After Man

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Cover.

After Man: A Zoology of the Future (1981, ISBN 978-0312011635) is a 1981 book by the Scottish geologist and author, Dougal Dixon. In it, he presents his hypothesis of various organisms apparent after a mass extinction succeeding our own time.

The book is the first of Dougal Dixon's speculative evolution series, including the books After Man (1981), The New Dinosaurs (1988), and Man After Man (1990),[1][2][3]  which were pivotal in establishing the speculative evolution genre.

Geography of the future[edit]

In this new period of the Cenozoic, called the Posthomic, Dixon assumes that Europe and Africa would fuse, closing the Mediterranean Sea; whereas Asia and North America would collide and close the Bering Strait; South America would split from Central America; Australia would collide with Southern Asia (colliding with the mainland sometime in the last 10 million years), uplifting a mountain range beyond the mountains of the Far East that becomes the most extensive and the highest chain in the world, greater even than the Himalayas at their zenith 50 million years ago; and parts of eastern Africa would split off to form a new island called Lemuria. Other volcanic islands have been added, such as the Pacaus archipelago and Batavia.

Major groups of After Man: A Zoology of the Future[edit]

Some of the larger groups in the future include:

Rabbucks
Rabbucks fill the ecological niches of deer, zebras, giraffes and antelope; but they are descended, as the name suggests, from rabbits. They live in almost any environment, and feed on grass. Their anatomy resembles that of ungulates.
Gigantelope
The gigantelope take the niche held by elephants, giraffes, moose, musk oxen, rhinoceroses, and other large herbivores. Resembling the ancient sauropods or indricotheres, they are descended from antelope, and range in a wide variety of forms. One subbranch have evolved into the large, moose-like herbivores of the north (called the "hornheads").
Predator rats
The major group of terrestrial predators, who fill almost every carnivorous niche. They evolved, as the name suggests, from rats, and range in forms resembling polar bears, wolves, wolverines, cats, and even aquatic walrus-like forms.
Carnivorans
For the most part, Dixon assumes that carnivorans have either gone extinct, or have been forced into peripheral niches like the Creodonts in the Oligocene. A few still exist: the shurrack, pamthret, striger, ghole, gurrath, and nightglider.

Animals of After Man: A Zoology of the Future[edit]

Temperate woodlands and grasslands[edit]

(Across the Northern Hemisphere the temperate woodlands and grasslands form a broad belt encircling the globe, interrupted only by high mountains and seas. South of the Equator temperate habitats are found only in isolated pockets.)

Angler heron, Butorides piscatorius: a heron from North America, descended from the green heron, that creates shallow ponds at the edges of streams in the shade of overhanging trees by scraping at the river bottom and constructing shallow dams. It then accumulates a heap of droppings and fish remains on the shore to attract beetles and flies, which it uses to entice fish for into its pond, where they are easily caught.
Chirit, Tendesciurus rufus: a strictly herbivorous, long-bodied, North American squirrel, with a body like an inchworm. It is a typical plant-eating mammal abundant in the trees of the deciduous forests of North America. Its hind feet, although small and short, are very powerful and have strong, gripping claws. The underside of its short tail is hard and scaly and with its hind feet has a strong three-point anchor that can secure the rodent to the tree while it reaches for food. Solidly bound to the tree by its hind feet and tail, the chirit can reach at almost any angle. Since its ancestor's jumping ability has disappeared, the animal can only move from one tree to another by grasping an extended branch; for this reason the chirit is found most often in dense thickets. Its only enemies are birds of prey, and it is only vulnerable to these in the topmost branches. It makes nests in holes in trees and often occupies holes and hollows excavated by wood-boring birds. The chirit moves forward in a series of leaps and stretches reminiscent of a caterpillar. Hard, leathery skin and scales cover the underside of the chirit's hindquarters. It eats shoots and leaf buds in the spring and fruits and nuts (such as acorns) in the autumn.
Falanx, Amphimorphodus cynomorphus: a very large, wolf-like predator rat that hunts in packs; it is the commonest species of predator rat in temperate latitudes, and the largest member of the predator rat family. In small packs, they attack the weakest individual rabbucks and harry them to exhaustion. The evolution of its form involved the modification of the limbs from the fairly generalized scampering legs of the ancestral rat, to sophisticated running organs with small, thickly padded feet, and long shanks powered by strong muscles and tendons.
Janiset, Viverinus brevipes: a long-bodied, weasel-like predator rat, similar in appearance to stoats, that can tunnel underground, climb trees, and even swim in pursuit of prey.
Long-necked dipper, Apterocinclus longinuchus: a dipper from Europe, descended from the white-throated dipper. The young can fly, but adults are flightless. It is the only bird that spends part of its life with the capacity for flight and the rest flightless.
Lutie, Microlagus mussops: a nocturnal lagomorph in direct competition with mice and voles. In some areas, luties have replaced the small rodents completely, whereas in other parts of the woodlands, where the conditions particularly favor them, the small rodents have remained successful. Its predators include owl-like birds of prey. Luties resemble rodents in many respects, particularly in size; but their rabbit ancestry is displayed in the shape of the head, ears, and tail. They feed mostly at night, nesting during the day in cervices among tree roots or in holes in the ground.
Oakleaf toad, Grima frondiforme: a carnivorous, European true toad, descended from the common toad, with a peculiar fleshy outgrowth on its back that looks exactly like a fallen oak leaf. It uses this to ambush its prey amongst leaves, additionally luring victims (such as small mammals) by extending its earthworm-like tongue. Its only real enemy is a predator rat. Within the toads' bloodstreams lives a fluke that spends its juvenile stage in the toad and its adult stage in the predator rat. When the fluke approaches adulthood, it produces a dye that turns the leaf-like outgrowth on the toad's back bright emerald green, and the toad is quickly eaten. In this way the fluke is transferred into the body of a predator rat, where it becomes sexually mature and breeds. The fluke's eggs end up in the predator rat's feces, which are eaten by beetles preyed on by oakleaf toads. As the fluke needs to spend a period of at least three years growing in the toad's body before it is ready to parasitize a predator rat, and as the toad is sexually mature at 18 months, all oakleaf toads have the opportunity of reproducing before being exposed. When untainted by a fluke, the leaf-like outgrowth is generally any sort of brown coloration.
Pfrit, Aquambulus hirsutus: a tiny soricomorph from the Northern Continent that lives near water and has a long, tubular, hairless snout (which carries a set of fine teeth at the tip) to catch the larvae of mosquitoes, midges and other insects. It also has fine long hairs on its feet to help move across water and prevent it from sinking. At less than 5 centimeters long, excluding the tail, it is among the smallest mammals in existence.
Purrip bat, Caecopterus sp.: a bat found throughout temperate latitudes, with large, sensitive ears (positioned far forward at the front of its face to provide it with the largest possible sound-collecting surface) and no eyes. The purrip bat's sonar equipment is typical of most temperate woodland bats.
Rabbucks, Ungulagus spp.
  • Common rabbuck, Ungulagus silvicultrix: a forest-dwelling rabbuck of temperate latitudes, around 2 meters high. It has a dappled coat like a fallow deer for effective camouflage among the trees. They are normally found in small herds between 10 and 12 individuals.
  • Desert rabbuck, Ungulagus flavus: a lightly-built, long-eared rabbuck with a short sandy-colored coat, 1.2 meters high at the shoulder, found in arid areas to the south of the temperate belt.
  • Arctic rabbuck, Ungulagus hirsutus: a heavily-built rabbuck with a brownish-gray, thick, hairy coat that turns white in winter. It is found in the far north in the region of the coniferous forests and tundra. It has rolls of insulating fat.
  • Mountain rabbuck, Ungulagus scandens: the smallest of all its genus, found along the westerm mountains of the Northern Continent. It is adapted to live on a meager diet of poor grasses and herbs.
  • Hopping rabbucks, Macrolagus spp.: a basal type of rabbuck (largely consisting of woodland-dwellers), feeding on leaves and shoots of trees, but mostly replaced by the more advanced, deer-like forms. It moves in a bounding/hopping motion or gait, on strong hind legs. The Ungulagus genus, on the other hand, moves in a manner similar to that of deer.
Rapide, Amphimorphodus longipes: a cheetah-like predator rat native to the northern plains and built for speed. Its highly flexible spine gives it the added impetus to reach speeds of over 100 kilometers per hour.
Reedstilt, Harundopes virgatus: an almost dinosaur-like, fish-eating soricomorph found frequently found near river banks and lakesides of the Northern Continent. On its thin legs, the reedstilt stands nearly a meter high at the shoulder. Its head and neck are most unusual. Practically all mammals have seven neck vertebrae, but the reedstilt has 15 neck vertebrae. Its long, slender legs and neck and vertical stripes render it almost invisible among reeds, where it is frequently found fishing. The tooth pattern is degenerate (the incisors, canines, and molars having all reverted to an almost reptile-like condition). The reedstilt uses this combination of neck and tooth features to catch fish. The lower parts of its legs are covered with hair and probably provide camouflage as well as protection.
Shrock, Melesuncus sylvatius: a badger-like, nocturnal soricomorph and an excellent digger. Both its long snout and broad forepaws are used to dig after smaller burrowing animals and to excavate its own nest in soft soil under tree roots. It has a size and shape comparable to that of the Meles badger.
Temperate ravene, Vulpemys ferox: a predator rat about the same size as both the fox and the wildcat, that preys on smaller mammals and birds. It has long claws and pointed stabbing fangs.
Testadon, Armatechinos impenetrabilis: an erinaceomorph from Europe, with an almost armadillo-like series of hinged, armored plates (which can help the animal roll up into an impregnable sphere when threatened by a predator), descended from the European hedgehog. It has an overall length of 30 centimeters.
Tree drummer, Proboscisuncus spp.: an arboreal, shrew-like soricomorph with chisel-like teeth for driving into the bark of the sides of trees and a gristle-tipped, trunk-like proboscis for pulling out insects and their grubs from within. They have masses of sensory bristles covering their feet that can (aided by their large ears) detect the slightest movement in the bark beneath. Sometimes the grub becomes skewered on its chisel teeth and needs to be carefully plucked off before being eaten. The tree drummer comes in a few different species, and wood-boring is its specialty.
Tree goose, or hanging bird, Pendavis bidactylus: a two-toed goose with no webs, which can hang upside-down while perched in trees. It is one of the many woodland birds with curved opposable toes ideal for gripping branches. The toes are permanently curved and enable the bird to hang upside-down without effort. Because of the goose's size and weight, this attitude is much easier to maintain over long periods than an upright stance, and it has taken to spending long periods roosting in this position.
Truteal, Terebradens tubauris: a nocturnal, eyeless soricomorph with large ears, a large number of sensory whiskers, and incisors on both the lower and upper jaws, extended forward to form a structure like a bird beak, which acts as probe to catch earthworms and burrowing insects in soft earth and leaf litter. It has an overall length of about 12 centimeters. Like the lutie, the truteal's predators include the owl-like birds of prey.
Tusked mole, Scalprodens talpiforme: a European mole with a large, flat, paddle-shaped tail and two large tusks extending from its jaws, descended from the European mole. As it burrows, the mole pushes forward with its feet in a rolling motion so that its tusks ream out the soil in front of it. The loose soil is pushed back by the feet and compacted to the tunnel walls by its tail. As well as eating earthworms and other burrowing invertebrates, it also preys on small surface-living animals, especially mice, voles and lizards. It lies in wait just the soil surface listening for sounds of movement above, and when it hears prey approaching it springs out, using its tail as a level, grasping the prey creature with its teeth. The tusked mole's strong limbs and powerful tusks enable it burrow through the hardest and stoniest soils.
Unidentified European, temperate woodland undergrowth-dwelling, shrew-like mammal, seen being lured and attacked by an oakleaf toad.
Unidentified nocturnal, owl-like bird of prey, a great bird of prey, combing characteristics of the former eagles and owls, that wings its way silently through the branches, ever watching for an unwary movement on the ground that would denote the presence of a smaller animal. Their large forward-facing eyes, acting like wide aperture lenses to increase the amount of light reaching retina, give a three-dimensional image over the entire field of vision and enable them to accurately gauge distances and hunt in almost pitch blackness. Their prey includes luties and truteals. There are a number of different species of these owl-eyed predatory birds, and the largest stands more than a meter high.

