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In some of the Anne McCaffrey books such as Damia’s Children, there is a species called "Mrdini". They are strong, have teeth, “poll eyes”, legs that do not allow them to ride horses, stubby hands, and fur, and are also very strong.

When I read the books I try to imagine some sort of three-eyed human-sized ferret or something, but I have no idea.

Is there any actual work or statement that describes them well enough to make a picture that fits the descriptions from the book? I don’t even know what a poll eye is.

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I love the Romas Kukalis covers stylistically and I think they do a good job with the human characters, but they mess up a number¹ of world-building details. The Mrdini are described as follows towards the end of "Damia" (text is copied verbatim, reformatted in bullet points rather than paragraph for clarity):

  • They did not sit, but stood on the three rear appendages, stubby legs which ended in splayed feet with three thick "toes."
  • The upper limbs had five longer digits, one on each side of a squat "palm" and three along its top.
  • The heads were long, tapering to what appeared to be a muzzle but she could not see a mouth.
  • One eye of a composite nature crowned the thick "head."
  • There seemed to be dorsal ridges along the backbone.
  • Maybe one of the three feet was actually a caudal appendage.
  • Their skin or pelt, she couldn't discern which, was sleek and varicolored, ranging from grays through green, brown, and a slatey blue.
  • Some were definitely taller than others, but she didn't think the smaller ones were immature or another sex.

So the Mrdini in this art are missing their third leg, their feet and hands have an incorrect human-like layout of digits, and they have a mouth (which they shouldn't) but no elongated muzzle (which they should have). Can't tell if there's a dorsal ridge or not based on this pose, but they seem to be placed closer to Laria's bench then I would expect a dorsal ridge to allow.

[1] Other cover art by the same artist also depicts "Coonies" as literal raccoons, which would be adorable, but they're almost certainly meant to be a breed of cat derived from Maine Coons.

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    Your answer suggests to me that EngrStudent may wish to revisit their accepted answer decision.
    – Lexible
    Jan 16 at 16:26
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    I came across this topic working on a Lego Mrdini build hoping to find reference material more accessible than my downstairs bookshelf and was like "I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that cover art was incorrect" =) Jan 17 at 17:49
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Two small Mrdinis are pictured on the bottom middle of this cover of Lyon's Pride.

enter image description here

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  • My copies have a different cover. Makes one wonder what Plgst or Prtglm looked like. May 28, 2021 at 15:43
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    I don't recall ever noticing them on the cover. Those are way more humaniform than I had pictured. May 28, 2021 at 18:32
  • @MichaelRichardson: I don't know the books, but the depiction seems to be even in contradiction of what the OP quotes about them. Fur? Stubby hands? And the only reason why these couldn't ride horses related to legs is maybe that the legs are too short. May 29, 2021 at 10:21
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    These are not very weasel-like. The articulation of poll-eyes described in book seems precluded with that head-structure. Given the proportions, the big 'dini's like Plgst, towering over humans, might be able to ride horses, or even hippopotamuses. The kinds of tails necessitating 3-pointed stools instead of chairs also seem to be missing. Also the extensive communication through moving, wriggling, or waving, doesn't seem to be as intrinsic to this form as to a weasel. Also pejoratives for them were "weasels" but these don't look like weasels. May 29, 2021 at 21:50

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