Here is a detail (see the full illustration on my Science Illustration page) of the JOGGINS (NOVA SCOTIA) CARBONIFEROUS SWAMP FROM 350 MILLION YEARS AGO. The little lizard on the Lepidodendron tree log is Hylonomus lyelli, the earliest lizard and first amniote and thus our and all mammals’ ancestor. This geologic period, the Pennsylvania, had 40% more oxygen than we have now, which made for some extra large insects. The dragonfly pictured (Meganeura) had a wingspan of one meter, and the roach below it was one foot long.
This illustration is for a book entitled Brains Through Time, A Natural History of Vertebrates to be published by Oxford University Press in February 2019. The authors are R. Glenn Northcutt from Scripps Oceanography and Georg Streidter from UC Irvine.
THE NEWEST ADDITIONS TO MY WORK IN PROGRESS, ROSEBUD WHALE FALL, FOR GREG ROUSE AND SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY:
This beautiful iridescent scale worm is shown is this vignette with Osedax and small red as-yet-unnamed scale worm living on the decomposing whale bone.
My new oil painting IN PROGRESS for Greg Rouse of SIO, to be titled ROSEBUD WHALE FALL. Species completed so far (one newly discovered and one living exclusively on whale falls) are below:
Female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) struck and killed by a ship in 2011. Sunk by Scripps off the coast of Point Loma for study. Depth of 2765 feet (843 meters.)
The carcass weighed 21 tons and was 60 feet long. It was sunk by 10 tons of chain and scrap metal.
The first whale fall was discovered by a Navy bathyscape in 1977. It is estimated that there are 690,000 whale falls in the ocean at any one time.
A new species…iridescent! So fun to paint!
A kind of polychaete.
“Bristle-worm” and as-yet-unnamed small red scaleworm at top, feeding on whale bone.
Osedax roseus (Latin “bone-devourer”) lives exclusively on whale falls, feeding off the fats within the bone matrix (pictured.) This species may have evolved before whales, to decompose dinosaur bones and then “waiting out the 20 million year gap between the reptiles’ extinction and the whales’ emergence.” WOW.
The female Osedax has a “harem” of dwarf males in her body/trunk (up to 114 males per female.). The males are 100,000 times smaller than the female, who reproduces continually and feeds through her roots, dissolving the whale bone with acid which she secretes.
Oh, there is one Osedax which has an independent male, O. priapus (not on ROSEBUD.) Priapus is the Greek protector god of livestock, gardens and male genitalia—someone had a good sense of humor:-)
The size of the Osedax roseus female: 1 cm wide and 10 cm long.
Osedax is a foundation species of the deep sea.
And so bizarrely beautiful.
Here is the original concept sketch in watercolor for the oil painting:
PLEASE KEEP TUNED AS I ADD MORE SPECIES, ALL FABULOUSLY BIZARRE AND BEAUTIFUL!