We know about Gallimimus from the Jurassic Park franchise, but there was one ostrich-like dinosaur that was even larger than Gallimimus: Gigantoraptor! Gigantoraptor was a species of Oviraptor that stood 15 feet tall, which was five feet taller than a basketball hoop. For my upcoming dinosaur book, my fictional species of ostrich-like dinosaur will be the same size as Gigantoraptor. Imagine that flock of Gallimimus from Jurassic Park, but super-sized! Try outrunning a flock of these giants!
One of the more intriguing marine reptiles that existed during the reign of the dinosaurs would be Nothosaurs. Nothosaurs lived during the Triassic Period, which was when the dinosaurs first evolved. They were ancient relatives of Plesiosaurs, which were among the more famous marine reptiles. I have been intrigued by Nothosaurs because they look like a reptilian mixture between a seal and a mermaid. They are graceful when they swim yet deadly when they need to be. I will be featuring a marine reptile in my dinosaur series that is physically similar to Nothosaurs, but it will be a completely different creature altogether.
My illustrator has completed the seventh illustration for my upcoming dinosaur book, The Kaligen Experiment: Genesis. It is a fictional species of ceratopsian like Triceratops. This is the first picture of a herbivore made so far.
“Through the ages…I’ve seen evil take many forms. The Sith. The Empire. Today, it is the First Order.”
Maz Kanata, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Since Rise of Skywalker, I have been brainstorming on where the Star Wars story will go in the future. The return of the Sith has been thwarted, but the dark side has ways to return. The dark side is an integral part of the Force and will never go away. Due to this, it will always find a way to turn others against the light. The question is what form will the dark side take in future installments? What kind of evil will Rey Skywalker’s Jedi Order face?
“I thought there were only two Sith.”
“These are not Sith.”
“But they could be should you fall.
Ochi of Bestoon, Darth Vader, and Darth Sidious
“Only two Sith, just as you say, but any one of these might replace you.”
Darth Sidious to Darth Vader
The Sith may be gone, but they left behind a dark legacy. That legacy has taken the form of ruins, artifacts, and the cults who worship the Sith like gods. The cults are an intriguing bunch because they themselves are not true Sith and yet they are devote believers of the Sith religion. So far, the new Canon has featured three Sith cults such as the Sith Eternal, the Acolytes of the Beyond, and the Alazmec of Winsit.
The Acolytes of the Beyond was the first Sith cult we were introduced to in the new Canon. The Acolytes were known to collect Sith artifacts such as lightsabers or masks to either returning them to their owners in death by destroying them or using them as symbols of power. They staged attacks across the fledgling New Republic during the last year of the Galactic Civil War. When attacking, they would paint their weapons red to emulate the red lightsabers the Sith would use. Members included Darth Sidious’s closest confidants such as Yupe Tashu and Ochi of Bestoon. Some members joined the Sith Eternal on Exegol, but the rest of the cult’s fate is unknown.
Darth Vader got his own cult known as the Alazmec of Winsit, who were stationed in the ruins of Vader’s castle on Mustafar. In addition to Vader, these cultists worshipped an ancient Sith Lady who once ruled Mustafar in the distant past. They would plant trees on Mustafar in her honor. Several of their number were slaughtered by Kylo Ren, but it is unknown if there were more of them elsewhere on Mustafar.
The most powerful Sith cult so far was the Sith Eternal, who were stationed on the hidden Sith world of Exegol. They were Darth Sidious’s primary supporters alongside surviving Imperials. The majority of the cult was destroyed during the Battle of Exegol when Darth Sidious was destroyed by Rey Skywalker.
“You’re clumsy. Untrained. You use the dark side like a hammer.”
