Why I don't like Tumblr: mystery cephalopod islands

While preparing the latest Scumble round-up of science-art, I wanted to include this amazing image:

© an unidentified artist - who is it?



It was "liked" and shared via Google Reader from someone I follow.  Note, there's no visible signature on the image. It was shared from here, a Tumblr blog, and it looks like it originally was posted here.

My purpose here is not to single out this specific Tumblr blogger. Tumblr makes it easy to reblog an image, even one that has no attribution to its original creator. And this very cool surreal image of an island town built on an octopus has been reblogged and liked 535 times. Without the artist getting any credit at all.

The problem is not the Tumblr software, it's the culture of re-posting without respect to the image creators that has developed on Tumblr. It's so quick, most people posting images don't write anything at all, no title for their post, no comments on why they liked it, nothing.

There is some hope that this disrespect is recognized in the Tumblr community: Reblogged To Give Credit seem sto care. (Check out the url.)  There are others too.

As readers of The Flying Trilobite know, I sometimes advocate for better image attribution on blogs. It's a problem. Images are treated as important and noteworthy, but their creators are often treated as unimportant and worthless.

I realize I am being a hypocrite for re-posting this image yet again - indeed, in the past I've parted ways with my Art Evolved peeps on whether or not it's a good idea to post unattributed images in the hopes of repatriating their ownership.  But I thought I would try to re-post it the same way Art Evolved does on occasion: in the hopes of finding out from my readership if anyone knows who the talented artist is behind it. So far, my Google-fu fails me. I've tried "octopus island", "cephalopod fantasy painting" and about 10 other combinations, and no luck.

One of the Tumblr blogs had an interesting link I hadn't seen before: to a site called TinEye which searches for images and tells you where their being used. I put Darwin Took Steps into it, and TinEye matched the image to me as the most likely source.
Unfortunately, no joy for the Octopus Island.

Anyone recognize the artist behind this?
Any other artists find more trouble with Tumblr than other platforms?

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow

Octopus Limbs - speedpaint challenge

For David Maas's Ask A Biologist speedpaint challenge on Art Evolved, I chose the question, Do octopus limbs grow back?





Though the answer is no, I gave my octopus a few split digits, as though a new tip grew next to a partially severed one. Painted in ArtRage in 30 minutes.  Still learning to speedpaint digitally: I didn't expect the "glitter" setting to make that much texture under the other layers of paint.


Cross-posted on Art Evolved


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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow

Beyond Good & Evil - A Review

For skeptics and naturalists, what could a videogame look like? How about a game where one of the main objects of the game, is to photograph as many vanishing species on the planet as possible? How about using those photography skills to find solid evidence of a government conspiracy? A future where different races live together without strife?
Beyond Good & Evil is that title. Created by Michel Ancel, this game came out back in 2003, and won tons of praise from critics, and failed to sell enough to the public to warrant a sequel. I played it a few years ago, and now I'm photographing my way through it's pretty natural environments and industrial rust once again.

The setting is the planet Hillys in the distant future. Humans and other races based on animal-human hybrids inhabit the pastoral and island-dotted land peacefully. An alien invasion by a species known as the DomZ disrupts day-to-day life, the invasion consisting mainly of aliens crashing like meteors from the sky. An army known as the Alpha Sections attempts to protect the populace, usually arriving too late.

The protaganist is a brash and confident 20 year old orphan named Jade. Jade is presented in a much more realistic fashion than most women in games, and there is no need for a love interest for her to hang her feminity on. Her endearing, tough-guy adopted uncle Pey'j is a Sus Sapien, or pig-human hybrid. The pair live on an island in a lighthouse, struggling with money while taking care of orphans who've lost their parents in the war. Jade and Pey'j own a hovercraft, an airship, and eventually a spaceship. Jade works mainly as a photographer and reporter, taking stock of the planet's biodiversity before too many species are wiped out in the fighting. Eventually, she joins the Iris Network as a photographer, a pirate broadcast group trying to expose the government's lies.

The game still holds up graphically, and the soundtrack has some excellent music, latin techno and classical score, depending on the scene. I love just toodling around in the hovercraft, visiting different islands through the night and day cycle, especially after a long steathy trip through industrial buildings exposing the conspiracy taking place. It's one of those games that just makes you want to revisit it from time to time; hang out at the Akuda Bar, talk to the kids at the lighthouse, or just explore the oceans of Hillys.

