Neotropical Bison Sketch

Neotropical_Bison_Sketch

This concept sketch, which I did as a little personal diversion, depicts a fictional subspecies of American bison (Bison bison peténesis, named after the Petén region of Guatemala) that would have adapted to live in the tropical forests of Central and South America. If they ever existed, they’d probably travel in smaller and more tightly knit herds than their prairie-roaming brethren, and they would eat more leaves and shoots since those are more common in jungles than grasses.

In reality, there actually is a population of plains bison (B. b. bison) native to northern Mexico. It’s possible the Aztecs kept some of these at their menagerie in Tenochtitlan (the Spanish identified them as “Mexican bulls”), but they would have represented exotic imports like lions at your local zoo.

By the way, if you wonder what the adjective “Neotropical” means, it refers to the tropical regions of the Americas (aka the “New World”).

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Triceratops Facial Studies

Triceratops Facial Studies

In recent years, some paleontologists have claimed that ceratopsian dinosaurs such as Triceratops would have had their whole faces covered with a thick sheath of horny keratin, based on reports of indentations on the skulls left by blood vessels like those underneath the beaks of living birds (which are also made of keratin). So here are two facial studies of Triceratops, one showing this hypothetical keratin covering (bottom) and the other a more traditional version with scaly skin covering the face instead (top).

Titanis the Terror Bird

Titanis the Terror Bird

Titanis walleri, the last of the terror birds, has shown the saber-toothed cat Xenosmilus hodsonae who really reigns at the top of the food chain in Florida circa 1.8 million years ago.

The prehistoric terror birds, more properly known as the phorusrhacids, were a family of giant, flightless, and carnivorous cousins of the modern seriema that thrived between 62 and 1.8 million years ago. Most of them would have been endemic to South America, but Titanis is one example that has been found as far north as Texas and Florida. You could say that these big killer birds were among the last of the big predatory theropods.

Acrocanthosaurus

Acrocanthosaurus

The meat-eating dinosaur Acrocanthosaurus atokensis prowls the forests of North America between 116 and 110 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous Period. Though almost as big as Trex, Acrocanthosaurus would have been more closely related to the earlier Allosaurus and even more so to the Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. However, it would have stood apart from most of its cousins with the high, possibly hump-like “ridge” that ran down its neck and back.

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

66 million years ago in South America, at the very end of the Cretaceous Period, a pair of titanosaurian sauropods look up from the jungle canopy to witness the biggest shooting star they have ever witnessed. Little can they fathom that the verdant paradise they call home is about to be lost in the upcoming catastrophe.

The dinosaurs here are based on the Dreadnoughtus schrani, a South American titanosaur from the Late Cretaceous that may have been the heaviest dinosaur yet discovered. Its maximum weight would have been around 42 tons.

Moros intrepidus

Moros intrepidus

Moros intrepidus was a meat-eating dinosaur that hunted in North America a little over 96 million years ago, near the beginning of the Late Cretaceous Period. Although nimbly built and weighing 172 lbs (similar to a modern-day leopard), Moros would have belonged to the group of theropod dinosaurs known as Tyrannosauroidea, and it could very well have been ancestral to the famous Tyrannosaurus rex and other larger tyrannosaurids. Since it may represent the arrival of tyrannosaur ancestors into North America from eastern Asia, it was named after an embodiment of impending doom in Greek mythology.

T. rex Head On

T. rex Head On

Tyrannosaurus rex looks at you head on with an open maw. Those are indeed big teeth in there, ranging as long as one foot in length! Combine that with the most powerful jaws of any land carnivore, and you have a recipe for dealing death to almost any creature with a single bite!

The Lion Queen

The Lion Queen

She hunts on the savanna beside her loyal lionesses, who are as sisters to her.

This is another Frank Frazetta-inspired piece, of course, but you might also see a bit of similarity to the character of Sadatina from Milton Davis’s sword-and-soul novel Woman of the Woods. It’s an alright book for the most part, although I did think there wasn’t enough of the lioness “sisters” in it.

Kratotyrannus imperator

kratotyrannus imperator

This is a concept for a fantasy species of tyrannosaurid dinosaur, which I have named Kratotyrannus imperator (“powerful tyrant emperor”). It’s supposed to be a slightly larger and even more powerful and fierce-looking cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex, either descended from the latter (if the Cretaceous/Paleogene extinction were to never happen) or an analog from a totally fictional world. Whichever it is, Kratotyrannus is beyond doubt the apex predator of its native habitat, using its bone-shattering jaws to slay almost any big game animal with a single bite.