Digital tablet drawing on photomanipulated background, 2012.
A second entry for Eofish's Shark Week contest ([link]
) - my first submission was just a rehash of an existing piece so to be fair, I decided to create something from scratch. Without the benefit of my usual hand-painted components it kinda looks sketchy in places - I may fix this later.
129,000,000 years ago, Early Cretaceous (Hauterivian-Barremian), Kalbarri, Western Australia
In the warm seas off Eastern Gondwana, a grey nurse shark (Carcharias
sp.) finds herself mobbed by juvenile plesiosaurs (Leptocleidus clemai
) who rub their itchy flanks against the fish's sandpaper-like skin.Leptocleidus clemai
was a small plesiosaur (2 metre adult length) based on 2 partial skeletons from the
Birdrong Sandstone near Kalbarri, Western Australia. The depicted behaviour is based on observations of modern reef teleosts that rub against the flanks of sharks to remove parasites.
The lamniform shark genus Carcharias
is a true living fossil - represented today by C. taurus
, a cosmopolitan species with numerous common names (grey nurse, sand-tiger, bull, ragged-tooth etc). The fossil record for this genus extends all the way back to near the beginning of the Cretaceous, including teeth from the Birdrong Sandstone that, aside from their smaller size, are nearly identical with the modern form.
The modern grey nurse is a normally docile species that is unfortunately in decline (considered "vulnerable" globally), the combined result of commercial harvesting for it's fins and liver oil, incidental deaths in nets and trophy hunting. While protected in many parts of the world, population recovery is hampered by an extremely low rate of reproduction due to intrauterine cannibalism. Having enjoyed swimming with this species in the wild and in captivity, I can confidently state that it would be a real shame to lose this living link with the Cretaceous.
The artist is a proud supporter of Hearts for Sharks Australia - [link]
Edit - fixed the eyes on the plesiosaur facing the viewer - gave it a bit too much stereoscopic vision before.