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thomastapir's avatar


...Or is it a Catypus? This is another idea with origins more visual than conceptual, based on an Archaeoprepona demophoon caterpillar from the beautiful book "100 Caterpillars." The way the head and "horns" were oriented in the photo gave me the split-second impression of a platypus bill, so there you go. I guess this creature could fall into the same category as the Pinnimorphs, in the sense that it's an animal with a cosmetically or superficially invertebrate body design but with an underlying mammalian physiology (or so I envisioned it). The phyletic lines appear a little more blurred in this one, though. I kind of pictured this organism living a fairly sedentary arboreal lifestyle, something like a sloth. I don’t know what that bill is used for; cropping vegetation? Burrowing through leaf litter on the forest floor…?

Actually, there are a couple of concepts I've been working on for the transformation of future life that might provide a rationale for this creature. One idea is that of genetic hybridization due to an escaped G.E. virus, something that transforms all life on Earth into chimerical forms. Another is intentional transgenic reengineering, perhaps a desperate attempt to preserve life against a similar virus. What if the "bad" virus attacked only mammals, for example, or only juveniles? A mutagenic G.E. virus is then dispersed to introduce a new non-mammalian stage into the mammalian life cycle, protecting at-risk individuals from the lethal effects of the competing virus. The danger passes at adolescence, so the young mammals coccoon themselves after this larval juvenile stage and emerge as "normal" adults of whatever species they represent. Who knows, it could happen! Or not. As we like to say here at Tapir Enterprises, "That’s Unlikely!"©

I scanned the original line drawing before shading it, so I may do a color version at some point in the future, after I emerge from my cocoon.
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Zanheer's avatar
You strike me as a Terryl Whitlatch fan.
MysteriousZoologist's avatar
Could you make an echidna beetle grub
thomastapir's avatar
Nah, that's this one here:
jbodwell80668's avatar
Ah! the great and elusive Platypillar,
hunted far and wide for delicious flesh and exquisite beauty as a mantelpiece.
thomastapir's avatar
So few preparers know the proper gloss treatment for the bill!
vasix's avatar
Heck, that is very odd, but I think we should go with....


flatbilled platypillar (the same thing!!!) and....Platygnatherpeton mirabilis!!! :)
GrimKarasu's avatar
What sort of sizes are we considering for this sort of organism? If large enough, this could potentially become a predator form, adapting its venomous spurs into the posterior tentacles. Prey walks underneath and is jumped. Terrifying.

Also, on that note, have you heard of Australian "drop bears"? The last specie of carnivorous koala.
thomastapir's avatar
re: size--Man, that's a good question. You know, it's really hard for me to say...I was thinking that the head is orthodox platypus-size, so if the body is proportional that would make it...I don't know, maybe 3'/1m long? I wasn't really thinking of this guy as a predator, but that's a really cool idea! If the paedomorphic "larval" form is maintained into adulthood, who knows what kind of crazy directions it might evolve in.

Ohhh, I have long experience with "drop bears"--I learned the hard way. That's why I always wear a Prussian helment when I'm out in the bush!
GrimKarasu's avatar
At least a metre, if we count the barbs/feelers. Creepy.

Well, if it stays the way it is, or even if it experiences neoteny, that's pretty cool. Buuuuut~...if it stays in keeping with the usual lepidopteran growth patterns, then the mature form...Giant. Platypus. Butterfly. Predator.

thomastapir's avatar
It will suck your blood--with a long, sticky proboscis!! All flesh is but flowers to them. :no:
GrimKarasu's avatar
What sort of cocoon would this thing have?
thomastapir's avatar
Man, that's a good question...How about something like a butterfly chrysalis, but huge, and covered with short brown fur? Now THAT would be creepy!
GrimKarasu's avatar
Or what if it curled up into a ball, and its cocoon was its wings? After so much time, the tissue would split into these two big, leathery, ragged wings...but nah, i'm thinking too much "bat" now...
thomastapir's avatar
No man, I could totally see it! There's obviously such radical transphyleticism going on here that just about anything is possible.
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illogan's avatar
it's SO CUTE!!!!!
thomastapir's avatar
Hah, thank you! :lol:
Khylov's avatar
The sharper highlights and - for lack of a better description - the way the shading has a line that denotes a hard edge/subtle core shadow to it, these are working well. The way the shading fades out on the edges of the pic is a nice artistic touch.

Quick question: Do you block out your areas for shading, or is it more just balancing it as you do the final render? I noticed that you said the shading was post (in PS or something similar I'd assume), so... just curious as to your approach here.
thomastapir's avatar
It's more balancing it as I go. I usually have a sense of the areas I want shaded based on the underlying volumes of the forms, and of value gradation based on any markings I envisioned, but the shading itself is cumulative and kind of "built up" in layers until, as you say, it balances out. You know, there isn't really too much Photoshopping to these; all of the shading is analog with pencil. The only thing I do in Photoshop is tweak the curves to punch up the contrast and (almost always) to darken the value overall. If that's not working to my satisfaction I SOMETIMES dodge/burn the shadows and highlights, but that's pretty rare. And then of course I sometimes shift the hue/sat and/or color balance when I feel like a subtle suggestion of desaturated color might better suit the mood of the drawing, usually based on the subject.

Thanks for your feedback, it's always good to hear from you!
Sphenacodon's avatar
Pshaw. I bet you couldn't make an acid-spitting semi-feline puss moth caterpillar.


Me and my big mouth...
Saxophlutist's avatar
Interesting concept for a story!
Do these guys make good subjects for domestication?
thomastapir's avatar
Hm, good question! I never pictured them as anything other than wild animals, so I guess I never really thought about it. But I imagined them fairly slow-moving and docile, so I suppose they would make tractable pets. They certainly look like good candidates for stuffed toys! :lol:
baragon2001's avatar
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