would have been dug up with their pig-like snouts as well as small invertebrates. Interestingly, bowlike nests which have since been linked to aetosaurs were unearthed in Arizona’s Petrified Forest in 1996, providing some of the earliest evidence of such nests in the fossil record. The single largely complete skeleton of Paratypothorax is on display at the Natural History Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
This Paratypothorax figure was released alongside Bullyland’s two other Triassic reptiles (Arizonasaurus and Batrachotomus) in 2007. It is largely based on the aforementioned skeletal reconstruction on display in the Stuttgart Musuem. The figure is 7.5 inches long and about 1.5 inches tall, and is scaled at 1:20 along with the human to show size comparison. The armor scutes have a smooth texture, while the head is scaly and the underside and limbs are wrinkly. The armor is divided into segments which start at the back of the skull and continue down to the tip of the clubless tail. The middle section of armor along the spine is an orange-brown color while the right and left halves are colored dark red and decorated with dark brown spots. The spiked edges of the armor are this same dark brown. The belly and underside of the tail are also protected by armor scutes and are the same orange-brown coloration found along the spine and head of the animal. The orange-brown tail is banded with dark brown, and the wrinkles on the underside are detailed with dark brown. The limbs are wrinkly and decorated with dark brown patterns. The small head with its upturned snout has a large closed mouth that almost seems to be smiling, and large, almost comical black eyes that also erroneously display sclera (whites). The pose is in mid-stride and gives you an idea of the shuffling gait the animal probably had in life.
Paratypothorax is only the second genus of aetosaur to be produced by a museum line (the other is the beautiful and rare Schleich Desmatosuchus, which someone here should review!) and it is a very accurate entry. The larger 1:20 scale (Schleichs’ Desmato is 1:40 scale and therefore very small) allowed for much more detail to be worked into the figure. The body and armor are much wider and flatter in Paratypothorax than in Desmatosuchus, and this has been represented well by the sculptors. Paratypothorax also lacked the large shoulder spikes exhibited by Desmatosuchus, and so does this figure. The armor is spot-on and fabulous, and the characteristic upturned, pig-like aetosaur snout is reproduced well. The skull is very small in relation to the rest of the body as it should be in aetosaurs. The limbs were held closer to the body and slightly erect, similar to rauisuchians, and this is reflected here. Each limb has the correct number of five digits. Considering only one relatively intact specimen of Paratypothorax has been described to date, this figure is probably one of Bullyland’s best.
This piece combines an earthy and realistic coloration and a good sculpt which makes it one of my favorite non-dinosaur prehistoric figures. Even though it isn’t a dinosaur, I don’t think thyreophoran fans should miss out on this one. You’d better hurry up though because this figure was not featured in Bullyland’s 2009 catalog, which leads me to suspect that it has recently been retired!