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Speculative Intelligent Mammaloid by Viergacht Speculative Intelligent Mammaloid by Viergacht

So here is the speculative creation of Aakedisss, a paleontologist, amateur artist and something of a dreamer descended from dinoavians on a world where the asteroid never hit and mammals remained small, scurrying, rodentlike creatures.

  But what if they hadn’t? Aakedisss wonders. What if dinosaurs had gone extinct and mammals grew and diversified to take over their abandoned ecological niches? What if a mammal eventually even developed intelligence – what would it look like, this mammaloid?

 The most obvious and striking difference between the mammaloid and her own species is, of course, the pelt of thick, soft fur (similar, but not identical to the pycnofibers covering pterosaurs). The coat is marked in dull shades of rust and grayish brown as, like many mammals, it is color-blind. The fur lacks the iridescent structures that give feathers their dazzle. It never even occurs to Aakedisss to make her mammaloid bare-skinned. She considers it likely to have evolved in Europe or the Americas after the winnowing and environmental pressures of a long Ice Age, and to have retained a full pelt like any other mammal.

 It takes Aakedisss some time to figure out how to wrench the quadrupedal basic mammalian form upright. Eventually she recalls a small species of bipedal hopping desert rodent, and decides her mammaloid’s ancestors must have been something similar. Accordingly, she depicts it with powerful hind legs and a counterbalancing tail.

 The head is, naturally, dominated by the massive domed skull. Mammal brains seem to be somewhat inefficient compared to dinoavian brains, and require more bulk for the same amount of processing power. The swollen skull limits the external ears’ motion, so they are reduced in size. Artistically, this appeals to Aakedisss as small ears give the mammaloid’s head a much more dinoavian (and therefore intelligent) aspect.

 Less able to depend on its sharp mammalian hearing, the creature’s eyesight becomes more important, and its eyes are large and oriented forwards over its narrow muzzle. Aakedisss suspects they won’t bother re-evolving color vision, and that they will require a large surface area of retina to resolve clear images. The big, dark eyes end up giving it a rather charming expression.

 It still has its ancestors’ pronounced snout and damp nose. Sense of smell is so important to mammals that Aakedisss assumes it will remain so. Perhaps their art forms and language are partly based on the emission of scents?

 The mammaloid has narrow, sloping shoulders and a somewhat restricted range of motion in its forelimbs. In Aakedisss’s world, there are no brachiating mammals – for that matter, there are no brachiating dinosaurs. Her own mobile forelimbs are a gift from her flying ancestors, who freed them up for a few million years of flapping before becoming terrestrial once again. Aakedisss toys with the notion of giving her mammaloid a similar history of descent from batlike fliers, but eventually decides that’s too suspiciously coincidental.

 To compensate, the mammaloid has developed the second and fourth fingers of its hand as thumbs. In most rodents the first digit is reduced in size, and Aakedisss thinks that it’s more likely for evolution to mold the second digit into a grasping thumb rather than to re-evolve the first digit. And after all, the dinoavians get along fine with just three digits (two fingers and a thumb) so five fingers would simply be superfluous.

 It is a cliché of mammal art to always illustrate female specimens that are either giving birth to or nursing a litter of squirming young, but the mammalian method of reproduction is so bizarre and unique that most artists can’t resist emphasizing it. Aakedisss is aware of the cliché, but in this case feels it instructive to depict her mammaloid as a mother. She is convinced that it’s much more believable for a marsupial to develop intelligence, as a placental mammal would either have to evolve ridiculously wide hips to pass a large-brained infant, or give birth to it in such an undeveloped state it would have very little chance of survival.

