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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

More Genera Changes

Every once in a while I do this. I go back and change some names of some of the genera on my Metazoic checklist. Well, I've been working on that for a bit now, since I printed another prefix and suffix list. I'm really getting to know these terms now! Aside from adding a few new genera and species to the list this past week, I also changed some names, and if you have printed a copy of our most recent checklist, you might want to change these names. So I just wanted to give everyone a headsup on this. Some have been screaming for name changes for a long time! So the names that have been changed are:

Tapimimus is now Tapiemulus
Callichroma is now Anemodryas
Plumipitheca is now Crossodemnus

I had to change these! For one thing, I remember what Metalraptor said about using the name "pithecus" for lemurs and other prosimians. And besides, I think Crossodemnus better fits these varieties of lemurs, whose face and body is full of frills and crests. Hense the new name, which means "tasseled-" or "frilled-upon". I thought it was creative anyway. :) And I found out that Callichroma was already taken. So, I had to change it too. The new name actually means "wind spirit". It too is a lemur, and today, lemurs are often seen as spirits. And I like the sound and feel of "wind spirit", as these lemurs would be fast in today's world.

The Tapimimus is another one I just had to change. The animal is NOT entirely based on Dixon's Tapimus. Same idea, but I wanted to make it it's own animal, an antelope instead of a descendant of rodents. So I felt I had to change the name. The new name actually means "equal to tapirs", even though it is a tiny animal, only the size of a modern tapir's nose! LOL!

Anyway, those are the new changes. I will be updating you all on more as they happen. I'm still hoping to reach 4000 species by Christmas 2012. But if I keep going at the rate I went last night, I should reach that goal by next summer. So, keep your eyes on the ticker on the right side of this page! I update it every time I add new species to the checklist!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Family of the Week: the Metazoic Hyenas

The family Cloacariidae consists of mammals that are mostly scavengers. They rarely hunt their own food, unlike today's hyenas. These animals are not true hyenas, but instead are descended from weasels. The basic body form is unlike modern hyenas, but the lifestyle is much the same. These animals have very long necks and small heads that are completely naked. Their ears are very small and rounded. The eyesight is poor, but the sense of smell very well makes up for it. The olfactory cavity is reminiscent of that of turkey vultures. They can smell rotting flesh from several miles away. The body is not built like hyenas, but instead are longer than they are tall. The legs are short, the tail is long, or at least as long as the head and body. Unlike in modern hyenas, the females of this family do not have a large clitoris. The males' penis is also quite small, and not easily visible underneath all their fur. The feet are a lot like those of dogs, but they are not really built for running. If you can picture it, these are not attractive animals! They are mostly active during the day, when the predators they like to follow are most active. The most remarkable feature of this family is the design of their teeth. It is unlike any other carnivore on Earth. The canines have become rounded and hard as stones, and the carnissals have become fused together to become one very large chomping mechanism useful for crushing bone. Including those of large gigantelopes.

The largest species are in the genus Yaina. This genus also has the widest range in the family. They range from southern Africa to Asia. They stand as high as 8 feet tall, including the head and neck. Their size gives them a better advantage over most other scavengers, and at times, works to scare a predator off it's prey. They are poor runners, and feed on anything they can scavenge. The smallest species is Pallidogale, which are about 2 feet tall, but about 5 feet long. These animals have a short, blunt, rather catlike head, much shorter than in other species in this family. But the jaws are no less powerful. Like modern hyenas, these animals have a bite force of 1500 pounds per square inch.

As adults, the larger species have few or no predators. Pallidogale may be preyed upon by predatory rats, like Monarchomys, or predatory bats and birds. The young of several species may also be taken by predators, such as large viverrids, predatory bats, and even dogs. Snakes and large carnivorous birds are also a threat to the babies. These animals can defend themselves vigorously. They are not "cowardly" as we see modern hyenas as. In fact, they are quite tough, much more like today's wolverines. They can deliver a nasty bite to an attacker, given the chance, using their powerful jaws and bone-crushing teeth.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Family of the Week: The Mongooses and Civets

