The Successors of the Mankind
The world after the sixth extinction
3. The global wasteland – the world after
5. The period of ecosystems recovery
6. The returning of biological diversity
By the end of XX century in sci-fi literature a special genre
– speculative biology – had gradually formed. Books of the given subject represent
an original fusion of biological sciences and fantastic situations where they
are applied. Evolution of wildlife in the future, flora and fauna of alien planets,
unknown and potentially non-discovering creatures of ancient geological epochs,
alternative paths of evolution of life – these are examples of topics covered
by “speculative biology” concept. Separate elements of this literary genre may
be met in science fiction literature of the past, but the birth of speculative
biology as such falls to the end of XX century: in 1981 the first edition of
the book “After Man: a Zoology of the Future” written by Scottish
paleontologist Dougal Dixon. It was followed by “New Dinosaurs. An Alternative
Evolution” (1988) and “Man after Man” (1990). These
books, and also full-length TV series and book “The Future is Wild”
(2003), entirely dedicated to the evolution of live creatures in fantastic situations,
have determined the basic directions of this genre and became an example for
imitation, having inspired numerous people worldwide to create diverse projects
existing in virtual space of Internet or (alas, much less often) as books. The
significant part of such projects tells about evolution and possible shape of
animals and plants – no matter, terrestrial or alien ones. But there are also
such ones, which are dedicated to possibilities of evolution of only one species
of live creatures – one, to which all persons reading now these lines belong.
The theme of human evolution carried a burden of certain kind of taboo. The idea on relationship of human and animals in various times had been considered as inadmissible and even blasphemous – mainly, due to efforts of clergy, which financial situation till now directly depends on number of people recognizing as a “golden truth” holy scriptures having some thousand years of age. According to these primary sources human had been declared as a similarity of Supreme (or Only at all) Deity, and any conversations on opportunities of its change were stopped – also by efforts of the retaliatory bodies, submitting to clergy or simply finishing the work begun by ministers of religion. Nevertheless, the epoch of domination of religious doctrines could not proceed eternally, and in due course of development of science in its modern look the place of humans in the nature system, and their subordination to laws of evolution common for all live organisms were gradually identified.
The evolution theory formulated by Charles Darwin and independently from him by Alfred Russel Wallace had caused ambiguous reaction in community – from enthusiastic acceptance up to aggressive rejection. And under its influence various authors in different time addressed to a theme of the future of human race in their books.
One of the first literary works where visions of possible appearance of people of the far future are described was Herbert George Wells’ book “The Time Machine” (1895, revised from the short story “The Chronic Argonauts” (1888)). Having departed to the far future by means of Time Masine, the hero of this novel has found out that the mankind has diverged into two races – gracile and refined Eloi and beast-like Morlocks. Driving force of this split of human species, according the author’s opinion, was strict social stratification of human society, expanded in due course up to the level of interspecific distinctions. Less known episode of this book removed from its first editions tells about an encounter of the book hero with human descendants from farther future – they were small rabbit-like creatures hunted by giant centipedes. Wells is not the first person stated the idea of human degeneration into an animal condition: before him, English satirist writer Jonathan Swift already did it. In well-known “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726-1727) he describes a wonderful island inhabited by intelligent Houyhnhnm horses and apelike Yahoo creatures, in which the former people, which have lost power of speech, but kept all vices inherent in human society to the full, are guessed. But if the idea of human degeneration at Swift was simply a satirical method, in Wells’ novel it is a part of the main storyline.
Yahoo from Jonathan Swift's “Gulliver’s Travels”
Olaf Stapledon’s novel “Last and First Men: A Story
of the Near and Far Future” (1930) depicts a majestic sequence of eighteen
human species replacing each other during two billions years. During this time,
people colonize Venus and other planets of Solar system and undertake attempts
to go to far space, evolving simultaneously and changing themselves in artificial
way. In this respect, the book looks too fantastic, but the reader must keep
in mind a period of writing of the novel. At that time people did not know principles
of formation of an organism in due course of onthogenesis; therefore human being
in Stapledon’s novel appeared something like “plasticine”, when even the basal
body plan of a vertebrate varied in the most fantastical forms. Eighteenth people
in the novel are giants living at the Neptune and having five eyes and skin
of the most various color shades, practising ritual cannibalism and capable
to mind reading. In Stapledon’s book people of various species use genetic modification
for creation of new forms of mankind, and the idea of degradation of every new
humankind into beastlike species filling various ecological niches in their
new world frequently repeats (as a rule, it takes place after the next resettlement
to another planet of Solar system).
Publishing of Dougal Dixon’s books became a landmark event in development of speculative biology genre. First of them was “After Man: A Zoology of the Future”. There is no place to humans in it, and as the reasons of civilization collapse increased human dependence on technologies and exhaustion of natural resources are specified, which had been followed by crash of civilization. After the publishing of this book in 1981 at the request of “Omni” magazine Dixon had stated his vision of human evolution in the far future. Article “Visions of Man Evolved” with his reasonings was published in “Omni” magazine #11/1982. There future man is represented as a creature of terrible shape – a freaky creature with huge brain and withered body enclothed in a kind of biological survival suit supplied with cloned internal organs, powerful additional limbs and strange leaves for solar energy catching. “Man millions years hence will be a pathetic bundle of withered organs and limbs. Dixon predicts: “He’ll have a shriveled, useless body and paralyzed legs, with only the sex and sense organs intact.” Yet his brain will have flourished and grown. Ten times heavier than the rest of the body, it will provide him with psychic powers and enough intelligence to persist.” - it is said so in this article about the appearance of the human being in the far future.
Later, Dixon had returned to this theme and had submitted to attention of readers a book “Man After Man. An Anthropology of the Future” (1990). This book is less fantastic, than magazine article, but all the same there is a room for the inexplicable phenomena – people descendants described in this book use telepathy and clairvoyance in their life. Besides the book is obviously constructed according the principle “Let’s mould from human being a monkey (fish, bear, sloth, etc.).” Author has sought the help of artificial modifications of human body by means of genetic manipulations as an allmighty “deus ex machina”. On a plot of the book, this reception was widely used by intelligent descendants of people for breeding of human forms adapted to new habitats. But further, in due course of degradation and collapse of hi-tech civilization on the Earth, new forms appear left to themselves and turn under the effect of natural selection to new species of people. It will be hardly fair to regard as a separate human species freakish vacuumorph (Homo caelestis) described by Dixon: each individual of these creatures represents a product of work of surgeons and “is constructed” of separately cloned “spare parts”. Consequently, such “species” is not able to self-reproducing. Questions to a plot of the book are not limited to this remark: people were viewed there in isolation from other inhabitants of the Earth, which also should evolve and occupy their ecological niches. The described forms of people are shown outside of natural communities, without any connections with other creatures living nearby. Dixon himself, by the way, estimates this book as not the most successful creation, and in correspondence with the author of these lines has mentioned that he does not wish to work with it anymore, and does not want to see it translated to other languages.
It is necessary to mention in the list of books about the evolution of humans in the future Stephen Baxter’s “Evolution” novel (2003). In this book the reader as if travels together with the author along the history of man, his ancestors and descendants: from tiny Purgatorius, the ancestor of primates, through fossil lemurs, monkeys, apes and people to the human of modern type and further to the strange descendants of people lacking intelligence. In each chapters author notes, what human features have appeared at one or another stage of evolution in a sequence of our ancestors – how the perception of the world changes, how brain works, what anatomic features advance one or another ancestor one step forward to modern human. The starting moment in mankind’s degradation becomes a catastrophic eruption of Rabaul volcano in Indonesia. The technological civilization collapses, and in one part of the book last people of modern species after the wake up after long “cold sleep” in special storehouse meet the first descendants of intelligent people which have followed the way of degradation – creatures of Australopithecus level of development. And the last of people descendants live already on the dying Earth – on vast spaces of New Pangea supercontinent under beams of the Sun gradually turning to red giant. As against Dixon, Baxter shows us the life of human descendants in their natural habitat – interacting with each other, predators and peaceful neighbours from other groups of animals and plants. Many creatures from Baxter’s book were born obviously under influence of Dougal Dixon’s works: these are the descendants of rabbits becoming analogues of ungulates, duckbill goats with corneous cover on jaws, and also ruthless uniquitous predatory rats. Author describes various forms of interaction of human descendants with a nature, and on a plot of the book one of their kinds has turned actually to beef cattle of monstrous mouseraptors – dinosaur-looking descendants of mice.
Book “All Tomorrows” (2008) by C. M. Cosemen (aka Nemo Ramjet) differs in really cosmic scales of action. The narration begins from the split of mankind to Earth and Martian ones, and further readers witness the majestic view of human expansion in the Galaxy. But here the evolution of humans passes at participation of outside intelligent force. In the book the role of “deus ex machina” is appointed to alien Qu race, which uses the richest knowledge in the field of genetic engineering partly for updating people according to their own representations about richness of life, and partly for revenge to mankind for rebelliousness and attempts of resistance to will of space aggressors. This circumstance explains the occurrence in this book of freakish descendants of people with combinations of features which could hardly appear in natural way. Human descendants modified by Qu race and abandoned to their fate evolve on various planets and get freakish and sometimes even frightening appearance. However it is not told in the book why the Earth, the house of mankind, has become uninhabited. However, the expedition found it had hardly understood that it is a lost home of mankind – because from the moment of settling of people in the Galaxy 560 million years had passed.
Reading these and other works telling about the possible future of mankind, it is possible to found ourselves thinking, that reasonings of this sort are perceived somehow differently compared to the story about possible shape of modern day dinosaurs based on an assumption that they have not become extinct at the end of Cretaceous (D. Dixon’s book “New Dinosaurs” and online “Spec” project), or about the evolution of descendants of well-known canary introduced to far terraformed planet (in Internet there is an interesting “Serina” project about it). Probably, a kind of non-admission of the theme of human evolution in the future is connected to the matter that a biological species which also includes us is in focus. Therefore, talking about evolutionary descendants of people will mean that we had to talk also about our own children. And who would want to wish bad future to his children? The situation resembles a little those improvised online tests offered at some entertaining sites: it is pleasant for everybody to appear a descendant of medieval landlords, princes and barons, but people overlook for some reason, that the majority of the population of far Middle Ages was lackeys, peasants and other ignoble people. Our vanity is flattered with an idea on our descendants as on super-race of creators, pathbreakers and creators of the majestic future. But the probability of such course of events is, unfortunately, much less, than of any less entertaining outcome – for example, of new Middle Ages, totalitary or fascist society, or devolving to the Stone Age with the subsequent turning wild up to beast-like condition at all. Besides nobody has a might to predict exactly, what will take place in a particular place after some millions years – because now even weather forecasts for the next days is not always as exat as we want. However it does not mean that is not necessary even to try to do it. We have, at least, some initial data nevertheless, and it is possible to try to draw some cautious conclusions on their basis.
Yes, we want only the good future for our children. But it will not be superfluous to remind them of what it is necessary to be careful, and to tell about consequences of wrong actions. We try to pull up our children, when they come too close to unfriendly behaving dog, play carelessly with a piece of glass or wade in unknown water. Therefore it is better to be limited to an angry tirade and a slight cuff on the nape, than to disentangle consequences of more significant acts made thoughtlessly and precipitately. Therefore I ask you to regard this book as something like a speech to the disobedient child. To tell the truth, I also want to believe, that it is only a biological fantasy, but not a prophecy.
He covered the tedious lobbying and friendmaking in Congress, which had given us the exclusive right to levy tribute and collect from the planet — and I began to see how he could expect to get away with a nine-minute commercial.
Frederik Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth “The Merchants of Venus”
It’s ratherungrateful occupation to predict the future. It
is enough to recall, for example, how many times various religious leaders predicted
a doomsday for the last couple of centuries: one or two predicted dates almost
certainly fall on life of any person reading these lines. Nevertheless, we are
still alive for now. Our forecasts for the future have strong influence from
the side of the present time. As a rule, foretellers transfer the tendencies
existing in their time to the future, deepening and developing them. Different
people imagine the future in different ways, and its visions appear diametrically
opposite sometimes. In comic novel of Strugatsky brothers “Monday Begins
in Saturday” the main character has gone to the future using the time
machine and has found out that the world of the far future (with reservation:
the described one) is simply divided into two parts: World of Humane Imagination
and World of Fear of the Future, and between them the cyclopean Iron Wall is
rises. Both variants of the future are described in sci-fi works of various
authors. But tendencies of our time may result, most likely, in strange and
unpleasant variant of the future described in Frederik Pohl’s & C. M. Kornbluth’s
novel “The Merchants of Venus”: it is a world in iron grip
of the commerce. Actually, it already takes place so today: everything may be
sold and bought, and a person having money – a lot of money – is considered
as successful. Such people willingly pose against a background of expensive
cars (“because I have it, and you, cheapskate, haven’t”), in squander
money a pointed manner, and in social network services tens thousand subscribers
admire them. Yes, heroes of the modern age are those. These are not trailblazers,
not discoverers of medicines against dangerous illnesses, not teachers and not
doctors – these are subjects simply useless (actually) for a society having
loads of money. Presently even wars go hand of hand with a commerce: behind
the back of Mars waving his sword Mercury with the calculator stands necessarily,
counting up geopolitic benefits of the struggling country and profits of gentlenem
of arms industry.
There is also one more extremely unpleasant tendency in our world, which has influenced even anatomic features of humans, and not in the best way: people gradually grow stupid. Ray Bradbury in his famous “Fahrenheit 451” novel said it best:
You can't build a house without nails and wood. If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood. If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the Government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.
Ray Bradbury “Fahrenheit 451”
The today’s world looks, as if well-known writer of the past
had created not the warning, but the operations manual. In development of modern
society the tendencies described in this fantastic novel are visible too obviously.
It seems, as if Bradbury had guessed something with frightening accuracy.
If we will follow an example of numerous futurologists and transfer tendencies of present time to the future, at such starting position we’re going to the world of small-minded people – thoughtless and having only a superficial knowledge. Human progress was promoted by improvement of information interchange, but the same circumstance has oblivated the need of each separate person to remember many things at once and the skill to operate with the knowledge received. As a result in due course of development of civilization in human population the tendency to reduction of the brain size was showed. While a Stone Age man had a brain volume of about 1500 cm3, man of the beginning of XXI century had only 1425 cm3. Having shifted a part of brainwork to machines, civilized people have simply begun to grow stupid. And they built a world promoting comfortable life of not bright persons around of themselves. Scientists were perceived not as a role model, but as people “not of this world”. And education programs had been done simpler under a slogan of “availability of knowledge to greater number of people”. As a result standards of intellectual development of the person have decreased considerably, and former half-wits turned to “norm”: if it is needed to create a visibility of success and progress, it is possible simply to redefine concepts to reconsider standards a little bit, to aim lower – and to receive finally an illusion of progress without superfluous efforts.
The mankind, not restrained by a comprehension of its place in a nature, has grown up beyond measure. The religious instruction “breed and multiply” was among few ones put into practice successfully. As against difficult and long spiritual self-improvement, purely animal abilities of humans had been enough for realization of this instruction. And the Earth has came apart at the seams from several billions of eaters preferring to live in comfort and leaving after themselves tons of dust of an artificial origin which the nature failed to utilize by its own.
Billions of people wanted to eat, and the offensive to still remained natural areas has gone on. Grandiose plans of transformation of a nature were a part of visions of the future imagined by thinkers of the past. But in the world of not bright people they were realized in primitive way – at the level of slash-and-burn farming of primitive tribes, but in planetary scales. It could not proceed indefinitely this way, but people living only for the moment are not capable to reflect about that will take place ten, hundred, or one thousand years later. In this respect they are similar to whimsical children: “I want it all, and right now!” Even when it became clear that the nature will not sustain a pressure of growing human population, people continued to breed and to manage without a regard for the future. Transforming nature actively (but actually simply destroying it), people have made their life nourishing, pleasant and safe. And by that they have laid a bomb under the base of their own well-being.
Strangely enough, but one of dangers to human society appeared safety of life as such. It has deprived people of a peculiar “thirst of life”, the realized aspiration to have a posterity and to provide it with skills for life. Experiments with various animals made by scientists in earlier time, showed that in conditions of full well-being and absence of external dangers in development of population the negative behavioural tendencies are inevitably shown, resulting finally in its collapse. Nobody had listened early warnings of scientists: how is it possible to compare The King of Nature to any fruit flies or mice? Nevertheless, it appeared that it had been worth listening them. Among people in safe and satisfied society of overconsumption the same processes have begun, as at animals, but in more threatening dimension. There appeared more and more people refused voluntary from birth of children and propagandizing their point of view aggressively. The typical family of father and mother gave up the place to single parents or other variants, which adherents aggressively put an equal-sign between their way of life and the traditional family. As a result, normal reproduction in human population was broke, the family as such has lost its value, and people have ceased to live for the sake of children. The civilization living only here and now has lost the future.
Mice in paradise
Negative social trends have resulted to the appearing on the
Earth of the thoughtless society of egoists and lovers of shining trumpery –
a kind of Eloi from Herbert Wells’ “The Time Machine” novel. In this society
material welfare as end in itself became a basic value. Money became a criterion
of the numan as an individual. Hagglerish phrase “If you are so clever, why
are you so poor?” had turned to a literal principle of life. The role of the
science in this society has fallen actually up to zero, and scientists were
perceived as strange people separated completely from the society and living
in “ivory towers”. In fact, they actually supported this stereotype, preferring
to keep separately from great masses of population – because it is impossible
to learn anything good at crowd greedy for shining things like a crow.
Supercomfortable life demands an investment of lots of money. And to stimulate withdrawal of money supply from people’s pockets the haggler caste has applied an artful marketing ploy: they had flooded the market with worthless goods at the price of high-quality ones. Goods quickly broke and needed replacement, and advertising importunately convinced hidebound consumers of necessity of regular updating of their favourite electronic devices. Already nobody dreamed of flights to stars, except for separate strange persons impressed by ancient sci-fi books. What for to fly to a far star which will be reached, at the best, only by your grandsons, when in shop next to your house there is a sale of new smartphones – a whole one millimeter thinner than the previous models, and in addition in case of color of eyes of donkey female in love, the most fashionable in this season?
People did not heed warnings of scientists, considering them
either dreamers or alarmists. Ways of development of the society were defined
not by the most competent part of the society any more, but by the coddled crowd
of consumers not accustomed to think further than of plans for forthcoming weekend.
And nobody of them realized that the mankind has chosen a vicious way of civilization
Development of medicine was the great advance enabled to save millions of human lifes. However this progress had some negative consequences. Man armed with methods and opportunities of science-based medicine had turned to the selectioner of his own diseases. Pathogens mutated, developing the resistance to medicines, and clinical signs of diseases were gradually erased, complicating their recognition. As a result in some regions of the world “super-diseases” have appeared: they did not express at the earliest stages of infection, and when their signs were shown nevertheless, it was already too late to treat them. Density of the population in megacities facilitated the infection, and means of transportation promoted their spread: for one day the infected person could contact to several thousand of other people, cross the continent from one coast to another or fly across the ocean. It complicated extremely the revealing the centers of new and terrible “crowd diseases”.
One more consequence of medicine advance appeared actually complete elimination of action of natural selection in human population. Due to medical science carriers of adverse genes could have posterity and transfer their genes to new generation in equal conditions with carriers of healthy genes. The human population has charged itself with burden of genetic load, and it did not promote its health improvement at all. The certain social groups of mankind – ethnic and religious ones – were marked by the specific complexes of hereditary diseases.
The mankind had not realized that the paramount threat for it is not falling of an asteroid, but the increasing of dependence of civilization from technological progress on the background of exhaustion of natural resources. The increased requirements of people for energy were already hardly fulfiled by traditional methods of power engineering. And nothing new and advanced to replace these methods had been invented. Or these inventions have not left laboratory rooms: it was not necessary for a thoughtless society, because it is too complicated. And the superfluous brain occupation may result in appearing of harmful reasons about sense of moneymaking, that can turn to falling of profits at the powerful caste of hagglers and advertisers. Absence of demand by the society has left a great number of the most valuable ideas only scientific oddities and experimental works. The mankind has refused itself the idea of its own saving – because it is much more pleasant to look funny pictures in global information network without brain exercising. People simply lived in confidence that the day tomorrow will be the same as yesterday was. And those few inventions, which could shake a sleepy swamp of collective consciousness at least somehow, were only trifles – amusing and sometimes ridiculous things. Precisely as in far XXI century the “selfie-stick” had made furor, enabling to make selpf-photographs by cellphone from the distance longer than the extended arm.
Coproeconomy was a dexterous trick for emptying of pockets of ordinary consumers and for getting of superprofits by unfair businessmen. However nobody reflected on necessity of recycling of artificially disengaged household appliances. The consequences of this way of managing were countless acres of dumps and mountains of waste products, including dangerous ones. And in addition the injurious plunder of natural pantries – deposits of the minerals formed millions years ago in unique conditions which cannot repeat – was actually finished. Waste products polluted an environment, aggravating even more a distress of mankind.
In sacral texts which has appeared in plenties during the lifetime of mankind, the doomsday was described as the sudden large-scale disaster accompanied by catastrophic events. But nothing like this had taken place. The asteroid had not flied. There was no giant fleet of space invaders. Land did not gape and did not extrude hordes of monsters and mutants. The terrible punishing deity had not returned. Even the simply zomby-apocalypse did not happen. Everything happened in much more terribe way. People have dug out a tomb for their civilization and have lain in it, lighting up silly smiling faces with flashes of cellphones still functioned at that time.
In old sci-fi books and computer games one of favourite plot twists was a conducting of genetic experiments to create a race of perfect super-people with desirable qualities. But it still remained in the field of fantasy: mankind simply has not had time to develop genic engineering up to such degree.
As always, at the most improper moment it turned out, that “plan B” had not been developed. Feverish waverings in searches of solutions for the crisis did not give any results: it was too little time up to man-made “doomsday”. During the whole history of mankind the civilization supported itself, using one by one various resources unique for each stage of its development. But resources had been exhausted – more precisely, people had failed to develop the new resource enabling them to receive energy for the further development of the civilization.
Continuing to lead a habitual way of life, the mankind placed a heavy burden on the biosphere of the planet. Prejudices and ignorance had not enabled people to save themselves from food and energy crisis. The population of the Earth had increased so, that the former way of life could not sustain them. In attempts to survive starving people had taken desperate measures: they began to abandon cities and have rushed to the nature. Starving hordes didn’t care about what will happen with an environment: they haven’t got used to think about the day tomorrow and to make plans for the future. Wildlife protecting bills were trampled upon, and last fragments of forests have begun to recede after strikes of axes. Reserves were actually abolished – not by official documents, but by will of aggressive crowd of people. Last large animals became prey of hungry hordes arranging ruthless chasing of them. In oceans, ships hastily modified to whaling vessels exterminated last whales. And side by side with them trawlers and small harvesting vessels of “mosquito fleet” scooped last schools of fish, squids and shrimps edible in the slightest degree. Woods were cut down in hope to catch a plot of fertile soil, and people abandoned exhausted grounds without regret and moved further. Vast soil erosion became a result of large-scale inept managing. Rains washed the exhausted ground off into the rivers and lakes, making them unsuitable for life of fishes and other animals. And rivers carried tons of once fertile soil into the seas, aggravating the harm put to sea ecosystems by an ravageous overfishing.
The enlightenment has come too late: on the Earth severe wars for food have begun. At last, the population of the Earth began to decrease. But billions of human lifes became a cost of it.
“Yes, we saw a lot of sad – Tivisa has agreed – all beasts and large birds are slaughtered, fish, edible molluscs and seaweed are caught. It all had been used as food during the catastrophic Famine Age. The pursuit of quantity, of cheapness and massive amount of kitchen stuff without foresight has poisoned the rivers, lakes and the seas. The rivers have dried up after destruction of woods and strong evaporation of water basins of power stations; they were followed by shallowing and salinization of lakes. Almost everywhere fresh water is not cheaper than food. Its amount is hardly enough for agriculture of this sad planet. Its not enough energy for its desalination. Significant polar caps are present here – hence, there are not no also stocks of freshwater ice. And animal industries … have you seen their cattle? From biological point of view these are the same goats saving once a Bible civilization, but destroyed all vegetation along the coast of Mediterranean Sea”.
I. A. Efremov “The Bull’s Hour”
Biological diversity on the Earth increased during the whole
history of life, but this process was not linear. Studying of fossils of live
organisms has enabled to make a conclusion that in history of life on the Earth
there were five large episodes of mass extinction, when biodiversity had reduced
sharply during rather short time intervals and some groups of live organisms
died out completely. Between these events there were episodes of extinction
of smaller scale. First of mass extinctions has taken place
in Paleozoic, between Ordovican and Silurian (450-440 million years ago) and
is related to a congelation and sea level fluctuations. The second
one also happened in Paleozoic, in Devonian (372 million years ago); scientists
do not have unanimous opinion on to its reasons, but among possible ones a global
cooling and underwater volcanism dropped the contents of oxygen in seawater
are specified. The third one was Permian-Triassic extinction
(251 million years ago), the greatest in its scales, for what it is named sometimes
as “Great” one. Its most probable reason is a sharp increase of volcanic activity
and extensive lava outpourings in territory of Siberia – so-called “Siberian
Traps”. The version of falling to the Earth of large space body is also not
excluded. The fourth extinction is Triassic one (200-205 million
years ago), related, probably, to split of Pangea supercontinent and climatic
changes. The fifth mass extinction has taken place 65.5 million
years ago, at the edge of Cretaceous and Paleocene, most likely, because of
asteroid falling in Central America. At this particular time last dinosaurs
have died out and Age of Mammals began. In human epoch rate of extinction of
species in wildlife reached the estimations calculated for five mass extinctions.
However, as against these events, the sixth extinction was
not started by the space or geological phenomena – it is caused exclusively
by human activity matched the natural forces in scales and amplitude.
Human activity has caused deep and long-term consequences in nature. Actually, any human influence on nature caused many indirect consequences in addition to direct ones. It resembles falling of dominoes chain, when one event consistently starts the following ones, and they, in turn, stimulate new changes. However, as against dominoes falling arranged in one line, the remote consequences of human activity are very difficult to predict. If we’ll continue the analogy with dominoes, last of them should be somewhere in the distance, hidden in a fog – so far from the observer, that we would hardly hear even a sound of their falling.
Representatives of megafauna had been affected the first by human activity in prehistoric times – they were animals very convenient to hunt, which gave a plenty of useful stuff at rather small expenses for hunting. Intensive exploitation of biological resources by people resulted in extinction of large species with low rate of growth and slow reproduction everywhere in areas where people appeared, and their place had been occupied soon by quickly breeding smaller species with fast rate of generation change.
Move slower – lose faster
One more kind of human influence on the nature was destruction
of natural biological communities. Having tamed fire, man began burning out
woods during massive large game hunts – in this way people changed completely
the prevailing type of plant communities of the entire continent in Australia.
In due course of industry development the demand for minerals has appeared,
therefore vast land areas were transformed to quarries and waste piles – in
fact, to biological deserts. The growing human population needed for wood –
it is firewood and a material for numerous household items. And rate of forest
cutting down in XX century has reached one football field per one second. People
needed to eat – and extensive spaces of land in areas of the most favorable
climate turned to agricultural lands. Complex and diverse multispecific natural
communities had been replaced by extensive, but simple and extremely monotonous
communities of several species of cultivated plants and farm animals. However,
some representatives of nature have nevertheless benefited by these changes:
in new types of habitats they have found everything that was necessary for their
life, and began breeding in huge amounts. People have named them as “pests”
Destruction of a habitual inhabitancy doomed to extinction specialized and local species already vulnerable by virtue of the natural reasons. Destruction and fragmentation of habitats resulted in extinction of the specialized species entirely dependent on rare natural resources. Use of pesticides in agriculture caused mass death of pollinator insects, and after them plants pollinated by them also became rare. Many species of specialized pollinators were supplanted by honeybee introduced by people, but it could not pollinate extremely specialized forms of entomophilous plants, dooming them to extinction this way.
As a result of these processes obviously appreciable extinction of key species in ecosystems triggered an imperceptible extinction of numerous other species of live organisms connected directly or indirectly with the extinct species. As a result during few thousand years of global ecological crisis the specific structure of ecosystem changed completely – complex, balanced and finely adjusted ecosystem developing in the natural way during millions years had been replaced by simple unstable communities of not numerous species adapted to coexistence in least degree. An important role in such “ersatz-ecosystems” had been played by alien species introduced by people from other places – by plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms. Invading natural communities, they broke natural balance and supplanted native species, and also caused mass diseases. They survived frequently due to human activity and became ancestors of new species.
Diseases as a factor of extinction
The world right after global ecological crisis looks very sad
and devastated place. In such condition the Earth may be named figuratively
as “planet of weeds and mice”. All large and slowly developing species have
died out. The specialized varieties especially sensitive to the condition of
natural communities in which they had evolved have also disappeared. Mainly
“weed” species have survived: fast-growing, early and intensively breeding,
living not for long, easily adapting and unpretentious ones. Such features help
these species in surviving in changeable conditions. In addition, among survived
species there were also unspecialized “universalists” capable to exist in very
diverse conditions and kept due to this feature greater number of their population.
One of the largest species on the Earth after the civilization epoch is human itself. The second-largest species is a goat. In some places of the Earth pigs also have survived – animals easily going feral despite of thousand years of domestication. Other neighbours of people on the littered and exhausted planet are rodents, bats, insectivores, hares and rabbits. Human neighbours in Primates order have suffered a lot: apes and the majority of cercopithecid monkeys died out. In Asia macaques, and in Africa baboons have survived. In Americas from among local New World monkeys capuchins have survived. Among prosimians only African bushbabies still exist. From among carnivorans mustelids, smaller cats, dogs and raccoons were lucky to survive. In tropics mongooses also exist. Among birds the period of global ecological crisis was successfully gone through by dominant species of corvids (nevertheless, endemic species have died out), gulls, rock pigeons and various songbirds. Some widespread species of ducks, few species of herons, sandpipers and rails have escaped the extinction. At coasts of oceans of Northern hemisphere not numerous species of alcid birds, and in Southern hemisphere penguins persist.
Among reptiles, adders, rattlesnakes, rather numerous colubrids, some widespread species of geckoes, lacertid lizards and monitor lizards (in Old World) and teiids (in New World) have survived. Sea turtles have died out completely, but in tropical rivers freshwater turtles, and in deserted areas tortoises still exist. Because of intensive hunting crocodiles have almost completely died out – only very degenerated caimans in tropics of America have remained.
Among amphibians tropical forest species have almost completely disappeared. There are only widespread unspecialized species from temperate latitudes, and in tropics only species from drier habitats.
Among freshwater fishes in epoch of biological crisis kinds which in human epoch could be named as “rough” ones dominate: these are small cyprinids, perches and ruffes, Chinese sleepers. It is possible to find worldwide in the appropriate climatic conditions feral populations of carps and tilapias. Among predatory fishes of temperate latitudes pikes have successfully survived. In tropics worldwide snakeheads (both native and introduced), and also live-bearing mosquitofish and gully prosper. In the sea fishes difficult to be traded were kept mainly: the species living in rocky coastal zones inaccessible for industrial fishing. The majority of survived sea fishes is represented by coastal inhabitants. Pelagic fishes have become extinct because of overfishing and the collapse of feed supplies. Pollution of ocean has caused disappearance of numerous planktonic invertebrates, and also of fishes, whose juvenile stages of development passed in plankton. Decrease of biological productivity of top layers of water has caused imperceptible, but mass extinction of abyssal fishes depending completely on organic matter sinking from the surface.
Pollution of World ocean has put an impact of frightening scale on its biological diversity: reef-building corals with firm skeleton have disappeared, and they had been followed by rich fauna of coral reeves. Among planktonic invertebrates smaller species of crustaceans prosper now: extinction of whales, sea birds and pelagic schooling fishes has resulted in fast restoration of their number. And an ecological role of fishes of open ocean had been taken by cephalopods. After global ecological crisis in oceans numerous squid schools swim. But there is nobody to catch them now – sperm whales, dolphins and large predatory fishes had become extinct.
A diversity of insects and spiders at the genus and species level had been badly affected: numerous species once inhabited tropical forests have died out. But at the family level there were actually no losses. Even small populations of these invertebrates at stabilization of conditions of life are capable to restore number quickly due to high fertility and fast rate of generational change. In epoch of human civilization due to the transporting between continents lots of species of insects and arachnids had got in new habitats where they rendered essential influence to local ecosystems. Many of them have been acclimatized in new places and have not died out even in epoch of biological crisis.
One of secrets of success of survived species was to keep closer
to humans and to landscapes changed by people, but to depend on humans as little
as possible. Domestic animals were the closest neighbours of people, but they
were changed too deep by people according to their inquiries. A yield of milk
in 100 litres per day, egg-laying capacity in 300 and more eggs per one year
accompanied by loss of brooding instinct, fancifully curved jaws and short legs
– all these features were valuable or desirable from the human point of view,
but did not promote at all a survival of domestic animals lack the constant
care from people. Therefore the most part of domesticated animals had died out
in parallel with collapse of human civilization. The specialized breeds adapted
to animal industry were gone for one generation. Decorative breeds have disappeared
just as quickly. Only few primitive breeds of sheeps and goats, and also semi-feral
rural chickens from tropical areas of the Earth have managed to survive. Cats
managed to survive even easier: they have simply settled back to the wild. Despite
of many generations of life side by side with people, cats kept in greater or
smaller degree instincts of their wild ancestors, and they were very useful
to them when cats appeared out on their own.
In the same way, as domestic animals, many cultivated plants have quickly died out; descendants of only few of them, least changed by agriculture, have survived. Crossbreeding with their wild ancestors and related species, they have given rise to several new species, but their role in nature appeared rather insignificant. The majority of cultivated plants appeared too well adapted to human ways of agriculture – they were in full dependence on humans and have simply died out without them.
In due course of development of human civilization around of human buildings and in cultural landscapes there was a certain complex of animal and plant species which did not become domestic, but were capable to exist in the environment changed by people – these are so-called synanthropes. After the collapse of a civilization their fortunes changed paths. Those kinds, that were too dependent on humans, have died out very soon. Most well known of them are cockroaches. When there were no heated rooms, their area was reduced up to climatic zones with mild winter. Rats and mice have gone through only brief period of triumph, feasting on the rests of human provisions. Because of famine in civilization decline epoch, even they turned to desired prey for starving people at times. However the world of predatory rats, a favourite plot line in speculative biology, appeared only a beautiful fairy tale – in searches of prey owls, cats and small mustelid predators came to abandoned and collapsing cities. They have literally specified to rodents their place in ecosystem: they have turned to prey again, and their triumph was over as soon, as it started.
New order in nature
Human activity rendered enormous influence on settling of species
of live organisms on the Earth. Evolution of the organic world and geological
processes of continent uniting and split have resulted in formation of faunistic
and floristic kingdoms, separated rather clearly from each other. In human epoch
their borders were broken on a massive scale; species introduced by people already
in historical epoch have began destroying of naturally formed ecosystems. Due
to humans pest animals and weed plants easily moved from one continent to another,
and sea molluscs and crustaceans crossed oceans in ballast tanks of the ships
and invaded human-damaged ecosystems, promoting their further destruction. Alien
species had acclimatized in new habitats, influencing the evolution of native
species and natural communities as a whole. Many of these travellers appeared
hardy enough to survive in epoch of global ecological crisis. The old world
crashed down, but new one arose literally before the eyes.
One of the most harmful social consequences of collapse of civilization was the loss of the knowledge accumulated by humankind. The volume of the information stored by humankind exceeded many times the opportunities of the brain of any single person. And the storage of this information on paper and electronic mediums enabled people to live, not straining their brains. In epoch of computer technologies when electronic “brains” of machines grew and were improved, the brain of live human began gradual decrease in size. And when electric machines stopped their work, the immense volume of knowledges was lost – many of them appeared simply unclaimed in the collapsing world, and mediums where they had been saved, did not work any more. Electronic storages of knowledge, an inexhaustible treasuries of human idea, broke down, and people had to study to write, to count and to remember anew. Most part of things that mankind knew and could do earlier had been forgotten gradually or has turned to fairy tales for new generations of the humankind living in ruins of a former civilization.
The phantom of natural selection began to pursue people populations again. The genetic load of an adverse heredity accumulated in replete and safe time has lain on mankind as an excessive burden after the collapse of civilization and decline of technologies. The science-based medicine with all its opportunities amassed during the time of technical potency of humankind, has disappeared now, and people have faced causatives of former diseases again. But the distribution of forces did not benefit humans any more: without influence of natural selection immunity of people has weakened, and there were no powerful medicines able to help. And in any point of the Earth people had to face the whole set of the diseases defeated earlier. Their pathogens were hidden as spores in ruins of dead cities, circulated in blood of small animals, were distributed by air with wind or blood-sucking insects. But nobody made vaccination against them for a long time, and the selection carried out involuntarily in epoch of science-based medicine had made them even more dangerous. Epidemics outbreaked worldwide, and ruins of cities gradually acquired a bad reputation of the damned places.
(Somewhere in Northern hemisphere, the exact location is a top secret)
Today the view in the window was especially fine. The heat
of spring was, and tiny songbirds scurried among branches of flowering apple
trees. Wind fluttered slightly tender petals of flowers, and when any bird flitted
from one branch to another, some petals tore off from flowers, and the wind
carried them away. Then, as if getting a command, birds have flied up from branches
and flied away fast. And the next second instead of birds behind the window
fishes swam already, gleaming with their scales, and watercourse swayed tender
underwater leaves of water lily. These metamorphosises were explained very simply:
the window was illusion, simply wide flat screen having excellent resolution
and splendid color rendering. And this screen had been mounted in giant underground
… They named themselves as “elite”, though here it would be more pertinent to use a concept “monetary aristocracy”. They were not oustanding scientists, talented inventors or simply good people. They were people just having great lots of money. They were able to make money, resolutely extorting them from ones lack such talent. They also thought differently, and could take care of their future. It was convenient for them, when great faceless masses of people “live now and here”, as in one ancient advertising slogan. Let they live this way – guzzle away their future already now. However the richest families of the world have decided to wait through the forthcoming crisis. In conditions of great secrecy the best engineers and builders were employed, and below the mountain in seismically safe area of continent the Refuge – giant underground living complex, a multilevel construction, a gem of architecture and engineering – had been created. In it there was everything necessary for comfortable life: some living levels, large underground greenhouse with bright economic lamps, gymnasiums, garages with various equipment – both military and agricultural. Also weapon lockers equipped with various weapon were here, and a shooting gallery with realistic electronic models of the weapon – for trainings in case of occurrence of necessity of protection against external intrusion. And additionally poultry farm with an incubator, fish farm and the powerful atomic power station supplying the Refuge with necessary amount of energy were organized here.
When crisis had nearly loomed over people, very expensive tickets had been sold out: they have got only to those ones who could pay for them expensively. Persons wishing to survive in forthcoming catastrophe are numerous, and places are limited, therefore it is necessary to pay well for such places: nothing personal, just business. But for such money survivors were guaranteed with magnificent lifetime service. Many builders of this construction had disappeared under mysterious circumstances soon after the finish of building, and nobody was engaged in their searches: the secret should be kept. And other part has already signed life contracts for work in the Refuge as service stuff – they, their children and all other descendants. When the command for settling had been given, owners of very expensive tickets to the Refuge entered the location in the most roundabout ways, keeping the strictest cofidence. And when last tickets had been used as the passes for their owners, carefully masked doors were closed.
The Refuge was not completely isolated from the world: with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles cautious supervision on the ground surface were conducted. These machines transferred videorecordings, made analyses of an atmosphere and watched the strangers appeared too close to the Refuge. Once such drones were numerous in the Refuge, but the significant part of them was lost during the time of famine and crisis, when people on ground surface battled for life, regarded people arounsd only as enemies and were ready to shoot everything that moves. Some drones were shot down, therefore their self-destruction function had been activated to avoid the possibility of location of the Refuge via the information from them. To avoid being spotted in times of “war of all against all”, inhabitants of the Refuge have decided to stop drone flights. So, only three of them remained only – it was a main connection with an external world, and it was protected by all measures. One more connection represented a high-power cable connected to a global information network. Inhabitants of the Refuge have saved all possible scientific and technical publications in a local databank and updated them in regular way. But once they could not connect to the global network: something happened on the surface. And because it was not possible to connect again neither in one month, nor in half-year, inhabitants of the Refuge have started to be afraid fairly for their well-being. And at the Great General meeting they had voted and had almost unanimously decided to live exclusively in their own world in order to wait the accident which has broken out on the ground surface. It was enough for resources of nuclear power plant in depth of mountain for centuries, and then it would be already possible to come up with something.
As time passed, in the Refuge some generations of people already changed. When the last persons still remembered life on the surface have died, last link connecting inhabitants of the Refuge with the whole other world has broken. Being a real miracle of engineering, the Refuge could support life of its population during several centuries, but all the same resources have begun to be exhausted gradually. In due course in pantries of the Refuge some kinds of medicines were over, and some patients could not be rendered with the necessary medical aid any more on contrary to guarantees of the company founded the Refuge. They became the first victims of an isolation politics. Then lamps in hydroponic greenhouses began to break down one by one; plants had reacted to it by decrease of the crop. Greenhouse workers tried to move serviceable luminaires to still functioning greenhouses, but these actions were insufficient. Workshops could not repair luminaires, and as a result the useful area of greenhouses began reducing gradually, and portions of food for inhabitants of the Refuge were cut. To avoid famine, people tried to raise crop plants at home, but it was only illusion of the solving of the problem: the power of home-based lamps was not enough for normal development of plants, and it was necessary to replace artificial ground with the ground waste. Threat of famine became a reality for inhabitants of the Refuge. At that moment already the fourth generation of people not knowing any other world, except for the Refuge, lived under ground. But the requirement to change the mode of life was obvious: it was necessary to prepare to leave the Refuge. And one day Mr. Chief Director had delivered a speech to inhabitants of underground city. Having eulogized the wisdom of the ancestors enabled them to survive, he has called beloved subordinated to begin the preparation for the Entering into Inheritance – as he said, now the world belonged to inhabitants of the Refuge, exactly like it belonged once to their ancestors – the richest families of the planet. And the survival in the Refuge is a confirmation of their status of Rulers of the World.
All levels of underground city has begun to teem with life with renewed vigour. Using old films and electronic copies of books people studied hand-fighting methods to be ready to protect their right for owning the world. In electronic shooting galleries skills of shooting were developed with the models of the weapon imitating as much as possible real ones stored in weapon rooms of the Refuge. People from among the attendants from the lower levels studied agricultural crops and their growing practices – they should provide their masters with new food. Seeds of crops were stored in special pantries in conditions of deep freezing.
The first step should not be precipitate – it is necessary to do careful and cautious recon. Therefore the Board of Directors had unanimously approved the wise decision of Mr. Chief Director to use a reconnaissance drone. In day and hour of its start in Fraternity Halls of all levels people have fixed their looks on large screens and observed the translation from drone cameras in real time mode. They knew about how the Top world looks exclusively from ancient books and films, but now saw non-fictional pictures of life on the surface for the first time.
Drone had soared up in air exactly in midday according the clock of the Refuge, and had shown a panoramic view from the height of several tens meters above the mountain top. Slopes of nearby mountains dense forests covered. Drone had flown across the forest, choosing a route cautiously, and people had noticed that these forest are made mainly of fast-growing kinds of trees – birches, maples, poplars and alders. The nature has taken back its property only recently: these are the pioneering forest-forming trees. In sight of drone small birds got, and when it had risen higher, it had to make evasion maneuver: a certain bird of prey – maybe, a kite or a buzzard – had rushed on it. But large animals hadn’t been noticed in the forest. Also there were no evidences of existence of people. Flying above foothills, drone had fixed signs of presence of relatively large creatures, but all of them were small all the same – smaller than a human. It managed to find out on the open place several four-legged ones overgrown with wool and horned. People observing the flight commanded drone to fly around of these animals and to make some photos. On them a feature of this kind of animals – strange beard of long hair on the bottom jaw – was well appreciable. The machine had saved a sample of the voice of one of these animals – squeaky, shrill and lingering. One of inhabitants of the Refuge has claimed that he had identified this animal as a cow. His opinion was respected by everybody; therefore no one began to dispute. The survival of these animals gave them a hope – it is possible to try to breed them as a cattle.
Drone flight has shown that it is quite possible to live above. Analyses of an atmosphere have revealed the contents of oxygen acceptable to life, absence of atmosphere pollution and a normal Sun radiation. It was possible to leave on a surface, and the Board of Directors had established terms of this event and had charged heads of families and elders to develop shedules of preparation for Outcome.
Inhabitants of the Refuge were prepared for day of Outcome rather thoroughly. From pantries tents, bowls and axes had been taken out (some heads of families even tried to chop furniture at home for training), and people had prepared a stock of ready for consuming and long-storing food for the first time. The exit outside was arranged solemnly: observed by some videocameras fixing and saving for descendants this historical event, Mr. Chief Director took the Main Key and unlocked with it a wicket camouflaged by stones from outside. Hydraulic amplifiers have worked well, and wicket weighting more than one ton has opened after a slight push. Fresh air has rushed indoord from a surface, bringing with it smells of forest and wet ground. The Chief Director has shouldered a backpack with tent and has stepped in the new world the first. And when he has raised his head and has looked upwards, he has seen above himself high sky instead of a ceiling. Brain has not stood such powerful impression, and heavy man tumbled down on the ground, fainted from surplus of emotions. The celebration appeared clouded a little bit, but the physician on duty has quickly revived him, and the procession of burdened people slowly ranged along the secret path, moving to the world on the surface – fantastically beautiful, but frightening by its novelty and uncertainty.
Drone has carefully reconnoitered a place for the foundation of a tent camp of inhabitants of the Refuge, and this place was mapped solemnly as the Center of the New World. The first tent was pitched personally by Mr. Chief Director directed by instructors; having finished this work, he has made the improvised speech, letting others know that now hands of inhabitants of the Refuge make the great affairs comparable to the foundation of greatest cities of the past. The next days people have gradually began to move to the tents on the surface. In the first week some daredevils were found, dared to spend the night on the surface and to see dawn with their own eyes. Soon actually all inhabitants inspired by their achievements have moved outside. Service of nuclear station, farms and greenhouses had been switched temporarily to automatic mode – everybody would like to visit the ground surface.
The important duty has fallen upon zoologists and botanists: it was the inspection of the world for possible dangers. Like all other inhabitants of the Refuge, they were thoroughly familiar only with agricultural plants and domestic animals bred for food. Other kinds of live creatures were familiar to them excusively from books and the data saved in local information system.
The world differed strictly from descriptions made before the crisis of civilization. Zoologists did not manage to see any large beast – only for a moment those animals, which drone managed to photograph, have got in their face, but they did not let to come close and run away quickly. But in grass numerous tiny creatures – small rodents and carnivores chasing them – rustled. Rodents were especially numerous on dry watershed, where the forest was absent, and on hill slopes green waves of grasses waved. In one place zoologists were luck to notice a congestion of round apertures in the ground – there were holes of rather large animals like a marmot. Near one hole they have seen the hole inhabitant, which has whistled disturbingly at their approach, and its congeners hiding in grass have rushed to their holes immediately.
Zoologists came close to holes and begun to inspect them. They have found out dung, the rests of food, scraps of litter and… one dead animal. The anatomy of its jaws specified obviously its belonging to rodents – mouth opened widely in a mortal grin revealed two pairs of sharp incisors. While zoologists examined a unprecedented creature, one of them has felt sharp pain in his leg – as if skin was stung by red-hot needle. Having involuntarily slapped its leg by palm, man began to examine a source of anxiety. He managed to slam a tiny insect of brownish color. Examining it through field entomological magnifier, he has noted features of this specimen – short and laterally compressed body, brownish colouring, absence of wings and the lengthened rear pair of legs. This creature was unknown to any inhabitant of the Refuge.
In the Refuge devices continued to function. In greenhouses light switched in the proper mode, roots of plants were supplied with the nutritious solution, portions of forage were given to domestic fowl and fish, and automatic devices cleaned their waste products. Engineers have excellently thought over a design of life-support systems of the Refuge: their work will be enough for some centuries. The computer cannot be surprised, therefore identical records that the work of treatment facilities in living sector is not observed were documented in electronic log of the Refuge within many days in succession. Nobody from people left on the surface has returned to the Refuge.
The past has reminded of itself in the most terrible way. After a sting of tiny flea one of zoologists has brought a plague to the camp, and the small population of people was doomed for death. They had no plague vaccine, and because of absence of experience they had not manage to distinguish the disease in proper time. Colonies of rodents were the natural sources of this disease, and during the centuries past after crisis animals were settled in places whence they were expelled by civilization. And disease persisted perfectly in colonies of rodents even if from time to time their inhabitants died out – they had been replaced quickly by newly settled ones distributing farther the infected fleas.
Days passed. At the underground farm domestic fowl and fish gradually perished of hunger: there was nobody to take care to them. In one living room under artificial light the dried up tomato plant stuck. When dying, it had enclosed all its forces in last fruit which had ripened and had fallen on the carpet covering on room floor. Seeds will never sprout – they have simply dried up on carpet of synthetic fibers in the rotten pulp of the fruit. That people were also not fated to have descendants – they only deceived themselves with the hope, trying to defer the inevitable end. The world after the collapse of technogenic civilizations has changed too strictly, and there will be no return to former times of human power any more.
From farms in lower levels through the ventilation system the disgusting smell of death was spread – without a due care last farm inhabitants died. And the computer in living sector still continued its work, translating on window-like screen in casual order animated photorealistic pictures – gardens, forests, mountains, underwater world. These were pictures of the world lost for ever. On the ground surface and in oceans the new world already began to develop.
The civilization collapsed, but people have not died out. They
could not lead a former way of life any more – the civilization was similar
to fantastic Uroborus snake devouring its own tail. Creation of the civilization
has resulted in destruction of the world and in exhaustion of resources. And
in epoch of civilization collapse technologies and knowledges were lost. However,
they would hardly be useful in the world gone through enormous ecological crisis.
