In this video, Autodesk is showing nice new features for Maya 2013 release usefull when rigging creatures: Node Editor and Heat Map skinCluster binding method.
Node Editor is something that should have been done years ago. It`s pretty much like Houdini network. Well it`s there now, so thumbs up!
Heat Map can save you some time skinning limbs of characters or as I personally recall, skinning tree roots (Narnia 2, Battling Oaks). Vertices which get close to each other would get their influences mixed, now it seems like surface based algorithm, similar to Soft Mod tool.
I wonder if you can use Heat Map when using Copy Skin Weights, because that would be really usefull for transfering edited weights (not just default) from body to layers of costume.
Btw. I wonder if Autodesk have fixed the non-uniform scale issue in SkinCluster DualQuaternion method.