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Safari Ltd’s Prehistoric Animal & Dinosaur Toys collection is one that is near and dear to our fans’ hearts, with its huge variety of dinosaur toys and figures of other prehistoric creatures. For 2021, Safari has added three new dinosaurs to its line-up, so let’s get to know these three new theropod figures a little bit better.
While at first glance this fellow might look familiar, with its large toothy head and tiny two-fingered hands, we can affirm most assuredly that this figure is NOT just another Tyrannosaurus Rex toy.
Daspletosaurus was a close relative of T-Rex, it’s true. Some scientist even believe it may have been its direct ancestor. Daspletosaurus lived about ten million years before T-Rex, and could be found in what is now Western North America, from around 80 to around 75 million years ago.
What makes Daspletosaurus different from its more famous relative, other than the time period in which it lived? Well, for one, Daspletosaurus was smaller than T-Rex, only growing to about 30 feet long, while Tyrannosaurus could reach over 40 feet in length. While its overall size was smaller than T-Rex, it was actually more heavily built, with proportionately longer arms, larger teeth, and an overall more muscular appearance.
Like its younger cousin, Daspletosaurus is thought to have been the apex predator of its time, feeding on larger plant-eating dinosaurs that shared its range. Interestingly, Daspletosaurus was known to share its prehistoric time and place with another tyrannosaurid dinosaur, Gorgosaurus.
Scientists have speculated on how these two similar and related dinosaurs could have co-existed in the same general area, with some believing that the more lightly built Gorgosaurus preferred different prey than its stockier cousin Daspletosaurus. Others theorize that they may have frequented different areas or habitats.
The next dinosaur toy figure from Safari Ltd in 2021 that we’ll check out is Baryonyx. While it’s a meat-eating theropod, like Daspletosaurus, it was quite different in many ways. It lived in what is now England in the early Cretaceous Period, about 130 million years ago.
Baryonyx grew to about 30 feet long, like Daspletosaurus, but it was much lighter and leaner. Unlike the huge and hulking head of Daspletosaurus, Baryonyx featured a narrow snout full of sharp teeth that was perfect for hunting its preferred prey – fish.
Baryonyx means “Heavy Claw” and it was named for the large claw on the first finger of each of its hands. Scientists believe it may have used this claw to hunt its prey. Some scientists believe it used its jaws to snap up smaller prey like fish, while its claws were used to tackle larger animals.
Since it is known to have eaten fish, it’s likely Baryonyx lived near water, and spent time wading in the shallows searching for food. Though it probably could swim, its body was not particularly suited for extended periods of time submerged in water. That isn’t the case for one of its relatives, however, as we’ll find out in the next section.
Baryonyx was a member of the family Spinosauridae, which was named for the third 2021 Safari Ltd dinosaur figure – Spinosaurus. While it was related to Baryonyx and shared some similarities, it was also very different in several key areas.
Spinosaurus has been a mysterious dinosaur for a very long time. Its name means “Spined Lizard”, after the most noteworthy features found in the first discovered remains – large spined backbones that likely supported some kind of back sail or hump.
Other than that, not much was known about Spinosaurus for a long time, and many artists represented it as a typical meat-eating dinosaur, just with a large sail on its back. It wasn’t until much later that additional bones shed more light on Spinosaurus, and revealed its connection to Baryonyx and Suchomimus. Like these other dinosaurs, Spinosaurus had a narrow snout and a large claw on each hand that likely helped it hunt fish.
Then in 2014, new information would drastically change how Spinosaurus was viewed once again. New skeletal material was described that showed that Spinosaurus had much smaller back legs than previously thought, and may have been uniquely suited for a more aquatic – or at least semi-aquatic lifestyle, with webbed feet and flat-bottom claws that hinted that it may have paddled its way through shallow seas.
This new information was expanded upon even further when it was found that Spinosaurus also had a very unique and distinctive tail, with a long fin along its length that would have helped it navigate a watery environment. Safari Ltd’s newest Spinosaurus figure reflects these new discoveries.
So, views of Spinosaurus have changed quite a bit since its initial discovery in 1915, over a hundred years ago. It just goes to show how many discoveries are still being made about dinosaurs, and how many mysteries that are still left to be uncovered. Who knows how our view of Spinosaurus may still change in the years to come?
In the interest of bringing our fans the most accurate dinosaur figures we possibly can, we’re always looking into ways to improve and enhance our Prehistoric World collection. While our 2021 offerings are only three dinosaurs, we think these figures are some of our best yet! And don’t worry – there are always more to come.