There were only few parts of one per cent of a number of former population of
people: the others were victims of wars for potable water and the foodstuffs,
diseases and… natural selection. Mankind of postcrisis era represents nomadic
groups of hunters-gatherers like in prehistoric time. However their life is
not similar to life of prehistoric people. The exhausted planet lacks megafauna,
therefore people do not arrange large-scale huntings any more, killing large
animals in whole herds. Sources of food are not numerous, and skills of survival
were mostly lost, therefore few survivors had to study to hunt small mammals
and to eat everything down to insects. Delay in studying was paid with human
For survived people ruins of enormous cities are objects of superstitious fear: they seem to them as the places occupied by monsters and wild beasts. Nevertheless, people come into the dead cities. The superstitious fear has forced them to think out the complex rituals intended to cajole the spirits, because it is possible to find in ruins lots of interesting and useful things: crockery, glass splinters and pieces of metals. But processing of the found materials is reduced to manufacturing of simple cutting instruments by chopping method or by primitive deformation with the help of impacts of heavy objects. In the past the development of crafts was promoted by two factors: the settled way of life enabling to create new appliances, and presence of surplus of resources. And now scarcity of Earth nature forces people to be in constant movement, to pass from one place to another as far as resources are exhausted. Therefore the only property they have is only the stuff possible to be made in the field or to be carried away in hands only, and sometimes only their own hands, legs and teeth at all. With passing to nomadic way of life the skill of manufacturing of ceramics – first of artificial materials – was lost. On the Earth there was a day when last pot of soup was cooked; the next day this pot was casually broken, and there was already no place to take new one. Further the skill of the manipulation with fire was lost, and man has actually returned to the bosom of nature – but not in the way people of the last epoch dreamed, but in equal conditions with other representatives of fauna.
(Somewhere in Northern hemisphere, nearby the megapolis of historical epoch)
Adults always warned: you must not go to Holey Rocks – it
is a place where demons and monsters live. Around the fire adults told about
strange creatures, which lived in these places. They spoke about turtles, inside
which shells it was possible to sit, and they ran where they are asked to move,
with a roar and fire-sparkling eyes – and so fast, that it’s not possible to
catch them in run. In long cords lightnings lived, which can strike, if to seize
this cord. At the edge of Holey Rocks the stone field was stretched – once the
grass did not grow on it, and huge birds brought live people in craws and stomachs
flied there. But now the stone field is overgrown with grass and trees, and
birds have ceased to stop there: people say, they do not like, when the grass
tickles their stomachs. And at the very top of Holey Rocks a terrible bat lived,
which could shapeshift to a human being.
But curiosity is stronger than fear, and two boys have gone there early in the morning, while everybody slept in the nomad camp. They expected to meet there any wonderful animal, or even to hunt: in one neighbouring clan people told that in ancient times animals in Holey Rocks could eat right from your hands. In addition, the visit to Holey Rocks will prove to everybody in clan that you have already grown up and gained in strength: you are already as many years old, as many fingers and thumbs you have on both hands, and it means that you became adult.
Boys have quickly reached the Stone River which led to Holey Rocks. The surface of the River was smooth and flat once, but now through it grasses and even trees have sprouted. Despite of it, it was convenient to walk along it, and boys have quickly reached the goal of their travel. They walked on the Stone River, which frequently forked, and sometimes rose above the ground on the things similar to stone trunks of trees and legs of caterpillars at once. Holey rocks looked not similar to usual rocks which both boys already saw many times during the wanderings of their tribe in these grounds. Edges of Rocks themselves and holes in them were level like a surface of water in mudpool without wind. Trees grew between these Rocks, breaking off the Stone River by roots, and on Holey Rocks bunches of grasses grew, long vines of creeping plants, and even young thin trees swaying in a wind. For the sake of curiosity boys looked in holes in these Rocks, frightening local inhabitants. Sometimes the scared rodent looking like mouse or rat runned away from them. Sometimes they disturbed pigeons resting inside rocks or had faced a penetrating glance of an owl perching somewhere on the ledge under an arch of the cave inside the Rock. Striped and black cats slinked like silent shadows under trees or hided in depths of Holey Rocks, sparkling by their green eyes. And high under the arch of one Rock they even succeeded to discern a den of bats – but usual ones, not as large as human. Nothing special here… For the sake of interest one of boys took two pieces of rock and knocked them against each other – one piece crumbled, and from the second one the part broke away. What a strange, fragile stone – you will never make neither a knife, nor a tip of spear of such one.
The attention of boys was involved with staccato knocking somewhere above them – as if from somewhere above them small stones were rhythmically strewed. And then someone’s lingering derisive voice was heared – it sounded like disgusting laughter. But it was not a human voice. Boys not so that trusted stories of adults about demons, regarding theim as fairy tales: no more than idle words. Anyway, they had not seen any god or demon yet. Therefore the voice from above has drawn their attention more than frightened them. Both of them have looked upwards.
From the height of two human growths the animal observed them. It walked easily on rocky hand-wide ledge, though it was equal in size to any of boys. The beast grazed the plants rooted in cracks of the Holey Rock, and glanced at the boys, being sure in its inaccessibility and safety. Then it shaked it’s horned and bearded head, and has cried again with its unpleasant voice. From various sides voices of other animals were heard, and boys have looked around. On the next rocks they have distinguished some more animals of the same kind, but of different colors. First of animals was grey with black back, and others were black, light grey, and even one rusty-red beast. Boys have recalled them: these were real goats. Adults say that once upon a time these animals were tamed and came to people to be eaten by them.
But it seems, these goats did not know human stories, therefore they did not hasten to go down. They simply grazed on stone ledges, picking grass growing between stones. One boy, feeling disappointment, took stone and threw it to the nearest goat. The stone hit against the Rock, having knocked out some pieces from it, and goats rushed away – some of them hided inside the Holey Rock, and two ones jumped off on the ground and run away. Boys runned, chasing them. It would be so great to bring such trophy to the camp for supper!
As if having a presentiment of their fate, goats runned along the Stone River, trying to run away from people. Choking, boys ran after them. And they heard somebody’s breath and fast steps behind their backs. One goat has managed to jump on rock and has quickly run upward, and the second animal has hided somewhere inside another Holey Rock. Boys have stopped and have turned back: predators of grey color, some with white spots on breast, stomach and paws, surrounded them. Light-built, with long legs and jaws armed with sharp teeth, they came from sides, trying to surround boys. Once their ancestors were the best friends of humans, but in epoch of crisis these predators have reconsidered their relation to people, and now regarded boys as a prey.
To avouid of being surrounded, boys have quickly receded to one of Holey Rocks. Feral dogs approached closer and closer to them, grinning. But they obviously did not know, how humans can defend themselves, therefore first of stones has immediately found its aim – it has hit head of dog, which has spinned like a top, squealing, and has receded, lurching. From its wool blood dripped on stones, but it has been still alive and now hided cowardly back its relatives. The second stone has hit the head of large dog, that came too close, and the predator has hardly stood on its paws. One more stone has finished it, and the dog has falled on the ground. Other predators, seeing the fate of their relatives, began to recede. The success needed to be fixed – therefore boys have rushed forward, yelling loudly, and some more stones thrown to the dog pack have forced predators to run away. Now boys managed to defend their rights to life, and even to get the hunting trophy – large wild dog. But it is quite possible, that next time the victory will have a greater for them, or will reside with predators at all.
Having tied legs of dead dog to the long strong stick, boys came back to the camp. When they went among Holey Rocks, cautious steps and silent growl were heard behind their backs. But when they only turned back, their pusuers hided and receded, keeping a safe distance. Boys did not begin to run purposely: only prey runs, and it would simply provoke predators for a new attack. When they have stepped to the Stone River, it became easier to walk, and pursuers have lagged behind. Both travellers anticipated a pleasure from their appearing in the nomad camp: they have proved that now they are real men. Maybe, they will manage to convince adults to return here tomorrow and to hunt goats. And the skin of wild dog will be worthy addition to clothes of the young hunter – jacket of rabbit skins and pants plaited of strong grass fibers.
In historical epoch, man has got a success in struggle for
existence due to large complex brain, which provided flexible behaviour and
helped to develop diverse ways of life and to use for a survival local resources
of almost any part of the Earth. But the owning of such advantage had its price
– brain consumed a great share of resources of an organism. Therefore in conditions
of lack of natural resources large brain became too expensive privilege. The
pendulum of natural selection rocked to the opposite side – brain size began
to decrease. Ones which had to spend lesser amount of resources for the maintenance
of this expensive adaptation began to survive more successfully. A result of
it became the degradation of human behaviour – shortening of the period of learning
and smaller volume of the knowledges acquired in the childhood. And after it
humans began to lose other features habitual for civilization epoch.
Life expectancy of people has decreased, and they actually did not live up to postreproductive age: grandmothers and grandfathers simply did not remain any more. This process had a number of unpleasant consequences. First, keepers of knowledge and wise tutors of children have disappeared. Second, now there is nobody to look after children, and mothers managed to give birth to lesser number of children for their short lives and to raise them. Number of people began to decrease, and some areas of the Earth have become unpopulated. The formerly unite species was divided into separate populations, and huge distances have made impossible contacts between them. Evolution was promoted much by people’s xenofobia. Dividing their kind to “us” and “them”, people only increased the isolation by their behaviour and accelerated breaking of mankind united early to separate species. The last time some human species at once lived on the Earth only in Pleistocene; the spiral of the history of mankind has finished its next coil.
Not a splendid future, where technologies facilitated life of each individual, waited the rests of mankind. Four-footed, feathery, scaly and other neighbours in the planet were not going to give in and claimed the rights for the place in nature. For the sake of their own survival human descendants should anchor firmly in their ecological niches and not retreat faced the impact of competitors and predators. Otherwise only one fate may expect for them – the same one to which people doomed set of species of live creatures when man was at top of the power. But where thorny tracks of evolution hidden in the fog of the future may lead them to?
“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”
Arthur Conan Doyle “The Sign of the Four”
In early times of paleoanthropology the fossil ancestry of
humans was represented something like the direct line leading from ancient apes
to the modern human via the sequence of fossil forms, and each of them was exclusively
the descendant of primitive previous one and an ancestor of more refined subsequent
one. But this representation appeared only an illusion. New paleonthological
finds have forced to refuse this “linear” diagram of human evolution for the
benefit of “bush-like” model where from the basic “stem” leading to the modern
human lateral branches constantly separated. And even this “stem” may be named
as “basic” only conventionally – it is only one branch among the set of equivalent
ones, with the only difference: other branches have interrupted, and the branch
of our own kind still exists for the present. In other words, human evolution
does not differ in basic details from the evolution of any other group of live
organisms – the nature uses the same “method of trial and error”, human evolution
abounds events of bias to specialization followed by numerous extinction events.
Such course of events forces to grow dull the shine of a crown of “ruler of
the world” and puts us on an equal footing with all other Earth lifeforms.
In some literary works on human evolution in the future authors insert some fantastic assumptions in text – genetic engineering, for example. In Dougal Dixon’s and Olaf Stapledon’s works earthmen themselves are engaged in it, and in Nemo Ramjet’s book it’s an occupation of the fictitious race of aliens. In any case such intervention expands a spectrum of possible human descendants, but the resulting descendants will not be a result of action of purely natural forces any more. Of course, mechanisms of “horizontal transfer” of genes between different branches of genealogical tree by means of viruses are already discovered now. But in case of application of genetic engineering we face a different scale of intervention (though the mechanism is the same as at transferring of genes by viruses), and it is based not upon any casual event, but on the intentional and purposeful action in the planned extent. In case of action of natural forces we see a “momentary” necessity of fitting of features of an organism to environmental conditions, which directs its further evolution. It is an explanation of the existence of numerous lateral branches, which do not leave descendants, on genealogical tree of any group of live organisms – specialization reduces a competition, but simultaneously limits an opportunity of evolution in other directions. Figuratively speaking, a highway suddenly comes to a dead end.
Sometimes evolution is tried to be presented as a process in which all possible variants of changes are equally realized, but scientists formulated numerous laws, according to which changing of live organisms takes place.
The description of evolution process is far from being reduced
to these laws only. They enable to understand in general, that evolution is
not a process of mechanical searching of all possible variants, and the probability
of realization of these variants is far from being the same. Therefore it is
possible to predict approximately at least some of its results in short-term
prospect. But the greater interval of time we should consider, the more tea
we will have to drink, and the more tea leaves to read during the forecasting
session, because the future is not determined, and its unpredictability can
cross out the most courageous forecasts or the most careful and thought-out
calculations. Therefore the probable way of events of history and images of
human descendants from the far future are, most likely, the pure imagination
To foresee even approximately the appearance of human descendants, it is necessary to look, from what initial positions their evolution will begin, and what “reefs” will limit its possible directions.
Every species of live organisms differs in a unique set of features of an external and internal anatomy. Some of them are primitive – that is, close to features of ancestral forms. Other ones are progressive, generated on the basis of the features inherited from ancestors, and enabling new opportunities for evolution to their owner. Also the specialized features are distinguished – ones changed at the species in focus to a unique condition, not seen in line of its ancestors, and limiting its opportunities for further evolution. The only difficulty is that results of one or another evolutionary step are estimated “post factum”, based on what was the destiny of group of carriers of this feature. Only time will tell what exactly were the features differing humans from other live creatures – the greatest breakout to a new level of being, or the burden limited the opportunities for adaptation and deprived us of the evolutionary future.
If we’ll take the term “primitive” in its widest sense, it is possible to regard as primitive human features a full set of functional extremities (for example, cetaceans have only two of them) and digits (at ungulates their number may reduce up to 1-2 per one extremity). It makes possible the further specialization, corrected for biped position of human body. Human descendants will hardly lose legs like cetaceans did, but change of proportions of arms and legs is quite probable, including a reduction of number of digits at the specialized forms.
In a set of unique human features it is necessary to note so-called “hominid triad”:
1) Orthograding and all details of anatomy related to this
feature – structure of skull, backbone, sacrum and hind legs;
2) Hand with the exact capture adapted to a manipulation with objects and tool making. One basic feature is elongated and mobile thumb able to oppose fingers and to touch a tip of any finger on hand;
3) The advanced brain and the complex behaviour appropriate to its development.
In structure of human axial skeleton and skull fitness to orthograd
bipedal walking is clearly expressed: these are wide cup-like sacrum, specific
double bend of spine column and foramen magnum directed not back, but downwards.
Such deep specialization means impossibility of return to walking on four legs.
Therefore it is possible to expect, that human descendants will remain bipedal
creatures. But this feature does not limit the ability to climb trees; therefore
it is possible to expect an appearing of certain analogues of apes among human
descendants. At forest-dwelling human descendants vertical position of body
will limit the abilities of moving on branches: run on four legs like at monkeys
of Old and New World will appear impossible. The viable option will be so-called
cruriation: walking on branches on two legs in upward position with use of hands
for grabbing nearby branches as a support. And from such way of movement brachiation
– “hand-walking” without use of legs – is easily derived. Therefore among forest-dwelling
human descendants gibbon-like brachiators keeping vertical position of their
backbones at movement are quite expected.
During the adaptation to consumption of softer food in a line of Homo sapiens ancestors jaws have decreased, the reduction of molars began, and also sagittal crest and supraorbital ridges, which gave an additional area for an attachment of powerful masticatory muscles, were reduced. If human descendants should pass to consumption of cruder raw food demanding more chewing, they would hardly acquire again the lost features of apes – evolution is irreversible. With the greater degree of probability they should develop different ways of an attachment of stronger chewing muscles to skull – for example, an additional relief on bones or new bone crests.
Development of chewing muscles demands earlier fusing of skull sutures to provide a reliable support to these muscles. It means that human brain will finish its growth earlier (and the period of learning of worldly wisdom will be shorter). Accordingly, in due course of body growth the braincase stopped in growth will decrease relatively to face part of head. Therefore, following such tendency, face of adult individuals of human descendants will become larger. Actually, it is clearly seen at apes.
Human body above the waist has kept rather low specialized anatomy close to ape’s one. It enables human descendants to keep abilities to grasping and to manipulation by objects, at least, at the ape level. And below the waist human body has a set of features which should be discussed from the point of view of their evolutionary prospects.
Human foot is considered as little specialized to movement on the ground – an origin from arboreal ancestors has an effect. Human is a plantigrade creature, and such feature enables him to have a wide bearing surface. It is important for large creatures, therefore it is possible to expect that massive sluggish forms will stay plantigrade. Development of large feet and long toes at semiaquatic forms is expected. On the contrary, it is more important to swift-footed gracile land-dwelling forms to lower friction at movement, therefore for them the change of foot structure towards its lengthenings at simultaneous accretion of metatarsal bones, and also development of corneous pads taking up the most part of body weight, and reduction of toe number are probable. The remained toes will turn thicker and stronger to maintain the loadings arising at run. The shape of toe nails of humans is specific – they are thin and flat. Therefore it is possible to expect, that they will turn not to massive hooves like horse’s ones, but to something like hooves on camel’s foot: they will amplify coupling with a ground at walking, but not support the body weight. In addition, a “strong suit” of human being is endurance – ability to walk long distances. Losing to ground-dwelling animals in run on short distance, people win as long-distance walkers. Therefore the probability of evolution of migrating species of “walkers” with modified feet adapted to long movement on various types of ground is not excluded. Cursorial forms of humans will have fusing of tibia and fibula bones and perfection of an ankle joint in a way of increase of its reliability: it is important for running creature to avoid ligament traumas, and twisted ankle threatens it with death in teeth and claws of predators.
Human hand has perfect abilities to grasping, therefore development of an arboreal form from human is also not excluded. In this case specialization of foot to grasping may proceed otherwise than at forest-dwelling ancestors of hominids, and a foot of tree-climbing human descendant will not be similar any more to a foot of apes of the past.
The human’s “secret weapon” is the advanced brain. It provides us a flexibility of behaviour, an opportunity to learn and to accumulate significant volume of the information. But the price of such adaptation is too great: it is our long childhood (time of dependence on adult individuals), long-continued growth of skull (non-fused sutures make it a bad support for chewing muscles, and this circumstance reduces a spectrum of food to consume) and great expenses of energy for its keeping in an efficient condition. Weight of human brain makes 1/50 of body weight, but for maintenance of workability of central nervous system from 15 (in rest) up to 25-30% (in a condition of hyperactivity) of resources of whole organism is spent. Therefore deterioration of conditions of life will affect the brainiest individuals in the first place. If we shall imagine the world of the future as an exhausted planet, unable to give enough food for viable populations of large-brained people, we have to recognize that natural selection will favour to ones at which expenses for life support will be less, than at their ancestors. Therefore in the world poor in resources intellectuals with high mental faculties will hardly appear. But ones operating on instinct level, not thinking a lot about the consequences of their actions – in fact, some representatives of modern human kind already live this way – will get an advantage. Hypothetical dwarf human descendants will be “brainless” for certain: it would be not enough physiological opportunities of an organism of small creature to supply large brain with oxygen and to removу products of metabolism of nervous system.
Some of human descendants described in Dougal Dixon’s book “Man after Man” have got advantage in struggle for existence due to purely fantastic assumptions: telepathy and hereditary memory. While existence of these phenomena is not proved scientifically, it is simply incorrect to consider them seriously, as a real material for the further evolution of human descendants.
In addition to “hominid triad” human has also other features allocating him among related forms of primates. One of them is a dental system with reduced canines. Such feature of anatomy helps us to make lateral movements by jaws and to chew food properly. Besides the reduction of canines is considered as one of the major factors of change of signal system – to replace the demonstration of canines characteristic for the majority of monkeys and apes, hominids had to develop complex system of sound signals and gestures.
One more rather widespread attribute of primates is a binocular vision, one of the common features of scull anatomy of primates, present at tarsiers, monkeys and apes. Therefore, preservation of this trait in the future is also probable. This feature helps to estimate distance up to the object in focus precisely, though it narrows a field of view because of significant overlapping of fields of view of both eyes. Thus, this attribute may appear partly adverse for herbivorous forms, which may be subject to predators attacks, but life in groups and development of hearing help to compensate this lack. For arboreal forms binocular vision is a useful feature, therefore it will be kept, like at modern monkey and ape species.
Passing to nomadic lifestyle entails one important consequence – loss of ability to use fire. In addition, it means that human body will had to adapt to consumption of plenties of poorly nutritive forage. In that case human teeth will highly probably evolve aside the best wear resistance and larger size. It was already observed at large Gigantopithecus apes and hominids of genus Paranthropus. Therefore it is possible to expect from human descendants of evolving of forms with large jaws and wide teeth equipped with thick layer of enamel. However at modern human the number of molars tends to reduction: wisdom teeth emerge late, and sometimes not all or not at all. Quite probably, at strictly specialized herbivorous human descendants “elephant mode” of change of teeth may appear, when only one pair of chewing teeth in each jaw functions simultaneously, and in due course of their wearing new molars emerge in back part of jaw, shift forward and replace the previous pair.
For thuman very changeable diet is characteristic – it is an omnivory with opportunities of bias to one way or another. Even modern people show great potential to diet changes: it is enough to call to memory indigenous people of Far North eating almost exclusively meat and fish, and vegetarians on ethical grounds or religious beliefs, terminated the consumption of meat food completely. Ability of use of various kinds of food can be either kept in conditions of lack of food (for example, in high latitudes with seasonal climate and snowy winter), or pass to food specialization in conditions of constant presence of various kinds of food, but of strict competition (such situation may take place in tropical latitudes). At modern leaf-eating colobus monkeys, or guerezas (Colobus) stomach is specialized for treatment of hardly destroying plant cellulose – it is divided into some chambers and the specialized bacteria help to split cellulose.
One more adaptation for digestion of crude vegetative food is cecum, which is enlarged and turned to “fermenter” at herbivorous mammals. At humans cecum is reduced, therefore in case of passing to vegetarian diet an optimum decision will be development of long intestines, or voluminous intestines with additional bulgings of walls, forming “pockets” for life of symbiotic bacteria. It will be shown externally as a presence of voluminous stomach like gorilla’s, and also in sluggish behavior and quieter temper: extraction of energy from hardly assimilable food is very expensive and it is unprofitable to spend it in vain.
Polar forms of human descendants will hardly begin to specialize on feed on meat – at absence of megafauna such strategy will not receive further development. They are quite able to become ecological substitutes of fossil herbivorous mammals – but only in the case when they will get the specialized stomach and intestines for processing of vegetative mass. In the pursuit of bacterial vitamins these creatures may develop such externally unpleasant, but biologically effective strategy, as coprophagy. Excrements rich in bacterial waste products may be an additional source of vitamins and bacterial protein, and also of semidigested vegetative food, from which it is possible to take some more nutrients. Quite probably, any species of symbiotic bacteria may supply them with vitamin C which their human ancestor was not able to synthesize.
Can human descendant be a scavenger? At the dawn of mankind such strategy was justified: it has literally turned our ancient ancestors to people when enabled them to get the advanced brain due to intake of plenty of nutrients. But prehistoric people lived surrounded by megafauna hunted by mega-predators, and at first fed on rests of their meals – after the saber-toothed cat ate a part of soft tissues of its prey, there were still lots of edible parts on carcass. In post-civilization epoch megafauna is absent on the Earth due to human activity, therefore the basis of meat diet of human descendants is made of animals of small species. At the given scenario the way of specialization to feeding on carrion appears closed – at least, at the stage of faunal restoration until new large herbivores and specialized predators eating them will appear in nature.
How will a process of human evolution go, directed exclusively
by natural forces? What would be a prospective appearance of descendants of
a modern human species? Drawing up of such forecasts is a very ungrateful occupation.
All the same, something may be said for certain. It is possible not to expect
an infinite enumeration of all possible forms. Human has certain features of
specialization, and the anatomy imposes essential restrictions on shape of predicted
“future species”. The lost bodies will not be restored any more, and return
to ancestral features of an anatomy is impossible, so we have no reasons to
expect for re-growing of tail and for transformation of semi-aquatic forms to
“mermaids” therefore. For the same reason among human descendants quadrupedal
forms will hardly appear.
Therefore it is possible to expect the descending from humans of about the same spectrum of forms which is shown by modern and fossil primates, adjusted for development of new ecological niches like aquatic habitats, and also for specialized features of modern humans, restricting fundamentally directions of evolution of one kind or another. Foot specialized to walking will worsen our abilities to climb trees, therefore it is possible to expect the evolving of greater number of ground-dwelling forms compared to modern primates. Arboreal descendants of humans will be not such numerous, as modern-day Old World monkeys. “Extreme” variants like quadrupedal herbivorous forms will not appear: among human neighbours there will be species capable to occupy these ecological niches with the greater degree of probabilite.
When talking about early stages of evolution of human descendants, it is necessary to consider the issue about in what conditions they will take place.
The period of drastic impoverishment of species diversity
of flora and fauna of the Earth caused by human activity was followed by the
long period of ecosystems recovery. The species survived during the mass extinction
event were generalists – unspecialized ones capable to use for their survival
various natural resources. But their use of each one resource was rather inefficient.
Therefore in due course of evolution inside these species the new forms avoiding
a competition and reaching success in struggle for existence due to amplification
of specialization have began to appear. This process took place independently
in different groups of live organisms, therefore in various groups of organisms
“bushes” of new closely related species showing different directions of specialization
appeared, but among them only few clades had a continuation. The most part of
such “experimenters” died out very soon without descendants.
Climatic changes played an important role in formation of appearance of flora and fauna of the Earth. Soon after the collapse of civilization one more severe test – an ice age – threatened descendants of mankind and survived representatives of fauna and flora of the Earth. The heyday of a civilization had taken place in long interglacial period followed by rigorous congelation having especially great scale at the large continents of Northern hemisphere. Carbon dioxide emissions in civilization epoch postponed a little the coming of an ice age, but its beginning was determined not only by local terrestrial factors, but also by space ones: by the form of the Earth orbit and the tilt of the Earth. They have played a main role in coming of a global cooling. Enormous masses of fresh water appeared fixed in extensive glaciers, the climate oа the whole Earth became more arid and contrast, and the sea level dropped. After their extensive extirpation in civilization epoch tropical rainforests remained only in few places of the Earth, and they were replaced by seasonal deciduous forests. Because of absence of large grazers grassy plains have quickly given way to thickets of drought-resistant bushes.
Changes in Earth’s plant cover stimulated the evolution of invertebrates eating plants and pollinating them. Birds and small mammals developed new food sources – among them tree seed distributors and pollinators appeared. Their other species turned to insect hunters or tried to pass to large size class as herbivores. And predators also evolved, following herbivorous and insectivorous creatures.
In civilization epoch isolation of biogeographical realms was irreparably broken: casually and intentionally people introduced to various areas of the Earth animal and plant species, which frequently felt in new place much better, than at their native land, and began to oppress native flora and fauna, changing their appearance in radical way. In epoch of global ecological crisis many alien species managed to survive in human-destroyed habitats, and they became ancestors of new life forms equally with native forms. In various biogeographical realms different natural conditions develop, and, knowing them, it is possible to try to ascertain approximately the directions of evolution of human descendants in a region of the planet in focus.
Holarctic realm is an extensive zoogeographical realm covering a significant part of Eurasia, North America and a part of northern Africa. Environmental conditions are very diverse along this vast expanse. In southern part of Holarctic climatic conditions are favorable for primate living, therefore it is possible to expect the certain variety of human descendants at the territory of Northern Africa and Near East. But in northern Eurasia and North America clearly expressed seasonal climate with severe winter reigns. For winter the short daylight reducing the time for search of food is characteristic, and thick snow cover persisting a significant part of year complicates search of food. The continental climate of Eurasia and North America makes winters very frosty, whereas primates in the majority are heat-loving animals. However some kinds of macaques and other monkeys of Old World already in human epoch have shown ability to development of life in a cold climate, settling in alpine areas of Asia. There are no obstacles for settling of primates in territory of Holarctic – it is a giant landmass. Due to spreading of Atlantic ocean the connection of Eurasia and North America in the region of Bering passage had taken place, facilitating faunal exchange between continents. Therefore the most probable situation would be the existence in cold areas of Eurasia and North America of not numerous, but widespread human descendants having different strategies of surviving in adverse conditions. Distinctions in strategy will determine directly a level of a specific variety of these creatures.
Primates out in the cold
Japanese macaques resist to a cold successfully. Not only body features, but also flexible inventive behavior help them in it.
Contrary to the usual stereotype, among monkeys cold-resistant forms exist. One of them is golden snub-nosed monkey from mountains of China.
In human epoch, some species of primates developed the anatomic
and behavioural adaptations enabling them to live in cold conditions. One of
the basic limiting factors for settling of primates in high latitudes is a length
of daylight determining time for search of forage. In warm epochs of Cenozoic
monkeys settled to the north much farther, than in civilization epoch. Fossils
of colobine monkeys (subfamily Colobinae) are revealed in Transbaikalia, Mongolia
and Japan, and of macaques – in Middle Asia and Caucasus region. In New World
local monkeys settled to the north up to Cuba island.
It enables us to expect the appearing of cold-resistant forms among descendants of people.
Ethiopian realm includes almost entire Africa, except for the north of the continent. This place was a cradle of humankind, and it is quite expected, that here descendants of people will be present as very diverse forms. The warm climate is characteristic actually for the whole continent, and even in the south, where in winter snow may fall not for long, conditions are quite suitable for life of primates. Drift of Africa to the north during the Cenozoic has “closed” strait of Gibraltar; the connection of Mediterranean sea with Atlantic has interrupted, and the huge reservoir began drying up, having separated to some large lakes with water of increased salinity. In addition slow collision of Africa and Europe has forced mountains of Europe to “grow up”, blocking a way to humid winds from the north. It has made a climate of northern part of the continent more arid and hot, having reduced the area of savannas in the north. Nevertheless, the Atlantic coast of Africa turned to one of the most important ways of migration for local herbivores spending summer in the north, in humid deciduous forests of Europe. In the east rift valley has split Africa, having separated a large landmass from the continent by narrow sea passage and having reduced the area of savannas in African mainland. Central Africa and Congo River basin are the places of growth of evergreen tropical forests extremely favorable for life of primates. In these areas it is possible to expect a significant specific variety of human descendants differing from each other in ecology and diet. In arid mountains of the south of continent and in savanna zone specific variety of human descendants will apparently be not too great. It is quite probable that in Africa descendants of people will have serious competitors – baboons. Occupying various ecological niches accessible to primates, they can affect essentially the diversity of human descendants. And the way to avoid this competition will be the increasing of specialization.
Oriental (Indomalayan) realm includes South and Southeast Asia and islands of Indonesia. It is not isolated by sea spaces from Holarctic realm: natural northern border of this realm represents mountain areas of Eurasia, and it gradually passes to Australasian realm via islands of Indonesia in the south. It is an area of stable warm climate and diverse landscapes – plains, mountains and coastal sea regions. In human epoch forested areas in this region were considerably reduced, and the human-changed landscapes were widespread. But after the collapse of civilization forests spreaded again, giving favorable places for life of primates. In this area existence of several kinds of human descendants differing in their way of life is possible, and island isolation promotes the appearing of the series of local endemic forms. Species of human descendants may be relatives of forms from Holarctic, and quite possible from Ethiopian realm – due to faunistic exchange via “corridors” along the coast of Indian Ocean.
Islands of Southeast Asia represent an original laboratory of evolution. Drop of sea level enabled continental species to settle on former islands via land “bridges”, and its rise “locked” them on small islands and resulted in accumulation of differences from related forms. In this way three orangutan species have evolved: Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli ones. In conditions of isolation evolution could have rather unexpected direction. In Pleistocene on small Flores island dwarf people have appeared, and their neighbours were dwarf Stegodon elephants, giant (cat-sized) rats, giant marabou storks and very large monitor lizards.
Neotropic realm includes South America, islands
of Caribbean Sea and a part of Central America. In human epoch it was communicated
to Holarctic realm via thin isthmus of Panama, and some species could also settle
to the north via the island chain of Antilles. These places never were the native
land of apes, and from among all hominids only people settled here in natural
way. The present zoogeographical realm is a favorable place for life of primates
– it is shown by great variety of New World monkeys in human epoch. However
these primates for the most part have become extinct due to destruction of tropical
forests in human epoch. Few survived forms do not play any more such important
role in forest ecosystems, as did earlier.
The significant part of area of the continent is occupied by tropical forests, savannas and bushlands. Because of absence of extensive landmasses in high latitudes of the Southern hemisphere climate of the far south of continent is not as extreme, as in the appropriate latitudes of Northern hemisphere, however the neighbourhood of Antarctica makes winter cool and snowy. The extended mountain ridge of Andes blocks a way to humid winds from Pacific Ocean; to the east from it, “rainshadow deserts” are formed, where extreme conditions for life are highly adverse for primates.
The most favorable conditions for life of human descendants form in tropical forests and savannas of northern and central parts of South America. In the south of the continent the existence of rather cold-resistant migrating form is probable. Large river systems may promote the evolution of semi-aquatic species. For forest-dwelling forms there is a probability of competition to the last New World monkeys, and this competition may be rather rigorous: in mental faculties capuchins are comparable to Old World monkeys and even surpass them.
Primates settled to South America from Africa, having crossed rather narrow at that time Atlantic Ocean on tree “rafts”. Such event was obviously unique, but very successful. Not having competitors there, they have got accustomed in new habitats successfully and in due course of evolution have soon generated a set of evolutional lines of New World monkeys differing from each other in a way of life and requirements to an inhabitancy. However, as against to Old World primates, there were no very large and ground-dwelling forms among them.
Australasian realm includes Australia, New Guinea, a part of islands of Indonesia and some archipelagoes of Pacific Ocean. For a long time it existed in isolation, being separated from other continents by sea spaces. Among primates only people succeeded to cross these natural barriers. Geological processes have caused the drift of Australia to the north and connection of New Guinea to it via wide land isthmus. Mountains on the east of the continent block way to humid winds from Pacific Ocean, therefore conditions especially favorable for life of human descendants will form at the far east of the continent, in narrow zone between mountains and ocean. As a result of human activity the significant part of the continent has turned to deserts and savanna. In epoch of recovery of natural conditions significant spaces of continent are overgrown with light forests of gums and conifers with a share of other evergreen trees. On the west of the continent savannas dominate, and freshwater reservoirs appear there only after rains. North of the continent is in the zone of plentiful rainfall, therefore it is also possible to expect the appeaing of arboreal forms in “New Guinean” part of the unite continent. The original fauna of this zoogeographical realm appeared very sensitive to human influence in epoch of development of civilization. Not numerous large species have died out, therefore human descendants will hardly have serious competitors among local animals. Also absence of monkeys and apes enables to suppose perspectives of evolution of arboreal forms of human descendants competing to tree-climbing marsupials.
The collapse of a human civilization has resulted in significant
reduction of an area of human descendants. During the becoming of mankind and
accumulation of knowledges and skills people managed to master habitats extremely
adverse for life of other primates – extensive areas of Eurasia and North America,
a kingdom of seasonal climate and extreme natural conditions. But collapse of
human technological civilization in common with extinction of large species
of animals has resulted to that almost instantly huge spaces of northern continents
appeared the areas unsuitable for life of people. People have lost a source
of meat “packed” in bodies of large animals with a plenty of edible parts, and
also of skins – a material for making of warm clothes. Open-air cultivation
of crop plants in conditions of rigorous climate with long frosty winter is
also rather risky occupation not paying back the efforts spent. As a result
the geographic range of mankind decreased drastically – people have left higher
latitudes to warmer areas of the Earth. But in the territories free from people
an evolution of other representatives of fauna – descendants of few kinds of
animals managed to survive in epoch of crisis – went on.
In epoch of biosphere recovery after the sixth extinction people’s descendants are represented exclusively by herbivorous and omnivorous forms. Because of absence of large prey predatory forms has not evolved among them. And the role of small prey hunters in epoch of global ecological crisis was occupied by small carnivores like small cats, canids, mongooses and weasels. In their majority the descendants of people have kept the inclination for the mixed habitats – areas of forest divided by river or dry meadows and bush thickets. They have left from the settled way of life acquired by humans and turned to nomads. Their far ancestors let such way of life, and their descendants returned to it. In places where monkeys still lived, descendants of people compete to them and win a place for life exclusively due to specialization – it is possible to lower a competition to monkeys in this way. But specialization always has a downside: it limits opportunities of the further evolution of a species, leaving for it in fact the only well-trodden way – to even deeper specialization. However, it increases the probability of extinction of such species.
Polar areas, mountains and areas of expressed continental climate are places where human descendants are rare or do not live at all. A cradle of new mankind is tropical zone. Here an active speciation of human descendants and their development of new way of life take place. But people are not lonely on the Earth: all creatures escaped after anthropogenous crisis “try” actively new roles in ecosystems. On genealogical tree whole “bushes” of new forms appear, but in the majority they do not have descendants and die out. Such “unsuccessful attempts” represent an order of things in nature: in due course of evolution new opportunities are developed by a trial and error method, and people are not an exception here. Human descendants are simply large creatures, and they have less number of such opportunities. But in epoch of biosphere recovery people gradually began to lose the features acquired with the intelligence. Now their individual development turns faster, the brain finishes its growth earlier, the amount of the information it can acquire also decreases. Easing of cerebration is compensated by occurrence of the anatomic specializations enabling to survive, and different populations of people separate from each other even stronger. And shortening of individual development results in acceleration of generational change – it is an important condition enabling to survive in promptly changing world of recovery epoch after global extinction.
(Oriental realm, Hindustan)
Forest is a traditional habitat of primates. In prehistoric
epoch forests of the Earth were inhabited by great amount of apes, monkeys and
prosimians, which found there numerous kinds of food – leaves and fruits, insects
and small vertebrates. In epoch of civilization crisis a significant part of
natural riches was destroyed. In epoch of civilization heyday South Asia was
the most densely populated area of the Earth. And here the nature has suffered
significant damage and recovered for a long time, hiding in jungle not only
the rests of ancient temples, but also the skyscrapers, factories and other
attributes of an industrial society destroyed by time.
Strangely enough, but in jungle of these places monkeysstill exist – probably, they were saved due to religion which has made these animals the objects of reverence. Also their survival may be promoted by the arranging of vast dumps where they could find food and hide from people. Anyway, in jungles closed tree crones above ruins of civilization, monkeys jump on trees. And descendants of people wander in gloomy underbrush, gathering mushrooms and fallen fruits. They also catch small animals – everything forests of recovery epoch are rich in. There is a lot of footpaths in forest, but all of them are made mainly by small animals. Large animals also inhabit forests – these are descendants of goats and pigs, but they are either too fast, or too dangerous to hunt them intentionally. In addition, skills of manufacturing of stone tools and the weapon have been actually lost.
A clan of forest people came to a huge tree with thick trunk, on which round brown spheres on short peduncles hang. It is a generous gift of local nature – fig infructescences. They ripen in racemes right on tree trunk, low from the ground – just within reach of forest people. Moreover, it is possible to find ripen infructescences at any time of year, therefore, knowing the location of large fructifying fig trees, you will not stay hungry. Pulp of fig infructescences is tasty and full of numerous tiny seeds – it is an ideal variant for seed dispersal by creatures like people.
Forest people live among numerous forest inhabitants of other kinds. In tree crones birds call, and in fallen foliage lizards, snakes and small rodents rustle. Nearby to fig tree trunk the large clay hill of termitary towers on the ground – it is one more source of protein-rich food. When some forest people came to insect nest in hope to have some termite snack, it appeared that they are only second here. Near the base of termitary, snuffling loudly, large animal with rusty-red wool digs ground – it is similar in size to any small dog of civilization epoch, but is of more powerful constitution. Under its muscled paws galleries of termite nest fall, and long tongue licks off dozens of insects running out to protect their home. It is long-tongued gravisorex – large specialized shrew having a convergent similatity to South American anteaters. Its teeth are reduced in great degree, and can only crush soft-bodied insects. Nevertheless, this creature is not defenceless. When some forest people came to the termitary, gravisorex has become alarmed. Beast has breathed heavily and turned its muzzle to people, having spred wide paws armed with large claws and demonstrating its white throat. It emitted simultaneously a pungent odor intolerable even for people with their rather weak sense of smell. Gatherers bypass this creature cautiously – protecting itself, gravisorex can cause deep wounds with its claws, that is dangerous in conditions of tropical climate. Seeing that people came aside, gravisorex has continued its feeding.
Forest people are not only human descendants in forests of South Asia. They have relatives – representatives of another subspecies of the same species, which prefer to settle near water and to search for food in reservoirs. These two subspecies are separated ecologically, and only in wet-swamp forests distinctions between them disappear. Representatives of river subspecies have lower growth; they live in all large rivers of tropics of South Asia. These are undersized people with hairless yellowish-brown skin and dense straight hair. They are not afraid of water, are good swimmers and even hold breath reflexly, diving in water in searches of food.
Clan of river people wanders in shallow water near the riverbank, communicating with separate abrupt phrases. Their language is simple and poor – there are only basic concepts and emotions in it. In conditions of tropical climate their life looks simple and easy – maybe, thinkers of the past imagined “Golden Age” in this way. River people pull out water lily leaves and soft shoots of underwater plants, and eat them at once. If they get snails, river people chew them with shells and swallow. Some of them are engaged in catching of crayfishes and crabs. However, because of such diet all people of river folk are heavily infected with parasitic worms.
A flock of small ducks swims nearby to people gathering food, and among reeds the large white heron has stiffened like a sculpture. Birds keep quietly at the presence of river people, but do not lose vigilance: it happens, river people try to hunt them, and sometimes have a success in it. However now people do not pay attention to birds, do not hide and behave rather noisily. Adult river people communicate with exclamations, and some children run on shoaliness, having arranged noisy game. Suddenly ducks have become alarmed and have flied up with loud calls, and the heron followed them, flapping its wings majesticly. One adult human freezed, peering into water, and then has cried shrilly and has rushed to the riverbank. Other river people began to get out on the bank hasty, and mothers grabbed their children and pulled them out from water.
Sitting on land, river people peer into water cautiously. It seemed, nothing happened - only water lily leaves moved slightly. But in one instant among water lilies the smooth slimy back with peaked fin appeared. Giant titanobagrus catfish swims among water lilies – length of this giant is not less than four meters. In human epoch fishes of such size were exterminated ruthlessly, but now it is a time to pay the bills. This descendant of small bagrid catfishes has successfully tried itself in a role of the top predator of ecosystem: such giant frequently devours children, and sometimes can even seize and drown the adult human by mistake. Therefore it is better to keep as far as possible from it. River people stay far from water reasonably and keep an eye on underwater monster from the riverbank. Having swum along the shoaliness very close to the bank, giant catfish turned around and disappeared in depth, having left only a cloud of silt after itself. But river people will not enter water for a long time after that.
River people feel like uncomfortably on land: other creatures live here, and it would be not always desirable to meet them. And the riverbank is such a brisk place, where forest inhabitants come to the watering place. And if relations of water people and four-legged forest inhabitants are more or less successful, relations with two-legged cousins cannot be regarded as good. People have lost a great lot of things making them human, but have remained very xenophobic. The concept “subman” has disappeared from the language, but still exists in memory, causing the appropriate forms of behaviour. Therefore, when on the path leading to watering place the group of forest gatherers has appeared, the alarm among water people began again, and it is not vain again: larger forest dwellers arrange conflicts more often and behave more aggressively.
Having caught sight of their water-dwelling neighbours, men of forest people try to assert themselves one more time: they begin to pursue river people, hooting loudly and waving hands. Water inhabitants have scaredly run off their taller relatives who were obviously inspired with their success. One adult man of forest people even has turned in their side and has urinated in a pointed manner, listening approving exclamations of his relatives. Having reasserted their supremacy, forest people came to water and have began to drink, having kneeled and scooping water by hands. From time to time they glanced at water people and grinned or growled like beasts. Seeing their fear, they chuckled and maked malicious physiognomies intentionally, forcing children of river people to cry for fear.
People of river folk observed of them with undisguised fear, because they saw something forest people have not noticed. Suddenly the wave has swept on water surface, having raised water lily leaves. The mighty body, shining in the sun with its slimy skin, rushed to the riverbank right among drinking people of forest folk. The mouth has swung open instantly, and jaws of a monstrous catfish clamped on an arm of one teenager. Before any of forest people has understood anything, the catfish has bent the whole body sideways and has dragged its pley to water depth. The caught teenager yelled, but nobody has hastened to help him: forest people are afraid of water inhabitants. Being frightened of a sudden monster’s attack, forest people have run off the river, crying loud. The monstrous fish has dragged its prey away to the water and has carried it on the bottom – yell of the caught teenager interrupted suddenly. Nothing left from the former boldness: ostentatious bravery cost them a life of one clan member. Forest people are obviously shocked and suppressed: they keep silence and hasten to abandon a place of tragedy, having quickly disappeared in forest.
In thickness of water among water lily leaves the dirty brown cloud of silt blurs. The predator has taken what it wanted, and now it is possible not to be afraid of a new attack for a long time: it will not return for some days while it will digest its prey somewhere in slough. Having convinced that danger is over, people of river folk enter the water again and continue gathering food. They know habits of their neighbours very well – it is difficult to survive without it in the world, where danger may come from the most unexpected side.
Asian forest human (Homo orientalis
Human subspecies adapted to life in conditions of tropical rainforest. Stature of an adult individual is up to 160 cm. Constitution is gracile, fat stocks are concentrated on buttocks – it is an adaptation against overheat in conditions of hot climate. Skin almost lacks sweat glands; the constitution promotes heat emission. Skin is brown with short thin hair. Head hair is rich, moustaches and beard are absent; nose and earflaps are large. This subspecies is omnivorous, eating mainly tuberous plants and small animals.
For behavior strict territoriality is characteristic. These people live in family groups of several breeding pairs connected by patrilineal relationship. Age of sexual maturity is 7-8 years; lifespan is about 40 years.
River human (Homo orientalis potamophilus)
Subspecies of a tropical human species from Asia, adapted to life in wetlands and near reservoirs. It has lesser stature compared to forest-dwelling form – less then 130 cm. This subspecies is settled along riverbanks and lake shores, and also in mangrove forests where sea water is freshened by river water supply. Skin is light brown and lacks sweat glands; there is a thin fat layer promoting heat insulation. Hair-covering is thin, long hair are present only on head; moustaches and beard are absent. Fingers and toes are elongated in comparison with forest-dwelling form. A prominent feature of appearance is a large prominent nose; at diving nostrils close automatically from within by the special skin valve.
These people live in family groups numbering up to 5-6 pairs of adult individuals and their posterity. Age of sexual maturity is 6-7 years, and lifespan is about 35 years.
Long-tongued gravisorex (Gravisorex
Ground insectivorous mammal, specialized to feeding on social insects – ants and termites. Most likely, the ancestor of this species was Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus), a common and widespread animal in tropical Asia in human epoch. Body length is about 50 cm, tail length is up to 40 cm. This animal has strong digging paws with massive pointed claws. Muzzle is elongated with partly reduced teeth; ears and eyes are small. Wool colouring is rusty red with white throat and black strip along the back. This sluggish animal defences itself against enemies with the help of pungent musky smell, but being under attack it can strike impacts by claws. Female gives rise up to 4 cubs twice a year. Life expectancy does not exceed 6-7 years.
Bigmouthed titanobagrus (Titanobargus
After the extinction of crocodiles, fishes have begun to develop actively a role of top predator of fresh waters. This species is a large predatory fish growing to 3-4 meters (female is larger), the descendant of small bagrid catfishes of human epoch. Back is coloured greenish; sides are yellow with brown specks forming a marble pattern, masking this predator in aquatic plants. In back fin large poisonous spike grows. Eyes are small; vision is bad, but long barbs help to feel movement of objects even in muddy water. Large head with wide mouth enables keeping and swallowing of prey weighting up to 40-50 kg. This species hunts waterfowl, seizing birds from under water, and frequently hunts ground-dwelling animals, arranging ambushes in front of their watering places.
Fertility is up to 100 thousand eggs. Fishes build a nest of plants; male protects clutch and fry. Despite of it, death rate of posterity is very high, also because of cannibalism. Lifespan is up to 60 years.
Bighand has cautiously looked out of bushes. He tried even
to breathe as more cautiously, as it is possible, being afraid of being noticed.
He kept his brown eyes on Others – strange creatures wandering along the riverbank
on border of his clan’s possessions. Bighand saw Others for the first time,
therefore he did not know what to expect from them. These were large bipedal
creatures: two heads taller than Bighand is, and almost twice wider; they are
obviously stronger than anyone from Bighand’s clan, therefore it was necessary
for him to learn better their habits. It was even not clear, are they people
or animals: their skin was overgrown with shaggy light grey wool, and it was
hard to see their faces – they were hairy too, like animal muzzles. Not noticing
Bighand, creatures pick plants and chewed them, communicating more by gestures,
than by sounds.
Many successive generations of Bighand’s clan lived in this forest. Their possession represents an extensive area of deciduous forests with separate fragments of pine forest on hills and gloomy damp fir grove in boggy lowlands. From one side of clan territory river flowing to the north served as a natural border of territory, and from other side low dry hills overgrown with pines tower. Beyond the hills the neighbour clan lived, and to the south, upstream the river, there was one more group of relatives. They were familiar to Bighand, because between clans there was a continuous exchange of females.
Species Bighand belongs to is easily distinguished as a human descendant: they are bipedal creatures having muscled bodies. Skin at representatives of his kind is covered with long grey wool saving from winter cold. Faces of Bighand and its relatives are similar to human ones, but jaws and masticatory muscles are larger, nose is shorter, and the forehead is much lower, than at their intelligent ancestor. Brain still enables them to communicate with the help of various sounds and gestures, but skills of language dialogue are already lost for a long time. Faces, palms and feet at clan members are covered with rough wrinkled skin not sensitive to winter cold, and corneous callouses on soles enable to walk on sharp stones and cold snow. Residence of Bighand is located in temperate climatic zone of Europe.
Members of Bighand’s clan do not have names. They distinguish each other’s faces and other features of appearance. Bighand became a clan leader a long time ago; his mighty hands easily give punches when in clan any conflict rages, and he is quick with his hands. Bighand is a subject of scare and respecity: he is not only strong, but also clever leader. He knows perfectly clan’s territory and chooses routes of movement crossing places rich in food. Other males in the clan are his relatives: brother, sons and the nephew; females, on the contrary, are more often natives of the neighbouring clans. All clans strictly respect borders, and only females pass from one clan to another from time to time. Males inherit and protect their territory.
Bighand’s clan is compelled to wander in forest to gather food. If they will stay at the same place for too long time, they may exhaust resources of that area. Despite of small brain, representatives of this hominid specoes easily make a menthal map of a certain area and perfectly remember time of appearing of berries and mushrooms of one kind or another. Since spring up to an autumn they live very well and nourishingly, eating various plants and small animals, but in winter they should shift to a diet of bark and to dig out edible roots from the frozen ground. It is good, that winter in Bighand’s residences is not too snowy, and frosts do not last very long.
