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Merry Churisutumasu: Redux Evolution

December 25, 2016

Chibi Ursa and Helios were very sad. Everyone they knew was dead, and it was Christmas Eve. They sat alone in a café in Siberia. Suddenly a guy with a parka yelling homophobic slurrs came out of the bushes and shot Helios!

“No!” cried Chibi Ursa bitterly, now she was truly alone in the darkness of the mind’s cosmos.

“Hahahahahahahaha how your pussy fucks yourself!” mocked Donald Trump evilly, he was nearby drinking beer.

Chibi Ursa then took out a horn clipper and threw it at his crotch, utterly annihilating it in a shredded blending of gore as his genitals turned into red mist, then red snow, then a red glacier. Lots of bats and rats entered through his exposed urethra, stretching it in a bulbous way kind of like opossum joeys in the pouch, except there was BLOOD and PUS, red and green like the colours of SANTA, accept more dirty.

Well anyways a dimensional portal appeared, and out of it came………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..USAGI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“WTF?1” said Chibi Ursa wonderingly.

“Chibi Ursa, you must save this timeline!” said Serena, she had an ipatch like Danger Mouse, “Santa plans to return with an army of the damned! I managed to defeat him in this universe, but for that reason there are now TWO Santas in HELL and they fused together!”

“OFMG does that mean everyone else is alive in your world?” asked Chibi Ursa happily.

“No, the Guardians killed them all before they joined Justice League Dark” said Usag sandly, “There is no time! We must reach the obsidian temple before-”

Suddenly, a spring of lava springed out of the ground, spearing Serena from her pussy to her brains! Her organs were blackened by the heat and expelled noxious gases, burning her skin to a dark crisp and inflating her fingertips like fleshy balloons (kind of like those bubbles you get when you touch a lamp, only more plastic) and exploded her phalanges in a shower of bloody vapour, her nails being projected thousands of miles into the earth’s crust, leaving tunnels that were quickly filled by molten rock.

From these tunnels came an evil red smoke, followed by hands of rock. Chibi Ursa couldn’t believe it……………………………………………………………………………..LAVA ZOMBIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They ated Serena’s corpse, and then began to sprout tendrils, that began to sew them together, until they formed……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………SANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Ho ho ho merry FUCKING cHRISTMAS!” said Santa, punching Chibi Ursa in the face, obliterating her jaw into a billion butterfly-like shards and sending her flying miles away, destroying entire mountain ranges.

It seemed like defeat. Lava zombies, demons, gorgons and Rockettes came out of the earth and ate people, raped children with kitchen utensils and bribed politicians to increase global warming. All snow melted, and Christmas seemed ruined. Santa walked all over Asia before he sat in his lava throne in Japan, causing earthquakes all over the Earth. Chibi Ursa kept flying all over the planet, obliterating everything in her path, serving the very evil she sought to destroy. To make things bad, her jaw got infected with necrosis, and her tongue became a white, shriveled sack of pus.

But she remembered. She remembered her friends, their smiles, the Christmas spent together. She remembered the joy, the unity, the communism. She remembered the snowy winters, the snowbite and the snowforst, and how it dulls the senses and the ego.

And she did not give up.

“By the power of Christmas, I will defeat you Santa!” she declared.

And a miracle happened. Her jaw, she got a new jaw………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………MADE OF ICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Sweet, now I can eat any mexican food I want!” she chirped happily, clapping her hands like a baby of righteousness.

She used her new found cryokinesis to freeze time and space, so she slowed down and repaired all the damage she had caused. All the undead looked at her, but she blew an icy kiss and they all froze to DEATH, their lava turned into blue ICE.

“What is the meaning of this!?” yelled Santa, who rose from his evil throne and caused a lava torrent to project all the way to the Moon with every step he took.

“Santa, your evil christian ways will end!” said Chibi Ursa, “Surrender or return to the HELL from where you came!”

Satan got MAD, and he casted a spell, melting the earth and turning it into reindeer of lava and molten metal. But all Chibi Ursa had to do was to send a blizzard, and they all died.

“GRRRR, you shall PAY!” growled Santa, and he took off his pants and masturbated!

He ejaculated pure black ash-like semen into the earth, and it began to shake. Suddenly, a Rudolph made of lava came! Chibi Ursa summoned another blizzard, but Rudolph had a nose made of the Earth’s core!

“Ho ho ho if you attack then the entire planet will die!” cackled Santa evilly as he ate his cum.

Chibi Ursa thought a bit. Then she had an idea!

“Rudolph, if all other reindeer are made of lava, doesn’t that mean your nose isn’t special anymore?” asked Chibi Ursa piercingly?

