Saturday, 1 October 2011

What Monkeys? in inktense and pen & ink

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is hibernate, and my doodle is going to take a little explaining. Hibernate left me with a bit of a problem, frankly. You see, I actually did hibernate a few weeks ago when the prompt was asleep (you can find it here if you're interested), and while I could definitely use more practice with drawing ground squirrels (yep. Still avoiding that particular project) I wasn't really all that happy about just reusing an idea I'd already had.

What to do, then? I suppose I could have drawn something else hibernating, but my brain wouldn't go that direction. Instead, it went down the path of different ways animals go about waiting out harsh conditions. My brain tends to do things like that, by the way. Short attention span.

Erm, anyway. Surviving harsh conditions. Hibernation for tough winters where finding food would use too much energy. Aestivation for places where the summers are hot enough to make survival difficult. Migration for times when conditions are, for whatever reason (and there's lots of them), too tough in the home range. Brumation for reptiles (like hibernation, but the animal is slowed rather than "asleep"). Diapause, which is delayed development in unfavourable times. Cryptobiosis, which...

Hmm. Cryptobiosis. Basically, stopping everything until things get better. It's pretty fascinating stuff, and amazing to see just what an organism can survive when it's shut itself down. Animals in cryptobiotic states have been frozen, heated, left dry for years, taken into space... if you start looking at the extremes some of these things can survive it can almost change your definition of life. These are animals with a shelf life, for pity's sake.

So where does cryptobiosis lead my wandering brain? Well, Sea Monkeys, naturally.

Sea Monkeys? Oh heck yeah. Any kid my age who read comics on a regular basis knew those sea monkey ads intimately. Pets that magically appeared when you added water? Too awesome. Of course, the ads with the cute cartoon monkey-fish-things were massively misleading. And when I inevitably asked my parents to buy me some sea monkeys I was shot down pretty quickly. There was a good reason for that, though. Even better than the why do you read those stupid ads reason.

You see, my father was a junior high math/science teacher, and he had a tank of something he called brine shrimp in his classroom. When he explained that sea monkeys were really brine shrimp, I definitely had to go check them out. So off we went one day, and suddenly there they were. Sea monkeys. Brine shrimp. Whatever, there they were.

They were... weird. Sort of see-through. Too many legs. Definitely not monkeys. And I have to say, seeing them in person certainly cured me of sea monkey fever.

Later on, though, I became sort of fascinated by the way that those dry little cysts could become living organisms just by being put in water. It led me to find out more about cryptobiosis. Which led me to finding out more things about more animals. What can I say? When I was a kid, the encyclopedia was my best friend.

Anyway, here are some brine shrimp that aren't hibernating. And let me tell you, it's almost killing my little OCD head that I just freestyled them and made them completely anatomically inaccurate. Please, please, please don't count the appendages, anyone.

No, seriously.

No, really.

I think I need to get out more.


dosankodebbie said...

Books were my best friend, and encyclopedias were my favorite elderly relatives. So now I know what sea monkeys are... another mystery solved.

Denise said...

Oh my goodness,
I can so relate to this! I'm from the UK and I remember getting a Casper the Ghost comic which always had adverts about sea- monkeys - looking like a cross between an alien and and mermaid!I nagged and nagged my mum for some and we sent off for them - they came all the way from the states - big deal to an eight year old in the 70's! - I was a little disappointed that they didnt really resemble the alien/mermaid hybrid from the adverts - but the magic of being able to add water to some "dust" and get animals was just amazing! Thanks for reminding me!:-)

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