The climate of the continent began to change over time: winter became short, cold and dry, and summer became longer from century to century, but got colder and colder. The reason of these changes is a colossal glacier expanding far in the north and gradually moving to lower latitudes. Because of it borders of climatic zones shift and plants and animals move to the places where they did not live earlier. Bighand would hardly notice how new birds have appeared in forest – he does not pay attention to them. However in his recollection in forest strange hares from the north settled – they are twice larger than ones he knew, having rich wool and running on four legs. Sometimes he managed to catch their cubs having very tasty meat, but adult individuals of this kind always appeared faster and succeeded to run away from Bighand and members of his clan. New plants could also cause his interest – they may become food or a natural medicine. But these were not so important events poorly influencing a habitual way of life. But when Others came to his ground, this event appeared very unusual. Therefore he has tried to learn about them as much as possible to understand, how to react to their presence.
Once in hot summer day Bighand’s clan had a rest after food search, and Bighand itself has decided to examine vicinities once again. Everybody have already got used to his absence, therefore nobody has paid attention to his actions. Wandering in forest without a definite purpose, Bighand has suddenly noticed the grayish wool flashed among a hazel grove. These are Others, and they’re very close to his clan! Bighand has hidden among bushes and has begun observing of them. In forest a whole group of Others fed – six large adult creatures, three smaller ones and two very small ones keeping near to adults. It seems, that these creatures are not aggressive: they eat plants, digging them out from the ground or picking leaves and flowers. But when mouse has run on wood litter, one of Others killed it by dexterous impact of hand and threw it into his mouth. Chewing his prey, he added some leaves to it. The others did not have a look at him at all, having continued to be engaged in their own affairs. They utter few sounds and express their emotions more in gestures and body movements. At these creatures females are similar to males – they have the same hairy faces and moustaches and beards, and hair on their faces are shorter only. At large females breasts are prominent, and only this feature enables to understand, that they are females.
One male has suddenly risen in full growth, has turned his face towards hidden Bighand and has stretched an arm to his side in pointing gesture, accompanying his movements with whoop like owl’s voice. Fingers of his hand are directed straight on Bighand, and other aliens have turned heads to that side. It is not meaningful to hide now, and Bighand has risen from behind a bush. Others also stood up, but have remained on their place and have only began to examine him. They are larger than he is, but do not express any aggression. For some time Bighand and Others looked against each other, stayng still and silent; the pause delayed obviously, and an uncertainty of the situation forced to feel nervous. The tension was eased by one male, which handed him a dug out plant and smacked his lips. Bighand’s clan eats such ones, but he is afraid to take the handed plant – the male giving it is much larger than Bighand himself. Male of Others looks at him, having slightly opened his mouth, and obviously waits for the reply. Bighand sees teeth of this giant – they are large, but flattened: these are not predator’s teeth. Therefore, having gathered up his courage, Bighand has cautiously stepped to the male of Others, has taken the plant handed to him by two fingers and has eaten it. Being near to Others, he has felt heavy and alien smell of their bodies. He does not know how to behave with them – he can not understand: are they animals, or nevertheless people, like a species to which Bighands belongs itself?
Bighand’s clan has gradually become aquainted with Others. At first members of his clan stood aside shaggy giants, but were soon convinced of inoffensiveness of strangers and have stopped being afraid of Others. During the wanderings in forest Bighand’s clan from time to time comes across these newcomers, but finds results of their feeding more often. And Bighand begins to understand gradually, that his relatives should spend more time for search of food. The amount of edible plants in his territory decreases, and Bighand realized that his possession is obviously overpopulated, and these strange Others shouldn’t be here.
In one summer day when Bighand’s clan fed at the forest meadow, in wood thicket twigs crackled under massive feet, and Others directed to the clan with the determined walk. They joined quite openly to feeding Bighand’s clan. Strangers obviously study what food they should to eat, diligently copying movements of Bighand’s relatives and choosing the same plants, as they do. Others quickly accustom on the new place and already feel themselves at home in the territory of Bighand’s clan. Within next several days they literally pursue Bighand’s clan, pushing his relatives off the food – nonaggressively, but persistently, using their physical superiority.
Some more days passed. The clan of forest inhabitants moved restlessly one place to another, trying to escape from odd strangers, but they did not lag behind. Because of this chase, clan members began to eat worse, and children went to sleep, being hungry even more often. And one days Bighand’s patience appeared exhausted. He began to protest against the presence of Others, shaking bushes and hooting loud. But these creatures took a look at him only and have continued feeding near his clan. And then Bighand ventured to go to extremes: he rushed to one of young females of Others and began to pull the dug out plant out from her hand. The reply to this scurvy trick was the low rumbling uttered from of one of large Others male’s mouth opened to bare teeth. However Bighand has failed to heed warning and has continued to pull a plant from a hand of female, which bleated scaredly, looking him with startled eyes, but not unclenching her hand. He has obviously overestimated his forces: mighty impact of the fist covered with light grey wool has forced him to faint and to fall down in grass. The warning is more than clear: clan members have bunched around defeated Bighand, looking sacredly to the strangers. Now they did not seem such harmless to them any more.
After some time Bighand moved slightly and moaned. He stood up with some effort and looked at group of Others, which continued feeding in the ground of his clan unperturbably. On their former ground: now Bighand’s clan had to leave from the lived-in grounds and to search for the new house for them. It is an uneasy problem: climate turns worse, amount of food becomes ever less, and the competition between clans turns more intense. The glacier changes borders of natural zones and forces various species to settle to new places and to adapt to new conditions. In new habitats immigrants may enter conflicts to natives, and Bighand has fallen a victim to one of such ones. If his clan is forced to recede to the south, he needs to be ready to quarrel with neighbours. Also it is possible, that strange Others will also move farther to the south, superseding clans of forest dwellers from their territories. Nevertheless, despite of climate changes, a part of the representatives of northern subspecies has remained in cold wooded tundra near the glacier, where they continue to lead a habitual way of life.
Forest human (Homo borealis sylvaticus)
Life in a temperate zone of Eurasia has forced human descendants to change in great degree. Their evolution was directed to the loss of intelligence for the benefit of improvement of the physical characteristics. The forest subspecies of the Eurasian human species is remarkable in heavy constitution, but in small brain size and rather large face with strong jaws. Speech skill is actually lost, communication takes place by means of various gestures and a small number of sounds. The whole body is covered with grey wool; on men’s faces long moustaches and beards grow, females have no moustache, but rudimentary beards grow on their necks and throats. This subspecies lives in family groups – clans numbering up to 20-25 individuals, where males are connected by patrilineal consanguinty. Stature of an adult individual is about 150 cm.
This species leads a nomadic way of life, is hardy and capable to walk for a long time. Clan moves permanently from one place to another, not passing over borders of their territory. These people are omnivorous and eat various foods of plant and animal origin. To winter they turn very fat and grow longer wool. This variety of humans does not run into hibernation and is active in winter. Age of sexual maturity is about 5-6 years.
Arctic human (Homo borealis arcticus)
It is the most specialized human descendant after the collapse of civilization, adapted to life in harsh conditions of subpolar areas of Holarctic. In conditions of lack of resources and of extreme conditions of life pressure of natural selection was especially severe and it has resulted in evolution of strong creatures, and because of the limited resources in their habitats brain was reduced up to a minimum for the benefit of physical strength and endurance. This form of humans is remarksble in robust constitution and large body size at rather short arms and legs. Stature of an adult individual is up to 160-170 cm. Skin is covered with long rich wool from light grey up to white color; even the face is overgrown with it. At males there are an expressed beard and moustaches. Increased contents of testosterone in blood at females helps them to survive in harsh winter conditions, but influences their appearance: at females moustaches and beards also grow, though they are shorter, than at males. Strong nails help them to dig plants out from the ground, and heavily cornificated skin on soles enables to walk barefoot on cold snow.
In summer this species is mainly herbivorous and receives vitamin C necessary for life from green; to get vitamins in winter, these people dig plants out from under snow. Food of animal origin in diet of this species includes bird eggs and nestlings, rodents and frogs. In winter Arctic people eat corpses of animals and the rests of prey of various predators, and also dig evergreen plants from under snow.
The posterity is born in spring, learns to walk soon and passes to adult food, though feeds on mothermilk for a long time – it is critical for survival of young individuals in winter. Breeding rate at this species is slow – female gives birth to one baby once in four or five years.
In the heart of Africa, as well as during the dawn of humankind,
unbroken dense forests grow. But now, in epoch of nature recovery after the
sixth extinction, they look more similar to forests of Paleocene epoch: these
are endless thickets of trees, because large herbivorous mammals constraining
their growth became victims of human activity. And at this time of evolutionary
uncertainty in gloomy underbrush among small herbivores survived in epoch of
global extinction the dramatic race for conquering of large-scale class is in
full swing. For now in this forest there are no animals comparable in size to
elephants or rhinoceroses: the largest forest inhabitants are descendants of
people and goats.
People of African tropical forest are ecological analogues of the extinct apes: they are herbivorous gatherers occasionally variegating their diet with food of animal origin. They are doubtless representatives of human genus, having black skin, rather tall stature and muscled constitution. But small braincase makes their heads similar to apes’ ones, and only prominent nose and almost hairless skin on body indicate that they’re human descendants. They prefer to live at the edges of plant thickets, where river cuts through forestland – here sunlight reaches the ground, and bushes with edible leaves grow. Forest people do not arrange permanent settlements: they stay on the same place no more than two-three days, and then move on. Groups of people know forest perfectly and travel there along well-known routes, changing them occasionally.
Mainly vegetarian diet compels them to search for food actually all day long. They wander in underbrush and gather the fallen fruits, eat mushrooms and leaves from bushes and young trees. It is very difficult to orientate in dense forest, therefore forest people listen attentively to voices of local birds which notice possible dangers faster. Somewhere in forest canopy call of one local bird is heard – it sounds like toots, monotonously and repeating many times in sucession with short pauses. The bird itself is even not visible from the ground.
Forest people have many neighbours in underbrush. One of them rummages in fallen foliage in searches of nuts fallen from tree – it is is giant ground squirrel, a small dog-sized rodent with long tail. Its yellow incisors enable to crack even hardest shells of local tree fruits. It will simply eat some nuts at once, but some will be stocked in hidden places it knows, and they may sprout somewhere far from a parent plant. This squirrel has not forgot yet how to climb trees, but makes it reluctantly, gradually giving up the way of life of its ancestors: it even arranges nest in ground hole. Its size is a reflection of the general evolutionary trend: after the extinction of large forms in historical epoch descendants of smaller survived forms try to take their place and begin increasing in size.
Forest people have neighbours of even more exotic appearance. One of them is armed with hard spikes and reaches a length of almost one meter: it is myrmerix, a huge species of hedgehog with muscled forepaws. It specializes in feeding on insects and other tiny animals. In animal’s mouth sharp cutting teeth grow, and thin sticky tongue may extend from its mouth at its head length. It can break open hard termitaries with its forepaws, but also beetles, cockroaches and small rodents crawling and scurrying in wood litter fall prey of this hedgehog.
Suddenly the ominous silence fills the forest: bird voices in forest canopy are barely heard. In forest silence is the most terrible thing possible to hear. It means that forest dwellers feel danger. Giant ground squirrels have panicked. They stopped their search for seeds and began rearing on hind legs to smell air. People also stopped picking bush leaves began listening and looking around. They know by experience, that the most dangerous local predators are on the hunt, and it is important to notice their appearing in time, or else it’s impossible to escape from them. In historical epoch leopard was the top predator of African tropical forests. However, due to extinction of large prey this large predator has also died out. When numerous ecological niches have become empty in epoch of sixth extinction, among survived forms an evolutionary race for a rank of top predator had taken place. And in troublesome transitive epoch a superorganism successfully tries itself in this role.
In silence an ominous rustle of millions legs on fallen foliage is heard. Columns of tiny bodies gleam in twilight of an underbrush – masked army ants, a really deman of tropical forest, are on the marsh. This giant colony of insects has cleared of prey its former residence and now moves to a new site of forest. This colony is at the peak of its power: among workers numerous fertile females move, surrounded by furious soldiers. They are mothers of new generation of insects, ready to make hundreds of thousands of descendants for the sake of prosperity of their kind. Each ant taken alone may seem weak, but their colony is a force to be reckoned with for all forest inhabitants.
Approach of the danger has caused panic flight of forest inhabitants. Escape is the easiest for insects – it is enough only to fly up and to leave a dangerous place. Heavy beetles fly up with bass hum, grasshoppers of freakish shapes and mantises looking grotesquely in flight rustle with their wings. Following them, bats move to new places of daytime rest – light of day frightens them less, than the prospect to be eaten alive by a horde of insects. Mice and other small mammals, snakes, frogs and lizards rustle in wood litter, seeking safety in flight. Giant ground squirrel leaps heavily in wood, carrying its cub in mouth – maybe, it will manage to save it, if ants will not cut off an escape way.
People felt the general fear. Mothers called their children and took them on hands, and men tried to define the direction danger comes from and the proper way to escape it. Suddenly one teenagers has screamed and began to jump on wood litter, holding his leg. He has faced harbingers of an approaching trouble – forager ants running ahead of the main column. Ant’s sting has burnt his leg, and the teenager has rushed away, limping and crying.
Having heard his cry, people rushed to flight. They perfectly know pain of ant stings, but also know the truest way of escape from them. Forest river flows nearby, and they simply come into water knee-deep and wait, while hungry hordes of insects will pass by. Columns of ants appear at the riverbank, gleaming their shells among plants, but do not pursue people, and creep lengthways the water edge, rummaging around a coastal grass in searches of prey. Not all inhabitants of forest are afraid of them: small birds flutter above ant columns, rushing to the ground and pecking them off from time to time. Some ants have casually fallen down in water, where fishes swimming in schools along the riverbank immediately ate them.
In water people are in safety; they simply stand and observe of a panic of animals on land. Near them snakes and lizards swim, wriggling gracefully, and watercourse washes away mice and other animals, floundering in water and too weak to resist it. On land one careless mouse has not escaped in time, and now jumps in grass desperately, trying to escape from insects. But it succeeded to make only two jumps: in few seconds it had been stung to death, and ant columns have stopped for a while, having surrounded its body as a creeping mass and tearing animal’s body to feed their colony.
Not all forest inhabitants ran from ants in a panic. Myrmerix hedgehog is too slow to escape from these animals. It has acted much easier: with its mighty paws it has dug a hole fitting to its body in size and has lain in it, having left outside only its back. Ants have simply crept across it from above, not having touched its vulnerable eyes and ears. When their stream has thinned, the beast has slowly got out of the ground, cleaned its wool, shaked off and licked some ants lagged behind the main column. Stings of furious insects have not harmed it – even in human epoch hedgehogs were remarkable in their durability to poisons. Therefore myrmerix had easily sustained some tens stings received from ants during the passage of their column. After that incident it feels like really great: these predators done a great service to it, having cleared its back from parasites swarming between spikes. Myrmerix could not do it by itself, but now it feels, that an irritating itch is over. The only trouble for it became the disappearance of habitual forage – many insects simply left this part of forest or were eaten by ants. Now for the certain time it will spend more time to search for food.
Ant columns did not stay here and moved farther. It is good news for people: they may not search for a new place for life now. Having convinced in safety, some adult people have left the river and have looked round. Women with children left the river after them. Looking back cautiously and watching their steps, people return to the forest. In various places they found signs of ant hunts. Some children and teenagers examine with curiosity half-eaten snake corpse lying on the ground – after successful hunting this reptile appeared too slow, and have turned from predator to prey. The teenager stung by ant scratches his leg, examining the dead snake from which only skin and skeleton with rags of meat and interiors left. One teenager has dragged a stick and has turned dead snake upside down. Skin of a corpse bursted, and people have seen between snake ribs a destroyed skeleton of young giant ground squirrel – its characteristic teeth may indentify it. It was a last prey of the snake and the reason of its sluggishness, which has cost a live for this reptile. The group of people has got off very easily: there were cases, when large colonies of ants killed forest people if managed to overtake them. In this strange new world habitual roles of predator and prey may reverse completely.
African forest human (Homo afrosylvaticus)
Species of humans of tall stature (up to 160 cm) and robust constitution, with dark skin. Hair on head are curly, body skin is hairless. The present species is almost exclusive vegetarian, eating also invertebrates and small rodents and lizards. Voluminous belly contains long intestines enabling to digest effectively a plenty of vegetative forage. These people lead a nomadic way of life, staying in places rich in food for some days only.
Compared to ancestors, this species has large face with decreased volume of braincase – simple way of life at absence of large dangerous predators does not demand too complex behaviour. At juvenile individuals brains finish growth rather soon, and at teenages body grows mainly, and on head face and jaws expand. Age of sexual maturity is about 10-12 years.
Myrmerix (Myrmerix myrmephagus)
Very large hedgehog species specializing in feeding on insects. Total body length of an adult individual is up to 1 meter; animal is similar to a badger in constitution. Wool on body is grey; spikes are black with white tips and reach the length of 35-40 mm. Ears are large, acoustic meatus can close by special skin plica. Distinctive feature of this species are strong digging extremities with thick claws, long and extendable tongue and reduced incisors. This hedgehog specializes in feeding on social insects and is very tolerant to poison of ants and wasps. In case of danger it can bury itself in wood litter, leaving outside only its spiny back.
This is a solitary animal marking its territory with urine and protecting it against congeners. This species does not make special shelters, and animal simply looks for a new place for spending the night every evening. Female gives rise up to 3 cubs twice a year. For rearing of posterity she digs a hole by herself or expands available holes of other animals.
Giant ground squirrel (Tardisciurus
Large species of ground-dwelling rodents – body length is about 50 cm, tail length – up to 70 cm; it differs from arboreal species of squirrels in sluggishness and shorter fingers and toes. Wool of adult individuals is brown with yellow throat and belly; on head there is a white “cap” enclosing eyes and ears – it enables squirrels to distinguish congeners in twilight of underbrush. Due to well-advanced incisors this rodent is capable to crush shells of hard nuts. The present feature of a diet makes this species a key disperser of large seeds in tropical forest. This animal climbs trees with difficulty and lives in ground holes. It is a social animal living in small groups numbering up to 5-7 individuals. They search for food together and dig their holes beside with each other. Two times a year female gives rise to one large and well-advanced cub covered entirely with dark brown wool. At the age of 4 months, young animal becomes fully independent.
Masked army ant (Gigadorylus larvatus)
Very large forest-dwelling species of army ant. Length of working individual is about 20 mm, soldier – about 35 mm including hypertrophied mandibles, and fertile female at the moment of courtship flight – up to 40-43 mm. At breeding female lost its wings abdomen is increased, and then the total length of insect reaches 50 mm. Covers are coloured reddish-brown, front part of head and mandibles are black, soldiers have white tips of mandibles.
Colonies of several hundreds of thousands of individuals include numerous fertilized females related to each other and returning to the native colony after courtship flight. In due course of breeding colonies of this species simply break – female withdraws a part of soldiers and working ants from parental colony and begins independent life. Prey of this insect species includes various invertebrates and small vertebrates of tropical forest. These ants occasionally sting to death large animals not managed to escape from them. During the stops in their travels holes of animals or tree trunks rotten from inside become their shelters.
It is seen from bird’s-eye view, that tropical rainforest
stretches as far, as the eye can see. It is cut through by rivers meandering
on plain – rivers with dark or, on the contrary, with yellowish opaque water.
Merging with each other, they form a giant river system bringing life to an
endless evergreen forest. In civilization epoch a significant part of forests
in this area was destroyed – only tiny islets of former magnificence remained
in places where the heavy machinery could not work or it was impossible to plough
up the ground. When the civilization has collapsed, forest had returned to the
grounds taken off by humans and had returned humans to the bosom of nature.
Descendants of intelligent people of the past live in gloomy underbrush of endless tropical forests of South America. They are forest nomads and gatherers eating plants and small animals. Evolution of these people followed the same way, as at African pygmies of historical epoch: these are undersized thin creatures with brown skin. They are very agile: if necessary, they are able to climb trees and to swim: rivers broaden frequently, and people need to escape from flooding on trees. However it is impossible to tell that they are welcome guests in tree crones. Nobody waits for them here, because forest canopy is already inhabited by primates.
Large monkeys move on lianes enlacing trees: large female with magnificent wool of chocolate color and two males of more graceful constitution with ochre-red wool and white beards. Faces of primates with pink hairless skin are very expressive, and noses have very characteristic shape – they are flattened with widely placed nostrils. It is iwaraka – a usual species of monkeys in forest canopy. They are followed by other members of the group – their total number is about three tens, including babies sitting on parents’ backs. These creatures are clever and easily adapting, and in tree crones they find everything necessary for life. Other species of monkeys also live in woods – these are related forns descending from the same common ancestor. And monkeys will hardly allow the resettlement of human descendants to the trees. But they can not stop people following them on the ground.
Gatherer people of selva like to treat themselves with fruits, however to reach fruits independently is a difficult task for them: tree trunks are thick, and it is impossible to climb it up. But they know one trick: having caught sight of monkeys in tree crone, people begin yelling and knocking sticks against trunk and roots of tree. As a reply to it iwarakas turn angry, hoot loudly and throw half-eaten fruit, trying to hit troublemakers – and that is what people want.
When fruits began to fall on the ground, frequently without any bites and quite ripe, people rushed to gather and to eat them, communicating with each other by short exclamations expressing their pleasure. But suddenly in whirpool of celebration of life displeased exclamation was heard: monkey droppings hit one of people instead of fruit. Loud hoots of monkeys in forest canopy indicate that they saw it, and they liked an effect. Nevertheless, despite of such ambiguous relations, people all the same follow group of monkeys and pick up their leftovers.
Some other animals search for food together with people: among people large – like big dog in size – raccoons with long cross-striped tails, similar to coatis of human epoch, wander – these are jaguachinis. Black-and-white tails of jaguachinis are pulled up and well visible in forest twilight. While tails of relatives are visible, raccoons are quiet: they dig wood litter by claws and long mobile muzzles, gathering insects, and willingly pick up scraps of monkeys’ meals. But when their tails are put between legs, it is a reason for being alert not only for relatives, but also for people. Raccoons have bad vision, but very good sense of smell. People do not drive their long-tailed neighbours away, though they are compelled to share food with them: jaguachinis are capable to feel approach of the enemy in proper time and to warn about it by their behaviour. Alarm signal given in time really costs some another’s leftovers.
Jaguachinis behave rather safely near to people: they come close to them to the distance of extended hand, and even steal food right from under hands. Children willingly play catch-up with these animals, running among adults, and sometimes jaguachinis are compelled to hide their tails from kids’ playful hands. Irritated raccoon may bite slightly a kid behaving too naughty, but beast makes it cautiously, trying to stop him, rather than to harm.
Iwarakis use a circuit of paths in forest canopy – thick trunks of lianes and branches of trees serve as excellent bridges, and monkeys even cross rivers, using them. People are compelled to follow them on the ground, and because of such obstacles they lag behind monkeys sometimes. But they quickly find their neighbours in forest: usually monkeys behave noisily during their moving in forest, and their voices are audible at a great distance. If they keep silence, it is an occasion to be suspicious, and even to hide. Among enemies of monkeys there are birds of prey – large species of owls and hawks, “grown up” a lot after the extinction of eagles in historical epoch. Such bird is capable to attack the child leaved with no adult supervision, therefore the knowledge of habits of monkeys is vital for people. But now iwarakis rustle and quarrel in forest canopy: they do not see any dangers for themselves. And people on the ground feel the same.
Forest only seems quiet. In fact, during each second anyone is compelled to struggle for its life here, and another one – to get the next dinner to itself. When the group of people has appeared on the pathway, busy in following monkeys, yellow eyes with vertical pupils, similar to cat’s eyes, have begun to watch them with apparent interest. They have cold and motionless calculating look, almost do not blink and move only slightly. Only thin nictitating membranes wet them, in addition brushing away the midges landed on eyes. Predator is very patient: it lays in an ambush motionlessly for some hours in succession and simply waits for people to approach closer. It is a huge reptile with large head and strong jaws. Its armoured skin, brown with green spots, perfectly hides this animal among thickets of ferns and shade-requiring forest plants. And shadows of tree crones make this predator invisible even from the closest distance. It is suchognathus – a terrestrial caiman, a new attempt of nature to create ground-dwelling crocodiles. Small spectacled caimans have survived in historical epoch, and in the impoverished fauna of the Earth of recovery epoch they have got a chance to become something more significant. They had taken it to the full, having turned to true monsters of tropical forest.
People pass by a predator’s ambush, and jaguachinis follow them somewhere in the side and obviously do not notice danger. When one man appeared near to the reptile laying in an ambush, suchognathus has attacked him. It pushed violently by rear legs, bursting from plant thickets, and even managed to make some more steps on rear legs only before standing on front legs and pushing by them. The secret weapon of this predator is his ability to gallop; suchognathus is capable to move very quickly within several seconds. In several hops it has caught up the man and has seized him, breaking ribs and interiors of his prey by jaws. Clenching the human in teeth, the monster has made some sharp head movements from side to side, beating its prey against the ground, and seized victim’s scream stopped suddenly.
When suchognathus began its attack, horrified people have rushed in all directions, and jaguachinis flounced between them, intensifying a panic with barking alarm signals. Monstrous reptile occasionally catches these raccoons, but usually chooses more tempting prey. Now the predator has made a correct choice.
Suchognathus’ hunting finished successfully, and the further events are far from its interests. Turning around, the reptile has dragged human body in bushes in order to be not prevented from its feast by anybody. However all these events are perfectly visible to monkeys from their safe height, and they hoot, warning the forest about the monster’s presence. From above fruits and broken branches fall on suchognathus, but the armor on reptile’s back gaves an opportunity not to pay attention to these monkey tricks. Due to wide mouth the crocodile swallows its prey entirely, feeling almost no difficulties. Having gorged on, it will digest prey within several days, laying motionlessly in its shelter.
People have lost one member of their community – friend, brother and father. They do not name each other for a long time, and they will remember him only by emotions they felt when communicated with him. But it’ll be days, new cares will appear, and former memoirs will grow dim gradually and will be lost, as almost everything that people’s ancestors knew was gone from their memories.
Neotropical human (Homo sudamericanus)
Undersized forest-dwelling species of humans having dark skin and gracile constitution; stature of an adult individual hardly exceeds 120 cm. Hair cover on body is poorly advanced, hair on head are long; nose is small. Sweat glands are almost absent, teat emission takes place due to features of constitution.
Basis of ratio is made of starch-rich tubers and rhizomes of ground plants. Food of animal origin includes invertebrates and small vertebrates. In searches of food these people move permanently from one place to another, staying for a while in rich in food sites of the forest. At the camps primitive shelter of leaves and pieces of tree bark are constructed.
This species lives in groups numbering 10-20 adult individuals. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 9-10 years, life expectancy is up to 30 years.
Iwaraka (Postcebus iwaraka)
Descendant of capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus), large arboreal monkey with prehensile tail. Capuchins are the only New World monkeys survived in epoch of anthropogenous extinction: due to small size they could keep populations of sufficient number in secondary woods. It lives only in forest canopy, and eats mainly fruits and small animals. This monkey keeps in groups of several tens individuals of various sexes and ages. There are some subspecies with different colouring of wool, but them all have naked pink face and characteristic white beard in males.
These monkeys behave very noisy and frequently mob ground-dwelling and arboreal predators, warning about the danger their relatives from the neinghbouring groups and animals of other species. Once a year female gives rise to one baby, which stays near to mother even after the birth of the next one. Age of sexual maturity is 3 years; lifespan is about 20 years.
Jaguachini (Rhinoprocyon signalis)
Descendant of crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus) of human epoch. In New World raccoons appeared a successful group of mammals, and in the beginning of restoration epoch they demonstrated a real “burst” of speciation, developing new ecological niches. South American jaguachini is an inhabitant of underbrush of tropical forests, the descendant of a species common in civilization epoch, its shoulder height is up to 40 cm. One prominent feature of appearance of this animal is a mobile muzzle with the expanded nose similar a little bit to swine snout. Wool on body has reddish color with white “glasses” around of eyes and dark “cap” on the crown. One more feature of this species is long black-and-white cross-striped tail. This omnivorous creature eats invertebrates, small vertebrates and plants. This kind of animals frequently forms mixed groups with forest humans, helping them to find out danger with its behaviour. Female gives rise to 1-2 cubs and hides them in a hole or in hollow tree trunk low above the ground.
Suchognathus (Suchognathus edax)
Reptile of a robust constitution having large head – the descendant of small spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodylus), embodied the idea of “live spring trap” of predatory amphibians of Paleozoic and Triassic on the reptile basis. Due to absence of large ground-dwelling predators this caiman had developed a new type of habitats: it had almost completely broke the dependence of water, having learned hunting on land. Body length of an adult individual is up to 5 meters, from which wide head with strong jaws takes about 80 cm. At this reptile rear legs are little bit longer and much stronger than front ones; they enable to gather great speed quickly for a short time. During the rush the reptile goes very fast gallop. At this moment, tail serves as the balance weight. This caiman arranges ambushes in plants near animal pathways and is capable to devour animals weighting up to 100 kg, swallowing them entirely or tearing to some pieces.
Female arranges nest made of plants among tree roots; clutch includes up to 50 eggs. Life expectancy is over 100 years.
The nomadic clan arranged a camp near the river for some days.
Tired after several days of wanderings, people have found convenient natural
shelter – small islet in the river, separated by the the river branch which
may be crossed only chest deep in water. It seems that vicinities abound in
food, and the clan may have a rest. These people wandered along the banks of
the river flowing in eastern part of Australia – in civilization epoch it was
named as Murray. Life in this place is difficult: it is a little amount of food,
its sources are located far apart and people should always pass from one place
to another to survive. Ekosystems of the continent suffered in great degree
from human activity, and only miserable leftovers remained from unique native
flora and fauna. A significant part of the continent is arid and hot area where
it is almost impossible to find water. To survive in such conditions, it is
necessary to have a good knowledge of nature.
Nine-toed has learnt lessons of a survival successfully, and due to it has managed to live to twelve years – he is already adult, and some of his coevals now lay somewhere on plains for the pleasure of carrion eaters. People of his clan do not name each other, and differ by specific features. He has one such feature – his strange feet. One Nine-toed’s foot lacks little toe from his birth, and on another one it is almost not seen because, being adhered to the next toe, and from outside its nail is visible. The same feet his grandfather had, but Nine-toed didn’t know him – in this time people do not live for a long, and the grandfather has died of old age, while father hadn’t posterity yet. Father was born with usual feet, but at his son the grandpa’s feature appeared again. From time to time such feature is shown also in the neighbouring clans: some groups of people wandering in this area are connected by relationship, and such features are “dissolved” in their heredity. Life in hot climate and long routs while being exposed to extreme sunshine have resulted in accumulation of features characteristic for humans from tropics. Nine-toed’s skin is swarty, and on head shaggy heat-insulating pillow of rich curly hair is formed. People of his folk are gracile and have thin arms and legs. They are hardy and capable to make long migrations in conditions of hot climate. Probably, due to features of his feet Nine-toed is able to run a little bit faster than others in his clan. In his childhood he always won in run and game of tag, therefore coevals reluctantly played with him, and he has grown a little bit wildish.
Somewhere nearby the clan, which member is Nine-toed, has settled down. Searching for food, he hears behind his back voice of women and squeal of playing children. Nine-toed is able to find edible plants – he has learned this skill at mother and at other clan members. He is observant and knows, where juicy bulbs are hidden and what of them are good as a food and what ones are better to keep aside of. Chewing sourish leaflet of one grass, he digs ground by strong nails. After one more wave of hands at the bottom of a hole thick yellowish grub is seemed – it is a very good find. Nine-toed has pulled it out, has blown off the ground, has bitten off and has spat out its rigid head, and began chewing its body wriggling in his mouth. It is quite habitual food, but he has to work a lot to fill stomach with it. His far ancestors from prehistoric epoch have acted imprudently, having exterminated all large animals, and ancestors of epoch of civilization decline have intentionally completed the work begun by primitive hunters. Therefore their descendants should not fry fat nutritious meat, but chew grubs and scratch exsuccous rootlets by hands from stony ground.
In Australia almost all large animals have died out. The largest local marsupials are knee-high rat-kangaroos and very rare and cautious wallabies. And the largest animals of the continent are pigs which have run wild in civilization epoch; they live on damp meadows along riverbanks for numerous generations and grew up very much. These are dangerous animals – they are strong, at them pointed tusks grow, and, being in anger, they can easily catch up the human and trample him with their sharp hooves.
It would be good, if it would be an only real danger on continent. But here almost every tiny creature tries to kill you. And the more harmlessly any creatures look, the more dangerous are they. Tiny fluffy spiders may be fatally dangerous though their stings are hardly appreciable. Among snakes nonpoisonous forms seem to be an exception, rather than a rule. Thick bug-eyed toads, being disturbed, inflate their bodies and secret on the surface of their bodies the poison causing burning on skin. It is better to touch them by stick only or to take by hand through a wide plant leaf – Nine-toed has learned to do it. But it was only his entertainment – these toads are disgusting even to take them in hands, and even more to try to eat them. Even not all birds peck them. Here even plants harmless by appearance are capable to burn – even small children know biting bush, rewarding with burn felt for many days in succession and with a pain at movements of the struck body part for at least two moons.
Eating the dug out bulb, Nine-toed has noticed a marsupial mouse in grass. Tiny and active animal is not afraid of him and searches for insects by means of flexible snout, thrusting it into the thickets of grass. Watching this animal, Nine-toed has smiled. He did not try to touch or to frighten this small creature. And marsupial mouse has pulled out from grass a large beetle beating off from it by all legs, has bitten it and began to devour. Nine-toed knows by experience, what is happening with beetle right now. In the childhood, he has caught such animal by the tail, but while he twirled this find above his palm, marsupial mouse has strongly bitten his finger. After that the hand has quickly grown numb up to the elbow, did not feel pinch or chip prick, and did not work at all. Numbness was over only in two days, and this case has taught Nine-toed not to catch by bare hands any unfamiliar creatures. In epoch of ecosystems recovery the rests of ancient and original fauna of Australia learned actively to protect themselves: they have somebody to defend against.
From the side of the camp loud desperate cries are heard. Nine-toed has jumped up and has looked to that side. At first, he has not understood the reason of alarm, but then discerned near acacia bushes a cat, which has attacked the child of one mother. The predatory creature was large, weighting obviously not less than the seized child. It was difficult for discerning in bushes because of spotty coloring, therefore the child has not noticed it until the cat has attacked him. The animal introduced in historical epoch has turned from the pet to one of the most dangerous predators of the continent. Maybe, the child in its claws is still alive only because people at once began to attack this cat: many people from the camp have run here, attracted by mother’s yells. Adult members of clan scream and wave hands, driving a predator away, but the predator does not recede even at obvious numerical superiority of the opponent. The cat hisses furiously, opening its mouth wide, and is not going to release its prey. Each second is important.
Having looked round, Nine-toed noticed suddenly that plant – a biting bush. Without thinking twice, he has torn off wide leaf of grass, has clasped through it a shoot of biting bush at the ground and has pulled it out with roots. Holding the trophy in the hand extended aside, he has run directly to the cat. Having resolutely come closer to it, Nine-toed switched a predator’s muzzle with biting bush, targeting its nose and the opened mouth. The effect was a quite amazing: the cat has screamed, has released the child and has rushed to bushes. Some people have run up to wounded child and have pulled him off the ground, and others have begun to pursue the cat, screaming loudly. The predatory animal has quickly hided in thickets; now this cat will come to feel for some weeks an unpleasant pain in its muzzle at attempt to eat or even simply to yawn. And it is quite obvious, that it will not dare to hunt people for a long time.
Pleased with his success, Nine-toed has walked far away from clan and has cautiously thrown out the pulled out plant. Accompanied with approving exclamations he has returned to relatives who have met him with friendly touches and pattings. The child fallen a victim of an attack has received deep wounds in shoulder and arm, but at appropriate care he will be fine, though scars from claws will most likely remain for all his life. Some people have squatted and have examined cat’s paw prints on the ground. This monster was much larger than ones they saw earlier, and its paw prints appeared of unprecedented size. People knew a lot about cats and their habits, but it was the first case in their clan when cat attacked human.
In conditions of isolation on island continent of Australia live creatures evolve fast. Man has redistributed power balance in nature, and now to it will come to play according the new rules developing literally in his full sight. Earlier people also were a high-grade part of nature, but the civilization has enabled them to forget about it for a certain time and to consider themselves as almighty beings. Now the nature determines entirely way of life and shape of people, not separating them from other representatives of fauna of the Earth.
Savanna human (Homo migratorius)
Specific conditions of life have formed a special form of humans at the continent – hardy creatures capable to migrate to the long distances in searches of sources of food and water. The inhabitant of hot climate, this is a species of humans of gracile constitution with dark skin and dense “cap” of curly hair on head. In various populations the obvious tendency to the reduction of the fifth toe is observed. Foot ligaments are remarkable in elasticity enabling to move by elastic steps to tiptoes. In forward part of foot and on toes “pads” of thick cornificated skin develop, making possible walking on sun-heated stones. Stature of an adult individual is up to 150-160 cm.
This species has the limited verbal aptitude, is capable to use the primitive tools made of bones, stone and wood for getting food. These people are omnivorous with bias to herbivory.
Sexual maturity comes at the age of 7-8 years; life expectancy is about 35 years.
Bush cat (Felis extraneus)
In conditions of insignificant competition to local marsupial predators the descendant of the domestic cat introduced to the continent has quickly taken a place of a top predator in local ecosystems. It is a cat weighting about 15-18 kg with characteristic wool colouring: on grey background cross strips turn to spots on the body, and on legs and tail cross-striped pattern is kept. Wool on body and legs is very short. Large mobile ears provide keen hearing and promote heat emission in conditions of hot climate.
This cat is capable to prey animals exceeding 3-4 times its body weight, arranging ambushes on the ground in bush or on trees above animal pathways. Prey is killed by elongate canines: cat bites in the scull base.
This is a solitary and territorial species; each individual owns extensive hunting territory. Once a year female gives rise to 2-4 cubs.
Dwarf poison-toothed marsupial mouse
Placental mammals introduced to Australia have made a significant competition to local marsupials, which either died out, or evolved the specific adaptations enabling them to survive. The present species of marsupial mice is a tiny predator capable to kill even large prey. The usual diet of this species includes insects, but due to poisonous saliva this animal can paralyse the large enemy and attack it. Body length is about 50 mm, and tail is up to 45 mm long. Wool has red color with a black strip along the back. Brooding pouch represents two longitudinal skin plicae increased at the rearing of posterity. Female gives rise up to 8 joes from which only 3-4 ones survive to independent condition. Males perish at the end of breeding season, and females – after the passing of posterity to independent life. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 7 months; posterity rearing lasts 4 months.
15 million years has passed from the time of the ending of
the sixth extinction. How much is it in scales of a history of the Earth? If
we’ll compare anthropogenous extinction with Cretaceous-Paleogene one, such
time interval corresponds to Paleocene and early Eocene. To this moment a biological
variety on the Earth was recovered in natural way; at the continents and in
oceans the diverse flora and fauna appeared, and in endless forests of early
Eocene large forms of primitive mammal began wandering.
After the sixth extinction and the collapse of the civilization the nature has gradually restored the former biodiversity. In due course of evolution descendants of survived species followed repeatedly the way of specialization and coevolution, forming new variants of interspecific interactions – of symbiosis, commensalism and parasitism. New unions between plants and pollinators and seed dispersers appeared, and it promoted the increasing of floral diversity. Biological variety of flora and fauna at the specific level has increased immeasurably. And at this time there was an event philosophers and humanists wrote about a very long time ago, in epoch of intelligence domination – humans has returned back to the nature. But at this time it has taken place not by the realized desire of the human, but by virtue of the natural reasons. Human descendants simply did not have any other choice, because to this moment they turned to creatures completely lack the intelligence, and they can not oppose themselves to a nature any more, “conquering” it and “struggling” against it. As well as at the end of Neogene, human descendants represent an integral part of ecosystems, and their shape is entirely determined by natural selection. Nevertheless, human descendants managed to do well in new ecosystems. In recovery epoch they had only few competitors, and descendants of people have managed to occupy ecological niches inaccessible for primates of prehistoric epoch because of strict competition to representatives of other systematic groups of animals. And due to ability of intelligent human to moving new species of human descendants have appeared in New World, where apes failed to settle, and in Australia inaccessible to natural settling of other species of primates. From the moment of a divergence of genealogical lines of intelligent people descendants one and a half ten millions years have passed – it is more, than a timespan of history of hominid family sensu stricto, from australopithecines up to Homo sapiens. For such huge time interval human descendants stocked up so great number of differences from each other, that they should be classified as representatives of different genera, and, maybe, even different families in primates order. However after disappearance of intelligence carriers there is already nobody to think of subtleties of biological systematic, and there is no need in it. The overall diversity of descendants of people is united by one term “postanthropi” – these are the creatures, which do not belong to genus Homo any more, but descended from it and lost intelligence in due course of evolution.
Work of geological forces gradually changes shape of the planet.
Continents collide and split, and their inhabitants either meet each other,
passing “durability test”, or appear in isolation and evolve to the unique forms
not living in other parts of the world.
In Africa both these events has taken place simultaneously. While Northern Africa has collided to Europe, East Africa has splitted separated from the mainland aling the line of Great Rift valley, having turned to the isolated microcontinent inhabited by endemic species of animals and plants.
Above East African savanna, large birds with featherless necks and heads hover. Their wingspan is about 3 meters. They soar in thermals rising above the ground, and communicate with each other using abrupt loud sounds. Despite of the similarity to vultures of historical epoch, these creatures are descendants of the species survived in the sixth extinction. These are teratocoraxes – descendants of corvid birds adapted to scavenging. With the help of keen eyesight, they look out for carrion from the great height, and the sociability, inherited from their ancestors – ravens, helps them to notify effectively their relatives on lucky finds. Their flock hovers above a congestion of large bipedal creatures – they see from above, that these creatures have gathered in a circle, in which middle the dead body of their relative lays. These are njembas – the largest postanthropus species of the Earth, bipedal creatures almost 4 meters tall. Therefore the birds hovering above them seem not so large compared to these creatures. Njembas do not pay attention to birds gathering near them. They are deep down inside the feeling, which may be named as grief: the death has just taken away one member of their group. He perished from a deep wound in stomach, which has festered – in tropical conditions any wound may appear fatal. This time even the mighty organism of a giant postanthropus has not coped with an infection, and he has died after several days of immense sufferings. But daily needs gradually supersede the feeling of grief at his relatives, and njembas go away one by one, abandoning the dead one. A funeral team of savanna is already on the scene: teratocoraxes land on the ground, fold clumsily their wide wings, walk waddlingly on the ground, surround a dead body and begin tearing it with their hooked beaks. As against to giants of savanna, they do not feel any emotions from vision of dead njemba: it is only a meal for them, and each bird hastens to catch a best morsel of it. In some hours there will hardly stay any remains of the corpse here, except for few bones which will be taken away to savanna by four-legged carrion eaters.
In ecosystem of savannas of East African microcontinent njemba is an original ecological analogue of a giraffe. This creature is a long-armed giant adapted to feeding in tree crones. But its constitution is far from the grace of a giraffe: it has swollen stomach containing long intestines. Njemba’s legs are stout and thick, and, on the contrary, the top part of body is of gracile constitution. The most freakish feature of njemba’s appearance is its head. This creature has small brain and large chewing muscles attaching to relief surface of a skull. Njemba’s face does not resemble human one at all: jaws are prominent, and the large nose is fused with an upper lip and extended as a proboscis – both excellent heat radiator for brain cooling and the adaptation for eating foliage have appeared simultaneously. Feeding njembas turn tree branches down to themselves by long arms and eat off leaves from them, using proboscis dexterously. Ear-flaps at these creatures hang down to the shoulders as wide blades.
Njembas are not only herbivores in savanna. In addition to them, on plains of microcontinent numerous descendants of goats roam – these are the analogues of antelopes and bulls in savanna. Near hooves of large animals big-eared mammals a little bit larger than hares lop – the descendants of jerboas, which did not manage yet to become African “kangaroos”. Among these herds njemba giants look like fairy tale shepherds, but actually they are only a part of the ecosystem submitting to the general laws of nature. And their place in this world is not higher, than at other herbivores.
Birds are usual companions of njembas. Tiny weaverbirds perch on heads and bodies of giants and peck off склёвывают blood-sucking insects and mites from their skins. And other birds flutter near feet of huge postanthropi, catching insects and small vertebrates frightened by the movement of giants in savanna. Kondobolas – giant flightless gallinaceous birds – frequently are njembas’s fellow travellers. At these birds flock is a harem of adults females controlled by one male, and also the posterity of these birds not grown up to independent condition. Kondobolas roam near to njembas: when giants eat, from trees leaves and seeds fall, which are immediately pecked off by kondobolas. Licke a cock at the henyard, maled delicately invites females to taste the found seed, though beside it some other ones of the same kind may lay. Actually, brain at these birds have remained bird one, having increased only a little from the human time – but this is a consequence of the general increase of the bird’s size. Seeds of acacias and other trees of savanna are very firm, but kondobola’s muscular stomach can grind them to the pulp with the help of small pebbles. However, the food is not the main reason of the kondobola’s adjacency to njembas: there are predators in savanna, but not any predator will risk to attack the giants looking down upon at other inhabitants of savanna.
In historical epoch large predators of Africa have died out, but to replace them clever and strong predatory wakatili baboons has evolved. They are very inventive in hunting methods, and they constantly think out something new and unusual. Njembas do not tolerate the presence of these monkeys near to themselves – they are cautious enough to attack in open the adult njemba, but do not miss an opportunity to prey young growth or the senile lag behind the group. They are unpredictable also, and it makes their especially dangerous.
Lonely wakatili roams in savanna, not hiding from sights of other animals. Njembas glance at him, having gathered in numerous group at the edge of acacia groove. They hook tree branches by elongated hands, drag them to the mouth and dexterously pick foliage with proboscises. In their group there are some adult males and females, and also juveniles and some very little babies. When wakatili passes by group of giants, mothers call up children and hold them by long hands, not allowing them to go away. Near to njembas kondobolas wander, which have gathered to one group closer to their huge patrons, having seen the wakatili. But the baboon does not pay attention to them. It has chosen an open place, tumbled down on the ground at everyone’s view and began to perform capers on the ground – turn somersaults, jump up and spin like a top, uttering hoots and strange laughter.
Wakatili looks not dangerous, and the alarm in group of giants is gradually replaced by curiosity. Adults and juveniles glance with sheer interest at the baboon somersaulting in the dust. Kondobolas return to search for food, and some birds have walked off from njemba group, pecking absent-mindedly insects and spikelets of grasses. Seeing that they are not afraid, some njemba teenagers have decided to look closer at this strange baboon. But, being too curious, they all have forgotten that wakatili is not a solitary animal.
While one young wakatili diverted the attention of savanna inhabitants, its relatives imperceptibly took positions around the group of njembas and kondobolas. They expect to surround and to kill at least one or two young birds. Hiding in grass and behind trees, adult wakatilis have formed almost continuous ring around of several young kondobolas, which continue to watch curiosly the tricks of the baboon in dust. One of njemba teenagers has also approached closer to the baboon wallowing in dust to have a better look. And when wakatili group started to close the perimeter, it appeared, that not only kondobolas have got in their trap. Njemba teenager was frightened very much, when near to him the monstrous monkeys yelling at the top of their lungs, grinning huge canines and coming closer and closer have suddenly appeared. Young kondobolas began to toss and turn. One of birds managed to escape, having made a jump over heads of baboons, but others have already been surrounded by predators, and birds rushed in a trap. And in middle of the ring of aggressively behaving monkeys a scared njemba teenager stands, uttering plaintive cry.
One of njemba females is his mother, and the bond between her and her child has not interrupted yet. Having seen, that he can not break off a ring of predators alone, she has rushed to help him. It is difficult for her to run: she is pregnant with the next child, and her stomach is much larger, than at other relatives. She managed to break to the surrounded teenager, but monkeys have immediately closed the break behind her, and she has got surrounded. The situation becomes desperate: instead of saving her child, the female has got in a trouble itself. Covering the child by her body, she has receded to lonely growing tree and has uttered loud scream of a terror. And in her belly still unborn baby has begun to move, having felt mother’s fear.
The female’s voice was heard, and giants have torn themselves off the endless consuming of leaves. They see the female and the teenager got in surrounding, and the whole pack of the baboons ready to rush on them. Some large males have hastened at once to the aid of relatives, having broken out acacia branches for fight.
Njemba is a very massive creature, and it is not able to run quickly. Heavy footsteps of giants of savanna transfer through the ground, but wakatilis engulfed with the hunting passion have not reacted to this warning. Only when one of predators has felt an impact of prickly acacia branch on its back, monkeys have begun to recede. One wakatili male has tried to attack njemba, grinning and yelling loudly, but another giant seized him. He has stirred up the fighting tooth and nail and squealing monkey like a kitten, and threw it off for some meters aside. When the environment was broken through, young kondobolas have simply rushed between njembas and have joined their relatives observing indifferently for an event from the side. In air above a place of hunting wide-winged birds already hover: teratocoraxes obviously expect to profit with anything – either with prey, or with the unlucky hunter.
Realising, that hunting failed, wakatili leader began to withdraw his lieges. For him the receding is an impact on his reputation in pack. Subordinate males may not forgive him an unsuccessful attack – if they will unite to the group, they will easily manage to displace the leader. Therefore the leader of wakatili group tries not to “lose face” even at such moment. He keeps between receding relatives and njembas, observing, however, the safe distance, yells loudly and jumps agressively, opening mouth wide and showing his canines. Exaggerating artificially a degree of danger, he can quite successfully keep his rank in clan. However at the last moment one njemba male has striked with acacia branch, and some pointed prickles have scratched across the muzzle of the leader of predatory baboons. With the scratched muzzle he continues the receding and already knows beforehand how to turn a situation to the benefit for himself – it is necessary simply to cause compassion at females with his appearance, and then they will support such daredevil, which had literally spilled his blood for them.
Njembas continue their advance, and baboons go away. Despite of a difference in sizes, wakatilis represent a danger even for njemba giants, when hunting in organized packs. Sometimes these monkeys attack babies of giants appeared without parental supervision, and they can attack even an adult individual of njemba, if there are no relatives near it. From a bite of one of such baboons a member of their group died some days ago. Now it is a victory of giants of savanna. They follow the receding baboons with their sights, and kondobolas begin to search for food near them again.
The saved female presses her child to herself, but still cannot calm down: she shivers, though danger is already over, and involuntarily covers stomach with hands. One male came closer to her and expressed his affection towards her in absolutely human way, having embraced her. And then he began to lick her ear-flaps with his long, like at giraffe, tongue. This action has the certain biological sense: giants of savanna have a plenty of blood vessels under skin of ear-flaps, and the moisture evaporating from skin promotes heat emission of large organism. Licking of each other’s ear-flaps in itself is an external display of personal attachment at members of group, and giants frequently use this gesture to calm and ti ingratiate themselves to the relative. Feeling an affinity of the relative and his attention, pregnant female calmed down gradually and began to pick absent-mindedly the foliage from an acacia.
