Welcome to my Metazoic site! This site discusses the existence of the creatures to come along after humans will be extinct. I first became interested in a world after man when I acquired my first copy of Dougal Dixon's After Man: A Zoology of the Future in 1992. However, I unwittingly created creatures that did not exist from the time I was about 8 years old. But it was after I obtained a copy of that book (now a collector's item) that I decided to take these same creatures I created as a child and make them more realistic in an evolutionary sense. Though it may be hard for a lot of us to grasp, humans will soon become extinct. One of the biggest factors of how this will happen is the current overpopulation rate. Which is why I don't contribute to the population. I created this world with little more than mammals fulfilling all ecological niches with the help of some friends. I even gave the era of the age after man a name, I called it the Metazoic, derived from the words for "After-era" (Meta, meaning after, and zoic meaning era). We are now in the Cenozoic era. To view all the animals I have created since I began this project, you can go to the "Meet the Mammals" section of this site. To discuss your own ideas about what you think will happen in the future world, and share your ideas with others, please feel free to leave a comment.
One more thing, some of you may find this site quite offensive, and you have a right to your own opinion. But please respect my right to have an opinion too. I'm not saying there is no GOD, I believe it was HIM who got the ball rolling. But I believe after that, evolution took over. There is so much more evidence of evolution than there is of creation. Even that going on right under our noses. Other than that, enjoy yourself and visit our many links.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!!

I know few people who are into evolution are also into Christianity. Though I have met some, including myself, who came up with good ideas on how to mix the Creation theory with the Evolution theory. Though I do consider myself a follower of GOD and Jesus, I more believe in evolution than in creation. But anyway, those of us who follow HIM, and know that Jesus is the reason for the season, this holiday has some important meaning. Those who do not believe, well, you have your own ideas on what this holiday means. Though I don't want to say that gifts are not cool, I know that is not the only reason for this holiday.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all who read this blog! And a Happy New Year!! Between today and tomorrow I probably will not be in much, so busy now, and I have to prepare one of the biggest dinners of my career for 3 families!!! So if you don't hear from me between then, it's OK. I'll be back soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Thoughts On The Year

It has been a long and very prosperous year! I've actually had fun!!! The best thing about the past year was all the new buddies I've made. As odd as this may sound too, I have also the people on the SE forum to thank! hehe! Like I told De, every time they have bashed me, something great has happened to me. When I left there, even though I left in a bit of a huff, I met Metalraptor and he has helped me considerably with my project. That was just the first in a long line of wonderful things to come. I don't know if the whole thing is coincidence, karma, or fate, but you can make of it what you will. The fact remains that every time the evil-doers on the SE forum have bashed me, great things have happened as a result. Other examples include:

1. JohnFaa called me a "fat whore" at the beginning of the year, and in this past year alone I've lost 40 pounds and still counting!!! I'm not even trying to lose weight! It's just happening!!! :) Fate? Coincidence? Who knows?

2. Viergacht and his dim-witted friends made fun of me because I entered a movie I made in a film-making contest. No sooner had he mentioned it that I won first prize!! It was AWESOME!!!!! I never even expected to win! I just entered for the hell of it. Good karma? Perhaps! :)

3. I'm sure there was some ridiculing of me on the SE forum when I was asked by a supporter to come back. I did think about it, but I decided against it. But as soon as I made my choice I heard from Dougal Dixon, who I'd actually written to several months before, and for a long time didn't hear from him, then I had all but forgotten I had written to him. Thus I never expected to hear from him. But I did! Only a few days after I made my decision not to go back to the forum, he wrote to me! The result was my interview conducted on this blog. :)

4. Most recently, after my interview, some of the people from the SE forum decided they would troll my guestbook on Metazoica. I just discovered their posts a couple of weeks ago, and not more than a week after I discovered their posts, I found out my favorite band will be touring the World again!!! I could not have received better news if I made it up myself!!!!! :) :) :) I thought they would never tour again! When I heard that I felt like a child on Christmas morning! Somehow, I am blessed!!

Those are just a few examples of things that have happened to me this year that has been so great. I'm not even really doing anything to bring about these good events. Well, the interview with Dixon I admit I did bring about myself. But I would NEVER have had the courage to write to him if it weren't for the people on the SE forum poking fun and telling me I am too delusional and all that jazz. Now, Dixon thinks of me as a friend, and I am honored!! :)

Of course my supporters do deserve a vote of thanks as well! They give me the encouragement to do something. But people like the evil-doers on the SE forum just give me that extra push to go for it! And I do!! They'll say I won't do something, I'll say I will, and it'll get done!! :) If for no other reason, for me to be able to rub it in their faces! hehe!! I actually love having people like that give me that extra drive. I say to the people on the SE forum, keep bashing me!!! PLEASE!!! Maybe I'll get lucky and meet Tim Farriss again during this tour!! hehehe!! Do me that favor! That's why I never feel insulted by the people on the SE forum. Because so far, all their bashings have meant something wonderful is about to happen to me!!

Like I said, I don't know if it's karma or fate, or maybe I am just blessed, I have NO idea! But I'm loving it!!! hehe! :) They always say it's always darkest before the dawn. Since my Groucho died, I've experienced a lot of months of darkness. Well, this past year, I've seen my dawn! Thank Goodness!!!

Well, I have made some changes and updates to the Metazoic site this past year, to put it in perspective, I completed several family groups. I've gotten a request to do the abbergant family next, so that will most likely be the next group I work on. As soon as I have a spare moment, I will be able to work on those. But it may be a while. Since I found out INXS is touring, I'd like to attend a few of their shows. Oh yes, and to those who made death-threats to me at the beginning of this year, the police and the FBI have your numbers, and if anything should happen to me, guess who's gonna get blamed first! ;) hehe!! Not only that, but you'll get to go to prison. Katrina and her husband will testify as well because they too saw the threats that were made! Threats are taken very seriously by everyone, even on the internet. That's why I never make any myself.

Also on the site, I made some size-charts I hope everyone can use. Of course the size charts depict the largest species in each genera. I haven't done anything for the smaller species. Like there are 5 species of Deinognathus, and they range in size from 5 feet tall to 25 feet tall. D. robustus being the largest. I was working on another one for the roos when my pen gave out!! Bummer!! So I had to go and get a new pen. But I've just been too lazy to work on any more. But they will get done! Believe me! The size-charts are in the form of a book, each titled with the family name. I also actually have fun working on those size-charts! So yes, I will be doing more of those this year. I discovered a few typos on the checklist, so I have to upload that again too. I'll get that done sometime today, I need to proofread before I turn it into another PDF. Sorry to those who got a copy of this list. I didn't know those typos were there!!!! Shows what happens when you are in a hurry! I also want to add a few more animals.

Some have said that I stole some of Dixon's creatures. Well, to put it as realistically and bluntly as I can, when I first created Metazoica, it was meant to be a continuation of After Man. Since I took some of the mammals from After Man, and added some species of my own to already existing genera, and also changed some of the generic names, it was too late to turn back and delete them from my project. But I am giving Metalraptor's ideas a whirl and tweaking them, rather than delete them, to make them more plausible and more of my own creations. But I cannot be blamed for the Phobogula resembling TFIW's snow-stalker! That was just a coincidence. I first created Phobogula back in 1994, when I first started this project. Back then I had it under a different name, but it still resembled what it looks like on the site. I just happened to add the snow-stalker later on when TFIW first aired in 2003 because of it's close resemblance to my already-existing Phobogula. That's the story behind that. So if anything, TFIW stole the snow-stalker from me! But I don't mind!! If Dixon wants to take some of my mammals from the Metazoic, I don't mind it at all. In fact, I would consider it the utmost form of flattery!! Heck! I even heard through the grapevine that JohnFaa stole my one-fingered flying foxes and I was even flattered by that! I don't even like JohnFaa!! hehehe! But just so everyone knows, I've had the one-fingered flying foxes in the Metazoica project since 1994 or 1995! So, there is no way I could have taken that idea from him! LOL! Just in case he tells everyone otherwise.

Well, my plans for next year hopefully will include more families completed on the site. That is IF I can find some time to work on them. I cannot guarantee the drawings will be better by then, this is just my style! Take it or leave it! If you don't like my drawings, I'm not twisting anyone's arms to look! hehe! My pictures are mostly meant to give the viewers a basic idea of what each animal looks like, therefore basically what the members of the families look like. Though keep in mind there is some variation, as even with modern families. But I try to depict the most interesting members of each group. That is, the species who look unique, or have some interesting character. These animals are the result of more than a decade of thinking, tweaking, evolving and RE-volving! Some with some help, some I prefer to keep the way they are. But mostly my goal is to have a World dominated by mammals. Just as the Mesozoic was dominated by dinosaurs. So I keep thinking up ways to make such a World plausible. I've taken some advice from Metalraptor, as well as Paul and a few others who have commented here. Plus some people I happen to know personally. I may not always accept advice right away, but as long as it's there I do think about it, and, if it doesn't require too dramatic a change, I'll act on it. That's how I work!

And for those who want to complain, there's still the donation button on the Home page! I always said when the negative people pay for my site, then they can complain! Now is your chance to do so! I pay money for my site! It's not like it's a freebie forum or a freebie DeviantArt site! This is the REAL thing!! If you want to gripe about my site and what I put on it, you can give me money! Otherwise, you have no right to complain! And I'll basically just laugh at you.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Customized Search

Metazoica now has it's own customized search engine, made possible by Google. Thank you to the Google community for creating this awesome little gadget. Now, anyone can search for anything on Metazoica. Try it, you'll love it!! I took it for a spin this afternoon! You can find the search box on the Metazoica homepage, or you can find it right here, on the right side of this blog. Just scroll down a bit.

