Sciurumimus (CollectA)

4.5 (13 votes)

Normally when toy companies make juvenile dinosaurs, they just take known adult dinosaurs and make a smaller cuter version. Even respectable companies like Safari and CollectA have gone this route in the past. I typically don’t have any interest in these, but a fair number of taxa are known only from infant or juvenile remains. Sometimes they could conceivably belong to a contemporary adult, but demonstrating the link can be challenging. And sometimes we find a youngster that has no plausible link to other animals of the same time and place. Today’s review concerns such a case.

Take a gander at this fuzzy little guy from CollectA. This is Sciurumimus, whose name is Greek for “squirrel mimic,” based on the fluffy halo of feathery fuzz on its tail. There is only one published specimen of Sciurumimus, described in 2012 from an excellent fossil showing this integument all over its body. The original description suggested that it was a megalosauroid, whereas a 2013 study found it closer to the coelurosaurs, but the truth is that neither study had particularly strong taxon sampling (that is, a large number of other species to compare it to) in the relevant neighborhoods of the theropod family tree. What’s more, it’s really difficult to figure out what juvenile fossils are related to because many of the anatomical features you rely on might not show up until they are adults. Why, in this case, do we even care what it’s related to? Well, if it’s a megalosauroid, then its feathery coat is somewhat surprising, as no megalosauroids have been found with such fuzzy pajamas. If it’s a coelurosaur, it’s completely in line with what we expect, as the vast majority of coelurosaurs with sufficiently good preservation seem to have feathers, whether simple fuzzy ones or complex birdlike ones. So if we can ever figure out just where it goes, it could affect how we interpret feather evolution. I’m placing my bet here that it will prove to be more crownward (that is, closer to birds) than either published study has so far suggested.

Regardless of what sort of a theropod Sciurumimus was, it was awfully cute, at least when young. It had big eyes, a boxy head, and this terrifically long tail, all of which are captured faithfully by this figure. It’s painted a medium reddish brown color with a slightly lighter underside and a black tail tip. The color scheme is not unlike a young Eurasian red squirrel, and like a squirrel, a tasty morsel like this young theropod would have wanted subdued coloration to avoid would-be predators. The one known specimen was about 70 cm long, which is actually about the same size as a large fox squirrel. The toy is just under 14 cm long measured along the spine, so about 1:5 scale. It looks good alongside figures of Compsognathus and Archaeopteryx, which hailed from approximately the same time and place.

This figure is part of a sort of tradition of CollectA taking an exciting recent discovery and rendering it in 3D. One could quibble with the plain color scheme (I might have gone streakier like a quail chick) or the ho-hum base, but this is a really affordable figure and it does a good job on all other fronts. The proportions are correct, the difficult task of making hard plastic look fuzzy has been heroically undertaken, and the species choice is gratifyingly daring.

All in all, if companies are going to make baby dinosaurs, I want them to be like this: based on known specimens of immature animals. Definitely recommended. You can get this from a variety of online shops, although US retailers have had a hard time getting them in stock. That said, if you combine it with a few other of CollectA’s recent releases, the overseas shipping isn’t too painful.

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Comments 3

  • This is a great figure. Looks as if it is making noise in order to be fed.

  • I love this little guy. Absolutely adorable.

  • I congratulate you Halichoeres for this very successful article. For me they would be as you say the baby or immature dinosaurs that one would wish to realize all toy dinosaur company.

    It is a small figure but for my part I also recommend it. On the other hand I congratulate Collecta because its figures with built-in base have reedited it in such a way that the bottom part is recessed which makes that figure (at least I think so) is more difficult for it to bend or fight for the heat as it has happened with Collecta figures of theropods, although I have to affirm that to date for my part I do not have any complaints they are all kept in perfect condition.

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