Seeing, that nobody’s blood will spill, teratocoraxes have began to leave a place of the conflict. Birds catch thermals by their wings and continue their soaring in searches of carrion.
Njembas are strange specialized human descendants evolved in conditions of isolation at the East African microcontinent. Despite of their strange appearance and very small brain, these huge creatures keep in their behaviour the separate elements inherent in their far intelligent ancestors millions of years ago.
Njemba (Proboscianthropus njemba)
The appearance of these descendants of people is very unusual: perhaps, their faces are similar to animal muzzles more, than at others postanthropi. Face is prominent, face muscles are very advanced, and lips and nose merge in part to form a mobile proboscis – it is an adaptation for picking leaves. Stature of such creatures is about 3.5 meters and even more. The present species occupies an ecological niche of giraffes and chalicotheres, eating foliage of savanna trees. Elongated hands with hooked fingers enable to hook tree branches and to drag them to the mouth. As the diet includes mainly leaves of low nutrional value, intestines at this species are very long, and stomach is voluminous like at gorilla. As a support for the body stout legs with large feet serve; on soles the thick cornificated skin with the shock-absorber of a layer of the connective tissue impregnated with fat under it accrues from below.
Problem of removal of superfluous heat from the body is solved by large ear-lobes hanging down on shoulders. Brain is very small at this kind, and behaviour is remarkable in primitiveness. Breeding rate is slow: female brings posterity only once in five years. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 8-9 years.
Wakatili (Papiovenator wakatili)
Omnivorous baboon species with bias to predatoriness. Height at the withers of an adult male is up to 100 cm. Wide muzzle with prominent cheekbones is supplied with strong masticatory muscles; at male large pointed canines are advanced. A sagittal crest is advanced on skull. Forehead and nose bridge are black, sides of nose and cheeks have bright red color – of especially bright shade at dominant males. Background colouring of wool is sandy-yellow, male has grey mane. At dominant individuals mane becomes “white-haired”.
These monkeys live in groups with strict hierarchy, which are controlled by the leader. Young males turning adult are expelled from groups and bunch to “gangs”. Young females pass from one group to another, males in group are usually connected by consanguinty or descend from the several groups living in the neighbourhood with each other.
In a diet of this species the meat food makes more than half in weight. Usually ungulates, rodents and large birds fall prey of these animals, but sometimes they attack large local njemba postanthropus.
Kondobola (Struthiogallus kondobola)
The descendant of domestic chickens, equal to small ostrich in size – growth of male is up to 150 cm, female – about 130 cm. This species descends from the feral outbred domestic chickens from villages of Central Africa. In colouring sexual dimorphism is shown: male is black with silvery “mane” on neck and grey back, female is brown with black speckles on the top side of body and wings. On male’s legs large spurs grow; also it has a long straight tail.
Crest represents some separate skin jags having a spongy tissue inside. In rest they are soft and hang down from bird’s head on the side, but during the male’s courtship ritual they swell with blood, erect and increase in size a lot. In addition, the crest is an adaptation for cooling of an organism.
These birds live in harems, some females nest near each other and protect nesting site in common. Male protects territory, and during the predator’s attack takes part in protection of nests. Clutch numbers up to 10 eggs; all females of the flock look after posterity in common. Chicks are covered with longitudinal-striped juvenile down; in first feather dress striped colouring is kept, being replaced then with brown color. Males get characteristic colouring only at the age of sexual maturity, being 3 years old.
Teratocorax (Teratocorax nudiceps)
Corvid bird specialized in feeding on carrion. Wingspan of an adult individual is up to 3-3.5 meters. Colouring of plumage is dark grey; primary feathers are black. In appearance convergent similarity to vultures is shown: bird has featherless head and neck covered with skin of meaty red color with small skin cooler blade on throat. For a partition of prey bird has a large beak of black color with hooked tip.
The present species is sociable, birds “communicate” with each other by loud trumpet calls. These birds live in pairs in extensive individual territories, but around the found carcass some pairs of birds may gather at once.
Breeding rate is slow. Nesting takes place once a year. The pair of birds builds at top of tree large nest of branches and rods, which is used for many years in succession. In clutch there are 2 eggs, but parents more often succeed to bring up only one nestling. Sexual maturity is at the age of 4 years; life expectancy is about 50 years.
Central Africa is a kingdom of dense tropical forests. After
the ending of epoch of civilization the nature has healed the wounds put by
injurious activity of humans. Immense number of species of plants and animals
has become extinct during the time of large-scale tropical forest clearance,
but in recovery epoch the formation of new connections between descendants of
the survived species began, examples of complex, and even sophisticated mutual
relations between animals and plants appeared again, and specific variety has
increased. Life managed to recover even after such serious shock – but the price
for it had been the extinction of numerous species known in human epoch. Human
descendants are a part of ecosystems of this new world.
Tropical rainforest of Equatorial Africa amazes with riches of colors and shapes of live creatures. Forest canopy is tangled with lianes, on which live creatures can travel between trees. Branches of huge trees resemble tiny gardens – they are covered with rich carpets of mosses, ferns and epiphytic flowering plants. Here and there on trees birds nests are visible – from tiny baskets plaited of plant fuzz and spider web threads up to giant platforms constructed of thick branches. Builders of these mests scurry and flutter among branches, gathering food, or hover above forest canopy, locating careless animals.
But birds are not only builders in forest canopy. One trees bears on its branches about ten large nests about two meters in diameter. Walls of each of such nests are rather skilfully plaited of rods, and from above the nest a friable roof of broken off branches and wide leaves firmly attached to others branches rises. Builders of these nests were obviously not too accurate with the chosen tree – its crone was damaged a lot during the construction of these nests, and some branches were simply broken off and thrown down. Ancestors of builders of these nests acted precisely the same way – they harmed the place where they lived, not caring about consequences. For this reason millions of years later their descendants should build dwellings of branches and to lead wild life in forest.
Nests are empty for a while – their builders have dispersed on the next trees in searches of food. They are rather large bipedal creatures, which move dexterously on lianes and branches, keeping vertical position of the body and holding on branches by long hands. These are nanaunders – descendants of people becoming ecological analogues of apes. Nests of nanaunders are not permanent constructions, but something like temporary camp in forest canopy. The clan of nanaunders should continuously wander from place to place in order to prevent the exhausting of food resources of the territory. Having stopped in forest for some days, these postanthropi quickly construct rather comfortable nests, in which it is possible to live for some days, and during this time they eat all accessible food around of their settlement.
Tropical forest is a place where a great biological diversity is concentrated. And it differs strikingly in it from forests of temperate and cold climatic zones. But it also means, that two trees of the same species may be divided by many hundreds meters of a continuous forest of other kinds of trees. Specific variety of vegetation means numerous kinds of food accessible to forest inhabitants. Some trees seduce the most various eaters with juicy tasty fruits, and others treat with nutritious nuts only ones which is able to break open their shell by beak or teeth. And different species of trees fructify in different time: some do it the year round, and fruits ripen gradually and in small amounts. And others plentifully blossom and during the short time yield so plentiful crop, that a part of it has no chances to wait for eaters and simply decays on branches or on the ground. To take advantage of rich resources of tropical forest to the full, frugivorous animals should have the advanced mental faculties and skill of keeping in memory of the location of fructifying trees and of terms of their fructification. In canopy of African tropical forests such eaters are present – these are at once some species of postanthropi using different strategies of search of food.
Nanaunder is large slow-moving postanthropus. This species lives in groups numbering up to ten adult breeding pairs and their posterity not reached the age of independence. They have kept a family way of life characteristic for their ancestor; each group is fastened together not only by consanguinty, but also by numerous social connections. And collective experience of these postanthropi helps them to search for rich sources of food more successfully.
“Village” of nanaunders is built in this part of forest not vainly: in about two hundreds meters from them the tree towers, for the sake of which they visit in regular way this part of the forest. This huge tree belongs to Solanaceae (nightshades) family; approximately one month ago it emitted in vicinities delicate attracting aroma of long tubular flowers. Pollinators have done an excellent job: around of tree clouds of moths and small bats involved with nectar hovered. Now it is a time of fructification, especially plentiful in this season. On the tree clusters of fruits with friable juicy pulp, containing numerous tiny seeds, ripen now. Birds already scurry in tree crone and pick separate ripe fruits, but the great bulk of fruits is still ripening. However the harvest festival is already close: fruits will ripen in the nearest two days, but they will be accessible for a short time only, because they spoil so quickly.
The main seed dispersers of this tree are postantropi, and the plant has made everything for their convenience: flowers energe directly from under bark on the trunk and large branches, which can sustain weight of a large primate. But now nanaunders wander cautiously along branches of the nearby trees, picking their foliage – the fruiter, for the sake of which they have gathered here, has secured its leaves, accumulating in them a plenty of alcaloids making them inedible.
The next morning nanaunder village had been woken up by calls reaching from the crone of the fructifying tree: they have overslept a little the beginning of the harvest festival, and now they should hasten to take their share. Families of nanaunders one by one go to the tree crone, where other forest inhabitants already feast. They are similar to nanaunders, and differ from them at the same time: they have a common ancestor, but different ways of life. These creatures swing dexterously on tree branches like gibbons – they have the same long arms and light weight enabling them to skip easily from one tree to another. These are lilims – one more species of postanthropi, eternal vagabonds of forest canopy. They are weaker compared to nanaunders, but their dexterity quite compensates the loss in strength.
Fruits are already ripen, and their red clusters hang on trunk and branches, inviting numerous eaters. Nanaunders take seats on branches and begin to devour fruits unhurriedly. Graceful lilims already managed to gather their share of a crop, and dare to joke of their sluggish messmates. When one nanaunder picked a fruit, lilim rushed above him and snatched out a fruit from his hand, accompanied by approving hoots of the relatives swinging on branches above them. Not paying attention to nanaunder’s displeased cry, lilim jumped to the branch and pushed the stolen fruit to its own mouth. He sat highly enough to prevent nanaunder to reach him, but being well visible to tease him. Nanaunder picked another fruit and managed to eat it, but when he reached for the next fruit, one more lilim rushed like a whirlwind above the branch and managed to pick this fruit for one instant earlier than nanaunder. Nanaunder’s fingers have seized only emptiness, followed by giggling of lilims sitting on higher branches. Angered nanaunder has cried and has shaken the branch, and some fruits falled from it and smashed against the ground. Some of his relatives stopped their meal and directed to help him, but lilims simply jumped off from the branch and rushed off to the top levels of tree crone, jumping providently on thin branches, which can not sustain the nanaunder’s weight. And nanaunders returned to devouring of fruits.
Fructifying trees represent a place of gathering of numerous inhabitants of tree crones, and consuming of a plentiful crop turns to a true celebration of life. In tree crone birds, pecking fruits, clap their wings, and along the trunk arboreal rodents scurry, eating this delicacy. In the crone of fructifying tree nanaunders from different clans gather frequently, and then they have an opportunity to make new acquaintances and to make their life better a little.
In tree crone some strangers feed – these are males and females from the neighbouring clan. At nanaunders there are no such furious skirmishes between clans, as at chimpanzees of historical epoch, but strangers all the same feel disapproving sights of adults males and females of clan. Nevertheless, some young males have seriously decided to get acquainted with strangers much closer: there are females among them.
The group of young males approached closer to strangers. They behave deliberately noisily, exposing themselves mainly to females. Some strangers have departed aside at once – their number is lesser, than of “village” inhabitants, which have got here a little bit earlier. But while stranger males try not to provoke the conflict, two newcomer females begin flirt frankly with males, expressing their interest in mimicry and gestures. The signal is accepted – males sit close to these females and begin treating them with fruits, though there is so great lot of food around them, that females can pick fruits, not moving from their place. Now an exchange of food itself is more important, because to take fruit from the hand of alien male is a sign of an inclination to him. One female, being braver a little bit, than her friend, has stretched her arm and has taken the offered fruit.
Squeals and yells in another part of tree crone interrupt a shy attempt of acquaintance. Nanaunders jump and begin looking around worryingly. And along the branches other inhabitants of forest canopy – monkeys with huge ugly muzzles – already run. These are niomus – forest-dwelling guenon-like descendants of baboons, competitors of postanthropi, the dexterous omnivores not giving to postanthropi to live quietly on trees. Ugly muzzles similar to terrible ritual masks represent a feature of sexually mature males, which behave very aggressively, growling and exposing large canines. Muzzles of niomus are decorated from sides with plicas of soft tissues, giving to them monstrous shape. Nanaunders surpass these monkeys in number, but in fight one by one niomu would have an advantage. Therefore nanaunders gather on branches in groups, and males step forward and warn unbidden visitors of readiness to protect from them by loud yells.
Niomus can presume to themselves not to pay attention to demonstrations of nanaunders. After males females appear in tree crone – less ugly creatures of smaller size, with short muzzles and dim skin coloration. Niomu pack takes seats on branches and begins feeding. Males almost do not pick fruits: females bring food to them. Each male receives the care from two or three females, which bring fruits to him and carefully comb an impressive mane by their fingers. They feed very prodigally, throwing down fruit leftovers. Through foliage they see, how somewhere in underbrush dark shadows move – ground-dwelling animals gather and eat fruits. The hierarchy is supported very strictly: if any female bites off a piece of fruit furtively, male expresses his displeasure, having grinned teeth, and the order is instantly restored.
Nanaunders had to suffer the neighbourhood of terrible niomus and nimble lilims. However the amount of fruits is so great, that there will be enough for numerous eaters, therefore conflicts because of food do not arise.
Despite of eaters’ appetites, the crop appeared too plentiful, and they simply have no time to eat it all. The following stage of the feast begins; tree fruits become overripe rapidly, the part of them begins to rot and in juice the fermentation begins, resulting in accumulation in fruit pulp of certain amount of alcohol. If to eat many of such fruits, it is possible simply to get drunk. The tree makes one more unpleasant surprise for its visitors: in the chemical cocktail of fruits there is a small amount of alcaloids, increasing an intoxication a little.
Nanaunders and their neighbours do not hasten to leave a tree, even when the part of its crop is already frankly deteriorated. Some fruits just have ripened, and others have already began to decay and to smell unpleasantly. But it does not stop monkeys and postanthropi, which continue to overeat fruits, even rotten ones. Ancient vice, to which people and their relatives were subject, has a power over their descendants millions of years after the collapse of civilization: the primates overeaten the overripe fruits simply get drunk. Arboreal baboons niomus compete to postanthropi for a crop of fruits, but too active competition bears the certain danger hidden in it. Having gorged on with fruits, monkeys get drunk very quickly: females and juveniles simply lay on branches, having lowered paws, and ugly males hardly stand on legs and only grin unwillingly, when nanaunder or lilim appears near them. They can hardly make some steps, therefore hardly represent serious threat when being in such condition. Nanaunders and lilims are in much better position: at postanthropi, alcohol-neutralizing enzymes work well. This is a heritage got to them from times of agricultural past of their human ancestor. Consuming large portions of fermented fruits, they also get drunk, but sober much faster.
Life in tropical forest carries a certain danger in itself: large prey involves large predators, and the congestion of primates on the fructifying tree hardly remains unnoticed. Flexible spotty body has slipped out from thickets of underbrush: bakanga – large forest-dwelling predator – is on the prowl. The congestion of primates on the tree has drawn the beast’s attention, and it has decided to look for prey there. Predator has sniffed slightly rotten fruits laying on the ground, has supported by forepaws against buttress root of tree and has inhaled forest air. Near to it the portion of smelly liquid excrements has spilled on a root – there, in tree crone, someone is obviously feeling bad, and, maybe, easy prey already waits for it. The flexible body of the predator began to climb up silently to forest canopy, clinging claws against the liane winding around the next tree. The beast resembles a huge marten in its movements. Quite probably, it could not deal with the adult nanaunder, but would easily take away its juvenile. Predator is able to handle gracile lilim, but only large birds of prey can catch them – they are too fast and dexterous for bakanga. Niomu baboons represent a terrible force, but only males are those. Without their protection females turn to easy prey. Therefore it is quite possible to find prey corresponding to predator’s forces in tree crone.
Bakanga’s attack was spoiled by accident – a certain bird has fluttered up from the branch, uttering loud call, one nanaunder has turned back to a source of sound and has seen the spotty predator making a magnificent jump from a crone of the neighbouring tree. He sprang on his feet, crying loudly, and other nanaunders have shaken off the rests of a blessed drowsiness on a full stomach. They organized the defence quickly, having pushed females with babies closer to the tree trunk. Males had taken up the positions on thick branches and have began to yell, shaking them. Lilims sitting higher in tree crone have joined their voices to the common turmoil. Niomus appeared less organized - they are still under influence of alcohol, though nevertheless niomu males try to organize the defense. Even one by one they are dangerous opponents with powerful jaws and canines causing terrible wounds. Some males acting together turn to a force nobody should ignore. But joint actions fail at the drunk monkeys. Bakanga has jumped down into their group from one of the higher branches, having caused a panic: it unexpectedly appeared behind the backs of pack defenders. One female, scared by sudden appearing of the predator, has begun to panic and has tried to escape from it, having jumped to the next branch. But alcohol has played with it a dirty trick: she miscalculated her jump, and her fingers grabbed too thin branch. Branch has broken off in her hands, and the yelling monkey falled down from twenty meters height. Somewhere below the yell has interrupted, and for the predator it means the only thing: it is possible to begin dinner. Not paying attention to panicking niomus, bakanga has jumped to the next tree, has seized with its claws a bark of thick wooden liane, and has quickly gone down. Beast has found the dead monkey and has began the feast: cartilages began crunching in its teeth. After satisfying its famine, it will drag the remains of an animal on the tree, where it will not be disturbed by ground-dwelling predators, and will continue a meal after the rest.
It was two more days. Last fruits from the tree were eaten, have fallen on the ground or have decayed up to absolutely inedible condition. Lilims have left this part of forest a long time, and only their voices are heared somewhere far away from here. Niomus have also gone to search for new sources of food, and nanaunders are going to leave their “village”. A flurry of excitement reigns in nests of nanaunders. Due to powerful enzymes they succeed to neutralize quickly the alcohol from fruits, and only residual amount of tree alcaloids causes slight excitation at them. Postanthropi communicate with each other, using delicate cooing sounds and touches, clean wool of babies and courtship partners, or simply lay in nest, shaking it. All of them are waiting for changes: they will travel soon in tropical forest canopy. But at some of them changes in life have already arrived: one of young males acquired the new girlfriend from an another’s clan – she has preferred to begin new life here, despite of obstacles like annoying niomus and furious bakanga. Maybe, she has made a good choice – but only time will tell it.
Nanaunder (Cheiranthropus architector)
Forest-dwelling species of postanthropus, the inhabitant of forest canopy. A bipedal creature about 100-110 cm tall with very long arms, resembling apes in its proportions. Skin is hairless, of brown or black color; on head long and rigid black hair grow. Face is flat, with wide nose. Braincase is small in comparison with face part of scull; head is similar to ape’s one.
This species moves on trees, keeping a bipedal pose, and keeps balance, gripping tree branches by hands. In this connection, it inhabits exclusively old parts of tropical wood with close canopy. A prominent feature of its behaviour is a skill of building shelters of branches – nests with a friable roof of sticks and leaves.
The present species is mainly herbivorous; a basis of its diet is made of young leaves and soft fruits. In searches of food these postanthropi migrate in forest, stopping in places rich in food for some days; shelters help to process the food hard to digest in comfortable conditions. Mental faculties of this species enable to make a mental map of the forest and to remember location and time of fructification of various tree species.
Female gives rise to one baby once in 4 years. Sexual maturity is at the afe of 7-8 years; lifespan is about 40 years.
Lilim (Dendranthropus agilis)
Specialized forest-dwelling species of postanthropus. The present species has convergent similarity to gibbons of historical epoch and is adapted to movement in tree crones using brachiation. Weight of an adult individual is about 5 kgs; due to small weight this species is able to make jumps about 10 meters long from one tree to another. Constitution is very light-built, arms are very extended. Fingers are connected by soft tussues almost up to the tips, thumb is reduced. Skin is pigmented and covered with thin short wool; at old individuals hair on body grow grey. Hair on head is lengthened; at males short moustaches and beard grow. Sight is very good; eyes are large and mobile.
Brain is rather large – it is an adaptation for fast processing of great amount of information “on the move”. Therefore head at present species looks more “human” compared to other postanthropi. Nose is short with wide nostrils – it facilitates breath, which is important at movement in forest canopy. Jaws are large, with big tuberculous teeth; lips are fleshy and mobile.
This is an omnivorous species having a bias to herbivory. Its basic food is tree fruits and soft young leaflets. An addition to its diet includes insects, snails, bird eggs and nestlings. These postanthropi do not build permanent shelters, wander in forest and do not stop anywhere for a long time; they live in small groups – 1-2 breeding pairs of adult individuals and their posterity not reached the independence. Each of such groups occupies extensive fodder territory and remembers all main fruit-bearing trees there, and the time of their fructification.
Female gives rise to one baby once in 2-3 years. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 5 years; life expectancy is about 30 years.
Niomu (Dendropapio dimorphus)
Descendant of baboons; it is an ecological analogue of guenon, but keeps features of baboon in its behaviour. The present species has drastically expressed sexual dimorphism – males and females differ externally in so great degree, that they look like different species of monkeys. Body length of male is up to 1 meter, tail length is up to 80 cm; females grow up to 60-70 cm with tail length up to 50 cm. Male has enormous canines and large, brightly colored muzzle. Face skin is hairless and bright red; on cheeks plicas of spongy tissue grow – of light pink color with red spots. In a condition of aggression tissues swell with blood and the animal’s muzzle turns ugly and frightening. At female muzzle is short, canines are small, and skin on the face has bright pink color. In addition, sexually mature male has a mane of elongated hair on head, neck and shoulders. Wool is colored brown, and male’s mane is black. At female wool on head and neck has also a black color. Females feed and groom male in exchange for protection.
These baboons live in groups of 10-15 individuals with strict hierarchy, which is supported by aggressive behaviour of dominant male. They are the omnivores consuming up to 40% of food of animal origin – invertebrates and small vertebrates.
Once a year female gives rise to one cub; twins are extremely rare.
Bakanga (Necroherpestes venator)
“Universal” predator of tropical forest capable to hunt both on the ground, and in trees, the descendant of mongooses. Body length is up to 120 cm, tail length is about 100 cm. Claws are not retractable. Skin has yellowish color and is covered with large spots on back and sides. On tail spots merge to wide rings; tail tip is black-and-white. Muzzle is short; jaws can open widely and are supplied with strong masticatory muscles – this animal kills its prey with a bite in its head.
Solitary predator; each individual controls extensive hunting territory, marking its borders with musky secretions of smell glands. At the territory there are some lairs used by this predator in various times. This species eats large herbivores and is capable to kill and to drag to the tree a prey weighing twice or three times more than the hunter is.
Female gives rise to 2-4 cubs once a year. The posterity stays with mother up to half-year age, being trained to hunt.
The territory of Southern Asia in civilization epoch was the
most densely populated place on the Earth, and here the nature has suffered
the greatest damage from human activity. The significant areas of tropical woods
were cut down, and it has resulted in significant impoverishment of biological
diversity. After the collapse of civilization an environment was restored, but
signs of human activity are all the same visible in nature even when millions
of years passed – some species of trees and grasses in jungle are descendants
of the introduced cultivated plants which native land is on other continents.
Asian jungles are rich in life, and many skilful builders arranging some areas of the forest according their own taste live there. Termites erect nests of clay and chewed wood pulp, and wasps prefer a paper self-made of wood. Mammals and lizards dig deep holes in ground, and birds build various nests on trees – from carelessly made friable constructions up to pipes and balls with narrow entrance plaited densely of plant fibers. Only constructions of termites may be compared in size to the shelter, which may be seen occasionally in rainforest canopy. Almost the whole crone of a young tree is transformed into dome-shaped construction: branches of tree serve as a natural skeleton, between them the broken branches with foliage are thrown up, and atop of them one more layer of twigs and wide leaves of ground grasses is laid. The whole construction has almost conic shape and is open from below. Massive bottom branches serve as a support for this construction, and on them builders of this construction settle down for night.
In the daytime the shelter is empty, and under its ceiling bats settle for the rest. The construction is very convenient for them: it protects from wind and rain, and if necessary, it is possible to fly out easily from it through completely open bottom. But closer to sundown the builders of this shelter – bipedal creatures dexterously moving on branches – begin to gather in it. These are vanaras – a species of Asian postanthropi with not simple evolutionary destiny. Some millions years ago their ancestors were typical ground-dwelling omnivorous forms widespread in evergreen forests of South and Southeast Asia. But the climate of Central Asia turned more humid for some thousand years, northern forests spreaded a little bit farther to the south, and southern ones to the north, and it has enabled to ancient representatives of Palearctic postanthropi to expand their range farther to the south and to settle to Oriental zoogeographical realm. As a result they have successfully adapted to life in tropics and in due course of competition began superseding of local postanthropi forms. Some local species has died out; other ones had to avoid a competition by developing a way of life new to them. In this way ancestors of vanaras settled on trees. Here they had to compete to monkeys and as a result their species occupies rather limited ecological niche of arboreal vegetarians. And they have carried away to the trees their skill of building of ground shelters, having rethought it according to new conditions.
Vannaras slowly return to the shelter and take seats on thick branches. These are creatures with swollen stomachs and hairless pigmented skins. They communicate with each other with abrupt sounds and touches, and some ones scratch each other’s skin or touch hair. Their simple actions represent all remains of skill of their ancestor to do the talking. Inside shelter vanaras have arranged some cotts, having dropped armfuls of rods in forked branches. In such nests almost all members of their clan can accomodate, however some individuals prefer to sleep, having straddled tree branches and having leant their backs against tree trunk, or sitting in a fork of branches. Thus their fingers and toes close reflexly around the support and hold it very securely.
Some lodgers have taken some food – fruits or tree branches with leaves – to the shelter. Before going to sleep, they eat their supplies, and the rests of food simply fall down together with their excreta. Under the shelter of vanara clan a significant amount of leftovers and dung is already accumulated, attracting various insects.
While vanaras gather in the shelter, bats take off from the ceiling and fly under the dome, preparing to night hunting. Sometimes vanara kids try to touch their winged neighbours with curiosity, but bats succeed to evade from their fingers. One by one bats fly out from vanara’s shelter and disappear in jungle. Tropical evenings are short, and sunlight is dimming soon. It becomes dark in shelter, and only by sounds it is possible to guess, that vanaras are going to sleep – they snuffle, sigh, stir and rustle with leaves. At night their organisms will work on digestion and fixation of nutrients from the swallowed leaves and fruits. Processing of rough vegetative food is a very difficult task, and to solve it microscopic assistants of vanaras – cellulose-splitting bacteria – work restlessly. Process of digestion is accompanied by emitting of some gases, and absence of the floor in shelter is very opportunely – otherwise air would be spoiled thoroughly during the night.
For smell sense of vanaras the smell of emitting gases is unpleasant, but there are forest inhabitants, which do not have such emotions, when feel it... especially if it is something like an invitation for the dinner for them.
The smell of sleeping vanaras attracts numerous blood-sucking insects. They would easily fly into shelter from below, but for this purpose they should cross an obstacle representing a flock of little bats, which flutter fussily around of a tree trunk becoming the base of postanthropi shelter. Tiny, but gluttonous creatures rush in air, and every some seconds in their teeth one more mosquito or midge appears. They hunt very successfully: insects almost do not disturb postanthropi sleeping in the shelter. One more couple of bats flies right inside the shelter, capturing insects managed to make the way inside. Their help to vanaras is very difficult for overestimating: blood-sucking dipterans are carriers of various diseases and larvae of parasitic worms, and bats due to their good appetite exterminate great numbers of these insects.
But there are troubles, against which bats can not protect vanaras. Echolocating signals of bats have identified the movement on tree trunk, where the shelter of postanthropi is constructed. Rings of the smooth long body have clasped tree trunk and move upwards along it one by one, and in air in rhythm with their movements the wide shovel-shaped head with large eyes wiggles. Frightened bats have rushed away: one of the largest predators of jungle – strangler archelaphe, a giant snake – is on the prowl.
Large boas and pythons have become extinct in civilization epoch: during the global ecological crisis their prey became too rare, and they also became objects of human hunting. Their ecological niche stayed empty not for long: already in epoch of recovery of ecosystems in tropics of the Earth large species of snakes became to evolve, aspiring to take a place of the top predator of ecosystems. In tropics of South Asia strangler archelaphe became one of such species. It grows up to ten meters long and is able to eat actually any inhabitants of jungle, except for the largest and the tiniest ones. And vanaras just fit this dimensional range, though now the snake of considerably lesser length tries to get into their dwelling.
Muscled rings of its body covered with smooth patterned skin, rise one by one along the trunk and clasp it, enabling snake to keep firmly on tree, despite of great weight and absence of paws. Fearsome head slowly and fluently penetrated into vanaras’ shelter. The forked tongue analyzes smells, and the reptile chooses for itself a prey of suitable size. It coils silently among sleeping vanaras, which do not suspect, that are in mortal danger. Finally, the reptile has chosen its prey – young female sleeping alone on the branch. Its rush was fast and exact, and rings of its body have instantly twisted body and neck of prey, not giving it any opportunity to breathe. Seized female scratched rings of the snake by hands, trying to make at least one more breath, and her legs jerked in air. Purely casually she managed to kick one of her relatives sleeping below and to wake it.
Scream of terror has broke night silence, and numerous voices joined it instantly. Scared vanaras jumped and tried to see anything in darkness of shelter, and among them giant snake coiled, having twisted a dying prey with its rings. Some vanaras have managed to destroy a wall of shelter and to get outside; they jumped on the next tree and went down hasty on the ground. Some ones ventured to a desperate jump on trees right from under the dome of shelter. Squeal of kids and females fuelled an overall panic even more.
In half an hour vanaras, at last, have gathered on the ground. They looked in fear, how the huge snake has got in darkness into their former dwelling. The dead body of their relative was still strangled in rings of reptile’s body, and predator prepared to swallow it. Position of vanaras clan was awful: they were expelled from their house into the night full of dangers, and could easily become an object of predator’s attack. Scared babies cried and yelled in fear, despite of efforts of mothers to calm them, and even strong adult males had been too frightened to sleep. They wandered among trees and peered into darkness – but they are daytime creatures, and can poorly see in night darkness.
To the morning babies have simply got tired and have fallen asleep one by one. Some females snuggled against tree trunks, or even against one another, and have fallen asleep. Males were catnapping, often shuddering and waking up. For the last time human words sounded in this world millions of years ago. But even without words it was clear to all members of clan, that they will have to go to search for a new place for life.
When the sun came up, vanaras got an opportunity to see how in their former house giant snake coiled up while digesting its prey. Most likely, it will stay in their shelter for some days, until the process of digestion will finish. It is no sense to wait, while the monster will leave their shelter: vanaras must feed regularly, returning for the rest to the safe place. So vanaras began the movement across the forest by clumsy slow pace. One male, oldest and the most experienced, has led the group to a new residence. Once they searched for food in that territory, and it is quite possible, that sooner or later they would resettle there. But circumstances force them to do it right now.
Arboreal creature should move to new place in tree crones. But forest canopy of Asian tropical forest is formed of trees of various heights; therefore it is difficult to move from tree to tree to long distances in it. Among small arboreal animals numerous gliding forms with patagia between paws evolved, however ancestors of vanaras were too heavy to develop gliding jumps. Therefore vanaras have to go to new place on foot. And at the same time they are not so good walkers – their legs are shorter, than at typical ground-dwelling forms, therefore walking to long distance in forest becomes a very difficult task for them. They easily climb trees, but feel themselves like unprotected on the ground – it is an element alien for them. Therefore during the travel vanaras look around anxiously and listen to the sounds of the forest – it is important not to be taken unawares by the enemy.
Call of a stranger was heard very close to them, and it was much unexpected. Scared vanaras have begun to look around, and one female has suddenly stretched her arm in ancient and obvious pointing gesture, looking frightenedly in the same direction.
Under the tree there was a stranger – both similar to vanaras and not similar at the same time. He had the same hairy head, moustaches and small beard, and it walked upright. But his skin looked unlike vanara’s one. While at vanara skin is almost naked, having only short thin hair, this one was covered with wool entirely. The wool of grey color was long, but thin – dark skin looked through it.
Vanaras had seen these creatures for many times – this is nittaewo, a ground-dwelling species of postanthropi. Their ancestors were strangers – many millions years ago they have crossed steppes and mountains of Central Asia, have got accustomed in new place and settled widely in Asian tropics. Their appearing has broken the established ecosystems: local ground-dwelling forms of postanthropi appeared noncompetitive in comparison with newcomers from the north, and vanara’s ancestors had to develop arboreal way of life. But vanaras preferred to observe for nittaewos from safe trees, instead of face to face.
Looking at vanaras, nittaewo has cried again, and from various sides some more voices replied him. Nittaewos have surrounded vanaras clan, acting silently and concordantly – as if by magic, from behind trees their hairy figures appeared. They came on vanaras, uttering abrupt sounds, and struck by hands against young trees, sweeping leaves from them. They feel relationship with vanaras instinctively, and try to banish them from the territory. Nittaewo females, a little bit less hairy, remain somewhere in the back with their kids, and some adult males and grown up juveniles move forward, showing the aggression with warlike calls and sharp movements of hands.
Vanaras have lower stature compared to nittaewos, and it is more difficult for them to make an impression of combative creatures to frighten off the enemy. Nevertheless, their males also go forward, answering with calls and frightening grimaces to nittaewo challenge. At the best interspecific skirmish may turn to a fracas, and in the worse case nittaewos can steal some babies of vanaras and eat them. It is a quite real danger.
Nittaewo males close a surrounding, followed by approving calls of their females, and vanara males prepare for fight. One nittaewo male has rushed forward, has tumbled vanara male down and has seized hair of female standing behind him. She has begun to squeal shrilly with fear, pressing her baby against herself. Fallen male has risen and has seized nittaewo’s wool, having pulled out with dexterous fingers a large clump from his back. Nittaewo howled with pain and insult, and has rushed on the opponent. Under trees the fight started. Nittaewo females do not take part in it, but support males with calls. And vanara females are forced to struggle against attacking nittaewos.
One vanara male has fallen, having got a punch from nittaewo male. He was tumbled down on the ground, and at this moment there was a whirlwind of fragments of various memoirs from life lived in his mind. And one of them was especially clear – from his childhood, when he, still being a kid, walking in the custody of his mother, has taken a twig in a hand and whipped off some tree leaves from the branch with it. It was as if an insight – having stretched his arm, fallen vanara has seized a piece of branch laying on the ground, got back on his feet quickly and has sharply hit nittaewo male already attacking one of his relatives. Branch was rotten, and has broken from his impact. But impact was strong enough – nittaewo howled with pain and seized an injured place. Not wasting time, vanara male has seized another branch and has whacked the opponent again, accompanying an attack with warlike call. As if having got a magic weapon, he has rushed into the midst of the fight, yelling and beating the attackers. Seeing what it is doing, other vanaras also began to take sticks and to beat nittaewos. Attackers quailed – they did not expect to receive a repulse. One by one nittaewo males recede to trees, where females are waiting for them, and vanara males shout belligerently and swing sticks, as if celebrating their victory.
The triumph of vanaras seemed to be completed: they managed to beat stronger enemy, and have made it in element alien for them, on the ground. But they did not manage to take pleasure in a victory to the full. The picture of their celebration had been spoiled by the scared squeal of one nittaewo female. It has sounded somewhat inappropriate, and was heard not from the fight place, but somewhere from the side, from behind the trees. Female simply stood and extended her arm in the same pointing gesture aside thickets of young trees. Some more females not taking part in fight have looked in the same side and have begun to whimper scaredly.
Among young trees the body moved – it was long and covered with smooth motley scales. Even vanaras freezed, looking at this creature, as if bewiched by hypnotic smoothness and noiselessness of its movements. It is a snake of the same species that has killed one of their relatives, and it is even larger, than their nightmare. Such massive snakes already hardly climb trees, preferring to search for prey on the ground. And nittaewos represent a part of their prey.
At the presence of such predator the conflict with strangers at once became something insignificant, and the occasion for fight has disappeared by itself. Postanthropi of different species escape from predator as they can. Vanaras at once climb up trees where they feel like in the greater safety, than on the ground. And nittaewos are bad tree-climbers, but good walkers. They simply rush and run away, having forgotten about the presence of competitors. Having gripped branches and bark of trees, vanaras look downwards in horror, where in underbrush giant snake crawls. The fear freezes their movements – maybe, it saves them from an attack, because the snake does not feel vibrations created by them. And, of course, a large size of the snake has played the role – adult Archelaphe snakes are too heavy to climb trees, therefore vanaras are in relative safety.
The reptile creeps away, but vanaras will go down from the tree not soon. Memoirs on night horror are too fresh, and they have already lost one of their relatives – it is a big shock for a group. At last, one of adult males has cautiously gone down on the ground. He has looked around and has made some steps. Some more relatives followed his example, and gradually all members of the group has gathered on the ground to continue their way.
During their way vanaras pick leaves from bushes and young trees, but it muffles the sensation of famine not for long. Usually they eat much more plentifully and thus try to move as little as possible: hardly digesting food compels them to save energy on everything, that has no relation to process of its devouring and digestion.
They have almost not noticed how they have reached a final goal of their forced travel. Forest of numerous species of trees was simply replaced gradually by thickets of only one species. And to be even more exact, of only one tree stretched to some hundreds of meters in all sides. This huge tree is a giant banyan some centuries old. Using its branches, vanaras can reach the neighbouring trees and chew foliage peacefully. Here something else is waiting for them. Experienced male led them here not in vain: branches in one part of tree crone are bent and bound in characteristic manner. Some months ago here a shelter of this group had been built, but bad weather and forest inhabitants in due course have destroyed old dwelling of vanaras, having left from it only a part of a framework of alive branches.
First night at the new place has passed restlessly a little – vanaras slept on tree branches, having simply nestled against each other and covering kids with their bodies. After plentiful breakfast on the next trees they have began to build new shelter. It is not an instinctive skill, like at birds, but the true skill kept in memory and passing from father to son by learning. Adults break and bend branches, gradually completing a framework of the construction. Their knots may seem primitive, but it is a top of building technologies at postanthropi. Some adult vanaras to the building branches with wide leaves broken from the nearest trees and cling them on the framework. Juveniles help adults actively, dragging building material and trying to tie knots of flexible branches. Some builders during the work leave on feeding, but others replace them, and thus work does not interrupt. While adults are busy, youngs play after good breakfast – two of them build ineptly their own small tent, imitating the work of adults. Of course, their construction appears not such strong, as at adults – wind and careless movements of young builders quickly destroy just constructed tent. But the most important thing here is not a result, but a process of construction, the improvement of skills of interaction with relatives.
Closer to evening of the next day the building comes to an end. Construction of vanaras has not only utilitarian, but also a social role: it is not simple shelter from bad weather, but also a place of gathering of group members. Here vanaras groom each other’s wool and communicate before falling asleep. While adult vanaras return to the shelter or bask in the sun, juveniles have invented new game. They have broken sticks for themselves and practice in using them, making impacts on tops of tree branches and beating down leaves. It seems, that they have remembered how males have won over malicious nittaewos, and now in their group new cultural skill began to fix gradually.
Vanara (Bharatanthropus scandens)
Arboreal postanthropus about 110-120 cm tall. Skin of dark brown color is naked and has only very short thin hair, not forming a continuous wool cover. Hair on head is rich and curly. Skin on buttocks is thick, forming a kind of sciatic callouses, enabling to sit on branches. Arms are lengthened, with narrow palms and long fingers; legs are rather short and strong.
Face is wide and flat, with large masticatory muscles. Jaws are large, with wide molars. Voluminous stomach contains long intestines suitable to digestion of vegetative food. This kind has passed to feeding on foliage independently from the African form. As against to African forms, it has a small venter, but long intestines, in which the food is digested continuously, as if on the conveyor.
This species lives in groups numbering 20-25 individuals. As against to other herbivorous forms, it has complex forms of learned behavior: this species is able to build on trees shelters of bell-like form open from below. This ability is an original cultural skill transmitting from generation to generation.
Rate of growth and breeding is slow. Female gives rise to one baby once in 5-6 years, sexual maturity comes in 10-12 years. Life expectancy is about 40 years.
Nittaewo (Praearctanthropus relictus)
A result of early settling of Holarctic cold-resistant forms in southern direction. A ground-dwelling omnivorous form, the inhabitant of underbrush of tropical forests of various types. Constitution is gracile; stature is about 140-150 cm, males are taller than females. Body is covered with thin wool of grey color with individual variations; skin is pigmented. At males moustaches and beard grow, females have lengthened hair on throat under the lower jaw. Face is large, with wide fleshy nose; jaws are slightly prominent. Braincase is small. This species lacks physiological adaptations to existence in conditions of a seasonal climate, characteristic for its relatives from Holarctic.
Representatives of the present species live in groups of 10-20 individuals and are strictly territorial. Each group occupies a certain site of the forest and protects it from strangers and individuals of related species. Males of the group are relatives, females usually arrive from the neighbouring groups.
Present postanthropus species keeps a breeding rate characteristic for Holarctic forms – sexual maturity comes at the age of 8-9 years, female gives rise to one baby once in 4-5 years. Life expectancy is up to 35-40 years.
Strangler archelaphe (Archelaphe sphinga)
Giant snake of tropical forest, up to 10 meters long and weighting over 250 kg. Coloration is camouflaging – on brown background along the middle line of body a chain of large diamond-shaped spots of ochreous color with wide non-uniform edges of black color stretches. On each side of the body there is a line of ochreous strokes. Belly is greyish-white. Eyes are rather large with red iris and round pupil. Teeth are numerous and recurved.
This species eats large mammal and birds, strangling its prey by body rings – this feature was characteristic for ancestral forms of much smaller size. Adult individual is capable to kill prey weighting up to 70 kg.
Oviparous species, clutch numbers up to 50 eggs; female does not protect clutch. Snake becomes sexually mature at the age of 4-5 years; life expectancy is up to 80 years.
(Oriental realm, Indo-Pacific, islands of Southeast Asia)
In tropical area between Australia and Southeast Asia, the
extensive archipelago of islands of the continental and volcanic origin surrounded
with the warm seas spreads. Islands are richly covered with tropical wood serving
as a house for numerous species of live creatures – from microscopic worms up
to large mammals and birds. The warm sea is rich in food, and there various
species of fishes and aquatic invertebrates prosper. And on the border between
land and sea the special natural community – mangrove forests – had been formed.
They were restored after historical epoch and became a home for numerous lifeforms.
The majority of mangrove forest inhabitants are small creatures: it is difficult for large animal to move in a dense matting of roots and trunks of mangrove trees. During the outflow significant areas of ground turn to a viscous mire on which only creatures of light-built constitution can move. And among footprints of numerous birds and crabs on the mud traces of the largest local inhabitants may be seen. Their footprints are narrow and long, with five toes, and between them there are prints of skin membrane. But their most unusual feature in that they are left by plantigrade creatures moving on one pair of limbs – the descendants of people adapted to semiaquatic habit of life.
Not having lost skills of tree-climbing, one species of postanthropi has developed a new habitat, once alien to primates. Millions years ago ancestors of these creatures settled on the mainland at the riverbanks and searched for food in water. Some of their descendants were superseded from this ecological niche by representatives of other groups of mammals. Settling of representatives of ground-dwelling postanthropi from Palearctic has aggravated a competition to local forms and promoted the increasing of specialization to aquatic way of life. In due course of evolution some ancestral semi-aquatic postanthropi were fixed in a specific habitat, in mangrove thickets. Their descendants are adaros – gracile creatures similar to arboreal frogs rising on hind legs. Skills of arboreal life combine fancifully in them with anatomic features of swimming creature.
Adaros move among mangrove trees slowly and cautiously, lifting toes and trying not to injure swimming membranes on their feet. Maybe, other postanthropi may surpass them in acrobatic skills, but it is difficult to move very quickly in the tangle of mangrove tree trunks, especially for large creatures. But enlarged feet with the toes capable to stretch in sides fits perfectly for walking on soft fenny dirt. Due to an extensible swimming membrane the area of a support is increased, and gracile constitution prevents adaros from getting stuck in mud.
In outflow vast areas of the ground under crones of mangrove forests turn to an impassable marsh. A group of adaros walks across thickets, holding from time to time on to the branches and air roots of mangroves. These are two families and their: two couples of adult individuals and their kids of various ages – two teenagers, three younger kids and also one very small kid which still prefers to travel through mangrove swamps on mother’s back, having seized her hair. His mother and another female are sisters, and they became the centre of this family group.
Adaros have dexterously climbed up roots of large mangrove tree and have continued their way, walking on tree roots and holding on to the branches and trunks. Postanthropi move towards the external edge of thickets – towards the sea. They come last tens meters already in crones of undersized trees. At last, they have reached the edge of thickets. Having lean out from tree crones, adaros have screw up their eyes from the bright sun and have looked at sparkling surface of the ocean. Tree crone is a perfect observation post: it is well visible from there, what is happening in the sea. And there is pretty intense now.
Some hundreds meters far from the coast the majestic picture of life of inhabitants of depths is seen. Under the water surface huge bodies wallow and turn, and sometimes in the sunlight giant wet side shines, or huge fin slaps on water surface, causing clouds of splashes. Occasionally among splashes high fountain is shot in air.
From their observation post adaros can hardly make out these sea giants with all the detail. Life of these creatures is extremely far from postanthropi, which occupy coastal waters and very seldom swim out far from the coast.
One by one postanthropi get out to the edge of thickets. Mother with her kid cautiously enter into water from roots, and teenagers climb on the large branch of mangrove tree and jump off into the sea from height, yelling loudly and causing clouds of splashes. Under water they get ease of movements, becoming even more similar to giant frogs. They swim by means of simultaneous pushes of muscled legs, and direct the movement under water and seize objects interesting for them by hands. During the diving their nostrils close automatically and open reflexly only on air – it is a result of long evolution of aquatic way of life. Also the auditory meatus appears closed by special skin plica. However they are not so good divers, and they choose a time of outflow for hunting for sea animals.
Even adaro kids are excellently adapted to aquatic lifestyle and study to swim almost as early as to walk. While mother dives, kid holds up for her hair. But mother is able to hold the breath for some minutes, and kid is a bad diver yet. He leaves parental hair soon and emerges, waiting for mother on the surface.
Adult females search for crabs and shrimps at the bottom, and pick slippery strands of seaweed. Having caught a shrimp, they bite it slightly and hide in the corners of their jaws to eat on the surface. As for crab or snail, it is better to carry them to the surface at once and to break against roots of mangrove trees. While mother is engaged in search of food, kid dives near tree roots, observing for schools of tiny fishes hiding from him. Having seen mother getting out from water, he has hastened to her and has got a share of her catch – two small shrimps, which had been chewed immediately and swallowed with their shells. At the same time his mother cracked a claw of large crab – animal succeeded to get away, having left this claw to the enemy.
While females search for food near the coast, teenagers and males dive farther in the sea. Their prey includes not only crustaceans and molluscs, but also fishes caught in holes and other natural shelters of the sea bottom. Predatory and poisonous fishes of sea shoalinesses are perfectly familiar to them, and they avoid meeting them. However, there is one little fish, which searches for meetings with postanthropi from mangrove thickets itself.
Female and her kid have finished their meal and have swum to deep water in searches of new prey. Kid followed her – this swim seems to be a wonderful adventure for him, when there is his mother near him, capable to protect him. Mother has swum up to lonely growing young mangrove tree and small fish with elongated body and shining silvery longitudinal strip has swum to meet her. Its head is wide and flat, and the mouth is transformed into the sucker with hard gristly lips. On fish’s chin two mobile short wattles grow, and it has extended them forward, having swum up to adaro female. This fish does not express any fear, and adaro female does not make attempts to catch it. She has emerged to the surface, moving her legs fluently, and fish began to scratch her skin by rough lips, removing dying off layer of epidermis. This fish is bearded sea barber, the specialized cleaner, and many inhabitants of mangrove thickets use its services, including predatory fishes. It clears adaro female’s skin, tapping slightly on it with wattles on chin, as if informing, that everything is all right. Kid has extended his hand from behind mother’s shoulder, trying to catch the bearded sea barber, but mother has not allowed him making it: she has simply gripped his hand and has strongly seized it, keeping in place. To survive, kid should know not only enemies, but also friends, which should not be offended. Fish frightened by the kid has calmed down soon and then has moved to his own body, pinching and scraping slightly his skin by lips. Having finished with skin clearing, the fish has got into female’s hair wavering in water and began picking from them parasites and insects casually appeared there.
In midday hours adaros leave water and get into mangrove thickets. A hot day time is better for waiting in shadow. If the sea hunt failed, is possible to find some vegetative food in mangrove forest. In addition to seaweed adaros willingly eat sprouts of mangrove trees, appearing directly on parental plant. During the inflow trees appear under water reaching their branches, and then sprouts become more accessible – it is possible to pick them off, having simply put hand out from water.
Two teenager males has decided to search for sprouts – they swim in water, hitch tree branches and inspect them. Because of long fleshy root growing downwards, sprouts of mangrove trees resemble thick green bananas hanging down from branches. When they succeeded to find out and to pick sprouts, only one for each of them, about a half-dozen ones simply fall in water, and waves carry them away to conquer new habitats. Adaros also eat sticky sweet berries of parasitic bushes infesting mangrove trees, but it is much rarer delicacy.
When outflow began, some adaros have decided to continue search for food and have dived into water. They around in searches of fish, but notice, that something happened under water. The sea bottom looks the same as before, but there are no fishes – not any little school of them. One adaro began to search for food closer to thickets of mangrove trees, but two others have swum farther to the sea, emerging for air and diving again. They overlooked sea bottom in searches of prey, when it has suddenly begun to move. Scared postanthropi have rushed to mangrove thickets, and they had been followed by long stretching tentacles.
Without meaning postanthropi have turned from hunters to prey. During their midday rest a large octopus – tropical kraken – has swum to shallow water. Its presence has scared fishes away, but masking skills of this cephalopod have enabled it to mask ideally in almost plain sight. This mollusc uses skill of skin coloration change, and the texture of its covers simulates successfully a sea bottom overgrown with polyps and seaweed. Postanthropi have not noticed it until the predator began to move.