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Updates

I thought Metazoica could use a little more updating. So, I added some. I added a subtitle to the banner on the homepage. I think it looks great!! Yahoo's old program would not let me do that before. And another thing, I also added a donation button to the home page. Though I've managed pretty good on my own, I am giving the viewers of Metazoica again a chance to make donations to the site. Oh I had some fun on the guestbook yesterday! LOL! I didn't know it when I signed up, but I can actually edit peoples' messages!!! LOL!!! I also added a note to those posting. If you have not donated to the site, you have no right to complain. So now, if you are trying to be a dumbass, complaints will cost you. Otherwise, I edit your posts and turn your own words against you. :) Won't that be fun??!! BTW, I know who you are. hehehe! Authentic and legitimate complaints won't be touched. Just those who are trolling. You can find the donation tab on the home page. Anyone with PayPal can leave a donation. If you donate, you can be as big an asshole as you'd like. Believe me, I can take it. LOL!! Otherwise, unless you want to embarrass yourself, you might as well forget about it. :P And I will not accept any donation from complaining trolls less than $10!!!

I knew there would be jealousy. LOL! But keep on trying to bring me down, and I emphasize the word "trying". Unless I know you and like you, your words have no effect on me at all. But hey! I'm having fun!!! LOL!!

Anyway, I am still recruiting partners. I have Metalraptor (I think, as I haven't seen him in a long time!) But if anyone else wants to join our group, you can always message me here. Also I fixed the signs on the extinction and survivors pages. I also realized I forgot to put a "back" button on my DDixon page!! Silly me!! But that's been fixed.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Updates on Metazoica

Well, I made the updates, and now it is safe to download the new checklist. I still haven't been able to count how many species are listed on my list, must be nearing the 5000 mark by now. Though I am not sure. If I did, it'd be AWESOME!!!! I also updated the names on each species page (where applicable) with the new names I created. I also added the interview with Dougal Dixon onto my site. So that those who do not visit this blog regularly can also read it. I also made an update to the herps page. Metalraptor once told me I should have made the crocodile-like salamander (Diamacephalus) native to the northwestern USA. And I thought it was a great idea. So I updated that too.

Well either way, hope you all like the updates to the site. If anyone has any suggestions, you can always message me here. Also I am now on MSN messenger. My addy there is timmyfan@live.com. If you'd like to be added, you must tell me who you are. Anonymous inquiries will not be added. Neither will cyber-wolves, or someone I know I don't like. So those people need not even ask. But everyone else is welcome.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some Changes to Metazoica Checklist

I've been working on my list, seeings I got some new buddies on Facebook (I always like naming species after friends) I added some more species. I haven't counted how many are listed now, but I will as soon as I have a spare moment. Also, some changes have been made. They are as listed:

Oreolemur is now Chamenius.
Saevitia is now Dryptopithecus.
Praegrandis is now Toruus. (no, the double "U"s is not a typo. I latinized it's common name)
Hastatus is now Onychopekan.
Procheirus is now Paracheirus.

Also a new species has been added. A species called Phobadapis. A large, short-tailed Chirosapid lemur of the central European forests (which will erect again in the Metazoic). It somewhat resembles a giant ground sloth, and is about the size of a small elephant. It's large, furry, and has a horse-like mane and the head has very short hair, almost to the bald point. It walks on it's palms like other lemurs, instead of on it's knuckles like the Megalatherium, and it is a leaf-eater.

I will put up the new list on my Metazoic site probably this weekend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bat-Eared Foxes Need Better Defenses!

Did anyone catch the NatGeo programs about dinosaurs that I mentioned last week? I did. Horner mentioned quite a bit on there. He spoke of dinosaur defenses. Triceratops for example may not have used it's horns for defense. You would think they would have, but being the fact that they had the horns on their heads it would be impossible for them to use the horns for defense. Horner stated the last place you ever want any defensive weapons would be on your head. It makes sense, since it would just give the predator an open invitation to bite you on the back of your neck. Though I don't know, maybe that is why Triceratops and all other ceratopsids had those big frills.

Though I have seen some modern mammals with horns use them as a defensive device. For instance, one time I saw a gazelle chase away a cheetah with it's horns. And wild boar often use their tusks for defense as well. So, it's not totally unheard of for an animal to use some of it's head dressing for defensive weapons. Some animals even use their teeth for weapons, like baboons. A male baboon has canines equally as long as those of a leopard's, and sometimes even gets the best of leopards with them too. They've even been known to kill leopards. The best protected animals however are the ones that have their defenses on the tails or on the backs. Like we see in porcupines. Think of the dinosaurs that had spikes and clubs on their tails, like stegosaurs and ankylosaurs. They could disable a predator with those defenses.

Old animals (like old movie stars) seemed to have a lot more character than they do today. No mammals today have spiked or clubbed tails. Though we do see mammals with spikes on their bodies. But very little energy is needed to raise your spikes, or curl up in an impenetrable ball. I wonder if this means that dinosaurs were much more active animals than modern mammals? Perhaps. The last mammals to employ such a mechanism as a clubbed tail were the glyptodonts. But no mammal around today has any of these kind of weapons.

Bat-eared foxes are probably one of the most victimized carnivores in Africa! Even the smaller felines, like the caracal, can bring them down. I think it would do these primitive foxes some good if they could evolve some kind of defensive weapons of their own. It seems their big ears are great for hearing for termites underground, but seem to be useless in hearing for some feline sneaking up behind them. They have a long crest of stiff hairs on their back that probably should evolve into porcupine-like quills. They have stiff hairs on their tails, that I think should evolve into hard spikes that they can swat at a predator to say, "Keep away from me, or I'll poke your eyes out you fool!!" Maybe get a little bit bigger too, to be able to stay out of reach of such felines as caracals. These are adaptations I think would keep these attractive foxes a little more safe.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jack Horner on NatGeo Programs

Horner, who heads up the palaeontology department at Montana State University, will be on 2 different National Geographic programs airing on October 11, 2009. My sis Anna will be going to MSU in Bozeman next year, and I will be going there on a tour of the college myself to see if there's anything that I can get into. I'd love to join their palaeontology club, for the sake of Metazoica, as well as to learn more about dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts. I've been an admirer of Horner's for quite a while and this is exciting news! Not that he hasn't been on many programs about dinosaurs before, but this is just exciting news. I will be tuning in, hope you all will be as well. Learning about palaeontology helps a great deal in figuring out what evolution might do in the future. So it's always handy to watch as many of these programs as you can. And Jack Horner is one of the World's foremost authorities on the subject. Horner also lives in Bozeman and also works at the Museum of the Rockies, which Anna and I got to visit while we took a trip to Bozeman.

Anyway, here is the article:


October 06, 2009 -- MSU News Service

BOZEMAN -- Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner and MSU's Museum of the Rockies will be featured in two National Geographic Channel programs on Sunday, Oct. 11.

The first program, titled "Bizarre Dinosaurs," will air at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Mountain time. The second, "Dinosaurs Decoded," will air at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"Bizarre Dinosaurs" says the planet used to be bunched together in one super continent that was inhabited by very small and similar creatures. Over millions of years, as the continent began to break apart, the creatures began to grow apart. They became bigger and weirder. Bodies with tiny arms grew massive heads. Tiny heads adorned giant crests. Long necks steadied long tails.

"Dinosaurs Decoded" uses animation to show how Horner, his long-time collaborator Mark Goodwin from the University of California, Berkeley, and other renowned paleontologists envision the growth of dinosaurs. They believe that dinosaurs underwent extreme transformations as they grew. They sprouted and lost horns and bumps on their skulls, for example. Males shed dull colors for startlingly bright ones. "A young Triceratops or T. rex may have looked so different from its parents that you'd have a hard time recognizing it," said Dan Levitt of Veriscope Pictures, producer of "Dinosaurs Decoded."

"Horner is shaking up his colleagues by suggesting that the transformations were so dramatic that up to a third of all known dinosaur species may vanish in cases of mistaken identity," Levitt said. "They may simply be misclassified youngsters."

"Dinosaur Decoded" is posted on the National Geographic website at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/dinosaurs-decoded-3944/overview#tab-Overview

Crews for the show filmed at the Hell Creek Formation around Jordan, MSU's Museum of the Rockies and elsewhere. Veriscope's latest trip to the Hell Creek formation was in July 2008. Veriscope filmed at MSU in September 2008.

To read more about "Bizarre Dinosaurs," see http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/bizarre-dinosaurs-4041/Overview

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nevermind Then....

I took down the post linking to this one guy's blog. The only reason I posted it up here in the first place was to return the favor. But since he deleted my link from his journal, I deleted the link to his journal from my blog. No big deal. I guess he couldn't handle criticism. Like I said, no one can handle it like I can!! Sorry, but I HATE anime-style drawings!!! I hate anime PERIOD, with the utmost, intense passion!!!! I can tolerate manga a little better, but there are no words strong enough to describe how much I HATE anime!!!! "Hate" is a very mild descriptive word compared to how much I dislike anime-style drawings and cartoons. Nothing personal in that, it's just my preference. And my own personal drawing style is the old-fashioned ways, like they did with Bugs Bunny, or like Walt Disney's old school style. I was watching Disney's Dumbo today and comparing it with how cartoons are done now, and it's sad that everyone prefers this sucky anime-crap that is out now. I never liked anime. Even as a kid, I hated anime-style cartoons. They hurt my eyes to watch. Cartoons today are not cartoons anymore.

