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Triped Browser by thomastapir Triped Browser by thomastapir
Idea for this was a tripedal alien herbivore in the rainforest of a tropical planet illuminated by a hot blue sun. (Obviously I'm big on the tropics, and UV-saturated environments in general!) It was part of a concept I was working on for a planet with such high humidity that the land megafauna would be more like fish than terrestrial vertebrates. It played into a lot of other concepts I was working with at the time, such as high-metal environments, toxic and electrical defenses, etc. (I'm a big fan of David Brin, as well as Wayne Barlowe.) Anyway, the wildlife on this planet relies on an active radar sense rather than passive visual organs (the high levels of UV radiation may have something to do with this). The yellow spot on the upper body segment is thus a radar aperture.

The creature is a 3D model created in Ray Dream Studio. The surface shader was taken from a scanned photo of a tang or surgeonfish, while the bump map was created from a scanned photo of a piece of turquoise (most notable in the "veining" across the creature's hide). The background is a heavily cropped and Photoshop-ped photo from a book on Australian rainforests.

I wish I had a bigger version to share, but the original CGI model was lost in a hard drive crash years ago. : (

UPDATE: I stumbled across a bigger version hiding in my old "Wallpapers" folder, so here ya go!
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:iconchaosdiabolico:
ChaosDiabolico Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2012
Hmmm... interesting.
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:iconchaosdiabolico:
ChaosDiabolico Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2012
Out of curiousity, where did you get the name "Triped Browser" from? And why did you give it that name?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2012
Triped because it's tripedal (having three legs) and browser because it consumes leafy vegetation (browsers eat leaves from trees versus grazers eat grass or other vegetation at ground level). Not the most imaginative name, of course!
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:iconthemaster64:
themaster64 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2011
are you from WA cuz i would like to meet you if possible but if not then thats fine btw awesome alien creature
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner May 30, 2011
Interesting idea although i highly doubt that on the planet that orbits hot blue sun life could last long enough to evolve into something complex since such type of stars usually doesn't live long.
Or we can suggest that it's a blue dwarf that is just a little bigger and hotter than our sun. In this case it may work.
PS
You have mentioned some "Expedition" several times. What's that?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
Only the BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!
[link]
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
Book?! Must.Read.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
Indeed!
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:iconvasix:
vasix Featured By Owner May 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Is this a huge megaherbivore or something?
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:icontektalox:
Tektalox Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
An alien with a weird body who lives in a weird enviroment. Very nice!
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2009
Very cool.
Question, though. If it sees with radar (and assuming other animals in its environment do), why is it colorful?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2009
Let's seeeee, possibilities...It might have a visual sense in addition to its radar, or there might be optically sited creatures on the planet. (That's my least favorite option.) The color may be incidental, or a result of fluorescence on exposure to UV light (it does appear that everything else on the planet is blue). It could also be the result of pigments that serve a screening or photosynthetic purpose. The black "markings" may not serve a visual (signal) purpose but may instead be the dermal evidence of some other distributed sensory organ. Or they could be a parasitic or symbiotic organism. The creatures may also have infrared organs similar to pit vipers, and the black patches may radiate heat. The distribution of IR radiation could be used in mating/threat displays or aid in identification of specific individuals (or could confuse such identification to predators [link]). My favorite explanation for the black markings is that they are radar absorbent, resulting in disruptive camouflage (what might appear as "partial invisibility" to predators?).

That's it, that's about all I can think of! :faint:
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2009
I like the radar-absorbing idea.
Well, maybe the skin is blue-white to scatter harmful UV radiation.
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2009  Student General Artist
Aw man, how do I miss things like this? i thought I'd gone back through your entire gallery already. Wow, that sounds .. kinda creepy. Uh .. reading comments...

Heh, I like the idea about a toy poodle variety!

Well, this looks really good off the bat. The more i look at it though, the more alien the head seems to look. It looks like it follows a conventional bilateral symmetry type of body plan, at least in terms of moving front to back, because of the big pitcher at the front. But staring at it, the upper torso really is a convoluted set of hinge joints, isn't it? Or even if not, it gives me an idea for something more abstract on the top half but with a more terrestrial if insectlike leg ';platform'
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2009
Yeah, I think this might have been an early attempt for me at alternate biological geometry/topology, though I wasn't really thinking of it that way at the time...Fenestration is a cheap and easy way to achieve slight exotic effects. :)

In terms of the symmetry, I usually think of tripedal organisms as either derived from quadruped stock (two legs having fused into a single appendage) or as having two "real" legs and a third "false" leg repurposed into a locomotory appendage from some other extremity (a tail, most likely). But in this case I think I like Rodlox's explanation, that the creatures are "secondarily bilateral" and evolved from radially symmetrical ancestors ([link]). In researching my Big Unfinished Novel over the past few YEARS I also disovered biradial symmetry, which opens up a lot of possibilities for creatures that are neither fish nor fowl symmetry-wise.

Glad you like it! :)
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2009  Student General Artist
ohhh, biradial .. i'll have to look that up :D
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:iconsomethingyay:
SomethingYAY Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2009
Was this at all influenced by Wayne Douglas Barlowe's 'Expedition'?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2009
Very much so! Expedition came out when I was 15 years old and it made a huge impact on me. :)
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:iconsomethingyay:
SomethingYAY Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2010
I really loved that book.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2009
I was trying to depict a posited scenario for a planet orbiting an F spectral class star, best elucidated by astrobiologist Nancy Kiang in Scientific American (April 2008):

For F stars, the flood of energetic blue photons is so intense that plants might need to reflect it using a screening pigment similar to anthocyanin, giving them a blue tint. Alternatively, plants might need to harvest only blue, discarding the lower-quality green through red light. That would produce a distinctive blue edge in the spectrum of reflected light, which would stand out to telescope observors.

