Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Green Basilisk

My roommates and I actually went out last night, we tried to go to a piano/sports/fondue bar in desolate mostly empty mall for a surreal experience, but it was actually quite crowded. They had some sort of special lounge singer event. We ended up going to a nearby bar and playing "Lunch Money" for a few hours.

In South and Central America there is a mid-sized lizard that can run on the water's surface, this would be the green basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons). They run on the water by churning their legs quickly and creating a pocket of air. They are also excellent swimmers and can remain underwater for around a half an hour. The males tend to have much more impressive crests then the females these crests are actually supported bony projections. They are not uncommon as pets though they are not known to be extremely friendly and have difficult care requirements. I remember we got one in when I worked at the pet store and we had a bit of difficulty getting the humidity right and I think he bit me, I've been bitten by so many lizards it is hard to keep track. I think he was somewhere between being bitten by a spiny iguana and a fairly pissed off leopard gecko. I'm generally fairly nice to reptiles and try not to scare them but between working at the vet and receiving new lizards in at the pet store I've run into a lot of angry reptiles. I've yet to gain any lizard-based super powers from any of them disappointingly.

Basilisk runs on top of the water video

Nice picture of a basilisk running on the water

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I was relieved to find out most of my wooden boxes in the studio had not been destroyed by the flood. I have a half day today at work and they take the garbage tomorrow so I should be able to get some of the wet cardboard and cured plaster and cement out. I had to store the plaster on the floor. I wonder how many days I should wait before I try the power tools that got wet.

photo by omarun

It occurs to me that a lot of people are not aware that snipes are a real animal. The common snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is an odd looking shorebird that ranges from North America to Europe. I'm not sure why one would want to catch one in a bag during a camping trip. They are considered game birds and apparently very difficult for hunters to shoot as they fly very quickly and in an erratic zig zag pattern. Hunters that hunt for snipe generally need to be a very accurate long range shot to kill them hence the term "sniper". The term "sniper" became a military term in 1824 when it was generically used to refer to a "sharpshooter". As far as the snipe itself they typically live in marshes and eat small invertebrates they dredge up with their specialized bill. They male makes a strange sound with it's feathers during a mating display that has also earn the bird the nickname "the sky goat". They have interesting parental care the clutch is generally 4 egg after they have hatched the male leaves with two chicks and the female cares for the other two the two families generally do not reunite.

Monito del monte

I'm thinking that this will not be an art week as I'd like to get the damage in the studio cleaned up. Though I should still get the January shows mailed off.

The Monito del monte (Dromiciop gliroides) is a small marsupial found in the mountains of Chile and Argentina mostly in Chilean bamboo forests. They are nocturnal omnivores with prehensile tails it is said that their metabolism is so fast they can double their body weight within a week. They are more closely related to Australian marsupials then American marsupials and it is thought that they are related to some marsupials that came to South America from Australia via Antarctica. The Huilliche of Chile have a malignant somewhat vampiric creature called the Colo-colo that has the body of a long mouse and the head of a rooster and will drink the saliva of sleeping people in a way that is eventually fatal it also cries like a baby. The native people of that area also call this animal a colocolo and consider it such bad luck they will burn their houses down if it is seen living in the house. I think these things may be related.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Still working on the basement.

Troodon formosus have always been my some of my favorite dinosaurs. They are very late small maniraptors from North America. They were probably nocturnal omnivores and seem to have had a very long run before their extinction, as they are found from Montana to Alaska over a span of millions of years. Troodon had binocular vision and probably excellent depth perception it also had the largest brain among dinosaurs relative to its body mass. Like velocoraptors they also had retractable toe claws. Because this dinosaur had grasping hands, a large brain and binocular vision in 1982 paleontologist Dale Russell toyed with the idea had they not gone extinct they may have become sapient. They created a model of a "Dinosauroid" that is displayed in the National Museum of Nature in Canada. Other paleontologists felt this was too human-like and have developed more bird-like drawings of a "Dinosauroid". Some cryptozoologists also seem to like the idea and are now looking for dinosaur men. I may have to do a mythology article on these guys later.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bell bearer leafhopper

I had to work today to make up for the day off Friday. We started cleaning out the flood damage having finally gotten the water out of the basement. I have not yet found a dehumidifier but I think that would help a lot.