My ma wants me to start learning how to draw modern-style and modernize Uncle Martin and the Gang. I told her I'm not sure I want him TOO modern!!! I don't want Martin to look like Spongebob with those ugly, balled-out eyes, one tooth on each side of his mouth, or a banana-shaped nose!!! Besides the only modern free-style of cartooning I would even consider would be manga and I'm too lazy to do that!!! I don't have enough money to do Pixar-style. So, it's old school or nothing with me.

But anyway, I guess this person couldn't handle the criticism. Like I said, not everyone can handle criticism like I can! I was told LONG ago that a person who cannot handle criticism, there's something wrong with them. Now, criticism that someone gives about someone else's work (or ideas) that is based on their own personal feelings about the other person, that kind of criticism is totally USELESS, and I agree!! I will always go against that kind of criticism. But I had nothing against this person at all. He just gave his own opinion of my site and that was it. So I can say that nothing I said to him was said with malice. I've never spoken out of malice. That's not who I am! Even if I did know this guy, and did like him, I still would have said what I did. But if he were my friend, he'd know not to take any criticism too personally. But instead LEARN from it. I've learned over the years to take all criticism with a grain of salt. LORD knows my site gets a lot of it, even from people I really do consider friends. Doesn't make me like them any less.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Interview With Dougal Dixon

I did it, I took the big leap. And now Metazoica presents their very own interview with the pioneer in speculative evolution himself, Dougal Dixon. He was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions I thought everyone would like to know. Just got his responses today through e-mail. And here they are, his own words to me. Enjoy!

1. What got you interested in speculative biology in the first place?
Always interested in dinosaurs, since about 5 years old. From there it was a small step to other strange-looking animals. And if the strange-looking animals had some scientific plausibility then that would fit in better with my scientific education.

2. How often have you thought about speculative biology?

3. What was your goal with your first speculative biology project?
AFTER MAN was a popular level book on evolution. But whereas all popular books on evolution look towards the past, and see what has happened, I wanted to look towards the future to see what might happen. Not a firm prediction but rather an exploration of possibilities. The result is a picture book of funny animals, but with each funny animal telling some story about evolution or ecology. Fictitious examples of factual processes, so that the novelty would draw people in to find out more.

4. What other sciences do you study?
Two degrees in geology, with a special interest in fossils and evolution. Masters thesis on palaeogeography - tracing the history of the landscapes of the British Isles throughout known geological time.

5. Among those, which do you find yourself most drawn to?

6. And why?
See above.

7. Are you currently working on anything new in the speculative biology field?
Second series of THE FUTURE IS WILD.
My novel GREENWORLD will be published in Japan this year. Again it deals with fictitious examples of factual processes - in this case the relationship between Homo sapiens and the natural environment - but set on an alien planet. A planet with a whole thriving ecosystem, based on the same biochemical principles that we have here on Earth. Human settlers - evacuated from an overpopulated and polluted Earth - arrive and set up a civilization. We follow the first thousand years of settlement, in which every environmental disaster caused by humans on Earth is repeated. Every incident has its counterpart in Earth's history. Told as a series of short stories, dealing with subsequent generations of a few principal families, and the whole thing building into a kind of a dynastic epic. Illustrated by excerpts from field guides, herbals, bounty notices, recipes, zoo advertisments, scientific papers - all aimed at the characters, not the reader. The reader is an eavesdropper here.

8. Do you consider yourself tops in the growing field of speculative biology?
Others do! I seem to be the go-to guy when it comes to that.

9. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in any scientific field?
In my case, from my day job as a science writer, to inspire others to take an active interest in the fields of science.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Decision

I've been thinking for the past few weeks about rejoining the SE forum. I haven't looked in there, just so everyone knows. I've stayed out because I wanted the decision to go back there to remain solely on my own. I know some peeps wanted me to return, and as much as I thank those people who want me back, and appreciate their support, I didn't want my choice to be influenced in any way.

Anyway, I have decided not to return. Sorry to those who asked me to come back. I'm not ready to go back. The final choice was made when an incident on YouTube happened. I blew up at someone. Not that that person didn't deserve it! I mean, he attacked me, and several other people commenting on a video and his attacks were completely uncalled for! In my defense, it was late at night and I was very tired that night when I replied to him. Usually I always try to keep my cool even in the face of people like that, and this past year I've been attempting to reform. But that night I just totally lost it. I usually only get angry at people who make threats over the internet, and repeat offenders. But I didn't even know this guy, or what flew up his butt that night.

This is why I don't like arguing and fighting. I always feel bad afterwards because sometimes I tend to go overboard. Though I have learned to monitor it this past year. I didn't want to return to any forums really until I learn to completely keep my cool. That is, not reply to the trolls and idiots. And we all know there is a big troll on the SE forum, and he knows whom he is! Anyway, I want to get to a point where I can read his posts and not get angry at him, because I could lose it again, especially when I see that jerk shit-talk someone I like or force his opinions on others without providing proof!! Both of which he is infamous for doing. Anyway, I want to make sure when I go in there, I don't blow up at anyone for any reason. That guy on Youtube, I was saying afterwards that I wish I hadn't blown up at him, just because I am trying to keep from doing that now. But maybe it's all for the better, it told me that I am not ready to go back to any forum.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Should I Or Not?

As you can see, I haven't posted much on this blog, I've been so terribly busy. Been 2 months since I posted anything here, and quite a while since I've done anything on my Metazoic site. So much has gone on in the past few months. I have been quite well rewarded now, I have a new little girl in my life, Minnie. She is the highlight of my being now. She's not a young dog but she still has a lot of good years left in her, she's almost 4 years old, and I think she came from a puppymill. She seems to never have lived in a house, and she's shy about being touched, even in a positive way. So I have quite a job ahead of me training her. She's a beautiful girl!! She's not a chihuahua like my others, she's a papillon, and an ex-breeder and I think she just had a litter recently because she is blowing her coat something fierce!!! It could be that and the fact that it was 100 degrees this past week at her old home in Olympia! Well, believe me when I say the summers here are cooler. Last week, while Olympia was experiencing 100 degree temperatures, we've been enjoying temperatures around 68-70 degrees. I love it here!!! I'm so glad I finally got to move out here. Well, I've had Minnie for 3 days now, and her shedding has lessened considerably.

Anyway, for the real reason I started this post. I'm debating whether to go back to the SE forum or not. I heard from another member and they want me back. That makes 2 people now who have asked me to return. But I am not sure I want to. I didn't enjoy it much the last time I was there, they seemed more interested in talking about video games than speculative evolution. And video games are not my thing. Then there is the thing about the owner being a jerk the last time I was there. That probably won't change! I'm usually a damn good judge of character, and I thought he was a good person, but he proved me wrong. He blows his top over minor little things, and I just won't tolerate it. What promise do I have he won't do it again? Ever since I left there, I've been trying to go for a change in personality myself, and if I go back, it'd be just as bad as if I were to return to the Pluba forums. To make a long story short, one of the most popular people on the Pluba forum is also one of the worst people I've ever met on the internet, and she is a manipulator who associates with people who hack into other people's computers. One of her friends hacked into an old Hotmail account I used to have, and she claimed she knew nothing about it. But I can tell you for sure, she DID!!!

Then there is the morale of the people on the SE forum. I'm not saying the people I still like on that forum are like that, but a lot of the people on that forum seem to have been led to believe JohnFaa and Viergacht are good people and I just don't agree with that. Right after I left, JohnFaa was still griping about me on that forum, and when I gave him the same thing on this blog, he shit his pants and went back to the SE forum and his own blog and played the martyr, saying to everyone that I hassled him first, which was totally untrue. And everyone there (except for the few sensible ones) believed him. And Viergacht is just a lunatic! Though Katrina and I have a $50 bet going with each other about how long it would take Viergacht to put me on ignore if I were to go back to the SE forum. She says he'll put me on ignore within the first day, I say within the first 5 minutes! hehe! I know his type, he acts tough online, but he couldn't handle Katrina, and he blocked her from his journal. She wasn't even mean to him, she just told it like it is! Really though if the majority of the people on that forum want to believe those two are "good" people and I am not, that's their business! But I don't trust them at all, and a forum that accepts loonies like those, I have no business being in there. Again, I'm a good judge of character, I have rarely been wrong, I know bad news when I see it.

I'll tell you, any time you hear a grown person hassling children, using the word "retard" or "retarded", or making fun of fat people, those are the types of people you know you can't trust at all! I know through personal experience. I've lived long enough to see a great number of those kinds of people wind up in jail---or in a serious court case at least, hehe. It's got nothing to do with the name-calling really. But it's the lack of morale those people have. And I don't want to go down that path of destruction again. I've toned down considerably since I met Metalraptor. I admit I have a long way to go, but I'm getting there slowly but surely. If I join the SE forum again, I'd just be throwing all that I've worked for this past year away. I made a promise when I decided to go for a change, that I wouldn't join anymore forums. At least not until I know I've changed and I can hold on to that more rational behavior. Though I know no matter where I go, I'm going to come across people I don't like or just don't trust that's just how humans are! But still... ya know.

My life has been so busy anyways, I've been doing things for the UMG Productions site, still planning a promotional tour. I just finished a book of more than 500 pages for the site, all about the different breeds of dogs. I've also been working on the same kind of thing, only about the different breeds of horses. Horses are my second love, besides dogs. I have a couple of horses, but they are currently living with Katrina, who has some acreage for them to run around and graze. I don't have that kind of acreage now so they cannot stay with me and I miss them!! I've never written a book about horses before. But I have written about 5 dog books in my life! The very first I wrote when I was in 5th grade, and I had just begun to study dogs. I also wrote one in middle school. Then I wrote one right after I finished high school. Then in 2000 I wrote one again, I printed it but I never published it. Then this year, I made an updated version of the book I wrote in 2000 and this time I did publish it.

