Colourful Collecta Tsintaosaurus – The Dinosaur that Looks like a Unicorn
Introduced into the Collecta Prehistoric Life series of prehistoric animal models in 2010 the Tsintaosaurus replica represents one of the most bizarre looking of all the known duck-billed dinosaurs. Although the model is not to scale, it measures seventeen centimetres in length and the bright orange coloured bony crest that this dinosaur model sports, certainly makes it one of the most eye-catching replicas on any model display.
The Colourful Collecta Tsintaosaurus Dinosaur Model
Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur
Tsintaosaurus is a member of the Lambeosaurine Hadrosaurids, a group of bird-hipped dinosaurs that have a variety of crests. The majority of the crests of these dinosaurs are hollow, but the crest of Tsintaosaurus is very different in structure and shape when compared to the crests of other Lambeosaurines. This herbivorous dinosaur had a long, bony strut projecting from the top of the skull. This structure has often been referred to as a “unicorn” horn. This strut seems to have been made up of solid bone and when first studied; this protrusion was thought to be part of a deformed skull bone that had been pushed upwards and away from the rest of the skull bones during the fossilisation process. However, in 1993, the eminent French palaeontologist Eric Buffetaut made a detailed examination of a second Tsintaosaurus skull specimen and he declared that this dinosaur did indeed possess a horn that projected upwards from the skull from just in front of the animal’s eye sockets. The crest does seem to be slightly curved, as if the dinosaur is carrying a large capital “C” around on its head, but scientists remain uncertain as to whether the horn curved forwards or was curved backwards over the back of the skull.
The purpose for this horn, which may have exceeded fifty centimetres in length, is unknown. It could not have been used as a resonating chamber to help amplify the dinosaur’s calls as the structure appears to be solid. The crest could have been a display structure and played a role in visual communication between Tsintaosaurs. This probably explains why the designers at Collecta have given the crest on their model such a bright orange colour. The crest clearly stands out and contrasts well with the muted green and mustard yellow markings on the rest of the replica.
From the few skull specimens and other bones found, scientists have been able to deduce that Tsintaosaurus had a broad muzzle. This plant-eater was probably an unfussy browser feeding on a mixture of plants including angiosperms (flowering plants), as well as conifer needles, leaves, horsetails and ferns. The Collecta model has been carefully moulded to give the impression of this dinosaur having a broad mouth.
A Close up of the Crest and the Broad Mouth of Tsintaosaurus
Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur
Fossils of this dinosaur have been found in Eastern China (Wangshi Formation). Tsintaosaurus lived during the Late Cretaceous and mature adults may have been more than ten metres in length. Recent studies of other duck-billed dinosaurs have indicated that these Ornithischians may have had deep, powerful tails. The Collecta replica depicts this deep tail very well, giving the impression of a strong and powerful animal. The model is well painted and shows lots of fine detail such as the individual toe claws and the relatively small eyes.
It is quite unusual to see a model of such a bizarre duck-billed dinosaur being added to a manufacturer’s model range. Most firms produce replicas of better known duck-billed dinosaurs, animals such as Corythosaurus and Parasaurolophus for example and Collecta deserves praise for bringing out a Tsintaosaurus. This model would be a colourful addition to any dinosaur fan’s collection. Recommended.
To view the Collecta range of prehistoric animal models: Collecta Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Models