Journey into the Carboniferous swamp with your new pet Tully Monster, an enigmatic creature found only in the Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois.
It's easy to find plush models of large prehistoric animals like dinosaurs, mammoths, and saber-tooth cats. But here at the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), we recognize that creatures both large and small are a huge part of life on Earth. Our wildly successful plushie line, Paleozoic Pals, was designed to bring lesser-known and lesser sized -yet just as important- fossil creatures to life for the community of scientists, students, and the public as a whole to enjoy.
Over the last few years, our friends on Kickstarter have helped us achieve greatness through three annual campaigns. We've resurrected trilobites and eurypterids, brought cephalopods and armored fish to life, and crawled onto land with early tetrapods. With your overwhelming support, we have been able to sustain our brand and maintain a website that brings Paleozoic Pals to households around the world. This year, we're returning to the Kickstarter community to bring the Illinois State Fossil back from extinction and turn it into a soft, 12-inch plushie that is ready to swim right into your arms for a snuggle.
What's a Tully Monster?
The Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium) is a 307-million-year-old marine animal that is known only from the Mazon Creek fossil beds, a Carboniferous swamp deposit in Illinois. It is named after fossil collector Francis Tully, who first discovered the enigmatic little creature. Ever since its discovery in 1955, the Tully Monster has been the subject of a wide controversy over what type of animal it actually is. It has recently been identified as a primitive relative of lampreys based in part on its preserved eye structure, although some scientists are still arguing over this. You can read more about the "world's most mysterious fossil" and the fascinating research and controversies surrounding it here. We are extremely grateful to Paul Mayer of the Field Museum for providing insight, feedback, and illustrations which were critical to our plushie design.
A special limited edition digital fossil wallpaper pack of five photographs, available in a variety of screen resolutions. These high-resolution images are of specimens in the PRI collections. This pack features a new, exclusive set of designs different from those offered in 2016.
One Tully Monster plushie and the digital fossil wallpaper pack.
- One plushie and the digital fossil wallpaper pack.
- PRI "Cecil Crossing" fidget spinner
- Tully Monster pocket planner
Limited quantities! Two plushies and the fossil wallpaper pack.
- One plushie and the paleoart wallpaper pack.
- Learn about the achievements of 12 pioneering woman paleontologists from past and present in PRI's first children's book, Daring to Dig! The challenges they faced—both societal and scientific—are explored through a series of colorfully illustrated vignettes, as are their successes in overcoming these challenges. This colorful and inspirational book shows readers that paleontology is a science for everyone!
- One free PaleoPin add-on (see below)
- Bonus Buy: Limited Quantities Available
- Get FIVE Tully plushies and the fossil wallpaper pack.
- A 1-year Family membership to PRI.
- One plushie and the paleoart wallpaper pack.
- Bonus Buy: Limited Quantities Available!
- One plushie and the fossil wallpaper pack.
- One Tully Monster t-shirt with design by paleoartist Ceri Thomas
- One PRI exclusive set of laser-cut wooden fossil coasters
- Bring up to 9 friends or family members with you for an exclusive evening tour of the Museum of the Earth. We'll keep it open after-hours just for your group! (Note: depending on the number of backers, other groups from this funding level may join in on the same evening)
- One Tully plushie and the fossil wallpaper pack.
- Spend a weekend fossil collecting in upstate New York! Our expert staff members will take you and a friend or family member fossil collecting at their favorite localities and give you a guided gorge tour. Basic lodging will be provided for non-locals (but you'll have to make your own way to Ithaca).
- Get TWO Tully plushies and the fossil wallpaper pack.
New this year, we're collaborating with some amazing artists to bring you our first ever add-on set, which we have commissioned specially for this year's campaign. Some of these add-ons are available at the beginning of the campaign, and some will unlock with our stretch goals.
Add-ons can be added to any order by simply adjusting your pledge upward by the price of the add-on you want to buy.
PaleoPins by Andrea Radeck are beautiful enamel pins. They are 1.5 inches wide, amazing quality, and extremely durable! We are so happy to be partnering with Andrea on this project and we hope to offer "pin-and-plushie" specials for our whole line in the future.
Tully Monster pin: Available now! $8 add-on.
Helicoprion pin: Available now! $8 add-on.