Coniferous forests[edit]

(Throughout the world coniferous forests are found in areas having the lowest temperatures permissible for the growth of trees. The largest expanses are found at the far north of the Northern Continent, bordering the tundra.)

Beaver, Castor spp.: a new form of beaver whereof the tail and hind feet have become fused into one large paddle (similar to a pinniped), which, when powered by its backbone, produces a powerful swimming stroke. Its ears, eyes, and nose remain above water when the rest of the animal is submerged. Surprisingly the paddle does not impair the creature's movement on land and is used as a grasping limb, enabling it to climb trees.
Broadbeak, Pseudofraga sp.: a predatory songbird, descended from starlings, living in the western forests of the Northern Continent, with a wingspan of over a meter. It has a rounded tail and broad, blunt wings, which enable it to fly swiftly and manoeuver in the tight spaces between the trees. It has a straight, powerful bill and strong talons, which it uses to grip its prey.
Chiselhead, Tenebra vermiforme: a herbivorous squirrel from North America with a worm-like body and huge, deeply-rooted incisor teeth for chewing tunnels through living trees, wherein it constructs a labyrinth of nesting chambers, protected from the cold winter. It is descended from the eastern gray squirrel. Its staple diet is the bark of trees, which it strips off completely. Stripping and burrowing kills a single tree within a few years; therefore, every spring, after hibernation, the young chiselheads migrate to new territories. During migration, many are taken by predators before they can complete the journey.
Common pine chuck, Paraloxus targa: a North American cardinal, descended from the scarlet tanager, that has a very extreme sexual dimorphism: the larger male is red, parrot-like, more powerfully-built, and has a heavy beak which he uses to open pine cones to feed on the seeds (he also uses his features for display); and the female is greenish-yellow, more passerine-like, lacks the male's massive beak, and supplements her diet with carrion, insects (including grubs), and other birds' eggs.
Hornheads,Cornudens spp.
  • Common hornhead, Cornudens vulgaris: a typical species of hornhead from Eurasia with almost goat-like horns. Like all advanced hornheads, the common hornhead has a longer lower jaw and bites by bringing the lower incisor teeth into contact with the upper horn lip.
  • Helmeted hornhead, Cornudens horridus: a Eurasian hornhead with a fairly primitive arrangement of its horns and head plate. It stands about 2 meters high at the shoulder, the same shoulder height most hornheads have. It is the most primitive surviving hornhead. Like its ancestors, the helmeted hornhead bites by bringing its lower incisors into contact with a bony pad in the upper jaw. The ornate horn structure plays an important part both in courtship and in males' dominance struggles.
  • Water hornhead, Cornudens rastrostris: a hornhead that inhabits lakesides and the banks of rivers in Eurasian conifer forests. Its horny plate extends into a broad rake-like structure, with which the animal feeds on soft water weeds on the beds of ponds and streams. It has two broad hooves on each foot, set widely apart and connected by a web of skin, which prevents the mammal from sinking into soft mud and sand.
Pamthret, Vulpemustela acer: a large, carnivorous mustelid 2 meters in length. Pamthrets live in small family groups and normally hunt in pairs.
Parops lepidorostrus: a starling-like songbird closely related to the broadbeak. It is 10 centimeters long and lives mainly on insects that it extracts from the bark of trees.
Spine-tailed squirrel, Humisciurus spinacaudatus: a squirrel colored like a striped skunk, whose tail bears sharp quills on the underside, which at rest lie flat over the ground. When the rodent is alarmed it throws its tail over its back and erects the quills. This presents an almost impenetrable barrier and can be turned to deflect an attack from either side.
Trevel, Scandemys longicaudata: a large (but smaller than a chiselhead), vole-like squirrel of North America, with a prehensile tail. Too heavy to reach the cones growing on the slenderest branches, it feeds on them instead by hanging by its tail from a sturdy neighboring branch and reaching with its front paws. The trevel's long-clawed fingers and toes enable it to cling firmly to the bark of trees. Like other rodents of this general size it gathers more than necessary for its immediate needs and stores the rest for the winter months. Its hibernation nest is a long, drooping structure woven from grass, strips of bark, and pine needles.
Unidentified tiger moth, seen perched on a fallen tree branch in the first illustration of the chapter.

