One of the most intriguing examples of mammal evolution would be the horses. When they first began, the earliest horses, Propalaeotherium, were no larger than cats. These small creatures had feet that possessed four hoof-like toes. Due to their status as a prey item for predators, these animals were very skittish, ready to bolt at the slightest sound. As time went on, this small horse evolved and diversified into many forms. Some walked like gorillas and ate like pandas, some resembled rhinos and were twice as big as modern rhinos, and the rest became the horses we know today. I wonder if reverse engineered modern horses could turn into something resembling Propalaeotherium or the species that succeeded it. This will be something I will tinker with as I continue my dinosaur series.
One of my all-time favorite documentaries on speculative evolution would be The Future is Wild, which depicts how animals could evolve in three different time zones. Like books such as After Man and The New Dinosaurs, this documentary was partially created by Douglas Dixon. This documentary really stimulates the mind and makes one wonder what is evolutionarily possible. In order to gain inspiration for my dinosaur zoology book, I have been rewatching this documentary in order to better understand the functionality of an animal’s adaptations and how they would cope with extreme environments. Just as medieval documentaries helped me with my fantasy series, these kinds of documentaries will help me with both my zoology book and my dinosaur series as a whole.
As I mentioned before, my dinosaur zoology book will be based on a concept known as speculative evolution. Speculative evolution is the practice of theorizing how certain species would evolve under certain circumstances. Even though these animals are fictional in nature, their biology and behavioral traits are based on scientific concepts. These hypothetical creatures provide scholars a chance to provide educated guesses on how the planet’s biosphere would develop under certain conditions. With my dinosaur series, I am depicting how manmade genetically engineered prehistoric lifeforms would adapt to an equally artificial habitat. Above are three videos that talk about the origin and history of the study of speculative evolution.
One of the most famous success stories of evolution are sharks. They have inhabited the Earth’s oceans for four hundred million years, long before the dinosaurs. The key to their success is the simplicity of both their biology and lifestyle. The story of evolution is survival of the fittest and the simplest life form is often the strongest. Their bodies are very streamlined and ideal for swimming and their teeth and jaws are ideal for tackling all kinds of prey. Their lifestyle is so simple that all they do throughout their lifetimes is swim, eat, and reproduce and that’s it! Their success is what has allowed sharks to survive one mass extinction level event after another. It is very likely that sharks will continue to exist long after humanity has gone extinct. Fishermen can try to overfish and exterminate sharks, but the sharks will ultimately outlast mankind just as they did the dinosaurs. I will be featuring a reverse engineered shark in my dinosaur book and I will be drawing inspiration from a prehistoric species of shark called Hybodus, which means “humped tooth”. Hybodus was able to survive the Jurassic oceans for two reasons. First, the spikes on its fins gave it protection against large predators like pliosaurs. Second, Hybodus had two different kinds of teeth; sharp teeth for slicing through fish and squid and another set that was flat for crushing shellfish and crustaceans. This allowed Hybodus to thrive on a wide variety of prey in the competitive sea. I will also be drawing inspiration from other sharks I have learned about on Shark Week. I should give you a heads up that I will not be including a Megalodon-like shark in my dinosaur book since not even the scientists in the story will go that far.