The family Viverridae is made up of mongooses and civets in the Metazoic. Only these are not like the tiny creatures seen today. This family has a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Rather than be creatures only of the Old World as we know them today, the Metazoic version of these animals have colonized every corner of the Earth. They are still very predatory in nature, many feeding alongside such creatures as Deinognathus and even the Metazoic foxes. The variety in this family is very variable. Some species are tiny, weasel-like animals, though they are much bolder in the Metazoic than they are in the Cenozoic. Some are cat-like in appearance, with long whiskers and retractable claws and a bushy tail. A couple of varieties have even become giant, oceanic predators, and developed flippers in place of legs. One thing that most Metazoic Viverrid species completely lacks is the musk gland that their modern relatives have at the base of their tails. This gland is only still present in Viverra, Deinictis and Ischnonia, but it's effects have been greatly reduced. Instead of spraying their attackers, these animals have become bolder adversaries, and despite their size, are quite feisty in nature. Spraying has become a last resort. In the Metazoic, most species are diurnal, with the exception of Viverra, GenettaLinsang, Civittus and Paragalidia. Most species have large eyes, small, round ears, and long, doglike muzzles. The claws are sharp and curved, like those of a cat. They range in size from the size of a rat, to the size of a small whale. The teeth are long and very sharp, and they often kill their prey by biting and then shaking the prey, more like a dog. The canine teeth are long and straight as needles.

The smallest species in this family are in Deinictis, which are tiny mongooses. Though they do possess the musky gland on the base of their tails, it is rarely used outside of battling others of their own kind. Particularly among mating males. This animal instead has a greater weapon against attackers. They are fast and they can bite hard! The bite usually causes septecemia, or at the very least, a localized infection, which slowly causes the attacker to die or become disabled. Unlike most other Viverrids, these little mongooses attack without much provocation. They are simply fast and furious little creatures. Their diet of insects, mice, small birds and reptiles keeps them active and on their toes. Like today's mongooses, these animals are small and weasel-like in appearance, and also in ferocity!

The largest species in this family is Haliophonia, the giant sea genet. Though it is not a true genet, it is a descendant of the Metazoic river genet (Cleochareia), which is a much smaller animal that took to the water in the early Metazoic, getting most of it's genes from the modern fishing genet (Osbornictis), except that it took it's talent a step further and began actually swimming after fish and crabs. Haliophonia is the ending masterpiece of aquatic Viverrid creation. It does not have very well formed legs, but rather flippers. Though the forelimbs still have paws and even retractable claws. These animals grow to a full adult size of around 45 feet. The tail has become a long, paddle-shaped appendage, which aids in propelling this animal through the water. The fur is short, but very soft. These animals feed on meat, and lots of it. Besides fish and squids, Haliophonia also feeds on sea birds and mammals. Common victims of the giant sea genet include Rhynchocebus, ThalictisChamenius and Natopterus, as well as numerous seal species and birds. As seen in modern leopard seals, the giant sea genet tears larger prey animals into small chunks by slamming the body against the water's surface. This is often the case for Chamenius, Rhynchocebus, Thalictis and smaller seals. Small prey, like Natopterus, is simply swallowed whole. In one sitting, the giant sea genet may take as many as 20 Natopterus.

The largest land-based viverrid in the Metazoic is Tarboailurus. This is essentially a giant, saber-toothed mongoose. The teeth are large and strong, growing to a size of about 12 inches. The claws are retractable, the tail is long and stiff for balance. This giant mongoose often makes huge leaps onto the back of it's prey. The long, stiff tail aids in this maneuver. Single-handedly, Tarboailurus can bring down prey the size of a gigantelope. But they usually prefer smaller prey. Tarboailurus, and it's smaller counterpart, Cynocephalogale, are the only viverrids that have this stiff tail. But while Cynocephalogale may hunt in packs, Tarboailurus works alone. Both varieties are extremely fast animals, but their main hunting strategy is the long stalk and a quick pounce. Tarboailurus is so tough, most of the time, even Deinognathus stays out of it's way!

