Category Archives: mammal

Prehistoric Mammal Skulls (Toob by Safari Ltd.)

Prehistoric skulls, be they those of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, sea monsters, mammals, amphibians, or any other beasts, are always things of beauty and intrigue. Let us take a look at this interesting variety of mammal skulls from Safari Ltd. There are eight in total, all coloured medium brown with a pale brown wash, and all with their names printed on the undersides.

We begin with the huge and horned Arsinoitherium. This skull measures just over 5 cm long from the tips of its huge front horns to the back of its mandible. While the horns could afford to be even longer and angled farther back, this is still quite unmistakeable as the famous embrithopod.



Next up is one of our distant relatives: Australopithecus. There are several described species, but I’m going to assume that this is meant to represent the most famous, A. afarensis, of which the famous “Lucy” specimen belongs to. It measures about 4.5 cm long from the mouth to the parietal. While the cranium looks pretty good, the chin could afford to be more defined and the teeth are too numerous, too small, and too generic in shape.



Our third skull is that of the frightfully fanged Daeodon. This one measures nearly 5.5 cm long. With all those pointed teeth and knobby projections, a lay person might easily mistake it for some kind of theropod dinosaur! But in order for it to be a proper representation of the largest entelodont, the maxillary canines should be larger and more visible, and the skull should be taller.



Fourth up is the skull of Embolotherium, a mighty brontothere from Asia, very similar to the North American Megacerops. This one measures 4.5 cm long and is immediately recognizable due to the slightly heart-shaped protuberance on the nose. The exact purpose of this horn is uncertain, as it was hollow and therefore too fragile for use in combat. Some experts have proposed that it may have been a specialized resonator for producing sounds, similar to the crest on Parasaurolophus. In any case, this is a reasonably good representation of Embolotherium save for the fact that, as with the Australopithecus, the teeth are too many and too generic.



Here is a first for the DTB: the skull of a Mammut americanum, better known as the American mastodon. Yes, despite being fairly popular and known from multiple complete skeletons, the poor mastodon has been overlooked by toy companies in favour of its more famous relative, the woolly mammoth. Indeed, I suspect that that only reason Safari went with a mastodon instead of a mammoth skull was because the latter’s huge tusks would have been impossible to squeeze into the package. Not surprisingly, this is the longest skull in the set, measuring 9 cm long from the tips of the tusks to the back of the cranium. Unfortunately, the tusks need to be more curved and spread farther apart in order to be a proper American mastodon. This looks more like a Stegodon skull. But on a much more positive note, Safari will be releasing a fantastic-looking mastodon figure in 2018!



Can’t have a set of prehistoric mammals without good ol’ Smilodon. This bad boy’s noggin measures 5.5 cm long with 3 cm long canines. No mistaking this one. But while it has the basic profile of a machairodont, the muzzle is a bit too long and the skull is not deep enough. The mouth is open slightly, but it would have been cooler had it been open to a full 120 degrees.



This is the knobby skull of the massive Uintatherium. Measuring slightly over 5 cm long, this individual may be a female due to the relative shortness of its tusks. While it could certainly afford to have even more pronounced knobs, overall, this is a pretty decent replica.



Last up is a woolly rhino skull. Now, anyone who knows anything about rhinos knows full well that their horns are made of keratin, not bone. But a hornless rhino just wouldn’t look as impressive, now would it? Anyway, the front horn gives the skull a height of 4.5 cm, matching its length. The skull itself looks fairly accurate, but the front horn is very warped. A result of too much time spent crammed into the tube, I suppose. On a sad note, as I gaze upon this tiny plastic skull, I can’t help but think of the strong, grim possibility that modern rhinos will soon be joining their woolly brethren in extinction. 🙁



These prehistoric mammal skulls aren’t quite museum-quality accurate, but they’re rather good overall. A very unique and educational set, appropriate for all ages. Recommended.

Quagga (Mojo Fun)

The quagga (Equus quagga quagga) was a South African subspecies of zebra, immediately recognizable by its unique stripe pattern. During the 19th century, it was hunted relentlessly for its skin and meat, and to eliminate it as competition for domestic animals. Last minute attempts to preserve the species failed and the last known individual died in captivity in 1883. An effort is currently underway to selectively breed Burchell’s zebras with reduced stripes, but they will never be the same as the original quagga.

Mojo Fun’s 2013 take on the quagga measures 10 cm long and stands slightly under 9 cm tall. Its colour scheme is in keeping with what we know of the animal’s appearance: brown for the upper portion of the most, white for the underbelly, legs, and tail, and very pale beige for the stripes and main. Black is used for the muzzle, eyes, and hooves.

This individual, which is clearly a male, is standing tall and proud with its right hind hoof pawing at the ground. The tail is moulded to the left hind leg, which I find somewhat unfortunate, but not disastrous. As far as accuracy goes, this is a perfectly good rendition. Aside from its colours, the quagga’s anatomy was virtually identical to that of the still-extant Burchell’s zebra, to the point where telling their skeletons apart is said to be impossible.

Sculpting on this quagga is decent. The musculature is well-defined, the hide has a pitted texture to simulate fur, and the hairs on the mane and tail are done well enough. Overall though, it’s safe to say that this equid isn’t sculpted nearly as beautifully as the ones from CollectA or Schleich.

Like most recently extinct animals, the quagga is seldom depicted in toy form, so I’m very grateful to Mojo Fun for producing this one. I wish I could say that we as a race have learned something from its extinction, but I fear that is just wishful thinking. 🙁

Neanderthal (Starlux)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

Time and new discoveries are incredible for changing ideas and concepts in every field of science and nature. Such is the way with the genus Homo, of which we humans are now the only living members. Our closest cousins, the Neanderthals, are an example of this change. The old views of them being stumbling brutes, only capable of grunting and violence are gone, with new discoveries showing that they had a form of language, cave paintings, and adornments (although they were still capable of being violent). There aren’t many figures of Neanderthals, however, possibly due to being too close to humans. Of course, the original dino toy line, Starlux, had their own examples.

The figure is a similar size to other Starlux figures, being 3.7” high (from base to club) and 1.8” wide. The colouring is based on the Caucasian skin complexion of certain modern humans, likely because Neanderthals are our evolutionary cousins. The pose is certainly of the time: very dynamic, maybe about to strike down prey. Feels a bit Wacky Races to me, but it’s passable.

Despite the older look, this figure does look pretty accurate for a hominid. The musculature is correct for the skeletal structure, and appears reasonably robust and rounded, at least in comparison to the human figures that Starlux produced. Even the hair seems accurate to modern ideas, though slightly too dark. Not too bad. Though the clothing doesn’t all the way around the crotch, no genitalia is present.

Overall, this isn’t too bad, despite the age. With CollectA and Safari producing Neanderthal figures of higher quality, you can overlook this figure, but this is still worth considering. They pop up on French eBay seller sites fairly frequently, so the choice is yours.

A final (obligatory) warning: the Starlux figures are made with different plastics to modern lines and are much more brittle. Most of the versions of this model have small bumps coming out of the club, but this one’s looks like they were knocked off. Proceed with caution.