Tundra and the polar regions[edit]

(Tundra and other polar habitats are found at both polar extremities of the globe and at the tops of high mountains. Conditions in these localities are broadly similar and the habitats differ only in that one is an effect of latitude and the other of altitude.)

Bardelot, Smilomys atrox: an unusual predator rat with unique sexual dimorphism. Males are white and resemble polar bears while females are gray, have longer hair, and have canines like saber-toothed cats, and hunt woolly gigantelopes. It is one of the few predators powerful enough to threaten a woolly giganetlope.
Bootie bird, Corvardea niger: a large, carnivorous, black, long-necked, long-billed, long-legged corvid descended from crows; so called for the shaggy, insulating feathers grown to protect its legs from the cold in winter, wherein it also becomes a land predator. It probes for meachings through the snow and, with its long beak, is able to penetrate deep inside their fortresses.
Distarterops, Scinderedens solungulus: a shellfish-eating, semiaquatic, walrus-like relative of predator rats. The distarterops has an insulating coat of hair matted into solid plates. It reaches lengths of about 4 meters. Its most unusual feature is its teeth, whereof the upper incisors form long, pointed tusks: a male's left tusk projects forward, while the right tusk points down and is used as a pick to remove shells from the sea bottom, whereas females' tusks both curve downwards. This asymmetry is also found in the limbs; the left front flipper only is equipped with a strong claw, which it uses to dislodge shells. It lives on the shellfish on shallower areas of the ocean bed. Distarterops are gregarious creatures and are often found resting on ice floes during the summer months, in small groups of both males and females.
Flightless auk, Nataralces maritimus: a flightless, semiaquatic, penguin-like auk of the Arctic that comes in a number of different subspecies. Subspecies range in heights of 45-60 centimeters. The flightless auk is the first of countless numbers of seabird species to arrive when pelagic fish come northwards through the northern island barrier to feed on the algae-eating zooplankton in spring. During winter the flightless auks rarely come ashore or climb onto the pack ice, where they are quite defenseless. They retain their eggs until they are almost ready to hatch and lay them in the open water. Flightless auks first evolved at the northernmost tip of the Northern Continent and, as they became established, spread both east and west, forming their chain of subspecies in a ring around the Arctic Ocean. Throughout most of the ring each subspecies is able to breed with the neighboring ones, but where the ends of the chain overlap, no interbreeding is possible and these populations must be regarded as separate species.
Gandimot, Bustivapus septentreonalis: a colorful, carnivorous, almost albatross-like corvid of Eurasia, descended from the Eurasian magpie. It retains much of its original body shape and some coloration, but has a hooked beak and pointed wings like skua. In the summer, it feeds on rodents and smaller birds in the tundra, but spends the winters in coniferous forests to the south as a scavenger. It is a notable avian predator of the meaching, next to the bootie bird. Its survival in the cold north is due in no small part to the fact that it is a brood parasite, laying a single egg in the nests of other birds to be incubated and hatched by them, similar to the behavior of certain cuckoos. In this way, a female conserves the energy she would otherwise use in nest-building and brood-rearing, at the expense, however, of the ducks and waders on whose nests the eggs are laid.
Groath, Hebecephalus montanus: a small variety of hornhead of the fold mountain belt between Europe and Africa, called the African-European Mountains. They are found grazing on grassy, south-facing slopes, in small herds of four to five females guarded by a jealous male. Males have flat, bony plate-like horns which they use to buffet one another in their frequent fights for herd dominance; females have pointed pyramidal horns are used to defend themselves and their young against predators. When he sees an intruder, the male signals by erecting his long, flag-like tail and the herd makes for the shelter of a nearby crag or cave. In winter, when the snows come, the groath and other herbivores (of both the African-European Mountains and other mountainous areas) move to lower level altitudes to find shelter and grazing, since they since and other local animal life are found in higher altitudes only during the summer months.
Lesser ptarmigan, Lagopus minutus: a ptarmigan that nests exclusively in old meaching fortress burrows and is sometimes found cohabiting with the meachings themselves, where part of the population has already migrated. It is possibly descended from the rock ptarmigan.
Meaching, Nixocricetus lemmomorphus: a herbivorous, groundhog-like cricetid descended from the lemming, that lives in colonies and builds fortresses of matted vegetable material (principally mosses and lichens) against frost and snows. A colony of meachings can be started by 3 or 4 individuals. They breed profusely, and as their numbers grow they build a fortress. The interior of the fortress is very complex and consists of a network of passages and tiny chambers (one for each adult individual). During the winter each individual is fully insulated and kept warm by the rest of the colony. As the population of the fortress increases each year, so does the local population of predators. Even though the meaching has many predators their birthrate is so high that under normal conditions the colonies thrive. After 4 or 5 years of continual growth, the local food supply of herbs, seeds, mosses, and lichens becomes depleted; whereupon the meachings migrate, and unprotected by their fortress fall easy prey to their predators. Up to 40 percent of the migratory population may be wiped out before finding a new habitat. The old fortresses provide homes for several of the tundra's other inhabitants.
Parashrew, Pennatacaudus volitarius: a shrew found in mountainous regions. While the adults look like modern shrews, juveniles have a fantastic parachute-like structure formed of interwoven hair at the end of their tails, which they use to ride the thermals when leaving their parental nests for a fresh habitat (in some cases several kilometers away). The single migration flight of young parashrews may last up to 24 hours. The inevitable high death rate that this behavior produces among young parashrews is compensated by the large numbers of offspring produced by each breeding pair. The parachute hairs molt when a parashrew becomes sexually mature.
Pilofile, Phalorus phalorus: a unique plover on which a ring of stiff hair-like feathers surrounding the beak forms a cone and deflects insects into its mouth. When winter comes, they migrate south, shedding their bristles and growing long probing beaks. When the beak is closed the bristles drop down, allowing uninterrupted forward vision. The pilofile's green-and-brown-blotched egg is perfectly camouflaged in the tundra vegetation.
Polar ravene, Vulpemys albulus: a species of predator rat closely related to the smaller, temperate woodland-dwelling temperate ravene. Its fur is dull brown in the summer, creamy-brown in the early autumn, and white in the winter for camouflage against the snow; much like with an Arctic fox. It is the principal predator of meachings and attacks them by digging into a fortress with its front paws. Although the polar ravene is larger than the temperate ravene, it has smaller facial features.
Porpin, Stenavis piscivora: a common, fish-eating pelagornid (a group of strictly aquatic, viviparous descendants of penguins that fill the niche of cetaceans) of the waters near Antarctica. It is the commonest example of a pelagornid. Its most distinguishing feature is a long, serrated beak that enables it to catch larger fish than otherwise possible. So successful has it been that it has remained virtually unchanged for the last 40 million years.
Pytheron, Thalassomus piscivorus: a pinniped-like, Arctic, semiaquatic relative of both the distarterops and the predator rats, feeding on both fish and flightless auks. A pytheron has a streamlined blubbery body and fin-shaped limbs and occupies the ecological niche of the eared seals and earless seals. Spread-eagled on an ice floe, the pytheron appears ungainly. In the water it is swift and graceful, swimming like a penguin.
Ruffle, Rupesaltor villupes: a long-legged pika-like lagomorph from the African-European Mountains. Ruffles are surefooted over boulders and loose scree. It has a rounded head and body, and disc-like ears (adaptations against cold). It has long hair under the neck and body to protect its legs from the cold and its teeth are well-adapted for grazing on mosses and lichens. The shaggy hair on the undersides of its legs and on its feet give it a booted appearance. The upper incisors are set at an angle and used for scraping the patchy vegetation from the surfaces of rocks.
Shurrack, Oromustela altifera: a snow leopard-like mustelid from the African-European Mountains. It is sure-footed over difficult rocky terrain and well-camouflaged. Shurracks hunt in packs and share the kill among themselves. When snowy winters come, the shurrack and other carnivorous animals (both of the African-European Mountains and other mountainous regions) follow the herds of prey on their seasonal migrations.
Skern, scientific name unstated: an oily-green, flightless, wingless, semiaquatic wader with large feet and legs, that eats fish and lives mainly around the volcanic islands near Antarctica. Skerns lay eggs in the warm volcanic sands of the islands and desert them afterwards. When a volcano shows signs of activity, the birds scramble ashore, and probe the sand for areas with the right condition for incubation. After laying their eggs 10-20 centimeters deep and covering them with sand they return to the sea. Skerns cannot walk upright, but use their legs to push themselves along on their bellies when on land, similar to hesperornithes. When swimming at the surface, they sit very low in the water. When hunting fish underwater they become graceful and agile swimmers.
Vortex, Balenornis vivipera: a massive, Antarctic pelagornid at over 12 meters long. It eats plankton with its massive beak, which has evolved into an effective sieve of bone plates. It has a long, tapering, neckless body; a powerful paddle-shaped tail; and long stabilizing fins.
Woolly gigantelope, Megalodorcas borealis: a northern gigantelope 3 meters at the shoulder, similar to both musk oxen and mammoths. The tundra it lives in is only habitable during the summer months and in winter its kind migrates southwards into coniferous forests, where conditions are less austere, like what many large tundra animals do. It differs from other giganetelopes, such as the tropical gigantelope, in size and in the possession of a fatty hump. It has a long, shaggy winter coat and broad hooves, which prevent it from sinking into soft snow. It uses its enormous, forward-pointing horns as snow ploughs to expose the mosses, lichens, and herbaceous plants on which it feeds. Its eyes are small and its nostrils are bordered by blood vessels that warm the air before it reaches the lungs. In early summer, the woolly gigantelope loses its shaggy coat and takes on a much sleeker appearance, and the sustaining hump becomes depleted and it spends much of the time eating to rebuild its energy store for the long trek back south in the autumn. Its only real enemy is the bardelot.
Unidentified large, tall-dorsal finned, Antarctic ray-finned fish, seen being chased by a porpin.