The Bell bearer leafhopper (Bocydium globulare) probably has the strangest thorax among insects. It appears to be a leafhopper carrying a 1950's modernist sculpture on it's back. This 4mm leaf hopper is from South America (most of the pictures I found were taken in Brazil) and is a member of the Membracidae family which are known for their strange shapes. Many members of the Membracidae family would make lovely organic modernist pieces. The growth on its thorax breaks easily and might be carried off instead of the leafhopper by a predator. It is also theorized that the growth on this leafhopper's thorax may mimic an insect's head from the front.

Here is a photo of the Bell bearer

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Four-eyed fish

I got home from my relatives to find that my basement/studio had flooded. So, far I think I've lost the welder and a few small power tools, fortunately the kiln was not damaged. We are currently waiting for the pump. If I'm very lucky the welder will work after it dries.

rerun from live journal
The four-eyed fish (anableps anableps) is an unusual South American live bearer with two pupils in each eye. Both of its pupils are connected to the same iris but the thickness of their lens vary quite a bit. One pupil is well adapted to see above the surface of the water and the other below the surface. The fish can process both inputs at once. Four-eyed fish spend most of their time at the surface of the water and tend to hang out in schools. They are not unheard of as aquarium fish and tend to do well with un-aggressive brackish species.

Friday, December 26, 2008

American Alligator

Not much going on today.

photo by uncleboatshoes
The American alligator taught the Choctaw to hunt patiently and wait for the correct deer. For the Creek, rabbit tricked the alligator into his ridged back by convincing him to sit in a fire and endure a terrible burn to prove his bravery and lack of fear of the "devil". In New York the sewers are filled giant blind albino alligators that are descended from escaped pets. The colonizing Spaniards thought a stone cut from an alligator could relieve fevers. The Ojibwa had a monster called the rugaru, part wolf and part alligator anyone who saw one became one. For the Maya, Tamcaz was an alligator that made up the milky way and his jaws led to the underworld and the alligator is featured on their calender.

Drawing of alligators from an account of William Bartam 1791

Native American alligator effigy pipe

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Grey go away bird

I'm at my relatives and don't have a lot of time to post. My father was given a Wii, so I was able to finally try one, that was fun. I think he is looking forward to some quality time with Zelda.

The grey go away bird (Corythaixoides concolor) is a relative of the cuckcoo from South Africa. The bird is called a go away bird because its distress call sounds somewhat like the words "go away". In the wild they eat mostly fruits and insects, but at certain times of the year will move to a diet that consists mostly of flower petals. It is not unknown for large mobs of them to get together and harass birds of prey, and even occasionally large carnivorous mammals. They are the least colorful of the turacos which often have vibrant plumage and interesting markings. I've met a really friendly, very likable grey go away bird, so I find that I am fond of them. Turacos generally strike me as fairly clever and kind of under appreciated birds. There is also a mystery grey go away bird living in Arizona at Gilbert ranch called the "Gilbert bird". It is odd as it is illegal to export the grey go away bird from south Africa and they are very, very rare in captivity in the US. This one is also unbanded suggesting it was not an escaped captive bred individual, so it might be very lost.

Here is the "go away" call It is at the bottom of the page

Monday, December 22, 2008

Common Genet

Going to visit my family early tomorrow so the post tomorrow will probably be really late. Angel at work asked for an introduction to goth music that was kind of random. I will probably start with some Fields of Nephilim, as I know he likes Johnny Cash.

probably just cleaning and packing today

The common genet (Genetta genetta) is a civet-like carnivore that ranges from southern Europe through most of Africa. They are nocturnal and solitary, they prey on mostly small birds and mammals. Like cats they can purr and their other vocalizations are some what cat-like. They can also secrete musk when frightened, as well as puff up their fur along their back as a cat. They are not particularly threatened in the wild and are occasionally kept as exotic pets in Asia and North America. They can apparently be litterbox trained.