Though the largest examples of this family may not have any predators as adults, the smaller species are often victimized by any species large enough to kill them. This includes foxes, cats, predatory rats, deinognathids, predatory bats and birds, large reptiles, and even larger viverrids.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Family of the Week: the Lily-Walkers

The family Jacanatheriidae is made up of tiny mammals that are closely related to the small Deinognathids, namely Feresetta. The family was originally named Olodactylidae, but I thought Jacanatheriidae was a name to better describe the physical features of this family. This is one of few cases I have where I didn't name the family after the original genus I thought up, but preferred the more descriptive name. These little trelatebrates are very much like today's jacana birds. Their bone structure is mostly made up of air sacs, making these mammals lighter than they appear. They have long necks and the body is covered in thick, woolly fur. The fur is thicker than it is in modern cats, and aids in keeping the animal afloat if it should fall in the water. The tail is usually long and counterbalances the head and neck. The eyes are large and almond-shaped and placed in the front of the face. The ears are small, diamond-shaped and have a furry backside and naked in front. The arms are almost non-existent and generally covered up by the thick fur, but the fingers are long and slender and are about the only things visible from the forelimbs. The hind legs however, are their most remarkable features. The legs are long and slender, the toes are oversized and arrow-shaped. The tips of their toes are flattened to help them stay buoyant. The oversized toes enable these animals to move easily over aquatic plants, like lilypads and hyacinth. The toes are very flexible and capable of forming to whatever it is the animal is standing on. These animals live their lives among the water plants. This is where they eat, sleep, mate, and give birth and raise their young. So these animals prefer to live in swampy areas where there is a heavy covering of plants on the surface. These animals almost never set foot on dry land. They are mostly small animals and very light-weight. No species is over 10 inches tall, with the neck fully extended, or weighs more than a pound. They are carnivorous, the diet consists mainly of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and insects. Most hunt like herons, darting their heads into the water to capture their prey. But slow-moving prey, like snails or slugs, they simply reach into the water with their jaws and snatch it up. Most species are usually only social during the breeding season, or they may live in couples.

The largest species in this group is Xescophotus. It is also the only species that has a totally naked head and neck. They also have fleshy "wattles" on the upper jaw and chin areas. During the breeding season, the males' flesh turns from charcoal black to bright pink, and the wattles turn bright red and purple. The females are highly turned-on by this dramatic change in clothing. But after the breeding season, the males' flesh goes back to a dull charcoal black color. After they have mated, males and females may go their separate ways.

Ziphidromas is also a unique species in that it has the longest muzzle, in proportion to it's size than any other species. The nostrils of this animal are also placed higher on the muzzle than any other species in this family. When this animal hunts, it feels under the water's surface with it's highly-sensitive muzzle. It can stand motionless for hours on end, waiting for the muzzle tip to feel a fish pass by. Then they quickly shut their jaws on the hapless fish and bring it to the surface to be consumed. Ziphidromas is one of few species in this family to live in groups of more than 4 individuals.

Female jacanatheriids give birth to several fawns, usually no more than 4 at a time. She will usually give birth on a lily pad, most of the time it is one that is shady, and well away from any others in her herd. She gives birth very quickly, almost one right after another. The fawns then take refuge on the mother's belly, clinging to her thick fur. This also allows them to suckle, and if the mother has to leap into the water to avoid danger, the fur on the belly stores enough air for the fawns to still breathe until the danger passes. Often all that is visible of the babies are the long toes dangling from the mother's belly. The color of the fawns is determined by the color of the mother's belly. But most of their fawns are born with stripes or spots on the body, which fade away with age.

Predators of jacanatheriids are plenty, especially predatory bats, snakes, mongooses, predatory birds, deinognathids, caroroos, large, predatory fish, and almost any other predator, large or small, that can wade into the water to get at them. The lily-walkers usually dip into the water to avoid danger, and can stay submerged for up to 5 minutes until the danger passes. For underwater predators like fish, these animals usually leap onto a branch or hide in the reeds to avoid them. They can move very fast, in spite of their long toes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family of the Week: The Auddar and Allies

This is a small group of mammals. The family Pelargidae consists of bipedal creatures that are found in or near the water. The lifestyle of these mammals somewhat paralells that of modern storks or cranes. They are descended from the Deinognathid subfamily of pervadines. The muzzle is long and narrow. The neck is long and flexible. The ears are more rounded than in the pervadines. The index fingers are long and more narrow than in the pervadines, and there is absolutely no webbing on the hands at all. There is only very rudimentary webbing on the feet. The eyes are placed on the top of the head, and the nostrils are set close to the base of the eyes. The tail is relatively short. The body is also rather short, and the legs are long. They are predatory animals, usually feeding on fish, or any other kinds of small prey they can find and fit into their mouths. They are diurnal animals, and they spend their nights roosting in trees. Most species stand as high as 3 feet tall, but the largest species in the family stands 5 feet tall.