Deserts: The Arid lands[edit]

(The world's hot deserts lying along the tropics are a product of Earth's atmospheric circulation. The cold deserts occurring in the Northern Hemisphere owe their origin more to their position in the center of large landmasses.)

Desert leaper, Aquator adepsicautus: a large, kangaroo-like murid descended from the sand rat, living in the deserts of Asia. Like a camel, it can go for a long time without eating when food is unavailable (up to 3 months) and can lose 50 percent of its body weight (without lasting ill effects), only to then replenish itself with food and water, storing much of its new fat in its tail. When the fat store is full, it can leap quickly on its hind limbs. Males reach more than 3 meters from nose to tail. It can undertake journeys of 100 kilometers or more between waterholes and oases. It eats mainly the leaves and shoots of desert shrubs and receives most of its moisture needs this way. It has broad, horny pads on the toes of its hind feet which prevent it from sinking into the sand and give it a good grip on naked rock. When replete with food, the desert leaper moves in a series of jumps with its forelimbs folded across its chest. In its emaciated form, it runs in a four-legged fashion. Both males and females have heavy eyelids and retractable nostril covers as protection against sand.
Desert shark, Psammonarus spp.: a sausage-shaped, predatory, naked mole rat-like soricomorph with a blunt, strong head and powerful shovel-like feet. It swims through the sand rather than burrowing, bursting into spitting featherfoot nesting chambers, which it locates using the sensory pits at the end of its nose. It is pink, wrinkled and almost hairless and avoids the extremes of temperatures by remaining underground for the most of the time. At rest it lies just below the surface with only its eyes and nostrils protruding. Desert shark teeth are sharp, pointed and all roughly the same size.
Desert spickle, Fistulostium setosum: a little, toothless, herbivorous, somewhat anteater-like rodent of the rain shadow deserts of North America, that subsists entirely on nectar from cactus flowers (which it drinks through its long snout) and can camouflage itself amongst cactus thorns with spines (also partly used for defense) covering its narrow body. It lives among the thorns found in the vertical grooves of cactus stems. When collecting nectar it often picks up pollen on its head. The pollen is eventually deposited on the stigmas of other flowers, thus effecting the crosspollination of the cacti. Living almost solely on nectar, the desert spickle's digestive system is a very primitive affair, since nectar is very easily broken down. It is preyed upon by ground-dwelling birds such as the long-legged quail.
Fin lizard, Velusaurus bipod: a small, bipedal lizard from North America with no front limbs and a system of erectile fins and dewlaps on its neck and tail which it raises to the wind to radiate excess heat. It can travel at speeds up to 50 kilometers per hour. When cooling itself, it typically balances on one leg while keeping the other off the hot desert surface to get maximum benefit from the system, with its neck and tail fins outstretched as well. The neck fins are full of blood vessels that lie near the surface and serve to keep the animal cool. It is one of the several desert reptiles that have developed rudimentary devices for keeping themselves cool if they overheat. It is preyed upon by ground-dwelling birds such as the long-legged quail.
Grobbit, Ungulamys cerviforme: a purely herbivorous, rabbuck-like rodent about 60 centimeters long, excluding the long tail (itself up to 100 centimeters), in the rocky areas of its desert home. Its hooves developed on its third and fourth digits, enabling it to run about the craggy landscape of the rocky desert. The second and fifth digits of its front feet have small dewclaws that almost touch the hooves when the foot is bent, allowing the grobbit to grasp and pull down branches and feed on them. It lives in packs all over the rocky desert zone of both Africa and Asia.
Khilla, Carnosuncus pilopodus: a largely nocturnal, coyote-like soricomorph, about 60 centimeters high at the shoulder. It is a strict carnivore, and derives most of the moisture it needs from the prey's flesh. It is one of the few large predators/meat-eating mammals found in desert environments. Nocturnal, it spends most of the day in a network of burrows excavated in soft sand. It is equipped with broad burrowing forefeet.
Kriskin, scientific name unstated: a common, roadrunner-like bird, mainly black in color, feeding principally on snakes. The color resemblance may be due to a form of mimicry in which for some reason black is an advantageous color for it and certain other predators, and all others adopt the same color to derive some similar benefit.
Leaping devil, Daemonops rotundus: a carnivorous, hopping mouse-like soricomorph able to travel up to 2 meters in a single jump when it pounces on prey, armed with long talons and sharp teeth. It hunts rodents and lizards.
Long-legged quail, Deserta catholica: a carnivorous New World quail of the North American desert, predator upon fin lizards and small mammals. Their eggs are laid in sand scrapes in sheltered spots beneath bushes or overhanging rocks, and incubated continuously. It is likely descended from the Callipepla genus. The breeding cycle of this and many other desert birds is dependent on the rainy season, the birds nesting as soon as the first spring rains appear and continuing as long as the wet season lasts. In unusually dry years, no breeding takes place.
Rootsucker, Palatops spp.: an armadillo-like rodent of North America with ts back covered by a nutlike keratin shell, used for protection from desiccation rather than from attack. To retain as much water as possible, the rootsucker lies on the desert surface with its broad, spade-like head plate drawn in tight against its body shell. The tail and feet are also armored, but with articulated plates that permit total mobility. A rootsucker moves through the sand using its broad feet like paddles and its head shield as a shovel to reach the roots of succulents on which it feeds, gnawing them with the edge of its head shield and lower incisors. It is equipped for digging with long, pointed claws and its horny head shield.
Sand flapjack, Platycaudatus structor: a fairly large dipodid with a flat, squirrel-like tail, descended from the jerboa, found in sandy areas. Its excess body heat is carried by the blood to the tail, where it is dissipated into the atmosphere. When pursued the rodent can move at speed, running with its lengthy tail as a counterbalance. To conserve water, the sand flapjack even constructs a condensate trap. As part of their courtship ritual each pair of sand flapjacks places a pile of stones and sticks over the site of the family burrow, cooperating in moving stones to construct their condensation traps. These provide cold surfaces on which moisture can condense at night. On very cold nights, this forms a pond in the burrow, 70-100 centimeters below the desert surface.
Spitting featherfoot, Pennapus saltans: a herbivorous, primarily nocturnal, kangaroo rat-like rodent with hind toes fringed by short, stiff hairs. It has small forelimbs and long hind legs, for jumping. The spitting featherfoot obtains all the moisture it needs from plants. By producing foaming saliva out of its mouth, it can cool itself, excrete unwanted toxins, and keep itself safe from most predators. One of its chief predators is the leaping devil. Its kidneys are highly efficient, until its urine is more than twice as concentrated as that of a rodent of similar size in a humid environment. It is nocturnal, but if displaced from its deep burrow by a predator during the heat of the day, it can cool itself by producing copious quantities of saliva and coating the front of its body with foam. It also spits at its foe with deadly accuracy. As the saliva contains most of the excreted poisons from the plants it is an efficient weapon. However, this defense mechanism dehydrates the animal very quickly and is therefore used only in dire emergency.
Unidentified sand-dwelling lizard, seen being pounced upon by a leaping devil.
Unidentified brown snake, seen being eaten by a kriskin.

