Thursday, June 30, 2016

Schleich's new Dunkleosteus model

I have the latest Dunkleosteus model on the market, and it's pretty amazing visually, even if the science causes a bit of head-scratching.
The new model from Schleich boasts multipart construction with an articulated lower jaw and detailed mouth inside and out.  The armor is likewise done in great detail, complete with countless scratches from Dunk-to-Dunk combat: we know the species was cannibalistic, so there was some fighting, although this individual is more heavily scratched than any fossil.
The model is studded end to end with surface details: vertical winkles on the right side of the body and left side of the tail (the fish is shown with the body bending, and the wrinkles match up).
The model is big, over 22 cm long, and studded with either tiny bones (osteoderms) or scales all over. (The animal probably had neither, but it adds a great deal of texture and character to the model).

The amazing new Schleich Dunkleosteus

We don't know what the tail looked like, but the model-makers had to pick something, so they went with a tail with a large fin on the bottom.    Likewise, we know it had to have pectoral fins, and these are large and well-detailed. We don't know if dorsal or caudal fins were large or small. And the line of scutes along the sides (meant to suggest a lateral line, perhaps? If so, they are really overdoing it) are an invention as far as we know. Finally, we don;t know how much of the armor was visible vs being covered with skin/muscle: some scientists opt for a more streamlined Dunk.

A dunk expert, Gavin Hanke of the Royal BC Museum, weighed in on my post of this in FaceBook.  He wrote:  "...the reinforced spine like edges to the fins is fiction,.....all the arthrodires I have seen show tubercles in predictable patterns, sutures, lateral line canals, and straight cracks if present are taphonomic artefacts. I have not seen any papers detailing such scratches in any placoderm species." 

So I agree, the model should be more realistic It remains really cool, and the sculptors did put great effort into giving it more detail than the vinyl Favorite Co. model or the smaller Wild Safari competitors. At $20, it's a little more more expensive than those, but completely worth it. 

The smaller Wild Safari dunk (still cool)

(Thanks to Aurora Rayn for giving me the heads-up the moment this new model was posted for sale and to Gavin Hanke.)

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