Vault tales 87 – Clades – Protosuchia

It’s been a long time since the Random Number Generator picked a clade instead of a figure, but here we are. And while as a group it’s a little more in my normal wheelhouse…it’s not exactly a group with a lot of figures! As with many groups and their listings in my personal database, sometimes the groupings are more convenience than truly taxonomic. But this time around, it’s sort of valid? Protosuchia, a group of early Mesozoic crocodyliformes. As a ‘clade’ it might not be valid, as recent analyses indicate that Protosuchia is paraphyletic. Fortunately, the only figures that might be assigned to Protosuchia are labelled…Protosuchus. So…this is going to be as much just talking about the genus Protosuchus in my collection. And…probably any other collection.

A couple of interpretations. One from 1982, one from 2015.

Protosuchus gives its name to the overall group of reptiles, and is probably a good example. They are small animals, generally 1 metre long. The group was around from the late Triassic to the early Cretaceous. The distribution of the fossils is quite wide-ranging, from the Americas through Eurasia to southern Africa, although the fossils show up in different places at different times. Protosuchus itself is an early Jurassic genus with a fairly cosmopolitan range, found in southern Africa, Poland and North America. They were carnivorous, and fossils were found in lagoon and shoreline environments although the animals were probably more terrestrial than their modern relatives.

The first Protosuchus made as far as I know. From Starlux.

There are two representative models of the genus, and of the group. And they are wildly different. The first one comes from classic French figure company Starlux, first produced in 1982. Relatively older (not as old as some Starlux of course) as far as figures go, but a very active figure–fully upright, alert face, triangular head that really captures the shape of the skull of these animals. It also reflects the reconstructions of that time, with an active, dynamic hunter.It does not, however, have the scutes along the back that would be expected in most crocodilomorph animals, although it is covered in large scute-like scales. One thing about it–although these animals were about 1m long, this figure has the presence of a larger animal.

This is a more recent figure from a strange little set from Toys R Us a few years ago.

Later, in a set of mini dinosaurs from Toys R Us of all places, included a weird, lizard-like animal that they labelled as Protosuchus. In many ways it is almost the exact opposite of the Starlux–a sprawling, squat lizard like animal with smooth skin. But it still has that triangular head…Honestly, if this figure had not been labelled, or was found in a bulk lot of animal figures, it could just as easily been a generic lizard. But, since it was labelled, I guess it has to count. There are a lot of proposed reconstructions of this animal, but most if not all at least have the legs straight and under the body. So of the options…that exist…the Starlux is going to be a better representation I guess.

These figures are not at all to scale with that guy.He should be about 3 times as big–again, Protosuchians were not large animals.

So, to sum up, it is great that these figures exist–unusual prehistoric reptiles are not common enough as figures, and animals like this are especially not common. It’s almost funny that there are two protosuchian figures to be honest. I think most collectors of prehistoric animals would want to have at least one of these…if I had to guess, most would want the Starlux because the company has a great history, and the figure is well done. At least until a current company produces one. Although, honestly, I don’t see that happening any time soon–we occasionally see prehistoric crocodylomorphs or their relatives as figures, but smaller species like this don’t see much attention. One thing is for sure, the existing figures are going to be too big for additions to to-scale dioramas. But they’re great for on the shelf!

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