Friday, January 31, 2014

Creature Feature #105: Civet

The African Civet is a member of the Viverridae Family and the largest of the Civet species. He spends most of his days sleeping in dense vegetation, coming out at night to forage for invertebrates and small vertebrates, as well as carrion and vegetable matter. He has even been known to eat poisonous snakes and millipedes, creatures normally avoided by predators. His territory is marked by a scent exuded from his perineal glands. This scent has been bottled, and widely used, within the perfume industry with traces found in chanel no 5. They are even kept in captivity and "milked" for it* - thankfully the creation of synthetic musk means this practice is no longer prevalent.

ALSO: I am hosting a competition on Twitter and Tumblr! for further details: follow this link:

* If you think this is gross, wait until I get to the Asian Palm Civet, or Toddycat, and speak of Kopi Luwak.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Creature Feature #104: Cicada

There are numerous species of Cicada, spread throughout the world and present on every continent except Antarctica. They are characterized by their relatively large size, general shape and noisy nature. It is only the male that sings, and he does this to attract a mate. The sound is produced from part of his exoskeleton: known as a "tymbal". This is modified, forming a complex membrane with thinner portions that vibrate rapidly, resonating down his, mostly hollow, body. He can reach a volume of over 100 db. Both males and females have hearing organs, called tympana, but the male is able to disable his while singing. After mating, the female lays her eggs inside the bark of a tree. When they hatch, the nymphs tumble to the ground and burrow beneath. Here they spend the majority of their life, before taking on their final nymphal instar, crawling out and shedding their skin before calling, mating and dying.

ALSO: I am hosting a competition on Twitter and Tumblr! for further details: follow this link:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creature Feature #103: Chital

The Chital, or Axis Deer, is found in India and surrounding countries, where he is common in wooded regions. He has also been introduced to other countries, including Australia and Hawaii. He prefers his shade, and avoids direct sunlight. Herds number from ten to fifty individuals with a mix of both male and female. The males whose antlers are without velvet (hard)  are dominant over the others and when the hinds come into oestrus, the stag will follow her constantly, not even eating. Whilst mostly silent when grazing, Chital will "chuckle" to one another as they travel through their dense woodland home. If danger threatens, an alarm call is barked and the herd will run in a group for a quick burst, before diving into the shelter of thick bush. They also frequently forage near langur monkey troops, with both taking advantage of the other species' senses to alert them to danger.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Creature Feature #102: Chiru

The Chiru is an antelope found in the Tibet plateau, when he occupies the high alpine regions. He is a social beast, gathering in herds of around twenty. The females migrate to the calving grounds in the summer months, leaving the males behind, and return to them in autumn. Only the males have horns and the black stripes on the legs. His horns are mainly for show, and he does not spar with them, but the longer the horns, the more dominant the male. The pelt is distinctive, and well designed for cold climes - the guard hairs are thick and long, with slender cellular walls and they cover a silky, shorter undercoat. This wool is fine and silky, and can be woven into a highly desirable form known as shahtoosh. Chiru are not domesticated and poachers find it easier to kill the entire beast to collect the wool. This puts the entire species at risk.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Creature Feature #101: Chipmunk

This diminutive rodent makes her home in North America, with one species found in Asia. She follows an omnivorous diet, favouring seeds, nuts, roots and buds but also consuming insects, arthropods, small frogs and birds' eggs. In autumn she begins to collect non-perishable foods in preparation for winter. These are carried in cheek pouches and deposited into her burrow. The burrows are complex affairs, with several well-concealed entrances and a separate larder.  Here she remains for the long, cold months. Some species, like the eastern, hibernate for this period. Although extremely quick and alert while awake, chipmunks spend up to fifteen hours a day sleeping.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creature Feature #100: Chinchilla

