Her long, hard months of effort, of endless hunting and feeding, have come to an end. With one final push, the mother expels the baby from her womb and into a world full of danger. But if he can manage to survive and catch his own food, the little swimmer will eventually grow into the top predator of his domain.
At an estimated length of 10-12 metres, Temnodontosaurus was one of the biggest ichthyosaurs and an apex predator of the Early Jurassic seas. Like most of its kin, it fed mainly on ammonites and other cephalopods, but it probably would have included smaller ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs in its diet. It is therefore a fitting choice for CollectA’s first ever ichthyosaur figure.
As a Standard class toy, this Temnodontosaurus platyodon is not very large, measuring only 18 cm long. Its colour scheme strongly resembles that of the modern grey whale: very dark grey with small silver markings, black eyes, a pink mouth, and white teeth. Perfect coloration for a large marine predator. The long jaws are halfway open and the tail is undulating to the right.
The Temnodontosaurus‘ teeth are small and fine. The upper jaw is slightly warped, sadly. The skin on the powerful body is smooth for the most part, but there are some large wrinkles on the flippers and around the neck and shoulder region. The dorsal fin is small compared to other ichthyosaur toys, but there have been a number of paleoartistic depictions of Temnodontosaurus with such a reduced fin. Oddly, there is a large ring of scales surrounding each orbit. Perhaps the sculptor looked at a fossil skull of Temnodontosaurus and mistook the prominent sclerotic rings for external features as opposed to internal support for the eyes. It is also possible that this is a bit of artistic license, or maybe even a nod to 19th century paleoart such as Duria Antiquior. Incidentally, it is worth mentioning that Temnodontosaurus possessed the largest eyes of any known vertebrate!
And now for the most interesting part. We know from fossil evidence that ichthyosaurs, despite being reptiles, were viviparous. To that end, this Temnodontosaurus is a new mother caught in the act of giving birth to a tiny little baby! The baby is emerging tail first, just like a whale calf, and is a perfect miniature replica of its parent. Only the head remains still inside the birth canal. And no, the baby is not removeable.
I think that 2015 was CollectA’s best year yet, and this birthing Temnodontosaurus is one reason why. The adult by itself is a fine toy with a unique appearance and good sculpting. And birth is a wondrous and beautiful part of nature, one that is rarely depicted in the world of plastic animal replicas, so props to CollectA for having the courage to do so.
Well, my friends, I’m happily wrapping up this year with my 75th review! Hope you’re still enjoying them. Here’s to 2016!