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Backscratcher of the Birdrong by Gogosardina Backscratcher of the Birdrong by Gogosardina
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.
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:iconravinwood:
RavinWood Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015
:iconsharkplz::iconsaysplz: YAH IM A FREEKIN PIMP
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:icontraheripteryx:
Traheripteryx Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome! :la:
The poses of the plesiosaurs are wonderful!
Reply
:iconseemycriitersss:
seemycriitersss Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014
A nurse shark at fish store in our area has been trained to roll over, They say she will eat when she rolls over
Reply
:iconpaleo-king:
Paleo-King Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Wow this is nice. Always wanted to swim with Sandtigers. They look so scary with their long teeth but actually harmless to humans.
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah, I've got a number of Carcharias teeth just from diving underneath where they congregate and picking them off the seafloor. They were totally unfazed by my presence.
Reply
:iconhybodusstudios:
HybodusStudios Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013
well this is cute.
Is it possible for these marine reptiles to use a shark as sandpaper?
Reply
:iconbaranguirus:
Baranguirus Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014
Well, it could benefit the shark in some way too, as they might also get skin parasites.
Reply
:iconhybodusstudios:
HybodusStudios Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
Thus getting rid of any skin parasites in both the shark and the plesiosaurs due to the actinos of the plesiosaurs...
Reply
:icontonystardreamer:
tonystardreamer Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice job.

Juvenile(Leptocleidus clemai are so Cute. :D
Reply
:iconksdinoboy95:
ksdinoboy95 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013
I love this work!!!aloha from kauaii
Reply
:iconseatosea:
seatosea Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
There are plesiousaurs that small? The smallest I knew of was Cryptoclidus. Well, I guess you learn something new everyday.
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Well, these are juveniles but Leptocleidus in general are very small - the British L. superstes is AFAIK the smallest true plesiosaurian with an adult length of about 1.5m long (these Australian L. clemai can get a bit bigger.)

Cryptoclidus is actually pretty big...
Reply
:iconseatosea:
seatosea Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ahh....I see. Thank you very much for your scientific input! Are you or do you have any renditions of Inioptgeryians? I really find these to be very fascinating "elasmobranchs".
Reply
:iconherofan135:
herofan135 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Love the sense of motion in this! A very interesting and plausible theory. :D
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconfluffyspiderz:
FluffySpiderz Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's so cute! I love that portrayed them looking happy and friendly, instead of the typical "mindless ocean predator"
Reply
:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
That's a really cute concept, and very well executed.
Reply
:iconkingovrats:
KingOvRats Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012   Traditional Artist
It's a cool work. ANd the face of that poor shark makes me think of the internet meme

PLeasiosaurs..
wat u duin
Plesiosaurs
Stahp!
Reply
:iconflufdrax:
flufdrax Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Congratulations. You were well deserving of the win on the contest. :)
I love this idea, and how annoyed the shark is.
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Many thanks - this pic was just a spur-of-the-moment thing that just... worked somehow.
Reply
:iconhyrotrioskjan:
Hyrotrioskjan Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2012  Professional General Artist
I love the idea and the implementation :clap:
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks, this was overall a fun picture to put together.
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:iconhyrotrioskjan:
Hyrotrioskjan Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Your welcome =)
Reply
:iconbatworker:
batworker Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012
Good work and cool idea!
Reply
:iconmexicanzilla:
mexicanzilla Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
I have dreams with these, I allways love this thype of paleo art, its like my wished dream
Reply
:icondrhoz:
Drhoz Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I had no idea the grey nurse sharks had been around for that long
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah - as nearby as Gingin you can find fossil grey nurse teeth in the chalk pits (although these are from later in the Cretaceous). Note that angelsharks (Squatina) and shovelnose rays (Rhinobatos go all the way to the Late Jurassic.
Reply
:icondrhoz:
Drhoz Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
neat!
Reply
:iconevenape:
Evenape Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Babies are being babies, I think... XD
Reply
:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Professional General Artist
The expression on the shark is almost like D: Oh gosh get offa meee!
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah, I've seen wild grey nurses react in a similar manner when divers get too friendly.
Reply
:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Professional General Artist
It's very emotive in this piece, I think you captured the moment really well. I also think the leptocleidus are spot on, I'm glad to see a plesiosaur recvonstruction that doesnt make the torso too deep or barrel-like, seeing as their skeletons are now reconstructed with a more spindle-like or flat oval cross-section, less barrel and more violin.
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:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
My very first project at the WA Museum was repairing and figuring the holotype skeleton of "Clem" and the paratype "Thora" so I've retained memories about how this animal is supposed to go together.
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:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012  Professional General Artist
Great :D Better always to use personal experience with actual specimens, thana drawing of the skeleton. I was merely saying tha old portrayals of plesiosaur skeletons showed them with barrel torsos, but I've noticed that now, the torsos are reconstructed as much less deep, I noticed this with the plesiosaur models at the South Australian Muesum too. Ah, Cle, Thora, and their cousin Eric :P
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:iconpn-soul:
PN-Soul Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
awesome =)
Reply
:iconm3tt1gel:
M3tt1gel Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
Some interesting information there. But are Sandtigers really called bull sharks somewhere? That would be really confusing
I too like those sharks I saw them once in a large aquarium and they were literally just hovering in space, because they can swallow air and keep it in their stomachs to prevent them from sinking
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah, was apparently called bull shark in parts of Europe in the last millenium - Carcharias taurus is literally "bull shark" - long before they heard of the shark that became Carcharhinus leucas which is now the critter typically called "bull shark"
Reply
:iconjennovazombie:
jennovazombie Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
The looks of bliss on the plesiosaurs faces! The shark doesn't look upset by this either, perhaps it just wants to be loved for something? :3
Reply
:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
I love the expressions of the animals here.
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Heh, yeah I'm happy with how it turned out given that this one of my rare "on the fly" pieces without much planning/preliminary work.
Reply
:icontdmaniacxc626:
TDManiacXC626 Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012
Anachronistic, but interesting, I LOVE IT!
Reply
:iconjwartwork:
JWArtwork Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, another wonderful entry! :omfg: I like the way the animals seem to be moving and the viewer's point of view! Once again, great work! :)
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:iconbrittbrattstudios:
BrittBrattStudios Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Student General Artist
wow im a fossil hunter and i have got to say this is an amazing concept i agree with karkajou1993 this blows my mind i love sharks and i collect sharks teeth so to see something like this just hit the wow factor for me i love the detail....
Reply
:icongogosardina:
Gogosardina Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks - this piece just came together spontaneously so I was a bit surprised that it works so well. I love sharks too - extant and extinct.
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:iconbrittbrattstudios:
BrittBrattStudios Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012  Student General Artist
your welcome
Reply
:iconjulio-lacerda:
Julio-Lacerda Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Amazing concept! :)
Reply
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