Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Natural History Art Spotlight: John Meszaros & Nocturnal Sea!

I haven't done an art blog in quite awhile and this week I thought it would be cool to feature one of my favorite natural history illustrators! John Meszaros at Nocturnal Sea!   and here is John's Deviant Art Gallery! if you'd like to see more.  and his Facebook Page with many cool pictures! 

You may already be familiar with some of Jon's work as he illustrated the recently described new species Xenoturbella monstrosa based on research at Scripps by Greg Rouse et al. 
Here's the real deal for comparison. The illustration above shows the ecology of Xenoturbella as described by Rouse et al.. so however.. unusual the image may seem it is based in real science!

Another striking image that I LOVE is this one from Jon featuring the hydrothermal vents of Antarctica, featured a few years ago here. But specifically.. the unusual multi-armed STARFISH that live there!

They apparently fed on the weird fleshy barnacles that live there as well as possibly the "Hoff crabs"! 
For comparison..
Jon has always had great taste in subjects for his paintings! (and good colors to match) Here is the famous swimming sea cucumber, Enypniastes exima. Which you can also buy as a shirt! 

and Yes....the swimming sea cucumber is REAL

Another one of my favorites is Megalodicopia hians! the deep-sea predatory tunicate! Another lovely painting! And yes.. here's where you can get the shirt! 
Jon draws inspiration from a wide range of habitats in nature! Fortunately they are all unusual!!

Here's a GREAT one called "Inner Space 2" which shows a bunch of very small pond-water type animals and protists...

The big "tree-like" things are actually rotifers in the genus Floscularia! He actually goes into a detailed description of everything in this picture on his Deviant Art page for this illustration.  All of the things in this painting are actually microbial organisms that you might find in a drop of water in a freshwater pond or lake! There are bryozoans and even ciliates (protists)! 

Inner Space 2 by NocturnalSea on DeviantArt

Another great piece of art shows none other than one of the weirdest, little animals known-the Loricifera! Here as part of this anoxic habitat inspired by a brine pool from the Mediterranean.

Cabinet of Curiosities:  An Anoxic Metazoan by NocturnalSea on DeviantArt

Here is a nice cross section of tropical invertebrates.. including not just the colorful and already surreal nudibranch Bornellia, but also one of my favorite sea urchins, the "shingle urchin" Colobocentrotus as I wrote about it here.  and here for the biophysics of their ability to hold on...

John also does some pretty AWESOME paleontological reconstructions! 

Here we have some art depicting the Sirius Passet laggerstatten from Greenland. A Cambrian deposit which is faunistically similar to the Chiangjiang and actually pre-dating the Burgess Shale fauna..

Sirius Passet fauna by NocturnalSea on DeviantArt

The following two are more of my favorites taken from the Cambrian faunas.

LOBOPODS! Remember Hallucigenia and the other weird critters from the Burgess Shale? These were arthropod-worm like animals that were thought to be distant ancestors to velvet worms..

Lobopods by NocturnalSea on DeviantArt
And in the same vein, here are anomalocarids.. species of Cambrian arthropods related to/inspired by the famous Burgess Shale Anomalocaris

Anomalocaris group by NocturnalSea on DeviantArt

And as all artists are want to's a more fanciful creation inspired by real Paleozoic animals. Included here just for the sheer fantastic artistry of it!

False Ammonite by NocturnalSea on DeviantArt

Here he's clearly taken a VERY echinoderm-centric take on the Great Race. We have some echinoderm larvae in there as well as a brittle star and some five-part symmetry that any worshipper of the great Cthulhu would approve of (if they were not seeking to bring about the end of humanity that is! )

Haeckel Yithian by NocturnalSea on DeviantArt

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