The largest species is in the genus Euphuia. These larger animals feed on anything from fish to frogs and small mammals. The teeth are very sharp to easily grasp their slippery, struggling prey. They prefer to remain in a quiet corner, where they can stay concealed by thick vegetation, and snatch prey by surprise. Prey is usually swallowed whole.

The most unusual species are in Anoicostomus. These animals have mouths that do not close all the way. This allows the sensitive tongue in the water for long periods to feel for prey. They hunt by walking slowly with the tip of their muzzle dipped in the water. When they feel something that feels like prey, they dart their head into the water enough to grasp the prey in their sharp teeth.

Predators of this family include predatory bats, snakes, crocodiles, Deinognathids and Viverrids. They can use their sharp teeth as defensive weapons, or they duck underwater until the danger passes. They are capable of staying submerged for as long as 8 minutes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Family of the Week: The Carnivorous Sinecrus

The family Ephodozoidae is a small group of sinecrus, generally small in size. They are equipped with long, curved, sharp claws and sharp, serrated teeth. Their lifestyle is a lot like those of crocodiles. They stay submerged in the water until it is about time for them to pounce. Like crocodiles, they wait for an animal to come to the edge of the river to drink. At which time, these animals suddenly lunge out of the water, grabbing their victim usually by the head and neck, and then drag them under the water. The prey either dies by the crushing power of these animals' jaws, or they simply drown. Like crocodiles, these animals tear off large chunks of their prey and swollow it whole. This family of sinecrus usually inhabits rivers, estuaries and often lagoons. Like most animals that live near saltwater areas, these animals are capable of drinking seawater with no problems. The forelegs are very well developed, but the rear legs have been completely reduced to flippers. It is the long, flat tail however that propells the animals through the water. The eyes are large and placed on top of their heads. The nostrils are also placed on top of the muzzle. This helps minimize exposure. There are no external ears. When traveling on land, they use their forelegs to pull themselves. These sinecrus are meat-eaters, and their prey often consists of ungulates and cryptopters. The size of the species in this family range from 3 feet long to about 5 feet long, with the tail being as long as the head and body. These are mostly diurnal animals.

The most land-based species is Ephodozous. This is a rather small species that prefers to inhabit rivers, and often captures their prey while on land, where it then proceeds to drag their prey into the water. Despite their size, they are no less powerful animals. They can drag under a 200-pound struggling cryptopter easily. The smallest species in this family is Selatopoocetes, which is a lot more aquatic, and every bit as powerful.

The largest species in this family is Agriopetes. This is a relatively large animal that prefers to inhabit lagoons, usually in small groups. They also hunt larger prey, and even include fish in their diet. This species spends a lot less time traveling on land, and usually prefer the safety of the water.

Though these animals are themselves voracious carnivores, they also have their own predators to contend with. Small animals like Selatopoocetes, are sometimes preyed upon by predatory bats like Cercomoloch. Larger species like Agriopetes, may be taken sometimes by sharks, or preyed upon by other members of their clan.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Family of the Week: The Terasols

The family Terrosaltidae is made up of rather large, slender animals. The family is a descendant of the mongooses. Most species are quadrupeds, but Piscatoris hunts, standing bipedally for long periods in water, though on land, it is a quadruped. The head is long, with a long, pointy muzzle. The ears of these animals are small and round. The tail is long, usually as long as the head and body. The neck is long and slender. The fur is rather dense and harsh. They have sharp teeth and retractable claws. Though in Piscatoris, the claws are not retractable, and are much larger than they are in other species in this family. These animals are not really runners, but stalkers. They prey on almost anything they can overpower. Most species in this family are solitary hunters that prefer to hunt at night or in the late evenings. They rely mostly on sight when hunting, but they also use their relatively weak, but effective, sense of smell. Most species are relatively uniform in size.

The lightest species in this family belong in Cursotheria. Unlike the other species, this genus run more when in persuit of prey. As a result, they are better hunters than other species, which scavenge as much as they hunt. Much like today's cheetah, these animals start their hunt with a short stalk, and then a short, sprinting chase, which can last for the length of 3 football fields. The legs of these animals are long and slender, the feet are very streamlined, almost hoof-like. They are specially designed to hunt such animals as antelope and deer.

