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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
- Alfred the Allosaurus
- Ajax the Apatosaurus (named after Apatosaurus ajax, but actually based off of A. louisae)
- Tango the Archaeopteryx (based off of the famous Berlin specimen of A. siemensii)
- Elmer the Brachiosaurus (Brachiosaurus altithorax)
- Bella the Camarasaurus (size is based on Camasaurus grandis)
- Copper and Daisy the Camptosarus (Camptosaurus dispar)
- Cassie the Castorocauda (Castorocauda lutrasimilis)
- Bowser the Ceratosaurus (Ceratosaurus nasicornis)
- Twig the Compsognathus (Compsognathus longipes, but based on the larger French specimen)
- Picasso the Dilophosaurus (Dilophosaurus wetherilii)
- Dippy the Diplodocus (Diplodocus carnegii. With many of these larger ones, I referenced the smaller species because smaller species are more easily domesticated. 😀 )
- 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)
- Flipper the Ichthyosaurus
- Maya the Juramaia (Juramaia sinensis)
- Gulper the Leedsichthys (Leedsichthys problematicus)
- Opie the Ornitholestes (Ornitholestes hermanni)
- Nessie the Plesiosaurus (Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus)
- Tigger the Pliosaurus (The skull was referenced from Pliosaurus kevani because the diagram was very clear and from multiple angles. 🙂 )
- Terry the Pterodactylus (Pterodactylus antiquus)
- Ron the Rhamphorhynchus (Rhamphorhynchus muensteri)
- Skittles the Scutellosaurus (Scutellosaurus lawleri)
- Steggy the Stegosaurus (She is based entirely on the famous Stegosaurus stenops specimen, Sophie)
- 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. 😀
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!