Tropical grasslands[edit]

(In general, grassland forms a transitional belt between areas of desert and forest. They are regions of intermediate and highly seasonal rainfall where there is sufficient moisture to support a drought-resistant vegetation of grasses, shrubs and in some cases trees.)

Flightless guinea fowl, Pseudostruthio gularis: a large, flightless, wingless guineafowl from Africa, south of the Equator, that sports a startling selection of erectile wattle displays and a frigatebird-like inflatable throat pouch. When threatened, a flightless guinea fowl inflates its throat pouch, arches its neck backward, and utters a shrill, throaty scream. It stands about 1.7 meters high. It is likely descended from the helmeted guineafowl. It feeds on seeds, grasses, insects, and small reptiles. It is one of the fiercest and most territorial of all tropical ground-dwelling birds. Although it can deal a lethal blow with its broad feet, it runs off when real danger threatens. Except for the color of their legs, there is little difference between males (which have pink legs) and females (which have blue legs). Mating occurs in the early summer and normally results in one or two eggs being laid 5 or 6 weeks later. The eggs' incubation is by both males and females.
Ghole Pallidogale nudicollum: a bald-headed mongoose that scavenges carcasses and has a symbiotic relationship with a species of voracious termite where they shelter from the sun under the great mound's overhanging shade and the termite in return feed on any remaining scraps of food brought by the gholes. Its head and neck are almost entirely devoid of hair, allowing it to reach inside the body cavities of carcasses without its coat becoming fouled. Gholes live in packs of a dozen. It is the most efficient scavenger of the African grasslands. They are unable to compete with raboons and must wait until they have finished their fill of a carcass.
Horrane, Phobocebus hamungulus: a lion/tiger-like great ape from Africa, descended from the chimpanzee, that resembles an Old World monkey because it has a tail. It chiefly preys on gigantelopes. It can lie camouflaged in the long grass by its stripes and mane. When attacking a gigantelope, it goes for the neck or the back and uses its sickle-like claws to rip deep wounds around the neck and throat. After a gigantelope is killed, its body provides a big meal for a whole family group of horranes. It is a tropical gigantelope's principal predator.
Long-necked gigantelope, Grandidorcas roeselmivi: a basal-looking, giraffe-like gigantelope from Africa with a long, narrow head and able to browse on the leaves and shoots of trees at heights of 7 meters above the ground. Its horns are long, low, vestigial bony pads at the top of the skull. They are typically found in ones and twos around the margins of the tropical forests.
Picktooth, Dolabrodon fossor: a little rabbuck with a skull similar to a rabbit's and strong laterally directed tusks developed from the second incisors. Only two of the picktooth's toes are functional. The fourth toe on each of its front feet has developed into a spur-like claw. It feeds on low-growing herbs and roots, which it digs up with its tusks and spurs. As it runs only on the second and third toes of each foot, the spurs do not hinder it.
Raboons, Carnopapio spp.: bipedal (having gaits like predatory theropods), carnivorous descendants of baboons from Africa that either hunt or scavenge and come in a number of species, living on different species of prey and living in family-tribes. Males are larger than females, and only males have manes.
  • Giant raboon, Carnopapio grandis: a large raboon standing about 2.3 meters high at the hip, making it the most massive of its genus, and lives purely as a scavenger. As predators such as the horrane eat only the softer tissues and muscles of a gigantelope's belly and anal regions there is always plenty of meat left. The giant raboon concentrates on the limbs and neck, leaving the rest to smaller carrion eaters.
  • Carnopapio longipes: a small, lightly-built raboon about 1.8 meters high, that hunts smaller animals.
  • Carnopapio vulgaris: a common raboon that preys on rabbuck herds. It is the most widely ranging species of raboon.
Rundihorn, Tetraceras africanus: a rhino-like African gigantelope with four forward-facing horns. Its alarming horn array is used for defense, although it has few enemies likely to risk a frontal attack. Males have a secondary usage of their horns, in sexual display.
Strank, Ungulagus virgatus: an African rabbuck with a dazzling pattern of stripes, meant to produce a confused impression from a distance.
Tropical gigantelope, Megalodorcas giganteus: a typical gigantelope of Africa with four horns, one pair curving down behind its ears and another pair in front of its snout. The forward-pointing horns scrape soil from the plant roots and bulbs on which it feeds.
Watoo, Ungulagus cento: a large, African rabbuck with large angular blotched markings, similar to those of a giraffe, used for camouflage. It is particularly effective in thorn thickets and scrubby woodland areas.
Unidentified African grassland-dwelling termite, a termite that has developed an almost symbiotic relationship with gholes. This termite builds its mound with a horizontal shelf projecting out all around, a meter or so above the ground. The shelf provides shelter from the fierce midday sun where the ghole can bring bones and other tough parts of its meal to chew at leisure. The termites feed on the remaining scraps of carrion that the ghole invariably leaves scattered around the mound, thus benefitting from the relationship.
Unidentified dark-colored, African, scavenging bird, a few are seen picking at a dead tropical gigantelope.

Tropical forests[edit]

(Tropical forest is found in equatorial latitudes, where converging air currents bring large quantities of rain to the region at all seasons. This, combined with the constant high temperature, produces the forest's characteristic luxuriant vegetation.)