Moving their legs intensively, adaros swam to saving thickets of mangrove trees. Emerging for air, they screamed loudly in fear, and their voices have disturbed other members of their group. They have quickly got out of water and have climbed up trees as high as they could. Therefrom it was visible to them, how two of their relatives swim to thickets, and under them strange shapeless body swims and wriggles. Having reached trees, one adaro got on branch and began to climb up fast. His companion has delayed for one second, and long tentacle twisted his leg. Seized postanthropus has cried shrilly and began to pull on hands, trying to get out of water. Members of his group have hastened to help him: branches and bunches of leaves fell down in water, and even a piece of excrements followed them. But monstrous tropical kraken continued pulling his prey into the water. One postanthropus has broken a tree branch and began sticking a tentacle with it. During one of his impacts one snag on branch has broken off, and the sharp chip was thrust in the tentacle. The octopus has flinched in pain and has weakened its grip for one instant. New impact of stick against the tentacle has forced it to splash a jet of water into offenders, and seized adaro gave a jerk and has managed to pull higher. Some hands have seized him and have dragged upward while one male, yelling loudly, sticked pointed branch into the tentacle of octopus. Finally, giant cephalopod has released its prey and has dived. Adaros observe its movements from the tree and yell loudly, and branches and leaves fall in water like raindrops.
Tropical kraken had swum away, but adaros do not dare to go down to water for long. The evolution of tropical kraken and similar species represent a direct consequence of activity of adaro ancestors. The injurious fisheries and exterminating of cetaceans in historical epoch have opened numerous ways for evolution of cephalopods and have exempted ecological niches occupied successfully by these intensively growing, fast-breeding and short-living creatures. Tropical kraken is far from being the largest species of cephalopods in marine ecosystems recovered after the sixth extinction. Sea abysses inaccessible for adaros hide monsters of the even greater size.
To the evening weather turns worse. From the sea fresh wind blows, the sky turns clouded: storm is coming. Adaros hide in mangrove thickets far away from the waves furiously crashing on trees roots. Mangrove thickets extinguish fury of tropical storm, but for the sake of safety, it is better to shelter far away from the storming sea. The coming storm renders strange influence on adaros’ behaviour: they express an original excitation. Feeling change of weather, males cry loudly and drum by palms on tree trunks. Females echo their cries and swing on branches, sitting on them or simply having hung on hands. During this show kids hold on their mothers and simply squeal, and females had to keep kids to prevent their falling in water. Youngsters free from parental care adopt willingly the behaviour of adults: teenagers shake branches and knock on them by hands, trying also to outvoice each other. When it’s starting to rain, excitation abates; adaros simply get into foliage and sit silently, waiting till rain is over. They are not afraid of water, but all the same prefer to search for support of relatives in bad weather. Females and males embrace kids, protecting them from rain, and teenagers gather to one-age groups or sit near lonely adults. During the storm waves fall upon the coast, and their sparks hit postanthropi hidden in thickets. They are wet all the same, and only the proximity of relatives helps them not to feel the cold. But support of relatives is much more important for them. Though the appearance of these creatures became unusual and even ugly from the point of view of their intelligent ancestor, they have kept numerous human features in behaviour. And sociality is one of key features of their kind.
… It was stormy all the night, and weather became quiet only at daybreak. At dawn adaro group has cautiously got out of thickets to survey a coastal zone. They know by experience, that after the fury of nature it is possible to find many tasty things at the seacoast: seaweed, dead fishes and other sea animals. Voices of sea birds are heard from the side of the sea, and adaro group hastens to the edge of thickets to take advantage of gratuitous entertainment in proper time.
Usually various fishes become victims of the forces of nature – being unable to resist to waves, they become toys of the weather and appear on the coast among heaps of seaweed and other sea dust. But today the rare find is waiting for adaro group. Among mangrove trees a monstrous animal equal to a small whale in size has got stuck. But whales have become extinct irrevocably millions years ago, and it is only an invertebrate – giant titanotheutis squid. Body length of this specimen is about ten meters, and tentacles of about the same size wave in water, twitching slightly. It is a female – only yesterday she swam at the edge of sea shelf together with several relatives, jetting fountains; maybe, she was observed by adaro group before their morning hunting. Animals were busy with courtship games, and this female has had time to lay millions of eggs gathered in some lengthened slimy cocoons in depth among rocks. Parental feelings are alien to these animals: they do not protect clutch, because after the breeding animal’s organism grows old promptly, and squid lives only for some days. Storm has simply sped up the inevitable death of this female. Degradation has not touched her body yet: muscles work, wide fins clap helplessly in air, and eyes turn slightly, reacting to movement around of it. This animal is doomed for death – waves have thrown it on thickets, and some branches stuck deep into soft flesh of the ocean monster. While its tentacles move in water, adaros do not risk coming nearer to the monster: memory of a yesterday’s attack of tropical kraken is too fresh. But gradually movements of squid become weaker, and adaros turn brave – they come closer, examine an animal, and the most courageous ones stick its skin with branches.And soon the moment comes, when terrible tentacles of the monster do not move any more, and fins dangle limply. Adaros come nearer to it and cautiously touch its slimy skin. Above heads of postanthropi gulls hover with calls, and from coastal forests other carrion-eating birds already fly. They behave more bravely compared to adaros: they land on the carcass and begin immediately to peck through animal’s skin and to tear its meat. Seeing, that the sea giant does not move, adaro clan joins this plentiful feast. Squid carcass will be eaten within the next few days: nothing will go to waste in nature.
Adaro (Batrachanthropus lindbladii)
In epoch of biosphere recovery semi-aquatic forms of postanthropi from Asia settled along the coast of continent and islands. They have gradually adapted to getting food in the sea and became true semi-aquatic primates.
The present postanthropus species is a kind of relict of an early stage of true semi-aquatic way of life. It keeps an ability to tree-climbing and inhabits mangrove forests periodically flooding by inflow. Stature of an adult individual is about 150 cm, but these postanthropi reach such stature exclusively due to long legs with narrow lengthened feet. Toes are connected with skin membrane and enable to swim in water; toe phalanxes are elongated. Arms are long, at standing postanthropus fingertips reach knees. Chest cage is increased, lung volume enables to stay under water for about 5-6 minutes. Skin is hairless; only on head long hair grow.
Facial part of skull is large, eye-sockets and nostrils are shifted to the top part of skull. Braincase is small. Nostrils are capable to close with skin valves densely. Jaws are rather weak. These postanthropi are omnivorous, eat leaves, fruits and sprouts of mangrove trees, devour snails and crustaceans, and also the animals cast ashore by sea surf.
This species lives in groups of 15-20 individuals connected by matrilineal relationship. Each group occupies a site of mangrove thickets with channels and almost does not come to coastal forests far from water. Group members communicate with each other by means of various sounds.
Bearded sea barber (Barbupeneus platycephalus)
Sea euryhaline fish of goatfish family capable to endure short-term freshening of water. Body length is about 20-25 cm; body is very elongated, head is wide and flattened with obtuse snout. This species has sucker-like mouth and thick velvety lips; on chin two fleshy mobile wattles grow – by means of their touches the fish supports contact with client animal. For ease of recognition on both sides of this fish there are wide silvery strips. Back is black, and stomach is grayish; fins are transparent, only tips of forked tail fin are black. First back fin is deep and triangular.
This species is a specialized cleaner fish, clearing various sea animals of parasites. Specialization has determined strictly territorial behaviour of breeding pairs relating aggressively to congeners. Fishes of this species are capable to change sex during the life. Clutch numbers up to 10 thousand eggs; spawning repeats 2-3 times per year. Breeding couple scatters eggs at the bottom and does not care of posterity; fry develops in coastal waters and in due course of growth returns to reeves.
Tropical kraken (Deinoctopus macrochir)
Tropical kind of octopus, the inhabitant of sea shallows having large body size: span of tentacles is up to 8 meters. The appearance is typical for octopuses; tentacles have a double row of suckers. Body covers in rest are reddish-brown with numerous grey and white spots on tentacles, merging to cross strips on tentacle tips. On the body and in the bases of tentacles body surface of animal is covered with numerous outgrowths imitating seaweed and polyps. Due to contractions of special muscles these outgrowths can extend or smooth away almost entirely at the request of the octopus. The animal is capable to change color in a range from greyish-green and yellowish up to almost black with various patterns, precisely imitating features of color of the surrounding part of sea bottom. Due to it animal can arrange ambushes to catch large prey like fishes and sea birds. In mangrove thickets this kind is capable to attack ground-dwelling animals crossing channels.
Despite of large size, this species lives not for long – up to 5-6 years. Female lays about 400 thousand tiny eggs and takes care to them until the hatching of posterity, and then dies very soon of old age.
Titanotheutis (Titanotheutis ingens)
Squid species living on the high sea; it reaches the giant size – body length is about 10 meters, tentacles up to 8 meters long, and hunting tentacles are capable to extend up to 20 meters. This cephalopod species is a top predator in open ocean ecosystems; it feeds on large fishes and cephalopods, including congeners of smaller size.
To keep shape and to support muscles and internal bodies of its large body at this animal powerful gristly skeleton is well-developed. From very calcified gladius some pairs of corneous “ribs” grow and merge on the bottom side of body to form a “keel”. Elongated rhomboid fins have strong muscles attaching to this “keel”. Animal swims mainly by means of flaps of fins headfirst, but during the hunting uses a jet way of movement. Beak is equipped with large poisonous glands.
Boby colouring can change. In rest body covers are bluish with dark grey back and white belly with bluish cross strips. In courtship dress males get cross-striped “zebra” colouring, and females turn pale. Covers of dead animal become yellowish.
This species lays eggs in large slimy capsules of elongated shape, pasting them on sea bottom to any firm substratum. Each capsule contains up to 10 million eggs, and one female can lay up to 15 capsules. Animals do not protect eggs and perish soon after breeding (a monocyclic species). Juvenles develop in plankton. Complete life cycle is 9-10 years long.
Bug rummaged wood litter near the tree roots by fingers. He
has noticed some holes in the ground – these are entrances to ant nest. He likes
sourish taste of ants and their pupae, therefore Bug has decided to get some
these insects. However he has found something much better – having thrown aside
some handfuls of wood litter, he has found out two eggs covered with leathery
shell: eggs of fringed gecko, large local lizard. Eggs were laid very recently,
and the Bug was delighted to break off still soft shell by teeth and to suck
off its tasty contents. It’s just one little pleasure for last days. He leaned
against buttress root of tree, sighed and scratched his arm decorated with a
If Bug’s relatives could speak, they could compare him to a bug – small and too smelly insect. Alas, this comparison was justified: Bug was undersized male, half-head lower than female and actually the whole head lower than other males. And it wouldn’t be a problem, but in addition he belonged to dwarf island postanthropus species, at which growth of an adult individual rarely reaches one meter. However, being short, Bug was extremely strong and stout, not conceding in force to relatives of normal stature. And in addition he was the extremely quick-tempered and great enthusiast for relations with females. And in this area his conflicts with relatives erupted in regular way.
During his short life Bug managed to stay in two clans in succession. He spent childhood in parental clan, and in the same place his nasty unsociable character was expressed, and because of it he had been simply banished by some adult males united against him. And in new clan he had to meet two congeners of the same sort – both quick-tempered and having too itchy fists. From them Bug has got a bruise on a hand, and from their punches he is feeling pain in his ribs. Of course, he had been banished again, and here he had been tolerated for much shorter time, than in parental clan. Now he had to search for new group of congeners and to try to enter it – maybe, he would be admitted. But it is quite natural for Bug to wander in forest alone. During such walks he has perfectly learned forest and its inhabitants, therefore he does not feel like uncomfortably.
The world Bug lives in represents an isolated island ecosystem located approximately in that area, where in civilization epoch Philippine Islands were located. During the ice age the sea level has decreased, and islands merged to mainland, and from there the typical continental fauna migrated to that area. And during the global warming the sea has isolated islands from the continent, and their inhabitants have evolved independently from their continental relatives. In conditions of the limited natural resources humans have turned to the dwarves surrounded by bizarre neighbours. One of them is a giant mouse.
While Bug sat under tree, enjoying the taste of sucked out eggs, among roots of the next tree one local mouse – a cat-sized creature with brown wool, long whiskers and wide naked ears of pink color – has appeared. It has sniffed at the ground under tree and has pulled out a large seed from under fallen leaves. Having rised on hind legs, giand mouse has put this seed in mouth and has easily cracked it with strong incisors. Bug knows that force of his own teeth is not enough for such trick – he opens such seeds by impact of stone. The mouse has quickly ate several found seeds and has run in underbrush. Bug has decided to follow it – in case of luck he may find a nest of this mouse and, maybe, treat himself with its cubs.
Bug slinks on wood litter, following the mouse and trying not to be noisy. Large buttress roots close his field of view, and he sees the surrounding forest not so good. All his attention is concentrated on the mouse running carefree on fallen foliage. From time to time it stops to gnaw a found seed or insect, and Bug is compelled to hide to avoid frightening it off.
When the giant mouse has stopped once again to have a snack, Bug had to nestle against buttress roots of giant tree in order to be not noticed by it too early. While the mouse gnawed the found seed, Bug looked cautiously from behind the buttress root, and the picture seen has forced him to stand still in horror, having pressed deep in space between roots.
Approximately ten meters far from Bug’s shelter a couple of giant ambulatory
hawks – local flightless birds – wanders. They are dangerous creatures almost
one and a half times taller, than Bug. Their powerful legs are equipped with
strong claws, and massive head is armed with sharp hooked beak capable to tear
meat and to pull bones out from joints. But now two awful birds are busy with
courtship ritual, and it gives Bug a chance of escape. At these hawks female
is larger, than male, and he should express a certain care in searches of the
way to her heart. Male walks ceremoniously around the female, lifting his legs
high, and flaps from time to time his underdeveloped wings, which size is not
larger, than at pigeon’s ones. Such wings for already many thousand years do
not get these birds in air. But refusal of flight has enabled monstrous island
hawks to become top predators of island. They are capable to kill not only local
giant mice, but also prey of larger size.
Tracking of the mouse is forgotten at all – now it is more important to the Bug to remain imperceptible for these monsters. He knows, how to do it – these birds are able to run well, but are not capable to climb trees. Therefore, to climb up tree is a best way of escape. He began to climb on tree root cautiously, trying to be as quiet as possible. Muscled constitution enables him to make it easily, which is accessible only to few of his relatives. Bug cautiously climbs up the tree trunk, clutching at cracks of a bark by fingers and toes. Somewhere low from the ground on tree bark there is an outgrowth – perhaps, if to catch hold of it and to pull up, it is possible to appear out of reach of beaks of monstrous birds.
Clutching at the bark, Bug has risen on the upper edge of buttress root and stretched to the outgrowth on tree trunk. At first he did not manage to reach it, but, having stood on tiptoes, balancing on the edge of buttress root, he managed finally to touch an outgrowth on the bark. Bug’s tenacious fingers seized it, and… have torn it off from the trunk. In Bug’s hand an adult fringed gocko coiled and hissed. It has so successfully masked right on tree bark, that Bug was deceived, having mistaken it for a part of tree. And he has paid for a mistake on the spot – gecko has bit his hand and has seized its jaws in death grip. Bug has reeled and has fallen down, screaming, into the wood litter between tree roots. Gecko released his hand immediately, got on the tree quickly and stood still on bark again, turning invisible. Having got back on his feet, Bug turned slowly aside birds and has started back: both predators looked directly at him with their furious yellow eyes. Having heartbroken in terror, Bug began to recede slowly. Cautiously retreating step by step, he has hided behind a tree trunk, and then turned around quickly and rushed off across the forest by easy fast steps. He hoped until the last moment, that he will manage to escape, but among the noise of his own steps behind his back another’s fast steps were heard – getting closer and closer. For him it means the only thing: run and do not turn around. One of birds has rushed to chase him and it obviously does not lag behind. Bug began to use cunning: due to short legs he changes the direction of run easier, and he manages to come off a pursuit. Noise of bird’s steps is audible either behind him, or somewhere in side, and steps of the chaser become more silent. Bug is also very tired from a pursuit, therefore he has passed from run to fast step, and then has stopped at all, breathing deep and listening to forest sounds. He has noticed nothing suspicious, therefore he has decided, that he has managed to escape from flightless bird.
Hit in the head was sudden and strong. The pain has pierced his nape, and Bug falled down on the ground. Losing consciousness, he has managed to make out an attacker. Two unblinking yellow eyes looked at him – round and senseless. It was the last thing he had seen in his life. Impact of huge beak in face killed him.
Male of giant ambulatory hawk has waited until the female will look at him, not expressing any signs of aggression. She is larger and stronger, and he should express a respect for her with his behaviour. Loyalty to female and strict observance of roles in family life will enable them to create strong family and to rear posterity successfully. The first cooperative hunting was successful – male drove prey in a circle, directing it aside the hidden female. And she has put a critical impact.
Birds lacerate still warm body of Bug, tearing off greedy and swallowing pieces of meat. Their beaks with sharp cutting edges easily cut sinews, when birds tear off meat from bones of their prey. In fern thickets two giant mice hide: rodents observe of feasting birds, but do not hurry up to leave shelter, because birds can kill them at the same time. Rodents would like to regale themselves with meat for free, therefore they patiently wait until birds will be full and will go away.
Islands always were original laboratories of evolution. In the lost world of islands, evolution makes sometimes the most unexpected moves, binding fancifully the destinies of live creatures.
Patianak (Posthomo minimus)
Dwarf postanthropus species evolved in conditions of island isolation and limitation of natural resources. Stature of adult male is about 90-95 cm. The present species resembles gracile australopithecines of prehistoric epoch in appearance and constitution, but has also quite human features – short jaws and prominent nose. Because of small brain this kind has primitive behaviour resembling those at cercopithecine monkeys. In the anatomy of foot and hand there are no obvious anatomic specializations, but the ankle joint is mobile, that enables this postanthropus species to climb trees dexterously. At danger they frequently hide from enemies on trees.
This primate species lives in underbrush of tropical forest, eats plants and small animals, and also searches for the rests of prey of local predators. In conditions of limitation of resources food specialization would limit strictly a number of population and threaten a survival of the species.
These postanthropi live in groups numbering up to 15-20 individuals, and occupy the certain territories in forest. Female gives rise to one baby once in 2 years. Age of sexual maturity is 3 years; life expectancy seldom exceeds 25 years.
Giant island mouse (Amplissimys macrodon)
Cat-sized rodent (body length is up to 40 cm, not including tail) representing the example of the phenomenon of island giantism. Animal is similar in proportions to usual mice, but has shorter and thick tail. Auricles are rounded and hairless. Skin on tail is naked with separate bristles. Wool colouring is rusty-red with dark strip along the back; on head there is a dark “cap”, and around of mouth, on throat and on breast white wool grows. Being under predator’s attack, animal defends itself with biting, and white spot of wool serves as a warning signal for its enemy.
The basis of a diet is made of firm tree seeds, roots of grassy plants and soft fruits falling from trees. This rodent also eats insects and snails.
It is a solitary species; animals keep in pairs only when female is ready to copulation. Shelter represents a wide hole up to 3-4 meters deep. Two times per year female gives rise to 3-4 cubs, which remain in a hole for a long time. Sexual maturity is at the age of 5 months; life expectancy is about 10-12 years.
Fringed gecko (Barbocephalus scandens)
Island lizard species up to 30 cm long, living on trunks of trees of tropical forest. Body and head are of flattened shape; legs are long and have five toes. At the bottom side of toes there are advanced characteristic corneous lamellae, enabling to cling against substratum. Wide flat tail is used as a place of fat storage. Reptile has a fringe of bushy skin outgrowths on edges of tail, on sides and around of the lower jaw, where they are especially long, resembling a beard. Background body colouring is greyish-brown with a pattern imitating tree bark. Eyes are also camouflaged – an iris of the eye is brownish with horizontal strokes of black color, on eyelids there are “eyelashes” of thin skin outgrowths. This is a predatory species masking on tree trunks in waiting for prey. It eats mainly insects and spiders, but can swallow a lizard, a frog or a small bird.
During the courtship ritual males chase each other on tree bark, bite contender’s legs or tail and utter loud shrill calls. Permanent breeding pairs do not form at this species. Female lays 2-3 eggs; egg laying repeats 2 times per year. Female buries eggs in wood litter and does not protect its clutch. Life expectancy is about 20 years.
Giant ambulatory hawk (Pezastur longipes)
Flightless species of island-dwelling bird of prey, a top predator in island ecosystem. Height of a bird is about 150 cm, weight of the female is up to 25 kg. Male is smaller compared to female and its weight is about 20% lighter. Bird resembles a small phorusracid specied: it has long legs, reduced wings (the size of pigeon’s ones) and large head on mobile elongated neck. Beak is large, and its tip is pointed and hooked. Beak and legs of birds are colored grey; head, back and sides are black. Stomach is white with a pattern of thin cross ripples of grey color. Primary feathers are white with black tips. Tail is elongated, longer at male rather than at female.
This bird species lost ability to flight and chases its prey by run. Claws are thick and dulled. Bird kills prey by impacts of beak and can put lacerations to it. Prey of the present species includes ground-dwelling mammals and reptiles. After storm birds frequently visit coast of island in searches of animals cast ashore.
Present species is monogamous. Because of aggressiму behaviour of birds the forming of breeding pair and family relations are accompanied by male’s demonstration of poses of pacification and submission. Nest is made on the ground, in bush. In clutch there are 1-2 eggs, mainly female incubates them. Sexual maturity is at the age of 3 years; life expectancy is up to 30 years.
Gradual drift of Africa to the north during Cenozoic was predictably
finished in its collision with Europe. Strait of Gibraltar was closed, and Mediterranean
Sea lack the connection with the ocean has dried up once again – forever now.
The mountain range of the Alpes has risen even higher, having separated two
worlds: to the north from it deciduous woods of Central and Western Europe grow,
and to the south there are deserts of Northern Africa and covered with salt
layer hollow of Mediterranean Sea. Here human descendants live also.
During the period of recovery of biological variety in territory of Northern Africa and Southern Europe some species of “goat-legged” postanthropi existed, adapted to migrations in conditions of arid climate. The number of toes on their feed was gradually reduced up to three ones (IV and V toes have disappeared), foot became longer and they passed to digitigrady. When they need, they jogged fast on tiptoes protected against damage by stones by cornificated pads on the sole. They were omnivorous forms with voluminous stomach and long intestines, capable to digest numerous kinds of vegetative food. In due course of aridisation of Southern Europe climate a number of their species replaced each other in succession, amplificating the specialization to migrating way of life. However drying of residual salt lakes in a hollow of Mediterranean Sea has made a climate of this area extremely arid and unsuitable for their life. The number of sources of water and food was decreased, and the majority of “goat-legged” species has died out. From this group only sylvani have persisted – a species migrating between Africa and Europe using the western route along Atlantic coast, where conditions suitable for life still exist.
Spring comes to the north, and sylvani, the tireless walkers, start their migration – North African summer is too dry and hot for them. They spent winter in Atlas Mountains, and their groups join each other gradually and move to the north following the routes blazed for centuries. Travelling sylvani come to the European forests in the middle of spring, when leaves are already grown up on trees, and blossoming plants have turned meadows into motley carpets. Gifts of spring nature give them plentiful food: they eat the early growing mushrooms, dig out roots and bulbous plants, and browse young leaves from bushes.
Gray-eyed is adult female belonging to one migrating group of sylvani. Her relatives have mostly brown eyes, but on a strange whim of genetics, her eyes appeared of unusual grey color. She travelled together with her two years old son. Probably, the next year she may give birth to new kid.
Adults males of Gray-eyed’s clan break the mouldering tree trunk laying on the ground. They are interested in fat grubs that may be found here, and one or another male with enthusiastic exclamation puts a wriggling creature in mouth. Near to them small long-tailed birds feed, calling each other with rasping voices – these are descendants of Eurasian magpie. They have kept boldness and inquisitiveness of their ancestor, and from time to time dexterously steal grubs right from under hands of sylvanus males.
Gray-eyed’s son is not less inquisitive: he frequently runs off mother to look something new and interesting, and mother should distract from searches of food to find him. Following her son, Gray-eyed has gradually departed rather far from the clan. But she does not worry: Gray-eyed hears voices of clan members and understands, that her congeners are not far. In forest sylvani prefer to keep riverbanks, lawns and other open places, not penetrating into the thicket, where meetings with forest inhabitants – not always pleasant – are possible.
Gray-eyed not always succeeds to find her son soon – it happens, she should wander in the forest before her kid will be found. And now her son is gone somewhere, and Gray-eyed is compelled to wander in underbrush, searching for him.
After short searches she has found her son: he has simply gone farther to bushes and now plays with another kid. Gray-eyed has looked at him and has calmed down – having picked a leaflet absent-mindedly, she began to chew it. But a certain not clear presentiment has forced her to look at the new friend of her son once again. Another kid has seemed strange to her not for nothing – he is precisely not from their clan. And having taken a closer look, Gray-eyed has suddenly understood, that he is of different species at all, not a sylvanus. In comparison to her son, he looks more thickset, and wool on his body is longer and denser, rather than at sylvani.
Alien kid can not walk in forest alone, and Gray-eyed has understood, that his mother can be somewhere near, and it is possible to expect for anything, everything from an alien species. Sylvani have good eyesight, and Gray-eyed began to look round intently the surrounding forest in searches of mother of this strange kid. She managed to notice rather quickly an adult female of alien species – of chuhaister, the permanent inhabitant of forest. Chuhaister female stood under a sprawling pine – a large hairy figure; even her face was overgrown with wool, like at the beast. And it seems, she is not less surprised, than Gray-eyed: she also watches the game of her kid with the son of Gray-eyed, not showing any anxiety or aggression, but ready to interfere at any moment.
It seems, two kids do not realize, how unusual is what they are engaged is. They simply stick twigs in the ground, poke the appeared holes with fingers and mutter something. Both mothers observe of game of children with obvious interest, not guessing, that one more creature is also watching for them.
The cat has come to humans itself, when it became favourable, and abandoned him itself, when cooperation has ceased to benefit. After the collapse of civilization domestic cat breeds have died out, but side by side with people numerous not purebred cats always lived, keeping not only shape, but also skills of their wild ancestor. And these animals became ancestors of the top predator of European forests.
In bushes hemipanthera is hidden – a wild cat equal in size to the small leopard. Its skin of grey color is covered with spots merging to faltering longitudinal strip on back. Spotty colouring perfectly masks a predator among forest shadows, therefore the cat observed for playing kids for a long time, choosing suitable prey and remaining unnoticed by their parents. Having seized the moment, the predator has jumped out of an ambush, has attacked playing children, has seized one of them and has rushed away. Loud cry of pain and fear of seized kid shocked the sensitive Gray-eyed’s hearing. Not thinking at all of her actions, Gray-eyed has taken chase, making long bounds on wood litter, following a cat dragging desperately yelling kid. Gray-eyed runs without luggage, and specialized feet help her to accelerate huge speed at the short distance. The predator, on the contrary, drags desperately struggling and yelling prey, therefore a distance between Gray-eyed and hemipanthera decreases quickly. In some seconds she has overtaken a cat and has seized its skin firmly. Having hung on the cat in her whole weight, Gray-eyed began to bite and to scratch predator’s skin. And only at this moment she has seen, that kid seized by predator is not her, but chuhaister’s one. In trouble, calls of kids of different species appeared surprisingly similar, and it has forced Gray-eyed to rush to the aid – at times the parent instinct appears stronger, than an instinct of self-preservation. Chuhaister kid is still alive and tries to escape from teeth of cat – as well as adults, he is remarkable in very stout constitution, and cat’s teeth have only pierced his skin.
Having felt on its body the weight of the new opponent, cat has let out chuhaister kid and has slashed shoulder of sylvanus female with its claws. Gray-eyed has moaned in pain, but has not weakened her grip – if she will let off this cat now, the predator may attack her. Behind her back Gray-eyed has heard closing noise of heavy steps. Chuhaister female hastened to the rescue to her kid, but if Gray-eyed would not stopped a cat, the final may be tragical – chuhaisters run too slowly. Due to the help of Gray-eyed, she could overtake a cat, and fists of chuhaister female have made a hard impact against the predator’s side. Large cat had howled in pain, has shaken Gray-eyed from its body, and has run away. Everything is finished very successfully: operating alone, sylvanus could not deal with cat, and heavy chuhaister even simply to catch it up. Now they have worked as a real team.
Gray-eyed sits on grass, panting and shuddering – she is very frightened, and her arm is badly scratched and hurts. Her blood drips on leaves. Having seen it, her son has cautiously approached to her and began licking her wound. When cat has run away, chuhaister female has rushed first of all to her kid and began to lick his wounds. Despite of everything that happened with him, chuhaister kid feels like well. Cat’s teeth have torn his skin on shoulder and were stuck into muscles, but wounds are not dangerous – stout constitution of chuhaister enables to recover easily after wounds of such kind. Having licked wounds of her kid, chuhaister female came to Gray-eyed, and her son stepped aside, watching cautiously movements of huge shaggy creature, both similar and not similar to sylvanus. Huge chuhaister female has cautiously sniffed at Gray-eyed’s wound and has slightly licked it. Then she has risen, has looked round and has pulled out from the ground a plant grown in several steps from them. Holding it cautiously in fingers, she has shown her find to Gray-eyed. When Gray-eyed has turned away, chuhaister female has rumbled, has made a step aside and has stood with a plant again right in front of her. Then she has put a plant in her mouth, has chewed it, has spat out in her palm and has applied on her kid’s wounds. Having plucked out the second plant of same kind, she has chewed it also and has spat out in hand. Coming close to Gray-eyed, she has cautiously touched her wounded arm, and Gray-eyed has recoiled. Then chuhaister female has cautiously taken her hand and has put the chewed plant on her wounds by another hand. Gray-eyed has felt a burning sensation in wound and has begun to whimper. Chuhaister female has blown on her wounds and has rumbled, and then… has smiled to her. The smile was strange, not so similar to how sylvani smiled, but quite recognizable. Precisely so in ancient times man could distinguish a smile at the ape though they were separated by millions years of evolution. And Gray-eyed has smiled back.
Having turned to her kid, chuhaister female has taken him in arms and has carried deep into woods, making long heavy steps and not looking back. The son observing all things happened has cautiously approached to Gray-eyed and has touched her back, showing her, that he is near her. Gray-eyed has moved her arm and has squirmed in pain – the scars put by cat were deep. Looking after the leaving chuhaister female, she has managed to notice blurred silhouettes among trees some – other chuhaisters, quite probably, from the clan of this female. But she feels no desire to meet them. Accompanied by her kid, Gray-eyed got up cautiously and lagged aside her clan. It is enough adventures for her for today. Wound hurts a lot, and she needs to treat it. And the best way to do it is among her relatives, which will help her to go through stress and will notice approach of the possible enemy in time. Spending her time among relatives, she will hardly meet again that female of another species. But nevertheless she has taken one lesson from this meeting: Gray-eyed has remembered that plant which chuhaister female showed to her. Quite probably, she will manage to find it once again and to try to apply independently, as this shaggy beast did. Probably, this skill may even fix among sylvani: of such particles of experience a collective knowledge of the clan, helping to survive in the dangerous world, is combined.
Sylvanus (Dromanthropus aegipodus)
Migrating form of postanthropus of gracile constitution, adapted to fast and long moving. On foot, three toes – I, II and III – are present. During the walking it supports on the whole foot, at run passes to digitigrady. The species is adapted to long movement by run: it has a voluminous chest and short nose with rather wide nostrils. Routes of migration run between the Atlas Mountains and forests of Europe, wintering takes place in the south. This species is omnivorous; basic food includes plants and invertebrates.
Body hair is short. Pigmented skin protects against solar burns during the migration along the coast. Hair on head is long and straight; the area of hair growth stretches on back up to shoulders. Kids frequently move on backs of mothers, holding their hair.
This species lives in mixed groups including both males and females. Female gives birth once in three years and takes care to her kid until the birth of the next one, and sometimes even longer. Life expectancy is about 40 years.
Chuhaister (Arctanthropus europaeus)
Non-migrating postanthropus species in forests of Europe in the area of temperate climate, widely settled in rich forests of Europe from Pyrenees to Ural, except for cold areas. This species has ability to survive in conditions of seasonal climate with moderately cold winter. It is an omnivorous species, in winter food of animal origin prevails in diet, in summer and an autumn it almost completely passes to vegetative food – roots, mushrooms and berries.
In anatomy this species differs only a little from the ancestors of genus Homo, but has very small brain size. For it the robust constitution, rather short extremities and well advanced wool cover are characteristic. For winter it makes shelter – digs dens with places for sleeping of branch-litter and leaves where it spends nights and the frostiest winter days.
The present species lives in patrilineal groups of several breeding pairs. Female gives rise to one kid once in 3-4 years. Life expectancy is about 50 years.
Horrendous hemipanthera (Hemipanthera
Large cat of European forests weighing up to 50 kg, the descendant of feral domestic cats of historical epoch. It is one of top predators of ecosystem. Background colouring of wool is grey; on skin there are numerous dark spots merging on back to wide faltering longitudinal strip from nape up to tailhead. On tail and paws spots merge to cross strips.
The present species is a solitary predator hunting large mammals weighing from 5 up to 70 kg, also is able to attack larger animals. Each individual marks territory, barking trees on and pouring marks with urine. Animal uses as shelters natural caves, tree-trunk hollows and trunks of large trees rotten from inside.
Once a year female gives rise to 3-5 kittens.
Asia represents a vast landmass, which central part is far
from the oceans smoothing over temperature fluctuations. Extensive territories
of the continent represent the kingdom of extreme continental climate with short
hot summer and long harsh winter. From the east to the west of the continent
the wide zone of taiga – coniferous forests, where diverse animals settle –
stretches. One of the major factors determining success in struggle for existence
is the ability to survive during long harsh winters with bitter colds. Local
kinds develop various strategies of the adaptation to rigorous winter colds.
The simplest way is not to live to winter, having left the posterity capable to survive in winter frosts in the places protected from cold. Such strategy appears marvellously successful, and its followers fill air of a taiga in billions – these are various blood-sucking dipterans: mosquitoes, midges and horseflies, turning into torment life of local animals in heat of summer. Adherents of another life strategy are numerous insect-eating birds which bring up their posterity, exterminating dipterans in masses. When an autumn comes, they simply migrate ton the south, returning only with the beginning of warm season.
Large herbivorous mammals are forced to endure all winter perils firsthand. And the main protection is their skin: against cold in winter, and against blood-sucking insects in the summer. In forest animals similar to camels roam – long-legged creatures with large heads and covered with rich shaggy wool. They walk on tips of elongated toes and drive away insects, wagging their tails similar to horse ones. Powerful incisors, with which aid it is easy to bite off twigs and to peel tree bark, stick out from mouths at these animals. These are ulbandi – numerous herbivorous inhabitants of taiga. Their similarity to camels is exclusively external: they are descendants of hares of civilization epoch. In conditions of absence of competitors hares have quickly turned to large animals, and their herds wander in taiga, eating pine needles and rare grass and loosing continuous coniferous forests.
In areas, where ulbandi have loosed forest, flowering plants – various bushes and trees with more edible foliage – begin to grow. At the end of summer they fructify plentifully, and in thickets other forest inhabitants gather. One of them is holhoot, giant descendant of wild boar, overgrown with rich long wool. Its shoulder height is almost 3 meters, and due to large head and long shaggy wool it resembles both mammoth and woolly rhinoceros at once. The characteristic porcine muzzle is extended to mobile proboscis, and huge tusks, growing through skin of its muzzle, resemble rhino horns. Animal is fattened actively to prepare to long winter, picking from bush berries together with young branches. On holhoot’s body a thick layer of fat is already formed, and on shoulders and back hump made of fat grows. However it does not succeed to feed quietly: from wood thicket loud calls are heard, and large animal departs aside, uttering loud uterine rumbling. Human-like creatures come out from the forest – shaggy bipedal figures. It is almas – a separate species of postanthropus adapted to survival in extreme conditions of Siberia.
Appearance of almas is very remarkable: it is bipedal anthropoid of robust constitution. Its wool cover is rich and long, colored brown, and only few body parts remain hairless. Only skin around of eyes, nose and lips, and also an internal surface of ears lack plentiful wool at almas.
Almases are original ecological analogues of bears. They are omnivores, and a significant part of their diet is made of plants. At the end of summer these postanthropi have a real celebration of life: there is an abundance of forage in taiga. It is possible to find among trees holes with the stocks of seeds made by local rodents. Sometimes they succeed not only to plunder a pantry, but also to eat its owner. And the berries ripening on bushes enable almases to be full each day, not applying superfluous efforts. Almas’ brain degraded in comparison with its ancestor, but some features inherited from human appeared very useful. In comparison with neighbours – ulbandi and holhoots – almas has rather long childhood, lasting about five years. During this time young almas remembers many kinds of edible plants and acquires at adults receptions of getting of food.
Almases live in families, and one such family has driven holhoot away from berry bushes. It is headed by large adult male, near to him adult female eats, and together with her there is a teenager, the daughter four years old. She has already grown up a lot, and it is quite possible, the next year she will leave their family. But she lives with parents for now. The almas family gorges on – it is important for successful wintering. They all look very well-fad, especially adult female, at which the stomach is rounded considerably. Almases pick berries and put in mouths handfuls of them. With their feces seeds of bushes will be distributed to other sites of taiga.
Around almases clouds of blood-sucking insects hover. These tiny creatures attack their faces, get in eyes and ears, try to reach skin through the wool. Holhoot feeding nearby also suffers from insects: it shakes the whole body and head and sniffs hard, blowing insects off from nostrils. Almases have no tails to drive tiresome insects away, but they are able to use improvised means. Having broken bush branches, almases drive away mosquitoes and midges, using them and continuing their feeding at the same time.
To an autumn almases grow very fat and grow much longer wool. But they will not wander in winter taiga: it is a postanthropus species falling into winter dormancy like a bear. Each family has a den, in which parents and their posterity sleep. Each year den is set up and renewed, and during this time young individuals study to build their own shelter. Winter dormancy at this species is not deep: body temperature does not decrease, only the activity is reduced. During last autumn days almases do not eat any more, and only drink water from freezing wood pools, and their intestines are naturally cleared of the rests of food. They lay in a den long enough, and appear in forest only for half an hour or hour per day, depending on weather. During the summer and early autumn almases have grown thick layer of hypodermic fat, which will be exhausted completely during wintering. Adult female has much larger stomach, than male: she falls into dormancy being pregnant.
Winter covered taiga with snow and locked it with frost. Ulbandi roam in taiga like during the summer, but they changed a lot, being covered with magnificent white wool saving from penetrating wind and bitter cold. Animals gnaw tree bark and twigs, exhaling in air clouds of white vapour. On snow prints of wide hooves are seen – holhoot also keeps activity in the most rigorous frosts. It digs out snow by trunk and tusks, reaching plants, and ulbandi willingly search for food at its diggings. Small group of ulbandi roams taiga, searching for holhoot diggings – it is easier to find food there. They scatter snow by muzzles and legs and eat meagre small stalks left after the feast of their huge shaggy neighbor, which has also acquired rich wool to winter. Ulbandi add to footprints of a giant their small footprints and a loose of small balls of manure quickly freezing in snow.
Famine and cold are not only enemies of herbivores. For some taiga inhabitants tracks of footprints of herbivores like holhoots and ulbandi is not simply open book, but the dinner menu. Soft paws covered with rich wool and armed with pointed claws step on snow quietly. Nose catches smells in frosty air, and sensitive ears listen to sounds of winter taiga, trying to determine a presence of possible prey. Zantahee – a monster resembling a wolverine, but equal to bear in size – is on the prowl. It is a ferret descendant, which has evolved quickly, growing up after its prey. In the summer ulbandi can run out from it on the firm ground, but in winter friable snow holds down their movements, and their enemy easily moves on the surface of snow on its wide paws. The predator has smelt dung of ulbandi left at the place of their feeding, and has begun chasing these animals. It moves in forest at a walk, saving forces for the final rush. Footprints of ulbandi become fresher, and the predator gradually accelerates its walk, passing to run.
The hunting success depends in much on luck, and prey not always does not notice a predator up to last moment. Treacherous whiff of wind has carried pungent smell of zantahee secretions to nostrils of ulbandi, and herbivores have rushed away. It is enough for them to run during some minutes only to leave the predator at the safe distance. Then animals passed to step again and have began to search for food – in winter they are occupied with it practically all day. Ulbandi are able to dig snow – wide soft pads on toe tips help them in it. But to search for forage in another’s diggings is much easier. Evergreen grasses and bushes are hidden under snow – during short taiga summer they start to grow at once and have time to fade and to give seeds before an autumn. In winter their leaves and shoots represent the main forage of local herbivores.
While digging snow, ulbands have found in it an aperture, from which prickly branch sticks out and the characteristic smell is emitted. One animal has smelt it and has stepped aside: it’s a smell of almas. It is not dangerous for ulbandi, but in the summer almas appears not the most pleasant neighbour. Sometimes it may be noisy or too inconsiderate: almases frequently drive ulbandi away from places of feeding, though do not attack them to kill and to eat. Having picked the plants dug out from snow, ulbandi go away.
The aperture leads under ground, where at the depth of about two meters the den is arranged. It is rather difficult task to dig such shelter during one season only, and the arranging of its own den is the first serious test in independent life of almas. This shelter is used already for some seasons in succession; it is convenient and spacious, and contains all members of clan. Hole leading to the den is wide enough even for pregnant almas female to squeeze through it. And for protection against unbidden visitors the entrance is plugged for winter with prickly bushes pulled out from the ground entirely, with roots – last of family members falling into dormancy drags these bushes behind itself and leaves halfway in a den. Inside the den members of almas family sleep on litter of dry plants and fur-tree branches, having nestled against each other. Body temperature of sleeping postantropi did not decrease – it is simply deep dream, but not true hibernation, like at rodents. If it is necessary, they can wake up quickly.
Some time it was silent from outside – only bird’s call was heard somewhere in the distance. Then from the surface a characteristic unpleasant smell began to spread and the noise similar to scratching is heard. Zantahee has not stopped chasing of ulbandi, and for all this time. Ulbandi have involuntarily given out to it a location of wintering den of almases, and the predator has inhaled with pleasure a smell emitting from there. It already has an experience of almas hunting, and taste of their meat is pleasant to this beast.
Powerful paws of zantahee can easily break a spine of adult ulbandus, and they easily scatter snow around the entrance of almas den. The beast has slightly roared, when has pricked its paw against the prickly bush blocking an entrance to the den. Having seized by teeth the tip of one branch, the beast cautiously dragged a prickly barrier outside and thrown it away into the snow. The way is free, and it began to make the way inside cautiously, making steps on soft paws.
Sharp and very familiar smell has removed the leader of the almas family from embraces of winter dormance. He already has an experience of dealing with these mean beasts, and his organism has instantly reacted to intrusion. He heard perfectly, how the predator has pulled out outside the bush closed an entrance, and did not sleep any more, waiting for inevitable continuation of drama. His female is pregnant, and the daughter has spent too much time with them to be forgotten without regret. And the adult male has prepared to meet this monster.
He has hold his breath, when the predator’s muzzle with frightening canines has approached to him to the distance of extended arm, emitting its sickening breath. The most important task is not to give the beast to make way into the den. Having waited the necessary moment, he has seized the throat of predator by hands and has pressed its head to the arch of den. Zantahee has tried to begin to roar, but instead of it beast has uttered only plaintive rattle, while almas’ fingers compressed its throat with an iron grip.
Because of smell and sounds of struggle adult female has woken up. Having felt the presence of the monster, she has cried shrilly in terror, and her cry was caught up by their daughter. Somewhere nearby in taiga ulbandi have heard cries of almases and have raised their heads with ears picked up.
In almas den turmoil reigned. All inhabitants of den cried in a full voice – females did it in fear, and male tried to frighten and to disorient their enemy. Trying to free from his hands, the predator tried to strike him with claws, but almas kept sideways from it, avoiding an impact of mighty paws. Only once beast’s claws have slashed almas male’s hand, and on his wool became redden with blood. But it was the only thing that predator could make: mighty hands of almas held it, until paws of monster have stopped to move, and breath has faded. At last, the predator’s body has become soft and immobile. Pushing it before himself, almas male has got out of den to the winter taiga. Dead body of monster had been dragged far away from an entrance to the den to hide a location of site of shelter of postanthropi. Driven by curiosity, young almas female has also got out of den and has a short walk in winter forest, and adult female has only taken a breath of winter air through the den entrance, and has crawled away to the far edge of den, holding by hand her stomach increased a lot from an autumn. Having roared at his daughter, almas male has driven her back into the den, and then moved there himself, dragging by roots a dry prickly bush. He has densely plugged with this bush an entrance to their hole, has laid on litter, tossing and turning a little, and has nestled against female’s side. Their peaceful dormance goes on, and only spring warming will wake these creatures. And at the same time the almas family will grow up. Despite of rigorous conditions, life goes on.
Almas (Arctanthropus dormitor)
Existence of this species is an example of the role of ethological isolation in postanthropi speciation. This species belongs to a postanthropi genus adapted to to existence in conditions of seasonal climate, and has a well-defined seasonal rhythm of life. It spends in condition of winter dormance for about 7 months per year.
Stature of adult male is up to 160 cm, female of about 150 cm. Weight of an adult individual to an autumn reaches 120 kg and more because of stocks of fat necessary for wintering. Body is covered with rich wool of dark-grey color growing much longer to winter. Soles are covered with the thick cornificated skin. This species is remarkable in great physical power. The basic behavioural feature is an ability to arrange a den for wintering: almases dig by hands, pieces of branches and stones holes up to 2 meters deep with the chamber, in which the whole family can fit. Usually this species lives in families of adult pair and their posterity – 1-2 kids of various ages.
In conditions of seasonal climate breeing at this species also becomes seasonal – female gives birth to posterity at the end of spring. Breeding season begins in the summer, and at this time female clearly shows her readiness for pairing by her behaviour. Breeding rate is slow: female has a baby only once in three years, therefore demonstration of readiness for breeding is a pledge of guaranteed birth of posterity in the next year.
Kid grows and develops quickly in the first year of life, stays with mother up to the age of 5 years, helping to take care to the next baby. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 10-11 years.
Holhoot (Postaper giganteus)
A descendant of wild boar, largest species of herbivores in Siberian taiga. Withers height is up to 250 cm, adult males may be even larger. Body of adult individual is covered with one-colour dark-brown wool; at young individuals wool is reddish with dark back. Tusks of upper jaw at animals of both sexes grow right through skin; they serve for protection against predators, and in winter animals rake snow with their help, reaching up to the grass. Snout is extended and mobile, forming small proboscis, with which help animal takes forage from the ground. In summertime animal eats grass and shoots of trees and bushes, and in winter digs from under snow a last year’s grass and evergreen plants.
To winter animal grows fat; on back and shoulders large fatty hump develops.
In summer animals keep one by one or in family groups; in winter individuals of both sexes gather in groups for joint search of forage and protection against predators.
In spring female gives rise to 2 cubs, which remain with her up to two years and leave her only at birth of new posterity.
Ulbandus (Dromolagus ulbandus)
Hare descendant becoming an original analogue of ungulates. Animal resembles in shape a camel without hump covered with long yellowish-brown wool, darker on back. Height at a shoulder is about 150 cm. Animal’s tail is similar to horse one, is covered with long hair. It is a digitigrade animal with long legs; on toe tips supporting skin pads with two thick claws and corneous sole are advanced. In winter color of wool changes to white, and it becomes longer and thicker. This species lives in groups of 10-15 individuals without the expressed hierarchy. Fights between males for the right of pairing arise only an autumn, in courtship season.
Animal’s head is large, with elongated muzzle and large incisors. Animal eats grass and young shoots of bushes.
Ulbandus female brings posterity annually. In spring well-advanced cub is born, which is capable to follow mother right after birth. All females of the group take part in milk feeding of posterity, that enables to survive even to orphaned cub.
Zantahee (Deinomustela zantahi)
Large predator of mustelid family, a descendant of ferret. It resembles a wolverine in shape (hence the name), but is equal in size to a small bear. Wool colouring is brown, on muzzle there is a white mask covering cheeks and nose bridge. Tail tip is also white. Muzzle is elongated; jaws are deep and have strong masticatory muscles. Animal has large canines and molars with cutting edges. Paws are armed with long pointed claws; animal is able to climb trees.
The basic prey includes large herbivores; in winter it willingly eats carrion, even frozen.
From its ancestor this species has inherited anal glands emitting the secretions with strong and unpleasant smell, which animals use for marking of the territory. It is a solitary species, each individual owns extensive hunting territory. Out of breeding season animals of this species relate to each other very aggressively.
Female gives rise to 2-3 cubs once a year.
To the north from an extensive zone of taiga, natural conditions
become so harsh, that trees gradually become dwarfs and begin to creep on the
ground instead of growing up. Taiga passes to forest-tundra and further is replaced
by forestless tundra. In this natural zone biological variety is very insignificant,
and only few species are capable to survive here. But the life forms, managed
to adapt to extreme conditions of life, actually do not compete with each other.
Long severe winters in conditions of polar night represent a hard test for durability
for local inhabitants, but summer abundance in light of polar day renumerates
them wholly for their difficult life.
Polar day enables local plants to grow continuously and quickly, supplying with food various herbivores – from caterpillars of dim local butterflies up to numerous herds of ungulates. Numerous songbirds spend summer in tundra, bringing up their nestlings with numerous insects, which also hasten to continue the life cycle within a short polar summer. In searches of insects birds gather around of herds of the largest local inhabitants – gurans, massive local bovids, larger than cow, and of chuchunya postahthropi accompanying them.
Gurans roam tundra in numerous herd. The herd leader is the large male with magnificent beard and head topped with huge thick horns. His wide nostrils are inflated, when he smells air, having stood on small hill. Around of him his herd wanders: females with calves born this spring, young animals of the previous year, and also some young males to which he relates rather spitefully because they are his future contenders. Wind blows off tiresome midges, but when it calmes down, above animals bloodthirsty insects continue to hover. At the edge of herd strange bipedal figures – chuchunyas, constant companions of gurans – walk. These are strange creatures of tall stature – they tower above backs of gurans. At them face is completely overgrown with wool, and it is hardly possible to distinguish male from female. They prevent a little to gurans to graze, eating the tastiest and softest kinds of grass, but all the same there is a lot of food for these ungulates.
Gurans do not drive off these strange neighbours, because chuchunyas give them a considerable benefit. When warm weather is established, around of herds of ungulates clouds of botflies begin hovering; larvae of these flies parasitize under skin at gurans, causing them a significant anxiety. Here chuchunyas come to help them. Using their dexterous fingers, they squeeze out from under guran skin these harmful larvae and… eat them immediately, receiving the necessary animal protein with such forage. In addition they willingly catch and eat large horseflies hovering around gurans, though birds, of course, do it much better. In winter chuchunyas with their cornificated palms help gurans to dig snow in searches of food.