Demon Duck of Doom

I have to visit my relatives this week so it will not be an art week, but I'm hoping to still update the blog. Yesterday I got 212 wooden boxes for the eyeball boxes, so I have some serious sanding in my future.

work on Dragon a little


The demon duck of doom (Bullockornis planei) was a giant flightless relative of waterfowl that once inhabited Australia. They were possibly the some of the heaviest birds that ever lived. Demon Ducks were around 2.5 meters tall and could weigh over 600 lbs. Given their impressive powerful beak and giant skull they were probably omnivores that ate things such as difficult to open fruit, nuts, and giant wombats. Their running speed may have been comparable to emus. Just thinking about the unpleasant attitude of large water fowl like geese and even more so swans, one has to wonder how terrifyingly aggressive these guys were. Could you imagine a 600lb animal that could easily rip your thigh off your body with the mentality of a Swan, stuff of nightmares.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vampire moth

Not to much going on. I think I have most of the family related shopping done.

goal for the week: unrealistic


It appears there is a vampire moth (Calyptra thalictri) now, It was discovered by Vladimir Kononenko in 1999 in Siberia. Previously they they were thought to only feed on fruit but, it seems the males will also go for the blood of mammals. They have a hollow two chambered proboscis that they rock back and forth to pierce skin. Then the blood pressure pushes barbs out of their proboscis making them difficult to detach. They are also known to drink the tears of large animals such as elk. Vampire moths are thought to be completely harmless to humans as they are not known to carry any diseases and they take an extremely long time to pierce skin so would likely be brushed away anyway. The current theory for why the behavior developed is to provide a nutritional boost to the young that feed on mostly sodium poor meadow-rue leaves.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ornate Ghost Pipefish

Yesterday, I played a bit more fallout 3 then I probably should of. I found a stupid policy or lack thereof thing at work that I can hopefully secretly correct, but beginning work on it caused me to get stuck there really late. I had no motivation for art when I got home so I killed some fire breathing ants. Today I also need to finish shopping for relatives.

art goal 16hrs
mold skull
finish titmouse
work on dragon

The ornate ghost pipefish (Solenostomus paradoxus) is a small relative of seahorses from the Western Pacific. They spend most of their time hiding among crinoids and eating very small invertebrates. The females have a modified pelvic fin that they use as a pouch to carry young. They have a very wide range of color variation between individuals and can range from black and red to almost almost pure white. They spend a long time in their larval phase in deeper water and then come closer to shore when they are ready to reproduce their color variation may depend on what soft coral or crinoids they were hiding in at that time. I was not able to find any resources on how their color development works so if someone reading this happens to know about a paper on this I would be interested to see it. On the other hand every ichthyologist and their brother seems to want to write papers on that pelvic fin pouch.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sungazer Lizard

Last night we had an impressive ice storm. On my way home from work at one of the stop signs the whole car slid sideways into the curb. Driving will be fun today.

mold the skull
work on the titmouse

The Sungazer Lizard (Cordylus giganteus) from South Africa can live in colonies of up to 40 individuals. They generally each have their own burrow within a colony though adults will share burrows with juveniles. There are also a few species of small frogs that will cohabitate with them. They have a defensive strategy not unlike a uromastyx (I'm assuming you are familiar with these and have had Stuart show you a slightly grumpy one at the necropolis if you know me, if not they are cool lizards as well), they will cram their bodies into a crevice and puff up their bodies while whacking the predator with their spiny tail. They also have another odd defense mechanism wherein they bite their own tail and curl up into a ball. Some people keep these lizards as pets and report they have good temperaments but only recently have they worked out how to breed them in captivity so they are very expensive but perhaps in the future they will become more common.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blue Jay

Last night I realized that it was getting particularly close to when I was going to have to visit my relatives and that I should probably make a something to give them. I started this clip on titmouse ornament last night.

