Paleozoic Pals is a line of plush toys commissioned by the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) and sold at the Museum of the Earth, located in Ithaca, New York. Since its launch in 2015 the line has done quite well, and now has 13 distinct plush toys to its name (as well as slippers, a body pillow, and other merchandise) with more on the way.
For those interested in paleontology and evolution beyond dinosaurs the name Tiktaalik should be a familiar one. Discovered on Ellesmere Island, Canada, and formally described in 2006, Tiktaalik is significant in broadening our understanding of how sarcopterygian fishes gave rise to land dwelling vertebrates. With shoulders disconnected from the head this animal had a functional neck unlike other fishes, as well as robust ribs akin to those in tetrapods, and of course shoulder, elbow, and wrist bones in addition to fishy fin rays.
The Paleozoic Pals line of plush Paleozoic fauna has really taken off over the last five years, releasing two plush toys a year since they began in 2015. It was my hope that I would be able to keep up with them through these reviews but having moved away from the Museum of the Earth where they’re sold I’ve fallen a bit behind.
While prehistoric animals like Tyrannosaurus, Pteranodon, or woolly mammoths dominate the mainstream media and public imagination they are to be fair, kind of boring. Hear me out, I love my giant reptiles and Pleisotocene megafauna as much as the rest of you but let’s be honest, they’re all fairly straightforward.
In life, Wiwaxia was covered in spines and scales that would have made it about as cuddly as a sea urchin, an animal it resembled but was not related to. Good thing then that Paleozoic Pals made this plush Wiwaxia to snuggle with instead.
Wiwaxia lived during the early and middle Cambrian which is famously known as the period in which life got weird, giving us many well-known and bizarre creatures like Ophabinia, Anomalocaris, Hallucigenia, and trilobites.