The soldiers stranded in Edward City, lost three million years in the future after the disastrous consequences of the Third Energy experiments and were besieged by prehistoric creatures, the whisper of a theropod even bigger than T. rex, able to swallow a man in one bite. Regina and Dylan – the playable characters of Dino Crisis 2 – discover that this is more than an urban legend when a colossal Giganotosaurus crushes the Tyrannosaurus attacking Regina. Dino Crisis 2, from 2000, is not exactly the latest videogame out there; now that videogame merchandising is reaching its peak, however, it’s perhaps not too surprising that W-Dragon based its model on this famous rendition.

The W-Dragon Giganotosaurus towers over the Carnegie Tyrannosaurus.

Truth, as is often the case, is less spectacular: Giganotosaurus is comparable in size to Tyrannosaurus and certainly not the twenty-meter monster of Dino Crisis 2. And that’s not the only difference. Several models reflect our current knowledge of Giganotosaurus, but we’ll go for one of the most recent ones: the second version (named “Lucas”) from the PNSO Museum Line.

The comparison is more balanced when they’re both PNSOs.

First of all, a clarification: the W-Dragon Giganotosaurus is only inspired by Dino Crisis 2. Nowhere in the box does the logo of Capcom’s videogame appear, so much so that W-Dragon later re-released this figure in colors vaguely based on Jurassic World: Dominion. W-Dragon posted a making of their model in which Dino Crisis 2 appears only once and they offer alternative explanations for its aspect. It’s however undeniable that, in look and color, the original version is a clear homage to the videogame and all its artistic licenses can be traced back to it. The PNSO model, on the other hand, can be considered an updated version of their previous Giganotosaurus, showing essentially the same color.

One of the most noticeable differences between the two models is skull shape. When Dino Crisis 2 came out, no one had questioned Coria and Salgado‘s restoration of the skull (C1 and C2 in the picture), which has some weird issues, such as an excessive inclination of the quadrate not seen in any other Allosauroid. Back then, no complete or even relatively complete Carcharodontosaurid skull had been described, and Coria and Salgado’s skull became part of the popular culture along with its estimates of up to180 cm in length. Helping to popularize it was a famous restoration, casts of which can be seen in various museums worldwide. Of course, as in Dino Crisis 2, the W-Dragon model has an even more exaggerated version of that skull, with its upper border hidden under serrated ridges that give the dinosaur a more aggressive and terrifying look. Truth be told, W-Dragon publicly admitted they chose the restoration because of its popularity, not because they believed it to be the correct one.

The description of skulls of Acrocanthosaurus, before, and Meraxes, later, helped to understand that Carcharodontosauridae skulls were shorter and taller than originally thought. Canale et al.’s paper proposed a more reasonable 160 cm length, based on Meraxes and more in line with other independent estimates. The PNSO model is extremely conservative (i.e., it sticks as closely as possible to the data, without overdoing it), but for those who want to imagine a more “elaborated” Giganotosaurus, Mark Witton has some interesting thoughts on the tissues that can be hypothesized based on the scars they left on the bones…

In the restoration on which the W-Dragon model is based, the elongation of the posterior area of the skull to the occiput makes Giganotosaurus neck look very short. In the model there is a bottleneck towards the base of the neck, perhaps to make it appear more massive and muscular near the head, or to avoid giving the impression of a neckless animal. If anything, the diameter of the neck would increase as it approaches the trunk, not vice versa, as seen in the PNSO model. In the W-Dragon model, there’s also a pubic boot protruding from the animal’s profile – a common trait in late 90s-early 2000s restoration which hails from the work of Gregory S. Paul– while in the living animal, it was probably concealed within the profile, as seen in some exceptionally preserved fossils and the PNSO model. The W-Dragon Giganotosaurus has a more irregular back than the PNSO, too, with a visible back lowering just before the pelvis. Meraxes shows a convexity on the sacral neural spines (the pelvis itself, rather than in front of it as in the W-Dragon model), giving this animal a characteristic profile. Of course, this convexity may have been hidden by soft tissues when the animal was alive.

The W-Dragon model is emaciated enough to feel the outline of the scapula under the fingers. The only known scapula of Giganotosaurus is not complete: this was mentioned in the description, but since then it has been quite often (memetically, one could say…) interpreted as the actual morphology of the scapula of Giganotosaurus. Once understood the mistake, more recently we saw restorations based on the scapula of Acrocanthosaurus. The recent discovery of Meraxes, which is closer to Giganotosaurus than Acrocanthosaurus, questioned these restorations: Meraxes and Acrocanthosaurus are comparable in size, but the former has a shoulder blade 76 cm long while that of Acrocanthosaurus is ca. 1 meter long. It therefore seems that derived Carcharodontosauridae actually had smaller shoulders than Acrocanthosaurus. The PNSO Giganotosaurus is less emaciated, so it’s harder to tell, but a comparison with the PNSO Acrocanthosaurus shows that the base was probably Meraxes.

Another difference between the appendicular skeleton of the two models is the forelimb. The W-Dragon model features forelimbs modeled on those of other Allosauroids such as Acrocanthosaurus and Allosaurus, and the montage on which it’s based was plausible in this regard when it was made, between the late ’90s and the early 2000s. Meraxes’ discovery has changed things again: the new Carcharodontosaurid has very reduced forelimbs (the paper compares them to those of Tarbosaurus), and the PNSO model reflects this discovery, with little forelimbs that Tyrannosaurus would not envy. However, although reduced, both Tyrannosaurid and Carcharodontosaurid forelimbs retained their function, they were not atrophied like those of Abelisaurs. Both the Dino Crisis 2 in-game model and the concept art show a Giganotosaurus with only two fingers in the forelimb: as far as we know, this is a mistake, since all known Carcharodontosaurids have three-fingered forelimbs and therefore it’s more likely that this was for Giganotosaurus, too. Interestingly, the model used for the cutscenes has three fingers.

