A violent fight is underway. Deafening growls, screams, and grunts pierce the air shattering this once tranquil part of the forest and bringing chaos for those animals who live within its periphery. A sudden rustling from behind the bushes followed by the sound of an animal hurt accompanied by loud thud indicates something is thrown on the ground.
There, at the base of a tree, a small dinosaur sits, he looks like he is disoriented or perhaps in shock from being tossed in the air. Before he could regain his composure, the thick vegetation and the ground beneath him starts to shake as a small herd of Triceratops burst into view in a stampede as they run towards the open savannah.Soon, thick dust kicked by the stampeding herd engulfs the scene and the little dinosaur is caught in the chaos. As the dust finally settles, we once again see the small dinosaur. He is in the opposite side of where he was earlier, still looking disoriented by the experience, it is only when a loud growl coming closer to his location that he snaps out of his dazed and he quickly runs in the opposite direction of the forest, he runs towards the open plains. The dinosaur is a small theropod, a Nanotyrannus named Logan.
Nanotyrranus lancensis or “pygmy or dwarf tyrant” is a small tyrannosaurus (yes, I see eye rolling and eyebrows being raised) that lived in what we know today as the state of Montana, USA in the in late Cretaceous. It lived alongside the king itself, Tyrannosaurus rex, perhaps lurking in its shadows avoiding detection.I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of Tyrannosaurus, so I never really followed the whole story behind this enigmatic dinosaur… until now. so, imagine my surprise when I found out that it’s been around for more than seventy years!
The original fossil, consisting of a complete skull, was found back in 1942 by an American paleontologist working in Montana that year. It was clear it was a carnivore but a small one, nothing like the famous Tyrannosaurus rex the only other large carnivore at that time and seem to have dominated the landscape. At first it was thought to be that of a young Gorgosaurus.Further study would show that it wasn’t a Gorgosaurus, but looks more like the bigger Tyrannosaurus rex, just smaller and slenderer.
It would be almost forty years later, in 1988, that it would be reclassified. The intriguing question was is it a new and different species of Tyrannosaur? There are striking similarities but also differences between the skulls as well as the teeth. Based on some of these differences, some felt it warrant designation as a new species and was given the name Nanotyrannus. It would seem that there was after all a medium sized carnivore very much like the huge Tyrannosaurus rex that made a living in the shadows of the giant tyrant… or so it seems.
In another 10 years, after more examination of the skull was conducted, it would be discovered that the skull bones were not fused, something typical of animals (including humans) that haven’t reached full maturity yet. And so, the it turned out that this animal wasn’t an adult but a juvenile, but of what animal? So, the mystery, confusion, and controversy that would follow this enigmatic animal for years to come begins.
So, did the small skull found in 1942 comes from a different and unknown species, or could it really be that of a juvenile T. rex? The first thought was that it was a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, the only other large carnivore in the area. But there are those who believe it was not a young Tyrannosaurus rex, but something else entirely different; the argument was that there are many differences between this animal and Tyrannosaurus rex especially the shape of the skull and the number of teeth. But with no additional fossil, especially those from a confirmed “adult”, the true identity of Nanotyrannus would elude scientist and would solidify two opposing views of what it really was.
Nanotyrannus no doubt has polarized scientist and dinosaur fans alike for decades, and it would only be engulfed in further controversy in the succeeding years with additional skeleton finds that would add more questions than answering this long-standing debate.More complete fossil finds in the early 2000’s shed more light to this enigmatic animal that could settle the debate. Unlike the original skull, these new finds included not just skulls but also limb bones which would prove helpful in getting closer to answering the riddle.
Like the holotype, all of these new finds were also believed to be those of young animals not yet mature. With not just the skulls to go with, we get a better idea of the body structure of Nanotyrannus; it had longer arm as well as legs and the body is slender, nothing like the bulky built of the much larger T. rex.Now, the race to prove that these animals are Juveniles have both sides of the debate back in the arena.
Dinosaur like all animals go through physical changes, some considerably, as they mature. The challenge is proving and mapping these physical changes and tracing it all the way to the adult form. With more advanced technology as well as understanding of Tyrannosaurus rex itself, it seems like the debate is leaning more in favor of this animal being that of the young T.rex.
So, with so much controversy and doubt about the validity of Nanotyrannus as a valid new species of Tyrannosaurus, why would PNSO choose to produce a figure of it? Good question, and we can only come up with speculations and some logical possibilities since we have no direct info from PNSO regarding this choice. For me, it looks like the choice of Nanotyrannus could have been influenced by the desire to make yet another Tyrannosaurs (sp.) that is not rex and also, by creating a family portrait with Wilson and Andrea.In a way, trying to have it both ways so to speak.
Logan (PNSO name all of their figures to match their story book characters), despite its small size only measuring 7” inches long and 2.25” inches tall, by far the smallest of all of PNSO’s non-mini theropods, is pretty amazing figure. I would go so far as to say that it is even more impressive than all of the larger figures mainly due to how much details they were able to put into its small size. The details are every bit as exquisite as those seen on the larger models and they did not skimp at all even down to the small feet. The scales on the majority of the body are subtle and small in size that are not easily seen from a distance (as they should be) but easily appreciated up close.
The head matches the fossil faithfully and the details show hints of what we would see if it were a juvenile rex by comparing it to Andrea and Wilson. But it also shows the distinct and unique features that prompted it to be considered as a different species like the longer and narrower south and the slender teeth. It also captures the look of an animal that is not yet fully grown as can be seen on these delicate features as well as the larger eyes. The eyes are given a golden color and are painted precisely an impressive feat considering the small size.