Luke Skywalker to the Knights of Ren
When one considers a potential return of the Sith, one must consider the potential evolution of Sith cults across the galaxy. It remains unknown if the Acolytes of the Beyond were wiped out or vanished into the shadows at some point. The Alazmec of Winsit took heavy casualties at the hand of their god’s grandson, but it is unknown if the whole cult was wiped out or just a fraction. Due to having vast influence across the galaxy, it is possible that not all members of the Sith Eternal died with their compatriots on Exegol. Essentially, if even one member of any of these cults remains, they can rebuild themselves from the ground up. Also, the Alazmec of Winsit and the Sith Eternal were introduced to us in one movie. TWO Sith cults in one movie! That means there is a strong possibility that there are many other Sith cults scattered across the galaxy, hiding in the shadows. These cults gained power and influence due to the presence of Darth Vader and Darth Sidious even after they were defeated. This means the remaining cults could gain more power and influence despite the Sith Eternal’s defeat simply because Darth Sidious was involved.
Not all Sith cultists were Force sensitive, but there is a strong possibility that some of them were. This means they have the ability to learn to use the Force and may claim the title of Sith for themselves. However, these pseudo-Sith would be a shadow of what the true Sith were. With the true Sith gone, their ability to learn would be limited to what they can salvage from holocrons, ancient texts, and self-teaching. Due to this rudimentary and imperfect form of learning, these cultists’ usage of the dark side would be similar to that of the Knights of Ren, which Luke Skywalker described as being clumsy, untrained, and being like wielding a hammer. This would hint that the pseudo-Sith would discard skill and finesse in exchange for raw power.
In addition to their usage of the dark side, these pseudo-Sith would also have imperfect lightsabers. I can imagine their lightsabers to be similar in design to Kylo Ren’s. Kylo Ren’s lightsaber was crudely made with an unstable blade. The lightsabers of these pseudo-Sith may be as crudely made and unstable of Kylo Ren’s, but they likely will not have the crossguard. When these pseudo-Sith cannot build their own lightsabers, they may likely use ones they find that were already built. However, the Acolytes of the Beyond and the Knights of Ren used regular melee weapons instead of lightsabers. This hints that some of these pseudo-Sith won’t use lightsabers at all, but will use normal melee weapons.
Another source of dark side power these pseudo-Sith could draw from would be Sith artifacts such as masks. The Acolytes of the Beyond were known to utilize Sith masks. When such a mask is worn, the wearer would be consumed by an uncontrollable rage and slaughter everything in sight. When Lando Calrissian hijacked Darth Sidious’s personal yacht, he found a treasure trove of Sith artifacts on board. Like Sith masks, these other artifacts corrupted the minds of everyone who either touched them or came near them. The pseudo-Sith may use whatever Sith artifacts they can find as a way to further augment their power in the dark side.
“Soon enough, you will stop denying the truth of so very many things. And you will understand that I am not a traitor, but a visionary! Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hatred leads to suffering. But what the Jedi failed to teach you, what I have learned, is how to persevere, to pass through the suffering, and achieve ultimate power!”
While the pseudo-Sith would be a threat on their own, it is possible more dangerous individuals may join their ranks. Even if Rey Skywalker rebuilds the Jedi Order, it is likely some of her pupils might turn to the dark side. If they turn and find their way to the pseudo-Sith. The difference between the pseudo-Sith and these fallen Jedi would be that the fallen Jedi would have proper training while the pseudo-Sith did not. With this in mind, the fallen Jedi could use their superior mastery of the Force to take over the pseudo-Sith and the Sith cults. After acquiring the dark side knowledge the cults accumulated, these fallen Jedi may become true Sith. When that happens, the Sith’s rebirth can begin in earnest.
“This is how it must be. The Empire became this…ugly, inelegant machine. Crude and inefficient. We needed to be broken into pieces. We needed to get rid of those who want to see that old machine churning ineluctably forward. It’s time for something better. Something new. An Empire worthy of the galaxy it will rule.”
After the Sith Eternal and the Final Order were defeated, the rest of the galaxy rose up against the First Order. With no Supreme Leader or high-ranking generals to lead them, the First Order’s hold over the galaxy began to crumble. However, I do not think we have seen the last of the First Order. When the Galactic Empire fell, it managed to survive in the form of remnants. Most of these remnants were destroyed by Palpatine’s Contingency while the rest formed both the First Order and the Final Order. This time, Palpatine is not around to enact another Contingency against the First Order. This means that numerous remnants are bound to survive the First Order’s defeat. Some may establish holdouts in known space while the rest may retreat to their territory in the Unknown Regions. The surviving remnants of the First Order would then be given an opportunity to rebuild their strength and reorganize themselves just as their Imperial precursors did before them.