Anchorwhip, Flagellanguis viridis: a green, arboreal snake of Africa. It can anchor itself to a tree branch with its broad, grasping tail (the most muscular part of its body) and lie coiled in wait while camouflaged among the leaves of the tallest crowns in wait for an unwary passing bird. The snake is capable of striking out 3 meters (equivalent to about four-fifths of its body length) to seize a passing bird in midflight while still remaining a tight hold on the branch. It is perhaps the most specialized among the tree-living reptiles of the African rainforest.
Clatta, Testudicaudatus tardus: a herbivorous, leaf-eating lorisid of Asia with a heavily-armored prehensile tail protected by a series of overlapping horny plates, found in the lower branches of trees. When attacked by a predator, it immediately grabs the branch with its tail and drops down, hanging below the branch and presenting the hunter with an impenetrable tail.
Chuckaboo, Thylapithecus rufus: a communal, arboreal, monkeylike marsupial of Australia with the face, grasping arms, legs, opposable digits, and prehensile tail of a true monkey. The tail has a hairless gripping pad on the tip. Females have two pouches, on either side of the abdomen, to carry the young.
Fatsnake, Pingophis viperaforme: an Australian elapid with a fat, heavy, slow-moving, slug-like body and coloration that renders it invisible in the leaf litter of the forest floor. The fatsnake's neck is very long and slender and allows its head to forage independently of its body. This venomous snake can strike at prey 5-10 meters away from itself. Its main method of catching prey is to deal it a poisonous bite from where it lies hidden. Only later, when its venom has begun its digestive function, does a fatsnake eat it.
Flunkey, or gliding monkey, Alesimia lapsus: a very small, marmoset-like Old World monkey with patagia (folds of skin between its limbs and tail), which glides through the canopy. It eats fruit, leaves, and small insects. When gliding it can cover distances of 40 meters or more between treetops. It lives in the highest branches of the trees in its home region. Its tail, almost as long as its body, provides balance in the air. To support the patagia and deal with the stresses involved in gliding, the backbone and the limb bones have become remarkably strong. Steered and balanced by its foxlike tail (which is almost as long as its body), a flunkey makes great gliding leaps between the crowns of the highest trees to find food.
Giantala, Silfrangerus giganteus: a ground sloth-like macropodiform, over 3 meters high. It can pluck at the leaves and shoots of trees with its long tongue. A giantala's muscular tail acts as an extra leg, bearing the creature's weight when standing upright. It feeds on foliage well out of reach of the other forest inhabitants. As the giantala crashes through the thickets, it leaves behind well-marked trails, which, until they are reclaimed by the natural growth of the forest, are used as track ways by smaller animals.
Giant pitta, Gallopitta polygyna: a pitta with unusual sexual dimorphism wherein the male is about 3 times the size of the female. Each year, a male takes a harem of 3 or 4 females, each building a separate nest in the vicinity and relying on the male for food during the mating season. The male protects his mates throughout the breeding season from predators and rival males.
Hawkbower, Dimorphoptilornis iniquitus: a bowerbird from Australia, descended from the satin bowerbird, with interesting sexual dimorphism: the male is more lightly built and resembling almost like a hawk while the female resembles a regular bowerbird. While a female incubates her eggs, her mate will catch a small mammal or reptile and set it on a small, altar-like structure in front of the nest (skewering the catch), to attract flies for the female to catch and give to the male to ensure his attention during the long incubation period. Once the eggs have hatched the chicks are fed on the fly larvae developed on the rotting carrion. The bower that the male builds to woo a female houses the permanent nest and the small, altar-like structure at the entrance.
Hiri-hiri, Carnophilius ophicaudatus: an opossum-like dasyurid of Australia, descended from the Tasmanian devil. It lies in wait on low branches to catch ground-dwelling prey with its prehensile tail.
Khiffah, Armasenex aedificator: a gibbon-like catarrhine that lives in groups of up to 20 individuals and builds large, hollow, defensive, citadel-like nests woven from branches and creepers, roofed with a rainproof thatch of leaves. Males have thicker skin on their faces and chests and vicious claws on the thumb and forefinger, while females have smoother skin on their faces and chests and have only short fingernails instead of claws. The khiffah's most important predator is the striger.
Long-armed ziddah, Araneapithecus manucaudata: a black Old World monkey with long fingers, long toes, and long limbs, so it can brachiate (or swing) its tiny globular body through the branches of the trees at high speed. It has taken arboreal primate agility specializations to the extreme when eluding predators such as hawks and eagles. Its prehensile tail (similar to the extinct New World monkeys) is not used for locomotion but only for hanging from when resting or asleep. When sleeping, a long-armed ziddah hangs upside with its tail and curls itself into a ball, first by wrapping its arms across its body, and then brings its legs close in against its chest.
Mud-gulper, Phocapotamus lutuphagus: a large, semiaquatic, river-dwelling rodent of Africa that eats only water plants and resembles a cross between a hippo and a manatee. Its head is broad and its eyes, ears, and nostrils are located on bumps on the top. The mud-gulper largely eats water plants, which it scoops up in its wide mouth or dredges/scrapes up from the muddy bottom of rivers and lakes with its tusks. Its body is long and its hind feet and tail are fused to form a fluke-like organ (studded with horny pads that strengthen and support it out of the water), giving it a pinniped or whale-like appearance. Even though it is very clumsy out of the water it spends much of its time on mud banks (tucking its tail under its body when on land), where it breeds and young are reared in noisy colonies at the water's edge. It is the largest swimming mammal of the African swamplands.
Posset, Thylasus virgatus: a suid/tapir-like, omnivorous peramelemorph from Australia with four projecting tusks (two from the upper jaw and two from the lower jaw). It lives in small herds in the gloomy undergrowth. Sometimes they follow giantalas to eat whatever they stir up and leave behind. It forages in the thin soil with its long, flexible, sensitive snout for roots and grubs, snuffling and scraping. Its cryptic coloration helps to conceal it from its enemies. It is one of the most generalized and successful of the number of marsupials that live on the floor of the great rainforest of Australia.
Slobber, Reteostium cortepellium, an arboreal, slow-moving, almost sloth-like marsupial from Australia that is totally blind (similar to a marsupial mole) and spends nearly all its life hanging upside down from trees and creepers. It subsists entirely on insects that it catches in the flowers of its home creeper by entangling them in long strands of mucus dangling from its mouth. Its large downturned ears and sensory whiskers alert it to an insect's arrival and it tell it when to drop the mucus, which it aims at the flower's scent. As the slobber's hair grows in spiral tufts and is pervaded by a parasitic algae, it is completely camouflaged against the background of creepers, and when totally motionless can escape the attention of other predators. One creature that the slobber takes pain to avoid is the hiri-hiri. Separate races of this marsupial are found on different species of tree and creeper, each race's hair varying in texture to blend in with the surroundings. A slobber's young are carried protruding motionless from a pouch in their mother's abdomen.