The most striking feature of Meraxes is a hypertrophic (enlarged) ungual (the claw-bearing phalanx) on the second toe – the same where Dromaeosaurids have their sickle claw – that measures a good third more than the ungual of the middle finger and its ventral edge is sharp and not rounded as in the others. Nothing has yet been published about the possible function of this claw, but since we do not know the unguals from other derived Carcharodontosaurids with the possible exception of Tyrannotitan, which features an ungual supposed to come from the second digit (Canale, Novas & Pol, 2015) that shows a more traditional morphology, but it’s not clear if it really comes from digit II (Novas et al. 2005) it possible (and presumable) that Giganotosaurus had claws like that, too. The discovery is subsequent to the making of the W-Dragon model, or doubtlessly they never would have missed the opportunity to include it, given the high degree of coolness it gives the animal (“The kickboxer dinosaur that kicked T-Rex to death!!11”). The PNSO model also lacks an enlarged ungual, but here’s probably because they wanted to be as conservative as possible.

On the skull of Giganotosaurus PNSO, there are large plate-like scales (or is it cracked keratinized skin, as in modern crocodiles?)which are commonplace since the Carr et al. (2017) Daspletosaurus horneri paper. Meraxes ‘s description, however, notes that the area surrounding the nasal opening is smoother than other skull bones, and unlike what is shown in the model it could have been covered by softer skin (a bit like Luis V. Rey’s illustrations). The rest of the body is covered by the fine scaly granulation standard for PNSO theropods; in this case it’s based on Allosaurus (we have no Giganotosaurus skin), which shows 1-2 mm granules interspersed with larger, about 3 mm ones. Obviously, the size of these scales was slightly exaggerated in the model, otherwise, they would have been invisible to the eye. This is the approach chosen by W-Dragon, where the scales are featured on the skull and the hindlimbs, but otherwise, they are replaced by a deeply incised skin, vaguely alike to that of a rhino or an elephant. Bigger forms similar to large scales or osteoderms run in rows along the back, which vaguely resembles a leatherback turtle’s one. They’re larger on the neck and disappear when reaching the hip. No evidence of anything like that in Giganotosaurus, it’s another gimmick to make it more impressive.

A unique trait of the W-Dragon Giganotosaurus is its blind right eye, white and surrounded by scared tissue, while the left one is bright green. Again, this is a reference to Dino Crisis 2 (the game’s Giganotosaurus is blinded by the explosion of the missile in the silo where it follows Regina. Although fossils give us an image of often injured dinosaurs, few models show pathology (another example is the PNSO Parasaurolophus), so this is a nice point from W-Dragon.


Bipedal animal models have often trouble balancing on the two legs, due to PVC’s tendency to bend under their weight. W-Dragon and PNSO adopted two different solutions to this problem. PNSO included in the box its standard transparent stand, which is highly recommended to be used if you intend to display the Giganotosaurus for long. Meanwhile, W-Dragon uses the more usual solution that is the base, which is inserted with a pin into a hole under the right foot. It should be noted that in this case the base is not necessary to keep the model standing, given the innovative use by W-Dragon of a stiffer material for the hind limbs that should prevent warping.

Two different approaches to prevent falling models!

These two models offer two completely opposite views of Giganotosaurus, but both may represent what a collector is looking for: an animal in line with current paleontological knowledge in the PNSO case or a quite faithful reproduction of the Dino Crisis 2 Giganotosaurus which sates the nostalgia of those who played this game twenty and more years ago.


Calvo J.O., Coria R.A. (1998). New specimen of Giganotosaurus carolinii (Coria & Salgado, 1995), supports it as the largest theropod ever found. Gaia. 15:117–122.

Canale J.I., Apesteguía S., Gallina P.A., Mitchell J., Smith, N.D., Cullen T.M., Shinya A., Haluza A., Gianechini, F.A., Makovicky P.J. (2022) New giant carnivorous dinosaur reveals convergent evolutionary trends in theropod arm reduction. Current Biology. 32 (14): 3195–3202.e5.

Carr T.D., Varricchio D.J., Sedlmayr J.C., Roberts E.M., Moore J.R. (2017) A new tyrannosaur with evidence for anagenesis and crocodile-like facial sensory system. Scientific Reports. 7: 44942.

Coria R.A., Salgado L. (1995) A new giant carnivorous dinosaur from the Cretaceous of Patagonia. Nature. 377 (6546): 224–226.

Currie P.J., Carpenter K. (2000) A new specimen of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (Theropoda, Dinosauria) from the Lower Cretaceous Antlers Formation (Lower Cretaceous, Aptian) of Oklahoma, USA. Geodiversitas. 22 (2): 207–246

Hendrickx C.; Bell P.R., Pittman M., Milner A.R.C., Cuesta E., O’Connor J., Loewen M., Currie P.J., Mateus O., Kaye T.G., Delcourt R. (2022). Morphology and distribution of scales, dermal ossifications, and other non-feather integumentary structures in non-avialan theropod dinosaurs. Biological Reviews. 97 (3): 960–1004

Thanks to Discord users @mapapr, @spinoinwonderland and @randomdinos from the “Theropoda 2.0” server for the info used in this review.

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