Rudolph’s eyes widened. All the suffering, all the bullying, was meaningless now. He had an identity crisis! He stared blankly, lost in his own thoughts.

This was all it took for Chibi Ursa to jump on his head and take off his molten gold obsidian antlers. She could touch them became she froze her hands, so there was a heat imbalance and lightning flew everywhere. She focused all the lightning on the antlers, then jumped out of Rudolph into Santa!

“Santa, your ass belongs to HITLER!”

“No!” cried Sainta, but it was too late!

Then she stabbed him in the head, ripping his skull apart and frying his brains with lightning, making him clinically retarded and shit his internal organs. He died, and his corpse became Usagi’s.

Chibi Ursa buried her mother in the molten earth, which then cooled down and became ice. It quickly covered the entire planet, quenching the fires and bringing a white Christmas even to the tropics.

She returned the antlers to Rudolph, and the two sat together on a glacier, enjoying each other’s company. They were the only family both of them had left.

Amen.

Visual references for Dryolestoidea

December 22, 2016

Researching extinct mammals can be extremely taxing, especially when most you have are teeth and jaws and when what aren’t teeth and jaws is often only ever available in pay-walled, often esoteric texts.

Ditto for dryolestoids, one of the most fascinating of non-therian mammal groups; you wouldn’t guess that a clade spanning at least 60 species across all continents from the Jurassic to the Miocene, ranging from insectivores to hyrax-like herbivores to diggers to weird tusked pseudo-pigs, would have little more than a few pics that aren’t teeth in its name. And sometimes even those are hard to get by!

So here’s some aid:

A possible template?

image

So before we get to the many fossil dryolestoids, we should get to what might be a living representative of this clade(!). According to one 2014, the living “marsupial” moles might actually be dryolestoids rather than marsupials.

Thus, it’s a tempting idea to keep Notoryctes in mind. Even if it is a marsupial after all, it is nonetheless very similar to at least one dryolestoid, Necrolestes, and you can always spice up your art with a few details based on this wondrous creature.

However, it is nonetheless a very specialized animal. Comparing the “marsupial mole” to, say, Henkelotherium is like comparing a mole to a cat: it’s not going to work. So keep that in mind.

Necrolestes

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Necrolestes patagoensis skull and skeleton. Later image by Gabriel Lio.

Necrolestes is by far the best illustrated of all dryolestoids, thanks to it basically being a victorian paleontological meme. It is very similar to the still living “marsupial mole” – and almost certainly it’s closest relative if it is a dryolestoid – differing mostly in details of the head, with a strange up-turned snout and prominent fangs.

Like the “marsupial mole” it is too specialised to be a model for every dryolestoid however. For instance, although the Cretaceous south american Leonardus is closely related to it…

Cronopio

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…so is Cronopio, an entirely different animal altogether.

Armchair anatomists might find the above skull to resemble that of a pig, and that’s basically what Cronopio was: a tusked, long snouted omnivore, even edging on the size of small suines.

Many an online article compare this thing to Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel from the Ice Age movies. However, from what we know it seemed to have been a terrestrial forager, and probably not particularly squirrel-like.

It is nonetheless not a very mole-like animal, unlike either Necrolestes or the “marsupial moles”.

Henkelotherium

What is squirrel like, however, is the Jurassic aged Henkelotherium, from my home country of Portugal.

This animal is completely unlike the previous ones: rather than being robust, it is very gracile, and rather than digging on the ground it lived on the tree canopy. In the Jurassic it seems virtually every mammal group had an arboreal representative (be it the docodont Agiloconodon, volaticotheres, haramiyidans or early therians, among others), and as it turns out dryolestoids were no exception.

Crusafontia

Another dryolestoid frequently depicted as arboreal and squirrel-like is Crusafontia; however, this is a holdover from when its remains were considered to belong to an early primate, and it’s probably impossible to confirm given that we only know it from a few jaws and teeth.

However, being a diverse group as it was, Dryolestoidea probably had several more arboreal species, and it’s certainly possible that many taxa we only know from teeth were in fact arboreal.

Dryolestes

Very few discussions are complete without the eponymous genera. Compared to other dryolestoids, Dryolestes itself is laughably underrepresented in so much as diagrams, but there a bit we can glean from the jaws we have.

For starters, by Jurassic mammal standards it was fairly large, being roughly the size of a hedgehog. It probably lived like one as well, judging its fairly generalized teeth yet robust jaws.

Keep in mind that we know some Mesozoic mammals had spines (i.e. Spinolestes) or otherwise crazy hair (Volaticotherium, with its long tail bristles), so it’s very likely dryolestoids were doing similar things. This is an aspect of mammalian paleoart that seriously needs exploring.

