New Prehistoric World and Dino Dana Dinosaur Figures from Safari Ltd!
For 2022, Safari Ltd has introduced new figures in both our Wild Safari Prehistoric World collection, as well as our ongoing partnership with the hit TV show Dino Dana. With some of these new figures becoming available, we thought we’d take a closer look at these dinos and what makes them so special!
Dino Dana Nanotyrannus Toy Figure
Nanotyrannus is a controversial genus, to say the least. It all started when a small, Tyrannosaurus-like skull was discovered in 1946 and classified as Gorgosaurus (a T. rex relative). Though it was believed to be a juvenile, it was re-examined in 1988 by paleontologists whose research indicated that the skull bones were fused, which would mean this dinosaur was not a juvenile, but an adult. They dubbed this new dino Nanotyrannus, meaning “dwarf tyrant”.
Dino Dana Nanotyrannus Figure
In 1999, further analysis would reverse the idea that this skull belonged to an adult dinosaur. However, in 2001 a more complete skeleton of a dinosaur dubbed “Jane” added more fuel to the controversy. While many paleontologists argued that Jane supported the theory that Nanotyrannus was a young T. rex, other paleontologists believed they were different enough to constitute separate species.
In 2016, a study of arm and leg proportions of Nanotyrannus suggested that it could be unique from T. rex, though there was still division amongst scientists. Most recently, in 2020, multiple studies have been published that establish the Nanotyrannus specimens as juvenile dinosaurs, very likely younger versions of Tyrannosaurus rex.
Though this would seem to put the issue to bed, the ongoing, decades long controversy is an important one, and shines light on just how often ideas about dinosaurs, and paleontology in general, can change as new discoveries come to light. It also shows how difficult it is for those who study dinosaurs to be certain about anything – after all, in the many millions of years since these animals walked the earth, often all that is left behind are their fossilized bones. Scientists do what they can to paint a picture of these animals, but there will always be some level of uncertainty.
This idea is explored in Dino Dana: The Movie, in which the titular character of Dana encounters an adult T. rex, a baby T. rex, and a “Nanotyrannus”. Through the course of the movie, she learns more about how these dinosaurs may be more related to each other than previously thought; indeed, they may even be one and the same.
Safari Ltd’s Nanotyrannus figure is based on its appearance in the movie, with white stripes over its brown and scaly body. This also highlights another uncertainty around Tyrannosaurus – whether or not it had feathers. While the adult Rex in Dino Dana is feathered, the Nanotyrannus is not. This figure may be a controversial addition to the Dino Dana collection, but it will hopefully spark some important discussion around the way paleontology is constantly evolving – pun intended – and ideas are ever changing as new and exciting discoveries are made.
Dino Dana Zuul Toy Figure
In 2014, while attempting to excavate a skeleton of Gorgosaurus in Montana, a fossil-finding expedition stumbled upon something even more exciting – a nearly complete skeleton of an armored ankylosaur. And not just any ankylosaur – a brand new species!
In 2017, after much of this exciting find had been properly evaluated, the dinosaur was given a proper name – Zuul. The name is an odd one, and is actually a reference to the horned, spiky skull of the dinosaur, which was thought to resemble a demonic dog-like demi-god from the 1984 film Ghostbusters.
Dino Dana Zuul Figure
Zuul offered many exciting insights into armored ankylosaurs. Often, these dinosaurs’ bones are found in fragmentary, scattered pieces, leaving paleontologists to speculate on how the various spikes and armor plates were arranged. Zuul was unique in that its skeleton was not only nearly complete, but the bones and armored pieces are largely arranged in the original position. Zuul’s remains also included preserved soft tissue, non-armored scales, and the keratin sheaths that covered the spikes and horns of its armor. These elements are exceedingly rare finds, not just in ankylosaurs, but in any dino discovery!
Zuul’s species name is “crurivastator” which translates from Latin to “destroyer of shins”. This is a reference to the formidable tail club Zuul possessed, which it could use to defend itself against predatory dinosaurs. Zuul is the first North American ankylosaur to be discovered with both the skull and tail largely intact. A very important dinosaur find indeed!
Wild Safari Prehistoric World Albertosaurus Toy Figure
Another tyrannosaur finds its way into our dinosaur releases this year, but this one is a bit less divisive than Nanotyrannus. Albertosaurus was a smaller, more slender relative of Tyrannosaurus rex that lived a few million years earlier than its larger cousin, in what is now Alberta, Canada.
Like T. rex, Albertosaurus was a large two-legged, meat-eating theropod dinosaur, with a large head full of sharp teeth, and small two-fingered arms. However, it only grew to around 30 feet long, and was much more lightly built than T. rex. This may indicate that it had a different method of hunting its prey than its larger, later cousin.
Prehistoric World Albertosaurus Figure
One discovery of Albertosaurus contained 26 individuals, which some scientists have speculated is evidence of pack hunting behavior. While there is much evidence that plant eaters often congregated in large social groups, there is relatively very little information pointing to the same behavior in meat eaters, which means the Albertosaurus discovery is quite significant.
Like Nanotyrannus and Zuul, Albertosaurus also has a connection to Gorgosaurus. While there is currently one recognized species of Albertosaurus – A. sarcophagus – the genus previously contained a second species – A. libratus. This second species was originally named Gorgosaurus, before it was folded into Albertosaurus. However, in 2003, an analysis of the many tyrannosaur skulls available led many scientists to agree to separate the two again, and thus Gorgosaurus is now accepted as a separate genus once again.
The Safari Ltd Albertosaurus figure features a distinctive light green and brown pattern of coloration. While this is speculation, it is not out of the realm of possibility that some larger predatory dinosaurs could have displayed interesting patterns and colors. In modern animals, you can see this on large predators like leopards, jaguars and tigers, whose coloration and markings look striking out of context, but actually serve to help them blend into their natural habitat.
These are just a few of the exciting new 2022 figures from Safari Ltd’s prehistoric collections. All three are in stock and available now!