Piscatoris is the only semi-bipedal animal in this family. But they only walk on 2 legs when they are wading in the water. Their diet consists mostly of fish, but also some large river crabs, and large salamanders are consumed as well. The forepaws are designed like hands, with long, curved, sharp claws. They also have fleshy, ball-shaped pads on the tips of their fingers, which is bare, and harsh like sand paper. This allows them to grab fish without the fish having a chance to slip away. These curved claws are not really present on the rear feet. The rear feet in fact, are webbed. These animals are really slender, and when standing bipedally, they can tower over 6 feet tall. Their tail is long and stiff, unlike other species in this family. The brows over their eyes jut out further than in most other mammals, which acts like sunglasses, and makes it easier for them to see the fish they are trying to grasp. Despite their fisherman habits, these animals are only average swimmers.

The largest in this family is Imperator, which is about 12 feet long from nose to tail. This genus also scavenges more than other species. The size of this animal is enough to scare off most smaller scavengers. Though not all are intimidated by these creatures. Though like a whole pack of lions, this animal also hunts. But they hunt by stalking, not really running. They prefer to hunt the larger deer and antelope, as well as any other smaller animals they can capture.

These animals are good hunters, but are not immune to being hunted themselves. Deinognathids often hunt these species. Though these animals can very well defend themselves, using their sharp claws and teeth. But larger animals like the big Deinognathids, are undeterred by the weapons of these animals. The young are also vulnerable to attacks by predatory bats, large snakes and even others of their own kind. Females raise their cubs by themselves, and males that come in contact with the cubs will kill and eat them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Speculative Evolution Now Has A Face on Facebook!

Hey all! Finally a page for the subject of speculative evolution has arrived on Facebook! If you have a Facebook, join in! go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Speculative-Evolution/126129224131769. If you don't have a Facebook, get one! You can post pics, videos, discuss topics, invite all your friends to come! But please be respectful, for those sharing ideas and those critiquing. I will continue to keep up this blog, and post new announcements on there as well. As soon as I get settled in my new apartment in Bozeman, I will also be thinking up fun activities. See ya there!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Family of the Week: the Metazoic Moles

The moles of the Metazoic are basically a lot like they are today. The big difference is that the Metazoic mole family Scalprodensidae mostly every species bears tusks, to aid in burrowing underground along with their claws. The body is basically like that of modern moles, the body is longer than it is tall, the forelimbs are wide and the arms are greatly reduced, most of the size being taken up by their enormously large forefeet, with large, curved claws. Most species have no external ears, and the eyes are very small in all genera with the exception of Halioscabus. The hind feet are smaller than the forefeet. The nose is long and flexible, much like the noses of modern elephant shrews. The fur is short and slick. The nostrils have the ability to close tightly to keep the sand and dirt out. The tail is short in most species, and usually well-haired. Most species are subterrestrial animals, spending most of their time underground in burrows. But one species, Halioscabus, is fully aquatic, and lives in the oceans of the World. The range in size for Metazoic moles are about the size of a small mouse to the size of a medium-sized dog. They are carnivorous to some extent.

The largest species of mole in the Metazoic are those in Halioscabus. These are very large, ocean-going moles. Thier large feet are used for swimming, much like the desmans do today. The tail is naked and flat, and is slightly longer than the head and body, and moves in a side-to-side eel-like motion. They have no external ears, and their eyes are larger than in any other moles. These large moles spend most of their time in the water. But when they do come ashore, they move in a rather caterpillar-like motion. These moles however, only come to shore occasionally to breed, rear their young, and once in a while to sun themselves. These moles feed on fish and crabs, and they prefer to eat at the water's surface, rather than drag their prey to land or consume it underwater. These moles are very good at diving and swimming. They are not excessively fast swimmers, and usually use the element of surprise to capture their prey.