“Our time has come. For 300 years, we prepared. We grew stronger. While you rested in your cradle of power, believing your people were safe… and protected. You were trusted to lead the Republic—but you were deceived, as our powers of the dark side have blinded you. You assumed no force could challenge you…and now…finally…we have returned.”
Through the combined efforts of Sith cults and fallen Jedi, I strongly think the Sith will rise again. In the safety of the Unknown Regions, the remnants of the First Order would be able to rebuild their strength just as they did in the past. For both the Sith and the First Order, the slate would be wiped clean, which would give them ample room to rebuild. That would take years or even centuries. If left unchecked, these two factions can regain enough strength to become a real threat once again. Individually, they would dangerous on their own, but what if they combined their power? For these reborn Sith, their power in the dark side would not be enough to conquer the galaxy. To achieve that, they would need to acquire an army, which they can find in the remnants of the First Order. With this in mind, it would be likely that the reborn Sith and the rebuilt First Order would join forces to renew their quest to retake the galaxy.
“General Leia thought they’d destroyed the Emperor at the Battle of Endor, but he came back. More powerful than ever.”
“You think he might come back again.”
“Maybe or some other evil will rise. Evil always rises.”
“Naw. Not for a long time, anyway.”
Poe Dameron and Finn
Overall, the Sith may be gone and the First Order may be fragmented, but I strongly believe there are ways for them to return in future stories in the Star Wars saga. It’s either that or some other evil will take their place. Rey Skywalker’s Jedi Order is going to have their work cut out for them.
Years ago, I visited my relatives in Texas and we went to Carlsbad caverns. Before we went in, we watched as a swarm of bats flew out of the cave. Watching those bats made me feel like Batman. When we went inside the caverns, I felt as though I was in a Jules Verne novel. All kinds of beautiful rock formations decorated the caves. It was like entering a primeval world that time forgot. If I turned around the next corner and found a prehistoric monster, I would not have been surprised. I am thinking of drawing inspiration from my experiences in Carlsbad for my future dinosaur books.
For the future stories in my fantasy series, I have been brainstorming what kind of historical civilizations to draw inspiration from. I mentioned the introduction of a new continent that will come into conflict with the Gradaian Empire. I have been toying with the number of kingdoms this new continent would have, but I have settled on nine nations. Among those nations would be the Ancient Greeks, the Ottoman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Franks, the Anglo-Saxons, the Ancient Chinese, the Byzantine Empire, the Ancient Egyptians, and the Rus Vikings.
“The E750 project is extremely aggressive!”
Dr. Henry Wu, Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous
The wait is finally over! We finally got to see E750 in all is glory in Season 3 of Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous. It has been confirmed that this beast’s name is “Scorpius Rex”. For the longest time, I thought this creature was an early version of the Indoraptor that Dr. Wu created for Vic Hoskins. However, it was revealed that the Scorpius Rex was the very first hybrid dinosaur ever created, predating even the Indominus Rex, which was the first hybrid to be revealed to the public.
The Scorpius Rex was a failed attempt to create the Indominus Rex. When it was made, it was deemed too hideous to be shown to the public. I agree with this sentiment because the Scorpius Rex was utterly grotesque compared to the Indominus Rex and the Indoraptor. The way to contorted its arms and torso almost made its upper body seem semi-humanoid before snapping back into place. It also had unpredictable mood swings between being placid to being completely aggressive. Its name came from the scorpionfish DNA that was used in its creation. Its scorpionfish genes resulted in it having highly venomous quills.
Unlike most theropod dinosaurs, the Scorpius Rex is skilled at climbing trees. Like a leopard, it would stash its kills in trees. It was implied that the carcasses were gruesomely mauled and mangled after being stung by the Scorpius Rex’s quills. Like the Indominus Rex, the Scorpius Rex had infrared vision, which means it could see its prey’s body heat. This method of hunting reminded me of how the Predator hunted. However, its infrared vision is also one of its weaknesses. When it sees fires and explosions, the Scorpius Rex seems to calm down and runs to the source of the intense heat.
