As promised, the final images from my Constructive Animal Anatomy class!
The "Sailor's Sketches" are mostly contributions from my friends to get a wider variety of styles in the illustrations.
Credit for those sketches are given below the image.
(If you have contributed one of the sketches and would like a link to your website added, please let me know!)
As an added bonus, here's the transcript for my presentation...
As we all know, our world of Mien plays host to a vast populace of a wide variety of creatures, many exotic species inhabiting our great and lush nation of Randomia. As Chief Scientific Historian of the Grand Randomian Archive, it is my duty to record all existing species known to man.
Directly to the South of Randomia, lies Penguin Island, named for its chief inhabitant, the Pooter, which is a distant relative of the penguin.
This island is highly inaccessible to humans, so many of its species have yet gone unrecorded, save but legends and stories weaved by sailors.
So, when these sketches drawn by sailors traveling around the region appeared on my desk, I took up the task of digging through the Randomian Archives.
(artist: Tyler J. Kupferer)
(artist: Tim Loyer)
(artist: Melanie Florencio)
(artist: Diana Smith)
(artist: Daniel Yost)
(artist: Alice Dettman)
(artist: Matt Synowicz)
Upon further investigation, I found several tablets containing creatures bearing a striking resemblance to those depicted in the sailors' illustrations.
It would appear these creatures were once worshiped as sea dragons and fed on a regular basis, removing their natural instinct completely. Thus, when the ancient races rebelled against these "gods," they fell easily into extinction. However, now that we found traces of life, it was only my duty to travel to Penguin Island in order to archive the species I found there.
(artist: James Workman)
Upon landing on its most accessible coast, I was immediately greeted by the creatures the sailors had depicted in their drawings, which they had named the "Derpshark," for its outward similarities to sharks, and the distinctive "durr" call it makes. The Derpshark is, in fact, an amphibianesque creature more closely resembling salamanders than sharks, and begins its life hatching from small pellet-sized eggs on the sandy shore.
After hatching, it attempts to travel to the sea, but many do not survive the dangerous journey and are eaten by other larger creatures. Those that do make it to the ocean must avoid larger sea creatures, but if they can survive a few hours in the salt water, a chemical reaction occurs, apparently causing them to be poisonous to all known life if ingested. They don't seem to be venomous, or poisonous to the touch, though, as I have in my time on the Island seen several Derpsharks trampled by angry Pooters or Osotaurs (Bull-Bears).
The youngling Derpsharks (below, right) hunt for food in the ocean for up to a week before tiring of the effort and entering life on dry land. On land, these creatures appear to be mostly bipedal, and can grasp objects with their paddle-shaped forearms. They use the scoop-like shape of their arms to their advantage and often steal fish from Pooters who may be exhausted from exerting the effort of catching their own meal.
The youngling Derpsharks have smaller legs which aided them in their time in the ocean, but as they grow into juveniles (pictured above, left), they develop muscles specific to running across rocky and sandy terrain in order to better evade angry Pooters attempting to reclaim their food. This is perhaps the only kindness Mother Nature has shown to the Derpsharks, for if they could not run quickly, they would surely die out completely.
The adults develop more distinctive patterns and colorations as they grow, and begin to lose their gills, having no more use for them in their life on land. Once reaching adulthood, at around the age of 2 months, they begin their mating terms, which can last up to a week and take place up to 20 times a year. A typical Derpshark can mate anywhere from 50 to 50,000 times in its short life (which is, at most, 3 years long). Derpsharks do not mate for life, but rather seem to forget that they mated at all and immediately seek out another mate. These mating cycles consist of immense groups of Derpsharks gathering along the coasts, and are called Orgies (oar-ghees).
Here, we see a small Orgy (oar-ghee) of Derpsharks:
The female Derpsharks begin the mating rituals by letting out a distinctive "puckering" call and strutting about on the shore. The males then respond with a deep "durr" noise, and upon crossing paths with a female, the two will circle each other for a minute before engaging in mating, which only lasts for a couple minutes before they tire of each other and go their separate ways.
Occasionally, after circling, the Derpsharks may reject each other and a slap-battle will take place, which is the only form of true aggression I have observed from a Derpshark, aside from squawking when I came close to a Derpshark's meal. Slap-battles usually begin when two Derpsharks (typically of the same gender) get too close to each other. They circle each other on all fours and raise their tails only seconds before returning to their bipedal positions and slapping each other with their forepaws. These slap-battles can last up to five minutes, but most Derpsharks grow tired or forget what they were fighting for in the first place and cease after about fifteen seconds.
The female Derpsharks seem to be much more affectionate than males, and often are found sitting in group patting sessions, where they simply sit in a circle, patting each other on the back or on the head. While the females engage in slap-battles as well, they almost always follow it with a patting session as a sign of apology or forgiveness.
Elder Derpsharks (pictured above, right) are quite possibly the laziest of them all, and eventually give up trying to find their own food, resorting to simply laying on the beach all day. They seem to be under the impression that another Derpshark will bring them their meals, but their selfish nature blinds them to the needs and desires of others. Often, elder Derpsharks will simply die of starvation, of heat stroke, or of being drowned by the high tide because of their persistent laziness. After their death, very often, younger Derpsharks will happen upon their remains and attempt to wake them by initiating a patting session. When that proves pointless, the young Derpshark simply falls asleep, using the deceased Derpshark as a pillow.
While living with these creatures, I found that their sheer lack of instinct, willpower, patience, or sentience whatsoever proves the dangers of humans interfering in the natural course of life on this planet.
The Derpsharks, because of this interference of humans, have lost most of the abilities to fend for themselves.
Their teeth have long lost the serration their ancestors had, which were necessary to rending flesh from the bodies of fish, and now it would take them up to an hour to finish a single salmon, yet their patience only allows for five minutes of effort before growing tired and walking away, leaving the half-eaten fish to rot.
Their physical makeup is ill-equipped for their environment, and it would seem they were meant for mainly aquatic life, only occasionally venturing onto land.
Even the way they walk is inefficient and unnatural.
In short, I have found that the Derpshark can officially be considered the least intelligent creature on the planet.
It does, however, have its benefits, which is perhaps why they were once worshiped. The slime their skin excretes has healing capabilities and can be used for medicinal purposes, including pain relievers, facial cleansers, fermentation aids, or even adhesives or sealants. A second benefit of the Derpshark is that after their death, the bodies that were once poisonous to natural life can be used as excellent fertilizer. It is my belief that in ancient times, the dead bodies of Derpsharks served to fertilize the ocean floor and create lush new life in the depths, which now explains why much of the plant life at the bottom of the sea is in rapid decline. If there were a system to collect the bodies of deceased Derpsharks from the shores of Penguin Island and plane them in calculated locations on the ocean floor, we may be able to restore the life of the ocean to what it once was.
I am happy to field any questions you may have about this unusual creature.
Love you all,
Emily J. Sampson
p.s. let it be known, that while typing this out, I realize it just wasn't the same if I wasn't wearing my "Librarian Spectacles," and so, I put them on.