I suspect this a piece will only appeal to a very "niche" audience - fans of BOTH Puella Magi Madoka Magica (or Mahō Shōjo Madoka Magika) AND Triassic reptiles. I supposed you can call it a crossover or something I have been wanting to do a piece like this ever since I saw Jurassic Madoka by kopii-zelas though I decided to take it into a different direction and use Triassic reptiles. One of the personal rules I laid down when I set out to do this was "No Dinosaurs." As you will see below, there are no dinosaurs in that piece (despite what some of them might look like).
SPOILER ALERT: There's quite a lot of spoilers associated with the description below, so for those who have not finished watching the series, proceed at your own risk.
Tomoe Mami / Effigia (Shuvosaurus?) okeeffeae
Effigia was a reptile that lived during the Late Triassic and belonged to a group of animals loosely called paracrocodylomorphs. Through convergent evolution, Effigia and related species like Shuvosaurus had evolved a remarkable resemblance to the ornithmimids - better known as the "ostrich-mimic" dinosaurs - even though they are not closely related at all to the dinosaurs or even the ancestors of dinosaurs.
I chose Effigia to represent Tomoe Mami because out of all the non-dinosaur Triassic reptiles, I thought it most closely matched her aesthetics and graceful style. There is also another (darker) reason I chose Effigia; the original skeleton of Chatterjeea – a genus which has since been identified as synonymous with Shuvosaurus (which itself is a genus which has been suggested to be synonymous with Effigia) – was found with its skull (and other bits of its body) missing. This is a reference to what happened to Mami when she encountered Charlotte, the “Dessert Witch”, in Episode 3.As this one was the first in the set that I tried to create, I made a few mistakes in the costume, and it seems glaringly obvious to me now how I should have done it - but you know, hindsight and experience and all that...
Sakura Kyoko / Tanystropheus sp.
Tanystropheus was a diapsid reptile that lived during the Middle Triassic. It has a very distinctive appearance due to its an extremely long neck. But instead of having multiple vertebrae in that neck like other long-necked animals, it simply had a series of very elongated cervical vertebrae. From the deposit in which Tanystropheus has been found and its fossilized stomach content, it is most likely to had been an aquatic or semi-aquatic animal that ate fish and cephalopods.
The main reason behind picking Tanystropheus for Kyoko was its neck – it immediately reminded me of her segmented spear. Additionally, Kyoko's character is often seen eating, and one of the food that have become a signature of her character (aside from apples) is fish-shaped pastry. There is also another fish-related reason why I chose Tanystropheus for Kyoko; in Episode 9, Kyoko sacrificed herself to kill Oktavia von Seckendorff – otherwise known as the “Mermaid Witch”.
Miki Sayaka / Desmatosuchus sp.
Desmatosuchus belonged to a group of reptile call aetosaurs which were large, heavily-armoured herbivores. It had a shovel-shaped nose which presumably allowed it to dig up tubers and other plant roots from the soil. While all aetosaurs were armoured, Desmatosuchus stands out with its formidable shoulder spikes - the largest spikes above the shoulder are 45 cm long.
I chose Desmatosuchus for Sayaka because this seems to be an animal that embodies Sayaka's fighting style as a mahō shōjo – charge in, get knock down, and still be able to get back up again, and those massive shoulder spikes are rather reminiscent of Sayaka's sword(s). There is also another reason why I chose an armoured aetosaur like Desmatosuchus to represent Sayaka; in Episode 8, Sayaka was overcome with despair and her soul gem transformed into a grief seed, giving birth to Oktavia von Seckendorff, which wears a suit of armour over the upper part of her body – much like Desmatosuchus.This depiction of Desmatosuchus as Miki Sayaka is probably the one I am most happy with out of the set, I felt I got the pose and costume together quite well and managed to capture the dynamics of the character.
Kaname Madoka / Scleromochlus taylori
Scleromochlus taylori was a small reptile which is believed to sit at a basal position beside the common ancestor of both pterosaurs (flying reptiles) and dinosaurs (both of which are in the group Ornithidira). In fact, it has been suggested that this animal was closely related to the ancestors of the pterosaurs.
