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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beaks May Have Transformed Dino-Diets

It's been a while since I quoted Discovery Network's articles. But I found this one particularly interesting. It talks about beaks on dinosaurs and I wanted to get other peoples' opinions on this. According to this article, there are fewer predatory dinosaurs than originally figured, which I find to be ridiculous! Look at how many predators are around today. And look at how much prey is available to them. There are some predators that kills at random, like leopards. They don't care what they kill, as long as it's got flesh, red stuff and bone, they don't care. So, don't tell me that there is less available to you the farther up in the food chain you are. It also seems to show that a carnivore can actually evolve from herbivorous ancestors. Well, here is the article, it may be my last post until the new year, as I have been pretty busy.


Beaks Transformed Dinosaurs, Expanding Diet
The beak was like nature's Swiss Army knife because it provided many tools in one unit.
By Jennifer Viegas
The emergence of the beak on dinosaurs was "an evolutionary innovation," according to a new study that found this seemingly simple trait is like nature's Swiss Army knife because it functions as many tools in one.
Over time, many dinosaurs replaced their toothy grins with beaks to aid their transition to plant eating, according to the new study that is published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"As modern animals such as birds and turtles demonstrate, a beak can be adapted to function for a variety of purposes from processing different food types -- nuts, fruits, leaves and meat -- to grooming and other behaviors," co-author Lindsay Zanno told Discovery News.
"The evolution of a beak was an evolutionary innovation because it was a new anatomical structure that hadn't been available to theropods before, therefore it provided a new means for theropods to process foods and engage in other behaviors that they hadn't had access to up to this point," added Zanno, a researcher at the Field Museum.
She and colleague Peter Makovicky came to that conclusion after collecting dietary data for theropods, a group of two-footed dinos colloquially known as "predatory" dinosaurs. The group includes some famous flesh-eaters like Tyrannosaurs rex, which turns out to be a very primitive, old-school dinosaur.
"Carnivory is always rare relative to herbivory in animal communities because food availability becomes more scarce as you move up the food chain," said Zanno. "It takes a ton of plant material to sustain a lot of herbivores and a lot of herbivores to sustain a few carnivores."
Many of T. rex's closest relatives were therefore content with vegetarian fare, according to the scientists. The researchers looked at evidence that included fossilized dinosaur dung, stomach contents, tooth marks, gastric stones and even two dinosaurs locked in the throes of combat. All helped to reveal what theropods ate.
Zanno and Makovicky found nearly two dozen anatomical features that are linked to plant-based diets.
Zanno explained that important traits associated with herbivory are tooth loss, beaks, different tooth shapes (leaf, peg conical), multiple tooth types in one animal, tooth elongation (including rodent-like incisors), and long necks.
The researchers believe beaks evolved at least five times in theropods alone. Other dinosaurs, like ceratopsians and hadrosaurs, had them too.
"The ancestors to birds had teeth as did many early birds, so none of the toothless forms are directly ancestral to birds," Zanno explained.
The researchers conclude that "the ancestor to birds was likely to be at least omnivorous," which raises some interesting questions. For example, the scientists hope to find out if the shift to a more vegetarian diet led to the evolution of four-winged gliding and flight.
Thomas Holtz, director of the Earth, Life and Time Program at the University of Maryland, told Discovery News that he agrees that T. rex was a more primitive dinosaur that "inherited the ancient theropod condition of meat eating," and that many other T. rex relatives were either 100 percent vegetarian or transitioned from eating large prey to eating insects.
The new look at "predatory" dinosaurs also reveals "that the unquestionably carnivorous dromaeosaurid 'raptors' (such as Velociraptor and Deinonychus) evolved from plant-eating ancestors," Holtz added.
Living birds include carnivores, herbivores and omnivores, so their diversity and complexity today appears to be echoed in their distant dinosaur past.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Family of the Week: The Feather-Footed Shrews

