Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Anomalocaridid Gallery

It's time for...
One of the most unusual sets of animals to have ever existed on our planet, the Anomalocaridids. They were so bizarre in fact, that each of the various parts of them that were found in isolation were thought to be separate organisms.
Despite clearly being related to Arthropods, they are too different to be included in that group. Modern thinking places them in the phylum Lobopodia, the group from which all hard shelled Arthropods are believed to have evolved from.
They were the dominate predators of the early Cambrian, with remains known from this time period all across the world. Despite losing this apex position in the food chain the family group would survive 100 million years into the Devonian where they appear to have finally met with extinction.
So come now and meet, Stephen Gould's "bizarre wonders" of early complex life...

Silhouette of an Icon by Craig Dylke

Since I was retooling my Anomalocaris model for this gallery anyway, I thought I might as well retool my most popular image on the internet, with this anatomically improved version of the piece.

Deadly Stalkers of a Crystal Sea by Nima Sassani

A few hundred miles south of what would become the Burgess shale, two Anomalocaris saron are on the hunt for soft-bodied prey, ignoring an armored Helmetia, the trilobite Brachyaspidion, and several small arthropods. Also present are Sanctacaris and Hallucigenia, and I'll let everyone guess what everything else is :)

Hurdia & Aysheaia by Rachael Revelle

The First Great Predator by Craig Dylke
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An Anomalocaris plunges into a swarming school in the water high above the Burgess Shale. Despite its size advantage and the inherent speed this would grant it, the Anomalocaris still must work to snatch one of these active swimming creatures from the school. These other animals include the small enigmatic Nectocaris, common Canadaspis, and the large Odaraia.
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The inspiration for this piece was a desire to see an active depiction of Burgess life. Life in both senses, the organisms and how they lived their lives. Normally pictures of the Burgess Shale tend to show small numbers of these animals in relatively calm subdued interactions (sometimes due to philosophic beliefs about primitive life, as discussed by Gould in Wonderful Life, and others for visual simplicity to not overwhelm the viewer). I wanted something that felt like a still from a nature documentary, and also told a story.
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Sadly much of the detail is lost in the small version so please be sure to check out a larger version here.
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Anomalocaris and the Burgess Shale by Peter Bond

A predator on the hunt, amongst the rich diversity of the shallow Canadian Cambrian waters. This piece was created in one long 13-hour session on August 17th, and documented through live-blogging on Bond's Blog. For a behind-the-scenes look at it's creation, click here.
Anomalocarid Dress sketch (A work in progress) by Glendon Mellow
For a long while now I've had an idea to do a series of Precambrian-inspired clothing. Anomalocaris is supposed to be (in my mind) similar to the whole preying mantis/black widow/femme fatale aesthetic. I had a model pose for me, I especially wanted to capture the shoulders. Apparently, that is quite an uncomfortable combination of hip and neck tilts.

Terror of the Reef by Craig Dylke

A lone Anomalocaris lurks over a "forest" of sponges. Vauxia being the cactus like ones (anyone know the bowl shaped on is called again?).

I created this picture with the idea of shrinking Anomalocaris, by showing it in its environment. In most versions of the Burgess Shale as in books and the web, Anomalocaris is made out to be an unfathomable giant, which granted for its time it was in comparison, but yet no animal comes close to dwarfing its environment. I wanted a piece that showed the first super predator as the tiny thing it was...


Anomalocaris canadensis by Mo Hassan
A quick and simple felt-pen sketch of a single Anomalocaris canadensis in three different views.

Oddity of the Devonian by Peter Bond
A Schinderhannes, the surprising Devonian Anomalocarid, painted in water colour in the 30 minutes leading up to this gallery's posting.

Once Upon a Claw by Craig Dylke

More than 90-95% (probably more like 98-99%, but I'm no expert) Anomalocaris fossils come in the form of shed, molted, or broken off pieces of them. Most of these being their large clawed tentacle like arms. With such an abundance of these being preserved in the fossils record, to me, this suggests they were quite a common occurrence on the sea floor of the Cambrian.

Since early life wasn't smothered to extinction in these discarded claws, it stands to reason that they must have served some sort of positive ecological role to Cambrian reefs. This piece is how I envision such claws being assimilated and utilized by Cambrian communities. A illustration to the powerful irony of nature, one day your the greatest killer around and the next your the greatest giver of life!

Please be sure to check out the larger version of this piece to see more of the detail.


