Saurian DevLog #12 – Maastrichtian Lurker Shark
This week we have a special on a very unique animal in the context of the game. As I am writing a section this time around, lets jump right into it.
Way back when I first joined Saurian in 2013, the team already had an extensive animal list for this then unnamed project. This list was an absolute mess of Campanian, Maastrictian and even Paleocene fauna from all over North America. I quickly took out the scissors, first removing non-Maastrictian, then non-Hell Creek fauna, then Hell Creek taxa that had gone extinct before the upper third of the formation, and finally taxa are not found at the specific site our game is based on. Through all of this, one animal held on, managing to evade joining Alamosaurus and kin on the cutting room floor. This animal was the mosasaur Mosasaurus hoffmanni. No remains of this animal are known from Hell Creek (the marine tongue in South Dakota preserves only invertebrates), but it is found in the latest Maastrictian both in Europe and North America.
The reason this animal was able to hold on is for it’s functionality. As our game map is bordered on one side by the ocean, we require some mechanic that prevents the player from swimming to the edge of the map and falling of the edge of the earth. Some of you may be familiar with Jak and Daxter, a game in which an un-killable creature called the “Lurker Shark” will kill a player when they swim too far out into the water. This is how the mosasaur will function in Saurian. At up to 17 meters long, even an adult T. rex would stand no chance against Mosasaurus hoffmanni when in it’s watery realm.
While it’s age and presence in the Western Interior Seaway did not make the animal’s inclusion too large a stretch of accuracy, we were mostly vindicated in 2015 when a complete skull of M. hoffmanni was found in the Fox Hills formation. The Fox Hills formation is late Maastrictian and is located within South Dakota, where our site also is found. Fox Hills is actually closer to our site than many of the famous Hell Creek deposits in Montana.
So among other things in the last two weeks, most notably I’ve been working on the much anticipated Mosasaur. Thanks to a lovely concept piece by RJ and generous guidance from Nathan Van Vranken, we’ve yet again probably made one of the most rigorous restorations of this animal to date. I feel like I say that every time, but once you stick to the science it can be pretty jarring how different these creatures look from popular renderings. Its not quite done, Nathan gave us one bit of info about the parietal foramen (which don’t appear present, bad Jake) and I intend to give it some gnarly pathologies to give it some rugged handsome character. I was nurtured on games like Jak and Daxter where the water edge guard literally gave me nightmares, this guy should make you afraid of the water like Jaws on steroids.
In my never ending attempt to make sure Jake’s dinos are well-fed, I present another denizen of the interior sea: the horseshoe crab. Related to spiders and they have blue blood, why would you not want to chomp them down? Awesome creatures with many cool parts, but sadly I think I will forever have nightmares of their mouths… and the fact that I actually looked up ‘horseshoe crab anus’.