Category Archives: invertebrate

Anomalocaris (Yowie)

Review and photos by Faelrin, edited by Suspsy

For my first review, I will be reviewing the Yowie Anomalocaris. Anomalocaris was one of the largest creatures of its time, growing up to around 1 meter long (or 3.2 feet), and is one of the many species preserved in the Burgess Shale. It lived during the Cambrian Period, and some of its contemporaries included creatures like trilobites, worms, Opabinia, Hallucigenia, and Wiwaxia. Its name means “abnormal shrimp”, as for a while, its remains were thought to be different creatures until more complete fossils were found.

Now on to the figure itself. Like other Yowie figures, its many pieces need to be assembled together to create the figure. It pretty much resembles what is known of Anomalocaris. All key components of its anatomy are present: the eyestalks, the arms which would have been able to grasp in life, the radial mouth parts, the many lobes along its sides, and the fan-like tail. For how small this figure is, at only a little over 5cm (or 2″), the painting is pretty detailed.

The base colour is a red or red orange. Its eyes are painted black, while the stalks are painted white. The tips of its tail lobes are painted white, or maybe a pale pink, as well as the belly. Many tiny white specks are painted on its backside and the back of its head, as well as on the ridges on the undersides of its arms. The lobes are painted more of a yellow colour with tiny red specks, closest to the body, on both the top and bottom of this figure. The outside of the mouth is painted white, and the inside is painted black. The figure’s head can also rotate around and the tail is a bit loose (though these things may be due to letting my mother assemble it upon its arrival).

If you are a fan of Anomalocaris, Cambrian creatures, Paleozoic creatures, or the Yowie figures in general, then this might be the figure for you. Like other Yowie figures, it may be hard to track down though, being an older figure, and originally only available in Australia.

Ammonoid (Paleozoic Pals by Jaag Plush)

First off, just to get it out of the way, this is not an ammonite. This is an ammonoid, the broader group to which ammonites belong. While ammonites lived through the Jurassic and Cretaceous the group ammonoidea first appeared 400 million years ago in the Devonian. Thus, here we have a plush ammonoid, not an ammonite which would have no place in a line of toys representing Paleozoic fauna. Also worth noting, for no reason in particular is that ammonoids are actually more closely related to squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish than they are to the superficially similar nautiloids but all of them are of course cephalopods.

Now what species or genus of ammonoid this toy is supposed to represent is a bit of a mystery, and it’s probably not meant to represent any specific animal, just ammonoids as a group and you could probably pretend it was an ammonite if you wanted. Just for kicks I tried to identify it in my “Field Guide to the Devonian Fossils of New York” but with no real success. This is kind of a shame honestly because the previously released trilobite and eurypterid identify the toys at the species level.

Regardless of identity this is still a great toy. The boldly colored and tightly wound orange shell, in conjunction with the big shiny eyes and ten arms make it a lot of fun to look at and play with. It’s quite large too, measuring 15” in length (arms included) and 7” tall. The shell is quite wide too, 3” across. The eyes are brown, body tan, and the arms tan and white. No mouth is present hidden in the arms, unfortunately.

As with the rest of the Paleozoic Pals line this toy was commissioned by PRI’s Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY. If you want to catch one in the wild you’ll have to go there to get one but you can also acquire it on their website which is no doubt the more practical route. But, if you’re ever in central/western New York make sure you stop by the museum. The collection of Devonian fossils is truly impressive and one of a kind. This review concludes our look at the Paleozoic Pals, for now. It’ll be exciting to see what the future holds for these adorable and unique toys.

Ammonite (Bullyland)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

Ammonites are one of the most iconic of all fossil groups. Once thought to be snakes turned to stone in medieval times, these ancient cephalopods are known throughout the world, and are important fossils for many purposes, especially in dating as they are exceptional index fossils. Despite this, they are rarely found in toy form, possibly as they may be less interesting to children or collectors in comparison to dinosaurs. Bullyland, however, has taken steps to change this, producing two ammonite models along with several other common species from the past. For this review, I will be looking at the smaller of the two models.

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‘Smaller’ may be the wrong word though! At 2.9” high and 4.3” wide, this is quite large for an ammonite, and would likely look out of place with marine reptile figures from most other lines in a display. The shell is predominately white with a yellowish-gold pattern, which is quite bright in comparison to the larger counterpart (perhaps this is a male). The tentacles are green and beige with grey on the suckers. This works quite well, looking similar to squid and cuttlefish. The tentacles are fairly dynamic, as if the animal is about to move off or catch prey.

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With ammonite figures, it can be very hard to discern the species, as they usual just have the generic name ‘Ammonite’ stamped on them. Based on the shape of its whorl, it may well be a species of Peltoceratoides or Cosmoceras. Either way, it is very accurate to the general shell morphology of an ammonite. As for the tentacles, they appear to be correct, with ten arms and a siphuncle. There is also a beak inside the mass of tentacles, but it is harder to see. The only real inaccuracy is the wedge under the shell, but this is purely to keep it upright.

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Overall, this is a really nice, well-made figure. It may not be as exciting as a T. rex or a Stegosaurus, but it is well worth getting, as it is often not very expensive, even relatively cheap. A great figure of a very famous group.

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