Thanks for the fave, it's much appreciated! :wave:
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:iconsomethingyay:
SomethingYAY Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2009
I just love realistic interpretations of what alien life could be.
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:iconsomethingyay:
SomethingYAY Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2009
I would expect a scorching environment like that to be quite reflective. Like white?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2009
Oops, I responded in the wrong place! :ohnoes:
Please see new message directly below this response.
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:iconrodlox:
Rodlox Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
how does it eat?

reason: I had an idea for sketching out an amphibian/lobe-fin ancestor of this, wherein the limbs attach to the bottom segment (think of an Oreo cookie without the filling), and all the other body parts are in the upper segment.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
I think that's realistic, and close to what I'd posit for its evolutionary history. In terms of feeding, it grazes on fruits and leaves from trees. The "mouth" is just a muscular orifice that irises open and closes around vegetation to crop it off. What looks like a big droopy nose in this depiction is actually a sort of digestive or perhaps predigestive sac--think of it like a pitcher plant, almost.

My one suggestion on its evolutionary antecedents would be that the hind leg evolves from a tail or fluke-like appendage, versus the two forward limbs being derived from more conventional fins or flippers. That's the most convincing rationale I can think of for a tripedal organism that's otherwise bilaterally symmetrical--but if you come up with something different/better/more original, I'd love to see it!
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:iconrodlox:
Rodlox Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2008
>What looks like a big droopy nose in this depiction is actually a sort of digestive or perhaps predigestive sac--think of it like a pitcher plant, almost.
that's scary!: I read your reply about that, right after trying to think up a new type of mouth for aliens....(not from gills, like humans; not from legs, like ants)...and I came up with something whose entire digestive system is in its head.

not too efficient, I know...but one needs only be more efficient than the local competition, after all.

>--but if you come up with something different/better/more original, I'd love to see it!
My thought (as depicted in the pic I'll scan once the scanner is unburied) was that its ancestors went from being radial to bilateral (think of a sea anemone sitting on a sand dollar that has crab legs; then picture the anemone angling more and more, looking a bit like a cannon)

what's worrying is that I was only able to think that up, during the time I briefly entertained the notion that the Triped and the Penguin Mantis had a common ancestor.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2008
That possibility did occur to me!--that they might be secondarially (is that a word??) bilateral (evolved from radial ancestors)--but I didn't want to confuse things with one more suggestion. I figured you'd probably beat me to it, considering your ingenuous take on the Pinnimorph heredity. :)

Hah, I didn't think of the Triped and Penguin Mantis being at all related, though I can see how you would get that from the shared centaurine/mantis-like body design.
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:iconrodlox:
Rodlox Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2008
>is that a word??
if it wasn't before, it is now. (I think it was before too)

got another idea about Pinnimorph ancestry; a way to make them native to future Earth.

re Triped & Mantis - actually, it wasn't from the body design at all...it was from their heads. nothing more than that.
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:iconsomethingyay:
SomethingYAY Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2010
you guys are more than geniuses.
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:icontherepublicanmartian:
TheRepublicanMartian Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Dude, nice. great concept brillant execution.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2008
Thanks very much!
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:icontherepublicanmartian:
TheRepublicanMartian Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome!
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:iconorzhovslodier:
OrzhovSlodier Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2008
That...is.....very.......alien. the head is seem a little disproportionate, but it might work in lower gravity.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2008
I pictured the head being very light, for some reason, maybe even some sort of inflatable sac. Probably thinking of Barlowe's Bladderhorn...
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:icondoodlebotbop:
Doodlebotbop Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I want one, so pretty and cool!

How tall is it?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2008
Oh wow, I pictured it being giraffe-sized--pretty big, probably impractically big for a dense rainforest setting! : ) I kind of pictured this being a lower-gravity planet, probably because the creature's legs don't really look like they would support its weight in standard gravity; so animals are generally taller and more gracile than their terrestrial counterparts.

Maybe somebody will produce a "toy poodle" version for the pet trade! ; ) But you might have to keep it in a terrarium with controlled humidity...
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:icondoodlebotbop:
Doodlebotbop Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Eee, a mini one would be so cute as well! If it's used to lower gravity then I'd have to have a terrarium equipted with some gravity dampeners.

But going to their planet to observe the real ones would be amazing. I wonder if they would be friendly, indiferent, or scared of a human in an environmental suit...
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2008
I'm thinking probably indifferent, given the way most animals respond to humans when they haven't encountered them before. Of course it might depend on how much radar noise you're producing...That's the great thing about radar-sighted organisms, though--in a suit or vehicle with a stealth RAM coating, you would be invisible! : ) Eh, maybe not.

It would also be cool to have some sort of modulator/vocoder-type device on your terrarium to translate the radar signals into audible sound. I saw a presentation on bats once where they did this with the bats' sonar!
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:icondoodlebotbop:
Doodlebotbop Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Wouldn't it just be the best to be able to talk to one of them? That would be one hefty translator though....

I saw a StarTrek episode earlier this week that had a large web-like slimey creature that spoke through really high squeaks and bleets it sounded like, and they had to communicate with it. Yay for Hoshi, the linguist! XD
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2008
This must be "Enterprise," pre-dating the universal translator...?
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:icondoodlebotbop:
Doodlebotbop Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't know... no, I think so it just was not a language that had been documented. It wasnt' words, it was squeaks.
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