A creature design I've been pondering for some time, originally based on the Egyptian Mongoose, to be used as one of the predators within a personal project. I finally got around to painting him for the purpose of submitting the design to the "Helpful Bear Creature Design Contest": www.facebook.com/events/452193…
Which I'm very excited to say won! I encourage everyone to look through the events facebook page, as there are literally thousands of wonderful critters to look at.
The Ichneumon is the scientific name for the Egyptian mongoose, but originally the word described a mythological variant of the creature that reportedly stalked and killed dragons. Mongoose are snake eaters, and in mythology dragons were highly associated with serpents, therefore, the logical next step at the time was to assume mongoose could kill dragons. (Which back then weren't thought of as being half as large as we imagine them today).
Regarding the creatures in this personal project, the idea is that they should be believable enough to look like they could exist here on earth, either in the past or perhaps at some point in the future. So I thought of the Ichneumon as a descendant of modern mongooses that has grown to tiger-sized proportions. Other real animals eventually found there way into his inspiration. Fur texture extrapolated off of the Egyptian mongoose became quills atop a massive mane, his coloration takes cues from the snow leopard. And the Mountain Ichneumon developed an exaggerated patagium, that while cannot allow it to fully glide, helps the large predator survive long falls in the mountainous environments in which it hunts. While not big enough to be a threat to adult dragons, this creature instead stalks into caves and steals away with hatchlings and juvenilles. It's thick fur protects it from the cold as well as helps to guard it against fiery burns, and it's quills deter aerial assaults from unhappy dragon parents. It's bite contains venom similar to that of the shrew, and it's sensitive nose is it's primary tool for finding prey.
I'm in the process of painting a couple more versions of this guy, as I want to pin down the design further before moving on to another creature.