Echinotee Calf Picture

Also informally known by the poetic moniker Comb Siren (a play on the "mermaid's comb" murex it superficially resembles), Steller's Vengeance (an appellation popular among radical conservationists), or the less lyrical Fishbone Dugong, this fearsomely armed animal is in fact a gentle and slow-moving herbivore. The frankly inquisitive individual depicted here is a recently weaned juvenile, still plump with fat derived from its mother's rich milk. Biologists have yet to witness the obligate savage predator necessitating the development of such radical defensive adaptations in an otherwise placid species, but remain at all times vigilant (and understandably nervous) when observing Echinosiren herds.

This basic idea of a marine vertebrate (or quasi-vertebrate) with a cosmetically murex-like body form is one that went through at least a dozen conceptual iterations over the past couple of days. It was variously an aberrant aquatic Dimetrodon, a chimerical beaked whale, a medieval sea monster ([link] [link]), a spiny mutant ribbon seal, and a relative of the Taurichthyians ([link]) with an admixture of ankylosaur or titanosaur (Amargasaurus) DNA. Any of these variations on the theme may still appear in the future. At the moment I kind of like the idea that it could be a sirenian relative of the Pinnimorphs...It could also be an alternate therapsid manatee analog or a highly derived, homeothermic desmatosuchian.

The shading never quite came together on this one, especially on the upper lip...There's something kind of grainy, almost mealy, about the texture that makes it look really bad at high magnification, which is why I kept the full-size view relatively small. I didn't go very dark with the shading on this one, so maybe it's just an artifact of trying to bump the contrast on an overall mid-value drawing. Or maybe I'm just out of practice with my usual pencil shading technique.

Now THESE are some good-looking sea monsters!
Continue Reading: Sirens