goal for the week 17 hours

-fix and cast skull
-finish titmouse thing for relatives


I thought I would do another mythology post this time about blue jays. For the the Hotcak the Blue Jay was named Djedjedjiniga and associated with the trickster Wakdjakag. At one point the blue jay, the fox and the chipmunk were living with the trickster and having a rough winter. The trickster dressed up as a woman creating fake bits out of elk organs and had blue jay, fox, and chipmunk hide inside of him so that he can pretend to be pregnant. They went to a successful nearby tribe and managed to get the chief's son to marry the trickster. Then the story goes on about the tribe commenting how quickly she can get pregnant eventually the trickster gives birth to all of the animals and they start making ridiculous demands that the tribe tries to fill. Eventually the trickster drops the rotten elk liver he had been using as a fake part and the whole illusion falls apart, then the tribe runs the four of them out of town. The major god of the Hotcak also punished the blue jay for his ugly nature by removing his beautiful song so that the hideous shrieking of his song would reflect his inner nature.
The Bluejay was also a very important trickster figure to the Chinook, in this culture the blue jay figure fills a role similar to Loki. Blue jay is turned into a bird after losing an archery contest with the "supernatural people". The "supernatural people" also made his song a bad omen. Blue jay at some point is able to get the "supernatural people" to turn back into piles of bones, during which he rearranges their body parts so that when they become ghosts again they have the wrong heads.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lesser Tree Shrew

Didn't get much done yesterday. I think I put the skull for the "misfits" box somewhere I would be able to find it later

Art Goal for the week 19 hrs
-find the skull for the box that I had finished
-get approval and fix/or cast it if I can find it
-work on dragon


The lesser tree shrew (Tupaia minor) is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Stuart and I were introduced to them recently at the National Zoo and thought that they were adorable. One of them was chasing this crested partridge about twice it's size. The bird did not seem terribly bothered by this, they kept it up for about 10 minutes. Despite being called tree shrews they are actually not related to shrews and are actually closer to prosimians. There is debate as the whether they belong in the same group as primates or with insectivores. They are omnivores that eat mostly arthropods and fruit. The lesser tree shrew is an important seed disperser for the wild fig trees. Some tree shrews enjoy alcohol quite a bit and have an incredible alcohol tolerance, but I can't find information as to whether that applies to this species as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Work at my day job did not go so well yesterday. The place has been getting uncomfortably sexist for a while, I sort of passively expressed my concerns to the manager and felt very dismissed. I think he assumes that because I am not bothered by explicit comments that are not directed at me that I also don't care when they indirectly insult my competence by making general comments about women. Perhaps I will try being more direct.

goal for the week 19hrs

work on the dragon

C walking with Beasts TM & C BBC 2001
Macrauchenia (Macrauchenia patagonica) was the last in a line of prehistoric ungulates called Litopterna from South America. The first fossils of it were found by Charles Darwin on the Beagle voyage he identified it as a giant Llama. It turns out that it was not related to Llamas particularly, and really has no close modern relatives. They ate mostly foliage and were eaten by mostly terror birds. Macrauchenia seemed to be built for making fast turns despite having feet like a rhino. Their nostrils were not in the trunk as one would think but actually on the top of their heads.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pink velvet worm

I'm hoping I will do a bit better on the art front this week then last. I got kind of tied up into gaming last week. I joined Mike's game and it took me a strangely long time to make a level 2 Warlock and I had my own game to run as well. I had sort of an unexpected surprise as one of my coworkers approached me on Friday and asked if he could come in to the game for a one shot. So planning took me quite a bit longer then usual so that I could work him in.

Goal for the week 20 hours
work on dragon


Speaking of D & D I think a giant version of this animal would make a great monster. The pink velvet worm (Opisthopatus roseus) is a critically endangered invertebrate left over from the Cambrian period that inhabits South Africa. Velvet worms are odd creatures that represent a link between segmented worms and arthropods. They are segmented with a fluid filled, soft scale covered body that supports itself with hydrostatic pressure. This pressure also makes their legs ridged and allows them to move by stretching and contracting their bodies. They also have a hard retractable claw on each stub leg as well as a pair of hardened mandibles. Velvet worms also give live birth and in most, but not, all cases have two sexes. They are nocturnal predators that hunt by spraying strings of sticky liquid at insects and spiders then puncturing them and filling them with digestive fluid.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

mandarin fish

Looks like today will mostly be a working on the dragon day.  

