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.