The shelled cephalopods known as ammonites first appeared in the Devonian and then flourished all the way to the very end of the Cretaceous. They came in a wide variety of shapes and they ranged in size from ones you could hold in your palm to ones with shells measuring more than two metres in diameter. They are ideal index fossils, enabling paleontologists to determine the approximate age of different strata by examining which ammonites are found in them. In short, ammonites are one of evolution’s greatest successes.
Behold the Wild Safari ammonite, released in 2014. It is sculpted with its eight arms and two tentacles writhing about in all directions. As always, it’s entirely up to you, the owner, to determine just what this animal is in the midst of doing. It could be about to envelope prey, it could be trying frantically to fight off a hungry predator, or it could just be doing a happy little dance. With the tentacles held out straight, the ammonite measures about 13.5 cm long with a diameter of 6.5 cm for the shell.
The front part of the ammonite’s shell is slate grey while the rest is red-brown with pale orange accents. The actual body is orange, salmon, and pale yellow with red on the tips of the tentacles and large black and yellow eyes. Today’s cephalopods display an incredible range of colour, so a scheme like this is well within the range of possibility.
Like all Safari figures released in the last few years, this one boasts excellent sculpting. Most of the body has a pitted texture, but the undersides of the arms are smooth. The tips of the tentacles have suckers just like on a modern squid and there is a large funnel on the underside for propelling the animal through the depths. And the shell has two rows of pointed ridges which give it a very distinctive whorl shape. Now, I’m not as up on ammonites as I am on dinosaurs, but I’m pretty sure that this toy is meant to represent a species of Pleuroceras. Pleuroceras lived during the lower Jurassic period and its fossils have been found throughout Europe. If I’m right, then this is the one Safari toy to date that can be considered life-sized!
Whatever its identity, the Wild Safari ammonite is quite a cool toy. This weird-looking beast is well-sculpted and dynamic (well, as dynamic as an animal that lives in a shell can get), and it’s always great to see some variety in a prehistoric collection. Recommended.
Thanks go out to Fauna Figures for this toy!