Art goal this week 8hrs
work on Dragon


The mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus) is a beautiful, brightly colored dragonlet that ranges from the Ryuku island to Southern Australia. They secrete a bitter, toxic mucus from their skin that helps to deter predators. They are unfortunately very popular in the aquarium hobby due to their bright colors, despite having a terrible rate of survival in captivity. A few aquarists treat them a bit like very expensive cut flowers, although in the wild or extremely good captive conditions they can live about 10 years. In good captive conditions they have bred which is unusual for salt water fish. Perhaps one day the captive bred individuals, which would be much more likely to eat in captivity will replace the wild caught individuals. Mandarinfish are bottom feeders that eat mostly small crustaceans. They spawn in the open water like massive open ocean fish, such as tuna despite their tiny size. Unfortunately, the largest most colorful males (most popular for collection for the aquarium hobby) are most likely to successfully spawn. The smaller males do not exhibit an alternate mating strategy as many fish do, and females will sometimes reject them in the absence of larger male.

Friday, December 12, 2008

earless monitor

I was not able to get a hold of the guy about the misfits box, so that will have to wait. I also forgot the local goth night was going on last night until I got home from work, so I lost some work time on that, but had a good time. It has a particularly good set list this time. I'm going to be losing Sunday too, I had failed to consider that.

Art goal 9hrs (given I am losing Sunday)
Work on dragon


The earless monitor (Lanthanotus borneensis) is an extremely rare lizard from Borneo and the only member of the genus Lanthanotus. It is the last still living link between old world varanid monitor lizards such as the Komodo dragon and venomous new world Helodermatids like the gila monster. There has also been some speculation that they represent a group of lizards that eventually transitioned into snakes, due to their lack of an external ear, transparent lower eyelid (possible precursor to the eye cap), forked tongue, hinged lower jaw, teeth on their palatine and pterygoid bones, their tendency to shed their skin in one piece, and lack of ability to regenerate their tails. Earless monitors spend most of their time burrowing and have also been found under water, they are presumed to eat soft bodied animals like fish. They had at one time been thought to be venomous given their relation to Helodermatids, but that has proven to be false.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kori Bustard

The commission was changed from a "day of the dead" box to more of a "Misfits" box by the commissioner. I managed to get a crimson ghost like skull done last night. Have you ever noticed what an absurdly large lower jaw the Misfits logo has? I guess I'd never really thought about it.

Art goal for the week at 18hrs
-get approval on skull
-cast skull in silicone?/fix skull?
-work on dragon

The kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) is a large mostly terrestrial omniverious bird from east and south Africa. They or the similar great bustard are the heaviest birds capable of flight at around 42lbs. The National Zoo has one that was fairly entertaining it came up and checked us out then decided to show us what a badass he was and tried to scare Stuart and I away with a threat display. The can inflate their necks in an odd manner, they usually use this for "ballon" displays during the breeding season, but the one we saw also seemed to incorporate it into his threat display. They seem to be kind of aggressive based on all of the you tube video of them chasing warthogs and impala around. In the wild bee eaters will ride around on the back of kori bustards to benefit from the insects they stir up. Kori bustards do not have a gland for preening so they take dust bathes to maintain their feathers and they have no hind toe so can not perch in trees.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008



This blog is intended for me to help track my own art progress and help me to meet art goals. In addition I will be posting a neat animal on weekdays because I like animals and think that will help bribe me to keep this up. If you read this the last time I did this I may reuse some of the old animal posts but most of them will be new. I somehow feel less silly doing this in blogger, then in live journal.

Art goal this week 20hrs
Items for today
-start blog
-begin "day of the dead box" commission- sculpt skull and bone to be cast
-work on wax dragon

Neat animal
I'm going to do pumas today as they are my favorite animals and it seems best to start off with them. Since they are well known and everybody probably knows all about the biology of pumas or could look it up easily. I'll just focus on the mythology from various cultures

Puma stands guard over the city of Machu picchu along with the condor (Incan). He guards the underworld and eats the sun (Andean). He screams with the voice of a human woman and drinks the blood of livestock (European). He stands at the center of the lodge and each of his limbs hold the power of one of the seasons of the year (Ho-chunk). He moves with no footprints and carefully wipes them out behind him when they are left (european). His scream is the harbinger of death (Apache). He was given the longest bow by Kareya and declared the most powerful of the animals (Kartok).

The sungate a Puma Punka probably in assoication with the god Viracocha who is associated with pumas

Puma over Machu Picchu

Incan puma vessel

Sound of a puma screaming