Spectember Interlude: Furahan Biology

Created by Gert van Dijk, a Dutch professor of neurophysiology and a talented artist (often writing under the name Sigmund Nastrazzurro), the Furaha project has been in development since 1979 – starting as a series of paintings of speculative alien creatures, and eventually expanding to detailed essays on their anatomy and ecology.

Set on the planet Nu Phoenicis IV, Furaha documents the natural history of the world and its plants and animals using paintings, illustrations, CG models, and even animations to show how their limb arrangements work. Although only a small number of organisms are featured on the main site, the associated blog provides much more information, including the incredible amount of scientific background that goes into the creation of the Furahan ecosystems.

Few specevo projects are this rigorous, with van Dijk using physical and biological constraints along with computer simulations to figure out the biomechanics of how Furahan creatures live and move, from the giant millipede-like rusps to the four-winged flying tetrapterates to the swimming membranes of the cloakfish. One of the most heavily debated subjects over the years has involved trying to determine if floating balloon-like “ballont” animals are actually possible.

The blog also occasionally discusses other elements of speculative biology and creature design, including reviews of other spec projects and media.

A fully illustrated book version of Furaha is currently in the works – although being a solo project entirely in van Dijk’s spare time it’s very much a “it’ll be done when it’s done” situation.