Obsessed with a NEWT!

The Work of Artist Anthony James

Obsessed with a NEWT!

Did you know that 99.9% of animals that have lived on planet earth are now extinct? Now stop for a minute and think about that.  We live on a planet teeming with life, from the humble flea to the mighty blue whale, but they are the measly 00.1% here now!

I love making incredible creatures and, inversely, CREATURAMA began with me creating fictional aliens from cardboard and junk. The process remains the same – the use of re-cycled materials to create large models – but I have found myself increasingly drawn to that vast pantheon of evolutionary cul-de-sacs and try-outs that our own tiny planet has to offer. The unlucky many that have fallen by the wayside, those forgotten creatures that once roamed our world in prehistory and then simply vanished.

The dinosaurs are the tip of the iceberg as it were, and we find more and more out about them every day. Most primary children can recognise a T-Rex or a Triceratops, but these ‘all be it’, fascinating creatures are still the well known few.  What happens when we really begin to unearth the weird and wonderful, the quirky and downright bizarre.

Let’s get muddy.  Let’s get wet and sticky down in the swamp!

As a child I was obsessed with amphibians.  I had an aquarium in my parents’ garage where I would keep tadpoles and watch them turn into frogs.  I had newts in another aquarium. To me they were mini-dinosaurs!

I’ve already created a giant amphibian, the ‘Siderops’, a giant newt from the Triassic period with a head twice the width of its body and filled with teeth, but again the Triassic is one of those ‘popular’ periods of history, filled with the newly evolved dinosaurs.  No, I want to travel further back in time. I have become obsessed with another newt.  The wonderful, the wacky Diplocaulus.

The Siderops

This wonderful 3-4ft amphibian is from a time before the dinosaurs, mostly forgotten in schools, the Permian. A hot, moist time, when amphibians were some of the lands most effective predators. Diplocaulus stands out because of its head.  Two huge horn like structures grew from the rear of its skull.  It’s weird, it’s wonderful and frankly bizarre.

Apparently young ‘Dippy’s’ didn’t have the banana head look.  It only developed in adulthood, and wonderfully, we have absolutely no idea why.  Some Palaeontologists think it made Diplocaulus very difficult to eat, others favour the aerofoil theory and that it used its unusual head to push itself down in fast flowing rivers to keep it near the riverbed where it’s food could be found.

Whatever the reason, isn’t it wonderful. I tried to make this almost 20 years ago and failed! The model I created just didn’t seem to capture just how odd Diplocaulus was, so I’ve taken some time out of my busy ‘summer repair schedule’ to create a new addition to CREATURAMA DINOSAUR (Even though ‘Dippy’ predates the Dinos) Here’s a pic or two of this new model, still under construction but I hope you like ‘Dippy’.

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