Well, that all has been going on, and so has the deal with INXS--my favorite rock group. Seems they are in muddy waters right now and I do feel bad for them. But I remain loyal. When I really like something or someone, I remain loyal forever. I just hope this does not mean the end of INXS's career. Then I guess I must join the ranks of Beatles fans that still love them, but know they will never see them whole again. I don't want that to happen to INXS, and it does kinda worry me that it might. I mean, a lot of former fans have turned against them because of this new project they have been working on. I say let's see what happens first before we make any harsh judgments. I'm not giving up on them, and I'm sure they appreciate the fans who will always be loyal to them. In fact I know they do.
Anyhow, I don't think I will be returning to the SE forum. But anyone who wants to discuss speculative evolution with me or Metalraptor, please feel free to send your discussions to me here or through e-mail. Metalraptor knows a lot more than I do about this, but I can do a little bit of good speculation, based on what I know and what I have learned.

Anyway, for your entertainment, here's some pics I took of Minnie. She'll look a lot better once her coat comes in again. Once that happens, I think Minnie might be a good show potential! I was studying AKC's version of the papillon breed standard, and she's got almost all--except for the long, flowing coat!
I got Vegas in this one. You can just see him on the ground. He still hasn't got used to Minnie being here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Long Time, No Hear From!

I just wanted to fill my viewers here on what I have been up to lately. I've been working on one of the biggest projects of my career. A book about dogs of the World. It's my passion. I know this has nothing to do with Metazoica, but I just wanted to let you all know what has been taking up my time. For the past week, I have been up all day and all night just trying to get this book done. It's been like when you are running in a race and you are aiming as hard as you can for that goal line, and you want to make it there as fast as you can and yet still run a good race. That is what this past week has been like.

Well, yesterday the tired finally caught up with me and I slept all day long. Then I woke up to a message on my answering machine saying that my ma's best friend's husband finally died. Don't feel bad! He was not good for her anyway! When I first met that jerk there was something about him that bothered me. And then this friend told me that he wanted to marry her, and they'd only known each other for 3 weeks! That scared me, for her sake! He never did anything for her, unless she paid him, and he made her pay half the bill any time he took her out on a date. That should have told her something right there. But this friend is like a newborn baby, her instincts are lousy!! She's too trusting and I know better than anyone that when you are too trusting, you're gonna get burned! My instincts are sharp, and I sensed this man was no good from the beginning. I tried to urge this friend not to marry that man until she got to know him better. But she didn't listen. She married him anyway. Less than 2 months after meeting him for the first time. I knew there would be disaster. Sure enough, he always insulted her, never took her side on anything, made her pay for everything, and tried to kill her twice during the course of this "marriage".

Well, he's dead now, thank goodness! He's been going downhill in his battle against liver cancer for the past 3 years, and it finally caught up with him this past week after spreading to his intestines, his stomach, kidneys and finally his spine. I say Good riddance! And my ma's friend is a free woman! She's going to go to nursing school to become a CNA. I'm so happy for her now!! I hope she learned something, but chances are she didn't. She's one of those types that thinks she cannot live without a man, and so she marries the first man who woos her, whether he is a scum bag or not. So MANY red flags went up with this man, and my ma's friend just let them slide off and laughed them away. He wasn't even good-looking!! He looked like a cross between a shaved chimpanzee and a donkey!! I didn't know what this friend saw in him. I could look past his looks if only he had treated her nicely. But he didn't. Not even close!!

As for me, well, I am still at work on this book. I'm on the hounds section now, and that is the longest and toughest section! There is a breed of hound out there for every country, city and village in all of Europe!! And I've got them all in this book. I actually began this book in 2000, and almost completed it then. But since then, some changes have been made. For example, AKC's list of recognized breeds has grown, so I have to update it. I would just go with the original that I typed out back in 2000, but the disk that I had stored this book on somehow got corrupted. So I have to do the whole darned thing over again!!! Oh well. The original book came to more than 500 pages. I'm going to see if I can do this one with less pages. So far, it's looking good. There is no real reason why I am doing this book, I don't think I will be putting it up on our UMG site, I don't have my supervisor's OK on this book. It's just a personal triumph. Something that I have deep in my bones, and I want to complete the book this time, and get it bound. It's probably going to be too expensive to put up on the UMG site, it's in color and already there are about 200 pages, just in breed descriptions alone. So, it's going to be a book I just print once, and then no more. And just for me. I even devoted this book and my work to my Groucho, I am doing it for her. So, I have to get this done. hehe!

Today has been a long and dull day! But it'll get better. Because today, I get the biggest, bestest birthday present ever! I'm getting a beautiful easy chair! It's called "the cuddler" and as far as I know, it's only available in one store. It's my birthday present to myself, though my sisses did help chip in a little, I couldn't say no when they offered. But mostly it's to me and from me. Here it is though, after 5:00 and I am still waiting! I'm getting tired of waiting!!!! But they called a couple hours ago and said they are on their way. So I have to wait. But it sucks when I want to leave the house and can't cuz I have to wait for the delivery men to come!!! I can't even go out for a walk!

Well anyway, that's what's been going on for the past couple weeks. Sorry I have not been around much.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Squamozoic Era

Sixty-five million years ago, the world was struck by the worst catastrophe since the end of the Permian. Often referred to as the K-T event by scientists, the extinction was powerful enough to wipe out nearly two thirds of all life on Earth. Victims of this extinction ranged from the massive azdarchid pterosaurs and mosasaurs, to more unassuming creatures like enantiornith birds and polyglyphanodont lizards. The worst of these casualties were the non-avian dinosaurs, which up until that point had been the dominant land organisms on the planet. In our world it was the mammals, and to a lesser extent the birds, who inherited and conquered the world after the K-T. But in this world, something different happened. While crocodilians, turtles, and amphibians continued on as normal after the extinction, it was squamates, lizards, snakes, and their kin, who would come to dominate the post-Mesozoic biosphere.

At first, the early part of this world's Cenozoic would look a lot like our own. But to a discerning eye, one could already see the changes starting to take place that would lead to a world ruled by squamates. Big komodo dragon-like monitors stalked pantodonts and “condylarths”, large iguanids related to Pristiguana spread all over the New World, and gigantic Titanoboa-like snakes swam in the waters. By the time the Early Eocene rolled around, the squamates had gained near-total control of the Earth. The advances that mammals and birds had made up until that time had been merely fleeting. Throughout the rest of the Eocene and Oligocene, squamates were the dominant land animals on Earth. But there were not the active, warm-blooded, erect-gaited squamates of today. Rather these were huge sprawling or semi-erect animals, making this part of the Cenozoic look rather like a neo-Permian or Triassic. But all of this would change in the Miocene. The giant sprawlers and semi-erect squamates that dominated the Oligocene weren’t alone. At the same time, they shared their world with early forms of erect-gaited, warm-blooded squamates, many of these ancestral to modern day groups. In the Early-Middle Miocene, these groups took over, their advanced gaits and metabolisms competing most of the big sprawlers and other primitive squamate groups to extinction. Eventually further environmental changes such as the ice ages would further cement these advanced squamates hold on the planet, making them the dominant group of animals on Earth

The dominant herbivores of the Old World are erect-gaited agamids, who come in a wide variety of forms, ranging from small, arboreal drepanosaur-like creatures to gigantic elephant-sized animals reminiscent of the extinct pareiasaurs; the largest land animals on Earth. The main tall, giraffe-like browsers of this world are the giganatids, anseriform birds slightly resembling the dromornids of our world. Giant armour-plated herbivorous and omnivorous cordylid skinks related to girdled lizards and sungazers take the place of ankylosaurs and glyptodonts, inhabiting scrublands, deserts and uplands across the Old World. Preying on these animals are endothermic, erect-gaited monitors, who act in many cases like wolves, hyenas, and saber-toothed cats, and predatory geckos, which are pantherine-like ambush predators. Other predators include the more primitive predatory monitors, the therolacertids, who act like the weasels, badgers, and other small carnivores in this world. In the Old World, giant predatory short-skulled amphisbaenians prey on large surface-dwelling animals like giant subterranean worms or crocodiles. Across both the Old and New Worlds, lacertids and skinks evolve unparalleled diversity, with small insectivores and mid-sized generalists occurring across all environments, from forest floors to tree tops. And of course, completely bucking the curve, Madagascar becomes dominated by hooved “murder crocs”, huge numbers of arboreal chameleons, arctocyonid condylarths, and oplurid iguanas.

While many different lineages of squamates have evolved endothermy and erect gait, fewer have evolved integumentary structures, and thus are poorly-equipped to withstand the cold. Therefore, the differences between the Old and New World is more marked than in our world. However, several lineages of squamates on both sides of the planet have managed to make the crossing, and establish themselves on the other side. A group of agamids, mountain-dwelling species similar in appearance to Scutellosaurus, came to the New World in the Pliocene, and subsequently took the place of bighorn sheep and mountain goats. At the same time, gracilisaurs and sauroraptors have managed to make the crossing in the other direction, the former becoming established as deer-like herbivores in Eurasia while the latter have taken a wide variety of small predator niches. Boreosaurids, the ferocious opportunists of the North, are found all around the Holarctic region, whether it be Old or New World.