The Chinchilla may have found international popularity as a pet, but in her native home, the Andes, she perches on the edge of extinction. This charming rodent lives in a social group, known as a herd, and can breed at any time of the year. The gestation period is 111 days, longer than most rodents, and the babies are born fully furred. She is most active at dawn and dusk, coming out of her daytime burrow to dine on plants, roots, seeds and insects. Here she is under threat from snakes, owls, foxes and other carnivores, but the biggest threat has been human kind. Chinchilla have a plush pelt - ideal for their alpine habitat - that has proved popular in the fur industry. It takes 150 chinchilla to make one fur coat. They are still farmed, and illegally hunted, for this purpose today.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Creature Feature #99: Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are intelligent, social primates that live in large multi-male and female social groups known as "communities". They have a strong social hierarchy with the alpha male not necessarily being the strongest, but possibly the most intelligent, manipulative or cunning (sound familiar?). It is his duty to control the group and maintain discipline during the frequent disputes. Chimpanzees are very intelligent and engage in both tool use and puzzle solving. They communicate with each other in both verbal and non-verbal manners, using an array of facial expressions, hand gestures and vocalizations. Whilst the Chimpanzee does enjoy a diet of fruit and vegetation, he is also an organised predator, with hunting parties targeting colobus monkeys and bushbabies. He has even been known to sharpen sticks and use them as rudimentary spears to harass sleeping bushbabies.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Creature Feature #98: Chevrotain

These tiny cervines are also known as "mouse-deer", with some species weighing less than 5 kilos. This species, the African or Water chevrotain, is the largest and can weigh up to 16 kg with the female being larger than the male. Males do not have antlers, but their canine teeth are longer and used when competing with other males over females. His hindquarters are very muscular, and he walks leaning forward, with his head low to help him manouvere through the thick jungle of his rainforest home. Never venturing far from water, he spends his days hiding in thick foliage, venturing out at night to browse on shrubbery. If danger threatens, he will flee into the water and submerge himself, even walking along the bottom. He can stay under for four minutes.

Here's a video of him swimming:
(ignore the cheesy dialogue)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Creature Feature #97: Cheetah

The Cheetah is a creature built for speed: she can accelerate four times faster than a human and attain speeds of up to 120 km/h,  making her the fastest land animal in the world. Her claws are semi retractable, and the pads of her feet are ridged, allowing her greater traction. She uses her tail as a rudder, allowing her to turn sharply and flank her intended prey. To aid her breathing, she has large nostrils and enlarged lung and heartthat help circulate oxygen efficiently. For all her adaptations, however, the Cheetah is vulnerable to extinction. At some point in the past her species "bottlenecked" after the last ice age, losing a great deal of genetic variability, and suffering a decreased sperm count. This, combined with a cub mortality rate of up to 90%, means the future of this feline is by no means assured.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creature Feature #96: Chamois

This sure-footed goat-antelope is found naturally in the Pyrenees, where he spends his summers at high elevations. During the cooler months he ventures down in to the lower pine forests. If danger threatens, he can run up to 50 kph or leap 2 m vertically, 6m horizontally. Females and their kids live in herds of up to 100 individuals, but when he attains sexual maturity (around 3-4 years old) he will be forced out by the dominant male. For the next few years he leads a solitary existence, only come into contact with the herds of females during the rutting season. Here he will compete with other males to secure a mate or establish himself as head of the herd. Chamois have been successfully introduced to New Zealand where they are a popular game animal and have had a negative influence on the native flora.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Creature Feature #95: Chachalaca

And the prize for the species with the best name goes to this relatively dowdy looking fellow. Indeed, the name is derived from the call of one species: the Plain Chachalaca (to me, he sounds like a demented chicken). This fellow is a Rufous-Headed Chachalaca. The chachalaca are a Genus of Central and South American birds related to the Guans and Currasows, and thus a distant relative of the chicken. He makes his home in woodland, but also has expanded into farmland. Social and noisy, he forages in small flocks of 2-7 birds, mainly on leaves with the occasional fruit or insect consumed. Alas, his range is very small and diminishing due to habitat loss and hunting pressures.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Creature Feature #94: Caecilian

These bizarre amphibians are well adapted for a subterrestrial existence. They entirely lack limbs and their eyes are small and covered with skin, protecting them from dirt. Almost blind, vision is limited to light/dark perception. The head is sturdy with a pointed snout designed to push its way through soil. The body is very muscular: he can anchor his hind quarters in place, force his head forward, and pull the rest of his body up in waves. This fellow is one of the Ichthyophiidae Family and is one of the more primitive caecilians. 

