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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Spectember 2021 – Marsupial Predators

It’s September, the Cambrian series has been delayed until later this year, so instead let’s get speculative – it’s time for the return of #Spectember! I can’t manage daily content this time around, but I still have plenty of submitted concepts left over from last time.

So let’s get started with some marsupials suggested by someone crediting themselves only as Bruno Drundridge:

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Spectember Epilogue

Now that Spectember has wrapped up, and I’m catching my breath before we return to the regular paleo-theming of this blog, a couple extra notes:

Anyone who suggested a concept during the original submission period back in May, but didn’t see it get used this month – don’t worry! I got far more entries than I could possibly fit into the schedule (almost a hundred), and they were all wonderfully creative ideas, so I’m going to try to do something with them at a later date.

(Everyone else, please be aware I’m not currently accepting extra specevo suggestions. While I appreciate all the enthusiasm I can’t take on even more work right now.)

Also, here’s a few other neat specevo things that I didn’t have time to go into detail about this month:

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Spectember #22: Land Dolphins 2 – The Beakening

And so we finish Spectember as we started… with ridiculous land dolphins!

Transcript for the text on the image under the cut:

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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.