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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Don’t Mooch Off My Rep!

Don't Mooch Off My Rep

I did this quick cartoon doodle as a little in-joke for my friends in the dinosaur/paleontology fandom. Especially those that pay particular attention to how dinosaurs get classified within their big-ass family tree.

Now comes the dense armchair-paleontologist rambling…

Continue reading “Don’t Mooch Off My Rep!”

Denisovan Man

Denisovan Man

This is my depiction of a male specimen of the recently discovered, enigmatic hominin species from eastern Asia known as the Denisovans. Known only from fragmentary remains from which DNA has been extracted, they appear to have been most closely related to the contemporaneous Neanderthals, sharing their European cousins’ tendency towards a heavily built anatomy compared to modern Homo sapiens. However, the genetic data so far also indicates that Denisovans may have been darker-skinned than the Neanderthals as well as better adapted to the low-oxygen conditions of higher altitudes (like one might find in the Himalaya Mountains, for instance).

Although the Denisovans for the most part have joined their Neanderthal brethren in going extinct, they did leave a small imprint (between 1-6%) on the genetic ancestry of modern humans of East Asian, Melanesian, and Aboriginal Australian heritage.

The Dino-Kini

The Dino-Kini

There are few outfits that would benefit a heroine of the prehistoric jungle more than the dinosaur-hide bikini. The tough and scaly hide grants the wearer protective armor where it matters the most, yet the bikini form provides the perfect comfort for hot and humid Cretaceous conditions. Not to mention, it allows her to show off her figure! 😁

(Of course, this would be a shaded version of one of those sketches I did on my recent vacation.)

July Vacation Sketches

Weekend Vacation Sketches

I did these three sketches while on vacation in Washington, D.C., since one of our distant cousins was getting married. It was a disappointing ceremony, to be honest, since the food they served afterward was really bad (despite it being served at a “fancy” venue) and only the bride and groom got to have even one bite of their cake. On the upside, I did get to visit both the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture as well as their Natural History Museum, both of which were real treasure troves of photogenic exhibits.

Going in a clockwise direction, the subjects of each sketch are:

1) A Tyrannosaurus rex, with a speculative “ridge” of jagged scales on its forelimbs inspired by those of some crocodiles today.

2) A “prehistoric fantasy” warrior heroine clad with strips of dinosaur hide.

3) A female Egyptian Pharaoh wearing the traditional blue crown of war (or khepresh).

Apidima 1 Portrait

Apidima_1_Portrait

Apidima 1 is the first of two specimens of hominin skull material recovered in a cave in southeastern Greece in the 1970s, the other being labeled Apidima 2. A recent analysis determined that, while the fragments of Apidima 2’s skull could comfortably be identified as that of a Neanderthal who lived 170,000 years ago, those of Apidima 1 shows features more characteristic of modern humans (Homo sapiens)—despite actually having lived in the region at least forty thousand years before Apidima 2. Which is to say, Apidima 1 may show that a population of modern humans had already colonized southeastern Europe from Africa by 210,000 years ago. In fact, Apidima 1 may be the oldest Homo sapiens specimen found outside the African cradle.

This notwithstanding, the people represented by Apidima 1 appear to represent another “dead end” in the annals of human evolution. All humans living outside of Africa, modern Greeks included, owe the vast majority of their ancestry to a later migration from the continent between 70-50,000 years ago.

Since the fragments of bone belonging to Apidima 1 all came from the back of its skull, its sex has yet to be identified. But given my weakness for drawing pretty women, of course I had to reconstruct it as female!

Elephant Wrangler Sketches

Elephant Wrangler Sketches

Two sketches of African warrior babes riding elephants, each drawn on a separate piece of paper. In all honesty, drawing a woman riding any kind of big animal presents a challenge of composition if you’re working with a typical sketchbook page. You want to put in as much detail on the heroine as possible without cropping out the most distinctive parts of her mount’s anatomy.

As you might be able to tell, the elephants’ tusks in both of these drawings have artistically embellished curvature to resemble those on extinct mammoths. It is fantasy art after all.

Jurassic Conifer

Jurassic Conifer

Through the first two periods of the Mesozoic Era (namely the Triassic and the Jurassic), coniferous trees would have been among the most common trees in the forests until flowering plants (or angiosperms) appeared and then took over during the course of the Cretaceous. That being said, I have never cared for how many “serious” paleo-artists model the conifers in their Mesozoic landscapes after modern, “Christmas tree”-shaped conifers found in today’s colder regions.

As the paleobotanist Duane Nash has pointed out, the conical shape we associate with today’s conifers is an adaptation to prevent snow piling up during winter, which would have been a rare to non-existent problem for the tropical to subtropical ecosystems that covered most of the Mesozoic world. In other words, the majority of Mesozoic conifers wouldn’t necessarily look like the sort of tree you’d get for your winter holiday celebration.

To illustrate this point, I’ve sketched out what I imagine a typical coniferous tree from the Jurassic Period would appear. It’s not supposed to represent any particular fossil species, but I did draw a lot of inspiration from the “kauri pine” found in the Queensland area of northeastern Australia today. The buttressed roots on this tree, although speculative on my part, are based on those found in numerous tree species throughout the tropics and subtropics.

 

Itaweret Sketched Again

Itaweret_Returns_Again_Sketch

It’s been a long time since I last drew Itaweret, the Egyptian priestess who is the protagonist of an alternate-history novel I’ve been writing since last fall. I’m about halfway through the first draft right now, although I admit that my progress has slowed to a crawl since then (in large part due to my inner perfectionist sucking away at my inspiration). Nonetheless, it’s something I must get done before the end of the year.