Vault tales 104 – Clades – Gorgonopsia

We’re back to another clades post–this time it’s one where I actually have a number of models, from a group that I actively collect. It’s the group of synapsids called Gorgonopsia–a group of reptile-looking Permian tetrapods that, being part of Therapsida, are more closely related to mammals. They, along with related groups, were often referred to as mammal-like reptiles, but the ‘reptiles’ part is not accurate…and they’re more mammals-adjacent.

Goronopsians are known from Permian fossil sites in Russia and Africa–sites that are distantly apart now, but were more connected well over 250 Million years ago. They are notable for their huge front canines, indicating their predatory/carnivorous habits. Given their distant relationship to mammals, their sabre-toothed mouths are reminiscent of the later sabre-tooth cats. They also stood on fully upright legs, like mammals; there’s even reconstructions that show them with hair, or at least whiskers, but I’m not sure how correct that is anyway. Gorgonopsians ranged in size from roughly coyote- to bear-sized but were overall very similar in appearance.

Gorgonopsians as figures are not very common–I am not aware of any that came about before the original Jurassic Park figures lines, when a few different versions of Lycaenops were produced. They are…okay as figures, and I remember having to track them down and it wasn’t that easy. After that, we didn’t see another one until the late-2000s when Safari graced us with an excellent Inostrancevia (which is no longer available); a 3D printed one, similar in size but more gracile, also became available on Shapeways. And Schleich recently released a Dinogorgon, so at least there’s still one around!

For people, like me, that really like to have a broad collection of animals that represent a wide range of geologic times, it’s great to be able to have a few iconic predators from the late Permian–of all the geologic periods this could be one of the least represented (unless we count Dimetrodon, that one is always available in many forms). It would be nice to see more representation of these animals from other companies, alongside the various other Therapsida from the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic (not counting mammals, obviously). And it would be nice to see some smaller figures as well–they might fit attempts at dioramas and scenes better, most of the gorgonopsians figures are pretty large.