It’s a Woolly Rhino Winter In Chicago!

A Woolly Rhinoceros would feel right at home in Chicago these days. With yet another round of subzero temps, I was reminded of the value of a nice, warm coat. Back in the Pleistocene, many animals adapted to frigid temps by growing impressive ones of their own, including an extinct species of rhino that’s the topic of today’s blog. As you know, I’m crazy about modern day elephants and rhinos, so it’s always a pleasure adding models of their ancient relatives to my collection. Though Woolly Mammoths get their fair share of attention, Safari Ltd. has shifted their focus to a couple of lesser-knowns such as the 2018 Mastodon and a brand new Woolly Rhino for this year. So let’s take a look at their latest “fuzzy” creation.

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Safari Ltd.’s 2018 Macrauchenia!

Macrauchenia is one of the more confusing prehistoric mammals ever discovered with nasal openings high on the animal’s skull suggesting a tapir-like nose. Since soft tissue doesn’t fossilize, however, this can only be theorized. What is known is that the animal lived in South America during the Pleistocene (20,000 – 10,000 years ago) in an environment, not unlike today’s African Savannah. It shared its habitat with other herbivores such as camels and ground sloths while likely serving as a favored prey item for terror birds and saber-toothed cats. Their lineage has long been debated, though recent  DNA tests may have finally revealed their place on the mammal family tree. They’re likely the last twig on a now extinct, sister branch of perissodactyls – odd number of toes/grinding molar teeth such as rhinos. And now, Safari Ltd. has added this rare and wonderful animal to their collection.

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Safari Ltd. vs CollectA: Mammoth Mash-Up!

As promised, I’m going to pit the CollectA Woolly Mammoth I reviewed recently up against Carnegie Safari Ltd.’s from years back. I’ve owned the latter since its release – well before I starting collecting. It used to sit on my home computer and merged two of my loves; elephants and prehistoric animals. There have been other woolly mammoths released by other companies but I never felt they came close to matching this one. This all changed when CollectA released their recent model as I was taken in by its pose and sheer bulk. Once it arrived, I had to decide whether it was worthy of dethroning the old mammoth and becoming the new king of the console. The decision proved easier than I thought…

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The Prehistoric Ghosts of Badlands National Park!

Visiting Badlands National Park is like stepping off onto another planet, especially since its topography so different than the surrounding Dakota plains. Like all National Parks, it’s striking to behold and an amazing locale for recreational hikes and photography. It’s also the location of the largest accumulation of mammal fossils from the Eocene and Oligocene Epochs. Back then, North America was a lot like how we view Africa today; with prehistoric versions of rhinoceros, elephant, camels, lions, and sloths to name but a few. The Badlands offers paleontologists a snapshot of what their world was like.

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CollectA goes Full Frontal with Megacerops!

I just returned from visiting the Dakotas while making a few Prehistoric Pit Stops along the way. Ironically, a couple of those excursions tied in with a figure I’d just received before I left – CollectA’s Megacerops. This model is part of their Prehistoric Life Collection and, just like their Deinotherium model I reviewed in my last post, breaks the mold in terms of scientific accuracy! Whereas the previous figure depicted a relative of the modern day elephant, this two-toed ungulate was a member of the Titanothere family which shares ancestry with today’s horses, tapirs, and rhinos. It definitely looks like a rhinoceros cousin with its double horns though, unlike rhinos, these are part of the animal’s skull and “true” horns. Their unique appearance illustrates once again how diverse and amazing our planet’s prehistoric mammals truly were.

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Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age Traveling Exhibit!

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In 2015 I got a chance to see Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, a traveling exhibit that made its way to my local Field Museum of Natural History. Just as the named implied, the exhibit focused on the amazing relatives (not ancestors) of elephants, the Proboscideans. Personally, I try and visit this Museum at least twice a year and have enjoyed many of their temporary exhibits. This one was by far my favorite and, should it ever make its way to your neck of the woods, you should definitely check it out! Not only was it highly informative and visually appealing, but also encouraged visitors to touch and take photos with many of its lifelike models – definitely not the norm for museums. Continue reading

Visiting the Waco Mammoth National Monument!

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It was one of the last warm weekends of 2016 when I visited the Mammoth National Monument in Waco, Texas. I pulled in around 11 am and one of the tours had already commenced. Each one costs five dollars and the annual National Park Pass I’d purchased a few months earlier wasn’t applicable. Regardless, it was five bucks well spent! I quickly paid for my ticket before running down the path to join the group. The alternative was standing around thirty minutes for the next one. I followed a path down a ravine and found the group sitting on some bleacher stands listening to our guide.

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