Sunday, July 26, 2015

Amebelodon Magic: A Custom-made Herd of Bizarre Extinct Animals

We make custom animals!

(Even ones as strange as Amebelodon)

Some might call it an Amebelodon nightmare, but we think it's pretty darn cool. This herd of small resin Amebelodons created by wildlife artist Sergio Sandoval is part of a project we put together for The Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby, Kansas. They needed replicas to sell in their store when their Amebelodon fossil jaw bone went on display. The bad news was that they couldn't find any. The good news was that we could make them.

Amebelodons were very weird looking extinct members of the elephant family. They were proboscideans called gomphotheres. You can see why they earned the nickname "shovel-tuskers." 

Even from the back, these animals look pretty unreal. So, how did Sergio make them?

He started by researching online. It seems there are quite a few ways these creatures have been portrayed (check out the image page on Google), and actually, who knows what the fleshy parts such as the end of the trunk really looked like?

So Sergio began to study the anatomy by making drawings . . .

. . . and clay models . . .

. . . and comparing the extinct animals with modern elephants . . .

. . . and probably dreaming about them as well.

The proportions kept getting better . . .

. . . until a miniature Amebelodon sculpture stood in his studio.

Next, the model had to be baked and several hundred pieces had to be cast.

As the paint went on, they started to look real.

Final colors were chosen. Amebelodons are often depicted in their North American Miocene settings standing on dry grass. You would have to time-travel about 9 million years back in prehistory to see one, so we are thrilled to have been able to bring some of that reality to museum visitors.

But the work was not over. Painting the entire herd would still be a long process!

Soon you will be able to find this delightful four-inch Amabelodon sculpture in our store. Meanwhile, enjoy the amazing animal replicas we have for you every day, and if you need an animal made to order, please call Sheryl at (503) 338-8646 or e-mail

This blog is sponsored by Tapir and Friends Animal Store.


  1. There is possiblity of keeping our pet alive through custom replica stuffed animals. Amazing and really the best idea for all pet lovers to stay in touch with the dear pet even after it is gone


I'd love to hear what you think. What's YOUR favorite animal?