This is a visual representation of a creative process that I like to do: take a monster trope, and make a version that is more anatomically possible.
In this case, I took a manticore: something with the body of a panther, the face of a human, the mane of a lion, a barbed tail that can shoot toxic barbs as projectiles, and an unchecked aggression that leads it to sometimes even attack and eat people.
That whole bit about expendable tail barbs meant that only one mammal could ever produce such a creature by natural process: Porcupines. Or echidnas, which is where the final (bottom right three) version gets his mane. I know, I know, porcupines can't actually shoot there quills at things, but it's not the most ridiculous stretch to assume that it could happen with some species.
So imagine that there was a species of porcupines. But not just any porcupines, no. THESE rat bastards have long, prehensile tails with fast growing, loosely attached quills that can be flung off at some velocity with a hearty whip of the tail's end. Now, porcupines are rodents, and rodents are omnivorous. These whip-tail porcupines develop a dastardly habit. They decide that all this foraging business is kind of tiresome, but there are plenty of predators going around, killing buffalo and stuff, and why not take advantage of that? With painful, infectious quills at the ready, they waltz right on up to some lion over a fresh carcass, and hiss and snarl and shake their quills until the lion runs away. Now the whip-tail porcupines have a taste for flesh. They start to grow remarkably large on their diet of ill-gotten meat, and their proportionally massive claws grow bigger as they aid in processing the meat. As they become even more imposing, the creatures develop predatory behaviors on their own, and some take to hunting. Now there are gigantic, brazen predators who stand unopposed in their own natural ecosystem. So when some flimsy, hairless ape wanders into one's cave, the monster that evolution has produced sees no appreciable threat, and finds it quite an easy meal. When the associates of this ape discover what the creature has done, and is quite eager to do again, to their fellow humans, they can only describe the beast in the terms of a chimera, and they call it "the man eater."
I really like the version I ended up with in that bottom corner, especially the big, gnarly claws. I might actually end up using it in one of the comics. No explicit plans to do so right now, but it could happen, sooo... OC don't steal! :P
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