The smallest species of Metazoic moles are the species in Soriceus. These are the shrew moles. They are generally about the size of a small mouse, and more resemble shrews than moles. They still have the large-proportioned forefeet that is characteristic of other moles. The eyes are very small, they have no external ears, and one species even has a flat, shovel-like muzzle. The muzzle of this species is rather hard, though not like the beak of a bird. But the muzzle is bony and made to push moist dirt out of their burrows. Like other Metazoic moles, these animals rarely surface. The tail is long and furry, and actually plays no role in digging. These animals are insectivorous, and mostly favor hunting in areas where there is an abundance of ants and termites.

The largest land-based species are those of Psammonarus. These are called the sand-sharks or sometimes known as "gibblers". These are highly-aggressive moles that make their homes in the desert and arid regions. As one of their names imply, these animals do indeed behave like they are miniature sharks that live in the sand. If humans were around in the Metazoic, any one unfortunate enough that would encounter one of these moles would have to be careful, as these animals are small, desert-dwelling pit bulls that would literally snatch a person's toes off, biting down and holding tight with their powerful jaws, and spinning in a sort of "death roll" until they rip the flesh and bone off. The animal then proceeds to burrow away with their prize, to finish feeding on it. Most of the time, their prey consists of small animals and insects that happen to stumble where the mole is lying in wait. Insects, small mammals, lizards, snakes, birds, any animal is fair game, and often even large animals that walk anywhere within inches of the waiting mole will get their toes bitten off too. These moles do not bear tusks, but they do have sharp teeth that are capable of tearing easily through flesh. Their eyes are round and small, the head is large and blunt, the fur is short and soft, they have long claws, the mouth opens as wide as the head. They have no external ears. The tail is about half the length of the body and is well haired. They are not good walkers, but they are excellent, very fast burrowers.

Despite the fact that these animals are small predators themselves that live and burrow underground, they themselves fall prey to even larger predators. Any carnivorous mammals that can dig them out will eat moles. Snakes are also major predators. There is one variety of Metazoic "mole boa" that is blind, but is specialized in following these animals through their burrows, capturing and constricting them to death for food. Sometimes, predatory birds and bats will take moles who surface. Carnivorous pteropods sometimes will swoop and land down on a mole before it hits the surface.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family of the Week: The Armored Shrews

OK, so these are not really shrews, but they do derive from them. The family Armigeridae consists of medium to large omnivorous mammals that have developed armor of one kind or another as protection from predators. Some species have armadillo-like armor, while others are covered in spines or spikes, and one species has flexible plates that creates a sort of alarm call to alert others in their pack of impending danger. Most species are covered with fine hair on the head and undersides, while the upperparts and neck is covered with hard, nearly impenetrable armor. The eyes and ears are small, and almost absent in some species. But the hearing and eyesight are superb. They create large burrows for themselves underground, and are equipped with long, sharp claws to handle the job of excavating their dens. Often the abandoned dens are used by other animals as well. The tail is as long as the head and body in these animals and is sometimes used for defense in some species. The nose is flat, much like a pig's snout. The body is stocky and legs are short, these are not fast runners at all.

The species with the largest ears is Cuniculatus, which is about 5 feet long, from nose to tail tip. They inhabit rather dry areas and the ears act as a sort of cooling agent. Like elephants, the ears flap back and forth constantly to fan the head and circulate air around the body. The armor of this species is restricted to the back side and between the ears. This prevents attack from predators grabbing them from the rear. The tail of this species is not exactly designed for defense. It is rather small, and well-haired. Usually it is tucked under the body when in defensive posture. This animal does have large claws, which as well as being great for digging it's burrow, can be used as defensive weapons against predators. The large ears also help make this animal appear bigger than they are, which can scare off most predators. These animals feed on a variety of small animals and grass.

The largest species belongs to Testudostrigla. This animal is 11 feet long from nose to tail tip. The ears are so small, they are almost invisible underneath the head armor. The armor completely covers the upperparts of this animal. The claws are huge, and sharp, very efficient defensive weapons, as well as useful for burrying themselves in the sand to keep cool. These animals rarely drink water, but when some water is available, they do not hesitate to grab a sip or two. The fur on the body is short and lies smooth. It covers all the underparts of the animal, and the face. The crown that towers over the eyes and ears also has small, sharp, hornlike projectiles that act as sparring devices during the mating season. These animals feed on a wide variety of small vertebrates, insects, as well as tubers, grasses, and what ever they can find. They are one of few mammals in the Metazoic that is more active at night than during the day. But even so, the eyes are still rather small, even though their eyesight is as good as our own.

