This guy is so radically divergent from any known form of terrestrial life that he should probably be considered entirely mythical, but I guess I'm still hoping there's a place for him in some fanciful natural history. Maybe a VERY alternate earth, or another wildly diverse and ambitious extraterrestrial seeding project on the scale of the Chimerapes.
Idea was an seagoing octopodal (perhaps decapodal) faux protoceratopsian that wears the discarded shell of a giant ammonite on its tail and grazes parrotfish-style on coral reefs. The shell serves some defensive purpose, though I haven't figured out exactly what. Originally I was thinking the Diogeceratops might eat jellyfish and somehow install the stinging nematocysts at those nodules along the shell, ala nudibranch cerata; now I'm thinking it probably grows a healthy crop of deadly-poisonous anemones for protection. (This thing is so bizarre you can make up pretty much anything you want about its ecosystem.) It is an air-breather, and my original thinking (just to complicate things) was that it actually does need to haul out on the beach on occasion. Now I'm thinking it may spend all its time at sea, which would certainly be healthier for any marine invertebrates growing on its shell (not that they couldn't necessarily batten down like intertidal organisms).
That's about it...There's no overarching "Big Idea" behind this one, it was just an image flash I had when I was at the coast last week. This doesn't look exactly like my original idea...My original image was of something typically countershaded, but when I was working on it tonight I started thinking it would be interesting if it had much more striking and varied colors, like a reef fish. The shell I likewise initially pictured with fairly conservative nautilus coloring, but I started thinking of all kinds of crazy color schemes when I was shading it--a blue-ringed octopus, perhaps. Maybe the Diogeceratops kills a specific type of highly poisonous ammonite and leaves the stinging part of its body intact, which it can then keep alive and operate as a defense...Again, this whole idea and implied setting is so odd that pretty much anything is possible.
I wish ~whale was online to see this, I was trying to get his crazy kinked toes with this one! Those are purely an aesthetic choice, by the way; obviously it "should" have webbed feet or flippers.
This one probably owes something to the old Feraceratops ([link]
), which emerged from a discussion with ~commander-salamander. I still have a soft spot for that little guy.