What was most fascinating about the Scorpius Rex was its ability to reproduce asexually. Only one of its offspring was seen, which implies that it was the only one of its brood to reach adulthood. Like Bumpy the Ankylosaurus, the young Scorpius Rex underwent an accelerated growth rate, allowing them to reach full maturity within a matter of days or weeks. My guess is that the rest of the brood were either cannibalized by their mother, got eaten by other carnivorous dinosaurs, or turned on one another until only one remained. This was similar to how the Indominus Rex killed and ate its own sibling. Like the Indominus Rex, the Scorpius Rex lacked social skills, which was evidenced by the Scorpius Rex fighting its own offspring. Still, the Scorpius Rex’s ability to reproduce asexually is a game changer. Not only does this make the second Scorpius Rex the first hybrid dinosaur to be born naturally, but it also implies that the other dinosaurs could potentially do it as well. If the dinosaurs that escaped the Lockwood Manor gain the ability to reproduce asexually, any chance of containing them will be lost.
Overall, the Scorpius Rex was easily the most monstrous creature in the Jurassic Park franchise so far. It gave us an idea of what else hybrid dinosaurs are capable of. I certainly hope it will not be the last hybrid we get to see in the franchise.
“All the changes in evolution you affected; they will come in the Waves. First will be climate. Then vegetation, the early manifestations of life. Then come the more complex organisms.”
Dr. Sonia Rand, A Sound of Thunder
In the film version of A Sound of Thunder, we were introduced to a possible alternate reality where the past 65 million years of evolution was completely rewritten. All of this was caused by a prehistoric butterfly being stepped on by careless time travelers. Still, the organisms of this alternate reality presented us with an intriguing ecosystem that deserves to be explored more.
In terms of climate, this alternate Earth was 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night and mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit in the day time. The humidity was over 90 percent. All of these readings were in the middle of November, which implies that the climate would be hotter and more humid in Spring or Summer.
The vegetation of this alternate Earth was also intriguing because it was stronger and more developed than the plants we are familiar with. A prime example would be a species of vine that was armed with detachable thorns that were filled with a potent toxin. The toxin induces partial paralysis and operates like a hallucinogenic that triggers psychosis. When an animal gets too close to the vines, the vines would wrap around the creature like a snake attacking a mouse. At first glance, this trait could be seen as something carnivorous plants would have. However, it looks like this feature was meant as a defense mechanism to ward off herbivores.
While the climate and vegetation of this alternate reality were fascinating, the really amazing specimens are this ecosystem’s animals. Due to natural history being rewritten, different creatures evolved to replace the ones we are familiar with. Among those were swarms of beetles that would mob and envelope their prey like a school of piranha.
The most prominent example would be the baboon lizards. The exact evolutionary history of this species is largely unknown, but I can guess how it came to exist in the alternate reality. They may have been the descendants of dinosaurs that developed primate-like features. They may have began as a species of reptile that re-evolved mammalian traits such as the Permian mammal-like reptiles. Either way, the baboon lizards are one of the most complex creatures in the alternate reality. Like primates, these beasts are social animals that travel in troops and share a strong group bond. Either as a defense against predators or the overwhelming elements, the baboon lizards developed a very thick hide to the point in which only their throats were their only soft spot. While sleeping, baboon lizards sleep upside down like bats and become fiercely territorial if their sleep is disturbed. While clearly carnivores, they may have been omnivorous due to the unique nature of their primate-like teeth. Based on all available information, it would seem the baboon lizards have replaced humans as the dominant species on the planet.
Instead of birds, the skies of this alternate reality were ruled by large bat-like creatures. These bats were large enough to rival prehistoric pterosaurs. Like the baboon lizards, these bats seemed to be a blend between reptile and mammal like the Permian mammal-like reptiles. They hunt in flocks like vultures while their legs and talons were strong enough to peel away solid steel. They apparently hunted their prey like birds of prey by snatching prey items off the ground with their vise-like feet.
