“High-Spined Lizard” Gets a Makeover
Newly introduced into the eclectic Wild Safari Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life model series is this new interpretation of the Early Cretaceous, super-predator Acrocanthosaurus. Safari had introduced many years ago now, a model of this American dinosaur as part of their Carnegie Collectibles range, but this replica was retired about twelve months ago. This new, not-to-scale Acrocanthosaurus is an updated version, reflecting the latest scientific interpretation of this formidable carnivore.
How Acrocanthosaurus got its Name
Acrocanthosaurus, means “High-spined Lizard”. This dinosaur was named after the tall neural spines that ran along the animal’s backbone, the function of these spines, some of which measure nearly three times the height of the vertebrae from which they project, is not known although some palaeontologists have suggested that these spines supported a fleshy hump that allowed this reptile to store fat to enable it to get through seasons when food resources would have been scarce.
Being able to store food would have been an effective strategy for such a large predator, especially since some scientists who have studied dinosaur tracks found in Texas have proposed that this dinosaur may have lived and hunted in packs. Such a group of Acrocanthosaurs, perhaps half a dozen individuals would have needed substantial quantities of meat to keep themselves fit (assuming that these animals were warm-blooded).
Rare in the Fossil Record
Known from just a handful of fossil specimens, representing four individuals, scientists have been unable to establish just how big this dinosaur (Acrocanthosaurus atokensis) was, but conservative estimates have given this animal’s length at around twelve metres, a hip height in excess of four metres and a body weight of around two tonnes.
The Acrocanthosaurus Dinosaur Model
The new model made by Safari Ltd, measures around twenty-two centimetres in length, with a head-height in excess of nine centimetres. Painted a light, brown colour for the most part, this model has a white underneath and a contrasting black band running from the top of the snout, across the back for the skull and down the backbone to the tip of the long tail. This replica has been posed with the tail extended out behind it, a change from the earlier Safari Ltd model of this dinosaur that had the end of the tail touching the ground.
The long, slightly narrow jaws and the broad muzzle of this meat-eating dinosaur are re-created in detail on this model. The head shows lots of care and attention to detail with the painting. The majority of the head is an off-white colour which contrasts well against the black band that runs along the top of the skull.
The different colours on the head, reflect current scientific thinking that visual signals were very important to the Dinosauria. Such a striking appearance may have come about as the animals matured and became the dominant members of their pack. This replica with its deep, broad chest and strong forelimbs, each ending in three-clawed fingers depicts Acrocanthosaurus as a powerful, active hunter. No doubt this new interpretation will proved popular with dinosaur model collectors.