Deinosuchus was a giant alligatoroid (which is NOT the same as an alligator!) that inhabited the coasts of North America around 80 to 73 million years ago. Along with Purussaurus from South America and Sarcosuchus from Africa, it’s a contender for the title of Biggest Crocodyliforme Ever.
The 2015 Recur Deinosuchus is quite a large beast at 27 cm long, and it would be even longer if the head and tail were straightened. Its active and aggressive pose suggests that this individual is engaged in combat with a rival over food, territory, or mating rights. The colours and markings are typical and appropriate for a crocodyliforme: dark and olive green with dark grey claws, mustard yellow eyes, a dull pink mouth, and ivory teeth.
The Deinosuchus‘ hide is also typical, with heavy scales protecting the underbelly and limbs and a network of plate-like osteoderms covering the back. Osteoderms, it should be noted, are not simply for protection. They also serve as a kind of load-bearing chassis, reinforcing the animal’s body and enabling it to walk on land. The teeth lining the huge mouth are thick and conical, ready to seize and crush an unfortunate victim. Deinosuchus is frequently depicted in paleoart dragging hadrosaurs and even the likes of Albertosaurus to their watery doom, but fossil evidence seems to suggest that its main diet consisted of crispy, crunchy sea turtles.
And this is where the anatomical inaccuracies arise. First off, the snout is all wrong. Recur clearly based it on this famous restoration, which is the one most of us grew up seeing in our dinosaur books. Problem is, that restoration is from 1954 and has been dismissed as inaccurate. As an alligatoroid, Deinosuchus possessed a very broad snout that would have allowed for a super powerful bite. Mind, I don’t fault Recur too much for this oversight, as Deinosuchus sadly doesn’t receive nearly as much media attention as dinosaurs or even Sarcosuchus. Other such products reviewed here on the blog suffer from the exact same problem.
The other glaring flaw is the very generic armour on the back. Many people assume that crocodyliformes share(d) more or less the same network and shape of osteoderms, but that’s not the case. Compare a modern gharial, a saltwater crocodile, and a common caiman and you’ll see what I mean. In the case of Deinosuchus, we know that the osteoderms were very thick and chunky, and became more rounded than keeled as they aged. In the words of paleontologist Mark Witton, “the dorsum of a big Deinosuchus would have looked more like a gnarly Dalek chassis than the back of any modern crocodilian.” Again, I’m not going to fault Recur too much for this, because it’s not exactly well-known information. Nevertheless, this Deinosuchus toy comes off looking more like a big old modern crocodile than the Cretaceous alligatoroid it’s meant to portray. And to top it off, mine has a belly that’s so bloated, the feet can’t touch the ground! This is probably because the Deinosuchus was immersed in water at one point during an informal and fun test session I conducted with the Recur toys in a kindergarten classroom. Guess the cotton inside the toy got all wadded up. Oh well.
I really hope that some company produces a more accurate Deinosuchus figure someday. In the mean time, I think you can safely give one a pass unless you happen to be a big fan of crocodyliformes. Or if you’re looking for a nice, durable, scary-looking croc toy for your kid to play around with in the sandbox.
Available from Recur’s AliExpress store