Australia has always sort of been dominated by squamates in our world, and the same is true in this one. The dominant herbivores of Australia are the agamids, like in the rest of the Old World. However, these are not the familiar Laurasiagamids of Africa and Eurasia, but rather their own unique group, the Gondawanagamids. Gondawanagamids tend to have semi-erect gaits like a crocodile or a therapsid, rather than the erect gaits that charictarize Laurasiagamids. But in an odd twist, many lineages of Gondawanagamids have circumvented this by several lineages becoming bipedal, ranging from omnivorous opportunists to full-blown herbivores. Joining them on the plains as large herbivores are the odd placental tingamarrs, herbivorous birds thought to be distantly related to emus and cassowaries, and meolanid turtles, who are more diverse here than anywhere on the mainland. As can be expected, monitors are the dominant predators of Australia. However, compared to the predatory monitors of the mainland, these monitors seem very different in their adaptations, being more prone to bipedalism and other similar niches due to their harsh environment. The two Australias also have another trait in common; they both seem to be places where evolution has gone mad. While across most of the world monitors are terrestrial predators, and crocodilians are mostly restricted to aquatic habitats, the situation is reversed in Australia, where predatory mekosuchines compete with geckos for the cat niche, while aquatic monitors take the place of crocodilians alongside native crocs in the water.

As opposed to the Old World, which is dominated by predatory monitors and geckos, the New World is dominated by all manner of iguanines. Perhaps the epitome of this are the crotaphytids. While in our world crotaphytids are restricted to leopard and collared lizards, in this world crotaphytid iguanians are some of the most successful squamates of all time, evolving erect gaits and endothermy in the Americas and become long-legged giant cursorial predators. These animals, the sauroraptors, resembling the long-extinct non-avian theropods, and take up a variety of niches including those of small animal catchers and wolf analogues.. Some of the latter even spread across to the Old World, and are prevalent there. Anoles take the place of cats in the New World, evolving into big-game hunters, arboreal predators, and terrestrial stalkers. The New World is also home to parabirds, strange squamates descended from anoles that seem to converge a bit on the basal birds of the Mesozoic, but rather than becoming more advanced, they have taken their Archaeopteryx-like body plan and run with it. Strange basal iguanines have evolved into their own unique predator group, the paramonitors; sphenacodontian-like animals which hunt the deserts of the southwest. Most of the large herbivores of the New World are members of a special group of iguanid-derived iguanines, the ungulosaurs, which range from primitive trilophosaur-like species to huge prosauropod, and ground sloth-like animals. The phrynosomatids take part in this diversification too, becoming analogues of peccaries, bison, and the extinct ceratopsians. The anguids also become diverse, evolving into a variety of forms including prairie dog-like burrowers, raccoon analogues, ankylosaur analogues, nectar-eaters and ferocious northern predators. Helodermatids are also more diverse in this world, taking the place of saber-toothed cats and bear-dogs.

For the majority of the Cenozoic South America was an island continent, isolated from the rest of the world. Because of this it developed its own, unique fauna. Giant, sprawling megalania-like teiids, predatory bear-like iguanids, and sebecosuchian crocodiles stalked meiolanid turtles, sloth lizards, native ungulosaurs, and grazing corytophanids across the pampas and plains. But that all changed when North America came and linked to the continent by way of the Panamian land bridge. No longer isolated, South America was buffeted by an invasion of northerners. Gilas, sauroraptors, advanced ungulosaurs, terror owls, and many other adaptable northern groups spread south, muscling out many of the natives. Today, South America’s fauna is mostly made up of these northern invaders. However, some species proved to be adaptable and survive. One of these groups were the corytophanids, which took the place of the sauroraptors, herons, and even some grazers in the South. Their diversity has been severely cut, but they have survived. Teiids have also been heavily hit, formerly huge carnivores as big as Megalania, now they are reduced to smaller monitor lizard analogues. Meiolanid turtles have survived, though not as diverse as before, and have even managed to spread north into southernmost North America. Sebecosuchians too have mostly been able to hold their own, but are now found as smaller predators.

While squamates are the dominant land animals in this world, they are by no means its only inhabitants. Champsosaurs survived the K-T event, and subsequently take the place of gharial-like fish eaters all over the world, except Australia. Crocodiles are less diverse in this timeline, but more varied. Familiar crocs and alligators prowl the waterways of the world, except in Africa, where their niche is taken up by dyrosaurs. There are even several varieties of terrestrial crocodilians, including pristichampsid "murder crocs" and sebecosuchians. Aquatic turtles are more diverse than in our time, but terrestrial turtles are conspicuously absent. The exception to this are the meiolanid turtles, ankylosaur-like chelonians found across Australia with a few genera in the New World. Birds, the sole surviving group of dinosaurs, have been quite successful in this world, though not as much as in our own. There are many groups of birds unique to this world or who have had greater success here than in our world. Pseudodontornithes soar over the seas as albatross or sea bird analogues. Giant anseriformes browse from the trees, as presybyornids take the place of ducks and other aquatic waterfowl. Terror owls, small animal hunters the size of a troodont and related to modern day owls, hunt for prey in the undergrowth across every continent except Australia. Mammals, while far from dominant, have also managed to become somewhat diverse. Multituberculates take the place of rodents and in some cases larger herbivores, alongside condylarths and pantodonts. Bats have evolved in this timeline, swooping overhead as insectivores. Some mammals have even become predators; leptictids and miacids hunt small mammals, birds, and squamates in the undergrowth.

Because mammals never really diversify in this world, numerous lineages of squamates take to the sea and become aquatic. Arguably, the most successful of these are the snakes, who fill the sea with hundreds of species, ranging from small ones to giant species that put our modern sea snakes to shame. Monitors too have tried to become aquatic once again, and patrol the seas and bays like reptilian sharks or the odontocetes of our world in search of fish and marine squamates. Some are semi-terrestrial and come on land to rest like seals, while others are entirely marine. Carnivorous squamates are not the only squamates to try and go marine. The ungulosaurs too developed their own aquatic lineages, the clownguanas and the sirenosaurs. Pseudodontornithes soar over the ocean like albatrosses, while true gulls live much like gulls always have. Like in our world, the seas are filled with huge amounts of plankton. And also like in our world, there are filter feeders that have evolved to take advantage of this marine bounty. Overall, the filter feeders can be divided into three general size classes. The first of these are the presybyornids, who range in size from a small duck to a swan or a small seal. The next are the marine arctocyonids, which range from seal to dolphin-sized. The largest, and most abundant, filter feeders of this world are the sharks, which vaguely resemble the basking and whale sharks of our world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Sorry I haven't been posting much. Something's in the wind....

Earliest Relative of Monkeys

Well, this was a cool article I found, it talks about a fossil found that may be one of the earliest direct links to the evolution of monkeys. Well, everyone by now should know how fascinated I am by primates, so this article really hits home with me. It caught my attention right away, anyway. My apologies to my readers for not being on here much, I'm planning something with my supervisor that should be very big in getting the word out for UMG Productions! So, I've had a busy week planning and plotting with her.

Skeleton Sheds Light on Primate Evolution
Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press

May 19, 2009 -- The nearly complete skeleton of a small 47 million-year-old creature found in Germany was displayed Tuesday by scientists who said it would help illuminate the early evolution of monkeys, apes and humans.

About the size of a small cat, the animal has four legs and a long tail. It's not a direct ancestor of monkeys and humans, but it provides a good indication of what such an ancestor may have looked like, researchers said at a news conference.

Because the skeleton is so remarkably complete, scientists believe it will provide a window into primate evolution. The animal was a juvenile female that scientists believe died at about 9 or 10 months.

"She tells so many stories. We have just started the research on this fabulous specimen," said Jorn Hurum, of the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, one of the scientists reporting the find.
The creature is nicknamed Ida after Hurum's 6-year-old daughter.

The unveiling, at New York's Museum of Natural History, was promoted by a press release for the cable TV show History, which called it a "revolutionary scientific find that will change everything."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among the speakers at the news conference, called it an "astonishing breakthrough."

The story of the fossil find will be shown on History, which is owned by A&E Television Networks. A book also will be published.

Hurum saw nothing wrong with the heavy publicity which preceded the research's publication Tuesday in the scientific journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) One.

"That's part of getting science out to the public, to get attention. I don't think that's so wrong," Hurum said.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Family of the Week: the Shrubucks

The Ungulascelididae is the first family to evolve off the elephant shrews in the Metazoic. They basically resemble giant versions of these animals, and they are every bit as flexible. They are basically quadrupedal animals, though they occasionally rear up on their hind legs to reach for any food items that are out of reach to quadrupeds. The nose is long and flexible, the ears are large and pointed. The eyes are large, some species even have tusks. They are slenderly built animals, the legs are long and the feet are soft, like those of camels, with blunt hooves. They are very agile animals, and leap and bound much like we see in modern deer and antelope. The tail is long and thick, and used to balance the animals as they rear up on their hind legs. There are 4 toes on each foot, and in the genus Scopulus, one of the toes on each forefoot is flexible, giving them an added advantage in grasping branches they want to feed on. These animals travel together in rather large herds, usually led by a dominant male.

The largest member of this family is Mananasus, which is a large forest-dwelling shrubuck that has a long, flexible nose like a modern elephant. They stand about 10 feet tall, and with the long proboscis, can reach leaves an extra 4 feet above their head. This species often will stand on their hind legs to attempt to reach higher leaves. This is the one species that is fully vegetarian, feeding only on leaves and fruits from high branches. Most other shrubucks are omnivores. Ungulascelides is known to scavenge kills from other animals, acting rather like modern jackals in the early Metazoic era. The smallest of the shrubucks is in the genus Varicares. These are rather small animals, and most shelter in burrows. In the early Metazoic, these animals take the place of warthogs. Though they are not quite as ugly. The legs are shorter in this genus than any other variety of shrubuck. This is also the only one of the shrubucks that made it out of Africa. One variety lives in the mountainous forests of southern Europe. This animal feeds on low growth vegetation, as well as insects, earthworms, slugs, grubs and carrion. They live in smaller family groups, much like wild boar today, and all members of the family roost in large burrows dug by the adults in the family.