Due to chromatic sight chuchunyas faster, than their horned companions, find the berries ripened since the last year, and quickly gather them from berry bushes, leaving for gurans of nothing. These postanthropi have one weak spot, an inheritance of humans of civilization epoch – they are not capable to synthesize vitamin C independently, therefore they should gather fresh plants even in winter to receive vitamins from them. Original symbiosis with large herbivores enables them to survive in extremely rigorous conditions. In addition, guran herd represents a force that should be taken into account by not numerous, but dangerous predators of tundra.
Polar summer ends very soon, and at gurans courtship season begins. Hormones are popping in their blood, and males become aggressive. The seasonal climate dictates a rhythm of life, and they should hasten – females should give rise to posterity in early spring, and during the short summer juveniles must succeed to get stronger and to prepare for the first winter in their life. At this time males are very aggressive: they challenge each other, calling loudly and emitting specific “hircine” smell. If the contender does not recede, guran male attacks him, and power struggle by means of horns begins. Young males, still insufficiently strong to challenge to ruler of herd, appear a fine target for an attack for the sake of self-affirmation.
In such restless time chuchunyas prefer to keep aside of guran herd, staying out of their sight. But in the heat of battle two guran males have separated from the common herd and battled in dangerous affinity from one chuchunya gathering berries. Being carried away in berries, chuchunya has not noticed, that battling animals appeared near to him, and has not managed to depart aside. One male appeared stronger, and his contender had to recede. When the winner, wagging its tail, moved to females, defeated guran was ready to attack everyone appeared near him. And all his anger has fallen on unlucky chuchunya. Bellowing and snuffling loudly, he has rushed to chuchunya, forcing him to run fast to congeners. Chuchunya runs, splashing across marshes and pools, and embittered guran follows him very fast. The only chuchunya’s rescue is the closeness of his congeners. Having seen his trouble, they have stopped feeding, have gathered in group, and adult males have stepped forward, yelling and waving hands. Having reached them, attacked chuchunya also began to yell and to attack guran – now the advantage belongs to him and to his congeners. Noise has forced guran to stop. He has looked at yelling postanthropi, has smelt air, has sneezed, shaking a mosquito out from his nostril, and has directed aside, picking grass leaflets on his way. Having convinced, that danger is over, chuchunyas have continued their feeding – it is necessary for them to save up a sufficient stock of hypodermic fat for wintering.
Such interspecific conflicts represent rather exception than a rule. Chuchunyas and gurans coexist rather peacefully in tundra. It is so, because their union helps to survive to both species, and local conditions are too rigorous and do not forgive mistakes.
Polar night in conditions of very frosty winter is not the best time for life. And for primates it becomes a very hard test. Ground with permafrost does not allow digging of underground shelters, as at the Siberian relative of chuchunya does, and darkness of polar night makes extremely difficult a search for food: they have to feed almost exclusively to the touch. In winter chuchunyas do not run into dormancy, and at this time they migrate together with guran herds to the south, to forest-tundra. During winter colds many members of clan starve, and it is an especially difficult time or their kid. One kid has found a female and has buried his face on her breast – in this way he asks for some milk. Female can not push him away – parental instinct at this species is very strong, and she responses to his request though she is not his genetic mother. At these postanthropi the unusual form of behavior has developed – the collective care for children, when even females lost their own kids take part in bringing up another’s kids, and orphaned kids may expect for care of clan members and survive even in severe winter.
From the pole strong wind blows. Visibility decreases, and the whole world around of herd appears shrouded with snow veil. Gurans and chuchunyas gather to unite large and close group and heat each other. Chuchunyas form a ring around their children, covering them by bodies from penetrating wind and protecting from casual movements of clumsy gurans. The blizzard rages, and snow covers soon adult chuchunyas and gurans. Postanthropi do not resist the power of nature – they only make in snow apertures for air by their hands. Their forces are directed entirely to a survival of their kids. It’s better to save forces now, therefore members of group fall asleep, having nestled to each other.
Snow storm was over only to the morning of the next day. In light of low polar sun chuchunyas have seen, that the herd is gone. Not all have survived: in snow dead guran calf has remained – probably, casually trampled by adult relatives. Chuchunyas should hasten to catch up their horned companions. By experience they know that it is bad to lag behind. Among curved undersized larches the blurred silhouette of a large white animal has flashed, and behind it there are some more ones of the same kind. Nobody of chuchunya does not know, how many animals hide in dwarf forest, but they all know, what are these animals and what it is possible to expect from them. These are torgons – predators, descendants of Arctic fox, grown up to the wolf size. They follow all the time the herd of gurans and chuchunyas, expecting to prey ones that can not live any more according severe laws of nature. Carcass of dead guran calf had no time to be frozen at all – canines of animals were stuck into it, and torgons have quickly finished with it, having left only the largest bones. Such amount of meat is obviously not enough not support all hungry animals in pack: they need more food. And torgons rush after herd.
Chuchunyas have already reached the guran herd, following the track laid in snow by bodies of gurans. The majority of members of chuchunya clan easily endure the rate of walking, but some ones can not do it. Kids are pulled forward by their mother and others females of clan, but one chuchunya lags behind. It is difficult for him to walk on snow because of age – it is one of the oldest members of clan, the thirty-year old man. He tries to keep up trace with relatives, but it is difficult for him to walk on snow. He breathes hoarsely, trying to go faster, and torgons, overtaking chuchunya group, perfectly hear this breath. Predators try to cut him off from herd – they run from sides and block the way to him, isolating him from relatives. Having seen predators on his way of, old chuchunya male has stopped. Having looked around, he has seen that it is nowhere to go to him: he is surrounded by the pack of torgons – some family couples, large last year’s ones and some young puppies born the last summer. Anyway, forces are too unequal, and he can not escape alone. Old man has loudly cried in a last ditch effort. If nobody will come to help him, he will die. However his call was heard by clan members, and some males have rushed to save him: for the sake of the relative chuchunyas risk and secede from safe herd of ungulates. Yelling loudly, chuchunya males move in close group to help him, and torgons, scared by their yells, have run off in sides, enabling them to reach the old man. Having taken his arms, chuchunya males follow the herd in one common group. When one of torgons has tried to approach closer to them, grinning, chuchunya males have shouted at it, and one of them even has departed from relatives and has shaken arms terribly, driving the predator away. Feeling support of clan members, he is not afraid of a predator: chuchunya’s fingers are strong enough to strangle torgon. The group has continued its way, and the only things torgons could do were to lick lips and to smell frozen puddle of liquid feces left by old chuchunya. Today he was lucky one, and the chuchunya clan has avoided losses. But in other time good luck can turn by another side to them.
Life in group helps to survive in harsh conditions of the North both to predators, and to their prey – the single one simply has not enough forces to struggle for the life all the time.
Chuchunya (Arctanthropus cryophilus)
Postanthropus species adapted to existence in extreme conditions of Far North. It stays active the year round and does not run into dormance. The present species has a robust constitution and great physical strength; stature of an adult individual is up to 170 cm. Skin is covered with rich white wool, which becomes much longer to winter. Large nose helps to warm inhaled air; face is covered with wool, and both males and females are bearded. Wide soles are covered with thick skin enabling to walk on snow, not risking freezing legs; skin on palms is also rough and thick.
As this postanthropus species lives into the Arctic Circle, it should spend a part of life in conditions of polar night. It has a keen hearing and rather large sensitive eyes. Long eyelashes form the natural light filter allowing not turning blind when looking on snow in the bright sunlight.
Chuchunya is mainly herbivorous, but supplements its diet with small vertebrates, bird eggs and the frog and fish eggs also. To winter this postanthropus species grows fat a lot and can endure the shortage of food within several weeks. In such time juveniles survive due to mother milk – female had to breastfeed her kid in more or less regular way for about three years before it can get food completely independently. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 10 years. Life expectancy is about 40-45 years.
Guran (Boreotragus guran)
Large gregarious herbivorous mammal, the descendant of goat; a dominant herbivore species in tundra of Eurasia and North America, adapted to life in cold climate. Shoulder height of adult individual is about 150 cm. Animal of massive constitution with large head and thick slightly bent horns. Wool is long and thin, of dark-brown color, resembling an underfur of musk oxen or cashmere breeds of goats of civilization epoch. On the bottom side of head original “beard” of long thin hair grows, passing to wool “skirt” on the sides, protecting from cold. Hooves are capable to move apart, so animal can walk on marshy ground. To winter animal grows fat.
This animal is remarkable in its specific hircine smell, especially strong at males ready to breeding. In courtship season males arrange battles for a harem of females. Fertility is one well-advanced calf born in spring.
Torgon (Paralupus borealis)
The descendant of Arctic fox, ecological analogue of the wolf – large prey pack hunter, adapted to life in conditions of rigorous seasonal climate. In constitution it resembles large dog with short and rounded ears, large head and thick paws. Summer fur is bluish-grey or black, winter dress is white. In winter fur on animal’s paws the fringe of wool grows, enabling to run on snow easily. Body length of an adult animal is up to 150 cm.
Pack occupies extensive hunting territory, where some temporary shelters are present. In winter animals simply dig in snow holes for dream.
This species of canids gathers in packs of from 2-4 breeding pairs of adult animals and their posterity. Den is arranged in a hole among bushes; there are up to 3 pups in litter. To an autumn juveniles take part in hunt with parents. Last year’s juveniles keep with until becoming sexually mature.
(Голарктическая область, северное побережье Тихого океана)
Plop was born under water. In first seconds after birth parental
flippers have picked him and have lifted to the water surface. Having felt air,
he has opened reflexly the nostrils shifted much above his eyes, and his lungs
have inflated, having received the first portion of air in his life. He felt
mother’s body – something large, round and soft. Mother’s flexible flipper has
embraced him and has pressed against the breast. Plop has looked in sides and
has vaguely distinguished large mother’s body wallowing in waves among brown
seaweed. Fresh spring wind blowed, but Plop did not feel cold, inhaling cold
air over and over again. He was born in coastal waters of northern part of Pacific
Ocean, at the coast of Beringean Isthmus, which has connected once again Asia
and North America. But from the point of view of humans of historical epoch
his birth and existence of his species in general were unusual, because he was
a primate, and he has an intelligent ancestor.
Species, Plop belongs to, is alignak, strange postanthropus adapted for life in cold northern seas. Distant relatives of this kind are inhabitants of warm seas at Indonesian islands. But these peaceful algae-eating creatures have adapted to life in colder and more severe climate, and their pods lounge in coastal thickets of brown seaweed along the whole northern coast of Pacific Ocean. Life in cold climate has left its mark on their appearance. Alignaks are similar to a cross between human, seal and toad, but eat seaweed. It is actually inexhaustible source of food: giant brown seaweed grow everywhere, do it quickly and renew easily. Due to such diet alignaks are widely settled over the north of Pacific Ocean. Actually, they are ecological analogues of sea cow exterminated by their ancestors – they eat seaweed and loose underwater forests, giving living space to various benthic animals. Alignaks swallow numerous tiny invertebrates together with seaweed – it is an important source of protein necessary for them. They keep ability of walking on two legs, but their joints are weaker, than at ground-dwelling forms, therefore they walk on land only a little, preferring to crawl like a seal, and pushing by feet. In water alignaks easily keep bipedal position of body and feed while standing on sea bottom and tightening to themselves seaweed with flipper-like forelimbs.
Plop grows fast – his childhood is short, and already at the
first year of life he eats not only milk, but also seaweed. In the first weeks
of life he communicated only with mother, but in due course of growth began
to recognize also other members of the colony, especially coevals, with whom
he tries to play. Plop has learned to swim much earlier than to walk – the first
time he moved on land only on all fours, and only to the end of the first year
of life he has learned to walk on firm ground.
Alignaks spend a part of time at the ocean coast, where they form rookeries like seals. They can leave water, keeping vertical position of body, but the massive constitution does not enable them to walk upright for a long time, and they lay on coastal pebble very soon, choosing a convenient place to bask in the sun. Only young alignaks are able to rise on feet on land – old individuals are too heavy to do it; they return to the ocean lying flat, scattering a coastal pebble by movements of flipper-like hands and legs.
Plop’s mother also comes to the coast, holding him in flippers. On a coast it becomes much more difficult for her to hold Plop, and she puts him on the ground and also lays nearby. Plop scratches his body – he is infested with parasitic crustaceans; these unpleasant creatures creep on his skin and scrape its top layer with their maxillipeds. They hold tenaciously on his skin, and clumsy flippers of alignak are unable to remove them. Therefore Plop is rolled on itching side, and coils on the ground, trying to scrape them off. Rookery is very lively area: alignaks communicate with each other, uttering various sounds – roar, rumbling and snorting.
At their rookeries alignaks have a lot of neighbours. Near to groups of adult alignaks basking in the sun large birds with white stomaches and grey backs wander. These are beringiornises – sea-dwelling fish-eating birds exchanged the former ability to flight for good luck in sea fishing. At the coast of continent they simply have a rest after fishing, but they nest at the islands free of ground-dwelling predators. Plop examines with curiosity these neighbours, which go down waddlingly to the sea. When one beringiornis appeared too close to Plop, he has tried to crawl away from the bird. His movement has frightened a bird; it has cried and has spat out the contents of its stomach on the ground. Semi-digested rests of bird’s catch stink disgustingly even for alignak’s very weak sense of smell, and Plop’s mother has crawled away lazily from the source of stink, pushing Plop with her flipper. And beringiornis has joined a group of its relatives; birds have reached water and have passed out of sight among sea waves. Under water clumsy beringiornises turn to dexterous and prompt creatures. They easily slide in thickness of water, flapping strong flipper-like wings, and chase fish schools. This bird seizes fishes by powerful beak, on which edges corneous jags grow, not giving to escape even to a slippery fish.
Other birds search for the society of alignaks by themselves. Near to sea inhabitants basking in the sun imperial gulls wander. They are not afraid of alignaks and parasites gathert from their sides. One such gull landed on back of Plop’s mother and began pecking off parasitic crustaceans from her skin. Mother accepts favourably care of this rather heavy bird, cautiously turns under its legs and offers her itching sides. Then the gull has flied on the ground and has approached to Plop. He was frightened of this strange bird with huge beak, therefore at its approach he has nestled against mother and has begun to whimper silently. However mother was cautiously moved away from him and has pressed him with her flipper to the ground to prevent his movements to give this bird an opportunity to peck off parasites from itching Plop’s skin. He has felt, that bird’s beak operates cautiously, and the number of sources of unpleasant feeling on skin decreases more and more. Plop has gradually calmed down and has fallen asleep.
His awakening was sudden and unpleasant. Imperial gulls flied up with a running start and hovered in air above a rookery with loud calls, having stretched their large wings. Beringiornises echoed to them, running waddlingly to water in a numerous crowd, trying to find an escape in the sea. Some of them stumbled and falled, but did not try to rise any more and simply crept to water on bellies, pushing by feet and flippers. Birds are not simply harmless neighbours, but also good sentinels, warning alignaks about the appearing of predators. And at the distant edge of rookery behind the mass of alignak bodies the animal becoming the reason of alarm was seen – the four-legged animal covered with shaggy brown wool, having large head and white spots around of eyes. It is ha’eppey – the descendant of ferret and the relative of Siberian zantahee – on the prowl. Its appearing promises nothing good to alignaks – an adult алигнак in five or six times heavier, than ha’eppey, but it loses to this predator in quickness. And in addition ha’eppey is surprisingly strong for its size. Therefore its presence is dangerous even to adult alignaks.
Mother began to push Plop towards the sea. Being half asleep, he resisted, but mother pushed him so strongly, that he has willy-nilly woken up, because mother has simply rolled him on the coast like a log. Having pushed him in water, she has dived after him, and did it just in time: the predator is running along the surf line, trying to cut off several young alignaks from water. Ha’eppey is not able to hunt under water and prefers to finish with its prey in native element. Alignaks can easily fall prey to this animal – especially self-confident young individuals, which venture to leave too far a rookery of their colony. The predator’s hunting reception has gone right: some alignaks nevertheless have broken out to the sea, but one young female has remained at the shore. She cries in terror and tries to go to the sea, but the predator has blocked her way, grinning and growling loudly. It wants to cut her off from other members of colony: when any alignak appears nearby casually, predator rushes in its side and growls, driving it away. Nevertheless, ha’eppey’s hunting will hardly finish successfully: superiority in force is on the side of alignaks. Adult alignak males leave water with loud cries. They hardly stand on legs, but all the same try to frighten a predator, waving flippers spred wide, stamping feet and uttering loud unpleasant cries. It is more than half-dozen of them, and they behave aggressively. The predator grins, expressing its readiness to battle, but huge creatures attack it. They look downwards on it, and the beast should recede – it feels their superiority over the present situation. The effect of unexpectedness is lost, and the predator has lost its advantage. When some alignaks in very aggressive mood attack it at once, ha’eppey recedes aside step by step, and the female attacked by it receives an opportunity to escape. She quickly walks to the sea and comes out of seeing in waves with loud splash. Males continue to drive predator aside from their rookery, supported by calls ov females and juveniles, and sea birds hover above their heads, increasing the turmoil with their calls.
Hunting is failed; ha’eppey turned around and trotted by clumsy steps away
from the shore. Today it will hardly return here. Seeing, that danger passed,
alignak males stroll along the shore knee-deep in water for some time, and then
move on land and lay on the ground clumsily, occupying more convenient places.
Females with kids behave very cautiously. Plop is very frightened, therefore
mother has swum with him farther to the sea, has lain in waving seaweed and
has pressed him to her with a flipper to calm him. Plop has stopped to complain
soon and has sniffled, being lulled by rocking in waves. While mother cares
of him, he can grow quickly in safety, and he has an every prospect to live
up to teen age. His elder sister did not manage to do it – the last year during
storm she had bee cast ashore, and she could not recover from traumas.
Time flies quickly, and Plop has safely lived up to three-year age. He has got stronger and already searches for food on his own, not depending from mother. However mother still continues to communicate with him – even at the new way of life of these creatures a heritage of primates stays with them. Plop managed to establish set of social connections with other members of group and even has got friends. He is not sexually mature for now, so he has time for games and can expect to the aid of adult relatives.
Plop and his friends swim together in algal forest. Brown seaweed reach an enormous size – like trees on land. Their massive thalli interlace on water surface to the cover capable to extinguish fury of storm waves. These plants keep in vertical position due to gas bubbles serving as floats, and sometimes Plop played, strongly compressing them by jaws until they pop. But it was in the childhood, and now he plays more interesting game with friends. On water surface geese and ducks swim: they prepare to spend summer in cold and rich in food seas of the North, and at the shore of Pacific Ocean they wintered and fed before returning to the north. They gather in numerous flocks, and young alignaks invented a game for themselves: they emerge suddenly among flocks of sea birds, causing a panic and observing for rise of birds. Looking as tens of ducks and geese fly up simultaneously, Plop and his friends splash flippers on water surface in delight. Having taken breath, they dive again – heavy bones allow alignak to dive in water easily.
To continue game, it is necessary only to find another, non-frightened flock of birds. Young alignaks easily swim some hundreds meters under water, emerging from time to time to the surface. Nostrils at alignaks are shifted to the top part of skull; therefore, they can breathe, almost not being put out from water. The flock of unsuspecting geese is already near them, and Plop and his friends dive. However birds will continue to swim on water surface, not guessing at all, what happens in depth.
With peripheral vision Plop has noticed, how somewhere among thickets silvery
side of fish flashed – of very large fish, whose total length is more, than
Plop’s body length. In thickets other fishes of the same kind flash – these
are sea wargs, furious ocean predators returned from wintering. The meeting
with them, strangely enough, was predetermined partly by the activity of Plop’s
ancestors – ancestor of sea warg, Japanese sea bass, survived in Pacific Ocean
due to aquaculture. One descendan of this fish turned to a monster dangerous
for young alignaks. A school of sea wargs has surrounded Plop and his friends,
having cut off their way to escape. Monsters rush near to alignaks nestling
to each other. And when one of them needed to emerge to breath air, the predatory
fish has attacked and has bitten him. Teen alignak has waved wounded flipper,
and in water red bloody stains began to blur. Fishes already prepared to attack
once again – they swam in circles around alignaks, gradually closing their ring.
But suddenly predators have rushed in sides, and from thickets two adult alignak
males appeared – large creatures, with which sea wargs do not venture to deal.
Jaws of adult alignak have teeth only in front part, but their bite is enough
to put a serious wound to a predatory fish. Therefore sea wargs have quickly
disappeared in greenish sea water. Followed by adult alignaks, Plop and his
friends have returned to the colony.
Plop has found his mother lounging among seaweed on water surface of. But when he has swum up closer to her, she has turned to him, and from under her flipper small wrinkled face, similar to his own three years ago, has turned to Plop. While Plop swam with his friends, his mother has had time to give birth to new kid, and now almost all her attention will be given only to it. Plop has become adult suddenly: though his connection with mother has not interrupted, now he must only count on himself in many respects.
Baby is born with thin layer of hypodermic fat. It feeds on fat milk and grows quickly – during the summer it needs to save up thick enough layer of fat to prevent freezing in the sea in winter.
Alignak (Thalassanthropus boreopacificus)
The representative of postanthrpoi leading the most atypical for primates way of life – it is a semi-aquatic herbivorous species. Stature of an adult individual is about 2 meters at weight of up to 250 kg. Skin is almost hairless; there is a thick layer of blubber under it. Auricles are rudimentary. Nose is reduced; wide nostrils are considerably shifted upwards, giving comical appearance to the face, and are supplied with skin valves allowing them closing densely at diving. Small eyes are widely placed. At adult individuals molars are absent, being functionally replaced by corneous plates enabling to grind food. The basis of diet is made of brown and green macroalgae and sedentary sea animals settling on them. Intestines are about 20 meters long.
Fingers and toes are connected with thick skin membranes. Bones of skeleton have expressed pachyostosis, enabling to dive easily. Because of weak joints and larhe body weight this species cannot walk on land on two legs for a long time, therefore it arranges more often original “rookeries” at the parts of seashore covered with a fine pebble.
Once in 2-3 years female gives rise to one kid and continues to care of it even after birth of the next one. Sexual maturity is at the age of 5 years, life expectancy is up to 50-55 years.
Ha’eppey (Deinomustela pseudogulo)
Descendant of ferret, the relative of zantahee living in forests of Siberia. Animal resembles a wolverine, but is considerably larger – an adult individual weighs about 40-45 kg. It has a great force for its weight: this predator is able to kill the animals weighing up to 200-250 kg. Jaws are very strong; teeth are adapted to bone crushing. Wool has brown color with black “saddle” on back; around of eyes there are white “glasses”. Animal are solitary and territorial; female tolerates the presence of male only in time of heat.
This predator eats any large animals it can overcome, devours carrion and small animals, frequently comes to the coast of ocean in searches of sea animals cast ashore.
Once in 2 years female gives rise to 2-3 cubs, which remain with mother for about one year.
Toothbill beringiornis (Beringiornis
Large flightless seabird up to 1 meter high, the descendant of guillemot. Having grown in size, this species has lost ability to fly and has got convergent similarity to penguins and great auks. It is a piscivorous species hunting schooling fishes in open ocean far from the shore. Flipper-like wings are used for “underwater flight”. Beak is deep and strong, on edges of jaws numerous corneous “teeth” for prey keeping grow.
Plumage is short and dense; colouring is soft, of two shades: bluish-grey on back and white on stomach – a characteristic coloring of pelagic predator. Birds hunt and have a rest on the coast in groups, constantly keepin eye on surrounsdings. Congestions may number hundreds of birds, on islands convenient for nesting many thousands of individuals gather. They move on land rather slowly, keeping body in vertical position and making short steps. Defending themselves against small predators, these birds spit jets of semi-digested food.
Nesting grounds form on islands, where there are no ground predators. Nest is made on the ground, in clutch there is one large egg of pyriform shape; at the loss of egg birds nest only the next year. Chick is covered with rich black down; it is brought up by both parents. To the moment of leaving of the nest, young bird is fully fledged and weighs more, than adult one. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 2 years, and life expectancy is up to 40 years.
Imperial gull (Aepylarus imperator)
Large sea bird having wingspan over 2 meters, ecological analogue of albatross. Background colouring of plumage is white; wings are grey with black primary feathers. Feet are bright red; deep beak is lareally compressed. The basic food in sea is fish; on land it eats carrion and also invertebrates and small vertebrates. These birds frequently hunt in littoral zone during the outflow.
This bird species nests in colonies at desert islands lack ground-dwelling predators. Nest is built on the ground, in clutch there is only 1 egg. Development of chick is rather long – it fully fledges only at the age of 4 months; parents feed it with fish and sea invertebrates. Juvenile plumage is brown, of lighter shade on breast, with speckles. Young bird becomes mature at the third year of life; life expectancy is about 50 years.
Sea warg (Deinolabrax dirus)
Predatory sea fish, the descendant of Japanese sea bass. Body length is up to 3 meters; body is muscled with hard caudal peduncle, tail fin is deep and crescent. Back is greenish with dark spots, and sides are silvery. It hunts in small groups for schooling fishes, and sometimes attacks large prey. Cutting teeth enable to put wounds to large prey and to bite off pieces of meat.
Despite of life in northern seas, this is a heat-loving species; to winter it makes migrations along the Asian coast to the south, where breeding takes place. Spawning takes place in schools, in coastal waters in thickness of water. Fry develops in fresh water, thus avoiding cammibalism of adult individuals. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 3 years, life expectancy is about 50 years.
(Holarctic realm, mixed coniferous forests of North America)
Extensive spaces of temperate climatic zone of North America
are overgrown with deciduous forests; such type of habitat supports the existence
of numerous species of herbivores and predators eating them. The majority of
local animals represents descendants of small species, though among them there
are true giants. Also their place in ecosystems of North American forests postanthropi
occupy – large and relatively cold-resistant sasquatches, adapted to life in
conditions of a seasonal climate.
Sasquatches wander in groups in deciduous forests of North America. They prefer not to penetrate far to the north, where Arctic inhabitants, covered with rich wool and widespread in cold areas of Eurasia and North America, roam. In northern part of the range sasquatch comes to the north only in summer, preferring to spend winter in warmer latitudes. This species is related to Asian forms running into dormance; its ancestors have got into New World via Beringia, having superseded local forms existed at the continent. As against their Asian relatives, sasquatches do not run into dormance and stay active the year round. They do not build shelters and wander in wood all the time. Group of sasquatches occupies extensive territory, but they are in movement all the time and do not stop anywhere more, than for two-three nights. Due to rich wool sasquatches easily endure winter cold. Top of their building skill is a sleeping place of broken branches stacked accurately and flat. If it is used twice, atop of an old layer of branches new one is simply stacked. In winter fir-twigs are used for it.
Members of the given group are individuals of various ages. The basis of group is made of adults males and females – they search for food and protect territory against congeners, and juveniles against predators, if necessary. Quite independent teenagers and very small kids, completely dependent on mothers in first years of life, learn at them receptions of survival. Among members of the group there is a strict hierarchy usually headed by breeding pair with dominant male, which solves problems of daily life of clan by his authority – he keeps order, stops conflicts, leads clan to places rich in food, and if necessary protects relatives against predators or drives competitors away. But in this clan everything goes in a little bit different way. The leader of clan is Grumbler – lonely adult male. He is old: he is thirty five years old that is more than respectable age in measures of his kind. Many of his coevals already have died a long time ago, and two years ago his female has died. Only quiet measured life has helped Grumbler to live into such age. However now in his life there is much less calmness, than it would be desirable for the old male: before his eyes in a clan at once two contenders have grown, and they are ready to seize power – Loudmouth and Rusty. These are males in the prime of life: they are approximately ten years old, quite independent and very strong. However while Grumbler has a power, he succeeds to put each of them in their place. Grumbler has considerable advantage: instead of being united and overthrow him, Loudmouth and Rusty compete with each other, trying to establish themselves in group. They will hardly succeed to unite in the future: they are too different; therefore it is difficult for them to find anything common. Rusty is less aggressive and makes an impression of phlegmatic one, and it is difficult to force him to become angry. But he is strong enough to win actually any clan member. From an attack on Grumbler he is avoided not by fear, but rather by some kind of respect, by recognition of his authority. But Loudmouth is hotshort and does not shun to use force to self-affirmation, and any absolutely casual action or gesture may anger him, especially if he is in bad mood. He is constrained only by simple fear of Grumbler.
Sasquatches are not aggressive creatures by their nature. Their usual food is plants and mushrooms, but they also catch small animals and like to drink bird eggs very much. Relatively to large forest inhabitants they behave rather peacefully.
Sasquatches have numerous and diverse neighbours in forest; some of them belong to new groups of animals, non-existant in civilization epoch. Hares have successfully developed an ecological niche of medium- and large-sized herbivores, and were settled across Holarctic, having got in New World with postanthropi via Beringia. One species of this group lives in forests of North America – it is chuchip, resembling outwardly a kind of small deer without antlers. These peaceful herbivores roam the forests in herds numbering up to 20 individuals, and do not compete for food with sasquatches – they eat only leaves and grasses inedible for postanthropi. Sasquatches do not avoid their neighbourhood – sensitive herbivores feel the appearance of predators better and warn of danger by their behaviour.
Predator observes of chuchip herd from shelter – it lays on wide tree branch, hiding in its foliage. It is similar to a monster-sized marten – it is equal in weight to large lynx or wolverine. It is one of the most furious local predators – waabisheshi, the descendant of an ermine. Having increased in size, it has increased in appropriate way the ferocity and bloodthirstiness of its ancestor: he has enough forces to overcome prey surpassing some times its own body weight.
Waabisheshi steals along the branch above a track, preparing to attack chuchip. But at the most improper moment tiny bird has flied up from tree crone, uttering alarm call, having forced chuchips and sasquatches to worry. One chuchip noticed a predator, uttered barking alarm signal, and the herd rushed away, having left sasquatches face to face with a predator. Sasquatches are good walkers, but bad runners, therefore they should defend themselves. Waabisheshi is very dangerous to small animals, and occasionally sasquatch kids staying without parental supervision turn prey of this carnivore. Adult healthy sasquatch is too strong prey, but in confrontation with it predator does not recede and is ready to attack.
Grumbler steps forward to protect clan – it is both his duty and confirmation of leader status. He tries to create an impression of strong and dangerous creature: yells loudly and shakes young trees. Rusty and Loudmouth join the defense and throw wood dust, targeting the beast. Waabisheshi is furious, but also is not remarkable in ingenuity, therefore it is easy for deceiving thus. Having roared to sasquatch males, it has jumped off from tree and disappeared from the view in thickets in several bounds. Grumbler has felt a some kind of relief: for now he managed to confirm his status, and the unpleasant meeting was finished rather successfully.
In some days Grumbler’s age began to have an effect: the old male got sick. In the beginning of summer a tick stung him, and after that Grumbler began to feel periodic attacks of weakness and nausea, which became stronger and longer each new time. He doesn’t have long to live: his senile organism hardly struggles with the infection, which has got into his organism with a sting of infected tick. Seeing it, Loudmouth begins to probe Grumbler’s reaction to his tricks: he arranges demonstrations of force, thrashing teenagers occasionally and taking away their food. Rusty does not fall up to such acts, but watches closely the behaviour of his competitor – sooner or later he will come to apply force to defend his place in clan. Weakening, Grumbler gradually ceases to resolve conflicts in group, and in couple of weeks after the beginning of his illness two young males actually get the power. With easing of the single authority contradictions become aggravated in clan. Females begin to squabble for nothing, males clash openly with each other, and teenagers prefer to keep in close group far away from adults, especially when between them the new quarrel takes place.
Loudmouth tries to get power in group, operating actively and openly. He already does not pay attention to Grumbler when tries to conduct clan on its territory. He is very far from knowledge of all fodder sites with edible plants, therefore he frequently conducts clan by sites of forest rich in food. Being young, he has acquired the experience of foraging in forest too badly, and now this blank in his skills may turn to troubles for the whole clan – he cares worse of clan members, and they should gather food during their walks in forest, not stopping for feeding for a long time. They eat worse and get tired more.
Relations in clan become more and more tense. Loudmouth feels, that clan members do not wish to obey him, therefore he should give prods and even bite relatives to force them to obey him. Only Grumbler, Rusty and the smallest kids have avoided the expression of his aggression: old male is too weak, and Loudmouth does not take him into account at all, it is better not to mess with Rusty for now, and it is possible to get sound punches for kids from their mothers. Loudmouth feels, that in group an atmosphere of rejection gradually is developed: he does not receive a support fron females, teenagers are afraid of him, and the failed to establish friendly connections with males. He is simply the strongest one, and that’s all. Social connections are important for sasquatch group, and with every new day Loudmouth feels all more clearly, that the group gradually squeezes him out. And then he should make a step unpleasant for himself – he must refuse former aggressive tactics of behaviour.
The shouter in every way tries to show to the group, that he is important for them. And it is better to make it in the most safe way – giving food to clan.
Some years ago a tree had fallen in forest, and forces of nature have worked on it, destroying the wood. Grubs have drilled tree trunk, and on its surface clusters of mushrooms have grown up. Chuchips have found this tree trunk and are feeding on mushrooms with pleasure, eating them off from the laying tree. When the group of sasquatches has appeared, animals were not frightened, however Loudmouth has run in their side, hooting and waving hands. Scared chuchips have rushed away, making long bounds, and pleased Loudmouth rushed to the food greedily. Other members of clan have surrounded him, extending hands and wishing to eat at least some mushrooms. Loudmouth has felt his hand upper again, and his natural aggression prevailed. He has grinned, when one teenager has tried to pick a mushroom, and has eaten some mushrooms the first before allowing other relatives having a meal. Rusty is not involved in this conflict – he simply searches for mushrooms on nearby trees. Rusty has quietly gathered and has eaten more of them, than he would receive, clashing with Loudmouth. Other clan members also disperse in vicinities gradually, searching for mushrooms as far away from Loudmouth, as they can.
While clan members are busy with search of food, Loudmouth tries to strengthen the social connections: he wanders among relatives, rendering them signs of attention. In sasquatch life touches and other forms of contact play an important role. Loudmouth should study in the accelerated manner to be attentive and affable. But his former aggressive behaviour forces relatives to relate to him with mistrust: when Loudmouth has sat down to one female and has tried to groom her wool, she tolerated him for some minutes only, and then has stood up and has stepped aside. Teenager female has tolerated him for longer time, but all the time while Loudmouth touched her wool, she sat in suspense, having stopped chewing and waiting a new punch from him. She simply has not got used to perceive him in any different way. Rusty has met the approach of Loudmouth by hostile glance. When Loudmouth has tried to come to him, Rusty has simply stopped feeding and stood up, looking right to his eyes, but not expressing any aggression by gestures. This glance is more than clear, and Loudmouth has simply walked farther.
In their wanderings in forest the sasquatch group meets various animals. One of the largest forest inhabitants is enyeto, a giant porcupine. This massive animal easily eats tree foliage at height of about 3 meters. As against chuchip, it is a descendant of local animal species. Enyeto is a peaceful animal, but its rich wool hides set of pointed spikes. Usually sasquatches coexist these giants without conflicts, but Loudmouth has decided to try to drive away the beast with cries and demonstration of force. But the phlegmatic giant does not pay attention to sasquatches, continuing picking leaves from branches. Enyeto is not alone – it is a female, and near to her large juvenile walks. And when it has walked aside, sasquatches have seen also a small cub born in spring. Its presence makes this animal especially dangerous. In due time Grumbler tried to avoid meetings with enyetos because of their unpredictability. Therefore Loudmouth had no opportunity to study habits of forest giants in practice, and he does not imagine, how his performance may end. He safely attacks enyeto female, and to seem more terrible, shakes young trees and yells, trying to drive her away. Actually there is no need in it – this animal eats foliage in the top level of the forest, and such act is necessary for him exclusively for self-affirmation.
When Loudmouth outer has approached too close, enyeto female has stood on all four legs and has begun to roar, grinning her huge incisors. Loudmouth had made two steps back, but has continued his display. Having bellowed, enyeto female has turned around and has waved its tail. Loudmouth has jumped aside in time, therefore it has missed, and her tail struch the bush. Physical force and spiky armor provide to this animal almost complete safety – even waabisheshi does not venture to attack enyeto. In bush trunk one spike of enyeto has remained – it has pierced it almost through.
Failure has discouraged Loudmouth: in the childhood he was not the best pupil, therefore he badly knows forest. He is good, when it is necessary to apply force, but he has great problems with the knowledge of district – because of his natural propensity to be lazy. Any of his mistakes can shake his status of leader of clan, and then this place Rusty will occupy easily. He really needs for powerful achievement.
Clan members see birds perching on trees and calling loudly. It means only one thing: they wait for the rests of predator’s prey. And, really, among bushes large waabisheshi tears its prey – still warm body of chuchip. Sasquatches occasionally eat meat – they pick the rests of prey of local predators, and sometimes venture to drive them away from prey. It is exactly that Loudmouth needs: meat is a prestigious food, and skill of getting meat raises the status of the getter in group. Therefore Loudmouth has decided to risk: with loud cry he began to attack predator, swinging with broken branch of bush. In return the predator was rushed on him with one jump and has seized his chest with pointed claws. The hind leg of the beast has ripped skin on Loudmouth’s stomach, and teeth were closed on his shoulder. Loudmouth had cried loudly in fear and pain, and other clan members have receded in horror – everybody, except for Rusty. Rusty has tried to protect Loudmouth – now he is not a competitor for him, but the clan member, which has got in trouble. Having seized a branch laying on the ground, Rusty has run up to Loudmouth and has struck by it the predator attacked him. Waabisheshi has jumped off from Loudmouth and has receded to its prey, growling and grinning. Loudmouth has turned to it, panting. He hardly stands on legs, and his wool on shoulder, chest and stomach is impregnated with blood. Loudmouth’s wounds are very grievous, but Rusty can not help him with anything now. He simply walks towards the clan and by its behaviour oders to relatives to go out. Despite of wounds, Loudmouth must follow them.
Rusty sees, that Loudmouth is weak – waabisheshi’s attack has changed the balance of forces in clan. It is necessary to take advantage of it, but everything must be done not directly and using brute force, but in more delicate way, without spoiling of the reputation in the eyes of relatives. In next several days Rusty simply begins to lead group in forest in the accelerated rate. Old Grumbler hardly keeps pace, but he is supported by one female – by his elder daughter, which has stayed in their group. Rusty watches his relatives and sees, that wounded Loudmouth does not endure the rate of movement: he lags behind step by step, though relatives still see him hobbling behind. His behaviour has betrayed him: his social connections appeared too weak, and nobody helps him to move, as against old and ill Grumbler. And moreover Rusty managed to notice something escaping from eyes of his relatives: flexible body of the beast hiding in bushes and following the clan’s trail. Loudmouth’s blood exuding from his wounds is a fine guiding line for waabisheshi, and the obvious invitation to the dinner. One of these predators has found a trail of clan and pursues their group for some hours, not daring to attack. It simply waits for an opportunity for an attack, and such moment has come soon. The weakened Loudmouth has lagged behind the group and is making his way in forest in a last ditch effort, stumbling along. And when he has stumbled once again, the predator has jumped on his back, and ruthless teeth were stuck into his nape.
Relatives heard, how last squeezed cry of Loudmouth interrupted suddenly, and the only thing they needed to do was to run far away from the predator, to avoid being its next prey.
Sasquatch (Arctanthropos nearcticus)
Large ground-dwelling postanthropus species – stature of the adult male is about 170 cm, weight is about 110 kg; female is smaller. Body is rather unspecialized; brain volume does not exceed those at apes. Brain is enclosed in firm cranium. Jaws are large, with strong masticatory muscles, face has prominent cheek bones. On the top of head an expressed sagittal crest is present. Skin is covered with wool of brown or reddish color with significant individual variability; face, palms and soles are hairless. On soles there are thick corneous callouses, allowing walking on stones and wood litter.
Present species is an inhabitant of temperate climatic zone of North America with the expressed seasonal changes, and keeps activity the year round. To an autumn it accumulates a significant amount of hypodermic fat and grows longer wool. In winter for spending the night it arranges resting places of branches and fir twigs; in northern part of an area it digs out temporary shelters in snow for spending the night.
The diet of this species is diverse and includes a significant number of kinds of plants and small animals. If there is an opportunity, it willingly eats carrion and the rests of prey of large predators. At the end of summer and in an autumn a significant part of diet is made of mushrooms and berries.
This species lives in groups of several breeding pairs and them posterity of various ages. Female brings posterity once in 3 years.
Enyeto (Megacoendu crassicaudis)
Giant rodent, a descendant of North American porcupine. Plantigrade animal of robust constitution, capable to stand on hind legs and to keep such position for a long time. Height at a shoulder is up to 2 meters; total body length is about 5 meters. Body is covered with rich rigid wool, in which spikes 5-10 cm long grow; the longest spikes protect neck and backbone. Colouring of wool is soft – usually brown or ocherous, with significant individual variations. Head is massive, on its top the elongated hair form a kind of “cop”. Tail is short and thick; it serves as a repository of fat stock for winter. On it a plenty of easily separating spikes grows. Impact of heavy tail is a main protective reception of this animal.
On forepaws claws about 10 cm long grow; claws of hind legs are shorter. If necessary, the animal can defend against predators, striking impacts by forepaws.
Female gives rise to one cub once in two years. Cub keeps with mother for a long time, and even helps to protect the next cub. Sexual maturity is at the age of 5 years; life expectancy reaches 50 years.
Chuchip (Paradromolagus nearcticus)
Deerlike cursorial representative of lagomorphs, a relative of Siberian ulbandus. It differs from the Siberian species in more gracile constitution. Wool colouring is light brown, on back black strip stretches; the lower part of legs is black. Wool colouring does not change for winter. Toes are elongated, wrist bones are connected by sinews to strong flexible structure; distal phalanxes are equipped with two short hoof-like claws and skin pad – shock-absorber – under them. Muzzle is narrow and long; teeth are adapted to feeding on soft forest vegetation. Eyes are shifted to the top part of head. Mobile ears enable easily to define a direction to a sound source.
It is a gregarious species, number of herd is up to 15-20 individuals. Animals live in deciduous and mixed woods, eat foliage of bushes and grass, mushrooms and berries.
Once a year, in spring, female gives birth to two well advanced cubs. They are capable to walk almost at once after birth, pass to food of adult animals very soon, and to an autumn become completely independent. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 2 years, life expectancy is up to 25 years.
Waabisheshi (Dendroictis horridus)
Predator of mustelid family, a descendant of stoat – successful and easily adapting predator of civilization epoch. In its constitution animal resembles a very large marten; weight of an adult individual is about 30 kg. Wool is rich, in summer grey with small black speckles on back and black tail tip; throat, breast and stomach are white; in winter color of wool is white, but tail tip remains black. Animal is a furious predator like its ancestor – it can kill prey weighing some times more than this predator. Animal usually hunts from trees, jumps on prey’s back and puts to it a bite in neck or in nape. Jaws are short and strong; muzzle resembles cat’s one a little.
It is strictly solitary species; only a breeding pair in courtship season or female and its posterity keep together. Each animal marks its territory with musky smell and protects its borders actively.
Courtship season begins in summer or in an early autumn; there is a diapause in pregnancy. The posterity is born in spring, in litter there are up to 3 cubs. They remain with mother during their first winter in life, but shortly before birth of new litter female expels them from its territory. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 2 years, life expectancy is about 25 years.
For millions years past from time of collapse of civilization,
in geography of New World some essential changes had taken place. Spreading
of Atlantic Ocean has resulted in changes in outlines of islands of Caribbean
Sea – from time to time they created a discontinuous land bridge between North
and South Americas. But the most essential change was the break of isthmus of
Panama, which has resulted in changes in circulation of the sea currents influencing
a climate of all continents.
The territory of Central America is in the area of tropical climate and has no shortage in moisture. Lowland parts of land are overgrown with evergreen tropical rainforests abounding with life.
The main part of specific variety of tropical forest is concentrated high above the ground, in forest canopy, where numerous species of animals adapted to arboreal lifestyle live. From the ground it is possible to see, how small long-tailed animals jump dexterously from one branch to another, calling each other with loud voices. They may be misidentified as monkeys, but in New World local flat-nosed monkeys inhabit only the territory of South America. In North and Central America the role of monkeys was undertaken by raccoons. Among these predators in due course of evolution arboreal species, resembling lemurs outwardly and leading a similar way of life, have appeared. One of their species is long-tailed pseudocebus, remarkable in its black tail with white tip. A group of these raccoons travels in tree crones in searches of food. They equally willingly eat small animals and fruits of tropical trees. Millions of years ago ancestors of these animals have occupied an ecological niche of monkeys, not having enabled to do the same to close relatives of monkeys – to human descendants. Now they enjoy abundance of food and hot sun, glancing on the strange bipedal creatures making their way in underbrush.
Central American postanthropi have developed ground habitats in tropical forests to the south from Central Mexican Plateau. They belong to the same genus, as forms from South America, and have appeared here even before the break of isthmus of Panama. At the north of the continent there were other species of this genus, but the formation of Beringean isthmus has allowed Eurasian forms to intrude to New World and to supersede local North American forms. Central Mexican Plateau and a hot climate have hold up the settling of the Asian forms to the south, where sisemite lives – the representative of the American postanthropus genus.
Tropical forests are shared into the set of territories belonging to various sisemite groups. Each group exists for many generations, accumulating a whole layer of cultural differences from neighbours for this time. The culture at sisemites includes various ways of food getting, a different set of herbs and distinctions in a choice of safe places for lodging for the night. One sisemite clan is headed by male overgrown with black hair on the whole body – by Black. He has come into power some years ago, and some juveniles in clan represent his posterity. In clan there are also two family males – Longlip with slightly drooped lower lip and Screw-tooth with a forward tooth pulled out in fight. Also there is a single male named Panter and having a habit to make a deep breath sometimes and to exhale air with force. But all of them recognize Black’s authority in clan affairs, because he owns in perfection the knowledge of forest and food resources in clan territory. Each of clan members has such knowledge to a greater or lesser extent, but Black knows his possession best of all, and under his authority the clan always has food.
Black’s clan frequently follows pseudocebi glimpsing in tree crones. These arboreal raccoons are similar to monkeys in their wastefulness in meal: they frequently pick more fruits, than they can eat, and the part of them falls on the ground, where sisemites pick them. But it is only an addition to the basic food – greens, plants roots and small animals which sisemites catch in underbrush. Therefore sisemites actually do not compete to arboreal raccoons for food resources – they live in too different habitats for overlapping of their interests. But there is one resource, for which there is a strict competition between these species – it is a honey of wild bees. Black’s clan has a unique cultural skill – clan members are able to get honey from bee nests. Objects of their search are colonies of local stingless Trigona bees, which settle in hollows of old trees. A simple rummaging around all trees in forest in searches of such delicacy is a very ungrateful occupation. But sisemites have one true assistant, due to which they search for bee colonies much more successfully.
People would name this phenomenon as “honey call”, but the speech of intelligent creatures has ceased millions of years ago. As a matter of fact, it is simply a voice of one local cuckoo: a monotonous call repeated for many times. But it is a desired signal for sisemites – a reference point leading them to a sweet treasure of bees. Cuckoo calls sisemites not vainly for itself: it has a gastronomic interest to bee colony. Plumage on bird’s head is rigid, with prickly tips of feathers – for this feature bird is names as bristly cuckoo. Such plumage is a protection against insects: bees of Trigona genus do not sting, but bite by powerful mandibles, protecting their nest against enemies.
Having seen sisemites coming to the tree, bristly cuckoo has flied down to one of the lower branches of tree and began drawing their attention with voice and movements. It jumps on the branch, and its cross-striped black-and-white tail makes thus smooth movements up and down, and the bird opens its from time to time like a fan. Having seen, that sisemites have become interested in it, bird has flied up to the tree-trunk hollow, where bees have settled. Having noticed this hollow, Black began to climb up the tree courageously, holding the lianes twisting tree trunk. Other clan members wait for him on the ground, but watch his movements and remember them. Black easily managed to reach a bee nest. Having broken off a piece of a bark from the edge of the entrance to the nest, he has expanded is and has easily gripped honeycombs, despite of hum of thousands of bees hovering at his face. He has broken off honeycombs and has thrown them down. Panter has rushed to catch them, but he had been pushed aside quickly by Longlip and Screw-tooth, which have got pieces of honeycombs. Moving by hand in hollow, Black is not afraid of these bees – they only bite slightly his skin by mandibles and spoil his wool with waxy excretions.
While Black plunders bee nest, under tree a noisy sharing of honeycombs thrown by him takes place. Panter gets of nothing – he is pushed aside every time by Longlip and Screw-tooth, therefore he had to lick off drops of honey from leaves soiled by honeycombs fallen on them. The part of honey will be got to females and to cubs, another part will be eaten by males. And Black can gorge on already on the tree, and he does not care to carve-up of the trophy below him.
Panter will not remain hungry – he has refined skills in search of food, with which forest supplies abundantly its inhabitants. Honey is simply a special entertainment, and participation in honey hunt and to in its sharing raises the status of male in group. Black, Longlip and Screw-tooth dominate for now, and it will hardly be possible for Panter to raise his status.
Honey call of bristly cuckoo renders a magic action to sisemites. Even the remote echoes of a voice of this bird force them to listen for it, and if the voice has begun to sound at the close distance, some of the most dexterous clan members can drop everything and go to get this delicacy.
…Some days after that case Black’s clan had a rest under branchy
tree, when bristly cuckoo has again called nearby. Its voice was persevering
and repeated many times in succession. It’s no doubt: it needed an assistant
for ravaging of the nest. Volunteers to help the bird were found literally at
once: all adults males and two teenagers headed by fast step to the side whence
honey call was heard.
They had to walk not for long: the cuckoo called in approximately two hundred meters from the place of rest of clan. It did not hide its presence: bird jumped on branches, spreading its black-and-white tail like a fan. But the bird obviously signaled not to Black and his relatives: bird kept in tree crone, not moving down, as it usually happens when it involves sisemites. In tree trunk a hollow gaped, and near it, having lowered their long tails, pseudocebi have settled down. One by one animals pushed heads and paws into the hollow, pulled out pieces of honeycombs and ate them. They furiously brushed away bees hovering above them, and continued treating with honey. As if a mockery to sisemits, some balls of pseudocebus dung have fallen from above.
Tree on which bee nest is settled, is too thick for sisemites to climb up, but near it one more younger tree grows, on which it is possible to get upward. Black made it many times, and he began to climb up resolutely, intending to take off at pseudocebi at least a part of their trophy. Other males lined up below, ready to catch the pieces of honeycomb thrown down by him.
