scientific animal illustration

Slightly looser style on this digital raven portrait. This guy is this month’s Patreon download! Please help a girl out and sign up, for just $5 a month you get this guy and a whole bunch of other cool stuff! 😎 🖋✍🏼

Similar toxic effects are seen in the Variable Pitohui and the Rusty Pitohui, but not to the extent of the Hooded Pitohui. There are also several species of non-toxic pitohui that have evolved to mimic the coloration of the Hooded Pitohui in an attempt to confuse predators.

I’ve done a previous Sci Fact on tetrodotoxin - click here for that!


First of a series I’m doing. “Fleshed out” snapping turtle based on a skeleton I articulated. Painting was done with gouache paint and some watercolor, and is around 8x10″. The skeleton was completely apart to begin with, and everything is drilled and wired or pinned. As you can see it can stand up, supporting the shell, on it’s own. Really like how that one came out. Both are for a local university. 
(Note if you’re using the skeleton as a reference, the smallest toe is missing on every foot)

Science Fact Friday: Salt Glands

Some people have noticed that this is a pretty efficient process and have asked if we can develop a technology based on this to improve our own desalination efforts…buuut I haven’t been able to find anyone who has actually looked into it further. If you find any info, I’d love to hear it!


Displays of motor skill in the animal kingdom

A leading idea in animal display evolution is that some bizarre display behaviors evolved to encode information about motor skill, or the ability to successfully and precisely perform a challenging motor behavior.

Here, we have the fiddler crab (Uca perplexa) waving its large claw; the Bornean rock frog (Staurois parvus) performing a foot-flag signal; and a pair of western grebes (Aechmophoris occidentalis) in the midst of a courtship display run. These illustrations were prepared for colleagues to include in a manuscript they are preparing.


Newest painting to flesh out a skeleton I articulated last year, Nine-banded Armadillo. Both for my University.  That armadillo was so difficult to articulate you have no idea… haha. Mainly because I like having them stand on their own. And because the weight of his entire front is supported by two toes, though it is very sturdy now. I can even take him for walks. Like the others everything’s drilled, pinned and wired. The tail is surrounded by very hard bone plates, which I partially sawed to show the inside. Somebody else dried the shell, but I removed/preserved the “hat”. I also repaired and repainted parts of it because it had been killed by being shot (not for the skeleton). The shell looks so different in the painting than the photo because it was a bit splayed out when dried, I referenced photos of live ones.

Painting was done with gouache paint.. still new to scenery but I like how it turned out. Managed to get it done in a week. That shell took forever. 9″x10″
We don’t have armadillos here, but I learned that they prefer to live in damp forest environments rather than the stereotypical Texas desert. 

 I’m going to start using this blog again. Except I’m changing it a bit, it’s where I’m going to post all of my nature/wildlife art because I’m trying to get more serious with practicing that as I want to do scientific illustration someday. I’ll still post my skeletons and skull stuff and whatever, but in my mind the live animal and the dead one are not that disconnected anyway.

This is a brown hyena, drawn with pen and watercolors.
Referenced a photo from Moya Wa Tenga Safaris.


2nd in the series of paintings I’m doing, fleshing out skeletons I’ve articulated. The skeleton was done for my college and the paintings will be displayed with them. :)

This is an American Porcupine. This one was a juvenile, chewing on a bone for nutrients (which they do). I found the random bone too, can’t see here but it does have rodent chew marks. Since this one was so young the ribcage was kept together by the beetles used to clean it, as opposed to others I’ve done where I need to attach all of the ribs. Oh yeah and I defleshed it from a whole porcupine too. Like usual all of the joints, and toes are drilled and wired so it can stand up on it’s own. 

For the painting I used gouache paint and watercolor, 8″x11″. Yes I used a very teeny brush for all the hairs.

The final host behaves more or less normally while it is infected. The worm does not compel any water-seeking behavior, it merely makes the host jump in when water is available. However it has been noted that at the end of the worm’s growth cycle, cricket hosts do not chirp. This may be because chirping is energy-intensive (either the cricket is too weak to chirp or the worm suppresses this behavior to hoard resources). Or…perhaps the worm quiets the cricket because chirping increases the cricket’s risk of being eaten by a predator – which would put the worm at risk too.