The breeding habits of caecilian are rather strange and variable. Many species (75%) are vivaparous (give birth to live young); others, like the Ichthyophiidae, lay eggs and then guard them until they hatch. Some begin life as semi-aquatic larvae, others metamorph in the egg. One species develops an extra layer of highly nutritious skin, which the larvae peel off with their teeth.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Creature Feature #93: Cane Toad

Native to Central and South America, the Cane Toad is a large, terrestrial amphibian. His name is derived for the purpose he was put to - released amongst the sugar cane, he would make a meal of any pests that might damage it without, himself, damaging the cane. He was introduced to Australia, amongst other countries, as an agent of biological control. A fast breeder, the Cane Toad is also toxic, which can be fatal to any predators that might eat him. These two traits have made his colonisation of foreign climes a swift success and he is now rated amongst the top#100 most Invasive Species.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Creature Feature #92: Canary

The wild, or Atlantic Canary is a small songbird who makes his home in the Canary Islands of Spain. The name "Canary" is derived not from the bird to the island, but from the island to the bird. Canaries were first brought to mainland Europe in the 17th century, by Spanish sailors. They became popular in court, and were bred by monks who sold the males. Only the male sings. There are now various colour mutations and breeds, with bright yellow being the most popular. In his wild state, he is rather more dowdy, but still has the beautiful song. He is a gregarious fellow and feeds in flocks, although during breeding season he and his mate will define and defend a small territory. Canaries need gravity to swallow, and in outer space they will dehydrate and die. The poor canary has also been submitted to testing for gases in mines - being small and relatively vulnerable, he will die very quickly when exposed to carbon dioxide, monoxide or methane and thus alert the miner's to the presence of the toxins before they too submit.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Creature Feature #91: Chameleon

The Chameleon is a colourful lizard found in warm environs - from deserts to rainforest. There are over 150 species ranging in length from 15 mm to 685mm. Males are often adorned with helmets, horns and in general, are more ornamental than the females. The Chameleon is famed for his colour changing abilities, which are linked to environment - for camouflage purposes, but also visually declare his emotion and act as a social signal to other individuals. He is a slow moving insectivore, with his five toes fused into two groups enabling him to clamp onto the branches. His eye-lids are joined, allowing only a small pinhole of eye to see through.  Both eyes can rotate independently, and he uses these to hone in on his prey before whipping out his tongue and gripping it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Creature Feature #90: Capuchinbird

 To those of you who are familiar with my page and my blog, this fellow will look rather familiar - and to whomever it was that asked me "what is that bird in your banner?", well here is your answer. He is a Capuchinbird, a member of the Cotinga family, which we shall be dealing with moderately thoroughly throughout our journey through the letter "C" with at least two of his relatives achieving starring roles.

The Capuchinbird is found in the humid forests of North-Eastern South America, where he makes his home in the canopy. His main diet is fruit, supplemented with the occasional invertebrate and sometimes even small vertebrates, like bats. In breeding season, the males gather to form Leks, where they perform to attract the females. For this, he draws himself upright, puffs out the bright feathers about his tail and makes a call that is so bizarre it is difficult to describe: a sort of wheezing, grunting, almost mooing sound, which gives him his alternate name of “Calfbird”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Creature Feature #89: Cacique

The Cacique are several species of New World blackbird, being distributed around Central and South America. This species, the yellow-rumped, has actually benefitted from forest clearance and ranching: he favours open woodland for his territory. He nests in colonies, with up to 100 bag-shaped nests in a tree. This tree usually also contains a live wasp nest, and the females compete to be near it, and the safety it offers from other predators. The female does all the work with the nest building, egg laying, incubation and chick-rearing. Both birds are very vocal, and the male’s song is particularly complicated: with fluting notes, cackles, wheezes and a bit of mimicry thrown in for good measure.