Striger, Saevitia feliforme, an arboreal, tiger-like felid from both Asia and Africa with the bodily shape of the monkeys on which it primarily feeds on; a long, slender body, forelimbs that can swing apart to an angle of 180 degrees, a prehensile tail and opposable digits that allow it to grasp branches. It developed 30 million years ago and spread throughout the rainforests of both Africa and Asia. With its coming, the other arboreal mammal fauna of its ranges have undergone considerable change (since before, no tree-dwelling predator was as specialized as a primate in order to catch them); some of the slow-moving leaf-and-fruit-eaters were completely wiped out, yet others were able to adapt and face the new menace.
Swimming anteater, Myrmevenarius amphibius, a semiaquatic myrmecophagid anteater from South America with webbed clawed feet. It feeds solely on water ants, and to reach them undetected it attacks a nest from below, ripping through the waterproof shell with its clawed paddles. The ants that are drowned in an attack (with the rest of a colony surviving) are enough to feed the anteater.
Swimming monkey, Natopithecus ranapes, a semiaquatic, fish-eating Old World monkey from Africa, descended from the Allen's swamp monkey. It has webbed hind feet, long, clawed front fingers for catching fish and swims essentially in a frog-like fashion. It has a ridge down its back to give it stability in the water. Like the mud-gulper, its sensory organs are placed high up on its head. This amphibious primate lives in riverside trees, from which it dives to catch the fish that are its staple diet. It is less well-adapted than the mud-gulper but nevertheless efficient in the water.
Termite burrower, Neopardalotus subterrestris, a flightless, wingless, almost weka-like pardalote, with fine, hair-like feathers, from Australia that lives entirely underground in termite nests, where it digs nesting chambers with its huge feet and feeds on the termites with its long and sticky tongue (which has a bristle-like tip) to eat them. Its long claws and shovel-shaped beak are designed for digging into termite mounds. It is a curious bird of the Australian forest undergrowth next to the hawkbower.
Toothed kingfisher, Halcyonova aquatica, a semiaquatic, almost common kingfisher-like tree kingfisher that is one of the fish-eating birds frequently found along the watercourses of the tropical swamps. It has a bill that is strongly serrated with tooth-like points to help it spear fish. The coloration of its beak changes during the breeding season as a signal to the opposite sex. Although it cannot fly as well as its relatives, nor can it hover or dive as they do, it has become adept at "underwater flight", pursuing prey in their own medium. After catching a fish, the kingfisher brings it to the surface and gulps it into its throat pouch before taking it back to the nest (like with a pelican).
Tree duck, Dendrocygna volubaris, a whistling duck that, despite being a water-living creature, almost seems to have changed its mind about its preferred habitat and appears to be in the process of undergoing a change back to the more arboreal lifestyle of its remote ancestors. The webs on its feet are now degenerate and its rounded beak more suitable for feeding on lizards, insects and fruit than water organisms. The tree duck still takes to the water to escape predators and its young do not venture onto land until they are nearly adult.
Trovamp, Hirudatherium saltans, a small, parasitic soricomorph from Africa that drinks the blood of larger shrew-like mammals. It is very agile, climbing about, usually in packs, among the trunks and the branches of the shrubs and trees with its clawed digits. It is a prodigious jumper and can leap 3 meters from a branch, like a dart, to bury its needlelike jaws into the hide of a passing larger animal. The needlelike jaws have two barbs formed from the protruding, almost tusk-like canine teeth on both the upper and lower jaws, preventing it from being dislodged from its host until it is finished feeding. As many as 10 trovamps may parasitize one host at one time (each trovamp is held fast to the host creature's side by barbed teeth and curved front claws) and will remain feeding until the bigger animal is severely weakened. It is one of the smaller mammals of the African tropical forest.
Turmi, Formicederus paladens, an insectivorous, anteater-like suid from Africa, descended from the giant forest hog. Its upper jaw tusks are projected forwards, elongating the snout still further and have turned outwards to produce strong pick-like instruments used to dig into termite mounds, as well as using its claw-like front hooves. The lower jaw has lost all its teeth and musculature and the mouth has diminished to a tiny hole through which sticks out its ribbon-like tongue to gather termites. Its front hooves are claw-like and also used for digging up termites (which are its principal food source). It is one of the few large mammals found on the African rainforest floor.
Ubiquitous termite, scientific name unknown, an African termite that comes in many different species that lives on the tropical forest floor, constantly attacking the vegetable material on the ground (also doing this are microorganisms). These termites perform a broadly similar function to that of the earthworms in temperate latitudes by keeping the debris circulating. They are the principal food for the turmi.
Water ant, scientific name unknown, a semiaquatic, South American ant that makes its huge nests on rafts in swamps and quiet backwaters. Each nest is made of twigs and fibrous vegetable material, waterproofed by a plaster of mud and bodily excretions. It is connected to the banks and to floating food stores by a network of bridges and ramps. Since below the waterline the nest is made of discrete chambers that can rapidly be made watertight in an emergency, little damage from a swimming anteater is done to the colony as a whole (though some end up eaten).
Zarander, Procerosus elephanasus, a large, strictly herbivorous, elephant-like suid from Africa that can reach leafy branches 4 meters above the ground (it is particularly fond of young leaves and shoots). It is colored a bit like an okapi. It lives on the sparse herbs and shrubs found in less dense areas of the forest floor. Zaranders live in small herds of up to 8 in number. Each herd usually contains only one adult male. Its long trunk enables it reach branches where it can snip them and vines from the trees by the scissor action of its lower and upper tusks. Despite its long nose, the zarander has little sense of smell. Like other mammals of the forest floor, the lack of wind and general circulation among the dense trees means that scents do not travel far. Relying on its keen hearing to warn it of the approach of an enemy, it takes off into the thicker parts of the forest at the arrival of a predator, squeezing its narrow body between the tree trunks, and remaining motionless, camouflaged by its stripes and dark body color.
Unidentified white, African, canopy bird, seen being seized by the gaping jaws of an anchorwhip.
Unidentified African, forest floor-dwelling, capybara/hyrax-like mammal, seen being the host to five trovamps.
Unidentified Australian, forest undergrowth-dwelling lizard, seen skewered on the altar-like structure outside a hawkbower bower.

