Time for an update

The front page has had the same illustration since 2017, and I think the site is long past due for an upgrade.

I may have mentioned a little while ago that my local library plans on setting up a book signing event for local authors sometime in the Fall. Since I have no idea when in the Fall, I figured I’d better just be ready for it and then it won’t matter when it happens. And if it doesn’t actually happen I’ll have everything set up to plan my own event. πŸ™‚

So Pete has a new illustration to greet newcomers to the shop, and I’m working on mine as his assistant. They’re not perfect by any means, and I still have a lot to learn, but I’m happy that they’re an improvement on the old picture.

Here, Pete stands with a Drepanosaurus on his arm and a Protoceras beside him.

Drepanosaurus is a very fun reptile from the Triassic period before dinosaurs became popular, and was a bit like an alien chameleon. Pete usually holds a stick for it to climb on instead of letting it hold onto his arm directly. Those claws are very strong, and that big front claw actually ripped a hole in his shirt for this picture. There’s also a claw on the end of that prehensile tail that can get a bit pinchy, so he recommends handling them with thick gloves.

Protoceras was a mammal from the Oligocene Period long after the (not bird) dinosaurs died out. They are distantly related to deer and other hooved mammals like camels, but have no direct modern cousins. This one is a young buck, since the ladies don’t have the fancy headgear. And yes, you need to be careful when giving them treats, because they’ll ram you like goats if you’re not careful to teach them manners. This one has had all the proper training, and he’s a real sweet guy when it comes to taking treats.

My lessons for this month…

  • It’s good to look back and see how we’ve improved over time, while still acknowledging room to grow and learn more
  • The front page of the website is my introduction to any newcomers on the site, so I better keep it up to date!

And the Critter of the Month is…

In the misty tropical forests of Late Jurassic China, a tiny mammal crept towards a katydid. A sudden splash shook the branch of soft conifer needles, and the katydid lept away from the movement.

The mammal did not follow it, but turned away, back to the scaly trunk. The heaviness in the air meant that there would not be just one drop, but many more. A downpour that would come thick and fast, and she did not have time to wait under a branch for the storm to pass.

She scrambled up the rough bark with the agility of a squirrel, her tiny claws gripping and her long tail swaying for balance.

The mammal froze for an instant when a large pterosaur landed on the branch above her and folded its large, leathery wings. It nibbled at an itch on its side with needle teeth, and the small mammal darted around the trunk and past it before it noticed her. A fat droplet of water almost hit her head as she scrambled up, and the pitter patter of rain drops against leaves grew louder.

A deafening rumble of thunder and the flash of lightning spurred her to leap the last distance into the hollow she called home. The rain poured down just as her tail dissapeared into the dark, warm recess, where the tiny bodies of her pups wriggled blindly in the nest of fur, feathers, and moss that lined the bottom of the hollow.

Naked, deaf, and blind, her pups wriggled towards her warmth as soon as they sensed her presence in the hollow. Other mammals in the tropical forest birthed their young early, and then carried them in a pouch until they were ready to go out into the world. Other mammals still layed leathery eggs.

Juramaia sinensis, the Jurassic mother from China, was the first known placental mammal- a mammal whose young grew within her body until they were strong enough to meet the world. They still needed care and time to grow before they could survive on their own, but they were strong enough to be left in a nest while their mother foraged for food.

They were only a few inches long, and may have looked very similar to the tiny tree shrew in the video below, though they are not related. It is possible that Juramaia ate mostly insects, but may have also eaten berry-like cones from conifer trees, or even licked the sap of those trees.

A few other animals that are found in the Tiaojishan Formation in China are…

  • Darwinopterus: A “missing link” pterosaur that bridges a gap between long-tailed Rhamphorynchus relatives and short-tailed Pterodactylus relatives
  • Jeholopterus: An anurognathid pterosaur, related to the short-faced, batlike Anurognathis
  • Anchiornis: A bird-like dinosaur with fossils so well preserved we can hypothesize a pattern of black, white, and red feathers.
  • Yi qi: A feathered dinosaur with “dragon wings”
  • Volaticotherium: One of the first “flying squirrels”

This is just a tiny sampling of the creatures that lived in the rainforest of Late Jurassic China. There is a huge diversity of beautifully preserved fossils that include delicate leaves, feathers, the wing membranes of pterosaurs, insects, and amphibians like salamanders.

The tropical rainforest was lush with all manner of Jurassic plant life. Perhaps not quite as colorful as the flowers and fruits of modern day rainforests, but cycad cones, conifer cones, lichen, mushrooms, and other fungi could certainly add a pop of color to all the lush greenery.

This area may have looked a lot like the tropical rainforests in Thailand or Costa Rica, with active volcanoes and plenty of rivers that tumbled down into deep lakes. The volcanic ash was a big reason for both the lush greenery and the preservation of delicate creatures.

Maya is the newest addition to my Redbubble shop! I’ve been needing a mouse pad for quite some time, so I’m excited to see Maya come in the mail in about a week. If you would like to adopt Maya, then you can click on the picture below and take a look. There are mugs, phone covers, ipad skins, and all sorts of things there. πŸ™‚

See you September 1st for the next Critter of the Month!

A shy giant who would love a big hug.

Share your guess in the comments! He’ll be one of the critters over on the critter page. πŸ™‚


10 thoughts on “Time for an update

    1. Lol, it’s good to see you here Brownie! πŸ˜€ I’m glad you like little Maya and the newest mystery members that don’t have names yet. I’ll have to ask the kids what their names should be. Protoceras and their relatives are among my favorite prehistoric mammals, and it was fun to work on animals from a different epoch.

      Maya’s fur was actually much simpler than you think! Procreate has a brush that is supposed to mimic an old paintbrush with just a dab of acrylic paint or oils on the rough bristles, and it works beautifully for texturing fur. πŸ˜€

      The website’s color palette won’t change, per se, but will be more focused on orange, green, brown, and perhaps the ocassional blue sprinkled here and there. You’ll probably notice a pattern in my Instagram posts. The biggest change will come in organizing the website and adding new pages, including a shop page with links on where to find books and other fun things like mugs. πŸ™‚


      1. Perhaps you could show Pete’s daughter instead of Pete for the front-page update. Also, none of your dinosaurs on the front-page have any teeth. Perhaps you could show at least one or two with some teeth.


  1. I’m so excited to see the updates for the front page! I really like how you illustrated some more exotic, non-dinosaurian critters! Protoceras is one of my favorite oligocene critters–it’s got both cool antlers and fancy giraffe orthocones. Do you have any ideas for the website layout/color palette yet, or will that stay about the same? πŸ™‚

    I also like the hint-hint-nudge-nudge at the end of Maya’s story as the first placental mammal. Her fur looks so velvety and pet-able! It must’ve taken a looot of brushstrokes (and patience) to paint the shadows and hilights of her fur. πŸ˜›


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