Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Max Salas's Beautiful Dunk Sculpture

I finally got my hands on a Max Salas Dunkleosteus terrelli sculpture, one of the specimens I’ve always wanted.  This limited-production resin kit may not be the most accurate Dunk representation, but it is certainly a memorable one. I don’t know who assembled and painted this example. The kit is out of production.

Salas made some interesting conjectures about that the Dunk looked like.  The relatively slim, vertically arched body, combined with a prominent forehead and low dorsal, made me think of a cetacean, somewhat similar to an elongated dwarf sperm whale.

Granted, there are Dunk details we don’t know, and there were more when this sculpture was made (mine is dated 2008). Still, there are some questionable choices concerning the anatomy. The fins look reasonable, although I personally suspect the dorsal was bigger. The small second dorsal fin is a conjecture. No other Dunk reconstruction I can find has it, and neither do any other placoderms, including those like Cocosteus cuspidatus and Titanichthys agassizi used to support conjectures about the Dunk's body. The eel-like tail used on the model was once a common idea but today is losing favor compared to a more shark-like tail. There are no lips, a feature still debated although the pro-lip view is gaining ground and makes more sense to me for streamlining.  

Now, for the artistic side: it’s beautiful. The stock kit photo (first photo below) has the armor solid-colored, and the whole animal, with its complex pattern, is gorgeous.  On my copy, it looks like the owner went for an easier approach, so the armor is blended in. The sculpt conveys life and motion in a way so many others (including more technically accurate ones) often fail to do. This thing LOOKS like it’s hunting you down, and you won’t have a prayer…

Matt Bille
Twitter: MattWriter

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