Friday, January 3, 2014

Advances in How Baby Dinosaurs Are Depicted In Models in 2014

Advances in How Baby Dinosaurs are Depicted in Models
Dinosaur models have been around for the best part of a hundred years or so. From the first models made from wood and metal to the more modern toys and replicas manufactured from plastic that became more prevalent after the second World War. For a very long time, prehistoric animal model ranges were dominated by just a few key species, naturally, Tyrannosaurus rex figures feature predominately, but alongside T. rex there were the likes of the horned dinosaur Triceratops and the bizarre, plated, herbivorous Stegosaurus. However, virtually all of the early model ranges portrayed dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures as adult animals, very few attempts were made by the mainstream manufacturers to depict young, or juveniles.

Early Models Now Known to be Inaccurate
Many of these early replicas are now known to be highly inaccurate representations of extinct fauna. More fossil finds and advanced research techniques such as computerised tomography and digital renderings have enabled palaeontologists to re-construct what are now believed to be much more accurate models. However, fashion and trends, so often influenced by films, books and television programmes would have also played a role in the design of replicas. For example, a feathered T. rex produced in the 1960s would have been difficult to accept for most professional toy collectors, although the likes of Henry Govier Seeley had presented a case for feathered Theropod dinosaurs as early as the 1880s.

Lack of Models of Baby Dinosaurs
Although most of the dinosaur that have ever lived did not reach adulthood (most dinosaurs in any given population not reaching maturity due to high levels of mortality), few models of baby dinosaurs or juveniles were produced during the first "boom" years of dinosaur model manufacturing in the 1960s and 1970s. Safari Ltd (based in the United States), did make a model of a Protoceratops with a nest and some hatching eggs, when the Carnegie Collectibles series of prehistoric animal replicas came into being, but the model was soon retired. Protoceratops (the name means "first horned face", is a Ceratopsian dinosaur known from fossils found in Mongolia and China. Later on, this company made a model of the Ornithopod Maiasaura with a nest and young also. However, it was many years before Safari Ltd set about making a baby dinosaur to be sold as a model without any adult animals to accompany it and to the best of our knowledge, all the baby dinosaur made by Safari Ltd are within their not to scale model range.

New Models of Baby Dinosaurs Expected
More recently, a number of other mainstream toy and model manufacturers have made replicas of young dinosaurs, no doubt influenced by successful films such as Disney's "Dinosaur" that came out at the turn of the Century, or the "Land Before Time" franchise.
A number of beautifully preserved fossils of juvenile dinosaurs have been found in the last decade or so, many of these specimens are almost complete. Palaeontologists therefore have a much better understanding of how dinosaurs grew and how they changed as they matured. The new baby Triceratops dinosaur model from Papo for example, shows a young dinosaur with small horns, a relatively large head and big eyes. Scientists now have a better idea of what baby dinosaurs looked like, the way they grew (ontogeny) and as a result model makers have been able to incorporate this new knowledge into the model making programmes.

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