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Her work first appeared online in the late 1990s on various role-playing forums, such as Arctic Nights and Wolf Web, though her longest-running online gallery is located on Side7, and only dates back to 2001.
Shadowwolf was born on March 3, 1988, in Meridian, Mississippi, U.S.A. Being tied to the Navy, her family did not remain in Mississippi for long, and subsequently she has lived in over twenty locations spanning five different U.S. states and Japan.
Throughout her youth, animals were her constant fascination. From bugs to horses, she was interested in them all. She began drawing them as soon as she was able using any medium at her disposal. Much to her mother's dismay, even an entire room of tatami mats were no match for Shadowwolf's artistic endeavors.
Movies such as Bambi, The Land Before Time, The Secret of NIMH, The Lion King, and Balto all inspired her artwork. Pets such as lizards, spiders, frogs, and wild birds cemented the passion she had for animals and their behavior.
At the age of eleven, Shadowwolf began her online activity in Pokemon chatrooms and feral role-play boards, wherein she drew for the various members that she befriended. With no scanner, her style was limited to the crude simplification that MS Paint and a ball mouse had to offer, with feral art being the staple of her subject matter.
In 2001, she began experimenting with Photoshop, but it was not until 2002 that she finally switched all activity from MS Paint to Photoshop. Up until 2007, all of her art was mouse-drawn, and in 2010 she switched to using SAI as her primary art program.
Shadowwolf's first character was created on the role-playing board Wolf Web, and originally existed solely as a written character. However, due to the informal system of addressing one another OOC, the other role-players called on one another by their "mains", or the names of their most-used characters. Thus, the name "Shadowwolf" became her handle, despite the fact that she went by the names of Guess, Mustang, and Toadster on other websites.
The Shadowwolf character was a female wolf, with blue eyes and black-and-white fur. Shadowwolf's other well-known role-play characters included Reeno (an evil Dire Wolf), and Rabola (a sickly Hellhound).
As Shadowwolf became more involved in the furry fandom, she began to feel that she should create a fursona for herself, rather than continue to let her first role-play character become her permanent identity. In 2007, she finished the design of her fursona, a shapeshifting deer/serpent creature. She continued to use the name Shadowwolf, claiming that it would be confusing (and too difficult to regain recognition) if she changed handles. She primarily draws the deer to represent herself, despite the character's ability to shift into a serpent (keelie) form, and is most often depicted as a feral.
A keelie is a species that was created by Shadowwolf in 2005 and is depicted as the "other half" to her deer fursona. Though resembling Eastern dragons, Shadowwolf states that they are not dragons, and are more snake-like in behavior and biology. There is no mysticism behind them, they cannot fly, and they cannot breathe fire.
The word "keelie" is derived from the Modern English use of the word keel, which in turn finds its roots in the Old English cēol and Old Norse kjóll to mean "ship." A keel is commonly referred to as a raised central beam on the hull of a boat, but it can be used to describe any surface with a raised, central crest such as those found on keeled scales or a bird's carina. The dramatically keeled scales found between the arms and legs of keelies are what inspired their namesake.
Keelies as a whole are a primarily reptilian brained species. Their functions are primal, driven by the simple needs of the body. Hunger inspires killing prey, maturity inspires copulation, imminent threat inspires fervent defense. Water, food, reproduction; survival. Their level of intelligence is more aptly described as predatory cunning, for they have no clans, traditions, or extensive language, but they are highly deft in complex environmental situations.
Keelies are extremely long in body, with diminutive appendages of no particular strength. They are covered in keeled scales ventrally, and hard, shiny scales dorsally. From the apex of the skull to the end of the tail there sprouts a mane of wiry hair, which can be quite long in length in the cephalic and caudal regions, but is quite short along the majority of the body. It is presumed that the manes of keelies help them to blend in with their surroundings, as it breaks up their outline when observed aerially. It also creates a distraction during close combat when attention would otherwise be directed toward vital areas.
The head is small in comparison to the body, similar to a colubrid in that it is only about as large as the thinnest part of the neck. Attached along the rear sides of the crania are two pairs of long black horns, the third, smaller pair being attached to a floating bone socket which does not actually connect to the skull. This separated bone allows adequate room for the lower jaw to hinge properly. Though with only limited give, altogether the bulky horns prevent keelies from opening their jaws as wide as a snake or even a crocodile, but rather more like a dog.
In the same manner of the prehistoric fish Dunkleosteus, keelies do not have teeth, but rather the edges of their jaws are sharped into teeth-like projections and scissor-like plates.