Like all of PNSO’s theropod, it come with an articulated jaw that is pretty impressive for such a small mouth. The jaw open/close smoothly and stays in whatever position you put it on. The teeth are small, individually sculpted and maintained the sharp shape and on mine at least, cleanly painted.
The body follows the typical theropod shape and here we see a very different shape than what we see on an adult Tyrannosaurus. The musculature is very well defined and the skin folds are beautifully done that really shows tension as well as flexibility in the areas where you would expect them. The arms and legs are much longer proportioned that seen on adult T.rex , features that has convinced some that it’s a different species and not a T. rex. The small body is nicely proportioned with lots of well defined muscles and good striding pose with sense of fluid movement.The tail is long and muscular; it’s nice to see the base thick and there is even some very prominent bulging on the top that shows where these strong muscles are.
Logan is perhaps the most stable and balanced of all of PNSO’s theropod despite the small and very well-proportioned feet. The way it’s posed, slightly curved to one side with the thrust forward in an upward fashion and its long and muscular tail all worked together to concentrate the weight on the hips that really helped balance the figure and stabilized it perfectly even without the aid of the clear plastic rod (now a standard for all of PNSO’s bipeds) it came with.
The color follows the same earth-tones that we have come to expect from PNSO figures. The overall body color is an Olive green/brown that, despite the initial impression, has many subtle shades and other colors mixed in. There is yellow, white orange, black, and dark browns all mixed in and blended seamlessly to create a very realistic and pleasing color scheme.The result is unique to be able to stand out as a different species, but there is no mistaking that it also has the unmistakable similarities, especially the dark brown stripes on the back, to what we see in the adult Andrea and Wilson to be convincing as that of a young rex that is beginning to transition for those on this side.
For many extinct prehistoric animals, family life, structure, and parental care are still a mystery that only offer small clues. For Tyrannosaurus rex, there are two popular possible theory as to how they may have lived. The first one suggests living in packs and that since the sub-adult animals has longer legs making them faster and more agile than the adults, that they acted as the decoy or those that would separate, chase, and direct the prey animal into a trap where the adults lay waiting in ambush. We see this re-enacted in documentaries and is an intriguing possibility.
The second theory is that the sub-adult Tyrannosaurus rex separated from the adults and hunted different prey. The lack of medium size predator in the environment has always been puzzling given that in every environment, there is a clear niche partitioning between predators, each occupying and going after a different prey animal. With more and more Nanotyrannus/young tyrannosaurus rex fossils being found, it’s been suggested that these animals, be it the former or latter, has taken over this medium size niche.If this is indeed the case, then Tyrannosaurus rex truly have the monopoly of being the apex predator in its environment occupying two different niches at various stages of its growth!
Five days after being lost, Logan finally makes it back to his home territory. Weakened and hungry, he searches for his pack, but they are nowhere to be found and seems to have abandoned this area. In one, he noticed a young triceratops down with multiple wounds. This animal was the casualty of the hunt that ended in chaos. Surprisingly, the Triceratops is still alive but barely. Hungry and desperate, Logan made the fateful decision to try and tackle it alone.As he approaches the dying animal, it suddenly tried to get up on its feet, mustering all the energy left in its body to make one last effort to defend itself.Logan makes his move and the two collided with such force causing horrible pain that they both let out cries that echoes loudly across the forest.
As they fall back, the Triceratops pins Logan with its heavy body as it gasps and finally succumbs to its injuries. Logan is in serious trouble. The weight of the dead Triceratops on top of him is too heavy for him get out under, worse, the impact of the collision and exertion of trying to get up has caused serious and fatal internal injuries.
In 2006 a spectacular fossil was discovered in Montana; it was named the “Dueling Dinosaur”. It consists of a fossilized skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus and a Triceratops entangled with one another in what appears to be a fight scene frozen in stone. It appears that the animals died together after the fight and then entombed. Either way, the fossil find will surely go down as one of the most important find that capture a small picture of what these animals were doing before death. After being in limbo for years, this remarkable fossil finally ended up in a museum, allowing scientist to study it for years to come. As expected, Nanotyrannus fans are hoping that this could be the one that would validate the existence of this species. Only time and after hours of research would tell.
Without a doubt, the name Nanotyrannus will remain a polarizing and controversial one. Until the debate is settled beyond any doubt, there will always be those who believe and hold on to hope, that it is a valid new species of tyrannosaurus whose adult form is yet to be discovered. As long as there is hope, no matter how remote that may be, the door may just be left ajar, for who knows, there could very well be someone who discovers a new, adult medium sized Tyrannosaurus that shared the landscape and lurked in the shadows of the Tyrant King.
For me, I personally don’t have any bets whatsoever on the whole debate, either way, I find this model to be a welcome addition to my collection. If in the end it turns out to be valid, then great, now we have a fabulous model of this species. If it turns out to be truly an adolescent Tyrannosaurus rex, even better for now we have yet another awesome young T. rex that goes beautifully with PNSO’s Wilson (Winter) and Andrea if you have both, and makes for one stunning family display.To me, the controversy surrounding the validity of the name does not cause me to treat it as a pariah, instead, I look at it as an opportunity to celebrate the two possibilities.
Exhausted and in pain, Logan gives up and lay still where he fell.Shock quickly sets in and as the sun sets over the horizon Logan watches as the light recedes and darkness falls around him. He blinks his eyes, still unable to move, he watches the light fades before he closes his eyes for the last time.
Well, that concludes our review of this fascinating, controversial, and often polarizing figure from PNSO. I hope that regardless of whichever side of the debate you fall, that you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and until the next one, stay safe and healthy. Cheers!