These animals are like most others around during the Metazoic, they are diurnal. They prefer to roost at night, and do their hunting and traveling during the day. They live in a variety of habitats, but most species prefer drier areas. Though there are quite a few species in this family that are forest and even jungle dwellers. Females usually have more than one calf, and are quite protective of them. Males play very little in the way of family life. Though they too are defensive of their families.

Shrubucks have several enemies. Mostly large reptiles like crocodiles and pythons. Pythons normally take the young animals. Rarely, if ever, any adults. Carnivorous rats and squirrels will also take on these animals as well as wild dogs. Shrubucks defend themselves quite well by way of powerful kicks. The tail also acts as a defensive mechanism. The tail is long and thick, and excellent for slapping at an attacker. Though most predators find a way around this. These animals are the start of a line of animals that would later in the Metazoic become the Choerocaballids, the therapeds and even the deinognathids. But their most unique and unusual descendants will be the sinecrus, that take to the water.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Attack of the Synapsids

Otherwise known as attack of your great, great, great, great, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Anyway, its here...Will Baird and Zach Miller (and also Scott Elyard, apparently) have posted some stuff on their project, appropriately titled the XenoPermian. Zach has his picture of the "Triassic" seaside coast both on Will's blog and on Art Evolved, and Will has posted an overview of the first chunk of the project on his blog, The Dragon's Tales.

The reason I put the "Triassic" of this timeline in quotes is, quite simply, because there isn't one in this time period. In the XenoPermian, the volcanic eruptions that caused the P-T extinction never happened, or were at least spread out over many millions of years. As a result of this, the Permian bleeds smoothly into the Triassic. Actually, the Triassic being consumed by the Permian would be a better word, since a lot of the fauna that characterize the Permian never goes extinct (gorgonopsids, for one) and a lot of the fauna that characterize the Triassic never evolves (nothosaurs, placodonts, for example).

So, here are the two links. Zach's picture can be found here (http://blogevolved.blogspot.com/2009/05/long-road-to-failure.html), and Will's post is located here (http://thedragonstales.blogspot.com/2009/05/welcome-to-xenopermian.html)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Shuvosaurus and Protoavis: Two Enigmas From the Triassic of Texas

The Late Triassic of the American Southwest was home to a bewildering array of fascinating creatures, completely unlike anything we know of today. Patrolling the forests and riverbanks of the Triassic were fierce rauisuchians, and swift herrerasaurids and coelophysoids. Lounging in the lazy waters were huge crocodile-like phytosaurs and the archaic metoposaurs. Browsing from the thickets of vegetation were armored aetosaurs, the strange tusked dicynodonts, silesaurids, prosauropods, and even a couple of ornithischians. At the same time, all of this was being played out on a smaller scale on the forest floor and canopy, with dog-like crocodilians running around after proconlophids and trilophosaurs. However, the strange creatures of this alien world paled in comparison to two bizarre oddities, Shuvosaurus and Protavis. So yeah, once again I find myself blogging about the archosaurs of Texas.

Shuvosaurus was first described by Dr. Sankhar Chatterjee in 1993. When first discovered, Chatterjee thought that Shuvosaurus appeared to be a Triassic ornithomimosaur. This shocked and bewildered the paleontological community. Not only are ornithomimosaurs some of the most specialized theropods of all time, but they didn't even appear in the fossil record until the Cretaceous (even today, no ornithomimosaur is known from even the Jurassic). Because of the amount of paleontological upheaval Chatterjee's theory would have caused (not to mention the incompleteness of the Shuvosaurus skeleton), many paleontologists viewed Shuvosaurus with skepticism. Since then, there were numerous theories on what exactly was Shuvosaurus. Chatterjee, as far as I know, stood by his ornithomimosaur hypothesis. Dixon, in one of his dinosaur books, suggested that Shuvosaurus was a specialized coelophysoid theropod. Others suggested that Shuvosaurus was a chimera, a fossil "taxon" made of the body parts of more than one animal.

So, it appeared Shuvosaurus was doomed to remain a mystery, an unsolvable enigma of the Triassic. That is, until the discovery of Effigia in 2006. Discovered posing as a coelophysoid theropod in fossils the American Natural History Museum collected from Ghost Ranch, While at first glance Effigia appeared to be a dinosaur, the structure of the hip and ankle told scientists a different story; Effigia was a rauisuchian, distant cousins of modern crocodiles which . And so the pieces clicked together, and the mystery was solved. Shuvosaurus wasn't a dinosaur at all, but a species of beaked, bipedal, herbivorous rauisuchian, one which had evolved conveniently to the oviraptorosaurs and ornithomimosaurs of the Late Triassic. In fact, the discovery of Effigia showed that not only was Shuvosaurus a rauisuchian, but Chatterjea, another odd rauisuchian with suspicious similarities to Shuvosaurus, was actually the same species!

While Shuvosaurus was unusual, it paled in comparison to the controvery stirred up by Chatterjee's other discovery, Protoavis. Protoavis was described as a fossil Triassic bird by its discoverer, a creature about 35 centimeters tall. Even more unusual, several features that Chatterjee described in Protoavis would suggest that it is more advanced than the earliest definite known bird, Archaeopteryx, despite living 75 million years earlier. One of these features is that Protoavis has a very bird-like skull, with teeth even more reduced than in Archaeopteryx. Some scientists have called the validity of Protavis into serious question, but Chatterjee has stood by his claim.

Enter the drepanosaurids. Drepanosaurids, more informally known as monkey lizards, were a group of arboreal reptiles that have been found across the world during the Triassic period (for more info on drepanosaurs see the excellent post at the Hairy Museum of Natural History here http://www.hmnh.org/galleries/monkeylizards/index.html). Some species appear to have taken the place of squirrels or primates, others may have lived a life like the modern tamandua, and still others may have even been aquatic or flying squirrel-like animals. But most importantly, these animals had a very bird-like skull, to the point where one of their "other" names is avicephalans (bird heads). The best specimens of these animals have been found in the Eastern U.S. (Hyperonector) or Italy (Drepanosaurus and Megalancosaurus), but there is a species of drepanosaurid known from the American Southwest, Dolabrosaurus, found in the sediments of Petrified Forest National Park.
So it appears quite likely that Protoavis is a paleontological chimera, a fossil made up of the dislocated remains of a coelophysoid theropod and a drepanosaur. There are other features which seem to suggest this. The quarry where Protoavis was found suggests that it was the remnants of a group of flash flood victims, as the animals are all jumbled up and disassembled. In addition, several of the alleged Protoavis vertebrae appear to be rather similar to the vertebrae of the drepanosaur Megalancosaurus. And of course the bones of Protoavis are very badly preserved in the first place.

Well, there you have it...the two weirdest fossils from the New World of the Triassic (I won't say the entire Triassic, as Sharovipteryx and Longisquama may give these two a run for their money). Two Texas enigmas, one vindicated by further paleontological discoveries and has emerged as one of the most unique animals in the Triassic world, the other a chimera made of two parts juvenile coelophysoid, and one part drepanosaur (mix well). I hope you enjoyed this little presentation, and stay tuned to Metazoica!

Jacobs, L. 1995. Lone Star Dinosaurs. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas
Fraser, N. 2006. Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Life in the Triassic. Indiana University Press

Oh No!

Ah great, just what we need. I was doing some digging on Protohadros and the Arlington Archosaur Site recently, and it turns out there is some bad news. The site itself is only going to be opened for five more months. Unfortunately, after that, the site will be bulldozed to make way for a housing complex. I have heard some rumors that the deadline will be extended, but I have not heard anything finalized yet. This is a sad turn of events, seeing as this one of the few sites of this time period in the U.S., and probably the only site that has post cranial material of Protohadros (if the creature found here is indeed Protohadros at all!).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pleurocoelus No More

Until recently, most paleontology books would have one believe that sauropods all across the Northern Hemisphere (especially North America) went extinct in the Late Jurassic. The small-brained herbivores found themselves unable to adapt to a changing world and thus gave way to the (moderately) smarter ornithopods and ankylosaurs of the Cretaceous. In truth, sauropods are a much tougher breed than people give them credit for. While they did take a hit in diversity in the Cretaceous, the group as a whole survived and kept going on, surviving and adapting to the changing conditions of the Cretaceous. In fact, over the Cretaceous some titanosaurs were becoming more efficient and gracile, a topic which I may blog about someday.

Neither did sauropods just leave North America in the hands of the iguanodonts and nodosaurs. While the diplodocids did go extinct in North America after the Late Jurassic, the continent was still overrun by titanosaurs and their kin, the little buggers. There was Sauroposeidon, essentially an Early Cretaceous version of Brachiosaurus on steroids. There was also smaller titanosaurs, like Venenosaurus. But I would like to focus your attention to the dinosaurs oftentimes described as "Pleurocoelus"

The first fossil ever to be attributed the name Pleurocoelus were some fossils found about 1859 in the Arundel Formation of Maryland. However, it was not called Pleurocoelus at all, rather it was named Astrodon. Discovered by Christopher Johnson at this time, who coined the name, Astrodon really did not enter the paleontology lexicon until 1865, when Joseph Leidy described the species and attributed a species name to it, johnstoni, after its discoverer. So why Pleurocoelus then? Well, some years later, more sauropod specimens that looked exactly like Astrodon were brought to Othniel Marsh, who rather than follow the rules and refer them to Astrodon, created his own taxon for them, Pleurocoelus. This actually happened quite often between Cope and Marsh, neither would accept names coined by each other or other paleontologists, and so made up their own names. Over the years, numerous other taxa were attributed to the genus Pleurocoelus, from places as far away as Texas and Utah. Before long Pleurocoelus became a wastebasket taxon, a taxon to which numerous different remains are attributed.

