Spectember 2022 #04: Aquatic Brontotheres

Squeezing in one last bonus #Spectember post this year!

This one isn’t based on a specific prompt, but instead is a companion piece to a previous one.


While North American brontotheres were adapting to the spread of grasslands, some of their Asian cousins took a very different evolutionary path through the rest of the Cenozoic.

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Spectember 2022 #03: Swimming Hummingbirds

Today’s #Spectember concepts come from three submitters: anonymous, Jonas Werpachowski, and Novaraptoria.

A digital illustration of a speculative future aquatic bird descended from hummingbirds, laying on its belly. It has a long beak with tooth-like serrations that give it a crocodilian appearance. Its body is penguin-like, with large flipper-wings, and it has relatively tiny webbed feet and a stubby tail. Its plumage is iridescent green and white, with a bright purple patch on its throat.
Humdertaker (Suchomergus pollinctor)

Despite having a convergent resemblance to penguins or gannetwhales, the humdertaker (Suchomergus pollinctor) is actually a distant descendant of modern hummingbirds.

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Spectember 2022 #02: ‘Modern’ Brontotheres and Paraceratheres

Today’s #Spectember concept is a combination of a couple of anonymous submissions:

A digital illustration of two speculative hoofed mammals, descended from extinct brontotheres and paraceratheres. One resembles a hairy rhinoceros with an odd U-shaped horn on its nose and a fork-like bony "horn" on the back of its head. The other looks like a chunky camel with a moose-like bulbous nose and short downward-pointing protruding tusks.
Crowned brontothere (left) and woolly paracerathere (right)

These two animals are the descendants of brontotheres and paraceratheres, almost the last living representatives of their kinds, hanging on in the equivalent of modern-day times in a world similar to our own.

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Spectember 2022 #01: Arboreal Ornithopod

Despite some minor delays, it’s time once again for #Spectember – when I dive back into the big pile of speculative evolution concepts that you all submitted to me in 2020, and try to get through a few more of the backlog.

(…There’s still over 50 of them left. This is going to take a while.)

So today’s concept comes from an anonymous submitter, who requested an arboreal ornithopod dinosaur:

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Cambrian Explosion #54: Trilobita – Transform and Roll Up

Most trilobites were able to roll themselves up into a protective ball – a behavior known as enrollment or volvation – exposing just their heavily armored backs to attackers. They’re often found fossilized curled up like this, and rare preservation of soft tissues shows that they had a complex system of muscles to help them quickly achieve this pose while simultaneously tucking their antennae and all their limbs safely inside their enrolled shells.

Some species also developed sharp defensive spines and spikes that jutted out when they enrolled, making themselves even more daunting to potential predators in one of the earliest known examples of an evolutionary “arms race”.

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Cambrian Explosion #49: …Some Sort Of Euarthropod?

The major groups of the euarthropods are the chelicerates, mandibulates, and the extinct artiopodans, but there were some Cambrian species that still can’t be easily fitted in to any of those lineages.

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Spectember 2021 – Reedstilt Redesign

(This was originally supposed to be a final-day-of-#Spectember bonus post, but it got much longer than I expected so it’s a few days late.)

To finish off this year’s diversion into speculative evolution, instead of pulling from my still-rather-long list of unused submissions I’m doing something a little different – trying to give an idea of how I go through the actual process of designing a speculative species.

And for today’s example I’m going to do a “redesign” of sorts for a classic Dougal Dixon After Man creature: the reedstilt.

For several reasons:

  • It was on the cover of the old edition of After Man I first discovered as a kid in the local library, it immediately caught my attention, and as a result it’s always been one of my favorite species from the book.
  • But some of its anatomy doesn’t really hold up.
  • I really really Do Not Like the “official” redesign that replaced the original art in the 2018 reprint. It’s shrinkwrapped.
  • I just think it’s neat.
Reedstilt in both original flavor and 2018 revamp style.
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Spectember 2021 – Slime Snouters & Megaphone Birds

Today’s #Spectember concept is brought to you by @thecreaturecodex , who wanted to see a depiction of something from The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades:

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Spectember 2021 – Quadrupedal Pachycephalosaurs

Today’s #Spectember concept comes from an anonymous submitter:

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