Mesungulatoids

(First two pictures belong to Peligrotherium. Last is a molar of Mesungulatum)

The most spectacular of all dryolestoids were probably the mesungulatoids, a herbivorous lineage that diversified during the Late Cretaceous of South America, and endured for a few million years into the Paleocene, achieving megafaunal sizes in the case of Peligrotherium.

Most frustratingly, they’re also the hardest to find good pictures of, as the most complete skull yet is available only on a paywalled paper.

In general, we know that these animals had blunt snouts, as the thick and up-turned jaws above can clue you in, packed with batteries of strange molars. In this regard maybe the also blunt skull of the “marsupial moles” might serve as a good reference.

And more

Austrotriconodon molar

Hopefully the above might have helped you get a basic picture of dryolestoid diversity and apparence.

Sources:

Kielan-Jaworowska, Zofia; Cifelli, Richard L; Luo, Zhe-Xi (2004). Mammals from the Age of Dinosaurs: Origins, Evolution, and Structure. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-11918-4.

Agnolin, F.; Chimanto, N. (2014-12-22). Morphological evidence supports Dryolestoid affinities for the living Australian marsupial mole Notoryctes”. PeerJ Preprints. 2: e755v1. doi:10.7287/peerj.preprints.755v1.

Dental and Craniomandibular Anatomy of Peligrotherium Tropicalis: The Evolutionary Radiation of South American Dryolestoid Mammals, ProQuest, 2008

Guillermo W. Rougier, Sebastián Apesteguía and Leandro C. Gaetano (2011). Highly specialized mammalian skulls from the Late Cretaceous of South America”. Nature. 479: 98–102. doi:10.1038/nature10591.  Supplementary information

Gaetano, C. A. Marsicano, and G. W. Roughier. 2013. A revision of the putative Late Cretaceous triconodonts from South America. Cretaceous Research 46:90-100

Gondwannan Metatherians Redux

December 19, 2016

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So Wilson et al 2016 pretty much vindicated previous finds that the “Gurlin Tsav” skull forms a clade with south american metatherians… and that these are NOT related to marsupials!

Instead, marsupials are part of the extensive north american metatherian radiation that originated in the Campanian and eventually died off in the KT event. This vindicates a north american origin for marsupials, being basically an extension of the PeradectesHerpetotherium line.

This, however, clearly showed that there was another radiation of southern metatherians, composed of sparassodonts and assorted Paleocene taxa. These instead have as their closest relative the aforementioned asian Gurlin Tsav species, with no currently known close north american relatives.

As previously suggested, an asian origin through India remains untested but likely, somewhere during the Late Cretaceous or early Paleocene. As Australia’s early Cenozoic fossil reccord remains poor, the possibility that these metatherians colonized East Gondwanna first and then became locally extinct is high. Archaeonothos in particular could be a member of this clade, since similarities with sparassodonts are noted.

References:

Wilson, G.P.; Ekdale, E.G.; Hoganson, J.W.; Calede, J.J.; Linden, A.V. (2016). “A large carnivorous mammal from the Late Cretaceous and the North American origin of marsupials”. Nature Communications. 7. doi:10.1038/ncomms13734.

Robin M.D. Beck (2015). “A peculiar faunivorous metatherian from the early Eocene of Australia”. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 60 (1): 123–129. doi:10.4202/app.2013.0011.

Lunala = Leutogi

December 6, 2016

So many people have wondered over the glorious alchemical basis for Solgaleo and all the esoteric references it is based on. But what about Lunala?

Well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leutogi

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Cj5OAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=Leutogi+bat+goddess&source=bl&ots=zYqHxPHLn_&sig=o9u31kLTRAhsPWw-wra_83ATEDM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=nUbyVJq0B6aM7AaKmoFA&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Leutogi%20bat%20goddess&f=false

A protective night goddess worshipped in Samoa, associated with bats, that goes through a lot of family drama.

Does it ring any bells?

Commission: Patagonia and Necrolestes

December 5, 2016

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Another commission by Julio Lacerda.

Necrolestes and Patagonia were two unique Miocene mammals from South America. These were among the very last non-therian mammals on the planet – a dryolestidan and a gondwanathere, respectively -, making them sort of archaic holdovers in our age of placentals and marsupials. Both were subterranean species, probably due to competition from more “modern” mammals.

In essence, they were to South America what modern monotremes are to Australia. It’s worth to note that it’s been suggested that marsupial moles are living dryolestoids, meaning that Necrolestes may still have modern relatives at least.