I first learned about the Cacique yesterday, when googling images of tomorrow’s bird, another South American oddity. This research is actually inspiring me to visit South America, as they seem to have a radically different array of avian fauna from everywhere else. The addition of these two birds also means that I am going to have well over 50 animals starting with “C” and thus the C Volume of my Animal Encyclopedia will be divided into two books.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creature Feature #88: Centipede

There are estimated to be at least 8,000 species of Centipede, spread throughout the world - with habitats ranging from withi the Arctic circle, to deserts and tropical rainforests. Lacking the waxy cuticle of insects and arachnids, Centipedes lose water rapidly through their skin and thus do require a moist micro-habitat: generally in soil or under leaf litter. Generally carnivorous in nature, Centipedes are generalists and will eat anything that they can catch and is soft bodied enough for them to consume. Although "centipede" translates as 100 feet, Centipedes can have anything from udner 20 to over 300 feet. Each pair is connected to a body segment and, due to the nature of their growth, Centipedes have an odd number of body segments. This fellow, the Chinese Red-headed Centipede can grow up to 20cm in length.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Creature Feature #87: Cave Characin

The Cave Characin is a species of tetra fish who makes her home in deep, dark underground ponds. Living in complete darkness, her eyes are vestigal, with the skin having grown over them, and her scales lack pigmentation. She uses her lateral lines to detect vibrations in the water, swimming close to obstacles to examine them. Her swim bladder is connected to her inner ear, amplifying sounds and allowing her to pick up a greater range and frequency. She lives in schools and eats plants, invertebrates and other fish.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Creature Feature #86: Catfish

 The Catfish are a diverse array of ray-finned fish spread throughout the world - whether naturally or by introduction. The name derives from his “whiskers” which are actually sensory barbels. These are used to forage along the beds of their freshwater habitats and to locate invertebrates or carrion, depending on the species. He does not have scales, but some species are armour plated. His gas bladder is reduced in size, and his head is large and bony, making him negatively bouyant. Introduced Catfish have made a mess of many freshwater habitats, earning him a ranking in the top 100 invasive species list.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Creature Feature #85: Cassowary

The large, flightless Southern Cassowary makes her home in the rainforests of Northern Queensland, with her cousins, the Northern and Dwarf species, being found in New Guinea and surrounding islands. Although shorter than the emu, her build is stockier and she weighs about the same. She follows an omnivorous diet with a preference for fruit. Relatively shy in nature, she can be extremely dangerous if provoked: her middle claw measures 12 cm and she can deliver a powerful kick. Rumour has it that she can disembowl a dog with one blow. Most reported Cassowary attacks on people, however, consist of the bird chasing the human, and occured in instances where she was expecting to receive food (kids, don't feed cassowaries - it's bad for them and for you), or had been provoked.

The one recorded human fatality, in 1926, was the result of two boys trying to beat a Cassowary to death with clubs. One of the boys was mauled and later died.

However, I can report that it is very intimidating to be stalked by a bird almost as tall as you are, having been followed by one in the Daintree, Northern Queensland, as I went to fetch insect repellant from our car. I believe he was curious more than anything, but when you look into those bright round eyes behind that long beak, it is very, very easy to believe that birds evolved from the dinosaurs.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Creature Feature #84: Carp

The Carp Family includes numerous species of oily, freshwater fish. This fellow is the Common Carp, naturally widespread across Europe and Asia, he has also been domesticated, insofar as fish can be domesticated, and introduced into various waterways throughout the world. Here he has made a bit of a pest of himself. He is an ominvore, and rather a messy eater: destroying, uprooting submerged vegetation, and his excretion contains undigested plant matter which fouls, raising the nutritional level of the water and encouraging algae growth. He also devours the eggs of other fish and is considered one of the #100 worst invasive species in the world.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Creature Feature #83: Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is numerous throughout the eastern US states, and down into Central America. He is a brightly coloured songbird, although his mate is rather more dowdy. The two mate for life, with the male announcing their territory with a high, clear whistle and chasing off any intruders that might venture into it. These songs are learned, and thus vary regionally. The female also sings, and sometimes they duet together. He also has a distinctive alarm call, which he uses to alert his mate - when she is sitting on the nest - of encroaching predators. Potential predators include snakes, owls, rodents and cats, all of which prey on either birds or eggs.

