...Or is it a Catypus? This is another idea with origins more visual than conceptual, based on an Archaeoprepona demophoon caterpillar from the beautiful book "100 Caterpillars." The way the head and "horns" were oriented in the photo gave me the split-second impression of a platypus bill, so there you go. I guess this creature could fall into the same category as the Pinnimorphs, in the sense that it's an animal with a cosmetically or superficially invertebrate body design but with an underlying mammalian physiology (or so I envisioned it). The phyletic lines appear a little more blurred in this one, though. I kind of pictured this organism living a fairly sedentary arboreal lifestyle, something like a sloth. I dont know what that bill is used for; cropping vegetation? Burrowing through leaf litter on the forest floor
Actually, there are a couple of concepts I've been working on for the transformation of future life that might provide a rationale for this creature. One idea is that of genetic hybridization due to an escaped G.E. virus, something that transforms all life on Earth into chimerical forms. Another is intentional transgenic reengineering, perhaps a desperate attempt to preserve life against a similar virus. What if the "bad" virus attacked only mammals, for example, or only juveniles? A mutagenic G.E. virus is then dispersed to introduce a new non-mammalian stage into the mammalian life cycle, protecting at-risk individuals from the lethal effects of the competing virus. The danger passes at adolescence, so the young mammals coccoon themselves after this larval juvenile stage and emerge as "normal" adults of whatever species they represent. Who knows, it could happen! Or not. As we like to say here at Tapir Enterprises, "Thats Unlikely!"©
I scanned the original line drawing before shading it, so I may do a color version at some point in the future, after I emerge from my cocoon.