The most interesting species belong to Crotalonotus. These are large mammals, about 6-8 feet long, with small ears, large eyes, and unusual armor on the back. The armor is almost useless for protection, as it is made up of loose plates. Instead, this armor offers the animal the ability to warn all others of their kind with a makeshift alarm. This alarm can sound relative to that of a rattlesnake. It is made using special muscles in the back that moves each plate individually, at high speeds. This causes the plates to rub against each other to make this sound. The more terrified the animal is, the faster the plates rattle. These are also the fastest runners in this family. They rely on speed and their burrows to keep them safe from predators. But if one is cornered, it can use it's sharp tusks and claws to deter a predator, and these can be savage weaponary attacks!

Though these species are omnivores, they are not without predators. Deinognathids are among their worst threats, as are mongooses and predatory bats. A large Deinognathid can easily crush the armor of these animals. Smaller deinognathids and mongooses have to flip the victims over and tear into the soft underbelly. But these large shrews are also quite quick to roll into a hard ball, or lie flat on the ground, acting as their own impermeable fortress.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Family of the Week: The Parasitic Shrews

This is a highly unusual family of mammals. They very closely resemble the true shrews that are around today. However, their lifestyle is very different from what we know of modern shrews. They are small animals, equipped with sharp teeth, and claws that are longer and more curved than they are in modern shrews. The eyes are somewhat larger. The ears in most species are small and round, as they are in modern shrews. The body is rather elongate, and the legs are short. The tail in most species is mouselike, covered in mostly very fine hair. They are diurnal animals and found mostly in bushy areas, where they have access to bower rat nests. The reason being is because these shrews are parasites of bower rats. Much like today's cuckoo birds, these shrews slip into the nests of bower rats and eat the newborn baby rats, and replace them with their own babies, to be raised unwittingly by the parent rats. The saliva of these shrews is specially designed to mimic the scent of the baby rodents as she cleans the babies up from their birthing sac, so they would in no way be detected as foreign babies to the parents. The shrews usually have about 4-5 babies in a birthing season. The mother shrew will sneak into the birthing cavern of a bower rat nest while the parents are away, have her babies, then eat 4 or 5 of the baby rats (depending entirely on how many babies she births), and move on, never to see her own babies again. These shrews are also designed to have their entire brood in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes or hours. This way, the entire parasitic process takes no more than a minute. Plenty of time for her to complete before she is detected by the bower rats.

Each particular species of these shrews uses a specific variety of bower rat as their host, depending on their range. Their birthing season coincides with that of the bower rat family, as does hours of activity. Aside from eating bower rat pups, these shrews are insectivorous. Despite the fact that these shrews do eat the baby rats, they do not feed on the adults. And only the females feed on the babies. Males are purely insect eaters. Favorite foods include earthworms, spiders, insects, grubs, scorpions, and centipedes. Night time is spent in an underground burrow. Outside of the breeding season, these shrews are strictly solitary animals. They are rather elusive animals that crawl along in the forest underbrush.

Because of their small size, these animals have numerous predators. Snakes, predatory bats and birds, mongooses, weasels, dogs, Deinognathids, and even larger shrews like some of the species of feather-footed shrews, will take these animals. They are sometimes even victimized by angry bower rat parents, who would kill them onsite, but not necessarily eat them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Family of the Week: The Metazoic Tenrecs

The Metazoic family of tenrecs is basically an offshoot of today's tenrec family. Only I have renamed it Centetidae. The modern family of tenrecs goes to 20 million years in the Metazoic, and then this family takes over. They are basically small, and only a few have spines, like hedgehogs. All species have tails, but the length varies from one species to another. The feet are like those of modern tenrecs and are equipped with claws that are sharp and curved. One species even has retractable claws, which they use for climbing trees. These animals are insectivores, but prey up to the size of small rodents can be taken. Most species are diurnal, but there are some that retains their ancient nocturnal habits. Habitat varies by species. Some live in burrows, some even live in caves. Some are tree dwellers, and some inhabit watery areas. They are equipped with sharp teeth, which in some cases can be used for defense. But most of the time, they are simply quick movers in the underbrush. Some species have larger eyes than others in proportion to their body size. The ears are small and round, and in most cases lies very close to their heads. All tenrecs are solitary animals except during the breeding season. Unlike today, no species of tenrec in the Metazoic is found outside of Madagascar.