This is a group of very interesting insectivores that descend from true shrews, I call them the feather-footed shrews. It is the family Harundopedidae, and all species have oddly-shaped toes on the feet. Most species are found in, or near water, and the toes are flat and feather-shaped. Some species, like Aquambulus, also have long, stiff, whisker-like hairs between the toes that enables them to walk over the surface of the water without sinking in. Most species have long necks, long, sharp muzzles, and large eyes. The ears are relatively small and shrew-like. A few varieties have large, pointy ears, such as Proboscisuncus, Carnosuncus and Platyceps. But despite the size of the ears, all species have very acute hearing. The sense of smell is relatively poor in the aquatic species as it is not needed. Most species hunt by using sight and hearing. The hearing is so acute, that some species are able to hear a fish breathing underwater. The neck is long and flexible, especially in the fishing species, who must dart their head underwater to capture fish. Most species are small and shrewlike, but the largest species stands about 4-feet tall. Most have a tail that is at least as long as the head and body, in some longer than the head and body. Harundopes is the only species that is tailless. The nostrils of these fishing species are placed high up on the muzzle, instead of at the tip, like in the less aquatic species. The nostrils are also able to close shut to keep out the water as they dart their heads in. The diet is primarily insectivorous, but some of the larger species feed also on small vertebrates, eggs, fish, crustaceans, and snails. Most species live near freshwater lakes, rivers and streams, but there are some species that probe the ocean sand, and even one desert-dwelling variety, which the hairs on their feet and the flattened toes allow them to literally skate smoothly over a sandy surface, acting somewhat like snowshoes.

The smallest species in this family is Aquambulus. This is perhaps also the smallest Metazoic mammal. Overall length, including the tail, is less than 4 inches, with the tail being as long as the head and body, and the muzzle being almost 1/3 as long as the head and body. The bone structure is almost entirely made up of air sacs, making this animal incredibly light and bouyant. The feet are club-shaped and the toes are flat and feather-shaped and they have a series of long, stiff hairs between the toes. These stiff hairs, coupled with very soft, fine, downy hair that also grows between the toes, traps in an air bubble, which enables this animal to skim the water's surface without the threat of sinking in or drowning. Just in case, the fur is also fine, profuse and silky, and waterproof, enabling this animal to float back to the surface should they somehow be taken under. This animal has such small ears, that they are almost not visible underneath the thick fur on the head. The fur around the eyes and on the muzzle is the shortest on the animal, and is black in color. This allows them to see through the water for tiny minnows and insects, and possibly for underwater predators. When necessary, these animals can move very quickly over the water's surface to escape danger. Usually retreating to land if need be.

The largest animal in this family is the species of Harundopes. Though they are tailless, they can stand up to 4 feet tall, and weigh about 50 pounds. The legs are long and slender, and the neck is longer than the body, and highly flexible. This animal inhabits areas of a lake where reeds grow abundant, and their unique coloring allows them to stay hidden. The legs are slender enough to resemble the reeds themselves. So, this animal would be almost impossible to detect by potential prey, or even by predators. They are very slow-moving when on the hunt, quietly and patiently stalking underwater prey, and then quickly darting their head into the water to snatch a passing fish. Fish make up most of this animal's diet, but they may also prey on young birds and smaller aquatic mammals, including Aquambulus. The closely related Hemiardea shares much the same hunting features and techniques as Harundopes, but is smaller and has a long tail.

The most remarkable species in this family is Penacodas. This animal is born hairless, blind and deaf, as most species in this family are. But a remarkable thing happens as they mature. They grow large, stiff, whisker-like hairs on their tail, coupled with interwoven soft and silky downy-like fur. These hairs grow backwards, instead of toward the tip of the tail. Once this shrew is ready to leave the nest, much like young spiders do now, they go to a bare branch, tree stump, or anything else that they can capture the wind from with little or no obstacles, and allow the breeze to capture the fur on their tail and carry them off. The long, whiskery hairs hold the downy fur steady and makes a sort of built-in parachute. This can carry these animals for many miles. Once these animals have reached a certain age, these hairs fall completely off. Mature adults are basically featureless. Much like Aquambulus, Penacodas is very small and very light, the bone structure is almost completely made up of air sacs, which allows this animal to weigh less than the wind it's self. Though this species is somewhat larger than Aquambulus.

Because of their smaller size, these animals have many predators. Small species may be eaten by the larger species, or snatched by predatory fish, snakes, lizards and other carnivorous mammals. Larger species may fall prey to Deinognathids, mongooses and predatory bats. Whenever necessary, these animals can move fast and hide quickly. Some shelter in burrows, while others shelter in reed beds, or some in tree hollows. If caught, these animals can bite very hard. Carnosuncus especially has powerful jaws, used for crushing snail shells. They can deliver a very nasty bite! Though that does not always deter a hungry Spathodon or Tamanoa.

Well, tomorrow is my sis's birthday and I will be out all day long. Enjoy your week!