My scanner does not handle red well, and thus this fellow may not make the final “cut” for my Animal encyclopedia. I have far too many animals planned for C, at any rate.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Creature Feature #82: Caracara

This sturdily built raptor is a member of the Falcon Family. Unlike her Falco cousins, she is a long-legged and broad-winged bird who prefers walking to flying. Her main diet consists of carrion but she has been known to hunt: although her prey mostly consists of the weak and ailing. She is quite aggressive, however, and will actively chase other scavengers from their carrion meal. Although occasionally solitary, she may also gather in small family groups and abundant food sources can cause larger flockings. Her natural range is Central and South America and she frequents open and semi-open countryside. There are nine extant species, this one is a Crested Caracara.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Creature Feature #81: Caracal

The Caracal is a desert cat, found in the semi-arid landscapes of Africa and across into India. Sometimes known as the “desert lynx” he is, in fact, more closely related to the Serval and the African Golden Cat. He is well adapted for his arid life. Short, stiff hairs cover the inside of his paws, enabling him steadier footing over shifting sands; he gets most of his moisture from his prey; and his sandy coat allows him good camouflage. His main prey is small vertebrates, and he can jump 2 metres straight up to catch birds, and also is capable of bring down a small gazelle.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Creature Feature #80: Capybara

The largest living rodent, the Capybara makes her home near water in most of South America. She is semi-aquatic, and has partially webbed feet. Her nostrils too, are high on her head, allowing her to fully submerge except for her eyes, nose and ears. Indeed, she can even sleep in the water. Highly gregarious, she lives in herds with other females, juveniles and several adult males. Together they selectively graze the forest, grassland and water plants.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Animal-a-Day project - An Interview with myself

What inspired the Animal-a-Day project?
Well, one of my favourite subjects for my art is wildlife - and I especially like the more obscure critters, things that no one has ever heard of. Then, someone pointed me in the direction of My Zoetrope and I suddenly thought - what a brilliant idea, I'll draw an animal a day for an entire year. And thus I began.

A year, really? You're up to day 80, and still only on C!
Well, when I first considered a year, I failed to take into account how many wonderful creatures there are, and once I started going through and making lists from my DK Definitive Animal Encyclopedia , I realised that there were far more than 365 interesting creatures. So, I thought - why not dedicated each month to a letter... but even then, it was hard to narrow it down - especially since I started in the middle of October. And hey, wouldn't whatever letter wound up being featured in February be short-changed?

So how many animals are you actually intending to do? How long will this project take?
At a guess, two-three years. I did 37 critters for A, and 37 for B. I discovered that I can print photobooks via ArtsCow - the kind that people turn into bragbooks of baby photos or weddings or vacations or whatnot - and they will take a maximum of 39 pages. When you add in title page, contents and a bit of info about the project/artist, well that equates to a maximum of 36 per letter. I'm creating one photobook per letter. Well, maybe...

Maybe, what do you mean?
Some letters have less to offer than others. For example, with I and J combined I might manage 36 creatures. And can you really think of 36 animals starting with X? Or U? I thought not. Some letters will be combined into one volume. For others, like C, it is almost impossible to narrow it down to a mere 36 creatures. I'm thinking I might have to do the C volume in two parts...

There are that many animals starting with C?
You'd be surprised.

So how do you decide which creatures to draw?
This is the tricky bit... I want to draw them all, particularly the more obscure ones, but there are some animals I feel obliged to include - things like the big cats: cheetah, tiger etc. I think people would be disappointed if I just decided to draw only two or three feline species. And, since I also love birds - well, I've got to add in a few of those as well. And then I do rather like a challenge so I feel I should also add in some invertebrates, perhaps some spineless wonders. And then there's amazingly strange creatures like the Bobbit Worm and the Blue Dragon... well, people NEED to know about them. So... about the only animals I've excluded are those that look too much like other animals - for example I've chosen Capybara and Chinchilla for the Cs, excluding Coypu and Cavy, because... well, they're all just different species of rodent. Plus none of them are particularly interesting colours.

I'm also open to requests - so if there is a particular animal you would like to see illustrated, please do not hesitate to ask.

But there are a lot of lemurs.
Err yes, well, I am LEMURKat. Actually, confession time, someone challenged me to come up with a lemur for every letter. I'm not going to be able to do it, but I'm certainly going to let the world see how many different species there are. Although I likely won't draw them all. There are 30 or so species of Sportive Lemur, after all, and they all look rather similar.

Sometimes you draw individual species, other times one animal of the Family. What's with that?
Err, well - for example, there are several species of Anteater, but I just chose to draw the most typical (actually, one of the other species will appear under T), when I'm using the broader name, the sort of umbrella term that encompasses the various different species: ie: hyena, bandicoot, bittern, I've tried to draw the creature that most non-zoologists will picture with that species. So, for the Anteater I did the Giant Anteater, for Lemur I'll be drawing the ringtailed...

