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.
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.
I have been making great progress with my dinosaur zoology book. Since I had the scientific information about these creatures thought out in advance, it has been super-easy to write the zoology book. I have roughly fourteen more species and another two sections to go over before I am done. After having my editor take a look at it, I will seek out an illustrator who specializes in drawing dinosaurs and other prehistoric lifeforms. I have introduced three distinct species of plant, one of which is a super organism while the other two are carnivorous. Who knows? At this rate, I may finish writing it before Christmas. If that happens, I might be able to publish it next year. Wish me luck and I will keep you posted.
The earliest versions of crocodilians originated from a group of reptiles from the Triassic Period known as archosaurs. As I mentioned in a previous post, archosaurs were the precursors of both dinosaurs and Rauisuchians. Before dinosaurs and Rauisuchians came to be, some archosaurs were already developing crocodilian traits. One such example was Proterosuchus, which lived an amphibious lifestyle like its crocodilian descendants. It had a curved upper jaw that was designed to get a solid grip on prey, which means once Proterosuchus has you there is no escape. For my dinosaur series, I am thinking of making a creature that is a reverse engineered archosaur like Proterosuchus. However, while my beast will live an amphibious lifestyle, it would be just as capable of hunting prey on dry land.
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.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I greatly value fossils because they are irreplaceable relics of our planet’s history. The loss of one fossil is an unforgivable loss to our planet’s past and whatever secrets that fossil held would die with it forever. Do you know what coal is made of? It is made from fossil remnants of the Carboniferous Period 300 million years ago. Because the atmosphere in that era was so oxygen-rich, forest fires were very commonplace. As a result, the fossilized remains of the plants and animals that died in those fires became the coal we burn in the modern world. If you look at a piece of coal, you are not looking at an expendable rock that keeps you warm when burned. You are looking at what remains of primitive ferns that were as tall as trees, centipedes that were as big as cars, spiders as big as a human head, and dragonflies as big as eagles. 300 million years ago, these organisms burned to death until only ash and smoldering flesh remained. In the modern era, all of that priceless history was burned out of existence so that we can have warmth and power. The burning of fossil fuels may contribute to global warming and climate change, but all of that is nothing compared to all the natural history that has been permanently lost. If we cause our own extinction with global warming, it will be karma for spending countless years destroying pieces of our planet’s history for our own selfish gain.
I uncovered more intriguing information about dinosaurs and the creatures they lived with. It turns out that birds are not the only descendants of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs had blood ties to crocodilians such as alligators and crocodiles. This relation can be traced to before the first birds evolved during the early Triassic Period. Before dinosaurs appeared, there was a special group of reptiles known as archosaurs. Archosaurs were the stepping stone in reptile evolution because some of them started to stand on two legs, which was something other reptiles could not do. After several generations of evolution, the archosaurs diversified into numerous other branches. Among those branches were the dinosaurs and the Rauisuchians. The Rauisuchians were the reptiles that were the direct ancestors to crocodilians. Before the dinosaurs took over, the Rauisuchians were the rulers of the planet and ranged from carnivores and herbivores. Both the dinosaurs and Rauisuchians developed almost identical evolutionary traits, which is due to what is called convergent evolution. This is due to them living in similar environments and having similar lifestyles. Sadly, the Rauisuchians became extinct while their dinosaur relatives took over. How the Rauisuchians became extinct and the dinosaurs did not despite their identical lifestyles remains a mystery. Some experts believed that the early dinosaurs could regulate their body temperatures better than their Rauisuchian cousins. If you watched the first episode of Walking With Dinosaurs, Postosuchus was a Rauisuchian. I am thinking of giving the Rauisuchians a second chance at evolution in my dinosaur series by creating my own reverse engineered breed. Just as reverse engineered dinosaurs can be made from birds, reverse engineered Rauisuchians can be made from alligators and crocodiles.
After much thought, I am thinking of creating a zoological book based on the reverse engineered animals in my dinosaur book. While I can’t go through all of the scientific details during the main story, I am thinking of including them in a separate project that talks about these manmade dinosaurs and the creatures who live alongside them. I am also thinking of making the narrator of this zoology book be the scientist who creates these animals. This would be similar to how some tie-in Game of Thrones book s were written from the point of view of a maester from the Citadel. There will be illustrations that will show what each creature looks like and how they live in their natural habitat.
300 million years ago, there were several giant insects due to the high oxygen levels. Among those super-sized creepy crawlies was a giant ancestor of millipedes known as Arthropleura. This thing could grow to be about eight feet long, had armor plating to protect it against predators, and its large mandibles could deliver a nasty bite. Despite its threatening appearance and weaponry, Arthropleura was a herbivore that often foraged along the forest floor. I am thinking of introducing a creature that is similar to Arthropleura in my dinosaur book. I am envisioning it to be more like an armor-plated version of a centipede instead of a millipede.
For those of you who are afraid of rodents, I apologize in advance. Rodents are easily the most diverse genus of mammal to the point in which 45% of the mammal population consists of rodents. In the modern era, the largest rodent is the capybara, which is roughly the size of a pig. However, the capybara is not the largest rodent that ever existed. Even though rodents mostly lived in the dinosaurs’ shadow, the largest rodent in history lived during their reign. This rodent was about the same size as a bull and resembled a super-sized version of a capybara. Good luck calling pest control if you have a rat this big. I am thinking of introducing a reverse engineered rodent in my dinosaur book that shares some traits with this prehistoric super-rodent.