Critter of the Month: Hoplosuchus

Meet Skippy.  Seven inches of pure ferocity, stouthearted loyalty, and sheer tenacity! No stair is too tall, no living room too large! This little guy will skip after any cricket you toss for him.

 

skippy profile flat

 

He basked in the warmth of the sun, armored scales like a double row of polished stones. Eyes closed, mouth open with glistening teeth, he listened to the stillness. He could hear the distant calls of flying creatures as they gossiped about their day, the faint rustling of a summer breeze through scraggy conifer branches high above, the scratching chirp of a far away insect. The beating of wings.

The thrum of wings drew closer, and he opened his eyes. The creature landed heavily on sun-bleached wood, fidgeting, its head always turning this way and that as it stared out at the world with bulbous eyes. He watched it with crocodilian coolness as it preened. Waited until it rubbed its spindly legs together and combed its claws through its hairy, black body.

 

Slowly, painfully slowly, he unfolded his long, lean legs and crept forward like a reptilian panther. He hardly dared to breathe as he stole forward, one step at a time. The element of surprise was key. One wrong move and his prey would be gone with a flick of its wings.

 

The black legs stopped, the delicate wings twitched, and he froze. Still as stone he waited until the black creature resumed its compulsive preening.

 

Again he crept forward, mouth open and silent as he drew closer to the oblivious creature. Patience, patience…he was close enough to hear the faint creaking joints of its spindly legs, but he waited just one moment more.

 

Snap! His jaws slammed shut as he lunged forward. His snout hit something smooth and hard, and he stumbled back, his claws scrabbling for a purchase on the white wood. The hairy black creature flew away, wings thrumming loudly, but missing one of its spindly legs. The limb twitched in the predator’s jaws, and he gulped it down whole.

 

He folded his long legs and lay in the sun, and the curve of his toothy maw looked like a content smile. Flies never could resist a sunny window. All he had to do was wait.

 

 

Making progress…

I’m experimenting with something a little different this time. I hope you like it as much as I do, because I may need to update all the critter profile pictures. 😀 That will take a while, since I only post once a month, and I have more than 12 critters here at the shop!

I have a bit to share on that, but first, a little bit on Hoplosuchus kayi.

Hoplosuchus kayi is the only fossil ever found of its kind. It was a tiny, land-loving croc cousin of the Jurassic Morrison Formation, the same time and place as a lot of larger, more famous critters like Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, and Diplodocus.

hoplosuchuskayi
The fossil reference I used. A shame I didn’t find the one below until now! It shows the shape of the tail and back scutes more clearly. This photo is from Smithsonianmag.com, and not mine.
hoplosuchus-kayi_full_610
This photo is not mine, it belongs to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

So Hoplosuchus kayi is the newest addition to the shop, so now I have 24 critters! I’ll share species names if I have them. Most of these critters only have one species, like Hoplosuchus, and also like Hoplosuchus, sometimes the character is based on a particular fossil specimen. 🙂

  1. Alfred the Allosaurus
  2. Ajax the Apatosaurus (named after Apatosaurus ajax, but actually based off of A. louisae)
  3. Tango the Archaeopteryx (based off of the famous Berlin specimen of A. siemensii)
  4. Elmer the Brachiosaurus (Brachiosaurus altithorax)
  5. Bella the Camarasaurus (size is based on Camasaurus grandis)
  6. Copper and Daisy the Camptosarus (Camptosaurus dispar)
  7. Cassie the Castorocauda (Castorocauda lutrasimilis)
  8. Bowser the Ceratosaurus (Ceratosaurus nasicornis)
  9. Twig the Compsognathus (Compsognathus longipes, but based on the larger French specimen)
  10. Picasso the Dilophosaurus (Dilophosaurus wetherilii)
  11. Dippy the Diplodocus (Diplodocus carnegii. With many of these larger ones, I referenced the smaller species because smaller species are more easily domesticated. 😀 )
  12. Rosie the Dryosaurus (I used a picture of one of the mounts at the Carnegie Museum for reference, which turns out to be Dryosaurus elderae)
  13. Flipper the Ichthyosaurus
  14. Maya the Juramaia (Juramaia sinensis)
  15. Gulper the Leedsichthys (Leedsichthys problematicus)
  16. Opie the Ornitholestes (Ornitholestes hermanni)
  17. Nessie the Plesiosaurus (Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus)
  18. Tigger the Pliosaurus (The skull was referenced from Pliosaurus kevani because the diagram was very clear and from multiple angles. 🙂 )
  19. Terry the Pterodactylus (Pterodactylus antiquus)
  20. Ron the Rhamphorhynchus (Rhamphorhynchus muensteri)
  21. Skittles the Scutellosaurus (Scutellosaurus lawleri)
  22. Steggy the Stegosaurus (She is based entirely on the famous Stegosaurus stenops specimen, Sophie)
  23. Douglas the Dimorphodon (Mark Witton has an entire article on Dimorphodon macronyx, with lots of beautiful artwork and great reference, so that’s the species Douglas is based on)

 

If you’ve been around a while, then you’re familiar with the monthly routine of featuring a different critter at the shop. On the 1st of each month, the Critter of the Month gets their portrait featured (sometimes with an update. 😀 ), a brand new short story, and the latest progress on the picture book or any other projects I have going on behind the scenes.