The details in the game are interesting and scientific, though fictional. Aim your camera at the sky, and it will label the different constellations, even indicating how much radiation comes from celestial objects. Each new species, like the anemonia mutabilis pictured at right is fascinating, and many of them fly or hover through the air. You can interact to some degree with each animal as well, and you find them all over the planet. There are different whales in the ocean, nautilus creatures that float in the humid air, and even a trilobite crawling around if you look hard enough. This part of the gameplay, cataloguing the different species, is made to feel so crtitical, I even found myself getting bitten by more aggressive species in my unrelenting effort to take their picture.

(This whole idea of taking photos would be great in a game about prehistory and dinosaurs...as fun as the fauna in Beyond Good & Evil are, imagine a similar game where one had to catalogue dinosaurs from each era? Tutorial in the Devonian! Bonus level in the Pleistocene! Since Michel Ancel also made the prehistoric-looking King Kong game, he'd be just the guy to blend the two ideas. ) Evidence is a key to winning this game. There are occasionally some battles which Jade handles with her fighting stick, but methodical presentation of evidence and love of family are the main triggers to propel the plot forward. Rumour has it Michel Ancel might finally be returning to this story again - I hope! - and who knows what alien fauna might be found on the next planet? I hope Jade brings her zoom lens.

All which is dead need not necessarily be forgotten...

Back from the Badlands


Burgess Shale at the
Royal Tyrrell Museum

The title of this entry is a paraphrase from H.P. Lovecraft's Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, "...all which is forgotten need not necessarily be dead..." I believe the reverse sentiment to be more accurate and powerful, especially in the face of organisms from the Cambrian.

Once I began to feel that my drawing skills were approaching a professional level, I have found the creatures from the Cambrian to the Permian to hold a special fascination. As I have said in previous posts, I get shiver down my back when beholding an organism so strange and unusual, that we as binocular primates can look at and comprehend. This love is not religious and not dogmatic; it is the evolved primate rush of understanding. And when the object of that understanding is a five-eyed Opabinia (above, playing in the sponges) from 505 million years ago, I marvel.

I do not know how much time I have to write this. Even now, I hear the scratching at the door...a very Lovecraftian anomalocarid lurks in the gloom...The horror of the fluttering flapping thing! Those eyes!
Heh.



Alright, enough glowy-eyed marvelling. The Royal Tyrrell Museum had enough pre-dinosaur fossils to keep me entertained for weeks. These photos are from their re-created chamber of Burgess Shale fauna, all 12 times life size. The room is dimly-lit, with spots, and the floor is partially transparent so you can see the trilobites trundling around the sea floor below you, competing with that poser-crustacean, marella.

The sounds of other patrons entering this room were a lot of fun. One couple, I would guess were in their seventies, were utterly fascinated. I noticed most people entering without reading about the Burgess Shale creatures on the information wall outside. Then they came in and encountered the truly strange.

In the photo above at right, you can see on the ocean floor a little mound with wings, wiwaxia. In Aquagenesis: the origin and evolution of life in the sea, author Richard Ellis says, "(wiwaxia) was not a snail, it was not an arthropod, it was not a worm. Like so many of the animals of the Burgess Shale, it was sui generis, and nothing like it has ever been seen again."

There is a beautifully to-scale recreation of a reef, in water that holds many people's gaze as they look at all the fish and cephalopods hidden in a natural setting. The folks at the Tyrrell have done a wonderful job of recreating the lushness of coral aquariums often found at the better zoos.








The Tyrrell Museum as a whole could easily take up a week of sight-seeing for an enthusiast. In my posts, I haven't even touched on the marvellous ceratopsians, the humid and lovely Cretaceous garden and waterfall, and so many other sights. The museum is heavy on information content, and does not dumb things down for the casual visitor. You can simply gawk, or you can read more and more to learn about the past. I desperately want to go back.

My apologies for the following if you are not a Lovecraft & Cthulhu fan.

The anomalocaris is once again scratching at the door...I do not know if this manuscript should be found, and if so, will the flapping mad thing chase down another trilobite? Will any being know of me in the fullness of time? The dark ages of oblivion yawn before me...

