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.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Family of the Week: The "Aqua-Lemurs"

I thought I would do this early this week, so I can remain at work on some of my stories for the UMG Productions site. The family Promonsamiidae is made up of mostly aquatic lemurs. They are not the typical prosimians that we know today, they are a seperately evolved group that came from modern tree shrews that originated on the ground, more often than not inhabiting swampy areas, such as the flooded rainforests of Indonesia. These lemurs are more otter-like in form, with broad, flat muzzles, large, round eyes, and tiny ears. Though like their modern counterparts, some species are tree-dwellers as well. The ears and nostrils of all the aquatic species in this family are capable of closing, and they have a clear nictitating membrane that acts as eye goggles underwater. Some species prefer rivers and fast-flowing streams, however, most of the species in the sub-family Frissinae are oceanic creatures. These animals are excellent swimmers and divers, and move through the water much like modern otters do. The tail is long and flat, the legs are short and both the hands and feet are webbed and tipped with claws. The ears and eyes are both placed at the top of the head, like modern hippos. The teeth are rather small and sharp, fitted for capturing their slippery aquatic prey. The diet is almost strictly carnivorous, except in those species who live in trees, or in Callolemur, which is an omnivore. Favorite prey for these lemurs is fish. But crustaceans like crabs, crayfish and even lobsters may also be taken. In the ocean, octopus and squid are also favored, depending on the species. These animals are slenderly built, with no blubber like in most other marine mammals. Instead the lemurs in this family have a unique feature that no modern prosimian has ever developed, an oil gland under the base of the tail. Before swimming, these lemurs will rub their hands over these glands, and spread the specialized oil over their body. The oil has the same consistency as petroleum jelly, and when rubbed over their thick fur, makes it completely waterproof. These animals are mostly diurnal, but would rarely be seen, as they spend most of their waking hours in the water. Particularly the oceanic species.

Instead of mentioning individual species, I thought I would talk about the different sub-families in this group. The sub-family Promonsamiinae is made up of river-dwelling lemurs. That is, they prefer the rushing river waters. Some inhabit such areas as ponds and lakes as well. These lemurs feed mostly on fish and crayfish, and can easily find them using their sharp eyes underwater. Most species actively swim to hunt for prey, but sometimes they will just sit at the edge of the river or stream and snatch a fish as it swims within reach, usually using their claws to grasp the fish, and carry it in their mouths to an isolated spot to be consumed. Sometimes they will even wade like raccoons, using their hands to feel for prey. Monsamogale also feeds on aquatic insects. These are the smallest members of this family. When roosting or raising young, these lemurs use a cavern under a tree, or a bush, or an abandoned burrow of another animal. When threatened, these lemurs either take to the deepest part of the water, or may climb a tree until the danger passes. Callolemur is the largest land-based species in this family, but it is also less aquatic than other species in this sub-family. This species prefers to live in rocky outcroppings, and feed on bird eggs and fledgelings, as well as grass, berries and lichens. This sub-family has better developed legs, feet and hands than the species in the Frissinae, and still retreat to trees when necessary.

The sub-family Frissinae is made up of mostly oceanic species. One species, Indra, lives in Antarctica, along with Frissa. But unlike Frissa, Indra is not an active swimmer, and cannot get away from Antarctica when winter hits. Instead, it eats whatever it can find during the summer, and stores fat for when winter comes so it can retreat to a burrow and hibernate. It has a much thicker coat than any other species in this family, much thicker than we would see in modern chinchillas. It gathers up moss and fur and builds a warm nest usually 6 feet underground, away from blizzard winds, and settles for the winter. Frissa however spends it's winters away from Antarctica, on warmer, remote islands nearby. The species in this sub-family are deeper divers than their river and lake based relatives are, often capable of diving as far as 2000 feet below the surface. Rhynchocebus is specialized in that it is the only lemur to produce musk from the glands at the base of the tail. the musk is a defensive mechanism, to make it's self seem unsavory to predators. Both Rhynchocebus and Moloja are ambidextrous, that is they can inhabit either rivers or the ocean. Inland specimens of Moloja are also mostly nocturnal, whereas near the coast, they are more active during the day. Most species in this sub-family are characterized by the legs being even more reduced in size than in the Promonsamiinae, more resembling the flippers like we see in seals and sea lions. As a consequence, these animals cannot climb trees at all.

The sub-family Endendrinae are jungle animals that live in the trees. They are not as active leapers as other lemurs are, and usually live at lower levels of the trees than most other lemurs. Some even spend most of their time on or near the ground, but they are also not swimmers, like the other 2 subfamilies. The legs are shorter than in any other tree-climbing lemurs, but they are still fairly good leapers. Unlike any other lemur, the legs are of the same length. They mostly rely on their claws to keep them in the branches, as their hands are not as flexible as in other lemurs. One species, Testudicodas, also has a long, prehensile tail, which is naked for about 1/3 of it's length. The naked portion of it's tail is also coated with a fingernail-like protein, keratin, which provides the roosting animal some degree of protection from tree-clambering predators. It sleeps hanging upside down from it's tail, and folds into a ball, with it's head tucked under it's arms. They have very long, sharp, curved claws that they also use for protection, and a very powerful and painful bite.