For a long time, sauropod fossils found in Texas have been referred to as Pleurocoelus. These include the famous "sauropod vs. Acrocanthosaurus" footprints of Glen Rose. However, it soon became apparent that there were some differences between the supposed "Pleurocoelus" specimens of Texas and Maryland. For example, the Texas specimens apparently lacked a claw on one of their digits, making their feet rather distinct. These were not "Pleurocoelus", they were a species all their own. In 2007, the Texas fossils of "Pleurocoelus" were redescribed as a new genus, Paluxysaurus jonesi. Like Astrodon and other former members of "Pleurocoelus", Paluxysaurus is a basal titanosauriform, a group that was quite common across North America during the Early Cretaceous.

And what of Astrodon, the "original" specimen of Pleurocoelus? Well, in a study done by Kenneth Carpenter and Virginia Tidwell, they found that Astrodon was indeed a unique species, and that the name Astrodon should be kept, per ICZN legislation. In addition, the study found that there were differences between the supposed "Pleurocoelus" teeth from Texas differed from those of Astrodon.

So what does this mean for Early Cretaceous paleobiology? Well, rather than one sauropod as expected, it now seems that there were two sauropods running around in Early Cretaceous North America (in addition to the other sauropods, such as Sauroposeidon). First there was Astrodon, a somewhat smaller coastal-dwelling sauropod. Then there was the larger Paluxysaurus, who lived more to the west and inland of the East Coast dwelling Astrodon.

Ironically, there is a final twist to our story. While most of the Texas sauropod fossils known can probably be attributed to Paluxysaurus, one; a partial skeleton from Wise County, Texas, cannot. There has not been a study done yet comparing the Paluxysaurus holotype, but there appear to be some differences in the bone. But at the same time, it is difficult to tell these Pleurocoelus remains apart from those of Paluxysaurus.

Carpenter, K. and Tidwell, V. 2005. Reassessment of the Early Cretaceous sauropod Astrodon johnstoni Leidy 1865 (Titanosauriformes)
Rose, Peter J. (2007). "A new titanosauriform sauropod (Dinosauria: Saurischia) from the Early Cretaceous of central Texas and its phylogenetic relationships" (web pages). Palaeontologia Electronica 10 (2). http://palaeo-electronica.org/2007_2/00063/.
Jacobs, L. 1995. Lone Star Dinosaurs. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas
Fraser, N. 2006. Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Life in the Triassic. Indiana University Press

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Animals That Play Dead Risk The Lives of Others

I thought this was an interesting article here, animals that play dead risk getting others killed. I know some animals like opossums play dead, that's what they are famous for. Often, like all other animals that put on the same act, they smell dead too. This makes them unattractive to predators. That's the whole purpose. Not too complicated! But this article talks about how the same act that saves the opossum just puts other animals at risk of being hunted. That could be why opossums have survived for so long. Even though other seemingly smarter and better adapted mammals have gone extinct. It says humans also fein death. I don't know I never have, and I wouldn't think such an act would work if you are being attacked by another person.

Anyway, here is the article:


Animals that Play Dead Sacrifice Others
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

April 29, 2009 -- Many insects and animals, including humans, enter into a state of "fake death" immobility when threatened, but this seemingly passive frozen-with-fear state may be a selfish behavior that can lead to the killing of one's friends and relatives, according to a new study.

For humans, this can happen when an attacker enters a building and starts randomly targeting victims. People who play dead often survive, while their fleeing colleagues usually aren't so lucky.

The paper, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to demonstrate the adaptive significance of playing possum, and how it's a selfish behavior.

"Death-feigning prey increase their probability of survival at the expense of more mobile neighbors," lead author Takahisa Miyatake told Discovery News.

Miyatake, a professor in the Laboratory of Evolutionary Ecology at Okayama University, and his team focused on a predator-prey system that, like the cartoon Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, involves constant chasing. In this case, a hungry jumping spider frequently chases, bites and eats red flour beetles. The two species cohabit on rice bran or corn flour in cereal storehouses.

The researchers conducted experiments to see how well death feigning beetles survived when alone, or with other individuals either of their own, or similar, species. The scientists also checked to see if chemicals emitted by beetles playing dead somehow made them unattractive or unpalatable to the hungry spiders, which were starved for a week before the experiments began.

The chemicals didn't seem to make a difference, but having other moving individuals around did. During one experiment, around 60 percent of the beetles were eaten by the spider when they were alone and playing dead versus just 9.6 percent when additional mobile insects were nearby.

"Spiders appear to rely on prey locomotion in order to catch prey, and in addition may rely on tactile movement signals to initiate the kill behavior," the researchers explained, adding that "selfish prey" playing dead then wind up sacrificing their "neighbors in the group or community."

They suspect the findings could also apply to caterpillars, moths and other beetles that live in food storehouses. Sheep, group-living snakes and even humans may also fit the scenario.

"We can imagine such a (death-feigning) person might survive more," Miyatake said, referring to war, or war-like conditions.

He added that not everyone immediately goes into the play dead mode, however, probably due to each individual having either a "shy or bold" personality, which is partly controlled by his or her genes.

Something similar happens among fire ants, according to Deby Cassill of USF Petersburg's Biology Department. She and her colleagues observed how different aged fire ants acted when they were under attack from neighboring colonies.

"Days-old workers responded to aggression by death feigning, weeks-old workers responded by fleeing, and months-old workers responded by fighting back," Cassill and her team determined.

The older ants might have died holding down the fort, but they were four times more likely to perish than the younger ants that simply went into a catatonic state. Age and assessment of personal strength might therefore come into play when an individual has no choice but to flee, feign death or face the enemy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Family of the Week: The Tapimurids

These animals were inspired by Dixon's tapimus, presented in After Man, and the Shag-rats presented in The Future Is Wild. I took the two, did a little tweaking with their anatomy and made them my own, putting both together in this family. Though I did decide to keep the names. They are descended from modern rats, and instead of making them like they appear in Dixon's creations, I made them look more like great dane dogs. Only pudgier. Since rodents do have the long incisors, I had to keep the square shaped muzzle. The ears are larger and more pointed in the genus Tapimus, but smaller and more rounded in the shag-rats (Lasiomus). If you get a good look at the modern maras, you could get a great idea of what I figured these animals to look like, only with tails in tact. The tails are not long, it reaches just past their hocks, and it's enough to keep the animals well balanced when trying to make a quick get-away. The necks are not very long, but not very short. The legs are long and slender. When resting, these animals sit on their hocks, rather like kangaroos, with the tail resting on the ground. The eyes are large and almond-shaped. There are no naked feet-pads, but rather hoof-like feet instead of soft pads. The length of the toes are greatly reduced to compensate the development of hooves.

These animals live in groups, except for the Amazonian tapimus, which lives in couples. Usually a male, female and sometimes a single young. The young tends to stay with the mother, and the male usually parts company. Tusks are present in males, but lacking in females. However, to defend her baby, a female is equipped with sharp claw-like hooves to slash at a predator. Males take over defending the family when the couples are together, then he can gore a predator with his tusks. These rats are vegetarians. They feed on grasses, leaves, berries, fruits, plants and flowers. They feed during the day and roost at night. In shag-rats, they live and breathe in large herds, led usually by a dominant male. There is a species that lives in colder climates, and their fur even changes with the climate. They turn white during the winter and brown and white during the summer. This makes them almost invisible to predators, or at least would confuse the predator. They find their biggest safety in numbers. This is why their groups are so large, about 100 individuals sometimes. Not all related to the dominant male usually. Their biggest defense is to run, and run they really can! These animals can reach speeds of up to 50 mph, and can reach these top speeds in about a second.

Predators of these animals include the largest mongooses, Phobogulus, foxes, snakes, crocodiles, predatory pteropods, and even large Barofelids. Phobogulus particularly specializes in hunting such animals as Lasiomus. Such animals as foxes prefer to take the young of Tapimus. They are hardly deterred by the defensive mechanisms of the adults.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vampire Math!

I don't usually talk about the famous (or to some, infamous) blog Pharyngula, since I try to talk more about the science of paleontology and evolution here, rather than the current political and social battles the scientific theory (which is not the same as one getting drunk one night and coming up with something) is facing in the United States. Not to mention PZ Myers doesn't talk much about speculative biology. But recently, he posted something so good I just had to link to it...vampire math.


Basically, Brian Thomas, a theoretical ecologist, decided to do some calculations to try and calculate the overall population dynamics of vampires in Sunnydale based on a bit of predator-prey dynamics in the wild. Now it must be mentioned that these population calculations were done on the aspect of vampires from the Buffyverse, and so are affected by the in-show continuity (the Hellmouth and such), but we can also use most of this to calculate the ecology of vampires in general. Of course no vampires were used in this study, because they either were not found in the universe that the author existed in, or else it would be really dangerous to fit the little bugger with a radio collar to try and track its movements. So instead, Thomas came up with the following equation...