Islands and island continents[edit]

(The most important isolated environments on Earth lie on the South American continent and on the oceanic islands of Lemuria, Batavia and Pacaus. The accident of geographical separation has given these areas quite distinct animal communities.)

South America, which has become an island continent again. Rodents (namely caviomorphs) have become the dominant herbivores while carnivorans have become the dominant predators. 20 million years after the age of humans the land connection with North America was again broken and South America became an island continent once more. Climatic conditions have remained unchanged and the fauna has therefore changed very little.
  • Flower-faced potoo, Gryseonycta rostriflora, a grassland-dwelling potoo with a unique method of catching insects. The inside of its beak is colored and patterned like the petals of a flower, so it looks strikingly similar to an open bloom when its mouth is open. It sits on the pampa with its mouth open during the middle part of the day when insects are flying. Because tropical grassland flowers in South America bloom only when there is adequate moisture, the flower-faced potoo migrates seasonally with the rains. It is the oddest bird found on the South American grasslands.
  • Gurrath, Oncherpestes fodrhami, a large, jaguar-like mongoose that is the foremost predator of the South American tropical forests. Its ancestor, the small Asian mongoose, was introduced to Caribbean islands by humans and became a pest. When these islands became fused into the South American mainland, it spread southwards and developed into its present jaguar-like form. Its chief prey is the tapimus.
  • Matriarch tinamou, Gynomorpha parasitica, a strange, forest-dwelling tinamou with strong sexual dimorphism: the female looks like a typical tinamou while the male is much smaller, flightless, resembles a hummingbird, has large claws on his feet, a single claw on each wing, and the wings and digestive system are degenerate and he is entirely parasitic on the female, riding on her back while sucking her blood. The male's only biological function is to provide sperm during mating. This is due to the fact of the species' low population density, which makes it an advantage for each female to have a mate constantly available to her. It is one of the strangest birds of these regions.
  • Nightglider, Hastatus volans, a nocturnal, strictly carnivorous, arboreal mustelid with a gliding membrane like a flying squirrel. It feeds on insects, frogs, and smaller mammals. It can impale its prey on the spines (which are modified hairs like with a porcupine) that project from its chest, parachuting down silently to ambush. There are several species of nightglider, each being camouflaged against particular species of forest trees.
  • Strick, Cursomys longipes, a black-and-white-colored, grassland-dwelling, very shy, bipedal, kangaroo-like caviid. They graze among the long grasses in large, tightly knit small herds of up to 12 in number, with at least two or three individuals with their heads up, looking around for danger while the rest of the group grazes, having their senses buried in the grass. It can run on the tips of its long two-toed hind feet. It has a small head with long ears and wide nostrils. Their markings break up their shape and make them difficult to pick out at a distance.
  • Tapimus, Tapimus maximus, a large, omnivorous, striped, agouti-like dasyproctid with long tusks and feeds in open areas of the forest.
  • Wakka, Anabracchium struthioforme, a yellow, spotted, bipedal caviid from the grasslands with long hind legs, an equally long neck and tail and no forelimbs at all. Even while grazing, its eyes are placed high enough on its elongated head for it to see the approach of a predator. It is the most specialized member of its family and perhaps the most highly adapted running animal in the world. Its globular body and long hind limbs support its equally long neck and tail which balance one another, maintaining the animal's center of gravity over its hips. These features give the creature a clear view of the surrounding countryside. Wakkas are such fast runners that, provided they can see a predator approaching, they are always able to outrun it. They are only vulnerable when they have their heads down foraging in the grass. Because both wakkas and stricks occupy similar ecological niches, they have, in the course of evolution, developed along similar lines from completely different ancestors.
  • Unidentified small, forest-dwelling mammal, seen being impaled by the chest spines of a parachuting nightglider.
Lemuria, a large island subcontinent which has split off from East Africa and has become the bastion of even-toed ungulates. The separation of this landmass occurred before ungulate herds of Africa had been mostly replaced by rabbucks. As a result, even-toed ungulates are as plentiful on the grassy plains of Lemuria as they were on the African mainland in the past.
  • Cleft-back antelope, Castratragus grandiceros, a bovid antelope looking very similar to ancestral forms. Along its back is a pair of ridges, supported by outgrowths from the vertebrae. Between the ridges is a deep cleft lined by stiff hairs that provide an ideal nesting medium for its symbiotic relationship with tick birds. Clef-back antelopes are ruminants, so they have four-compartmented stomachs through which their food passes to extract its maximum nutritional content. It is one of the few surviving members of the large number of bovid antelope species that look like relics from the age of humanity.
  • Lemurian swallowtail butterfly, scientific name unknown, a swallowtail butterfly unique to Lemuria.
  • Long-necked yippa, Altocephalus saddi, a llama-like bovid antelope that can reach the leaves and young shoots of savannah trees. Since it is dependent on trees for food, it migrates to the edge of the southwestern tropical forest of Lemuria during the dry season.
  • Snorke, Lepidonasus lemurienses, a fleet-footed, grass-eating suid-like bovid antelope with a long snout. Its eyes are placed near the top of its head, enabling it to keep watch for predators while grazing. As herds move across the plains feeding, they expose the lower layers of vegetation, which provide food for smaller herbivores. The snorke is one of the lightly-built fleet-footed ungulates of Lemuria that only eat the grasses.
  • Tick bird, Invigilator commensalis, a starling-like songbird, descended from oxpeckers, that has a great symbiotic relationship with the cleft-back antelope. Several tick bird families may nest on the antelope's uniquely-shaped back at one time. A tick bird egg is held securely by the stiff hairs growing in a clef-back antelope's spinal cleft. They will clear insects and their larvae off the mammal to feed themselves and their young. Not only is the cleft-back antelope supplied with a constant grooming service, it is also supplied with an early warning system that alerts it to approaching predators.
  • Valuphant, Valudorsum gravum, a massive bovid antelope some 5 meters long with a squat, rounded body and massive legs, resembling those of the distantly-related gigantelopes. It has a tall ridge running down its back and neck, supported by the neural spines of the vertebrae, similar to a zebu, and may be of use in regulating the animal's body temperature. The valuphant feeds only on herbs and roots, which it gouges up with its massive horns, growing to nearly a meter in length, which are also its main means of defense. Its eyes and ears are small to keep out the dust. It is the largest herbivore in Lemuria, found only on the subcontinent's plains. The valuphant is a valuable element in Lemurian ecology. In digging for the roots on which it feeds it disturbs the soil and stimulates the regrowth of vegetation.
Batavia, a volcanic island chain in the eastern Pacific Ocean, west of South America. It is mostly ruled by bats, beating the birds to be the first terrestrial vertebrates to settle on these new islands.
  • Flightless shalloth, Arboverspertilio apteryx, a omnivorous, flightless, tree-dwelling, primate/three-toed sloth-like bat which spends its life hanging upside down. It eats leaves and the occasional insect or smaller vertebrate, caught by a swift jab of its single claw. Excepting for the 'thumbs', the fingers of the flightless shalloth's hand-like front feet are fused together.
  • Flooer, Florifacies mirabila, a flightless, largely sedentary bat with brightly-colored ears and nose flaps mimicking a species of reddish-pink flower unique to the Batavian islands. It sits among these flowers with its face turned upwards, snapping at any pollinating insect that attempts to land. It also has glands around its mouth that produce a sweet-smelling secretion that is attractive to insects. This feeding mode is remarkably similar to the flower-faced potoo of South America.
  • Night stalker, Manambulus perhorridus, a large, flightless bat that is the largest and most fearsome of a particular group of Batavian ground-dwelling predatory bats that walk on their front legs (which would be, in the case of a flying bat, its wings, the site of most of its locomotion muscles) while their hind legs and feet are still used for grasping, but now fall forward to hang down below their chin (their ears and nose are now so developed that their eyes are now atrophied). The night stalker is one and a half meters tall and hunts in the Batavian forests in packs at night, screeching and screaming. They prey indiscriminately on other mammals and reptiles, attacking them with their ferocious teeth and claws.
  • Surfbat, Remala madipella, a flightless, semiaquatic, pinniped-like bat that lives on the islands' beaches in packs. It fishes in the shallow waters around the coral reefs. Their hind legs, wings and tail flaps have developed into swimming and steering organs and their bodies are sleek and streamlined. The flippers, which were once wings for flight, are stubby and muscular. On land a surfbat leaps along on its tail and forelimbs. When resting its tail is curled under its body.
  • Unidentified costal, coral reef-dwelling ray-finned fish, two are seen being pursued by a swimming surfbat.
  • Unidentified rat-like mammal, seen being snatched and jabbed by a flightless shalloth.
  • Unidentified rabbuck-like mammal, seen being attacked by a pack of night stalkers.
Pacaus, another island chain, this time in the western Pacific, east of Australia, several thousand kilometers away. It formed during the last 40 million years by friction between the northward-moving Indo-Australian Plate and the westward-moving Pacific Plate. At the margin between the two plates, volcanic islands were thrown up which gradually acquired accretions of coral round their shores. After the ash and lava slopes were covered with vegetation and an insect population had been established, the islands began to be colonized by birds. The first birds to arrive were the ancestors of the Pacauan whistlers.
  • Pacaus bird snake, Avanguis pacausus, a snake with stripes around its neck and is one of the most active and vicious snakes of the Pacaus archipelago. It is the Pacauan whistlers' most important predator.
  • Pacauan whistlers, Insulornis spp., a diverse genus of pachycephalid, all members descended from the Australian golden whistler which was blown from Australia to Pacaus very long ago. There are many species living on the islands of Pacaus: the nut-eater, Insulornis macrorhyncha, has a large bill for cracking nutshells (much like a parrot); the insect-eater, Insulornis piciforma, has a strong, pointed bill which can penetrate tree bark to get at burrowing insects (a technique similar to the woodpecker); the hawk whistler, Insulornis aviphaga, has a powerful, hooked beak for tearing flesh, binocular vision through its forward-facing eyes and a high degree of maneuverability when in pursuit of fellow Pacauan whistlers to eat (being very similar to birds of prey); the Insulornis harti still looks similar in form to the original ancestral bird.
  • Pacaus coral fish, scientific name unknown, a pufferfish-like tetraodontiform living in the coral reefs around the Pacaus islands.
  • Terratail, Ophicaudatus insulatus, a timid, red squirrel-like rodent that is one of the few mammals living in Pacaus. The markings on its tail mimic the markings on a Pacaus bird snake's head. When threatened by any predator, such as a hawk whistler, a terratail hides under a tree branch and throws its tail into the typical snake-threat posture and utters a realistic hiss, and while the enemy is recovering from shock, the terratail escapes rapidly into the undergrowth.
  • Unidentified basic-looking Pacauan whistler, seen near a confrontation between a terratail and a hawk whistler. It is possibly the more primitive-looking Insulornis harti.

Similar projects[edit]

Paleontologist Peter Ward wrote another book on a different perspective on future evolution, one with humans intact as a species. This book is called Future Evolution. Dixon's later work Man After Man also includes man. In 2002, a program on Animal Planet called The Future Is Wild—for which Dixon was a consultant—advances further using more precise studies of biomechanics and future geological phenomena based on the past.

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References[edit]