Predators of these lemurs are numerous. Deinognathids, vulpemustelids and predatory bats are the most common predators. In the ocean, sea genets and sharks are their major predators. Sometimes snakes like pythons will prey on land or tree dwelling species. Sometimes, they may also be taken by other predatory lemurs, like Bromista and also by caroroos and predatory rats. The claws offer these lemurs some protection, but most of the time, they prefer to swim away from danger. Some species, like those in the Promonsamiinae and Endendrinae will take to trees when danger threatens, as sometimes a predator is determined enough to follow them into the water.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Iridescence in Golden Moles

I added irridescence in some mammals in my Metazoic project. Mostly pteropods. I was told that was not possible in mammals. Though polar bears are probably the closest, or were for a long time. Their fur reflects the colors of their surroundings, which is not the same as irridescence, but the structure of each strand of hair would be about the same. Anyway this feature, according to this article, is possible in mammals, and it does exist.


World's First Iridescent Mammal Discovered

By Jennifer Viegas
Tue Jan 24, 2012 07:00 PM ET

Iridescence -- a lustrous rainbow-like play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves -- has just been detected in the fur of golden moles.

Aside from the “eye shine” of nocturnal mammals, seen when a headlight or flashlight strikes their eyes, the discovery marks the first known instance of iridescence in a mammal. The findings, published in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, reveal yet another surprise: the golden moles are completely blind, so they cannot even see their gorgeous fur.

“It is densely packed and silky, and has an almost metallic, shiny appearance with subtle hints of colors ranging between species from blue to green,” co-author Matthew Shawkey told Discovery News.

Shawkey, an associate professor in the Integrated Bioscience Program at the University of Akron, was first inspired to study golden moles after an undergraduate student of his, Holly Snyder, wrote her honors thesis about iridescence. Snyder is lead author of the paper.

For the study, the scientists pulled hairs from specimens of four golden mole species. Using high tech equipment, such as scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, the researchers analyzed the structure of the hairs, down to their smallest elements.

The researchers determined that the hairs are indeed luminescent. They further discovered that each hair has a flattened shape with reduced cuticular scales that provide a broad and smooth surface for light reflection. The scales form multiple layers of light and dark materials of consistent thickness, very similar to those seen in iridescent beetles.

Optical modeling suggests that the multiple layers act as reflectors that produce color through interference with light. The sensitivity of this mechanism to slight changes in layer thickness and number explains color variability.

What remains a mystery is why blind animals would have such eye-catching fur.

Ancestors of the moles were sighted, so it’s possible that the iridescence is a carryover from those times. “However, the moles have diverged considerably from these ancestors so there had to be some selection pressure other than communication to keep their color intact,” Shawkey said.

Another possibility is that the fur somehow wards off the mole’s sighted predators. But Shawkey said shiny fur “would seem to make them more conspicuous,” doing just the opposite. The moles are not poisonous, so the coloration does not serve as a warning to other animals.

The researchers instead think that iridescence may be a byproduct of the fur’s composition, since the structure also streamlines the mole’s profile and creates less turbulence underground, permitting the animals to move more easily through dirt and sand.

“Many of the nanostructures producing iridescent colors have non-optical properties like enhanced rigidity (think mother of pearl) or enhanced water repellency (such as seen in Morpho butterflies),” Shawkey explained. “In the former case, the color, like in the moles, clearly has no communication function and is a byproduct.”

Iridescence has been around for at least 50 million years, since beetles from that time with the unique coloration have been unearthed. An ancient, iridescent bird feather dating to 40 million years ago has also been documented, as have early shells. Now peacocks, hummingbirds, sunbeam snakes, birds of paradise, the rainbow skink, and many fish flash their iridescence.

Daniel Osorio, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex, has studied iridescence in birds. Surprisingly, one of the most beautiful examples may belong to the common feral pigeon. The pigeon’s neck feathers shift from green to magenta, but often look drab gray to human eyes.

Osorio told Discovery News, “In fact, this gray may be a remarkable and very unusual color to birds that can probably see more colors than us.”

