If there’s a Paleozoic animal that people can reliably recognize, it’s Dimetrodon, even if they’re apt to think of it as a contemporary of dinosaurs. As of this writing, the Dinosaur Toy Blog has 24 reviews tagged ‘Dimetrodon,’ and that’s not even half of what has been produced over the decades. In late 2018, Paleozoo added this famous mammal relative to their lineup, rounding out a set of offerings that has been heavier on Ediacaran and Devonian taxa. Let’s take a look!
For those of you unfamiliar with Paleozoo, it’s a one-person Australian operation that 3d prints digital sculpts in a material called sandstone, not the well-known sedimentary rock, but a mixture of glue and gypsum. Sandstone can be printed in full color, so no paint is required. The figure comes off the printer looking more or less like this, with some unspecified hand-finishing afterward. The model is about 24 cm long measured along the spine. By total length, that matches the stated scale of 1:18.
The body is creamy below, and a pale green on the sides and limbs, with a dull burgundy stripe pattern. The sail is pale at the base and redder near the top, with the neural spines a deep reddish brown, almost appearing black. The sail features very fine detail, with little veins all over. The reddish flush near the tips of the spines makes the whole thing look suffused with blood, which could comport with some of the hypotheses for the sail’s function, namely thermoregulation and/or display. The rest of the body is mainly smooth, with small tubercles distributed across most surfaces. Like other Paleozoo models, it is hollow inside and has an opening on the ventral side.
This Dimetrodon is on the move, with its front right foot off the ground and its hind legs in a crouch suggesting that it’s about to pounce. The lifted leg has its toes all aligned, whereas the feet that are planted on the ground have the toes separated. A little disk of black sandstone is under these three feet, which probably prevents the toes from breaking during production and shipping.
Dimetrodon’s tail contained 3-4 dozen vertebrae, so it would have been a substantial fraction of its body length. This tail, by contrast, is definitely too short. Like the toes, this is probably a compromise to minimize breakage. As if to illustrate, my copy arrived with its tail tip broken off—sandstone is a fragile material! A Dinosaur Toy Forum member recently said that a broken Paleozoo model was promptly replaced, so I wouldn’t worry about that as a collector. I didn’t seek redress for this one because it was a complimentary review copy.
The head sits on a short, thick neck and has the correct sphenacodontid shape. There is extraoral tissue (lips) around the mouth, but it’s slightly agape, and you can see the teeth. The teeth look frankly amazing. Maybe it’s in part because I’m used to seeing teeth painted, but produced in this medium they look incredibly clean, with a realistic transition to gum tissue. You can make out the faint imprints of blood vessels on the face, and there is fine texturing along the lips and on the top of the head. The head is where the artifacts of the printing process show up most strongly, with discernible print lines on the side of the head and tiny jagged edges on the teeth. The eyes have vertical, catlike pupils, and while presentable, are not as lifelike as other elements of the model. I’ve found this to be the case with 3d printed eyes generally.
This figure is available at Paleozoo’s web site (http://paleozoo.com.au/shop.php) for $122 AUD. Like other Paleozoo models, it comes in a nice box, well-packed, with an information card about the animal. I think that Paleozoo’s work on fishes and invertebrates is exemplary. This figure is also quite good, but has some minor proportion problems and doesn’t manage to look as natural as, for example, the Remigolepis and Mandageria. I would recommend it for fans of Paleozoic fauna with plenty of space for display, or as an accent piece. It is not suitable for young children.
Thank you to Paleozoo for furnishing this review copy.