New creatures to the shop are few and far between because of all the research to ensure accuracy, plus the extra time involved in drawing and painting the new creature. It always takes a bit longer to draw something new, and the time dedicated to adding a new critter to the shop takes away from the little time I make for progress on the picture book.

‘Tis a fact of life that caring for a house with four young children (ages 6 and under. The baby just had her 1st birthday at the start of the new year 😀 ) takes quite a bit of time. I run a bit of a homestead here, with animals to care for, and the kids are doing their school here at home too. I am incredibly blessed to have a supportive husband and extended family unit here, and it’s extremely important to me to have the time to nourish these relationships.

I’m saying this because I think it’s an important detail to cover, and real life can be pretty distant from what appears on the screen. I have a very full and fulfilling life, and as much as I love chatting with you here and exploring cute prehistoric critters with you, my home and family will always take priority.

That said, making an income from art and writing has always been a dream of mine, and a love for prehistoric creatures and nature in general has been a part of me for even longer than the art and writing. So I squeeze, prod, and finagle every bit of time I can to create and be able to chat a little while with you here. 🙂 It means a lot to me that you are spending time out of your busy day to be here, and I want to make sure I give the best I can to make it worth it. 🙂

So here’s the deal.

I’m scheduling more new creatures for the shop this year. 🙂

Posting once a month only makes 12 new posts each year, and we’re already down two with this post and January’s post. Ten posts left to go this year, and I know at least a few of those ten will be interesting, because Babysaurus #5 will make his/her debut sometime in June. 😀

So the short list for new critters to the shop is…3.

But which three will get to join the shop? A very tough choice. 😀

I’ve narrowed down a potential list of ten. I say potential, because my subconscious muse likes to keep things a bit more spontaneous. 😀

  • Amargasaurus   Shunosaurus 😀
  • Kentrosaurus
  • Metriorhynchus
  • Gargoyleosaurus
  • Guanlong
  • Hybodus
  • Othnielosaurus
  • Europasaurus
  • Fruitadens
  • Piranhamesodon

 

So which ones will be the lucky 3 to join Pete’s shop this year? You’ll just have to wait and find out!

 

Coming March 1st…

A shy giant who just wants some greens and a big hug!

Share your guess in the comments! Check out the critter page for hints on who he might be. 😀

16 thoughts on “Critter of the Month: Hoplosuchus

  1. I like how the story emphasizes the “tiny but mighty” point of view. 😀 While I was reading I could easily play a little movie in my head from the perspective of tiny Skippy, where everything seemed larger than life—from the rustling of the trees to the fly on the window. I think adding more description of the noises around him really helped give this effect. It’s hard for me to imagine a fly’s joints creaking, but if I were as small and close to the fly as Skippy I’m sure I’d be able to hear it!

    I like the little twist at the end of the story! At first I thought he was outside on a branch (especially because of the illustration) but then when I read, “flies never could resist a sunny window,” everything clicked. 😛 Also explains the hard surface his nose bumped up against—reminds me of how geckos are!

    I notice that a lot of the short stories tend to have a slower beginning with the first paragraph focusing on the description, and the pick-up happening towards the middle. For this story in particular I think it ties in with the more lax (until Skippy the Ferocious seizes his prey) feeling of it, but maybe it would help give some of the stories more of a hook if you snuck in the description throughout them, and began right in the middle of the action—kind of like in Alfred’s story? 🙂

    That’s a really cool fossil of hoplosuchus, by the way! For being the only one of its kind, it sure is detailed. 😀 I’m looking forward to the new critters—and babysaurus, of course!

    I like the new critter profile layout—it’s nice to be able to see Skippy in all his detail! I think it also makes the critters look more matchy when lined up next to each other. 🙂 I’m curious as to how Elmer will fit into this layout, though!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Brownie, it’s good to see you here! Lol, I’m glad I succeeded in the larger than life feel. I had the mental picture of many a gecko when I wrote this. 😀

      All the stories begin at the start of the action. It just so happens that most of them start from a rather calm place, since most animals lead rather boring lives until something happens to make it interesting. Even Alfred is taking a nap when the box is dropped down into his enclosure. I do tend to have a calm, slow start leading up to a fast-paced end though. I guess that’s just the way a lot of the stories build up for me.