In the future, Shawkey and his team hope to study the phenomenon more, to better understand the function of iridescence in the moles and other species.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Family of the Week: The "Roof Shrews"

The family Subvilliidae is made up of small-sized armored insectivores. Not really shrews, though they have a unique kinship to them. They more resemble modern hedgehogs. Though most, with the exception of Fistulostium, have body armor that somewhat resembles that of armadillos, only far more complex. These are all tiny, nocturnal creatures. All feed on insects, spiders and earthworms, but occasionally will lap up honey and fallen fruit. They are short-legged animals that sleep by day in burrows. The eyes are large and round, but the eyesight is relatively poor. They mostly use hearing and their sense of smell to find food. The nose is large and naked, the ears are small, round and lies close to the head. These animals have long whiskers, like cats, to help them pick up scent particles. They have long claws on their feet, to aid them in digging their roosting burrows. Most species have long tongues with sticky saliva that helps them catch and trap insects. Most species are small, the largest species in this family are those of Palatops, which is about the size of a large chihuahua dog. Rarely would these animals be seen by day. Most of the time, they spend in their burrows sleeping, and only come out when it is dark out.

Armatechinos has the most extensive armor in this family. The armor is very thick and nearly impenetrable. Another close relative, Subvillius, has almost the same effect in it's armor, but it is not as extensive. The armor has almost a 'trapdoor' effect, and has joints that allows it to close tight into it's self, forming an almost complete ball-like fortress against predators. The armor material is made from the same material that makes up our fingernails. In Subvillius, the armor also has bulb-like spikes that offer it added protection from predators.

One variety, Fistulostium, does not have full body armor. Instead it is camouflaged very well. This species lives in the American south, making it's home in the bristles of the largest cacti in the world. Their fur is even a greenish-brown, making them almost impossible to see. Most of their body is covered in dense wool, but they have also developed sharp spines on their back and tail that are just as sharp as the spines on a cactus, and this also offers them added security should they be singled out by a predator. A single 25-foot tall cactus could house a whole community of 200 or more of these little animals. Though they are solitary animals, and make their own burrows in the sides of the cactus, and have little to do with their neighbors outside the breeding season, except for maybe an occasional territorial sqwabble. But the cactus provides these animals with a home, food and water. They feed on insects and even lap up nectar from the flowers these cacti produce, thus pollenating it. These are the smallest members of this family, smaller than most modern shrews, and are capable of getting around by leaping from one cactus thorn to another, much like how lemurs leap from one tree branch to another.

Few predators prowl the Metazoic nights. But among the many predators the species in this family have are mongooses and small deinognathids. Occasionally predatory bats, birds and snakes will also take them if they can find them and capture them. But these animals are not easy prey, as they can quickly disappear in their armor, and even into their burrows.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Family of the Week: the Wiverns

The family Viridae is a family of marsupials that have turned carnivorous. They derived from small, tree-dwelling dasyures. The body form is basically like that of the ancient Miacids, with a few differences. The paws have developed into grasping hands, with large, very sharp claws. The eyes are large, they have naked soles and palms, and several species have prehensile tails. The fur is soft and thick, and covers the body, with the exception of the muzzle and around the eyes. The ears are small and pointed. They are mostly active at night, and are among the few remaining marsupials in the Metazoic that hunt by scent, and recognize territories by marking them with odor. These animals have scent glands in the nude part of their face that they use to rub on branches, and sometimes on plants. These animals are pouncers, and hunt their prey using the same technique that modern cats do. These animals range in size from the size of a large mouse to the size of a St. bernard dog. Most species are insect-eaters, but some eat small vertebrates as well. Larger species, like Imperivia, often hunt animals as big as kangaroos.

One of the most unique species is Volanecator. It is the only fully carnivorous mammal that has a gliding membrane. It is mostly an insect eater, but sometimes adds small lizards and small rodents to it's diet. It is about the size of a flying squirrel, and the gliding membrane covers the areas between the arms and legs and from the back of the legs to the base of the tail. It retracts when the animal is at rest or climbing. It climbs using a series of leaps and jumps.

The largest species in the family is Imperivia. This species is not a tree-dweller like most of the others in this family. Imperivia is a ground-dweller, and hunts larger prey than the other species in this group. Kangaroos, phalangers, lemurs, rodents and even large reptiles make up their menu. Though they are ground-dwellers, these animals will climb trees, or even cross rivers to get at their prey. This animal kills it's prey by capturing it with the forepaws and biting the windpipe shut so the prey cannot breathe, often shaking the prey violently to dig it's canines in more.

The smallest species in this family are in the genus Dumetanguis. Most species are the size of a small house cat, but one is the size of a large mouse, or a small rat. Most of these species have crests on their head and neck, or horse-like manes. The eyes are large, and the ears are small, round and naked. In the smallest species, D. minuare, the tail is lightly haired with short, fine, white hairs, whereas other species have long, well-haired tails. The mouths are big in Dumetanguis, and give the face an almost reptilian appearance. Their mouths open wide so they can take on prey as big as themselves, or sometimes larger.

These animals are mostly active at night, and few other predators are active during the same hours. One species of caroroo roams around at night, and are capable of making a meal of some of the larger species in this family. Smaller species may fall prey to the larger species as well. These animals can defend themselves by using their claws and teeth, which can be effective weapons. Smaller species may also fall prey to snakes, gowannas, and carnivorous bats.