A review of Maximo Salas's fun and unusual prehistoric animal sculptures.

Max Salas's big Thylacosmilus ferox sculpture.

This Megalania page has been visited times since August 20, 1998.

Max Salas is an Mexican engineer; luckily for us, he has a creative hobby as well! He has sculpted paleolife art subjects for years, bringing us terrific interpretations of some very unusual animals.

He's done many dinosaurs, but the pieces I most enjoy seeing from him are the Paleozoic and Cenozoic animals -- like his large, very interesting Thylacosmilus ferox, seen above.

What a bizarre creature! And a fascinating example of parallel evolution. Thylacosmilus, you see, was not a big cat; it wasn't even a placental mammal! It was a marsupial, yet it bears an uncanny superficial resemblance to a certain extinct big cat.

Note the interesting differences between Thylacosmilus and, say, Smilodon californicus, the so-called "sabertoothed tiger." Thylacosmilus's killing teeth grew throughout its life as do rodent's incisors, which must have been quite an advantage. Imagine being a Smilodon that lost a "saber" -- or two! (This is something for modellers to note, as the freshest looking part of the tooth would have been nearest the gumline.)

Note also the bizarre "scabbards" for the saber-teeth. Those who know the animal may point out that these were in fact shorter than the teeth by a few inches, but Max has chosen to portray the remainder of the scabbard as fur.

Thylacosmilus's skull was also very narrow and its claws were not retractible. It shared with Smilodon a powerfully muscled neck and a jaw capable of quite a gape in order to deliver mighty stabs with it's huge canines. It lived in the South American pampas about 5 million years ago.

Max has really made this animal come alive. It's peering up and to the left as if sniffing the wind for prey species. I'm extremely pleased with it and plan to put it in a pampas diorama (read: lots of tall grass). At just over a foot long, it's wonderfully animate and lifelike, and cleanly cast in a single piece to usual perfection by Mike Evans, caster to the paleolife art stars. (Definitely check with him if you have a sculpture and need to get it out to the world!)

I think that this strange and wonderful critter has considerable crossover appeal to the sci-fi/fantasy modeller as well. It would make a great addition to a diorama starring your favorite fantasy hero. The pose is particularly suited for this; the picture above doesn't make that too readily apparent.

Although this and many other of Max's pieces are being marketed through Saurian Studios, Max will be releasing his pieces under his own flag soon! Mike tells me that he's been sent "some sauropods" by Max, which Mike thinks are 1/35th scale -- I really anticipate these with considerable elation, let me tell you!

Check out the Link and Pin Hobbies website for many nice pictures of build-ups of Max's existing work -- they're listed in the dinosaur models section as Saurian Studios. They're currently the so-called GIGANTOTOSAURUS, CARCHARODONTOSAURUS, ACROCANTHOSAURUS, so called T-REX, SPINOSAURUS, so-called EPANTARIAS, CYNOGNATHUS & PREY (a terrific piece!), so-called PHORORACHUS, THYLACOSMILUS and GLYPTODONT.

Many thanks to Mike Evans for providing a review copy and for being so patient waiting for me to get this page up! I'd planned to put this page up when mine was done, but it's still not done yet and I wanted to let you see this for yourself as soon as possible so reluctantly went with the (admittedly nice) generic build-up pic above. When mine is done, photographed and scanned it will be added to this page. It's in an unusual color pattern in an attempt to emphasize the fact that it's not a Felid. I'll be adding very fine fishing line for whiskers as well.

Note on review copies: getting the piece for free does not color my opinion! If I don't like it I'll send it back with a friendly no thanks. Why bother keeping a piece that was for free if you're not going to build it? I have enough unbuilt stuff in my closet already. (Oh brother.)

On a related subject: If I buy a kit that I don't like, I just don't review it. That's why my reviews are all positive. Life's too short to trash other people's efforts because they don't appeal to you; thus sayeth Megalania. If you don't see something here, I either didn't buy it or I did buy it and didn't care for it. 'Nuff said.

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I'd recommend buying Max's sculpts from Link & Pin Hobbies -- their url is linked above.

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