I chose this species for Madoka because it is very dainty and cute, with a sprightly body plan; its greatly elongated hind limbs was suitable for very acrobatic motions (as Madoka demonstrated in Episode 10 in her encounter with Oktavia von Seckendorff in one of the timelines), and overall seems to fit with Madoka’s character very well. Scleromochlus was found at the Lossiemouth Sandstone Formation, in sandstone deposits that used to be windblown desert with giant sand dune, so this reptile used to live in a sandy desert. The shape of Kriemhild Gretchen – the “Witch of Salvation” that Madoka turned into in one of the timelines in Episode 10 – has a shape which according to the production notes, is meant to resemble the lower half of a sand timer.
Picking Scleromochlus for Madoka was a very obvious choice, though it was interesting trying to figure out how to fit such an animal into a frilly dress...
Akemi Homura / Cartorhynchus lenticarpus
Cartorhynchus lenticarpus was a basal ichthyosauriform reptile. The ichthyosaurs (also known as the "fish lizards") evolved (and reached the peak of their diversity) during the Triassic period. They had evolved from terrestrial reptiles and while some of the early ichthyosaurs such as Utatsusaurus had more elongated, lizard-like, and less streamlined body than later species, they were still fully aquatic. The discovery of Cartorhynchus was able to fill in gaps in the knowledge of how these reptiles evolved. Cartorhynchus was pretty much what paleontologists had expected a "proto-ichthyosaur" to look like – an animal that is between a fully aquatic reptile and one which is more terrestrial.
I chose Cartorhynchus for Homura because throughout the series, she seemed aloof and distant from the other magical girls in the series, and Cartorhynchus is separated from the other species I have chosen for this set by both space and time. The environment/habitat of the mostly aquatic Cartorhynchus would seem distant from the others four species (except Tanystropheus, but that reptile was not as well adapted for an aquatic life style as Carthrohynchus). Another thing that separate Cartorhynchus from those other species is the issue of time (which Homura has control over as her magical ability) – Cartorhynchus lived a few million years after the end of the Permian, during Early Triassic, whereas the other species I have illustrated here were all Middle to Late Triassic species.
Another reason I chose Cartorhynchus for Homura relates to the macroevolutionary pattern of aquatic tetrapods. After the ichthyosaurs evolved in the Triassic, other groups of terrestrial/semi-aquatic tetrapods also independently evolved to become fully aquatic at different period throughout Earth’s history – the plesiosaurs which evolved from semi-aquatic sauropterygians in the Late Triassic, the metriorhynchids (a group of fully aquatic crocodyliforms) in the Middle Jurassic, the mosasaurs (fully aquatic squamates related to snakes and varanids) in the Late Cretaceous, and the cetaceans during the Eocene. This evolutionary pattern repeats itself over and over again throughout Earth’s history, much like Homura’s quest to save Madoka from becoming a mahō shōjo, living through the same month over and over again…On a design note, modifying Akemi Homura’s costume for Cartorhynchus lenticarpus was surprisingly easy. This is most like due to Cartorhynchus’ relatively streamlined body and that Homura’s costume is also relatively straightforward comparing with those of the other magical girls.
That's so brilliant!
Yeah, I was doing the original drawing on paper during the evening throughout last week - one character per night to so that they'd be ready for scanning by the weekend. I had multiple tabs open to look at reference pictures for both the characters and the reptile species I've matched them with. It's certainly an unusual experience going back and forth between browsing the Puella Magi wiki and looking at a bunch of scientific papers!
I scanned them all in on Saturday afternoon and started working on digital touch-ups and editing, followed by colouring. I had multiple reference pics there too get all the little details (the style of a bow, length of a ribbon, position of a belt buckle or a button, or the colour of the border around a sleeve or a dress) as true as possible to the original. I spent a bit of time poring over those details. You can see my progress in a series of tweets here:
It started getting late after the first two so I decided to have dinner before getting back into it. I wasn't quite expecting to finish them all on Saturday (and technically I didn't), but there was probably a neurotic part of my mind that was pushing me to finish it in one session. So I ended up with the finished piece you see there at about half past two in the morning.
But yes, it was TOTALLY worth it in the end!