 Although Aakedisss’s speculative mammaloid is a darling of the press and the life-sized model exhibited in her museum is beloved by visiting schoolhatchlings, a small group of “mammal nerds” is vehemently critical of it, considering its design too conservative and dinosaur-like. They suggest a small, gregarious burrowing mammal with mobile tendrils on its nose would be more likely to develop these as a grasping organ, and tout their underground society of multitrunked, quadrupedal hive-mind mammaloids far more credible than Aakedisss’s creation.


note: I'm not making a personal attack against anyone - I just have a lingering affection for poor ol' Dinosauroid, and thought it would be funny to see what an intelligent dinosaur would come up with when trying to design a speculative intelligent mammal. They probably wouldn't be able to guess evolution would have ended up with a bunch of sweaty monkeys! For the mammaloid's design, I took inspiration from possums, squirrels, gerbils, wallabies and marmosets, but I didn't want it to look like one specific real-world critter. 

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:iconhyenask:
hyenaSK Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Its too bad there are so few bipedal mammals...
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:iconkallytoonsstudios:
KallyToonsStudios Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
In an alternate universe.
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:iconjflaxman:
jflaxman Featured By Owner May 11, 2016
This is one of my favourite pieces from you. I've seen a lot of speculative intelligent life forms, but I really like the way you've attributed this one to a non-mammalian thinker and illustrator. From there your speculation's as detailed and plausible as usual and the picture's very well done. This whole piece reminds me how far nature can diverge from our all-too-human expectations. There's a timeless message here!
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner May 13, 2016  Professional General Artist
Thanks so much - I don't think I'm terribly imaginative but I'm pretty good at grounding the ideas I do have.
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:iconleatherhead72:
LeatherHead72 Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2016  Professional Artisan Crafter
Amazing creature and speculative story behind her! 
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:iconpokemontrainerbeast:
pokemontrainerbeast Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2016
You're imagination is one a marvelous one...
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:icontaiferret:
TaiFerret Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2015
This reminds me of an alien species I'm working on. I'm designing a fantasy planet very similar to Earth with even quite similar evolutionary pathways. The intelligent sapient species I've made up for it is more like a typical mammal than we are, with fur and a tail and a keen sense of smell and poor colour vision. Their languages don't really have much colour related vocabulary but instead they have many words for smells.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2016  Professional General Artist
That sounds like a really cool idea! We really are very odd mammals, and it's amusing how much of our culture is very specific to having evolved from omnivorous apes. Lots of room to play with there!
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:iconhelixdude:
Helixdude Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Looks like a sentient marsupial to me.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2015  Professional General Artist
It is!
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:iconhelixdude:
Helixdude Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Maybe it could be a candidate for a Yowie.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2015  Professional General Artist
Possibly!
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:iconhelixdude:
Helixdude Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
What do you thinks a more plausible identity for the Yowie anyways? A hominid from Indonesia that island hopped during the Ice Age when sea levels were lower or a sort of humanoid marsupial came about via convergent evolution? 
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2015  Professional General Artist
A hominid is probably slightly more plausible, but I personally like the idea of a humanoid (but not nessacarily intelligent) descended from the short-faced kangaroo, just for weirdness's sake.
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:iconhelixdude:
Helixdude Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Or maybe it could a relative of Thylacaleo.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2015  Professional General Artist
Maybe, but it would be hard to get it upright I think. 
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(1 Reply)
:iconelectreel:
electreel Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2015
I absolutely love this! Amazing concept and illustration :)
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:iconroseofthenight4444:
RoseOfTheNight4444 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
ooh, fascinating!
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:iconmalicious-monkey:
Malicious-Monkey Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Speculative speculative evolution. Awesome.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Professional General Artist
It's dinosauroids all the way down ;)
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:iconalexsone:
AlexSone Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's great! Fnd the description too!
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:iconzippo4k:
Zippo4k Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015
Now that is a very interesting take on the 'if dinosaurs hadn't gone extinct' trope. ;D Very cool back story.
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:icontarturus:
Tarturus Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Interesting speculation. The theme of how hypothetical sapient dinosaurs might come up with speculative "mammaloids" and make essentially the same mistakes humans have done with "dinosauroids" is a theme I've long been fond of.
I particularly like how Aekedisss erroneously assumed placentals were unlikely candidates and how the "mammal nerds" made a mammaloid just as far removed, if not more so, from what us real-life sapient mammals are like. Just goes to show how unpredictable evolution can be.
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  Professional General Artist
Yep, I was impressed with evolution's unpredictability reading Stephen Gould's "Wonderful Life" as a kid and it's an idea that still captivates me. 
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:iconhamstertoybox:
hamstertoybox Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015
You have a knack for coming up with really interesting, believable creatures. I'm curious about your background as you seem to have a lot of technical knowledge. Did you study paleontology or something?
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015  Professional General Artist
I was actually a communications/psychology major, but I never got a degree. I'm just a massive nerd who's read a lot :)
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:iconhamstertoybox:
hamstertoybox Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2015
Ah, fair enough. Yay for self-motivated learning :)
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:iconrogatakawka:
RogataKawka Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Aww!
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:iconyaguaouroundi:
Yaguaouroundi Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Show
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:iconmethusulacomics:
MethusulaComics Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015
nice design.
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:icongrisador:
grisador Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015
So in this version dinosaurs went extinct not because of asteroid but other unspecific events; and more primitive mammalians evolved.