Very well, but the Pink Fairy Armadillo?
Okay, so that doesn't REALLY typify "Armadillo" but well, you have to agree, it's super adorable and if I had to wait until P to draw it - that's a whole year away. I might draw the more standard 9-banded fellow later, but for now the Pink Fairy stars.

How are you making these images?
I've got these A5 sheets of card, which I can draw 4 Art Cards on, I divide it up and get sketching. First I find some reference images - usually aiming for two or three with high definition, and pencil it in. I add the background, trying to find a reference of the typical habitat. After the sketchwork is done to my satisfaction, I ink it - using my micro pens (ranging from 0.05 - 0.8 mm tips) before colouring it with a combination of prismacolor and polychromos pencils, along with the occasional use of markers.

How long does each card take?
I haven't accurately timed myself, but I would say anything from 45 mins to 2 hours, depending on the complexity of the creature.

What is the hardest creature you have drawn so far?
That's a difficult question, but I would have to say - the barnacles were extremely challenging. They're very simple life forms, and the first efforts... well, let's just say, there is a reason I will probably be steering clear of drawing a clam. Then I decided to go with the Goose Barnacle instead, and I feel they were quite successful. The Abalone was also rather tricksy, but I was rather pleased with the result.

What are you going to do with all these Art Cards?
Well, I'd like to sell them (*laughs*). Actually, I've sold one (the Agama lizard), and traded maybe a dozen of the others. Currently I'm storing them in a binder, so I guess by the end of it I'll be able to have a miniature art exhibition. If anyone would like to buy one - they're $10 each, plus postage. I also am doing a giveaway on facebook every time I finish a letter. So, feel free to come along and become a "fan" of LemurKatArts. At the very least, next ATC gathering I manage to attend, I shall have plenty to swap!

Any other plans for the art?
Well, I'm going to have an entire set of Animal Encyclopedias, which should sort me out for Christmas gifts for the next... oh, ten years! And I will probably do a larger combined book, published via CreateSpace at immense cost, most likely (for the colour printing). Also am toying with a collectible card game or possibly an app. If anyone has any ideas for a game I could make out of them, please feel free to drop me a line. Still, with at least two years to go before I complete it, I'm sure I'll come up with something.

At least two years? That's quite a commitment. Are you sure you're up to the task?
Yeah, well, we'll see how it goes. Life might intervene in that time, or my fickle attentions may wander. We shall have to wait and see.

And lastly, how can one follow this Animal-A-Day project?
I'll be posting daily via this blog, also I have a tumblr account specifically for it, and a twitter account. As I gain more followers, I may even start giving spot prizes when my posts are re-blogged or re-tweeted.

Creature Feature #79: Capuchin Monkey

The Capuchin Monkey of South America is a highly social and intelligent primate. In the wild, he lives in troops of up to forty members and exhibits tool use: using stones to break up large fruits. Capuchin Monkeys are frequently studied in laboratories and also kept as an exotic pet. The organ grinder monkeys of the past were often Capuchins, and they have also been trained as greyhound jockeys and as service animals, aiding quadriplegics in their everyday lives. This, naturally, requires fairly intensive training. However, monkeys can become dangerous and also spread disease and do not make particularly good household companions.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Aishila the Ice Dragon

An Art Exchange with the lovely Aishila from Czech Republic. This is her ice dragon of the same name:

She requested an illustration of her dragon flying with birds, so I chose two colourful orioles and, as a backdrop, the Norwegian fjords.

I hope she likes it.

Original image is A5 size.

