Monday, July 4, 2011

Animal Alphabet: N is for Nudibranch

For the Animal Alphabet this week, I have drawn a creature I didn't even know about when the project started.

Well, actually, I've been a fan of nudibranchs for a long time. But I had never seen Melibe leonina, the hooded nudibranch (or lion's mane nudibranch), until I caught it in an episode of Blue Planet.

You can see some footage of them here, on ARKive, and I think you'll see why I might have wanted to draw them.

First of all, I wanted to try to figure out how they're put together. I have never worked through more sketches in an attempt to figure out a critter's anatomy, I tell you. It took me several drawings before I noticed those two ear-like rhinophores on the back of the hood. I'm not sure about the number of wings or flippers.

And I'm still not sure that I've managed to capture the weird translucent net-ball-hood thing that is the head of Melibe leonina.

Another reason I was drawn to them was the bizarre body plan. These nudibranchs look like something from out of the Burgess Shale, and not like something that should be alive on this planet today. And in fact these weird things are plentiful, as you can see in some of the shots in that ARKive video.

The more I drew them, the more I realized that I was recognizing bits and pieces here and there. For a while they were looking like a monster I drew frequently when I was in like third grade.

(It looked like this. It was an outer space monster, so it didn't need limbs.)

Right now, my sense is that the recipe for a hooded nudibranch is about two parts jellyfish, two parts cow's tongue, two parts venus flytrap, one part dumbo octopus, one part Pac-Man, one part slug, and one part vagina dentata.

Next week: a blind cave-dwelling creature.


Curious Art said...

Fascinating creature! Your recipe is right on the money.

Thanks again for the leftover critter- he's up at my blog now.

Isaac said...

I said it over there, and I'll say it here, too: I think people should be glad that you drew that numbat. You certainly did a better job with it than I ever could have.

Loops O'Fury said...

Weird! I've never seen that kind of nudibranch before. It does look like a venus flytrap.