What is this?

I was never *that* into dinosaurs as a kid – sure I had a few books and toys but I was generally more interested in mammals than anything else. My brother was generally nonplussed by the natural world and as a result I inherited some hand-me-downs which were among the better dinosaur things I had when young. One of these was a series of small, but rather well made, dinosaur models that sat on a bookcase shelf for many years. I recall quite clearly a black Pteranodon with a yellow front and a bight blue ankylosaur with evil, red eyes and a nice Dimetrodon. One of them had utterly slipped my mind till my nephews turned it up in a toy box this weekend.

I remembered the toy quite clearly and it’s not really in any worse condition that I remember it from some 15 years ago (or more).  The obvious question though is what is it? It looks like a rather gone wrong troodontid, with something of a hadrosaur-like appearance. Frankly, I had no idea and the odd blue and yellow colour scheme, coupled with the striations on the back that could be anything really. Turning it over it’s actually dated to 1972(!) and it declares itself to be a Saltoposuchus.

Even in days when synapsids and pterosaurs were considered dinosaurs (OK, that’s true today as well, if less so, a bit…) that’s a bit of a left field entry to say the least. Even now it’s hard to get hold of prehistoric models of non-dinosaurs or obvious classics and I can’t help be pleasantly surprised that nearly 40 years ago someone thought to model this basal and little crocodylomoprh, regardless of what they thought it actually was. I’d be very surprised to learn if anyone else has ever produced a model of this little guy over the years and I’d be keen to learn more about this if anyone happens to know anything of them.

9 Responses to “What is this?”


  1. 1 Mike Taylor 24/03/2011 at 10:23 am

    I remember Saltoposuchus turning up in the kids’ books I had back in the early seventies. For example, I see that it appears (in hilarious form) on page 9 of the How And Why Wonder Book Of Dinosaurs. In a picture with that other well-known genus, an Ornithopoda. It also appears in a much better two-page spread by Zallinger, on pages 14-15 of Dinosaurs And Other Prehistoric Reptiles, along with its buddy Procompsognathus, a selection of bipedal and quadrupedal Plateosaurus individuals and a croc.

    I think it always had a privileged position among near-dinosaurs :-)

  2. 2 Darren Naish 24/03/2011 at 11:28 am

    I should add that the toy is either based on Burian’s painting of the same beast, or on the animal in the Zallinger mural. I tend to assume that people are familiar with both Burian’s and Zallinger’s paintings – the body shapes, poses and colour schemes they depicted were faithfully copied by scores of lazy artists that followed.

  3. 4 Brad McFeeters 24/03/2011 at 1:37 pm

    Here’s a page with more information on the Saltoposuchus figure: http://www.dinosaurcollector.150m.com/inpro.html

  4. 6 Marc Vincent 24/03/2011 at 8:28 pm

    Randy’s site is basically the Dinosaur Toy Bible…I always consult it for information on vintage figures.

  5. 7 Tim Morris 25/03/2011 at 1:09 am

    Wasnt Saltoposuchus considered a possible bird ancestor back in the Pre-Ostrom days??

    • 8 David Hone 25/03/2011 at 9:38 am

      As soon as you said that it rang a bell. I’d have to go digging through some of my older books which aren’t to hand in Dublin sadly, but that does sound familiar.

  6. 9 Hans Sues 15/06/2011 at 3:32 pm

    What a funny-looking little guy! Saltoposuchus used to be the “ur-thecodont” that was illustrated in every book. It is a “sphenosuchian” crocodylomorph and actually looks quite different from Huene’s much-reproduced reconstruction. I am looking at the material right now.


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