Another inhabitant of this alternate reality were giant eel-like creatures that lurk in swamps saturated in sulfur. These eels resemble a blend between reptile and fish. While their heads are semi-shaped like those of a carnivorous dinosaur, their jaws seem to operate like those of a crocodile. When a prey item gets caught in the eel’s jaws, the eel would hold the prey underwater until it drowns. In addition to its gripping jaws, the eel could wrap its coils around a prey item like a snake to either crush the prey to death or pull it into its waiting mouth. While hunting prey, the eel visibly had barbels hanging from its face like those of a catfish. This would allow it to sense vibrations in the water. Overall, this eel provides another reason why this alternate reality is ill-suited for human life.
We finally reach the oddest life form to live in the alternate reality, which is what humanity would evolve into. This new species of human looks almost alien in appearance with large eyes that would open and close with a thin membrane. This could indicate that it was sensitive to bright light and preferred to live in dark places. This would be reinforced by the fact that this being has a pale pigmentation like a naked mole rat, which would make the rest of its body vulnerable to bright lights. Like a catfish, this being had whisker-like barbels on its face. Also, it has a waddle dangling from its throat like a turkey. These features may have been used for display amongst members of its own species. Unlike mankind as we know it, these beings are obviously not at the top of the food chain and are likely prey. In general, this creature is easily one of the most grotesque forms humanity could take if our evolution was altered.
In conclusion, the alternate reality presented to us in the film adaptation of A Sound of Thunder was very intriguing. Although it ceased to exist when the timeline was corrected, I would have loved to see what other strange life forms this ecosystem had to offer. It is one example of what is evolutionarily possible when natural history is altered.
“Members of the emperor’s fanatic bodyguard fight to the bitter end.“
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
While writing my third fantasy book, I have been doing a lot of brainstorming on a particular group of characters. When I think of an emperor’s bodyguards, I picture a group of warriors who are the absolute best soldiers the imperial military has to offer. This was the case with the Praetorian Guard of the Roman Empire, who served as bodyguards and enforcers of Roman emperors. At their peak, the Praetorian Guards numbered 15,000 strong, but they have been known to turn on their emperors from time to time. I also like the Elite Praetorian Guards from Star Wars: The Last Jedi because they were skilled in both melee combat and martial arts. Using melee weapons or martial arts individually can make a warrior formidable, but when these two styles are combined, the warrior becomes twice as deadly. Snoke’s Praetorian Guards were also fanatically loyal to their master, which was evidenced when they tried to avenge his death. However, the Elite Praetorian Guard of the First Order were too few in number to suitably protect someone as important as Supreme Leader Snoke. The Romans had the right idea because in order to protect a powerful and influential ruler you need to use an entire army and not just a select few bodyguards. My idea of the ideal bodyguards for an emperor are warriors that are fanatically loyal, merciless, persistent, fearless, aggressive, and highly disciplined. For my third fantasy book, a new breed of imperial bodyguards will be introduced. Like the Roman Praetorian Guard, these imperial guards will be organized into a sizable force. Like the First Order Praetorian Guard, these bodyguards will be highly skilled in the use of both melee combat and martial arts. Another twist is that these imperial guards will not be human.
“You think Monkeys, Mosquitoes and Lions are bad? That’s just the beginning… I’ve seen things you’ve only seen in your nightmares…Things you can’t even imagine…Things you can’t even see…There are things that hunt you in the night…And if something screams, then you hear them eat…And you hope to God that you’re not dessert…Afraid?!…You don’t even know what afraid is…You will not last five minutes without me.”
Alan Parrish, Jumanji
We hear stories about the dark treacherous jungle either through nature documentaries or from eyewitness accounts. Naturalists and explorers talk about the overwhelming climate, the unforgiving elements, and the ruthless animals. However, what if all of those aspects became more extreme than normal. With my dinosaur series, I have taken all of those traits of the dark jungle and made them as chaotic as I could. Essentially, my dinosaur book will be depicting the most hellish jungle anyone can imagine.