Sun and Moon in Ancient Crete

November 27, 2016

This is a warm article. A better sourced, better written and better everything is on the way.

From what we can figure, the sun was a female entity in Minoan religion (Nanno et al 2013), possibly related to the “snake goddess”, perhaps via a “pan-goddess” caveat. Many greek goddesses (Rhea, Demeter, Artemis, Cybele, et cetera) are associated with lions; the lioness as a sun symbol is well attested in Hittite and Egyptian religion, and was probably a common Middle Eastern motif wherever solar goddesses were relevant.

The bull was relevant in minoan religion to the point that it is one of the most well known aspects of this culture. The “Moon Bull”, as it is, has been connected to the sun by classical authors, exposing the typical “every god is a sun god, every goddess is a lunar goddess” nonsense. However, the bull is a generally lunar symbol in the Near East (semetic, where it is connected to the many moon gods, anatolian, where it is similarly connected to the moon gods, even greek and egyptian, where it is associated with Selene and Dionysus and Osiris respectively), and a masculine moon god role can comfortably be implied.

So, basically:

Lion Sun Goddess

Bull Moon God

However, this leaves us with two hiccups:

– Talos, the “greek Helios”, which is the de facto word for “sun” in Crete and whose use may extend further back in time. Zeus as Tallaios is a solar god. That said, since Zeus Tallaios is more of a “death and rebirth” deity (mind you, almost no solar deity is one), it may call into question the status of Talos as originally a sun god.

– The Minotaur’s true name is Asterion. This has been interpreted as a vestige of solar symbols, since the “labyrinth” would instantly become the zodiac. That said, “Aster” and it’s derivatives are rarely applied to the sun outright, and could suggest a more esoteric stellar meaning.

It’s possible that, like ancient egypt, russia and india, the Minoan Civilisation perceived the sun as both male and female depending on the context. I’m leaning with a generally “Sun Lioness” for a solar figure and Talos as specifically the body of the sun.

Bat elbow styliforms?

November 13, 2016

bat-wing-no-text

Picture of a Lasiurus bat. Note rod-like element on the brachiopatagium, stretching from the elbow.

In my discussion on flying volaticotheres, I’ve pointed out that a possible way to infer volant capacities in mammals with patagia was the presence of styliform elements in the brachiopatagium.

Styliforms are cartilaginous/osseous rod-like elements developed in the wing membranes of nearly all gliding and flying amniotes, brought into attention thanks to the discovery of the notorious gliding theropod Yi qi. These structures presumably evolved to strengthen wing membranes and prevent fluttering, as well as extend the patagium in at least flying squirrels and anomalures.They are generally speaking original structures, independently acquired in the various clades.

They are present in a variety of arrangements and positions: in the wrist (flying squirrels and Yi qi), in the propatagium (pterosaurs; their iconic pteroid bone is a particularly specialized styliform element), in the uropatagium (the chiropteran calcar; the pterosaurian fifth toe is styliform-like in appearance, though not an original structure) and, most notably, in the middle of the brachiopatagium, projecting from the wrist (colugos, anomalures, marsupial gliders, eomyids, gliding glirids).

This latter arrangement in particular was discussed in the above post. I argued that it’s presence (or absence) could be a factor in determining on whereas an animal was a glider or flyer. It seemed intuitive to assume that such an awkwardly placed structure would be detrimental to wing strokes; this reasoning has been applied as a counter-argument for Yi qi being a powered flyer.

As it turns out, the one group of unambiguous flying mammals, bats, do seem to have elbow styliforms:

NGS Picture ID:1356044

 

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These structures are clearly solid rod-like styliform elements, similar to those observed in gliders:

Colugo3.jpg

anomalurus-peli

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Colugo, anomalure and Eomys respectively.

Yet, these structures on bat wings are not discussed on the Yi qi paper, and don’t appear to really discussed or even named anywhere!

Further adding to the drama is the fact that at least some bats appear to lack these structures all together!

flying-flying-fox

Grey Headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Flying foxes.

This is quite fascinating and unexpected, and I feel is worth further discussion.

References:

Jackson, Stephen Matthew and Schouten, Peter. Gliding Mammals of the World, Csiro Publishing, 2012

Xu, X.; Zheng, X.; Sullivan, C.; Wang, X.; Xing, L.; Wang, Y.; Zhang, X.; o’Connor, J. K.; Zhang, F.; Pan, Y. (2015). “A bizarre Jurassic maniraptoran theropod with preserved evidence of membranous wings”. Nature. 521: 70–3. doi:10.1038/nature14423. PMID 25924069.