I must admit marsupials are the best candidates foi this :nod:
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Professional General Artist
Actually, in this world dinosaurs developed intelligence, and this is what one of those dinosaurs thinks an intelligent mammal would look like :)
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:icongrisador:
grisador Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015
I read entirely wrong ! Sorry about that ^^;

Still this is Very Awesome :D

İts legit that they think marsupial animals will evolve
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:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Professional General Artist
Yeah, being a marsupial would seem to solve a lot of problems as far as birthing . . . I certainly wouldn't mind having a built-in pocket. 
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:icongrisador:
grisador Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015
İndeed; especially birthing. The mother hasn't got any (painfull) process Half of the (not so advanced) human females birth process....

Oh; and no risk of infection, death & similiar 'things' :o
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:iconvalradga:
Valradga Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Student Digital Artist
This...wow
This is amazing, but quite disturbing O.o
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:iconleggurm:
Leggurm Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Very amusing.
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:iconexobio:
Exobio Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
This is excellent. 
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:iconguyverman:
Guyverman Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015
A sapient Marsupial?
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:iconsin-and-love:
sin-and-love Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015
This reminds me of something I read Carl Sagan say in his book "The Cosmos." I can't remember exactly how he worded it, but basically he pointed out that with the way evolution works, if someone were to hit the reset button on our planet, the life that would evolve would be as different to us as it would be if it had happened on any other planet.
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:iconwraithsith:
wraithsith Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2016  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Carl Sagan was recently proved wrong about that. Scientists recently did a test on the same lizard species evolving on two nearly-identical islands. The evolutionary pathway for both lizards ended up being the same- eerily so in fact. it was quite an interesting study, but for some reason the name of the source for this study is escaping me, maybe I'll recall it later when I'm more awake.
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:iconsin-and-love:
sin-and-love Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2016
huh. curious.  I'd like to point out however that this would need to be repeated with several other animals.
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:iconcomixqueen:
comixqueen Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
This is a genius idea! :XD: I really love this! The story in the description makes it ten times better!
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:iconwillemsvdmerwe:
WillemSvdMerwe Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015
Heh heh great work and I love that cute little baby peeking out of there!
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:iconmacgobhain:
macgobhain Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015
AAAAWWWEEE They're so cute!
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:iconsomekindaspy:
SomeKindaSpy Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015
beautiful!
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:iconbattleferrets:
Battleferrets Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my gosh this is amazing. This is the kind of backwards thinking that I really love about your creations! I too really have a soft spot for Dinosaroid, and I think this is a neat little thought experiment and artistic experiment. I'm really rather fond of this little lady, you made her quite endearing in appearance :) 
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:iconmidiaou:
Midiaou Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Interesting one
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