This week’s blog sees a stunning painting from John Sibbick imagining the Early Jurassic basal mammals, Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium, hunting their prey. Nature’s Art Director Kelly Krause talks us through the front cover choice with a little help from some rather Jurassic themed cake.
John Sibbick’s painting imagines the iconic Early Jurassic basal mammals, Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium, hunting their favoured prey on the small island that they shared in what is now Glamorgan, southern Wales. The very earliest mammals, living in the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic around 200 million years ago, were small and are often presumed to have been generalized insectivores. Now a close study of Morganucodon and Kuehneotherium shows that niche partitioning and dietary specialization were well under way even at that early date. Analysis of tooth wear and jaw biomechanics shows that whereas Morganucodon had powerful jaws, capable of crushing hard prey such as beetles,Kuehneotherium was adapted for snapping at softer prey, such as the scorpion flies illustrated here. Cover: www.johnsibbick.com
From the Art Desk:
Art Director, Kelly Krause, explains:
“Renowned artist John Sibbick created this gorgeous illustration for author Pam Gill, working closely with the research team to bring their paper to life. In contrast to many of our covers, this one is in a classic natural history style, and is an actual painting rather than a computer generated image. It makes a nice change of pace, and proves that there will always be a place for timeless art styles and visualisation techniques.
“As an added bonus, Gill kindly shared with me this photo of the cover in cake form, baked by Sibbick and his wife for Gill’s birthday.”
For additional behind the scenes commentary each week, check out the Nature Art Team’s Nature Graphics Tumblr and the previous Under the Covers on The electronic properties of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs).