Text and Art by Gert van Dijk (website)
The Hexapod Neocarnivores of Furaha
Back in 1979, Gert van Dijk started on a series of paintings of life on one planet. One of the major animal groups on the planet Furaha has six legs, as on Earth, but on Furaha they are considerably bigger. He was inspired by mantis shrimps, who at the time were not well-known. The creatures in the awesome pics above bear more than a passing resemblance to stomatopod smashers and spearers.
Early in hexapod evolution, carnivores used their beaks to catch prey. Although this branch -the paleocarnivores- was fairly succesfull, they lost the evolutionary arms race when a new groups, with a radically different design, appeared on the stage: the neocarnivores.
These freed their front pair of legs from locomotory needs, allowing rapid evolution towards new and different biomechanical designs to take place. Presumably, the first neocarnivores used their front legs simply to kick their prey. The front legs then rapidly evolved into clubs, spears, hatchets, knives, or even the web-like mitts used by micro-carnivores to snatch insectoids out of the air.
Here, one sees two different neocarnivores. The heavy 'robust' species jumps up to its prey in a few bounds, and dispatches it by 'knocking its block off'. The smaller species is a needler, one of the few poisonous neocarnivores.
Visit Gert's web site to view other exotic creatures from Furaha, including a graceful spearer that was based on spearing mantis shrimp!
Web Site Author: A. Sunjian
Site Created February 3, 1998