Arboreal raccoons ravage the nest quickly and purposefully, obviously not going to share delicacies with latecomers. They equally willingly devour both honey and bee larvae. Cuckoo jumps bark of tree, snatching bee larvae out from honeycomb cells. Sometimes it manages to pull a larva out from honeycomb piece already devouring by pseudocebus. Beasts do not pay attention to fussy bird. Clinging their claws against tree bark, they break honeycombs and chew them right with their contents. Nest owners are small stingless bees. They land on animals, bite their skins with mandibles and spoil their wool with liquid wax. But efforts of nest defenders are obviously not enough to banish nest robbers, and honeycombs piece by piece appear in paws of pseudocebi.
Being afraid to be too late to sharing of delicacy, Black clambers on tree. He needs to rise two meters up and to skip to large branch of tree, on which the bee nest is located. Pseudocebi have noticed, how he climbs upwards, but continued to ravage nest until he got on tree and directed to them. They are not going to share sweet treasure at all, and two large males stopped feeding and oved towards the stranger. These are the strongest animals of their group – on their dark faces white “eyebrows” are highlighted, and animals grin, ready to scare away the unbidden visitor. Black is too large, that it would be possible not to pay attention to him. Other pseudocebi also stopped eating and have began to observe of an event. In searches of safety cubs have got on backs of their mothers and have seized their wool by all paws.
Seeing his opponents, Black has armed just in case, having broken one of nearby branches. Swinging it and holding another branch by free hand, he began to come nearer to pseudocebus males. Having fluffed their wool, they have met him with bare teeth and abrupt barking sounds. To look larger, they have risen on hind legs, but all the same they were too small to give a serious repulse to the enemy coming closer and closer. Black attacks them, swinging the branch and yelling loudly. From the ground other sisemites support him with their cries. Some males have began to throw pieces of ground and plants pulled out with roots, but pseudocebi are at such height, that the thrown objects do not reach them. Black comes nearer to bee nest, and pseudocebi recede – they get on the upper branches and look from there how Black searches in nest by hand – but only to be convinced, that dexterous and artful raccoons have left absolutely nothing for his share. Cuckoo jumped oh tree trunk nearby to Black, but then has flied up and has come out of view in the forest – it has received its share from a today’s robbery. Bees continue buzzing above the ravaged nest. The remained number of them is enough to keep the colony alive, and queen has managed to escape, having covered on the arch of a cavity, among the rests of honeycombs. It is quite enough for bee colony to restore soon and to filled new honeycombs with honey.
Black climbed down from the tree. He is obviously dissatisfied – so many forces have gone to waste, therefore he vents the anger on plants, peeling leaves from them and throwing them on the ground with dissatisfied shouts. He returns to his clan with other males, but in this time his occurrence will bring only disappointment for females and juveniles waiting for him. Good luck not always accompanies honey hunters, and even bristly cuckoo not always receives its share from the catch of two- and four-legged bee nest ravagers.
When honey call has sounded once again, Panter has reacted to it among the first ones – he managed to hear voice of bristly cuckoo, when other clan members failed to distinguish it among forest noises. Panter pulled Black’s hand for some times, before he has heard the bird’s voice by himself. Having seen their preparations, all clan members have quickly shaken off dream and laziness from themselves – the delicacy always appears a welcome thing. And this time everyone have gone for honey hunting, including females and kids. When they walked in forest, cuckoo’s call sounded more and more clearly – they were on a true way.
At last, Screw-tooth managed to see a cuckoo, and he has rushed to the tree, on which it perched. Others males have followed him, and have seen a bee nest found out by a cuckoo. It is made under the fragment of branch: maybe, the thick branch has not sustained is own weight and has broken out with a piece of wood from trunk. In this niche there are at once some honeycombs full of honey and larvae. Buzzing bees hover as a storm cloud above them, and sets of nectar foragers direct to the forest regularly. Honeycombs are really huge: their height surpasses half of sisemite male stature.
Being the most skilled honey hunter, Black began climbing upward to get honeycombs. The tree chosen by bees is too thick, and Black climbs the next tree, thinner and branchier. It is impossible to reach honeycombs by hand, but Black uses his rich life experience for the decision of this problem. He has simply broken one branch, has cleared it of leaves, and begins to poke the resulted stick in hanging honeycombs. He makes it rather clumsily, but nevertheless Black managed to loosen one honeycomb, and it has falled down soon. The cuckoo immediately got on another side of nest, pecking out hastily fat coiling larvae from honeycomb cells. On the ground noisy sharing of delicacy also began – everyone strove to break off a piece of honeycomb for itself, but as a result their significant part appeared in hands of Screw-tooth, Longlip and several dominant females, as usually. At this time Black continued to ravage nest, poking the next honeycomb with his stick. But he did not manage to finish the job he had started. One bee landed on his hand, and as if nettle burned Black’s skin in this place. He has shaked his hand, trying to throw off the bee, but it clinged firmly to his skin… and its interiors stretched like a thin thread from broken off abdomen to a sting thrust in Black’s skin. It was the bee of another species, and Black has understood his mistake not at once. He swung the stung hand, and in air the smell of alarm emitted by a dying bee has appeared.
Bees have rushed on Black by the whole swarm. He has waved a stick, trying to drive them away, but has received some more stings. Feeling a burning pain, panicking Black has hastily gone down from a tree and has rushed away. The nest he tried to ravage belonged to dire bee – the descendant of Africanized bees introduced to New World by people. This kind works honesty as a pollinator of numerous species of tropical trees, but at attempt of nest ravage the whole colony rushes for its, falling on the enemy with all possible fury. And now a whole clan of sisemites blocks their way.
The understanding of danger has come after the first stings. At first one kid has screamed and has begun to cry, then one teenagers has yelled and has waved hands, and soon already the whole clan has rushed away, trying to drive away the flown swarm of bees. Even Screw-tooth and Longlip ran, having been frightened of bees and having forgotten about their high rank in clan. The cowardice was pardonable for females and kids, but if dominant males seek safety in flight, it means, that danger is very serious.
Squeezing through an underbrush, members of Black’s clan run, waving bees away and crying. Females pull kids behind themselves, teenagers follow them, and males squeeze through thickets the first – almost everybody, except for Panter. Young Panter runs, having lagged behind and keeping aloof. Maybe, he tries to get rid of bees pursuing him in this way, trying to keep aside of the majority of insects.
Bees pursued Black’s clan for some hundreds meters, and sisemites had to endure much more than one sting. These bees are a little bit smaller, then their ancestors, but are remarkable in same bellicosity, and their poison is also dangerous. After their attack many clan members have the most pathetic appearance: at someone cheek has swelled or an eye is almost swollen shut, someone limps or scratches the stung back. Some kids cry, and females try them to calm vainly.
But there are also ones which has managed also to turn panic flight to a benefit for themselves. When bees have attacked clan, Panter has managed to pick up in the common panic a weighty piece of honeycomb with the honey left by any of dominants. While other clan members suffer from pain and scratch intensively their itching stings, he settled a little bit away from others, holding his precious trophy. He has received less bee stings, than other clan members, and feels like a boss when holding such treasure in his hands. He does not deny himself a pleasure to break off and to eat a piece of honeycomb, but now his plans are much bigger. He simply eats honey not alone: one of young females sits next to him, and Panter presents her with a delicacy, expecting for amplification of social connections with this female. While she eats honey hastily, Panter feels his hand upper: he looks at her, licking his fingers covered with honey. Alas, it happens also, that real getter gets of nothing, but the trickster benefits by living fruits of another’s work – everything is just as at their far intelligent ancestors.
Sisemite (Notanthropus mesoamericanus)
Ground-dwelling postanthropus species, an inhabitant of tropical rainforest. Stature is low – up to 140-150 cm; constitution is gracile, males are larger than females. Body is covered with short wool, usually brown or black, but individuals having lighter coloration also exist. Skin is pigmented, reddish-brown. Nose is short and narrow, jaws are big and slightly prominent. Hair on head are long; at males moustaches grow, and sometimes there is a small beard. Cranium is small, with low forehead. For heat emitting large ears with advanced ear lobes serve.
This species lives in groups of 20-30 individuals, including several family couples, youngs and adult singles. Among males the hierarchy is established; it is supported by displays of aggressive behaviour and the order of food getting. Diet is mixed, including mainly vegetative food – tubers, edible leaves and fruits; food of animal origin includes small vertebrates, bird eggs and insects. Some groups are able to catch fish and frogs in shallow water of local rivers.
Female gives rise to one kid once in 3-4 years. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 6 years; life expectancy is up to 30 years.
Long-tailed pseudocebus (Pseudocebus
Arboreal raccoon species, becoming an analogue of primates in tropical forests of Central America. This animal resembles a lemur outwardly: this is a diurnal omnivore with long tail and tenacious paws. As against primates, fingers and toes are supplied with claws, that allow an animal clambering on tree trunk surface. Muzzle is short and wide; this impression is amplified by elongated wool growing on sides of head. Body length is about 40 cm, tail is up to 50 cm long.
Wool on body has brown color; tail is black with white tip; on animal’s back from nape up to the basis of tail wide black strip stretches. Above eyes there are white “eyebrows”, which size depends on testosterone level – it is a feature enabling to establish hierarchy in their group. Animals communicate with each other by means of poses, tail positions and sounds.
It is an omnivorous species eating mainly fruits and invertebrates. Additions to diet are lizards, eggs and nestlings.
This species lives in groups of 7-10 individuals, consisting of the main pair, the subordinated pair and posterity of various ages. 2 times a year female gives rise to one cub and carries it on back for about one month. Young animal becomes independent at the age of 7 months, one-year-old females already bear posterity. Life expectancy is up to 12 years.
Bristly cuckoo (Trachycoccyzus setosus)
A specialized form of cuckoo feeding on socian hymenopterans and their larvae. Plumage on head and stomach is dense, rigid, with pointed feather tips – it is a protection against attacks of insects. Tail is long and narrow. Due to tenacious paws bird can climb tree trunk and branches upside down.
Background colouring of plumage is grey; top part of head, back and wings are reddish-brown. Feathers of tail are black with white cross strokes.
Beak is bright yellow, straight, long and thin; on its tip tiny denticles grow, allowing to grasp insect larvae from honeycomb cells. This species has a special behaviour: it involves to ravaging nest animals of other species by means of loud calls. A pointing signal, or so-called “honey call” represents a series of loud monotonous calls continuously uttering for about ten minutes in succession. Bird utters this “call”, having found out a nest of social bees or wasps, and the signal involves potential nest ravagers. Bird willingly cooperates with postanthropi and with arboreal raccoons, assisting to ravage nests of bees and wasps.
This species shows a care of posterity and raises nestlings in the collective nests made of thin rods and plant fibres. Several pairs of birds are engaged in the arranging of nest, and every female lays 2-3 eggs there. Posterity is brought up by both females and males.
Dire bee (Apis horribilis)
Descendant of Africanized bee introduced to New World in historical epoch. This species has kept a recongizeable shape of honeybee, differing in smaller size of working individuals, because of what queen looks even larger in comparison with them. Background body colouring is yellowish-brown with black bases of wings; on abdomen there are cross strips of silver-gray hair.
This species is a social insect building honeycombs in tree-trunk hollows or under protection of wide branches or rocky ledges. Colony builds wax honeycombs up to 60-80 cm long and gathers significant stocks of honey. The present species is one of the major pollinators of tropical trees. Due to small size working individuals are capable to gather nectar from a plenty of flower species. Behaviour is very aggressive; bees frequently chase nest ravagers and attack them in numerous swarms.
Swarming takes place 1-2 times per one year, depending on productivity of habitat.
(Neotropical realm, tropical rainforests of Amazonia)
Gradual spreading of Atlantic Ocean, which has begun even
in Mesozoic, has resulted in changes of geography of New World. Movement of
lithospheric plates in Central America has caused break of isthmus of Panama,
and South America appeared in isolation again, like it was during a significant
part of Cenozoic era. In conditions of geographical isolation at the continent
a significant variety of endemic forms of life evolved. Increase of biological
diversity is promoted much by a variety of natural conditions of the continent
extended from the north to the south from equator almost up to polar latitudes.
The greatest variety of flora and fauna is observed in northern areas of continent
located in tropical latitudes. The basin of giant river named as Amazon in civilization
epoch is stretched here. Lowland district is made of river deposits and covered
by evergreen forests, where numerous surprising creatures live.
In human epoch the forest cover was continuous, but now there are the areas overgrown with bushes and grasses in it. Such territories exist in forest for many months, and even years, because it is a result of activity of local animals – teratocavias, very large caviomorph rodents. These giants, surpassing a hippopotamus in their size, live in herds of several tens of individuals, and each herd devours hundreds kilograms of plants every day. Their appetite slows down the restoration of forest, because they easily bite off young trees by huge incisors and chew them entirely. In the territories cleared of forest, large grasses and fast-growing bushes expand, and the special community of live beings appears.
Teratocavia looks very unusually: it is a giant quadruped with disproportionately large head. In front part of head there is a large longitudinal corneous outgrowth, remotely similar to a horn of rhinoceros, and above eyes two more knobby horns grow. Yawning teratocavia exposes its incisors covered with thick layer of orange enamel – using such teeth, it is easily possible to bite off a branch up to 5 centimeters thick.
Teratocavias graze by the whole herd. Some of them lay lazily in shadow of trees at the edge of their pasture, digesting the forage, and others come into the forest and eat leaves from bushes and young trees. Their feeding forces smaller forest inhabitants to avoid feet and mouths of giant rodents. Above the herd clouds of blood-sucking insects hover, and tiny birds sweep like multi-coloured lightnings above backs of teratocavias, hunting their plague. Some birds perch on backs of teratocavias and peck insects and ticks right from their skins, or catch animals frightened by feeding giants. And heaps of manure of these rodents involve hordes of dung beetles and flies. Even colourful butterflies from selva do not disdain to land on manure of these animals to fill lack of mineral salts. Teratocavias support the existence of deforestated areas in selva, constantly eating and breaking young trees along their tracks. There are not only insects and birds in teratocavia’s “retinue”: in the sites cleared of forest many species live, including rodents and reptiles, and also… postanthropi.
Mighty teratocavia male lazily examines graceful bipedal figures at the edge of pasture, which have surrounded a bush. These are curupiras – harmless neighbours of giant rodents. In territory of teratocavia herd the curupira clan lives - about three tens of individuals. These shortish creatures live in the thickets of restored forest distinguished from climax tropical forest in densely overgrown underbrush with an abundance of perennial grasses and bushes. In their choice of a residence curupiras depend completely on efforts of local megafauna in landscape transformation.
The coexistence with mighty teratocavias demands some care. For example, it is no need to come too close to females with newborn cubs – they see danger in any live creature appeared near to their posterity. And males conflicting with each other also may turn their anger to fragile neighbours. But as a whole the neighbourhood with teratocavia is a very favourable thing, though these animals frequently eat the same fruits, as curupiras – together with bushes where they grow.
Curupiras are creatures having skin of olive-grey color. They prefer to keep in bush thickets, making there a network of their own tracks. Their food includes not only fruits of bushes: at teratocavia pastures grasses with fleshy rhizomes or tubers, which easily restore, if their foliage is eaten, prevail. Curupiras dig out such grasses and eat their underground parts, having shaken them off from the ground or having washed them in the nearest forest rivulet. Their digestive enzymes have ability to split starch that enables them to use such food source. Certainly, they willingly eat leaves of some bushes. Some of them differ in sweetish taste, and others are sourish, that brings a pleasant variety to curupira’s diet. Living in the neighbourhood with teratocavias treading forest, curupiras promote settling of bushes with edible fruits.
When the herd of teratocavias walks to a watering place, curupiras follow them – in case of danger they wouldn’t find the best defenders. Teratocavias do not pay attention to the fellow travellers, and at times even allow curupiras sitting on themselves astride. Riding on backs of teratocavias, curupiras clear their skins of parasites – they dexterously squeeze out botfly larvae by fingers and pull out ticks swollen with blood, and on the spot eat their finds.
Heavily stepping on the ground, teratocavias come out to the river. Having felt shakes of ground from their hooves, some turtles have jumped off from the riverbank and have dived into water, and a school of little silvery fishes has rushed to the depth. When first of huge animals have started to drink, relatives pressing behind began to push them by heads, trying to reach water, and one female has not stood on legs and was tumbled down in water with splash, and curupira male riding her back has fallen down in the river with loud cries. Other curupiras began to leave backs of teratocavias – jumping dexterously on backs of animals, they have got on trees growing near water and have gone down on the ground. While huge animals drink, there is simply nothing to do near them to curupiras – teratocavias can easily trample them or knock down by bodies.
Curupira male fallen in water has tried to get out of the river as quick as he could – dangerous creatures live here. However while he walked in shallow water, some fruits hit him, and from top of one trees triumphing squeal is heared. In tree crones there are large monkeys, black ones with white beards and red faces – these are kaiwololos, descendants of capuchins, survived during the destruction of nature at the end of civilization epoch. Numerous species of New World monkeys live in tropical forests of South America, and the competition to them has not allowed curupira ancestors to develop completely arboreal way of life. Nevertheless, life on trees is not alien to curupiras: they find enough food on the ground, but prefer to spend the night on branches as it was done by apes millions of years before them. Observing how curupira male walks in water among bodies of teratocavias, monkeys notice something not seen by curupiras from the riverbank: in the middle of the river under the surface of water giant fish – a catfish about four meters long, of grayish-white color with black cross strokes on a back – has swam. Curupiras do not notice an underwater predator because of solar patches of light on water surface. If there should be no teratocavia herd in the river, the fish would attack lonely curupira male, but for now the neighbourhood with giant rodents has escaped a postanthropus from danger he was unsuspected about.
Curupiras perfectly know plants, and harmful habits are not alien to them. Leaves of some bushes cause in curupiras an effect similar to temulence. Having chewed leaves of one such bush, some curupira males come into extreme excitation because of alcaloids contained in them. They begin to behave deliberately safely and defiantly: walk at the pasture in the middle of teratocavia herd with loud cries, push each other, tear out from the ground bunches of grass and throw them into each other. But their games are over, when one of such projectiles hits the nose of teratocavia male. Having bellowed terribly, male has rushed to curupiras, having turned them to flight. Some males have rushed in all directions and have hidden among other teratocavias, and one of them has not managed to do it and appeared a target for an attack of the angered animal weighting for some tons. Teratocavia male has rushed off, chasing its victim and snuffling loudly, and its relatives ran up scaredly, letting it pass. The pursuit was finished unexpectedly: Having stepped into a heap of fresh manure, curupira male has slipped and has fallen by breast directly into the manure, having frightened away a cloud of discontentedly buzzing flies. But before he managed to stand up, teratocavia male has overtaken him. Having smelt curupira male smeared with manure, it has sniffed, having exhaled air noisily, and has gone away, having left him alone with his problems. These giants have too short memory, and they are rather silly: it was enough for that male to switch attention to another stimulus, and its fury was replaced by disgust and it has simply overlooked about the grass thrown in its muzzle.
Harmful habit does not remain without consequences: excitation and temulence from leaves chewing are replaced by a bad headache. Organism neutralizes alcaloids, and at this time adventurous males should pay for doubtful pleasure: they wander among relatives, moaning and clutching their heads. In such condition they are very vulnerable: if the curupira clan would be attacked by predator, anybody from among these sufferers, having lost care, would easily become its prey.
The nature of a selva can arrange more terrible test, rather than predator’s attack. Once the direction of wind changes, and from ocean never-ending chains of rain clouds go. A daily tropical downpour is a usual phenomenon in curupira life, and they easily wait out it. Curupiras simply hide from rain under trees, and excellent improvised umbrellas saving from a rain may be made of large leaves of some giant grasses growing at the edges of teratocavia pastures. Usually rain drops down the ground with all its fury, but lasts not for long, and usually stops to the evening. But clouds from ocean bring in themselves rain of another kind – long, not stopping during several days. Rain falls in extensive territories at once, and it threatens forest inhabitants with serious problems.
When incessant rains have begun, curupiras tried to continue leading their habitual way of life. They tore off leaves of giant grasses and gathered food, covering themselves with them from rain, and got on trees in the evening and made nests for dream. However once they did not manage to wander in forest as much as it would be desirable: they had to walk already knee-deep in water for the leaves replacing umbrellas, and the part of forest appeared cut off with water appeared as if from nowhere. Small river, where curupiras washed tubers, has spread and has flooded almost half of teratocavia pasture. Wet curupiras have began to inspect their possession in searches of food, but they did not manage to go far: water has cut off to them a way to some sites of forest, swelling each hour. Curupira clan appeared at the islet, which quickly decreases in due course of rising of water. They are not only ones in distress: under their legs wet and tousled rodents scurry, in bush birds hide, and in water snakes coil, trying to get out on land. Because of rain the river has overflown banks and has flooded thousands of square kilometers of forest, having subjected forest inhabitants to the next test for durability. Massive teratocavias do not feel inconveniences from flooding: they learn to swim approximately at the same time, as to walk – in the first hours of life. Due to huge size these mammals have no enemies among aquatic animals, and can graze without problems even at the pasture filled with water. Their nostrils and ears close by skin valves; therefore, if they need, they can easily dive for grass.
The prospect of diving for habitual food obviously does not favour to curupiras. The only way they have is to leave the flooded land and to wait out a flood on trees. The nature of this place obliges to be a generalist, and curupiras have kept in their anatomy a significant amount of features of their ancestors, and have not lost skills of tree climbing. Trunks of the highest trees are too thick to be clasped by hands, therefore not each tree will be good for resettlement to forest canopy. Curupiras must venture to make a dangerous step – to cross some tens meters in water up to the tree twisted by large liane. At first water reaches their hips, and adult curupiras simply walk in it, keeping a vertical pose. Thus kids follow mothers chest deep. But gradually water becomes deeper, and kids are compelled to move on shoulders of their mothers, holding their hair. Adult individuals plod chest deep, feeling like rather uncomfortably: waters of flood are muddy, and it is not known, who may be hidden there. When the rivers overflow their banks, fishes leave channels and swim freely in forest. As if a reminder on it, the small rodent swimming nearby, has suddenly disappeared under water, and on water surface red fin decorated with black specks has splashed.
Having reached the necessary tree, curupiras began climbing up one by one, holding for lignificated stalks and thick air roots of liane. Due to short height and light constitution they easily get on a tree. Mothers push up kids, which perceive this resettlement as any new game, and climb upwards, resounding forest with their enthusiastic cries. However adult curupiras do not feel such fun: they glance at water surface disturbingly enough, especially those who didn’t manage to rise higher yet. Some young individuals get out of water the last. Clambering on a liane, they have looked downwards, into muddy water. They managed to see, how among tops of bushes and young trees, sticking out of water, giant catfish swims, coiling with the whole body and moving its long wattles. Its spotty back emerged out from water for one instant, gleaming with naked slimy skin, and has vanished from sight in muddy water again. This monster could easily drown and swallow an adult curupira – now any clan member literally miraculously got out alive.
It is not known, how much time curupiras will spend in forest canopy. Usually they return to to trees each evening, arranging for themselves nests for dream, like apes did. But now they had to search for food on trees and to share forest canopy with large rodents and monkeys, which hardly need to have new competitors. Adult curupiras have a certain experience of life on trees – they had to resist flood not once in their life. And juveniles must learn to live on trees, watching the adults.
From trees curupiras see, how huge teratocavias continue grazing in forest. But now these animals should dive to bite off tops of bushes appeared under water. Giant catfishes swim near them, but in comparison with these mammals they look rather small – they will hardly manage to swallow even newborn cub of this giant rodent.
The site of forest where curupiras appeared, is located at the highland, away from a pasture of teratocavias, which prefer lowlands. Here trees of tropical forest are connected by lianes and in searches of food it is possible to move from one tree to another on them. Rain is not so heavy now, but to protect from it shelter is needed all the same, therefore first of all curupiras begin to build nests for themselves. Having chosen a suitable tree, they bend its branches and bind them together, creating rather strong platform capable to endure weight of several postanthropi at once. Each such nest is made for one family – male, female and their posterity. Even teenagers, having kept independently on the ground, help parents in construction and expect to live in parental nest for a certain time. For protection against rain curupiras bend some upper branches to the nest, creating something like a roof. “Nesting place” becomes a center of life of their group in hard days of flooding. And when water will fall, birds may even choose for themselves old nests of curupiras, having reconstructed them to their taste.
Curupiras are not only primates on trees. Climbing up to the tree, they saw among branches any tiny monkeys, which have quickly run away, when the first curupiras have reached tree crone. These creatures are usual inhabitants of forests. Curupiras frequently had a chance to hear chorus of voices of these monkeys in forest canopy. And in the first day of tree life curupiras had not meet monkeys any more. But the next day monkeys came to “nesting place” of curupiras by themselves. These ones are not those timid creatures curupiras have met during their resettlement to thisa tree, but kaiwololos – heavy animals, weighing approximately as much, as adults curupiras. They are almost exclusive vegetarians, and do not have need to arrange combat with curupiras. They have simply dispersed on the tree and have began to devour foliage, bending branches to themselves and eating all leaves from them. However curupiras do not want to have such neighbours – it is not enough food on trees, and insatiable kaiwololos can also break a masking of curupira nests. Winged predators live in forests, and it is better not to meet them once again. Therefore adult curupiras go to protect their tree. They have started to shake tree branches, uttering loud calls and attacking monkeys. Some cawololos try to give repulse to them – they rise on hind legs, having twisted a branch by tail for reliability, but younger monkeys begin to recede soon, and adult individuals, keeping the rests of their calmness, depart on the next tree. As against curupiras, energy gets expensively to vegetarian monkeys, and it is simply irrationally to waste it for idle conflicts. During millions of years the presence of postanthropi in ecosystem forced New World monkeys to evolve aside the deepening of specialization to avoid thus a competition to temporary visitors on trees.
Meeting with kaiwololos is rather misunderstanding, than real danger. These vegetarians are strong, but silly: they are easy enough for frightening and driving away from the chosen tree. However there are real dangers in life on trees. Here predator species live, and some of them would like to prey upon the forest inhabitants in trouble. During the flooding numerous forest inhabitants usually settling in underbrush and in bush thickets escape from water on trunks of trees. For many of them it is an only opportunity to survive – they are not specialized tree-climbers and swarm up trees as they can. Above muddy river waters wide shadow swept by and the silhouette of huge bird, which wings and tail are bordered with black strips, was reflected in water surface. Flapping wide wings, aroecheba flies between trees – a large feathery predator, the worst enemy of forest animals. The trouble of ground inhabitants turns a festival for it: it sees a great amount of potential prey on trees, which can not neither escape nor defend from its claws.
Like a grey lightning aroecheba sweeped near a tree trunk, which is sticking out of water. Having made dexterous roll in air near the trunk, it has tore from the tree by its sharp-clawed feet a small rodent hardly seizing tree bark. Long claws have instantly killed its prey, and aroecheba flied up to the tree crone to have a feast. The bird has pressed its prey against tree branch by claws and began tearing meat with its beak.
Curupiras have heard the alarm calls of birds reaching somewhere from the next tree. Kaiwololos had no time to go away, therefore their voices have also joined the common chorus. Having stasred attentively, curupiras have noticed aroecheba tearing its prey among branches. It is a very dangerous neighbourhood: the feathery predator of such size can easily attack a kid. Therefore one curupira male has also uttered an alarm call; having heard it, females with kids have rushed to hide in nests. And males have rushed to protect their clan. Along thick liane, holding branches of next trees, they have run to the tree where the predator feasted, and have joined other attackers. Presence of the enemy as if has forced monkeys and curupiras to forget about enmity: they mob together a bird of prey, trying to behave as more frightening as possible. Monkeys simply shout loudly and shake branches, and some curupira males have armed with broken branches and have stolen up closer to the predator. Yelling loudly, they have began to poke aroecheba with branches. But every time predator looked at them with its insensible yellow eyes, they receded back, as if being hypnotized. Monkeys support attacking curupiras with shouts. At last, having swallowed the next piece of prey’s meat, the bird has flied up and has disappeared from the view in some instants, having rushed in forest canopy.
Seeing, that the predator has gone, tree crones inhabitants keep a neutrality for some time – flashbacks on a dangerous predator are too fresh. The enemy is expelled, but the sensation of fear is still remaining. Monkeys behave not so noisy, as usually, and curupira males return to their nests in silence, not communicating with each other by sounds or gestures. Females with kids hide in nests almost motionlessly, and even kids do not cry. Now the clan has got a lesson: juveniles has remembered face of the enemy for all further life.
Tomorrow there will be a new day, and the sensation of fear will move to the second plan, being superseded by new cares. Kaiwololos and curupiras become opponents again, and their meetings will not bring pleasure neither thу ones, nor the others. But there are also changes for the best: rains gradually stop, and tops of trees and bushes begin to appear from under water again. Some more days will pass, water level will decrease, and curupiras will return to habitual life on the ground.
Curupira (Notanthropus curupira)
Postanthropus species inhabiting tropical rainforests of northern part of South America. This species inhabits a specific habitat – areas of the broken forests recovering after feeding of megafauna representatives. This species has kept generalist features – it lives mainly on the ground, but is able to climb trees and even to swim sometimes. To spend the night these postanthropi construct nests of tree branches.
Stature of an adult individual is about 130 cm, constitution is gracile, sweat glands are very small. Skin is of olive-grey or brownish color with thin short hair; hair on head is straight and black. Nose is narrow and short. At males moustaches grow, but beard appears very seldom.
A characteristic feature of legs is very mobile ankle joint, enabling to climb trees. Arms are proportionally longer, than at human.
It is an omnivorous species eating fruits and leaves of bushes and low trees at the sites of recovering forest. It also eats small animals – invertebrates, frogs and small mammals, bird eggs and nestlings.
Female gives rise to one kid once in three years and cares of it even after birth of the next kid. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 6 years; life expectancy is up to 30 years.
Kaiwololo (Bradycacajao longicaudatus)
Specialized form of New World monkeys, feeding mainly on leaves. Body length of an adult individual is up to 80 cm, tail is up to 110 cm long; weight is about 20 kg. This species is a sluggish animal with long prehensile tail applied to grab branches. Thumb is partly opposable to others, enabling to grasp branches strongly. These monkeys live exclusively in crones of tropical forest, moving between trees as they eat foliage. It is possible to meet them on the ground only in an unusual case.
Wool colouring is black; breast, whiskers and beard are white; at males hair on the face is longer and thicker, than at females. Face skin is naked and red. Palms and soles are hairless and have numerous papillary ridges.
The basis of diet is made of foliage, which this monkey devours for some kgs per day. For its digestion the animal has complex multichamber stomach. Feeding animal sits in a fork of tree trunk and simply turns to itself branches with leaves, and frequently brings food to mouth by tail.
These primates keep in groups numbering 15-20 individuals, headed by dominant pair, and move in forest, not stopping in the same place more, than for one night.
Female bears posterity once in two years; usually twins are born.
Thick-skinned teratocavia (Teratocavia
The representative of South American megafauna, evolved from among local caviomorph rodents, one of the largest species of rodents on the Earth. Body length of an adult individual is about 4 meters; shoulder height is up to 170 cm; it is a massive short-legged animal of heavy constitution resembling a rhinoceros with disproportionately large head. Skin is almost naked: wool is short and thin, not forming a continuous hair cover. On upper lip and chin thick whiskers hair grow. Legs are stout and short, with wide hoof-like claws. Under toes an amortizing fatty pad is developed. Tail is very short.
Head is large, with long incisors adapted to cutting of grass and branches. Eyes, ears and nostrils are shifted to the top part of head. Nostrils and auditory canals can close by skin valves protecting them from water. On nose bridge a thick longitudinal bone cylinder serving as a tournament weapon is developed: at males it is more advanced, than at females. Above eyes there is also a pair of bone outgrowths covered with cornificated skin.
This species is semi-aquatic, able to swim and to cross wide rivers. The basiс forage is marsh and forest grassy plants, young tree saplings. Animals make in forest a circuit of wide tracks existing for decades.
Female gives rise to one cub once in three years. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 5 years; life expectancy is about 50 years.
Aroecheba (Gorgastur lethalis)
Large bird of prey, a descendant of certain hawk species occupying an ecological niche of eagles. Wingspan of adult bird is up to 250 cm; weight is about 8 kg; female is larger and more aggressive compared to male. Plumage is grey with black tips of primarily feathers and tail; crown and nape are black with elongated feathers forming a small cop. Breast and belly have cross-striped pattern. Tarsi are elongated and featherless. Claws are up to 6-7 cm long.
This bird species inhabits exclusively a territory of tropical rainforests of plain and mountain areas of South America. The pair is formed for all further life and protects from competitors in common a very extensive fodder territory – up to 30 square kilometers. This bird eats animals of forest canopy – usually rodents and monkeys, less often large birds and reptiles.
The center of territory is giant nest on tree top. Pair of birds annually repairs and renews it, and some nests may exist for 30-40 years, being used by several pairs of birds in syccession. In clutch there are 2 large eggs with white shell; for one nesting cycle adult pair successfully raises only one nestling. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 5 years; life expectancy is up to 50 years.
The far south of South America is difficult for naming as
a hospitable place – in these latitudes even summer is cool, and winds from
ocean constantly bring the clouds spilling with rain. In winter cold breath
of Antarctica, keeping its polar position and continues to be a “cooler” of
Southern hemisphere, is felt here. Nevertheless, life prospers even in such
uneasy conditions. In places, where rainfall is plentiful enough, mountains
and valleys are covered by woods of southern beeches and araucarias with the
addition of other tree kinds. Also various animals live here, among which giant
caviomorph rodents dominate like in tropical forests at the north of the continent.
In Cenozoic rodents of South America already conquered large-size class, and
in epoch of recovery of biological diversity after the sixth extinction they
have successfully repeated this evolutionary move. Side by side with them one
species of South American postanthropus lives – ukumar, local cold-resistant
hominid species. It is a relative of the species from tropical forests of the
continent, but in due course of evolution independently of Holarctic forms it
has acquired set of adaptations, enabling to live in conditions far from tropical
ones. Conditions of far south of South America are much more mild, than at the
north of Asia, and adaptations to life in seasonal climate at ukumar do not
reach such degree of perfection, as at postanthropi inhabiting Holarctic zoogeographical
realm. Ukumar is a natural-born traveller. Each year, joining its giant four-legged
neighbours, it makes travels to the north and back.
Ukumars are omnivorous creatures engaged in foraging. Roots, edible leaves and fruits a basis of their food. And at the certain part of good luck meat is added to their diet – ukumars are able to catch invertebrates and small vertebrates, and also willingly eat carrion and the rests of predators’ meals. However, they may easily fall their prey – therefore small groups of ukumar gatherers keep near to large caviomorph rodents, caviotheres. These are large-headed rhinoceros-sized beasts with stout legs, hoof-like claws and frightening incisors in mouth. The top part of head at these giants is covered with a cap of enormously thick cornificated skin, which is a main tournament weapon of animals. Caviotheres usually relate peacefully to ukumars wandering nearby – only females with cubs show discontent, bellowing and exposing huge incisors.
The autumn at the far south of Patagonia is characteristic in very bad weather. From ocean caravans of rain clouds move and spilling with tiresome drizzling rain, and to search for food at this time is rather unpleasant occupation. Constantly shaking rain drops from themselves, ukumars are eaten off with gifts of nature in group. Summer has passed, and after heat sweet local berries were over. But the autumn has not less attractive gifts.
Family group of ukumars wanders among bushes – an undersized Nothofagus species. The group consists of several breeding couples with juveniles and kids: the last summer at once at two females babies were born, and now mothers carry them on backs when gather food. Kids hold tenaciously for their hair, but from time to time pull hands from behind mother’s shoulders to taste food they eat. Ukumars prepare for travel to the north and should store fat. For this purpose nutritious Nothofagus fruits resembling nutlets are very good. Because of such diet wool on ukumar bodies shines, and under skin a significant stock of hypodermic fat is accumulated. In wet climate fat “coat” warms much better, than short wool, which is constantly soaking through because of drizzle and fog.
Due to powerful jaws ukumars easily chew Nothofagus fruits. Nevertheless, the part of fruits will be spared necessarily and will give rise to new generation of plants, though rodents are the best dispersers of Nothofagus seeds.
In river valley one more plant grows, giving the food to local herbivores. In civilization epoch its ancestors were modest little bushes and decorated windows of houses in many countries of the world. Here, on its native land, the descendant of modest flowers has turned to tall tree with edible fruits. It is a treelike fuchsia, and after collapse of civilization this kind of plants has formed the alliance with human descendants, but this time according its own conditions. Plant gives food to postanthropi in exchange for settling service: in an autumn on branches of tree juicy soft fruits containing numerous seeds ripen. Due to ukumars treelike fuchsia forms small groves along the ways of their migration. Ukumars love its fruits, therefore willingly wander in thickets of these trees, gathering the fallen fruits, and shake young trees to get some more delicacy.
Ukumars are not only ones loving fruits of treelike fuchsia. When a group of several pairs of ukumars gathers fuchsia fruits, a huge creature covered with shaggy rusty-red wool joins them willingly. It has bad vision, therefore smells air, snuffling loudly and humming deeply. Yawning, an animal grins its incisors of monstrous size – despite of the size, it is only a rodent, an adult caviothere. It is too slow to shake trees independently, therefore simply wanders near to ukumars and gathers the fallen fruits. Other caviotheres graze nearby: it is a gregarious animal, which feels itself more comfortably in a society of relatives.
Despite of rivalry for delicacies, ukumars prefer to keep near to herds of huge caviotheres. These herbivores do not pay attention to two-legged shaggy creatures scurrying near them – their interests are limited only to food, and also to relations with congeners in courtship season. Ukumar actually does not compete to caviothere for food: it prefers more diverse and easily digestible food. But caviothere gets an obvious benefit from its neighbourhood: ukumar has keen chromatic eyesight, therefore it notices predators and sounds the alarm earlier, than caviothere. And mighty caviotheres can repulse an attack of predator in the best way. Ramming impact this animal’s forehead can knock down any large predator, and the caviothere herd is a force that must be taken into account. Nevertheless, in this area there are animals venturing to hunt even caviotheres.
Family group of ukumars gathers seeds of local Araucaria species. This conifer is not very similar to related tall species from warmer latitudes. Such Araucaria species resembles dwarf forms of pine trees from mountains of Europe – it has short thick trunk, and the bottom branches easily take roots in the ground and give new vertical shoots. In due course one plant forms rich thickets about two meters tall. It is a descendant of plants of ice age adapted for cold and receded to the south following their habitual climatic conditions. Ukumars love seeds of this tree smelling as pitch – oily ones with pleasant taste. Some birds and rodents take seeds and hide them, making stocks for wintering and settling this plant, but ukumars prefer to eat seeds on the spot. Prickly thickets prevent ukumars to get in their most middle, where the amount of seeds is greater, and they should feed at the edges of thickets. Nevertheless, one enterprising young male has decided to get cautiously deep into thickets of dwarf araucaria, where it is possible to find the whole ripened cones and numerous seeds on the ground. While his relatives eat a pittance of food, he managed to gather rather quickly a handful of seeds, and he has put them in his mouth, enjoying fragrant resinous taste. Having squatted, he began to gather a new portion of seeds, listening to mutter of relatives and to bellow of caviotheres – the herd of these giants is grazing somewhere one hundred meters away from them down the hill.
Having gathered the second handful of seeds, young ukumar stood up… and freezed in horror. The monster looked at him. Wide muzzle, huge mouth, dark wool and two large white spots on each side of head, surrounding its eyes. He has recognized the beast at once though had never seen it so close before – probably, the beast has silently approached to thickets and observed of him for some time.
Crying loudly, young ukumar has jumped out from thickets, not paying attention to prickly branches whipping his body. Relatives have looked at him with amazement, and small children have run up to mothers in searches of protection. Being alarmed, adult ukumars have looked at tops of araucarias, which waved when a huge animal squeezed its way through thickets with snapping. Not deliberating, one of adult males uttered alarm call, and the whole group of ukumars has rushed aside the saving caviothere herd. And the monster similar to bear has rushed our from araucaria thickets – heavy beast with stout paws and large head. When running, it pulled in a ridiculous way with short tail having a white ring near its tip. In heavy gallop the animal has rushed to chase ukumars, and the distance between them and an animal began to decrease quickly.
Striped tail is a heritage of distant ancestor of this animal, omnivorous and rather safe for people raccoon. But evolution has changed roles once again, having transformed a former “king of nature” to peaceful gatherer, and its fluffy omnivorous neighbour to an awful predator. This predator is carnoprocyon, the only one able to attack an adult caviothere.
Caviotheres have heard alarm calls of ukumars and began to smell air, trying to define the reason of alarm. Ukumars have quickly run down the hill slope in their side, trying to reach herd faster and to hide behind bodies of these giants. Animals have rather felt, than seen a carnoprocyon moving towards the herd. Their reaction was fast and unequivocal: adult males with armored foreheads stepped towards a monster, and females and cubs have hidden behind them. Ukumars dexterously ran between bodies of males, trying to avoid their heavy feet. And carnoprocyon was compelled to stop – prey has disappeared and it obviously would not be desirable for the beast to bulldoze through a barrier of giant heads. Caviothere males open mouthes wide and display huge incisors with thick layer of enamel. Bite of such incisors can easily crumb a tree trunk up to its core… or crush carnoprocyon’s skull, if this predator appears too careless.
The element of surprise is missed, and hunting threatens to be finished by fail. But carnoprocyons do not hunt alone. While one predators wanders in a view of herd, its breeding partner has simply crept from another side, and only cries of ukumars have warned caviotheres about the appearing of one more enemy. Now females rise to defend their posterity. They are not such impressive, as males are, but they are numerous, and they also make a defensive formation, hiding cubs behind their bodies. But they operate in less coherent way, and the second carnoprocyon tries to break to the center of herd, to defenceless cubs. And only when one of adult males was switched to the new opponent, they managed to drive predators aside from their posterity… and from ukumars which were hidden among herd.
Herbivores have won, and carnoprocyons walk away, wagging nervously their tails. The union of two species has proved its utility once again. And it costs some inconveniences taking place at gathering of gifts of nature.
However the change of seasons dictates its orders. Weather is worsened every new day: days are shortened, the sun is shown from clouds less often, and from the south cold winds blow. There Antarctica lays overseas – the isolated poorly inhabited continent still located near to South Pole and covered with nonmelting ice cover. In the sky wind moves a grey veil of clouds, from which drizzly tiresome rain falls. Weather is very unpleasant: wool of ukumars soaks through, and because of it even a slight wind feels like icy cold. Only the layer of hypodermic fat helps to keep warmth at least somehow. But ukumars are not going to winter in this place: as against their far Holarctic relatives, living in conditions of an extreme climate the year round, in an autumn they migrate to the north to spend winter in warmer areas of the continent. They only wait, while their four-legged companions will go to a way.
Autumn paints gold foliage of local trees and bushes. Only araucarias keep their dark green needles, being well visible against a background of an autumn landscape. It’s a proper time for large herbivorous inhabitants of the south of Patagonia to get ready to travel to the north – to pampas and caatinga. Small forest inhabitants will spend winter in differen way: some of them will keep activity even in winter, dedicating all their time of wakefulness to search of food, and others will simply run into hibernation and will wake up in spring.
Herds of giant caviotheres move to the north. They follow the routes formed during millenia, and optimally suitable for movement of large heavy animals – here there is a minimum of steep slopes, and the wood vegetation is trodden by feet of hundreds of animals. But along the edges of wide animal “roads” treelike fuchsias grow plentifully; during the flowering they mark routes of animals with their crones bright red from flowers, appreciable from a bird’s eye view. The considerable contribution to distribution of this plant to the north was brough by ukumars accompanying herds of caviotheres during their migrations.
Ukumars try not to lag behind their shaggy patrons. While caviotheres graze, postanthropi gather edible plants and catch small animals in thickets at the edges of “road”. From their human ancestor they have inherited endurance; therefore, they can easily spend actually all the day in walk. As herds move to the north, the treelike vegetation thins: thickets of dwarf araucarias have disappeared the first, after them deciduous trees gradually vanish, and treelike fuchsias nestle to the ground, turning to undersized bushes. Herds enter the kingdom of grasses, and they have new companions – graceful swift-footed onocavias. These graceful herbivorous animals are remotely similar to donkeys – they have rich grey wool, large head on flexible neck and elongated mobile ears. But teeth and legs give out their relationship – these are not ungulates, but specialized cursorial rodents. They behave rather safely, wandering in small herds near to ukumars and huge caviotheres. From time to time they play with each other, racing one another, and at these moments it is visible, how swift-footed and dexterous they are.
Caviotheres and ukumars do not drive these new fellow travellers away from themselves. Ukumars know by experience, that onocavia is a harmless creature. However, in the plains of Patagonia there are also predators. They constantly watch herds of herbivores, choosing prey for themselves, and the success accompanies them frequently enough to make their life strategy perspective for survival.
From undersized bushes one of local predators – strange long-legged dromaguara fox – watches the herd of caviotheres and their companions. The constitution indicates that it is a specialized runner, a small animals hunter. With its slim constitution it would be no sense to attack mighty caviothere, but onocavias gambolling near to the herd represent its favourite prey. The predator examines herd, watching movements of animals and preparing to start chasing at any moment. And when one onocavia has carelessly walked too far from herd of its relatives, dromaguara has attacked it. Onocavia has noticed a predator chasing it too late, and has taken to flight, having uttered an alarm signal. But dromaguara has managed to win precious seconds, which have determinated the result. The pursuit last less than one minute – dromaguara managed to overtake its prey and to put a wound in a shoulder to it, having torn its muscles by canines. After the push onocavia has lost balance, has fallen in grass and has rolled in it, kicking its feet in air. And before it managed to stand up, jaws of dromaguara closed on its throat. Prey began to twitch, but its movements have slowed down soon. Predator has torn a belly of killed onocavia, and in air the smell of blood appeared, forcing large caviotheres to be nervous. Dromaguara began to devour greedy warm meat of prey, from time to time raising its head and looking around. It has an occasion to behave cautiously: as against caviotheres, ukumars keep calmness and even glance at feasting predator, expressing obvious interest. They gather in group and come closer to dromaguara. And when the fox has once again swallowed a piece of meat, the whole hummock of grass with a weighty piece of ground on roots hit right its muzzle. It has springed to its feet, having grinned, but some more neatly thrown pieces of sod hit its sides, having forced it to yawp in pain. Dromaguara concedes in force considerably to carnoprocyon, therefore ukumars, having gathered to the group, come nearer to the beast safely. Yelling and waving hands, they have forced dromaguara to abandon its prey. Grinning, the long-legged fox has gone aside, and ukumars came to dead onocavia and began to tear meat by hands and to eat it greedy. They diligently rip meat off from bones and eat even interiors of prey – meat of large animals is infrequent meal for them, and they do not miss an opportunity to regale themselves with it. When adult males have laid hands on prey, females and juveniles came to them. Dromaguara may represent a danger for ukumars – it will not venture to attack an adult ukumar, but kid appeared without parental protection, can easily fall prey to this animal. It hardly would escape from swift-footed predator, therefore life in group and protection of adult relatives represent a guarantee of safety for ukumar kids during the travel across the plain.
With each new day of the travel weather becomes warmer. And one day herd of caviotheres and ukumars accompanying them reach the river. The animal track turns off and leads along the bank – there the river spills and forms a ford suitable even for ukumar crossing. Massive caviotheres enter safely into water, and the river is shoulder-deep for adult males here. Females only slightly touch river bottom by feet, and cubs had to swim, leaning on bodies of adult animals. And near to massive caviotheres ukumars cross the river. Some of them even holp by hands a wool of animals. During the crossing ukumar kids get on backs of mothers, and two teenagers have used cunning at all and have rided caviotheres. On land they would hardly repeat this trick, but now animals are too busy with river crossing and do not pay attention to their small neighbours. After the crossing caviotheres shake their bodies, and ukumars squeeze out water from their wool by palms in order to dry sooner.
Some more days of way passed, and herd of caviotheres has got to wintering places. Grass became taller and more juicy, groves of trees and thickets of tall bushes are seen more often now. And migrants have began to meet the inhabitants of the warm north, which do not live in the South. Large animal with long neck eats branches from tree, having risen on hind legs and supporting against its trunk by large forepaws: it is a descendant of timid agouti of human epoch. And the massive animal covered with armour and devouring bush branches descends from a certain armadillo species. A clumsy beast with large head and frightening jaws, carrying several cubs on its back is a descendant of opossum. The isolated world of South America is rich in surprising creatures.
Birds with featherless heads and necks peck the rests of carcass of a large animal. Caviotheres bellow disturbingly, passing near it – smell of blood and meat forces them to be nervous. And ukumars do not miss an opportunity to feast. Having frighten birds away with yells and neatly thrown lumps of ground, they came to a carcass and have began to tear off pieces of flesh. Ukumars are among the first in line for carrion; if there is an opportunity, they willingly eat the rests of prey of large predators, as their far ancestors did before they have got and have lost their intelligence. Meat is rather fresh – predator has obviously gone recently and still can return. And the size of the animal becoming its prey indicates that this predator can easily finish also an adult ukumar. Therefore to depart far from herds of large herbivores is not the best decision. Ukumars hasten with meal: caviotheres are not going to wait for them. Having quickly eaten as much as possible, ukumars have rushed after behind herd, leaving a carcass to scavenger birds without any regret. The union with mighty defenders is much more favourable in long-term prospect, than a casual opportunity to have a good meal – this world is full of dangers, which are better for meeting when being not alone.
Ukumar (Notanthropus ukumar)
South American postanthropus species, adapted for life in cold latitudes of the Southern hemisphere; the relative of forest species from tropical latitudes. In winter climate in high latitudes of the Southern hemisphere is not as extreme as in Eurasia, therefore the adaptation to cold had gone another way – this species has turned to a nomad migrating with large animals. This postanthropus species spends winters in the north, and in warm season lives in forests in the far south of the continent.
Stature of an adult individual is about 170 cm; it is a largest species of its genus. Body is covered with short rich wool; thick insulating layer of hypodermic fat is present. Basic colouring of wool is brown; head and back are black. Cranium is low, and face is large; large fleshy nose with wide nostrils helps to warm inhaled air.
This species is an omnivore, eating mainly roots and fruits of local plants; in spring it willingly eats young foliage and bulbous plants. These postanthropi also eat food of animal origin – they catch small vertebrates, ravage bird nests and eat the rests of prey of large predators.
Female bears one kid once in 3-4 years. Juveniles live with parents for a long time; matured females stay in parental group, and males pass to neighbouring groups more often, or form their own groups. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 6-7 years; life expectancy is about 30 years.
