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Hyrotrioskjan's avatar

Asperognathus taniwha

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There is little could tell you about the live of adult Asperognathus, sometimes also called "sperm whale dragon". These animals, which live in the northern pacific, are very well divers, they often reach the light-less deeps under 1000m and adult males never leave the open sea. They survive in this deeps because of, heavy bones, relatively small lungs which compress during diving and a high portion of myglobin in their blood. They can dive up to 110 mintues.
Asperognathus hunts mostly squids, crabs and shellfish and sometimes they come together at carcasses of whales (most of what is written here is speculation based on the stomach content of hunted specimens). The best place to watch these middle sized sea serpents is the Lousville seamount chain, where they find enough food for a more dense, sedentary, population than in other regions of the pacific. One population in the middle of their distribution area is instead nomadic and migrate into the antarctic ocean during the summer (some authors suggest that these are two species or subspecies, others are sure that these are just eco-types) 

To the end of the antarctic summer the females swim back to the places of their birth, the sea-grass beds at the coasts of New Zealand and Chile, where they give birth to two, 70 cm long, babies.
The mother shortly swims back into the open ocean, but the juveniles remain near the coast until they can follow their parents into the dark deeps of the pacific. 

This species, especially the juveniles, found their way into the mythology of the Maori as part of the taniwha myth. 
In historic times Asperognathus was a very common sea serpent, but the intense fishery around New Zealand and the shrinking sea-grass beds are a problem which has already an not ignorable impact on the species.

Edit: Note the small pink bubble in front of the eyes is a salt gland, this, together with the fenestra behind it, are important automorphies of natrixosaurs.

Edit2: when you look closely you may notice barnacles on the skin...

Other sae serpents:
extinct freshwater sea serpents:…
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© 2014 - 2021 Hyrotrioskjan
anonymous's avatar
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AlinaKitti's avatar
This looks so professional and realistic. You definitely know what you are doing.
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar
well... I hope so =D

Thanks :bow:
Zinnorokkrah's avatar
I love how robust this species is- really gives it the look of a creature that needs to be built like a tank to survive enormous pressure. And of course seeing the internal diagrams is always a treat.
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar
Thank you very much :lol:
ChrisMasna's avatar
Fantastic diagram :D
Viergacht's avatar
That skin texture is to die for. 
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar
Thank you :lol: that's mostly because of the structure of the paper which become rough when using a bit to much water =)
Viergacht's avatar
I've always liked that effect with watercolor or ink wash - it's something I miss in digital art.
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar
Everything has its pros and cons... soon I will have difficulties to store all my work, a problem a digital artist rarely has =D
Viergacht's avatar
At least reality won't crash and your work vanishes . . . unless we're living inside a computer simulation.
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar
Zimices's avatar
Good work! how many time do you spend doing these images?
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar
80 to 90% of my time went into art =)
SirSpecko's avatar
I have a vague recollection of having a conversation with you about the Taniwha during your "realistic cryptids" phase, and you posted something about them being related to Sea Serpents :D I like this a lot! (I can't find the comment though :( )
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar
Indeed, I remember it too =D
SirSpecko's avatar
If I am allowed to ask you a question, what are your thoughts on a 'scientific fantasy' where Western Dragons are descended from Dimorphodontidae pterosaurs during the early Jurassic, Sea Serpents being descended from Basilosauridae whales and Eastern Dragons descended from a convergent evolution of Rauisuchidae  during the Eocene (Pristichampsus ;) ).
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar

> Western Dragons are descended from Dimorphodontidae pterosaurs<

Definitely possible for the anatomical way of view, but for me would be the supposed extinction of this lineage a problem. All this millions years during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, several extinction events, climate changes, new fauna and flora... it sounds strange to that this a family would survive all this time without leaving traces of their evolution. In my case I had already some points where I could my varanoid dragons in, but primitve, surviving pterosaurs are mybe a bit to much.

 Sea Serpents being descended from Basilosauridae <

Sounds much more possible for me :nod: when my sea serpents wouldn't be already varanoids they would be archeocerti =)

 >and Eastern Dragons descended from a convergent evolution of Rauisuchidae  during the Eocene (Pristichampsus ;) (Wink) ).<

Also interesting idea, but I think you mean the Pristichampsidae and not the Rauisuchians ;)

SirSpecko's avatar
Thank you for your feedback. Also Oops Sweating a little... 
TheLOAD's avatar
I always thought Taniwha-s sounded a bit like they'd be related to mosasaurs.
Hyrotrioskjan's avatar

It fits very well :nod: (for the reptilian taniwha)
TheLOAD's avatar
Archipithecus's avatar
Cool! I really like the idea of deep diving dragons.
anonymous's avatar
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