The largest, and perhaps the most remarkable species, are in the genus Scelestus. These animals are very much unlike other tenrecs. They have some of the largest species in the family, being quite bigger than an average house cat. These tenrecs have no spines, although they do have some whisker-like hairs on the back. The tail is long, but not prehensile. The ears are triangular-shaped and very mobile, unlike other tenrecs in this age. The eyes are large and round, and face foreward, more like modern primates. The claws are retractable, like a cat's claws, and are used in climbing trees. Unlike other tenrecs, these animals spend almost all their lives in trees, rather than on the ground. Their purpose? To find grubs and other tree-dwelling insects. Formerly, their role was played by the Aye-aye, of which none survives the great extinction event that separates the age of man from the Metazoic. Their tail acts as a balancing rod as these animals scamper quickly through the branches. These animals have a mixed diet of insects, small animals, eggs, and fruits. Though any plant matter is simply a supplement to their diet, their daily intake consists mostly of insects and grubs.

Another amazing metazoic tenrec is Aletogale. This is a small tenrec, about the size of a rat, with a long, flat tail and webbed feet. They are fully aquatic. They have large eyes that enables them to see in murky water, the fingers on the front flippers are long, and tipped with sharp claws. This enables them to grasp prey such as shrimp. The ears are almost non-existent externally. The fur is soft and designed to trap air pockets. The nostrils are capable of opening and closing as the animal rises and descends. They are excellent swimmers, and capable of chasing small fish underwater. Also a part of their diet is aquatic insects, crabs and mollusks. Especially favored is a species of Metazoic aquatic worm that fastens it's self to rocks on the river floor, and feeds on microscopic creatures by way of tentacles that they spread out of their heads. These are a delicasy for these tenrecs. These animals spend very little time out of the water, except when feeding. The time they do spend out of the water, they are very cautious and alert, and usually prefer to hide in the underbrush. At night, these animals retire to an underground burrow, of which the enterance is accessed underwater.

The smallest species of tenrec in the Metazoic is Nebulatus, which is the size of a small mouse. They are also cave dwellers. Almost all their lives is spent in caves. They have sharp, curved claws for climbing the cave walls after insects and arachnids. The rear legs are slightly longer than the forelegs for leaping. The eyes are rather small, but the eyesight is still rather good. Not best though. They rely more on hearing and their sense of smell in finding prey. All in all, this is a rather mouselike tenrec. They have no spines or any other protection other than the darkness of their home. They almost never leave the caves.

Another remarkable tenrec in the Metazoic is Armatura. This tenrec has no spines, no harsh fur or irritating hairs, instead, they have armor. Not too different than what is seen in armadillos. But the armor is not visible externally, as it is under a layer of flesh and fur. These animals do not roll into a ball when threatened like armadillos do. But the armor they do have is designed to handle the pressure of all but the largest predator in their range. This is a rather large tenrec, slightly smaller than a house cat. They are not quick runners like most other tenrecs are, and they do not swim very well, nor climb trees. They rely almost entirely on their armor plates for protection. At night, they do retreat to underground burrows. Their eyes are larger than those of modern tenrecs, in proportion to their body size. The tail is long, and largely unarmored. Though it is scaly like the tail of a rat, and hairless.

The diet of most tenrecs consist mostly of insects. They need not eat every few hours like shrews, and find their prey either by digging in the ground, or pulling bark from fallen trees, or even searching in piles of dung laid down by larger animals for beetles. Tenrecs however are not without their own breed of enemies. Mongooses are probably their worst threats of all, as are predatory bats and birds. Snakes will also take their toll, and crocodiles will also feed on them. Ground dwelling tenrecs often live side-by-side with some ground dwelling lemurs. Centetes is a medium-sized, rabbit-like tenrec, that often shares underground burrows with the ground-dwelling, burrowing Indriid lemur, Geopropithecus. The tenrec relies on the more alert lemur, whose hearing is better than that of the tenrec's, for protection against predators. When alarmed, the lemur has a distinctive sneezing-type call that all inhabitants of their burrow quickly respond to, lemur and tenrec alike.