Tag Archives: anomalocaris

Anomalocaris (Favorite Co. Ltd.)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

Imagine the weirdest alien you can think of. Give it as many tentacles, eyes, and other appendages as you like, but chances are they still aren’t as strange as anything from the Ediacaran or Cambrian Period, especially the latter. The Cambrian Explosion created some of the weirdest creatures imaginable, including this review’s topic: Anomalocaris, an anomalocarid arthropod predator found throughout the world from Canada to Australia and from Utah to China. This figure by Favorite appears to represent the largest member of this genus, A. canadensis.

Onto details. At 6.4” long and 1.3” high (from tip of appendages to the top of the eye stalks), it is on the larger size, especially compared to other figures of Anomalocaris, appropriate for one of the largest animals of the time (a length of one metre was considered big back then). The pose is simple, but works well. The animal appears to be swooping up, perhaps surprising its prey. The colour scheme also works well, with the mix of gold, pink, and black complementing each other in an odd way. Favorite made several mini-versions of this mould in a variety of paint schemes, so if this doesn’t work for you, there are alternatives. To make it easier to pose, this figure comes with a stand (1.8” high, 2” wide) shaped as rocks. While it works well, it leaves a large hole towards the rear of the figure when removed. Make of that what you will.

Accuracy-wise, this Anomalocaris is pretty good. The lobes are correct in number and shape, the eye stalks are correctly positioned, and the tail is correct too. The details on the mouth are there, very accurate to the fossils. The only nitpicks I can find are that the spikes on the arms could be a little more varied in size, rather than be quite as uniform, and they don’t capture the compound nature of the eyes, but otherwise it’s good for accuracy.

Overall, this is a good representation of Anomalocaris. It may not be the best (that goes to Kaiyodo), but it is the biggest, befitting of one of the first large predators known. eBay is your best bet for finding this figure, with the option of smaller, cheaper versions, as the larger one has become somewhat more expensive. Either will suit your collection well.

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.

Leaps in Evolution (Kaiyodo)

Review and photographs by Tim Sosa

From July-October 2015, the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo hosted an exhibit called “Leaps in Evolution: Tracing the Path of Vertebrate Evolution.” To commemorate the exhibit, Kaiyodo made a set of five vending machine capsule figures, most representing a stage in the evolution of vertebrates. Each of these can be tied to a “key innovation,” or an adaptation that enables a lineage to diversify at the expense of potential competitors, predators, or prey. Let’s take a look at the five figures, starting with our closest relative and going back through time.

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First up is the skull of a Neanderthal Homo neanderthalensis, a species which lived until about 40,000 years ago, well after modern humans had started spreading outside of Africa, and may have interbred with them. This skull, showcasing the large braincase that is the hallmark of humans, is a fitting visual reminder of what makes us us. It’s well-made in about 1:10 scale and identifiable as H. neanderthalensis by the prominent brow ridges and large teeth, although in actual specimens the teeth are much less tidy, probably because of decay of the remains between death and fossilization.

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We travel pretty far back in time to reach Dimetrodon limbatus, which lived in the early Permian period over 270 million years ago. Dimetrodon was a synapsid, an early member of a lineage whose only survivors are the mammals. Synapsids did a couple of interesting things that ended up being important for mammals. One, they reduced the role of the articular and quadrate bones in the jaw joint, which freed them up to later become part of our middle ear. And two, they evolved the ability to regulate their own body temperature metabolically. It isn’t clear when that occurred, but one hypothesis for the function of the sail of Dimetrodon is temperature regulation, so it makes sense that it would be included in this set. This is a big improvement on the Dimetrodon from Kaiyodo’s Dinotales line back in 2001, with excellent detail and a pose that reflects recent suggestions that their stance was somewhat more erect than previously thought. It’s about 1:45 if it represents a large specimen of D. limbatus.

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Next up is Ichthyostega, an early tetrapod relative. Ichthyostega lived during the Devonian period, and was one of the first fishes to have well-developed limbs with digits, and could probably have walked around a little bit in addition to swimming. This figure is in about 1:12 scale and looks great, with the characteristic broad, flat head and tail still adapted for an aquatic lifestyle. When Ichthyostega was first discovered, everyone assumed it had five digits just like us, lizards, and the earliest dinosaurs. But later preparation of the fossils revealed that some of the earliest tetrapods, like Ichthyostega, had seven or even eight digits. Some of those wouldn’t have been obvious externally when covered with muscle and skin, and this Kaiyodo figure is therefore well within the range of possibility, showing six external toes. Nice work!

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While Ichthyostega was learning to crawl, Dunkleosteus was the top predator in the world’s oceans. It was an arthrodire, a group that had already been around for tens of millions of years. Arthrodires were among the first vertebrates with jaws, which are not only great for eating things, but also became important for hearing for some vertebrates. This little ~1:40 scale skull replica features a hinged jaw, calling attention to its importance in the evolution of vertebrates.

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Finally we reach Anomalocaris, a major predator of the Cambrian period, over 500 million years ago. This is the only figure in the set that isn’t a vertebrate, and in fact the only one that isn’t relatively close to a direct ancestor of humans. Maybe that’s because at the time of Anomalocaris, our ancestors were essentially jawless, spineless little worms with a gill basket, which would look a little less awesome as toys. So Kaiyodo went with Anomalocaris, an arthropod distantly related to insects, spiders, and barnacles. Anomalocaris probably ate our distant relations for breakfast! It was part of the so-called “Cambrian Explosion,” a sudden (by geological standards) profusion of life that evolved in the world’s seas and set the stage for major lineages of animals, such as arthropods, mollusks, vertebrates, and echinoderms. This figure is similar to the one Kaiyodo made for their Dinotales line, but more finely detailed, a fitting homage to this extremely important time in Earth’s history. Like the Dinotales version, it’s about 1:10-1:15 scale.

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Overall, this set is a fantastic miniature review of evolutionary history (biased a bit toward our own ancestors). The exhibit in Tokyo has ended, but a fair number of these seem to have found their way to the secondary market, so you might be able to find them through web sites such as eBay or through a friend with a connection in Japan. They’re already fetching fairly high prices, so if you want them, sooner is better than later!