Category Archives: mosasaur

Tylosaurus (Mojo Fun)

Very occasionally, the fossil record allows us a fascinating glimpse into interactions between various extinct animals. Take the “Talkeetna Mountains Hadrosaur” for example. Discovered in Alaska in 1994, it is a juvenile specimen that washed out to sea after its death and eventually sank to the bottom to become fossilized. Preserved toothmarks on the bones suggest that the corpse was scavenged upon by a mosasaur, probably Tylosaurus proriger.

Today’s review will focus on Mojo Fun’s 2010 interpretation of that famous and fearsome mosasaur. As you can see, it’s sculpted with its long tail swinging sharply to the left. This gives the toy a length of around 16 cm. Main colours are dark and light olive green with black eyes, white teeth, and a pale mouth interior with a purple tongue. And for some strange reason, Mojo opted to add a series of medium green and pale pink spots on the flanks, and rather sloppily at that. Needless to say, the toy would have looked much better without them.

The Tylosaurus‘ skin has a fine crisscrossing wrinkle texture all over. The head has the proper conical shape of a mosasaur, although it looks slightly too thick for Tylosaurus and the teeth are too small. The tongue, however, has a forked tip, which is a definite plus. And the tail features a fluke at the end. Granted, it’s more eel-like than shark-like, but it still looks good.

And now let’s address the two elephants in the room. First, as you can see from the comparison photo, the Mojo Tylosaurus bears a very suspicious resemblance to the version from CollectA. I’m generally cautious about tossing around accusations of plagiarism, but in this case, it may well be justified. And second, like its CollectA doppelganger, this Tylosaurus is missing its nostrils. Lame.

Overall, the Mojo Tylosaurus is an okay toy at best. Not the worst rendition I’ve come across, but far from the cream of the crop. Kids will no doubt enjoy playing with it though.

Tylosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Lizards have been around about as long as dinosaurs, and during their time on Earth their family tree has produced some weird side branches. One is snakes (yes, all snakes are lizards, but not all lizards are snakes). Another is the mosasaurs, a group of large aquatic lizards that included some of the largest predators of the late Cretaceous. They weren’t dinosaurs, but true lizards, more closely related to modern monitor lizards than either is to, for example, geckos.

One of the best known mosasaurs is Tylosaurus, and it’s roughly tied with Mosasaurus as the one most commonly made into toys. Safari Ltd has released a new Tylosaurus for 2017, and it’s a very nice piece of work. Tylosaurus was one of the largest lizards of all time, up to 15 meters long. This figure is about 26 cm long measured along the spine, so it’s about 1:55 scale if it represents a large individual. That puts it roughly in scale with Safari’s Elasmosaurus. It’s mostly a sort of yellow ochre all over, slightly darker on top, with irregular bold black markings and a big black spot over each eye.

The maw is carefully rendered, including teeth borne on the pterygoid bone on the roof of the mouth. Like any inexpensive mass-produced toy, there is a bit of paint bleed from the gums to the teeth and vice versa, but overall the paint is well-executed. Based on a cursory glance at some Tylosaurus skulls, it looks like the number of teeth varies, with this figure at the low end of that variation.

The head correctly shows the front of the dentary and premaxillary (i.e. the very front of the mouth) without teeth. The folds of skin around the neck are expertly done, reminiscent of mosasaurs’ monitor lizard cousins.

This is the first mosasaur from Safari to include the two-lobed tail fluke, which was described in 2010 and 2013 based on smaller relatives. If anything, a gigantic animal like Tylosaurus would find a fluke even more useful to move its bulk. This is a realistic depiction, with the main bore of the spine deflected slightly downward, and soft tissue making up the top half of the fluke.

The whole figure is texturally rich, and the flippers in particular show very lizardlike scales. Each digit is discernible, which was likely true in the living animal as well.

Compared to the Carnegie version that was discontinued two years ago, this Tylosaurus is somewhat smaller, with an updated tail, and with a much brighter palette. This color scheme is a bit vibrant for an adult 14-meter animal. Some melanosomes have been observed in large mosasaurs, and their concentration suggests a very dark color, perhaps similar to a sperm whale. Tylosaurus did live in a vast inland sea, a habitat that is no longer widespread on Earth, so it’s at least possible that such an environment would have been friendlier to big bright animals. All the same, the coloration of this figure is probably more appropriate to a smaller mosasaur. Platecarpus was only about 4 meters long, and Dallasaurus was even smaller, comparable to a living monitor. Those were probably more often found in shallow-water, complex habitats where it might be beneficial to have your outline broken up in sun-dappled water. Some sharks that are pelagic as adults, but live near shore when young, have bolder coloration as babies. Perhaps large mosasaurs had a similar progression.

On balance, this is a wonderful replica, and should make both adult kids and regular kids happy. You can find it at museum gift shops, online, and at better toy stores everywhere.

Mosasaurus (Recur)

My next Recur review will be that colossal tyrant of the deep, Mosasaurus hoffmannii. In stark contrast to its terrestrial counterpart, T. rex, Mosasaurus had both poor binocular vision and a poor sense of smell. This means that it probably restricted its hunting to the ocean surface, where it would have been easier to locate prey.

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Released in 2015, the Recur Mosasaurus is now the largest prehistoric sea creature in my collection. It measures an gargantuan 40 cm long and has a flipperspan of 12.5 cm. The main colours are swampy green and light brown with a faint reddish tinge around the throat, yellow eyes, maroon for the mouth, and yellowish teeth. It’s a good colour scheme for a marine predator, one that would come in especially handy in kelp forests—assuming there were any back in the Maastrichtian age.

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The Mosasaurus is in a swimming pose with its huge head turned to the right and its powerful tail undulating. Looking at it head on, the silent killer appears to be measuring you up with its left eye, trying to determine whether or not you would be good to eat. The skin is a combination of fine, lizard-like scales and wrinkles with round osteoderms embedded in the back and a row of dorsal spines running from the top of the skull to the end of the tail. The digits in the flippers can be seen and felt through the skin. Between this sculpting detail, the sheer size of the toy, and all those pointed teeth, this is one scary-looking sea monster!

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Of course, there are a couple of noticeable errors here. First off, while those dorsal spines certainly add to the the toy’s frightful appearance, there’s no fossil evidence of such features, nor would they have been of any advantage for a fully aquatic reptile. And second, the pterygoid teeth are absent from the roof of the mouth. On the plus side, this Mosasaurus does have a fleshy fluke near the end of its tail. It’s not as big as I would have liked, but still, points go to Recur for being aware of this recent discovery. Points also go to them for the fact that, being made entirely of PVC, the toy is very light and nearly impervious to breakage. The fierce-looking teeth are quite harmless. Moreover, the Mosasaurus can float in water, which makes it perfect for playing with at the beach, in a swimming pool, or while taking a bath.

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Overall, despite its inaccuracies, the Mosasaurus is my favourite Recur toy. It’s big and scary, it’s got some impressive sculpting, and there can be no question that it’s a lot fun to play with. If you only get one Recur toy, I suggest this one.

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Thank you, Recur! Available from Recur’s AliExpress store