Creature Feature #78: Capercaillie

The Capercaillie is the largest member of the Grouse Family. He is most noted for his dramatic courtship display. In spring, and also for a short period in autumn (making my picture relevant - wooh) he flaps up, rather awkwardly because he’s not the world’s greatest flier, onto a tree branch. Here he fans his tail, fluffs out his throat feathers, opens his wings, throws his head back, beak pointed skywards, and begins to sing. As the females begin to gather, summoned by this display, he flaps down to continue the performance on the ground. Other males also join him, and they compete for the attentions of the hens.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Creature Feature #77: Camel

Camels are sometimes considered the "ships of the desert" and noted for their ability to travel for lengthy periods of time with neither food nor water. In almost every way, her body is adapted to withstand high temperatures and retain moisture, enabling her to live in extremely arid conditions*.  The one-humped dromedary camel is now almost entirely domesticated, although feral and free-ranging herds exist. She roams in nomadic herds of up to twenty females, led by a dominant male. Herds may merge during natural calamities. When rutting season comes around, the male inflates the inner palate of his mouth,  producing a deep pink sac called a "doula" which he uses to attract the females. Her close cousin, the two-humped bactrian camel, is critically endangered. The two species are able to interbreed and produce viable offspring.

* There is a really long and complicated list of adptations - if you wish to know more, visit wikipedia!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Creature Feature #76: Caiman

Caiman are small to medium sized crocodylians that make their home in Central and South America. There are several extant species. Her diet consists predominently of fish, including pirahna, but the occasional terrestrial vertebrate or large insect is taken and devoured. She can normally be found in mangrove swamps or rivers, lurking and waiting for her prey. When it comes time to breed, she will come ashore and lay between ten to fifty eggs in a nest she has constructed from vegetation. As this vegetation decays, it produces heat and incubates the eggs. The temperature of the eggs determines the gender of the offspring, with females being produced at 32 degrees celsius or higher, and males at lower temperatures. Mothers are very protective and will carry their youngsters down to the water.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Creature Feature #75: Cacomistle

Welcome to the first Creature Feature of 2014. I am starting today with the first of the Cs and, if prediction serves me correctly, we should be up to N by the end of the year. I have a years worth of exciting animal discoveries planned: there will be many birds and mammals, and some of the more bizarre creepy crawlies. There are other ways to follow the Animal-A-Day/Creature Feature project too - you can watch me on twitter @makilumi or subscribe to my tumblr feed: which is exclusively dedicated to the presentation of a piece of animal art a day. Lastly, if you like my art and wish to own a piece of it yourself, then I would urge you to become a fan of my facebook page: in which I will be doing a giveaway every time I finish a letter (approximately every 36 days).

Today, we begin the year with this charming little creature:

She is a Cacomistle, a secretive cousin to the racoon. Her home is the rainforests of Central America, where she occupies the canopy - usually found in the middle and upper levels. Solitary and shy, her range can cover up to 20 hectares. She follows a variable diet: insects, fruit, small birds and other mammals, reptiles and amphibians. She frequently hunts near bromeliads, as these plants naturally collect water and thus attract  moisture-loving potential prey. The only time she interacts with males is for mating, and she is receptive for that only one day of the year. Two months later she will birth one cub, who becomes independent after three months and sets out to found a territory of his own.

The Obligatory List of New Year's Goals

Every year I make a list, and every year I enjoy striking them off as I achieve them. I never get 100%, but that's okay, these are just here to keep me focused - they are not compulsory. So, here's what I hope to achieve in 2014:

Complete "Tail of Two Scions"
Edit/Rewrite passages of "Tiriki's Great Escape"
Participate in NaNoWriMo 2014 (this one is a "maybe" and will be determined on how much of the above I get completed first).
Reflections Anthology - prepare for release in June
Get short-listed for the Sir Julius Vogel award and attend Conclave2 in April (24-27th)

Design the cover for "Tiriki's Great Escape"
Re-design the cover for "Aroha's Grand Adventure" so that it matches "Tiriki's Great Escape"
Keep active auctions up on Trade Me
Continue establishing a name and identity for myself in the art markets
Attend the ANZ ATC gathering in Kapiti
Continue with my Animal-a-Day Project (and start conceptualising a game)
 Try to do at least 5 commissions

Read and review at least ten self-published titles
Read at least three classics
Read at least five non-fiction books
Read at least five titles that have been on my shelf for a while


Attend the ATC convention in Kapiti Coast
Visit Kapiti Island

Organise a picnic
Attend (or host) at least one party
Run a scenario for beginning roleplayers

Lose about 5 kilos
Maintain optimal weight
Prepare more "real food" instead of buying take-out
Walk or bike to work at least 90% of the time
Continue my monthly squash games with Rache

Continue saving $200-$400 a fortnight
Start looking at houses and speak to bank about mortgages