Sweeping pieces of thin cartilage and skin extend from each jaw just above the gonial angle of the mandibles, dwarfing even the largest of the keelies' three horns in length. These slender sensory organs are highly developed adaptations of the tympanic membrane; sensitive enough to pick up vibrations in the air that are well below human hearing capabilities.
A keelie's sense of smell originates from their radically lengthy nasal barbels, which extend out from before their olfactory pits (which resemble a lizard’s nostrils) and measure equal to the length of their neck and body combined. The barbels have great mobility, and can be pressed in close to the keelie's sides when in defense, or fan out when hunting.
Depending on locale, keelies can range in color from blue to green to red. Coastal keelies are more likely to be cooler in color, with a dull base that helps them blend into gray cliff sides. Brush keelies are usually deep to yellow green with little differences between individuals. Inland keelies seem to possess the most variety of color, typically spanning from mottled brown to shimmering gold, with melanistic and leucistic variations occasionally showing up. All keelies are patterned with black and white spots, stripes, and edging along their dorsal surfaces, which are most noticeable amongst Inland keelies and less prevalent in Brush keelies.
The spearhead itself is made up of several fused bones similar to vertebrae in structure, it is covered by a thin layer of skin and thus encased in a modified scale cap, which is shed just as any other scaled portion of the body and grows with the keelie as it ages. Often used as a bludgeon or an anchor, the spearhead's tips can repair themselves if chipped or broken off, as long as the bony inside remains intact. They are slowly re-grown with every shed, in the same manner of injured scales. Major damage may prevent full recovery and thus a warped spearhead.
Below the tail rests a sharp spine, also a modified scale, which possesses limited mobility in and out of action. During periods of rest the spine is pressed tightly up against the bottom of the spearhead and approximately a third of it is sheathed inside a small hollow in the tail tip. When agitated or excited the spine slides out fully and separates itself from the spearhead in a 'ready' pose. The spine is smooth, with two small groves along the side that provide a path for the venom to quickly travel down. If broken, it cannot grow back. Keelies rarely sting unless they are able to sting quickly and smoothly, or if they absolutely must as a last resort.
The venom injected by keelies is similar to saliva, and is produced by a small gland in the base of the spine. It contains a moderate amount of tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin with the capability of causing total paralysis, coma, or heart and lung failure. The amount of venom injected varies based on the individual keelie's age, weight, and gender, and the effect the venom has on an indivual is subsequently based on their own weight and species.
The mechanical injection of a keelie's barb is painful, the puncture sometimes reaching a 12 inch depth, though an average of 3 inches is typical. Once envenomated, the toxin is quick, reaching full effectiveness in a matter of minutes. Flu-like symptoms, lethargy, seizures, paralysis, coma, and respiratory failure can occur. Some victims may experience all, some may experience a few, and others still may experience none if they have a significant immunity or if the amount of venom injected was minimal. Keelies are not automatically immune to the venom of other keelies, but they typically have a stronger defense against it than other creatures might. Temporary paralysis is the most common symptom seen in keelie to keelie envenomation.
Being animals, keelies follow similar behavioral patterns one might expect from a reptile. They are not particularly bothered or interested in things that do not directly concern their well-being. Most of their time is spent basking out in the open, buried under warm sand, or slithering between basking areas and warm sand. They prey upon anything they can easily overpower, mainly deer and other ungulates, or the young of larger creatures such as dragons and giant birds. Keelies are oophagous unless there are no eggs available. They will travel great distances and combat difficult odds just to devour the eggs of similarly sized species, particularly those of giant birds.
Breeding season occurs during the wettest months of spring, and mature males will violently defend their scraps of land from intruders. Encounters between males do not often end in death, but full or partial paralysis of the defeated is to be expected, at least for a few hours. Females are drawn to males when they begin releasing hormones to signal the peak of their sperm production. Males are equipped with hemipenes, likewise females have two pouches in their cloaca. Fertilization is internal.
The female keelie gives birth to live young, with clutch sizes ranging anywhere from 2 to 8. Though small, the babies are self sufficient almost immediately and do not require any parental care.
Shadowwolf was first spotted mingling publicly with furries at Howloween 2006. Since then, she has attended Anthrocon in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and has been at Rainfurrest every year between 2007 and 2011. She has participated in various local gatherings, and attended a single Bellfurs meet, but on the whole she is fairly shy when it comes to furry soirees.
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