Review and images by bmathison1972; edited by Suspsy
Callichimaera perlexa is an enigmatic crustacean from the Middle Cretaceous. Fossils have been found in the Churuvita Group in Colombia and the Frontier Formation in the United States. C. perlexa evolved during the Cretaceous Crab Revolution, which was a major diversification of ‘true’ crabs during the Cretaceous. The curious crab has a mix of features of both adult and larval crab forms and might represent an example of paedogenesis. Some of the larval (zoea) features include very large unconcealed compound eyes lacking orbits, a small fusiform body, apparent lack of clear molting linea, subdorsal extension of the pleon, and thin, simple mouthparts. The presence of sexual structures and apparent sexual dimorphism helps support that these unusual forms are indeed found in the adult crabs. Callichimaera also possessed large paddle-shaped legs, one of the earliest examples of such structures since the extinction of the sea scorpions. It is believed C. perplexa was an active predator in the water column.
I don’t know anything about Rheic Studio, despite several attempts at internet searches. I only discovered the existence of this figure thanks to posts on the Dino Toy Forum. I am not sure when it was first produced, but I suspect it was within the last year (the species was only described in 2019). I ordered it in March as a birthday gift to myself (my birthday is in early April), but due to production delays and shipping, I didn’t get it until early July. The figure is resin as opposed to the usual PVC. It measures approximately 2.5 cm in length (excluding appendages), making it 1.25:1 in scale (slightly larger than 1:1 scale for the largest known specimens). For some reason, it was advertised as 1:35 (seems to be the default for Chinese figures and models). If this was 1:35 in scale, it would be excruciatingly small! The paint job appears to be influenced by modern portunid crabs, such as Portunus pelagicus.
The figure also comes with a cool base featuring rocks and what looks like an ammonite shell. Promo pics online showed it with a generic wooden trophy-like base, so I was excited to get this more natural-looking base.
Overall, this is a cool little figure that comes highly recommended for collectors of interesting taxa or taxonomic completists. It is an expensive model for its size, especially if one orders the painted version, and I get the impression that they are made on-demand (mine took almost four months to get). So I can understand if it might not be for everyone. It is currently available on eBay and AliExpress from China.