Dinaelurus Illumina


By rath8325 - Posted on 18 February 2009

When I heard later that Dinaelurus crassus, which did exist at the required time, was being described as a "cheetah precursor", I decided to use that creature as a basis for my fictional clan cats.

Thus I decided that Ratha and the Named would descend from Dinaelurus crassus, and would be called Dinaelurus illumina sapiens. "Illumina" comes from the light of intelligence, and "sapiens" describes their human-equivalent (although not human-like) minds.

Just to show how cover art can influence writing, I added more cheetah behavior in the new book, Ratha's Courage. The "courting circle" where Fessran and the other Named females are trapped is based on observations of male cheetahs. (link)

In order to work out for myself how Ratha and her kind may have appeared, I made the clay model shown previously of a Dinaelurus crassus skull . I then did a copy of that skull and modified it, enlarging the braincase to allow for the intelligence and sentience of the Named.  Both models are shown below. Dinaelurus crassus is on the left,  Dinaelurus illumina sapiens (Ratha) is on the right.

Photo and model by Clare Bell 2006

I then used the Dinaelurus illumina sapiens skull as the basis to reconstruct what Ratha and her people could have looked like.  I built it up anatomically, as I did the Dinaelurus crassus sculpture, although I did allow a little artistic license.

Here's the final result, which I really like.  The higher forehead gives her a more cerebral appearance without marring the cat-like quality. The lower face and placement of the eyes is very similar to Dinaelurus crassus and gives the model an exotic feel.

Dinaleurus illumina sapiens Ratha

Photo and model by Clare Bell 2006

The raised forehead, rounded ears and large eyes give Ratha a cheetah-like appearance, but the muzzle is deeper (top to bottom) and narrower (side to side) than that of a cheetah. She also has the strong tooth roots that influence the facial structure of the nimravid sabertooths, although her teeth don't protrude as dramatically.

The sinus area is enlarged like that of a cheetah, for enhanced deep breathing during a chase. That causes the arch in her nose.
 

I am not a professional paleontologist, nor a trained paleo-artist.  I just used my drawing and sculpting skills as an experiment in visualizing my characters.  It made them even more real to me, which helped me write the new book, Ratha's Courage.

I am grateful to Spanish artist Mauricio Anton for his interest and assistance.

My thanks goes to Emily Smith, who suggested that visitors to this site might like to see some more artwork showing how an author can visualize and develop a character. (She also suggested additional pages in large typeface on the original site, which makes that site available to visually-challenged people like her.)  I enjoy working back and forth from words to images, and I am sure there are many talented author/artists who do the same. 

 

Random image

Ratha's Creature - Firebird 2007

Join other Named Series fans on the Ratha Series Forum.  Hunt up information in the Fire Den, read the new Twitter creation, "Ratha's Island", or strut before the clan to introduce yourself in the Fire Dance.

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