I try to add at least one exotic new animal to each chapter of “Hominids”. In Chapter 1 it was that crazy razor blade fish, Chapter 2 we met Basse’s pet panther Serilda, and my personal favorite in Chapter 3 was the WildCoat Barking Toad! In Chapter 4, I was looking to add another bizarre animal to this strange world. It was also necessary for our heroes to get to their destination fairly quickly. I looked back to my old drawings from my childhood for inspiration. I was reminded that Keyli rode an Ostrich as his means of transportation. This was perfect! Although I didn’t want it to be an ostrich exactly. I had to “evolve” it, or “devolve” it in this case.
There was a couple things I knew I wanted to be present. The fact that they’re based on a non-flying birds was important to help make them a “one way” trip. If they flew then you’d wonder why in the world don’t they fly on these things everywhere. So I just made their wings larger for gliding, but not flying. From an evolutionary stand point this made sense to me. I couldn’t see a normal ostrich surviving in a world with giant skyscraper sized trees. They’d have to adapt a way to travel from tree to tree, not unlike a flying squirrel. It’s either that or die out.
Then I wanted an older species to base the bird on so that they weren’t just ostriches with a few minor adjustments. In October, I was in New York and we went to the American Natural History Museum. There is saw a skeleton that was exactly what I was looking for. A giant bird that existed in the Paleocene era 65 to 56 million years ago. It was called the Gastornis. So I created an intermediate bird between the Gastornis and Ostrich.
Below are some of my concept drawings. Check them out and let me know what you think.