Inktober 2019 - week 3

Continuing with this year’s #Inktober project: A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites.

Here’s where to find Week 1, Week 2, and Week 4.

You can also follow along on my Instagram and Twitter, @FlyingTrilobite.

“The common spotted red-elytra variant of *Coccinella trilopunctata* proliferated across Europe after the treaty was signed. By the divine, or a splicing artist no one was ever really sure.” — from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites ‬

“Discovery of several spiny trilobites within NIKE OF SAMOTHRACE rocked the fine art world, leading to a fossil “gold rush” among MRI technicians.“
-from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites

Inktober 2019 - week 2

Continuing with this year’s #Inktober project: A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites.

Here’s where to find Week 1, Week 3, and Week 4.

You can also follow along on my Instagram and Twitter, @FlyingTrilobite.

The “Maple Bumastus” is a jellybean-shaped tree-dwelling trilobite that chews through the stems of autumn leaves and rides them to the ground. A low, droning “wheeee” sound may be heard.

During the final hours of the Fossil Wars, the Bruce Peninsula Battalion survivors all reported the same apparition.

20 years after the war, “Thysanopeltis pax” became a popular image on AR t-shirts.

—from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites

“The modern proliferation of winged trilobites is as much a product of scientific meme-based humour as it is of genetic and ecological terrorism. Example: the terrifying & beautiful ’Cyphaspis aestiva’.”

—from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites



‪“Revivification of this trilobite revealed the function of its mysterious “trident” appendage. ‬  “The remarkably elastic cephalon trident gave this trilobite an easy and unusual escape from predators.  ‪”During the war, they were used in a carrier pigeon role with mixed success.” —from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites ‬

‪“Revivification of this trilobite revealed the function of its mysterious “trident” appendage. ‬

“The remarkably elastic cephalon trident gave this trilobite an easy and unusual escape from predators.

‪”During the war, they were used in a carrier pigeon role with mixed success.” —from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites ‬

‪“While the exact nature of the ritual that led *homo ergaster* to hurl their Acheulian hand-axes into piles is unknown, the discovery of a unique cache of these finely-crafted tools, laden with trilobite fossils, led to the start of the Fossil Wars.”   —from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites

‪“While the exact nature of the ritual that led *homo ergaster* to hurl their Acheulian hand-axes into piles is unknown, the discovery of a unique cache of these finely-crafted tools, laden with trilobite fossils, led to the start of the Fossil Wars.”

—from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites

“With missions to the enigmatic Comet Phacops so far unsuccessful, astropaleontologists are still unclear if the “comet” represents debris blown into space during the Cambrian, a sculpture by a rogue environmental-artist, or an alarming advance by modern genetic hobbyists.”  —from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites

“With missions to the enigmatic Comet Phacops so far unsuccessful, astropaleontologists are still unclear if the “comet” represents debris blown into space during the Cambrian, a sculpture by a rogue environmental-artist, or an alarming advance by modern genetic hobbyists.”

—from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites

“Performing complicated swoops and glides, the patterns the trilobite-kites (Onnia volant) wove in the air were a coded signal to soldiers hidden nearby during the war.” —from A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites

Inktober 2019 - week 1

For Inktober this year, I’m trying to make 30 different sketches describing flying trilobites. I’ll add to each weekly post as they progress. Follow me @FlyingTrilobite on Twitter and Instagram each day.

Here’s week one. Here where to find Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4.

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Welcome to A Field Guide to Flying Trilobites. We hope you learn something from our team of unruly-haired naturalists wearing smart coats stained with ink, as they share what they’ve gathered in the field.

Day 2 - This flying fruit bat-hunting trilobite (Paralejurus artibeus) has large compound eyes for nocturnal vision and wing claws that aid in coral crawling.

Day 2 - This flying fruit bat-hunting trilobite (Paralejurus artibeus) has large compound eyes for nocturnal vision and wing claws that aid in coral crawling.

Day 3 - The common “flying” trilobite, Olenellus exocoetidae, glides above the waves on diaphanous fins.  It is now endangered due to the myth that the the wings have fertility properties.

Day 3 - The common “flying” trilobite, Olenellus exocoetidae, glides above the waves on diaphanous fins.

It is now endangered due to the myth that the the wings have fertility properties.

Day 4 - Tiny, blind, and highly invasive due to wind-dispersal when mature. Acadagnostus taraxacum, from A Guide to Flying Trilobites.

Paleontologists suspect the Brazilian pterosaur Tupandactylus adorned their colourful crests with clay-red trilobites, and refer to these as “Calymene carnivalis”.

An aggressive, late-summer flying trilobite, Huntonia vespid makes its nest high in the trees, curiously never patrolling lower than 3m above the ground.

Following the clean energy revolution of the 2020s, the “peppered trilobite” saw a shift to a darker variant, that warmed itself on solar panels in the evening.

Sketching ageless distortions

Illustrating a fossil skeleton correctly and clearly is an enticing paleoart puzzle. It takes deep knowledge of morphology, anatomy, and taxonomy.

Sketching the fossils as they are is inviting yourself into their mystery and grandeur. The agelessness and distortions of deep time, understandable only as math and not experience.

