Discovered in the Moreno Hill Formation in New Mexico by a paleontologist’s young son (lucky kid!), Zuniceratops is quite a significant animal in that it is the oldest North American ceratopsian known to have possessed horns. Indeed, it appears to be a transition between the more primitive protoceratopsids and the more advanced ceratopsids. It lived around 91 million years ago alongside the hadrosauromorph Jeyawati, the therizinosaur Nothronychus, and the tyrannosauroid Suskityrannus, which may have been its main enemy.
New for 2021, the Mattel Jurassic World Zuniceratops is part of the “Wild Pack” assortment, which puts it in the same size class and price point as the Herrerasaurus and the Rhamphorhynchus I reviewed here previously. With its head held level, it measures about 17.5 cm long and 10 cm high at the top of its frill. As you can see from the image below comparing it with the Protoceratops, it’s one of the bigger beasts in its class, which is a good selling point. It is sculpted in what has become a fairly standard stance for Mattel’s quadrupedal ornithischians, with the limbs on its left side pulled in close to one another and the limbs on its right side extended.
The head is on a universal joint, allowing it to rotate as well as swivel up and down. Its limbs rotate at the shoulders and hips and its tail rotates as well, but there’s really not much point to the latter, as it looks bad when you do it. The base colour is flat yellow-green with dark blue-grey for the head and the markings on the back. The eyes are light orange and the horns and beak are taupe grey. Notably, this is the first ceratopsian from Mattel not to have any markings whatsoever on its frill.
The Zuniceratops‘ muzzle has a wrinkled texture while its frill is covered in small round scales. Similar scales are on the back and the upper portions of the limbs, while the underbelly and lower limbs are wrinkled. Finally, the beak and horns have very faint grooves. The body is somewhat on the thin side, but the limbs and tail are well-muscled. Overall, this animal certainly doesn’t have anything close to the detail level of PNSO or Safari, but it’s fine for a Mattel product.
The head on this ceratopsian has upward curving brow horns, no nasal horn, and a large frill devoid of epoccipitals. Combined with its relatively small size, there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a Zuniceratops. There are, however, a couple of glaring errors. First, the feet are too large, too long, and feature pointed claws on all the digits. And second, there appears to be an extra fenestra next to each of the large ones in the frill. Looks very odd that way.
Mattel will never win a prize for scientific accuracy, but you’ve got to hand it to them for how many lesser known genera they’ve included in the Jurassic World line. This Zuniceratops is a flawed, but unique and fun toy that will surely appeal to both children and adult collectors.
I recently picked this one up on a whim, and I continue to be surprised at how attractive many of Mattel’s herbivores have ended up being. Not all dinosaur toys have to be monstrous meat-eaters, and it seems Mattel recognizes that!
Great review! I had no interest in this one originally but I think I’ll end up picking it up after all, if I come across it.