Caviothere (Caviotherium glabrocephalus)
Large gregarious herbivorous mammal, a giant representative of caviomorph rodents. A massive four-legged animal; shoulder height is up to 180 cm, weight is about 3500 kg. Claws are modified to flat hooves; under toes a shock-absorbing pad of connective tissue impregnated with fat and of dense skin is developed. Body is covered with shaggy wool of red color, on a back there is a dark “saddle”. Tail is absent.
Head is very large (skull length is about 80 cm) with fleshy mobile lips. On the tip of muzzle long vibrisses grow. Incisors are up to 20-25 cm long, with a thick layer of orange enamel, allow to cut grass and to dig roots out from the ground. Ears are small and rounded; eyes are small. Scullcap is very strong and thick, adapted to endure shock loadings. Eye-sockets are protected from above by bone “peaks”, the top of head is covered with thick, knobby and cornificated, almost hairless skin. Massive head is moved by strong muscles attaching to elongated spinous processes of first pectoral vertebrae – on animal’s shoulders a hump of muscles and fat develops; it is especially expressed at males.
Habitat of the present species includes forests in zone of a temperate climate. When autumn comes, animals migrate to the north, to the area of pampas and light forests.
This species of rodents lives in herds numbering up to 40-50 individuals, approximately fifty-fifty males and females. The hierarchy is established in courtship season, when competing males “ram” each other by heads. Once in two years female gives rise to one large cub capable to follow herd at once. Sexual maturity is at the age of 3 years; life expectancy is about 40 years.
Onocavia (Onocavia rapida)
Specialized cursorial caviomorph rodent – similar to donkey descendant of mara (Dolichotis). Four-legged herbivore, shoulder height is up to 70 cm. Legs are elongated; claws are modified to hooves, on each foot two toes remained only. Animal has rather large head with powerful jaws enabling to chew rigid grass; eyes are shifted to the top part of skull. Large elongated ears facilitate heat emission. This species has keen eyesight and good hearing. Background colouring of wool is grey with black “saddle”; stomach and rump are covered with white wool; muzzle tip is also white. Tail is absent.
This species is ecological analogue of gregarious cursorial ungulates of other continents. Herds number some tens of individuals of various ages; the hierarchy is not established in herd. The main food of this species is graminoids and other plants with rigid leaves. Animals prefer to keep on open district and avoid continuous bush thickets. Having noticed a predator, these animals utter an alarm signal – continuous squeaky barking.
Adult animal is capable to accelerate momentum up to 60 kms per hour, at the short distance up to 80 kms per hour. The only cub born in spring is capable to run at speed up to 50 kms per hour at two-day age.
Dromaguara (Dromaguara gracilissima)
Cursorial species of canids – a very specialized descendant of the fox adapted to hunting for swift-footed prey. Animal has a graceful constitution, shoulder height is up to 50-55 cm. Wool colouring is red with grey “shabrack”, tail tip is white. Auricles are wide and mobile, on their external sides there are black spots near ear tips. Muzzle is short, with wide nasal ducts.
This species is adapted to hunt small and swift-footed herbivores. The basic prey of this species includes rabbits and cursorial onocavia rodents. During several minutes animal can keep speed up to 80-90 kms per hour, but gets tired quickly and has a long rest after an unsuccessful attack. Thin long tail enables to keep balance during run.
Animal is solitary, only female and its posterity keep together. Shelter represents a wide hole; female frequently expands an available hole of rodent or armadillo. Litter numbers up to 5 cubs, but death rate of posterity is very high. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 3 years; life expectancy ia up to 25 years.
Carnoprocyon (Carnoprocyon ferox)
Giant descendant of raccoons - a specialized giant prey hunter and scavenger. Massive animal similar to large bear with rather long legs. Shoulder height is up to 150 cm; weight of an adult individual is over 500 kg. It is a plantigrade animal running slowly and not for long, but it can walk for a long time during the pursuing of its prey. Head is large, on strong neck; jaws are short and have advanced masticatory muscles. Animal is capable to bite through and to chew bones of large animals, which are digested due to sour gastric juice.
Background colouring of wool is dark grey; stomach is lighter; on each side of head there is a white spot covering eye and cheek. On the tip of short tail there are 1-2 white rings.
White marks on the background of wool are intended for recognition of relatives: it is a social species living in family groups or in breeding pairs. Every breeding pair inhabits an extensive territory, where herds of large herbivorous mammals graze. Female gives rise to 2-3 cubs once in 2 years. Young animals stay with parents until the birth of new litter, training in food getting.
After the collision of Australia and New Guinea the north
of united continent represents a zone of tropical forests. They serve as an
original “sponge” for a moisture: from forest small rivers flow, and their deltas
end with wetlands in savanna zone, resembling thus the African Okavango river.
Such reservoirs represent places of concentration of life. However, the significant
part of continent is all the same an arid district, where graminoid savanna
dominates with an addition of some thickets of prickly xerophilous bushes and
light forests of drought-resistant trees with long roots capable to reach up
After introducing of placental mammal to Australia an originality of local fauna had suffered a great damage. Descendants of placental mammals are numerous in fauna of continent, but some ecological niches are still occupied by marsupials. Kangaroos still are a hallmark of fauna of continent, like in civilization epoch. However, they are not descendants of large forms of human epoch: that ones have died out during global crisis of civilization. Species, inhabiting Australia after the sixth extinction, descend from small wallabies; somewhere not numerous descendants of rat-kangaroos also exist. There are small species, and there are giants among them. Clawed black-eared kangaroo is one of the largest kinds: height of the animal standing on hind legs reaches 2 meters, like at some fossil kangaroos. But these giants are remarkable in gracile constitution, and light weight enables them to move at amazing speed. Their wool is colored light grey, and only on ears from outside there are two large black spots. When the animal keeps ears upright, it is an alarm signal for the others.
The herd of kangaroos is foraging in savanna. Animals wander in grass on four legs, using characteristic “slow gallop”, supporting on tails. Their basic food is grass; in Australian ecosystems kangaroos are analogues of antelopes and other ungulates. In grass some bottle trees with swallowed trunks tower. They lost a significant part of foliage, and only on tips of branches there are bunches of young leaves. Some kangaroos have surrounded one tree and have began to eat its foliage, bending its branches down by forepaws. At the same time other savanna inhabitants have joined their herd – graceful thin creatures with smooth skin shining dimly in sunlight. As against kangaroos, they walk by elastic steps on long legs, and do not jump, but run. It is a local postanthropus species – pankalanka. Representatives of this species are adapted to arid conditions of the continent and are capable to overpass easily and quickly great spaces between sources of food.
When dark-skinned thin postanthropi walk among kangaroos, animals do not pay attention to them: they use different food resources. Pankalanka is an omnivorous species: these postanthropi willingly eat starchy roots of plants and insect larvae, digging them from the ground by strong thick nails. Mighty leg muscles enable them to make long passages using fast springing step, and the natural endurance inherited from human is veru useful for it. They are capable to starve for some days in succession without any damage to their health: the stock of fat for the case of food shortage is accumulated on their buttocks, which are large and swollen even at males. Such location of fat stocks provides the best heat emission of other parts of body and saves from overheat. Brains of these creatures are not larger, than at apes, however during their wanderings in savanna they create mental maps of district, and young individuals learn routes and ways of food getting. It is a vital necessity in savanna conditions, where sources of food are very rare. Memory of these creatures works excellently: even passing to a new group, pankalanka still remembers features of territory, where it lived and wandered in youth.
Here not food, but water is more important for survival. In Australian savanna water sources are rare, and mountains are a barrier for humid winds from the east. But evolution has found an original solution: like some rodents, pankalanka is able to produce water independently – at chemical splitting of food and fat metabolic water is formed, enabling to survive even in the most arid parts of the continent. Sweat glands at this species are reduced, and kidneys produce very concentrated urine.
Kangaroos graze, frightening thus involuntarily small vertebrates and large insects hiding in grass. Some postanthropi wander near to them pending the appearing of prey. When from under the muzzle of one kangaroo large grasshopper jumped out, young pankalanka has rushed to chase it and has caught an insect by hand in a jump. Having dexterously torn off legs and wings of its prey, he has quickly put it in the mouth and began to chew being afraid, that any adult may take his prey away. At the same time some other teenagers and one young female chase the lizard frightened away by movements of kangaroos. But the reptile safely managed to escape: it has simply hided in its hole. When one teenager began searching in its hole by hand, the lizard has crept in one lateral tunnel and has stood there motionlessly. Once his fingers have almost touched it, but lizard has crept a little bit farther and has remained alive.
Now both kangaroos and pankalankas move to the north, where to open spaces of savanna a quite different ecosystem has intruded, having filled these places with life. Full-flowing slow river formed of numerous arms and inflows, originates somewhere in tropical woods in the north of the continent. It flows to the south, to savanna, gradually supplying with water a set of lakes and marshes, and supporting existence of an oasis of life in the heart of continent. It is an original Australian variant of Okavango delta of historical epoch.
On approaches to wetlands the vegetation is appreciably different. On heights xerophilous savanna grass still prevails, but in lowlands trees tower and rich bushes grow. Kangaroos and postanthropi enter world alien for them, where danger may appear from the most unexpected side. Here they are only temporary visitors, and after visiting a watering place they will return to open space of savanna.
In the sky and above trees thousands of birds hover. Flocks of tiny songbirds and parrots fly to water and drink greedy, almost not paying attention to neighbours – large geese, herons and storks. Some of them should pay for imprudence when pointed heron’s beak snatches a bird our right from the flock. For herons they represent a habitual prey like fish or frogs.
Some sites of the coast are literally ploughed up, and the marsh vegetation on them is scraped off. It is a part of a natural cycle of life of natural community, and originators of the mess are still nearby. In water huge creatures luxuriate. Their wide backs are covered with almost hairless skin, and on them small herons walk, pecking off fearlessly leeches and other parasites. These creatures move occasionally and raise above water heavy heads with long snouts and frightening tusks. They look like mastodons, but actually these are brontoporcelli – giant descendants of pigs. Presence of brooding pouch limits abilities of marsupials to settle in nearwater habitats, and pigs could develop semi-aquatic habit of life, not feeling any competition from their side. The destroyed coastal vegetation is a result of feeding of family group of these animals. Massive male at the shoaliness has raised its head and has yawned, showing the huge tusks, lower incisors directed forward and mobile snout, extended to similarity of trunk.
Kangaroos cautiously move down to water, constantly looking back. They prefer to do it together with postanthropi: pankalanka has good eyesight, and gives an alarm signal with the voice. Kangaroos had not manage to do even a pairs of gulps, when behind their backs cry of pankalanka had heared. Animals had instantly stood up, having put ears upright, and have began to look around. However the alarm appeared to be false: brontoporcellus male has simply got out of water and has walked right across the group opf postanthropi, making its way by heavy head. Animal has approached by slack step to the tree growing at the coast, has turned to it by rump and has began to scratch against it, snuffling loudly and grunting in pleasure.
Seeing, that there is no danger, kangaroos have continued to drink. While their herd occupies a place near water, postanthropi had to wait for their turn farther at the coast. They look around anxiously: having adapted to live in the open spaces, they are afraid of the thickets limiting the field of view. They are only guests here, and obviously want to leave wetlands of river delta as soon as possible.
Fears of savanna visitors are quite proved: predators really come frequently to a watering place – not only for water, but also for prey. A place of concentration of so great amount of animals simply can not remain without their attention. Top predators in ecosystems of Australia are descendants of domestic cats more often – a thoughtless step in epoch of civilization had far-reaching consequences for the nature of this continent.
Predator, decided to hunt near watering place at this time, resembles a cheetah outwardly: it is Australian pardus, graceful creature ideally adapted to hunting for swift-footed prey. Maybr, because of its existence among kangaroos the forms capable to very fast movement prevail. And it is rather probable, that pankalanka’s long feet and fast run also represent a result of evolution in the neighbourhood of such murderer. Having introduced cats to Australia, intelligent people of the far past have created the enemy for their descendants from the future.
From shelter in bushes predator examines herd of kangaroos and pankalankas. As against a cheetah of historical epoch, Australian pardus has striped pattern, and its skin masks animal excellently in grass or among bushes. It seems, that herbivores do not suspect about its presence: they are more distracted now by the presence of brontoporcellus male. Being afraid of it, postanthropi do not come to water, and it enables predator to expect for success of its attack. It has chosen prey for itself: it is young pankalanka, which has came away from others and digs ground in searches of food. It is a teenager which is already too large for mother to save him on hands, but insufficiently fast to escape in flight reliably. And the predator has rushed to the chosen prey.
Alarm cry is heard above the coast again. At this time birds echoed to it: the alarm appeared true. The flexible body of Australian pardus has rushed out from bushes. The cat runs in long jumps, and the distance between it and the chosen prey decreases quickly. Kangaroo herd escapes from this predator, making high jumps – pardus would hardly seize prey appearing too high in air. And at postanthropi legs are not such strong, and they should expect only for their speed and maneuverability of run. Young pankalanka chased by predator runs with all its might – he already had to escape from attacks, and he knows, that the predator chases its prey not for long. But now he loses in time, and pardus can easily catch him up. Adult female has came to save him – she is his mother; bonds between parents and children at these postanthropi is kept for a very long time. Mother has seized his hand, has pulled him aside, and they have rushed off together aside brontoporcellus male. This massive animal relates indifferently to events taking place around of it – problems of smaller animals do not concern it. Therefore it has not paid attention to two postanthropi flashed by it. But the cat chasing them is perceived by the huge beast as an attacking predator. Having seen pardus, monstrous pig has begun to roar and has opened mouth wide. The trunk of an animal was inflated, and brontoporcellus has uttered loud warning squeal. The cat has tried to pass it, but the beast has made surprisingly quickly some fast steps towards it, stomping against the ground by its large hooves. The predator had to turn aside and to stop. Pardus pants, looking at brontoporcellus furiously with its yellow eyes: each such attack demands an enormous strain, and after the chase it is necessary to have a long rest, more often with empty stomach. Behind the raging swamp giant two creatures stand – one that the cat has almost caught up, and another, larger one. They do not run away any more, and only look at the cat, being ready, however, to seek safety in flight at the first sign of danger.
Kangaroos keep the safe distance from a predator, glancing at the cat intently. They can not be afraid of an attack for now, but animals keep ears upright and keep up movements of pardus. Brontoporcellus still can not calm down: it attacks a predator with loud squeal, and skin plica on its neck and breast is shaken in the aftermath to its steps. The cat should run off aside, and here pankalankas join the mobbing of the predator: they the come from behind the giant’s body by long jumps, yelling and waving hands. Some of them even wave with broken bush branches. They know that the predator has become exhausted, and now such tricks may be done unpunishedly. Having displayed their force one more time, they can protect themselves from a new attack. The situation resembles a mobbing of the owl by birds of different species, which otherwise would prefer to hide from a predator. The strong ally emboldens them.
The situation becomes too unpredictable, therefore pardus leaves a place of an attack by long strides, having looked spitefully over a shoulder at yelling postanthropi and an impressive figure of angered brontoporcellus. This beast still threatens to a predator, inflates its trunk and squeals loudly. Probably, this time noisy jumping creatures have bought the right to life for themselves. But not tomorrow, and even, probably, not tonight. It is necessary only to have a rest, and then to track down a suitable prey again – famine has taken its toll.
When the predator has vanished from the view, pankalankas have gathered. They gradually calm down after pardus attack, and now move aside from brontoporcellus: the predator has left, but the beast has not calmed down yet, therefore it quite can attack anyone appeared too close in improper time. They exchange touches, sounds and gestures with relatives, calming each other and strengthening social connections in the group. After pardus attack the way to watering place appeared free, and pankalankas came to the edge of water. Some adult individuals have remained to keep in touch with the situation, and juveniles and mothers with kids have kneelt and have began to scoop water by hands. Two very small kids has approached to water with mothers. They examined a surface of water for a long time, and then one of them has made a step forward. It has wanted to walk on this strange unfamiliar shining surface, but he failed to do it. Having put his foot in water, he was frightened, not having felt a firm surface, and has jumped back. Mother has calmed him by touches, has taken his hand and they came to water together. She has cautiously scooped water by hand and has had a drink, and has stretched to her kid the second portion of water in her palm. He has touched water by lips and began to drink, but has casually put in water his snub nose and has sneezed. His ineptitude has a simple reason: he drinks water the first time in his life. All other time his organism synthesized the necessary water from food itself or received it with mother milk. And this watering place is an important event in kid’s life. Imitating his mother, he has tried to scoop water by hand and to drink himself. Some times water flew down from his palm between the fingers spred wide, but mum has cautiously put his fingers in proper way, and he nevertheless managed to scoop it. Encouraged by success, kid has drunk greedy some palms of water before mother has led him to other relatives. For these inhabitants of arid savannas water has its special price, but a watering place is too dangerous place, and they prefer to keep in the open district. They are too well adapted to life in open spaces of savanna, and already can hardly change a habitual way of life.
Pankalanka (Austrodromanthropus bidactylus)
Postanthropus species adapted to life in arid areas and having a convergent similarity to Afro-European sylvanus. The present species has gracile constitution and hairless pigmented skin with reduced sweat glands. Hair on a head is rich, forming heat-insulating cover protecting brain from overheat. Heat emission takes place due to a constitution and large auricles with large ear lobes. Stature of an adult individual is about 150 cm.
This species has developed anatomic adaptations for fast and continuous run. Toes are reduced in greater degree, than at European forms – on foot only 2 toes (I and II) with a rudiment of the third one remained; thick nails provide coupling with ground during the movement. Under toes a thick cornificated callous enabling to walk without problems on stones heated by the sun is developed. A prominent feature of appearance is steatopygia in the event of food shortage, expressed even at males.
The species has several adaptations for economy of water: it does not sweat at overheat, and complex kidneys produce very concentrated urine. Besides these postanthropi have ability to produce metabolic water during digestion. This is an omnivorous species eating mainly vegetative food; a proportion of food of animal origin is up to 40%.
Female gives rise to one kid once in 4 years. Kid quickly learns to walk and to run, at the age of 1 year it already can run almost equally with adult individuals. Sexual maturity is at the age of 5-6 years; life expectancy is up to 25-30 years.
Brontoporcellus (Brontoporcellus dolichops)
A descendant of feral pigs becoming one of representatives of the Australian megafauna; semi-aquatic animal living at the riverbanks and in swamps. Body length is up to 3 meters, shoulder height is about 150 cm. Animal of heavy constitution with large head, having convergent similarity to fossil proboscidean Platybelodon. Muzzle is elongated, snout is extended to mobile muscled proboscis. Lower jaw is much extended; incisors are directed forward and serve for excavation of marsh plants. In the top jaw at males two tusks directed forward and in sides grow. Molars are very massive. For improvement of heat emission hanging ears serve, and on throat and breast skin plica hangs down. Skin is reddish-brown with very short wool.
This species lives in groups of 5-6 individuals, including dominant male, adult females and their posterity, and eats marsh and aquatic plants. During the grazing the herd destroys vegetation at the chosen site of reservoir almost completely and passes to a new place.
Female gives rise to two cubs once a year. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 4-5 years; life expectancy is up to 50 years.
Australian pardus (Australopardus velocipes)
Domestic cats introduced to Australia by people have quickly taken a place of dominant predators, having determined directions and prospects of the further evolution of local herbivores. In due course of evolution among them the original Australian “cheetah” adapted to swift-footed prey hunting has appeared.
This species of cats has convergent similarity to cheetahs of historical epoch. Animal has short head with wide nasal ducts, voluminous chest cage and slender muscled legs. Long tail helps to keep balance during the prey chasing. Skin has sandy-yellow color with darker vertical strips on sides; tail and legs are cross-striped.
The present species of carnivores lives solitarily, each individual controls extensive hunting territory. Preferred type of habitat is savanna with sites of thickets of bushes and trees.
Female gives rise to 2-4 cubs once a year. Life expectancy is about 20 years.
Clawed black-eared kangaroo (Onychowallabia
A wallaby descendant, herbivorous mammal. Wool is light grey, some individuals are almost white or greyish-yellow; along back and tail a longitudinal strip of dark grey color stretches. Ear tips are ears black – display of the ears turned up is an alarm signal. Constitution is gracile, rear legs and tail are long. Height of a sitting animal reaches 2 meters. Forepaws are very long, supplied with hooked claws. With their help animals can bend to themselves branches of undersized trees to eat leaves from them, and in fight against predator claws turn to dangerous weapon. During intraspecific fights animals combat with “fists”, not using claws.
On hind legs claws are short and have hoof-like shape. This species is remarkable in excellent sprint abilities: at a short distance it can accelerate momentum up to 70 kms per hour.
Wide rounded ears promote heat emission, especially during the movement. Muzzle is short, with strong jaws. The basis of diet is made of rigid grassy vegetation; animal also eats leaves of trees and bushes.
This species keeps in herds numbering up to 30-40 individuals. Hierarchy between males is established only in breeding season. Female gives rise to one joe once a year and bears it in pouch for about 6 months.
During many millions years the Australia, having split off
from Antarctica, moved to the north due to action of the tectonic processes
taking place in Earth mantle. New Guinea, large island to the north from Australia,
actually represents a part of Australian tectonic plate, which slowly overrides
Pacific plate, forcing it to sink. Visible result of this process is appreciable
growth of mountains of New Guinea, merging of this island with Australia and
significant increase of volcanic activity. Volcanos of New Guinea erupt in regular
mode, and their slopes and mountain valleys rich tropical forest covers – it
is a home of numerous species of live creatures, including postanthropi.
…Jumper has woken up, because someone tickled skin on his stomach. He has opened eyes and has seen, that on his body a fat cockroach creeps – probably, it has fallen from the ceiling of tree-trunk hollow, where Jumper stays for day time dream. Jumper has dexterously seized it and has pushed in its mouth. Having chewed an insect, he has spat out tasteless wings and has thrown them out from the hollow. Having finished with a cockroach, he has stretched himself and has stood up in full growth. Hollow was not very large, but he had enough room for it: Jumper is a two-legged creature about half meter tall. Near his relatives sleep – three adult females, one of which is pregnant, and at another’s breast tiny dozing cub pottered about.
Jumper and his family are yawts, representatives of a separate species of postanthropi, which returned to arboreal habit of life. Yawt has left not only a ground surface: it prefers evening twilight to light of day. The appearance of Jumper and his kin may seem creepy: this species has large eyes and wide ears. Yawts have also grasping feet, therefore they are capable to move dexterously even on the thinnest twigs, keeping vertical body position.
Jumper is an adult male heading a harem of several breeding females. Possession of family group of Jumper include four large trees connected by lianes. Here these small postanthropi find enough food – fruits, leaves and insects. Occasionally they manage to diversify their diet with bird eggs or small frogs. One of trees in territory of group is a large ficus supplying Jumper and his females with edible infructescences the year round. Days when Jumper and his females do not find ripen infructescences on this tree are very rare. Occasionally the group ventures to go out from the borders of their territory, but does it cautiously and returns quickly not to be overtaken by neighbours.
The daily tropical downpour finished, and sun has had time to dry foliage and the ground before the evening. When sun rays stopped shining leaves above the entrance to the hollow, Jumper has stretched himself, leaned out from the hollow and has looked round. Then he chirped, and his females have woken up and have begun to stretch themselves. All of them have fairly got hungry, and now it is the best time to start the search for food. Having got out from the hollow, Jumper has stepped on the cushion of moss, and his foot has appeared wet from water kept by moss. He began to squeeze water out from moss into his palm, and could drunk it. Then he has rubbed his ears and body skin with wet palms. Near him females cleaned themselves, and one of them wiped her cub with a bunch of moss. For now yawts behave cautiously and do not go far from shelter: diurnal animals are still active and may attack them.
Twilight time is short in tropics; Jumper and his family hear, how voices of day time animals gradually become silent, and to replace them sounds of night come. Jumper distinguishes chirring of crickets and calls of nocturnal birds, to which bat trills join – he is capable to hear ultrasound. Using the voices of animals he defines, that feeding time has come, and begins search of food together with the females. With the help of grasping feet yawt is able to run on thin branches in bipedal pose, holding to nearby branches, and gathers fruits or grasps insects from branches in such pose. Due to keen hearing yawt can hear, how beetle creeps or a caterpillar gnaws a leaf. Jumper and his females run on branches like certain fairy tale creatures – quickly, easily and almost silently. Having found a ripe fruit by smell, Jumper has quickly picked it and has began to eat hasty, glancing on females. He is an alpha male in this group, and his authority is based upon the superiority in force: jawt male is larger, than female. If female manages to get any morsel, Jumper will easily take away her find, therefore they prefer not to expose their successes in search of food. Only female with cub can search for food openly: while cub depends on her and learns to search for food, she is ready to repulse even to the head of clan, and Jumper prefers not to clash with her in vain.
Yawts are omnivores. Competitors of their ancestors, which have partly developed an arboreal way of life, were possums – local forest-dwelling marsupials; several species managed to survive in epoch of human domination. The most successful among them were common brushtail possums. In due course of evolution brushtail possums and ancestors of yawts dispersed to different ecological niches. Human descendants have selected the strategy of “specializations to non-specialization” even in such conditions and have forced marsupials to survive due to perfection of skills they had.
One neighbour of Jumper’s family has came out from sleepy day time condition and has began its main occupation – devouring of a plenty of food. In tropical forests of Australia and New Guinea giant prehensile-tailed possums occupy an ecological niche of leaf-eating creature. This animal represents an original version of “koala” of tree crones, distinguished in illegibility in food choice. Due to long intestines this sluggish animal is capable to digest even leaves of ficus rich in latex, though it eats more willingly its infructescences. This giant has short paws and slow movements, but its fingers and toes are capable to squeeze in death grip, reliably fixing it on branches. Jumper and his females hasten to catch their share of fruit supper gradually passing to breakfast before day time dream. Due to slender constitution they are capable to climb even on tree bark, clinging by fingers and toes against its roughnesses. Heavy-built possum is not capable of such tricks, and some ficus infructescences growing on tree trunk become a trophy of yawts. Possum does not take away their food: it is too sluggish to compete in quickness with yawts. The beast simply sat in fork of branches, hooked itself reliably against them by tail, has lazily dragged to itself a ficus branch growing almost above it, and began to devour foliage. It seems, feeding process at this beast looks like a conveyor: from time to time animal evacuates its bowels, and densely pressed balls of dung fall on the ground. Thus it does not stop to chew and to swallow leaves.
Giant prehensile-tailed possum almost does not compete with postanthropi due to its specialization. Almost the same way of avoiding a competition, but to opposite result, other brushtail possum descendant has choosed: it leads completely different way of life and looks differently.
In moonlight among branches of the next tree two large eyes similar to yawt eyes flashed. A small creature climbed on the tip of branch, cringed like a furball, and then has pushed sharply from the branch by long hind legs and has made a gliding jump. In air the animal has stretched paws wide, and at this moment the fringe of elongated wool, growing on each side of its body, became appreciable. Directing its gliding using tail, the animal has reached up to branch of the next tree, has dexterously grasped it by one forepaw and has pulled up a wlole body on the branch. Having looked round, it crept on branch, freezing from time to time and listening attentively. Its head with wide ears easily turns on mobile neck by half a turn. This animalis is marsupial galago, specialized insect hunter. In its mode of movement it is an exact opposite to giant prehensile-tailed possum.
Having reached tree trunk, marsupial galago had crept on bark, clinging it by claws. It permanently listens to sounds of world around. Easy scratching against tree bark has prompted it, that somewhere nearby beetle creeps. Having listened, little mammal has made some rash steps on bark, and then appeared in one jump near to the beetle, has seized it by paw and has put a bite by long incisors, having torn off its head with frightening mandibles. By the second movement it has torn off prey’s elythrae and has began meal, keeping firmly against the bark by hind legs.
Yawts like to hunt insects, receiving from them protein necessary for life. Therefore marsupial galago is a not desired neighbour for them. Jumper has decided to teach this creature a good lesson and has climbed after it, uttering loud abrupt sounds expressing its discontent. But in comparison with marsupial galago he is a rank amateur in art of swarming up trees. Large-eared animal has not disturbed, when has seen yawt clambering to it. It remained on its place until the last second, and when Jumper was ready to seize it, has simply jumped in air and has glided to the branch several meters far from Jumper. There it has eaten up the rests of the caught beetle and has continued hunting for insects.
It happens, that Jumper and his females compete for fruits to giant prehensile-tailed possum, and for insects to marsupial galagos. But such competition is not critical for yawt survival: they are capable to use many diverse sources of food and will not remain hungry, adjoining with these marsupials. The worse competitors for them are not these strict specialists, but congeners. Jumper should inspect its territory regularly to be convinced of absence of strangers there. From time to time Jumper and his females claim their rights to territory: having interrupted search of food, they utter series of short barking sounds, signalling to their relatives about their presence. After such signal congeners from the next territories echo them.
Some days ago one liane has bridged a young shoot from the next tree on the ficus which Jumper owns. At that time this shoot had slightly touched ficus branch with tendril, but literally in one hour it has tenaciously kept against it. Later other tendrils reached the branch; the liane has thoroughly attached to the ficus branch and has began active growth, twisting around the support. Its stalk is still not lignificated, but it is fibrous and rather strong – it can easily endure the weight of Jumper… or his congener.
In moonlight in ficus branches a shadow has flashed. At this time Jumper regaled himself with juicy infructescence of ficus, licking sweet juice from fingers. Having licked his finger once again, he has noticed suspicious movement in tree crone and has decided to check up on who is moving among branches. The best thing for this one is to be a harmless creature – either marsupial galago or any dozing lizard or bird. At worst the meeting with a predator, which result may appear unpredictable, can wait for him. Therefore, superfluous care wouldn’t harm. Jumper has began to climb on the branch cautiously and then has jumped to the next one. The shadow on one of the top branches is perfectly visible against the background of clear star sky. Quite probably, it is any possum, and there is no danger. But the shadow has begun to move, and then has jumped from one branch to another. At this moment the Jumper has made out long rear legs… without tail. This can mean only one thing: there is a stranger in the territory. That better be a female – she should have simply a short competition to other females for its place in clan. But in any case, it is necessary to look stranger more attentively. Therefore in several long jumps from branch to branch Jumper got into the top part of ficus crone. And there it almost at once has appeared almost face to face with a stranger. It is not a female, but his old acquaintance – large male Yellow-eye living in the neighbourhood.
Jumper did not begin to find out the Yellow-eye’s intentions. He signaled about his presence for already some times, and Yellow-eye should obviously hear him. However his contender is found in his territory very far from the border. Jumper has only one thing to do: he must banish him as soon as possible. During such collisions yawts try to do without contact to the contender – it is an extreme measure, the last argument in dispute for territory. For now, it is important to intimidate the contender, to show him, that this territory has its owner and reliable defender. Females are not allowed to such displays – it is exclusively man-to-man talk, if it is possible to say “talk” about cacophony of squeals and cries. Both duellists stand on the same branch, squeal loudly and shake nearby branches, holding them by hands. Jumper has a little bit better position: he attacks Yellow-eye from the side of tree trunk. He has gripped branch with his feet and shakes it, squalling loudly. Yellow-eye does not recede, though branch is shivering under his feet. He is stronger than Jumper and always wanted to occupy a part of his territory, this ficus tree. Therefore for the Jumper fight with him is a matter not only of honour, but also of survival. If Yellow-eye will expel him, Jumper will lose everything: a source of food, shelter and even females and cubs. And cubs will be most likely eaten by Yellow-eye and his females. Jumper has no place to recede, and it continues to shout loudly, shaking branch under Yellow-eye’s feet.
Silent noise of huge wings is hardly audible among sounds of other nocturnal creatures. Voices of bats blow up with disturbing chirring, when they have felt presence of the owner of these wings and their deadly enemy. But now winged killer is out of them: there is much better prey, which invites it to the dinner by itself. Yells of two yawts represent an excellent sound beacon: they can be found out even in moonless night by hearing. But now in the sky the moon shines brightly, illuminating round white face and furious eyes of aerial predator. Soft feathers cover its body, making flight of this creature actually silent. It is a hunting royal barn owl – a giant owl of tropical forest, a terror of small animals. It easily kills marsupial galagos, and can attack even young giant prehensile-tailed possums. This bird is a real threat for yawts: their cubs and juveniles beginning independent life frequently appear its prey.
The direction of movement is chosen truly, and yells of two yawts still sound in night. Barn owl has flapped its wings and has flied directly to the branch where Jumper and Yellow-eye confront. Jumper has seen an owl flying to them from behind Yellow-eye’s back and has rushed away. Yellow-eye has a feeling similar to triumph: the contender has shamefully left a battle-field, and it means, that ficus tree, and the neighbour’s females will belong to him now. But his triumph last for only one second: the owl has flown by above the tree branch, has stretched its leg and has seized Yellow-eye in flight. With an effort it has pulled him off from the branch, and long hooked caws pierced Yellow-eye’s body, tearing his guts and pricking his heart and lungs, having killed him instantly. Jumper and his females follow the predator with shouts, having covered in foliage. Their cries are echoed by neighbours, including Yellow-eye’s females, which have not realized yet, that they had widowed right now. The sensitive bird’s hearing does not endure such test: royal barn owl flies out quickly, holding in claws body of Yellow-eye.
This time Jumper managed to be a winner. He will own this territory until stronger contender will appear, or until he will become prey of a predator like an owl or a large snake. For now he can continue habitual life, but sooner or later, not hearing the owner’s reply from the side of Yellow-eye’s territory, he will want to look, whether it is possible to expand his own territory, or even a harem, due to this possession. Despite of an origin from intelligent ancestor, representatives of his species are too small to have large, but very much energy-demanding brain. Therefore all their interests and features of behaviour are only at the level of ordinary animals. Sometimes for the sake of a survival, it is better to be able to run quickly and to jump dexterously, than to think.
When above forests sun of new day ascended, Jumper already slept in tree-trunk hollow, having nestled against one of his females. And somewhere among branches lonely giant prehensile-tailed possum ate remains of Yellow-eye, gnawing from bones everything that owl’s beak was unable to tear off. The place of yawts in nature of tropical wood is those: they are tiny creatures having numerous enemies – a pitiful destiny of descendants of the species to be equal in power to forces of nature, but not managed to bear the burden of this power.
Yawt (Papuanthropus minutus)
Dwarf arboreal descendant of people – bipedal creature about 40-50 cm tall. The present species has expressed sexual dimorphism: male is larger, than female. Constitution is gracile, arms are elongated, with grasping hands and opposable thumbs. Rear leg is also grasping: foot is rather large, with well advanced toes. For amplification of grasping abilities of foot this species has repeated a potto trick in due course of evolution: second toe is reduced, therefore first and third toes make strong clench. Skin is hairless and pigmented; hair on head is long, at males moustaches and beard grow.
It is a twilight and nocturnal species having a distinctive appearance: it has large eyes and wide auricles. Sight sense is also typical for nocturnal animals – in retina there is a plenty of rods, because of what colors are percepted badly. Because of the small size this species has very small brain.
These postanthropi are omnivores, eating fruits and insects; they can also crush tree-dwellng crabs and beetles. Incisors have strong roots and are capable to maintain strong loadings.
As against to many other postanthropi species, the present species is polygamous: one male mates with 2 to 4-5 females. Cub is born approximately once in two years, develops fast and becomes independent to the end of the first year of life. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 2 years, life expectancy is up to 12-15 years.
Giant prehensile-tailed possum (Tenacicauda
Slow-moving descendant of common brushtail possum, specialized in feeding on leaves; food of an animal origin makes only small part of its diet.
Body length is about 1 meter at weight of up to 40 kg. Wool colouring is brown with white spot on throat and “tiger” cross strips on back and croup. Animal has stout heavy body with large stomach and short gripping limbs. Head is large with wide and short muzzle. Teeth are tuberculate with thick enamel layer, enabling to chew a plenty of fibrous vegetative forage.
Intestines are very long. Because of large weight this marsupial is not able to jump and can swarm up trunks and lianes slowly only. Firm grip of limbs helps to keep on trees; prehensile tail enables to fix on branches during the feeding.
This is inactive animal spending in dream up to 10 hours per day; it sleeps some times per day, feeding in intervals. During animal’s sleep the swallowed food is digested.
Once a year female gives rise to 6-8 cubs, but in its brooding pouch there are only 4 nipples; only 2-3 cubs survive up to leaving the pouch. Life expectancy is about 25-30 years.
Marsupial galago, fringed marsupial
lemur (Aeropossum fimbriatus)
A descendant of common brushtail possum adapted for feeding on insects; it resembles outwardly galago (bushbaby) of human epoch, is a rat-sized animal weighting about 300 grammes. Animal has large head, gripping forepaws and elongated rear legs, enabling to make long jumps. Along its sides strips of elongated rigid hair grow; due to them animal stays in air during its gliding jumps. Long fluffy tail helps to direct movement. Wool colouring is grey with black “shabrack”. Above eyes there is a pair of white spots; one more spot is located at the tip of lower jaw. These labels serve for recognition of relatives. Ears, hands and feet are hairless; on palms and soles there are small corneous pads improving the coupling with substratum. Tail is elongatred and nonflexible, serving as a balance weight and helping to correct a direction of gliding jump.
Eyes are very large and sensitive and shine in darkness due to tapetum layer of retina. Eyeballs occupy a significant part of volume of skull; brain size is very small, and behaviour is primitive. Mobile neck enables to turn head on a half a turn. Jaws are short; teeth are cutting and have pointed tops. Ears are large, rounded and mobile.
It is a nocturnal insectivorous marsupial hunting by means of sight and hearing. Animal catches prey by mobile forelimbs and kills by bites of large incisors. Out of breeding season these possulms lead a solitary life, protecting strictly their fodder territory and marking borders with urine.
Once a year female gives rise up to 8 underdeveloped cubs, of which brings up successfully 3-4 ones. Sexual maturity comes at one-year-old age; life expectancy is no more than 7-8 years.
Royal barn owl (Eutyto regalis)
Very large owl species, one of top predators in tropical forest canopy community. Height of standing bird is about 65-70 cm; wingspan is up to 2 meters. The shape is typical for barn owls, corrected for the large size only. Facial disk is white with black border; background colouring of plumage on back is grey with white speckles, the bottom side of body is white. Feathers on wings have dark “marble” pattern imitating lichens on tree bark.
This bird species inhabits exclusively forest canopy and does not go down on the ground. Prey includes various large birds, arboreal reptiles and mammal. Usually this owl hunts in twilight and at night, searching for prey by sound. Small prey (weighting up to 500 grammes) is swallowed by bird entirely, large one is torn apart to some pieces; bird leaves from it only skull, rib cage and backbone with pelvic bones.
At this species breeding pair is formed during the nesting cycle and is kept for the period of posterity rearing. Nest is arranged in tree-trunk hollow at heigh altitude, less often in niches on unapproachable hillsides. Nesting usually takes place at the female’s territory. Clutch numbers 2-4 eggs, but parents succeed to bring up successfully only 1-2 nestlings; at lack of food for nestlings cannibalism is typical. Young birds stay in nest for about 15 weeks and parents finish feeding them for about one month. They become sexually maturу at the age of 2 years; life expectancy is about 50 years.
So, what’s next? Here it is possible to recell our comparison
with a chain of dominoes stretching in a mist. We move to the future in our
own course and our opportunities of time travelling are limited by passage of
time itself for now. The future has not come yet, and it is hidden in the mist
for us: we can not yet to take a look in it. It is quite possible, that we will
never be able to do it. We shall not see, in what direction the chain of events,
which are represented by imagined dominoes in our model, is extended. The only
thing we can do is to choose a way of development of civilization here and now.
An ultimate goal and events which will wait for us on this way, will be determined
entirely by our choice in the present time. Humankind can accumulate knowledge
and build an advanced society on all over the Earth. We can also build such
society only for the group of elite (for so-called “Golden billion”) at the
expence of all other people. We can arrange global war to self-destruction,
experiment with our own gene pool, scale down the educational standards – in
realization of the worst scenarios of development of society human imagination
always surpasses the most courageous expectations.
How long could human descendants exist from the biological point of view? It is not known. Fossil record stores the examples of how the groups of live organisms prospering during the geological epochs died out completely for whatever reasons. By the paleontological data, the average duration of existence of mammalian species is 2-3 million years, therefore from the point of view of biology we still have some stock of time. But now safe existence of a human kind depends a lot on a plenty of sources of energy and resources, therefore our bright future may finish easily “for technical reasons” not connected to biology. And events which will take place after that, will depend on set of circumstances, which mankind will face.
How the remote human descendants may look? These reasonings also lay in the field of the imagination for now, being limited only to anatomic features of human, principles of evolution and knowledge of continental drift, evolution of the Sun and biosphere of the Earth. As said in the beginning of the book, Herbert G. Wells in a censored fragment of his “The Time Machine” sees human descendants from very distant future as degraded creatures similar to rabbits. Dougal Dixon shows us a bleak picture of devastation of the Earth by genetically modified descendants of people already in the 5 million years to come. Thus invader people from his book turn to something like “space locusts” plundering and changing other worlds beyond recognition. In Stephen Baxter’s “Evolution” novel action takes place in vast spaces of New Pangea supercontinent in the far future, 500 million years after our time, and author depicts freakish symbiosis between the last beast-like descendants of humankind and barometz tree which controls their life completely, and even decides, when they must bear posterity or die. But in his story “The Children of Time” people keep recognizeable shape and intelligence even in time of New Pangea, when rotation of the Earth has actually stopped, and the Sun began to turn to red giant. In Peter Ward’s book “Future Evolution” an idea is suggested, that people of the far future will hide from hot rays of the dying Sun under the ground. Nemo Ramjet in his “All Tomorrows” depicts descendants of mankind as freakish intelligent creatures from far space, in which shape the relationship with humans is hardly guessed. And that’s not to mention the ideas told by sci-fi writers not working in a genre of speculative biology. So, variants of the future offered to us are numerous. Though, only one possible of them will be realized. Which one? There is a proverb in English: “Hindsight’s a wonderful thing”. It describes exactly our understanding of the future – we can know exactly only the events passed and don’t know the events we need to prepare. However, all tendencies of today indicate, that the most correct tactic is to hope for the best, to prepare for the worst.
Probably, any readers of these lines can succumb to the temptation and correlate directly folks populating the Earth now with hypothetical species of people of the future described in the previous parts of this book. But it would be essentially a mistake. Humans represent mobile species inclined to place changing, and in different times in a history of existence of our species separate groups of people could settle far beyond the range of ancestors, mixing with natives or superseding and replacing them. Similar processes exist also novadays, driven not only and not so much by biological, but aso by sociopolitical factors. Therefore the prediction of whose descendants will occupy this or that area even some thousand years in the future is an extremely ungrateful occupation, and for larger time intervals it is on the verge of reading on tea leaves at all.
From the point of view of biology it is possible to expect amplification of specialization at more or less deviating groups of our hypothetical postanthropi. For example, water forms may evolve to large hyppopothamus-like form with short flipper-like limbs, almost not walking on land. Such postanthropus species can move slowly in sea shoalinesses and eat seaweed: if its body will keep horizontal position, the mouth will be turned more downwards, than forward, and nostrils will need to “travel” not lesser way, than eye of flounder or blowhole of toothed whale.
As the extreme in the adaptation to arboreal way of life a gliding form may evolve, having a skin patagium stretched between front- and hindlimbs. Can human descendants develop true flapping flight? The answer to this question is known better to bats and birds, rather then to us – while they exist, they will manage to occupy the free ecological niche with all its advantages to survival earlier, than human descendants will learn to fly at least as good as Archaeopteryx.
Mimic muscles can develop further and then evolution of complex facial structures like proboscis is possible. Valves in blood vessels, protecting brain from differences of blood pressure and helping blood to move in one direction, may promote the evolution of giant postanthropi. Thus their giant height would be an adaptation for feeding on foliage in tree crones with all following consequences like long intestines, powerful “big-boned” legs and not so well advanced brain, determining the appropriate behaviour.
Would at least any of these assumptions be realized? It is difficult to say for now. Human descendants will hardly be an only group of live organisms on the Earth. Near to them there will exist other species of animals which also will evolve, occupy their ecological niches, but develop new ones whenever possible. Even during Cenozoic some orders of mammals have evolved and have become extinct without descendants. Therefore, only time will show, how competitive people and their descendants are in comparison with our neighbours on this planet.
Our future differs nevertheless from a chain of dominoes. The chain is already made, and its dominoes-events simply start the following event in ready chain by their falling. But in our life, as against a chain of dominoes, the future is not predetermined. We are making it right now – when we work, have a rest, make decisions, think out something new. Each day of our present influences our future. It has not come yet, but what it will look like is determining already right now. It is in our power to build a world, which surpasses everything thought up by humanist writers of the past, or to realize forecasts of the worst-case anti-utopic novels. And it is possible even to surpass them. But it would always be desirable to hope, that the intelligence will help humans to save themselves as a biological species and to save nature of the Earth in the near future. It will give hope for favorable evolutionary prospects of our own species in more distant future – because we all wish our descendants only good destiny.
“It is difficult even to imagine, how many of them have passed in front of me, of these animals. I never thought that there are so many live creatures in the world. However, I had felt no trouble in giving names to them.”
Leo Taxile “The Amusing Bible”
The most difficult thing in work on this book was not to make the description of hypothetical species of biosphere of the future, but to give names to these species, which were both easily pronouncing and sensible. The chosen name also should reflect to some extent traditional culture of the parts of the world, where this or that species described in the book lives. For this reason among names of the described species there is a lot of names taken from various languages, and also names of various cryptozoological objects characteristic for the present area. For an explanation of an origin of names of postanthropi and other animals described in the book this list is made.
Adaro – sea human of monstrous appearance in legends
of natives of Solomon islands. The scientific name is given in honour of Jan
Lindblad (1932-1987), Swedish zoologist and naturalist, the supporter of disputable
“aquatic theory” of human evolution.
Alignak – spirit of weather, water and inflow in Inuit mythology.
Almas – name of “wild human” in Asia and Caucasus region.
Archelaphe – from Ancient Greek. ἄρχω – “rule” and Elaphe – scientific name of genus of rat snakes.
Aroecheba – name of man-eating bird of prey from a fairy tale of Bororo tribe (Brazil and Bolivia).
Bakanga – cryptid from Central African Republic, described as a large predator with spotty skin.
Beringiornis – from “Beringia” (land between Chukotka and Alaska) and Ancient Greek. ὄρνις – “bird”.
Brontoporcellus – from Greek βροντη – “thunder” and Latin porcellus – “pig”.
Carnoprocyon – from Latin carneus – “meat”, and Procyon – scientific name of raccoon genus.
Caviothere – from Latin Cavia – name of guinea pig genus, and Ancient Greek θηρίον – “beast”.
Chuchip – deer spirit in language of Hopi tribe.
Chuchunya – cryptid from folklore of Northern Asia folks, described as a very tall human.
Chuhaister – wild forest-dwelling human in mythology of folks of Carpathian mountains.
Curupira – South American cryptid described as human-like creature.
Dromaguara – from Greek dromos – “run” and “aguara” – name of fox in Guarani language.
Enyeto – in Miwok tribe language: “walking like a bear”.
Gravisorex – from Latin gravitas – “weight” and Sorex – name of shrew genus.
Guran – Evenki name of wild goat.
Ha’eppey – Koryak name of wolverine.
Hemipanthera – from Greek. ἑμι- – “half” and Panthera – genus of big cats.
Holhoot – Yukaghir name of mammoth.
Iwaraka - name of capuchin monkey in language of macuxi tribe (Brazil).
Jaguachini – name of raccoon in Guarani language.
Kaiwololo – name of capuchin monkey in language of wayampi tribe from Guyana.
Kondobola – species is named after the cockerel from fairy tale of Ovambo people (Africa) escaped from his owners.
Kraken – mythical sea creature from European folklore, described as an octopus of monstrous size.
Lilim – spirit living in tree crones in beliefs of Kotokoliare people from Africa.
Myrmerix – from Latin myrmex – “ant” and Galerix – genus of fossil hedgehogs.
Nanaunder – human-like creature from legends of folks of Zaire and Kenya.
Njemba – name meaning “giant, monster” in Swahili language.
Niomu – name of ritual mask at folks of Upper Guinea.
Nittaewo – cryptid from forests of India described as human-like creature.
Onocavia – from Greek ονος – “donkey” and Latin Cavia – name of guinea pig genus.
Pankalanka – name of Australian human-like cryptid used in Northern Territory state.
Pardus – name of hunting-trained cheetah in Ancient Russia.
Patianak – in beliefs of the Philippines folks, spirit of nature associated with ground and fields.
Pseudocebus – from Greek ψευδής – “false” and Cebus – scientific name of capuchin monkey genus.
Sea warg – from Ancient Scandinavian vargr – name of mythical giant wolves.
Sisemite – Central American cryptid described as hairy human-like creature.
Sylvanus – in Ancient Roman mythology, a deity related to forest trees and plantations.
Teratocavia – from Greek τέρας – “monster” and Latin Cavia – name of guinea pig genus.
Teratocorax – from Greek τέρας – “monster” and Latin corax – specific epithet of raven name.
Titanobagrus – from Ancient Greek Τιτάν – “titan” and Bagrus – genus of bagrid catfishes family (Bagridae).
Titanotheutis – from Ancient Greek Τιτάν – “titan” and τευθις – “squid”.
Torgon – Evenki word meaning “predator”.
Ukumar – name of South American human-like cryptid.
Ulbandus – distorted word “elephantos”, from which Slavic words meaning “camel” descend.
Vanara – race of monkeys from Indian mythology.
Waabisheshi – marten in language of Ojibwe tribe (North America).
Wakatili – “furious” in Swahili language.
Yawt – cryptid, dwarf kind of people from Australasia; name from language of Umeda tribe.
Zantahee – name of wolverine in Buryat language.
Zuchongathos – from Ancient Greek σοῦχος – “crocodile” and γναθα – “jaw”.
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Markov Alexander. Human Evolution (vol. 1 “Apes, Bones and Genes”, vol. 2 “Apes, Neurons « Monkeys, Neurons and Soul”), Moscow: Alstrel: Corpus, 2012 (in Russian: Марков А. «Эволюция человека» (т. 1 «Обезьяны, кости, гены», т. 2 «Обезьяны, нейроны и душа»), М.: Астрель: Corpus, 2012)
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Us, W. W. Norton Company, 2015
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Weisman Alan. The World Without Us, St. Martin’s Thomas Dunne Books, 2007.
Baxter Stephen. Evolution, Orion Publishing Group,
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3. The global wasteland – the world after
5. The period of ecosystems recovery
6. The returning of biological diversity