I love sketching fossils as they appear, distortions and all. A little part of the mystery.

Sketch of the smaller Stenopterygius quadriscissus. This fossil is 180 million years old, early Jurassic. I curved the tail to fit on the page.

Sketch of the smaller Stenopterygius quadriscissus. This fossil is 180 million years old, early Jurassic. I curved the tail to fit on the page.

Recently, illustrators Liz Butler and Pat Butler invited me to join them for an afternoon of sketching at the ROM. Fantastic to meet them in person. Make sure you check out their work.

@liz_lagomorph on Twitter, Instagram, site

@phbutler on Instagram, site

Dilophosaurus Ink at 45

I turned 45 recently, and it was the right time to finally get a tattoo I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Here it is, and a few thoughts about what it means to me.

My new tattoo. Not fully healed yet in this pic, but pretty close. Dilophosaurus Cyclist Fossil.

Where it started

Paleontology-author, science communicator and friend Riley Black asked me to design a series of tattoos a few years ago, based on the Morrison Formation predators: Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus and Torvosaurus.

Riley was quote specific about wanting the skeletons in the death pose: some fossils are found in a distinct arched-back pose, most likely due to their spine being close to the surface of their skin, and drying out and tightening after death. I played with a couple of variations of black line designs, and we settled on an outline of the spine, ribs, and tail, and silhouettes of the skull and limbs. I added some distressed and broken bits, and even some hidden shapes of states where Riley has lived on one of them, thinking that even if someone copies the tattoo, it will remain specifically theirs.

Dilophosaurus

I’ve always loved Dilophosaurus, ever since a childhood dinosaur book showed one sprinting and turning toward some fast-moving lizard prey. My childhood was in the late 70’s and 80’s, and Jurassic Park’s velociraptors hadn’t hit mainstream popularity yet. Most books focused on Tyrannosaurus, and one book I had, also showed the big bulky Gorgosaurus and Tarbosaurus. But here was this illustrated paperback, The MacMillan Book of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures with an illustration of Dilophosaurus by John Hamberger.

It had crests! It was fast! It looked more nimble than the big guys. It blew me away. It was something I hadn’t imagined before.

I sketched out the design using ArtRage 5, my favourite digital painting program, and used photos of two specimens for reference.

Work-in-progress in ArtRage. Almost every layer is visible in this mess. Started with rough composition in pale blue, added green on another layer to correct some of the flow, and sketched it in. You can see the early version has a more complicated and delicate gear behind the skull than the final design below - I wanted a bulkier gear so the image would be clearer.

My final Dilophosaurus Cyclist fossil design. © Glendon Mellow, shareable under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA.

As an adult, the other aspect of Dilophosaurus that appeals to me is that the holotype specimen shows signs of injuries and healing. It was bashed around a lot during its life, and still kept going. That feels like a significant metaphor for myself at turning age 45. The last few years have been both joyous, thanks to my family, and tough economically and professionally.

Cycling

I’ve written before about cycling - taking Nucala for my lifelong severe asthma has changed my main mode of transportation into a serious pursuit. It’s a fantastic way to out-ride stress, and I’m in danger of becoming a MAMIL.

So I needed to put some cycling bits in the design. Highlighted below are parts of a chain, gear and derailleur.

The chain, gear and derailleur highlighted in acid green.

Getting inked

One of my regrets with my previous tattoos is not staying in touch with the artists who did the work inking my designs.

So this time I wanted that to be different. I know a few tattoo artists in person, and in my head there was no question I wanted German Shible to ink this tattoo. Watching his Instagram and traditional and neo-trad style over the last few years, I had absolute confidence in him, and he delivered.

Gentle hand, gentle voice and wicked designs. Find him at @germanshible on Twitter and Instagram. German works at Passage Tattoos.

I mentioned to German that I’d love if he could keep some of the sketchiness of my lines, and he agreed that would work. I’m so thrilled German did this tattoo. It means so much to me to have an artist I admire do this work.

Freshly inked!

This tattoo needed to be on my “cycling leg” - typically when you’re cycling and wearing pants, you roll up your right pants on your right calf so the hem doesn’t get caught in the chain. Best spot to show it off. Plus, I’ve liked how black line tattoos on legs looked ever since playing Fable II years ago, lol.

Getting a tattoo is a real confidence booster. Thank you German!

Damn it looks good.


See more of my scienceink tattoo designs at glendonmellow.com/tattoos.

Tattoo prep underway

Appointment is booked, deposit down, and prep for my next tattoo is underway.  

Basic idea: dilophosaurus fossil with bicycle parts. Black line. Similar to my other dinosaur and ancient reptile tattoo designs. 

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Skull study. I need to lengthen the weird notched part of the nose tip and jaw. 

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Death pose.  

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Simple bicycle forms to consider.

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Playing with alternate designs. 

More on this as it goes. Appointment booked for my 45th birthday. 

15 Years

Happy 15th Anniversary, Michelle. 

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You enchant, fascinate, and thrill me. That rainy October evening 15 years ago has led us to so many incredible memories. I hope we have many more.