Where in this equation
r = is the intrinsic growth rate of the human population, incorporating natural rates of both birth and death as well as immigration
K = is the human carrying capacity of the habitat in question
a = is a coefficient that relates the number of human-vampire encounters to the number of actual feedings
b = is the proportion of feedings in which the vampire sires the victim (i.e.- this is the vampire birth rate)
m =is the net rate of vampire migration into Sunnydale
s =is the rate at which the Scoobies stake vampires (assumed to be the only important source of vampire deaths).

When we try and plot this data, three different stable equilibria. The first is where the humans become extinct and the vampires, depending on humans for food, die out with them. The second is where the rate of staking is faster than the rate a vampire can sire victims, and so the vampires are extinct and the population of humans is near carrying capacity (the maximum amount of humans the environment can sustain). The third, however, is the interesting one. Setting the two equations equal to each other to find an equilibria, we find that in an average mid-sized California town like Sunndale that the equilibrium population will be about 36,346 humans, and for that many humans there will be an equilibrium of about 18 vampires. In a shocking case of irony, the actual population of Sunnydale within the show is barely a thousand or two a way from this, at about 38,500.

But, as anyone who has watched a single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will know, there are more than eighteen vampires in Sunnydale. A lot more. Therefore, some other factors must be at work in order to account for an unnaturally large population of vampires in a small area, such as...

  1. The Hellmouth Factor. Basically, the hellmouth is a pandimensional back door, a place where the boundaries between worlds are weaker, allowing vampires, demons, and all manner of Eldrich horrors to enter our world. Since the Hellmouth itself is where vampires enter our world, there are two major reasons why the vampire population in Sunnydale would be higher. One, vampires who enter Sunnydale through the Hellmouth will attempt to settle in that area, since that is where they entered this world at and because there is an ample food supply around the immediate Hellmouth vicinity (casually referred to as the greater Hellmouth area). Two, transient vampires who have just entered the world through the Hellmouth will pop up in Sunnydale, and may try to feed before moving on to other areas where they can stake their territory. Hence you get vampires coming in all the time, and artificially "boosting" the population up.

  2. Other Food Sources. One problem with this study is it assumes that humans are the only food source of vampires. However, the large population of vampires in Sunnydale seems to be indicating that the vampires are feeding on other sources of food, which would allow a larger population of resident vampires than assumed from the mathematical models. Cows, pigs, sheep, deer, and dogs are all likely candidates for alternate components of a vampire's diet. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they occasionally caught rats and other small animals to supplement their diet. And whoever said vampires had to be strict carnivores. Perhaps they are somehow related to bats, in which case fish or even fruit may make up a part of their diets. These alternate food sources would bring the overall population of vampires up, as an area richer in food allows more predators per square mile.

  3. Metabolism. Something that most people don't realize about blood is that it is very poor in nutrition. Its over half water, and the rest is very low-energy material. The vampire bat, in fact, has to feed every other night or else it will starve on its low-calory diet. because of this, vampires may be low-metabolism creatures, mostly placid and slow, but capable of quick bursts of energy to attak and subdue prey, much like a modern snake. If this is true, vampires may be able to fast and go without blood for long periods of time, thereby increasing the amount of vampires an area can support. If one decreases the amount of times a vampire needs to feed, the population of prey becomes larger and can thus support more predators.

There are also some other isses that, while speculative, must also be addressed because they affect the way the vampire population grows in several ways. These include...

  1. Vampire Mating. One thing this study never really talks about is exactly whether or not vampires are limited to reproduction-via-bite, or whether or not they can reproduce via normal methods (as for what that is....ask your mom). If vampires can reproduce in the usual way as well as through bite reproduction, then the vampire population can grow much, much quicker than through just bite reproduction.

  2. Vampire Parenthood. Another thing that is not talked about is whether or not vampires have any sort of parenthood. I'm not just talking about vampires raising natural born children, but do they act like "parents" to their turned victims, showing them the ropes of vampirism, or are they like fish and just leave their offspring behind, to fend for themelves. These two styles of reproduction are known as r/K selection theories. Animals that are r strategists try to create as many offspring as they can in as much time as they can, but they invest no care in the offspring and thus few of them survive. K selected animals invest time and care in their offspring, and normally these animals tend to live a lot longer than r selected ones. But there is a downside, K selected animals only produce a few offspring at a time. This is another important factor to consider, as it affects the survival rate of vampires in the population.

  3. Other Predators. The Buffyverse isn't just filled with vampires. It is home to demons, werewolves, Eldrich horrors, and the occasional god thrown in for good measure. Most of these have a taste for human flesh, or some other food source derived from humanity. Because these various creatures are competing with the vampires for their food, the vampire population is expected to be lower due to the increased competition. Other supernatural creatures may also add into the death rate, I mean lions go out of their way to kill hyenas on the African savannah.

For those who wish to read the study in its entirety, it can be found here (http://www.hphomeview.com/Tips/Vampire%20Ecology%20in%20the%20Jossverse.pdf). Perhaps someday I will post my own ideas on vampire evolution and ecology, but for now enjoy this facinating thought experiment via a fusion of math and ecology!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Walking With Pinnipeds

An illustration of Puijila darwini by Carnegie Museum of Natural History artist Mark A. Klinger

I just heard about this new, great discovery from the Canadian Arctic, Puijila darwini, a new primitive semi-terrestrial pinniped. For a long time, the origin of pinnipeds, seals, sea lions, and walruses, was a highly murky and highly controversial subject in mammal palentology. Some have even argued that "pinnipeds" are a polyphyletic, or artificial, grouping, true seals being closer related to weasels and their kin, while sea lions and walruses were cousins of bears. Lacking good fossils of pinnipeds (especially early ones), Huxley thought he saw a connection between the teeth of modern pinnipeds and the primitive teeth of creodonts, which to him suggested that seals were descendants of these ancient carnivores. This made sense at the time, seeing as there were no good early seal fossils and the other major group of aquatic mammals, the whales, were thought at the time to descend from another primitive carnivorous group, the mesonychids. So for some time, due to lack of contradictory evidence, the idea that seals were aquatic creodonts remained on the books.

Then along came Enaliarctos. First discovered by Edward Mitchell and Richard Tedford in the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene deposits of California, Enaliarctos was a five-foot long pinniped that seemed to be a transitional fossil between the bears and other arctoid carnivores (Hemicyonids). Its skull was more seal-like than bears, with more uniform teeth, but it still possessed the shearing molars that are present in bears, and in fact all carnivorans. Other features also indicate Enaliarctos was somewhat intermediate betweeen bears and seals in features of this anatomy.

However, despite the fact that Enaliarctos shed some light on the origin of seals and sea lions, it did not answer all the questions. Where did seals take to the water? The fact that sea lions appeared in the Pacific about the same time true seals did in the Atlantic seemed pretty fishy for some, and to others it seemed to vindicate the idea of the "pinnipeds" being polyphytletic. Why did they take to the water, what ecological forces shaped their bodies, adapted them to life in the sea? Enaliarctos could not answer these questions, and so the matter lied dormant for quite some time...until the discovery of Puijila

A reconstruction of the skeleton of Puijila by Alex Tirabasso of the Canadian Museum of Nature

Puijila is a rather unusual primitive seal, in many ways resembling a giant otter more than a primitive pinniped. However, it has numerous features that betray its pinniped ancestry
  1. Puijila has four lower incisors, rather than six as seen in most extant carnivorans. However, seals and sea lions today also have four lower incisors.
  2. Puijila's upper end-molars are small and located towards the midline of the skull. This is a strange arrangement for most mammals, but typical of pinnipeds.
  3. Like modern seals, Puijila has a large, well-developed infraorbital foramen, a hole below the eye socket in the front of the skull. This hole allows nerves to reach the front of the skull, and is well developed in species that have well developed or sensitive whiskers...like seals.
  4. While Puijila looks otter-like, it has large eyes, like a seal.
  5. Puijila has long, flattened toe bones, which are typically found in web-footed mammals.
  6. The limbs and tail of Puijila suggest that it swam via its four limbs, like seals and sea lions, rather than a combination of tail and limb strokes, like otters do.

Puijila's otter-like features, on the other hand, can be chalked up to convergent evolution. Because Puijila and otters were inhabiting the same sorts of environments, the sleek, otter-like body plan was the one best. In fact this conclusion is vindicated by other fossils in the fossil record. Potamotherium, another early seal, was once regarded as a sort of otter! However, it must be said that Puijila is not the ancestor of seals and sea lions. Puijila dates from the same time as Enaliarctos, about the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene time. Instead, Puijila shows us how seals and sea lions took to the sea, evolving from otter-like forms that thrived on the Arctic coast, spreading south via more oceanic forms into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, respectively.

This amazing find also answers another nagging question about pinniped evolution, do seals and sea lions form a polyphyletic, or artificial, grouping, much like the now defunct classification term "pachyderms". The evidence Puijila gives us emphatically says no to this idea. Recent molecular and DNA analysises have given weight to the theory that seals and other pinnipeds do form an actual taxonomic group, but there are still doubters. Scientists have been arguing for quite some time on these matters. While one group supports the idea that seals and sea lions form a natural group, descended from bears; the other side suggests that seals and sea lions evolved convergently, the former evolving from the otters and the latter evolving from the bears. This side cites the fact the fossil Potamotherium as evidence for this theory, saying that it is the real ancestor of true seals, as well as the fact that sea lions are mostly known from the Pacific Ocean, while true seals are mostly an Atlantic phenomenon. Potamotherium has been reclassified as a very otter-like seal, adding weight against the concept of pinniped polyphyly, but Puijila strikes the final blow. Its features suggest a common ancestry with seals and sea lions, showing that pinnipeds are indeed a monophyletic grouping.

Wallace, D. 2007. Neptune's Ark. University of California Press, California.