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.
From the Permian Period to the early Triassic Period, mammal-like reptiles came in all shapes and sizes. Some were large and powerful predators such a Gorgonops while others became small yet adaptable survivors like Diictodon. I like Diictodon because it was a soul-crushingly cute little critter that resembled a scaly gopher with tiny tusks. If they remade Caddyshack, I would love to see Bill Murray try to chase a Diictodon across a golf course with C4. Despite being reptiles, Diictodon possessed a number of traits in common with its mammal descendants such as living in burrows and developing an inner ear. Their adaptability is what has allowed Diictodon and its descendants to survive the Permian mass extinction. In my dinosaur series, I am planning to introduce a reverse engineered mammal-like reptile that lives a similar lifestyle to Diictodon. Instead of gophers, I will be drawing inspiration from the naked mole rat or the shrew. Despite being in an ecosystem full of dinosaurs and monsters, I think something as small and cute as Diictodon would be a nice ray of sunshine.
When people think about mass extinctions, they often think about the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. However, even though the dinosaur extinction is the most famous mass extinction, it did not have the biggest body count. The mass extinction with the highest death toll took place right before the first dinosaurs evolved during the Permian Period. It was an event that came to be known as the Great Dying. Over ninety percent of all life on Earth was wiped out. Fossil records suggest that the Permian Period was a time of intense climate change that was caused by constant volcanic activity. The volcanic activity was so extreme that it produced enough lava to fill the Grand Canyon SEVEN TIMES!!! The volcanoes also released bountiful fumes into the atmosphere, which caused unstable climate change that superheated the planet and acid rain that devastated marine ecosystems. When the dust settled, the few surviving creatures were left with little competition and even fewer predators. As a result, some creatures became quite successful as the Earth healed itself. One such example is the mammal-like reptile known as Lystrosaurus, which eventually made up half of all large land animals for seven million years. However, even though these mammal-like reptiles would initially be successful, their group fell into decline until they died out completely shortly after the dinosaurs appeared. Overall, the Permian mass extinction was when life on Earth was almost extinguished. I am thinking of drawing inspiration from the Permian mass extinction for my dinosaur series, but the death toll for the book’s mass extinction will be higher.
When I started my dinosaur book, I wondered what the first reverse engineered dinosaur would look like and how big it would be. When Jack Horner introduced the idea of the experiment, he thought about starting with a chicken. As I thought about this, I realized that, both in real life and in my book, the first true dinosaur to exist in sixty-five million years would resemble a Compsognathus. I think this is a pragmatic expectation of what the first reverse engineered dinosaur would look like since Compsognathus was the same size as a chicken. When I was a kid, I used to listen to this song, “Compsognathus, Small As A Chicken.” It is as Michael Fassbender famously said in Prometheus: “Big things have small beginnings.” I can already envision what this new dinosaur will look like and I will be drawing inspiration from my encounters with chickens.
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.
Walking with Dinosaurs – Series 1 – Episode 6 – Death of a Dynasty – Picture shows: Tyrannosaurus
For one hundred and fifty million years, the most successful breed of dinosaur would be the theropods. Theropods are mainly the carnivorous dinosaurs, which were the ancestors of birds. Examples of theropods include Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptors, and Spinosaurus. However, I believe that these real life examples have been used too often and it is long overdue for something other than the classics. With this in mind, I am thinking creating a theropod that is bigger and badder than Tyrannosaurus Rex. It will be a combination between all of the classic theropods in a single creature. Just thinking of this behemoth gives me goosebumps. As excited as I am in creating this new theropod, I am glad it did not exist in real life because I would die of fright just looking at it!
It may be too soon to say, but I believe I have acquired enough medieval inspiration for my fantasy books for a while. For my third fantasy book, I will be drawing inspiration from the English Civil War of the 17th century, which saw the English monarchy going to war against Parliament. The war started due to unpopular taxes to fund wars with Scotland and Ireland, land from the Commonwealth being seized by noble landowners, and Puritans clashed with Catholics. At the end of the war, Parliament won and King Charles I was subsequently executed. However, Charles’s death turned him into a martyr, resulting in the royalists regaining control of the government and establishing Charles II as King of England. For my third fantasy book, I will depict an attempt to overthrow the imperial monarchy due to unpopular policies. The main character will be forced into exile while his followers wage a years-long war to reclaim the Imperial Throne in his name. In order to write this story, I will need to rewrite my original outline. Also, some of my more extreme story ideas will be discarded and replace them with ideas grounded in realism.
This post is fitting considering what is happening in the world today. When diseases such as the Black Death spread across medieval Europe, there were individuals who wandered the streets of ravaged towns. These people possessed an appearance that was the stuff of nightmares. In reality, these people were doctors, more specifically plague doctors. Plague doctors wore masks that made them look like ravens. This may look frightening, but it had a very practical design. The beak section of the mask was filled with sweet-smelling substances that were meant to keep viruses from infecting the doctor. Essentially, the plague doctor’s mask was an early version of a gas mask while their hoods and cloaks were an early version of hazmat suits. In my third fantasy novel, the main villain will be wearing a mask that resembles that of a plague doctor.
In previous posts, I spoke of a man named Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick AKA the Kingmaker. Warwick is famous for making Edward IV King of England, but was discarded shortly afterwards, which resulted in him betraying Edward three times. I will focus on Warwick’s first betrayal, which almost destroyed England as a kingdom. Warwick’s first betrayal involved him orchestrating tax riots in northern England, which were fueled by rumors that the king’s in-laws were taking tax money for themselves. Later on, Warwick published an open letter that not only repeated the accusations against the king’s in-laws, but also invited anyone who shared this opinion to rally at Canterbury and take up arms against the king. After Warwick’s allies gathered, they defeated and captured Edward IV. However, Warwick captured and imprisoned Edward without a coherent plan to replace and to kill him. This resulted in the fragile peace Edward IV built to collapse with astonishing speed. During this time, Warwick took his frustration and hatred in a killing spree meant to exterminate as many of Edward’s in-laws as possible. In addition, the unrest Warwick engineered in the north backfired on him and spread south like wildfire. Desperate to restore order, Warwick tried to rally other nobles to his cause, but they just laughed at him because he arrested the king and started all the trouble in the first place. In the end, England could not function without a king to lead it and Warwick’s scheming and wounded vanity drove the kingdom into anarchy. For my third fantasy book, I will be heavily draw inspiration from Warwick’s first betrayal in order to portray the villains’ actions.
When we think of a romantic relationship between a human and an elf, we think of Aragorn and Arwen from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. However, hardcore Tolkein fans know that his original love story between a human and an elf revolved around Beren and Luthien. This love story was so personally significant to Tolkein that he had Beren and Luthien’s names engraved on his and his wife’s graves. As a writer, I am an amateur when it comes to romance even though I have portrayed romantic relationships in the past. The reason for this is because I never could put enough emotional and spiritual depth. With my third fantasy book, I will be attempting to portray a deeper romantic relationship between my main character and female lead. It will be the deepest and most complex romance I have ever written and it will be my equivalent of Beren and Luthien.