Three Rivers Rock & Fossil Museum

Back From the Badlands

While staying at a gorgeous cabin with an amazing view near Pincher Creek, Alberta, this Ontario-born blogger got to see a local treat. Spying an ad in a five year old tourist-attraction booklet, we called ahead to see if the Three Rivers Rock & Fossil Museum was still open for business. It boasted Canada's largest collection of cephalopods. I just had to go.

On the way there, we speculated what it would be like. It sounded like a small collection, and I wondered if it would be in someone's living room. I was wrong. At the time we arrived we were the only visitors. And we stumbled into an insidious Garden Gnome Invasion. They were everywhere! My heart raced at the thought of seeing fossilized remains of early gnominids. Painting ideas were coming to mind.

The gentlemen and collector greeted us out in the winding, tree-lined front yard, obviously in league with the garden gnomes all around. Being from Toronto, it's easy to forget how large these rural Alberta properties are. We did not head for his living room; we headed to a building behind the house. The gnomes followed, I'm sure of it. Waiting to pounce.

The treaty the owner had with the gnomes was still holding. They did not enter.

Once inside, it was clear the declaration of "largest cephalopod collection in Canada" was no idle boast. There were tons of them! Check out the ammolite specimen above. Ammolite is the semi-precious "stone" interior of ancient ammonites, like mother-of-pearl, but sometimes with startling red tones shot throughout. The owner gave us a bit of information, then sat down at a desk and let us look. Each glass case held a myriad of early life forms or minerals, all hand labelled with a description and location.

At left is a pretty geode, larger than your fist. Looks like marshmallow, doesn't it?

Mmmmm....tasty geode....

I love minerals like this. The little 'hairs' on the puffball-looking formation are so tiny, it challenges the eye to pick them out.

There were shark's teeth, plant fossils, fish fossils, and enough coprolite to keep my five year old nephew entertained (at least after we told him it's dinosaur poop).

The collection is well worth the drive out of the way for any fossil enthusiast or person looking for a spot to take the family. It is a private collection however, and I would strongly recommend asking permission before taking photos, as I have done. It's polite. Rural Alberta has a bit of a reputation for being conservative, at least with Ontarians, and it was nice to see an entire museum devoted to fossils instead of fundamentalism.

Of course there are abundant trilobite fossils, even if they were outnumbered by the ancient predatory cephalopods. Here is Mr. Jumbo, a whopper of a fossil about 60 cm long. This beautiful trilobite is easily more than a match for the gnomes outside, and no wonder they did not enter the building. Is that some sort of iron-rich mineral giving it a rusty appearance? I wonder. A little sea scorpion and ammonite sit submissively beneath the pygidium of this prehistoric royalty.

There are a few tiny fossils and mineral jewellry for purchase, nothing as grand as what's in the collection. I bought a nice little brachiopod, and left the Three Rivers Rock & Fossil Museum with my appetite for prehistoric wonder whetted for more.

We left the militant gnomes behind.

But sadly, no trilobites...


Antarctic 'treasure trove' found, reported by Rebecca Morelle, BBC News


This story has some incredible pics of lifeforms no one knew were down there. What else lurks in the depths? And when will an ocean-going creature be named after Cthulhu? Follow the above link and check out the cephalopod pic.

Chances are it's not going to be trilobites. They did become extinct approximately 275 million years ago, so even a coelacanth-style, living-fossil comeback is not likely. But it would be nice. (Peace out, Richard Fortey.)

*sigh*

Ammonite Vs Trilobite






Recently, PZ Myers who runs the popular science blog Pharyngula ran a call for new entries to his popular blogroll. The Flying Trilobite is now one of Prof. Myers' multitude. (or at least will be soon....so far the new entries have not yet been added to the roll itself...see the announcement here.)

I thought it was fitting then, to display this painting I did last year of an ammonite attacking a trilobite. Y'see, Prof. Myers has this affinity with cephalopods...

This work is an oil on canvas, and hangs with a group of my pieces, including My Life With Trilobites. Quniacradone orange is one of my favourite earthy tones.

You might be thinking, "poor, cute li'l trilobite". The trilobite stepped on the ammonite's shell, and kinda scuffed it. The ammonite then snapped the trilobite's shell in half. "A shell for a shell", is the kind of prehistoric, savage morals these ancient creatures lived by. I'm so glad we are past that kind of thinking on this planet.

You may now roll your eyes.