Saturday, April 20, 2013


Confuciusornis sp. 2013 photoshop

          This is an image of the most exquisite fossil Mesazoic bird Confuciusornis.  Confuciusornis, named after the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, are from the early Cretaceous Yixian and 
Jiufotang formations of China and holds the current record for the oldest known bird with a fully modern beak.  No teeth in this mouth, however you will note in this restoration what is clearly preserved in the fossils are Confuciusornis' fingers and claws on it's wings.

          Many restorations of Confuciusornis depict the bird with the paired long tail feathers which have been found in several preservations.  Interestingly, most of the specimens (upwards of 85%) do not have the long tail streamers (Martin, L.D., Zhou, Z., Hou, L. & Feduccia, A., 1998, "Confuciusornis sanctus compared to Archaeopteryx lithographica", Naturwissenschaften 85: 286–289)  For this reason I have Chosen to not include the tail streamers.  There is currently debate regarding the tail, whether it was sexual dimorphism, subspecies, molting, lack of preservation or other reasons have all been proposed.

          Regardless of the tail possessed by this animal, it is a remarkable feathered fossil of a Mesozoic true Bird, not to be confused with the dinosaurian birds of the Mesozoic.  Not only does it have a fully developed beak and lack any teeth in the adult form but it also has shortened and fuzed tail vertebra as well.  I used modern tropical crows as reference for the coloration and in the future I would like to do more iterations of Confuciusornis with alternate color patterns and habitats, perhaps some in flight!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

BLUEGRASS WILD Species descriptions part 1. The Vero Tapir.

          I have been receiving a lot of inquiries about the animals that are featured in the Bluegrasswild mural series and since space was restricted on the postcards and not to get too wordy on the website, I wanted to go into more detail about the animals here on the blog.  I'll explain a little about the Pleistocene creature depicted in the mural, how I reconstructed it and resources I used to do so, and a brief bio about the living analogues of the animals.  So without Further ado, we will start with the Vero Tapir.

Vero Tapir
Tapirus veroensis
In 1989 fossil jaws were discovered at Hill Top Cave in Trigg County Kentucky.  The Vero Tapir was found in the southern United States and was probably very like the temperate Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) of today.

          Tapirs are very interesting animals, and I have been fascinated by them since childhood and I remember seeing one at the Cincinnati zoo, the large black and white Maylayan Tapir and being intrigued by it's coloring.  I learned that Tapirs belong to the group of ungulates known as Perissodactyla or, the odd toed ungulates, a group that also includes horses and Rhinoceros.  There are only a few living species of Perissodactylids compared to the numerous diversity of their hoofed cousins the Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates such as deer, goats, antelope, cattle, giraffes, and camels (which interestingly enough also used to exist in Kentucky).  Although modern Perissodactylids are not nearly as diverse as now as the Artiodactylids, they still are very familiar to us in the form of horses, especially for us here in Kentucky.  The fossil diversity of Perissodactylids had a much broader range of species than their surviving members and they were once just as diverse as the Artiodactylids and included truly enormous animals larger than living elephants like Paraceratherium, a gigantic hornless Rhinoceros-like animal from Asia.  

          The Vero Tapir ok the Kentucky Pleistocene is only know from fragmentary remains, a few jaws and teeth but based on their shape and size they were clearly of a Tapir about the same size as modern day tapirs.  For The reconstruction I basically had modern living species of Tapirs to compare with.  I had always liked the coloration of the baby tapirs of today, which have coats involving intensive spotting and camouflage markings to break up their outline.

Photo by

           Most of the stripes and spots fade away as the babies grow to adulthood, much like whitetail fawns.  I wanted to include an animal that still retained some of it's variegation into adulthood but still chose to mute the dark splotches on the animals side.  For added drama and effect, I also elected to drape a shadow of an oak branch over the animal, to add depth and position it in it's prime habitat, a low browser capable of navigating very dense forests and jungles, in this case a temperate deciduous oak forests of Pleistocene Kentucky.  Thanks for reading, don't forget to stop by to view the finished pieces and I'll be posting next week about extinct horses of the Bluegrass State.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Response to Seven Rules for Managing Creative-But-Difficult People

Recently an article was published by the Harvard Business review titled "the Seven Rules for Managing creative-But-Difficult People".  Please read the article for yourself, but the following are my thoughts on these types of articles.  First, I'm not going into the negatives, why I disagree with so much of this, nor will I ponder as to why such material is written and published, I want to highlight some positive things I see in this.

 I think this is a good example of how, of the internet and social networking's double edge can actually work in our favor. For every management trainee that reads this and takes it to heart, I would bet that at least one creative has also read it and hopefully augmented their defenses against possible future abuse. I say let them keep speaking their mind, write more, tear it up with this type of material. It reminds me of that article that was floating around deviant art about how to get cheap app-game art from artists and take advantage of them. It's wonderful that articles like this are published in a way, because its public, it's shared, and it's not only spoken about in some 50th flor manhattan meeting room any longer. By publishing that the author is just arming us with knowledge and evidence to ensure a future where creatives have equal roles in the industry, which I dare say all of us here feel is best. Our best strength is in information, and then standards and unity, that's the best way to offset the greater financial capital of entities that would follow this type of rhetoric.