Anomalocaris Regret by Peter Bond
The next morning, Mr. Anomalocaris wakes feeling regret as memories of the party celebrating Burgess Shale's Centenary the night before flood back to him...





 
 Amplectobelua symbrachiata by David Tana

Amplectobelua symbrachiata, a Cambrian anomalocaridid that despite being one of the smaller members of its clade, was still a giant compared to the animals it preyed upon.  
 Pencil on paper, scanned, colored in Adobe Photoshop



That wraps up our journey back to the deep past of the Cambrian. Be sure to join us in two months time for...


The Sauropods...
Remember to send in those submissions to our email artevolved@gmail.com (with any desired accompanying text blurb and your website or blog's link), and watch out for plenty of Sauropod discussion and "making of"s for this gallery's Anomalocarises.

10 comments:

Zachary said...

Wonderful gallery, guys. I wish I could've partook (partaken?) but I had physical art shows to prepare for...in fact, I have to deliver another one in two weeks.

Craig, you kinda went all-out for this one, didn't you?

I can't ignore the Sauropodormopha, though, so I'll have to throw some pieces together for November.

Raptor Lewis said...

Indeed, Excellent work, guys!!! :D I'm truly impressed with this month's Gallery!! Can't Wait for the Next one!! :D

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

what a cool gallery!

I feel really impressed by you guys!
great work!

Peter Bond said...

A smaller gallery, to be sure, but it contains some gems! I particularly love Craig's "Once apon a Claw" for it's unique subject and beautiful detail (do zoom in). I am always inspired by Rachel's watercolours and "Hurdia" is another fantastic piece - I love the mix of scientific accuracy and artistic flare! (How do you comment on your blog? I'm having issues!) Can't wait to see Glendon's finished Anomalodress! Great work guys!

Next Gallery is Sauropods - I want to see everyone's work! It'll be a huge one!

Neil said...

Truly spectacular stuff -- and Peter Bond's Anomalocaris making out with Opabinia really puts a new spin on the concept of the functional morphology of unusual preoral appendages.

"anyone know the bowl shaped [sponge] is called again?)"

Are they archaeocyathids?

Nima said...

I'm impressed with this gallery! Especially Craig's work. Craig, you've really pulled out all the stops this time!

For sure I'll have a lot of fun with drawing the sauropods! With two months to mess around, I can already tell it's gonna be a great gallery.

I'd encourage the more daring of you guys to try some of the rarer, odder, lesser known sauropods which are rarely illustrated... things like Turiasaurus, Erketu, Tastavinsaurus, Nigersaurus, or Dongbeititan... There's nothing wrong with good old Diplodocus and Camarasaurus, but let's keep in mind the Sauropoda are a LOT more diverse than that.

:D

Nima said...

Thanks for posting my submission Craig! It was a bit late because sauropods were already on the platter :)

I see Blogger has been glitching up the font sizes :D but there's no such thing as bad publicity here lol.

Here's a bigger version in case anyone is interested (most of the creatures don't show up in the small one):

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_u6CUqDWU5nw/SqGeMioeLfI/AAAAAAAAAQM/SfyKEBtuYPo/s1600-h/crystal+sea.jpg

Peter Bond said...

"Anomalocaris making out with Opabinia really puts a new spin on the concept of the functional morphology of unusual preoral appendages. "

Neil, that's just what I was thinking. It's like the tv show Friends set in the Cambrian!

Great to see Nima and Mo's work up! Awesome guys!

Raptor Lewis said...

"Friends: The Cambrian Edition..or Generation" LOL!! :D That's....quite a thought!! Okay...lol! Pretty funny, Pete! Thanks for the images!!

Rachael said...

At last I'm able to leave a comment-lost the little comment box for a while - (probably always got too much to say anyway!)

Craig- your work's very beautiful this month. There are luddites within the field that don't accept computer images as 'art'. If they saw what you do they'd change their minds. The level of depth and detail - and most of all - the subtlety that is achieved is quite amazing.

Peter-not sure why you can't leave a comment on my blog - there's a small link at the bottom of each piece - or should be- I'm not very technically minded - electrical stuff blows up in my presence!

When I first came across ART Evolved I'm sure you mentioned that you didn't like working with colour but preferred line drawings? So glad you've changed your mind as your painted work is getting better with every submission and you've got a natural ability with colour and composition. I actually feel that you don’t need to do so much tweaking on the computer as your work is great just as it is- a painting.

I sound a bit preachy today - sorry- great gallery. Think you're all brill.