Sculptor Chris Taylor produces the TaylorCustom line of complex, miniature scientific reproductions. He began by using the traditional technique of hand-carving them in wax, and now he uses modern technical production methods to create much more complex pieces.
Pewter Tully Monster - Pendant OR Keychain. Available now! $22 add-on.
Pewter Tully Monster - Pendant OR Keychain. Available now! $26 add-on.
Pewter Helicoprion tooth whorl - pin. Available now! $22 add-on.
$14,000 - Carboniferous Collector - FUNDED
We can produce even more plush Tullies! As thanks, we'll design a limited edition Tully Monster artwork!
- Everyone will get a digital copy of the art.
- Everyone at funding level $16 or higher will get a sticker based on the artwork, and a Mazon Creek fact sheet.
$22,000 - Hello Helicoprion - FUNDED
The partner for our Tully Monster plush this year is none other than the fearsome "buzzsaw shark," Helicoprion! This Permian fish is thought to have reached up to 39 feet long and had a massive spiral tooth whorl in its lower jaw. More than 50% of the known specimens of Helicoprion have been collected in Idaho. Our Helicoprion plush is 14 inches long.
- Everyone at our original funding levels of $26 or more will get a bonus Helicoprion plushie!
- We'll also produce a second fossil wallpaper pack for everyone!
- Our Helicoprion-themed add-ons will unlock!
- A new book, Resurrecting the Shark, will unlock for the Science Extravaganza level.
Trilobite slippers? Brachiopod pillows? Mini / giant versions of the Pals you already know and love? When we reach this level, you, the backers, will get to weigh in on what type of special limited edition items you'd like to see.
$40,000 - Go Big or Go Home
We're going to try this one more time! The sky's the limit for this major goal. If we make it to $40,000 we will produce a slightly larger-than-life, limited edition 5-foot-long eurypterid body pillow. We'll add in new reward levels to allow you to upgrade your pledge to get one of these whoppers! Due to size and weight restrictions for shipping, these will be available to the domestic US only (sorry).
So Why Should I Buy a Tully Monster?
When you donate towards production of our Paleozoic Pals, you're not simply buying a plushie. You're supporting an organization with a long, rich history and outstanding capabilities in Earth science and environmental research. PRI makes a difference in the lives of hundreds of people across the country and the world, from students in central New York and teachers in California, to educational reformers in Washington DC and scientists in France. Our educational programs aim to increase science literacy at all levels of society, from early to adult learners. We are national leaders in providing innovative ideas and materials for Earth systems science education, including oceans, atmospheres, rocks, glaciers, and life itself. If you'd like to learn more about PRI's national outreach efforts, please check out the video below!
PRI's two main venues, the Museum of the Earth and the Cayuga Nature Center, pursue and integrate education and research in order to increase knowledge, educate society, and encourage wise stewardship of the Earth. Our high-quality products affect real lives in our community. Here's a true story from a New York earth science teacher:
"I have a young man in my class who showed up with much resistance to the process of education. Although he attended regularly and was polite, he simply would not do the work. When I discuss the Geologic Past unit, I have my props that include Charlie the Trilobite and Uri the Eurypterid. These are plush toys I bought from the PRI booth at STANYS a few years back. This young man perked up at them. He asked to hold the Eurypterid... He was so fascinated by it that he did research on them. It became routine that he would pick up Uri and hold on to it while he worked. And he worked. His grades turned around, and his participation increased."
Even the simplest little things have the power to educate, inspire, and turn a life around. Thank you for supporting the Paleontological Research Institution and our production of Paleozoic Pals.
Risks and challenges
We don't anticipate many risks or challenges to this project, as our Tully Monster model is fully designed and ready to go, and the manufacturer is ready to begin production when we give the word. Our Helicoprion model is fully designed as well. That being said, there is always the chance for a delay in production or for items to be held up in customs. We will keep our backers updated throughout the process and the plushies will be shipped as soon as possible once we have them in hand!
After funding, our largest project will come in the form of shipping. We intend to ship all rewards beginning in the month of November. However, depending on the quantities ordered and the time involved to package and mail the items, it is likely that it will take us 2-3 months to complete all mailings. We will make every effort to get purchases intended as holiday gifts to you before the end of the year. As always, your patience as we work through this process is greatly appreciated.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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