      I don’t put a lot of scenic description during the faster moments because of pacing. Taking a bit of time to notice the breeze and the types of trees around you slows things down. If I were to put descriptions like that in the middle of a fast-paced scene, then it wouldn’t be a fast scene. The pacing would be wrong. It’s tough with the a short story because you have very few words to squeeze all the important elements of a good story.

      There are a number of my older stories that definitely need a bit of polishing and tightening though, which is something I’m working on for the anthology collections. 🙂

      Yeah, the Hoplosuchus fossil is amazing! They were using dynamite in the area and happened to come across a slice of it. Then all dynamite stopped until they found the other half and made sure there was nothing else. Talk about a one-in-a-million chance!

      I’m glad you like it! I rather like the new layout better too. It’ll look a bit more orderly once they’re all changed, even if they’re different rectangular shapes. I quite like the idea of a few odds and ends, like a head or tail, escaping the confines of the box. It works better for t-shirts or other designs too. 😀

      Hehe, I’m actually rather excited about Elmer. He’s been ignored for a while and is in need of a more accurate update. 😀

      Like

  2. Hi. I have to tell you this: Will you get the new for 2019 Safari ltd Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Camarasaurus? Those models could inspire you to redesign Alfred, Steggy, and Bella. As well as that, which animals do you really admire? You could do a Kulindadromeus or Caihong. You don’t have any feathered ornithopods and I would like you to get something from last year. To go with this, could you add some animals from the Dashanpu formation to the shop?

    Like

    1. I took a sneak peak and I really like the new models this year! They’re not likely to change my designs much, especially since Alfred, Steggy, and Bella are already among my most up-to-date critters, but they are certainly on my wishlist!

      There are lots of critters I really enjoy seeing reproductions of and would love to try my hand at, like Kulindadromeus. There are so many great critters to add to the shop it’s always a tough choice when it comes to deciding which one to draw next, but I do have a feathery ornithopod on the short list. 😀 Pearl has feathers in my reconstruction, and she may be showing up some time soon. We shall see.

      As for Dashanpu critters, there are lots of good ones! Shunosaurus is on the short list, but any others will have to wait a while.

      Like

  3. Skippy is so cute! I love how you drew him so much! It is also very nice to see another critter on the petshop.

    Also very excited for the new critters! To be honest, I want a new aquatic critter, but I’d like an Amargasaurus!

    Next on the COTM train is Elmer!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you like him 😀

      We just might get a new aquatic critter at some point! We shall see. Unfortunately Amargasaurus is really an Early Cretaceous critter related to a mostly Jurassic group (shows you have to be really careful when it comes to books lol, but I really, really, really wanted any excuse for Amargasaurus!). So I’ll be putting Shunosaurus on the list instead. It’s a pretty cool and distinct-looking sauropod. And I don’t have any Chinese critters yet 😀

      Yes, Elmer is next! It’ll be a bit of a challenge to coax him onto the train. 😀

      Like

  4. Hey there, glad to see you add a new creature. I have to tell you- could you add Skippy to the Meet the Critters page in between Rosie and Flipper?

    As well, you forgot to mention what species Alfred and Flipper are, but I would say Alfred represents Allosaurus fragilis and Flipper represents Ichthyosaurus communis.

    One more thing, by Amargasaurus, do you mean Amygdalodon? Amargasaurus lived in the Cretaceous, not the Jurassic.

    Next critter is obviously Elmer, and maybe consider doing Giraffatitan anytime soon. Also, next year, could you convert the schedule to every Sunday?

    Like

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you like him! I schedule these posts a few days in advance, but can’t schedule changes to pages, so he’ll be added to the critter page as soon as I can. Most likely Monday.

      The lack of species for Allosaurus and Ichthyosaurus was intentional. They were based on a conglomeration of references of different species.

      I meant Amargasaurus. I saw it discussed in one of my books within the Jurassic period. It was also discussing Dicraesaurus and Diplodocids, to which Amargasaurus is related, and almost all are Jurassic animals. Hence the confusion. Which is a shame, because I really like Amargasaurus and wanted to draw it. Giraffatitan is on the long list of new critters, so that one may take a while. 🙂

      Like

      1. Back to the main discussion, I would want you to be done with the Jurassic soon, with around 220 different species. I am glad you added Piranhamesodon to the list, as it was one of my suggestions.
        You can draw Amargasaurus, but how about you save your drawing and replace it with either Amygdalodon or Dicraeosaurus.
        I will try to update my list and cross off Hoplosuchus. I think some paleoarists should do a reconstruction of it to make it more well-known. And with this “temporary schedule,” I would at least expect three more, including Othnielosaurus. On you Meet the Critters page, there is a reply you can evaluate in which I replied back from you from the ten future additions. Could you reply back?

        That’s all for now. Until next time!

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s